No! means Yes! in business

Well actually, "No!" means no in any language but in this case, my "No!" brought in some extra business. Use this accidental strategy to scrape [accidental] business from your neighborhood [unintentional] spammers...

As I was cleaning up my inbox, I came across an email I received and responded to last month regarding a 'weird' request. I say weird not because it doesn't happen often, but weird because "Robert" took the time to craft some halfway decent (albeit lacking in the persuasion department) email but then dropped the ball on so many other fronts.

Anyway, he requested I link to his discount perfume site and because I actually have a site (somewhere on my server!) dedicated to perfume, I bit. I read his email in it's entirety because I thought it was related to that site and quite honestly, I didn't remember the domain name and needed the reminder. [-:

...so as I read along, he's trying to get a link from SWISSLOGIC, a site dedicated to web design. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and expected to see some logic behind the request but nope! None there. It was the normal "link to me on your main page and I will link back to you on some obscure page deep within my directories and this will benefit us both!"

LOL! Well, I decided to write back and scored myself some new clients. You're free to copy what I've wrote and use it (of course you'll need to modify it a bit to make it your own):

Robert,

We will not add a link to your discount perfume site for two reasons:

We are a web design and application development firm. Linking to your site implies we built it and if we did, your perfume site would look more like the Nussberger Collection website (a website we built a few years back that still looks relevant, sexy, credible and chic). People will go to you for cheap perfume but they don't want to think of themselves as cheap. Your site needs to make people feel good about shopping with you.

Regarding the benefit of linking to you, the reality is that because we’re not a perfume or even fashion related website, reciprocal linking will neither pass your site nor ours any significant "link juice". In fact, linking to each other in reciprocity will likely harm the way Google and the other major search engines view our sites and rank us.

If you genuinely want to optimize your standing with the search engines and positively influence your positions / rankings, I suggest manually reaching out to relevant websites and sending non-automated and highly targeted emails to the site owners. To let the readers know there is genuine interest and legitimacy, you'll want to include the following in these emails:
  1. Address the site owners by name;

  2. Let them know you’ve actually visited their site by commenting on something you couldn’t have known otherwise; and

  3. Point out how the link relationship will help you both (genuine knowledge and honesty is key here, chances are the more knowledgeable the person at the receiving end, the more benefit you'll receive from the link)
...just to name a few. Linking is arguably the most important aspect of "positioning" but it only works when done right and much like everything else, doing it right will be time-consuming... but it's 110% better than the strategy you’re currently employing.

My company provides these services. We also work with creative firms and ad agencies as well as marketing communications firms and individual website owners. If www.TheirDomainAddress.com is your site, I strongly suggest you update your strategy and consider a basic website redesign. If you're managing this website for someone else, you need to improve your strategy immediately if you want to start getting real results. I’m open to creating a special arrangement with you for multiple sites.

Either way, call me. This is my direct number: (305) 926-5240

---Ivan
If you found this useful, Digg, Stumble or do whatever it is you kids are doing these days! Also let me know if you're using this and your results. Best!

What [the late] Celia Cruz knows about personalized search engine optimization

Celia Cruz was renowned internationally as the Queen of Salsa and was known for her trademark shout, "¡Azúcar!" ("Sugar!" in Spanish). To my knowledge, she could not code HTML, never optimized a website for higher rankings and the extent of her web saviness was probably limited to checking email and typing in web addresses. So could she possibly teach us about personalized search optimization and SEO, you ask? A lot!

The legendary entertainer was many things to many people. The essence of a great personalized search marketing strategy. Talent, charisma and personality aside (because let's face it, if your product sucks, SEO alone won't take you far), Celia Cruz won relevance by refusing to return to her homeland Cuba when Fidel Castro assumed control of Cuba in 1960. A partnership with Tito Puente, a living NYC legend in the space, began to seal her approval into the Puerto Rican markets. I also believe it springboarded her into a popular Eastern Air Lines commercial (the unofficial Nuyorican airline) which really closed the deal for her... in a good way.

Celia Cruz addressed two major (and very different) markets in her space, New York City and Miami. She made herself relevant by giving the people what they wanted by meeting their needs. Celia is a prime example of a great marketer. Although she faced many obstacles (for starters, she was a black Hispanic woman in a time of open discrimination and prejudice), she managed to use those hurdles to her advantage and became more relevant. How's that for inspiration?!

Bottom Line: Being relevant is more than a catch-phrase. It's critical to ongoing success both for marketers and businesses. Customers now demand more transparency, responsibility, interaction and (gasp!) honesty. Companies like Google are driving towards total ad-serving personalization. Media recognizes it and the general public embraces it. Find out what your market really wants, live it, love it, deliver it!

...and for your listening pleasure, one of Celia Cruz' more popular songs. Enjoy.

Goohoo! Google and Yahoo! unite

Okay, every news channel is reporting on Microsoft definitively pulling their offer from Yahoo!'s table. The follow up is Google and Yahoo!'s intention to serve ads on one network. Is this [breaking] news to anyone?! Did anyone think Yahoo! was going to crawl back to Microsoft and accept the deal they sacked? Did we really think Microsoft would keep their offer on the table forever? Honestly, Yahoo! is most attractive to a company like Google.

Microsoft isn't going to topple Google by acquiring the distant second-most-popular (and declining) portal. Yahoo! seemingly isn't even interested in competing anymore. Now that the folks at Google have [upgraded] AdWords and [supposedly] eliminated much of the click fraud, Yahoo! must really be feeling the pinch therefore it makes sense that the two would want to join up and share the market. For Yahoo!, they stop the churn and for Google, they get bigger and better penetration (or total domination, LOL).

Now how does all this affect online marketers? Well let's just say one would be wise to polish up on personalized search marketing skills because as single [search] media companies begin to use their intelligence to serve better more targeted ads, marketers and advertisers end up with more eggs in one network's collective basket... and this basket looks different in each visitor's eyes. Ouch!

Bottom Line: Search media is social media. Google™ website rankings, at least to some degree, rely on user participation. The more participation, interaction, mentions, links, etc. a website gets, the more authority and ultimately the better the ranking. Whether you're white hat or black hat, your main focus is always on relevance and efficiency — I say this because if the resources needed to execute your strategies outweigh your profitability, you'll either bleed resources or price yourself out of the market. Forget A-B-C, it's now A-B-R&E.

Always Be Closing
Always Be Relevant & Efficient

The next boom and how to cash in

Come Sell With Me

What's a solid marketing strategy to initiate during the downturn? Expand overseas!

According to Jeremy Quittner, there's no time like the dismal present to explore — and enter — B2B international markets. His recent BusinessWeek article reports: "Foreign markets are eagerly buying American." Why? Because the U.S. is still viewed as the "highest-quality producer," and these days, well, we look like one big yard sale. So, how do you find an eager foreign market?

Follow your partners. The best place to start your search is among your business partners. You may be surprised to learn the number of international connections they have—many of them relevant to your products and services.

  • Ask your uncle. Uncle Sam can help, too. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has offices in just about every major city, and throughout the world. And your own state no doubt has an international trade office. "All will help you find distributors, trading partners, and other leads," Quittner reports.


  • Fly away. Once you've isolated a prospect or two, go meet them face-to-face, to assess their operations, and a host of other factors. (Do they have the knowledge base you need?)


  • Let tech help. Never forget your most cost-effective international business tool: high-tech. "No matter where you are based, or where you are selling, technology can smooth the way," Quittner says.
The Po!nt: Hit the international markets when the home fires aren't burning. "If you aren't selling abroad, it's time," Quittner concludes.

Source: BusinessWeek. Read the full article here.

There’s no such thing as advanced white hat SEO

Lisa Barone had tons of questions after attending SMX.

"But at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice that this year’s Advanced show seemed to lean a whole lot more to the grey / black hat side of things. I couldn’t help but wonder: When did advanced search engine optimization get confused with being a black hat?"

Right around the time that Google took this stance solidified it:

"Web spam is when somebody tries to cheat or take shortcuts so that their Web site shows up higher [in search results rankings] than it deserves to show up," - Matt Cutts

If you are not trying to get your client’s websites to rank higher than they "deserve", why should they hire you?

She continued:

"Here are some of the "advanced search engine optimization" techniques I picked up during my time in Seattle.

  • There are lots of old sites lying around on the Interwebz with great link juice. Buy them and capitalize on that. But do it carefully or Google will pick up on it and reset the score.

  • Conditional redirects are teh awesome.

  • Search marketers don’t need ethics. They’re marketers. Check the ethics at the door.

  • You can never have too many .edu links.

  • I need to grow some balls, stop fearing Matt Cutts and start buying links.
Where were the white hat advanced search engine optimization techniques in Seattle?"

Hanging out with the Tooth Fairy and the Loch Nes Monster.

"Why was most of the material presented pushing grey and black hat?"

Because black hat seo is the only place where there is any development. White hat can work, but it’s exactly the same stuff that worked 6 years ago. Why do you need to go to a conference to get 6 year old information?

"Are we supposed to believe that that’s what advanced SEO is - spamming?"

Yes.

"If so, that’s a bunch of crap."

Uh oh, call the wambulance . . .

"Or maybe SMX just thinks there’s no one qualified to teach advanced white hat techniques. I guess those folks were out drinking with all the ladies NOT on the Give It Up panel."

Is she saying she was out drinking with all the advanced white hats?

"I don’t understand."

Ditto!

"To me, advanced search engine optimization is about analytics",

I see . .

"it’s about siloing"

Siloing is not exactly news. The top Google result for SEO Siloing is a Grey Wolf Article from almost 2 years ago.

"it’s about perfecting your site architecture so that you don’t have to even worry about tactics like cloaking for conditional redirects."

Google Cloaks. The NY Times Cloaks. But I have an open mind: maybe your head-in-the-sand theory on SEO is the best strategy. . .

"There have to be other white hat advanced search engine optimization techniques out there."

Sounds like what they said about SETI.

"Why weren’t they covered?"

Because if you cover a white hat technique that works, the technique gets banned and the site gets bitch-slapped. Off-topic Link bait will probably be next on the chopping block.

Google does not want you or your clients sites to rank ANY higher than they "deserve" to. Google defines deserve; they are a for-profit company. That means that just about any intentional manipulation will be, by definition, black hat.

Want to sum up white hat SEO? It boils down to:
  1. Site Architecture - Can be learned in 4 hours or less.

  2. Analytics - Can you install a javascript and log in?

  3. PPC - Even though we used to call that SEM . . .

  4. Content - which is better handled by copywriters.
Alas! The Emperor has no clothes. There are no advanced white hat SEO techniques.

Source: QuadsZilla's SEO Black Hat Blog. Click here for the post.

The Sounds of Productivity

High-end, well-made audio equipment has always been a sure bet at home, but its now making a strong move into the workplace. Companies are offering audio gear with workers in the mind. Here’s a look at a few of the new products.

AT HOME: SONOS MULTI-ROOM MUSIC SYSTEM
Morning coffee? Check. Healthy breakfast? Check. Music to inspire you to write a killer report? Check. Sonos' wireless, multi-room digital music system allows you to play all your audio content everywhere in the house from a sleek, palm-sized control device. In addition to your personal music collection, you can tune into news talk via NPR or from one of the other more than 300 Internet radio stations that come preloaded on Sonos BU130. Stream it wirelessly, and change the content on the fly.

IN THE OFFICE: AXIOM AUDIOBYTE
Companies are turning to online video in increasing numbers. Whether it's an internal communication, a video meeting, or an investor-focused conference via audio stream, your computer speakers need to be sharp and clear. Axiom Audiobyte not only promises big, clear sound, but flexibility. It has eight finishes to choose from (including burled walnut), and Axiom Audio backs up its claims with a five year warranty and unlimited, lifetime phone and e-mail support.

ON THE ROAD: SANDISK SANSA FUZE
Smaller than a credit card and no thicker than a magazine, the Sanza Fuze feels sturdy in your hand. Available in memory sizes as small as two gigs, or as large as eight, there's room for the bulk of your music collection and the latest podcasts from Standard & Poor's or Bloomberg. The company also boasts that there is additional room for several full length movies and hundreds of photos. A full charge should give you 24 hours of audio or five hours of video. Perhaps most useful of all: the Fuze can record conversations on the fly. You never know when you might run into Penelope Cruz, after all. You'll want to remember every second… and email it to your colleagues.

CONCENTRATE ANYWHERE: AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-ANC3 HEADPHONES
If you're looking to eliminate distractions, you might try the ATH-ANC3 QuietPoint Active Noise- Canceling In-Ear Headphones. That's a big name for an elegant, in-ear headphone set that cancels noise as if it covered your whole head. The technology promises to reduce background noise by 85%. Transcribe your interviews, replay the minutes of your meeting, or just shut out the rest of the world whenever you need to. The luxury of concentration on a plane, train, or at a crowded convention might be the difference maker when preparing that proposal or meeting that deadline.

Source: Jeremy Nisen for Hispanic Business. Click here to go to his LinkedIn profile.

Ugh! Why is SEO sooooooo expensive?

I recently came across a saved article from back in October that a really good one. It answers the single-most important question everyone wonders but most are afraid to ask. Here it is...

Why is SEO so expensive?

Good question!

If you approach an SEO company, like ours, for a quote to get your site working for you, you may be slightly taken aback by the costs involved. In many instances, especially where small businesses are concerned, SEO costs can be several times more than the original site development costs. But why?

The short answer is SEO takes time and time costs money.

The long answer? Oh, OK then……
  • For SEO to be effective your SEO consultant needs to understand your business and your business aims = time
  • To market your business your SEO needs to understand your market = time
  • To optimize your site your SEO needs to understand your customers search habits = time
  • To ensure the search engines can index your website's content it needs to be structurally sound = time
  • To give your site credibility your site needs links from other sites = time
  • To make sure your SEO keeps working your SEO needs to stay ahead of your competitors = time
I could go on but perhaps you can now understand why SEO costs so much. Rates will vary but you will pay perhaps £150 per day at the lower end, £400 in the mid range and £000's at the high end. Let's look at the mid range. Why? because that's our range.

If you hire us for say 10 days that's £4,000.00. For that money you are getting a dedicated professional. You can hire us by the day for as long or as little as you like. But there is an alternative, you could hire a full time employee.

Average fees using a reputable agency? Perhaps 5% of the salary. Expected salary? Well the last job I quit before starting Red Evo I was on £40k. That was four years ago but lets leave it at that. Finders fee = £2,000.00. Now the salary, £40k grossed up for employers NI, etc. will cost you about £44,500.00. All this ignores sick pay, holiday pay, cost of a workstation, etc. If you've ever worked out the cost of a providing a serviced workspace you'll know it's not cheap, let's call it £300 a month.

That's £4,000.00 per month, every month of the year (even though your guy will be on holiday for one and half of those).

Source: Red Evolution. Click here to go to their website.

Bottom Line: Although preparing your taxes is fairly easy to do, companies like H&R Block, CPA's and independent accountants are in very high demand come tax-time. People want the best return and they'll gladly pay [handsomely] regardless of how simple it is to complete a few IRS forms. Moreover, the more experienced the person filing your taxes, the more he / she will charge for their time. Like hiring a good tax person, hiring a good SEO is a smart investment and should be looked at as such.

As per SMX Advanced, white hat SEO is D-E-A-D

If you attended SMX Advanced or spoke with anyone there, they'll tell you that the event seemed to take on a "darker" tone. Basically, a lot of grey / black hat tactics were being touted as best practices (and I use the term loosely) for this normally white hat audience.

I personally try not to take part in the segregation of SEO and search marketing. Both sides tend to become a bit fundamentalist and that helps no one. As one of my non-SEO friends recently commented, SEO is almost entirely subjective and based upon what we all think will work.

That said, if you've got something that works, I'd like to know about it because although the same tactic [usually] cannot be duplicated exactly, the logic can surely help me to create a better overall strategy for our search marketing portfolio.

Bottom line, don't put down what others are doing... especially when they are seeing success and profitability. When they're not, we can still learn from them so let's listen, learn and keep it clean (no pun intended).

[-;

Dealing with an "angry person" isn't the same as dealing with a well-adjusted person who's having a bad day

If you're watching the current season of Top Chef (a reality show on the Bravo network) you'll be familiar with Lisa, a contestant who appears to exist in a constant state of seething anger. (We'll allow that editing can shape a "character," but producers can only work with the material someone gives them.) She doesn't get angry; she is angry.

In a blog post, Seth Godin says dealing with customers like Lisa isn't the same as dealing with a well-adjusted person who's having a bad day. "Angry people are different from other people," he writes. "They are not just an inch or two along some curve. Instead, there's a gap in the curve, a vertical chasm, separating the angry from everyone else."

How to deal with an angry customer? Godin sees two basic options:

  1. Avoid them. If it's within your power to move on, by all means do so. "There are plenty of non-angry people out there," he says.

  2. Face them head-on. Just remember that you're not going to get anywhere until you've figured out how to diffuse their anger.
The Po!nt: "It's tempting to treat an angry person just like a typical person, just ... angrier," says Godin. "This is probably a mistake, because anger brings its own reality along with it."

Source: Seth Godin's Blog. Click here for the post.

Times are shaky and the outlook is G-R-I-M and things couldn't be better

The whispers aren't so "whispery" anymore and maybe you've even been a little negative about the economy and business in general. There's no getting away from it. Times are shaky and the outlook is G-R-I-M and things couldn't be better.

Yup, I said it! In case you missed it: Everyone is crying about the economy and I can't keep up with new business!

Let's be honest. People with money always have money and [truly] successful people always find success regardless of the situation. I have a magician friend who has always done well for himself. He is a great magician but truth be told, he's got a solid sales and marketing process and I credit his success to that.

Over lunch the other day he told me about other magicians complaining that business was down, people were canceling shows, etc., etc. He also admitted that he couldn't keep up with all the requests he gets. In fact, in the few hours we were at my office and in the restaurant eating lunch, he booked three (3) events!

Just this past Labor Day, we had the 2008 Miami to Key West Poker Run and many (I repeat, many) of the powerboats were brand new. Many that weren't were newly remodified. Ignoring the fact that a lot of the participants weren't even from Miami and needed to transport these single-family-home-sized super boats with chartered tractor trailers (a few came down from Ohio and at least one was from Ontario), just imagine the insane fuel costs on navigating one of these behemoths 100 MPH from Miami to Key West.

You can see more pictures of the event at the Florida Powerboat Club website (the ones pictured are courtesy of Florida Powerboat Club). There were a few awesome-looking boats but my favorite was this one:



I live and work in a golf community (although I don't golf... go figure!) and my office overlooks a nice golf course. From my sons school to my office, I drive past the famed Blue Monster and I've got to say, there's never a shortage of golfers on the green and believe me, these courses are not cheap!

The point I'm making is that people are spending money and more importantly, people are making money. Is cash as freely available as it was when people were "cashing out" by refinancing their homes for more than the properties were worth? No, and that is precisely why people now expect to get value for their money.

Having a valuable product or service is just part of it. You need to become synonymous with value. Increase your perceived value and your sales will do the same.