INFOGRAPHIC: Should Your Consulting Company Do Work for Free?

I’m approaching two full years of self-employment.

It’s been real.

It’s been fun.

And many days it’s been real fun.

However, some days it can be a bit stressful, especially if you have “friends” or “contacts” that have a great offer for you, an opportunity to get in at the ground level, or however else they may pitch it.

At times it’s hard to tell them no.

At times I’ve been on the brink of saying “Sure, why not…” But luckily I’ve only had two experiences where I feel I’ve dropped the ball and gave clients a good product priced WAY below market value, only to have them expect way more than they paid for and ultimately be upset.

(I wish I would have found the infographic I shared the other day about website design warnings:) )

In an effort to know how to best tell a potential business partnership that my company doesn’t do work for free, I ran across an article that was titled, “Should I work for free?” It was actually a big flow chart that made me chuckle on a couple different levels.

I cut it up a bit, focusing primarily on the business to business “work for free” proposition, since that’s the one I’ve dealt with most in my two years of business bliss. The infographic sums it up pretty clearly.

Do you agree?

Should I Do Business to Business Consulting for Free?

What are your thoughts? See the entire infographic here.

How do you respond to the AWESOME OPPORTUNITY to get a lot of business exposure?

Share this!

Basic On-Site SEO Strategy You Have to Know

I had a client the other day send me this email:

(Message from client’s boss)

We were looking for trinkets and trash ideas for our new special order laser machine and first search result was from http://www.collegegear.com/

Look at their meta tag below, no wonder…

COPYRIGHT © 1997-2010 COLLEGEGEAR.COM, INC.. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. COLLEGE APPAREL | UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE | COLLEGE BOOKSTORE | UNIVERSITY APPAREL | STATE APPAREL | CAMPUS RETAILERS ARE ALL ON COLLEGEGEAR.COM AS THE LARGEST PROVIDER OF OFFICIALLY LICENSED COLLEGIATE PRODUCTS TO STUDENTS, FANS AND ALUMNI. COLLEGEGEAR.COM OFFERS COLLEGE APPAREL FROM UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORES – COLLEGE BOOKSTORES – ONLINE BOOKSTORES – CAMPUS RETAILERS – AND COLLEGE GEAR FROM OUR EXCLUSIVE SUPPLIERS. COLLEGE MERCHANDISE INCLUDES COLLEGE BEDDING – COLLEGE APPAREL – STATE APPAREL – COLLEGE JERSEYS – COLLEGE SHIRTS – STATE SWEATSHIRTS – UNIVERSITY SWEATSHIRTS – COLLEGE GIFTS – COLLEGE CLOTHING – COLLEGE SWEATSHIRTS. COLLEGEGEAR.COM SUPPORTS ALL CAMPUS STORES AND COLLEGE BOOK STORE WHO SELL THEIR PRODUCTS IN THIS SECTION SO ALL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS, FANS AND ALUMNI FIND THE LARGEST SELECTION OF COLLEGE APPAREL ON THE PLANET. WE LOVE COLLEGE FANS!

The SEO Question

Hey Nate,

I just received this info on another store. The meta tag. Is this something I should be doing?

This is a good question, one that I’m sure many online businesses don’t know how to answer so they do one of two things:

  1. They imitate the “SEO strategy”
  2. They ignore it and continue to do what they’ve always done

I’ve worked with thousands of online business owners and my motto has always been, “The only dumb question you’ll ever ask is the one you DON’T ask!”

I’m glad my client was comfortable enough to ask this question.

My SEO Answer

This is how I explained the “old-school SEO Strategy” to the client (by “old-school” I mean this doesn’t really work any more – it’s a version of “keyword stuffing” and won’t get the site very far if they have some competitors who know what they’re doing when it comes to SEO:

First off, the section you shared has nothing to do with a “Meta Tag” – it’s called a “Global Footer”. Yes, Google looks at that content, but it doesn’t give that section much credibility, especially if there is a tendency within the content to be “stuffed” with keyword phrases – which there is here.

Second, here is what Google really looks for when it comes to search engine placement:

1. Search Engine Friendly Pages that include the following things:

On-site optimization – what we do ON our site to make it search engine friendly. Although on-site SEO is only a part of getting the right traffic to your site, if you do it correctly, it can really help you get out of the Google “sand box”.

Here are the basics of on-site SEO:

Meta Tag Titles

  • 6-10 words maximum
  • Minimal keyword repetition
  • No domain name
  • Use keyword phrases that you want people to use to find you in a search engine
  • Use “buyer phrases” instead of “browser phrases”
  • Every page of a website can have its own unique meta tags

The title shows up in two places:

1. Above the address bar in your internet browser when you’re on the page

2. In Search Engine Results when you type in a specific keyword phrase:

Of all the things Google looks for ON a website, the Title tag on each page is probably the most important one: it tells search engines (and visitors) what the page is about, or at least it SHOULD.

If a search engine goes to a page that is using specific keyword phrases in the title tag but then, when they see the content on the page, it has nothing to do with those phrases, that page loses it’s credibility and can become “black listed” by search engines like Google.

So, to summarize, the content you sent me is simply part of the internal content of a page but doesn’t have as much weight to a search engine as a title tag does.

Having good, quality, and UNIQUE content on every page of your site is also very helpful. This is one of the reasons I’m hoping that we can “customize” the category pages more so that it’s not just a list of products but that it better tells the visitor and the search engine what the page is all about.

Here’s a bit more information about other meta information, which we can discuss when we meet next:

Meta Tag Descriptions

  • 1-3 Sentences
  • Keyword repetition recommended
  • Explain what the page is about
  • Is found in search engine results below the title tag

Meta Tag Keywords

  • 5-10 words/phrases separated by commas
  • keyword repetition is okay
  • make sure the words relate to the page you’re marketing
  • not seen by regular visitors – found in the source code
  • these are not as important any more to search engines like Google but it doesn’t hurt to have them

Hope this helps clarify.

Talk soon and keep the questions coming!

Starting an effective online business is not a “turn-key” or “get rich quick” project.

If you really want to see results and move up in search engine rankings for the best keyword phrases, you have to not be afraid to ask questions, test, and implement strategies that are proven to work.

Thanks to this client for her willingness to ask the right questions and then implement what we discussed.

Did this make sense to you?

PODCAST: Is Keyword Research Still Important?

I had a Facebook friend ask me recently if keyword research was still important for online marketing.

Uh…

I wasn’t sure if they were being sarcastic or not so I just didn’t respond.

They followed up with this statement:

We’ve heard that SEO doesn’t really matter that much so we thought keyword research wouldn’t matter either.

That question and comment inspired me to dig into early blog posts. In 2008 I did a podcast interview with Mat Siltala of DreamSystemsMedia.com. Mat taught me most of what I know about keyword research and why its vital when starting an online business.

Here’s the podcast again. Some of the tools he mentions may not be the latest and greatest, but the gist of the interview remains true to this day.

[powerpress url="http://mollermarketing.com/podcast/Mat%20Siltala%20Interview.mp3"]

Why is keyword research so important when it comes to marketing online?

  • It helps separate you from your competitors
  • It helps you learn what your competitors are doing
  • It helps you determine who your target audience is

How do you determine which keywords are the quality ones?

Research your competition. Which keywords are they going after? Look at their title tags, content, links, etc. to see what they are using. Find variations of those words. Spend time on keywords that are targeted (niche), not the general phrases that everyone is going after. Targeted keywords tend to convert better too.

How do you use keywords to market your website online?

Keyword research is a key part of my marketing campaign. There are many different tools out there to use. Aaron Wall has a great keyword research too. Keyword Discovery has one. SEOMoz is pretty good. Wordtracker too. Using your competition can help you so much – you can develop more of a targeted niche, something to build the content around.

Once clients have done the keyword research, where do they put those keyword phrases?

  • Anchor Text in Off-site marketing – links pointing people back to your site (ie. writing articles, press releases, blog comments, submitting to free and paid directories, and link sharing with related websites)
  • Inside the content of your site
  • If your site has 500 words of content, need to use specific keywords at least 5 times to show search engines what you are about.
  • Blog posts
  • Navigation
  • Title Tags
  • Header Tags
  • Friendly URLs
  • Alt Tags in pictures and links
  • Meta tag title, description and keywords

Why is keyword research an ongoing process?

You never want to stop figuring out what are the best converting keywords. Just because you’re being found for one word doesn’t mean its the best one.
What analytics software do you recommend?

  • Google Analytics

What are your websites?

RockyMountainMattress.com sells memory foam mattresses and custom mattresses.

Any other recommendations?

Understand that you’re competing with people that have been doing this for years. It won’t happen overnight. Take it slow, build quality content and links, figure out the right keywords and build trust and credibility.

The Power of Infographics for SEO & Social Media

What’s an “Infographic”?

Why do companies even use them?

What help are they, especially for SEO and Social Media purposes?

We get these questions quite a bit and decided today is the day to answer some of them.

What’s an Infographic?

According to a Quora answer,

“…An infographic can be described as a collection of images, charts, visualizations, and text that illustrate an idea or position.  I generally like to think of infographics as more of a combination of other forms of data visualization than a separate form itself.”

Why do companies even use them?

This is a good question and can be summarized with 10 simple reasons:

  1. Infographics make information more appealing.
  2. Infographics show valuable ideas.
  3. Infographics are attention grabbing.
  4. Infographics are easier to understand.
  5. Infographics lessen boredom.
  6. Infographics awakens one’s interest in a topic.
  7. Infographics are easily accessible.
  8. Infographics can be more persuasive.
  9. Infographics are memorable.
  10. Infographics can easily relay information.

 What help are they, especially for SEO and Social Media purposes?

Look at this image one more time:

 

150, 91, 158, and 1,053. Those are the number of back-links for this infographic (not all are followable links but “word of mouth” can work wonders via social networks…).

Not only are we able to track with pretty good accuracy how many links an individual infographic is getting, but we’ve been able to see direct results in SEO placement for specific targeted phrases based on infographic campaigns.

Show me an example

Infographics can come in all shapes, sizes, and topics. They can be really informative, funny, or just plain informational. Here’s an example of a recent infographic, including some of the share numbers it got in just a short time:

RedneckFootball Infographic: What Rednecks and Football Have in Common

If you like this infographic and would like to share it with others, simply copy and paste the code below on to your website and party on:

redneck football for home inspectors

VIDEO: How Does Google Determine Page Speed?

Question: How does Google determine page speed?

Google uses Toolbar data.

A lot of people have slower connectivity.

One thing to bear in mind is speed won’t necessarily change rankings. It’s always good to see if you can get results faster, but at the same time, I wouldn’t stress overly about it.

Are you using Google Webmaster Tools?

What are ways you’re speeding up your website’s load time?

The Step by Steps of On-Site SEO

On-site SEO – what is that?

Did you even know there were different ways to do SEO?

The two main SEO strategies are called On-Site SEO and Off-Site SEO. On-site SEO has to do with title tags, meta tags, friendly URLs, and internal linking structure – all in conjunction with quality content.

Off-site SEO is more about link building, viral campaigns, infographics, and even social media marketing.

I talk with clients a lot about on-site SEO in consultations so I thought I’d write out a few of the basics to use as a checklist. In the Search Engine Optimization world, there are many different opinions on what’s the “right way”.

On-site search engine optimization, what we do on our site to make it search engine friendly, is only a part of getting the right traffic to your site. But if you do it correctly, it can really help you get out of the Google “sand box”.

Here are the some of the basic tips:

Meta Tag Titles

  • 6-10 words maximum
  • Minimal keyword repetition
  • No domain name
  • Use keyword phrases that you want people to use to find you in a search engine
  • Use “buyer phrases” instead of “browser phrases”
  • Every page of a website can have its own unique meta tags

Meta Tag Descriptions

  • 1-3 Sentences
  • Keyword repetition recommended
  • Explain what the page is about

Meta Tag Keywords

  • 10-15 words separated by commas
  • keyword repetition is okay
  • make sure the words relate to the page you’re marketing

Here are my meta tags (title, description, keywords) for my home page at www.ClogOn.com:

Title: Clogging shoes | Dance Bags

Description: Online clogging store with new and used clogging shoes, taps, dance bags, capezio dance wear and other clog dancing information.

Keywords: clogging, clogging dance shoes, dance bags, capezio dancewear, taps, clogging steps, clogging shoe supplier, history, clogging blog, clogg dance, clogging dance team specials, what is clogging, clogging shoe distributor, costume bag

Hope this helps and gives you a picture of how your meta tags can look on your pages. Remember, we want to customize the meta tags for all pages, especially the ones we want to be found in search engines. I personally don’t waist a ton of time on the about us or contact us page.

If you have questions, please leave a comment below.

You can also see what others have had to say about their SEO experience.

4 Reading Secrets for Online Marketers

I’m back!

This blog post is actually from a guest post I shared at another internet marketing blog; it got quite a few comments so I thought I’d share it with all of you too.

As some of you know, Moller Marketing has been busy. We’ve learned a lot through our experiences, and we’re implementing new strategies every day to better serve our clients needs.

One way we like to improve is by asking questions.

Is reading a BOOK really helpful to an SEO Firm (or freelancer or wanna be)?

To make sure I’ve clarified – a BOOK is just that: paper back, hard-bound, library issued or purchased on Amazon. I’m not referring to an eBook, a list of blog articles or your habitual RSS Reader.

Books – you know – the things that Borders can’t seem to sell anymore. Do real books even exist these days?

Questions about Reading Books

  • What’s the last real book you read?
  • What real book(s) are you currently reading?
  • Was the book you read just for fun or to further your career as an online marketing “guru”?
  • Were you forced to read the book by your company as a PR or HR stunt?

Last night I was going through my Stumbleupon routine and found a great article about reading books. It caused me to ask myself some questions about my habits, the use of my time, and ultimately whether or not reading books would or wouldn’t help further my online marketing career in one way or another.

After reading the article, I came to the conclusion that YES, reading IS important for an SEO. YES, reading a real book WILL improve my online marketing skills. And YES, there are things I can do starting TODAY to get the “real-book-ball” rolling.

I got a lot out of the article and suggest you read it in its entirety; here are some key points I think all SEO’s can use to improve their business situation via reading a real book:

4 Reading Secrets to Help SEO’s Form Good Reading Habits

  1. Speed Reading is the Secret Weapon: Have you ever tried this? I know most of us think TIME is the biggest issue when it comes to reading a book. We’re too busy online all day every day to make time to read – let alone learn how to “speed read”. However, the real idea behind speed reading is that you know how (and when) to speed up and when to slow down. With a few basic techniques you can get a sizable increase on your maximum speed. If you want to learn how to speed read start reading here: Double Your Reading Rate.

Summary tips for speed reading:

  • Use your forefinger to follow the line on the page. This focuses your vision onto a specific part of the text.
  • Practice reading books faster than you can comprehend. This isn’t actual reading but it will make you familiar with using your finger and slowly increase your maximum speed.
  • State your purpose before starting to read. This will allow you to focus on information you need and reject information you don’t.

 2. Carry a Book Wherever You Go: I’ve started doing this, although I’m not addicted to reading yet and would rather “people watch” than stick my nose in a book. However, “…gaps of a few weeks without any reading material means several less books you can read each year. Worse, time spent without a book breaks down your reading habits so it can be harder to start again.” As SEO’s, we travel from time to time, we take mass-transit to appointments, and occasionally we go on vacation. If we have a book with us, this good habit can begin to form. Otherwise, we are simply wasting time between appointments. Some of the people I look up to most in the business world are those who are avid readers of all kinds of books (not just business books).

3. Stop Web-Surfing! For me, this basically means go on a “Facebook Fast” and stop checking ESPN MLB Standings :) (By the way, did you all see that the Yankees are up 2.5 games in the AL East and have won 6 in a row?) If I were to add up all the time I “waste” dinking around on Facebook and reading articles about baseball and other sports on ESPN, I would have probably already read 25-30 books this year. How do you waste time? Can you use that wasted time to read a bit more?

4. Create a Book “To Read” List: Yes, there are great marketing books out there. Yes, there are even up-to-date SEO and Social Media Books out there. Search for them on Amazon and make a list. Create an “Online Marketing Book Club” and read books together and then meet to discuss them and share ideas (depending on who you’re with I guess). What are books you’d like to read but haven’t yet? Here are some of mine:

What do you think about reading a real book?

Do you think it’s good for SEO companies to be reading books about their industry (or about whatever else)? Why or why not?

What books do YOU recommend?

One thing that wasn’t discussed is audio books – have you ever tried those? I personally am too scatter-brained and haven’t seemed to get as much out of listening to a book while doing other things.

VIDEO: Matt Cutts Talks about Permalinks for WordPress

Have you ever seen a URL that has a suffix like this:

http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=15073151&nid=272

Without clicking on the link, I’d like some guesses on what this article is about (or is it a product, or is it the weather report, or….)

EXACTLY – you.have.no.clue!

And neither do search engines.

No offense KSL, but your On-Site SEO efforts are pretty ugly…

Now compare the KSL link above to this “SEO Friendly” Link:

http://mollermarketing.com/why-free-hosted-websites-are-an-invitation-to-fail/

Yep, this link is all about how free hosted websites (like Blogger or WordPress.com sites) are an invitation to FAIL if used for a business platform.

Not only is this more appealing to a reader who sees the link information, but search engines also take notice of these simple on-site SEO efforts.

Don’t believe me? Listen to what Matt Cutts, the Google Man, has to say about effective permalinks:

Your thoughts now?

Guest Post: Finding the Golden Client Over and Over Again

I’ve talked to clients a lot in the past about one key question:

What have you done TODAY to make a sale?

I’m going to take it a step further today and ask another simple question:

What have you done TODAY to find a new client?

Some might ask at this point, “Isn’t making a sale and finding a new client the same thing?”

In the past, my answer was yeah, sure. However, as I’ve thought about it more, I realize that I can make one sale today but then never, ever see that customer again. On the other hand, if my goal is to find CLIENTS, I’m really not only looking for a “sale”, but I’m also looking for a long-term business relationship that I can develop, leading to sale after sale after sale to the same client.

I was reading an article today titled “5 Smart Ways to Find Clients“. They mentioned that finding clients is something almost every small business owner struggles with from time to time. There are quite a few ways to do it, but finding new clients really boils down to putting yourself where your clients are, being approachable, and fulfilling a need or solving a problem. It doesn’t have to be much more complicated than that.

Who’s Your Ideal “Golden” Client?

Video: How Can My New Pages Get Indexed Quickly in Google?

Basic SEO Question:

“How much time is Google taking to index a new webpage, and how can we accelerate the process besides using Google Webmaster Tools?”

The simple answer is to get more links. Pages can be indexed in seconds or minutes IF you’re linked on other credible sites.

By having lots of links on other sites, you’ll be looked at as “useful” by search engines like Google and their search engine spiders will come back often to “re-index” your content, including new pages or blog posts you’ve created.

Nate’s Suggestion:

One recommendation I give clients to monitor how soon new pages get indexed is to set up a Google Alerts process.