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28 Nov 2011

Are You Paying For Internet Marketing Services You Don’t Really Need?

Are You Paying For Internet Marketing Services You Don’t Really Need?

Fixing your web presence is a lot like getting your car tuned up. You really have to make a diagnosis prior to getting your problems fixed.

I recently listened to a radio show where the host was talking about how consumers often self-diagnose their car problems. The announcer related a story where a customer brought his car into the shop and told them to “Give me a tune-up and align the front end because I keep hearing noises when I drive.”  Based on these instructions, the service shop did the tune-up and front end alignment.

The customer paid for the repairs and then got in his car and drove away. But, he came back in just a few minutes, fuming. He asked for the manager and said that he should go for a quick drive with him. The manager agreed and they started to drive away. Once they were on the road, the customer said, “I asked you to tune-up my car and listen this noise is still here.” The manager said, “We did tune-up your car,” and he then reached over and turned off the air conditioning fan; the noise immediately went away. The service manager said, “You should have asked us to fix this fan instead of asking for a tune up if you wanted this noise to go away.”

Then the customer said, that rumbling noise is still here and I asked you to align my front end. The manager said the noise isn’t coming from the front end, it sounds like it’s coming from the back. They drove back to the service station and sure enough, the customer had a badly worn rear tire that was causing the noise and vibration.

The customer paid for the additional repairs as suggested by the manager and drove away a happy camper, although with a much lighter bank account. He paid for repairs that he really didn’t need.

Many of our clients and potential clients come to us with the same approach. They self-diagnose their problems and come to us asking to build links, add content or manage their social media without having spent the time to diagnose the real problem. Our recommendation is to always determine the problem before throwing services at a perceived issue.

Many businesses are still trying to figure out the “why” of Panda. They think it’s duplicate content, thin content, stale content, not enough social proof or maybe it’s not enough links. Unless they take the time, they will just be guessing and like the customer in the illustration above, they will be throwing away good money at problems that may not exist.

Here are 3 things to consider before deploying any tactics to build web site traffic.

1. Make sure you understand the problem.

Clearly identify the problem. Is your traffic down?  Is it conversions you want improved?  Is it your SERPs you want improved?  Clearly identifying the problem will help you in creating an internet marketing strategy and the tactics needed to solve your problem.

Another thing to consider as you identify the problem; make sure you are solving the right problem. Often times, the problem is really just a symptom and we rush to fix the symptom instead of the actual problem. Careful consideration is the key. Take the time and spend the money to get to the root of the problem. We can do an in-depth analysis of your site and as long as you have analytics, can identify why you were affected by the Panda update and then help you take steps to get re-indexed and back in the game.

2. Make sure you have enough of a budget to fix the problem.

I have a background in advertising. Many of the companies I worked with would often “flight” their commercials. That is, they would run a heavy schedule followed by being dormant and then another heavy schedule. They realized they didn’t have a large enough budget to advertise weekly and they also realized if they spread their budget to last the month, it wouldn’t be significant enough to move the needle. Visualize a large boulder that you need to move and all you have is a steel rod to use for leverage. The longer the rod the better the leverage. Think of your budget like it’s the rod: more is better.

Often times our customers will come to us with a limited budget and want the moon… oh, and the stars and the sun. We often recommend to prospective clients to save their money and like an advertiser, wait until they have enough of a budget to make a difference.

For example, one of our customers with a limited budget requested that we focus on 20+ keywords. Think about it. With a small budget we would attack all these keywords and not be very successful in moving them up in the rankings. A limited budget might get you from a ranking of 25 all the way up to 19 —  yet, still no one would find you.

You need to attack a problem with enough leverage to make an impact. Just spending a small amount will not give you the leverage you need to make an impact. Focus on a smaller subset of your problem and make an impact with whatever your size budget.

3. Think about attacking the problem from a number of angles.

Internet marketing works best when you take a holistic approach. Like in our advertising example above, many companies focus on campaigns involving a variety of advertising platforms that have detailed schedules with predicted outcomes. That is, attack your problem from a number of angles to give you the very best leverage and have in mind an outcome.

  • Site Structure

    First fix anything on-site issues you have. Page load times, canonical issues, landing pages and page architecture should come first. Once you have this handled attack your traffic from a number of angles for the best result.

  • Content

    Add great content. Give your users a reason to come to your site and a reason to come back. Focus on core content (keywords) but also broaden your topics to capture more long-tail keywords. Make your content so compelling that other sites will want to link to it. You can do this by creating info graphics, white-papers, e-books and video.

  • Link Building

    If you write great content, you’ll naturally get links but you may want to acquire them quicker. Many of our clients work with us because we deliver quality links. We spend the time researching and accumulating lists of great websites. We often times create great content that is easily accepted by web masters as it improves their site and allows us a link back.

  • Analysis

    The only way to identify your problem is through analysis and the only way to constantly improve is to constantly monitor your results and to tweak your actions along the way. But remember, it’s not just analysis, it’s creating action steps based on the data. Analysis without action is worthless.

Don’t be like our car service customer, diagnosing your own problems. Let the professionals take a look and make their best recommendations. Remember, they’re the ones that have seen and heard it all before. They can quickly determine the problem and through years of experience and lessons-learned, help you to improve your website presence in the most efficient manner possible.