Finding Passionate Subject Matter Experts to Help with Your Content Creation

Posted by Pete Caputa on Aug 13, 2008 8:55:00 AM

Brook Group is a client of mine. (Advice from Kara Brook.) They are also a great partner and we have a bunch of mutual clients. One of them is HaloPets. I've been advising Kara all along about how to help her clients generate more traffic, leads and sales from their online marketing.

We were talking about the Halo Pets Organic Pet Food blog the other day. Specifically, we were talking about the style of writing, as well as how to use the blog strategically to increase traffic from search engines.

A blog is a great SEO tool. Many people blog and just stuff their keywords in it. That doesn't quite do it, although as Rick Barnes mentions, traffic to a blog from SEO should justify the time spent on blogging. A successful blogger also engages with their audience. They spend as much time reading other blogs, leaving comments on other blogs, linking to other blogs, etc. This helps them grow their own readership faster, generate more comments from others on their own blog and get more links pointing to their site. All of these activities will help drive direct traffic, as well as increase the amount of traffic from search engines (because of the new inbound links).

Humans have this strange interest in connecting with humans through common interests. Yeah. I know. It's not that strange. I'm being sarcastic. But, most new business bloggers don't realize that blogging is about a conversation.

Not every blogger is great at this. It takes a knack for storytelling, relating and listening that few souls have. One of those souls who has it, is one of my best friends, Amy Breton. I've blogged about her before. But, I also connected Amy and Kara and Kara recruited her to write for the HaloPets blog. Amy has a great knack for storytelling and an amazing knack for connecting to animals and humans, alike.

Here's a video that the Boston Globe recently produced about Amy and her husband owning the oldest living rabbit, Guinness approved.

Here's Amy bio on the HaloPets blog. And here's an article that Amy wrote about why dogs eat poop. If you don't plan to read the whole article, you should know that it's generally ok that dogs eat their own poop. You shouldn't though.

Read Amy's writing. You'll see the passion. Take a bit deeper look and you'll realize that Amy's articles get more Digg mentions, as well as a few more comments than the average post on HaloPets. I expect that to increase in time, since HaloPets is now a group blog with a lot of interesting writers, and Kara's team is smart about networking online.

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Topics: SEO, search engine optimization, business blogging, seo and blogging, blog readership

The Best Search Engine Marketing Program Available 2008

Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 31, 2008 9:27:00 AM

Chris Johnson is a colleauge of mine at HubSpot.

Here's a rough transcript of a recent call:

CJ: Hello Mr. X. You recently did a search at Google for "The Best Search Engine Marketing Program Available 2008". It looks like you found us. Are you trying to optimize something?
Prospect: blah blah blah.

Two things that made this blogworthy, atleast in my opinion.

  1. That's Long Tail. We certainly didn't set out to rank for that "search phrase". It happened, though. I'd imagine that noone will ever type that phrase again. But, when we add up all of the 1 time relevant phrases that people type, it starts to add up to a lot of visitors and leads.
  2. Google Delivers "the Best". It's interesting how people ask Google, a computer that crunches our links to determine quality, for the "best" solutions. During Mark Roberge's presentation on SEO yesterday at the WBJ Sales Summit (his slides), he used the example of searching for "best plumber". Sam Wildt raised his hand and made the point that the person that ranks at the top isn't necessarily the "best". Mark agreed and explained that Google makes their best estimation. The crazy apart about it... is that many people start their search with "best" in front of their search term. They must believe that Google brings back "the best" or atleast some approximation of it that helps them start their buying process.
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Topics: find keywords, SEO, search engine optimization

Search Engine Optimization for Small Businesses

Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 23, 2008 1:05:00 AM

I found this article, "Why SEO Industry Needs Small Business", written by Matt McGee of Marchex.

Here are the reasons why he thinks the SEO Industry needs SMBs, according to the article:
  • Your big clients will eventually disappear. (Meaning they will have in-house SEO talent.)
  • Small businesses are/will be increasingly interested in search marketing.
  • Finding accurate information about SEO and search marketing is tough.

I agree with all of his points.

Unfortunately, Matt is looking at this from the angle.

Small businesses need Search Engine Optimization. They are now educated enough to know they need it.

Unfortunately, large SEO firms will never serve small businesses.

What IS happening is that most small businesses rely on local web design and development firms to do SEO for them.

This isn't good either because most of these firms aren't that good. Or the good ones are too expensive. And worse, most do it in isolation without their clients involvement and treat SEO like a one time activity.

That's fakin bacon. Not SEO.

SEO should be done by the people that invent, make and sell the products at the company. They will need to learn the basics and manage the process internally. After they learn the basics and have the right SEO tools and systems in place to track leads and sales generated from their activities, they should should hire a full time blogger and social media marketing coordinator who is responsible for teaching the entire organization how to leverage the web to generate interest, website traffic, leads and sales. Outsourcing this task is like outsourcing your face to face networking or all of your customer service. It's core to the business.

The most time consuming task required - in order to do SEO successfully - is content creation. Should you really fully outsource the voice of your company? If you're going to outsource it, shouldn't it be to a writer or a messaging person

Further, in the very near future, even GOOD SEO skills will ultimately be like html writing skills. Many more people know how to write html now than in the 90s. Now, you wouldn't pay someone $150/hour to write html like people did in the 90s. In a few years, we'll look back at the $150-$300/hour pay that good SEO firms receive and think that was pretty silly too.

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Topics: SEO, search engine optimization, small business advice

Network Solutions Probably Shouldn't Be in the SEO Business

Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 7, 2008 10:33:00 AM

I have never spoken with someone who has been happy with their experience buying SEO services from Network Solutions. I have not hired them myself. So, I have no first hand experience. And I welcome them to defend themselves in my comments. However, I've had a handful of clients who had negative experiences with them.

This is from a colleague:

They hired Network Solutions to do some SEO work and it did not yield more traffic and leads.

This is from a client:

"Network Solutions and [my business] were not a good match. Their communications were not timely and their reports were not user friendly."

The interesting part is that I am sure Network Solutions knows what they're doing. Here's a video with an exec at Network Solutions. She knows SEO and has good advice:


Here's the problems I have with Network Solutions:

  • SEO is rarely successful, where success is defined by a measurable marketing ROI, if it is a one time outsourced task. Network Solutions sells it as a one time outsourced task. SEO requires a collaborative effort between an SEO expert and the subject matter expert who is creating compelling content. In house subject matter experts can be trained to do the basics and be successful if they're blogging and doing keyword research. But, if you're going to outsource SEO, you need a long term partner. It's not like buying advertising. It's more like hiring a salesperson who focusses on lead generation/lead qualification.
  • It is extremely difficult to guarantee results. I've helped 50+ clients rank for their keywords and I rarely ever guarantee a ranking for a specific keyword. In other words, I know what it takes, but I don't make specific guarantees. My guarantee is that if you do what we tell you, you will generate more traffic and leads within a few months. Network Solutions guarantees top 10 results in one of a few top search engines. This is sneaky and doesn't necessarily translate into results. Surprisingly, or not, many small business owners fall for the guarantee. I'm reminded of the scene from Tommy Boy when he suggests crapping in a box and putting a guarantee on it - in order to battle a sales objection. I might start using that line.

I'm fine with Network Solutions selling SEO services. They just need to start doing it right. There are enough fly-by-night operations selling SEO shams, that make it harder for the good guys doing the right things for their clients.

Not only do they have a reputation to protect of their own. They shouldn't be doing the internet marketing industry a disservice.

Network Solutions should be taking the high road. They should be selling SEO results and delivering an iterative SEO process. Not selling a few promises and a few hours of "SEO work".

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Topics: SEO, search engine optimization

Content & Links, Content & Links, Content Links

Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 24, 2008 2:03:00 PM

Content & links are critical to internet marketing success.

Just so you guys know I'm not making this up, here's some very smart and successful people saying the same thing. 

This is the most important stuff if you want to increase your organic search rankings.  And if you're doing it right, compelling content creates links. 

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Topics: SEO, search engine optimization, link building, content creation

Quick SEO Tutorial

Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 15, 2008 10:22:00 AM

I think that the basics of search engine optimization should be a prerequisite for graduating high school. It should be a course offered to marketing majors in college. If you're in a marketing profession and/or responsible for generating leads online for your business, you should strive to be an expert at SEO.

I think I linked to this before, but my sales cycle would be so much quicker if more prospects understood the ABC's of SEO before they talked to me. So, here's a quick overview of the basics of SEO created by Noah Brier:

Watching that will take you 7 minutes. And at the end, you'll know more about SEO than 70% of the people I speak with. That'll make you 70% more likely to be equipped to attract more traffic to your site. I sound like an infomercial here, but if growing your business is important to you, and your website is an important part of growing your business, you should spend the time.

Awhile ago, HubSpot published a bit more detailed search engine optimization tutorial.

In case you missed it a few weeks ago, here's SEO mistakes I see every day when I look at prospect clients' websites.

More advanced stuff coming soon.

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Topics: SEO, search engine optimization

Don't Make These Search Engine Optimization Mistakes

Posted by Pete Caputa on Mar 13, 2008 5:26:00 PM

I wrote a post over on the HubSpot blog entitled "Top 10 Most Egregious Search Engine Optimization Mistakes".

I'd like to eventually write the Top 100 list. So, go leave your list in the comments.
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Topics: SEO, search engine optimization

Internet Marketing eBook

Posted by Pete Caputa on Mar 6, 2008 2:01:00 PM

HubSpot just launched an 11 page free internet marketing eBook. If you're a small business owner, marketing or sales professional and are frustrated with not generating enough leads from your website, you should go read it online or download it.

Here's the sections: 

1. How the Internet Has Transformed Business
2. Outbound vs Inbound Marketing
3. B2B Marketing Research
4. Organic vs Paid Search
5. On Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
6. Off Page SEO or Link Building
7. Starting a Blog
8. Convert Website Visitors into Leads
9. Web Marketing Analytics
10. Other Internet Marketing Resources.  

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Topics: SEO, blogging for business, search engine optimization, marketing analytics, ppc, inbound marketing

How To Do Keyword Research for Search Engine Optimization.

Posted by Pete Caputa on Feb 21, 2008 1:29:00 PM

I said I'd be sharing how I am doing keyword research and search engine optimization for my site. I'm still planning to do that. In the meanwhile, if you want to know how to get started with Search Engine Optimization the right way, here's the first step: 

  1. Start by asking people (ie customers, employees, partners, suppliers) what they might type into a search engine in order to find what you sell. Think as big and as broad as possible. Even include words that are less relevant than others as you may find out later that they are much easier to rank high for, yet still attract the right prospect to your site. 
  2. Plug those words into a keyword suggestion tool that helps you identify keywords and keyword phrases that you might not have considered. Consider them. Consider them all. Don't discount anything yet. This is like brainstorming. Ever been in a room for the purpose of brainstorming with that jerk who wants to shoot down everyone's ideas? In Keyword Research, in the beginning, no idea is bad. Don't be that jerk. 
  3. On an ongoing basis, track which keywords (and keyword phrases) people are entering into search engines in order to arrive at your site.  You'll need an analytics tool for this. You'll find that people enter in very strange and long phrases and arrive at your site. For example, I got two visitors this past month who searched for "how to generate leads from your website". That's good traffic even though it's only a trickle. A good analytics package helps you identify keyword phrases that are obscure but very relevant.  Unless you spend 10 days brainstorming, you're not going to figure these out. But, once you do identify them from your analytics package, you can create some content around them. Imagine if I could find 100 phrases like "how to generate leads from your website" that generates two visitors/month for me. 
  4. Use a tool that helps identify keywords that have adequate search volume, that tracks where you rank now for your keywords, and gives you an estimation of how hard it will be to rank on the first page of search engines for them. Use these three critera, plus relevance to determine your favorite keywords. Yes, now you can start crossing some off of the list. Or atleast giving them a low relevance rating. 
  5. Make the right changes to your site in order to rank for these keywords.
  6. Come up with a strategy to put more content on your site. You'll most likely need to add more pages to your site. Starting a blog is a great way to do this: a blog creates a new page every time you write an article. Every time you create a new page, you can target a few new keywords.
  7. Create inbound links to your site using a variety of link building strategies including creating your own links on social media, social networking sites and directories; interacting with bloggers; optimized press release distribution, etc.
  8. Track rankings as they climb (or sink) for each individual keyword by tracking which pages of your site ranks in what place in the search engines. This helps you to determine which page on your site to modify in order to move from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc page of google to the 1st for a given keyword. If you're suddenly on the second page for a keyword, you can basically go back through steps 1 through 7, find more keywords that are related, create some more content, build some more links. Then, you'll get to be on the first page and you'll get more and more traffic. 
  9. Track and evaluate the value of your incoming links in order to assess which ones are helping which pages rank for a given keyword. This helps you determine how to intelligently build more links to your site in order to move from 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc page of google to the 1st for a given keyword. For example, I know that I rank high for a search for "how to generate leads using linkedin". That link (even though it's from my own blog) will help me cement that position. If someone else links to that (hint. hint) it'll help even more.
  10. Track your competitors keyword rankings and inbound links in order to evaluate how to duplicate your competitor's success. It's possible to do all of what I listed above on your competitor's sites. Remember the days of asking your clients for information (catalogs, brochures, pricing, how they sell, how they position products, etc) about your competitor's. All that and much  more is at your fingertips. You can now figure out exactly how your competitor's get prospects to visit their websites, how much traffic they're getting because of what they're doing and whether or not they're converting a lot of their traffic into business. There's no reason not to do competitive intelligence. And now you can do more than ever was posssible before. Most importantly, you can benefit almost immediately from this knowledge by duplicating what they're doing successfully. 
  11. Track which keywords deliver relevant visitors that convert into leads and sales.
  12. Repeat this process until you have more leads than you can handle. I'd argue that you shouldn't stop then, either. But, you should set your goals. Not me

In order to pull this off, you can go find about 10 free tools, spend about 20 hours either integrating them or slicing and dicing data that they spit out, then read about 20 SEO blogs over 3 months to figure out how to actually implement. Or we can just have a conversation. I have one affordable tool, all the knowledge you need in an easily digestable form, and all the tools you need to implement it. And you'll be making progress within one month. 

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Topics: keyword research, keyword discovery, search engine optimization

The Problems That I Solve

Posted by Pete Caputa on Feb 11, 2008 11:06:00 AM

I'm spending most of my time calling people who have expressed interest in HubSpot's strategic internet marketing platform.  Sometimes, I don't have the opportunity to dig into issues a business might be having when I call them. 

That's ok. Just in case it was a bad time, their boss just asked them to do something unreasonable, or their cat just died, this post might help them figure out whether I might be able to help them... when they have a moment.

Here's a list of things I help businesses with:

  • Can you edit and add content to your website without paying your webmaster or waiting for the tech team to do it? Does your website go for months without anything new for visitors to read or for search engines to index?
  • Is your online marketing strategy delivering results? Do you have one? Or does your website still look like the brochure you designed in 1999?
  • Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) something "you think your web designer did" and not something you do everyday? Can you predict and measure the amount of traffic and leads you get as a result of your internal or outsourced SEO efforts? When you did keyword research, did you do anything more than brainstorm what your clients "might type" at google?
  • Is your site visitor to lead conversion rate lower than 2%? Do you even measure that? Is your call to action a "Contact Us" button or buried at the bottom of the site?
  • Do you have a blogging strategy that generates increased visitors and leads for your business?
  • Do you know how to build links to your website that drive qualified visitors? How about links that increase your rankings in the search engines for the right search terms?
  • Are you spending a lot of money on pay per click ads that send visitors to your home page instead of landing pages optimized to get the visitor to convert into a lead? Are you spending a lot on PPC ads without even investigating whether SEO could help you rank in the organic rankings?
  • Do you have a strategy for Digg, Delicious, Myspace, Facebook and LinkedIn that again generates qualified traffic and leads? Have you even visited these sites to see how many of your prospects are interacting with your competitors?
  • Are you still doing Public Relations primarily with a telephone instead of online SEO friendly wire services? How's that going?
  • Are you tired of guessing what to do to market your busines online? Or worse, paying high-priced, do-little consultants to tell you what to do? Or even worse, paying very high priced firms to do things that you don't quite understand and they can't quite explain?
  • Does your marketing department generate qualified timely leads for your sales people using the web? Do your sales people know how to support your online marketing efforts? Do your salespeople know how to generate their own leads from online networking?
  • Do you have an email, web and webinar strategy that nurtures and educates your site visitors and prospects? Do people tell you, "I've been watching your company for a few months now. I'm ready to get started working with you."?

If they have one of these problems and they'd like to discuss how I can help them, I'm happy to make 15-30 minutes available for them free of charge to discuss their unique challenges and needs. If there's a fit after that, I'll also help them identify the business growth opportunities available to their specific business through online marketing. If we agree that I can help them solve their problems and there's sufficient opportunity to warrant an investment from them, I'll make an appropriate recommendation.

They should contact me through this form.

 


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Topics: search engine optimization, lead generation, web design, blogging

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