small-businessAs a small business owner, the term affordable in any marketing piece always makes me either laugh a little or cringe.  Depending on the piece, I can almost tell instantly whether or not I can afford to participate or not.  When it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) though, the term is not always so transparent.  When the marketing piece you have to make a decision on often looks like a standard Search Engine Results Page (SERP) entry, how are you supposed to know who brings value and who does not?  The answer is simple, you don’t!  You have to actually click through the link and get to the website and then start the process of beginning to discern whether or not the term “affordable” actually applies to you and your business, or if it doesn’t.  Make no mistake about it though, you are the one who defines the term affordable, not the SEO Company or their slick website full of SEO’d copy and fancy <H1> tags telling you how “affordable” they are.

So how do you make the final call; Affordable or not?  It’s actually pretty simple if you stop and apply some simple yet effective business decision making strategies.  Weighing the “cost benefit analysis” is almost a must.  In other words, is the cost of the product or service going to benefit your company bottom line or website in a meaningful and real way?  To determine that you have to gather information on the services provided by the SEO company, previous customer experiences with the SEO company and some solid examples of ranking sites well.  To take it even a step further, are the examples provided using real Keyword examples, Keywords that are competitive or super competitive and bringing real traffic?  Does the SEO Company offer Analytics tracking and reporting?  Conversion tracking and reporting?  Landing page development, A/B and Multi-Variant testing and optimization?

These are the things that make a real difference to website owners, not just being on page one.  What good is it to be on page one of Google if the traffic it brings never gets converted into a paying customer?

So back to the original question;  What defines affordable SEO services for small business?  The answer is simply this…if you can make the payments to the vendor and they can deliver the traffic, conversions and revenue that will grow your business, how can you afford NOT to hire them?

One final thought.  Doing “something” is better than doing nothing.  If you can only afford $100.00/month to invest in your SEO program, then do it!  We have customers that start that way and within a couple of months they are able to increase that investment and therefore increase their results.  The point is this; they started with what they had, and that is much better than hoping or wishing SEO onto your site.

If you found this article helpful and you enjoyed it, please take a minute and share it through any of the social media share buttons located throughout the site.  We love our social media friends and the shares we get and we certainly will return the favor when and where possible.  You can also comment in the comments section below and regular commenters receive “Do-Follow” link status to help you with your SEO program!

Click-finders.com offers a full range of Internet Marketing services including Affordable SEO Services, PPC Management, Social Media, Inbound Marketing, Affiliate Marketing and more.  Contact us through www.click-finders.com, Twitter, Facebook and our Organic SEO Blog to learn more about Organic Search Engine Optimization and even request a FREE SEO Website Analysis.


 

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What does it take to rank number 1 on Google

Getting to the top of Google

Ranking Number 1 on Google is the goal of every website owner that ever considered, dreamed about or implemented an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy.  The benefits can far outweigh the cost or effort.  Companies have literally been transformed overnight because of this achievement.  Check this post out if you have ever wondered What Organic Search Engine Optimization Can Do For Your Business.  That article is filled with data and statistics that can blow your mind, they are staggering to say the least.  So let’s assume that you are convinced.  You are ready.  You want the fame and fortune that can come from the claiming the #1 spot on Google for your best keyword.  What exactly is it going to take to get there?  A lot of hard work, a little luck and some patience.  But if you do it right….this is what you can expect to see one day:

How to rank #1 on Google

Position #1 out of 171 Million Results

 HAVE GREAT CONTENT ON YOUR WEBSITE

I know, I know….you are tired of hearing this.  However, don’t discard this as another content is king post, it’s not.  Bottom line is this, people visit sites and send their friends to websites and LINK to websites that have great content.  If you don’t have great content, now is the time to develop a new content development strategy.  This may include redoing, updating or revising your “on page” content or it may include installing and building a business blog and the beginning of content generation in that form.  Blogs are wonderful tools for developing fresh, unique content on a regular basis.  If you don’t have a blog and are not posting on it on a regular basis, you will lose in the search engine to someone who is.  WordPress is a 100% FREE platform that is SEO friendly and more importantly, user friendly.

HAVE GOOD ON SITE TECHNICAL SEO

Make sure your site is coded properly and that you are “search engine friendly”.  Here are a few things you should look at and make sure that you are 100% optimized for:

  • HTML Meta Tags – Meta tags like <title>, <Meta description=”XXX”/>, <Meta keywords=”XXX”/> are all still very important and you should definitely be using your best keywords in these tags properly and often.
  • On Page Content – Use your keywords in your on page content. 
  • Image ALT Tags – Make sure every image has <alt> tag descriptions with your chosen keywords.
  • URL Structure – Make sure your URL structure is clean and concise.  That your URL’s don’t use random character strings and that you do not have any broken links on your site.

LINKBUILDING

Assuming that you have great content and that your website is properly formatted, that still may not be enough to rank you on Page 1 of Google, never less position number 1.  You may have to perform some website promotion, otherwise known as link building.  When another website links to your site, Google sees that as a “virtual vote” from another webmaster and considers this the highest possible compliment.  So promote your site and get as many industry related and relevant websites as you can to link back to you.  Remember, quality of links is better than quantity.  You can literally outrank a competitor that has 10,000 low quality links if you have 500 high quality, industry related and highly relevant links from high PR and trusted sites.  Most people choose to outsource this particular function.  Finding, cultivating and tracking quality backlinks can be very time consuming and monotonous.  Finding a quality SEO service provider that offers Affordable SEO Services will save you a lot of time and a lot of mistakes and potential Google penalties.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Don’t like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Pintrest?  Think they are for younger website owners or teenagers and there is no place for your business on these social media sites?  Think again my friend.  Google and Bing have both proclaimed loudly that they are using social media signals to help rank websites.  What does that mean?  It means, the more Facebook “likes” you have, the more Tweets you have with links to your website, the more YouTube views and “likes” you have the better your rankings will be.  This is compounded to the “Nth” degree with Google+.

PATIENCE

Lastly, you do need to have some patience.  If you just launched a brand new website you can pretty much forget about ranking on page one of Google anytime soon, unless you are ranking for a very long tail keyword or a keyword that has ZERO competition, meaning it will have few (if any) searches for it and thus useless to you and your business.  It takes time to build trust and authority with the search engines, in some cases it may take a few years to rank for a highly competitive keyword, and that’s with the help of some good Professional SEO Services.  So patience is a MUST.  If you push too hard or get sucked into “black hat” techniques in hopes of speeding up the process, you may very well find yourself in the Google penalty box or worse, removed from the index altogether.

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to some top rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing!  If you did just launch a website and HAVE to be on page one tomorrow, then you need Google Adwords and you will need to be running a Google Adwords PPC (Pay Per Click) Campaign.  Our suggestion would be to split your marketing dollars on Adwords and SEO, that way you don’t get stuck on 100% Adwords for the life of your website.

If you found this article helpful and you enjoyed it, please take a minute and share it through any of the social media share buttons located throughout the site.  We love our social media friends and the shares we get and we certainly will return the favor when and where possible.  You can also comment in the comments section below and regular commenters receive “Do-Follow” link status to help you with your SEO program!

Click-finders.com offers a full range of Internet Marketing services including Affordable SEO Services, PPC Management, Social Media, Inbound Marketing, Affiliate Marketing and more.  Contact us through www.click-finders.com, Twitter, Facebook and our Organic SEO Blog to learn more about Organic Search Engine Optimization and even request a FREE SEO Website Analysis.

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Danger BAD SEO's are everywhere!  Learn more at click-finders.com
Bad SEO’s are everywhere…

I know that we have posted a few recent images that cover the difference between “Paid results” and “Organic results” so I apologize right now for another.  However, this topic is just too important not cover, even if it means I have to post another “Paid vs Organic” search result image yet again.  Besides, this is an entirely different take on the subject that covers SEO Advertisers.  But wait, aren’t they the guys that are supposed to know the difference between the two (paid vs organic)?  Yep….you bethcha!  We as Search Engine Optimization Professionals absolutely should know the difference.  So why then, is there the need to cover this topic yet again?  The reason for this blog post is to educate the general public about the difference.  I received a call this week from a potential client who found us on the first page of Google (just like they are supposed to).  After the initial introductions and pleasantries, we started getting down to the brass tacks of the conversation and I was asked, “if you are such a good SEO agency, why is XYZ firm at the top of the page and not you?”.  The potential client was referring to a firm that was listed in the paid search results (the very top three on the page).  Here’s another example of Paid vs Organic search results for those that do not know the difference:

 

Organic vs Paid - SEO Services Warning by click-finders.com

Organic vs Paid Search

I used this particular example because it happens to be the exact search that the potential client used when searching for an SEO Agency to help him with his SEO program.  Affordable SEO Services Company is a term that click-finders.com happens to rank #1 for out of 150,000,000 possible results.  Pretty impressive huh?  Anyway, after a few minutes of conversation, I explained to the caller that those top three results in the slightly shaded box are actually “paid ads” and that he should consider that strongly before making a final decision.

“As much as I hate to admit it, there are hundreds if not thousands of so called ‘SEO Agencies’ out there that take advantage of unsuspecting and uneducated business owners.”

So why then use Google Adwords to promote an “SEO Company”?  Because there are just too many people out there that don’t know the difference between SEO and Paid Search.  They type in a search term and click the top result and don’t think another thing about it unless they did not find what they are looking for, in which case they simply perform another search.  An unscrupulous company might be one who then sets up a Google Adwords account and posts an ad for SEO Services and then just takes the money and does nothing for their customers.  Or they charge a large amount of money and open an Adwords account for their new client and actually show them the results they got them. 

Either way I think you really have to ask yourself if you want to hire a company to help you get to the top of the “organic search results” that has to have an Adword account and pay Google in order for you to find them.  I would tread cautiously for sure and treat suspect any company that uses Paid Search to advertise for Organic SEO Services.

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this article please share it with any of the multiple social media share widgets on this blog (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Social Bookmarking).  Also, please feel free to comment below.  I openly welcome any and all feedback, especially from other internet professionals!

Click-finders.com is a full service internet marketing company that offers a full range of services including Affordable SEO Services, PPC Adword Campaigns, Social Media Marketing, Web Development and more!  Contact us today for a FREE no obligation SEO Analysis of your website and find out today, what it’s going to take to rank high in the search engines!

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It’s the same I suppose, across all industries, not just SEO Services.  You work hard for each and every sale.  You make contact, build trust, present your ideas/solutions, negotiate pricing and then get the contract signed.  Anyone want to guess what comes next?  That’s right…the very next question is “how long before I start to see results?”  Or, “why am I not seeing results sooner?”  Now we, like any reputable SEO company out there would, do a pretty good job of explaining the process of SEO and estimating time frames for ranking results during the sales process.  However, that still does not stop the questions or comments about why and exactly how long it is taking to start seeing results.  So in the spirit of sharing some “tid-bits” of information I have learned over the years, the following article is all about the question “why am I not seeing results yet?” 

“In a perfect world, you would be able to place your order for SEO on Monday and by the time you came into the office on Tuesday, you would be ranked number #1.  Oh wait, that’s PPC!”

So let’s take a look at the SEO paradigm and break it down a little so we can understand what goes into an SEO package (if done properly) and what three factors play a role in the deliverables of any good SEO Services program. 

seo-quality-cost-time-pyramid

Pick any two

 

 

In the above graphic, please note the four tiers of the SEO Triangle (more on each of these in a later post).  They are the basic building blocks of any successful SEO program.  The problem is that they all take time, money and energy to create good quality (or better yet…GREAT Quality) results.  So if we agree that we have to have great quality results, that we want those results as quickly as possible and that we want to pay only what we absolutely have to and not a penny more…how do we decide what happens next? 

“When it comes right down to it, you cannot have all of the above three triangle points (Quality, Speed and Low Cost).  I tell my clients who don’t understand this that they can pick any two.  Here’s what I mean by that…”

Pick any two!  That’s right, you can only have two out of the three items on the triangle (Quality, Cost and Time).  Which ones do you want?  They invariably look at me like I have lost my mind, but after a quick explanation they understand and then make their selections and we go to work.  Here is how I break it down; 

Option 1 – I Want High Quality and I Want it Fast 

Easy enough.  If you don’t care what the cost is or have an unlimited budget, we can go as fast as possible (while still maintaining a natural look to Google) and get right to work to accelerate your SEO program.  Again, your price is likely to be very high for this work.  There is also an element of risk with any “accelerated” SEO program because Google may flag too much activity as un-natural and penalize your site for that activity.  Only go this route with an experienced SEO that knows where the edge of the  envelope is so you don’t fall off! 

Option 2 – I Want it Fast and I Do Not Want to Pay a Lot 

This is where most people get into trouble.  There are a lot of SEO’s out there who promise you fast results like “top of Google in 30 days”.  The bad part is that some people actually fall for this stuff.  Let me explain one scenario that I have seen over and over again.  Let’s say you own a web site that sells baby products like diapers, clothes, feeding bottles and more.  Maybe you built the site yourself or had someone else build it, either way, the site has never been optimized for search engines.  What these low level (I hesitate to call them scammers) SEO’s do is promise you top of Google in 30 days for only $250.00 or your money back!  Or worse, no charge until you are on top and then it’s $250.00/month while you stay there.  Let’s face it folks, anyone can get a web site to rank for “Tallahassee Baby Supplies by Joan, Inc.” in less than 30 days but how much traffic is that going to bring you?  Is that a keyword that Google has indexed and shown as having “X” amount of traffic per month?  I highly doubt it. 

Option 3 – I Want High Quality and Low Cost 

You can have a high quality SEO program at a very affordable rate if you don’t care that it takes 5 years to rank well for your keywords.  Again, an effective SEO program does require a lot of effort and expense.  The longer you allow for results the more the work can be spread out over a greater period of time and thus you have a lower monthly out lay.  Please note that in the end, you may actually end up spending more for the final product.

 

“You get what you pay for.  I grew up hearing my dad say that over and over.  I learned that lesson at a very early age and it has served me well over the years.  When I do get the occasional urge to try and skimp somewhere, it almost always comes back and bites me.”

Pick your SEO Services firm carefully.  Make sure you ask the kind of questions that will give you the comfort level you need.   A little bit of research on your part will go a long way and empower you to be able to ask some of these questions.  In the end, people usually do business with people they trust.  If your SEO Services vendor has not yet earned that trust, then why would you give them your business? 

One last thought on cost…most SEO Firms will evaluate each customer individually and are capable of building custom plans that allow even the smallest of businesses to begin an SEO Program regardless of pricing shown on their web site or printed materials.  If you think you cannot afford SEO, ask your SEO Vendor for a custom “starter plan”.  If they are reputable, know what they are doing, they should be able to craft a plan that you can afford that will deliver some benefit to your SEO program.  From there you can grow your business and therefore the SEO can EARN more business from you once you start to grow.

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JC Penny - SEO Scandel

JC Penny SEO Scandal Exposed

On February 12th, 2011, David Segal of the New York Times, broke the story The Dirty Little Secrets of Search.  David worked with SEO Expert Doug Pierce of Blue Fountain Media.  What they found is shaking the foundation of the search engine marketing world and very quickly even further dividing the line between “Black Hat” and “White Hat” SEO practitioners, not to mention flat out embarrassing Google to the core.  The way the story reads is that JC Penny hired an SEO firm who then allegedly performed a big SEO “no-no”. 

According to the New York Times, JC Penny, hired the SEO firm SearchDex who then proceeded to “buy” links on JC Penny’s behalf.  That is a cardinal sin in SEO according to many previous interviews with Matt Cutts, Google’s chief search and anti-spam cop.  Here is a quick video from over 3 years ago, illustrating Google’s policy on buying links way back when:

 

The New York Times got Matt’s take on the whole JC Penny Scandal.  Matt was visibly upset that it took a media icon like the New York Times working with an SEO expert to expose this scenario.  He towed the company line though and did his best to reassure the rest of the search engine world that Google is working hard to prevent situations like this from occurring.  He was quick to remind us all of the fact that the internet is enormous and policing it is not an easy job.  In fact in my opinion, Google and Matt get a pass on this one. 

“For those that think Matt’s response was ‘canned’ or very ‘corporate’…well of course it was!  Did you honestly expect anything else?  Google is trying very hard to preserve it’s ‘Fair and Impartial’ perception to the world.  Having Matt go off about this and permanently banning JC Penny would not quite send that message would it? ”

I prefer to take issue with JC Penny.  They have promptly fired SearchDex, claiming they had no direct knowledge of the link buying campaign.  Ok so what?  They are not guilty, just incompetent?  Which is it?  There is no way you can justify not being one or the other.  JC Penny either had direct knowledge of the link buying scheme or they are totally incompetent marketers and executives who cannot manage a contractor properly.

“Simply claiming you knew nothing about the link building scheme and promptly firing your SEO contractor does not relinquish your responsibility to know what your employees and your contractors are doing on your behalf.”

In the end, JC Penny had a responsibility to KNOW what their contractor was up to prior to the New York Times exposing this scandal.  A very quick and superficial check of SearchDex reveals the following items:

URL: http://www.searchdex.com/
Title: SearchDex – Search Marketing Company – Software & Service
Meta keywords:  None
Meta description:  None
Internal links: 28 (0 nofollow)
External links: 2 (0 nofollow)
Server: Apache/2.2.4 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.2.4 OpenSSL/0.9.7a PHP/5.2.1
Links to Domain:  163
Google Indexed Pages:  51
PageRank:  2
Last Site Update:  July 14, 2008

I found all of this information within 4 minutes, so any SEO worth their salt can see that this site has been around since 2001 and was updated pretty regularly until 2008.  But since then has not been updated at all.  You can also see that with only 163 incoming links, they certainly are not practicing what they preach about internet marketing.  They also only rank for only one of the two search terms that their web site is optimized for as it relates to internet marketing.  You do not have to be an SEO expert to see that they probably are not the horse you want to ride.  You do have to know a little bit about SEO and the SEO process to see these things and that’s were JC Penny had an obligation to make sure they hired a quality contractor to perform this work.  So who was the executive that hired them and exactly what process did they go through to qualify this firm?  This is where they failed miserably in my opinion. 

“The only other scenario is that JC Penny ‘used’ SearchDex as a patsy.  By that I mean that they hired SearchDex and told them to buy links for them and then through plausible deniability at the highest levels, promptly fired the so called ‘dirty’ SEO firm.”

Either way, looks like we may never know the real deal.  SearchDex has remained quiet (as of the time that this post was written) and is not saying one way or another whether or not JC Penny had knowledge of the link building techniques being used.  So we are left in the dark and JC Penny gets a slap on the wrist.  The rest of us go back to work and see if we can’t make a difference in this wonderful world of Search Engine Marketing.

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