After five years, Paul Stinemetz returned to the United States as part of the Local Marketing Summit in Denver, Colorado. He brings everyone up to speed on the work he’s been doing in the Philippines, which includes consulting for over 1200 marketing firms and building Endlessrise as an online marketing outsource company with over 300 employees.
Tracking Keyword Search Traffic in Webmaster Tools
When Google removed the keywords from its Analytics service, it got chaotic and people weren’t too happy with it. Some believed that Google had an “ulterior motive” for not showing keyword data, like they were trying to drive away people from keywords. Google does take issue to over optimization of particular keywords (or what’s pretty much spamming).
However, Paul says not to worry since it was something they’ve been doing in Webmasters. Google has been pulling this data into Webmaster tools for a long time. But many didn’t know how to get this data out of webmaster tools.
With the data recently released into their API, you can still go into Webmaster Tools for search queries, impressions or clicks, bringing a “new ballgame” in how you’re going to be tracking SEO.
In the Webmasters Tools, you can no longer setup and track your conversions from the point they came in from the search or the keyword, which is where most people’s discontent comes from. Custom analytics programs still offers this though, meaning it wasn’t removed completely. Google still passes the header information that analytics can pick up. It tracks the same way Google Analytics does, but just needs a custom version of it.
Top Pages and Search Queries can also be seen now in Webmasters Tools. It’s made even better now because Top Pages for Impressions are shown. As Paul compared “They (Analytics) wouldn’t track something unless a click came into your site.” On the other hand, Webmasters can now let you see “if your content silo is being successful.” In fact, Google has actually unveiled MORE keyword specific traffic data through Webmasters than in Analytics. This provides a bigger opportunity and why Paul wanted to bring it up. Bing is now also doing the same thing and is not a negative detriment.
Webmasters also lets you go down to the keyword level for you to view your top landing pages. It can be drilled down to see the top landing pages per keyword. The reverse can also be done i.e. you can see the top landing pages and what keywords are driving it. This is a good idea when you ask yourself “What are the best pages I can map these keywords to?” and how you want to map your keywords for on-page optimization.
If a client already has traffic being generated from those keywords you want to target, “you want to be able to drill down and find the pages that are already containing that search traffic.” Webmasters can do that even if they’re not getting traffic but the impressions.
Top 10 Mistakes Internet Marketing Agencies are Making in 2013
Paul is excited to present this. From his experiences in giving webinars and talks about advanced methods, “a lot of agencies are missing the basics.” The ten mistakes that Paul observed go back to this very tenet: for all the advanced training and strategies that a company can apply, they should also not forget about the basics.
10. Not Working Hard to get Good Leads
There is a lack of consistent lead generation strategy. Sales are always one of the largest barriers when producing leads. It’s what runs a company and regardless of the sales method, companies have a hard time choosing one or what works for them.
All sales methods work, but people are not focused on using them with a particular strategy. They bounce around a lot with different lead generation strategies and end up running in circles. Instead, companies have to focus on whatever works for them and their sales team, stick to it and work really hard on it.
9. Not Pricing Services Properly
Lately, companies are not charging enough for their services. Some of them also lack the basic understanding of how to properly price themselves. It’s a popular question asked during webinars and for good reason. They do not understand their competition; whether it’s the niche they’re in or even geographic location.
8. Lack of Marketing Agency Uniqueness
This is the most common roadblock for anyone starting out. Many companies have a hard time standing out or saying why they are better than their competitors. They fail to evolve even though “it doesn’t take a lot to be unique” according to Paul.
Standing out is easier to do if it’s in a niche since the target market is very specialized or specific, thereby presenting many opportunities to be different. But for companies who aren’t in a niche, there are some that evolved through a unique product that was successful. Compared to run-off-the-mill, templated service, the former is certainly more appealing.
Paul asserts that agencies have to make to “evolve your product internally and find unique ways to assimilate it with other services that you pull in.” As a personal preference, he is a big fan of “sending something tangible” to clients on a quarterly basis since it is a unique gesture. This can range from printed infographics or videos placed inside USB drives or digital picture frames.
7. Insufficient Legal Paperwork, Contracts and Agreements
Problems with legal paperwork are a huge pet peeve of Paul’s. He believes it’s important to cover the terms and conditions with clients on their contracts. Proper legal paperwork solidifies protection for a company, but there is an “extreme lack” of it.
So why is it often missed? Paul believes it’s because “People don’t want to put a lot of information in front of the client for them to sign.” A one-page contract is good but psychologically, people are getting used to long digital agreements. When you think about digital products like iTunes and Photoshop, users are often prompted with the Terms of Service (TOS) that is, in essence, the legal framework of how you should use the product you have. There is the option to “Agree” to the TOS right away, which would be the equivalent to signing a legal contract. With this comparison, Paul still supports the one-page contract but if possible, companies can follow the TOS method but with electronic signatures. Having plenty of information in contract is great for legality and companies shouldn’t be afraid of making them, “but put it in a digital form.”
6. Little to No Training Materials for Employees
When it comes to training new employees, companies often just give rough outlines or verbal training at best. There should be something more solid and substantial to break them in. Paul believes, for instance, there should be training modules wherein trainees can handle it themselves. Remember that you cannot hold someone responsible for their actions if they were not properly trained.
Companies can only scale as good as their training materials are. Every company with an employee problem that Paul reviewed noted that they did not have a proper training module. He says to “Create your training materials first because that’s what will collapse a company….if you want to grow to be a big company, create your training materials.”
5. No “Viral Growth” Game Plan
No small agency is going to go viral right away. It takes time with a larger client base and with proper establishment with your brand out there. But what are you going to do to go viral and when?
To “go viral,” according to Paul, means “you don’t have to fight for trickling leads….when you have leads coming to you, to me that’s going viral”. He believes that having a viral growth game plan is like having a business plan in that “You’re never going to get there if you don’t have a plan.” Companies have to ask themselves: “What are your milestones, your steps to getting there?”
Paul throws out some ideas like becoming a notable speaker in your community, especially if you’re going after a particular niche. He uses the example of speaking engagements with 150 people in one hour. If done one on one, it would take a 150 hours or about “18 days to cover that.”
It was still work, but a webinar with over 500 attendees means reaching the same group of people you would in 500 one hour single sessions, but in less time. It went “viral” by Paul’s definition because he didn’t have to grind through his leads and they trickled through instead. If you are smarter than the next guy, you’ll be more successful than the next guy.
4. Selling the Client What Makes them Happy-Not What’s Best for Them
SEO’s main goal has always been retention. To that end, closing clients has never been easy for anyone.
It’s a common thing in sales to be presented with a situation where you tell yourself “It’s what’s best for my client but not my profit margin” or that “it’s what’s best for the client but they want something different.” It then ends up being a situation on whether to sell what’s easy to close the sale or what’s best for them. On the flipside, it would be like asking if you want a short term client making a larger profit margin over a short period of time, or a long term client making a smaller profit margin over a long period of time.
It gets problematic selecting services that will never have any ROI. While it’s great to take on many opportunities for your business, you need to evaluate if it’s worth your time, and if you should pick and choose your clients.
Competitive keywords make it easy to close the sale, but some companies choose ones that are too competitive. They also try to rank in cities that they have no physical location in.
3. Improper Management of Client Expectations
Traffic does not come overnight. A sales team should know how to manage clients’ expectations as a result. They need to be briefed properly on what would be best for their SEO if they want to be kept around. Misjudging can lead to very short term clients.
It’s not very realistic to say you can take down those who appear on page 1 search results with small SEO packages. It takes research to understand the traffic behind an SEO campaign. If you don’t understand, you can’t make promises to your client.
2. Not Consulting with Clients about their Written Content
An SEO campaign’s quality hinges on the content produced. Agencies are the ones who produce them for clients, so they must be given feedback and a clear indication on what the content should be on a monthly basis. It’s “a really big deal” because SEO and Link Building is content creation and strategic publication.
Endlessrise has a team of about 80 writers and there’s a middleman, the marketing agency, which provides information on what can be written about (Press releases, company updates, promotions etc.). It is important for agencies to consult their clients about their content because how could an outsource company know what they are supposed to write about a promotion if they don’t know?
Paul stresses that “You can’t write ABOUT them if you can’t communicate TO them and expect them to have quality content generated.”
So agencies must really reach out to clients to get as much information needed to produce content.
There also needs to be a good differentiator between a company update and a press release. Also, a properly strategized promotion brings them more business and revenue.
1. Positioning Your Agency Solely as a Traffic Company, Not as a Branding Company
People are selling their services completely based on rankings. It disregards the content created, the brand image, the online real estate developed.
The SEO industry is branding, but it’s missing the brand consulting. Paul says “If you write content for a client and you publish that content for a client, you are a branding firm whether you like it or not.” The question is if you’re strategizing yourself to be a branding firm.
If you’re a traffic generation firm, you’re a branding firm. The two go hand in hand and you can’t get away from it. That’s where the industry is going.
Strategize yourself as a brand consultant because half the value of what you’re doing in SEO is branding. If your SEO strategy works but the content is average, you’re going to run into issues.
Honorable Mentions in Mistakes
- Not structuring client check-in meetings
- People leave the table “wide open” for check-in meetings. If you have clients that are not your top paying clients, structure your check-in meetings with them. Make it official; make it a “real meeting.”
- Not educating clients on how to interpret work reports
- Sometimes companies consider work reports to be their intellectual property. Set up meetings with clients to go over them or use different resources like Powerpoint or screen sharing so that they understand it. Understanding means retention.
- Not setting customer support time expectations and structure
- An off shoot of the first point. Always be aware of people’s time and never be late. Be also properly organized when presenting yourself during check-in meetings.
Create Crushing Content to Crank Conversions
Content generation is very important since this is where you strategize how you place it. “It’s content marketing these days with SEO….it’s how Google sees the different strings being pulled together.”
It’s about the core content and what that core content does. If it doesn’t instigate any engagement, you’re going to have problems. You can create all the content you want and not have the conversions for it.
Promotions are the biggest, most important piece of content you can create “since Coca-Cola came out with coupons.” It’s what brings in visitors, makes them engaged, turns them into leads and makes them customers.
Promotions are good also for loyalty. People feel more brand loyalty to a company that offers promotions. It’s like a company telling people “Look what I just did for you! I’m going to give you half off.” They’re doing you a favor.
Promotions is part of traditional marketing and should also be part of your digital marketing strategy.