Use Video to Create Fast, Inexpensive Content For Your Website

Use Video to Create Fast, Inexpensive Content For Your Website


So one of the challenges that a lot of our clients run into is the fact that they don’t have time to sit down and write a blog, plan the content then promote it. To these clients lately we have been recommending that they develop a content strategy. It’s actually based around cell phone video, kind of like what I’m doing right now. So the idea is, you come up with your topic ahead of time, you shoot the video, talk really quickly you want to keep it under 90 seconds definitely under three minutes and then take this video, upload it to whatever social media you want to upload it to, then have a transcript written of your video content. You know format it in a way that will be friendly for SEO, embed it on your website and now you have the content that someone may discover on whatever social media channel be it Facebook, YouTube, Instagram whatever and you also have the keywords that you’re trying to target on your website.

So it’s really a win-win; actually it’s a win-win-win because on top of that, you’re going to have a lot of people that are going to discover the content from the search engine, come to the website and just click play and watch the video. They don’t really want to sit there and read for 10 minutes. People love video and it’s a lot easier to get through. So I highly recommend this to you and all of your clients.

Are SEO Gigs on Fiverr Any Good? I Spent Some Money to Find Out.

Are SEO Gigs on Fiverr Any Good? I Spent Some Money to Find Out.

Over the last several years, I still see websites using terrible, utterly spammy SEO approaches that are actually helping them to rank.  Every month, especially when there is news of “volatility” in the SERPs, I expect to see these guys crash and burn after a penalty, but alas, there they are ranking—all thanks to 425k blog comments that they sprayed across the internet.

How it is that they don’t get penalized is beyond me, but there they are, right in the money spots for some fairly competitive keywords.  I know for a fact that one of these websites is run by the owner of a competitor of my client’s business, a person that has no SEO training beyond “links will get you to page 1.”

In January of this year, I decided to do a little experiment.  Can I rank a website locally solely through Fiverr gigs?

This competitor of my client has been ranking his site by purchasing the following kinds of backlinks:

  • profile links on websites that allow dofollow links
  • massive amounts of blog comments
  • links from nonsense articles hosted on servers in Russia

It would not surprise me if he were buying traffic as well, but there was no verifiable way for me to check that.  I opted to purchase some traffic packages as well

I settled on the legal niche.

I do a lot of SEO work for law firms, so it is a niche that I am highly familiar with.  This would also allow me to compare the results of my white hat efforts for local clients against the spam efforts that I put forward for this website.  Additionally, SEO for law firms is notoriously competitive, and I thought that it would be even more powerful to rank a site in this niche than a less competitive one.

Since this website would technically constitute attorney advertising, I got a client to agree to allow me to use his phone number and contact info on the site just in case someone actually did contact him for representation.

I set up the site for my Fiverr SEO.

I didn’t want this site anywhere near my legit work, so I opened another hosting account and put up a WordPress site in about an hour (if I ever do this again, I’m going to hire a $50 Fiverr gig to do the site, which would make this an even better experiment).  It was a responsive template that didn’t look that bad.  I really put minimal time into creating content, so the copy was on the thin side, at around 200-300 words.

I bought my first Fiverr SEO gig ($6)

do fiverr seo gigs workdo fiverr seo gigs work

Sure, I’d love to get some links from Harvard, Berkeley, and Penn State!  I also loved the fact that he was “Expert and Best Hi Quality Backlinks Provider” born and raised in the old U.S. of A.  I placed my order, which was completed within a day or two.   I received a spreadsheet with the urls of the links that were “created” including the following:

http://brooklynatlantis.poly.edu
http://ask.buffalostate.edu
http://boinc.umiacs.umd.edu
https://netplusadmdev0.internet2.edu/
http://ict.usc.edu/
https://vue-forums.uit.tufts.edu
http://www.unioncountyga.gov
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu
http://courses-sandbox.uplb.edu.ph
http://www.peacockroom.wayne.edu
http://milkyway.cs.rpi.edu/milkyway
http://ecologicalurbanism.gsd.harvard.edu/
http://volunteer.cs.und.edu
http://rdbp.sea.gov.ua
https://www.iupui.edu
http://community.openscholar.harvard.edu

Impressive, right?  I should be able to just sit back and let the visitors start rolling in!

Unfortunately, they were all forum profiles with a link to my new site and the anchor text that I was targeting.  Six months have passed, and none of these links have shown up in my search console.  Neither Majestic or Ahrefs ever found them either, so it really was a wash.  Obviously, these pages are not getting indexed and I’m out $6.  Could have bought a sandwich!

Since that was a wash, what about a Fiverr gig that actually gives me some metrics? ($21)

fiver gig listing tf and cf

Ok, so here we have a gig that is going to give me 5 “PBN links” with a high TF and CF and a DA/PA of 25.  I ordered the gig and got my report a few days later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These were the domains that linked to my site:

the sites that linked to my fiverr gig

 

Now, if Google just followed Majestic’s metrics to determine rank, I’d be happy with this.  The gig cost $21 and got me a couple links from sites with metrics that weren’t that bad.  Let’s take a look at the actual sites linking to me:

fiverr gig seo site example

 

So this is less than ideal.  The link that I purchased was for a “worker’s compensation lawyer in cherry hill,” but here it’s sitting next to blogs for testosterone injection therapy.  I don’t know what Google is going to make of this, but it is typical of what the other four websites looked like.

I will add that after 6 months, all of these links are listed in my search console, so Google did crawl them.

What about a Fiverr SEO gig offering 150 links? ($11)

supposedly panda-safe SEO links from fiverr

This one is 101% manual!

It’s Penguin and Panda safe!

What could possibly go wrong?

I put my order in and wait a few days.  I’m dreaming of the torrent of cases that my client is going to get from the $50-something dollars that I’ve spent on Fiverr SEO.

I get the report and check the sites in Majestic

 

 

fiverr seo gigs are not trustworthy

 

 

 

 

Again, by Majestic standards, it’s a mixed bag.  Most are sites with no backlink profile to speak of, but a few do have some numbers in the 20s, so who knows?  The one thing that I do know is that many of these links are also in my Search Console, so Google did crawl them.  My takeaway was that I added a lot of super-spam links to my site, and if anything was going to get it penalized, it would be this gig.

Ok, let’s see how buying some Google Search traffic affects the site

buying search traffic doesn't help rank

So this service is going to search for my keyword, go to my website, and send signals to Google that my search result is best.

This has got to work, and it’s only $5!

I order, a few days go by, and I see a massive spike in visits… as well as a massive 99.9% bounce rate.  This is definitely not going to be the signals that I was hoping to send to Google.

I contact the seller and share my concerns.  She responds with an offer to provide some other services to make up for the mess that she made of my analytics.

I strongly advise against buying search traffic.  These sellers do not care enough about your $5 or $10 gig to not cut corners and end up sending your bounce rate to the stratosphere and your dwell time to 00:00.  Just don’t do it.

I stumble upon something that moved the needle ($6)

a fiverr gig that may have helped with SEOI tried a few other $5 gigs and other than seeing them affect my numbers in Majestic, I didn’t really see any other effects.  I ordered one last gig from what seemed to be one of the most popular sellers and waited.  Within a few days of buying this gig, my site was suddenly ranking on page 3-4 for the “workers comp” keyword variations that I ordered.  I was quite shocked.

The sites that hosted the blogs looked spammy as hell (see right), but amazingly enough, there was a definite correlation between buying this gig and the site starting to rank locally for the keywords I was targeting.

Most of the links that I got from this gig are still listed in my Search Console and as I have checked a few of them, they all seem to be live still.

Flying high until March 21st.

drop on march 21st

 

 

 

 

We were ranking 17-25 for the keywords that we were targeting and had spent less than $100.  That all ended when Google did something on March 21st, 2017.  My impressions dropped to half of what they were, and as of June 14th, they haven’t gone back up.  Now, I do recall training a new employee to work with the template that the site was built with around this time, and we did end up removing some content.  It may have been a result of the changes that we made to the site, or it may have been the inevitable slap that Google decided to give us.  I did notice that around this time, we stopped ranking for keywords that were often used as anchor text, so it was likely related to that.

My final opinion on Fiverr SEO gigs.

The vast majority will have no positive impact on your search rank at all.

There are a few in there that may help you in the short term, but long term, it is not an effective source for you to rank a website.  Don’t waste your time or money.

 

 

What Is Majestic TF and CF? A Quick Explainer

What is Majestic TF and CF?  A Quick Explainer Of Majestic’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow.

TF stands for “Trust Flow.”  This number reflects the amount of traffic that comes through a link and measures the “trustworthiness” of a page.  CF stands for “Citation Flow.”  It reflects the amount of “link juice” that a page has and is able to pass onto another site through links.  Together, they are used to measure the impact of a link from a website, as well as the likelihood of a certain website ranking well for a specific keyword.

It does go a bit beyond this, so I recommend that you read on.

First, why have two different metrics?

As you probably know already, Google has played cat-and-mouse with people trying to game their algorithm for several years now.  One of the ways that they were successful in gaming the system was by using bots to spam the internet with links, through comment spam on blogs and tons of other methods.  They also caught onto the fact that some “authoritative” or “trustworthy” websites were linking to other websites, but few to no visitors ever clicked on these links, calling into question the value of linking to these sites in the first place.  The way Google saw it was that either the link was irrelevant or the site linking could have been possibly paid by the site receiving the links; in either case, it resulted in a less-than-optimal web experience for web users.

So what is the difference between Pagerank (PR) and TF & CF?

Pagerank used to be what Google used to rank a page.  It’s no longer a factor and is not worth really discussing anymore outside of a few contexts:

  1. If you’re talking about the history of SEO, it is definitely worth talking about PR
  2. If you’re trying to spot a BS SEO, any mention of PR or Pagerank should be a dead giveaway that he or she has no clue of how SEO works.

The idea of TF and CF is similar to what the old PR bar would tell you, with some big differences.  First, TF and CF are generated by a third party, Majestic, and have no data coming straight from Google, while Google provided us PR directly from their data.  Ultimately, there is a correlation between TF & CF and rank in the search engines, but it is by no means a direct, 100% correlation as PR used to be.

How can I use TF and CF to work on my SEO?

There are a few applications:

  • Competitive analysis – what linkbuilding has my competitor done to rank his website?
  • Link outreach – is this site even worth reaching out to for a link?
  • Keeping tabs on your SEO – is the company that you hired cutting corners or doing good work?
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

I do a fairly thorough walkthrough of how to use Majestic to see what links a competitor has acquired.  This guide should give you a good idea of whether your competitor has been doing something that you can replicate, or if you should just consider another method for driving links and traffic to your site.  A word of warning: you may see that other sites are spamming and getting traffic—you may be tempted to do the same thing, but mark my words.  Google. Will. Figure. It. Out.  When it does, you’re going to get slapped.

You can tell if they have been using spammy methods through one of the following:

  • There is a huge difference between the TF and the CF.  A TF that is 1/2 to 1/3 or lower of the CF says that they are getting links from “authoritative” sites, but those links are generating little traffic.  That is fishy and Google can easily tell that they are doing something manipulative.
  • You look at the backlinks going to your competitor and you can tell that they are from BS websites like this one:

how to use tf and cf for seo

LINK OUTREACH

This is the main thing that we use to do linkbuilding for our clients. There are many ways that you can use Majestic to find new opportunities to get links:

  • Find a website that is linking to an article on another site, then offer a better article for them to link to
  • See if a specific blog has enough authority to even bother reaching out
  • Find a website that is relevant to your industry that you did not know about.  This can allow you to establish a relationship in a place where you can gain some new followers.
KEEPING TABS ON YOUR SEO

There are companies and individuals out there that are dishonest (gasp!)

You may be paying a company to write blogs and establish an internet presence for your business, and what they are actually doing is spraying the internet with spam comments.  They only way that you would ever know would be to go to a site like Majestic or Ahrefs and take a look at your backlink profile.  If you see something that doesn’t look kosher, it will give you the opportunity to fire the SEO that you are working with, avoid any potential penalties down the road, avoid blowing even more money on something that is bound to damage your online presence, and move on to another company that is able to do the work that you need.

What you should be looking at:

  • The TF to CF ratio should not be any lower that 1/3 and even that is pushing it.  Ideally, you have a TF/CF of 1/2-2/1 and you are actually getting some traffic from the links that you built.  Links for the sake of links are not the way to go, necessarily.
  • The backlinks that you acquire should be from a variety of websites, with a bunch of differing anchor text (the underlined words that form the hyperlink to your site), and should be in different contexts.  They should not all be guest posts, blog comments, blogroll, footer, or any one type of link.  If they are, for example, 50 blog posts and nothing else, your SEO is getting lazy and you might be at risk for a penalty.
  • All in all, look for anything that doesn’t look natural.

TF and CF are metrics given by a proverbial “blind man feeling the elephant.”

As I discussed in another post, none of the SEO available paint a complete picture.  There is a lot going on in Google’s algorithm (supposedly, over 200+ items) and these tools are only measuring links, which are just one part of the equation.  As Google’s AI becomes even more powerful, it is likely that links will decrease in importance, at which point the entire SEO industry will be upended yet again, and tools like Majestic will need to change in order to continue to provide value.

Please share your thoughts below.  Did I miss any important uses for Majestic’s TF and CF?

 

 

 

 

Should Your SEO & PPC Reports Be No More Than 3 Numbers?

The case for simplified SEO and PPC reporting.

Does in-depth reporting provide any value in the first place?

I work primarily with professional services firms, the majority of whom are law firms.  These clients are highly intelligent, extremely well-educated, and generally speaking, highly successful in their fields.  If anyone outside of marketing is going to be able to easily understand a typical PPC report, it would be the accountants, lawyers, and adjusters that we work with, but surprisingly, most do not.  Even after the meeting or phone call that explains a CTR or a CPA, I can tell that the majority do not entirely understand what the reports are telling them and that we need a new way to report to our non-marketing clients.

“All kinds of lines and graphs”

I recall a first meeting with a small firm in Philadelphia that was leaving a well-known attorney marketing firm from out of state.  I asked about the results that he had been seeing, what was working and what wasn’t, and he answered that “they send me an email with all kinds of lines and graphs every month, but it is impossible to read.  I’ll send you a copy of some of them and you can tell me.”  The forwarded email was a standard report that clearly outlined the changes in traffic, time on page, bounce rate, and all of the typical metrics that we use to track web traffic.  The client was a 38 year-old graduate of the University of Pennsylvania that was very comfortable managing most aspects of his website, so it was not an issue of not being “tech-savvy” or uneducated.

He just didn’t get what the numbers meant in terms of his business and the time that his agency put into those reports was wasted.

Pick three numbers and put them front and center.

PPC and SEO reporting must be simplified to the point that a child can understand it.  At 12khz, we have started creating dashboards for clients using Google’s Data Studio. These dashboards prominently feature the numbers that mean the most to that client.  What does your client care about?

  • Number of phone calls?
  • Number of people visiting the website?
  • Time on page?

By focusing on a few numbers that the client clearly understands and that you have mutually agreed impact the business the most, your reporting goes from being “an email with a bunch of lines and graphs” to being a document that communicates the progress and results of the work that they are paying you to do.  In the case of analytics reporting for non-marketers, less is significantly more.  All of the typical detailed reporting should be placed on separate pages as to not overwhelm or distract our clients, but still remain available should they choose to delve more deeply into the work that you’ve done.

What are your thoughts?  Have you had any positive experiences with greatly simplifying your client reporting?  Am I totally wrong? Please share below.

 

Local SEO Checklist for Small Business Owners

Local SEO checklist for business owners

This is the second part of performing SEO for a website.  The first part involves the technical elements of SEO, which you can learn about here.

There is much that you can do for your own website that could increase your chances of ranking when potential customers are searching for businesses like yours.  Whether you handle these tasks yourself, delegate them to a subordinate, or opt to hire a local South Jersey SEO agency such as ours, there are a number of tasks that can be completed with a minimum amount of technical knowledge.  This article and accompanying checklist at the end will walk  you through a number of these steps.

  1. Determine Your NAP
  2. Claim all of your business listings
  3. Set up landing pages for each of your services and towns your serve
  4. Set up Google Analytics and Search Console

1. Determine Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)

Before you do anything, you must settle upon a single name, version of your address, and phone number that you want to associate your business with across the web.  What do I mean by this? Our office is located on Route 73 in Marlton, NJ—an address that could also be listed as NJ-73 in Evesham Township, NJ.  It is important that we choose one vs. the other and keep it consistent throughout all of our listings.  I would suggest claiming your Google My Business to start the process; this will allow you to see how Google has your physical address listed in its system.  In other words, does it know your address as Route 73, RT 73, or NJ-73?  As far as Google is concerned, are you in Marlton or Evesham Township?  It’s important to determine this ahead of time in order to maintain consistency throughout all of your listings and your website.  Once you have determined what version of your name, address, and phone number will be published across the web, place the same information on the footer and contact page of your website.

2. Claim All of Your Other Listings

There are a number of web directories other than Google My Business that you should use to list your site.  The purpose of this is not necessarily to gain referral traffic—as we stated in another post, you can’t expect much traffic from these lesser-known directories—but they will have an impact on your chances of showing up in the local 3-pack.  We have an extensive list of of directories where you can list your business here.

3. Have Landing Pages for Each of Your Services

Let’s say that you are a local mechanic.  Your website should have a dedicated page for oil changes, brake service, transmission repair, and every other service that you offer.  Your chances of ranking highly for “mechanic in cherry hill” are much lower than they are for a keyword like “transmission repair in cherry hill,” and your chances of ranking for that term will be greatly increased if you have a dedicated page for that service.  Having a dedicated landing page for transmission repair will allow you to use the keywords “transmission repair cherry hill” right in the title of the page, the header tags, and the url, all signals that point to Google that your page is relevant to the term that the user is searching for.  Additionally, you will have the chance to increase the likelihood of the user clicking on your result by writing a metadescription that talks specifically to your transmission services, as opposed to your auto shop in general.

This same tactic can be used to target specific towns, though it can start to look a little spammy, so tread lightly.  There is a good chance that Google will one day penalize sites that publish 200 identical pages targeting “mechanics in _____________.”

4. Set Up Your Google Analytics and Search Console

Search Console will track how your website ranks in the search engine results and Analytics tracks the behavior of visitors once they get to the site.  It is imperative that you track both how people are finding your site and what they are doing once they find it.  These two tools are free, extremely powerful, and able to tell you all you need about these two aspects of your digital presence.

You can set up a Google Analytics account here.  If you are not comfortable installing the tracking code yourself, there are a number of WordPress plugins that will do it for you, such as these.  Once you have your Analytics code installed, go to your Google Search Console and set up your account.

Once you have completed this part of the SEO process, it is time to establish a content strategy, the third part of the SEO process.

 

 

Is Yext a Scam?

No, Yext Is Not A Scam.

It Is Ludicrously Over-Priced, However.

If you own a business, they have called you.  They even call us, an agency that does exactly what they do, only at 2% of the cost.  So should you sign up? What exactly does Yext do? Is it a scam?

The service that Yext provides is a local citations service.  They go to around 50-70 web directories and list your website for you.  One time.  Unless you move, change phone number, or change the name of your business, there is no more work for them to do, yet they still charge hundreds of dollars a month in monthly fees.  If you cancel—which some claim is incredibly difficult—all of your listings disappear.  So they get you hooked on their service for a few grand a year after a few hours of work.

Really classy move, Yext.

Can’t I Do This Myself?

Absolutely.  The hard part is finding the directories to list on, but we actually have a list of them in another post.  It’s probably a 5-6 hour job, but it’s a once and done.  We provide local citations services for business owners that are too busy, but if you have a staff member that you trust to handle it, have him or her do it.

Why Do I Need To Do This In The First Place?

The way that you get into Google’s local three-pack results is through local citations.  Essentially, your Google My Business information is being confirmed by all of these other directories; someone performs a search and the algorithm determines what to deliver to them.  If 40 different directories are confirming your info and 3 are confirming your competitor’s, you’re likely to come out ahead.

Can I Expect To Get Business Leads From The Directory Listings?

With the exception of Yelp, Homeadvisor, and some other niche-specific directories (like Avvo, Angie’s List, etc) I wouldn’t hold my breath.  We see the analytics of a lot of local websites, and we see very little referral traffic from directory websites, and even less conversions.  Getting listed in these local directories is valuable, but mostly as an SEO tactic.

 

How Much Should A Website For a Small Business Cost?

How much does a website cost?

This post focuses mostly on the costs of building a website in the South Jersey/Philadelphia market, but is applicable in most of the Northeast.

There are analogs to this question in virtually every industry, but in this post, I’m going to compare the process of getting a website done to that of buying a suit.  Just as your choice of suit says something about you in a job interview, your website says something about you in the “micro job interviews” that your potential clients put you through.  The choices that you make in the colors, layout, and copy on your site will impact the impression that your potential clients have of you in the same way that the cut, fabric, and color of your suit does.  And just as there are tons of options as far as suits are concerned—tailored, designer, off-the-rack, etc.—there are tons of options when building a website.

The options

When you’re putting up a website, there really are three general options:

  1. A custom website “made from scratch”
  2. A website made from a template that was customized to your needs
  3. A DIY solution such as Wix.

Each of these three options have their own advantages and disadvantages.  Here I’m going to quickly break them down for you.

Custom Websites: Typically $10k for a basic site, $25k-$50k for more involved sites such as ecommerce

Custom websites are built from scratch to fit your exact needs.  If your site has some special requirements that are unavailable in a template, this is what you will need.  This is the equivalent of going to a tailor to have a custom suit made; you pick a fabric, get measured quite thoroughly, and come back a couple times for fittings and adjustments.  You can also expect to spend significantly more than you will for an off-the-rack suit from Ralph Lauren.

Having a custom website made is a similar experience.  It takes much longer that using a template, it costs a lot more, and if you didn’t have any special requirements, there is a chance that you’ll end up with exactly the same result as you would have otherwise ended up with.

There are three conditions that should be filled when deciding to have a custom site made:

  1. You have a budget of at least $5k-$10k
  2. You have very specific requirements that cannot be properly implemented by a template
  3. You can wait several months to a year to deploy the site

We do not build these kinds of websites at 12hkz, but we do have some partners that do.  We would be happy to put you in touch with an agency that you can trust to deliver a top-notch site that meets your exact needs.

Websites built with a template: $750-$2000 for a typical small business website, $5k+ for involved ecommerce sites

The couture equivalent of a site built with a template is an off-the-rack suit.  If you are built like the majority of Americans, you can walk into a Macy’s and find a Calvin Klein or Tommy Hilfiger suit that looks great on you.  Most of the small businesses that work with us in the South Jersey and Philadelphia region are your “majority of Americans” whose website needs can be met by a website with a customized template.

Many of today’s templates come with pagebuilders that allow the web designer to make significant customizations to the site, allowing you to get something that is pretty close to a custom website.  Most agencies have vetted the templates that they work with, so you should rest assured that the site will load quickly and be up to snuff technically.  The costs are usually dictated by the amount of content that needs to be created for the website.

A website built with a template should work given the following conditions:

  1. You have a budget of roughly $1000-$3000
  2. You need a site up in a questions of weeks, not months
  3. You don’t need the site to do anything particularly out of the ordinary

These are the kinds of websites that we build.  If you would like to see some of our past work, you can check out our portfolio or talk to someone in the office.

DIY solutions like Wix: free to a few hundred dollars

These solutions are created for people that need to get a website on the internet, but really don’t have the budget to pay a professional.  They can be customized to be attractive, but in order to do so, a discerning eye is needed.  The technical knowledge required to get a site up is minimal, but the results can be very good.

This solution is optimal given the following conditions:

  1. You have a very limited budget
  2. You aren’t concerned with standing out from competitors
  3. You are somewhat technically-inclined and have an eye for design

A word of warning

This pyramid is one of the most fundamental truths in business.  You can only get two aspects of it at any time.  If someone is offering you all three, odds are that they won’t deliver on at least one.

You Are Not In Business To Break Even

“You know, as long as we break even, I’ll be happy with the work you do.” – Countless clients we’ve worked with

What?  We’re not in business to break even.  If you are spending $95 to make a $100 sale, you are almost certainly losing money once you factor in overhead such as your rent, licenses, and electric bill.  On top of that, it might even be possible that you could make more money by closing up shop, taking your $95 and putting it in an index fund that delivers an annual 10% return.  Let’s get rid of the idea that as long as your Facebook ads, SEO, or Adwords campaign doesn’t lose money, you should be happy with the results.

What is your expected rate of return?

Without getting too much into MBA talk, how much money do you expect to make off a new customer? (profit, not gross sales)  Taking that into consideration, how much does an Adwords campaign need to make in order to be successful?  There are a couple factors that you should be considering before you answer this question.

  1. How risky is the plan?  If you’re looking at spending money on something whose likely results you are unsure of, you should be projecting a chance of making a lot more money than if you were to do something safe and tested.  If no one in your industry has ever successfully driven business through Snapchat geofilters, it may be something worth looking into, but it your forecasted sales are not sky high, it may be worth doing something with a more proven ROI.
  2. What is your customer lifetime value? When you think about that new customer, you need to consider the entire lifetime of your interaction with that customer.  Here’s a simple calculator to help you figure out your customer lifetime value.
    1. If you know that you have a high likelihood of getting a referral from a new customer, make sure that you take that into consideration.  Let’s say that one in ten customers send you a referral; take whatever your customer lifetime value is and multiply it by 1.1.

Please stop thinking in terms of breaking even.

Know how much you will make over the lifetime of a new customer and don’t spend more that 25%-33% of that number to acquire that customer.

If you are spending $9 to sell a product with a $10 profit, you may think that you’re making $1, but you’re not taking into consideration the overhead costs.  Running a marketing plan and a business like this is a sure way to fail.  If a marketing channel costs your $9 to sell a product with a $10 profit (or contribution margin), you need to pick another medium to advertise in.  Between Facebook Ads, Paid Search through Adwords or Bing, SEO, or any one of the myriad traditional advertising media, there will be a channel that will prove itself profitable.  The key is to recognize which are not profitable, because we are not in business to break even.

 

 

[Case Study] How Our Client Is Getting 15 “Good Cases” a Month on a $1500 Spend (And How You Can Too)

We’re turning on the lights and opening up the playbook.

By 12khz SEO | Web Design | PPC

Did the firm receive a contact from a new client?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what we did, here are some relevant details.  Our agency considers a conversion nothing less than a client email, phone call, or chat; we don’t care if they visited for 20 minutes, or if they watched a video, or anything else like that.  Did they contact the firm?

This client claims—along with the overwhelming majority of our clients—that 1 in 3 of the cases that our phone calls they receive are “good cases.”  This rule of thumb is what most of them go by when determining the ROI of the campaigns that we are running.

 

“I Just Signed a $75k Referral Fee Check To Another Firm. Can You Come In Tomorrow at 2?”

We met one evening in January after I left a meeting with another firm in the same building.  It was late and everyone had left the office, but I saw that the door was open and a light was on.  I walked in and caught one of the partners as he was closing up.  I asked him a few questions about the practice, told him a little about what we do, and left it that we would talk in a few weeks.

About a month and a half later, I received a phone call. “Hi Frank, I just signed a $75k referral fee check to another firm.  Can you come in tomorrow at 2?”  Our meeting lasted about 2o minutes and we determined the following:

  • The client needed a responsive website
  • We needed to start collecting data from the website (no analytics installed)
  • We would do a $500 trial on Adwords

 

How the new website helped our efforts

There were a number of reasons why we needed a new site:

  • The existing website was unusable on mobile phones
  • Several of the links in the menu were broken
  • There was no legal disclaimer or privacy policy on the site
  • It looked cheap and was not reflective of the quality of the services offered by the firm

The new website addressed all of these issues and had the following bonuses:

  • Every page of the site now had a tap-to-dial in the header, which made it very easy for clients to call on mobile phones
  • Each page was now optimized for search, with appropriate title and header tags throughout the site
  • We optimized the speed of the site so that it loaded quickly on mobile devices
  • It allowed for quick changes that could be performed by the firm’s staff

 

How we began getting new clients on the phone with the firm

We started with a $500 Adwords budget and created separate ad groups targeting searches for the firm’s areas of practice.  Each ad group had two different ads to split test over several months, the details of which I am not going to get into in this post.  Feel free to ask in the comments if you’re interested.

Adwords Case Study, Mo. 1

Results at the end of month one. The “Cherry Hill” ad group was added later in the campaign.

As the campaign began, my first question was “why aren’t these phone calls converting?”  I talked to the client, and it turned out that when they received this calls, they were simply taking the person’s contact info and calling back.  We had set the conversion threshold way too high at 60 seconds.  The client also did not want to use Google Forwarding Numbers on the site, so we were not tracking any manual dials from desktop visits.  The client told us that it would make more sense to set the conversion threshold at any call over 15 seconds, the time to get a name and phone number.

call details law firm ppc

With the more accurate threshold, it looks more like we got 5 conversions for the first month.

Overall, the first month ended with 5 conversion out of 49 clicks, a conversion rate around 18%.

 

“We’ve worked with other agencies in the past, but you’re the first one to get the phone ringing”

The numbers from the first month were acceptable, but not astronomical—our clients disagreed.  They were thrilled, telling us “we’ve worked with other agencies in the past, but you’re the first one to get the phone ringing” and asking us to double the monthly budget.

We pushed the budget up to $1k/mo, but with only 49 clicks, the sample still wasn’t big enough to start making any decisions.  We let the campaign run for a few months and resolved to start cutting.

We found that:

  • the clicks converted at a significantly lower rate outside the hours of 10am-6pm, so we stopped running them outside those hours
  • the same was true during the weekends, so no more Sat. & Sun. ads
  • clients within the town where the firm was located, as well as one adjacent town converted at a much higher rate than all of the other towns
  • mobile device visits converted at a much higher rate than desktop.  This could have been because of we were not tracking manually dialed phone calls, but the data spoke and we couldn’t ignore what it was saying.

We used this information to run ads that focused on mobile searches from 10am-6pm, Mon-Fri, in just two towns in NJ.

 

Final Results

The Adwords campaign became a lead generation monster for this firm.  By the end of the month, its cost-per-click dropped to only $6, its conversion rate was almost 25%, and with an estimated 1 in 3 calls being “good cases” worth $3k to $5k, the firm was bringing in roughly 15 of them a month on an $1,200 ad spend.

 

My Conflict When Asked About Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

“How did www.mylawfirmscompetitor.com get to #1 on Google?  I want you to do whatever they did!” – Every Law Firm I’ve Ever Spoken With

I feel conflicted whenever I get this question, which I get on a weekly, if not daily basis.  Inevitably, I take a look at said competitor’s backlink profile and it’s a sea of spam.  75,000 backlinks from nonsense websites (which are almost always private blog networks, or PBNs), comments spammed across sites in Russia and Southeast Asia, and enough Web 2.0 crap to fill a floor of servers.  I then realize that once again, I’m going to have the “well, they haven’t been penalized yet, but it’s just a matter of time” conversation.  From the client’s perspective, the competing firm is driving tens of thousands of dollars of billable hours while he is pumping out blog pieces and still paying referral fees to other firms.  Additionally, I have clients with whom I had the “it’s a matter of time” discussion three years ago and the competitor is still #1.

What do you tell them?

I have resolved to view my white hat vs. black hat conundrum through the lens of risk management.  I do not think that it is my job to tell a client that they should or should not take one approach vs. another; my duty is to clearly communicate the opportunities, risks, and costs of each approach and allow the client to make his or her own decisions.  I would prefer that our clients use white hat, best practices to rank their sites, but that does not always align with their risk tolerance and desire for fast results.  If a firm stands to drive tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in business over x amount of time, only to be penalized and move their site to a new domain and start over, they should be allowed to make that decision.

We do not do any blackhat SEO in-house.  It is more profitable for us to provide white hat solutions, but ultimately, our suggestions must fit the client.  My favorite analogy is to compare both practices to driving on a highway: if you do the speed limit, you’re less likely to be pulled over, have a fatal accident, or get a blowout.  If you decide to do 80 mph, you suddenly run all of these risks, but you will almost certainly get there more quickly (as long as none of those risks turn into actual problems).

In the end, it all depends on your appetite for risk.

Our Local Citations Checklist With TF and CF Listed

Our Local Citations Checklist With TF and CF Listed

DIY Your Local SEO

What is this list for?

So, you have a local business and you want to get into the local “three-pack” that gets so much traffic for local search.  You don’t necessarily need to hire someone; wou can do much of your own “local SEO” yourself.

Google determines the most relevant results for local businesses through a number of ways, but one of the ranking factors is the quantity and quality of local citations.  In a nutshell, the algorithm does consider the number of local directories that have your business with its address, phone number, and opening hours, as well as the quality of the directories that have your business listed.  You do not want to indiscriminately list your business on every single directory that you find.  This could just as well result in a penalty to your site as it could result in a boost.

How to tell the quality of the directories you submit to

There are a few tools that SEOs use to tell the quality or trustworthiness of a website.  The one that we used for this post was Majestic SEO.  We’re actually going to save you the headache of putting each address into Majestic and just give you the list with each website’s citation flow and trust flow.

What is Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF)?

Our Local Citations List Complete With the TF and CF of Each

Item CitationFlow TrustFlow
http://ablocal.com/ 25 21
http://citysquares.com/ 55 31
http://foursquare.com/ 56 69
http://cylex-usa.com/ 28 25
http://yalwa.com/ 25 15
http://voteforthebest.com/ 34 21
http://2findlocal.com/ 29 14
http://8coupons.com/ 31 23
http://brownbook.net/ 31 14
http://brownbook.com/ 19 13
http://citysearch.com/ 40 35
http://dexknows.com/ 37 29
http://getfave.com/ 29 23
http://insiderpages.com/ 36 32
http://kudzu.com/ 33 26
http://discover.mapquest.com/ 28 19
http://merchantcircle.com/ 37 26
http://showmelocal.com/ 29 15
http://superpages.com/ 38 31
http://yellowpagecity.com/ 29 24
http://local.yahoo.com/ 44 39
http://bingplaces.com/ 28 27
http://facebook.com/ 80 80
http://yelp.com/ 53 48
http://elocal.com/ 29 32
http://cityinsider.com/ 28 12
http://ebusinesspages.com/ 48 32
http://ezlocal.com/ 40 33
http://findplace.us/ 48 11
http://globalcatalog.com/ 35 27
http://lawlink.com/ 25 13
http://lekkoo.com/ 27 12
http://list-company.com/ 46 14
http://6qube.com/ 35 12
http://linkbyme.com/ 11 11
http://myhuckleberry.com/ 27 26
http://fortmorgantimes.com/ 25 15
http://oneyellow.com/ 47 17
http://trantr.com/ 29 15
http://tupalo.net/ 45 18
http://americantowns.com/ 31 19
http://bizcommunity.com/ 32 24
http://city-data.com/ 37 26
http://communitywalk.com/ 31 12
http://directorycentral.com/ 26 10
http://gbguides.com/ 22 12
http://hotfrog.com/ 34 29
http://igotbiz.com/ 21 13
http://lacartes.com/ 26 22
http://legalwebfinder.com/ 26 30
http://linkcentre.com/ 43 36
http://localblox.com/ 26 10
http://lookuppage.com/ 57 33
http://naymz.com/ 29 17
http://salespider.com/ 34 10
http://spoke.com/ 31 20
http://pathlegal.com/ 21 10
http://where2go.com/ 26 22
http://whofish.org/ 25 22
http://about.me/ 45 39
http://cybo.com/ 24 15
http://angieslist.com/ 44 37
http://connect.data.com/ 41 24
http://company.com/ 38 29
http://issuu.com/ 57 54
http://botw.org/ 43 56
http://us.enrollbusiness.com/ 25 12
http://buildzoom.com/ 29 16
http://callupcontact.com/ 26 10
http://crunchbase.com/ 42 28
http://fixr.com/ 28 17
http://hg.org/ 32 28
http://linkedin.com/ 73 73
http://slideshare.net/ 45 35
http://thumbtack.com/ 38 28
http://trustlink.org/ 26 12
http://whodoyou.com/ 23 10
http://yelloyello.com/ 23 23
http://bdpages.com/ 38 15
http://usaattorneys.org/ 21 13
http://nolo.com/ 37 28
http://attorneydirectorydb.org/ 42 36
http://avvo.com/ 38 34
http://divorcemag.com/ 41 26
http://findacriminaldefenseattorney.com/ 18 13
http://findlaw.com/ 47 53
http://gaylawnet.com/ 22 25
http://justia.com/ 35 27
http://lawguru.com/ 31 29
http://lawqa.com/ 35 32
http://lawyerlegion.com/ 29 26
http://lawyers.uslegal.com/ 45 22
http://legaldocs.com/ 32 28
http://targetlaw.com/ 23 13
http://bingplaces.com/ 28 27
http://business-listings.com/ 35 33
http://chamberofcommerce.com/ 31 26
http://company.fm/ 42 38
http://facebook.com/ 80 80
http://ikimap.com/ 40 12
http://issue.com/ 24 16
http://judysbook.com/ 32 23
http://local.informallearning.org/ 25 11
http://magicyellow.com/ 30 10
http://manta.com/ 37 31
http://mylocally.com/ 31 25
http://nexport.com/ 31 32
http://ratemyarea.com/ 28 13
http://shopcity.com/ 26 17
http://sitejabber.com/ 30 18
http://slideshare.net/ 45 35
http://smartguy.com/ 25 10
http://uscounties.com/ 29 29
http://webcosmo.com/ 26 27
http://yellowbot.com/ 31 12
http://yellowee.com/ 26 30
http://yellowpages.com/ 40 31
http://yelp.com/ 53 48
http://411.info/ 31 26
http://aboutus.org/ 42 26
http://amerpages.com/ 35 15
http://amfibi.com/ 27 25
http://aroundont.com/ 20 25
http://best.king5.com/ 34 37
http://bizdays.com/ 15 11
http://bizexposed.com/ 10 10
http://bizjournals.com/ 39 29
http://boulevards.com/ 28 26
http://businessfinder.nola.com/ 36 41
http://busylisting.com/ 40 12
http://citysearch.com/ 40 35
http://claimspages.com/ 27 29
http://companylist.org/ 26 13
http://customerservicenumbers.com/ 28 19
http://directory.ac/ 35 33
http://discoverourtown.com/ 27 23
http://docstoc.com/ 36 17
http://everymerchant.com/ 40 42
http://expobusiness.com/ 21 32
http://expressupdateusa.com/ 28 22
http://factual.com/ 38 30
http://findthebest.com/ 33 16
http://findthecompany.com/ 27 10
http://getfreelisting.com/ 48 21
http://gethuman.com/ 45 50
http://hotfrog.com/ 34 29
http://acxiom.com/ 42 50
http://allpages.com/ 28 14
http://answers.com/ 42 41
http://b2byellowpages.com/ 29 25
http://bbb.org/ 48 53
http://bundle.com/ 31 24
http://corporationwiki.com/ 27 10
http://cortera.com/ 28 18
http://dnb.com/ 37 32
http://expressupdate.com/ 36 15
http://gatehousemedia.com/ 20 28
http://infousa.com/ 33 26
http://issue.com/ 24 16
http://justdial.com/ 35 16
http://localeze.com/ 32 21
http://lookooh.com/ 21 12
http://mojopages.com/ 29 15
http://ocregister.com/ 36 28
http://pocketly.com/ 25 13
http://primeplaces.here.com/ 25 16
http://staradvertiser.com/ 39 34
http://switchboard.com/ 36 31
http://yellowpages.com/ 40 31
http://yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/ 23 27
http://ibegin.com/ 34 38
http://inetgiant.com/ 32 16
http://infignos.com/ 23 10
http://intuit.com/ 44 33
http://jayde.com/ 35 29
http://jigsaw.com/ 32 20
http://jobshop.com/ 22 15
http://kompass.com/ 31 16
http://localbusinessesusa.com/ 59 25
http://localpages.com/ 38 21
http://localsolution.com/ 23 23
http://locanto.com/ 29 15
http://loganpages.com/ 20 30
http://macraesbluebook.com/ 29 30
http://manta.com/ 37 31
http://mapquest.com/ 46 45
http://mastermoz.com/ 41 33
http://match.mactech.com/ 28 30
http://merchantcircle.com/ 37 26
http://mywebyellow.com/ 22 12
http://myyp.com/ 27 16
http://nola.com/ 50 43
http://number.com/ 24 14
http://panoramio.com/ 39 26
http://pinterest.com/ 75 69
http://post-gazette.com/ 38 31
http://quora.com/ 46 31
http://radarfrog.gatehousemedia.com/ 39 35
http://rateitall.com/ 30 15
http://retellity.com/ 25 14
http://sanantonio.com/ 23 21
http://sbn.com/ 23 12
http://scribd.com/ 47 40
http://somuch.com/ 36 27
http://thebluebook.com/ 32 22
http://tupalo.com/ 48 28
http://tupelo.com/ 28 10
http://us-business.info/ 37 11
http://usplaces.com/ 38 26
http://us-yellow.com/ 18 12
http://wand.com/ 29 24
http://wealthmason.com/ 27 10
http://webwiki.com/ 26 11
http://wegoplaces.com/ 24 25
http://whitepages.com/ 39 28
http://wikia.com/ 40 25
http://womtown.com/ 51 11
http://wowcity.com/ 14 10
http://yahoo.com/ 66 62
http://yellowbook.com/ 40 32
http://yellowbot.com/ 31 12
Can We Finally Admit it? “Millennials” Do Not Exist.

By 12khz SEO | Web Design | PPC

Before we get into this topic, let me preface everything by stating that I did not take time to search for data on the topic.   I am sure that there are studies out that that support these views; it would be quite incredible if the disparate groups of people placed into the “millennial” category were actually all the same.  If you happen to be familiar with any studies that support some of the ideas proposed in this blog, please comment and let me know.

Who is a millennial?

Can we all agree that a junior in HS and a 35-year old mother of 4 belong to different generations?

The definition of the millennial seems to shift regularly.  When I first heard the term, it included people born between 1979 and 1990; today, it has drifted to describe people born some time in the early 80s up until 2000.  This broad definition lumps together people whose first internet experience was on Prodigy and kids that don’t know what Y2k was.

Generations are defined by events, not dates

The baby boom generation can be defined by historical events: the end of WWII, Vietnam, the 70s oil crisis.  No one has considered this when discussing people born in the 80s or 90s; if we did, we would realize that the biggest events of the last 15 years have impacted “millennials” in different ways, creating groups with significant differences.

Please consider:

  • A 20-year old experienced 9/11 much differently than a 2-yr old did.
  • A 10-year old did not have to pay crushing student loans and while trying to find a job in 2009.
  • A person born in 1995 did not see her home’s value cut in half in a matter of months.

Many of the watershed moments of the last 30 years have shaped the behavior of people of certain ages—it is time to start recognizing these moments and how they have collectively impacted our psyches and spending habits.

“Millennials” are actually several different generations.

Mean Student Loan Balance for 25 year olds, in US Dollars Source: Federal Reserve

Mean Student Loan Balance for 25 year olds, in US Dollars Source: Federal Reserve

Millennials  born in the early 80s

Let’s talk about the experiences of the older “millennials.”

Those of us that entered the workplace before the Great Recession developed spending patterns that are vastly different than those that entered after 2008.  We graduated college between 2001-2006 with manageable student debt and entered a robust workforce; students that graduated 2007-2010 dealt with almost double our debt and no jobs to be found.  Pre-Great Recession grads vacationed, bought overpriced homes, and were burned by credit cards.  Post-Great Recession grads couldn’t find jobs, moved home with their parents, and are currently getting crushed with student loans payments.

A brand that tries to reach these two groups will be targeting people that have had vastly different experiences and have developed vastly different spending habits. It would make much more sense to segment us by our experience with this major economic crisis, as was the “Depression Generation” before Tom Brokaw christened them “The Greatest Generation.”

Millennials born in the 90s

The dot-com bust. 9/11. The Great Recession—these are topics that are largely foreign to the younger half of “millennials.”  Half of them were in diapers and the other half were getting ready for the prom while older “millennials” were struggling with the aftermaths of these era-defining events.  It would be foolish to think that both groups were impacted by them in the same way.  Bunching this generation with those that were out in the workforce when they occurred is nonsense.

Recognizing these differences can help us

When we talk about millennials, we’re talking about groups of people that have had vastly different experiences.  We would be better served by exploring how these different groups think, interact, and spend their money.  While doing so, we should also be conscious to avoid mislabeling typical characteristics of youth as being characteristics of a generation, but that’s another discussion.