Using Google My Business Listings To Generate Leads Online

It’s 2018. We’re deep into the 21st century and the age of the Internet. If you’re a business owner—regardless of the size of your business—and you still don’t have a business page online, whether it’s on social media or your own website, let’s be honest: you’re doing it wrong. Everyone is on the internet most of the day now, so it’s on you to reach the most people as quickly as possible online.

One really easy way you can do this is by using Google’s Google My Business (GMB) listing services. A GMB listing functions similarly to old yellow pages listings, except that they can be updated in real-time. Where yellow pages simply list down a business’s name and phone number, and sometimes even their address, a Google My Business page has a wealth of information immediately available to the searcher.

A GMB listing can include the phone number, social media pages or the website, business hours (and a real-time update on whether the business is currently open or closed), customer ratings, the exact location of the establishment on Google Maps, images of the place to help customers find and identify it more easily, and so on. Google’s really made it so that business owners can quickly put themselves out there using GMB; all you have to do is put it up, fill in info, and make sure it’s the first thing people see when they search for a keyword your business falls under.

Beyond a mere listing on the Google search results, the Google My Business service also includes a free and easy-to-use website builder! It’s a basic what-you-see-is-what-you-get site builder that should be easy enough for people who want to have a fully-functioning and professional-looking website to go with their listing.

With these free tools Google has to offer, you’ll be able to reach a market you might have never thought was possible, and generate more leads and sales from beyond, say, Huntsville, Alabama than by word of mouth, or by your business simply existing in its location.

 

Creating a Google My Business account, listing, and website

You can access the GMB dashboard by clicking here.

In order to create a Google My Business listing, your business has to be eligible for it. While that may sound restrictive, it’s actually not hard to be eligible for GMB: your business simply has to be one that involves constant personal interaction with customers. That means if you’re a brick-and-mortar store of any kind, you are allowed to create a GMB page. There are exceptions for places like ATMs, but if you’re a small business owner—especially in a place like Huntsville—you’re likely to be eligible for it.

For quick reference, you can’t create a GMB listing if your business is:

  • Still under construction
  • A property for sale or for rent (there are other channels for this)
  • Not a business in a place you own, or of an organization you are not a representative of

Got it? Good. Don’t worry, if you’re here reading this, it seems like your business qualifies. Once you’ve created your GMB account, you can access the site builder feature on the drop-down menu (the three horizontal lines icon) and Google will take you through the entire process of site creation step by step. (If you want your own .com domain name, you’re going to have to pay for it, though! That part’s not free.)

Once your site is finished and live, you need to add the URL (that’s the .com link) to your GMB listing so that people have somewhere to click when they look you up.

 

Search Engine Optimization

How exactly do you get to the top of the Google results page, you ask? Well, the trick there is in something called search engine optimization, or SEO.

Some business owners may already be familiar with this, but if you don’t have a GMB listing or an online presence yet, it’s not surprising that you may not know what SEO is as well. Basically, it’s the process of tuning your site and its content in order for Google’s search crawling bots to rank it higher on its results page, thereby making it more likely to be the first thing searchers see. At its simplest, SEO involves stuffing your website’s text with as many keywords involving your business and its particular niche as possible, but also without “spamming” or overdoing it.

SEO also involves creating unique and compelling content for your site, as well as making it easy to access, but since you’re only creating a site for the purposes of having a presence on the internet, you shouldn’t be concerned with coming up with regular content. You’ll just need to make sure that your site’s text is full of the relevant keywords, which should also include your business’s city or region location. Google will also take care of how your site runs, so you don’t have to worry about whether it’s functional.

 

Using Google Analytics to track traffic

Once your GMB listing and site are up and running, the real key is using Google My Business, SEO & Google Analytics together to track your traffic and leads. Google Analytics is a free service Google offers for people to monitor statistics of how many people are accessing your site (and thereby looking at your business) in real time or any particular period of time. It can get a little technical, but at its simplest, it’s merely counting how many people visit your site.

To start using Analytics with your Google My Business account dashboard, all you have to do is activate Analytics (you can click here to do it) using the same Google account you signed up for GMB with. Make sure both your listing and site is live; after you set up Analytics, all you need to do is click the listing on the GMB dashboard in order to see the Analytics insights and data for your site.

From there, you can check out how many people visit your site, whether your listing and your site are effective in presenting your business and generating leads, and figuring out where and what to adjust if necessary.

 

Get an advantage online

Now, for an old-school small business owner in Huntsville, AL these things may take some learning. There’s a bit of jargon and technical know-how that gets in the way, especially in putting up a new site, doing some SEO, and using Google Analytics, but trust us—once you fully understand what’s going on, you’ll be looking at marketing your business a whole new way. When people start coming in after finding you on Google, you’ll be glad you went online!

By |2018-10-08T12:38:49+00:00October 8th, 2018|Post|Comments Off on Using Google My Business Listings To Generate Leads Online

Internet Marketing- Is it a Fad?

Internet Marketing- Is it a Fad?

 

In my last article, I mentioned that when I brought up internet marketing to small businesses that they reacted with a polite refusal at best and derision at worst.  And it makes sense when you have seen entire economies rise and fall based on fly-by-night speculation. Several financial institutions have collapsed under the assumption that they were going to make a lot of money without any evidence to back it up. And people that shouldn’t have paid for it did, dearly.

This sort of pattern has left people weary and wary of the idea of  “the next big thing”. But it does make me wonder, how much of that suspicion is valid? When I am talking about SEO practices, building a Facebook page for their business, or putting them on Google Maps, they act like I am trying to literally steal their money.

So, are they right? I don’t think so. While I understand that smaller businesses and hopeful startups have been burned by the goldrush nature of things like the housing crisis and the dot-com crash, these smaller businesses are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by rejecting all forms of technology and internet marketing techniques. So, why is something like building a website and using social media not a fad?

 

Internet Access has Become more Mainstream than Ever

 

phone ettiquite ,internet marketing

Fads are considered a foolish investment by most business owners today, mostly because it just has a short lifespan. For instance, if you were the store that stocked only fidget spinners, you would have seen a boom in business for about 2 months.  After that, you would be scrambling to keep your business afloat because you would have no more demand for the product.

So, if you are going to invest in your business, you are going to want to invest in something long-lasting.

The big mistake of the dot-com crash of the nineties was that the home computer and use of the internet wasn’t a necessity at the time.  Unless you worked for the government or the telecommunications industry, there was no need to have one.

People bought websites with the hopes of selling goods and services online. But they did so with little idea if their customer base even used computers. Computer owners in the 90’s were a niche crowd with only 36% of US families owning one in 1997.

Also, the internet was an optional service at the time. You had to pay for the browser separately, and you had to buy a dial-up connection through the phone company.  Dial-up in the nineties meant that internet access was much more expensive and harder to use.

Then, dialup was replaced by broadband and satellite. New processors were made for computers to send and organize information faster. The percentage of Americans having a home computer increased from 51% in the year 2000 to 77% by 2010.

And that isn’t even counting smartphone users today. 75% of Americans as of 2017 own a smartphone.

So, it is safe to say that having a webpage now would be a much less risky venture than having a page in 1997.

Advertising and Internet Marketing is becoming more Regulated

 

When the internet first made its way into the public mainstream, it was considered a free for all. Like unsupervised children in a playground, great times were had by some and others had internet marketing, pop upsgotten themselves hurt badly. It was a time when caution about personal information was a must because the law hadn’t caught up with the emerging technology.

Spamming, hacking, phishing, emails from Nigerian royalty, and more had been at its most rampant when the public had gained access to the internet. And all of those paled in comparison to the appearance of the ever intrusive pop-up. It was commonplace to see at least one to three pop-ups per page. And most of them easily made unfounded claims like people being sweepstakes winners, or that you could get a few free days of the internet if you entered in your personal information.

However, after mistakes were made, brilliant minds learned to adapt at becoming savvier on the internet. Businesses who employed White Hat Hackers and Users who picked up coding learned to create countermeasures to take care of themselves. Eventually, stronger regulations of mainstream websites like Google or Youtube were made once they increased their popularity. Google started to set rules and regulations about what pages had relevant data, and what pages didn’t. They even made programs that penalized spam tactics like keyword stuffing on websites.

Internet marketers and advertisers who had time to cultivate their craft learned from the public just how annoying intrusive ads could be. So they started using the internet less for a vehicle for ads, and more as a place where customers can be offered relevant content.

Would that many people constantly adjust, adapt, and make policies for this sort of platform if it was just a fad? Absolutely not.

 

We aren’t Promising Instant Wealth

When the dot-com crash happened, it was because a bunch of people was investing in an empty promise that something was going to make them money. People just assumed websites made people rich, and never ironed out any details beyond that.

When we offer our Internet Marketing services, we don’t promise that it will make your business rich fast. We do promise, however a greater chance for your business to be seen by the 170 million people in the United States who own a mobile device. We do promise that we can increase the odds of your local business getting seen by the 80% of shoppers that use their phone to find alternate locations while they are inside your competitor’s store. Those of us in internet marketing want to give your business more exposure than some of the more traditional methods of advertising that may have been falling flat for the last few years.

We come up with personalized plans, find your target audience, and use strategy to let the people who need your services know who you are.  We only want to get people in the door. That’s why the Tie’s latest mantra is “no gimmicks, no contracts, no BS”.

By |2018-10-06T22:27:46+00:00October 6th, 2018|Post|Comments Off on Internet Marketing- Is it a Fad?

SEO vs. Pay-Per-Click: What’s the Difference?

Even if they don’t run a website, everyone on the internet has been on it long enough to know and understand how they are a part of the whole process; that their patronage of websites by clicking on links to view them contributes to their lifeblood. Hits are important, as advertisers and ad networks pay webmasters for each pair of eyes they bring to the ad by way of their site.

And because the internet has evolved into a business where almost anything, any piece of content can easily be monetized, so have the ways to bring people to websites developed as well. Search engines like Google have designed and perfected methods that help webmasters and marketers use their platforms to become relevant, while others have offered their platforms completely to anyone for the right price. We’re here today to take a look at both things, how they’re similar in bringing hits to websites, and how they differ in the process.

 

What is SEO?

Everyone knows by now what search engine optimization is and what it entails. SEO is an umbrella term for many free methods designed to increase a site’s relevance and rankings on search engine results pages like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! In a nutshell, SEO involves a lot of legwork on the business end of a site in order to draw more attention to it, as well as affiliates and associates in its niche.

When a webmaster or an SEO practitioner uses SEO to drive hits to their site, what they’re really doing is making sure the site is not only optimized for search engine crawler bots, but also for the general user experience. Search engines base rankings on how often users visit and return to a particular page, so the site itself has to be the best it can possibly for people to come to it. White hat SEO — that is, upfront and honest SEO that doesn’t try to deceive search engines — takes a lot of work to maintain, such as making sure metadata is in order, that the user experience is smooth and recommendable, and building ties with other sites and blogs, just to name a few.

 

What is PPC?

Pay-per-click marketing, on the other hand, is more like traditional advertising but only on a digital platform. The most common form of PPC marketing can be found on social media or Google display ad networks: basically, the webmaster pays a platform to display their link or content to users who fall under the target audience. When you boost a post on Facebook or Instagram, a tweet on Twitter, or put up an ad of an image that links back to your page via Google AdWords, you’re running a pay-per-click campaign.

 

Normally, the determining factors are the kind of links or web content a user’s viewed on their browser recently.

PPC is older than SEO as a form of marketing, and big brands (or basically, entities and organizations with enough of a budget to spare) generally tend to go for PPC simply because it’s a quick way to gain a lot of visibility in a relatively shorter amount of time.

 

So what’s the difference between the two?

While it’s much easier to say that implementing effective SEO requires more effort than simply handing over money to execute a PPC campaign, that’s not so true when you take a closer look. Putting up an effective pay-per-click campaign needs a thorough understanding of which people will be compelled to click on your link or content, so much like in SEO,  there’s a lot of work needed in the actual creation of content to make sure it’s something people would actually want to read.

 

The biggest difference between the two methods, then, is the speed and legwork required to produce results and visibility. Where PPC is essentially a manager or a marketer paying money to make sure the right people see the content they’ve worked hard on faster, SEO is more of a slower, long-term big-picture game that counts on a substantial amount of free (that is, without cost) effort to gain good returns. For example, let’s say you’re running a campaign or some content on your site targeted to people in Huntsville, Alabama; a PPC campaign pays to have people geolocated in Huntsville see your content, while an SEO practitioner will have to manually seed the keyword “Huntsville, Alabama” in their content — and wait — for their site to rank high in searches for Huntsville.

 

Another key difference between the two methods is the issue of credibility. We’ve already seen many jokes involving sketchy-looking pop-up ads that lead to potentially dangerous sites. You likely won’t get that problem when you go with SEO. Because of its slow-burn nature that takes a while for search engines to properly vouch for sites (such as ranking a page based on trustworthy link building, making sure there’s no spam content on the page, etc.), earning a high search ranking is pretty much a mark of credibility when it comes to a certain keyword. When a user sees your page at the top of the search results, they already know it’s a good link to click.

 

That isn’t to say that running a PPC campaign will make your links or content seem sketchy; we just mean that people are more likely to distrust a paid ad because anyone can put an ad up.

 

If you’ve got the budget, you can opt for PPC; otherwise, you’re pretty much stuck trying to play the SEO game, but at least you’re not spending on anything other than web hosting. They’re both effective methods of increasing visibility, just tailor-made for people with specific goals in mind. When you’re deciding between which method you need to take in order to bring more hits to your site, always remember these factors. And don’t forget to come up with some great content — neither approach will count if your content isn’t worth it.

 

By |2018-09-30T13:30:59+00:00September 30th, 2018|Post|Comments Off on SEO vs. Pay-Per-Click: What’s the Difference?

Internet Marketing- Is it a fad?

Internet Marketing- Is it a Fad or a Mainstay?

In my time as a marketer, I have seen people from walks of life refuse our services. It is bound to happen in any business, no matter what you are selling. What makes it interesting, however, is the reason why they refuse. When we tell older businesses we use internet marketing, they practically panic. Their first response is to outright refuse the services we offer because they knew nothing about it. In their minds, internet marketing is at best a novelty and at worst a scam.

To them, internet marketing seems like a gold rush situation. By that, I mean various ‘gold rushes’ in the world of buying and selling in the global marketplace, like the stock market. These are times when promises of fast wealth meet with almost too many hopefuls that either has little knowledge of how things work in the industry they are trying to break into or are gambling on what little they have for success. When enough of these people get on the money-making bandwagon, the institution they are relying on begins to collapse under their weight. Eventually, it means the financial downfall of those who pin their hopes and dreams on a new resource.

So, it raises a few questions for me: What is internet marketing? How sustainable is it? Will it become a common staple in businesses once the glamor has died down?

We have a few comparisons that may be an indicator of where the future of internet marketing could be headed. The greatest of them was the speculation of how much the internet was worth in :

The Dot Com Crash of 2000

bubble dotcom crashSpeculative Growth

When the internet was first adopted commercially, there was a lot of hype that surrounded it. Back in the days when access required slow-moving dial-up,  many financiers, corporations, and other big league investors knew that this was going to make them rich. Investopedia explains,” During the dotcom bubble, the value of equity markets grew exponentially, with the technology-dominated NASDAQ index rising from under 1,000 to more than 5,000 between 1995 and 2000.”

When you see that much growth happen so quickly, you can’t help but take notice. That was especially the case for investors during the 1990’s. If you were to put the 80’s and 90’s in a time capsule, you would notice a strong sense of optimism and a naive sense of blind faith that would be reflected in American culture at the time. This naive and optimistic attitude also carried over in the world of the stock market, and it only multiplied when they saw the stocks for technology grow so quickly.

 

Aside:

 Stocks and investments are a really abstract concept, so I will briefly define it for context. When a company needs money for a venture, they sell a piece of the company to buyers in the form of stocks.  The price of the stocks is set based on how much the company is estimated to be worth, and how many are made. Stocks for businesses that last tend to grow slowly over time and keep growing. There is a low risk for the buyer if the company is old and has practiced well-assessed risks. The risk for the investor gets higher if the company is newer, or is pulling off a project with the investors’ money with no guarantee of success.

 

Some of the growth was legitimate. Technology companies that had made new products like Cisco and Oracle made calculated risks and grew stock marketnaturally. However, a bunch of that sudden growth in the technology sector came in the form of everybody trying to sell all kinds of things on the internet. If a domain name ended in .com, from ’97 to ”02 it was a new business trying to break in this new untapped marketplace.

Before there was even a term for ‘internet marketing’ investors were so convinced that they were going to make bank that they poured their time and money into these businesses that were starting out. Never had the phrase “shut up and take my money” been more relevant than at that time. People quit their jobs in order to sell stuff online full time.  A lot of money went into advertising, ‘getting big’ all with the promises of getting rich.

That all failed miserably.

 

The Bursting of the Bubble

There were multiple factors that contributed to the lack of profit for these starter web-based businesses. First was y2k. Computer programs before the year 2000, had everything dated in two digits. Everything. After 99, the clocks on these programs would reset to 00, a default that would shut down or restart the programs to a blank state. Including the computer programs that ran nuclear warheads.

The government and the private sector scrambled to fix that setback costing time and money. Soon everything seemed to be okay. Then, Japan, a technological giant that impacted our tech stocks, went into recession. Yahoo and eBay ended merger talks which affected the market. Microsoft lost a monopoly lawsuit in 2001. Pets.com, a joint business with Amazon, went out of business. Then September 11th happened, shattering the world trade center, along with the hopes and dreams of both investors and startup companies.

In the end, only 48% of these dot-com businesses survived the crash, which might sound like a lot, but they were valued at less than what was initially predicted. Some of them wound up even sued for lying to investors. The ones that didn’t survive got liquidated leaving many people jobless and out of assets.

What Does it Have to Do with Internet Marketing?

I am covering this point in financial history to point out two things. The first is to illustrate the disappointments to which possibly lead to jaded mindsets of today’s businesses being reluctant to have an online store in the first place. The second is to provide a template in which I can compare and contrast internet marketing to see if the speculation of market growth is valid, or if it is just excess optimism in a world of people trying to get rich quick.

I will draw the comparison in the next article.

If you like reading more about this stuff, check it out here on our blog! If you want to read about nutrition or learn about the unique types of mold in the world, click here and here!

By |2018-09-28T12:55:00+00:00September 28th, 2018|Post|Comments Off on Internet Marketing- Is it a fad?

WordPress vs Wix vs Squarespace for SEO: The Ultimate Website Round-Up

The importance of SEO cannot be overstated, especially if you’re a small business owner looking to gain an advantage over your competitors. Done right, SEO will attract more visitors to your site – and more visitors means more chances of a sale.

But before you can get onto the business of search engine optimization, first, you need a website. There are tons of website building platforms out there; you might have heard of some of these names already thanks to their very aggressive marketing teams – WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace.

If the thought of putting together an entire website on your own doesn’t scare you, these content management systems promise to deliver you the same results that a professional can at a fraction of the cost. However, hiring a web developer – who has spent years training in the top techniques of the trade – is the best and only way to guarantee a professional, clean, and fully-functional website.

One benefit of hiring a web developer is that you won’t have to make the difficult decision of which web building platform is best for your website’s SEO – it’s our job to take care of that for you! PTG handles everything from website strategy, design, content development, and data analytics, saving you the trouble of doing that yourself.

But whether you go for a pro or decide to DIY, it’s helpful to know the difference between content management systems. Here’s a round-up of the three most popular website building platforms, and what SEO features each one has.

 

WordPress

WordPress began as a blogging platform way back when but has now grown to be one of the biggest and most flexible content management systems. It’s best known for its open source code, which allows developers full access to different customization options and features.

While the basic, out-of-the-box site already comes with enough tools to jumpstart your website, what really sets WordPress apart from the others is its database of tens of thousands of plug-ins and themes that you can use to truly make your site your own. This includes the ever-popular Yoast SEO plug-in that webmasters use to optimize their page for search engine rankings.

Because WordPress began as a blogging site, it’s incredibly easy to update your content regularly. As we say in the SEO industry, content is king, and being able to publish new content frequently is one key to better rankings.

 

Best for

People who have a background in web development and design, or are willing to learn; businesses of any size; people who need easy and fast blogging capabilities

 

Pros

  • Option to add over 50,000+ plug-ins that can help boost SEO
  • Full customization options
  • Complete control over your website, including technical aspects like page speed
  • Flawless blogging integration
  • Customizable URLs, page titles, and metadata descriptions
  • Optimized for mobile

 

Cons

  • Takes time to learn, delaying your site launch
  • Less secure because of third-party apps and plug-ins
  • SEO-boosting plug-ins are necessary for added functionality; not built in

 

Wix

One of the original drag-and-drop website builders, Wix has moved on from its obsolete Flash-based platform to today’s HTML5 code. Wix’s claim to fame is that it makes it easy for anyone to build their own website from scratch.

Wix recognizes that just having a website isn’t enough in today’s competitive global market, so they launched the Wix SEO Wiz. It’s a complete search engine optimization toolkit that is intuitive and delivers quantifiable results, so much so that Google even acknowledged it in one of their conferences.

“The Wiz”, as its fondly called by the Wix community, analyzes your website and makes suggestions on what to tweak to improve your search engine rankings. It provides you with a thorough checklist of things you can do, such as adding important keywords and editing image alt texts. Wix offered some very convincing statistics for The Wiz: 82% of Wix-ers saw their rankings improve after using it, and over ⅔ of Wix websites have made it to the first search results page.

 

Best for

Start-ups or small businesses that don’t need a complicated website, or have the time and resources to put one up

 

Pros

  • Easy drag-and-drop, all-inclusive website builder; can launch a site quickly
  • Access to SEO toolkit “The Wiz”
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Automatic and instant indexing
  • Automatic site mapping for premium accounts
  • Automatic free SSL certification
  • Customizable URLs
  • Integration with Google Analytics and Google Search Console
  • Access to SEO add-ons from the Wix App Market
  • Wix Site Booster
  • Optimized for sharing on social networks
  • Optimized for mobile
  • Integrated blogging capabilities

 

Cons

  • Less flexibility in terms of functionalities
  • Not optimized for large businesses or websites that require multiple pages
  • Difficult to implement advanced SEO techniques

 

Squarespace

The newest player of the bunch, Squarespace is known for its gorgeous design above all else. Just like Wix, Squarespace allows you to build your own website based off of exclusive, customizable templates. It’s not particularly well-known for its SEO-boosting capabilities, but they do incorporate some tools that allow you to optimize your site for search engine rankings.

 

Best for

Creative content or design-oriented brands

 

Pros

  • Easy, drag-and-drop interface with inclusive domain and web hosting
  • Free SSL certificates
  • Automatically-generated sitemap and metadata
  • Automatic tagging
  • Clean URLs and HTML markup
  • Customizable URLs, titles, and page descriptions
  • Google Analytics integration
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Optimized for mobile
  • Integrated blogging with third-party apps like Google Drive and Evernote

 

Cons

  • Less flexibility and control over your website
  • Fewer templates than Wix or WordPress
  • Limited e-commerce options
  • Not as friendly for SEO beginners

 

Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s not really about what website builder you choose, it’s about the content you create. Good content and quality backlinks are more important factors in your SEO ranking; in fact, Google itself has said that what website building platform you use doesn’t factor into your ranking.

Google ranks you based on how useful and authoritative your content is for your keywords. If people find your content relevant and trustworthy, you will rank higher. Most website builders provide pretty similar SEO features, so it’s really about how well you’re able to take advantage of them.

That being said, WordPress has a slight advantage over other content management systems. While it is more difficult to learn, it will provide you with more flexibility and SEO tools in the long run. With its blogging roots, it’s great for publishing lots of quality content and boosting your on-page SEO. Thousands of plug-ins can be incorporated into your site, letting you fine-tune your website for better rankings.

 

Go for the pros

SEO is way more than just what platform you use to build your website. Even if you go for a drag-and-drop website builder like Wix or Squarespace, there are still a ton of SEO techniques you’ll have to master if you want to get a much-coveted spot on the first search results page.

Good SEO combines web development, psychology, marketing, and so much more. Instead of spending the rest of your life getting the hang of it, it’s easier (and more cost-effective) to hire someone who’s already done all the difficult legwork for you.

Purple Tie Guys (PTG) is a leading SEO specialist and web developer based in Huntsville, Al. We can not only build your website, but provide custom web strategies and solutions to boost your rankings, reach your customers, and increase your profits.

 

By |2018-09-23T18:47:40+00:00September 23rd, 2018|Post|Comments Off on WordPress vs Wix vs Squarespace for SEO: The Ultimate Website Round-Up

Can Marketing Brainwash People?

Can Marketing Brainwash People?

Today’s market and political climate are painfully tumultuous. That is why half the country is burning their own Nike shoes and the other half is buying twice as many.  It is the reason why some of the people of Huntsville, Al wear Rocket science t-shirts, while the people of Decatur, Al let you know that they voted for Trump & Pence on their bumper stickers and hats.  With the spread of social media, it seems that American values have never felt so polarized.

The only one thing they seem to agree on is that the media is brainwashing their kids.

The job of a marketer is to sell products,  in a persuasive way that speaks the majority of the people, they are selling to. So, are advertisers the devil?  Just how much of an impression can a marketing or ad campaign make? Can you change the mind of the public through advertising alone?  The only way to get an answer is to find out if people can get brainwashed in the first place.

Subliminal Messaging

The biggest accusation towards marketers and media I have seen to date is subliminal messaging. I heard crazy things while growing up in Huntsville,

subliminal messaging

          Copyright Fox and Matt Groening

AL from Disney coercing kids into sex through subliminal messaging or Playing Helter Skelter backward summoning the devil. It has sent people into a moral panic.  It is also 100% urban legend.  There has been no recorded evidence of subliminal messages working anywhere.

Where did the misconception come from?

James Vicary, a behavioral scientist in the 70’s, published an experiment that stated subliminal messaging made his test subjects buy popcorn and Coke when they didn’t even want any.  However, the president of the Psychological Corporation, Dr. Henry Link, called foul and told him that the study wasn’t credible unless he was willing to repeat the test and get the same results.  When Vicary repeated the test a second time, he did not get the same results. It turned out Vicary fudged his numbers. He even publically admitted he falsified the results while he was under investigation.

However, admitting false data wasn’t interesting to the people selling newspapers. So, they barely covered the rescinding of that information. Thanks to yellow journalism and bad science that most people now, even many of those in Huntsville, Al, believe subliminal messaging is still a thing.

But why weren’t people affected by something like that? What makes people subconsciously immune to suggestion?

The answers to those questions come from both the KGB and the CIA.

Mind Control Doesn’t Work

mind control

       Copyright Duffer Brothers and Netflix

Every country has its sins. Whether the country is as old as civilization itself or is only a few years old,  there are going to be horrible secrets behind the scenes of its government.

Project MK Ultra is one of the lesser known atrocities committed by our government at a time when the country was still trying to be a global superpower. What little of its records were declassified in 2001 told the story of an attempt to outright brainwash people into becoming sleeper agents during the Cold War. There were a lot of illegal acts that were involved. These included the use of torture, hypnosis, experimental drugs, and child abuse.

However, in all of this tragedy, there was something interesting in the results that were uncovered. Hypnotism could put people in a suggestive state, but it couldn’t control one’s mind.

If someone has strong scruples against an action, even in a hypnotic state, they won’t do what they are told.

According to Psychology Today, “What has been documented is that if you found a subject whose personality was deviant, to begin with, and wanted to direct their minds to do something extreme like plant a bomb or commit an assassination, you may be able to guide him or her to do it—with or without hypnosis.”

If the American Government can’t hypnotize someone to become a spy,  no advertisement can hypnotize an adult.

Why do People Change Their Minds?

If no one can hypnotize a person and tell them what to do, then why do people change their minds? After all, cults exist and people try new things every day.  The answer to this question boils down to two words: emotional connection.

People are not logical or rational by nature. We are emotional first and logical second.  It doesn’t matter how rational the argument maybe if you point out evidence for evolution to a creationist, they are going to feel attacked and deny what’s right in front of them. And if you tell someone that they have a home in your compound they will be much more receptive to drinking the kool-aid in front of them.

So, a successfully persuasive person would need to lower down the defenses of their audience before making their point. It’s the same with marketing campaigns. You need to create an emotional response to your product to succeed. Until then, you will win no one to your product, no matter how logical your reasoning can be.

Next week, I will go into further detail about the science behind marketing persuasion. Stay safe Huntsville, Al!

By |2018-09-21T19:47:15+00:00September 21st, 2018|Post|Comments Off on Can Marketing Brainwash People?

White Hat vs. Black Hat – What’s The REAL Difference?

Anyone who’s ever run a website knows how pulling in visitors can be hard work. Whether you’re running a site for profit or you merely want to become relevant in your own particular field, you need to put in the work and do some search engine optimization. Maybe you figure you’d do it yourself, or you may consider hiring an SEO company to help boost your rankings.

But no matter who’s doing it, there are a lot of different ways to do SEO. There will always be those who are standing at the crossroads, trying to discern exactly how they want to be getting their hits. There are two major schools of SEO thought and methods: black hat and white hat.

 

What Is White Hat and Black Hat SEO?

The color-coded names are pretty simple and evocative of how these practitioners work: black hat refers to gaming the SEO system and algorithm by brute-forcing their sites with keywords and links in order to increase their search engine ranking, while white hat is all about the hard work of catering to your site’s actual human audience. Black hatters are playing the low-effort, high-reward SEO game to increase rankings and gain hits quickly, usually looking for the fast ad money payout; this means that if their rankings do increase, they likely won’t stay that way for long once users realize what they’re clicking, or search engines punish them.

Meanwhile, white hatters are more interested in building the same ranking over time using more credible strategies, so that when they get on top, they stay on top. You always want to be a white hatter, because search engines work hard to keep ensuring that black hatting your site’s SEO doesn’t become too profitable.

 

White Hat Techniques

White hat SEO practitioners are more traditional site runners and content creators. They want to make sure your experience is worth the click on their link by doing the following:

 

  • They create unique and informative content – The #1 rule of running a website, no matter when you’re doing it: content is king. User experience and interface does matter, but without the content your users actually look for, you’re nothing. This is why white hatters always strive to regularly create the kind of quality content that keeps visitors returning and affiliates linking back to them, and that builds up actual credibility that translates into higher search engine rankings.
  • They optimize their site for all platforms – This is why UX matters, because you need a good, reliable way to deliver your quality content to your audience. The easier it is for people to access your site — that is, faster loading times on both desktop and mobile, intuitive and simple navigation, and full readability on mobile — the more people will recommend it and keep coming back to it, increasing its ranking.
  • They create well-thought-out meta tagging – Keywords shouldn’t just be meaningless phrases containing the search term. They have to be descriptive, and in the age of voice searches and even more personalized queries, they have to follow the user’s line of thinking. Consider using questions and full sentences in your meta tags, and your site will match up with actual searches more.
  • They put in the effort to build links – Good white hatters will put in the digital legwork to create backlinks to their site on others in the same field or niche. This is done by constantly engaging with other similar (not to mention reputable) sites and getting them to link back to yours so your page ranking goes up.

 

 

Black Hat Techniques

Black hat SEO practitioners usually employ the following rule-breaking techniques and methods to increase their search rankings:

 

  • There are too many low-quality keywords – Spamming keywords (some of which may be unrelated to one another) in a site’s text is a glaring sign that the site is stuffing their content with them in an attempt to look like they’re credible. Having a bunch of these keywords is guaranteed to hit on searches, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll find good content behind that link.
  • They use bots to manufacture engagement – Some black hatters will employ bots to fake human interaction on their sites and posts, and you’ll easily spot them when these “comments” include mentions of certain keywords that are either grammatically incorrect or just plain unnatural.
  • They redirect you somewhere else (and unrelated) – There are some page results that are just doorway pages to something totally unrelated. They’ll stuff these doorways with a bunch of keywords so that they can rank on search engines and prey on unsuspecting users, redirecting them to a site that’s not about what they were looking for (and sometimes may even include malware). Watch out for these.
  • Their sites contain invisible text or links – Sometimes, black hatters will also put in invisible or small text or links containing a keyword so that their page will rank on those related results. They’ll employ a number of ways to hide these links and text, but it’s often not hard to find.

 

 

Do Your Research

When you hire an SEO company or consultant to help you make your site more relevant, it pays to make sure you’re not paying for a black hatter. Black hatters aren’t always incompetent, but what they all have in common is that they’ll use underhanded methods to try and improve your site’s SEO and search rankings — and these methods are swiftly punished by search engines, wasting their attempts to boost their relevance and, in turn, your hard-earned money.

Make sure you keep these questions and considerations in mind when you’re shopping around in Huntsville, Al for an SEO guy or team for your site.

 

The real difference between white hat and black hat SEO isn’t just in the methods they use to improve your website’s performance and achieve your goals. No, the real difference lies in whether they actually care about building something credible and long-lasting on the internet. It pays to do SEO the right way.

 

By |2018-09-19T10:16:09+00:00September 19th, 2018|Post|Comments Off on White Hat vs. Black Hat – What’s The REAL Difference?

Behavior Based Marketing: A Solution to Demography

Behavior-Based Marketing: A Solution to Excess Demography

If you are a consistent reader of the last couple of blog posts, you may have caught me on a soapbox rant about the inaccuracies and damaging results that come from demography in marketing. You may have also seen me on the same soapbox about customers feeling overwhelmed about advertisement oversaturation. Before I should start buying a literal soapbox from Amazon, I want to point out that both of these issues are not only solvable, but there are some forward-thinking companies that are already engaging in that solution. I am talking, about behavior based marketing.

Behavior-Based Marketing: What is it?

When you assign a person or a group of people based on concrete traits, you are using demography.

For instance, I the blogger, and technically female, 5’1, live near Huntsville, Alabama, and have two jobs. These are traits that are more or less fixed, and while there is some room for fluctuation, such as a gender reassignment, moving to another location, or quitting a job, those are still long-term concrete factors that are less likely to change.

However, when you start assigning a person or a group of people based on their personal habits, you are using behavior profiling.

In this example, I the blogger; rarely go out in public, play video games moderately, like horror movies, and am knowledgeable about odd bits of trivia. These traits also define me.  However, these traits are also abstract. They can certainly be demonstrated through things like the choices I make, and my preferences, but they are still very much internal factors until I use my behavior as an outlet to express them.

So, if I were to come up with a formal definition for the term, Behavior Based Marketing,  it would be ” a marketing tactic that is based on the evidence of consistent habits, patterns, and rituals of target audiences.

The Case for Behavior-Based Marketing Tactics:

Human beings are just a funny bunch. There will always be part of us that wants to belong to a group of people like us. We crave it on a psychological level because we are capable of feeling lonely and vulnerable. However, there is also the part of us that wants to be acknowledged for our individual traits just as much.  We want to fit in, but we also want to stand out in a small way.

This is solved by people showing parts of their personal preferences in public when it fits a societal standard and keeping other personal preferences to themselves.

Example: How Demography Could Fail You

For instance, a conservative, religious, 50-year-old white man who’s lived in Huntsville, Alabama his whole life is shopping at a bookstore. Already, you can cobble a customer profile with his information.

It would be easy for the bookseller to guess what the customer would buy based off that information. The bookseller guesses that the customer would either pick up a James Patterson novel, a Western, or a Faithpoint book. This is evidenced by his previous interactions with other customers like the one who just walked through that door.

But the customer goes to the comic book section instead.

This is a part of the customer’s personal preference that does not jive with his stereotypical outer appearance.  He might not even share it with others in his life because he either does not feel it is appropriate or thinks no one else he knows would be interested. However, there are two ways that this entire scenario could go, based on which information the bookseller goes by.

 

  • The bookseller noticed the customer walk to the comic book section. He knows that his initial prediction was debunked based on the customer’s behavior. With that knowledge, he can make an accurate sales offer and create a positive sales interaction.

 

  • The bookseller did not pay attention and offers him the latest James Patterson novel in a conversation. He used his faulty logic based on what he knows of a demographic. This creates an awkward interaction could cost the store a repeat customer.

 

Demography is Good for General Advertising Only

If you use only demography to make marketing decisions with, you will fail as a company. Demography is only good for gathering generalized information about a broad audience. If your goal is to sell a generalized product to anyone, then demography is good for that.

However, will doom you in an interpersonal interaction.

People are not statistics. If you try to pitch a specific item to a specific person based on general data, you will wind up stereotyping. Stereotyping and generalized messages used to be acceptable in a time when people lived, ate, bought,  socialized, and died in one location. However, thanks to technological progress, that isn’t the case anymore.  We are now exposed to a variety of places, people, and culture more than ever before. When you put a diverse group of people in one place, personal taste, values, and habits grow more diverse. Generalization is bound to fall flat.

 

Conclusion

Ok, so I stated my case as to why demography does not succeed in an interpersonal sales situation. However, I did not state the companies that are already engaging in this practice, what they are using, and if there are people who demand this form of advertising. That one is going to have to come around next time.  Stay safe Huntsville, Alabama.

By |2018-09-14T20:49:09+00:00September 14th, 2018|Post|Comments Off on Behavior Based Marketing: A Solution to Demography

Choosing an SEO Company: Here’s What You Need To Know

The Internet is a hell of an invention. The world is a lot more interconnected these days thanks to it, in every possible sense. It’s a tool, and a very powerful one. All the glories and all the horrors of the world can break out in mere hours once they find the right platform.

This is where SEO companies come in. It’s 2018, the technology has matured, and companies exist who can look after your websites and the content on them to make sure that they’re properly optimized. Of course, as with all things, there are good companies and bad companies, and here are the basics on how you can tell which is which and get the best SEO services for your buck.

 

Get A Track Record

The best way to see if a company does good work is to look for that work and evidence of it.

Look up reviews for the companies you’re examining, and observe what they say. There are also lists of trustworthy SEO providers, and in this digital age, your SEO company doesn’t have to be local to provide you what you need; you can be in Huntsville, AL, while they’re in Raleigh, NC and still get effective results.

From the company itself, ask them for case studies of the work they’ve done, and for some clients they’ve worked for before that you can ask about.

Get testimonials from the people they’ve worked for; this is where your network of industry friends and insiders comes in handy. Referrals have worked to bring quality business since time immemorial, and that hasn’t changed here. Ask them what they liked and disliked about the company, and see if those match up with your needs.

Have A Concrete Goal

So this is on you instead of them, but working with your SEO company is a two-way street. SEO is, basically, a marketing concern, and to that end, you have to determine what it is you want of them. And this has to be concrete because SEO isn’t just something you do, it’s a means to an end. Traffic and rankings for their own sake mean nothing. If people visit your site but then do nothing further, what good is your site then?

Traffic must serve a specific goal. If you’ve confirmed that the traffic on your website translates to increased revenue, then increasing traffic becomes a good goal. Or if you’ve identified a target market, and thus set a goal of attracting more traffic from that market, that’s also good.

Basically, figure out what you want, and the company can more easily tell you what needs to happen.

Consider Communication Styles

Communication is vital in any relationship. Platonic, romantic, business, whatever; all connections are founded on effective communication. It’s a matter of meetings, and of just speaking to each other in general.

Do you prefer something more freewheeling, or would you instead have daily updates, weekly updates, monthly?

What kind of information do you want to get?

Do you perhaps want separate reports, like a summary for your boss and a more detailed report for your marketing department?

Go through all this with your company, and find out what works best for you. See if you can come to a reasonable compromise with the company you’re working with.

Determine Your Resources

Is there anything in this world that doesn’t cost money? SEO certainly does. Don’t think you can just drop in five dollars and have your website looking all beautiful at the top of the search results.

Don’t hesitate to ask the company you’re after, as they’ll have a contract structure for you to peruse. Define your budget, and check it against what you’re hearing, and the conversation afterwards becomes much easier.

And by resources, we don’t just mean money. The company may need to work with your people, like developers or content writers, to properly optimise, so ask them what they need and consider how much time you’re willing to commit to them.

Also consider how free a hand you’re giving the company. You may want to have someone to sign off on what they’re doing, to maintain control and build up trust, but this will cut into their time. Or you could give up oversight and let them do what they wish without anyone having to approve, but that has its own downsides.

What To Watch Out For

Just as you have ways to find the good, there are ways to root out the bad. Here are a few red flags to watch out for:

 

 

 

Lack of Transparency

 

 

Don’t be afraid to ask exactly what it is they’re going to do for you. A good company will be upfront and transparent about their methods and techniques. If anyone responds with ‘trade secret’, or even worse, says it’s a secret but promises guaranteed results, drop them.

SEO is an open field, the technology is mature, its techniques are well understood, and by its very nature can’t really be hidden. This isn’t like cuisine, where a unique taste defines the establishment. Anyone with any kind of ‘secret sauce’ is talking out of their ass.

 

 

 

Guaranteed Results

 

 

Related to the above, if an SEO company promises to get you to the top of the results page in a given timeframe, they’re again lying through their teeth. Though the methods are known, the results are impossible to guarantee. You should especially be careful of a company that says this before they do any research into your company or your current SEO profile.

Conclusions

SEO is a competitive field, with its ways sometimes odd to the untrained observer. Fortunately, as with almost every other trade, it has its experts. The points we’ve discussed are things to consider when you’re shopping around for the best SEO services. Hopefully, you’ll a find a good company that’ll do right by you.

By |2018-09-11T10:46:02+00:00September 11th, 2018|Post|Comments Off on Choosing an SEO Company: Here’s What You Need To Know

A Marketer’s Rant

Marketing Rant: Sales and Marketing aren’t the Same Thing!

Be thankful that I have the restraint to avoid using expletives in this text because I am in a very salty mood with MLM and sales companies. The Dead Sea does not hold the amount of salt I contain for these people.  If you are a recent marketing graduate (or any recent graduate in general), you most likely have seen these things before in your latest job search.

Here I am, searching for work in my field that pays more, as you do when you are trying to move up in the world. I type in  “marketing Huntsville, Al “. There are little marketing positions open. Instead, I see advertisements for things like Avon, Herbalife, and even companies both local and abroad that offer you a base pay on top of commission, flexible hours, and low training required.

My Experience with Job Scams

Stop reading if you have heard this one before:

A young marketer almost out of college is applying for a position. After visiting a small office with an almost job scam too pleasant secretary to fill out paperwork, she gets called in for an interview.  At a local Publix or Walmart in the middle of Huntsville, Al.

Why would a marketer for a company be in a local grocery store, you think, as you head inside with the one other candidate you are competing against for the position. There you see a small portable booth with a nicely dressed worker…selling bamboo pillows/ satellite dishes to customers at the store. This was not a marketing position. It was a sales job that was in a store instead of door to door.  That is the jobseekers equivalent of putting sugar on crap and calling it ice cream. Needless to say, I did not answer the follow-up phone call the next day.

So, as someone who has fallen prey to these malicious pseudo companies, I am going to point out what the difference between their use of the word “marketing” means, what the real definition of marketing is, and how to avoid these immoral thieves that take advantage of desperate people trying to make a living.

Pyramid Schemes and Sales Company Traps

MLM’s and deceitful sales companies both as near as Huntsville, Al and as far as Seattle, Wa plague the crap out of both prospective job seekers. They deliberately target people who are too desperate to question their shady tactics or too naive to realize what they are getting into. When anyone tries to call them out personally, they will argue with you using circular logic or just outright delete bad reviews.  Here is a brief definition of the two, just so you can wrap your head around both ways you can be scammed into debt.

MLM

pyramid scheme, mlm, huntsville al job scam This abbreviation stands for multi-level-marketing, it is a more sanitized version of the term pyramid scheme.  This is described plainly by, of all places, Urban Dictionary.

A scheme in which a person (as a “seller”) buys a certain amount of product from a “distributor”, and then sells the product for a profit. The seller must then kick back some of his profit to his distributor. In turn, all the other sellers this person has recruited and distributes product to must give some of their profits to him.

So, what makes it problematic?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Why is pyramiding dangerous? Because plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited. And when a plan collapses, most people—except perhaps those at the very top of the pyramid—end up empty-handed.”

Sales Company Scam:

This one is much more sneaky because they utilize pyramid practices while looking much more official on the outside. Essentially, they put out ads for marketing positions with expectations of base pay plus commission, benefits, flexible hours, and working directly as someone marketing a product. Then, you learn it is a sales position that runs on commission alone. It’s all commission and bonuses depend on people under you.

        A career blogger, Willy Franzen, explains the nature of these companies best, “Many people would argue that operations like the ones that I’ve just described aren’t scams. If you define a scam as someone who takes your money and doesn’t give you what you expected, then these job opportunities aren’t technically scams; however, they do give you one impression of how you’ll be spending your time and offer a completely different experience.”

But isn’t Marketing and Sales the Same Thing?

No. They are connected, but they are not the same thing.

Sales involve convincing people to buy your product with an interpersonal interaction. It is literally convincing people why they want to buy something and close the deal entirely on the spot.

Marketers do their job in the beginning of the sales process by indirectly priming the potential consumer for the sales through persuasion.

For instance, if a company was selling hamburgers, marketers would tell the salespeople where the right locations would be for stores, the right airtime to be airing commercials, and what their selling point for their product would be.  Salespeople would be the ones to make the deal on the spot.

Marketers would be the planters, and Sales would be the payoff.

How can You tell the Scam apart from a Real Job?

Rank on Google

  • Research is key here. If you go to a job review site and they are all positive or all negative, then chances are the company is not reputable.
  • Check for news articles about lawsuits regarding the company, or check the materials they use to make the product they are using.
  • Check and see if the offer of the entry-level position is too good to be true. Make sure the pay scale is proportionate to the local area.

 

By |2018-09-07T22:35:23+00:00September 7th, 2018|Post|Comments Off on A Marketer’s Rant