SEO is dead – LONG LIVE SEO!

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When I first entered the digital marketing arena almost a decade ago, SEO was the buzzword of the time.

It was a relatively simple concept to grasp and quite simple [yet labour intensive] tactic to deploy. Best of all, there was no need to invest in monthly digital advertising!

Businesses could create a website in a day and use what are known as ‘blackhat’ marketers to dominate the front page of Google’s search results to generate customers on autopilot.

The tactic these blackhat marketers used was rather simple – build as many links as you could back to the website you were trying to rank.

At the time Google’s algorithm treated these backlinks as votes and the more votes you had, the more credible you were and Google would reward you with higher rankings in its results.

I’ve known several people who have turned over millions of pounds and dollars simply playing the blackhat SEO game.

Several fraudsters selling magic potions and pills [you can imagine the sorts] had used Google’s platform to con hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people into buying unregulated crap.

Come 2011, when Google thought enough is enough, it’s time to de-list all of these low-quality websites, it introduced the Panda update.

Thousands of online businesses that had been cash cows for years, suffered a collapse in revenue, literally over-night.

The good ol’ days of gaming Google for a quick buck was over.

Google wanted to improve the user experience it was providing its search engine users, which meant that it had to fix its algorithm to display the most relevant results on its first page.

This was a time when Facebook, which was by now the largest social media website in the world, was looking into entering the search engine market.

Over the next few years, Google has tweaked its algorithm even further with the Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon updates.

The ‘Masters’ of SEO decried that SEO was dead! We had to either start investing in good quality content or venture into paid advertising.

Search engine spamming was surely dead, but could business owners on a tight budget, still use SEO to drive a steady stream of visitors to their websites?

The resounding answer is YES!

However, there is a caveat and that is the process is now a lot slower and SEO is a longer game.

Rarely will you find that you’ve published a new page on your website and it gets ranked into Google’s database over night.

Instead of counting how many backlinks your website has pointing to it, it is measuring the quality of the links.

It is better that you have 10 links from credible websites, than 1,000 links from one-page blogs.

So how can you win the SEO game? Simply invest your time in creating a better user experience for your target audience.

This means fixing up issues on your website, such as the loading time, navigation, page titles – the so-called ‘on page’ elements.

You also need to invest some time in creating quality content both on your website and off your website i.e. on other blogging platforms, videos, etc.

Here’s a couple of things that you should incorporate in your SEO strategy for 2017:

  • Identify websites where you can publish a guest blog
  • Create a content plan for producing more videos for
    publishing on YouTube
  • Get more social – create fan pages on all relevant sites        and link back to the mothership [your website]
  • Contribute to industry/market specific podcasts
  • Put out press releases for any major announcements

All of these tactics will help you to gain good quality backlinks to your website.

The name of the SEO game is still building backlinks, but focus on the quality over the quantity.

On that note – SEO is dead! Long Live SEO!

 

All Is Fair in Love, War & Marketing!

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For decades we have seen a kind of Omerta followed by the advertising departments of large corporations.

They never directly & openly targeted their rivals in advertising campaigns.

It was a breach of an unspoken protocol for a company to openly fire shots at its rivals.

When Sir Richard Branson smashed a Coca Cola billboard on Fifth Avenue in 1998, it sent shock waves across the marketing world.

This PR stunt was initiated for the launch of Virgin Cola in the United States. Branson knew it was going to be an uphill, David vs Goliath battle, to take on Coca Cola.

So he couldn’t just run a national ad showing happy Americans drinking his brand of cola and expect sales to come pouring in.

Unfortunately, the drink never really took off in the States… or anywhere else for that matter!

Branson’s stunt was an audacious affront to an established household name, by someone who was regarded as a maverick entrepreneur.

In the digital age, things are changing.

What was great PR 10 years ago, will be regarded as a cheap gimmick now.

PR stunts are not enough to engage with a technologically advanced audience.

Attention spans are decreasing, as more and more marketing messages are thrown at people every day.

To really ingrain a message to their audience, brands have had to become more aggressive.

Mass marketing is being replaced by “precise interest” marketing.

The Omerta has been torn up and multi-billion dollar companies are now “wrestling” each other to attract new customers.

So here are two ads that I’ve come across in the last two weeks, where one brands misfortune has been cherished by their competitors.

Round 1: Paypal vs Apple

For over a decade, Paypal has been the global leader in online payments processing.

Surely, an established brand shouldn’t feel threatened by a new comer, especially when the competing service isn’t fully trading?

Well when the new comer is Apple, nothing can be taken for granted.

Apple has over many years built an ecosystem of “i” products, which are used by millions of fanatical users all over the world.

Although it’s still speculation, Apple Pay can have a severe impact on Paypal’s position as the world’s favorite payment processor.

Therefore, it is understandable when Paypal took out a full page ad against Apple two weeks ago.

Some of you maybe aware that there was recently a hack into Apple’s iCloud service, where nude pictures were stolen from celebrity’s accounts.

The following day Paypal put this ad in all major US publications:

 

paypal-ad (2)

Round 2: Samsung vs Apple

Apple and Samsung have been battling it out in US Patent Courts for many years over patent infringement issues. Their relationship is almost as acrimonious as that of Coca Cola and Pepsi.

For those of you who have kept up with the new iPhone 6 launch. You will be aware that many users have reported that the iPhone 6 Plus seems to bend, when it’s confined in tight pockets.

You may have seen images like this one floating around social networks:

Users are raging against the Apple machine with the hashtag #bendgate

Samsung was not going to let this opportunity pass!

Here’s what Samsung’s marketing team have launched today:

So what lessons can Small Businesses take away from this post?

Well there’s quite a few:

  • Get Social

    Your users are more social than you can imagine. You are being discussed with their connections across various Social Networks.

    For you to really benefit from their feedback, you need to be aware of it. Find yourself on Facebook and other Web 2.0 pages, and start taking charge of negative feedback.

    Better still, create and own the Web 2.0 pages where your users can come and leave feedback.

  • Plan to Dominate

    Your audience is being harassed by smart marketers every day. You need to get more aggressive in how you reach your market.

    Do SEO, do PPC, do Social PPC, do Remarketing – do whatever it takes to get in front of your market, more often than your competitors are.

    As the sales guru Grant Cardone would say: “Don’t Compete – DOMINATE!”

  • Have No Fear!

    So your competitors suck? Great, let their customers know!

    However, you need to be an iron fist in a velvet glove. Your audience should not perceive your negative marketing as an unjust attack on your competitor. Nor should they perceive it as an act of desperation.

    So be witty in your material and laugh all the way to the bank…at their expense! 😉

Add your thoughts below.

Blogging Once A Week!

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I’ve got a confession to make. I haven’t blogged in about 1 1/2 years!

I suppose I have been rather lazy and too focused on making other people rich 🙂

Well in 2015, things are going to change. The focus is going to come back on resurrecting my personal brand, in alignment with my personal goals.

2015 is going to be a big year!

It will start off with me blogging once a week about what I’ve been up to, marketing chit chat and some social banter.

No I haven’t joined the Empower Network and been told to blog once a day! lol

In all seriousness, the top players in their industry maintain a blog. Look at Tim Ferris for example. I can’t wait for new blog posts from him!

So the engagement begins here.

I’ve re-done my fancy website to something a lot more minimalist. This should keep readers focused on my words, rather than 100 shiny things on the screen.

I will be planning a proper posting schedule for this blog – yes I’m taking it this seriously!

The end goal is for me to be posting two or three times a week.

Keep an eye out amigos and…

 

 

Less Is More!

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Ok I’ve just redesigned by website for the nth time!

My goal here is to become more simplistic, as I think that is the way forward. The Internet is getting more and more cluttered!

More people are getting distracted and switching off. That’s why I’m going back to the basics. So let me know what you think of the new look!

Zero to £87m ($134m) in 9 Years Online – Part 1

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You may have heard of MoneySavingExpert.com [MSE], especially if you are in the UK.

The website was founded in 2003 by a fellow LSE Alumni, Martin Lewis.

It is simply an online hub with great advice on saving money. Not too complicated, just pure advice on credit card rates to daily deals, etc. The site also has a forum attached, where members discuss how to save money on various purchases.

Who would have thought that after only 9 short years online, such a site would sell for an astonishing £87m ($134m USD), especially when they do not sell a single product or service themselves!

Confused? Well I wouldn’t blame you, if you were.

This is a business model that very few are familiar with. It’s a model that I started out my business in and it’s an easy model to get started with.

It’s called Affiliate Marketing. In a nutshell, you are a PROMOTER of someone else’s products/services.

It’s a great business model because you don’t need to do the Market Research, Product  Development, Product Testing, Customer Service, etc.

All you’re doing is helping to Market the product/service, either online or offline.

In Money Saving Expert’s case, they were promoting MoneySupermarket.com.

Money Supermarket is an online price comparison website i.e. if you want the cheapest car insurance quote, then you would go there to find the cheapest insurer.

Every time a Bargain Hunter went through to Money Supermarket, after reading an article on Money Saving Expert and bought a policy, MSE got a commission from Money Supermarket.

By the time of the sale, Money Supermarket was paying £16m annually to Money Saving Expert in referral commissions. I suppose from that perspective it made sense to acquire MSE and to plug the outflow of £16m annually.

“Great news for Martin, but how do I benefit Abul”, do I hear you say?

Well there are hundreds of established companies Worldwide, who would not be as successful as they are, had it not been for their promoters [or affiliates if you like].

From Ebay to Argos, they all have thousands of affiliates. The affiliates simply send online visitors to those websites and if those visitors buy, then the affiliate gets a % cut of the sale value.

You earn them £100 and they give you anything from £3 to £75, depending on the company.

In short this is what Martin did:

  • He was a journalist and had a passion about saving money.
  • He built an online community of like-minded individuals.
  • Once he had a large enough following, he promoted some money saving services to his followers.
  • If the followers bought, then great he made some money. If they didn’t buy, then great as well. He still kept on writing QUALITY CONTENT on his website that kept his followers coming back for more.
  • Martin established himself as an AUTHORITY in the field of ‘money saving’ and was interviewed on TV and Magazines. This meant more coverage for his website.
  • Over time, he had 12 million people in the UK visiting his website on a monthly basis.

Using my Create -> Convert -> Retain analysis:

Martin CREATED followers, CONVERTED them to use Money Supermarket and RETAINED those followers by providing regular in-demand content.

Sounds simple enough!

Maybe you don’t want 12 million visitors, or to write daily articles for the website, or get interviewed by the media and maybe you don’t consider yourself an ‘Expert’ in any field.

Could you still make money from this online business model?

Yes! Absolutely!

You don’t need to be an expert in any subject, as long as you have access to expertise – from a person, a book, etc.

Some people build niche websites with quality content, get website visitors from Google and make an income by promoting other people’s products/services.

A niche is simply a specialist segment within a larger market. For example, Acne Cures is the market and Home Made Natural Acne Cures is a niche within the Acne Cures market.

Martin’s niche is ‘money savers’.

Here’s a few more examples:

  • How To Get 6 Packs is the Market – Get 6 Packs Without Exercise is the Niche.
  • Golf clubs is the Market – Golf clubs for left handed players is the Niche.
  • Hypnosis is the Market – Stage Hypnosis [stuff you see on TV] is the Niche.

You see the more you can segment a market down, the quicker you can become an AUTHORITY and build a loyal following.

It took Martin Lewis a couple of years to be the “Money Saving Expert”. If he was just focused on being the “Credit Card Savings Expert”, I’m sure he would have achieved that niche status quicker.

In Part 2 of this Article, we will look at how you can take this simple business model and create an additional stream of online income.

The majority of my affiliate income is set & forget – I set up the system once and it earns me commissions on autopilot.

I’m not talking about building a £87 million business, but rather something that can make potentially make $8700+/month.