About Alain Saffel
December 1, 2009 by Alain Saffel
It’s no surprise that with the recession, marketing budgets have shrunk. It’s affecting people with big pay per click marketing budgets and small ones.
I’ve seen it happen with some of my clients and I have talked to many others who have seen the same shrinking online marketing budgets. That’s why I thought Marketing Sherpa’s chart about how agencies view client search marketing budgets was interesting.
There aren’t many agencies out there with clients who have too large of a budget. There’s been an increase since 2008, according to online marketing agencies, of clients whose search marketing budgets for pay per click marketing are too small. I’ve also experienced it on the SEO side where ongoing SEO has been scaled back from planned levels.
It is frustrating because while the initial SEO phase is very important, the ongoing SEO linkbuilding phase is equally as important. Of course I’m not the one at the accounting controls, but the end goal of an SEO campaign is to increase traffic and click through to a client website. Once those visitors are on site, they can become customers.
It’s not a quick and easy process and I think that’s where educating clients is important. There will be ups and downs along the way, but it’s worth the effort in the end. It is an investment and not just a cost.
Recession: time to invest in SEO & website
With this recession, I see it as a great time for companies to invest in their website, making it more responsive to visitor needs and, in so doing, to get those visitors as your clients. Depending on what point those visitors are in their buying cycle, they may not become clients immediately, but may when their situation improves or once they’ve moved through their decision process.
Here in Alberta, with its recently overheated economy, we have swung from some companies saying ‘too busy to do it’ to ‘we don’t want to spend anything.’ It’s funny in a way, but disappointing because they’re missing out on a perfect opportunity to focus on the long-term marketing of their company. I’ve talked with people in a variety of IT sectors that have said the same thing about their segments of the market.
I’m not worried though. The outlook for the economy is improving, and from a search engine optimization perspective, every time I search in Google, I see websites that need to be optimized. Is yours performing as well as you’d like?
Page One SEO is an Edmonton SEO company specializing in organic search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. If you’d like to increase your online visibility, traffic and move your site up in organic search results, contact us for a free online marketing consultation.
November 30, 2009 by Alain Saffel
Social media and SEO. You hear about them everywhere these days. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Oh, they’re all great ways to promote your business and you’ll make millions, or so the story goes.
What’s the reality? Social media can be a great tool to promote your business, if it’s done properly. It’s also a great way to connect with your customers and clients. SEO is critical if you want to have your website ranking well in search engines.
If you’re wondering about how to get started in social media, I found a few excellent social media tips to help you get started. What they all boil down to is having conversations with people and you should also realize that social media isn’t going to replace all of your other marketing activities.
I use social media as a marketing tool, but I don’t rely entirely on it. I see social media as an extension of the way business has been done for as long as there’s been business: personal connections. All social media does is make it easier for you to make connections and communicate with them.
I work with a number of clients doing search engine optimization and other services. Social media has been quite beneficial to my business.
Obviously, traffic doesn’t benefit your SEO directly, but indirectly it can. With consistent writing of great blog posts or articles, traffic will keep coming back to your site (a little promotion doesn’t hurt) and those links will also increase.
Traffic - So, you just wrote a great blog post, titled “Top ten online marketing tips for…” Great. If you’ve got a blog with loads of traffic, people will see it quickly. Maybe you don’t have a lot of traffic, but it really is a great post. Why not promote it on Twitter or LinkedIn? Of course it should be a topic that potentially appeals to your audience. Social media is a great way to pull traffic in to have a look at something you’re promoting. With people potentially retweeting and hopefully linking to your great article or blog post, it helps to raise the profile of your site.
Links - As anyone familiar with search engine optimization knows, inlinks are one of the SEO elements that are helpful in increasing your search engine rank for desired keyword phrases and building your Page Rank. If your post really is a good one, there is the potential for those viewing your article deciding they like it enough to link to it from their website or blog.
Articles written with the goal of gathering as many links as possible are often known as “linkbait.” In the eyes of search engines, more links means more authority. More authority means higher search engine rankings.
In the articles I have listed at the bottom of the page there are good discussions about the value of links from within social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. There are some benefits from these links, but they’re limited.
I’m not sure I’d really rely on links coming directly from Twitter results. First, I just don’t see that many search results from Twitter when I’m searching in Google. Second, those results don’t stick around for that long even when you do see them.
There’s always a bit of a honeymoon effect for Twitter results. They may rise quickly, but then disappear almost as quickly. Not only that, but I believe that Twitter’s database may only go back a few months. Apparently Twitter management has indicated they’re saving your Tweets, but they don’t seem to be accessible for a great length of time in search engines.
Social media: not hard to use
Social media can be a great for promotion, conversations and brand building, as well as SEO. I’ve found myself recommending it more and more to clients as a way of promoting their businesses as well. It’s not hard to use social media, but you definitely have to be aware of some of the pitfalls in using social media tools for promotion.
If you’re considering getting into social media and aren’t familiar with it, do some reading. It may be worth getting some social media coaching to help with your social media strategy. Like any kind of marketing activity, it certainly pays to get it right. It can hurt to get it wrong.
More reading on SEO and social media:
November 16, 2009 by Alain Saffel
Being in the field of marketing, I often see marketing campaigns, online and offline, that make me go wow! Then there are the campaigns that make me feel embarrassed for the people who’ve put them on. And then there are those where you wonder just what the hell the marketing people were thinking.
The Kingsway Mall in Edmonton put on one of those “what the hell were they thinking” campaigns to celebrate their grand re-opening recently.
They are putting on a shopping spree. Sounds good. The shopping spree is in New York, London or Paris. Really? Celebrate the grand re-opening of the mall by winning a trip and shopping spree to places that will put the mall to shame? Or, celebrate our grand re-opening by spending all this money somewhere else?
The slogan for the campaign is “see shopping in a whole new light.” I’m hoping they’re referring to Kingsway Mall. If I were to head to London, Paris or New York, I’m sure I’d come back to Edmonton and see how different it is here, and likely the shopping just isn’t as good.
Sure it’s a great prize. I think I missed the point of the campaign though. Wouldn’t it have been better to keep the people in Kingsway Mall here in Edmonton? Imagine the possibilities if they’d done a real push in traditional and online media in Edmonton.
They could get the contest winners on an even bigger shopping spree in Kingsway Mall. Follow them around with photographers and videographers showing how great a time they were having on their shopping spree… at Kingsway Mall! They could be leveraging social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr to broadcast the whole shopping spree, but also to pull people from those social media sites into side contests to get them out to the mall as well.
It’s a shame really. They missed a golden opportunity to marry traditional and social media and really do something exciting that would really keep the focus on Kingsway Mall.
Keep people on your site
This situation with Kingsway Mall reminds me of websites that use Google Adsense ads or banner ads to make money. That’s not a bad thing, but I’ve also seen it on some corporate websites where they’re trying to convert visitors to customers.
Adsense can be a lucrative way to make money, particularly when you’ve got a lot of great content and the site is has proper SEO. But then, that’s usually the primary goal of these types of sites: pull the visitors in with great SEO and content, and hope they click on an ad so we can make money! Sounds simple? It is, but it’s not easy.
I just don’t understand why you would want to create a corporate website in hope of convincing visitors to contact you, buy a product immediately or take some sort of action beneficial to them and you.
Instead, you give them a reason to leave your site for something else that may tickle their fancy, all in the hopes of making a few bucks on Adsense. Most people don’t make much on Adsense either, so wouldn’t it make more sense to keep them on your site and hope that they avail themselves of the opportunities your site gives them?
The other thing is that Adsense serves up ads related to the content on your page. So, you could actually end up having Adsense ads from your competitors! Insanity! Yes, I know you can filter the ads, so you can stop it to a degree.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to put your time and effort into making your site better and trying to convert those site visitors you’ve worked hard to attract (hopefully with great content, design and SEO) instead of letting them leave your site for a few Adsense dollars?
If you’re considering using Adsense or banner ads to make money on your website, you’d better really think about whether or not you should. Is making big bucks on ad revenue your goal? If it’s not, I’d seriously reconsider putting them on your site.
October 8, 2009 by Alain Saffel
One of the ongoing controversies in the search engine optimization field is whether or not you should use the keywords meta tag.
Recently word came from Google, apparently confirming that they do not in any way, shape or form, use the keywords meta tag.
Bing recommends the keywords meta tag. While people may write Bing off, it is only going to continue to increase in popularity. It’s certainly got the financial clout of Microsoft behind it. The Bing Webmaster Center team also talks about using the meta keywords tag here.
Yahoo also indicates that using the keywords meta tag is good practice to obtain good rankings. I think it’s safe to infer from this that they use the data in the keywords meta tag, otherwise, why would they say anything about it?
Gone are the days where you only optimize for Google. If you can make a small change in how you do SEO (add the keywords meta tag) and start ranking better in 10 per cent of the search market, why not? You’re building a foundation for the future.
With Yahoo at nearly 20 per cent of the search market, if you don’t use the keyword meta tag, you’re turning your back on almost 30 per cent of the searches out there. Can you really afford to do that? How about your clients?
SEO is a bit of a competitive field and you’re bound to find lots of strong opinions out there about using keywords meta tags. You’re likely to find incendiary blog posts saying that SEOs that the keywords meta tag are idiots and likely the reverse as well.
Let’s get one thing straight: there isn’t an SEO person out there who actually knows what is in the algorithms of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. While those same search engines may say they do or do not use a particular metric in their algorithm, there’s no independent method to verify it.
The algorithms of all the search engines have changed over time and hopefully improved. There are also examples of search engines making substantial changes in how they handle things such as nofollows, like Google’s admission recently.
Running a search engine company is extremely competitive and they don’t like to give out any information they don’t have to. Do you really think you absolutely know one way or the other exactly how the search engine algorithms operate? Good luck with that.
SEO isn’t a field like chemistry where there are bedrock scientific principles we can rely on to make decisions. So, we make educated guesses about what is or is not the case. Sometimes you can count on explicit statements by the search engine companies, and sometimes you can’t.
My experience with the keywords meta tag
I’m not going to sit here and take pot shots at one SEO practitioner or the other and say they don’t know what they’re talking about. I think it’s probably better to base our decisions on whether or not to use the keywords meta tag based on evidence.
I actually do use the keywords meta tag and how I use it has changed from the time I started doing SEO until now.
I look at it this way: I don’t know the algorithms the search engines use and, as far as I know, it’s not hurting the search results of my clients.
One argument that could be raised is that by stuffing a keywords meta tag with all your keywords, you’re just giving your competition a leg up and allowing them to take advantage of your hard work. There’s some truth to this.
The best practice, according to my research and talking with other people in the search engine optimization field, is to use 5-7 keyword combinations in the tag. Varying from that isn’t going to hurt you, but that’s more or less ideal.
Listing dozens of keywords in the keywords meta tag will certainly make life easier for your competition. I’m not giving away the company store by telling you that one of the first steps in SEO is to see what your competition is doing. If you’re not doing that, then what are you doing? It’s just good practice in any business.
On the other hand, just because you research your competitors and drop all their keywords into your list doesn’t mean you’re instantly going to rocket to the top of the search results.
I’ve had good success getting my clients ranked well for the keyword phrases that I feel will work best for them. I’ve done it while using the keywords meta tag.
Evidence Google uses the keywords meta tag to determine rank
Just this past summer I had read something that indicated that Google does use the keywords meta tag in its algorithm, but only a small part. It’s one of over 200 factors Google uses apparently. Think I can find that now?
It stuck with me because that runs counter to all I’ve heard. I’m quite sure it was an official source too. I PDF almost every article I read, but I can’t find it now. And I would have bookmarked that. Typical!
I’ve also read anecdotal evidence from others where they’ve just changed the keywords meta tag and have had their rankings in Google shoot up. Of course I can’t independently verify that, but it is interesting.
Use the keywords meta tag or lose it?
I am going to err on the side of using the keywords meta tag. It doesn’t take that much extra work to construct it and unless I hear that Google and the other search engines are actually dropping pages because of it, I’ll continue to use it.
I’ve found explicit statements by Yahoo and Bing that they factor the keywords meta tag into their ranking decisions, so it makes sense to continue using them.
I’m not worried that my clients’ competitors are going to be able to siphon huge amounts of competitive information from the keywords meta tags. There’s not that much there for them. There are other ways of figuring out what the best keywords are and they’re not necessarily going to be the same for everyone, even in the same industry.
I’m also not going to criticize other SEOs for using the keywords meta tag or not. I would like to hear about why you use it or why you don’t. Like I said earlier, this isn’t physics or chemistry. We don’t really know the ‘laws’ that govern SEO in any firm way.
As long as we’ve got competitive search engines, we’re not likely to either. Even if we only had one search engine, they’re not going to tell you how they rank sites because they know there are thousands of people out there who will try to game the system.
June 2, 2009 by Alain Saffel
It’s taken a while to make it official, but this is the launch of Page One SEO.
I’ve had the name picked out for a while and have been busy with a variety of search engine optimization, copywriting and communications projects. I’ve been like the cobbler whose children don’t wear decent shoes.
No longer! I decided I needed to have my site up so people who are curious about what I do can come and have a look.
Things won’t change for my clients, except the name. And for those of you who might be interested in becoming clients, please look around and feel free to ask me questions.
Talking about SEO & Internet marketing
I really like to write, so I’ll be using this space to talk about search engine optimization and Internet marketing topics. That pretty much gives me free reign to talk about almost anything!
I’m a big fan of social media and it can be quite useful for SEO purposes. I’ve done a fair amount of writing on social media in the past and will continue. A few of my favourite social media platforms are: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
So, keep checking back as the site grows and I add more content here! Thanks for stopping by.