Mega Watt Marketing Blog

Doug Dickson, Chief Energizing Officer of Seminar Direct, shares his marketing insights gained from 20+ years of experience using a multi-channel approach integrating direct mail, e-mail and internet SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

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SEO

02
Jun

Bing, Bing, Bing it’s Microsoft’s New Search Engine

Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine, opened up for business today and Matt Cutts of Google has already taken his first shot.  Does it surprise anyone that Google, the world’s largest search engine, would feel a little threatened by a little competition?  Mr. Cutts talking about Bing is about as credible as a French winemaker giving his opinion on Napa Valley’s finest new release.

Bing is technically still in its preview state, but if you hold any Microsoft stock, you have to feel good about being ahead of schedule.  Especially in an Internet world where things move at a Google per second.  Before I get tons of hate mail, I really do know that 10 to the power of 1o0 is correctly spelled googol, but that  isn’t quite as fun now is it?

Before I digress again, what about Bing?

Bing was supposed to go live on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009, but our research shows that everything is lit up and live as of June 1st.  When you visit Bing.com, what you’re searching for determines what Bing displays on the left side window.  If I search for Seminar Direct,  the left window displays related searches about financial seminars and then another section that shows my search history.  In the main window, it shows Seminar Direct above an indexed authority type listing with 9 related links including free seminar calendars, FINRA seminars, lead generation mailers, mailing lists, newsletters and company.

When I search for financial seminars,  related searches provides an interesting list of relevant searches and another list of items in my search history.  Kind of kool actually and very intuitive.  While the results are very similar to those of Google, the layout seems to somehow instantly make more sense.  Going back to Google gave me that sort of “not so fresh feeling.”  Those of you that have followed me over the years know that I am a big Google guy.  That hearkens me back to the day I had breakfast with some of the key Google people who told me they “worked for Google” and I silly enough to ask, “What’s a Google?”  Oh how I wish I would have stayed a little longer at that bed and breakfast and paid some more attention to the geeky Google couple staying there with us.  My apologies for another digression…

Instead of blogging on and on about Bing, get out there and try it for yourself.  Search your name, your company’s name, Seminar Direct, financial seminars, your favorite restaurant, your favorite band or my friend Stephenie Meyer (scary author of everything Twilight).  Congratulations Stephenie on your complete and total domination of the MTV world via the MTV movie awards last night.  Who knew that shiny vampires that can “ball” would be so huge?  Twilight is now so big that you probably won’t talk or want to see me again.  Keep the faith sister.

Bing’s natural results get divided up according to the links and window on the left side.  In some ways, this is very similar to the approach that Google added recently with their new “search options” feature.  It allows the users to control the results in a very similar way, but their approach is really unique and different.  They have basically taken some of the recent advance in Google and simply improved them, elevating the total search experience.

Standby because we’ve only had one day to play and Google isn’t going to just sit back and play nice, there will certainly be a counter-punch coming soon.  When it lands, I’ll be the first one to say, “Ouch, that’s gonna leave a mark.”

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31
May

How to Market Your Seminar

If no one attends your event, it isn’t a seminar, it’s an expensive lesson.  When seminars fail, the cost if far more than just the expenses relating to the event itself; generally the most expensive part is the loss of the revenues that should have been received.  Fortunately, with good marketing your event can be consistently filled with well qualified prospects.

There are many different mediums for marketing seminars. We have listed them for you in order of their effectiveness:

Direct mail
Newspaper advertising
Telephone soliciting
Television
Newspaper inserts
Radio
Public relations (PR)
E-mail
Billboards

As you can see, direct mail is by far the most effective advertising vehicle from a cost and time perspective. The main advantage it provides is the ability to target your prospects.

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12
May

The Top 10 SEO Mistakes

Search engine optimization (SEO) begins with eliminating anything that might negatively affect your search engine rankings and then focusing on the items that will improve them.  Here are the top 10 most common SEO mistakes we find:

Choosing the Wrong Keywords

Keyword selection is one of the most important aspects of optimizing your website.  Pick the right keywords and your website traffic will soar; choose the wrong words and you won’t even crack the top ten pages of Google.  Select descriptive words that your prospect will use while searching for your products or services and then focus on those that will bring the most traffic.

Empty Title Tags

Some will say that title and meta tags aren’t worth the effort, but my experience shows they can be extremely valuable, especially in controlling descriptions on the search engine results pages.  The fact that Google tracks them as part of their Webmaster Tools indicates that we should pay attention as well.  Take the time to write proper title, description, content and keyword tags.

Flash Without an HTML Alternative

If you find a flash script you simply can’t live without, just make sure you provide an HTML alternative that your readers and spiders can follow.  While Google has announced it can read “textual content” embedded in Flash and extract link information, I’m not ready to drink the Koolaid just yet.  Better safe than sorry, especially when millions of dollars in sales are riding on it.

Focusing Too Much on Meta

Many of our new clients come from a world that’s about 5 years behind the SEO power curve.  These companies rely on outdated techniques like keyword stuffing, meta tag stuffing and even invisible text in an effort to boost their rankings.  Google has developed an answer for each of these manipulations and imposes penalties in the form of poor rankings or banning them altogether. As previously mentioned, it is important to create good meta tags, just don’t get carried away with it and forget to implement much more effective techniques.

Using Images for Headings

Many designers like using graphics rather than text for headings and menus because it gives them more control of the look and feel of the site.  Unfortunately, search engines can’t read text in images, at least not yet, and this negatively affects your rankings. Use H1, H2 and H3 tags in conjunction with CSS to improve the look and feel of your website.

Poor URLs

One of the key factors for website ranking is the site’s name or URL.  While it is possible to get ranked very high without it, it’s much easier to achieve top placement if the keyword is as part of the URL itself.  Avoid dynamic pages that can’t be indexed and strategically place your keywords within the URL.

Link Spamming

As the focus of SEO moves from on page, to off page factors, some search engine marketers feel that more links is always better.  All things being equal, they’re right; but all things are never equal are they?  Don’t be tempted to spam search engines, using link farms, groups and forums in an effort to artificially gather links.  The Big G can see these patterns and will penalize you appropriately.

No Keywords in the Content

If you take my sound advice and include words in the title, keyword and other meta tags, make sure those very same words are found within the content of your page as well.  Items listed in the “head” area of your website are used to communicate information to the search engine spiders.  If that information is not also included in the areas that a human can read, it’s not congruent and your site may be penalized accordingly.

Poor Grammar and Spelling

It’s surprising the amount of time our clients spend finding the perfect word, only to place it into a sentence that’s either not grammatically correct or contains misspelled words.  Spelling and grammar do count, not only with Google, but with prospects as well.  Spend the extra time it takes to get it right and have all the work proofed by at least two people.”Click Here” Link Anchor Text

“Click Here” Links

We’ve all seen the “click here” text used as the clickable text in a hyperlink.  These words, called anchor text, provide a description of the link for Google.  Anchor text like financial seminars actually add to the credibility of the website referenced; while for more information about financial seminars, “click here” gives no added relevancy to the linked page, since it is very generic in nature.

These top 10 search engine mistakes are examples of the most common errors we see from our new clients.  While eliminating these problems can dramatically improve your ranking in the search engines, there are still over 500 other factors that need to be considered, evaluated and optimized.

You can insure you don’t miss a single one of those SEO Secrets by:

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06
May

Why You Must Be In Google Local Search

Google Local Search

Recent studies show that almost 80% of buyers are doing research on the internet before purchasing financial products and services. And that number isn’t just limited to Generation X. Those between the ages of 60 and 80 are just as likely to have used the internet as younger generations.

With 80% of your prospects researching on-line, it’s time to ask yourself some important questions:

  1. Do you have an internet marketing strategy? Can you print it out right now?

  2. When was the last time your search engine rankings and directory listings were analyzed?

  3. Do you dominate your local internet market or does your competition?

  4. How much traffic does your website receive and where does it come from?

  5. What is the most popular word people use to find your company?

If you’ve never considered these questions before, you’re not alone. The majority of my clients understand that most marketing has moved to the internet; they just haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity because they’re unsure where to begin.

A great place to start is with Google Local Search.

When you search for anything using Google, their algorithm displays a list of relevant results, along with a local map containing 10 business listings. Google produces these maps for the more popular searches and identifies your location by reading your internet IP Address (that’s geek for “Internet Protocol” – kind of a local street address for your website). Google emphasizes these local results because their goal is to provide internet users with the most relevant search answers.

Getting Listed on Local Search

To get listed in the local search, you will first need to have an account set up with Google Local Search.

Google will ask for your business information including street address, telephone number, website URL and a brief description. It is critical that you carefully consider every word used in this listing and place your top keywords in it. Even the very order of the words is important.

Once entered, Google has a process for verifying the information by calling or mailing a postcard out with a verification number. Typically users will select phone verification because it is quick and easy. If you choose to have your listing phone verified, insure that you will be available to answer the phone and that no one else picks up the call. If an answering machine or someone else answers without the verification code, Google will fail the verification and send out the postcard instead. While it isn’t the end of the world, it delays the process several weeks and creates one more item on your “To Do List.”

How Local Search Can Benefit Your Business

Google Local Search is important because Google is the dominant search engine and local results are the most relevant. It will provide you with free advertising and lead to new sales. I have seen a growing trend in Google’s algorithm that places more weight on local results and I’m sure this will become even more important in the future.

Important Tips for Local Businesses

Google isn’t the only search engine with local search and it’s important that you get listed in all of the top sources. Here are a few more that are critical, in order of importance:

Yahoo Local Search

MSN Live Search

Aol Local Search

AskCity Search

While local search is important now, especially as it applies to SEO, it will become even more critical in the future. Take the time now to establish your presence and insure that you are not missing out on these opportunities for free advertising and new business.

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28
Apr

Google Profiles – What Does Google Say About You?

When your prospects, clients and associates “Google” your name, what does the search engine say about you?  Instead of a list of randomly collected results, would you like Google to present a well written, free ad describing all the reasons to work with you and your firm?  If so, read on…

In a very short period of time, Google has created an industry and established itself as the top-of-mind authority in internet search.  As a true “category killer” their numbers are absolutely amazing, ending 2008 with a market share of almost 64%, up from 58% just 12 months earlier. Of the almost 140 billion U.S. searches performed in 2008, 85 billion of them were done with Google. Perhaps equally impressive is that nearly 90% of all new search volume was also captured by Google.

With such influence, any new Google products have the potential to dramatically affect the market and should be seriously evaluated as part of a comprehensive internet marketing strategy. One such product is Google’s newest service called Google Profiles.

About Google Profiles

A Google profile is really just a small website about you. See an example of one by visiting my Google Profile.

Such profiles allow you to better control how you appear on Google and provide a bit more of your qualifications. With a Google profile, you can easily share your web content all in one central location. You can include, for example, links to your blog, online photos, and other profiles such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. You have control over what others see and your profile won’t display any private information unless you’ve explicitly allowed it to do so.

If you’ve been writing reviews on Google Maps, creating articles on Google Knol, sharing Google Reader items, or adding books to your Google Book Search library, you may already have a profile. See and customize your profile.

With internet search reaching all new highs in popularity, it’s time you use this incredible tool to build your brand and control what’s being said on-line about you.  Create you own Google Profile today!

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