Archive for the ‘Web marketing’ Category

The Evolution of SEO

January 9, 2010 3 comments

A few weeks ago, technology blogger Robert Scoble asked if 2010 would usher in the death of SEO.  He has some good points on why it might, but ultimately I think he’s not asking the right question.  The better question is whether 2010 will bring about the death of gimmick driven SEO, the type of “black hat” chicanery that gives SEO a bad name.  The short answer is “no” because scammers and cheaters will always exist.

The better question Scoble raises is why more SEO companies don’t expand their service offerings to encompass more than just SEO.

No longer is it about optimizing search engine results and the new breed is going beyond just search engines to provide holistic systems that find and track customers not only on search engines like Google and Bing, but on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

It is this holistic approach I’ve offered to clients since I started this business.  When I talk to a potential client, I ask questions about tracking, design, navigation, contact forms and marketing expectations long before the phrase “search engine optimization” passes through my lips.  Once I do mention SEO, I talk about Facebook, Twitter and blogging as other ways to engage visitors and further the marketing cycle.

As I finalized forming this business into a legal entity at the end of last year, the thought weighed heavily on my mind that SEO by Swaby wasn’t really an accurate description of what I do.  Neither is Web Design by Swaby or Social Media by Swaby, though I can perform all those services.  Hence a LLC was formed called Swaby Online Media.  I’m still keeping the SEO by Swaby as a DBA, but you’ll begin to hear Swaby Online Media more often.

Further, my mission and value proposition has evolved.  I make websites successful and I do it through design, navigation and marketing.  Do I still do SEO?  Absolutely, but it’s not the only thing I do.

Let me give you an example of just one way I’m different from any other Utah SEO company.  I provide tangible results within 30 days of being hired because I use press releases.  I use them for my company and my clients.  Worst case scenario I get the press release ranked on the search engines and it serves as effective social proof for my client.  In a best case scenario the release gets picked up by the news media, an interview is scheduled and a story gets published.  That’s what happened this week for my client Personal Family Physicians.

No other Utah SEO company can do this.  There’s only two that even try.

Returning to Scoble’s thesis whether SEO is no longer needed, I must disagree.  The components he says are replacing search, namely Twitter and Facebook, still help with search.  I do believe we need to move beyond the concept of search and develop the concept of being found.  As SEO becomes more competitive, it’s natural businesses will need to be found on other sites besides Google.  Thus the concept I’ll be using is findability. 

The concept of findability was introduced in 2005 by Peter Morville and references the ability for a user to find the information they are seeking within a particular website.  I’ve discovered a movement exists in the Internet marketing community that is advancing the concept of findabilty as the next evolution of SEO.  As social media becomes more prominent, I think we’ll see it included as part of this movement.

Is SEO dead as Robert Scoble suggests?  No.  Is it evolving?  Definitely yes.  If your online marketing strategy consists only of SEO or paid search, you’re definitely missing something.  Take a step back and figure out all the steps that transform a curious searcher into a valued customer.  Once you have that plan in place you’ll see better results, more sales and higher customer loyalty.

The One Question All Your Advertising Should Answer

December 30, 2009 4 comments

For years advertising has tried to answer the questions of “what” and “how much” and that’s been a fine way to advertise.

However, we’ve reached a level of marketing saturation that has made those methods that used to work obsolete.

To be really successful in today’s highly competitive marketplace, we need to start answering a different question in our advertising…”why.”

Consider the fast food hamburger as an example.  There are a lot of different foods competing for our dollars when we’re in a rush.  The super easy choice is a hamburger.  The big three are McDonalds, Burger King and Carl’s Jr.  They all make and sell hamburgers.  They all cost about the same.  So how can they gain market share?  By answering the why.  Of the three places, I admit I eat at McDonalds and Burger King more than Carl’s.  Of those two, I like Burger King the best.  Why?  Because of the flame broiled burger.  I think BK makes the best mass-produced hamburger in the country, if not the world.

I drive by a tune up place in Murray fairly frequently that has a message on its marquee saying, “Follow us on Twitter.”  Every time I think “why?”  I can’t think of a reason.  Maybe they’ve got one.  They probably wouldn’t go to the trouble if they didn’t, but it’s not being communicated.  A better message would be “Follow us on Twitter because you can get a free tune up.”

I tell people to read my blog because they’ll learn how to use Twitter and Facebook and blog in a profitable manner.  More importantly other people say the same thing. 

The key to answering the “why” question is to include the word “because.”  I got this idea from Copyblogger, but I’ve heard it from other sources too.  Your because can be anything, just use the word because it answers the question “why.”  I like Burger King burgers because they’re flame broiled.  The question of “what” is answered by the product and the question of “how much” doesn’t matter because it’s the best tasting burger out there and the price differential between my other burger choices is nominal.

Answering the question “why” removes the price question altogether so long as consumers are clear on what your product or service is.  Your “why” should be your competitive advantage or unique selling proposition.  Price doesn’t have to, nor should it enter into your advertising, if you answer the question why.

Last year I had the opportunity to test drive a Bentley.  I always wondered why someone would spend over $200,000 for a car when a perfectly good BMW or Mercedes costs a fraction of that price.  Once I drove the car, I understood why.  Other than the fact I couldn’t afford it, price didn’t come into play at all.  From the massaging seats to the powerful engine to the hand stitched interior that looked so well put together it could never fall apart, I learned the “why.”  I would have bought the car on the spot if I had the money.

We’re not all out there selling Bentleys, but if we answer the question of “why” in our advertising, we’ll never have to answer “how much.” 

What is my “why?”  I make websites successful.

Ten Fearless Predictions About Internet Marketing in 2010

December 28, 2009 8 comments

It’s that time of year when predictions, goals and lists dominate the media.  Who am I not to oblige?  Here is my top ten list of Internet marketing trends that will dominate the year:

10.  Mobile media – The introduction of the Android operating system is going to create new demand for smart phones from the world’s largest manufacturers.  Gartner research predicts Android will be the number two operating system in the world by 2012.  That’s a lot of new phone hardware and a lot of people who will use the mobile web that haven’t in the past.  When Motorola’s Droid phone went on sale last month, it sold 250,000 units in the first week.  Most of those buyers were not iPhone deserters.  Ignore the mobile web at your peril.

9.  Bing becomes the number two search engine – Since Microsoft’s purchase of Yahoo! earlier this year, the perennial number two search engine has continued to lose market share to Google and now Bing.  I can’t help but think it’s because of the heavy TV advertising that was done.  Instead of building a stronger brand to challenge Google, Microsoft has simply cannibalized its most recent acquisition.  Expect to see more of that and make the effort to be found on Bing.  New Internet users and those easily persuaded by TV commercials are there.

8.  Businesses are going to make concerted efforts in social media – I’m seeing more and more companies creating business pages on Facebook.  I fanned a page for Grey Goose vodka the other day because they were running ads there.  They’ve got nearly 100,000 fans and a vibrant community on Facebook sharing and discussing drink recipes.  That’s the way to do it.  Pepsi is withdrawing all its Superbowl advertising in favor of a social media campaign with a charitable partner.  That’s 23 years of Superbowl commercials and millions of dollars being shifted online.  Pay attention.  There’s a reason.

7.  Non-commercial applications and uses will drive online commerce – Besides Pepsi’s alignment with the non-profit arena, government’s are using technology more to create engaged citizens.  CNN tells how mobile apps allow users to point out potholes and graffiti in larger cities.

If the inconvenience had happened a few years ago, Newmark said he would have just gone on with his day — maybe complaining about the temperature to a friend.

But this was 2009, the age of mobile technology, so Newmark pulled out his iPhone, snapped a photo of the train car and, using an app called “SeeClickFix,” zapped an on-the-go complaint, complete with GPS coordinates, straight to City Hall.

If government can engage citizens, businesses will have to as well.

6.  Relationships will mean more, social media will be the gateway – Over the past decade, two events have changed our country.  The first was 9/11.  It made us fearful, but also cognizant that anything can happen, any day.  When I first read about those towers coming down on the Internet, I couldn’t believe it.  I had to turn on my TV for proof.  It was that inconceivable.  The attitude that developed post 9/11 was one of staying home, remodeling and not travelling.  Many people made a lot of money staying home and remodeling their homes and the Gulf War brought the country out of recession.  Now we’re in a bigger recession, our homes have lost all their pumped up value and we’re realizing its people, not posessions that are important.  Social media is making it easier and easier to connect with people.

5.  A company will implode due to social media – I have no insider information, just a feeling that some big company out there is going to take on a social media campaign and screw it up so badly it either damages the company for years or takes it down completely.  We’ve seen hints of this in the past with AOL and Best Buy, but this is going to be a very special mistake.  Here’s why it’s going to happen -  most of corporate America doesn’t understand the Internet.  Here’s how – people online act like they’re yelling at their TV’s at home.  Social media is like turning up the volume on that TV, but with it becoming two sided.  It’s if Elvis was shooting the TV and the person on the other side had some danger of being hit.  They do and I believe it will happen in 2010.

Corporate America thinks they can still lie and misrepresent and set up patsies in this age of transparency.  They can’t any more, but it will take a gigantic implosion before the rest of them catch on.  Social media will be that catalyst.

4.  Blogging is going to make a comeback -  Over the past year, blogs have seemed to become passé.  Twitter (microblogging) and Facebook have become the brand names of social media.  Meanwhile the old standbys; forums and blogs keep chugging along.  The reason I think blogs are going to come back stronger is the emergence of Posterous as another platform.  It doesn’t replace existing platforms, even though it can.  It complements them and makes it even easier for bloggers to blog…by simply sending an email.  Posterous showed its getting serious when it recently added multi-author capability, a feature that prevented business adoption of the technology.  I think we’re going to see a new form of blogging I’m dubbing “mini-blogging” that will be longer than Twitter, but shorter than a blog like mine.  Posterous is going to help make that happen.

3. Twitter gives control back to consumers – I think quite possibly the most annoying thing about the Internet is spam.  I get an email from the Chicago Cubs a few times a week in an email I don’t use very often.  I probably got on their list when I created a March madness bracket five years ago, but I can’t seem to be removed.  It’s an indignity I’ve learned to ignore…and delete every time I get an email from them.  On the other hand, if all they had was my Twitter address, I retain control since I can unfollow them any time I want.  This is the direction smart marketers are heading.  If you’re starting a new site, use Twitter to build your list because it will build trust and a loyal following.

2. Advertisers will ask for less, but know more – Along the same vein, smart marketers are asking for less information on contact and landing pages.  When I first read this article suggesting not to ask for a full name, I was a little flabbergasted.  Any email marketer knows personalized emails with the prospect’s name in the subject line have a higher open rate.  Mark was right, you’ll get the rest of their information…when they buy.  Then you can personalize to your heart’s content.  In the meantime people who Twitter would rather give up that information, even though it can supply much more than an email, because they know they can unfollow at any time.  Are you using Twitter and Facebook on your landing pages and contact forms?  You should.

1.  Coupon sites will rule the year – It seems technology and the economy have combined to create an amazing opportunity for consumers through the old standby – coupons.  Who doesn’t like to save money?  In some of the email newsletters I still subscribe to, I’ve seen the word coupon pop up more and more frequently and I believe 2010 will produce an amazing winner in that vertical space.  There’s no doubt demand exists.  “Printable coupons” gets searched over 100,000 times per month according to WordTracker and SmallBusinessNewz wrote,

Of course big-name brands were often accompanying the keywords, but the fact that people are looking for printable coupons should tip you off that it is a good idea to offer them if you run a brick and mortar store. I guarantee that not everyone who is searching for coupons is associating them with a specific brand.

Online coupon businesses are doing very well. has experienced explosive growth this year and just received a 30 million dollar capital injection that could make it the break out coupon site of 2010.  Whether or not it’s Groupon, I do think at the end of next year, coupon sites are going to be very top of mind.

There are my ten fearless predictions for 2010.  Any thoughts…agreements…disagreements?  Let me know by leaving a comment.

WordPress SEO – Don’t Make This Fatal Mistake

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

The other day I wrote about a challenge I was facing with a client of mine who was using a WordPress site

Their web designer had possibly nefariously tagged the entire site to be invisible to the search engines…like a vampire unable to see its own reflection.

While I worked for a while on unravelling this mystery by looking into the deepest, darkest corners of the code and then the web that encased it, I found no solutions.  I tried a work around that failed, even though sucking the blood out of other methods succeeded.  Ultimately, getting my hands dirty in the cobwebs of WordPress found success.

As I suspected, the culprit was a simple checkbox with a universal application.  Unfortunately I didn’t know where to look.  The WordPress gurus I consulted had no idea.  To be fair, I fired off questions.  Channa is awesome.  I was looking for answers, not explorations.   

While setting up a new WordPress site last night, I discovered the answer to my question.  I’ll save the screenshot for another time.

Settings-Privacy-I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers.

If you have this checked, your website is golden.  If not, your website is dying an anonymous death.  Like a rare disease, nobody but the experts knows why your site is dying from a dearth of traffic.  I do.  Let’s fix it.

Product Launch Meetup by Kevin Davis

December 11, 2009 3 comments

I’ve spoken about Kevin Davis before and how well organized he is in his business and how he leverages outsourced labor to complete his projects.

Kevin hosts a meetup once a month and last night he shared all the details of his product launch for “Cash in a Flash.”  In his typically transparent fashion, Kevin shared the what, why and how of his most recent product launch.  I’m not going to share all the details because you really need to attend to understand the entire operation.

What I will share is the product is grossing $100,000 a month in sales and netting high five figures.  Traffic is being generated at 150,000 unique visitors per month.

There were pitfalls along the way that Kevin also shared.  He actually shut down the operation for a week five days after launch because there was a serious technical difficulty.

Kevin hosts these meetups once a month, so if you have a product or service you’re marketing, get over there!  It will be totally worth it.

About 26 people attended the meetup with many of the usual suspects; Spencer and Erik at, Josh and John from RapidDev, Andrea Warner from Stompernet, but we did have some gurus in our midst like Jon Davis from Launchworx and Utah Top Blogger finalist and SMCSLC award winner Janet Thaeler.

Kevin’s presentation was amazing and it was really great getting to talk to everybody afterwords.  Janet even gave me a copy of her new book!

This was the first time I’ve attended Kevin’s meetup and if there is only one meetup you can go to each month, this would be the one.

Personal Family Physicians Press Release

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Dr. Michael Jennings is opening a revolutionary medical practice right here in Salt Lake City.  Geared for small businesses, entrepreneurs, the uninsured and uninsurable, this medical practice offers a direct pay program that works for many people.  You can find the practice at  Here’s the press release that came out Monday -


Salt Lake City, UT, December 7, 2009 — Finding a doctor that doesn’t require health insurance sounds as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. Personal Family Physicians, a new Salt Lake City family practice, wants to remove the insurance company from the doctor/patient relationship by providing a direct care program designed for the uninsured or uninsurable. Small businesses and entrepreneurs may also find the direct care model attractive. The office opens December 7, 2009. Complete practice details are available on the Internet at

Dr. Michael Jennings founded the practice to change the way healthcare operates in America. “By offering a direct care solution, we help small businesses and families get the healthcare they need,” said Dr. Jennings. “Healthcare shouldn’t be about insurance, it should be about serving the patient’s needs. That’s the oath I took thirty years ago,” Jennings continued.

Personal Family Physicians can provide services to the uninsured and uninsurable in many cases. The new office is bringing hope to those who have “pre-existing” conditions most insurance companies won’t cover. It also provides an attractive financial alternative to small businesses that find it unaffordable to offer medical benefits to employees. The direct care model isn’t suitable for every patient, but Dr. Jennings offers a free consultation to determine whether his practice is a good match to the patient’s needs. “Ultimately I want the patient to decide if we are right for them. In most cases, I think the answer is ‘Yes’” he concluded.

The Easy Way to Make Links

December 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Facebook is becoming the popular commenting system on many websites and blogs.

Here’s the easy way to make sure your link counts.  You are leaving your link when you make a comment, aren’t you?

WWW isn’t necessary, http:// is.  Leave a link?  Make sure it has http:// before it.  The www is optional.  If you want a link, the http:// isn’t. and have different linking results in different media.  Don’t waste your time.  Use instead of www…

Robots.txt and Other Ways to Fight Bad SEO

December 6, 2009 1 comment

I’ve written before about how web designers don’t know how to do search engine optimization and why bringing an SEO company into your project as early as possible is a good idea.

This last week I saw one of the worst uses of meta tags on a new client’s site.  The company that set up the WordPress blog for my client coded in a meta tag that tells the search engine spiders to ignore every page and link on the site.

The worst thing is every method I tried to change that code failed.  However, I know a work around for everything.  Since I couldn’t change the meta tag, I added a robots.txt file.  Spiders look at two things when they visit a site, the meta tags and the robots.txt file.  On my client’s site the meta tags said “go away” but the robots file says index my entire site.

It’s entirely likely that a robot might find the same links on some other page without a NOFOLLOW (perhaps on some other site), and so still arrives at your undesired page.

The other thing I did to fix the situation was submit the URL to Google for indexing and created a directory listing for the site at Merchant Circle.  Tomorrow a press release hits that also contains links, so I know we’ll be getting a lot of quality inbound links for my client in a very short time.

In the mean time, I’ll still be figuring out how to move that irresponsible meta tag.  The reason the tag exists is to avoid the so called “duplicate content penalty.”  However the penalty no longer exists.

There is one reason and one reason alone to ever use the noindex, nofollow meta tag.  It’s when you’re running a paid search campaign to a specific landing page and you don’t want organic traffic to skew your numbers.  That’s it!

Where do you place the robots.txt file?

It goes in the root directory like this –  It’s just like a page except it’s in basic text instead of .html.

What’s in a robots.txt file?

Very simple commands for the spider.  Here’s what my client’s file looks like.

If you’re doing a site redesign or having a site made for the first time, be sure to get someone who understands SEO involved early because you will save money and possibly avoid having your site tagged to be ignored by Google.

Is Ongoing Search Engine Optimization Necessary?

December 3, 2009 4 comments

Last week I had a meeting with John over at inQuo, a computer support company.  He suggested I write an article about why SEO must be ongoing and not a one shot deal.

That is a very good idea because many people think we SEO guys just sprinkle a little magic dust and presto websites are appearing on the front page of Google.

While I could go into detail about specific steps that need to be taken each month, the bigger reason ongoing SEO needs to occur is more conceptual.

Three major reasons you need ongoing SEO services:

1.  Google loves fresh content and rewards it with high results.  If you don’t have someone to update your content or site on a regular basis, any upfront, on page SEO will eventually lose its value.  It may not happen right away, but it will happen.

2.  Tracking.  Businesses and people for that matter tend to perform better when there’s a number to beat.  If you don’t measure performance, you’ll never know how to improve it.  Any SEO service should involve monthly reporting.  For certain types of PPC, these reports should be weekly.

3.  Expertise.  While having tracking in place is part of the battle, knowing how to read those numbers is the other part.  For this site, I’ve found Friday’s are my slowest day of the week.  I’ve tried additional marketing on Twitter and making sure to post new content to help drive traffic on that day, but it still tends to be my slowest day.  Other sites I’ve managed have other “slow” days.  It’s my experience that tells me whether to be concerned or to recognize that it’s a normal traffic trend.

The same applies to spikes in traffic.  If you get one you want to know why, whether that traffic is effective and whether to try and duplicate it.  Again, it’s experience that matters.

Some people think SEO is a waste of time and money.  Some SEO companies will waste your time and money.  I don’t think a properly executed campaign is.  I’ve seen amazing results in the past and now from being on top of the search engines both in traffic and income.  I know proper SEO works and I know it needs to be ongoing.  There is no magic dust.  There are no instant results.

Keyword Research is the Foundation of Internet Marketing

December 1, 2009 6 comments

One trend I keep seeing as I talk with people about Internet marketing is they fail to invest the time required to research their keywords.  It’s something I’m guilty of sometimes as well.

I felt that because I had done a lot of research on my real estate blog, I didn’t need to do it on this one.  I knew I wanted a key phrase like “salt lake city seo” to test my skills and my success with that term certainly makes a great point in my sales presentation.

When I targeted that term I knew “utah seo” would be the one that would drive more traffic, but I knew it would be harder to get.  What I didn’t know was “salt lake city seo” is searched less than 30 times a month on all the major search engines combined.

Had I invested a little time at the beginning, that mistake wouldn’t have happened.  Fortunately my success with that key phrase displays my SEO skills and I’ve been able to use those results constructively.

When I started doing some keyword research last week for some new clients who are geographically targeting traffic, I discovered only a few industries in Salt Lake are searched for with a location included.  The are dentists, lawyers, HVAC contractors, plumbers, general contractors and real estate agents.

Every other industry in Salt Lake is searched for less than 30 times a month according to the numbers.  I believe the reason is pay-per-click advertising is so well filtered for delivering geographic results, web searchers tend not to include a geographic location.  Someone is more inclined to search for “SEO consultant” than “Utah SEO consultant” because the PPC result will include the information they want.

This is further evidence multi-pronged Internet marketing is necessary.  The medium I’m most interested in is Twitter since it’s so easy to tag and search keywords there.  There is also evidence PPC can be effective for driving traffic as well.

The bottom line is, you can’t ignore the keyword research no matter how well you think you know an industry.  For my clients the first task is keyword research.  I don’t write titles, metatags, copy or press releases until I know which words to use.  Unfortunately in the SEO industry, this important step is often ignored or glossed over.

Keyword research is glossed over because it’s boring and tedious.  Nobody likes to do it.  Why research keywords when you can be doing exciting things like recording podcasts or videos and tweeting?  Because those podcasts and videos have descriptions that require keywords to be found!  Tweets are searchable.  Why not use the keywords that are being searched?  You can’t if you don’t know.

If you’re thinking of hiring an SEO company, ask them what the first step is.  If it isn’t keyword research, you’re going to be wasting a lot of money.


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