Archive for August, 2010

Guest Blogging for Credibility

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 15 - 2010

Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your Internet visibility (you’re reading this aren’t you?). Being a “guest blogger” on someone else’s blog just increases your reach, and establishes crediblity. Not only does it give you instant exposure to someone else’s audience and associate you with other highly respected bloggers, it provides a valuable link back to your web property. Everyone wins; the blog gets some fresh new interesting content, and the guest blogger gets more exposure for their own blog, website, brand or products.

Just remember that this isn’t a secret. Many other talented subject authorities are seeking the same exposure on the top blogs. So how do you differentiate yourself and snag one of those prime guest blogging spots? Here are a few tips:

1. Understand the Blog…Know your audience: Yes, you might actually want to READ the blog you are soliciting BEFORE writing your articles. Popular topics evolve and if yours is of no interest to the owner or the readers your blogging request will be denied.

Go back a few months and get a feel for the theme and the direction of the topics being discussed. Don’t pitch topics that have already been covered unless you have an interesting rebuttal or a completely different take on the subject.

2. Know the Rules of the Road: Not all blogs are looking for guest bloggers, so if it’s evident they don’t, you might be able to pitch them the idea. If they do accept guest bloggers, they might actually have blogging guidelines posted on their site. If you break the rules before you get started, chances are you won’t be taken seriously by the managers and you will probably blow the opportunity.

3. Write First, Ask Later: The more popular the blog, the busier the blog managers. Don’t bother going through a long relationship building courtship…get right to it. Just write the article (after assuring yourself that it is appropriate) and send it to them. If they like it, they publish it and no one has to jump through too many hoops. If they don’t like… shop it around to another blog, or use it yourself.

4. Credibility… Credibility… Credibility: This may be obvious, but and article written by an industry expert will carry more weight than just a random person with an opinion. Along with submitting your initial article, make sure that you explain why you are qualified to write on a certain topic or how you can bring a fresh new perspective to that topic.

5: Write an Interesting Headline: There is so much information out there that people no longer read…they scan. That goes for busy blog editors as well as curious readers. Think about your own reading habits when surfing the Internet. We all do the same thing…we scan headlines and move on until something catches our eye. That’s when we take the time to read the article. Write something amusing, witty, mysterious, shocking, or even a question that infers an answer in the article.

Go ahead and be someone’s guest. Unlike most visitors, you may be invited to stay.

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Responding to Negative Reviews

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 9 - 2010

Congratulations! Now your business is on Google Places, Yahoo! or Bing Local, or Yelp. You just became more visible…and more vulnerable.

Local business listings are becoming more and more popular, and more and more important. Your customers now have the ability to leave flattering comments about their experience with you. They also have the ability to leave scathing reviews about their experience.

Of course the optimal situation is to run your business so perfectly that you will never feel the wrath of a dissatisfied customer. Assuming that you and the people who work for you are just a few degrees short of perfect, you might want to have a policy as to how you respond to negative criticism. Here are a few pointers:

Take the High Road: Think about it, you aren’t going to win a public argument with a frustrated customer. Their experience was bad enough that they took the time to lash out. It isn’t as much about what they said, but how you respond that makes the difference.

Don’t Ignore it: No it’s not going away by itself. Ignoring an obvious problem only compounds the situation and declares that you just don’t care.

Don’t make it Personal: This is about an experience that your customer had, not about a direct attack on you. Remember there is a real person with real emotions on the other end. Address the problem…not the person. Most of these sites have posting guidelines, so if you believe the review violates those guidelines; you may be able to flag it as inappropriate.

Feedback is a Gift: Even if the customer was off-base with their comments, something set them off. Here is an opportunity to analyze the situation and make a long-term adjustment. You might find that the actual root-cause was a secondary event that wasn’t directly related to their complaint.

Rules of the Road

You can be as creative and innovative as you like in your response, but there are a few rules of the road you should follow:

  1. Be Courteous and Professional: You may think you are responding directly to one person, but in practice you are making a public statement.
  1. Less is More: Keep it short and sweet. Readers aren’t looking for a Tolstoy novel. They want to scan and move on. It’s your turn to deliver the message, make sure it’s easy to read.
  1. Be Grateful: This is an opportunity to show how you handle customer service issues, and to take legitimate customer concerns and make actual improvements in your business.

At the end of the day even negative reviews are an opportunity to bring a disgruntled customer back into the fold and mold public opinion. Don’t hide from it… embrace it!

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Reputation Management…the most unambiguous phrase on the Internet

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 2 - 2010

OK…so you’re running a responsible, reputable business and you catch your bookkeeper with her hands in the till. You fire her…as you should, and threaten prosecution.

Next thing you know negative reviews about you and/or your company start showing up on Yelp, or whatever review sites are out there for you particular industry (and there are more out there than you realize). Counterfeit Facebook pages using your name and making you look like a jerk start showing up in the search results. If you are looking for a real life example check out this reputation nightmare.

Whether you’ve been victimized as an innocent business owner… or you really are a jerk is irrelevant. Your reputation, and now your business is at stake.

Reputation Management is something that must be monitored and managed, and besides…it just sounds cool. In any event it is one of the most unambiguous terms regarding the Internet that I can think of. There is nothing pretentious about it.

Where do you start?

Well let’s start by getting past the denial phase:

  • First; you might actually be a jerk. Come to terms with that and seek help.
  • Second; you are now officially in a world of hurt. Come to terms with that and seek help.

The Internet is forever. Nothing goes away…it can only be buried by other information that is deemed more relevant or more current by the search engines or it may be “diluted” by more favorable postings on review sites. The trick is to push negative results off the first page of search results, or dilute negative comments with a slew of positive recommendations.

The antidote is fairly time consuming, but the alternative is most certainly devastating. We monitor countless amounts or data for our clients, and you would be shocked by how many searches are conducted specifically on the name of an individual or the name of the company instead of just the service they offer.

Stay tuned. Because over the next week or so I’m going to go over a few things you can do for yourself, and some things that are best left for a professional reputation management company.

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SEO v. PPC…Which one is Better?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 2 - 2010

Well, they both have their own strengths and weaknesses; however there are actual advantages to each in certain circumstances. Let’s examine Pay-Per-Click for now:

PPC Advantages

PPC is somewhat unique in its ability to drive targeted traffic directly to a website (or a specific web page) that ranks low for targeted keyword phrases (KWP). All you need is a landing page, a budget, and at least some marketing sense.

The three biggest advantages:

  1. Immediate Results
  2. Control over what keywords you rank for
  3. Geotargeting… the ability to control with reasonable precision where your search results are seen.

Companies are able to see immediate results from money that is put towards their marketing efforts. Specific PPC campaign scenarios that can substantially benefit include:

  • A website with a new domain name is launched (no history with the search engines).
  • The lack of appropriate content on a contact and/or conversion page to rank suitable organically (perhaps a disproportionate amount of images, of just not much content for the search engines to index).
  • Seasonal, event related, or time sensitive marketing campaigns that can’t wait for the search engines to index.
  • Website architecture that prevents search engines from indexing a site.

When NOT to use PPC…

In a nutshell… low margin items. Let’s assume that you sell printer ink cartridges and you make $14 profit on each. You typically sell them 1 or 2 at a time. Now let’s assume the average cost per click (CPC) is $2.00. Let’s further assume that you convert 10% of your traffic into a sale. Under that scenario you will spend $20 to make $14. Probably not the best use of your marketing dollars. In that scenario you might be better off investing in SEO.

In any event, I caution you about running PPC campaigns yourself. It is not just about getting “clicks”. It’s about getting phone calls and emails and submitted forms and transactions and walk-in traffic…. There are a lot of variables to consider. You might want to talk with a professional first.

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