Avoid Common Internet Marketing Pitfalls
We all know how snake oil salesman have a talent for finding those hopes and dreams that seem just out of reach and always having that magical, mythical elixir that we want to believe will provide us the path of least resistance (i.e. work).
Let’s face it, achieving the necessary ranking in Google to increase visitors to your website and move the needle on sales requires a plan for driving targeted traffic. Connecting with those searching online for products and services you market on online is hard work and does not happen by accident.
To rank higher in Google, it is generally necessary to apply SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques and best practices after performing the necessary keyword research. Whitehat SEO [ethical and aligned with webmasters guidelines, glossary] is hard work, but BlackHat SEO [unethical, violating the webmaster guidelines] is not worth the risk.
Search engines make money by delivering relevant results to users. In fact, their ongoing mission is to deliver to users the most amazing experience possible. This is how they compete, and is an often over looked context missed by the aspiring Internet marketer who just wants their business to be at the top of the relevant search results. On the flip side, as users, we have a vested interest in having the most relevant search results at the top of the search results. When that is not the case, then another search engine option is just a click away (sort of). With this in mind, the objectives of the website owner and the search engines are aligned as user experience dictates outcomes for both. If you have the most valuable information in a format that is easy for visitors to consume, the search engines will benefit by listing your site at the top. Having the most valuable information on your site will result in contacts, leads that can be nutured into Internet sales (even if the lead was converted offline).
There are no short-cuts to success
Catastrophes in Internet marketing are borne from the desired to find a short cut to the top of the search results or looking for “cheap distribution” of our marketing message to the masses without regard to whether the message is wanted or even relevant to the recipient. Listed below are seven common Internet marketing catastrophes to avoid.
- Buying lots of low quality links with exact match anchor text. With the recent Google Penguin update, a lot of sites where penalized and lost rankings due to what Google characterizes as “unnatural links.” Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb and gets viewed by Google and Bing as manipulative as seeing a large number of low quality links appear at a faster than a typical link growth rate. When users link to a website naturally, usually it’s because they have some great, unique information and generally, those kind of links natural variation in the anchor text, so for instances, for the eBiz ROI, Inc. homepage, some links will have Rick Noel in the anchor typical of leaving a blog comment, others will have www.eBizROI.com, still, others maybe eBizROI.com. If Google sees a whole bunch of Internet marketing services links, do you think they might become suspicous? Beyond us SEOs and our more educated clients, who else even knows what anchor text means? The key takeaway is to make sure to not have all links with exact match anchor text for the keywords that you are trying to optimize for as this is a sure way to trip the SPAM-filters especially when purchased from SPAMMY websites and network. What is the impact if this risk is realized? The largest search engines will banish your website/domains from the search results. A recondieration process exists, buy why risk going there and inclusion is in the search results is not a right as learned by many the hard way. Given that search engines, for a majority of businesses, drive most of a website’s visitors, getting excluded from a search engine’s database/index/search results can be nothing short of catastrophic to a business. Don’t buy low quality links, as tempting as the solicitation may be as it just may get you kicked out of the search engines.
- Hire an SEO that guarantees #1 spot on Google for a particular keyword or phrase. Since no one but Google or Bing have control over how they generate their search results, the best that a good SEO can do is to apply WhiteHat SEO tactics that adhere to the Google Webmaster Guidelines or Bing Webmaster Guidelines for successful indexing, both of which include best practices for having the search engines find, crawl and ultimate index your sites. Since the algorithms at Google and Bing change several hundred times per year, unless your SEO works at Google or Bing, this kind of “Guarantee” is impossible to deliver on 100% of the time and those who use this kind of sales tactic when positioning their SEO services often resort to BlackHat SEO techniques to get fast results that can put the website owner at risk of losing traffic, or worse yet, getting banished from the kingdom of Google altogether! WhiteHat SEO is hard work, but BlackHat SEO is not worth the risk.
- Buys a software program that automatically does the SEO for you like submitting your website address to 1000s of low quality, SPAMMY, link farms. Since SEO can often be more of an art than an automated task, the search engine web spam teams are good at identifying and weeding out websites that use automated software to build links, spin articles (create multiple iterations of articles that are machine generated to look like they are different, unique articles. Even if your content passes the ever increasing sophistication of the search engines web spam filters, humans reading your “spun” content will pick up on the odd use of synonyms that seem misplaced and change subtle meanings based on the linguistics. It’s not hard to spot these articles and I am sure that you have had the misfortune to stumble upon a few yourself. Good content must be original and not spun from existing articles masquerading as original content. The good news is there our many excellent copywriters in the market and commissioning original content may cost less than you think. Cutting corners on content is sure to lead to disappointing results. Software should be used as a tool to help drive your Whitehat SEO efforts. We use tools from HubSpot, SEOMoz, SEOBook, Majestic SEO, Compete, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools and others, all of which have free versions that provide value and paid subscription for when you outgrow the free versions. The subtle distinction is that the tools listed are tools to help one perform SEO not do the SEO.
- Purchasing 3rd party, discounted email lists. How many unsolicited SPAM emails do you get each day trying to see you targeted email lists? I know it’s tempting , especially given how hard it is to build a legitimate, opt-in house mailing list. But that doesn’t mean take shortcuts.The ironic thing is that these unsolicited solicitations are not CAN-SPAM compliant! Now theres your sign! Many times these third-party lists did not contain the necessary opt-in documentation to substantiate that the people that you’re sending e-mail to gave their permission to receive that e-mail. If you think of your own experience with spam e-mail, how effective do you think it is sending unsolicited e-mail so people who did not request to receive e-mail from you is in terms of driving targeted traffic, click through’s and conversions? I know how enticing it can appear to be a cost-effective tactic to distribute your message to tens or even hundreds of thousands of recipients through e-mail, but almost without fail, all e-mail service providers and Internet service providers preclude the use of third-party lists to send e-mail solicitations. Doing so can get you banned from your web host or ISP (Internet service provider ). Not only will sending spam e-mail damage your brand but could have serious implications with respect to the FTC in there enforcement of the CAN-SPAM Act. For more information, see the The FTC 6 page document: CAN-SPAM ACT – A Compliance Guide for Business, a must read for all email marketers. Avoiding e-mail marketing boobie traps can help email/Internet marketers avoid the SPAM Act Catastrophe!
- Unleashing the social media hounds without any training or document usage guidelines. While social media is important as virtually all US adults online use it regularly (91% according to The Experian 2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report), there is the common temptation to “released the hounds” by encouraging employees to use social media to establish contacts, generate leads, recruit employees and even handle customer support issues. Before setting your employees lose with social media, it’s important to develop and distribute standing operating procedures for what is acceptable social media use as it relates to your company or brand. If you are an Internet marketer following social media usage of industry leaders, you’ve no doubt seen headlines in the news the depicting incidents where a company employees, either intentionally or unintentionally, used social media in a manner that was inappropriate and garnered negative media attention. By having standard social media operating procedures and communicating them broadly to all employees and making sure that there is an understanding of them by all using social media, these kinds of snafus can be avoided while making sure that your corporate identity is preserved.
- Creating social profiles solely for the purposes of free advertising for your business. We’ve all seen this Internet marketing catastrophe in action before within our own social networks. That individual or business who drawls on and on about how great their company is, how their products and services are the best, how they’re offering a special promotion, and how you’d be crazy to shop anywhere else. These individuals and businesses seldom post about anything other than their own business or themselves. They rarely comment on others posts or like or share or re-tweet others content, thereby limiting engagement by their lack of engagement. These same individuals will post the same content to every LinkedIn group they are a member of. Don’t they know that this shows up in other people’s LinkedIn status feed as a long gust of hot air? How long do you listen to someone at a cocktail party that does nothing except go on and on about themselves non-stop? They are the ones who usually leave the party early and can never understand why any of the parties they are attend aren’t any fun! A widely accepted Internet marketing industry best practice is to apply the 80/20 rule when it comes to social media posts and engagement. That means to maximize engagement and bolster your participation as a contributor, it’s good to post roughly 20% on your company/product/services/yourself and 80% on interesting, useful third-party content that you feel your social network will gain benefit from. This positions you as a generous contributor and industry expert and gets you invited to the cool parties!
These are just seven common Internet marketing catastrophes that savvy marketers can avoid while marketing their business online. There are others which will be the subject of future posts. By avoiding these Internet marketing pitfalls, it’s possible to increase your traffic through effective social media engagement while positioning your company as a leader in its industry. Earning traffic, contacts, leads and ultimately sales online is hard work, but those who focus will get the results their after. Those who succumb to short-cuts won’t, at least not in the long run.
If you found yourself digging out from one of these Internet marketing catastrophes, not to worry as it happens to the best of us. The key is to learn from your mistakes and get back on the path to Internet marketing prosperity.
Please tell us about your Internet marketing catastrophes and how you were able to recover in the comments below. Remember, on the Internet, like in the offline world, it’s necessary to give in order to receive!