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“There is a sure way to avoid criticism. Be nothing and do nothing.” – Napoleon Hill
Hi. Welcome to Issue Thirteen of the Entrepreneurs’ Chronicle.
1. News Update
School’s over and summer is in full swing. For those of you in the U.S., I hope you’ve enjoyed your Memorial Day. Our first article ‘Having a Bias Toward Action’ is a brief excerpt from Zero to One Million that explains that principle and advantage of starting toward a goal before you know the full path to getting there. This issue continues with an article on search engine targeting. Within the article, we explain the difference between search engine optimization and search engine targeting and detail each step used to obtain top positions on highly competitive search terms.
Before we transition into the main part of this newsletter, I’d like to make an update to my speaking schedule published last month. Currently confirmed speaking dates and locations this summer are:
I will also be in attendance at the Globalization and Poverty Seminar at Brown University June 12-18 in Providence, Rhode Island.
I am further excited to announce that I have been named a patron of the Youth Development & Entrepreneurship Foundation of Lagos, Nigeria and will be launching my book in Africa on August 20 at the conference kickoff.
If you would like to book me to speak at your organization’s event please contact Malcolm Young at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information. Recent topics include entrepreneurship, youth entrepreneurship, improving the economies of developing nations, creating, finding, and taking advantage of opportunities, personal development, and web marketing. Additional information on past topics can be found at http://www.ryanallis.com.
If you have any comments, suggestions, or would like to contribute content to be published in the newsletter or online, I encourage you to contact me at email@example.com. Please do feel free to forward this newsletter on to your colleagues and associates. On behalf of the Zeromillion.com team I thank you for being a subscriber.
Having a Bias Toward Action
This article is an (updated) authorized excerpt from Zero to One Million by Ryan P. M. Allis. The book may be purchased for $11.17 from Amazon.com
Too many times, someone will have a goal, yet never get going on the path toward reaching it. Many aspiring entrepreneurs have a business idea, yet spend months and months writing the business plan in a state of analysis paralysis—never taking action. If you are going to be a successful entrepreneur however, you must have a bias toward action.
When I am speaking, I like to illustrate this principle with an anecdote. Imagine yourself at your house, wanting to go to your friend’s house four miles away. You do not want to leave until all the traffic lights on the way are green. Of course, it is clear that you will never leave. This paralysis happens to many in everyday life. If you want to get there, however, you must get going now. Yes, there will be stop signs and red lights along the way, but you’ll get through them—and you’ll make it to your friend’s house much sooner than if you waited for all the lights to be green at the same time.
To be successful, you must first define what success means to you. You have to start with a goal in mind, perhaps even a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG). Let’s say your BHAG is to build a business to one million dollars in sales. Once you’ve defined your goal, you can get started on it. Have a bias toward action and get going. You may not know all the steps or the problems and challenges you’ll run into just yet, but that is okay.
As you progress toward your goal, you will continue faster and faster up the learning curve. You’ll build inertia and as you move forward you’ll gain new knowledge and just as important, build new relationships which will be very important in helping you reach your goal. As the inertia turns into exponential snowballing, your new knowledge and new contacts will create new possibilities and opportunities, allowing you, with continued persistence, to reach your goal.
To take advantage of this principle of inertia and snowballing, however, you must have a bias toward action. To initiate the momentum, you must get started. Once those initial small accomplishments begin falling into place, inertia will take effect as these new possibilities snowball you up the learning curve closer and closer to your goal Every important goal you will reach will be preceded by thousands of actions that without which you would not have had the opportunity, contacts, or knowledge to accomplish your final most important achievement.
Ryan Allis, is the CEO of Broadwick Corporation, a provider of permission-based email marketing and list management software IntelliContact Pro and CEO of Virante, Inc. a Chapel Hill, North Carolina based web marketing consulting firm. Ryan, who is 19, is on leave for a year from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is an economics major and Blanchard Scholar. Additional information on the author can be found at www.ryanallis.com.
This article may be republished online as long as the byline remains.
Search Engine Targeting: Achieving Top Positions for Highly Competitive Search Terms
My company Virante specializes in both web site marketing and web site design. Within web marketing, one of our core competencies is search engine positioning. In this article I will describe one aspect of our search engine position services, that of search engine targeting, a service designed to obtain top rankings on very competitive search terms.
As I have said many times, search engines are the market makers of the Internet. They connect consumers with providers at the very moment of consumer interest and enable all of us to find exactly what we want, when we want it. They bring great efficiency to the Internet and our lives and shall exist as long as the network of servers and computers we call the Web is around. Positioning, one of the four Ps of marketing, is an absolutely critical component of the marketing mix. If you are not positioned to be where your customer is when your customer is ready to buy, you lose. Your competitor who is in that place at that time wins.
Search Engine Targeting
In the search engine positioning business, most web marketing firms will charge you $800 per month to change a few page titles, rearrange the text on your pages, and monitor your rankings. While this may get you a top ten position on a noncompetitive keyword such as ‘Coastal Georgia Fly Fishing’ this is next to useless if you want to obtain a top position on a competitive keyword (such as ‘fly fishing’). While this onsite ‘optimization’ may bring you from position #1,534 to position #327 for ‘fly fishing,’ in the search engine game, position three hundred is just as useless as position fifteen hundred, however. Less than three tenths of one percent of searchers ever click on a listing past #30.
So let’s do the math. If you’re a fly fishing resort on the east coast of Georgia, it wouldn’t be too bad to be ranked #1 for ‘Coastal Georgia Fly Fishing.’ Approximately seventy five persons per month search for this term across the major search engines. If you were first in the rankings, you might expect that 12 very qualified visitors would come to your site each month from this listing. Twelve visitors per month, however, is not going to make your business a great success.
But what if you were #1 for the more competitive search term ‘fly fishing?’ This term receives approximately 68,000 searches per month across the major search engines. If your web site ranked first for this term, you could expect about 10,800 visitors to your site. Now we’re talking.
What would it take to become #1 in the search engines for ‘fly fishing?’ It would take starting a new web site at a domain that contains the targeted keywords (such as www.fly-fishing-resource.com), building approximately two hundred incoming links to this web site, building content on the site, and optimizing your title, keyword frequency, alt-tags, h1 tags, meta tags, and anchor text for each page.
Upon completion of the project, it would take 8-12 weeks for the search engine rankings to appear. If you wanted to fully take advantage of the opportunity of being in the top of the search engines for fly fishing, you’d not only offer the ability for visitors to make online reservations to your fly fishing get-a-way on your web site, but also sell products online that related to the sport such as fly fishing rods and reels, fly fishing gear and equipment, and tutorial videos. You might find yourself, within a matter of a few months, making more sales through your online products than your offline business.
This is an example of what we at Virante call Search Engine Targeting. The large majority of firms out there will promise you top 20 rankings on obscure, non-competitive keywords and simply rearrange the text on your site for a not so small monthly fee. What we do is first work with our clients to determine a plan for which search terms it would be of most benefit to target, and then go after these often highly competitive terms. We both guarantee rankings as well as give specific deadlines as to when you will obtain these rankings.
Many firms out there would never consider guaranteeing a ranking. There is a good reason not to as search engine algorithms and penalty filters do change (although not as much as some people would have you think). As was seen in the November 2003 Google Dance, one can be ranked first one day and not be in the top 10,000 rankings the next. Most firms will guarantee a top 20 or top 10 ranking, and if they don’t obtain the ranking, come back to you requesting additional funds for the next month of service.
A Search Engine Targeting Philosophy
At Virante we operate on a bit of a different philosophy that I’d like to take a moment to share. First, in nearly all cases we do not charge monthly fees for optimization. Rather, we look at each goal as a project (one that has a start date and an end date and is completed for a set price). After discussing with you your business, your plans for the future, your goals, your products and services, and the current state of your web strategy, we provide a quote on the project. This is not an estimate as for these types of projects we do not charge per hour. To a fairly close degree of accuracy we know what is needed and how long it will take to obtain a specified position. We provide a cost for the full project and allow the client to spread payments over the course of the timeline tied to specified goals. The price we provide is one that will never go up. Our guarantee is that for this cost, we will obtain the specified position within this many days from the initial payment (usually about 120 days, depending on the number and competitiveness of the required positions). If we do not hit this guaranteed goal within the allotted time period (which has yet to happen but is always possible due to the slightly fickle nature of search engines) we continue to work at no additional charge until the client’s web site does obtain this position.
Search Engine Targeting is right for any company who wants to sell a product or service (or products and services) online. While we have worked with a number of service companies and companies who do not fit this profile, the ideal candidate is a company who wishes to sell an in-demand product with a price range of $10 to $300 online either nationally or internationally. While we have, for example, completed targeting projects for providers of a local service (a business broker and a home builder most recently) we often recommend that the client consider offering related products on their site in order to build their online sales while at the same time building up their local client base. An ebook or video could serve this need well.
Examples of Highly Competitive Search Terms
In general, we define a highly competitive search term as any term that receives more than 30,000 searches per month across the major search engines. You can see how many searches your targeted terms receive each month using the Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool at http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion.
Of course, the number of searches does not truly define competitiveness. What defines competitiveness in reality is the 1) number of incoming links the top three sites for the term have, 2) how well each is optimized and 3) whether any of these sites have the specified keyword or keyphrase in their domain name. While there are a number of gems out there (terms with tens or hundreds of thousands of monthly searches that no one has optimized for) there seems to be a significant correlation between how many searches per month a term has and how well the sites that are ranked well for those terms are optimized. As such, one can create a general rule that the more searches a term has, the more difficult it will be to optimize for, though in practice this does not always hold true.
Using this general rule we can say that in most cases, obtaining a #1 position on a highly competitive term (that is, one with more than 30,000 searches per month) will require a separate web site with that term in its domain and thus necessitate a search engine targeting strategy instead of a search engine optimization strategy.
A Search Engine Targeting Case Study
Let’s take an example of an ideal case for search engine targeting. Virante began working with a health products company in Texas in September 2003. Our client contracted us to build a web site and obtain a number one position for ‘colon cleansing’ and a top two position for ‘constipation.’ The client had developed a high-quality colon cleanser by the name of Oxy-Powder that they wanted to sell online. After visiting the client on-site, we developed an initial web marketing plan. The full initial contract included building an ‘informational site’ that would obtain top rankings in the search engines, redesigning the ‘product site,’ redesigning the ‘company site’ on which the client sold many other products, and developing and promoting an affiliate program.
The first step was to register the domain of the informational site. After completing the necessary keyword research, we registered www.colon-cleanse-constipation.com and obtained hosting for the site. Within two weeks, we completed the design for the web site and began the content campaign. We needed lots of content on the site for two reasons. First, we wanted to not just obtain top rankings for the two highly competitive keywords mentioned above, but also for some of the secondary and tertiary related keywords (such as ‘preparation for colonoscopy’ and ‘colon cleansing treatments’). The more in-site pages we had the more secondary key phrases we could target (each in-site page would be optimized for one secondary key phrase). Secondly, we wanted to show that our web site was a valuable and extensive resource on the subject in order to make our linking campaign easier. In general, webmasters will have a higher tendency to link to a web site if they feel the site has true value. To build content on the site we found other web sites with related content and contacted the site owners and/or the authors to request permission to syndicate these articles on the web site. We also contracted a ghost writer to compose fifteen articles in the name of the client. In all, we added approximately 80 articles to the web site.
After adding this content, it was time to begin the links campaign. We calculated that based on the then-current sites in the positions we wanted to achieve that we would need to build 250 incoming links to the web site. To execute this linking campaign, we first built a list of 5,000 related web sites along with their contact information. Following this, we sent an email to each potential link partner requesting that we exchange links. We would add their link to our ‘links directory’ in exchange for them doing the same on their web site. As one can imagine, this is the step that takes the most time. In this case, we were able to obtain the needed number of links within four weeks.
It was early-November when this was finished. Essentially, all we had to do was wait. It usually takes between eight and twelve weeks for the search engines to fully index your site, reindex all the web pages with your link on them, and update their rankings. Knowing this, we expected that sometime in January or February the change would take place.
While this took place, we began the redesign of the product site. The product site was created at www.oxypowder.com. On this site, we would offer Oxy-Powder for sale. We would recommend the product on the informational web site and direct the visitor to the product site to learn more and purchase. We choose to pursue this two-site strategy for two reasons. First, one needs to have the keywords they are going after in their domain name (separated by hyphens) in order to obtain a top ranking on a highly competitive keyword. While this is good for the search engines, having hyphens in a domain name makes it difficult for a visitor to remember it and makes proper branding difficult. Secondly, we wanted to create an informational resource that was separate from the product site. The recommendation (in the form of graphic and text links) from the well positioned informational site increased the chance that someone would choose to buy Oxy-Powder and not a competing product.
We finished the redesign of the oxypowder.com web site near the end of December. Through the redesign we were able to make the site look much more professional, provide a more intuitive user experience, and rewrite the sales copy. Upon completing the redesign, sales did increase noticeably.
The big day came on January 20, 2004, exactly ten weeks after finishing the links campaign. The informational site obtained a #1 ranking for colon cleansing and a #2 ranking for constipation and went from nearly nothing to an average of 722 visitors per day. As expected sales of Oxy-Powder quadrupled the next day and have continued to be extremely strong since.
In recent work for our clients we have targeted the following highly competitive keywords and obtained the following results:
For Additional Information
For additional details on search engine targeting, the cost, as well as Virante’s other search engine positioning, link building, and web marketing services please download our Services Guide. You may also contact Virante Director of Client Services Malcolm Young at (919) 386-0133 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a web site that has to do with business, entrepreneurship, marketing, web marketing, ebusiness, personal development, or economics and would like high quality free content for your web site, you may syndicate the following articles from our web site. These articles are stored in zip format and can be downloaded by clicking on the appropriate link. We simply ask that you keep the author byline at the bottom of each article per the instructions included with each zip file. If you choose to use any of the articles we ask that you notify us at email@example.com.
This concludes this issue of The Entrepreneurs’ Chronicle. We’ll see you July 1, 2004. If you are not subscribed and would like to subscribe, please visit http://www.zeromillion.com. If you would like to contribute content, become involved with the zeromillion.com team, make suggestions, or provide feedback please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage you to participate in our discussion forum at http://www.zeromillion.com/talk/.
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“The seeds of great discoveries are constantly floating around us, but they only take root in minds well prepared to receive them.” – Joseph Henry