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New SEO platform to take the manual labor out of improving organic search results

Agencies have a new SEO platform to take the manual labor out of organic search engine optimization for their clients

gShift Labs, creators of web-based software that enables a consistent and repeatable approach to optimizing the organic search results of a website, announced today that Marketing CoPilot Inc., a marketing consulting company that specializes in building online strategies for business owners and MH Connect, a communications company specializing in marketing, public relations and interactive programs, have signed on as clients of gShift Labs to improve SEO results for their clients.
“gShift’s vision is to change the way people think of and perform organic search optimization,” said gShift Co-founder Krista LaRiviere. “We have spent many years watching marketers do the heavy lifting of manually implementing SEO for their clients. gShift Labs has developed and patented a new way to automate the SEO process that will dramatically improve the optimization effort and results in one easy-to-use software platform.”
“All of my clients agree that first page organic search rankings improve business results,” said Marie Wiese, President of Marketing CoPilot. “But they don’t want to spend a fortune on professional services in order to manually tie together web analytic tools, social media tools and content management. Until now, it was time consuming and clients had to pay for the time it took to manually string it all together. gShift has changed that. Now I have an automated tool that analyzes, tracks and reports and give me important recommendations to help me drive traffic to a client’s website.”
There are a variety of tactics and best practices that are used by SEO professionals to improve organic search results. They are time consuming, complicated and require tying together a number of publicly available tools. gShift Labs has developed a new way to put all tactics into one spot. Less time can be spent on “figuring out SEO” and more time can be spent on building the right content and tactics to deliver traffic to a web site.  This is an important concept for any agency who wants to demonstrate results for their clients.
“75% of searchers click on organic results versus paid results,” said Marc Hill, Principal at MH Connect. “No matter what an agency offers to clients, SEO has to be part of the communication solution. But I don’t want to ask my clients to invest in SEO expertise. Instead I want to execute activities and show them results. gShift Labs’ Web Presence Optimizer™ saves me time and allows me to serve more clients.”
gShift Labs is looking for marketers or marketing agencies that are frustrated with the level of effort required to support their current SEO strategy and want to simplify the process and achieve better organic search results for their web presence..
About gShift Labs
The team at gShift has grown up with the internet and recognizes the tremendous importance that a web presence plays in today’s business strategy. gShift Lab’s SEO platform, Web Presence OptimizerTM eliminates the complexity that surrounds search engine optimization techniques and strategies and standardizes it with a simple software tool that improves web rankings. gShift Lab’s software simplifies, demystifies and standardizes the way your website gets found on the internet to reduce the time and resource commitment necessary to perform, report, analyze and improve search engine optimization.
For more information:
Contact Krista LaRiviere
krista@gshiftlabs.com

Tech Companies Turning the Web into Their # 1 Lead-Generation Tool

Marketing Bootcamp focused on helping tech companies gain marketing advantage with Google

April 15, 2010, Markham, ON: The York Technology Association (YTA) is accelerating the ability for Canadian tech companies to transform their websites into their # 1 lead-generation tool. The Association is holding a Web Analytics Marketing Boot Camp on April 29, 2010 where tech companies will help tech companies in gaining the traction needed to turn browsers into customers.
The Bootcamp consists of practical, hands-on sessions that will help tech company CEO’s, Marketers, PR managers and business owners turn their web presence into an active marketing asset for their business.

“Turn the web into your number one lead-generation tool,” challenges Marie Wiese of Marketing CoPilot, the event sponsor and Co-Chair of the YTA.
 
“You may sell down the street or around the globe, but either way 87% of searches for you or your product start on the internet. Your website absolutely must engage your prospects and improve the way each potential customer is introduced to the buying process with your company.”

The half-day interactive workshop session will reveal the key elements of building and sustaining an accessible and credible web presence for tech companies in order to improve the way people find products and commit to the buying process.
The Bootcamp sessions will be facilitated by tech leaders who have earned their stripes, including marketing innovators Chris Adams and Jeff Jones of gShift Labs. Jeff and Chris are experts in web presence optimization and will focus their presentation on the importance of keywords, meta tags, analytics and an integrated web presence that will drive the right leads to your company’s website.
“There are four billion Google searches every day and 70% of search engine users click on organic results versus paid results,” said Chris Adams, Co-Founder of gShift Labs, developer of the newest web presence optimization software tool. “Simply put, improving your organic search results improves your visibility with 70% of the market. Who doesn’t want a piece of that?”
Case studies from several YTA member companies including Camilion Solutions, Doxim, and Insiteful Solutions, will be profiled as marketers from these organizations describe the successes and shortcomings of the programs they ran with over the past year.
About the York Technology Association
The York Technology Association is a member-driven organization fostering economic development in the technology sector. Members learn from their peers and find ‘shortcuts to success’ in the programs the YTA offers – each designed to support the economic success of technology firms in York Region, the GTA and surrounding Regions. www.yorktech.ca
About Marketing CoPilot
Marketing CoPilot works with CEOs and business owners that understand the importance of marketing to get their business to the next level. Marketing CoPilot builds and executes working marketing engines that accelerate business growth. marketingcopilot.com
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Contact Details

Pat Shaw, Executive Director, YTA, patshaw@yorktech.ca, 905-415-4558
Marie Wiese, President, Marketing CoPilot, CoChair, YTA Board, marie@marketingcopilot.com, 416-436-7931

It's Good to Get Together to Talk About Online Stuff

Marketing CoPilot is again hosting the 2010 Marketing Boot Camp in conjuntion with the York Technology Association on April 29, 2010.
This year’s topic: How to Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine. This is one marketer who can’t wait to discuss this topic.
But living online got me thinking: In an era of “virtual this” and “online that”, it’s good to know that marketers still want to get together with each other, share, learn and brain storm. Last year the event was sold out and marketers came from as far as Ottawa to take part.
So why do people like the face-to-face element of learning? Here is my deduction:

  1. There are lots of things you can read and learn online but nothing beats the creativity and energy of a group of people getting together to figure something out.
  2. Marketers love to watch people present. We are incredibly visual. Sitting in a room watching a presenter sparks the imagination.
  3. It’s nice to get together with other people who are totally confused about SEO. Does anyone really understand what the heck Google does?
  4. Marketers like to show off. This is hard to do watching a webinar or reading a blog. We never miss an opportunity to offer up advice when a colleague is stumped.

I hope you will consider attending. I promise the presenters will be insightful, the ideas will flow and the room temperature just right. Hope you can make it.

What's an online presence and why do you need one?

If you search the term “online presence” on your web browser, you are going to see a lot of amazing results. There will be lots of sites dedicated to “how to quit your job and make millions on the web”. Don’t click on these. Look at the ones that explain what an online presence can do for you current business. The business you have spent years putting time and effort into.
Today, your sales and marketing strategy may be combination of things: telemarketing, direct mail, advertising, word of mouth, referrals, or other tactics you use to start a conversation with people who might potentially buy something from you. You probably have a website because you realize its today’s Yellow Pages. And maybe you’ve already decided to leverage the internet to drive more traffic to your business, but now what?

Definition

An online presence is a conversation you want to have with potential customer about why they should buy from you. You want to have that conversation in as many places as possible on the internet to increase the possibility of people buying from you versus your competitor. It’s not a lot different than the conversation you are probably already having in your offline demand generation activities except that are more benfits to having the conversation online.
Here are ten reasons why an online presence is good business:

  1. You can track and measure everything instantly. Unlike a newspaper ad or radio advertisement, you can view elaborate details of who looked at what on your website, press release or blog post and you can see it minutes after you send something out.
  2. You can engage rather than disrupt. Instead of trying to get attention like you would with telemarketing or direct mail, you can start a conversation. When was the last time you answered a telemarketer’s call or responded to a flyer? Disruption is failing. Starting conversations about a topic of mutual interest to you and your prospective buyer gains trust, long term relationships and helps to gain valuable insight about what your prospects care about.
  3. You can be everywhere. You can use your website, a blog, directories, social media, press releases and a wide array of cost-effective online tactics to deliver a consistent conversation about why you have something of value to discuss. They are many ways to slice the conversation from a 140 character tweet to a 12 page “how to guide.”
  4. You can compete. In bygone days, a small business usually lacked the resources of their larger competitors. Now even a small business can access much of the same technology as big companies. You can use auto-responders, accept online payments and even deliver products over the Internet.
  5. You can create niche marketing faster and more cost effectively. If one area of your business is taking off, you can create microsites and specific promotions and web pages to support this area of the business. An online presence opens up all sorts of niche marketing opportunities that never existed before or were too expensive to go after.
  6. You can look bigger than you are. With a professionally designed web site, it’s now easy for a small business on the Internet to have the appearance and credibility of being a large company.
  7. You can sell locally and globally at the same time. Search engine marketing now allows you to have a local presence through Google Local. For those people who like to buy locally, you can optimize your website so that people searching in your community come directly to you. But you can also optimize keywords so that prospects from all over the world can find you.
  8. You can be open 24/7. Think about how you shop for something. Google stats indicate that 87% of buyers initiate their buying process with an internet search. Unlike traditional office hours (9 to 5), that search can be done any time of the day of the day or night. By automating a web site, a business can be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No extra staff costs and no overtime rates to pay!
  9. You can speed up time-to-market. It is easy to quickly change promotions or offers on the Internet. Emails can be sent out or you can change a website instantly. Time sensitive promotions such as running contests or product specials can be a good way to attract
    customers.

And most importantly…..

  1. You can listen. An online presence gives you the opportunity to get feedback instantly from the market, listen to what they care about via forums and social media conversations.

If sales is about listening to your customer and applying a solution to a problem then an online presence gives you the ultimate engagement and listening tool. If however, you still want disrupt your prospects with overpowering details about product promotions, then go back to the Google search and click on “get rich quick.” A consistent and value-based online presence is not for you.

Understanding the Behaviour of Change Can Lead to Better Marketing

Yesterday, I joined 1600 marketing types at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto at The Art of Marketing Conference. We listened to bestselling authors talk about their marketing theories and themes.  The highlight for me was Dan Heath, author of Made to Stick and new book, Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard. He reminded me of how important it is to understand the psychology of change in order to build a connection with customers.
Dan’s theory is that getting people to change the way they do something, is really hard work. That is why getting people to change they way do something and start doing it differently with your product or service is much more than a “sales and markeing” effort. Think about the first time you used a cell phone versus a pay phone or you stopped printing a newsletter and sent it out through email.

To get someone to change you must:

  1. Direct the person
  2. Motivate the person
  3. Shape the path

Reasons people don’t change:

  1. They don’t know what to do differently
  2. They don’t want to
  3. They say things are blocking my path to change

As marketers, we often jump to the solution in our marketing. Instead of discussing the problem that someone is having and defining why it happens, we jump in with “features and functions” to demonstrate our product. Example: “Our software product can track, measure, report, polish, soak and bake.”  These are all great attributes but if I am a first time user of your product, as a marketer, how are you going to:

  • Help me identify my problem?
  • Motivate me to consider doing differently what I do today?
  • Clear a path to doing it by providing information that helps me understand how I am going to get from point A to point B.

Heath’s advice: In order to start the change process, forget the problems and find the bright spots and start with “what’s working right now?”
So here is my nibble for the week:
Take a moment and think about your best customer. Make a list of all of the things they are doing with your product or service.

  • What happens in their business when they use it?
  • What did it change in their business?
  • What did you do to make it easy to adopt it?

According to Heath, the best way to evoke change is to emulate yourself at your best moment. Best way to improve your marketing and engage with your customer is to emulate the before and after of your very best customer.
Things people forget about change:

  1. Knowledge is rarely enough to spark change.
  2. Knowledge rarely leads to change.
  3. Logic does not provide motivation.

Change Process:

SEE + FEEL + CHANGE
Lastly, and this is the hard part for many companies, it will take five to seven attempts before you begin to succeed. Persistence is key in the change process, so sending one direct mail piece or making one phone call isn’t enough to evoke a prospect to switch to your solution. You not only need to understand how to direct, motivate and clear the path, you also need to do it over and over again. Change is hard!

What Shaun White Can Teach Us About a Great Keyword Strategy

Four years ago when Shaun White won the gold in Turin, Italy for snowboarding, the performance he gave then would not have won gold this week in Vancouver. In four short years, White has completely reinvented his approach and in doing so has pushed the sport itself to a new level.
It took White continuous effort and improvement to do it. He has to keep trying new things and evolving his approach. This is exactly what a good key word strategy needs. They also have this in common:
To be at the top of your game you have to continually experiment
You need daring creativity and a go-for-broke attitude
There are going to be some spills along the way
Keywords have baffled me for a long time. I know how important they are to organic search and getting found on the web. Search engines care about keywords. So when I ask experts about keywords, they talk about search engines. This is backwards. What you really need to figure out is your customer.
You need to have an intimate understanding of what your customers are doing not what your product or service does. When Shaun White puts a run together, he is doing it for the judges not for himself. Think about your customer first and foremost.
To start down the path to a gold medal keyword strategy, go ask the last five people that bought from you how they started the process to solve their business problem. What were they trying to do? What would they have searched on if they started with the web? You’ll be surprised by their answers.
Next create a list of one or two words that customers might use to search and then a list of list of longer terms. These are called short tail and long tail terms respectively and they are both important to have in your strategy.
Here’s a little trick: take your top three short tail words and go look them up in the yellow pages. See what companies are under this categorization. Are they your competitors? What do they say about their product or service? Is it different from yours? Sometimes a fancy term we are using to describe our business has no bearing on what our customers would look for.
The most startling similarity though between Shaun White and your keyword strategy is that neither are overnight successes. It takes practice, hard work and lots of trial and error to get it right. But the most important thing is you have to start somewhere. The web isn’t going away so if you don’t have a keyword strategy, you need to think about getting one.
The main difference between White and a good keyword strategy is that RedBull probably won’t offer to build you a $10M experiment tank to hone the craft. That difference aside, there are still lots of useful and important things you can do to move your strategy along. In honor of all Olympians this week, roll up your sleeves and go for gold!

Do You Know How Google Views Your Website?

Everyone seems to have a different opinion about Google and how they rank websites organically. Billions of dollars have been made by SearchEngine Optimization (SEO) professionals who provide services aimed at improving your web ranking. But is SEO a science or dark art?

The most common answer I get? It depends.
Science comes in the form of creating a task list of best practices that you can go through to make sure you are at least ticking all of the boxes.
A dark art takes place when you tune all of the “web knobs” available to you optimize your web presence and in doing so, improve your organic ranking. Just getting your keywords right to match what you think a potential customer is searching on and looking at with respect to your online presence is just the tip of the black hole. (More on that in next week’s blog)
If we start with the science part of organic search, here is a Google chart I found that most SEO experts seem to agree with:how google views your website
So here are the “Nibbling Around the Edges” (see November 30 blog post) recommendations for cracking the cover on the SEO black hole:
Look at your Google Analytics account (get one if you don’t have one and get the code on your website). Figure out what keywords Google is seeing on your site. Figure out which ones have the potential to drive the most traffic. All keywords will have stats next to them in Google.
Look at your site page tags (that’s the text in the top left corner of the page next to the browser symbol). Make sure they are categorized and don’t just have page tags that say “Home” on your home page. You need a content description for the page. Preferably one that gets lots of searches on Google. You want people to find you for something other than your company name.
Check out how many other sites link to your site. You can do this by checking your back links on Yahoo Site Explorer (siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com). HINT: You can also check your competitor’s site to see who links to them. Maybe they are listed in a directory you should be in.
Look at your web content and make sure you have content on every page that speaks to your key words.
Find out from your web hosting company how many other people share the IP address your site sits on. If there are other sites on the address that Google doesn’t like, your site could be guilty by association and getting a bad grade from Google. Make sure you are in good company.
Stay tuned next week when we simplify more “dark art”: How to figure out where your ideal customer starts their search.
Happy Googling!

When Does 82% = 25%?

I chose a marketing career because I was told there’d be no math. My guidance counselor was wrong – you must do the math.
Let’s start with 82%.
If you set up a local account in Google for your website (check out Google Local), they flash 82% at you during the process. According to Google, 82% of all searches for anything start with an internet search. That’s the first thing anyone does today when they go to look for a solution to a problem.
So if you are trying to generate leads for your business, I think it’s safe to say that a portion of your sales and marketing budget should be invested in your online strategy. But how much?
Sirius Decisions, a company that provides sales and marketing research and advisory services provided me with the following stats:
B2B service companies under 15M in annual revenue invest 16-21% annually on their sales and marketing budget
B2B software companies under 15M in annual revenue invest 27-32% annually on their sales and marketing budget
Now ask yourself:
How much are you spending?
What portion of that is cost of sale and/or sales salaries?
What portion of that is marketing and marketing activities?
What portion of your marketing budget is for online tactics including your website?
Now do the math on 25%.
Let’s say a $5M software company sets aside an annual budget of $1.25M (25%) for sales and marketing:
$300K for a sales rep and a sales manager
$100K for a portion of the implementation that is required in the sales process
$200K for account management and staff to support recurring revenue sales
$75K for a marketing manager or admin support for sales support
$100K to attend trade shows and pay for travel
$50K for materials and trinkets
$25K for client relationship management
$10K for CRM and/or other sales and marketing support tools
Already I am at more than 65% ($860K) of my budget before I have even addressed my online strategy. Are you willing to ignore potentially 82% of your market by not investing in an online strategy? If you spent 25% of your sales and marketing budget on online tactics, a $5M company should be spending about $300K on their website, social media, optimized press releases, content development, search engine optimization, conversion tactics, etc.
If you find 82% a stretch or worse yet, are one of those CEOs that say, “but my customers don’t shop online.” What you are forgetting is that people “look” online. Are you prepared to not have them looking at you? Even if you cut 82% in half, it’s still a bet most companies should make.
Spending 25% of your annual sales and marketing budget to reach 82% of the eyeballs in the world seems like a no brainer, even for this math challenged Toronto marketing consultant.

How to Nibble Around the Edges of Your Website

I chose a marketing career because I was told there’d be no math. My guidance counselor was wrong – you must do the math.
Let’s start with 82%.
If you set up a local account in Google for your website (check out Google Local), they flash 82% at you during the process. According to Google, 82% of all searches for anything start with an internet search. That’s the first thing anyone does today when they go to look for a solution to a problem.
So if you are trying to generate leads for your business, I think it’s safe to say that a portion of your sales and marketing budget should be invested in your online strategy. But how much?
Sirius Decisions, a company that provides sales and marketing research and advisory services provided me with the following stats:
B2B service companies under 15M in annual revenue invest 16-21% annually on their sales and marketing budget
B2B software companies under 15M in annual revenue invest 27-32% annually on their sales and marketing budget
Now ask yourself:
How much are you spending?
What portion of that is cost of sale and/or sales salaries?
What portion of that is marketing and marketing activities?
What portion of your marketing budget is for online tactics including your website?
Now do the math on 25%.
Let’s say a $5M software company sets aside an annual budget of $1.25M (25%) for sales and marketing:
$300K for a sales rep and a sales manager
$100K for a portion of the implementation that is required in the sales process
$200K for account management and staff to support recurring revenue sales
$75K for a marketing manager or admin support for sales support
$100K to attend trade shows and pay for travel
$50K for materials and trinkets
$25K for client relationship management
$10K for CRM and/or other sales and marketing support tools
Already I am at more than 65% ($860K) of my budget before I have even addressed my online strategy. Are you willing to ignore potentially 82% of your market by not investing in an online strategy? If you spent 25% of your sales and marketing budget on online tactics, a $5M company should be spending about $300K on their website, social media, optimized press releases, content development, search engine optimization, conversion tactics, etc.
If you find 82% a stretch or worse yet, are one of those CEOs that say, “but my customers don’t shop online.” What you are forgetting is that people “look” online. Are you prepared to not have them looking at you? Even if you cut 82% in half, it’s still a bet most companies should make.
Spending 25% of your annual sales and marketing budget to reach 82% of the eyeballs in the world seems like a no brainer, even for this math challenged Toronto marketing consultant.

Why You Can't "Pretend"

I recently received an email newsletter about social networking. The headline caught my attention and the copy told me about all the cool things I could do using social networking tools. So far, so good. I clicked a big button that said “click here to our website,” and all credibility was lost.
The website I landed on was confusing and poorly constructed. Not only was there no trace of social networking tools on the site, it was hard to believe that this website represented someone who knew anything about online strategy let alone social networking. Big let down.
While certain topics are timely and worth sharing with customers, there are three important questions you need to answer before you write anything:

  1. What do my readers want to know?
  2. Why do they need to know it?
  3. How am I a credible provider of information (and not just facts)?

We can’t all be the guru on the mountain, but if you can talk about an idea in terms of the value you provide to your customers, then you gain credibility because you aren’t “pretending,” you’re doing.
Here’s an example: A commercial real estate agent could use the topic of social networking to gain credibility with her clients and prospects by answering the three questions as follows:
What does my reader want to know? Using social media to find real estate.
Why does he want to know it? To avoid paying real estate agents’ fees.
How am I a credible provider of information? Well, if our agent’s value proposition is applying geographic knowledge in order to help business owners make informed decisions about space for their business, maybe the conversation could go something like this…
Many clients are asking me about social networking and whether they should use them to find space for their business. I’ve noticed buildings for rent or lease on Craig’s List or LinkedIn. No one can deny the immediacy and power of these tools. What a posting on these sites doesn’t offer is the geographic expertise that an agent can bring to a search. It’s a great way to advertise, but at the end of the day, only an agent can tell you what the zoning requirements are in the area and whether you will be able to warehouse your equipment or allow parking in front of the facility. And what about the plans the city has to rip up the street and eliminate street parking? My advice to clients is use the tools to find agents to vet whether they have the expertise you need.
Start with the customer. Instead of starting with a topic, start with what happens when someone tries to do something. Then demonstrate how someone can solve that problem using you. We don’t need to make up topics or pretend we have deep knowledge. We can talk to our market in terms of the issues they face and start the sales dialogue based on how we solve the problem.
Simple? Not really. Most of us spend our days thinking about what we’re doing at the moment and not about what we do to improve the business of our customers. It’s sometimes difficult to make the shift. But once we get this right, we are no longer pretenders. We have valuable content to share with the people who want to buy from us.

Marketing CoPilot