I found a very interesting article today, through NPR.  It’s talking to Bob Garfield, and references to his book The Chaos Scenario.  Essentially, the article was covering the changes in marketing we’re seeing today.

The world as all advertisers knows it is changing.  Changing drastically.  Marketing is not dying – it’s being reborn.

Most people are moving online.  Using the internet for almost everything now.  I know that I can count myself in with this – if I’m looking for an address to meet with a business, where do I look?  The internet.  If I want to find out when the next showing of the new movie I wanted to see was out is going to be at, where do I look?  The internet.  If I want to BUY a ticket to said movie without worrying about waiting in line?  The internet.

Everything is becoming available online, so it is becoming apparent that everyONE is going to move online.  Newspapers are losing customers, magazines, even TV as we’ve known it.  (Ever heard of Hulu?)

For companies who advertise in any sort of fashion to keep up, they’ll have to go where the people go.  This means moving their marketing online.  This is also going to also mean a change in the people using online advertising, and the difficulty it will be to be seen in different markets.

As Bob stated in the article, the times, they are a’changin’.  If businesses don’t start changing with the times, then it’s only a matter of time until they go extinct next to the old forms of marketing.

Yeah, it sounds spammy, but I really am putting up a free one-hour seminar.  I thought it might be good to get feedback from local businesses, see how interested they are in the information involved in full internet marketing.  So I’m going to do an hour at the Renaissance (at 71st & 169) this Wednesday at 1 PM, talk about web site design, SEO, PPC, email marketing, and social networking.

Since it’s an hour I can only cover so many details, but I’m going to try giving out good information.  Hopefully people will be able to take something good from it.  I haven’t done a seminar on my own before (only as part of group presentations, previously), so this will definitely be a learning experience.  It should be fun, and we’ll see how things go.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but it’s looking like newspaper advertising sales are dropping, and dropping hard.  The fact is that more and more people are turning their advertising online.

The reason for this is because more people are using the web now for almost everything – if you consider it, it makes sense.  If you want to check to see when a movie’s playing, you go online.  If you want to find directions to a new address, you go online.  If you want to find the best place to buy a new set of speakers, you go online.  If you want to check your bank account, you go online.

More and more people are starting to turn towards doing everything online – it makes sense, since you can do a large variety of things in one place.  Since this is where things are going, more companies are starting to turn their marketing budgets to the online world to connect more with people.

It makes me excited to see, mainly since I feel like I have an inside scoop on what’s going on for marketing online (since I spend every day working with it).  I do think it’s going to mean more and more businesses will be turning to put their focus online.  The drop in advertising sales for newspapers means it’s a sign of the times changing, and it’ll be interesting to see where things progress from here.

This is a question posed by various people – SEOs, internet marketers, online business owners, and even just people browsing the web: which search engine is best?

Well, this really comes down to depending on what your approach is.  If you are just browsing, it’s really a personal preference.  But if you’re in internet marketing, then it comes down to understanding the varieties of users who are using each.

To start, Google is still controlling the search engine market, with 64.2% of all searches in April (according to ComScore).  Yahoo is second with 20.4%, and Microsoft is third with 8.2%.

As most people know, the bulk of traffic can be gained through Google.  Doing SEO or AdWords can take advantage of this traffic.  It’s been seen through PPC marketing that Yahoo does not get quite the same traffic but does tend to get a higher percentage of conversions.  This varies based on market, but it’s worth noting.

So what this means for internet marketers is this – definitely use Google if you’re interested in traffic.  For SEO or PPC, it’d be good to start with a focus on Google, and follow up with adjustments for Yahoo (and with PPC, start advertising with Yahoo) after a set plan is set for Google.  Microsoft is really an extra option to take advantage of, but in some cases may not be worth too much extra time/effort unless the amount of traffic gained through them is notable.

Make sure to realize that it’s worth it to go beyond just looking at Google.  One fifth of all internet search engine users use Yahoo, so the numbers there speak for themselves.  Be sure to keep that in mind when focusing on your internet marketing endeavors.

It still surprises me how many businesses are completely unaware of Google Local.  The benefits of putting your business in Google Local are enormous, especially for businesses that run primarily a regional business.

To start – Google Local is essentially the cheap/easy way to do SEO.  It’s not exactly doing any traditional SEO, but by doing this, you’re able to rank above the rest of the organic listings (in most cases), and for quality keywords.  You can see an example of it any time you search for a business listing in a local area, or often you can simply enter a city or zip code plus a particular market keyword (such as dentist, or plumber).  When you do this, Google Local entries will show up, next to a map.

To get your business listed in this way is fairly easy to do.  Begin at http://www.google.com/local.  From here, you’ll want to click on the link that says “Put your business on Google Maps”.  This will take you to a page that lists all of the entries to put information down about your company, such as name, address, phone, and web site, plus a description.

At this point Google will search to see if you have any listings posted yet.  If you haven’t done any entries into Google Local or Google Maps, then you shouldn’t find a match.  Add the new entry, and go on.

This next page is crucial to take advantage of Google Local for the SEO benefits it has.  You can show up in organic listings by putting proper keywords into the “Categories” section.  You can have up to five categories here.  By doing some good keyword research, you can determine which keyword phrases would be best to place here to ensure you get good, quality traffic from local searchers.

The other information is good to put if you can.  In particular, placing a video or image will help you by distinguishing you from your local competitors, as these will often show up with your Local listing.

Once you’ve completed this information, you’ll have to confirm by entering a PIN code Google will give you, either by giving it to you online to enter it over the phone, or by sending it to you through mail to your business address to enter it online.  Once you’ve done this, your Google Local business listing will go live.

For extra marketing push, you can choose to add coupons to your Google Maps listing.  Simply go back to http://www.google.com/local/add, only select the “Coupons” tab at the top.  Here you can add coupons of any kind to help bring customers in.

Now that you’re set up, your business name and link will show anytime anyone within the same area as your business types in the keywords you selected, or types in these keywords next to the name of your city or a close-by zip code.  This can be very effective if you’ve selected good keywords, and even without full SEO, you’ll still appear at the top of the search results.

If you notice an increase in business from this, it may be wise to consider doing full SEO, as your customer base appears to be using the web to find business in your market.  By increasing traffic through SEO, you’ll be increasing business further – and for national or international companies, this is a must for competing on a national/international scale.  Even without SEO, this is a good start to get traffic to your business site, and to help increase profits!

So what exactly is email marketing?  Well, this is a broad term that can cover a lot of material, but the basic idea of email marketing consists a method of internet marketing using a list of email addresses.

Bad email marketing is what everyone knows (and despises): spam.  This is mail that is untargeted, sent out to every email address acquired, and not always from a specific location.  Some people sell email addresses to companies who use the addresses for this purpose.  And a lot of it is sent.  More than most realize – in June of 2007, the estimated amount of spam per day was just under 100 billion messages.  That’s a lot of spam.

Why so much spam?  Because a percent of it actually converts.  Maybe not you and me, but there are people out there who see something in their spam and decide they need to buy that product.  And since the cost of spam is essentially null, the ROI is more than enough excuse to send out millions (or billions) of emails a day.

So yes, that’s BAD email marketing.  What’s good email marketing?  Good email marketing is having a highly targeted market and offering quality information through email to individuals in this market.  For example, if I had a dog food site, I might offer important information about which dog foods cause health issues in dogs, for anyone who joins my email list.

This is targeted email – the people who sign up actually WANT to receive information from me, and are happy when I give them quality information.  To do email marketing well means you should send out good information.

A lot of internet marketers use email lists as a means to sell.  While this can work, if this is the only thing they use their list for, it can turn away many customers.  If you do this, in the eyes of some people on your list, you’re becoming more like spam.  To avoid this, quality information that is FREE should be offered moderately frequently.  Consider it – if you sign up for a list, you’re not getting in because you want to be sold things, correct?  You sign up because you want information.  So give your list information!  Good information, if you want to be seen as an authoritative source.  Then, when/if you choose to market a product of some kind, they will be more open to this, as you’ve established a level of trust.

To do email marketing, one of the major techniques is by using what’s called an “autoresponder”.  This is a tool that allows several email addresses to be placed into a group, and each email can be sent individual messages, addressed to each individual (instead of an anonymous group).  In some cases, the individual’s name can be identified, to make the mails you send more friendly and personal.  The benefit is that once you’ve written your emails, they can be sent to all your list, as well as to anyone who joins your list.

With autoresponders, you can schedule each email to be sent out immediately (with a broadcast) or at set times, or you can have a number of emails that can be sent, spaced apart by a certain number of days.  So if I had five emails that I wanted sent to my list and all new list members, I could write these emails, set them to each be sent three days apart, and then not have to worry again.  When a new list member is added, they are sent the initial email, then the next three days later, and so on.

One of the best ways email marketing can be very effective is by setting up a relationship with your customers.  If you demonstrate that you truly know what you’re talking about, and that you’re just a normal person, a level of trust can be set.  From that point, it’s much easier to interact with your list members.

It’s been said that the best way to make a sale is through personal one-to-one interaction – using autoresponders comes very close doing this in an online way.  Treating your customers well will always make them value you as a merchant more than one who treats their customers just as numbers.

For me, I personally prefer using an autoresponder system called Aweber.  I’ve used them for several years, and they are a high quality system – they can handle several thousand members (if you have a list that large), but work just as well for smaller lists.  I recommend considering using email marketing for your business, if it’s applicable.  Usually there are ways you can establish a relationship with your customers doing this, and then you’ll have customers you’re happy with, as well as having customers who are happier with you.

Brad Callen is an SEO guru and a PPC guru (as well as one of my heroes).  He’s released a new product for Google AdWords.  It plugs into Firefox as a plugin and allows you to do a few things.

It works any time you do a Google search, and it affects the “Sponsored links” results.  One nice perk he’s put in is an option to show the destination URLs for the paid ads.  Now not everyone realizes this, but every time you click on one of these ads, the person/company who placed that ad has to pay a certain amount.  Hence the term “pay per click”.  The option he put in lets you check out their pages without making the advertiser pay.  This is just polite, but lets you learn from other marketers who may be bidding on your terms, when you can check their landing pages.

But the nice thing, the huge perk of this tool is a little “View Keywords” button underneath every ad.  When you click this, it displays every keyword that that advertiser is bidding on.  I’ll let that sink in a moment.  Yes, every keyword – this means that you can see all keywords that any one advertiser is bidding on.  You can use this information to add new keywords to your own PPC campaign, use those keywords to test out for conversions in a particular ad group.  There’s a good chance the keywords that experienced advertisers are bidding on are converting keywords, and you can learn quickly from this.

Yes, it’s a little sneaky.  You’re taking all the work that the other advertisers did to do their keyword research and learn what keywords convert, and you’re just jumping past all that work and getting a list of keywords.  But it’s legit – and there’s nothing illegal about it.

Brad’s decided to go ahead and give this tool away.  I’ll go ahead and forewarn you, he does do an upsell, but the basic functionality of the tool are all present in the free version.  If you have Firefox and do any PPC at all (or just want to see what kind of things PPC advertisers are bidding on), it may be something you want to check out.  The name of Brad’s new plugin is PPC Web Spy.

If you do check it out, let me know what you think, and if it gets you new conversions.  I already got it myself, and I’ll definitely be using it to try advancing my own AdWords campaigns.

Social media is the next step in the evolution of the internet.  This is important because it closes more gaps between individuals, eliminating the old hurdles such as distance, cost of communication, age, gender, stereotyping.  The internet is slowly bringing many of these barriers down.

Whether or not this is good or bad may be argued, but in the eyes of an internet marketer (such as you and me), there is much good because of this.  Social media establishes a means of communication unlike anything else.  And the reason it differs so much is because of the personal level is introduces.  Through social media, you meet *individuals*, not companies, not groups, but specific people.  People socialize best by meeting individually, not by reading a statement another person wrote, or by listening to a recording made.  Social media is all about getting closer to specific individuals.  This allows a closer relationship, trust is endowed, many opportunities arise.

To get started with social media, there are many options.  You can set up a Twitter account, the one-line version of blogging.  You can go a longer route, set up the oldest version of what could be considered social media, a blog.  Create a Facebook account and find contacts.  Whichever way you choose, the key is to initiate a connection point.
– If it’s a blog, it should be one that has a very open invitation for comments, it should link to other blogs or other social media sites you are using.
– If it’s Twitter, find other contacts.  Find people whose tweets you are interested in, follow them, then find who they’re following.  Eventually people will start following you, as well.
– If it’s Facebook, search for people who are like-minded.  If you’re specifically wanting individuals knowledgeable in your market, search for the authorities for your market.  You’ll find a lot of people use Facebook – you should find many.

The key is to use more than just one social media source.  And it’s good to try getting into as many as possible, not just for the benefits of social media marketing, but also to establish your name in each of these sites.  If you’re a big name in internet marketing, especially, as other people will take advantage of using a well-known name in social media if you don’t do it first.

To get a good idea of what social media sites to hit, here are some of the major ones:
Facebook.com
Twitter.com
MySpace.com
LinkedIn.com
YouTube.com
Blogger.com
WordPress.com
Friendster.com
Classmates.com
LiveJournal.com
Flickr.com
Flixster.com
StumbleUpon.com
Keep in mind, some of these are very specific to market types.  You will not use Flixster in the same way you would use Classmates.com, but for internet marketing, they all have their uses.  From a marketing perspective, the key to using social media is to select the appropriate one for YOUR MARKET.  There are plenty of social networking sites, you can find many more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites

And this is the best way to get a good amount of followers for any one particular website.  Use the social media site in the way it was designed.  To get a spike in followers, viral marketing is key.  To get a gradual growth, you must establish yourself as an authority figure for something specific within your market.  For example, for YouTube, for viral marketing, you would need to create something that has immediate attention capture ability, something that viewers would want to pass on.  For the gradual growth of followers, be consistent.  Put quality videos out that handle questions for that market, and do it consistently.

Realize that to get a good number of followers, you can’t be limited to just one social media network.  If you use Twitter, link to your Twitter page from your blog (Eben Pagan is a fan of this technique), from Facebook, from MySpace, from YouTube.  Put your YouTube video posts in your blog, put them on your Facebook account.  The key is cross-linking social networking sites.  This is one of the most effective ways to grow your business online.

Now in order to turn this into a money-making machine, the marketing must be done in the same way you gain followers – by using the social networking site as it was designed.  If you put up raw sales copy on Twitter, you will likely have a lot of people unfollowing you.  That is abusing the system.  For Twitter, talk about how you’re excited about your new endeavor, and the landmark accomplishments you complete as you finish them.  If your excitement is genuine, it can be contagious.  If you have anything to share related to your progress that is linkable, post it!  When you finish, share it as though you are sharing it with your FRIENDS, not with your market’s customer-base.  This can also be done on Facebook, MySpace, and even YouTube.  Use YouTube to make a video log of your progress.  Post the videos on your blog.

To cross-link different social media sites, keep your eyes out for relevant “widget” apps, or “plugins”.  In this way you can have your last tweet on Twitter show up as your status on Facebook (Twitter plugin), or have a blog entry appear on your Facebook page (using Mirror Blog).

To see how effective social marketing can be, look at any of the major internet marketers.  Jeff Walker used Twitter to follow his PLF 2.1 launch and answered questions about it on Twitter (a nice tie in with use of social proof) (http://twitter.com/JeffWalker).  Frank Kern uses his blog heavily for his product launches, and uses the comments section for social marketing nicely (http://masscontrolsite.com/blog/).

Keep in mind this is only for the internet marketing market – these techniques can be used for ANY market to make contact with individuals, and communicate directly with them.

Other resources to help your social media marketing:
Flock: The Social Web Browser – makes it easier to have the major social networking sites quick and handy
Delicious – Been around, but a quick way to see what people are looking at
Technorati – Essentially a bookmarking site for blogs
Digg – Still one of the internet authorities – shows sites that are socially approved, or “dugg”
Reddit – Similar to Digg, another social networking biggie
OnlyWire – Sends links of your choice to several well-known bookmarking sites and social networking sites
Ning – A free online service to create your own social website
Squidoo – A very powerful site to connect to several different sites/resources, either personal or business, using “lenses”

Social media marketing is still growing.  Learn to use it in the way it’s intended, and you can have social marketing grow your business in a huge way, as well as connect directly with many people involved and interested in your market.

In SEO there are many basics that are standard and remain that way.  For instance, the title tag has always been important, and will likely stay important for a long time to come.  It’s the way SERPs present the content of the page linked in the most concise way possible, so it’s the main construct of SEO.

However, there are some SEO elements that have changed over the years.  For example: the keywords meta tag.  This is something that is still used (by some search engines more than others), but is not nearly as prominent as it used to be.  In the past, many pages would just fill this tag with every keyword possible and rank very nicely because of it.  As search engines mature, they become more intelligent in analyzing pages, and tricky black hat approaches no longer have quite the weight they used to.

Another major SEO element that is not as prominently referenced as previously: keyword placement in content.  I can hear many of you gasp now – that’s one of the major SEO staples!  It is still used quite a bit, but it’s starting to change.  Particularly with Google.  Now keywords are still checked, but LSI is starting to play a larger role.  Latent Semantic Indexing is basically the search engine’s associating of keywords with related words.  In the past, you threw a ton of your main keyword up on your page, then made every other word “la la loooo”, you would still rank very highly for the main keyword.  It was easy to cheat.

Now that search engines have progressed, they look for FULL content, not just one or two keywords.  Nobody knows exactly how Google operates (except for the doctors working in their secret labs, with their NDAs chained around their necks), but we do know that they are starting to use LSIs much more when doing keyword rankings for search results.  If you have your keyword and several LSI keywords as well, you’ll do much better than if you awkwardly place one or two keywords in some manufactured content you wrote JUST to have somewhere to put your keywords.

Good SEO is starting to mean actually writing valuable content.  Personally, I think this is a good direction.  People searching through search engine results should be able to find what they are looking for, and quality results.  And to get to the upper ends of the results, you should be providing quality content.  SEO is beginning to progress more in this direction.

For now, it’s not perfect, and some little tips and tricks still do a better job for search engine optimization than they probably SHOULD (aherm, sloppy backlinks, hrm) where they do not always provide the searcher with a quality result.  But as the search engines get more advanced, SEO will have to adjust.

One of the overlooked parts of SEO is coming up with good backlinks.  Now any professional search engine optimizer knows very well that you NEED backlinks to get your site up in the listings.  But how many realize that exactly which backlinks you choose to use makes a huge difference?

This is where Page Rank comes into play.  If you’re trying to rank for a little search engine like, say… Google – you need to consider their rules in the game.  Google uses Page Rank to estimate how good a page is.  Good for consumers, good for business, good for quality overall.  This is done by estimating the amount of traffic the site sees, in addition to the sites that link to this site in question.

The way SEO comes into this equation can be explained through an analogy.  Referrals.  Say you are looking for a good doctor, to help you get over a nasty infection you got after you got a little overzealous making sushi and cut yourself.  If you had no idea where good doctors where, how would you find them?  Most people would ask a friend, or a colleague.  Someone they trusted.  Now if Jim Bob the back alley narcotics dealer mentioned to you this nice doc he knew that had great prices and could slip you a little extra pain relief (wink wink nudge nudge), would you trust him?  But if Mr. Oxford, the CEO in charge of the chain of banks in town – if he recommended the doctor he used, one that costs a little extra but is very effective, friendly, and knowledgable – which of the two would you choose?

This is a little like how Google does its Page Rank and how you can excel with SEO.  If a site has a backlink from some unrelated page (say, a site about lawnmowers has a link to your dog food page), that just doesn’t make a lot of sense and doesn’t carry much weight.  But if you have a link from a well-known source (i.e. Wikipedia) for a related keyword (i.e. DOG FOOD), Google looks at that and says, “Well now.  This page has a high quality site linking to it, with a related word.  It MUST be high quality, as well.”  And then your site jumps in rank.

This is very much like a referral system.  If a great source gives good referrals, you learn to trust them.  So if your page has good referrals with related keywords, you’ll move up much more quickly in rankings.  If your page has bad referrals with random keywords, your rankings may not move much – and in some cases, they may even DECLINE.

So keep this in mind when you’re trying to get some good backlinks for your site.  Don’t just go hunting for every single backlink you can get – higher quality ones are worth far more than a huge number of low quality ones.