More Takeaways From SEOMOZ Conference

September 3, 2010 – 11:46 am

There was so much information provided at the SEOMOZ conference my head is swimming and it’s taken me a few days to get back to posting. For now, here are my key takeaways from day 2 and day 3:

  • SEOMOZ’s new LDA research suggests that content may have more weight than links for SERPS
  • Use social sites to learn about how customers are talking about / searching on your keywords
  • Stop link building, build a game plan first!
  • For blog posts, don’t write headlines for SEO, write headlines for trends and attention e.g. tie a headline into current event / topic
  • For blogs, make your own URLS. Use the YOURLS plug in for Word Press Blog

As a freelance marketing consultant here in Seattle working with SEO specialists, I truly enjoyed being surrounded by the best of the best in the search industry.

If you need help building your brand online give me a call and we can pull together the right online strategy and team to deliver results for your business: 206-612-2723.

Top 5 Take Aways from SEOMOZ Conference – Day 1

August 31, 2010 – 9:04 am

As a freelance marketing consultant here in Seattle, WA I am always attending marketing conferences on various topics to stay on top of the latest tips and tricks and trends in the industry. Today I am attending the SEOMOZ conference and learning about the trends and latest techniques of search engine optimization.

Here are my top 5 take aways from day one:

  • It’s all about domain stacking especially if you have a well known brand then take advantage of this new benefit from Google whereby you can win potentially 7 or 8 of the top 10 spots on page one by optimizing several of your key website pages (e.g. home, about, contact, main categories etc). Remember though, you’ll need as many links to those pages as your home to get these spots.
  • Optimize the heck out of images and video – need some quick wins? Competition is not as fierce for Google image and video search so you can get some easy and solid search traffic by optimizing the images you have on your site or adding videos.
  • Don’t host all of your video on You Tube – mix it up a bit. If your goal is pure brand awareness / video views then post on You Tube first and foremost. If your goal is SEO and traffic to your site then post on your site first then re-name and post on You Tube, or simply alternate, posting one video on your site (with video hosting service such as Wistia) and then next time post on You Tube.
  • Consider using SERP snip its (images / videos / jump to links / forum snip its and other types of rich snip its to enhance your SEO listings. Note: you will need to get approval from Google to use yours.
  • Watch for those 4th place PPC ads that potentially perform well as they sit near the traditional SEO first place spot.

Well, I’m here in Seattle at the SEO MOZ conference day two so stay tuned as I expand on the above points in one of my next blog posts and add in additional learnings from day two.

Need a few tidbits on search marketing, online marketing and branding online? Email me at today.

How Not To Build SEO Links for Small Business

March 19, 2010 – 3:42 pm


Well – it has been MONTHS since I wrote in my blog due to the fact that I have been 100% completely full to capacity serving my client base as a marketing consultant here in the Seattle, WA area. I have been spending a good chunk of my time developing social media and SEO programs for my ecommerce retail client and came across this request for a link exchange. I am not a believer in these spam, quantity versus quality type of link exchanges so wouldn’t have even bothered if it was properly executed but quite frankly it is the worst case of how NOT to request a link exchange I have ever seen so decided to share it.  (Note: my client is a retail clothing company and his client / company was and he is suggesting that we would be a good match – hmmmm)



Want to get real traction? Better to sign up for high traffic directories, distribute press releases, get product reviews on media and blog sites or get your manufacturers / vendors to link to you.



Definatey don’t try something like this:





To: my email and about 30 other company emails

Subject: FWD Partnership Agreement




I have found your website <partner domain> when searching the web on the topics related to my website theme.

I must say your site content is very good and I think we would benefit much from possible partnership – for example link exchange. This would bring more targeted traffic to our sites, plus increase our websites’ weight at the search engines, as they give greater value to the links from the topic-related sites rather than irrelevant backlinks.Alex Brown, 

My website is definitely related to yours.

I would be glad to link to your site in return to you linking back to mine.
Feel free to email me direct to usproblogger @ gmail dot com to discuss the details on the possible partnership.

Hope for the fruitful cooperation,

Best regards,



Need some more ideas and better ways to see real SEO results? Give me a call (206) 612 – 2723.

Social Media & Blog Marketing Plan – Mommy Bloggers Reviewed

September 9, 2009 – 10:26 am

As a freelance marketing consultant here in Seattle, WA I was asked by one of my clients to develop a social media marketing / blog marketing plan and as part of that process I reviewed hundreds of top bloggers covering family / lifestyle and green / environment topics. Tapping into this lively bunch is a huge opportunity for any company or brand looking to reach the very active, online female audience especially moms with young children. Here are some of the key points from my research and blog marketing plan (feel free to call me if you would like to see a copy of the finished plan):

  • 135,000,000+ blogs
  • 10’s of thousands of “Mommy Bloggers”
  • Top Mommy Bloggers Identified by Nielsen Ratings (email me for the Nielsen report)

Power Pack includes:
- Maria Bailey (
- Lisa Belkin (
- Alice Bradley (
- Daphne Brogdon (
- Amy Clark (
- Stacy Debroff (
- Asha Dornfest (
- Jessica Gottlieb (
- Christine Koh (
- Jenny Lawson (
- Dana Loesch (
- Audrey McClelland (
- Wendy Piersall (
- Mindy Roberts (
- Jessica Smith (

  • Mommy bloggers are attending a variety of mommmy blogger conferences
  • Moms are heavy readers of blogs and active social media site users
    - looking for advice, coupons, share stories, make a connection
  • Almost a million blog posts in typical 24 hour period
  • Mommy Bloggers very active on Twitter
  • 1,111,991,000 – number of Tweets to date
    - (see an up to the minute count
  • 3,000,000 – number of Tweets/day(March 2008) (from TechCrunch)
  • 1,212,736 – number of followers for @wholefoods
  • 1,180,984 – number of followers of # 1 Mommy Blogger (Heather Armstrong) @Dooce
  • 2,000 to 3,000 – typical number of followers of Mommy Bloggers

I was so impressed with all of these powerful moms that I have embarked upon a mega social media blitz of my own, beefing up my own twitter account (, signing up for various blogs, emails and following these fine ladies on twitter.  I’ve also begun participating in some of the great promos that I’ve found like this one from and true to my word, I’m mentioning Jerri’s promo here in my blog. 

You should give it a go yourself, or if you are too busy and would prefer to have a freelance marketing consultant manage your blog marketing plan or social media marketing activities for you, drop me a line ( or call me at 206-612-2723. Or catch me at the next BlogHer conference…Fun!

Top eCommerce Website Platform Technologies

August 17, 2009 – 1:49 pm

As a freelance marketing consultant here in Seattle, WA, I spent the entire month of July working closely with one of my clients to find a new web design, web development and web marketing solution for their 1 ½ year old, e-commerce / retail business. We started out looking for a web marketing firm but then quickly realized that we also needed to build a new, much more stable website instead of staying with our current site which had been built on outdated Able Commerce technology.

We are at a critical point in the business so this is a very important decision which (we anticipate) will greatly increase the company’s growth and so I was tasked with doing extensive research around what options were available to us and the pros and cons of each.

I started by looking at a wide range of companies – apples to oranges to bananas – until we narrowed it down to looking at just apples. Initially we looked at e-commerce technology (shopping cart platform) companies, companies strong in PPC and Internet Advertising, companies strong in SEO and finally companies that were strong across the board with SEM and SEO, web design and development and Internet Advertising.

During the process we came to the realization that we needed to separate our project into two parts; (1) finding a strong web marketing agency and (2) finding a strong web design / development partner and then decide whether or not we should have two separate companies to work with or having one company do it all.

It was fairly easy to find a solid web marketing agency and after speaking with eVisibility, Increase Visibility and (all listed on the top 25 SEO marketing agencies list we decided to go with

Deciding on a web design/web development solution was a much more difficult decision to make.

The first part of our decision was to decide whether or not to lease a platform (like 3D Cart or Volusion) and build our own website (kind of a self-serve model) or whether it is better to work with an agency to build a custom cart using top end shopping cart software (like Shop Site or The difference in price would be about $20K+ ($20K for a leased, self-serve a.k.a. ‘all in one’ platform and about $45K ++ for a custom site).

As you may know, there are pros and cons of each. As Kirk Waterman of stated very well: “Websites and the Internet are the new real estate with your site being the home/business/structure and all of the places you occupy on the web being the land. How nice the structure is may be as important as how much real estate you occupy.  Leased platforms – ‘all in one solutions’ – are just like renting a house or leasing a car. You often give up control and ownership of your business. Solutions like Volusion, Yahoo Storefront or Pro Stores are good for small businesses or companies that want to build equity and sell. But even then your value is diminished because you’re forcing the new owner to buy into a leased property. And if and when you or the new owner want to transfer the property to individual ownership, the cost to transfer the site to an individual platform is always higher than anticipated and you never know how much of the online and overall value of the site you may lose when you finally do a DNS redirect. Overall you hold much more equity when you own your property.”

Of course, there are pros of going with a leased, “out of the box”, all in one solution especially if you require very minimal customization. The cost can be low and the platforms are very dependable. One has to check with each platform to see if they force clients to use their own merchant services etc. If you want to take a closer look here are the reviews for the leased, SAS software platforms:

Custom sites built with top-notch e-commerce shopping cart software will provide 100% ownership and control and may deliver higher ROI especially when industry leading web marketing techniques are added to the mix. A review of the top custom site shopping cart software options can be found at:

So, in the end, we did decide to build a custom site using the software and work with an agency to implement. We believe the new site will provide exponentially better conversion and therefor ROI positive versus keeping our current site or leasing from an SAS Platform.

More to come….such as how we improved our PPC ROI and number of SEO first page ranks etc. Stay tuned.

Now a member of Technorati

August 17, 2009 – 12:53 pm


Review of Affiliate Marketing Networks for Small Biz

May 29, 2009 – 10:17 am

If you are an online retailer or ecommerce focused company you probably already have or are seriously considering launching an affiliate marketing program. Affiliate marketing is an affordable, low commitment and highly efficient way to increase website traffic and ultimately generate more sales from your website.

As a freelance marketing consultant here in Seattle, WA I am often asked by clients to recommend vendors and recently was asked about affiliate marketing networks who would be good for small businesses ensuring that they get good program support, help getting affiliates signed on without the heavy commitment of the more well known and larger affiliate marketing networks.

Here is my review of the three affiliate marketing companies that I took a close look in my recent comparison of the following three affiliate marketing networks:

See complete details for each network in spreadsheet as below:

ShareASale PepperJam Affiliate Future
# of Affiliates 250,000+ 35,000 qualified Affiliates 25,000+
# of Active Affiliates 25,000 to 30,000 As above 25,000+
% Affiliates Search / Email We don’t keep numbers on this. Our affiliates are constantly evolving and changing their marketing methods so it wouldn’t make much sense to categorize them in any sort of way, when their efforts are continually changing. Mix of email, coupon and search affiliates Exclusively search affiliates / content affiliates
# Merchants 2,500+ 600 merchants 200+
Transparancy Full Transparancy Most transparant network out there (they provide name, email, promotion activities etc) See video: We can see everyone running ads for us at any time (run affiliate report in interface) could reject any such affiliate if we choose
Fraud Prevention We have a two-layer screening process in our network. Before any affiliate is allowed into our network, they go through a rigorous screening process where customer support checks to make sure they have good content, nothing illegal, etc. We also provide you with detailed reporting so you can see what transactions are going through the affiliates, at what dates/times, etc. You are also able to void out any transactions anywhere from 20-50 days depending on what day of the month it goes through. We lock and pay out the affiliates on the following 20th of each month Will assist us if we see anything that looks fraudlent and they can help reverse charges / commissions if we find an affiliate not working our program the way it should be. Don’t see much by way of fraud — they would have to charge up to even get a profit — if any issue they would work with us to resolve
Tracking Process We provide accurate tracking and reporting, consolidated on-time payments, and personalized customer support through our affiliate help desk Very robust reporting, they can see all info (sale id # etc, which banner drove) Real-time reporting, SID tracking, API technology
We pay all affiliates for you on a monthly basis. Each time an affiliate makes a sale for you, the amount of the commission owed is credited to the affiliate and is deducted from your account in real-time. If there is a problem with an order you can cancel the payment from going to the affiliate within 5 days (120 hours) of the transaction happening, after this timeframe, the transaction is locked and cannot be canceled. You will see a running balance within your account and we ask that you keep your account funded with a minimum of $100 at all times to cover affiliate payments.
Services & Support Included with Merchant account: Private login with access to a reporting interface, access to our network of affiliates, creative hosting, payment processing and check writing, affiliate management tools and features, affiliate help desk, etc. Will send out announcement email to affiliates promoting program. $1,000 set up fee inclues complete marketing You will have 24/7 access to real-time reporting from your AffiliateFuture account. The main reports that you would use are the affiliate report and your sales report. The affiliate report shows every affiliate promoting your program during a specific date range that you can choose. This report shows the affiliate’s name, their site and the number of clicks they are generating for you. You can choose not to work with an affiliate for any reason and can remove them from your program at any time. The sales report shows all sales being generated from your program. This report can be run for a specific date range of your choosing (up to 5 years historical) and shows the affiliate who brought you the sale, the date the transaction came in, the order number (from your order management system) and the amount.
Allow for software or downloads? No Software Affiliates
Zero tolerance for downloadable “software” Affiliates, also known as Adware, Spyware, Junkware, etc. Applications can then redirect or steal commissions away from Affiliates that deserve credit for their referrals
No No Software affiliates
Set up $500 set up fee $1,000 set up fee ($2,500 includes graphics) includes announcement and email to all affiliates to get them signed on to our account $500 setup fee (waived)
Monthly Minimum Prior to activation and first 10 days of program no charge. 60 to 120 days in program $10 min per month and 120 days going forward $25 minimum monthly fee. $100 monthly minimum $100 monthly fee (waived)
Transaction Fee 20% of Affiliate Commision 30% override on commissions (For example if you are paying 10% commissions and a $100 affiliate referred sale comes in, $10 would go to the affiliate and $3 would be our fee for a total of $13 for this transaction.) 30% override on commissions (For example if you are paying 10% commissions and a $100 affiliate referred sale comes in, $10 would go to the affiliate and $3 would be our fee for a total of $13 for this transaction.)
Creative & Technical Requirements (see word document attached)
Affiliate Feeds
Example of Affiliate Feed program
Affiliate Promotions Once you go live in the network we place you in a new programs added in the last 20 days category as well as send out a new program announcement through an RSS feed. Once your program goes live we will send new program announcements to our entire network (over 25,000 affiliates in the US) and will also promote your program to outside affiliates on forums like etc. Generally merchants see between 150-250 affiliates promoting their programs after about 3 months and the “80-20” rule definitely applies where roughly 20% of your affiliates drive 80% of the sales. (
Example Merchants See list (large Green Company list),, AciaBurn, Gilden Tree, Makari, Proactive Solutions, SmartWhite, Teavalize, Purity Products Merchants:,,,,,
Example Affiliates We don’t publicize a list of affiliates in our network, which is one of the reasons affiliate prefer to work with us. We do provide you with a variety of tools inside the merchant interface that are designed to help you attract affiliates into your program such as a datafeed, sending out affiliate newsletters to your affiliates, a coupon and deals database where you can upload specials on your site, ability to setup automated bonus and promotional campaigns, featured program spots, etc.,,,,,,,,
Comments Work with many brands and tend to work with smaller programs. Their pricing structure is lower than CJ and Link Share but we will be lower priced (in this case) than them. The cons are that their technology is not considered to be optimal and they tend to take a self serve approach where they give you the tools and let you go at it on your own. I know many people have good experiences with them but these are the main negatives I hear from people. In a nutshell, because we are new to the market (2005), we can offer the best of what Link Share and CJ do while not only coming in much lower in price than those networks but also being flexible enough to beat Share A Sale’s pricing. We provide great service during the launch process and long after the launch. We will constantly be reaching out to include Eden Home in any of the promotional efforts we are doing to grow their program to its full potential and will try very hard to keep the Eden Home program in front of affiliates as much as possible. We also have a passion for emerging green/eco-friendly brands and children’s clothing and accessories brands. As a result we have recruited a solid affiliate base that performs very well with merchants in this category. We highlight our green merchants in various promotions throughout the year like Earth Day and also offer them a separate section in our merchant directory.

Success As A #2 Brand

March 19, 2009 – 9:55 pm
I attended a PSAMA meeting last year where H&R Block “Tax Cut” software division VP talked about their success as a “Challenger Brand” and I really enjoyed the presentation which offered valuable insight. I had made these notes but never published a blog posting so here is is now:

The main take away for me was the idea of risk and innovation and how it relates to the category leader versus challenger brands.When you are the leader you have to worry about risk. Will you lose sales? Will you harm your relationship with customers? Will you risk being sued? For the leader it is all about ‘protecting’ what you have. But when you are the challenger brand you can take more risks, be more innovative, try new things, throw caution to the wind and this is what you absolutely must use to your advantage.Challenger brands, the #2 or #3 or “new kid on the block” brands need to be quicker and more nimble with respect to listening to customer feedback and coming up with bigger, faster, smarter or better ways of doing something that satisfies customers’ needs.

And that is exactly how new ideas are born, new products are created and new companies are formed. Leading companies are handicapped from the start when it comes to launching new things but with it is possible, if you have the right people leading the effort and you don’t spend too much time trying to get legal approval.

A great book to read on this topic: Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders (Adweek Book S.) by Adam Morgan (Hardcover – Jan 13, 1999) available on

Thanks for listening!

SEO Explained in Plain English

March 19, 2009 – 9:49 pm

As a Freelance Marketing Consultant here in Seattle I am often asked about search marketing, specifically SEO. I am asked by my clients, the designers and copywriters I work with and other marketing folks to explain what it means and you would be surprised at how many people talk about SEO with great anxiety in their voice as if it were – dare I say this – brain surgery.

In fact it’s quite simple. SEO is “making your website ‘optimal’ for the search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN) to find and index your website and the content on your site for the purposes of serving up website pages, articles, blog posts and other content on the Internet to people who search within thier search engines.”

How you ‘make your site optimal’ is by having the pages on your website coded properly with the right meta tags (html descriptions) so that it priortizes your site based on what you are promoting on your site relative to the ‘keywords’ (words people type into the search engines) when they are looking for something.

The theory is that the more copy, links to relevant (like-minded) websites and product or content relating to those ‘keywords’ the more likely that you will be listed in the search results page (the free results page that is —- because of course you can always ‘buy’ the keyword you want to be listed for if you are willing to pay the price!)

That’s it. Really – it’s that simple. Now, the only thing is that it takes quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears because you need to develop the content and have the right product descriptions and get those meta tag descriptions written up properly but it doesn’t always have to cost that much if you know what to ask for.

Depending on your budget you can optimize your site with a little creativity, a good developer and a good set of keywords. Still need to know more? Give me a call – I’m no brain surgeon and I’ll talk plain English on any online marketing subject!

Search Vendor Comparison – Automotive

March 19, 2009 – 9:26 pm

In the Fall of ’08 I was asked to complete a paid search marketing vendor competitor analysis for the Cobalt Group and discovered that there are many ways to slice the paid search vendor pie.

This led me to believe that it must be very confusing for clients to determine which vendor to go with.

How do you compare solutions when some vendors charge a flat fee, others a one time set up fee, some a % on the media and still others a technology fee.

Here are some of the questions it helps to ask yourself before making a decision:

  • Do you want to manage the programs yourself or get someone to do it for you?
  • What is your budget and will it change from time to time?
  • Do you need the ability to change your programs on the fly or develop custom or seasonal promotions?
  • Is the contract length, contract terms or other commitment criteria an issue for you?
  • How important is having online reporting or is getting the report emailed to you good enough?
  • How critical is it to you to have an integrated approach with your online marketing program?

In the Automotive Industry your search vendor options will be different than if you are in the Finance, Health or Legal Industries so be sure to do your research and see what solutions fit your business needs.

Still confused?

Consider hiring a un-biased outsider to help you review your options and make your decision.

Below you will find the summary grid I prepared that outlines the main differences between each paid search marketing vendor that currently offers search marketing solutions for Automotive clients:


Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Some
PowerSearch Dominator DART TotalTrack - DealerPRO™ ? ? ? DART N.A. Various N.A.
Yes (Smart) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No? Yes? (FLEX software) Yes? Yes No Usually No
Subscription (pay $500 / mos. get Search Specialist who optmizes campaign) Self Serve (Software in a box) or buy full-service  Self Serve for large marketers and Full Service (or mid service??) Low Service / e-Care (call center) type service Range of Low to Full Service Full-service (confirm) Appears to be Full-service? Full-service? Full-service, high touch Full Service (no self serve options) Full-service, high touch Full-service, high touch Full-service, high touch
$2,000 $500 $2,000 ? $500 ? ? ? ? ? $2,000? $1,000 $1,000 $500
20% 10 – 20% 10% (bid packing) ? ? ? ? ? 15% 15% – 20% 0% – 20% 0 – 20%
$1,000 No set-up fees*, no contracts* (w/ website) ? Usually waived As little as $299 ? ? ? ? ? $1,000 $1,000 ++ $500 – $1,000
$500 $0 – $500+?   $250 / month As little as $299 ? Included in web mgmt fee ? ? ? $1,000+ $1,000+ $500 – $1,000
$$ $ – $$ $ – $$ $ $ – $$ $$ – $$$ $$ – $$$ $$ – $$$ $$$ $$$ $$$ $$$ $$ – $$$
180 days none (for websites) ? 90 days Need to find out ? Long term ? ? 30 days Usually a 90 day Usually a 90 day Likely 30 days
8 days within two hours (software in a box)   7 days week+? ? ? ? ? ? week+? 1 to 2 weeks Days to a week
New CMR (topline) Online Reporting coming soon Full details (keywords etc) Full details (keywords etc) Full details Full details (keywords etc) Full details ? Full details (keywords etc) ? Full details (keywords etc) Full details (customized) Full details (customized) Full details (customized)
DMA (10 min) Radius All levels based on SE’s zip codes ? ? ? ? ? ? All levels based on SE’s All levels based on SE’s All levels based on SE’s
hundreds of ad copy versions (Dynamic ads coming soon) Dynamic Ads – text copy based on cars in inventory only ? Only one text advert, limited customization ? ? ? ? ? ? Full customized Full customized Full customized