Month 2 Update: My marketing plan is working!

If you have been keeping track of my SEO efforts to target a specific keyword phrase and earn myself a decent amount of exposure thereof, you know that this experiment started approx. 2 months ago and has provided evidence that SEO still works.

{Just in case you are unfamiliar with this acronym; SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization to the masses, but Site Experience Optimization to me.  It is essentially (especially today) the art, science and psychology of knowing who your market is, knowing what your market is searching for and why, creating exceptional content on your website to draw them in / keep them interested and optimizing the site itself as well as any/all on page factors that keep the user experience (UX) as smooth and enjoyable as possible}

Today, is a follow up on my efforts to teach others how to do this.

I did alot the first month to give myself a chance to prove that SEO is still viable.

But, truth be told, I have done very little since the last update to further my position.

I have also released a few other posts on my blog that are totally unrelated to this effort because I am not here to promote my SEO abilities…so much as share my experiences in business, marketing and the professional development thereof.  I also share inspirational thoughts (in my opinion at least) on how to navigate this high tech world and still remain sane.

That said, SEO gives me a great deal of pleasure. Especially when I can see the magic of it working!

That’s why I am posting today. As it appears, I didn’t really need to do MORE than I did previously to get results from my efforts.

This morning I took a quick peek at Google Webmaster tools and noticed the following…

seo still worksI am now showing up for 5 keyword phrases that relate to the term I originally targetted.

Yes, I am fully aware that on the grand scheme of things this is not a lot of traffic. And if I were in charge of the SEO part of your marketing plan, I would not take pride in this kind of effort and call it a day…I would instead keep working on the assets that will help boost these terms. Such assets might include:

  • Related Keyword Research
  • Content / Editorial Calendar
  • Content Development (incl. optimized landing pages, blog posts, featured articles, whitepapers, info-product, images, video, training programs etc).
  • Referral sources (others in your industry or closely related to it that might like to share your content with their visitors)
  • Pay Per Click Ads (assuming you have a budget to pay for both SEO and PPC, I would work diligently to get the highest possible clicks and conversions from both search and PPC)

And of course, I would work with you to test everything until we started to see conversions.

assume nothing, test everything in marketing

So while I am fully aware that my small strides here are nothing to boast about as I am nowhere near done, I am also conscious of the fact that if we do not celebrate the little things – or at least acknowledge and do better by them, we will never succeed.

Also here’s what we have to acknowledge about MY current situation.

  1. I was doing NOTHING before this experiment to optimize my efforts; apart from what comes naturally to me – when I am not being lazy with my own stuff.
  2. I was targeting a very specific long tail keyword phrase that gets little to no monthly search volume as it is.
  3. I am now being referenced by MORE than just the keyphrase I was targeting — and whats even cooler is I am getting referenced by terms that are actually better suited to my site than the one I selected to start (which was a little broader)
  4. I was previously no where to be found for these keyword phrases.
  5. Now with a little bit of effort (including some well needed site / architecture cleanup) I am making my way into the top 5-10 pages.

PLUS the highlighted column to the right shows the CHANGE from this month to last. And it’s all positive.Even if I am not in the top 10 spots for these keywords yet, it’s clear that I am moving in the right direction.

So what is the takeaway for you?

Well it’s simple, if you had asked yourself any of the following questions over the last few months – this post and those previous / related to it are revealing the answers:

  1. How to I drive traffic to my website?
  2. What do search engines want from my website?
  3. Should I optimize my pages as part of my marketing plan?
  4. Can I get in trouble for optimizing my pages?
  5. Is SEO still viable at all?
  6. How do optimize my pages properly?
  7. If I am SEO’ing why don’t I show up in the search engines?
  8. Should I hire someone to do my SEO?
  9. What can I expect from SEO?
  10. Do I really need SEO?

More important I am proving that even if you do the bare minimum, but with a clear understanding of what the “general rules” are…you can STILL benefit from SEO.

Yes, you need to be careful because you can do a number of things wrong and end up with a penalty from Google. And yes, you have to monitor all of your results and understand clearly what they mean. (Which is why I am so passionate about my Digital Marketing Certification Program — as it teaches people these amazing skills).

But SEO is a viable source of traffic generation, it is still working for sites that are just starting out let alone those that have been online forever and have a vast amount of incredible content. You can experience the benefits of it too and SEO should be a part of your online marketing plan!

search engine optimization is not dead

It just takes time!

The typical time frame that used to be required before you start seeing the fruits of your SEO labor is 3 months. As it appears from this experiment that hasn’t changed much.

I will try to keep updating you as I monitor my results. But if you truly want to learn more about SEO and/or monitoring your results, I encourage you to do so, immediately.  You can take courses online, in virtual classes – with live instructors or even learn from the latest and most trusted resources. But you SHOULD learn it!  It does work. And it can make a difference in your business.

Please let me know if I can help in any way.

Take care for now.

 

The psychological essentials of business

greg mckewon, essentialism on amazonYesterday, I was inspired to write a blog post about the busyness bubble (a term I had learned from author Greg McKeown).  In it, I shared my thoughts (as only my A.D.D. brain would allow) on why we are so busy, whether or not quick bursts of relaxation each day were the solution and what kind of distractions are in the way of our reprieves.  I also shared a few quick tips on how to combat the “busyness” factor despite those distractions.

Today (still inspired about the topic) I woke up asking myself what is truly essential in business? (I didn’t talk about that yesterday). And likewise, what might be essential to you in business?

For each of us I am sure it differs, but I am curious to know how you match up with my list.

So, here are the top 5 psychological essentials I need in my business…and how I dedicate myself to getting them.

Essential #1 Clarity. 

I need to know my “WHY”, I need to know whom my WHY is best suited for (personas), I need to know how I will target them (which channels, which products, which services etc) and how best to grow with them (evolution focus).  When I don’t know that, I basically go through the motions every day – not really knowing how they impact the big picture.

Essential #2 Focus.

I see focus as very different from clarity. Clarity is a mindfulness about where I am heading. Focus is an ACT or a series of ACTIONS that assist me in getting there. I need practical skills that will help me.  This includes…having a clear vision in front of me at all times, a clear system or process (even if it’s only a calendar (in combination with checklists)) that helps me take concentrated steps each day and the discipline to say NO to anything else that isn’t in alignment with that vision.  (Three essential field-guides I refer to often on this topic are: Conquer Your Chaos by Sherry Borsheim, Getting Things Done by David Allen and Power of Focus by Jack Canfield / Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt)

Essential #3  Drive.

Daniel Pink, author of Drive has discovered that what drives us is not necessarily carrot’s and sticks / bells and whistles / fame and fortune etc….it is instead the intrinsic factors such as mastery, autonomy and purpose.  If you are anything like me, you may be motivated to do great things BECAUSE you want to master them or because by doing them you do feel autonomous or purpose driven.  It may even be that all three of these intrinsic motivators are your driving force each day…or it may only be one. I know when I am driven, I am unstoppable. I may pause from time to time or take things slow here and there, but I need that drive to “push on the ocean”. That drive fuels and refuels me all the time.

Essential #4 Self awareness.

Yes I did it!  I went there (down the spiritual rabbit hole). If I am not aware of who I am, how I need to be treated (by clients and contractors) or how I am treating others at all times along my journey – I am nothing more than a lost soul. Floundering, confused, frustrated, stuck and not progressive at all. But when I am self-aware I am able to stay TRUE to my beliefs, my core values and what is important to me as an individual sharing the universe with others. I can preserve myself and know that every decision I make is for the greater good of my wellbeing.   This is essential to me. Possibly moreso than all the other points…with the exception of the next, I consider them equal.

Essential #5 Balance.

There was a time that I was traveling the globe speaking and delivering intensive training to CEO’s for 1-2 weeks out of each month.  There was also a time where I was home burning the candle at both ends rarely seeing my family. 10 years later, not only was it “too much” for me as an individual, but it was also putting the happiness of my personal life in jeopardy.  So I vowed to never let that happen again. I vowed to only accept opportunities that allowed me to maintain balance. Balance with my vision but also with the self-imposed work schedule that I have committed to.  And that was probably one of the best decisions I ever made.

Is this the be all and end all list of psychological essentials in business?  No way. I know there is more AND I know that there is always room for improvement.

I know that I do have to “work at” this stuff.

Especially when I acknowledge the fact that I am a gifted individual living with an attention deficit hyperactive disorder.  I am a bit of a scatter brain sometimes and I really do need to work at ignoring the thousands of thoughts I hear each second in order to get down to the ones I WANT to hear.

adhd friendship circle

To get help with ADHD please click this image and visit FriendshipCircle.

The good news is…I have gotten really good at ignoring stuff, but that bad news is, that is a gift and a curse. That ignorance is automatic now.  If I want to ignore something I just do it.  That means if I know that I am losing track of my clarity or focus — but I am too busy to get on top of it, I will shut off any / all of those thoughts (the ones I need) and focus on what I am doing in the moment (not necessarily a NEED).

Not without penalty either.  I do pay for it later. I do get mad and frustrated with myself when I have wasted time on things that were not conducive to the list of “other things” I needed to get done. I might even get so mad or frustrated that I shut off completely.

I used to self distruct.

Now however, I put myself on a time out. I turn on some music, get some housework done or I watch some television.  I do something that doesn’t require heavy duty thinking.

This too has become essential for me.  If I am overloaded, over stimulated or overworking myself trying to balance what my A.D.D. brain wants vs. my logical brain – I need a break. And that is part of my balance essential.  I need it, you need it, everyone needs it!

Without balance we are just messy!  Don’t you agree?

Whether you have A.D.D. like me or not, I recommend that you condition yourself to create your own list of essentials and establish your own means of staying on top of them…

For me to stay on top of this stuff, I need lists and checklists. I create them and look at them for approx. 21 days until they are embedded in my brain and have become a habit.

Once they are a habit I toss the lists or no longer look at them.

Then all that’s up to me to stop my mental “automatic ignore button” from breaking the habit.  Definitely a struggle, but one I am driven to fight at any  / all costs.

What about you?  What is on your essentials list and how do you stay on top of it?

Can’t wait to hear from you.

Are you guilty of this 3 word excuse too?

“The Busyness Bubble.”

I’m too busy, you are too busy, everyone is too busy — and this whole high tech world is too busy. People are sleeping less and working more and proud of it.

We need a reprieve from the busyness bubble and we need it NOW!

Many are starting to feel the same way.  Interestingly enough, Doreen Virtue also predicted (with her angel card reading) that this year was the year to simplify EVERYTHING!  To get back down to the most pure and most essential needs we have as individuals.

This was the first time I had ever watched a Doreen Virtue video but her words have stuck with me (after having experienced 2 deaths in the family in 2013)…and while I did not act based on her words, I have been simplifying and purging a ton this year myself.

My whole family has been actually. And I know of others who are doing the same.  So it seems these predictions are pretty bang on.

I too have been focusing more on the essentials in my life (personally and professionally).

My goal has been to find more balance and more peace. As well as to enjoy the down time and appreciate it.  Now I am grateful for the down time. Its sacred time. I need it and crave it. And the more I have of it – the better prepared I am to respond to the demands of my work (which is amazing but very strenuous on my brain most days).

That’s why when I saw the recent article on LinkedIn from Greg McKeown (author of the New York Times bestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less I was inspired to write this post. Greg was the person I discovered the term “Busyness Bubble” from.

Greg says ” the groundswell of an Essentialist movement is upon us.”

Even our companies are competing with one another to get better at this: from sleep pods at Google to meditation rooms at Twitter. At the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, there were — for the first time — dozens of sessions on mindfulness. TIME magazine goes beyond calling this a movement, instead choosing the word “Revolution.”

 

outdoor mediation photoAccording to Greg, “people are now designing their lives around what is essential and eliminating everything else”; and companies are supporting them…isn’t that is fantastic?

But the question I have is WHY?

How did we allow ourselves to get here?

In what context is it really okay to add more to our plates everyday, forgo sleep, forgo relaxation, forgo self-care etc. And in turn trade it for brief daytime naps or meditations?

Is that the answer to “produce more”, to “be happier”, to “stay inspired”?

Are we really effective this way?  Is our production truly optimized when we are sleep deprived or mentally depleted?  Will short bursts of focusing on essentialism during the day help?

I know in my case it has helped, but only some days. Certainly not every day.

If I am lacking sleep because I choose to trade that for work…I will take time out to nap, meditate, watch a movie to give myself a little break etc. I also work from home.  I can choose my hours of sleep and wakefulness. I can choose when I take a break and what I do with that break and I control what makes me most productive.

But, I do have to wonder what makes it okay for employers to accept that their staff are trading sleep for productivity? Maybe that’s not exactly what they are doing or why they have implemented these fantastic retreat spaces…but it does make you wonder doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I love that companies are creating a culture that supports and endorses the essentials…in fact, if I were to ever re-enter the workplace on a corporate level, this would probably be one of the draw’s for me as I am guilty of living in the busyness bubble more often than I care to admit.

But I am still unsure if this means they are trying to help / support you OR just trying to keep you at the office more.  Have you ever wondered that?

According to the MayoClinic…

“Although some people claim to feel rested on just a few hours of sleep a night, research shows that people who sleep so little over many nights don’t perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night. Studies among adults also show that getting less or much more than seven hours of sleep a night is associated with a higher mortality rate.”

Do you really want to risk a lower level of performance at work OR cut your life span short by sleeping less and working more?

I know I don’t. It just doesn’t work for me personally. My sleep is sporadic as it is…so I need as much of it as I can get.

But the fact remains that not everyone is cut from the same cloth. Some of us can function just fine off of 4 hours of sleep per day and we do not need daytime naps or meditations to be at our highest productivity levels.

The good news is that Dr. Christopher Winter says that how much sleep everyone needs, is unique to them. So, our differences in these area’s may not be a discussion where anyone is right or wrong…it’s just a matter of true self-awareness.

In fact, speaking of self awareness I have a long-time client (in the Self Awareness / Inspirational Speaking / Coaching arena) who swears that his productivity is maximized by ONLY sleeping 4 hours a day.  And his most productive hours for work start somewhere after midnight when the rest of the world is sleeping!

I find that fascinating myself.  I WISH I could flip the script on my schedule and get more from less like that. It seems to work for him.

So if some can do it and benefit from it while others cannot, could it be then that the problem is not a lack of sleep, relaxation or self-care so much as it is too much distraction when you work at the same time everyone else is working?

One study by Workplace Options has found that workplace distractions cost American businesses approximately $650 billion dollars a year in lost productivity.

We all know how hard it can be to focus when so much is going on around you at the office. But what if your office has one employee (YOU)…

What if you STILL find yourself in the busyness bubble, working from home?

juggling business tasksWhat is a workplace distraction as a solo-entrepreneur exactly?

Your co-workers in such a case are most likely made up of the people you communicate with online (such as Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Facebook, Twitter etc).

They will be your watercooler friends.

But in my opinion what makes you BUSY is much MORE than just the typical social happenings that cause the distractions for you.

It’s something within you!

To follow is my top 5 list of distractions and their solutions – derived from my years working at the Corporate Level as well as working with those who learning to and/or running their own businesses:

  1. Technology. No surprise here right? As technology gets more advanced and significantly easier at the same time, we are drawn to the coolness factor of it and want to see how it can fit into our lives.  It’s distracting for sure. In fact, some of us are straight up addicted to it. But from a workplace perspective, technology can also help us automate everyday tasks and free us up to do more. So that addiction can lead to great stuff.  UNLESS it creates bigger problems.

    The thing is, the more we automate, the more we free up time to do “other stuff”. That eventually adds more to our plate and before we know it were are spinning 50 plates all at once and we have lost our ability to focus on only one. We must train ourselves to see them all at once.

    That is a LOT for any human to take on. We cannot avoid this one entirely, but the following problems and solutions may help minimize them.

  2. Lack of self-discipline. We really do need to learn how to control our attention / focus.  This is in fact one of only solutions to the technology distraction.  If we can map out our daily agenda and learn to stick to it while prohibiting ourselves from looking at anything else – we can prevail.

  3. No delegation. If you are weak at something, you should not be doing it!  I don’t care whether you are employed or self employed, you need help, you cannot do it all and you certainly should not do what you SUCK AT!  It serves no-one and never will. Plus it just distracts you from doing everything else that you are great at. Find a way to delegate whatever you can!  There are so many people around you that LOVE the work you do not and all it takes is for you to reach out and ask for their help.
  4. Lack of systems and processes. This is a biggy and one that many of my clients are grateful to conquer with my support.  Despite the fact that there is not too many “once size fits all” systems or processes, we should take the time out to design the ones that help us make sense of everything. It will not only keep us on track each time we have to utilize the system but it will arm our successors with the necessary info they need and dramatically reduce training time for those successors.
  5. Lack of critical thinking abilities. As an instructor with nearly 2 decades teaching adults a variety of leadership / management skills, I have witnessed firsthand just how scattered people become when they have not harnessed the power of critical thinking; we all need to work on this – because it makes us better and faster at making decisions, especially complex ones.  Here’s a great article for you to start with.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of barriers and their solutions.  I highly recommend looking up how to delegate, how to master self-discipline, how to build systems and processes and critical thinking for professionals. The resources you find should assist you.

Also, for more ideas on taking care of the essentials and tackling distractions, I recommend you read Greg McKeown post (on LinkedIn) and the Margie Warrell post (on Forbes).  I am positive between the two of them you will find some great methods to get your head in the right place and make big things happen.

And as always if you have any others to share, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Key Terms Seeing Positive Change

It has been 1 month and 8 days since my original Marketing Consultant Vancouver Challenge post.  I had not posted an update for this over the last while because I “thought”  that not a whole lot had changed since Day 8 – and because I have had a family emergency to deal with — BUT I learned today that some very good changes have been happening behind the scenes that I felt were worth sharing.

Those positive changes as seen below are related to my search queries.  (These come from Google Webmaster Tools). I grayed a number of them out so that I don’t muddy the waters with my other terms, but what I did keep (to show you) are those related to the term marketing consultant.

Webmaster Marketing Consultant Searches June 30Now granted, the numbers are small (definitely small), but we have to remember that I have not been working on any of my own SEO over the past 2 years and my agency site in particular has more or less been neglected entirely until this challenge.

But without this challenge, the changes should have continued to be on the decline (as they have been over the last two years).  With this challenge, I am proving that some SMART, strategic SEO can do miraculous things!  (Even if impressions past page 1 are useless for traffic and conversions – you have to start somewhere).

So what is SMART, strategic SEO:

In my experience, it’s vital to understand the intention behind the keywords.  For example, the following terms have seen increases in either impressions or position:

  • Best SEO Consultant Langley BC
  • SEO Consultant Langley
  • Internet Marketing Consultant Langley
  • Vancouver Internet Marketing Consultant

Despite the obvious geo-targeting there are two distinct groups here. Those are looking to hire 1) An SEO consultant 2) or an Internet Marketing Consultant.

Granted, these “could be” persons simply doing research on who falls under these categories, what they do, how they position themselves or where the job opportunities are.  But none of those are relevant to me. So when I write my blog posts I have to write to the audience that IS relevant to me. And again, that means that I have to write to those looking to hire an SEO consultant or looking to hire and Internet Marketing Consultant.

For each type of search (and it’s related variants), I have to both prove my knowledge if my intention is to be the one they hire.

One is definitely more specialized / targeted while the other is far more broad.

The specialized search allows me to streamline my content and target specific topics as proof of knowledge.  I will do this through pages, posts, video and other means of content marketing.

But I will not overdo it by talking about the same stuff on each of those content assets.  That is just duplication or regurgitation and simply not good enough.

That is an absolutely no, no.

Today, people are smarter, savvier and they have a whole lot of choices with whom to work so I need to ensure that my content is not only speaking directly to their needs, but also better than those I am competing against.

(That last part requires some research of course).

I also have to pay close attention to the limitations around certain keywords. For example, if the subject is too specific, I may only have one good page, post or video in me to prove my value. This makes SEO tough because one piece of content doesn’t go very far.  And even if it does, the amplification of that won’t last forever.

On the other hand if the specialized subject itself is broad (like SEO is) I could create hundreds of great content pieces to draw traffic in.

And the broader the subject gets, the easier it is to cover MANY topics related to it as well.

I like broad because it gives me OPTIONS. Especially those where I can link internally to related posts. Allowing me to start specific and grow broad…covering all bases.

Despite the obvious work I do in this area (and that I have done specifically for this challenge)- I may not be able to credit all of the latest changes to my challenge alone.

Why?  Because I am not Google, nor do I have any control over it.

As smart and as strategic as I can be, Google makes a lot of changes that can impact me for the better or worse at any given time. And that is just a fact.

In fact, their most recent update may also have contributed to my latest upward movement in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s).

If you are asking yourself what update that was or how could it impact me – here are the details.

Panda 4.0 (another Google Update) rolled out on May 19th. 

According to Search Engine Land, Google confirmed a major Panda update around this time that likely included both an algorithm update and a data refresh. It is said that officially, about 7.5% of English-language queries were affected (meaning that nearly 8% of the search listings got a spike or a drop). And while Matt Cutts said it began rolling out on 5/20, Moz data strongly suggests it started earlier….

If you were penalized by this update (or any others) you would experience losses – in position, rank, impressions and also likely clicks. If you were not penalized and instead benefited, all those metrics would move into the green (as shown in my image above).

We cannot ignore the fact that historically “good sites” without blatant over-optimizations do tend to get a minor boost when updates happen.

Stale sites (those without major updates of their own) shouldn’t get a positive bump (according to Google), but it is still possible that they will and over the years, this has happened to me countless times.

So I cannot rule out that this latest update may have also impacted some changes for me.

Esp. since all of my on-site content is my own (not aggregated and not curated), timeless, valuable and well optimized.

I try very hard to ensure that whatever I post to my sites is original and good enough to stay relevant for years to come.

Some might say this is hard to do with SEO in mind as well, but if you have been at it for as long as I have (nearly 20 years now), I would totally disagree.

There are and always have been some tried and true SEO strategies that will always do you right and when you know them and abide by them – you cannot do wrong.

That is true UNLESS you are ALSO doing black hat or not doing ANY SEO at all. Both could negatively impact you.

Closing thoughts on these two subjects:

Black hat SEO is just bad for business.  It is manipulative and intent on keyword activities that pay little to no attention to the end users needs. Sure you might gain some ground short term by way of rankings and traffic (even if that is fading quickly as an option), but in the end you will not only lose any gains you have – you will also be penalized for them and recovery is a major task!

An absence of SEO on the other hand, doesn’t HELP you either.  Like I said earlier, I have done little to no intentional SEO on my sites for nearly 2 years.  As a result, I have also received little to no related search traffic and therefore had no chance of moving up in search engines. That much is obvious with my stats.

I am not at all saying that Black Hat SEO is better than no SEO by any means here, but I am saying that in both instances – your long term outlook is about as dim.

The ideal situation then, is simply to learn how to do it and to do it right.

Interested?  Please consider enrolling in my next online SEO Course. I try as much as I can to keep it as current and relevant as possible as well as timeless.

So if you want to learn from someone who truly knows how to make SEO work – I look forward to guiding you.

 

 

 

Day 8 Update: Movin' On Up In Google

Super pleased to make this update today.   For those of you who are unaware, this is Day 8 of my own personal challenge to prove that SEO is NOT dead and that optimizing your website STILL matters.

It started out as a challenge I imposed upon myself in front of my SEO Students with the Centre for Arts and Technology’s Digital Marketing Program.  I had noticed that I was not showing up for the keyword phrase (or variants of it) Marketing Consultant Vancouver BC.

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