All posts by Mad Scientist Digital

How to Avoid Digital Marketing and SEO Rip-Offs

As a business owner, digital marketing (and SEO) is maybe something you are very confused about. However, you may have found yourself to be a victim of some fast talking sales person’s pitch or an email which promised you ‘guaranteed number 1 rankings’ on Google  in a very short period of time. Needless to say, more than likely it never happened. All that did happen was that your bank account was a little less full.

In an attempt to clean up the industry which is full of con artists and snake oil merchants, we have put together a small series of Google Hangouts with a list of what to watch out for BEFORE you sign ANY contract with an SEO company.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss how to avoid being ripped off when you engage the services of a digital marketing company.

expert seo services

Geek out on Google!

  Mad Scientist Digital Algorithm Banner

We’re mad enough to enjoy the constant challenge of keeping up with Google and the other search engines – it’s the core of what we do. We listen to what Google tells us they’ve done – and then we test it to find out what else is happening.
We’ve been known to pick up Google algorithm changes way before they’re announced, giving our clients early responder advantages.

Here are the most recent Google algorithm updates.

1 Feb 7, 2017 Google Algorithm Update on Feb 7th
Although less than a week has passed since the previous shift in rankings, it appears that Google is
rolling out another ranking algorithm update. Many webmasters and tracking tools, including
SEMrush Sensor, have reported significant rankings changes in Google search results.

Feb 1, 2017 Google Algo Update Seems to Target PBNs
Webmasters and the BlackHatWorld forum have reported that there seems to be a Google update
penalizing PBNs (Private Blog Networks), a black hat SEO technique. Although these claims are
supported by data from different tracking tools, including SEMrush Sensor, Google has not officially
confirmed this update.

2 Jan 10, 2017 Intrusive Interstitials Mobile Penalty
Google has announced that starting January 10th it will be penalizing mobile pages with interstitials
that impede user access to content. Here are the examples of techniques that could be penalized: –
Pop-ups that cover the main content – Standalone interstitial that needs to be dismissed to access
the main content – Hiding the main content below the fold

3 Dec 7, 2016 Desktop Search UI Update
Google has updated the UI of its desktop search, bringing it closer to mobile

Information thanks to SEMRush.

Mad Scientist TV

Hosted by Ian Hopkinson & Andrew Radics, Mad Scientist TV is a daily digital focused program for businesses (and in some cases ‘tech-heads’) hoping to quickly navigate the slippery slope of online promotion. We cover a vast array of interesting topics and there’s a lot to learn while having a laugh – as is Ian and Andrew’s enigmatic style. With 60+ recent episodes to view there’s something there for everyone.

 

SEO Myths Debunked – it’s the Wild Wild West now, not the World Wide Web. Every so-called expert or god-forsaken guru has an opinion. Who do you trust? SEO Myths Debunked is an ongoing quick fire bust up of these misconceived notions.

 

Google Bashing – yes we have all criticised Google for something at one time or another, but some ‘crazies’ are out to get Google, it’s an all out attack. Find out why and who and throw in your opinion too.

 

Google Authorship – this is for the writers of content and techies, Google has some functionality for bloggers that helps them be heard and found. Recently there’s been some big updates to how this is displayed in search results.

The Streisand Effect – this is when you attempt to have something taken down from the internet and the publicity from trying to do it in facts increases the popularity and newsworthiness of the particular video, image, text, or reference you are trying to have deleted or surpressed.

 

“SEO Companies Robbed Me Blind…”

Ian Hopkinson - SEO Companies Robbed Me Blind

I’ve heard this a lot recently and it’s a frustrating start to any real conversation about SEO’s place in the marketing mix. It’s easy to blame the SEO company and a new and unruly industry where constant change is a given.  Yes, there are players who will take advantage of the complicated nature of the service they deliver. But it’s also about being an informed purchaser of one of today’s essential marketing services, so…

What do you need to know to buy SEO that works?

You need to know:

  1. What SEO is – and what it ISN’T
  2. How to choose a good SEO agency.

You don’t need to know the detailed technical side of SEO, any more than you need to understand how a clutch works to drive a car.  You do need to know enough to check the tyres, put petrol in the tank and get the vehicle you trust your life to serviced regularly.  You do need to know the environment you’re operating in – the road rules and what traffic signals mean.

What is SEO?

Search Engines such as Google are like the index of a cookbook.  They help you get found online under a particular set of categories.  Search Engine Optimisation is setting up your online presence to be found by Search Engine users as effectively as possible.

Unlike a fixed book index, the “index” or ranking a Search Engine gives a web page or a site changes all the time.  It changes because:

  • To try to add value, providers like Google continuously improve their indexing and evaluation processes.
  • Search Engines don’t just index, they also attempt to evaluate sites and pages for interest, quality, reliability, trust and expertise.
  • Millions of businesses are going on line, more every day.  The ones that are already there are constantly adding and changing their content.

The process of optimising your site for Search Engines is a process of making it as attractive as possible to:

  1. Search Engines; and
  2. The people that Search Engines bring to your site

 

What SEO ISN’T!

SEO is not a one-time or annual purchase.  The days of buying an annual Yellow Pages Ad are pretty much over.  With more content online every day and Search Engine criteria changing every day, SEO is like housework – it’s never “done”.

SEO is not a global process – it requires clarity and focus on who you want to find you and what you want to be found for.

SEO is like gardening – it requires time and a good gardener to deliver results.  Focussed SEO and quality content input will grow a better return on your investment.

Choosing your SEO supplier

To get the most out of your SEO dollar, you need to do the legwork to find a quality service provider.  Key questions to ask include:

  •       Is SEO your core business?

(If they’re a graphic designer, a developer or a hardware supplier, they’d have to be very good to be doing their day job AND keeping up with Google.)

  •       How long have you been doing SEO?

(Lots of people TRY and do SEO – not many are good enough to keep delivering value that their customers can measure)

  •       How do you keep up with SEO developments?

The other set of questions to consider is the questions that your SEO supplier is asking you – (or not asking).   SEO is one element of a targeted marketing strategy, so they should be asking:

  •       What is the value you deliver to your customers?
  •       What is your Unique Selling Proposition?
  •       What is your marketing strategy?
  •       Who is your ideal customer?
  •       What social media channels are you using to communicate your value?

If they’re not making SEO just one component of a full digital marketing strategy, the value you get will be limited.  If they just want to apply their toolkit, you’re at risk.

It’s a jungle out there

The Internet hasn’t been around all that long, and there are lots of risks in this new market place.  There are good digital marketing agencies out there – there are also lots of ill-informed amateurs and the usual sprinkling of crooks.  Choose your SEO supplier the way you choose your dentist – carefully.

 

Ian Hopkinson is the original “mad scientist” – a digital creative who is passionate about the online market place and its potential to enable businesses to compete on a global stage. He is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Mad Scientist Digital.

Great Expectations: Have you been sold Digital Bullshit?

Ian Hopkinson - Great Expectations Have you been sold Digital Bullshit

A lot of so-called internet “experts” are spruiking digital bullshit that’s creating a whopping pile of impossible expectations.

Picture this: the business owner or marketing manager is sitting in front of a digital strategist/marketing guru and listening to a barrage of technical information that is based on very little expertise or experience. It’s one thing knowing the technical side of things, it’s another  thing to have the deep understanding of marketing strategy along with the years of experience necessary to make the technical stuff deliver real business results.

Here’s the deal though (in my humble opinion) – if you don’t know how to give the client proper context and paint the right picture as to what they can realistically expect – you will have a room of people drinking the Kool-aid, handing over suitcases of cash, and loving the buzz of the journey they think they are about to embark on.

Later though, they end up hating you for smashing their dreams by selling them a bunch of high falootin’ digital bullshit.

Dicken’s novel Great Expectations is a long story but  a classic read. Even though it’s been over 20 years since I read it – I do remember how haunting it was when the main character Pip – after coming from great poverty and being supported by a mysterious benefactor into the life of a city gentleman  – found out that this secret investor was a criminal he stole food for from his crazy neighbours house when he was 6 years old.

His life changed for the better and he certainly found a new way of looking at the world – but when he found out it was all backed by a man of questionable ethics Pip felt like he’d been living a lie.

I’ve arrived at meetings with many businesses who are feeling like Pip did. Their original great expectations have been betrayed, and the reality in the end was cold. They’ve invested substantial time, energy and money – and they don’t have the results they were promised.  For example:

  • They paid a lot for “SEO” but their rankings haven’t increased.
  • Their website is getting more visits – but those visits aren’t converting into sales.
  • They’re paying a fortune for Adwords or Facebook Ads without getting sales.

The right person with the right expertise and education at the right time is of a high value. Finding a digital consultant that can be real with you and not under the pump to sell you the world may be difficult to find – but they do exist.

Here’s a few tips on what to look for:

  1. A technical person who can still explain things in plain english – and in terms of marketing strategy rather than programming
  2. A consultant who is not attached to a single product solution or service deliverable.  They will not just want to sell you on that marketing channel and apply their solution (but make sure they have a background with hands on experience in technical delivery and service)
  3. The right personality to fit your business – ready to collaborate with you and recommend and vet service providers that fit your needs

Jim Rohn said “We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation.”

The right consultant will enable  you to move forward with good explanations and a clearly defined path. They’ll deliver tangible results and make sure you understand what will and won’t be possible. Hitting the right strategic marks in marketing your business can return exciting rewards.

Shopping for the right service provider can be frustrating – particularly if you’re starting from a desperate position.  But if you fall into making knee jerk decisions based on unrealistic promises, you may ultimately end up wandering longer in the dark while falling further and further behind.

Ian Hopkinson is the original “mad scientist” – a digital creative who is passionate about the online market place and its potential to enable businesses to compete on a global stage. He is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Mad Scientist Digital.

Your name is not Chris! (An email from an exotic land)

Ian Hopkinson - Your name is not Chris (An email from an exotic land)

Just to set the scene a little. We have all got spam emails from random SEO companies in our time.

Have you?

In fact, with all of our clients starting an SEO campaign with us, part of our process is to warn them that getting these emails is a sign of greater visibility and that the work that we are doing is already working. Once you get to Page 3 or Page 2 for your keywords or sign up to local directory listings, many of these spammy companies (who are monitoring the search results with automated software) drop you into their database and start emailing you. Here’s one of those emails I got recently from Chris Morris (an Indian gentleman?). I have put my thoughts in bold and in [brackets].

N.B – Please also know that this post is not meant to offend anyone, what I am laying out here is exactly what happens everyday.

Hi

I am, Chris Morris, SEO Consultant.

[Your name is not Chris]

Advertising in the online world is one of the most inexpensive and highly effective methods of promoting a business.

[Advertising online can be much more expensive then many digital mediums, but I thought you were emailing me about SEO – that is not advertising]

I was surfing through your website and analyze that despite having a great design;

[Our website is being redesigned at the moment, it’s launching in a few weeks because I think the design is outdated]

It was not ranking on any of the search engines (Google Yahoo and Bing) for most of the keywords relating to your business.

[Our website is ranking very well, after all we’re an SEO company, in fact we just got a phone call from a prospect who searched for a keyword and found us on page 1]

I am affiliated with an SEO company based in India that has helped over 200 businesses rank on the 1st Page of Google for even the most competitive Industries.

[Are you are actually telling me that you are based in India? Is your name really Chris Morris?]

We assure you that our SEO prices will give you good amount of margin in your pocket. Also, Your Company and your customer information will be confidential.

[How can you tell me what it will be, you have clearly not looked at my site or done an audit, you also haven’t told me your real name so how can I trust you]

Let me know if you are interested and I will send you our company details or create a proposal so you can see exactly where you rank compared to your Competitors.

[Up until now you haven’t told me who you work for!! Just that your name might be Chris? Also how desperate are you for business if you are emailing random people you don’t know lying to them and hiding behind a pseudonym]

I look forward to your mail.

[I look forward to your response too, as I will be publishing my journey through this process with all of my Linked-in followers]

Warm Regards

Chris

[I would like to conclude that my new friend Chris Morris emailed me from a gmail address and does not have a website].

 

Google Bashing

Why do people think it’s cool to bash Google, there are so many positive things they have done for the world, just to mix it up a bit we thought we’d do some horn tooting on Google’s behalf.

Episodes in this playlist:

Google Adsense: Does it make sense or just cents?
Is there a method to the madness Microsoft?
Are people suffering from tall poppy syndrome?

Google has become so big that people see it as a big fat cash cow. Some are also threatened by the power Google wields in the digital world and want to cut them down to size with frivolous law suits and wild allegations. But is this attack on Google and its properties justified?

Google Bashing: Why some people think it’s cool

An Example of What Some SEO Experts Do

I’m not usually in the business of criticising what other search engine optimization companies or individuals do but the other day, I came across this site that was set up for the pure purpose of search engine manipulation. The article that was written, made no sense at all. It was just a page designed to fill with text that was pure jiberish and stuffed with keywords and links to a web site. This makes the concerned website that the links go to look rather untrustworthy. I for one would not buy from that site if I came across articles such as this one. I have posted the article below.

 

bad seo practice

Click on Image to Enlarge

The problem I have with this type of thing is this: I don’t really care what people do to their own websites to get rankings in Google but I do care when ‘seo experts’ use these type of methods for their clients and potentially wreck their websites. Is it any wonder that legitimate search engine optimization companies find it harder to get new clients when there are such hacks out there who promise fast results with such dubious methods as the example above.

 

The bottom line is this. Whatever search engine optimization company you engage to optimize your website, KNOW what they are doing. Always ask for a full report that states the link to any article they write, comment they make, post they post and what type of sites they are linking your website to. Never take it for granted that they are doing the right thing just because they say they are or because they don’t really say much at all for you to be concerned about.

 

Thank you for visiting.
Andrew Radics

For more information on all things digital, you know the drill

 

Chasing Inbox Zero

Ian Hopkinson - Chasing Inbox Zero

I’m not a naturally organised person. I enjoy order when it’s there in front of me, when I’ve finally achieved it. I appreciate the freedom of clarity and space, but my mind also craves creativity and the messy wilderness from which come some of my best ideas.

I founded a digital company. Yep, I signed up for this, so I’d better embrace some useful ways to manage the 0’s and 1’s.

The inbox, it seems, needs a special approach and this year I’d say I have achieved Inbox Zero status about four times. This month is one of them. Now Inbox Zero is not an end goal, it’s a state of mind. And with all the myriads of expert opinions floating around on this subject, the answer is pretty simple:

Focus.

What’s scheduled and what’s intrusive?

What’s important right now and what can wait?

The concept of Inbox Zero was introduced by writer and speaker Merlin Mann. According to Mann, the zero is not a reference to the number of messages in an inbox; it is “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.” Mann’s point is that time and attention are finite and when an inbox is confused with a “to do” list, productivity wanes.

Mann identifies five possible actions to take for each message:

delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.

Here are some of Mann’s tips for effective email management:

  • Only have your email client open when necessary.
  • Process email periodically throughout the day, perhaps at the top of each hour.
  • First delete or archive as many new messages as possible.
  • Then forward on messages to the people who are in a better position to respond. (I will often loop the appropriate party in via a cc or reply-to just to properly nurture the right outcome)
  • Quickly respond to new messages that can be answered in two minutes or less
  • New messages that require more than two minutes to answer and messages that can be answered later should be moved to a separate “requires response” folder.
  • Set aside time each day to respond to email in the “requires response” folder or chip away at mail in this folder throughout the day.

To me, as a business owner, the solution is a larger one. These habits might keep things at bay but the key question to ask yourself is

what are your key areas of focus for this year, month, week, and today?

Does your incoming and outgoing inbox traffic align with your personal goals and the goals of the overall business? Because if not, you’re actually swimming in a sea of futile bullshit.

It’s taken me awhile to realise that my inbox is a reflection of my focus. And without focus we do struggle to grow as individuals but also as leaders of growing businesses.

Ian Hopkinson is the original “mad scientist” – a digital creative who is passionate about the online market place and its potential to enable businesses to compete on a global stage. He is the Founder & Head of Results at Mad Scientist Digital.

Local SEO – Introduction to SEO for Business

Over the last couple of years, Local SEO has grown considerably, especially provided the growing popularity of smartphones and much better connectivity while being out and about. Nevertheless, it has a lot in common with organic Search Engine Optimization, but its ultimately very different.

The objective of Local SEO is to offer outcomes that are as relevant as possible to the searcher based upon their location. If you searched ‘best restaurant’ on your computer right now, Google would supply you with results that are near to you. However, if you made the exact same search on your smartphone, it would provide you with results depending on where you are at the time.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss what Local SEO is all about and how it can affect your local business.