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Using the 2016 Advertising Guide

With 2016 knocking at the door, it’s time for us to take a moment and plan for advertising efforts throughout the year.

Here’s my webinar explaining how you can use the guide (located on the Gateway) to plan out your year.

(My apologies for the sound quality. Due to technical difficulties, I had to use my cell phone to record the audio.)

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“Socializing” During the Holidays

Just a quick reminder that the Holidays are a great time to get some unique content to post to your social media feeds.

Send your technicians out wearing a Santa hat (especially this week), strap a wreath to the hood of your van, or write “Happy Holidays/Seasons Greetings/Happy New Year” into a dirty carpet with your filtration line tool. Take pictures (just get the customer’s permission first…). Even better if you can get your customer to post it and tag you in the picture.

Posting regular (but not TOO frequent) updates and ESPECIALLY original content to your social media feeds is a fantastic way to boost your following and ranking online.

And, in case I haven’t told you yet, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!happy_holidays_005

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Shopping for SEO Vendors

A recent Facebook thread got me thinking about things that a franchise owner (regardless of the business) should look for when shopping for an online services vendor. In this case, let’s talk about the ever-elusive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist.

This document will help you in the process of choosing a digital marketing vendor.

Just like shopping for anything else you plan to keep long-term, (i.e. a car, a home, etc.) you want to make sure that you are careful in choosing a vendor that will meet your needs – digitally, professionally, and financially. Take your time interviewing potential vendors and look for some of the following key indicators for fit with your company.

1. PAST SUCCESSES

Success Thumb Up Sign

Look at it as if you were hiring an employee – you’d want their resume. Most experienced online service vendors should be ready with examples, case studies, or success stories of clients that they’ve helped in the past (especially locally-based service companies). If the vendor was doing their job right, they should have specific examples available (while maintaining client confidentiality, of course) to showcase their abilities (more on that later). It’s appropriate (and a VERY good idea) to ask for these kinds of examples, testimonials, case studies, white papers, or any other information regarding the vendor’s track record. In fact, feel free to grill them pretty thoroughly. For example:

  • Could you give me a few examples of how you’ve helped other small businesses?
  • On average, how long has it taken you to get companies like mine to show up on page 1 of Google?
  • How long have you had your oldest client? Who’s your newest client?

If you have any questions about whether a certain vendor is qualified, feel free to reach out to me and we can talk about it.

2. CERTIFICATIONS

If you’re going to be paying this vendor (potentially) hundreds of dollars certifiedevery month to be running your SEO, you want to make sure they actually know what they’re doing. Aside from references (which may be enough for some people) it’s also a good idea to ask about certifications. It’s probably best if they site some source more credible than the “Digital School of Hard Knocks.” Google Analytics certification is a MUST. Look for certifications from organizations such as Online Marketing Institute, iCrossing, Bruce Clay, or The SEO Book.

3. REFERENCE CHECKING

When you ask your vendor for references, don’t just take them. CALL THEM! Get these clients’ thoughts about this vendor. Again, just as if you were hiring a new employee, take some time to “vet the candidate.” You want to be sure that this vendor will be worth hiring. Ask questions like:

  • How well does he/she communicate your reports with you? Is he/she easy to understand.
  • How easy is it to plan and strategize with them? Are they open to suggestions?
  • How responsive are they to communication?

4. “CONTACTABILITY”/ACCOUNTABILITY

So, here’s the thing about your SEO vendor. They work FOR YOU. You are paying them your hard-earned money, and you could easily take your business elsewhere. They need to understand that and make themselves available for you to contact and collaborate with. Obviously, you’re not likely going to be making SEO-related calls in the middle of the night or (usually) on weekends. However, you want to know that when you need them, they’ll take your call. Will you have your vendor’s cell number? Are they willing to meet with you (via phone call, most likely) at minimum on a monthly basis? When you do speak to them, can they communicate what they’re doing in such a way that you can understand? What reporting/tools do they have in place so you can keep tabs on their work? Some vendors have custom website “dashboards” that you can log on to view your progress in real time. You should automatically receive (at minimum) monthly reports from your vendor.

To help keep your vendors accountable, use this Monthly Vendor Meeting Checklist. (You can also find it on the Chem-Dry Gateway in the Operations Toolbox under Tracking/Reports/Charts.)

 

5. PRICE

You’ll notice that I put price last. There’s a reason for that. For some people, price may be the first priority, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Here’s why:price-tag

The price you pay for your SEO service will vary depending on the size of your market, the depth of service, experience, and other possibly bundled services (Pay-Per-Click, website management and design, etc.). While service from one provider may seem high or low, there’s probably a good reason for it. WMS is very low cost (because HRI subsidizes it heavily), but they provide very good service. Other vendors charge top dollar because they have reputations to back themselves up.

In general, try to not let yourself get “sold”, but also remember that your service provider is a business owner just like yourself.  At the end of the day, you BOTH need to be making money. Make it a symbiotic relationship, and you’ll soon see the value in having a vendor handle the complicated world of SEO.

Final Thoughts:

Before you choose a new vendor, take some time to educate yourself about what you’re going to be wanting from them. Learn some basics of Google Analytics (click here to take some free courses from Google itself) so that you understand what metrics your vendor is talking about. It also makes it easier to share your thoughts, insights, and goals with them.

Also, look out for any vendor who offers “guarantees” on results. You want someone who will earnestly strive to best serve you and your business. But when some vendors make promises of high, quick results, they can often be achieved by practices that may get you blacklisted in the long run.

If you have any questions about whether or not a vendor you’re looking at is worth hiring, please contact me and let’s talk about it!

Scott

 

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Local Search Directory Listings – How to Leverage ChemDry.com

Would you believe that, thanks to our SEO company (97th Floor), ChemDry.com has gone from many pages down to ranking in the top 5 for some of the most popular searches in the industry?! It’s true!

We’re consistently on the first page, if not Top 5 for:

“rug cleaning”

“carpet cleaning” (with an average monthly search volume of over 90K!)

“upholstery cleaning”

“tile and grout cleaning”

It makes you wonder, are YOU getting found on the Local Search Directory Program through ChemDry.com? Take a look at this picture.

LDSP Listings

See the different types of listings? In the purple field above, you have what’s called a “Premium” listing. It’s currently $105 per month (or $65 per month, depending on your contract date), and places you in a limelight for getting new customers. It gives you a landing page on ChemDry.com (can be linked to your PPC ads), and even gives customers the option to book an appointment online!

The second type of listing is just below there, called a “core” listing. It costs $40 per month (or included in your contract, again, depending on your contract renewal date). It still highlights the services you offer (see the little badges below the phone number?), links directly to your website, and (on the mobile site) allows customers to call you by just touching your phone number.

The last type of listing is at the bottom of the picture, showing just your franchise name, which links to your company website.

Looking at the picture above, which listings do you think get clicked on the most? If you answered “The premium listings”, you’re right. 9 times out of ten (that’s an actual statistic, not just a saying), visitors choose a premium listing.

Now, ask yourself. How many more jobs per month would you have to do to pay for a premium listing? One? Two? Whatever the real number is, it’s not much. Even if you just upgraded to the core listing and got one more job per month, that’s WELL worth it.

If you’d like to upgrade your Local Search Directory listing (and I strongly recommend you do), check out this video showing you how to do it.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. Let’s go out and rock the carpet cleaning world!