5 Tips You Can Do Right Now For SEO

SEO can be very confusing – and that confusion leads to business owners taking NO action when it comes to improving their website rankings. Many SEO companies like to make SEO as complicated as possible – however what if you had an a, b, c and d checklist that you could follow to be found by Google? What if everything was as straightforward as following a recipe? If you’ve been putting off taking action on your website after reading this straightforward guide you will have no excuse!

The guide contains 5 steps (and a bonus 6th step if you’re feeling super motivated) – feel free to do one item per day if you like – if you have any questions let me know at kosta [at] headstudios.com.au.

Remember – in business taking action is more important then waiting to have all the facts – and it’s double as true in SEO – you don’t need to know EVERYTHING about SEO and Google Rankings to get started – but you do need to get started. This guide will put you ahead of 90% of your competition. So, not much more to say – let’s start with No. 1:

#1 Google Places

If you have a physical business (business at a physical location) – or even if you have a service type business that services an area – Google Places is absolutely essential. Google rolled out Google places in [year Google rolled it out] and as always – if you want to be at the top of Google’s search results – you have to play by their rules – and the cornerstone feature is Google Places.

Part of the reason – I think – why Google rolled out Google Places is that it allowed the user to stay in Google without navigating out. So if a user wants to find their local hairdresser they can use Google Places and stay within the Google ecosystem without navigating out of Google into your website – this means more ad revenue for Google. However let’s get away from why Google did this – at the end of the day for you – it doesn’t matter if users come to your website or not, if they pick up the phone and make that call that’s all that matters – and if you can make that happen more often then all power to you.

In order to setup a Google Places Account for your business you’ll need a Google account (I sure hope you have one all ready). Then all you’ll need to do is go here:

https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?service=oz&passive=1209600&continue=https://plus.google.com/u/0/dashboard?skipPagesList%3D1%26ppsrc%3DGPDA2%26gpsrc%3Dgplp0&ltmpl=gmb

google_places_example

Once you sign up simply click on your business type (Storefront/Services Area or Brand) and then you’ll need to fill in a form similar to the one below:

google_places_add_business

In order for Google to verify that you are a real business and to avoid spam they will send you a physical letter which will contain a verification code. Once you receive this letter log back into Google and follow the prompts to enter the verification code. Then your Google Places is up and running! Done. Besides waiting for the letter the process is fairly straightforward.

#2 SEO Yoast Plugin

You can find the SEO Yoast plugin here – https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/. SEO Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress so because of that it should be installed as standard with your WordPress website.

Simply installing the SEO Yoast plugin will not improve your ratings – but it will give you a large number of tools at your disposal.

wordpress_seo_guide

The option above is for a blog I published earlier. The SEO Yoast toolbar appears underneath your ‘Edit Posts’ section in WordPress and shows you how your blgo post will look like in Google search results and let you know if there are any issues that need to be addressed.

Going over all of SEO Yoast’s features is beyond the scope of this blog – but you can check out their website here for some useful tutorials and articles.

#3 Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools

googlewmt

Google Webmaster Tools is like being able to peer under the hood of the Google algorithm and see exactly how it relates to your website.

You can sign up for Google Webmaster Tools here:
https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?service=sitemaps&passive=1209600&continue=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fwebmasters%2Ftools%2F&followup=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fwebmasters%2Ftools%2F

After you do you’ll need to upload a small file to your webserver to prove that you are the owner of your website – and after that you are ready to go.

So what is so special about Google Webmaster Tools? Well how about these 3 bits of data – and this is just the beginning. Have you ever wanted to:

  • See which keywords your website is showing for
  • Find out keywords your website shows for but no one clicks on (why is that?)
  • See the performance of your keywords over time (going back years and years – what went wrong.. what went right?)

Oh, and once you have Google Webmaster tools you can

#4 Create and submit a sitemap

seo-sitemap

This has helped some of my customers increase their traffic by 75% – and it takes less than an hour. Basically what you are doing is saying to Google “Hey, this is all the pages on my website – make sure you have all these in your directory.”

Google can sometimes find the pages for your website on its own – however if you have 500 pages on your website and Google has only indexed 50, a simple sitemap submission can make you show up on a lot more relevant search results – along with your competitors (instead of not being there at all).

SEO Yoast will help you create a site map.

#5 Install Google Analytics

You can sign up for Google Analytics here:

http://www.google.com.au/analytics/

After you do you’ll need to add some code to the bottom of every page on your website. If you are running WordPress you can do this without any programming knowledge by downloading a plugin (SEO Yoast has this option by default)

google-analytics

Once you install Google Analytics you’ll be able to see the following information right off the bat:

  • How many visitors come to your website
  • Where they come from (e.g. organic keywords, linked from other websites, email campaigns, typed straight into browser)
  • The locations of your visitors (if you are a national company you can see how many customers come from NSW/VIC etc.

Lots of these reports are useful but from an SEO perspective here is where Google Analytics shines, you can:

See which keywords are most popular for your website and which keywords generate the best results

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you have 2 keywords for a pet shop website – ‘dog grooming tips’ and ‘dog grooming pricing sydney’ which are generating 100 visits and 10 visits a week respectively.

Dog grooming tips – 100 visitors
Dog grooming pricing sydney – 10 visitors

In Google Analytics you can setup how many of these visitors end up filling out your lead form. So if 1/100 visitors going from ‘dog grooming tips’ fill out your enquiry form but 1/10 visitors from dog grooming pricing sydney fill out your enquiry form – then it’s smarter to go after and work on increasing your rankings for ‘dog grooming pricing sydney’ right? This is a simple example but it’s very useful – in using Google Analytics – to see which keywords are generating the most results.

Bonus Tip #6: Get Some Backlinks

backlinks

Backlinks are a big deal for Google – they tell it what websites are linking to you and help Google make a decision as to how important your website is compared to your competitors (if your website has more links pointing back to it then your competitors – you will be shown higher int he search results and will get more clicks).

Of course, you can spend months asking various websites to link to you or you can do a quick back linking campaign that won’t hurt your pocket and will get you on the right path. Since many of your competitors would have done NOTHING when it comes to buying backlinks, doing this simple process will put you miles ahead of a vast majority of your competition. Ready.

Go to fiverr.com and type in ‘backlinks’ into the Search box and search.

You’ll find a bunch of results – make sure to go for safe links that won’t hurt your reputation or are from bad sites.

Here is an example of a top rated seller you can trust:

https://www.fiverr.com/ozzieuk/create-10-pandapenguin-and-hummingbird-safe-backlinks-from-pr9-authority-sites?sec_context=recommendation&context_referrer=search&sec_context_type=search.natural&context_alg=nodes&context=advanced_search&context_type=rating&funnel=2015010306502583915446840&pos=2

Starting at only $5, if you can spend about $40-$50 with this guy you’ll be way ahead of your competition. But make sure you optmise the page that you want the backlinks to come through to using SEO Yoast!

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Hopefully that gives you an idea of where to start with if you’re a beginner to SEO services. If you have any questions send me an email to kosta [at] headstudios.com.au.

How to Stop Wasting Your Time – 5 Tips on Hiring and Keeping a Good PA

Hiring a personal assistant (PA) can save time and cut out all the boring
mundane tasks from your workload. However htere’s a porblem – you are dealing with someone who is not only halfway around the world, but who has a different culture
and doesn’t even speak English as a first language. Add the technology problems that many
people naturally face and you can find yourself working twice as hard, with twice the stress to ensure your PA is actually helping you!

Howevere, there’s a way to save hours of your time every week, without going through the stress. In fact I’ve personally used personal assistants for years, and I’ve outlined 5 tips below to help you avoid the pitfalls and frustrations I’ve encountered. So if you’re ready to have that extra 4-20 hours a week to yourself to focus on the important things that you should be focusing on – then read on!

Note: I will refer to PA as data entry person throughout this blog – they are basically the same thing – since most times your
PA will be doing boring data entry work!

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

The biggest mistake people make when hiring a PA is assigning ALL the work to that PA. For example, let’s say you have 5 major tasks that need completing every week and take 2 hours each.

Task 1 – 2 hours
Task 2 – 2 hours
Task 3 – 2 hours
Task 4 – 2 hours
Task 5 – 2 hours

Every taks will take you 30 minutes to train.

Task 1 – 30 minutes training
Task 2 – 30 minutes training
..
Task 5 – 30 minutes training
Total: 2.5 hours training

Now imagine your PA suddenly gets sick/gets another job/stops doing PA work or any number of things (remember, many PA’s are work from home mothers). Suddnely your 5 tasks are no longer getting done!

What’s worse is that you now have to spend ANOTHER 2.5 hours training another PA to do your tasks! Pretty soon you’re spending more time training someone how to do a task then it would take you to do the tasks yourself!

The solution would be to assign 5 tasks to 5 different PA’s. Then, if one PA is slow with doing a task, suddenly becomes unavailable or any other number of issues that could come up, it doesn’t stop the work from the other 4 tasks, and you can easily assign the task to another PA.

Remember – if you have a PA that does EVERYTHING – they can end up owning you!

Write down your instructions!

This is important if you have to find a new PA or if the PA is making mistakes. The best thing to do is to write down the instructions live as you give them over Skype.

Have them in a step by step format e.g.

1. Instructions for step 1
2. Instructions for step 2
3. Instructions for step 3
3a. Sub step 1 for step 3
3b. Sub step 2 for step 3
4. Instructions for step 4

Also, once you write down the instructions make sure they are located in a respository where the PA can easily access them in the future. DropBox is a good choice.

Don’t sweat the small stuff (esp. if you’re a small fish in a big pond)

Be prepared for the fact that your PA may show up late for a meeting. Especially if you are looking for someone to do only 2 – 4 hours of work per week – you need to be flexible. Don’t be too demanding.

Remember – if you are showing up for a job interview you want to be there on time – but if you get the job that is your income guaranteed. With a PA, you are only giving them enough work for a half a day a week, and even then they are never assured how long that work will go on for.

The most important thing is that the work is not sloppy – other than that, if the PA doesn’t show up for a planned meeting, just be preppared for it and don’t stress too  much.

Accept a learning curve – you may have to break some eggs

Recently I put an ad up for a data entry person – guess how many people applied within 48 hours?

Ninety six applicants!

The truth is – you will never find yourself in a shortage of data entry/PA personell. So why do I mention this? Because when you begin working with data entry people you may find that you don’t gel with some – and others simply give you a headache. This may be your fault or theirs – but at the end of the day don’t stress – if it’s not working out with a data entry person – just get another one!

Don’t get too attached to data entry/PA personell and accept that you may have to go through a couple when you start out – no biggie.

Get The Right Tools

I’ve mentioned some tools in the blog but let me go over these again:

Skype

You can download Skype here (or here for Mac). This should be your go to program. It allows you to not only chat to your PA’s, but also have voice conversations and most importantly – share your screen to give instructions.

DropBox

You can sign up for DropBox here if you haven’t. Not only can you upload and share files using DropBox (just right click on a file in your DropBox folder after you have it installed and click on ‘Share DropBox link’) – but you can also take screenshots and have these screenshots automatically added to your DropBox. This is super useful if a data entry person is confused about something and you want to quickly send a screenshot through Skype.

Basecamp

This one is not too important if you are getting data entry people to do straightforward tasks – however if you need more than one person involved (besides you) in giving feedback to the data entry person on their work Basecamp can do wonders.

You can sign up for a free Basic account [link]here[/here]. Basecamp has a great feature called ‘Group Discussions’. You can write out instructions and email them to both the data entry person and any other stakeholders in the project in one simple click, then whenever anyone replies (be it the data entry person or the stakeholder) it will automtically be added to the discussion and all parties notified. No more sending emails back and forth :).

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Hope that has been a help.. and look at the date – Happpy New Year!

How one letter from a competitor can make you dissapear from Google – and how to avoid it

One of the scariest things that can happen to a budding entrepreneur is losing their Google listing. Just imagine, a listing that previously may have brought you hundreds of visitors a day suddenly vanishes, and all that business that was being generated from that position vanishes overnight.

There are a number of reasons why your Google ranking could be affected – and it has caused untold stress to many business owners – however today I want to talk about one situation that is particularly insidious – because it can be brought on by your competitors! And no, I’m not talking about the old ranking battle – where you and a competitor battle it out for #1 and #2 position. No, what I am referring to is how a competitor can completely wipe you out from the competition!

How can they do that? With a DMCA complaint.

What is a DMCA Complaint?

A DMCA complaint, by standard dicitonary terms is:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act

In laymen’s terms – if a competitor finds content on your website that is infringing copyright – he can notify Google – and Google will TAKE YOUR OFFENDING PAGE OFF.

Now, just to clarify:

Google will only take down the specific page that has a copyright infringement – so let’s say you have a page called Gardening Supplies which lists some products that you sell online – and one of the images is lifted from a magazine – that particular page will no longer be visible on Google’s search results.

It is hard to avoid becoming vulnerable to DMCA complaints if you have thousands of products in your store.

If you are building a small 6 page website you are safe – just ensure that the images you use are either yours – or obtained legally – such as buying them from iStockPhoto. However IF you have an online store for example, and you have thousands of products (and thousands of images) – there’s a high chance that one of those images could be stolen.

This opens up your website to being flagged as a copyright infringer with Google – and having your listing terminated.

Your listing is not restored when you remove the offending image

A DMCA takedown notice is no joke – EVEN if you remove the infringing image your penalty stays on. The only way to relist your website is to go to [url goes here] and explain to them (very politely) how you see the errors of your ways and have removed the offending image.

This is a tactic used by some businesses to destroy their competition – and it’s not just DMCA takedowns but license numbers too

If you own a business and you notice one of your competitors is using an illegal image – you can inform Google and have their business taken offline. This is not just limited to DMCA takedown notices – if you are a security company and you do not have your Security License number displayed prominently you can be fined thousands of dollars.

You may not even know you’ve been blacklisted

If you are ranking for 20 high traffic keywords and one of them drops off – if you don’t know where your traffic comes from you won’t even know you’ve been blacklisted! Google will not inform you.

I hope this has brightened your day.

Good bye.

Check the DMCA notice at the bottom of search results

If your website is not showing in a search results page look for this:

google_dmca

at the bottom. This message means Google has manually blacklisted a page due to a copyright infringement.

Lodge a DMCA Counter-Notification Form

Go to this link and inform Google that you have removed the infringing image – and tell them you won’t do it again!

Note: you may want to get someone who is a professional at this, you may say the wrong thing and delay the amount of time it takes to get your website relisted.

Talk to your data entry staff – and tell them to use licensed images

It is not your fault your website was delisted – if you have thousands of products in an online store there is a high chance the data entry person used an image from eBay/Google Images etc. when inputting products, or while updating an image slider.

In summary – be smart and don’t give your competitors the opening to take you out of the game. Better safe than sorry!

5 Important Passwords You Need to Have For Your Website (That Your Developer Hopes You Don’t)

When engaging a web developer it’s important not to fall into a common trap – having someone else control your business.

You wouldn’t let your accountant hold your information without having a copy so why would you let your web developer control parts of your website without having access?

This is an issue that has happened so often that I thought I’d write out a blog post that would be relevant to everyone that currently owns a business that has a web presence (which is pretty much everyone).

While you may get along with your web developer now – how do you know that 3 months down the track you guys may have a disagreement, or he may disapear on holidays without informing you – what if he just disappears (rare but it can happen).

What happens then?

What would happen if your web developer disapeared right now – how quickly could you put another developer in charge of looking after your website?

Below are 5 important pieces of information you need right now to ensure that you have CONTROL over your business website (and your business):

cPanel Password

Your cPanel password will allow you to have access to your website database. This database will hold the content of your website (if your website is run by a database, which most websites are these days). The cPanel will also allow you to do cool things like setup new email addresses for staff, or shut off email addresses for staff that have left.

FTP Password

This one is a bit less important, since you change this password in the cPanel – however the FTP (file transfer protocol) – will allow you to change files on your website. A lot of times you will not have to bother with this – but sometimes you may need to modify a file directly – having the FTP password will help you. In most cases, if you have the cPanel and the FTP password – should your developer suddenly become unavailable – you’ll be able to switch over the website resposbilities to another developer without too much issue.

CMS Password

The CMS (Content Management System) is the front end administration interface that will allow you to easily make changes to your website without too much technical know how. If you’ve ever seen a screen like this:

Blog-Image-02

You’ll know what a CMS system looks like. WordPress is the most popular CMS but no matter what CMS you use – you’ll need to have a copy of the login credentials. By the way ensure you have the superadmin (top level) login details, not just the ‘editor’ login details.

Sometimes your developer may give you the login details for a CMS which will only allow you to edit pages for example, however will not give you the ability to change top level menus or install extensions to your website. Should the developer dissapear and you don’t have the top level CMS access – it could become a slight headache.

Analytics Access

Google Analytics will allow you to see how many visitors come to your website. Most web developers will be able to easily install Google Analytics tracking on your website. However in many cases you may not all ready have a Google account so the developer will setup an Analytics account under his name to track your visitors.

This is not a big deal per se – but you must ask him to grant your email permission to view your Analytics reports. Basically should the developer disapear and you need a special report for your visitor tracking (for example, how many visitors come from a particular advertiser) – you will be hard pressed to get this information unless you setup a new Analytics account (and this means your old data will be lost).

Oh, and if you don’t have Analytics installed on your website yet, do it now! How can you improve if you don’t know where you currently stand?

Hopefully that gave you some clarity about exactly what ‘keys’ you need to have a copy of, just like running a warehouse, you wouldn’t let your employees have access to any areas you don’t, right? So why should it be any different for web development?

As a client you have a right to request and receive this information. Should the web developer present excuses for why he can’t give these to you then there’s a high chance that you’ll have a hard time getting this information if eventually you decide to switch web developers.

Oh, and backup regularly!

Salesforce vs SugarCRM – The Cloud and Hype vs Reality

Recently I’ve been developing a custom CRM solution for a client using SugarCRM and it’s got me thinking about the whole ‘cloud’ term and how companies have confused consumers as to exactly what it means.

Just as full disclosure – I’m developing a CRM solution for a client on his own server using SugarCRM. If those buzz words are giving you a headache I can understand.

You can read what “cloud” is here: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-computing.htm

And you can read about SugarCRM here: http://www.sugarcrm.com/

What I wanted to do though is to educate the consumer (that’s you) about what all this cloud business really is.

The whole ‘cloud’ phenomenon really blew up a couple of years ago where everything started to be delivered in the ‘cloud’ or in other words online. For example you could have your employees submit timesheets “in the cloud”, you could manage your customer database and marketing “in the cloud”, you could pretty much have all your business data “in the cloud”.

The whole cloud thing was pretty good, and it helped businesses save money and have a less stressful experience, and of course the companies who were able to establish themselves in their niche (DropBox for “cloud storage” for example) made a lot of money.

Everyone was happy.

The actual “cloud revolution” was started by Salesforce, and you have to remember that these guys marketed the hell out of it, it wasn’t like they made this killer app and everyone jumped on it, they applied a killer marketing strategy on top of what was, essentially a fairly straightforward service – a customer database that could be accessed online. Of course, there’s more to it then that but you get the idea.

So I just wanted to point out a couple of things when it comes to CRM’s and the whole cloud phenomenon (I’m using CRM’s because that’s what everyone automatically thinks about when you mention the cloud – since Salesfroce has such a strong marketing position in everyone’s minds – I guess because they were on the scene first and called their service ‘cloud software’).

So below I will write some simple facts that will probably not show up in Salesforce sales materials but you should know, here they are:

Fact 1: You Pay Until You Die

If you are paying $150 – $500 a month for a CRM system you pay that until you die… or your business dies. In other words if your business exists for the next 5 years, at 5 years * 12 months * 500 =

(5 * 12) * 500 = $30,000 for the life time value of the product

Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about “how awesome” it is that you’re only paying $500 a month instead of paying a developer $5,000 to make some custom software.

Fact 2: You Can’t Touch Nothin’

If you are buying into a CRM plan on Salesforce, the application lives on Salesforce’s servers. This means it’s a ‘hands off’ policy when it comes to modifying the software.

Now sure Salesforce allows customizations to an extent, but at the end of the day they only allow customizations within the paramaters of what they leave open. This might be fine for you, but if you are looking at a system that integrates with your site content you may have a problem.

Fact 3: If The Business Falls, Or the Price Changes – You’re Out of Luck

I’m not saying Salesforce will collapse in the next 10 years, highly unlikely. But what can happen is prices can change, and should anything happen all your business data and processes are tied up with the company. Not a big deal but I thought I’d point it out.

Fact 4: That $30,000 is out of the box

This is another thing people lose sight of. Remember how I made that rough calculation that if your CRM software costs you $500 a month then over 5 years you’re looking at $30,000?

That’s a big number, and with Salesforce’s packages, even having as little as 3-4 users can put you at that rate.

However what I didn’t mention is that the $30,000 that you end up paying is for an out of the box solution. Understand this – Salesforce does nothing for you.

In other words they grant you access to an out of the box application and say “Good luck”. Now if you want help customising it, creating custom code then they’d be happy to help you for an extra fee.

Think about that next time you think you’re being smart going on a monthly solution.

Fact 5: You Pay Through the A$@ for every new user

This is the other thing to consider. Let’s say you start with 4 users on a CRM system at $400 a month. That might be okay for you, but let’s say you expand to 8 people, and maybe have 4 people part time. Now you have to fork out an extra $800 a month. As your business expands so does the length at which Salesforce reaches into your pockets.

Now granted if you’re expanding you may have money to the point that it really doesn’t matter, but let’s be real – $800 a month is money that you could be spending on other parts of your business.

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Now, alternatively you could get a self hosted solution with SugarCRM Community Edition (or another open source CRM system like vTiger and have a developer customize it for you).

Now let’s look at those facts:

Fact 1: You Pay Until You Die

New Fact: you only pay for the initial installation and customisation of the CRM system. Now, you get your CRM installed on your server and after it’s installed you don’t pay a monthly fee (except for your web hosting, which you’re paying anyway).

If the initial development cost is acceptable you’ll be in a good position.

Fact 2: You Can’t Touch Nothing

New Fact: Touch away baby. The CRM software lies on your server now, which means you have access to everything.

Heck if you wanted you could have a big smiling image of your face come up whenever anyone logs into the CRM to deliver some big brother type speech (exagurrated example but you get the idea).

All the code for the CRM software lies on your server.

Fact 3: If The Business Falls, Or the Price Changes – You’re Out of Luck

New Fact: since you own all the code the happenings of the outside world don’t affect you. Let’s say you install SugarCRM Community Edition on your server and the SugarCRM company closes down.

Not to worry, your code and your company is safe.

Again this is unlikely but it’s worth mentioning.

Fact 4: That $30,000 is out of the box

New Fact: If you were to spend $30,000 on initial development you would have a true monster tailored to your business and processes. Really $30,000 is over kill and you could have a custom developed application for much less ($2k-$5k range) but the point is, at least when you pay that money you’re getting a developer who will work on customizing the environment to your needs, rather than just a monthly plan to rent an as-is software.

Fact 5: You Pay Through the A$@ for every new user

New Fact: with a self hosted CRM solution, you could have 1,000 users for all you care and it wouldn’t make a difference, you can have as many users as your database can hold.

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Finally I want to end with one note: it’s not how good the CRM system is that you use, it’s how well you can utilise it. I’ve worked with a number of clients through a number of CRM solutions, and unlike those salespeople at Salesforce I actually worked to not only plan the sales software, but also implement it for a client.

However besides that, just think long and hard before you jump on the cloud train. Because once they got ya, they got you. I believe in owning everything if possible, and if the price is right why not?

We're still paying our monthly fee because we thought we were smart lol

We’re still paying our monthly fee because we thought we were smart lol

 

Scientology, small steps and how videos converts the heathen

Recently I went with my friend to the city and we walked past the Scientology centre on George St. They had recently expanded and for some reason my friend wanted to do a “stress test”. Now keep in mind this guy is a Muslim and I don’t think he was considering joining Scientology, but I guess our boredom level had reached epic proportions so anything to break the mundane would do.

stress_test

Anyway while my friend was sitting getting his stress test done, all I could do while waiting for him is to sit on the couch this Scientology centre had, which was looking out at the telvision which, no suprise, was playing Scientology videos. The “brainwashing station” if you want to call it that.

Anyway I assumed when I sat down, I would watch a bunch of videos about how awesome Scientology is and I had all ready put a mental block on myself that I wouldn’t be “swayed” (full disclosure: I’m not a very religious person).

Anyway, no matter what you want to say about Scientology these guys know how to market and promote themselves. If you consider all the religions in the world, Scientology is probably one of the few major/semi major religions that has not spread its gospel by force/violence. They have something much more valuable up their sleeve.

Actually it’s pretty amazing that not only has Scientology expanded their George St. offices, they’ve also recently finished renovating their centre in Castlereagh Street. The fact that Scientology is (or seems to be) expanding is pretty amazing considering:

The book ‘Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief’ – was a book that fully exposed the inner working of Scientology which went on to sell a ton load of copies and was named Book of the Year by the Washington Post.

The popular cartoon South Park had exposed their secret belief system which they had hidden from the world

Typing ‘Scientology’ into Google brings up a result on the 1st page for a website called xenu.net, which again is completely negative towards Scientology and exposes their many practices that many people at the top of Scientology would probably not want to know

The point that I’m trying to make is that Scientology has a pretty poor PR record, and yet despite this has not only persisted despite this but flourished.

I’m not a Scientologist expert but what I can comment on is the video I watched while I was waiting for my friend to finish his stress test. As I said before I was expecting some Scientology propaganda but what I watched had me nodding along.

Let me explain.

The video I watched was broken up into two parts (you can call it two scenes). The first scene was about ‘communication’ and the second scene was about the ‘touch assist’.

Let me break down these two scenes.

Scene #1:
The scene starts with a businessman giving a presentation to another 4 business men. The voice over says something along the lines of:

“Your skills as a communicator largely determine your success in business and in life”

Here’s the thing, even though I may not have believed in Scientology I had to nod along, who is going to disagree right?

Then the video went on, the African American business man (who was presenting) finished his presentation and all the white guys clapped. Everyone was really happy with him and as he walked out of the office they were following him along like a cheer squad.

Then you see a timid guy sitting at his desk who sees the star presenter (let’s call this timid guy Timid Mike) and he tries, rather poorly, to get the star presenter’s attention (let’s call him Star John). Anyway John ignores him (or maybe doesn’t hear him) and continues on his victory walk along with his cheer squad behind him.

The shot turns to Timid Mike who is sitting there, defeated for not having been heard.

After this they showed a small demonstration of people talking to each other. You can view it from 2:40 below:

The video called the guy who was talking the ‘Cause’ and the person receiving/listening the ‘Effect’, and then it talked about ‘Distance’ being like, if there was less distance the effect was more likely to be effected (or the person was more likely to hear you).

It was actually a simple concept, something you might find in one of those business management books, but just like that Scientology had slipped in one of their concepts into your brain. I was sitting there nodding along, everything seemed to make sense.

Now it was time for Scientology to bring out some bigger guys, in the context of the situation.

Scene #2: The Touch Assist

I hunted down this video on the internet and you can watch it below:

This video is genius, as far as taking someone who is a complete fresh newbie from the street and converting them into a believer, the maker of this video has to be commended.

Since this blog post is dragging on I’ll be quick. Basically the idea behind this video is that when we’re injured we can do things to either quicken or slow down our recovery (for example – we can eat food while recovering instead of starving ourselves).

However it goes one step further to show a technique called the touch assist that can quicken a recovery. Basically if you sprain your ankle the idea is you would have someone touch you on the shoulder, then the other shoulder, and then on the chest, asking you if you feel those points and then finally touch you on your injured ankle. The whole thing takes 5 seconds and is probably completely without medical basis, however the great thing about it is that it only takes literally 10 seconds.

So just like that, with a small investment you’re in! Once you do the “touch assist” you’ve taken a step towards becoming a Scientologist.

They don’t ask you to buy materials, or register for a course, or change your whole belief system. Just try the “touch assist”.

And that is good marketing.

Just like when someone lands on your website you don’t ask them to buy your product/service (unless it costs $1), you just ask them to give you their email address, then you might send them a couple of emails and then ask for an investment fo $10 – $99, then slowly you build up that trust and you end up hitting them with your service.

Scientology understands this concept and so does every good marketer – the small steps. The scene on communication may have simply wanted me to agree with what they were saying. That was a small step, agreeing with something Scientology says (after all it can’t all be wrong), then the next step asks you to try a touch assist which would only take 10 seconds.

And I assume just like that, along with the free stress test which is another low risk entry method, Scientology is able to take you through the hoops of being a full member.

You can say what you want about Scientology and I’m not going to get into a thing where it’s a religous debate – but they understand marketing, and just because you don’t agree with a belief system or an organization doesn’t mean you can’t take a pgae out of their book when it comes to getting what you want.

P.S. I found part of the communication video below if you want to watch it:

A Client’s Greatest Fear – Why Some Clients Make the Leap, and Others Don’t

Recently I’ve had a client who stopped midway through when a website was 90% complete and started being totally impossible.

Basically he wouldn’t reply to my emails for 2 weeks, then come out of nowhere and complain that the website was running late.

He’d try to cause arguments and threaten me with mediation (even though I did nothing wrong).

At first, I was like, ok this client is insane, but now that I think about it – I have another theory, something a bit more “deep”.

I think secretly the client is afraid, and what he’s afraid of is not that this website that I’ll make for him will be a failure, it’s that the website will be a success.

Why would someone be afraid of that?

Well here’s my theory. I remember when my business started doing really well, and I was increasing my income and one week I made a lot of money – now granted this amount was from a bunch of jobs some of which had taken a month to do, but still it was cool to receive all that money in one week.

But instead of saying “Ok, cool, I made some good money this week, I’m going to go buy myself a nice chocolate bar and continue on” or something along those lines, I started sabotaging myself. The next week I hardly got any work done, I missed deadlines on purpose, and the reason – which I now understand from talking to my psychiatrist (which I see every week) – is that I had an idea in my head about how much money/success I could have, and if that number increased I felt that I was either:

a) Being a fraud/ripping off my clients

or

b) I was unworthy of the income and should do whatever necessary to put things back to the way things should be (the proper order order of the universe)

This type of mentality is really bad when it comes to being self employed – because some weeks you make good money and some weeks you may crap money, you can’t sit on your thumb when you have a good week because the next couple of weeks could be dry.

Anyway.

The point that I’m trying to make is – and this is going to sound a bit conceited, but I think when the clients went with me they didn’t expect to get the quality of work that they did, the website looked good, it functioned good, everything was setup. And suddenly they had to confront their fear that if this website were to go up, and they were to do the marketing they planned their income could increase quite a bit. And so this fired off their schemas (which is a psychological term for emotional critters that live in your brain and lie to you about reality – it’s a long story). So what does the client do? He needs to do something to stay at the level at which he’s all ready at – so one of the best ways to do that is to get on bad terms with your developer.

The one trait I see, the difference between the clients that I have that become successful (and long term clients that keep coming back for more stuff/upgrades for their site) vs. the ones that fall off is that the ones that get to the level where they should be are the ones that get over this initial fear.

It’s that fear when you’ve composed your message to say your new site is launched and you’re hovering your mouse over the ‘Send’ button in your email campaign manager, knowing it’s going to go to 5,000 people in your industry. Knowing that everything you worked for hinges on this moment, that you could have f$#@ed up and written a typo, and so you check your email 50 times before you send it (yet for me, for some reason there’s always a mistake I find right after the email is sent and it’s too late – which by the way is that schema playing up).

Anyway the point I’m trying to make is that some clients make that leap and get over their fear, and others get consumed by it. I think that’s the one biggest difference I can find. It’s not that some clients are incredibly intelligent, most businesses I work with don’t require a lot of brain power to operate – or at least not Einsteinein levels – but they do require you to use initiative and do what you’re not told to do.

And unfortunately for some, they’ll never get over their small fears, and will continue to play small, arguing with me over a $30 invoice to the point where I just chuck them – and they move on the next web developer and start the process all over again. I can relate because I’ve been there with the contractors I work with.

Playing small, thinking you’re not worth it are feelings that are so deeply embedded that most people would rather admit they don’t exist – and those people are the ones most susceptible to it. Those are the ones that never confront their fears – kind of like an alcaholic not admitting he has a drinking problem – and so they self sabotage the moment they get close to their goals, and that’s how they stay small.

This is just a phenomenon I noticed as I worked, and it’s something I’ve noticed in myself and this is my theory behind it ^^. Maybe you can look at your life and see how this relates to you, because it is definately something that I’ve had to (and still continue) to struggle with.

Annoying Client Vol. 1 – Late with Everything, Somehow My Fault

So I should probably preface this by saying most of the clients I work with are great, and if not great at the very least logical.

There comes a time when after you’ve been working long enough that you’re going to run into some a$@#les.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, but if you are a potential client and you read this and you nod along saying “Well what’s wrong with that?” then chances are we are not going to get along.. so in a way it’s a good way to filter out clients that are going to be a nghtmare.

So anyway let’s get righ to it, I’ll have a heading for every client situation – also note as ridiculous as some of this stuff sounds I am not exagurrating this, so it’s not some comedy piece, all though at times it will sound like it.

So, in no particular order:

#1 Throw the whole website out because I wouldn’t transfer the domain

I had a client that I started working with who wanted me to build a very complex site and make an iPhone app. We started out and had a really good relationship, we even met up from time to time at a bar and talked about how the website was going.

Finally the client had released payment for the website side of the project and I started working on the iPhone app.

Finally the iPhone app was about 90% complete and I asked the client to provide feedback on it to get it to a final stage. All in all I was proud with the work that I have done and how little issues there were with the project.

So anyway, 2 months after the site is finished the client decides to actually take action and call the payment provider eWay to setup payment processing on the website. The client also decides to send me yet another spreadsheet to import into the website, which me, being the sucker that I am, agree to do for free, in exchange for getting 50% of the iPhone app invoice. Make sense so far?

So then he sends me this spreadsheet on let’s say Friday and I tell him that it should be imported by Monday (as I didn’t really have anything to do on the weekend). So come Monday I had imported the spreadsheet but there were a couple of issues left. So this client calls and starts crying to me and talking about how I have delayed the website. Anyway I let him whinge, it was no big deal, as long as I got my 50% of the invoice once I had done everything I needed to it should have been fine.

So after I had done my part (which included updating the website to comply with eWay guidelines) – eWay had told the client that the website was registered under Head Studios (domain and hosting) and that they would need a letter from me to authorize this company to use eWay as a payment processing platform on a domain owned by me.

Now the client freaked out that the domain/hosting was not under his name so he called me and requested that it be transferred to him.

I told him I’d be happy to transfer the domain/hosting over to his name once the iPhone app was finalised (since I had finished 90% of it and still hadn’t gotten paid anything). Now the client was having none of it and started saying s#@t like “Don’t f##k with my business!”

I told the client that I’m not f#@$ng with his business and I just want to get paid for my services, and at the end of the day he can still launch his site and take payments and have everything work even if the domain was under my name, so there shouldn’t be an issue.

So here’s where the story gets weird. We had a conversation about this domain issue but at the end of the day I thought the client had dropped it, and since my part of the work was all done and I hadn’t heard anything from the client, I was assuming we’re just waiting on eWay to approve his site.

Now lo and behold this guy calls me one morning about a week later to basically tell me that:

1) They no longer want to work with me
2) The domain issue left a “bad taste” in his mouth
3) They all ready have another developer who’s been working on making the site and he’s 1/3 my cost
4) They’re upset that their site is not mobile compatible – remember this is 2 months after he approved the site and released the deposit (not to mention that a mobile site was never included in the agreement)

Hmm… that’s interesting. I enquired further about this other so called developer who was making what I did at 1/3 the cost. So here’s how the convo went:

Kosta: “Wow, 1/3 of the cost. That’s really good, but can the website have the feature of importing the data like mine and matching it up to all the unique fields” (I’m not going to get too technical here but I had custom wordpress fields and repeater fields and wrote a script to populate these from an Excel file)
Client: “Yep! He’s all ready done that and I’ve imported a couple of jobs and it works!!”
Kosta: “Wow, that’s really good… can I see this website?”
Client: “I don’t have to show it to you!!”

Ah, so it’s the old “I have someone else who can do a better job then you at a better price but they are invisible and I cannot show them to you!”

What can you do with these people?

At this point I gave up on this client. Either he was trying to play for me an idiot or he really did find a developer that was going to screw everything up for him.

Anyway I’m chasing him up on my costs to develop the app and the silver lining is that I learned a lot on the project – but for a simple issue of a domain not being in his name (which I had assured him by email would be transferred) he threw away the whole site and started with someone else. Talk about a bad business move.

A sad day for all. That’s what you call lose-lose.

What a depressing blog post aye?

Well it’s not all sunshine and lollipops in this world. I bring the bad and the good unlike others who sugercoat everything.

Peace.
P.S. I never did get the iPhone feedback, it’s been 4 weeks now – I’m sure he’ll email it to me in 2 months and then complain that I’m delaying the project. Same old story man.
P.P.S. I have sent the client an email with our original agreement and asked him where I had gone wrong and what part of my obligation I didn’t fulfill, of course there has been no response as to the old ‘avoidance’ tactic.
P.P.P.S. if you’re going to pretend like there’s someone out there at a better rate/service than me, at least put some effort into it. Pay some random $100 to say that he’s charging you $1 for an awesome site lol.

When Companies Lie About What They’ve Done – Marketing Testimonials

Thought I’d take a quick moment to vent – is that ok with you?

The thing I wanted to vent about was testimonials on marketing agency sites and a common strategy that’s popping up amongst digital “agencies” that’s complete bullshit and should be illegal.

Ok, so here’s how it works.

Have you ever been on a nice looking “digital agency”, “SEO Agency”, “Website Development” company or really any company that creates digital assets and more so offers the service of looking after your marketing?

Now it’s been shown that the least trusted people in the world are marketing people, right under (or is it just above) used car salesmen. The reputation is well earned. I’m not going to sit here and talk about how I’m a saint and I’m above it all, I’ve bullshitted a little here and there – mostly when clients ask me if I can do something, and I have no idea how to – and I say I can. But what I’m going to tell you is much worse than anything I’ve done.

Basically, imagine you’re starting out in this ‘marketing’ or even ‘web development’ field. You don’t have any work that you’ve done in the past, you’re pretty crap really, you’ve never achieved any results – and you don’t want to work to build a client portfolio and put in the hard yards. What do you do?

Simple.

You go to 5 companies that have done good work in the past, maybe they’re overseas or in another state. And you say to them:

“Listen, can I house your work on my site and pass it off as my own? Then if any work comes in I’ll make sure you get a piece.”

And so these 5 people say to themselves, why not, it can’t hurt.

Now these 5 people don’t know that you’ve approached the other 4 offering the exact same offer but by the time they realize it’s too late.

In either case now you have a website that looks like you’re the who’s who of marketing because all these companies are in your portfolio.

Except the problem is they’re not.

You didn’t go out and chase, and make the deal happen with these clients.

You didn’t go through and walk the ropes with these clients from beginning to end.

You didn’t end with the client being satisfied and leaving a testimonial.

All you’ve done is used other people’s work.

And that’s why you don’t have any testimonials on your website.

So next time you see a company that says they’ve worked with Sony or whatever, ask the guy you talk to who exactly at Sony he worked with and sit back and enjoy the stammer and attempted topic change.

How dare you ask me questions that expose my mask!!??

How dare you say facts that expose my mask!!??

This is how I increased leads by 400% for a multinational client

I used to read these advertisements you see where companies say “Increase your leads by 400%” and would think – ok, I smell some bull s#$t. That is until I got the results myself.

So here is the thing – sometimes a very minor change to a website, a small element can completely blast open the amount of leads it receives.

Instead of blowing theory on you I will show you a real world case of a change I made to a client’s website. Here is a popup for a client of mine:

popup_example_brooker

This comes up automatically when a user visits the site and you can check it out for yourself at brookermarine.com.au.

Now, this popup is linked to a CRM system (the fields are what we call Web to Lead – so those fields are entered as a new Lead in the CRM system).

Unfrotunately for privacy reasons I can’t divulge too much information – as far as how much leads they’re generating, but here’s what I can say – the amount of leads the company used to generate per week they have started generated per day, or if I want to be more conservative – every 2 days.

The concept is really simple:

  1. Get in the user’s face when they land on your site
  2. Request their contact details (this could be email and phone or just email)
  3. Give them something in exchange for itoh and one more thing
  4. Make sure it’s a layover popup, not an actual new browser window that pops up – the reason is for this is that many browsers don’t allow your website to create new browser windows and it just doesn’t look as good anyway

In order for this to work you need 2 elements:

  1. A good chunk of traffic all ready coming to your site (no point getting in people’s faces if there’s no faces to get in front of)
  2. You have something to give away – if you’re anywhere near established you’ll have something to give away, it doesn’t have to be something amazing. For example the example I used above was a simple PDF brochure, I mean that’s not even like something informative, you’re basically getting the same info that you’re getting on the site from the brochure.

BUT

If anyone is actually in the market for a Brooker boat are they going to pass up on a chance to have a nice PDF brochure?

Here’s another example that I’m making for a client –

webinar-popup

Notice the red text for 2.7+ hours and immediate access. People want it now! Not that you’d make them wait anyway but it can increase the conversions by a little bit. This popup should do even better because you’re getting 3 videos which you otherwise wouldn’t have access to – this is a legal site and so these 3 videos are going to be interesting to the target audience (maybe not to you) so I expect this to do very well, and if it does I’ll be sure to talk about it (if it doesn’t I’ll just quietly pretend it never happened and clean up the evidence that I tried).

So, if you’ve got:

  1. Good traffic coming to your site
  2. Something to give away for free

You could be looking at a potential gold mine here.

By the way my rate to set all this up for you (auto responder, graphics, text fields, implementation into CRM) is $649. If you are indeed a large client and you have the opportunity to blow up your leads $649 is a drop in the bucket. But that’s my rate for now.

However whether you go with me or someone else (or, in a lapse of sanity decide to do this yourself) you have all the info you need. Whatever you do just don’t procrastinate.