Book Review: Be #1 on Google – 52 Fast and Easy Search Engine Optimization Tools to Drive Customers to Your Web Site

Smith, Jon. Be #1 on Google. New York: Infinite Ideas, Ltd., 2009. Print. – ISBN: 978-0-07-162960-7. Want to be No. 1 on Google? Who doesn’t? In his new book, Internet guru Jon Smith attempts to outline 52 SEO tools to get to the top of Google. A few of the suggestions are right on the mark. Unfortunately, many fall short. Here is our review of this new book.

By Jason McDonald
Senior SEO Instructor – JM Internet Group.
Posted: November 6, 2009

Contents:

52 SEO Ways to Leave Your Lover
Best SEO Tools
Huh? Oldies but Not Goodies – Some Outdated Non-tips

52 SEO Ways to Leave Your Lover

Be No 1 On Google - SEO ToolsEveryone loves lists. People have Christmas lists, lists of to do’s for each day, New Year’s resolutions (which I like everyone break), and as Paul Simon immortalized lists of ways to leave your lovers. We all love Google – millions upon millions of daily searches prove that – and getting to the top of Google is the top list of all. But how do you climb the list to the top of Google? What are the secrets of the Google lists? Jon Smith of Aedgency.com has created a book of fifty two tools to help you get to the top of Google. Is this one to do a day? We’re not sure, but the title and the number fifty two imply it is.

The big question, of course, is whether any of the fifty two are any good? What is Jon’s take on SEO for Google? Does he have some great insights that you, as a practical small businessperson can implement? Is there any order of logic to the lists? And are they tools? Tips? Suggestions? Ideas? The book begins as if they are tools, but quickly they become ideas.

Think of them as a weekly prayer to get to the top of Google. And some prayers are more inspirational than other, but they are hardly tools.

Best SEO Tips

Mr. Smith provides a list of fifty-two so-called tools, claiming that they will help you get to the top of Google. Some of them are better than others. Tools No. 1 merely states the obvious: Google is the No. 1 search engine, and so you as a businessperson or marketer had clearly better focus on it. Tool No 5 promotes NicheBot (http://www.nichebot.com/) which is a suspicious "long tail" keyword tool, that looks like a Monday night infomercial on channel forty-two. As an SEO expert, I’m also always really suspicious of SEO sites like nichebot.com that aren’t actually optimized for SEO themselves. It’s like good enough for the customer to drink, but not good enough for you?

On the brighter side, Mr. Smith does point out some of the obvious things such as the importance of your TITLE tag. Embedded your target keywords in your TITLE tag throughout your website, and especially on your home page. Additionally, he points out how important it is to figure out keywords that uniquely match your offer with customer searches, rather than try to outcompete people at the top of the keyword heap. Riches in the niches, as they say. Finally, he points out my favorite tags the H1, H2, H3, etc., family of header tags. Loved by Google, if disdained by many web developers.

The best tip in the book is actually a novel way to search for sites that accept links. Mr. Smith simply recommends that you type in your target keyword + "Add URL" into Google. This thereby finds pages (catalogs, directories) that accept your keyword and your URL’s. It’s a great idea. I’ve used a similar strategy adding things like "Directory" or "category" and now I’ll add this to my tools. That one tip alone makes the book worth buying, although most of the other tips and tools are outdated at best.

Huh? Oldies but Not Goodies – Some Outdated Non-tips

Some of the tips and pointers in the book are outdated. And some are just nonsensical. He has links to companies like marketleap.com which have been acquired or no longer offer much in the way of free services, and many of the examples of this book (just published in 2009), are from 2005. So that, unfortunately, calls into question the whole publishing model. This might have been better as a blog entry or online article, especially in a fast-paced industry like SEO.

An unsubstantiated claim in the book is that participating in AdWords or in AdSense might help your SEO efforts. While this might make business sense, it is something that Google denies, and I haven’t seen any real evidence that participating in either program can help (or hurt) your natural or organic SEO results. Similarly, he recommends using Google search technology on your own site, for the same reasons. I remain unpersuaded.

In sum, it’s an OK book with one really good tip. But most of it you can learn online, so I wouldn’t recommend a purchase. Don’t buy it – go to the library and check it out, if you can…

Google Local Business – What is It, How to Get Listed on Google Local for SEO

Question: What is Google Local Business? How do I get my business listed, for free? And is there any way to leverage this as part of my SEO / Search Engine Strategy?

– Answer –
By Jason McDonald, Ph.D.
Contents:

Google Local Business: Definition
Google Local Business: How to Get Listed
Google Local Business: Getting Reviews
Google Local Business: SEO Opportunities

Google Local Business: Definition

Google Local Business (or google.com/lbc) is a relatively new service from Google that ties local searches (notably Google maps) to businesses. Think yellow pages meets Google. Think local customers searching for your business. Think where is the closest pizza restaurant to Sommerville, Massachusetts? Or in Google terms, the search is: Pizza Sommerville MA

Looking at the search results, we can see a number of local pizza restaurants that come back. Here is a screen shot:

Click on image to see full size - Google Local Search

Of search results returned, we see a few truly local chains:

  • Davis Square Pizza & Subs
  • Mama Gina’s Pizza Wings Subs
  • Mystic House of Pizza

For each, we can click on the listing, and go to that vendor’s websites. In addition, we can click on reviews and read reviews by real people about each vendor. In this sense, Google Local is thus competitive with Yelp.com. It seeks not just to show you what is local, but what people think about it. Think “social media” meets the “yellow pages.” The reviews can be good, bad, or ugly. Do some searches for local things that matter to you – restaurants, bars, massage centers, Bed & Breakfasts – and browse some vendors and their reviews…

Google Local Review

Google Local Business: How to Get Listed

OK, we have the concept. Google Local Business merges the brilliance of Google searches with the power of the Yellow Pages, and throws in some social media commentary as well. It’s how people can find interesting businesses that are physically nearby, and read what the “community” has to say about these local businesses.

So you are a local business, or at least you have potential customers that might search for you, so how do you get listed on Google Local Business. Is it free? And how might it fit into your SEO strategy?

Getting listed is actually pretty simple. Go to this URL: http://www.google.com/lbc. Once there you’ll see a slick video about the LBC. Or you can just watch the Youtube copy here:

Beyond that, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Sign in / or up / with a free Google Account
  2. Enter the listing information for your business
  3. Verify that you are the business either by responding to a phone call or waiting in the mail for a postcard with a verification password

Google Local Business: Getting Reviews

Once you are listed, you’ll want to get reviews. Ask your best customers – i.e., the ones who love you, to review your business. Having more reviews clearly helps propel you to the top of Google searches. Here’s how they can review you –

  1. They’ll need a free Google accounts, such as a Gmail email account in order to review, and they’ll have to be “logged in” in order to review.
  2. Do a search to find your business. Something like “your business name” plus your “location” as in “Dr. John’s Dentistry, Atherton, California.”
  3. After you or they find your business, then, click on the review, then click on write a review.
  4. Write a review, and it will appear beside your business in search results.

Here’s a screen shot of what the review page looks like:

Google Local How Review

Google Local Business: SEO Opportunities

Clearly the biggest SEO opportunity is just being listed on Google local. If your business has a local angle, and your customers search using local terms (like your city or neighborhood), then the free listing on Google local can really help you, especially if you’re doing seo for medical practices for instance.

As you create and maintain your listing, however, think “SEO.”

  • Weave your keywords into your business title and listing description. Google is keyword centric, so we can assume that if the search query keywords are present in your listing, this will boost your chances of appearing at the top of the list.
  • Get reviews. Clearly businesses with more reviews get priority in the listings.
  • Get reviews that contain your keywords. Again, encourage your customers to include the target keywords inside your reviews.

Facebook & Social Media SEO vs. Search Engine SEO – a Tale of Two Cities?

Social media is the darling of the moment. Marketer after marketer has plunged into the world of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Yelp, any and every social media out there in the search to engage with customers, build community, and certainly be part of the biggest phenomenon on the web since HTML. But many of my SEO training class students ask, “Is Social Media worth it? How should it integrate with our Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy?” A recent article in the New York Times got me thinking, and researching…

The Facebook Era: How to Market Your Business With Facebook

The November 15, 2009 New York Times was abuzz with a fun article called “How to Market Your Business with Facebook.” But, what do the French say? Oh yes – Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, or the more we move to social media, the more traditional PR is at work posting articles in mainstream magazines and newspapers to encourage buzz about social media. Does Facebook have a PR agency? Does Twitter?

In this case traditional PR was clearly at work here – an author with a new book, an author plugging her new book via an article in the New York Times… And of course the irony being that the traditional media are telling us just how important not Web 1.0 is, but Web 2.0 (Social Media) is… Whenever I read these articles, my skeptical tech journalist instincts flame on (remember: I am a dot.com survivor)… And I wonder if we are seeing old wine in new bottles – some very traditional old media PR that is wrapping itself in the New Media blanket, to sell books.

After all, think about it in big bold terms: you are reading THE NEW YORK TIMES to find out how important it is to FACEBOOK, not the other way round!

OK, rather cynical I admit. But that is what journalists are supposed to be – although I think critical journalism is being relegated more and more to the blogosphere and not the pages of the New York Times, but I digress.

So the point of the article is that every business should get on Facebook / Social Media (build community) and hopefully thereby sell products or services. I can’t disagree with that – I certainly think that social media has a place, the issue being what that place is in an Integrated Marketing & Communications (IMC) strategy.

By the way, quotes from the article and homage to the book author: “You need to be where your customers are and your prospective customers are,” said Clara Shih, author of The Facebook Era (Pearson Education, 2009). “And with 300 million people on Facebook, and still growing, that’s increasingly where your audience is for a lot of products and services.” You can view the book’s Facebook page, here.

Facebook Profiles in Courage: Chris Meyer vs. Sprinkles

A Camera Takes a Picture of Facebook and SEO miraculously appears - I see Google searches!The article profiles two very different businesses. First, Chris Meyer of Woodbury, Minnesota, Wedding photographer, who, according to the Times article, estimates that he has spent about $300 on Facebook ads in the last two years and has generated more than $60,000 in business. He says about three-quarters of his clients now come to him through Facebook, either from ads or recommendations from friends. “I’d be out of business if I didn’t have Facebook,” Mr. Meyer said. “Especially with this economy, I need to stretch each marketing dollar as much as I possibly can.” I had to Google quite a bit to find him at http://www.cm-photographics.com/ and his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CMPhotographics

Second, there was Sprinkles, a high end cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills, California, with a Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/sprinkles.

According to the article, Sprinkles uses Facebook to give customers a whiff of what’s cooking. Every day it posts a password on Facebook that can be redeemed for a free cupcake. Since April, its fan base has risen tenfold to 70,000. The company was also featured on Oprah, and it seems to use Facebook as a real-time way to notify its fans about where and when the best cupcakes will be available, plus issue coupons.

So we have two profiles in courage – one a wedding photographer and one a trendy bakery in Beverly Hills. Is there any logic for other businesspeople into the strategies used? I Googled and searched both, and what was striking is that neither business has a very good on page SEO strategy, whereas Sprinkles clearly has an excellent link building strategy with 2,600 backlinks vs. only 62 for cm-photographics.com. What lessons can be learned from this article, and from these two profiles in courage?

Is it SEO vs. Facebook? Or is it (should it be) SEO AND Facebook?

I would submit to you that Clara Shih is one of many purveyors of the latest fad, the latest dog-chasing-its-tale, the latest busy busywork for marketers and small businesses. It reminds one of the early Web craze: you must have a web page, even if you do not know what it is supposed to do for you. Today, it’s you must Facebook, you must Twitter, you must Youtube… And for many businesses, we have unfortunately “moved past” basic SEO – basic <TITLE> tags, basic on page optimization, even basic attention paid to the No. 1 source of traffic to most businesses: Google. This is vividly so on Meyer’s Wedding photographer website, because if people search for one thing on Google, it’s all the paraphernalia associated with weddings!

I Googled for Meyers for these keywords:

  • wedding photographer minnesota
  • wedding photography minnesota
  • high-end wedding photographer minnesota
  • luxury wedding photographer minnesota
  • unique wedding photography minnesota

And he was not in the top 200 results… Now perhaps he isn’t seeking the type of client who would Google, and prefers the type who would just Facebook. That would be a totally valid marketing judgement on his part. I can’t say. What I can say is that most wedding photographers can’t afford to turn down business these days, and their marketing goal should be to be No. 1 on Google for their target searches (plus their geographies) and to have a vibrant presence in social media.

Cupcakes SEO and FacebookAs for cupcakes? It’s the exception that proves the rule. I can’t imagine many Googlers Googling cupcakes, and the one very successful example of Twitter / Facebook does seem to be real-time restaurant updates, so having an active social media strategy makes a lot of sense. Their website isn’t very SEO friendly, but their amazing link strategy more than makes up for it. Consequently, it seems like Sprinkles is having its cupcake and eating it too: being highly visible on both Facebook and Google.

In conclusion, for most businesses, you should get Google right first. And then (and only then) move on to social media. With limited time and resources, don’t put the cupcake before the icing, or the photographer (Facebook) before the photography (website).