About the Author: Taylor Hill

Taylor Hill

Taylor Hill is the Chief Storyographer at Harkins Creative. What is a Storyographer? "He's the one who makes sure that the story stays on track," Taylor says. "If it's not authentic, transparent or profitable, then it's up to me to understand why, and fix it." You can often find Taylor staring or shouting at a screen full of Analytics site statistics like he's watching a football game. But he takes it much more seriously.

Recent Posts from Taylor Hill:

What’s the Value of a Facebook Fan?

If you were to ask that question to most business owners they would look at you like a “deer in the headlights” because they don’t have the answer. The truth is; no one actually has the answer to that question because it’s a bit arbitrary as articulated in this post from a panel at the latest South by Southwest Interactive Festival in regard to 4 questions brands need to ask about the value of Facebook fans.

There are far too many variables to consider to be able to put a number on the value for each and every business; even the different models. I see a lot of companies in the local market that are pushing Facebook and Twitter as a “must have” for their businesses. I believe local is the last frontier in marketing online and everyone is entering into the local market and trying to gain their piece of the pie and that can lead to confusion; especially when business owners are busy running their businesses and are not familiar with what is happening online.

To tell you the truth, I’m online and reading the latest and greatest everyday and it can be confusing to me as well. This article helps identify why. I’ve seen valuations for Facebook Fans as high as $168.00 to worthless. If a fan is indeed worth $168.00, then getting as many fans as possible makes a lot of sense for your business. If it’s worthless (and they will all be worthless for companies that are not willing to engage), then your money is better spent somewhere else.

The main things to consider are the profit, influence potential, acquisition costs and brand affinity. Each of these will play a role in calculating the value of a fan on Facebook. Just remember as you navigate these waters that it doesn’t take much to alienate your fan base so be careful to only put out positive and enlightening information and never bash your competitors.

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Is the Migration to Facebook Real or Out of Fear of Google’s Power?

I’ve been in the online marketing world for almost a decade now and find some interesting behaviors with consumers and business alike; they tend to operate out of fear more than they would like to admit.

After Google’s move last Friday that affected almost 12% of the businesses indexed it has become increasingly obvious that Google controls many companies’ fates. They pretty much wiped out JC Penny’s and Overstock.com rankings overnight when these company’s were “found out” to be using black hat tactics (those Google has said it will not tolerate) to get high rankings on Google. Google has also admitted this last month in an attempt to out Bing as a cheater, that it can and has manipulated search results after they had stated publicly before that they would never do such a thing.

Now all you read about is how Facebook is slowly, or not so slowly, taking over in gaining on Google as the next big thing; or bigger thing, depending on what you are reading. So my question is; are people really going over to a social site in order to gain product share or are they just trying to find somewhere else to go so they don’t feel at the mercy of Google power?

Do companies really feel comfortable being at the mercy of any online business that can, at the drop of a hat (no pun intended) change the game? It may be that while Facebook exes tout the demise of the website and Google’s world, there is someone in a garage or warehouse in the world coming up with the next big thing that allows companies to engage their customers and clients directly bypassing both Google and Facebook!

Hey, stranger things have happened. There was a time when no one saw Google or Facebook coming…

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2 Main Reasons You Don’t Get the Right Traffic

I’m sure you get emails just like I do everyday telling you how to obtain all the online traffic you could ever imagine; and it requires little time or money. If you get these, run away and do not click on it for any reason because there are 2 main reasons you are not getting the type of traffic you want; Google can’t find you and/or Google has no idea what you are about. Let’s take each one of these and drill down a little further.

Google Can’t Find You

The first thing to realize is that unless you are in a very specialized niche market, you are not the only one in town, in the state or in the nation doing whatever it is you do. That means you should get an idea of who your competition is and what they are doing online. You must also realize that you may be in a category that is highly competitive and that means you will have to do even more to be found.

It is still amazing to me how many people believe that once their website is built they’re done! If this is what you’re thinking then you really are done; online. The idea of “build it and they will come” has been disproved so many times I’m not going to go into it again here. Just know that after a website is built, the real work begins. That’s because being indexed in Google and other search engines is not enough. You have to work to get the right links, citations, reviews, mentions, articles, videos, podcasts, etc., etc, etc. to get ahead and stay ahead of the crowd. This means you will either be doing it yourself, which take a lot of your time or paying someone else to do it for you, which means it costs money.

In the town I live in I typed into Google “my town bank” (with the quotation marks so I would get an exact match) and got back “about 10,700,000 results” This simply means that out of all the banks in my town there are about 10,700,000 pages competing for the top 10 positions on Google. So you have a chance of 1 in 1,070,000 of achieving that ranking in the organic search. If I put “my town my state bank” the results are “about 68,700 results” or 1 in 6,870. Now think about how you are listed on your website and the terms you are associated with.

As you can see, it will be easier to be found if you are competing against 68,700 pages instead of 10,700,000 pages. This brings me to the next item on our list.

Google has No Idea What You are About

The first thing you need to understand is that Google ranks pages, not websites. The rank you have on your home page is for that page only; not the entire website. Every page on your site needs to be about something particular so your pages are not competing with each other. While this seems impossible, it’s not. Let’s take the bank example and look at how a bank can divide and conquer in the online space.

One tactic is to divide your pages by location. While this is very doable, it can be tricky because of local and map search technologies. Make sure you consult someone who understands local search, and not everyone in search does, who can help you through the local search maze if you have multiple locations.

Another approach is to divide your pages by services; your home page would be toward your overall bank and you would have your other pages highlight your services. For example you might talk about the history of the bank and why your customers can trust the bank with their money on the home page. You may then put up category pages that are topical as in mortgages, savings, CD’s, etc.

The biggest mistake companies and people make are talking about the same things on multiple pages and using the same wording and keywords for descriptions of those things. Remembering that the search engines see each individual page as a place where information is stored and they will pull up the best information that can be found that is indexed. If you talk about the same things on each page you are in essence competing with yourself; thus Google, Bing and the other search engines see a bunch of pages talking about the same things so they dismiss your website as confusing.

So how do you compete? Be very targeted and concise and choose your market well.

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What Will You Do To Be # 1?

In our culture we often push the limits to be # 1. However, when it comes to the internet and search; beware of the # 1 pitch. Any company that tells you they can get you to the number 1 position on any search engine, map or place page should be thoroughly investigated before hiring. This is because all most all of the top SEO (Search Engine Optimization) companies never promise position. What they promise is to get you the very best position based on your budget and time commitment. After all, what you are paying for is their time to implement their SEO expertise within your timeframe and the time it takes to do it.

You aren’t paying for a silver bullet that takes you to the top to only have you disappear over time into oblivion. This is what happens when black or gray hat methods are used to get you to the top of the heap. You may stay there for awhile and even make a little money but eventually you will get found out.  Then you will have to make another decision; give it up or start over. Be #1 in the long run. Remember; do it the right way and stay.

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Why Link Building is Still Important

With the advent of Google turning so much attention to local search I see many companies turning from traditional search engine optimization and chasing the local directories, maps, etc. What you need to know is the same principles behind organic listings are behind local listings so it is smart to make sure your website is search engine ready; even when chasing local listings.

Google turned their attention to local when they discovered that over 70% of searches are done with local intention. However, if you’ve noticed, Google actually gives you the results it thinks you are looking for. An example of this would be to type in something like, “dentist Nashville” as opposed to, “dental information”, as opposed to, “dentist”. The first search will give you listings of dentists in Nashville, which is local. The second will give you the best sites for dental information, which is all organic while the third search has a mixture because it doesn’t know exactly what you mean with the broad term “dentist”.

What you don’t see is that the sites that rise to the top in any of these searches have very good back links as well as reviews and citations. This simply means that at this time you should not abandon your linking tactic, even if you are strictly a local business.

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Getting Your Head Around 2011

I am always floored by the talk at the end of every year in regard to politics; especially how what goes on each December that will carry over into the following year. While taxes certainly affect each of us, I have discovered that what is best for me is to concentrate on what I have control over.  It is much more productive to evaluate myself and my business at the end of each year and identify what has worked and what has not worked throughout the previous year as well as to start the planning and strategies that I would like to implement in the next year.

Worrying about what Congress is going to do, to my knowledge, has never made me any additional money. I have and will continue to call my Congressman and/or Senator and put in my two cents but again, to my knowledge that has never changed my Congressman or Senators mind so I see no sense in making decisions based on what they do in Washington. What does make sense to me is to spend my time thinking about and discussing the things that directly impact my business so I can make changes that need to be made. Thinking ahead also allows me the advantage of being prepared for whatever comes down the pike; to be able to move swiftly and decisively when things change that will affect the business and this includes whatever ends up being passed in Congress in regard to taxes or anything else.

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Have You Accomplished Your 2010 Marketing Goals Yet?

I bring your goals for 2010 up for one reason only; if you haven’t reached them yet you most likely won’t between now and the end of the year. While you may be kicking yourself, don’t. The fact is there are a small percentage of small companies that actually reach all their goals in any given year and that’s not all bad as long as the ones you did reach propelled you forward in some form or fashion.

It’s also true that small business suffer from working “in” their business far more than working “on” their business and it becomes more apparent as they get close to the end of the year. They realize their marketing plan, accounting system, employee retention and a thousand other things have either suffered or not been touched at all or in a long time. I can’t help you with everything but I can help you with not only evaluating your marketing plan for the upcoming year but implementation of the plan. Knowing what to do is just the starting point. Putting everything into action in the right order with the right team is where the results lie. It is only through those results that you get a true measure of return on investment for the overall marketing plan.

Many people who deal with online marketing measure with traffic or clicks. It may make you feel great to get all that traffic but if that traffic or click through is not buying what you have or want the service you provide then it’s not worthy traffic. This is why having a plan of action that points everything you do in the correct direction is extremely important when marketing to any demographic these days whether online or off. To not work “on” the marketing of your business is the first step to disaster for a small business in today’s climate.

Give your business a Christmas present this year and stop to really evaluate your business and online/offline marketing going into 2011. Give yourself a chance to take your business to the next level; you will be glad you did.

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