Search Engine Optimization-Asap Pls

Business By karateka Updated 27 Jun 2010 , 1:46pm by costumeczar

karateka Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 7:09pm
post #1 of 32

So I get this obnoxious call from a guy selling search engine optimization. He says I need to market my business and he's right, but...

He says the best he can do for me is $1000 for a video (30 second clip, 3 of my best cakes) that they will market the hell out of. Oh, and it costs $60 per month upkeep fee, 8 month contract, 100% money back guarantee.

Is this something any of you business women would consider? They are a real company, but only in biz since 2008 and I can only find one review of their business.

I'm almost thinking advertising on theknot.com would do me as well, but that is $120/month (last I heard, anyway) and someone has advised me against that with the small number of orders I have booked already. Although it seems to me that if I had orders booked I wouldn't feel the need to advertise quite as strongly as I feel it now.

Any insight?

31 replies
PiccoloChellie Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 7:44pm
post #2 of 32

If he's selling you SEO, what does a video have to do with that? Honest question here. Videos have nothing to do with search engine optimization.

SEO is, well, optimal when using a site with clean, clean code; plenty of searchable text on the site itself; legitimate links from other sites to yours (NOT on "link farms" which are more likely to cost you pageranking) and, as needed, submission of your site to search engines which you can do yourself.

What EXACTLY does the $1000 & $60/month get you? How are they going to optimize your search engine placement? These are questions this guy should have no trouble at all answering in detail.
If he's got answers and you don't understand them, take good notes and post back here. I've had a bit of experience in this area. icon_wink.gif

karateka Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 8:08pm
post #3 of 32

He's telling me that the video is marketing my website. It's the cheapest option he can offer, 'cuz the bit with the seo and the blog writing and all the jazz is 5K plus 100 plus per month for upkeep.

He says the video will be up in the top results in google and other search engines and will drive people to my site.

He was obnoxious. I know I need help but I have exactly $400 in my account and I don't have the faintest idea what the smartest marketing strategy is. My DH says I should put flyers under windsheild wipers in the Meijer park and ride. I guess he wants to paper the parking lot.

They have a list of services a mile long......but I can't afford the big package.

The people who built my site have said it includes submission to all the top search engines. But of course he says they aren't doing their job 'cuz on a webgrader I got a low rank. I have no blog, no social media marketing, so I suck.

And it doesn't help that I can't friggin' get my people on the phone.

tootie0809 Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 8:11pm
post #4 of 32

I've wondered about SEO too. I've looked into it, and it's expensive. For right now, I'm using Google Ad Words. But I do still wonder if paying for SEO is worth it. I don't come up under a general "wedding cake" search at least nowhere near the 1st or 2nd page, so that's why I do Ad Words for the paid sponsorship placement. I'd love to learn more about it though, but I honestly haven't called an SEO company because I don't want to get into a high-pressure sales situation. PiccoloChellie, what has your experience with it been and what good advice or tips can you share with us?

costumeczar Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 8:21pm
post #5 of 32

No, no no no no no no! You can do this yourself, you don't need to get some guy to do it for you! They'll jsut try to plant your link on a million random sites, and there are much more effective ways to do it. What are you doing now? Adwords isn't an SEO thing for the most part, it's an ad program.

CWR41 Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 8:26pm
post #6 of 32

I've skimmed over the post several times and don't see if you've named the company, so I apologize if I'm wrong... nothing leaps out at me!

I'd like to mention, if it's Estrella Marketing, don't use them. Even if a company says 100% money-back guarantee, you'll have a hard time getting it back. There are lots of poor reviews about Estrella online. (I don't know if I'd go quite so far to say they are a scam, but they aren't actually doing what they promise to do.)

tootie0809 Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 8:27pm
post #7 of 32

The only reason I do Ad Words is because it puts my name out there for the searches I want to come up on the top for, like wedding cakes. I've tried keywords on my site and I come up under bakeries and cake decorators, but I'm really geared more towards wedding cakes, so that's what I want to have top billing, so to speak, on. How do I do it myself? Please share!! icon_smile.gif

karateka Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 8:48pm
post #8 of 32

It's Kaiso Solutions.

I don't have the money he wants. I wondered about the video, but he was such a jackass that I really think I should keep looking.

Plus...I fell for the high pressure thing once, and now I can't get the friggin' employees to return my calls.

PiccoloChellie Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 8:52pm
post #9 of 32

karateka, don't give this guy any money.

RIP.OFF. Pretend I wrote that in really huge, bold letters.
Videos aren't going to market a site effectively unless they're aired on prime time TV. You could make your own 30 second "spot" using cake photos and some background music and publish it on Youtube for free.



Search engines look for text. That's the only way they can catalog a site. All the search terms you'd like to result in your site coming up have to be in text. The common terms - cake, wedding cakes, the name of your city and state, and so on - should be in natural language in several places on your site. Don't put a bunch of search terms or keywords at the bottom of every page trying to "spam" the search engines. Google's robots especially are getting quite good at recognizing keyword spam and filtering those results.
Every photo on your site should have either ALT text or a text description with it. That will give Google Images something to index.
Spell everything correctly.
Avoid overuse of Flash. All that fancy Flash animation doesn't get indexed by search engines. Never create the important text on your website as an image, such as a jpg or gif, for the same reason.

Have a concise, relevant website title. "Bob's Cakes" isn't a good website title. "Bob's Cakes: Wedding Cakes, Custom Cookies, and Cupcakes in Buttkiss, Idaho" is a good website title.

Other sites linking to yours helps a lot, but be cautious about submitting your site to what are known as link farms. They just list everything willy-nilly and search engines tend to filter those out as well.
Start a blog on Blogspot (free), write about cake on a somewhat regular basis, and make sure to link back to your main website. Start a Facebook business page (free) and, again, link that site. Myspace, also free. Twitter, free. Link, link, link!
If you participate in other forums, link your site in your signature.

Utilize what's out there to get a bit of a leg up
http://www.google.com/webmasters/
http://www.google.com/local/add
http://www.google.com/addurl/
http://www.dmoz.org/add.html

Consider 'trading links' with other decorators you admire, but try to avoid link trading with a decorator in your immediate area. Hey, competition. Y'know. Instead, if you're cake buddies with someone in Michigan and you're in Tennessee, post a link to their site on your site. Note that you admire their custom cakes/wedding cakes. Have them do the same for you. Sure, someone in Michigan probably won't need a decorator in Tennessee, but the search engine robots will see it as a legitimate link on a page with relevant content.

Just remember - you want your site URL and name on several different locations online, and your site needs to have good text content that the search engines can catalog and CLEAN CODE. It's not easy and it takes time, but those are your biggest ways to get your search ranking up there!

karateka Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 9:17pm
post #10 of 32

Thank you Picolo...

I can't do anything with my stinkin' website at the moment because the account manager won't call me.

About the blog:

I don't want to seem totally stupid here...but what the heck do I write about every week? I'm not a pastry chef and am mostly self taught.....this guy said I need a blog, too, but I don't know what the heck to SAY. I've read some blogs....they all have lots of experience and advice to give and I feel like my blog would be completely useless to the point of why even have one.

And I feel stupid asking about this: How do I know what my twitter url is? I know people can follow my business (xxxcakes)....but that's not a url....

I can link people to my fb group, I think.

I guess my illiteracy is why I'm so damn computer/marketing gullible.

dkltll Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 9:21pm
post #11 of 32

What Piccolo said! I don't have a cake biz but I do maintain the website for my day job. Google has really great FREE information on how to get noticed by search engines. Talk to the people that maintain your site & ask them what keywords they are using in your meta tags. Again, listen to Piccolo about blogspot, Facebook, Twitter, etc.. They are all FREE!
The next time a rude salesperson calls just hang up! I had a guy tell me one time that I was violating all kind of Google regulations which I was not. When I signed up with Google they began scanning my site everyday for violations & will shut me down or let me know, they told me the guy was a scammer.
Good Luck!

PiccoloChellie Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 9:33pm
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Thank you Picolo...

I can't do anything with my stinkin' website at the moment because the account manager won't call me.

About the blog:

I don't want to seem totally stupid here...but what the heck do I write about every week? I'm not a pastry chef and am mostly self taught.....this guy said I need a blog, too, but I don't know what the heck to SAY. I've read some blogs....they all have lots of experience and advice to give and I feel like my blog would be completely useless to the point of why even have one.

And I feel stupid asking about this: How do I know what my twitter url is? I know people can follow my business (xxxcakes)....but that's not a url....

I can link people to my fb group, I think.

I guess my illiteracy is why I'm so damn computer/marketing gullible.




If I may ask, how much are you paying for an "account manager" for your website?
Send an email threatening to pull your account if they don't respond to you immediately. Assuming you have a contract with this company, find out how often you're entitled to "updates" or however it's phrased. If you're not getting what you're paying for, indicate that you'll pull your account for breach of contract since they're not doing their job.
If you have zero access to your own website, that's not a good thing. That's the face of your business these days. If they won't update it for you, find someone who will.

Blog about cakes. Even if you post a photo and a short description of a cake you did that week, blog it. Review some of your favorite cake decorating equipment. Discuss previous cakes you're proud of. Tell funny or interesting stories. Talk about new flavors you're adding or a particularly interesting flavor combination you've come up with. Look around on CC at some of the common questions you see posted and "answer" them on the blog. Debunk some of the common myths about cake. The options are endless. icon_smile.gif

Your Twitter URL is twitter.com/xxxcakes (whatever your Twitter name is)

Make sure a link to your website is on your Facebook page and vice-versa. Create a business page if you haven't already - try to avoid using your personal page for your cake business.

karateka Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 9:57pm
post #13 of 32

Thanks!

They have technically performed what they said they would. However, she told me she'd show me how to use the database she sold me that helps me email market with a newsletter.

I've called several times since she missed our telephone appt Monday and no response at all. I do have access to my site, but once I accidently messed it up and they charged me $30 to fix it. I'm trying to get help so I don't mess it up again and ......no response. I've combed the help tutorials and just can't get that last question answered. She is starting to piss me off.

I appreciate your advice. I will post those links as soon as I figure out how...it's one of the easier things to add, I think. icon_confused.gif

I should have thought about the cake thing for the blog. I get updates to Anne Heap's blog and it's all pictures of cakes she did. That never occurred to me.

Thanks for taking the time.

costumeczar Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 11:06pm
post #14 of 32

I write a blog and I NEVER run out of things to write about! Things happen on deliveries that make you think of something, you can write about cakes you did, there are a ton of things.

I also do my own website using yahoo site templates, and I can update it all I want without worrying about someone else's timeline. I'm not a web designer and I don't know HTML, but there are plenty of templates that you can use that are really easy to figure out. I highly recommend doing it yourself.

karateka Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 11:09pm
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I write a blog and I NEVER run out of things to write about! Things happen on deliveries that make you think of something, you can write about cakes you did, there are a ton of things.

I also do my own website using yahoo site templates, and I can update it all I want without worrying about someone else's timeline. I'm not a web designer and I don't know HTML, but there are plenty of templates that you can use that are really easy to figure out. I highly recommend doing it yourself.




Too late. Already contracted. And I love the look of the site, I'm just so irritated that she won't call me!

I'm going to look into the blog thing tomorrow. Since I've got no cakes to do for a while, I'll have to try to come up with something to talk about. Sigh....

jillmakescakes Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 12:37am
post #16 of 32

If I were you, I'd see if your local college has a few computer students who would be willing to help you optimize/upgrade your site, get you started on facebook and work out a few keyword issues. Most students are pretty proficient and are willing to work at a reasonable price provided they can use your site on their resume.

As far as what to blog/facebook about, that is your decision. You can use each post to discuss the cakes you did that week, you can provide tips/tricks for people planning parties, you can make it a more personal conversation (think-what would I tell someone at a bridal show) or you can offer cake planning advice.

karateka Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 1:31am
post #17 of 32

Do you guys let people make comments on your blog?

jillmakescakes Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 1:56am
post #18 of 32

yes, but I usually check it pretty regularly to make sure there aren't any weird or inappropriate comments.

costumeczar Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 2:11am
post #19 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Do you guys let people make comments on your blog?




I have moderation turned on so that I have to approve everything before it posts. I get an email when someone posts a comment, and I approve it manually.

karateka Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 12:56am
post #20 of 32

Is it true that if your blog isn't part of your website, it won't help market your site? I figured if there were cross-links between the two...

My acct manager at my web place says it has to be part of the website and updated regularly to up my site in the rankings. But a blog from them is like $330.

I finally got to talk to her today. She was out ill Monday for our appt and apparently they aren't real good about calling off her appts. icon_confused.gif

Anyway, she apologized and promised to help me today...but I didn't have internet access at the time... icon_mad.gif

So I'm calling tomorrow. I'm not feeling like a cake decorator so much as a computer potato.

jillmakescakes Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 1:07am
post #21 of 32

I spent over 200 hours working on and researching how to build my website. most of this time was spent at night after my kids were in bed, but I did the whole site myself and I'm on the first page when searching for wedding cakes in my area, for Google, Yahoo and MSN (I used a variety of keywords).

I honestly believe that it was time and money well spent. My blog is separate from my site, so I'm not concerned about it bumping my ratings.

SliceCakeStudio Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 1:14am
post #22 of 32

One of the best books I have and am reading now is SEO - An hour a day by Jennifer Grappone & Gradiva Couzin. It actually really helped me to VERY specifically define my target market (which can be varied!)

cutthecake Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 1:35am
post #23 of 32

Wow...you computer guys really know your stuff!

PiccoloChellie Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 7:22am
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

My acct manager at my web place says it has to be part of the website and updated regularly to up my site in the rankings. But a blog from them is like $330.




Your account manager is trying to sell you a $330 blog.
She sounds like she's pretty good at the sales part of her job. Fortunately you're asking questions. icon_smile.gif

Don't "buy" a blog from this company. A free blog on Blogger or even Livejournal is just as effective, and in some respects is better than a fully integrated blog on your site (meaning the kind you'd have to "buy" from this company).

Here are the pros and cons:
Pros - it's free to go through Blogger/etc; you can update your blog by yourself without any real risk of screwing up your blog or website; that link from an "outside" website pointing to your main website is helpful for your overall rankings; you can pull in additional viewers from random blog surfers
Cons - visually, the layout of your website and blog won't be an exact match, which isn't a big deal these days anyway; visitors do have to navigate away from your main site (but that's why you have links to your site on the blog, so they can get back!); and, addressing what your account manager told you:
the frequent update thing is actually valid. Sorta. Once a search engine indexes your site (meaning, the robots know it's out there and have listed it in the search engine), the robots will periodically come back and "crawl" your website. This means they look over the text on your site and see if anything new has been added, and add any new info to the search listings. If a website is updated frequently, it's crawled more frequently and, subsequently, has a higher search ranking. If a website isn't updated at all, it's stagnant and that hurts search ranking. With a blog, you can easily keep the site very active and if the blog is integrated into your site that effectively makes your whole site more active. This is where it becomes a tradeoff between ease of use plus the external link-ins of using Blogger/etc vs. an onsite blog.

In your case, I think it makes more sense to have that free external blog with links back and forth to your main website. The pros just outweigh the cons. Hopefully you're able to easily add new photos to your website (including text descriptions of said photos!), so that should take care of keeping the robots crawling your main site. Take advantage of the other benefits of having an offsite blog as well as the ease of use of something like Blogger. If, down the line, your website hosting situation changes, you can actually do some stuff to integrate your "external" blog and make it a part of your site.


Something for you to consider: I don't know if you have a contract with the company maintaining your website that you're stuck in for a specific time limit, but it may be worth looking into moving to hosting where YOU have control over your website. Remember, your website is the face of your business and it hurts business if you're subject to the whims and fancies of your account manager. Yahoo's small business webhosting is inexpensive, and they have templates and tools that make it fairly simple for a "computer potato" to maintain their own site. I've used them for a restaurant I built a site for so the owner could maintain it themselves once I was done building, and I'll be using them for an e-commerce site I'm building for a relative's new business they're just starting. I've also used Yahoo for over a decade to host my personal site. Believe it or not, it really isn't too terribly difficult to do this yourself, especially if you work from templates. And it's worth it for peace of mind.

costumeczar Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 10:41am
post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I write a blog and I NEVER run out of things to write about! Things happen on deliveries that make you think of something, you can write about cakes you did, there are a ton of things.

I also do my own website using yahoo site templates, and I can update it all I want without worrying about someone else's timeline. I'm not a web designer and I don't know HTML, but there are plenty of templates that you can use that are really easy to figure out. I highly recommend doing it yourself.




I'm quoting myself to agree with piccolo about yahoo hosting. It's all templates, has lots of tutorials if you're confused, and it gives you the ability to add and change things on your site when you want to.

karateka Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 1:08pm
post #26 of 32

You guys are so helpful, I want you to know I really appreciate it.

I am locked into this for at least a year. I do absolutely LOVE my custom made site. It looks great. I just need some help to understand some of the details of the program they gave me to update it.


I do have access to the account, I'm just having difficulty navigating the update program and the gallery. Once I get some questions answered I should be good to go.

I think I'll start the blog today sometime. I'll just link it for now, and if they come up with some truly great deal I'll move it later.

If you add pictures to your site in the gallery, that counts as updates, right? I don't have too much in the way of text updates to add. I've only got 4 pages, and they are pretty full. One of them is the gallery. I guess if I have no frickin' orders I can make a dummy once a week to add to the gallery.

Over the next several months I plan to add programs like discounts for FD, PD etc, and possibly specials for the slow months, like a free stand up monogram for x dollar amount order, free flavor upgrade...whatever. But since I don't have a "news" page or similar, I sorta thought that would go in the blog as well, which wouldn't update my site. Or maybe I could put it on my home page? (It's got the most available space right now)

I've got a host of other questions about this business....got some new post to make! (You'd think I hadn't been doing this for 3 yrs already)

PiccoloChellie Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 1:30pm
post #27 of 32

Okay, so you have a program where you can update the site yourself then? What program is it? Contribute?
That's much better - at first it sounded like you had to submit your updates to the account manager and have them do it. I was mentally screaming for you to run far, far away. icon_smile.gif

Is your gallery page or a subdomain on your site? Meaning - in the address bar, is your gallery like yoursitename.com/gallery or gallery.yoursitename.com, something like that? If so, adding pictures and a text description is an update. Each photo should have a text description with it, even if it's just something like "three tier wedding cake with fondant ribbon and gumpaste roses." Remember, search engines look at text!

Along the lines of promotions/specials, put them on your blog AND on the home page! Just rotate them off the home page when you end the promotion. Treat your blog as your news page.
You may well have some readers who "subscribe" to your blog and would get an update when you make a new post. This way you can alert blog readers and site visitors at the same time as to limited time offers or new products/services. Don't forget to put that stuff on your Twitter & FB too.
Yeah, it's a lot of updating. I know. =/ Once you get the hang of it, you can do it all in one sitting in about 10 minutes.

I offer a police/fire/EMS/military discount. I think that's a nice thing to do. icon_smile.gif

SecretAgentCakeBaker Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 2:01pm
post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

I'm going to look into the blog thing tomorrow. Since I've got no cakes to do for a while, I'll have to try to come up with something to talk about. Sigh....




You have tons of cute cakes in your gallery here. Use one of those. How about that farm cake? You don't have to post a cake you 'just' made.

Does you town have those wedding newspapers/magazines that brides can get for free? (Google 'your town brides' or 'your town wedding' and you should be able to find them.) If so, you can also check into advertising in those. Some of them will not only have your ad in the paper version, they will have the link to your website on their website. (I have no clue how much this would cost.)

karateka Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 2:25pm
post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiccoloChellie

Okay, so you have a program where you can update the site yourself then? What program is it? Contribute?
That's much better - at first it sounded like you had to submit your updates to the account manager and have them do it. I was mentally screaming for you to run far, far away. icon_smile.gif

Is your gallery page or a subdomain on your site? Meaning - in the address bar, is your gallery like yoursitename.com/gallery or gallery.yoursitename.com, something like that? If so, adding pictures and a text description is an update. Each photo should have a text description with it, even if it's just something like "three tier wedding cake with fondant ribbon and gumpaste roses." Remember, search engines look at text!

Along the lines of promotions/specials, put them on your blog AND on the home page! Just rotate them off the home page when you end the promotion. Treat your blog as your news page.
You may well have some readers who "subscribe" to your blog and would get an update when you make a new post. This way you can alert blog readers and site visitors at the same time as to limited time offers or new products/services. Don't forget to put that stuff on your Twitter & FB too.
Yeah, it's a lot of updating. I know. =/ Once you get the hang of it, you can do it all in one sitting in about 10 minutes.

I offer a police/fire/EMS/military discount. I think that's a nice thing to do. icon_smile.gif




Dumb question: how do you verify that these folks are actually current police/fire/ems? Military has current IDs....do police/fire? I know PD has badges...are they allowed to keep them once they retire/quit? Do you require them to prove they are what they say? Maybe I'm too jaded....but does anyone have a problem with people saying they qualify for the discount that don't?

PiccoloChellie Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 5:28pm
post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Dumb question: how do you verify that these folks are actually current police/fire/ems? Military has current IDs....do police/fire? I know PD has badges...are they allowed to keep them once they retire/quit? Do you require them to prove they are what they say? Maybe I'm too jaded....but does anyone have a problem with people saying they qualify for the discount that don't?




No, they don't get to keep their badges after they retire, and my discount applies to active duty personnel who will have ID and/or a badge. I have nothing against retired public servants - my father and Grandpa are retired FD - but there's no standard ID to verify that they really do get 10% off that I know of.
So I stick with active duty personnel, though I'm willing to make exceptions if they're retired but still have an ID of some sort indicating they did serve. icon_smile.gif

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