Welcome to the latest episode of Explore Marketing Uncensored, Social Media Explorer’s official podcast. Explore Marketing Uncensored is your one-way ticket into the twisted minds of some of the greatest digital marketing and social media thought leaders around. The goal: to provide marketing executives with the knowledge they need to be rock stars in their organization.

For this episode Arnie Kuenn, president of Vertical Measures sits down with hosts Jason Spooner and Nichole Kelly, to share his insights into search engine optimization (SEO). Guided by Arnie, the group discusses the best practices behind what really works in SEO right now. They also identify outdated practices that could actually be hurting your SEO efforts.

Listen if: You’ve ever been curious about what “white hat” and “black hat” SEO is.

Don’t listen if: You want your website to remain hidden from potential customers (like a ninja)!

Don’t miss an episode Explore Marketing Uncensored! Subscribe to the podcast through iTunes and receive the latest episode on your preferred podcast listening device.

Show notes

Vertical Measures – Arnie Kuenn’s company website

Accelerate!: Move Your Business Forward Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing  – Arnie Kuenn’s book

Google Panda Wikipedia Article – Information on the Google Panda update

Google Penguin – Information on the Google Penguin update

Marcus Sheridan – Example of good SEO friendly content

 

Can’t Listen Right Now? Complete Transcript below:

Announcer: You’re listing to Explore Marketing Uncensored: everything you need to know about marketing, and a few things you didn’t. Now, here’s your host, Jason Spooner.

Spooner: And welcome to Explore Marketing Uncensored. I am your host, Jason Spooner. With me as always is the lovely and talented Nichole Kelly. Nichole, how are you doing?

Nichole: Wassup?

Spooner: Wassup, indeed.

Nichole: I feel awesome.

Spooner: And joining us today, special guest star Arnie Kuenn, who is the president of Vertical Measures, a search, social, and content marketing agency. He’s also an award-winning author, through his book—his content marketing book, Accelerate: Move Your Business Forward Through The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing. Arnie, welcome to the podcast.

Arnie: Well, hello there. Hi Nichole, Hi Jason. Thanks for having me.

Spooner: We’re glad to have you.

Nichole: Good to have you.

Spooner: So Arnie, you’re kind of an SEO expert, right?

Arnie: I suppose so.

Spooner: I mean, you’ve written a book on it. That kind of accredidates you in my eyes.

Arnie: I guess so, yeah. My roots are definitely SEO, and the book focuses a lot on content marketing and the convergence of, as you mentioned, with search and social media as well. I mean, I don’t want to brag about myself, but I have been doing SEO for a long time, yes.

Spooner: That’s OK. I’ll toot your horn for you. How about that?

Arnie: That’s a deal.

Spooner: So I think everyone listening to this podcast probably has an idea about what SEO is. But just so that we can all work from the same definition during this podcast, do you mind sharing what your thoughts—like, what is SEO?

Arnie: Sure. Well, you know, it stands for search engine optimization, so I believe the goal of SEO is to get your website, web pages in particular, actually, ranked as high as possible in Google and Bing so that when people are searching for your keyword phrases or looking for information about your services, products, whatever, they quickly find you in either Google or Bing. And most people concentrate on Google, just because of their dominance in the search market. But it’s the whole idea of being discovered through search, as opposed to, say, social, or any other format.

Spooner: I really like that definition, being discovered through search. Because when I think of SEO, I think of two buckets of data: I think of branded data, and then I think of problem data. Branded data, that’s your keywords that include your company name. So if someone searches for your company and they just misspell it, or they add a “headquarters” or a qualifier to the beginning, you pop up. And you should, because it’s branded. And then the other big bucket—I think this is the one that a lot of brands try to target—are the need-based or the problem-based search results. So I’m a customer. I have a problem. I don’t know anything about your company. All I know is that I need a solution to X, and that’s what I’m searching for, and then you pop up.

Arnie: Exactly. And that’s generally where most of the effort is being placed from an SEO perspective. And it’s certainly where most of the revenue can be generated for the brand.

Spooner: All right. And everyone has an idea, for the most part, of how SEO works, how they can game the system. But Google is continually updating their algorithm. Panda, Ping—we’ll talk a little bit about those updates later, and how they’re affecting the search results. But what are people doing right now for SEO that they should stop, because it’s actually hurting them? What are the myths that we should know about?

Arnie: Well, I’ll tell you. I’ll start with the myths, and then probably talk a little bit, I guess, about Panda and Penguin and specifically how that has changed how we go about optimizing, and it really has changed over the last several years. But what I see, and I think it should have stopped maybe a year or two years ago, is people still really focusing on where they rank in Google. They do a search for whatever their important keyword phrase might be. Maybe it’s “hiking boots,” and they try to rank #1 if they can. But if they see their ranking’s differently—and we have clients that are still very, very focused on that, and we try to dissuade them from that, because what’s happening with Google now is searches as so personalized that what all three of us—what Spooner, Nichole, and Arnie might all search for at this exact moment from our three different locations, we’re going to all see different results. So instead, you should really focus on what’s mattering to your business, and usually that would be traffic to your website, and then how well are you converting that traffic to either leads or product sales, or whatever it might be? So that’s one thing. The other thing I think that would be a mistake and that I would coach companies against is totally focusing and putting all of your energy behind what I would call the money phrases, like the “hiking boots” or “boots,” phrases like that, where it’s extremely competitive. And generally we find the buyer isn’t really ready to buy when they’re searching only one or two keyword phrases. Instead, focus on what we call the long tail. So maybe it’s men’s waterproof hiking boots. If somebody’s searching for that, they’re getting pretty darn close to making a purchase, and the competition might be a lot easier for you to overcome, to get found in the search results that way.

Nichole: That’s really interesting, because that really is a reverse model from what most people talk about. I mean, most people have focused for years on these short tail keywords. And understanding that those keywords actually show less of purchase intent—

Arnie: There’s been a couple studies done that show that the more words somebody is typing into their search, the closer they are getting to making a purchase. And sometimes it could be a six-, seven-, eight-word keyword phrase.

Spooner: Yeah, I can back that up too, Arnie. I’ve worked with a number of e-commerce sites, and it’s really interesting to see the conversion data, when you compare someone that came to the site through a one- or two-word keyword, and someone that came to the site through either a long-term keyword phrase, or actually a specific product inquiry. We’re talking, it goes from—I’ve seen it swing everywhere from 0.5% conversion rate to up to an 8% for someone searching for a specific product. Granted, you don’t have as many people coming to your site for that product. But it still goes to show that those people are definitely looking to buy.

Arnie: Absolutely. Yep.

Spooner: Those are really, I think, some really good myths and some really good insights. Let’s talk a bit, then, about the Panda and the Penguin updates. These aren’t cute animals, right?

Arnie: [LAUGHTER] Well, not in my view. No longer is a Panda cute, right? Well, Panda is a Google update that came out in February of 2011. So it’s had its second birthday already, and I believe right now they’re on the 25th update, so they’re rolling out an update to the Panda update about every month. Penguin followed—I’m going to guess at this, but I’ll say between six and 12 months later. Panda was really, really focused at the content that’s housed on the website. And I’m going to be way too simple to give it real justice. But basically, Panda was looking for sites that were in essence being lazy with their content, hadn’t freshened it in a long time, had lots of duplicate content, just we’re providing the kind of value to a searcher that Google wanted to see. So a lot of—that was—when it came out, February of 2011, it was one of the biggest updates in the history of Google. There was another one called Florida, and if you’ve been around long enough, I think that was 2004 or 2005. That was huge. Panda was probably equally impactful. Now, Penguin’s a little bit different. It’s really designed—and it’s had also a few updates, and we understand there’s going to be another major update for penguin yet this year. And it was really targeting what we would call the offsite optimization techniques. So basically, links pointing to your site. And links have kind of always been the currency online. There’s counted as votes for your website, so other people linking to you would help you get ranked higher in Google search results. And Panda just really went after the low budget, spammy, paid—whatever, cheap way of getting links. And it also had a huge effect on sites. We saw some of the customers and people that just did not keep up over the years. They just got hurt really bad and just disappeared virtually from Google. There’s been some pretty sad stories. But on the other hand, they had not been investing and had not been doing things right for a few years, and eventually that catches up with you.

Nichole: What would you consider—’cause I hear these terms kind of thrown out a lot, and I think that we all have different definitions of them. Like, what is Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO?

Arnie: I’m going to probably chew up the rest of the 20 minutes with this, but—just kidding.

Spooner: Just give the one-minute version definition of each.

Arnie: [LAUGHTER] And I’ll tell you what. I’ve never—people are going to think I’m saying this for a reason, but it’s the truth. I’ve never been a Black Hat guy. I know some guys, I barely understand what they’re talking about when they really are talking about just deep Black Hat tactics. But basically, it is the—generally I will say it’s automating your way to cheating at getting ranked with Google. So it might be you’ve built tools that are just building links on forums and blogs in an automated fashion, or maybe you’re showing Google a set of web pages on your website, and your visitors something else. And those are just some tactics that Google just hates, and when they discover them, you usually get de-indexed. You’re out of Google. White Hat, I suppose the simplest way would be doing everything totally above board and within all of Google’s best practices. And that boils down to just creating a really, really engaging website that, when a visitor gets there, they’re clicking around your pages, they’re reading your content, watching your videos, doing whatever. And then ultimately purchasing from you. And Google knows this is happening. They know what’s happening via their Analytics, and so they can tell good websites from bad websites fairly quickly.

Spooner: That’s really interesting. So what you’re saying, it’s got less to do now with the links that are out there, and especially if they’re in article directories and other low-value page rank places, page rank 0s and page rank 1s and 2s. And more to do with what’s on the site. And we’re not talking about blanketing the site with hidden keywords that match the background of the site, so you can’t see them until you hover over them. We’re talking about the actual content on the site, is that correct?

Arnie: Yeah, absolutely. No, you’re right. And the kind of tricks you just said, those are pretty much gone now. They just don’t—in fact, they’re hurting you. If you’ve got any of that on your site, or offsite, those article directories or free directories here and there, that just aren’t adding any value. It could actually be hurting you. Yeah, it’s definitely all about taking you time to create—and it’s hard. I mean, it really, really is hard. But you create really good informational content, or whatever. I’m saying informational, but sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s engaging for other reasons. But just the kind of content that holds a visitor on your site. And ultimately of course moves them through right to a conversion of whatever type it might be, whether you’re selling products or services. But it’s—and links have been devalued, but they’re not not important. They’re still very, very important. It’s just, you have to get really good links from really good sites. So that’s become more difficult as well. But if you can get a link from CNN or some other major authority site, library sites, or maybe a professor’s blog or whatever. Well, that tells Google a lot, and so it still really, really does matter. But it’s got to match up also with your really good content, which is probably how you got that link to begin with.

Spooner: All right. So you talk about in your book the convergence of content marketing and SEO. So what is it about content marketing that makes it so successful in terms of an SEO strategy? Like, how do these two go hand in hand?

Arnie: Well, what’s making it successful—and I hate to just keep using Google all the time, but I actually wrote the—started to write the book about two years ago. And when it came out, it sold reasonably well and got some attention and so on. But when Penguin—I’m sorry, Panda came out? Book sales went up, our business went up, and the reason is Google made those changes, so the quality of content they were going to display in search results, in essence, Google just said it is so. Content is what is important, and when Google speaks, everybody listens. It’s a game changer, and that changed everything. You know, there’s Joe Pulizzi, who you probably know, who runs Content Marketing Institute. He’s been evangelizing this for five, six, seven years. Everything changed for him, I’m sure, when Google said, “Yep, it’s all about content now.”

Spooner: And I want to say this, I want to caveat. Not all content’s created equally, right?

Arnie: Oh, absolutely.

Spooner: So what content—if I’m developing a content strategy and I want to help lift up my SEO, what content should I be producing?

Arnie: Well, that’s a pretty difficult question to answer without a lot of research on your site and your products and all that. But generally, I would say you just want to create content that’s certainly, of course, relevant to your audience—that’s overstated a lot of times. But that’s valuable to the prospective client. In other words, what happens when Nichole, Jason—when you guys go out and search? When I search, when everybody who’s listening searches, we’re trying to find some answers to something generally. In fact, 72% of all searches on Google, people are looking to get a question answered. It could be as simple as a yes or no question, or you might be seeking out, “How old is Tom Cruise?” Right? It could be that simple. But on the other hand, it might be—what was the example I used earlier? Men’s waterproof hiking boots. So it might be recommendations for men’s waterproof hiking boots. Well, a site that produces content that addresses that specific kind of question or piece of information that someone’s seeking, that’s going to get discovered. That’s going to rank highly if someone’s actually taking the time to do that. And if it’s a decent piece of content, when someone clicks through and reads it, Google literally can track how long you’re spending on that page. And if Google senses this piece of content is engaging and the user’s liking it, it’s just going to value it more and move it higher up in the search rankings. So that’s kind of how it comes—you have to optimize it as well. You still have to do a title tag and a meta description and make sure there’s not a lot of misspellings, and it’s good grammar and so on. But in general, I think the engagement that Google’s monitoring is what’s going to matter the most.

Nichole: Here’s a question for you. How does Google know how long someone is spending on my site? And I’m assuming that it has something to do with Google Analytics. And what about these companies that are using other analytics packages, like Omniture or Coremetrics? Is that impacting what Google knows about time on site?

Arnie: You know, I don’t know if that’s impacting it. I’ll give you a simple example that would be really easy for Google to do. And of course—know the ins and outs of the algorithm. It’s one of the best kept secrets in the world. But if we could just walk through it—I’ll try to do it verbally of course. But you do that search for men’s waterproof hiking boots. And the results come up, and now I click on a website that I go to that’s menshikingboots.com. So Google, of course because I’ve started this search on Google, and now I’ve clicked through via Google’s website to this hiking boots page, it can automatically start timing what’s happening. If I back out of that page and go back to the Google search results immediately, that’s very easy for it to track, no matter what kind of analytics you have installed on your website. It can see that kind of data very, very easily. But let’s just say that it goes beyond that, so now I’m on the hiking boots page, I’m reading it. Now I click into other pages, and I’m getting deeper in the site, and maybe I never come back to Google. Well of course, one, it knows you’ve never come back. That’s probably a good sign. And then so many websites do have Google Analytics that that data’s starting to get collected once I’m moving through a website. So I think the thing that a lot of people do is underestimate how much Google knows about all of us right now, period. All of us as individuals and websites and companies. It just has an overwhelming amount of data already.

Nichole: And I’m just curious if having Google Analytics versus one of those other packages actually helps you from a search engine perspective, because Google knows more about what’s actually happening on site?

Arnie: That’s actually a really good question that I don’t have a precise answer to. I mean, I would think if you have a good website that people are spending time on, it’s got to help you to have Google Analytics installed, for them to basically in essence have access to all that kind of data. So anyway, that would be my answer to that. I would assume it would help.

Spooner: And then my question then—[CROSSTALK]

Arnie: The inverse is probably true as well. If you’ve got a bad website, people are leaving, and you’ve got Analytics installed, and you’re telling Google that, that probably isn’t helping you.

 

Spooner: So we talked about optimizing articles, right? You said check your title tags, check your meta descriptions, make sure spelling and grammar. But what about content produced of the video nature or images? How does one optimize those for SEO?

Arnie: Well, it’s pretty similar, because you know, if you have a webpage and you have images on that webpage, of course there’s going to be a title for the page, and you want—so the title tag, the meta description still applies. Hopefully you still have some text on that page. Like when we do video, we do a lot of video transcriptions, so that people can either watch the video or read that transcription, and I know you do that for the podcasts as well. And that’s great, because Google can really sink its teeth into text. It has a hard time with video and images, but with those video and images that are on those webpages, a couple suggestions would be to—for both of them, the image and the video—is to rename the filename. And that’s just my first tip is, we see a lot of people. They’ll post the video or post the image, and maybe out of the camera you’ve got the DC0004.jpeg as the image, and that’s the filename. But if it’s all about—and I’ll just stick with my hiking boots theme. If it’s a picture of hiking boots, change that file name to say hiking boots or men’s waterproof hiking boots. And then with the image, make sure you’re changing the alt tag or adding an alt tag that is appropriate as well. And those right there are just two really simple things that you can do that can make all the difference in that image being found in Google Image search, and lots and lots of people are online doing image searches. And I’m sure all three of us have maybe done that in the last five or six days. We do image searches. And video, probably the biggest tip other than changing the filename I could give is if you’re going to host it on YouTube, which most videos are, make sure you do add the tags. One, add a description in the YouTube page, but on the YouTube page, add tags. And the reason is, is most videos are found through the related videos. It appears over on the right hand side of YouTube. That’s how most videos are discovered, and those are synced up usually based on how you’ve tagged your video and how those tags match with other video tags.

Nichole: I know—from a podcast perspective and just from a video perspective, I see a lot of companies that they’ll post a blog post and it has a video in it. And it’s some custom produced video. It’s a really great video. And they don’t do the transcript, or they don’t put any text around it. Regardless of SEO, from a usability standpoint, I think that we forget that not everyone can sit there and watch a video. They may want the information that’s in the video, but I can’t tell you how many times when I was in the corporate world I would sit there on my phone and I would be reading one blog post while I was waiting for a meeting or something, and I couldn’t listen to a video. But I would read the transcript while I was sitting there. So I think that that transcript is a really key piece of any kind of audio or video file, from a search perspective, but also just from a usability perspective, for the people who can’t watch video at the time when they’re consuming that content.

Arnie: Yeah, I totally agree. In fact, we talk about that here in our office, that there’s a few people here, that they would much rather read the transcript. Even if they could—had their headphones on, they could watch the video during the day, they’d rather scan this transcript as opposed to watching the video. It’s just a user experience, right there.

Spooner: Personally, from personal experience, I tend to be the same way. I prefer transcripts, because I can glance and get through them quicker than if I have to sit through a video. And so that’s my personal preference on my end, and I do both. I’m in this world pretty deep. But I’ll always take a transcript over a video, because I can get through it quicker and get to the meat of it. And then also on the images, I liked how you talked about renaming files. And I know this has a little bit to do with SEO, but it’s also got more to do with just general traffic building. When you rename the file and you carry it through the alt tags and all that good stuff, that’s also going to carry it through to Pinterest.

Arnie: That’s true, yeah.

Spooner: I know a ton of e-commerce sites that rely on Pinterest for traffic. They get a ton of traffic through Pinterest, so when you’re renaming the files, not only are you helping your SEO, but you’re also helping your Pinterest presence.

Arnie: Yeah, absolutely. Isn’t it amazing that we’re saying something like that about something that didn’t exist two or three years ago? [LAUGHTER]

Spooner: Oh yeah. It’s incredible. And now I’m looking at these companies, some of these companies I work with, and 25-30% of their traffic’s coming through Pinterest, and they’re buying. That’s the best thing—they’re buying, purchasing.

Arnie: Yep, I totally agree.

Spooner: That’s phenomenal. Which actually, you know what, that brings up a really good point. So if we’re talking about social media, how can we leverage all that is social media to help improve search results?

Arnie: Well, first of all, I have to say that I don’t think—actually, I know for a fact, because I heard it from the powers to be at Google and Bing maybe two weeks ago, that they are still really trying to figure this out themselves, so it is not baked into the algorithm. I think for sure Google+ with Google, when you’re logged in, it’s an influencer. They will rank, and you’ll see results that your friends have maybe plussed and given reviews on, and so on and so forth. So it’ll affect what you see if you’re logged in and others are using Google+ and you have them in circles. But as far as Twitter data, Pinterest if you want to count it as a social site, or LinkedIn or Facebook, both Bing and Google said that it’s mountains and mountains of data, and they have not really figured out yet—in fact, Microsoft said they have—and I don’t think he was exaggerating, but he said that they have hundreds of people working on this right now, but the data is so enormous that they’re working hard to figure out how to implement this, because you can imagine, with an enormous amount of data, you can mess things up as well. So I think right now, Google+ is about the only thing that’s having a direct influence. There’s something called Author Rank, which I don’t know how many are listening that may have heard of Author Rank, but it’s a Google product or a Google tool that you should pay attention to. Certain that it will start soon to influence, if it hasn’t already, search results. And basically, that means you have a Google+ profile set up, and you set yourself up with an author, and wherever you might be writing—your own blog, other people’s blogs, other websites, press, whatever. You should try to link your profile to those articles you’re writing or content you’re creating out on the web, so that Google knows you were the author. And if you become a good, upstanding, well-thought-of author, it’s believed your content then will tend to rank higher than people they don’t know anything about. So take a look at that. I do want to say—and I’m a big believer, I’m on social media all the time, I’m a believer in it, I don’t think you should ignore it. But I would also say, don’t get too hung up on it. If you do create the content and you take five or 10 minutes to optimize it with some of the stuff we have already talked about, it can get ranked without ever being tweeted, without ever being liked on Facebook or even being plussed with Google+. If you’re providing content that people are searching for—and that would be my first, primary focus, is to create the content and then socializing it as you can.

Nichole: I think that that’s really interesting, and in terms of, I think, where—I think there’s two things I will say. The first is, I think companies are confused about what people are searching for. And then example I would give is Marcus Sheridan, who was at River Pools, who essentially all he did was go and ask his sales team, “What questions do you get during the sales process?” And went and created all of these blog posts answering those questions and is now the #1 ranked pool company in the world. Now, if that’s true for my profile versus my profile—I’m actually closer to him than probably you are—but the idea being that these were very long tail keywords in terms of what he was using. It was “how to,” “tips for” kind of things about buying $50,000-150,000 pools. And he sells them online, and he’s doing amazing things from a search perspective. And what would your tips be for companies that are trying to do the same?

Arnie: Well, it’s funny. I use some of Marcus’ examples in my presentations when I’m out speaking and in fact, just what I was commenting on regarding the social media, I use his—how did he phrase it? Or how did you just phrase that? How much does a fiberglass pool cost? That’s one of his favorite or famous web posts. They wrote three or four or five different web posts, blog posts, all around that kind of a topic, was “how much does a fiberglass pool cost?” And if you look at some of those, where he’s claiming they’ve generated almost $2 million in pool sales, they have almost no social interaction. Because there’s just some stuff that isn’t going to be shared. You might—depending on what your business is, we’ve got a client that sells dirt screeners for golf courses. It’s a good business, but how many people are going to say, “Hey, I just picked up a new dirt screener for the golf course today?” I mean, it’s just—

Nichole: I don’t even know what a dirt screener is.

Arnie: I wasn’t sure either. But basically it’s—[CROSSTALK] convinced him to do some videos, and there are. But it’s basically a shaker machine, that you scoop—whether you use a backhoe or a shovel. But you scoop dirt into this screener, and it sifts all the rocks out, so you end up with clean topsoil or sand or whatever. So it screens the rocks out of dirt. Again, that’s just the kind of thing that—who’s going to post that on Facebook or tweet about it or whatever? But his customers need that content. When a golf course manager is looking for a dirt screener, they’re going to go to Google, and they’re going to start seeking out information about dirt screeners. And if this company has done a really good job of answering those questions and providing the information, it’s most likely they’re going to get that business, just like Marcus did at his pool company. And so I’m answering two things here—what should people do? It’s create content that the customers are seeking, and there’s lots of ways to discover what it is they’re asking and looking for. And the other thing is, is do not let “I have a boring business” be what stops you. It doesn’t get much more boring than dirt screening, right? And there’s many, many other examples. But you have customers, and if you have customers, you can create content for them.

Nichole: In terms of where social media fits into the sales funnel, I think one of the challenges, and as somebody who has measured this through the funnel, as they say, I think one of the challenges is that we expect that in social media, we’re going to attract the same type of people in the same buying stage as we do in organic search and PPC marketing and things like that. And what I find most often is that social is really good at attracting attention and bringing people to the door, but it tends to be search and PPC, or they sign up for—they put in their email address and they subscribe to something. Email marketing that actually tends to convert the customer. And there’s a challenge there from a measurement perspective, because you know Google Analytics is last touch attribution, and so a lot of times social doesn’t get that credit. And I know that they’ve tried to do stuff with social reports, and they’re trying to show that assist, but I’ll tell you that, in my analysis, the data is wrong that it’s not worth looking at yet. I hope they’re fixing it. But what are your thoughts in terms of, are people just looking at social media as another channel to drive that direct response customer? And is that misaligned with where the audience actually is in the buying stage?

Arnie: Well, I’ll tell you, Nichole, I mean, I really agree with a lot of what you said. I mean, from a—I wish the data was better, and so on and so forth. And I can only speak from my personal view, and what we’re doing here at Vertical Measures is we’re pretty much right now looking at social media as a brand awareness and brand building platform. We have, at our company, gotten business directly from Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. So we know it can work. But our approach is just a little bit different. We’re more doing it to show the kind of a company we are. Again, just to build our brand and our image and showcase different things, where our efforts on search are very much focused on the purchase funnel and the longer tail phrases, and where we know someone is doing something with great intent, where social I just don’t think has quite the intent yet that we’re hoping for. I don’t know if that answers it or not.

Nichole: [CROSSTALK] And I think part of the challenge too is that people don’t know what social media really is. I think if you look at the context of everything that’s included in social media, it’s not just Twitter and Facebook. I would certainly argue that your blog is also a social media channel. And when we’re working with companies, a lot of the things that we’re looking at—and if I have to pick from a budget perspective or a resource perspective, I look at their websites and I look at the path to conversion of what the opportunities are for someone to convert on their site. And they’re awful, and I tell them all the time, “We have to fix your house before we can ever go into social, because I’m going to send someone from Twitter to your website, and they’re going to get there, and there’s nothing for them to do. There’s no way for you to collect contact information from them.” So we always focus on fixing that house first. And I’m sure from an SEO perspective, that’s an area that you guys do work in as well.

Arnie: Oh, absolutely. Even if you’re spending a lot of money on pay per click. You’re going to spend money and send them somewhere, you’ve got to be able to do something with them once they get to your website.

Spooner: Yeah. I mean, if your conversion rates aren’t high enough to where you’re making a profit on the money you’re spending on Google Ad Words, stop spending the money on Google Ad Words right now. Don’t tell yourself that it’s just a weird thing, and that in three months, all of the sudden you’re going to start making money on Google Ad Words. I’ve seen companies throw tens of thousands of dollars at campaigns that weren’t effective because they wouldn’t invest that tens of thousands of dollars into their house.

Arnie: Right, because they had the budget. [LAUGHTER]

Spooner: Yeah, they had the budget for PPC, but they didn’t want to do the website for another two years. Just obstiance. Great. I want to wrap this up. I want to get over to the lightning round. It’s a lot of fun. You’re going to enjoy it. For those of you new to this, the lightning round’s simply four questions that we’re going to ask our guest, Arnie. He’s going to say the first thing that popped into his head, either a word or a sentence, and not think about it too hard. So without further adieu, here we go: question 1: what do you think really works in marketing right now?

Arnie: Content.

Spooner: Question 2: what do you think is broken in marketing right now?

Arnie: Search engine optimization, still.

Spooner: Question 3: if you could advise a CMO to focus on improving one part of their business, what part of the business would you choose?

Arnie: I would change their marketing culture.

Spooner: And question 4—we haven’t gotten that answer yet. That was a good answer. Question 4: what gets you excited when you think of the future of marketing.

Arnie: [LAUGHTER] Wow. Can you believe that one stumped me? Gosh. Google Glasses. [LAUGHTER]

Spooner: Google Glasses. I love it. Well Arnie, thanks so much for joining. Arnie, again, president of Vertical Measures. Check them out online. He’s also the author, check out the book Accelerate: Move Your Business Forward Through The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing. It’s available on Amazon. You can also find Arnie on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. We’ll throw all of those links down there, at least some of them, in the show notes for you. Nichole, thanks also for joining us.

Nichole: Thank you for having me.

Spooner: And for everyone here at Social Media Explorer, my name’s Jason Spooner. Join us next time on Explore Marketing Uncensored. Until then, have a great day.

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About Jason Spooner

Jason Spooner

Jason Spooner is the Director of Client Services for SME Digital, the digital marketing extension of Social Media Explorer. During his career as a digital strategist, Jason has worked with a variety of large and small companies including: NAPA AUTO PARTS, NASCAR, Kraft, Wal-Mart and Wrangler. His passion: creating powerful digital marketing strategies that drive results. Oh, and he does improv comedy. Follow his antics @jaspooner.

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