The Day I Stopped Listening to My Clients

SEO can really suck sometimes. I think I actually did a post on that once. But seriously … clients will take advantage of you if you let them. For example …

I had a client who came on board with me last February. A pest control client. He had been working with another SEO guy who I guess didn’t do such a great job for him so he decided to work with me instead, per that guy’s recommendation. He was located in a tiny town right outside of Jacksonville, NC, so I decided to get his website established within Jacksonville in order to boost his local SEO. He was really intent on making everything rock and roll by April, because that’s when the busy season typically starts. He let me know that things typically slow down in October and at that point, we could look at rebuilding his website and expanding his business to Wilmington. I honestly thought this would be a  lifelong client. We communicated well, he was impressed with the fact that I was open and honest with him from the start, and I got his phone ringing off-the-hook by July. In August, he actually emailed me to let me know he was the busiest he had ever been in 30 years of doing business and said “keep up the good work.”

So I did. I kept plugging away. Diligently working to maintain his rankings, building backlinks, and doing everything I could to get him as much business as possible. And then, as he had told me from the beginning, things began to slow down in October, and his lead volume had dropped drastically by the middle of November.

Sometime in October, I decided to build him a new website. I didn’t charge him extra for this. I just did it, and sent him a preview so he could see what it looked like and give me his feedback. A month went by, and crickets. I sent him the preview again. Again, crickets. He completely stopped communicating with me! I emailed him to ask him about some potential back linking opportunities and couldn’t get him to respond. So finally, a week ago, I called him and left a voicemail.

He didn’t even have the decency to respond back to me by phone. He emailed me to let me know they were moving to another marketing company and that my services were no longer needed.

This is the same man who was being a pain in my ass when we first started working together, emailing to ask me a ton of questions about why his website didn’t immediately start ranking higher after I came on board. I had to explain to him that SEO takes time. Then, after I explode his business, he quits talking to me, lets me build him a FREE website without a peep, and then lets me go over EMAIL after I called to check up on him after multiple months of unresponsiveness.

So here’s the moral of this story. I have stopped listening to my clients. I’m going to control the board from now on. I’m going to build websites that I own, generate leads for business owners, rent those leads to them for a price, and when they decide to let me go despite their business exploding as a result of my efforts (it almost always inevitably happens eventually, as much as I hate to admit it), I’ll just go to their competitor and sell the leads to them instead.

If you’re an SEO, I’d like to extend a free word of advice: stop listening to your clients. Stop letting them dictate what happens when. YOU run the ship. YOU are the expert. Not them.

You’re welcome.

Can You Build Passive Income as a Digital Marketer?

As someone who has always gotten excited about building passive income, I’ve had various friends and family members ask me this question since I started working in the field of digital marketing:

Can you build passive income as an online marketer?

My answer is, “it depends.” It really depends on what kind of online marketing you’re doing. What niches you’re going into and how you’re setting yourself up to be paid. There are many different niches you can go into as a digital marketer. In this post, I’ll outline some of my favorites and why they work to build passive income.

Affiliate Marketing

This is basically building and ranking websites that contain affiliate links to products, and if consumers click on those links and decide to purchase said products, you get paid a commission. That commission can be anywhere from a few bucks to a few thousand, depending on what affiliate products you’re marketing. I recommend that if you go this route, you choose high-value products from companies that offer a large commission percentage.

Building and ranking an affiliate site can take some time, depending on how competitive your niche is. But once it’s optimized, it will continue to generate passive income as consumers read your posts and buy the affiliate products you mention. You have to be somewhat good at writing sales copy and product reviews if you’re going to go this route, but it can be well worth it if you do it right.

Local Lead Generation

This method of passive income generation involves building microsites in certain business niches such as carpet cleaning or roofing, getting them to rank high in search engines, and essentially “renting them out” by selling the leads they generate to local business owners.

I like this method because it’s not as competitive as trying to rank a national affiliate site, due the fact that you’re working with only the competition in your local area (or an area of your choosing.) So it works much faster than the affiliate marketing method, and if you build multiple lead generation sites, you can end up with a pretty sizable monthly income once they start to rank and generate customers.

Is it passive? To a large degree, yes. Building and ranking the sites may take a few months, but once their ranked, the work required to maintain those rankings is usually very minimal. But you continue to get paid month after month as long as your sites continue to generate leads (and happy business owners!)

Viral Blogging

This is a method that a lot of fashionistas and mommy bloggers are using to generate a pretty significant 5-to-6-figure income from home. It involves building and ranking a blog through various methods and monetizing that blog either through affiliate marketing, or through the sale of advertising space once the blog starts to generate a sizable amount of traffic.

Again, it does take time to build and rank to where you’re generating enough traffic to justify high advertising costs, but once you’re there, it’s pretty easy to rack up cash each month with very little maintenance.

Also, with social networks like Instagram and Snapchat becoming more popular by the day, more and more people are doing less blog writing and using these networks as visual micro-blogging platforms where they can sell promotional advertisements to business owners once they have a large following.

So, back to the original question:

Can you create passive income as a digital marketer?

YES. And if you don’t want to do shitty slave labor for the rest of your life, I highly recommend you try it.

Why Most Internet Marketing Firms are Doing it Wrong

kid making an angry face
How most people feel when they hear the word “marketing”…

Big thanks to Selwa Lukoskie for this much-needed rant. She’s a good friend of mine and the owner of Charlotte marketing firm, Fleek Consulting. Enjoy! 😉

Marketing. It’s a dirty word in many circles. Digital marketing firms have given legitimate SEO experts like myself a bad name by utilizing questionable practices in an effort to game the system.

(I’m not just talking about black-hat stuff here. Even the most “white-hat” SEOs get into gray areas on occasion… I’m talking about digital marketers who over-promise and under-deliver. It happens allllllllll the time.)

The #1 reason why digital marketers are getting a bad rap: they’re setting unrealistic expectations for their clients.

I get it. We all need business. But not keeping your promises is just bad for business. It’s bad for all of us. When you as an internet marketer take on a client and don’t do the things you say you’re gonna do, that client becomes dissatisfied. And then we have people trash-talking the marketing field all over the internet. When that happens, we all have to come up with new bullshit titles like “customer acquisition expert” or “online consultant” to save face, because we’re too damn embarrassed to use the word “marketer.”

So, please, for the sake of all that is holy in the marketing world, STOP making unrealistic promises and setting unrealistic expectations.

Think about what your clients actually need. Your pest control client doesn’t need to be active on Instagram and Pinterest. For the love of god, what can you possibly post on these image-driven social networks that’s going to appeal to women in their 30’s looking for cooking, wedding, and home decor inspiration? Bugs? I guarantee you, no female on Pinterest (a primarily female-driven social media site) is going to want to look at your company’s picture of ticks, termites, ants or rats. Gross.

Digital marketing companies need to stop wasting their time trying to make an extra buck by doing irrelevant things that aren’t helping their clients. Focus on doing the one right thing that’s actually going to generate revenue for your client, instead of focusing on the 1,000 different things that will do nothing but serve to keep you busy and make you happy that you feel like you’re doing something (when in actuality, you’re doing nothing).

Do the right thing. Help your clients make money, and you’ll make money.

It’s really not that difficult, but you don’t know how many self-proclaimed SEO experts out there want to make it way harder than it is.

Too many digital marketers out there are too focused on themselves. You’re focused on what you’re gonna gain from a client, rather than being focused on building a long-term relationship by helping your client. Stop being so f*ing selfish already. Your clients have needs. You’re here to serve them. Do that, and you’ll reap countless rewards. Trust me, I’ve done it myself.

Is Content Still King?

Google as well as various other search engines are all about being relevant to customers therefore they intend to serve up sites that provide them with the best information. The most effective method to reveal to the search engines that you are a professional in your area is by loading your website with strong, quality web content that relates to your company. In doing so, search engines will not only award you by moving up up in the rankings and raising your online exposure; individuals will also certainly return to your website as a result of your visitor-friendly web content.

While it is essential to have your targeted keywords ingrained in your web copy, it’s important that it is done in a natural manner. When you overly concentrate on keyword density you’re likely to create copy that is much less natural, much less straightforward, and also which your target audience is likely not going to be interested in.

With all the black-hat, underhanded methods and faster shortcuts that SEO “experts” have made use of lately, it has actually made it harder for the remainder of people who use entirely moral methods to see improvements in their rankings. Search engine optimization is getting more and more difficult; that’s why good quality content has actually never been more vital to online businesses.

With every upgrade, Google changes exactly how it positions a site. As Google updates its formulas, it successfully gets more intelligent and also looks at internet sites just like a real person would. This is why the creation of good content content will soon become more and more valuable as businesses seek to position themselves as thought leaders in their markets.

There’s no refuting that web content is an essential component of SEO yet we should put just as much effort into UX (user experience). Customers use the internet to make decisions which important for both B2C and also B2B companies to consider when building their websites. That’s why 68% of businesses outsource and also invest around 20% -40% of their advertising and marketing spending plan on web content.

SEO Sucks & Here’s Why

Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. But it’s more of like a . . . love-hate sorta thing.

It’s fun to help people. When I get biz clients and I’m actually able to help them achieve their goals, I love it. Especially when the results are big. We like big results.

But every once in a while, you work with people you just can’t help, for various reasons. Either they’re too high maintenance, Google doesn’t like their niche (ahem, locksmiths), or for some unknown reason (or what seems like no reason at all), you just can’t get their site to rank or bring in traffic. You’ve tried everything.

All that said, I’ve come to the conclusion that while I love what I do, sometimes SEO just plain sucks. Here are 4 reasons why:

  1. No one wants to hire us. You can’t market yourself as an “SEO” or an “online marketer.” Everyone thinks SEOs and online marketers are shady assholes. No, you’re a “web consultant.” God only knows why that sounds better to most people.
  2. The Google Dance. (Read this for a definition. Pretty much says it all.)
  3. Writing for search engines is painful. We all know keyword stuffing is bad, and using exact match keywords when they don’t make sense makes your shit sound awful. But we still do it, because even though Google says otherwise, it still works, especially if you do it sparingly. I much prefer to write for people. Writing for people is way more fun.
  4. Everyone wants to think they know SEO. Even business owners who don’t know a thing. They’ll spend time searching their keywords on Google and then call you when they see their not ranked to ask you why you haven’t been doing your job. Newsflash buddy. I have been doing my job so back off. Quit wasting time calling me (instead of doing your job) because you’re suddenly a know-it-all when it comes to your web presence. You hired me to get your phone ringing, so as long as that’s happening, you should be happy.

I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but this is honestly the way it is when you do SEO for a living. It’s a hard life.

But testimonies like this one make it all worthwhile.

Happy Clients Make Me :)

Okay so I know I’ve been a little MIA lately. My last post was the first one I had written in months. But it’s because I’ve been so freaking busy with clients and haven’t had any time to maintain this poor excuse for a blog. But I promise to be better about posting at least once a month if nothing else.

I wanted to take some time to share this awesome testimonial I received from one of my clients via email, because it made my day. I was having a pretty shitty weekend until I received this:


I just wanted to write and let you know that your consulting services have resulted in a complete 180 for my business. When we met, my company was falling apart, and you agreed to start helping me for free. I don’t think I ever told you how thankful I was at the time that someone was so willing to take the risk of helping out a guy who was thousands of dollars in debt and about to declare bankruptcy. (I never told you all this, but I was just talking with my wife about it the other day, and she said, “you should tell him.” So here I am.) I really appreciate everything you’ve done, and I’m glad we finally got to a place where I could pay you. It was all thanks to you working hard to improve my online presence! I know you see all of the phone calls that come into our business line, but I wasn’t sure if you were aware of the incredible impact you’ve had on my company. I know you’re not interested in being hired on as a full-time marketing director, but if you were, I’d hire you in a heartbeat. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help you grow your business as well. I look forward to many more years of working with you.



He’s been a client of mine for a little more than a year now, and I’m so glad I was able to help him out. Clients like this remind me why I chose this profession.

Why Your Rankings Don’t Matter

This is my cartoon friend, Freddy. He says, “Stop being such a nerd about your SEO!”

I recently acquired a new client. He was telling me all about how his former SEO team was lazy and was not doing what they were supposed to do. Now, granted, he is not an SEO expert—far from it—in his words. But he was smart enough to know what the goals were:

More traffic. More phone calls. More customers.

Rinse and repeat…

And when he wasn’t getting customers or phone calls (a.k.a. leads), he started fishing around and discovered that his site was not ranked quite high enough for his main keyword searches.

Every time he brought it up to his SEO guys, they’d make excuses and say they were “working on it.” His rankings would go up for a while, and then they’d drop again. So then he’d start fishing around again, discover the same results, confront them about it, and this eventually became a crazy cycle until he finally decided to fire the poor bastards . . .

Moral of the story?

Your search engine rankings don’t matter!

Okay so that’s not really the moral of the story, but it’s the point of this post. In my opinion, that particular business owner was wasting precious time searching Google for his keywords.

First off, he was probably logged into his Google account while searching, which totally throws off your results; it actually makes them better because Google knows that you’ve searched for that business multiple times.

Second of all, if you’re getting leads and phone calls, why do you care how high you’re ranked for “city, niche”? Apparently this guy wasn’t getting leads, so perhaps he had reason to go fishing around. But a lot of people who actually know SEO and know what they’re doing spend way too much time obsessing over things that just don’t matter. They totally geek out over tools like SEM Rush and Moz, and then freakout when their websites suddenly fall off the map with no explanation at all. (I know what you’re thinking, and no those are not affiliate links.)

Come on people. Let me say it again: your. rankings. don’t. matter.

Why don’t they matter? I’m going to tell you why. Because Google likes to dance. Google likes to party and party hard. And when you try to interfere with Google’s partyin’ habit, he gets angry. And he lets you know about it by partyin’ even harder. He’ll dance until he can’t dance no more, and your website will feel the brunt of every single move.

It’s a little thing we SEOs like to call the “Google Dance.”

There are 2 types of people in this world. People who know SEO and people who don’t. My hunch is that Google knows the difference. He’s pretty damn smart, after all. When people like us who know SEO start gaming the system, Google knows it. So he dances a little harder to throw your website down a few pages in hopes that you’ll quit messing with his mojo. Eventually, though, he’ll get tired. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. The dust will settle soon enough, and your website will bounce right back. It may even bounce a little higher than before.

So please. For Pete’s sake. Stop being such a nerd and worrying about where your website ranks for your top 5 keywords. (Do you even really know what those are?) Keep taking massive action with the end result in mind: more traffic. more phone calls. more customers. As long as those numbers are going up, you got nothin’ to worry about, my friend.

Locked Your Keys In Your Car? Here’s What To Do…

It happens to the best of us: on the busiest of days just when we have that all-important meeting to attend we jump out of the car, bang the door shut only to realize having left the locked keys in car. In fact, it happened to me this past week. I rarely get out of the house; most of the time I’m staring at my computer screen working on some online marketing project. But I happened to go out for a client meeting around lunch time, and whaddaya know? I ended up stranded at the restaurant wondering how to get home. Obviously I made it home, as I was able to write up this article, which I hope will be of help to you if you’re ever stuck in the same situation.

child with car keysHere are some suggestions on what to do if you ever lock your keys in your car:

  1. Relax

Calm down! It happens to the best of us. If it is any solace, nearly 4,000,000 Americans are known to have a “locked keys in car” issue annually. The numbers especially increase in December during the busy shopping season. So, take some deep calming breaths. If you have your phone with you, dial 911. Alternatively, you could call a loved one in case they can get you a spare set of keys. Most emergency personnel can help unlock your car for you. If not, they can at least have it towed to the nearest car center and get the job done.

  1. Contact AAA or other roadside assistance

If you are a member of AAA or have purchased car insurance from reputable companies, then you could call them. Many of these organizations provide roadside assistance and can come to help you out. Granted, this could take some time — even several hours. So make sure you are safe and if there is a mall or a restaurant nearby, do not hesitate to go in and take shelter in adverse weather. This is an ideal step that could help most car owners having locked keys in car. However, to do this, you have to have your phone with you and also the car’s manual where the roadside assistance center’s number is listed. If the manual has been locked inside the car, then this step is not for you. It is always a good idea to keep all these useful emergency numbers on your phone or in a diary which must be carried on your person at all times.

  1. You can try to unlock the car yourself

Note: this step must only be tried if you know what you are doing. You will need a shoelace or a string which you must loop and insert from the car’s door near its window where the weathering strip is located. Try and get the string inside and wind it around the car’s door knob. This is not easy and you will need to be very patient. Once you manage to successfully loop the string or shoelace around the car’s door opening mechanism, you will need to pull the end in your hand gently so as to tighten the loop. Once this is accomplished, you can vertically pull the knob and unlock the door.

Another method for opening car doors when you have locked your keys in the car is the use of a hanger. Take a wire clothes hanger and straighten it. Now bend the straightened end of the hanger so it forms a hook and insert it inside the car from under the window where the car’s door locking mechanism is located. Jiggle the hanger around until you are able to locate its mechanism of locking. Now push the hanger around and upwards so that it hooks around the door locking mechanism. Once this has been located, simply keep pushing until the mechanism unlocks.

  1. If you have the tendency to leave your keys in the car

If you have the tendency of forgetting your car keys inside locked cars again and again, then there are some preventive steps to take:

  • Keep a spare key handy. You can do so in a secret spot inside/outside your house, in your purse or wallet, or even on the exterior of the car itself (using a magnetic metallic box which you can attach under the car where thieves won’t see it).
  • Better still, you could buy a car that cannot be locked unless the key is removed from the ignition.
  • Get a replacement key made from the car’s manufacturer/dealer. Making a replacement key costs a whole lot of money, which you wouldn’t want to spend. You could alternatively visit a nearby locksmith or key maker to have a temporary key This will only open the door but not start the car.

I hope these steps help you get out of a tricky and stressful situation (should you ever find yourself in one…)

Blogging For Business … Is It Necessary?

I’ve been trying to convince one of my clients to focus on their blogging strategy, and they just don’t seem to have much faith in the idea of using a blog to build SEO. It seems crazy, especially since it’s a digital software company. You’d think a software company would understand the value of online content to building an audience, but no…

Then it occurred to me… I do this for a living. I understand the value of it, because I’ve seen it work. SEO is my forte, and I know that the phrase “Content is King” still stands. I mean, Bill Gates coined the phrase, for Christ’s sake. He’s one of the richest people in the world. That’s probably a sign we should listen to what the heck he has to say (at least when it comes to making money.)

So, I guess this post is my attempt to put into words what I’ve been wanting to say to this client, and then maybe if I ever get the balls, I’ll send it to them. (Probably won’t happen until after they fire me…)

Blogging is crucial for your business if you expect to build an audience online, and here’s why.

1. Having a blog lets you update your site on a regular basis. And Google loves consistency. You could build a website without a blog, but the chances that you’ll update it regularly with new pages and new keyword-rich content are slim. Why would you need to? Most rookie website owners have a “build it and they will come” mentality, but the real goal should be “update it and they will come.”

Not only does Google love regularly updated content; so do your social media platforms. When you have a blog, you’ve got more useful content to make use of on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like.

(By the way, if you’re reading this, go ahead and click the social sharing buttons at the bottom of the post to share it on your social networks. I’ll love you for it!)

2. Blogs are informative, educational and engaging. There’s no better way to engage your audience than to provide them with useful, relevant content that answers their questions, satisfies their curiosity, or just helps them accomplish something—whatever that something is.

Think about it. What do people usually do when they want to know how to do something or have a general question about how something works?

“Google it.”

There’s a reason why that phrase is so popular. Everyone turns to the Internet. A blog is the perfect place to house educational content that you wouldn’t otherwise publish on your regular website pages.

3. Blogs are a great way to build your brand. A blog allows you to showcase who you are in a way that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. People who read multiple blog posts from you will start to see a pattern in the way you explain things. That pattern is known as your “voice,” and it’s an essential part of your brand and how you build brand recognition.

If you have multiple writers on your team, a blog is also a great way to connect with your audience in a more personal way. Each of your writers can have his or her own bio and photo attached to the posts they write. That helps give your brand a face and a name that more people will recognize. Writers can also use their own social networking platforms to share your brand, which helps you build a wider audience.

As I mentioned before, I’m working on getting my client to see and understand the benefits of blogging for their business, but it’s taking some time. Hopefully this post is helpful to everyone else who may be reading it and considering implementing a blog as part of your digital marketing strategy. If so, do me a favor, and hit one or more of the share buttons below. Thanks!

Why all SEOs should something something

You know that completely normal thing that you’ve been doing on a professional business level for years?  Well, you’ve been doing it wrong.  Fortunately for you, I have a fairly short and easy to read blog post that lists a number of reasons why you should be doing it differently – and conveniently, most of the reasons relate to the new product or services I’m selling, a new process I’ve developed to try and look cool, or possibly refer to popular culture in some unique, but probably tenuous manner.

1.  “Something” is like fish

You never see fish cry, do you?  Why do you think that is?  A valuable lesson in both business and in life for us all, I think you’ll agree.

2.  A famous philosopher once said…

“A man must tread carefully for he knows not who’s footsteps he follows and whose shall follow his” – powerful words that remind us that whatever we do – always cover our tracks!  You never know who will be following you – they might have a knife or a gun or a bazooka or a tank or a rabid dog!  And I don’t know why a rabid dog is worse than a tank, but it is.  It’s almost like a zombie dog and zombies are scary.  Although given the choice, I’d rather have a tank in a fight than a zombie.  Strangely though, fighting a zombie IN a tank would be the worst possible scenario.  The bazooka would be all but useless and I’d be concerned that firing the gun would cause some kind of ricochet.

3.  Nurses don’t obsess about links, so why do you?

If Florence Nightingale doesn’t give a second thought about links as she goes about her business, why do you?  Argument.  Won.

4.   Something about ethics

5.   Insert current jargon reference

“Something” will help protect you against (delete as appropriate) – negative SEO, bad neighbourhoods, link networks, black hat SEOs, grey hat SEOs, asshat SEOs, scraper sites, MFA sites, link removal requests, unnatural link profiles, Google bowling, Google bombing, Google Panda, Google Penguin, Google Koala, Google Bearded Dragon, Google Mongoose, Google Zombies, Matt Cutts, Matt’s cat, Matt’s Youtube channel and Pinterest Meme Spamification (PMS…*snigger* – I think we should adopt this phrase!).

6.  Time to name drop

We don’t really believe that linking out to “authority” sites has any significant impact on the success of the article, but we do it anyway.  So this is the point where you write a little bit about the links you bought on SEL , the guest post you wrote on SEL or your time spent pitching your company, speaking at a conference.

7.  Unzip, let it hang out and compare it to others

Remember that time you did that thing for so many years that you became an expert?  Great!  This is a great opportunity for you to reinforce your credentials, because even though you are targeting this article at your contemporaries, you really hope that you’ll make such a good impression that they’ll send lots of business your way.  Because marketing to your competitors is much more sensible than marketing to your customers.  Hey, it’s fine – you’re an SEO – it’s all about being number 1, right?

Make sure your blog post has this statement somewhere:  “I wouldn’t use a SEO service that doesn’t do…” – PPC, social media, link building, marketing, coding, design, telemarketing, DIY, World of Warcraft, knitting, juggling.  Be sure to pick the area that you are strongest in – that way people will think that this is important see you as the best.  Even though you’ve probably written an article with so much jargon that only other SEOs will read it.  And know.  They’ll know.

8.  Bonus tip!!

If you are guest posting on another site, then absolutely DO keyword link to your own niche product or service in an article centred around that niche product or service.  There’s no way that anyone – SEOs, real people or Google – will ever construe that is being self-serving.  Credibility +1.  Sure you say, Google Penguin taught us that lesson, right?  Yeh, that’s new and now you know…