Customer Service / Online Marketing – One Rock at a Time

How to move mountains – eCommerce & eMarketing strategy for success!

For those of my readers ‘lucky’ enough to live in the Golden State of California, today marks a milestone in sales tax, when the CA state tax rate breaks the 10% ‘double digit’ boundary, to bring California near to the, or at the top of the ‘most taxed in the US’ list.

Part of the state revenue shortfall ‘rescue package’, the tax hike means many businesses in CA face more struggles in getting customers through their doors and spending money.

But all is not lost!

Some assistance is coming from a (relatively) small Federal government tax break affecting online marketing companies in the form of the Freedom of Optimization legislation contained within the Governments’ landmark stimulus package passed earlier this year.

In essence the legislation, introduced by Martin Dunlap, (R) IL, gives small businesses up to $20,000 in tax credit toward website optimization services – a boon for SEO companies everywhere. 

According to the Kentucky Legislature sponsored Bill Watch site “promoting transparency in government“, the laws’ goals are 4-fold:

  • Help US small / medium business (SMB) compete in the global marketplace

  • Reduce load on Internet infrastructure – through better optimized sites

  • Healthcare savings – By giving US citizens more relevant results a Government research group estimated a 4.1% reduction in stress-related psychological issues.

  • Reduce energy consumption (Alliance to Save Energy study) by up to 24% – through less computer usage (less searches necessary to find results)

For SEO companies across the country this means a windfall at a time when many business organizations are cutting back on their marketing spends.

As a Search Engine Optimization proponent working in a medium sized business, I can only hope the tax breaks contained in the Freedom of Optimization legislation trickle down sooner than later. Not only will it mean more, and consistent business over the next 18 months (legislation earmarks 257 million dollars in tax breaks available until December 31st 2010) for our company, it also means that many of my business colleagues will finally have some justification for optimizing their sites “no more excuses!”

What does this mean to Google?

With a rise in spending and website optimization on the SEO side, I can imagine two scenarios.

  1. A decrease in Search Engine Marketing / Adwords spend, as businesses replace paid ads with better and more quality organic traffic

  2. An increase in SEM / Adwords spend, as companies struggle to compete with better optimized organic Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).

I don’t think Google is, or should be worried (in fact, they’re noted as one of the contributors to Representative Dunlaps’ campaign and lobby group.) More relevant results for search consumers is their ultimate goal and value, this legislation will certainly accomplish that.

Though a ‘small g government’ Libertarian, this time, I think Government got it right. Great news for SEO companies & Internet users everywhere!

More information is available at the Governments’ small business website

Search engines are no more!

As the algorithms and personalization through technology improves, “search engines” is no longer a term one can use to adequately explain what feeds our quest for information and content.

As of today (make a note in your calendars) I hereby announce the death of search engines as we know it. From now on Google, Live, Ask, Yahoo and the slew of other ‘information funnels’ shall be known as “Found Engines

After all, it’s not the search that’s important, it’s what’s found and presented that is key to their success and our (as seekers of knowledge) satisfaction.

From my agency days springs the expression “Garbage in, garbage out” used in video and audio production meaning essentially, the best (audio / video product) quality comes from the best quality source material.

Sure, you could hide the occasional aircraft noise in a perfect 20 minute interview, but you couldn’t get pristine out of an interview at Grand Central Station with system announcements every 3 minutes.

Problems in post production were almost always solvable by exact and precise preparation before a shoot or audio session.

Same goes for web analytics.

Using Google Analytics as an example, having distinct goals and pathways defined to measure success will always give better and more actionable results than poorly planned goal implementation (or not doing it at all!)

Clients without transactional (i.e. purchase) goals on their sites often omit goal setting as they only believe the relevance is to dollars and cents results. Goals can be as simple as ensuring certain content is reviewed, or comment is left, or a click through is obtained (it could be between pages or sites or specific exit points.)

Data is the most valuable aspect of web analytics, setting real and relevant goals is a necessity in any search engine optimization campaign.

Dirty data in = dirty data out = waste (garbage or rubbish) of time.

Take out the garbage and benefit from the clean, fresh (and valuable) data!