It’s been awhile since I’m updated my blog. Like everyone else, my summer has taken off at full speed ahead.
However, I have some new blog topics swirling around in my mind:
1. My next blog topic (or 2) will be taking a popular landscape/lawn care feature, such as swimming pools, spas, mowing heights, LED lights, and irrigation, and giving you some examples of blogs that you can put on your website for your prospects & clients that feature your services.
2. I’m also working on a white paper to discuss the internal workings of a subject matter expert writer. This white paper will help you to determine if a blog, case study, or white paper is appropriate for your business.
3. On this blog, I’ll also take some time to talk about case studies & white papers to add to your website for folks who signed up for your blog or e-newsletter updates.
4. And to my clients, I’m going to start an e-newsletter in the next few months (September is my deadline) that will offer discounts, coupons, and news that you can use for your website, blog and other web content. No, I will not be giving any grammar lessons. I promise!
Happy June! The kids are almost out of school and it seems that everyone in the lawn care/landscape industries are busy back at work making residential and commercial properties look beautiful this season.
There are three common questions that I hear from lawn care and landscape prospects before they decide to commit to a blogging regimen. And even though these questions are asked differently, they boil down to these three:
1. Can I trust you (Wendy) to deliver on your promises?
2. How do you know that this will work?
3. And what will you be writing about?
There are many other kinds of questions that pop up when a prospect and I are getting to know each other. But the above three are the most fundamental to many businesses before they decide that they want a blog on their website, let alone hire out to a complete stranger to get the job done right, the first time.
So here are my answers:
1. Yes, you can trust me. But I’m happy to work with you so you can discover how my writing services help your return on investment. I know that there are a lot of charlatans out there who claim that they’ll write you a wonderful blog, full of great keywords, and other SEO jargon. You pay them and later find out that you have to rewrite everything because the blogger didn’t know a grub from a bean.
Also, there are a lot of outlets where you can pick your writers for a very low fee. Yet, you get what you paid for. Even though it’s great that you’re paying $2.00 for that lawn care blog, don’t expect a lot of detail from someone who isn’t familiar with American lawn care and landscape methods—especially if they’re from third world nations.
2. Social marketing is here to stay—whether you’re on board the social media train or not. Other lawn care and landscape businesses are adding blogs, e-newsletters, Facebook pages, and video to their marketing plans. And while I can’t guarantee you certain results, I can tell you that, so far, my clients are happy with me.
Also, you should be getting feedback on how well your blog and overall website are doing. You can find out by asking your web developer or Internet marketing agency to run an audit on your blog. What keywords pop up? How much traffic is coming to your website? What blogs most resonate with your readers? And … most importantly, are you converting prospects into paying customers?
3. You’re in total control of what is posted on your blog. I offer free consultation on ideas and direction, but I won’t write a word until you okay the topic idea (and you have the final say before the post is put on your website). This is your blog. I’m just the person writing the words for you.
For many of you, blogging and social media are new concepts. And you’re busy. But it’s worth your while to find a blogger or content writer who understands your business needs and can deliver what she promises.
What questions would you like to ask me about blogging, web content, SEO and the like? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Do you believe that a blog can help your bottom line?
For the past month, I’ve been blogging on my site about how lawn care and landscape companies need to find solid Internet marketing agencies to help them with their digital marketing. For the series, I interviewed Steve Wolgemuth, CEO of YDOP (www.ydop.com), in Lancaster, Pa., who’s an SEO expert. And I learned more about how blogging and other forms of social media are essential for today’s landscape and lawn care business owners.
You can read the rest of the blog at http://www.turfmagazine.com/blog-7177.aspx.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been talking a lot about the importance of finding a solid, reputable Internet company to help you get your website up and running–as well as reaching your ideal clients. I’ve interviewed Steve Wolgemuth of YDOP about his perspective on web shops to trust.
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me what you think and respond to my poll:
I know that you, in the garden, hardscape, lawn care, and landscape businesses are really busy right now. But if you have time, I’d love to hear your feedback. Please share any additional comments you may have in the comments section below.
Meanwhile, I’m working on a new series of blogs focusing on the FAQs that lawn care, landscape and other green businesses ask me when they call or email me about blog, e-newsletter, or web content writing.
How do you know if you picked the right or wrong SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company? Remember from earlier posts to this series (I changed it from eight to four posts) that we talked about what to look for in a reputable SEO company: localization which will represent the counties and regions that your lawn care or landscape business serve; adding a blog to your garden center or irrigation website to draw in new prospects; and the five things you should be looking for in a reputable internet marketing company.
Now, we’re going to wrap up this series by talking about the five things that some SEO companies employ which should trigger warning bells in your mind:
They use spam or telemarketing. Yikes! Cold calling and spam email are disruptive and annoying. A reputable SEO company will allow you to find them. “Internet marketing is one of those industries that is doing very well even in our recent, tough economy,” noted Steve Wolgemuth, YDOP CEO and an expert in SEO. “If a company has to resort to cold calling that might be a warning sign. You probably hate spam and being cold-called as much as the next person. If a company is callous enough to still use this type of solicitation that should tell you something about the company’s culture. Run.”
Theywon’t take your calls. Grab a ticket. Literally. Have you ever called only to be put on hold as the fifth caller? And the company believes it’s being “considerate” because you can leave a message for them—which they may return in a few days. “Ticketing systems contribute to geek utopia and make perfect sense to the employees. But you’ll probably need a real person on the phone at some point, and you better be able to get it. By the way—don’t call every week,” Wolgemuth advises.
They guarantee results. “We promise you first line and page one on Google,” an SEO firm promises. Wolgemuth points out that, according to Google, those types of promises can’t be made: “That either means they plan on running AdWords and buying you page placement, or they plan on optimizing you for keyword searches that are easy to earn, but never are used by searchers, such as ‘Internet Marketing Company in Lancaster named YDOP.’ Google warns against using companies that make guarantees. Don’t hire anyone who does this.”
They don’t have an outlined plan. It’s the first day of your service. Do you know what your SEO firm’s plan of action is? Some companies don’t have a solid plan to help you with your SEO needs. “There is no excuse for ambiguity. A good Internet marketing company has a detailed tactical agenda that they can show you before you sign off and write the first check.”
They don’t have in-house expertise. “Many web shops feel as though they need to offer SEO services, but are having trouble delivering the service, so they outsource this work, often to inexpensive, shady vendors in Third World countries. With Google’s recent algorithm changes, you risk a ranking penalty if an SEO company tries to use short-term ranking strategies. Make sure you hire a company that does white hat SEO work and they do it in-house. Make sure you can actually talk to the people that will be working on your SEO before you sign the contract,” says Wolgemuth.
If you’re seeing any of these five red flags popping up as the sales person continues to talk, turn and run away. Digital marketing is too important to let some shysters pocket your money without providing you the return that you expect.
Has this four-part series helped you get a better grasp on your green business’s digital marketing needs, as well as the professionals who can help you solve them? Please share your comments below.
I’ve been talking a lot about the importance of investing your marketing dollars toward more digital outlets, as well as focusing on localizing your green business (lawn care, landscape, hardscape, outdoor living, and irrigation) on the Internet.
Now, it’s time to investigate what you need to consider before you sign on the dotted line. Here are five tips to keep in mind before you commit to a particular digital marketing company or consultant because they’re NOT all the same:
Check to see if the intended company’s client base is similar to yours. Granted, you probably won’t find a company solely dedicated to the green industry. Yet, they should do at least 50 percent of their business in local search optimization—the kind of SEO you need to invest in to reach your targeted audience.
Know who’ll be handling your website content. You need to ask your potential vendors if they outsource their work, and if so, to whom? I’ve worked for agencies as well as directly with landscape design-build and lawn care companies. If your intended company hires out, do they put jobs on bid sites where writers and others bid for jobs? (The lowest bidder usually gets the gig. But can they do the work?)? Additionally, some companies outsource to developing countries (where English is a second or third language). Again, cheap labor that probably doesn’t understand your ideal clients, your region, or even what you do.
Make sure that you own all of the creative content on your website. Some companies will own your work even if you decide to change vendors. So if you like your website design or writer, too bad, you can’t take that stuff with you. Double check the web shop’s “Offer of Services Agreement,” to make sure that you own the website property and can take it with you if you decide to change web vendors.
Make sure that you can go into the website to add or change content. Steve Wolgemuth of YDOP (www.ydop.com) recommends WordPress because it’s user-friendly and you can easily take your WordPress content with you.
Don’t believe the page one Google guarantee. I confess that I’ve made this mistake with clients when I was first starting out. But no one, I repeat, no one can guarantee you where you’ll rank on Google. You can only use the recommended tools to beat out your competition when it comes to Google placement. But Google’s algorithms have the last say where you’ll be placed—no matter how good the SEO.
I love what Steve advises: “Don’t ask for guarantees as this isn’t possible. After all, it’s a race against other competitors who may be investing heavily to outrank you. Do ask the company’s sense of what you might expect and when. Ask for stories of comparable work they’ve done and what outcomes they ran into. Find out how often you’ll receive reports and what will be measured.”
Hopefully, these five tips will help you as you decide who to hire for your digital marketing needs.
If you’ve hired an internet marketing company or consultant, how successful was your website? Did you get more prospects coming to your virtual door? Tell me your story.