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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses Maximizing ROI on Your Marketing Investment (on ASBN)

Posted By: George Deeb - 3/30/2021

I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small busine...

I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about how to maximize ROI on your marketing investment.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to see if it can be helpful with your own marketing efforts.  I hope you like!!

The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Red Rocket Blog Passes 2,000,000 Reads

Posted By: George Deeb - 3/17/2021

Well, it is only fitting, that in the same month the Red Rocket Blog hit its 10th year anniversary , the all-time blog reads passed the 2,00...

Well, it is only fitting, that in the same month the Red Rocket Blog hit its 10th year anniversary, the all-time blog reads passed the 2,000,000 mark!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your continued readership after all these years.  We will do our best to continue to bring you useful how-to lessons and interesting small business case studies for you to learn from, in the years ahead.  And, as always, don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything we can do to help you with your growth strategy or execution needs.

For future posts, please follow us on Twitter at: @RedRocketVC.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Happy 10th Anniversary Red Rocket Blog!!

Posted By: George Deeb - 2/26/2021

When I wrote my first blog post back in February 2011, who would have ever imagined it would have grown to over 335 how-to lessons for entre...

When I wrote my first blog post back in February 2011, who would have ever imagined it would have grown to over 335 how-to lessons for entrepreneurs, three published books and over 2,000,000 online reads.  For those of you that read the content to educate yourself on your own, I hope you have found them to be helpful in growing your businesses (would love to hear any success stories there).  And, for the dozens of Red Rocket clients that originated by stumbling on one of our blog posts in the search engines, it has been my pleasure working with each and every one of you, and I very much appreciate our relationships.

Generating fresh content for over 10 years was quite a feat and labor of love, as most long term bloggers can attest.  We will continue to pump them out, as long as there are new interesting lessons or case studies to share with you.  Which pretty much means there is still another ten years of content in front of us.  See you all at lesson #700 at that time!! 

Thanks again for all your continued support and readership.  We are truly humbled.

For future posts, please follow us at: @RedRocketVC or @georgedeeb.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Lesson #335: The Death of Search Engine Optimization

Posted By: George Deeb - 2/17/2021

I have been a digital marketer for over 20 years now, which seems like an eternity at this point!  Google has always been a staple of any go...

I have been a digital marketer for over 20 years now, which seems like an eternity at this point!  Google has always been a staple of any good digital marketing strategy, especially for search engine optimization (SEO), to attract free organic traffic based on the quality of the content on your page.  But, when we recently started to see our SEO traffic start to decline, we asked our SEO consultant to investigate what was the root cause, and he said it was due to a recent Google Search page redesign, moving the free organic links further to the bottom of the search results page.  What was more troubling, was when I asked him how best to fix the situation, he said, “start spending more money advertising with Google, to get back up to the top of the page”, which was a very strange thing for an SEO expert to say, as he isn’t needed in that scenario.  This means SEO as a strategy for ecommerce driven companies is potentially dying, and paid search marketing has become your primary way to gain an audience through the search engines, at least through industry leading Google.  Allow me to further explain.

A Quick History of Google Search

Ever since Google hit the scene in 1998, Google has been a staple of any good digital marketing strategy.  Originally, it was simply having a good SEO plan, to help you go up the free organic rankings—onto the top of the first page of the search results.  The search results were very straight forward and uncluttered, and looked similar to this example below, with only organic free results appearing on the Google page based on the content of your page, and its relevancy to the keyword being searched (in this example, a search result for the word “technology”):

Then, Google launched Google Adwords (now called Google Ads) in 2000, which was your way to “buy” your way to the top of the search results with paid text ads.  Which meant, now you needed both a good SEO strategy for free organic traffic (for the links at the bottom of the first page), and a good keyword bidding strategy for paid traffic (for the links at the top of the first page), as seen in this example search result for the keyword “text”.  

Then, in 2002, Google launched Google Shopping, which gave ecommerce companies the opportunity to “feed” their product listings to Google, also on a pay-per-click model, adding a third dimension to their mix, but largely separated into its own “Shopping” tab on Google.  At the time, it didn’t really impact the traditional search results at all.  And, finally in 2004, Google launched Google Local, which allowed businesses with multiple retail locations the abilities to advertise and promote their various locations, in addition to the corporate parent company.  This change simply localized the advertising, to the location of the user (e.g., instead of seeing a national ad, they saw an ad for a nearby local business).  Again, it really didn’t materially impact the page design.  

Google Today

But, in the last several months, Google has materially changed its page design for Google Search.  And, previous “sacred ground” rules like “stay true to our organic search roots, and don’t clutter the page with a bunch of advertising” got completely flushed down the toilet.  As you can see in this example of a keyword search result for “restaurant furniture”.

Notice what has happened to the page design—today, there is not one free organic search result anywhere to be seen on the first page, above the fold (where the computer screen breaks the page).  Every single link on this page, is now a paid advertisement—the links in the upper left coming from Google Ads, the links in the lower left map coming from Google Local and the links in the right coming from the Google Shopping product feed.  Every single one a paid placement, which is great for Google maximizing their ad revenues.  But, if you want to see an organic search result that is truly based on the quality of the content of the landing page, you need to scroll down “below the fold”, and even then, they don’t start until the bottom of that second screen view after you page down.

The Death of Search Engine Optimization

So, what does this all mean for you commerce companies selling products or services . . . it means search engine optimization as a strategy is on “life support”.  Most Google users focus on the first page of results, mostly on the links that appear “above the fold”.  If there is no way now, to get your organic search result into that position, based on the current Google page design, then why focus on doing SEO at all?  All your focus needs to be on shelling out a lot of money to Google, to make sure your business is promoted in Google Ads, Google Local and Google Shopping placements on the page.  Which is exactly what Google wants, their cash register to ring with each click on their site!!

Now that paints a pretty extreme picture.  Yes, you can still be doing traditional SEO for organic rankings, especially for sites other than Google (e.g., Bing, Yahoo).  Yes, there are still a minority of Google users that will scroll down the first page, and an even smaller amount of users that will click beyond the first page, to page two or three.    But, the amount of SEO traffic you will receive from free organic SEO efforts has become materially less than you would have received prior to the Google page redesign, especially given its dominant market share position in the search industry.  That is the point here:  yes, SEO still can play a role, but a much less impactful one if you are in the ecommerce world.

Also, worth adding, Google is using its new page design on their largest trafficked search terms (e.g., “restaurant furniture”), there may still be SEO value by focusing on “long tail” search terms that Google uses a more traditional search result page design (e.g., like this one below, for “30 x 30 table top”).  

But, I think this is only a matter of time, before Google figures out how to take over advertising on every single one of their page results, including the “long tail” keywords.  Even in the above example, Google Shopping has five paid links at the top of the page, Google Ads has one paid link in the middle of the page, and there are only two free organic results at the bottom of the first page, “above the fold”.

Concluding Thoughts

So, as you are trying to figure out how best to spend your limited marketing dollars, the 20 year “staple” of optimizing your website for free organic traffic, has become a much less effective use of your time and efforts.  It just doesn’t bring the same “bang for the buck” that it used to, which means it is much harder to drive a ROI.  Whether or not this helps or hurts Google in the long term, will be determined in the future.  But, you can bet Google’s competitors, like Duck Duck Go, are going to try to win over internet searchers with their largely free organic search results (which you can see this below example for “restaurant furniture”), promoted as protecting your privacy from the evil Google advertising empire.  

Let’s see if Google’s attempt to fleece all of its advertisers for even more money, and further clutter up its user experience, will open up a door for one of their competitors to start growing share in the search industry.  But, until then, the grim reaper is sharpening his blade for the SEO industry.  R.I.P. my dear friend.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Friday, January 29, 2021

The 7 Steps to Managing Your Advertising Agency

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/29/2021

  You've selected the right advertising agency for your company. Great! Now what? Managing an advertising agency is not as simple as hit...


You've selected the right advertising agency for your company. Great! Now what? Managing an advertising agency is not as simple as hitting “autopilot,” crossing your fingers and hoping they get it right. You will need watchful eyes along the way, helping to keep your agency on the desired track. Here's how to make sure the agency is giving you what you need.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Lesson #334: Use Google Trends to Track Your Market Share and Success

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/28/2021

  I am sure many of you have used Google Trends in the past.  But, for those of you that are not aware of this terrific tool, now is the ti...


I am sure many of you have used Google Trends in the past.  But, for those of you that are not aware of this terrific tool, now is the time to learn how valuable it can be for your business.  

What is Google Trends?

Google Trends is a tool that can tell you how searches for a specific keyword on Google have been trending over time, for whatever date range you are most interested.  As an example, here is the search traffic trend for the term "restaurant furniture" for the last year:

As an investor in Restaurant Furniture Plus, this data is very important to me, as a tool to know whether the industry is moving up or down, and how the industry is behaving year over year, which I then can compare to our own revenue results.  It also tells me whether or not we are gaining or losing market share, compared to our competitors, which I will detail below.  The way to read this chart is the highest point in the period is scored a 100, and then every other period is indexed against that peak.  So, a week showing a score of 25, would have 75% less traffic than the peak week.

What do we see is in this chart--there was a slump starting in March 2020, which is no surprise with the beginning of the COVID pandemic in the U.S.  Then, there was an unexpected spike in June 2020, which caught us in surprise.  Why was there a spike in the middle of a pandemic when most restaurants were closed?  In response to COVID, restaurants were racing to buy outdoor furniture to open patios which were allowed to operate.  And, then, the rest of the year, pretty much followed normal seasonal trends--this industry normally peaks in March-June, and then November-December are typically the slowest months of the year.  If you looked at this same chart in 2019, you would not have seen a dip in March, you would have seen steady acceleration in demand leading up to new summer restaurant openings and their need for furniture.

How to Use This Data For Your Business--A Couple Case Studies

As discussed, the above can show how the industry is trending, for you to compare your own revenue results.  But, if you dive a little bit deeper, it can tell you if you should be happy or sad with your own revenue results.  Let's talk through an example, using the above chart.  The month of April had an average score of 27 and the month of May had an average score of 48.  That was a 78% increase as the restaurant industry started to shake off the immediate paralysis coming out of COVID.

As I compare that to our Restaurant Furniture Plus data, our revenues in May were up 128% over April.  So, yes when I looked at our revenue data in isolation, without Google Trends data , I was obviously happy with the 128% growth.  But, when I layered in the fact the industry growth was only 78%, that means that Restaurant Furniture Plus was actually growing 29% faster than the industry was growing.  In other words, we were increasing our market share, taking volume away from our competitors, which obviously made us ecstatic.  It turned out that in a world post COVID, the internet dealers like us, where taking share away from the offline brick-and-mortar dealers, many of which were closed during this period.

This data is especially helpful in this following scenario.  I had a client that was really pleased with their 10% month-over-month revenue growth.  And, he thought everything was fine with his business, until we layered on the 20% industry growth from the Google Trends data!  It was a very sobering moment for my client, as his mood changed from "great, we are growing", to "oh crap, we are losing material market share" in the snap of a finger.

Some Additional Guidance

Remember, Google Trends is simply traffic data from Google.  Your website traffic growth, may or may not be in synch with Google trends.  Maybe you have a bottleneck there, with poor search engine optimization, and you are not getting your fair share of the overall internet searches (so, fix that!).  And, the above example assumes you have an immediate conversion of website traffic into sales in the same month.  That may be the case for low ticket consumer products.  But, that is most likely not the case for more expensive B2B products or services, that have a longer sales cycle, especially if they are converted offline.  So, instead of mapping Google Trends data to sales or transactions, map it to leads.  And, if you are going to map to sales, adjust the analysis for your sales cycle (e.g., April traffic growth with a three month sales cycle will drive July sales growth).

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a new tool that can help you with instantaneous market research and trends on your industry.  Use this data to help you plan your month-by-month budgets, for any seasonality in your industry, and to compare how your business is trending versus the industry overall.  If you are losing market share, you may not realize it now, but you have a pretty big problem on your hands, that you will need to fix asap.  Good luck!

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


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