How many Internet marketing newsletters do you subscribe to?
If you're anything like me, you probably have an email Inbox crammed with newsletters just waiting for that spare moment to read.
Search Engine News is different. First because you have to pay for it, and if hundreds of thousands of subscribers are willing to pay for it, it must be good. And it is.
As hard as I try not to, I admit that most of the newsletters I receive I merely skim through, looking for that pearl of wisdom among the “same old same old”. Unfortunately, pearls of wisdom don't turn up in them very often.
Not so with Search Engine News. When my monthly instalment arrives in my Inbox, I set aside time to read it, and I mean really READ it. But I'm not going to describe it for you or tell you why I like it so much. Stephen Mahaney, the President of Planet Ocean Communications, the publisher of Search Engine News, does that for you in the interview I conducted with him recently, which is printed in its entirety below.
All I'd like to say is that if you don't already subscribe to Search Engine News, do yourself a favor, and get the ONLY newsletter that really tells it like it is. It's worth every penny.
Here's my interview with Stephen Mahaney, President of Planet Ocean Communications, publishers of Search Engine News and the Unfair Advantage Book On Winning The Search Engine Wars.
There are literally thousands of free newsletters published by marketing experts. What makes yours special and worth paying a premium for?
Time is increasingly becoming everyone's most valuable ally … or worst enemy. The more financially successful one becomes, the more valuable one's time. Even before the Internet, the duel cliches “Time is money” and “You get what you pay for” were truisms recognized for fact by the so-called captains of industry in the 20th century. These two functions of success have never been truer than they are in today's Information Age.
To state it simply, there's a lot of garbage information that's available for free. Of course, that's not to say that all free information is garbage – certainly it isn't. The question is, how do you know? … especially when so much of the free stuff is half-baked, regurgitated, outdated, cluttered with ads, or presented as content when in fact it's really only thinly veiled promotion to disguise someone's hidden commercial agenda.
In regards to search engines, a lot of people are wasting a lot of time deciphering information that can actually hurt their entrepreneurial efforts. They think they are saving money. But when they add up all the time they spend sifting through the garbage, they're losing big-time – and they're falling behind competitors that go straight for the good stuff.
Team of researchers
Our publication, Search Engine News, is uncluttered, in depth, straight facts compiled and presented by a team of researchers whose focus is to give every reader their money's worth and more. That IS our business, that is our agenda. We have the luxury of not being influenced by any advertisers because we have none. We go all-out every month because we are being paid to do exactly that.
Since our entire incentive is renewals – and our renewal rate is phenomenally high – our content must be consistently exceptional. And, as you know, it is. Frankly, without paid renewals, we don't have a profit model. However, the fact that we've thrived on renewals for nine years now, speaks volumes more about our service than anything I could ever say in an interview.
I should also mention that the typical online newsletter is usually just a few pages at most. Search Engine News, however, has been described as a “…magazine-length mini-report on industry updates, research and insights…” and “…a clearinghouse on search engine knowledge.” One of our typical issues prints out at somewhere between 25 to 40 pages. Each contains at least five sections of analysis presented in carefully constructed, highly understandable, format. In reality, it's not a newsletter. It's a trade magazine for online marketers whose core interest is search engines.
What does your subscription service offer to the newbie or the person just starting out in affiliate marketing?
For starters, we offer The UnFair Advantage Book on Winning The Search Engine Wars, which has been awarded the “Best Publication On Search Engine Marketing” for three years running. This book, which we update every month (currently in its 107th monthly revision), gives the reader a need-to-know foundational basis for understanding search engines as an online marketing tool.
We don't waste any time explaining the history of search engines or any of the technical details of how they function. Instead, we focus on the specific factors and elements of page content and incoming links that search engines use to rank pages at the top of the listings. Of course the big three engines, Google, Yahoo, and MSN, factor prominently in our content. We also focus equally on the organic (non-paid, natural) results and the pay-per-click search results.
Anyone who reads our Unfair Advantage Book gains a solid foundation for layering-in the latest and advanced search engine marketing (SEM) strategies that are reviewed in-depth at Search Engine News each month.
Because, as we all know, the only constant with search engines is change, we provide six months of free updates to all “Unfair Advantage Book” buyers along with a six month subscription to Search Engine News. This keeps anyone who is actively involved in SEM abreast of the important changes that effect marketing products via search engines.
What would an experienced SEO webmaster learn from subscribing to your service?
There are a lot of services that report search engine changes. There are few, if any, however, that explain how to adapt, adopt, and incorporate those changes into their online marketing strategies. Granted, this isn't always good news to the reader. Sometimes we have to tell them their profit model is about to be trashed by something the engines are about to do or that big changes are on the horizon that may require them to completely rethink their online strategies.
Regardless, it's valuable to know when the express train is barreling down the track so you can either “catch it” or “get out of the way.” Most people are simply blind-sided by it. And there are a lot of affiliate marketers whose pages disappeared from the listings over the past six months who can identify with what I'm saying.
For instance, anyone who has been reading our publication knows we've been stressing the importance of unique value-added content vs. the standard duplicate or near-duplicate pages being served up by many affiliate sites. Most affiliate sites just want to grab customers and convert them to a sale while putting minimal effort into marketing the product. Of course, that's understandable – few people want to work any harder than they have to. However, we know that search engines respond better to valuable content. So, we emphasize offering unique articles, anecdotes, images, videos, or any other supportive product info that real people and potential customers might find interesting and valuable. This leads better rankings as well as to more sales.
Today, Google has almost finished purging all of that duplicate and near-duplicate content from its index and a lot of affiliates have lost income as a result. If they'd been reading our publication they would have known that the solution is to add value to the product's original offering. We've written about how to do that on a number of occasions over the past nine months in anticipation of the changes that have now occurred.
Another example: For almost a year now we've been warning SEO's to lighten-up on traditional link-getting strategies in favor of what the engines call natural link structure. And now, Google has begun penalizing pages with incoming links that don't fit their complicated definition of “natural”. Guess what? Those traditional link-exchange type links are now often hurting, not helping, a page's position in the rankings. Acquiring links too fast is hurting a page's position. And being linked by someone who is being linked by someone “bad” is hurting a page's position. To Google, such links look unnatural and are therefore untrusted.
Of course, these examples are a little bit complicated, but we explain them so that both the novice and the experienced SEO webmaster can understand them perfectly. And, of course, these few examples only scratch the surface of our recommendations. But still, they offer a peek inside the envelope of what's important. Truly, if an SEO violates any one of them, they're dust in the rankings-bin. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of books, sites, and experts who'll tell you to “go get links” but neglect to mention that acquiring the wrong kinds via the traditional link-getting channels will defeat your efforts – not help them.
What SEO trends do you see emerging that we should be concentrating on getting into place now?
Besides focusing on building relationships with only the important, relevant, and trusted sites that will point topic-specific links to you…
The evolution of the commercial Internet is beginning to come full circle. The principals of marketing that were established in the 20th century (before the Internet) are beginning to take root once again. They are re-emerging as the defining factors of success online. The Internet's “wild west” era is coming to a close. That means that online MARKETING is becoming the focus within which search engines are just one of the foundational pillars – albeit, an essential one.
Affiliate marketing has been one of the scaffolds that companies have used to build their customer databases, market share, and brand recognition. Amazon.com is a prime example. However, today, many of these companies are deriving far more income through a direct relationship with the customer via direct response email and customer inquiry based on brand recognition.
The most significant trend in marketing today is this: Whenever a customer can buy direct, they do! … They want the lowest price, the quickest delivery, and the fewest number of steps in the buying process. These are facts that are set in stone and will not change anytime in the foreseeable future. The Internet lends itself to this dynamic like none other. It epitomizes the process.
Without a database of customers, affiliate marketers must understand that their relationships with customers, companies, and products will always be, more or less, fleeting. If all they can offer is a small variety of specific products, such products must lend themselves to certain factors that make them sellable by affiliates. The products must be time-sensitive, or complicated to explain, or lend themselves to add-on enhancements or value-added offerings.
The holy grail of marketing
In business, the holy grail is owning a database of customers. Show me someone who has a list of BUYERS and I'll show you a slam-dunk, money-making opportunity. It is much easier to find a product to match the desires of an already assembled list of buyers (i.e., customers) than it is to find new customers for some hot new product. This fact of marketing has always been the case, even though the affiliate era of the past eight years appeared to have suspended this rule for a little while.
Bottom line: People like to buy direct and he who has the list is King – again! These are your “emerging” trends – everywhere … and search engine marketing is no exception.
The smartest of all affiliate marketers are striving to build a database of customers. Affiliates who are able to do so will have the means to contact “their” customers directly with offers of interests that lead to a revenue stream of profits for the affiliate marketer. We believe the search engines are the first step to finding these customers. The second step is to nurture and cultivate the customer list. The third is to intelligently farm that list and reap the profits that will be forthcoming from time to time as a result of having used the engines wisely to acquire the customers in the first place.
Editor's Note: Search Engine News comes as a package deal with the Unfair Advantage Book On Winning The Search Engine Wars, a comprehensive search engine optimization book which is updated every month – an incredibly useful bonus.