Monthly Archives: May, 2011

Online marketing is an investment not an expenditure

May 25th, 2011 Posted by Website Engineering 7,697 comments

Not all businesses will benefit equally from an online marketing strategy, even a well-executed one.

Some will see more sales, some will just gain visits and visiblity. Some might almost nothing from it. Take the example of a large pipe manufacturer for instance. Or that of a supplier of equipement and services for offshore oil platforms. What are the chances they can lift their next contract off the web? Nil. These guys have websites for show only.

But these are extreme examples. Much closer to home, a small mom & pop grocery store is harly a likely candidate for an online campaign. Unless you use mobile marketing… maybe. But this is a risky bet – at best.

It behooves local search consultants to pick carefully which businesses will most likely benefit from their advices, and avoid contacting those enterprises which won’t:

  • be able to afford their services, or
  • derive significant benefits from them (in terms of revenues).

The local search consultant must absolutely remain the trusted advisor of his clients, and should always perform a thoughful cost/benefits analysis before embarking a business in any sort of an expense.

The recent publication by Sageworks – a financial information company – of its 2011 List of Most and Least Profitable Industries in the U.S. offers consultants an additional element of guidance in their selection of targets.

Analyzing these figures

The rankings published by Sageworks clearly show that accountants, dentists, lawyers and some healthcare professionals generate net margins in excess of 15%. A second tier – mostly professionals – generate profit margins of 10 to 15%. These include MDs, morticians and funeral homes, and perhaps surprisingly, photographers.

At the bottom of the table, the construction industry, with thin margins of 0.5% to 2.0%. This section mostly features larger size enterprises: manufacturers, contractors, wholesalers.

Despite the fact the economy was still in the doldrums in 2010, certain professions proved to be shielded against hard times. All the top-tier trades are of the business-to-consumer type, the web brings them business, and they can afford an internet marketing strategy.

What about the bottom tier? Contractors, cabinet makers dealing directly with consumers, harware resellers, all will benefit from an online marketing strategy. But their margins are thin and therefore call for sound thinking. The blueprint of a strategy for a national kitchen cabinet manufacturer cannot be the same as for a local attorney. The tools put into use will be different.

Pricing strategies for the bottom tier

Though building contractors typically handle larger cash-flows than attorneys or accountants, their thin margins (1.35%) restrain their capacity to afford the rates usually offered to dentists.

They should be canvassed though, as they can recoup a year worth of internet investment with just a couple of good residential building projects. Your proposal just has to  be clearly articulated.

A typical contractor will be detail-oriented in his analysis of your offer. They usually itemize their quotes and pay attention to cost overruns as changes in labor and material prices will impact the profitability of a construction site. For a general contractor, this may mean the difference between surviving a recession and filing for bankruptcy.

Any quote submitted to a contractor should be itemized to detail very exactly what service will be delivered for how much. A modular quotation [allowing picking among services] might win the day. A result-based proposal would help putting your quote ahead of your competitors in a bid.

Tie up your compensation to measurable deliverables (e.g., ranks gained in Google; number of A-B-C positions gained in Google Places; quotes obtained directly from the website…). Any quote that is tied to results indicates a high level of confidence in your capacities, often enough to sign up a business strapped with thin margins.

To ensure your client does not default on you, build an ‘ownership reserve provision‘ in your proposal: this clearly make the transfer of ownership of the website URL conditional to the final payment of monies.

Selling to the top-tier

Local search consultants know that dentists and chiropractors have extra cash to spend. If you really get results (i.e., #1 or #2 positions in Google Places), serving a dentist means a handsome payday.

Dentists, chiropractors, attorneys, CPAs don’t want to deal with their websites. They prefer to pay a qualified professional who will get results, even if the cost is high.

Kevin Wilke, founder of Local Business Money Machine, recommends discussing the lifetime value of a client before setting your consulting fees.

Let’s follow his approach, and establish a sound financial model by calculating Lifetime Revenues (LTR) and Lifetime Gross Profit (LTGP).

Lifetime Revenue and Lifetime Gross Profit


LTR (long-term revenue or lifetime revenue): Total revenue generated by a customer over the course of his involvement with your service.

LTGP (long-term or lifetime gross profit): Profit margin generated by this customer. Calculated by substracting the cost of acquisition of the client from the revenues generated over the course of doing business with you (revenues – cost of acquisition = lifetime gross profit).

Example: Chiroprator’s office

A new patient at the chiropractor’s office will usually receive 2 exams with x-rays per year, an adjustment every 2 weeks (20 per year), and inflict on himself a back injury requiring acute care for a couple of weeks (6 extra adjustements, tests, 1 exam, 2 deep-tissue massages). He will also buy supplements to correct other problems such as digestive and muscular issues, or in the case of women menopause and hormonal issues.

The average patient will spend $2K-$3K a year in chiropractic care.

Patients will bring their families (2 adults, 2 children) for treatment, i.e. an extra $4K-$5K revenues for the clinic per year.

The average family moves to a new home every 5 years, and find a new doctor. Over the course of these 5 years, this family will spend a handsome $30,000-$40,000 at the chiropractic clinic.

This is the LTR of this family.

Assuming that the chiropractor spends $60,000 a year in advertising to get an average 5 new patients a month. The cost of acquisition of a client comes to $1,000 [$60,000/(5 x 12)]. The cost of acquisition of his family: 3 free exams.

Over the course of the next 5 years, our doctor will offer $500 of free service per member of this family to keep their clientele. This expense will bring the cost of acquisition of the whole family to $3,000 over 5 years [$1K + (4*$500)].

The LTGP (gross profit) will come to between $27K [$30K – $3K] and $37K [$40K – $3K]. The advertising expense per client does not change at $1,000 over 5 years (i.e. between 2.7% and 3.7% of the LTGP – very reasonable).

According to Sageworks the average net profit margin of a chiropractic clinic is just over 16%. Assuming conservatively that the chiropractor keeps between $4.8K and $6.4K over 5 years from this family [$30K * 16%, or $40K * 16%], that’s $960 to $1280 in net profit per year for each new client gained through advertising. These are very conservative estimates.

Multiply this by 60 new clients per year, and the increase in net profit amounts to between$57,600 and $76,800 in the chiropractor’s pockets.

Putting the proposal together

For the sake of prudence, we assume that the online strategy just replicates the results of other advertising channels. The same advertising expenditure ($60,000) will bring the office an additional 60 patients during the year, or an additional $57K-$76K to the doctor in net profit before taxes.

But with patients increasingly resorting to the web and local search results as a source of information about local businesses, a good online marketing strategy should not only yield better results, but also diminish the advertising budget for other channels.

Show this clearly in your proposal. Show the possibilities offered by linking offline advertising (print media, Yellow Pages, cable TV) to online advertising (website), thereby leveraging the new assets of the practice (its website).

Calculating the LTR and LTGP during the prep stage of the consultative selling process will help construct your proposal with a deep knowledge of your client’s business.

Instead of offering the client to ‘spend more money’, you will now present the client a real ‘investment case’.

Cash-flows and assets

Doubling the number of patients during the course of a year will result in expanding the chiropractor’s office much faster.

For a doctor, it means being able to retire faster after selling his/her practice at a higher price.

In essence, implementing a well-thought online strategy drastically increases the value of the business concern (the practice).

If the chiropractor (or dentist) can show his average patient remains a client for 5 years, and that his practice almost doubled its size each year in the last 2-3 years, it becomes possible to value the practice on the base of its revenue potential (based on LTR), its gross profit potential (based on LTGP) and its net profit potential 5 years out.

In essence, this well-constructed online marketing proposal builds an investment case with a predictable return, and moves away from the ‘pain of spending more’.

This predicament is a whole lot better for your client and your consulting firm.

Thank you for your attention.

To your success,

Phil Chavanne


4 Checklists to Gauge the Competitiveness of a Site

May 25th, 2011 Posted by Local SEO, Website Engineering 435 comments

There are critical elements which must be present on a website for it to perform well, both in terms of position in the search engines and in terms of converting visitors into prospects or clients.

These elements are commonly known as “on-page factors”, “off-page factors”, and “conversion factors”.

On-page factors refer to those critical elements directly related to the programming of your website. When these factors aren’t properly optimized for search engines, your site suffers an unnecessary penalty in Google and Bing. On the contrary, when they are correctly optimized, your site provides the search engines the information they are looking for, and receives brownie points in return.

Off-page factors are those critical elements which make up your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. They are 100% essential to succeeding on the web. Not just to rank high in the search engines, but also to drive more visitors to your site. Your web strategy cannot only rely on search engines. Not anymore. It must also rely on your presence in the social media space. Yet, ‘social media’ is a very broad universe, and people get confused and overwhelmed at the idea of creating a presence for their business on the social networks. The best possible course of action is to start, even slowly, but today.

Conversion factors are those design factors which will make your website easy enough to visit, attractive enough to stay on it, and compelling enough to sur a visitor to become a prospect, then a buyer.

The 4 checklists prepared by LocalRanker and offered to you here are tools that you can use to gauge the competitiveness of your website. Does your site crush the competition, both in its rankings in the search engines and in its capacity to convert visitors into money?

Get ready to measure the factors that will give your business the edge you need to survive in tough times and to expand quickly in good times.

Good reading! And please, let us know on Facebook and on this site how useful you found these tools.


To your unmitigated success!

Phil Chavanne


Optimize your site for better conversions

May 5th, 2011 Posted by Cool Tools 424 comments

LocalRanker gives you the possibility to track very accurately the keywords which led visitors to your site.

We showed you in a previous article (keyword tracking) that selecting your keywords and aligning your site content with the real keywords used by your visitors (as opposed to keywords selected from the Google Adwords Keyword Tool) would help you give your visitors relevant content in line with their expectations.

But there is more to this new keyword tracking feature than meets the eye. Here is why.

Conversion tracking

SEO guru Jerry West [a maniac who tests everything he does on his websites, and can therefore speak from actual experience and hard numbers, rather than parroting the ‘pundits’] explains in his now famous textbook ‘Google Best Practices‘ that optimizing a website to make it rank high in Google is meaningless… if not calculated to actually increase your sales.

In his own words (emphasis added):

“When you choose keywords, how do you know it will convert visitors into buyers and make a good profit? How do you know if a phrase is worth your time? Please don’t say that you 1) only use a keyword tool and pick phrases with a high number of daily searches; or 2) that you pick a word, do all the work of optimizing and ranking and just “hope” it converts.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Yes, of course you could do the above, find out what works, and then make adjustments accordingly—but I thought you wanted to make money, not waste years losing money.

Here’s what you should be doing. Success online isn’t measured in traffic, it is measured in conversions. You don’t want just any traffic, you want buyers.

Ah-ha. So traffic isn’t everything?

Some say “Get the traffic, you’ll get the sales”. Not necessarily. Otherwise you would see advertising for refrigerators in the North Pole, and billboards for sand-making machinery in the Sahara desert. But you won’t.

You just plain won’t sell to people who are not interested in your stuff or in how you peddle it.

How to improve your conversions?

That’s the only question you have to solve. How do you get a higher percentage of buyers from whatever visitors you welcome on your website?

Buyers may not become buyers immediately. More often than not, you will not make a sale to your visitor.

In another famous sales textbook written by Chet Holmes (The Ultimate Sales Machine), Holmes quoted an experience he attended to in a seminar.

The speaker addressed the room and asked who was in the market for a car right now. Only about 3% of the audience responded affirmatively; those 3% were in active buying mode. Another 6% was maybe willing to buy, and another 30% were probably interested in cars (but they were not in buying mode right now – they were not searching to buy). The rest wasn’t interested at all.

Does that mean you can’t get a sale from 97% of your visitors? Obviously not.

But it certainly means you have to hit them in different ways.

So sales can’t be your only valuation conversion indicator. We at LocalRanker strongly suggest building up your list of e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers. These lists are your future market, your future sales. [LocalRanker gives you several possibilities to build lists.]

So how do you track your conversions?

The keyword tracking tool featured in LocalRanker enables you to see which keywords convert best.

Check this screenshot out. Do you see the three central columns ‘Visits‘, ‘Nbr of opt-ins‘ and ‘Nbr of buy‘?


These figures show you how efficient your site is.

By selecting those keywords which convert best (highest ‘sales/visitors’ or ‘opt-ins/visitors’ ratios, you are increasing the ‘monetization efficiency‘ of your website.

In other words, instead of spending money to attract more traffic that doesn’t buy, you spend just the right amount of money to attract traffic that will either buy or leave you the personal information you need to establish further rapport with them.

Improving sales further

Chet Holmes’s contention [and he’s right on the money] is that you leave tons of money on the table if you don’t address your market with various messages that speak well to it.

Another sales genius, Eugene Schwartz, explains in his classic book ‘Advertising Breakthrough’ that any given market cycles through five stages of awareness, and is at one of these stages at any given time.

He specifically describes each stage of awareness, and give you the clues on how to detect the correct stage and how to talk to your market at this point.

Armed with Chelt Holmes’s and Eugene Schwartz’s books, if you make full use of the keyword conversion tracking tool of LocalRanker, your website cannot but beat the rock stars of your trade.

Thank you for your attention.

Phil Chavanne and the LocalRanker Team

LocalRanker, local websites for local businesses 

Checking rankings and back-links in Google and Bing

May 5th, 2011 Posted by Cool Tools, Website Engineering No Comment yet

Tracking the progress of your website in the search engines is part of your daily tasks when working assiduously at ranking your site at the top of the search engine results.

As a business owner, verifying your website positions for your main keywords can become a long, painfully boring process that eats up your time.

A usual story

Let’s say you have a chiropractic clinic, and you have 4 keywords you hope to rank your website for: back pain (your city name), chiropractor in (your city), back pain treatment (your city), and disk hernia surgery (your city).

If you check your site rankings in Google and Bing, you have to perform 8 checks, and if your website does not rank in Page 1, you have to go down the pages as many times as necessary to discover your site.

From tedious at best, this task becomes painfully heart-sinking if your website ranks low.

Along comes RankShaker!

RankShaker is a small application we developed and integrated in LocalRanker to enable you to check your rankings every day, at the push of a button.

What RankShaker does:

  • Checks with Google your site’s positions on up to 5 keyword combinations daily
  • Checks with Bing  your site’s positions on up to 5 keyword combinations daily
  • Shows the daily variation of the position of each keyword
  • Shows your position history in a graph, for an easier, more visual follow-up
  • Enables you to download your position history for your own records
  • Enables you to change at any time the keywords you track.

Optimizing Title Tags to Get to Page 1 of Google

May 5th, 2011 Posted by Local SEO 419 comments

Ranking a website in Spot 1, 2 or 3 of Page 1 of Google is a major milestone of any online marketing strategy. This endeavor starts form the website itself, with what search engine optimization specialists call the “on-page factors”.

This article deals with one of the on-page factors that Google (more…)

LocalRanker: Easy-to-use website builder

May 5th, 2011 Posted by LocalRanker Website Builder 1,858 comments

In this short video, we’ll use how the back-office of LocalRanker is organized.

Each tab groups functions that fills out the same purpose in the workflow.

No more words here is the video. (more…)

Tracking keywords visitors used to find you and more

May 5th, 2011 Posted by Website Engineering 445 comments

So you thought visitors would come to your website using the keywords you optimized for?


They do… but Google and Bing also enable them to find your site under multiple other keywords.

Ignore what they are… And you will lose multiple opportunities to understand what your potential clients are looking for.

Selecting keywords using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool

It is far from enough to use tools such as the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to determine what keywords to optimize your website for.

First of all, the Adwords Keyword Tool (or External Keyword Tool) is known to have accuracy issues when it comes to determining the size of the demand.

It is very unlikely that Google shows you the real numbers quantifying the demand for this or that keyword. Tests conducted on the same keyword from different cities have shown that the tool give completely inconsistent results.

At best, you can use the External Keyword Tool to get more keyword ideas, and some relative notion of how keywords compare to each other in terms of volume of demand. But do not take Google’s figures as truth. They aren’t.

Tracking how people find you in the search engines

Most websites give end-users a way to see what keywords people used to find them in the search engines. One of these tools is Webalyzer, a free site analyzer usually offered by your hosting company. Webalyzer is a cool tool, by difficult to use.

Google’s own set of tools, nicknamed Google Analytics, gives great insights to any webmaster. The tool requires some familiarization though, due to the depth and power of its functions. Regular folks might have trouble digging into the data. a classic case of too much information killing information.

LocalRanker websites integrate Google Analytics though because it’s just the best free tool around.

A simpler view to work with

As we sought to make your life easier, we improved on Google Analytics to show you the keywords used by people to find you.

We developed a small program which will shortly  be integrated into LocalRanker [in just a few days at the time we publish this article,  end-January 2011].

This tool enables you to see at a glance

  • what keywords people used to find you,
  • how many pages in your website did these people visit, and
  • which pages.

Here is a view. Look at the keywords in the left column:

LocalRanker tracks which keywords are used by your visitors

LocalRanker tracks which keywords
are used by your visitors

If you click on the black button in the right column, you can dig deeper into the information made available by LocalRanker.

Here is a view after clicking on this black button. In this screen shot of the back-office of LocalRanker, you can see that a visitor used the keyphrase “Chinese Peony Flower teacup” in the search engines, then visited 3 pages on this site.



 Associating keywords with pageviews

LocalRanker uses its own software to track visitors’ behavior, not just Google Analytics—to allay any concern for privacy, no personal data is culled on visitors just because they visit the site: LocalRanker tracks numbers and topics of conversation, not people.

The power of this new tracking feature is in part linked to the fact that the keywords used by visitors are linked to the pages they visited. To each keyword, its pages.

This means that as you go along and your site gracefully ages, you can refine further the information you present to visitors coming under such and such keywords.

If a visitor uses the keywords “Labrador training” to visit your website, and when he/she is on your site, decides to view pages such as “When to give your Labrador a treat?“, “What do you feed a labrador with?” and “How to potty-train a your Labrador“, then you know for each of these pages you can use the keywords “Labrador training“.

This is to present more relevant information to people interested by specific aspect of your site.

This feature offers another important tools to help you optimize your website for money…

But this is the topic of another article!


Thank you for your attention.


Phil Chavanne and the LocalRanker Team
Local Websites for Local Search

LocalRanker: Benefits for the Local Web Consultant

May 5th, 2011 Posted by Website Engineering 7,224 comments

The following video gives Local Web Consultants a quick overview of the benefits ofLocalRanker™ for their consulting business.

The LocalRanker software was initially developed as a faster website builder. Over the last 2 years, it has become a soap box on the web for small businesses.

More than just a website builder, LocalRanker helps small businesses and the Local Search Consultants to work faster and really focus on growing their business… Not learning technology.

The bottom line

For the small business owner, LocalRanker goes beyond blogs and website builders such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. It is not more powerful than these software tools: it is just more tailored to the real needs of business owners.

It enables them to do business right out of the box, with just the right tools, without the clutter of a zillion useless plugins.

Traditional businesses don’t care about technology. Technology irritates them. They care about getting more clients through the doorsmore orders on the phone or online.

If you can do this quickly for them, you win. If you don’t, you lose.

Bottom line: does the website you offer them hustle business?

Ready to rock… or fumbling with outsourcing and plugins?

Getting good results in local search is only partly tied to the website itself. Getting good results in the organic search results has a lot to do with the website.

Assuming your client needs a new website (they could for a variety of reasons, including focusing and optimizing their websites better), you don’t want to spend much time building it.

The faster this website is off your table =
the faster new clients show up at your client’s door.

That’s why LocalRanker was built. It automates multiple steps of creating and setting up the website. It comes pre-installed with the right blend of functions your client’s site must have, and is delivered fully hitched to Google and hooked to social media.

It saves you time, aggravation, client dissatisfaction, loss of credibility, frustration with web designers and outsourcing, having to learn difficult technology you couldn’t care less about, and things that don’t work when they should work. Who likes Murphy’s Laws?

Some examples

Here are 5 proven ways in which LocalRanker saves you a heap of troubles… and tons of money:

  • If you are not a WordPress specialist, forget about installing a fully optimized WordPress blog and two dozen plug-ins in a few minutes. LocalRanker comes fully installed and hosted.
  • Blogs have a bland, stereotyped look. They can’t satisfy small business owners who want to stick out from the crowd, have their own visual identity. LocalRanker websites come with a full photographic look & feel. Not the ‘blog look’. Our 1500+  ‘skins’cover a large segment of the US economy.
  • Blogs do not naturally communicate with social media. They require additional installation work and tweaking. In this regard, custom HTML websites are worse. LocalRanker websites come fully connected to multiple social media platforms.
  • WordPress blogs or Joomla sites do not natively offer subscriber list and e-mail management capabilities. As a Local Search Consultant, you will have to set that up yourself. Good luck if you are not experienced. With LocalRanker websites, business owners can build up their subscriber list (with cell phone numbers) right out of the box.
  • Have you tried to make a local search-friendly mobile version of a website? It’s a joke! LocalRanker automatically creates a fast-loading mobile version of your client’s site, fully search friendly, with clickable phone numbers. You don’t even have to think about it.

In fact, the most time-consuming part of building a website with LocalRanker is not building the site. Nope. It’s getting the content from your client.

This video expands a bit more on the various benefits of using LocalRanker to set up websites for your clients. It’s only 5’41” long. Five 5 minutes to save you hundreds of hours of grunt work and frustration with technology and outsourcing.


Thumbtack, a Useful Local Service Directory

May 5th, 2011 Posted by Local SEO, Website Engineering 5,653 comments

Thumbtack is a new local service directory. It enables small businesses to increase their presence online and gain referrals.

It is a valuable tool for local search consultants looking to increase their clients’ visibility in the local community.

The platform is easy to use, though some of the more advanced features might be slightly daunting for small business owners with no basic training on the internet. But whoever knows what a “back link” is will handle the tool without a hitch.

What I particularly like in Thumbtack:

  • Ease of use
  • Link to Craiglist (to post your business listing)
  • Interconnectivity with Facebook and Linkedin
  • Possibility to load photos and videos for free, as many as you wish
  • It’s a valuable outlet to increase your business visibility

Thumbtack is new on the local search directory stage, but it offers what it takes to become a very useful advertising tool. On top of that, it’s currently free! Local search consultants and small business owners need to jump on it before it becomes expensive to list one’s business in it.

Here is a link where you can promote your business with Thumbtack. I earn brownie points if you use this link. But don’t feel forced.

Phil Chavanne