facebook pages

Spend on a Facebook page or on Facebook ads?

July 17th, 2018 Posted by Social media thoughts No Comment yet

Do Facebook pages hold their promise? Are they efficient at all and if so, in which specific ways? Could they simply be a waste of time for a local business? Here are some documented evidence.



SEO: High Competition & Backlink Check

July 10th, 2018 Posted by Local SEO, Website Engineering 5,551 comments

This article could be titled “Backlink check to verify how hard it may be to rank in page 1″.

When analyzing how hard it will be to rank a site in Page 1, we gauge the competition for our keywords of choice and perform backlink checks.

People who do not specialize in SEO are sometimes confused (more…)


Marketing Mix: Try Several Channels & Measure Results

July 2nd, 2018 Posted by Local SEO, Website Engineering 6,603 comments

Online marketing goes hand in hand with offline marketing. Your marketing is as good as you establish the right mix for your business and clients. Research studies show why, and a few statistics will help illustrate this.

In the early days of internet marketing (more…)

Landing page Excelsior Real Estate v4-1 lowrez

Landing page design for a real-estate broker

June 26th, 2018 Posted by Development, Web Design, Website Engineering No Comment yet

CASE:  Mini-case study – Landing page design for a real-estate broker in Tucson


(1) Generate real-estate leads in the framework of a banner display campaign; (2) Create a landing page design that reflects well on the public image of the broker.


(a) The lead generation campaign uses display networks to generate interest in a local builder trade-in program. Past history show the banners getting clicks (CTR > national average) but not converting into calls.

(b) Landing page must be full responsible and mobile-friendly. It must download speedily: the clicks will come both from mobile devices and desktops.

(c) The design of the landing page must reflect the high-quality level of the broker’s services.


(1) We designed a 1920 pixel-wide page with translucent surfaces and a gold/beige/black theme to reflect quality and affluence.

(2) We integrated 4 “How-To” videos previously shot with the broker’s team. Each video delivers valuable advice to anyone looking to buy a home in the local market.

(3) We clearly identified the call-to-action by highlighting it in a black box with a lime green “CALL ME” button.

(4) Despite the use of 2 large photos in the background, the page is extremely speedy. The mobile version was redesigned using CSS.


The page is just launched so we don’t have a history of conversion just yet. What we can say is that visually, it reflects well on the broker’s image and that it is speedy.

Link: http://buildertradeinaz.com/vitalinfo

Landing page Excelsior Real Estate v4-1 lowrez

Battle-Tested SEO Rules for Websites

June 20th, 2018 Posted by Local SEO, Website Engineering 9,782 comments

Years after we published this article about battle-tested SEO rules for websites, we decided to update it, include new SEO rules and dump the old ones. We at Vanguard Websites Tucson practice ‘perennial SEO‘ — viz. SEO that gets 100% along with Google’s mission statement and goals:


Helmet Central

HELMET CENTRAL Retail Site – Mini Case Study

April 20th, 2018 Posted by Development, Local SEO, Web Design No Comment yet

CASE: Building a retail site for the Helmets department of the Renegade Classics Tucson store.


(1) Increase helmet sales in the store; (2) Lower the cost of advertising; (3) Improve the web presence of the store; (4) Strengthen the branding of the helmets department of the store.


Challenge #1 was to make sure the store would not lose its SEO rankings for “helmets” and “tucson”.

Challenge #2 was to ensure website visitors have access to the full offer, whatever type of helmets they are looking for.

Challenge #3 was to increase the Quality Score of the helmets ads of the store in Google Adwords, so as to lower the cost per click (CPC) and the overall Adwords budget of the store.


(1) Rather than creating additional pages on the main domain, we developed a new retail site which we installed on a subdomain. This allowed us to brand the department “Helmets Central” more strongly than just additional pages on the existing site, and it also enabled us to build a separate database and run it separately from that of the main site.

(2) Since motorcycle helmets are clearly categorized in the market, we organized the database by the top known categories, and created a product for each helmet carried by the store, under “brand”, “type” and “model”. The website navigation offers multiple ways to access a specific brand, a specific helmet and a specific type of helmet. This enables visitors to access the full breadth of the offer.

(3) Because each product is clearly identified, and each type of helmet is associated with a complete ‘description blurb’, the Adwords Quality Score of every page is now higher than ever before when all helmets ads were landing on a single helmet page on the main site. As a result, the CPC decreased.

(4) As we created single page for single products, the number of relevant pages of the website increased, leading to a higher number of indexed pages in Google and better SEO rankings for the store on long-tail queries AND fat-tail queries.


The new retail site for Helmet Central gives the store a much stronger presence in the search results, a stronger branding for their Helmets Department, and generates more foot traffic to the store which ultimately results in higher helmet sales


Using Facebook The Right Way – Business vs. Personal

October 19th, 2012 Posted by Social media thoughts, Website Engineering 2,063 comments

Here is a Black Friday scenario that could happen to you.

You heard about Facebook being the latest and greatest, how Facebook performs miracles for businesses, how you are missing out on the new revolution if you (more…)

elevator pitch

Elevator Pitch & USP: Creating Interest in 15 Seconds Tops

July 23rd, 2012 Posted by Local SEO, Website Engineering 3,375 comments

I thought it would be interesting to blend Carmine Gallo’s simple methodology to build a percussive 15-second elevator pitch and Rosser Reeves’s U.S.P. to produce a targeted, interest-triggering elevator pitch.



Free infographics for SEO agencies

July 1st, 2012 Posted by Website Engineering 1,784 comments

LocalRanker designed this infographics to help you promote your SEO services to your leads.

[All experienced SEO specialists use these steps to help their clients rank high.]

Download it, re-brand it, send it to your leads to show them at a glance how you will SEO their websites. (more…)

Google+ vs. Facebook Fan Pages: Where is Your $$$?

June 8th, 2012 Posted by Local SEO, Social media thoughts, Website Engineering 4,701 comments

I recently revised this article, originally published in June 2012.

The integration of Zagat reviews in Google+ is a sound strategic move for Google and Zagat, on both sides of the supply-and-demand equation.

It gives Zagat the crowdsourcing capabilities it was missing.
It provides the new ‘Google+ Places‘ with volumes of quality content which sets them ahead of all other social actors in the niche, like Yelp.

More importantly for Google, this move supersizes Google+ to the stature it was still pining for, to make it the #1 SOLOMO network in the world a year after its launch.

For Facebook, heavy weather ahead.

The Zagat conandrum

Zagat is one of the oldest and most respected restaurant guides in the world. An institution, a little brother to the Michelin. The company published paper guides well before they went online, contrary to competitor Yelp.

Because of the print heritage of their publishing house, Zagat has always been picky when selecting their restaurants: they couldn’t waste valuable print space to write a bad review. Better not to review the restaurant at all.

Zagat picks good local eateries where guests can predictably enjoy dinner, and rates them on a wide variety of criteria. Zagat’s detailed reviews take care of the surprise factor: the dinners’ experience is commensurate with their expectations. Restaurant owners (hopefully) take notice of the sore points and correct them. Everybody is happy.

Yelp, on the contrary, grew online from the get-go. They ‘crowdsourced’ their ratings, allowing any and all to drop reviews on any restaurant with a We’re Open sign. Unlike space in a paper guide, online space is low-cost. There is no concern about wasting it over scathing reviews and ugly food. The largest the footprint, the better.

Zagat went online in 1999 and established Zagat.com using their carefully crafted rating system. They simply duplicated online their offline paper-based model. Their financial model is based on subscriptions and guide sales.

With the rise of Web 2.0 sites and the growing popularity of review sites, a selective guide like Zagat couldn’t grow as fast as the likes of Yelp. An article published by the NY Times in September 2008 clearly defined the issue.

Zagat reviewers take great pride in crafting detailed reviews, rating a restaurant on many different criteria. Yelpers can slap a review in 2 minutes on their favorite soapbox. Craftsmanship vs. crowdsourcing. Polish cavalry vs. German Panzer divisions. The battle is quickly over. Easy does it; free wins the day.

Though Ms. Zagat insisted her guide was never about rating as many restaurants as possible, it was urgent for her venerable house to mutate to Web 2.0. Google+ offers her this opportunity on a silver tray.

Google+ growing stronger fast

Google launched Google+ as a belated strategic move, partly in response to the explosion of Facebook as THE social network of the first decade of Y2K.

Note: I have no inside sources in Google, so this statement is my own opinion. But Google+ was a me-too product, not a disruptive product in the meaning given by Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. It is still not a distruptive product but is becoming an ‘integrative’ product, soon-to-become much more powerful than Facebook.

Though the number of subscribers grew fast, the sheer size of Facebook has so far dwarfed [under the skeptical pens of the pundits] the progress made by Google+ in establishing its user base. Some writers likened G+ to a ‘ghost town’, others predicted a quick death. If perception is reality, the new social network was stillborn or DOA.

Yet the numbers are impressive: G+ is about a year old and has already reached 170 million subs. Where were FB’s numbers after a year of existence?

Be it as may, Google is moving fast to flesh out the ‘social‘ in ‘G+ social network‘. The rollover of Google Places into Google+ is a brilliant strategic move which, overnight, gives it the stature it was missing. With the integration of Zagat, it dons the respectability of a true publishing house.

Google+ version 1.0

In his insightful digital opus What The Plus!, author-speaker Guy Kawasaki expands on a social media identification model dubbed Social Media Decoder which differentiates G+ from FB, Tweeter and Pinterest. (The illustration proposed by Dan Roam for Mr. Kawasaki’s ‘Social Media Decoder‘ is way cool.)

Guy Kawasaki explains that G+ is the social network that links people who didn’t know each other prior to connecting around a common passion. Accoding to his classification, this differentiates G+ from Facebook, the ‘People’ network.

Like product managers at Google, Mr. Kawasaki underlines that since these connections are made and nurtured in the confines of private Circles, a very large section of the conversation that occurs on G+ actually escapes measurement by conventional measures of social engagement. (Hence the ‘ghost town’ analogy offered by skeptics.)

That was Google+ version 1.0.
Times a-changing.

Seismic change

The merger of Google Places into G+ is an event of seismic proportions involving some 80 million Google Place pages.

For one thing, this move will drastically increase the noise level publicly shared in Google+. Google Places welcomed reviews, and judging by the number of reviews directly submitted to Google and published on Places, they have already earned their golden gloves in the heavyweight soapbox category.

People love the limelight and the 15 minutes of fame: they won’t restrict their sharing. No no no. They will go as public, as loud as they can. No Family Circle, there. Only the Public Circle will do…

But wait, there is more!

The new Google+ Places will soon enable consumers to open discussions directly with business owners in Google+ Places, the way Facebook ‘Wall’ works. Heavy volumes of conversation in the making, guaranteed.

The resulting increased noise shared publicly on G+ will foster the perception that G+ is not just a big social network among other giants, but the ‘SOLOMO network‘ (SOcial-LOcal-MObile) of the next decade, with a money-critical local component.

Just what the good doctor needed to order.

Zagat and Google+ to benefit

As far as Zagat is concerned, the future looks bright. They needed the massive amount of traffic Google+ will bring them. Yelp’s over-bearing footprint in the restaurant scene won’t be an issue anymore. Zagat’s financial future is secured, whichever way the sales of paper guides go.

Rather, the issue for the Zagat House may become how they will protect the quality of their brand now that 150+ million reviewers can write Zagat-type reviews and publish them on G+ graced with the Zagat moniker. A sweet problem, perhaps.

For Google+, the integration of Google Places is a numbers game. Hundreds of millions of users searching Google 3 billions of times per day will get used to seeing the ‘+1′ and ‘G+’ icons everywhere on their favorite search engine. The GMail users who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet will now start using their G+ account to share their local-centric opinions.

This takes care of the demand side of the data equation.

On the supply side, business owners know where money belongs. Google Search, Google Adwords and Google Places have all the credentials they need as money makers and traffic drivers. When demand exist, a market gets organized and suppliers start touting their goods. Google Places are already populated with business content. The trend will continue with Google+ Places.

As soon as Google+ Places allows consumers to address directly business owners on Place+ pages, the former will engage the conversation and the latter will respond because of the primary piece of real-estate that a Place+ page represent. The foot traffic is there already, no need to do anything special to create it! Location, location, location.

When 50% of local searches are conducted from a smart device and lead directly to a Google Map, you don’t leave your Google Place page empty when people start commenting on you and ask you questions. You are on your computer every day, responding to the demand and participating in the conversation. Or you are a fool, soon to be put out of business.

Facebook net loser  

Business owners know that time is a precious commodity, especially in tough economic circumstances where slacking at the wheel is just not affordable anymore. Try to sell anything to any business owner and they will quickly cut to the chase: Don’t waste my time. How much will this thing make me, how fast?

Business owners constantly arbitrage their time investments. This is where Facebook draws the short sticks and walks the plank.

Whereas Google is a proven money maker, Facebook has nothing to show for. Zip. Nada. Even General Motors says it, and these guys are known to leak money like sieves.

For the business owner, the choice is clear:

  • Do I spend time tonight ornamenting my Facebook Fan page with cute comments and content that may engage 16% of my 350 Fans… in the hope they not only LIKE it but BUY it (please please pretty please, buy it)?


  • Do I respond to the comments I received in my G+ Place which will be viewed tonight and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and forever by the thousands of people who search on Google each day specifically for a business like mine?

Take a wild guess: who wins?


Phil Chavanne
Vanguard Websites