After the launch of Affiliate Masterclass back in January, my team and I started straight into working on our next project, a “done for you”, soup to nuts SEO Services business.

It has been a busy couple of months for me and it has seriously impacted my blogging… For those of you who follow this, I’m sorry.

SEO Services

The new business, RapidAction SEO has been running for a few weeks now and everything is going great.  We’ve been focused on getting the processes right, building up our project and customer management facilities and really looking at delivering the goods.

SEO Services Done The Right Way!

We’re really proud of this new SEO Services business because the focus is on delivering high quality, contextual backlinks.  Every link we deliver will be via blogs that have High PageRank and/or Properly Aged domains.  We’re using some of the most private and elite blog networks to deliver these SEO services and we’re in the process of building out our own networks exclusively for this service.

I funded and built this business because this is what I wanted to use!  I’ve seen this kind of thing delivered elsewhere to mixed results and I knew I could do a better job, so I did!

The thing I love about this service is that it will get you results no matter how old or new your blog is.  We have packages tailored for everyone – if your blog is new, we have our SEO intro package which is designed to gently nudge your blog into the rankings all the way up to the SEO gold package for the hard to compete in niches.

We’re still tweaking the site and stuff at the moment, but the basic packages and processes are all laid down and going well.  Over the coming weeks we’re going to have a few more product offerings which will be exciting.  We’re also going to be doing some very special things for the people who join our mailing list on that site over the coming months – we’re going to deliver those people exceptional value.

This is part of a bigger overhaul of the business that we’re doing.  I’ll probably talk about that more as we deliver a few more things, but for now, if you have any SEO services needs, I highly encourage you to head on over to RapidAction SEO and let us help you get the rankings you deserve!

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I was just reading an interesting article by MG Siegler over on TechCrunch.

MG talks about how Google has become a natural monopoly in Search and how it keeps “bring the meh” (delivering average or below average products) because it needs to keep extending its revenue base to meet shareholder expectations.  The problem that MG points out rightfully so is that Google keeps using their Search product to do it, so they muscle into new categories with their monopoly product.  Where this gets them into trouble is that this can often be seen as what lawyers call, “predatory behaviour” – using your dominant position in one area to enter another and undermine competition intentionally.

Clearly, Google are on a course where the US Government or the European Union Competition watchdogs are going to come for them.  Realistically, it has to happen, Google have gotten so big that they seem to not care for anything else other than Google’s interests.  That’s when things go awry.

I think there’s a simple business answer here and while the Google Boys might not like it, I personally think for shareholders it could be an absolute winfall.

Preemptively break Google up.

There, I said it… I would split Google into four business units, all publicly listed and totally autonomous from one another.

I would start with Google Search.  This entity would include just the search assets, all of the profile, social network and app stuff would go elsewhere.  Google Search would be focussed entirely on building THE BEST search engine in the world – making sense of the world’s ever growing information.  It would generate revenue from selling ad space in the search results.  The catch is, these ad spaces would be auctioned off via a system like AdWords, but it would be open to other Ad Companies and individuals.  This would be a ridiculously profitable business.

The next one would be Google Advertising, maybe go back to the DoubleClick brand, who knows.  This company would own the content network and be able to compete for AdWords space for their customers.  Effectively, this would just be a very good digital advertising firm.  Again, this would no doubt be a profitable business.

The third unit would be Google Apps.  This would be Gmail, Google Docs, Blogger, all of the profile information and the social stuff.  This business would have to stand on its own two feet.  Gmail could probably make good money having their own AdWords style ads (again open to everyone to bid) next to mail results and by charging a fee.  I think this is an area where Google Corporate has wasted a bunch of money on “me too” projects that don’t make sense.  Ultimately this would be a nice little business if someone ran a sword through the crap and focussed on the game at hand.

Finally, you’d have the mobile business.  This could include the App Store and the mobile Ad companies Google has acquired along with Motorola.  Again, I think this could be a profitable business, but that’s up to how it’s run.  Right now, there is a stench around Android over copyright theft and whether or not Google are just doing this business to hurt Apple and keep their Search product on handsets no matter the cost.  Like I said, this could be a profitable business if it focussed on delivering customer value in the mobile space and stopped being cuckolded to the other whims of Google.

As a shareholder you’d end up with shares in four pretty damn good companies.  A couple would need some serious hands on management to get them through the troubled times, but the Search and Advertising businesses would probably become more profitable away from each other than together.  Imagine if Google’s AdWords were available to any Ad Network to bid on based on Keyword Price?  You could see people advertising on say Bing and having their ad appear in Google’s AdWords.  The competition for that real estate would be fierce and very lucrative.

You might also have one or two of those businesses bought out at a premium price which again, as a shareholder would be exceptional.  The Apps business would immediately be in play for some of the bigger companies who’ve missed the boat entirely on this wave of innovation – Oracle, IBM and others.  Imagine being able to own Google Search and getting bought out for cash at 3x value for their App Business – it’s like all your Christmases have come at once for an investor.

And think about the hordes of millions in cash locked overseas.  Google could offer investors a one-time cash dividend on break up.

Unfortunately, this plan will never come.  Ego and stubborn management will step in and they’ll end up locked in some ridiculous battle with government regulators for years to come.  The only loser will be shareholders, just like Microsoft’s over a decade ago.

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I am going to go on record as saying right off the bat, I HATE just about every change Google makes to their search product.  Just about every single change they make is shrouded in a pathetic cloud of marketing rhetoric either about privacy or providing better value to customers when the truth of the matter is, the vast majority of changes are Google doing what’s best for Google at just about any expense.

Today they announced “Search Plus Your World” and for people who are logged into their Google account they are now going to see “personalised” results that take into account things that their Google+ friends share or post.  Really, this should just be called “Search Plus Google+”.  They have stepped up the profile war with Facebook, they want everyone to use Google+ as their preferred account profile and identifier of social networks.

One part of the announcement today that caught my attention was Google “selling” everyone on the idea of encrypted search results and how its such a good thing for you.  Their message is that because they are now providing private information you and your friends on Google+ share with each other in your search results, that encrypting it is very important.

Frankly this is a laughable ruse.  First of all, Google has created the problem by integrating search with your Google+ account.  Secondly, the encrypted search results for logged in users was introduced a few months back.  Finally, the most worrying thing about it is that Google is now providing your referrer information ONLY to paid advertisers.

So you see the problem there?  They’ve opened up your private and personal social network information that you share via Google+ to their search results which now by default makes referral information from that private and personal data available to their advertisers!  They created a problem, have jeopardised your privacy and are calling it progress and good for you.  Scary stuff.

For me though, the worst thing about this is the flagrant abuse of their monopoly position in search.  Microsoft were dragged through the courts for years doing the same thing with their OS.  Every time someone stole the march on them in a new market or a new niche was created that showed promise, Microsoft would somehow find a way to integrate it with Windows.  Ironically, one of the biggest complainers back when the US Justice Department and the EU Competition Watchdogs were going after Microsoft was a small little company called Google.

However, there is a further lesson to learn from the Microsoft anti-trust debacle.  Microsoft’s monopolistic behaviour was an early warning sign of them no longer being in any kind of leadership position, they’d become a slow, dull-witted elephant trying to tap dance.  They also made Windows so bulky and hard to maintain that it forced many of us to escape to the Mac world to get away from them.  Perhaps this is what we’re seeing with Google now.

Facebook has beaten them in terms of “social” and I don’t care what Google do, I’ve got way too much invested in Facebook (as do my friends) to either migrate to Google+ or start using both.  Social is not that important to me, it’s something I do a bit of to keep in touch with people – if I have to start maintaining those relationships and that content twice, forget it, it’s not worth it.  So really this is a big waste of resources for Google when it comes to someone like me – first chance I get, I’m going to turn that stuff off.

The thing is, Google’s core search product isn’t GREAT anymore.  It is still better than Bing for sure, but for the most part, it has become harder to find what I’m looking for on the web and the results Google give me over the past two years have gotten worse.  If they were really interested in providing customers a great service, why not stop adding all of this irrelevant crap to search like meaningless videos and images that only serve to promote other Google properties and get absolutely laser focused on providing the absolute best search experience ever.

They remind me of Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft a couple years back.  He was utterly hell bent on beating Google.  He was so single minded in this endeavour that he didn’t stop to think that Google weren’t really his competition.  Google had a search engine and made advertising revenue.  Microsoft made operating systems and productivity suites.  Ballmer drew this long bow that somehow Google could turn its search advertising revenue model into the OS and office suite market and take significant share from Microsoft.  Meanwhile, Apple were changing the game by introducing a whole new paradigm for interacting with computing devices and Microsoft got caught watching the wrong competitor.

Google is doing the same thing in many respects.  They are so fixated on the data that Facebook is able to collect and therefore the advertising experience they can provide that in some respects, Google is corrupting their own core strengths to compete in something that doesn’t matter.  Nobody is going on Facebook to do broad searches, people go to Facebook to share info with friends and family.  Facebook is a walled garden.  Google on the other and has the vast, expanding universe of the internet as its playground, but yet they seem to want to forgo that, or probably more true to the point, they want to make everything else their walled garden.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  I wonder if this is going to be a big mistake for Google.  Like a few years ago when it became apparent that Twitter had become the preferred way of news breaking virally.  Google, in an effort to “compete” built their “Caffeine” updates so that fresh content had extra weight in search results.  What happened was aged information that had weight and gravitas was being superseded by unimportant “news” and things became more difficult to find.

I anticipate this will end badly for Google.  Their going to have the Justice Department stepping up their probes, the EU will no doubt be the same and ultimately, I think users will not like the new changes and there will be a bit of a backlash which will force Google into reconsidering these changes.

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product launchIts been a long time between posts,  but that’s largely down to this product launch I’ve been working on!  I have spent the last two months nearly full-time working on this information product almost exclusively – it has become a really big part of my life.  In terms of internet marketing, this is also the most stressful thing I’ve ever done without question.

The Product Launch Process

I’ve been through a number of real life product launches for software, services and even whole companies, but this one is entirely different.  In my previous business experience, managing a product launch was really just a part of the over product lifecycle management.  We would create some software or a new version, put together some marketing, go out to our customers and partners beforehand, get everybody excited and then when the thing was ready, we’d turn it loose on the world.  It almost always worked out really well.

This product launch though, is a little bit more complicated.

First of all, its in the very competitive internet marketing space.  I’ve learned the hard way about how political and competitive this niche can be over the last few weeks.  Getting partners on board to promote your product, building up some mind share and buzz and navigating the very crowded launch calendar so as not to overlap with some massive guru has been a herculean task.  Every single time I thought I’d overcome the issues thrown up, something else got plunked down in front of me.

Its been a really super learning experience about myself.  I’ve so far just busted through every single obstacle that’s come up so far.  Sometimes I’ve done so knowing that the launch may not be as big as it could have been prior to that obstacle coming up, but hey, the alternative was not overcoming at all.

Secondly, this product launch process has given me AMAZING stories to tell and frankly new information products to create off the back of this one product launch!  I’ve learned so many “truths” that its been amazing for that reason alone.  Once this product launch is out of the way, I’m really looking forward to sharing some of these findings with everyone!

Finally, I’ve learned something about quality as a result of working on this product launch.  I’ve always been someone that likes to build and deliver really good things.  On this product launch though, I’ve taken that to a whole new level.  I am really seriously focused on delivering people the absolute best experience with an online course they’ve ever had.  Not only that, I want to help create winners – I want the people who take this course to succeed and have positive change in their life.

I’ve always been huge fan of Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula, when I first took it, I felt that I’d had an awakening and learned something.  The truth is, nothing can properly prepare you for what you are getting yourself into when it comes to creating and launching your own product.  I know for sure that it gets easier because we’re already talking about our “next” product launches, but that said, it is a massive learning curve on so many levels.

The funny part about it is, its so mentally and even physically taxing that you need a vacation, but unfortunately, the actual content delivery starts the day after the shopping cart closes, so the launch itself is like the 25% mark in the race!  I’m pretty excited though, teaching is the part of internet marketing I like the best, so I can’t wait until we get this product launch out of the way!

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If you believed everything you read in the internet marketing circles these days, you’d think that setting up shop in the local marketing space automatically entitles you to a free pile of money delivered to your door monthly.  The truth is, this couldn’t be more wrong in most cases.internet marketing

As far as internet marketing strategies go, local marketing should be very low down the list of businesses to get into unless your existing structure is very well optimized and has exceptional systems in place that are not entirely over leveraged.  That’s a mouthful, so let me explain.

Leverage in Internet Marketing

Leverage is a VERY IMPORTANT word in internet marketing and is really quite misunderstood.  To put it simply, leverage is the level of return you get from the assets you invest on in your business.

So for example, in most internet marketing businesses, people may eventually employ teams to do something like SEO work.  A highly leveraged team will be getting great results for the expenditure on salary, a poorly leveraged team may have too many people or too much cost and not getting adequate return and finally, an over leveraged team may just not have the resources required to achieve the maximum return possible (ie. not enough staff to do the necessary work).

Obviously leverage is related to many things in business, not just staffing – you could have a mountain of cash sitting in the bank getting a 1% return via interest and compared to a 4% return a term deposit might bring you, you’d say that cash is massively UNDER leveraged.

Anyway, I think you get the point – you need to have some spare capacity to handle the increased workload.

Internet Marketing Strategies Require Systems and Structure

The other points I made were about systems and structure.  These are critical issues for internet marketing entrepreneurs who want to expand into local marketing.

Put simply, most people fail at internet marketing because they don’t have the right systems in place.  This failure is probably just in the arena of affiliate marketing where your goal is to drive traffic and get them to buy something.  That’s actually a fairly simple business model and one of the reasons I like affiliate marketing so much.

The problem is, a drowning person will cling to anything to stay afloat.  So what happens is, the internet marketing person who’s not succeeding at affiliate marketing, hears about this panacea known as local marketing and decides to give that a whirl.  The problems that plagued this person in the online affiliate marketing space have not been addressed and they are now compounded by adding REAL CUSTOMERS into the mix.

Local Marketing Requirements

The first thing any internet marketing entrepreneur needs to know when embarking on a local marketing strategy is that you MUST change the way you do business significantly.  You now are entering a world where real people are involved, they’ll want to call  you on the telephone, maybe even shake your hand at a meeting in person and they may be sceptical of your internet marketing magic.

Most people online preaching the local marketing mantra probably don’t even do it themselves.  It sounds nice in theory – a local butcher is paying $x,xxx/year for a full page ad in the local Yellow Pages that nobody reads anymore, so you just need to “enlighten” them on the glory that is the web and let the checks start rolling in.

The fact is, you need to have a whole offline, local marketing sales funnel in place that introduces the potential lead to the value that internet marketing can deliver to them.  That’s one system.  You need a customer management system to keep track of your (or your sales staff’s) interactions with customers so that you maintain consistency.  You need to establish local credibility – the local butcher doesn’t care that you rank #1 in Google for “invisible panty lines”, he wants to understand how the local community will see his message through your efforts and then buy his meats.

Most importantly, you need to be able to execute the work.  One thing local marketing requires above all else is great execution.  Customers want results and you need to be able to show them what you’ve done.

The last thing, don’t be a total hype internet marketing machine.  Telling the local butcher you’re internet marketing strategies will triple his foot traffic and quadruple his sales will make you look like a tool.  Talk about facts and be humble.

Internet Marketing is such a large field of business with so much potential, you need to be careful when “experts” are espousing internet marketing strategies that venture into areas you may not be familiar or comfortable with.  Local Marketing is one such area – unprepared internet marketing entrepreneurs stand to lose alot of time and momentum, so give it some serious thought before racing off into ti.

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