Understanding the Difference Between Branding, Marketing and Advertising

Courtesy of pixgood.com
By Hector Cisneros

I often hear marketing professionals bantering the terms “branding,” “marketing” and “advertising.” The same is true of the terms “campaign,” “strategic,” and “tactical.” In many cases, seasoned professional use the first three terms interchangeably as if they all mean the exact same thing. In fact, these six terms are often misused, confused ― or worse, they’re associated with unscrupulous means of conning people out of their money. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning and use of these six often misused terms. We’ll see if and when they overlap, and I’ll provide concrete examples to create a clear distinction between the six terms wherever possible. So get ready to eliminate the myths and misunderstanding these terms often carry.

When I looked up the definition of a “brand” or “branding,” I found more than 50 answers to my query. One article provided 30 different definitions for the word “branding” alone. The same is true for “marketing” and “advertising.” Some of the online dictionaries also overlap their meanings as well. For example, here is a fairly straight-forward definition of “branding” from the businessdictionary.com:

“The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”

I like this definition except for the fact that it should say marketing instead of advertising campaigns.

Where did Branding Come From?


ghostcanyonranch.com
It’s worthwhile to trace the definitions of “brand” and “branding” from their origins for us to gain a better understanding of their meanings today. First of all, the original meaning of a “brand” was a physical mark of ownership on animals or people. It was also used to mark criminals so that people could distinguish them from non-criminals. Today, “branding” is still used to mark livestock (and even in some countries, to still mark criminals), but for most of the world, your “brand” has more to do with your reputation and perceived value if you’re the owner of a small business. If it’s a large company, the relationship of the brand is more with company name or a particular product, or service they provide. When you’re small, it’s not your logo or other so-called branding elements that you use that identifies and differentiate you, it’s your reputation.  As you grow, this identity is transfer to the corporate branded identity, because the corporation is no longer just you.

If you substitute the term “brand” with the words “value” or “reputation,” you come close to
Courtesy of freethcartwrightcharityblog.com
the true meaning and implications of the word. On the other hand, branding is the process of creating a brand.  A brand is created from all the activities that are related to and/or surrounding a company, product, service, group or individual. A “brand,” therefore, is a dynamic reality.  It evolves over time, based on consumer experience, news (good and bad), marketing, and other activities that a company, group or individual engages in. In other words, a “brand” per se isn’t static (although it’s the goal of most companies to make their brand positive and unchanging if at all possible).

Therefore, a “brand” is what consumers and the general public perceive as the value, reputation and contribution of a company, product, service, group or individual to the world as a whole. A brand can be considered great, good, mediocre or even bad.

Brand vs. Branding


Courtesy of  www.powerdecisions.com
“Branding” on the other hand, is all the activities that create the reputation, value and contributions that mold the overall perceived value of a given entity. This includes marketing activities (advertising, social media campaigns, public relations, in-house activities, employee initiatives and other positive activities) and non-marketing, sometimes passive activities (including receiving good and bad press, consumers’ social posts, employee activities not related to brand, third party test results, and the actual quality of the product, service or company, etc.).

“Branding” usually involves creating and using a consistent theme, logo, and corporate color schemes across all marketing and advertising platforms. These themes (their “look and feel,” so to speak) then become associated with the brand itself, that is, the perceived value of the company, product or service. An example of this transformation is when a logo like IBM replaces the actual company name (which was International Business Machines) and becomes the only corporate identity for that company.

Then There's Rebranding 


Today you’ll often hear the term, “rebranding” used when companies feel they need to
Courtesy of gtdesign.co

change consumers’ sentiment of their brand (i.e., a good reputation soiled by some event which changed consumer perceived value and or contribution). For example
when BP had the oil spill in the Gulf, consumer sentiment went negative… BP Oil has sense run many TV campaigns designed to show them as an environmentally and Gulf community friendly company by showing all they are doing to help that area recover from the spill. Another example is J.C. Penny changing their name and logo after what seems like an eternity to JCP. They soon changed it again because of consumer backlash. It has even changed several times more in the four years since the first changed to JCP. I guess you could say they have an identity/brand crisis.

If you’re a small company, you have a very limited brand identification and your branding efforts are also somewhat limited. That is, unless you have a substantial following/fan base, then you usually have a limited local or regional brand, at best. This is especially true if you aren’t using a consistent logo, color scheme, or slogan for all your marketing, advertising and public relations efforts. Many startups create an initial brand theme and then quickly eliminate or change it before it was ever solidly identified with their company, product or service. On top of that, changing any element diminishes your branding efforts. For example, switching colors on your logo, (even if it’s two very similar colors), using different fonts for the company’s name, etc., diminish the brand. At this stage of the game your perceived reputation, value to the community and consumer sentiment is your actual brand. Not your logo, color scheme of other created visual elements.

So What is Marketing? 


Now let’s take a closer look at the many definitions of “marketing” from the various authorities. I like the definition of marketing from the American Marketing Association: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Courtesy of www.shutterstock.com
Wikipedia gives this definition: “Marketing is communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service.  Marketing techniques include choosing target markets through market analysis and market segmentation, as well as understanding consumer behavior and advertising a product's value to the customer.” 

Here’s another definition of “marketing” from Investopedia.com: “The activities of a company associated with buying and selling a product or service. It includes advertising, selling and delivering products to people. People who work in marketing departments of companies try to get the attention of target audiences by using slogans, packaging design, celebrity endorsements and general media exposure. The four 'Ps' of marketing are product, place, price and promotion.”

There are many more definitions of “marketing,” but many are somewhat “circular” in that they mix marketing and advertising in the same sentence without fully clarifying the relationship between the two. For the most part, “marketing” is used to create a brand, as we defined it above. It’s far more comprehensive than “advertising.” One’s marketing plan usually dictates one’s advertising campaigns. Advertising is usually an element of a comprehensive marketing plan.  Marketing encompasses all the planning and research activity to determine what kinds of ads will be run, what they’ll say, when and where they’ll be placed, and what demographics they’ll target. It also encompasses things like packaging, shipping, customer experience, product display, and customer perception, as well as market research. Marketing can be considered as an overarching process that focuses on organizing, implementing and managing specific elements of a branding campaign.

Advertising vs. Marketing


“Advertising” then, is a specific tactic of marketing. It usually entails specific media such as newspaper, TV, radio, the Internet, billboards or other specialty advertising, all designed to target specific markets. The reason the two words ― marketing and advertising ― are often confused is because many small companies don’t engage in marketing, they engage in advertising with minimal or no marketing involved (i.e., little or no research, planning, organizing or testing). To make things worse, many advertising representatives use the word “marketing” in their sales pitch when they’re actually selling advertising. This confuses the branding, marketing and advertising processes altogether. I perceive the difference between marketing and advertising as follows: If you’re engaging in a single, or just a few advertising elements, and very little research, testing, or strategic planning went into the decision, then you’re just doing advertising. That’s OK if it works for you. On the other hand, if it’s not working, then it may be time to invest is some marketing that includes research, testing, and strategic planning to create an effective, results-oriented advertising campaign.  

What's The Difference Between Strategic and Tactical


Courtesy of www.marketing91.com
A lot of people use the terms “strategic” and “tactical” on a daily basis. As a general rule, “strategic” refers to the Big Picture plan and/or long-term objectives or goals.  

“Tactical” normally referrals to individual elements of an overall strategic plan or campaign. For example, when we, as an award-winning marketing company, design a campaign for a client, we first research what their current Internet search ranking is, what kind of social media presence they have, what’s the level of their followers’ engagement, how many fans do they have, and also assess what their top three competitors are doing. That’s the marketing part.

Creating a Strategic Plan


Once this analysis is complete, we create a strategic, one-year plan that includes adding any missing infrastructure elements that are needed (i.e., landing pages, testimonial videos, missing social networks, etc.). We also generate a comparative score for them and their top three competitors, and we assemble a list of the top six Internet processes they need to be engaged in (such as on-page search optimization, social networking, blogging, videos, conversion elements and followers’ engagement). This report also states how well they’re are doing with regards to these elements.

This analysis also tells us and the client what kind of advertising elements to include in their marketing campaign. It show us who to target and how we can attack the weakness of their competitors. In other words, if their competition isn’t blogging, or they have few videos on YouTube, or they aren’t active in the top five social nets, we know these are areas where we can outperform them. This provides us with an opportunity to exploit the competitors’ weaknesses in these particular areas.

Courtesy of businesssensemarketing.com
Also, if we see that the client is performing poorly in an important and strategic segment of the overall program, we show then that this is another opportunity they can take advantage of. For example if they are not posting to their social nets very often, or they are missing any of the top five social nets, we propose that they fill those gaps because we know these elements have a huge impact on organic search position. It also turns out, that in many cases, addressing these fundamental missing elements ends up being the most cost effective way to grow a following and then convert these followers into a buying consumer fan base.

I have covered a lot of information in this article. I hope it has helped you on your journey to profitability. If you found this article useful, share it with your colleagues, friends, and family.  If you have a comment about this article, leave it in the Comment section below.

In this article, I discussed the meaning and relationships between the words, “branding, “marketing” and “advertising,” along with a few other miss used business terms, so that any business can understand and then utilize these processes to benefit and grow. I provided concrete, real-life examples of how these words relate to each other, so that any business can maximize their “branding, “marketing” and “advertising” efforts.

You can find more than a dozen articles about marketing and internet advertising by entering “marketing” or “advertising” in the search box, at the top of this blog. I also recommend reading the “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Internet Marketers,” “How to Get Fish to Jump in The Boat - A Social Media Analogy,” “The Evolution of Internet Advertising,” and “Making Sense of Online Marketing,” just to name a few.  Thanks for sharing your valuable time.

That's my opinion, I look forward to hearing yours.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.




Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.” And the co-author or “Working The Web to Win.”


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The Ever-Shrinking Personal Computer - How Small Can They Go?

Courtesy of www.siliconrepublic.com
By Hector Cisneros 

Being a sci-fi buff, I think about technology a lot. I  imagine how it will effect our lives, what will it mean for business, commerce, education, travel -- and yes watching your favorite sci-fi video episode.

Well, recently my eye caught a headline that read, “HP Launches Stream Mini and Pavilion Mini Affordable Compact PCs." These computers fit in the palm of your hand. I immediately sent a picture of the computer to my business partner, Carl Weiss, telling him that soon we will be able to make anything a smart device. Carl wrote me back saying he has a piece of Tupperware bigger than this new PC.

Keep in mind, we don’t sell any kind of hardware, but we love technology. And this brings up my most important question. Just how small can functional computers go in the next five years? Peppermint box size? Matchbox size? In this article, I explore the ever-shrinking personal computer, how they will be used and where they will take us. So strap yourself in and turn on, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” so that you can find the limits (if any) to the ever-shrinking personal computer.

I have been involved with personal computers since their very beginning. I purchased my very first Apple II in 1979. I had already owned several special purpose computers before (chess computer, etc.) and was stoked at what the future would bring.

In the Beginning 



At first, personal computers actually got bigger. As functionality was added (like floppy drives, hard Compaq computer. By the end of the 1980s, the size trend began to splinter with high-powered computers getting somewhat larger and regular small business and personal systems shrinking in size by a marginal amount. The '90s saw this trend continue with the overall size reduction really starting to accelerate with the widespread acceptance of laptop and notebook computers.
Courtesy of www.mondaynote.com
drives, more memory, faster processor and so on) the PC's physical size went up. Portable devices came into being around 1983, with the Osborne One and soon to follow,

The early 2000s saw the domination of laptop over desktops and the emergence of tablets, smartphones and even "phablets" (a hybrid between a smartphone and a tablet). Recently, we've e seen the emergence of Chromebooks and Apple and Android tablets of varying size. Until recently, there were only a few mini size PCs that could actually run full blown Microsoft Windows. Most had a footprint of 10 inches by 6 inches or so, and had very specific limits on processing power, memory and storage.  With HP’s launch of its new minis, we see the emergence of full-powered, small footprint computers by top tier vendors.

HP was Not the First


Courtesy of www.engadget.com
Believe it or not, our high tech world had already spawned dozens, if not hundreds, of miniature and micro computing devices that are smaller than the HP Stream. Early smartphones (PDAs) have been around since the early 1990. Today, many smartphones have more computing power than the computers used in the Apollo moon mission space capsules. Today, smartphones run the gamut from ultra-portable, super-thin, do-everything devices to large format phablets that act as tablet/smartphone substitutes. Speaking of tablets, these devices have made huge inroads towards replacing laptop computer systems.

Another area of small smart devices can be found in the medical industry. For example, blood glucose meters have been shrinking in size for years. Ingestible video cameras with tracking devices have been around for quite some time. There is a whole horde of medical devices that use smartphones as "the smarts" in the system, where the smartphone is used to record and store measured biological functions from a micro transmitter device inside the body. Today, health tracking wearables are all the rage.


Courtesy of www.treehugger.com
When you think of smart devices, you can include everything from watches to clothing, drones, smallCPUs, memory, storage and other computing devices have always been the norm.  But how many are actually full-blown computers that include everything you'd expect in a desktop or laptop system that you’d buy today?
robots, even smart prosthetics come to mind. Let’s face it, miniaturization of transistors,

HP’s New Minis


Courtesy of www.pcmag.com
HP was not the first to produce small foot print personal computers. They have been around for several years. A quick Internet search reveals small footprint PCs from companies including ASUS, MSI, Acer, Lenovo, Zotac and many more. Some of these are even smaller that the newly announced HP Mini. The smallest of these are still full-featured and with dimensions as small as 4 inches by 6 inches by 1 inch, and can run Windows 7 or 8. Most of these small footprint computers have been used in specialty/vertical markets, which is why most consumers haven’t seen them yet. It usually takes a company like Apple or HP to push a new technology to the consumer market forefront.

Having said that, the new HP Stream sets a new standard for low price and features while at the same
time, being one of the smallest new PCs for sure. It includes a powerful Intel Celeron CPU, 2 gigs of RAM memory, 32 gig SATA solid state drive, Intel graphics, support for two displays, four USB 3.0 ports, wireless integrated Bluetooth 4.0, wireless LAN, wired Ethernet port, HDMI out, headphone out, built-in power supply and comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse. Plus, it comes with Windows 8.1 and a stack of software apps. The dimensions are approximately 5.7 inches square and 2 inches thick. Price tag – around $179.

If you need a little more power, upgrade to the HP Pavilion mini, which comes with a faster processor, twice the RAM (4 gigs), 3-in-1 card reader, 500 gig hard drive (up to a 1 terabyte in its top model), and more software.  Both come with antivirus software and cloud services. Price tag – starting at around $319.

Apple’s Mini Mac is Tasty, Too



courtesy of  http://theawesomer.com/
Now, before you think this is an HP commercial, understand HP was not the first to offer a small footprint PC. There have been many white label small footprint systems running Android and Chrome platforms. Also, Apple beat HP to the punch. Its Mac Mini. has been around for some time. The latest version was launched on October 16th 2014. The Mac Mini is a more expensive (starting at around $499) but its a full-powered, full-featured Mac and comes with Apple’s latest IOS. Its footprint is around 7.7 inches square by an inch and half or so. Most Mac users will love this mini Mac because it's essentially a “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” version of a Mac system.



How Small Can These Devices Get?



The actual limit is the size of the connected port you need. You need physical space for video,
Courtesy of www.ecochunk.com
audio, network etc., ports. However the more we move to higher speed wireless devices, the less you need physical connected ports. One day, we will easily have match box-sized PCs. Some futurists have even predicted nano-sized computing devices. I don’t know about nano- sized devices, but they would be cool because you could attach them to most anything, which is where this article started.

Here’s the Rub


So what's the point of all these small footprint systems? These new, small footprint, full-featured
Courtesy of www.pngloop.com
personal computer systems will allow us to upgrade the smarts of many of our personal devices we currently have at home or in our offices. Want a smart TV? Just plug in a small footprint PC. Want to have your own steaming music or video server? Just plug in a small footprint PC and add software for your specific needs. Need to clear up desk space? These little devices are a pint-sized godsend for saving space and removing clutter.  I don’t know about other people, but I really like the idea of connecting one of these devices to my large flat panel TV to use in my home entertainment system. For the office, the idea that I can have two full screens on my desk with “virtually no desktop PC” is very appealing.

So the next time you go shopping for a new desktop PC, think small -- Tupperware small and/or “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" small -- and save all your desktop space for important things like pictures of your family, your lunch, or other necessities of life.

In this article, I explored the ever-shrinking personal computer and how small, fully functional personal computers are shrinking in size. I explored how they'll change the home and office environment from how we know them today to a new frontier that is more productive and entertaining as well.  Apple and HP are spearheading these new small full features system at very attractive prices.

You can find more articles about computers and technology by entering “those phrases in the search box, at the top of this blog. I also recommend reading the Tablet Wars - Choosing Your Battles is What it Takes to Win the War”, and “When Will Computers Out Think You?” just to name a few.  Thanks for sharing your valuable time with us.

That's my opinion, I look forward to hearing yours.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.



Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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How to Avoid Being Caught in an SEO Phishing Net

By Hector Cisneros
Courtesy of marchmediachicago.com

Have you ever received a solicitation claiming to be able to help you fix your SEO issues?  They will use acronyms like SEO, SERP, ALT Tags, or catch phrases like “Content Marketing”, “White Hat”, analyze, keywords; or they talk about fixing your Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon or other Google algorithm issues. How do you know if this solicitation is legit?

What’s a company to do in the face of all this cyber-babble?  How can anyone distinguish legitimate solicitations from honest companies versus unscrupulous ones that are just phishing to get their hooks in you?  This article is devoted to helping anyone learn some of the telltale signs that an email or cold call is legit, or if it’s looking to take you by hook, line and sinker.  We’ll actually dissect a phishing email to provide a real world example.  First, let's start by understanding the true nature of the World Wide Web.

The Net is Real

Courtesy of www.wired.com
The Internet is actually a kind of net. It can be used to help you find lots of information by casting your net (doing a search) and then evaluating what you reel in.  It is also a net of interconnectivity, connecting you to billions of people and businesses worldwide.  Both of these aspects of the World Wide Web are positive, but both are also double-edged swords.  Not only can you cast a wide net looking for information, so can businesses ― good and bad ― cast a net looking for you.  

The Internet connects us to the greater world with all its roses and warts, and we as business people and consumers need to be aware of the duality of the net.  More importantly, we need to take responsibility to keep abreast of the ever-mounting changes that occur. We need to keep a watchful eye for unscrupulous characters who are always looking to get their dirty hands on as many easy marks as they can find.  The net’s widespread connectivity allows anyone to cast a wide phishing net.  Therefore, consumers and business need to take heed!

At least a couple of times a year, I get requests from clients who receive solicitation emails or cold calls claiming to know some new SEO secret.  These solicitations often claim that they’ll help my clients raise their organic search ranking.  However, there is usually a catch.  They ask that you talk to their SEO manager or contact the SEO manager listed in the email.  

What's Your Secret?
Courtesy of www.amazon.com

My clients almost always ask if we know anything about the subject of the email or cold call.  In most cases, these clients are already listed at the top of Page One in organic search for the key phrases they want.  However, this fact is often not considered by the client.  It just goes to show the powers of such phrases as “Secret SEO Techniques” or “fixing your Google Penguin problem,” (or Panda, or Hummingbird or Pigeon).

This kind of problem is a real, ongoing issue for businesses looking to gain legitimate organic search positions.  We’ve written many articles on this subject, including: “Is Google Calling? Or is it Someone Else!” and “Who Needs Cyber Babble?” It’s also worth mentioning that our articles cover  the many algorithm changes Google has instituted since 2012, including: “Holy Algorithm Batman, the Penguin Strikes Back,” “Hummingbird is Nothing to Hum About,” and “Has Google Given Everyone the Bird with its Pigeon Update?

Having provided this background information, let’s look at a specific email I recently received from one of our clients.  It reads as follows:

Courtesy of www.gtc.ox.ac.uk
Dear Sir:

Did your website get hit by Google Penguin update on October 17th 2014? What basically is Google Penguin Update? It is actually a code name for Google algorithm which aims at decreasing your websites search engine rankings that violate Google’s guidelines by using black hat SEO techniques to rank your webpage by giving number of spammy links to the page.

We are one of those few SEO companies that can help you avoid penalties from Google Updates like Penguin and Panda. Our clients have survived all the previous and present updates with ease. They have never been hit because we use 100% white hat SEO techniques to rank Webpages.  Simple thing that we do to keep websites away from any Penguin or Panda penalties is follow Google guidelines and we give Google users the best answers to their queries.

If you are looking to increase the quality of your websites and to get more targeted traffic or save your websites from these Google penalties email us back with your interest.

We will be glad to serve you and help you grow your business.

Regards,
Zakir Patel
SEO Manager
A157 Blue Street, Amritsar 1430221 Punjab


Fact Versus Fiction

As always, these phishing solicitations mix fiction with fact to keep the uninitiated unbalanced and interested. For me, the first giveaway is the date given to the Penguin update.  It is true that Google released a minor tweak to its earlier Penguin updates, but October 17th only affected less than one percent of searches.  The original Penguin update took place back in 2012, with several tweaks having been added since.   The most recent Google change that had widespread effect on local businesses was dubbed Pigeon, and it’s not mentioned in the above email at all.  The second giveaway is the poor grammar in the letter.   Notice the run-on sentences, poor syntax, tense irregularities, etc.
Courtesy of www.unc.edu

Their letter starts by implying Google’s aim is to “decrease your website’s ranking”; this is not true.  Another thing missing from this letter is any evidence that the client was affected by any Google updates at all.  Nor does the letter list any specific products or programs that will directly help my client.  The key here is the specifics.  Their letter goes on to say that they are one of a few SEO companies that use white hat techniques.  This might have been true five  years ago, but today, Google's algorithm updates have forced thousands of SEO professional to don white hats.  The last give away in the letter is the address. It's from Punjab, India. Now it’s quite possible that this email solicitation is legit, and this company just has poor English communication skills, but I would bet otherwise.

19 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Trust a So-called SEO Company

  1.  Ask for an explanation of the services they provide (SEO, Web page design, blogging, social networking, email blast, search directory aggregation, video production, etc.)
  2. Ask how long they have been doing online marketing
  3. Ask them to be specific for each service
  4. Ask how many clients do they currently have and what they are doing for those clients
  5. Ask for specific references
  6. Ask about their experience in your industry
  7. Ask if they offer any kind of guarantee
    Courtesy of herald-review.com
  8. Also, is there any recourse if they fail
  9. Ask if they outsource any services
  10. Ask them to explain exactly what they mean by SEO and what they will be doing for the
    money
  11. Ask to see some video testimonials from their clients
  12. Ask how often they provide reports on your progress
  13. Ask to know the minimum length of their contract
  14. Ask how long it will take before you can expect results
  15. Ask what can you do if you are dissatisfied with their services
  16. Ask if you can contact some of their current clients
  17. Ask if they have won any awards, (for what and when)
  18. Ask if they are Google Certified partners(this can be verified)
  19. Ask to see tangible evidence of their work. This should include: web pages, social sites, blogs/articles, landing pages, videos, podcast, slide shares and more. They need to be able to show a wide variety of content.

Courtesy of www.accesspaymentsystems.com
When you entrust your online marketing to an outside SEO agency, you are putting your business at risk, especially if they use anything smelling like a black hat technique.  One wrong move on their part and your website could be sandboxed so that it just doesn’t show up in search or worse be delisted altogether.  If sandboxed, it could take months or even years to climb back up to page one. If you’re delisted, it’s time to start over.  The above 19 questions will help you separate fact from fiction. Use them and the chances of you being duped by an unscrupulous company are remote. Play it by the seat of your pants and expect to deal with the consequences.

In this article, I provided a way to determine if the solicitations from so called SEO experts are legit or just another unscrupulous company phishing to get their hooks into your bank accounts. This article provides an example email and breaks down its telltale flaws. It also provides a list of 19 questions that will help a business determine if the solicitation is from a legitimate business or just another criminal enterprise trying to catch you in the SEO net of lies.

You can find more than a dozen articles about SEO and how it has evolved on our blog site by entering “SEO” or “Google” in the search box, at the top of this blog. I also recommend reading Is Google Calling? Or is it Someone Else!”, “Who Needs Cyber Babble”, Holy Algorithm Batman, the Penguin Strikes Back”, “Hummingbird is Nothing to Hum About” and “Has Google Given Everyone the Bird with its Pigeon Update?just to name a few.  Thanks for sharing your valuable time with us.

That's my opinion, I look forward to hearing yours.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.




Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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