Yield Debuts Online Marketing Suite: Killing The Need For SEO/ Marketing Experts?
I'm sitting with Matt Malden, CEO and Founder of Yield Software, and he's listening to one of my favorite rants: Why should I spend lots of time optimizing my content for search engines, choosing keywords, pointing out don't follow links, etc? I refuse do it. I'd rather spend my time optimizing my content for my readers and trust (hope) that the search engines optimize themselves to find my content, and so far so good.
But Mr Malden knows that for the vast majority of web site publishers, search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital part of their online marketing; along with running text-ad campaigns; and bidding on keywords in search engine marketing (SEM) programs such as Google's AdWords; and testing out the effectiveness of their landing pages. That's because the majority of their traffic comes from user queries in search engines and from organic search results. If you don't do these things consistently well, you won't get the traffic, and your business will off a cliff.
He also knows that it isn't easy, that there are huge number of variables to consider within each of these marketing areas. And that things change all the time. For example, Google changes it search algorithms on a regular basis and suddenly a top ranked site falls to page 92 on search results. You have to figure out what went wrong and try to optimize your site again.
"It took us more than two years but we now have a suite of software applications that automates most of the SEO, ad campaign management, keyword bidding, and landing page optimization that businesses need to do on a daily basis," says Mr Malden.
He demonstrates the product, which is delivered online, through any web browser. The user interface is well designed and the complexity of the underlying analysis data is simplified through color codes such as green for positive changes in marketing campaigns and red for warning signs, and the plentiful use of colorful graphs.
"We've automated most of the processes but there are things which users still need to do, such as creating different landing pages, etc. But we have simple to do lists they can follow, and we step them through each process, and where necessary, we even provide them with the code so that they can simply copy and paste it into their pages."
The SEO module is especially interesting. There are legions of SEO consultants and their ranks are growing daily because there is good money to be made. Businesses will pay $150 to $250 per hour to SEO consultants to make sure their web sites are optimized for the search engines. Then each time Google or one of the other search engines changes their algorithm they have to bring in the SEO consultants again.
The problem is that no one quite knows what the optimal amount of SEO is, and how best to implement it because Google keeps its algorithm secret. Google does tell web site owners what the best practices are, but SEO consultants make their money by promising to do more, to use tricks and techniques that boost a web page higher on the search rankings than a rival site.
If you hang out in the SEO communities there is a tremendous amount of what looks like folklore. If you do this, that, and the other, you'll rank higher. Then you have people that did do all those things, but suddenly their pages fall out of the top rankings, and they don't know why. And if you write about the snake oil in SEO, I can speak from personal experience, it is worse than the wrath of Apple fanboys.
PC Mag columnist John Dvorak recently provoked a hornets nest of SEO wrath when he wrote:
Search engine optimization (SEO) has turned into a big business, and from what I can tell it's the modern version of snake oil. The unproven nonsense spewed by so-called "SEO experts" simply doesn't work. And worse, it's screwing up the elegance of the Web.
Yield's software does away with a lot of the mythology and snake oil in the SEO community about what is important in raising the rank of a web page. The software analyzes each page and lists all the things that are done right and flags things that are missing, and spells out exactly what needs to be done. This alone is worth the monthly subscription price of $129.
"Isn't this going to reduce the need for SEO consultants? Isn't that a good thing?" I ask. Mr Malden laughs, and smartly veers away from possibly being seen as an SEO-consultant-killer application. But maybe that should be the new definition of a killer application: software that kills much of the need for a high priced expert.
Mr Malden says that Yield's software will allow companies to check the work of SEO consultants and weed out the weak ones. And SEO consultants can use the software themselves to help augment their work and manage a larger client load.
I can see PR agencies also using the service because many are adding digital marketing services in a bid to expand their value to clients.
It's not just SEO. There is also a module for managing the bidding for keywords, and another module for testing out the design of different landing pages, and also there are many varieties of reports that can be generated.
Derek Gordon, VP of Marketing at Yield, says that the target market is small and medium sized businesses spending between $2K and $20K per month on online ad campaigns. "Usually the larger organizations already have in-house systems and people that manage the various aspects of their online marketing."
The first month is free and then monthly subscriptions start at $129 and up, depending on how many sites are managed. And there is no long term contract.
What's to prevent someone using the service for a month, cleaning up and optimizing their sites, testing out their keyword and text-ad campaigns, and then canceling?
"Nothing," says Mr Malden. "But this is a dynamic environment, things change all the time. And our software learns and gets better all the time. It has to, because people can cancel at anytime. Plus the amount of money companies are spending on marketing, our subscription price is just a rounding error for most of them."
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SVW: Is Search Broken?
Why is it that we have to help the search engines do a job they are supposed to be doing by themselves?
It's as if these searchbots are blind, and we have to lead them patiently along the street and point things out to them, while they tap away at the world with white canes.