Keep Your Posts Simple!

2 to 3 Seconds is All You Have

For copywriters, there is a place for lengthy, epic content, yet a short, well timed post may be more effective than anything you’ve ever written. This post is 400 words exactly. It’s digital fast food.

Graphic courtesy of Fuel Your Blogging

As the title graphic (courtesy of shows, consumers want it fast, simple and in the drive through lane. The average visitor has an attention span of about 2 to 3 seconds (even less on an ad loaded smartphone) and if your message isn’t simple, direct and digestible, they will leave. Speed and Simplicity are that important.

7 Quick Tips – Fast Food for Successful Writers

Quick posts will help you capture your impatient readers and cut your abandonment rate. This alone could make a phenomenal difference in your success.

There’s a glut of content on the web and slow and slow Internet speeds are making us an impatient lot. Even though your post will be short, it can still contain vital info and benefits for your visitor and be interesting to read. Distill it and make it quickly scannable and you’ve got a chance to create a new customer.

Save Your Epic Posts for Another Time

Like a few people, I love epic posts overflowing with insight, perspective, stories, and facts. So do journalists, strategists, and brainiacs. I want an article that everyone in the world will link to and give me a number one Google Ranking.  But no one else does.  We need to train ourselves to simplify our messages. If you force yourself to keep your post under 400 words, you’ve got a chance to keep readers and actually get them to do what you want them to do.

Here’s The Top 7 Tips:

  1. Keep your post’s title clear and simple (e.g., Top 7 Tips; How to; Get this by doing this)
  2. Headings with a hook – one powerful and easy to comprehend key benefit
  3. Opening paragraph supports the post title and first heading
  4. 4 to 6 paragraphs only
  5. Insert one unique graphic image that helps drive your point home
  6. Solve the reader’s problem fast – they want instant relief from their pain
  7. Close quickly with the reminder that you solved their problem and they can now take action

Simple language. Simple benefits. Served fast and hot. That’s what most readers actually want.

Need copywriting that actually helps customers? Here’s 7 ways to make your copywriting original. Don’t understand how to get high rankings? What is Google’s latest indexing update?

My roles? SEO and Content Strategy for Marketing AgenciesSEO Consultant Toronto, SEO Specialist Vancouver, or Realtor marketing Los Angeles.

This template can help. It is more of a sales oriented template where your pitch, UVP, and brand promise with a call to action are included. Of course, your reader’s would not find it acceptable for you to pitch agressively on all your posts. Sometime you have to achieve your pitch and message subtly in the content of the post itself.


Why Your Digital Marketing Strategy is about to Change

Is Ad Blocking about to Throw Your Business a Curve Ball?

swingandmissWe all should know that when anything becomes too extreme, there’s a reaction to it.  PPC and banner advertising has become an extreme issue for Internet users, particularly the growing segment of mobile device users.

Continuously loading and annoying ads are crippling the customer experience and throttling bandwidth. The demand for ads has become extreme for several reasons, and many businesses have no back up plan if their ads don’t work. To stop the ad noise, new tech companies are creating ad blocking apps, much to the delight of mobile consumers.

Research from Adobe and PageFair found that ad blocking could cost publishers as much as $41.4 billion in 2016 (via

Ad blocking is expected to cause $20 billion/year from ppc and banner advertising to move into content development and customer engagement strategy. If you rely on ads your business could be facing trouble, but if you’re into content marketing and SEO, you could be getting a huge traffic injection. Ad blocking will change your digital marketing strategy and will present you with an opportunity to knock out your competitors who are dependent on online advertising.

One simple concept: Create free content for highly understood audiences and distribute via Google organic and personal social media connections

Advertising Automation vs Ad Blocking

If you’re about to hold your next big digital marketing launch event to present programmatic advertising and automated marketing solutions, you may not want to invite Louis D. Lo Praeste.  He’s a thought leader on the future of online marketing, and he says traditional and automated digital marketing are doomed. 

Yet, according to the findings of one study, the global marketing automation sector is set to grow from $3.65 billion in 2014 to $5.5 billion in 2019 (via @jeffbullas). If ad blocking grows, will marketing automation be affected?

Lo Praeste’s most recent Linkedin post is thought provoking and must reading for any digital marketing manager.

Digital or social marketing is contracting the advertising market as a whole… I predict by January 2017, the market will contract further in that direction, towards wiping out the double-digit gains in digital of the last four years. I predict 1/2 to 2/3 of these companies will cease to exist in the next biennium.

And Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Bing are especially dependent on advertising and thus vulnerable to the anti-adspam revolution.

Image courtesy of Linkedin Top Voices

Lo Praeste points to the peaking rise of ad spam noise and the resulting use of ad and pop up banning apps, combined with the shortened attention spans of web and social media users. It’s hitting critical mass. He doesn’t leave us without hope though — he adds that customer engagement and return on customer relationship will become the hot new trend. It’s not the end of automation, but rather a change in how businesses can reach and impact their target market.

Do you believe marketers are dialed into customer touchpoints and engagement, particularly large companies using automated marketing software and digital advertising?  Lo Praeste believes they create a poor customer experience, pollute the online marketing ecosystem, and cause people to reject the persistent ad platforms.

Lo Praeste points out how ineffective and non-engaging advertising is, despite database-driven personalization. As ad intensity increases, return on relationship falls.

Further, he suggests the segmented marketing campaign model which most of us still operate by is no longer relevant and will be replaced by marketing processes that are strategic, learning, continuous and open ended — in perpetual beta. This same idea was mentioned by another excellent thought leader, Paul Roetzer, author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint, which is a landmark book for all digital marketers.

It might be that digital marketers are moving to perpetual beta marketing programs that incorporate feedback, learning and adaptation for the next campaign period. The old model of 4 campaigns per year where a set of related features and benefits are presented in a timed fashion may not work well because they won’t have enough impact, relevance and will consequently be blocked out

The perpetual beta model means digital marketing will be more about iterative learning and improving targeting and engagement — to optimize the customer experience, respond personally to customers, and engage on an emotional and highly relevant level.

Google is Always Involved

Did you notice that Google changed its ad format recently? They deleted the sidebar ads and now 4 ads appear at the top. If you recall, Google came to power in the search game by displaying no ads — that was key to why they beat Yahoo, MSN, Altavista, Excite, and all the rest. For the last 10 years, they’ve cluttered the opening screen above the fold completely with ads. Then they changed the free organic results to favor big established brands, then reduced the number of search results on the page, to as few as 7. That’s not good value for users.

Even when Google targets ads, it’s annoying. Their new RankBrain algo update claims to know what people are looking for next and can place ads for products they’re likely looking for. But they always seem to be one step behind.  Remarketing ads persist after the viewer visited an advertiser’s site. You’ve probably found yourself being stalked by ads from that point on.  No one likes them.



The ad blocking software that’s becoming more popular is only the tip of the iceberg. Even irrelevant search results and social media posts may be treated with disgust.   More people are pushing the mute button on their connections posts.  Read this great post on Search Engine Land.

Graphic courtesy of Business Intelligence

This stat above should tell you to avoid relying on advertising solutions. Instead, your marketing campaign could be more successful by providing more value right from the start. By building Trust, Credibility, and Real Value, you in effect will get whitelisted by your prospects.

Since customers/prospects will ignore big companies that use high pressure, agitating ads, and withhold content from ad blocker users, you can offer that same information without blackmail or charges. When consumers realize they can get info and experiences without agitation, they will prefer your website.

Ad blocking and aversion will impact Facebook and other major publishers. Apple is fully onboard with ad blocking since users love it. Samsung may feel pressured to follow.

Alternative to Automated Marketing and Advertising

If you can’t advertise or reach consumers via ad-funded web portals, you will have to revert to organic methods that provide return on relationship.

If Google persists with unwanted ads, there may be a big switch to other search engines such as DuckDuckGo. It started out as a real time search engine that brought very fresh search results. Try DuckDuckGo and see if it works as well as Google. It gives you a lot of results with only 2 small text ads.

Will we need to learn to optimize for a brand new search engine like DuckDuckGo? Searchers are also asking questions to search engine because they’re better at understanding what we’re asking and giving good answers. Quora is a search engine that helps people get answers — thus making it a finding engine.

Whatever way you build reach and generate new visitors, you need to be very good at converting them. If your pitch, introduction, value offer and customer experience isn’t relevant and top notch, you’ll lose visitors and customers fast.

For these reasons, you need very high quality, thought leader type content driven by an extremely good, significant, personalized, unique value proposition. If you haven’t studied unique propositions, you need to get into it.

An Alternative to Digital Advertising Campaigns

  1. Dig deep on your unique value proposition and match it up to a deep customer profile
  2. Focus on building relationships and return on relationship
  3. Design new content based on lifestyles
  4. Be transparent, truthful, and engaging
  5. Create relevant, high quality content as the medium of customer relationships
  6. Build a reputation as a thought leader – the goto resource that eliminates the need for push marketing solutions
  7. Do visual content marketing where your useful content is found and shared by customers
  8. High quality videos optimized for appearance on Youtube
  9. Recognize the mobile device interface and how customers experience your mobile website
  10. Build out your social media presence and engage customers authentically in the way they prefer

If you know of companies/marketers struggling with digital marketing effectiveness, send them this post.  The thrust of these blog posts is to promote quality organic connections with prospective customers.  Content marketing, SEO, and social media continue to be the most effective and cheapest route to marketing success. My titles? Digital Marketing Strategist San Diego, SEO Toronto, SEO Vancouver, and Realtor marketing Boston.

Contact me  if you need to plan and execute a solid digital marketing program. I’d be glad to help.


If I Hear the Word Digital one More Time, I’m going to Stick a Fork in my Head

Opting Out – The Rise of Ad Blocking and Unsubscribing

In the June issue of Canadian Business magazine, Bruce Philp, a brand strategy consultant was speaking to his audience of marketers where he blurted out “If I hear the word digital one more time, I’m going to stick a fork in my head.” He said he was shocked by the sudden ovation he received by the audience. He’d stumbled onto something without realizing how strongly people felt about it.

Opting Out of Dumming. Pic courtesy of Jantoo Cartoons

His statement resonates with a rising contempt, cyncism and irritation from consumers about digital marketing and how most agencies are doing digital these days.  And when response rates die and audiences avoid marketing and advertising, you have the start of a key marketing trend.

If you’ve been hunting for a digital marketing job, you’ve witnessed how employers and agencies emphasize the tools of digital marketing and the automation of consistent messaging. Philp says this is a bad trend. Customers see these same digital tools as weapons of annoyance.  Agencies caught up in this tech-romance are losing site of pleasant, asynchronous, human, real value exchange which has little to do with automated marketing and ads.

Big Trend #1: customers are ignoring messaging and the brands associated with it, and marketers are pushing harder.

email and Ad Bombardment will Change the Market

And you can relate to how many emails and messages you get daily and how many times you have to hit the delete or unsubscribe button, which is no easy task on a small smartphone. Yes, it seems there is a problem and it’s more than just using the word digital.

Marketers are pushing out more content, more emails, more ads, and more rhetoric than ever, and audiences are getting burned out. Marketers themselves explain the trend by saying campaigns and messaging isn’t relevant enough. The truth is that they’re besieged by too many mediocre messages.

Customers and prospects do need your solution, only they’re just confused and mesmerized by the plague of ads, messages and poor value propositions that bombard them every day. You’ve rewritten your marketing material many times and yet your response rates keep plunging along with conversion rates. The joy that people are adopting ad blocking software with should clarify the issue.

When your messages no longer hit home, or your reach is poor, it’s time to reconsider your content quality, content strategy and SEO strategy. Give the challenge to me.

Philp remarks that digital marketing is suffering the same plight as traditional marketing. He believes the job of marketing is the same as it was then, even though the medium is different – to reach customers and convince them. In the past though, people were never bombarded the way we are now. From transit ads and retail signs, road ads, to email, television to our favorite websites, the volume of marketing information we receive is debilitating. People will react by ignoring it. If you don’t believe me, send an email to your contacts or via your Linkedin account. The response rate is so low, it’s frightening. Quality is becoming irrelevant because they automatically ignore the message.

Image courtesy of

Instead marketers just get louder: [queue Marching Garbage Cans — solution Advil.]

So even relevance, value and entertainment aren’t paying off now. That’s why the noise is ramping up to “Warp drive” and perhaps we as marketers have to be more strategic, empathetic, and reasonable in how we approach our markets. Hammering away with automated high velocity just because we’ve got a team of social media experts and bloggers to pump out material, doesn’t mean we should use them. If each message kills subscribers, our activity begins to erode our customer base. That’s not a good tradeoff.

Big Trend#2: Only the very highest quality content is published. Your brand is your content quality and the relevance of your value offer

So What’s the Solution?

Some marketers are heading back to traditional media, phone calls, and knocking on doors. Yet, if your audience is in San Diego, Miami or Phoenix, that’s gonna be a long trip.

One of the reasons why digital marketing agencies are doing well is by using the “we do it all” messaging. It takes searching, thinking, deciding and time wasting out of the equation. Customers don’t even care if they’ve got the best value proposition and amateur level marketeers — now the whole mess is cleared out of the way. The agencies are simply in the right place at the right time — a place of stillness for clients.

But once clients realize they’re not getting good value, the search process starts all over again.

Philp’s suggestion is that “we all get back to work that really matters.”

That leads us to our solution. The solution is creating higher quality, personalized and more relevant content — videos, white papers, blogs, infographics, webinars and face to face meetings where real value is delivered in a quiet, low pressure, and value-building way. The high quality of your marketing content creates credibility for a warm lead whom you can then follow up with in a relaxed and helpful way. Need warm leads for home loan or car insurance shoppers? Google is the way.

Be prepared to be helpful. Find the customer’s worst pains and lead the charge to erase their fears, insecurities and discomfort. Show them quickly how you’re the missing piece and how you can make their dreams come true.

Be the solution.


Gord Collins is an SEO and Content Strategist and author who dreams of living in Vancouver and San Diego, part time. If you have solutions for his dilemma, feel free to ease his pains.

Digital Marketing Specialist – Skills Most Sought After – Toronto Canada

How Skilled should a Digital Marketing Specialist be?

If you’re on Linkedin or Indeed looking to fill a digital marketing specialist role in your company, there’s a wide range of skills you might hire for.

This post may open your eyes to a wide range of skills from copywriting to marketing automation management to predictive intelligence with AI Marketing software. At this point, firms are looking to reduce staffing costs while improving performance. One way to achieve that is to look for a specialist who can be a strategist, and who can contribute in a wide variety of ways from campaing testing to copywriting to SEO and social engagement.

You’ll discover there’s no unified description of a digital marketing strategist – it extends from email marketer to SEO specialist to social media manager to conversion optimizer. The specialist is only a specialist in the sense that it’s all digital. 

Digital marketers can extend their digital marketing prowess significantly through software.  As long as they have the basic creative and strategic capabilities, the digital marketing specialist  could inded contribute significantly to the company’s bottom line. 

The overall sentiment? There has been a significant increase in demand for both specialist skills and more general digital marketing roles across the board. When asked about the digital marketing jobs landscape, Jane Creaner Glen, Head of Recruitment and HR at the Digital Marketing Institute said, “I would say it is evolving all the time. A lot of companies are still looking for broad digital marketing skills at Manager and Executive level. Although, as the industry matures it is separating out more into specific skills areas, such as Content, SEO/SEM, Analytics and Social Media.” — from

Needed Skills for a Digital Marketer Manager/Specialist

If you don’t actually do these things, you should at least have a good knowledge of or sensitivity to them.

  1. skillsSEO
  2. copywriter
  3. website and email administration
  4. email campaign management
  5. content research and content strategy
  6. content testing
  7. analytics and performance reporting
  8. pay per click advertising and media buying
  9. KPI planning and conversion optimization
  10. social media account management
  11. social media engager
  12. client management
  13. landing page designer
  14. brand image management
  15. marketing automation and AI marketing software execution

A Chance to Make a Big Difference

It’d be nice to be a pro at everything and it’s a great stretch goal to have. As a current candidate, trying to land a job as a DMM, I’m pushed to get the essentials nailed, and then develop into someone who will be a powerful producer for the company at a macro and micro level. The pain I’m going through now will be yours too if you’re looking to find a great job in digital marketing.

You’re on the right track here though as the digital marketing specialist is a key role, although resting on any one skill won’t suffice. Stick to these specific strengths? You need at least one outstanding go-to skill, however you should be versatile since you need to be on top of everything. 

Overall, it’s the ability to orchestrate or bring tools, channels, and customer experience together online.


Big companies can hire a specialist to manage the digital marketing process, however smaller companies need someone with broader skills. In smaller companies, we may actually need to create content, do SEO, conduct monthly or quarterly email campaigns, as well as engage customers on social media.

You Have to Figure it Out

As a SMB digital marketing specialist, you’d want to be ready to do anything and be anything they require. For that reason, it’s important for a digital marketing specialist, automated marketing specialist, or online marketing manager to have a wide range of skills and be ready to upgrade skills soon. Even after you’ve mastered the educational, experiential, and team fit requirements, there’s the need for more software mastery.

Marketing Automation Software

That’s where marketing automation software arrives. It’s a suite of services that allow you to automate common digital marketing tasks such as email, social posting, blogging, traffic and lead scoring, track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing funnel.

The names Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot are the heavy hitters for large scale automation. Smaller companies can use more cost effective solutions such as Canterras Engage, Brand Maker, Act-on, Wishpond or Active Demand. If you’re not with a larger agency, you won’t be using Hubspot or Eloqua.

Active Demand Marketing Automation Software

I’m learning Active Demand currently, which is a fairly new marketing automation offering. It’s presented nicely and might be a good software for you to cut your marketing automation teeth on.

There’s plenty of services modules as you can see in the graphic below. It’s pretty exciting to think you can do almost every marketing task from email campaigns to multi-variant testing. It’s intimidating at first, but once you learn the software, you’ve got some impressive marketing power.

Screen cap courtesy of

 If you’re interested in the other marketing automation software available, try these reviews.

Need a Digital Marketing Strategist? in Toronto, Give me a call. I’m looking forward to speaking with you.


Car Insurance St Petes

Get the Lowest Auto Insurance St Petes FL

The nice thing about driving in Florida is that it isn’t like Chicago, Toronto, Denver, Detroit, Buffalo, Indianapolis or Minneapolis. Those winter conditions are often the most significant factor in auto insurance rates. But should you be paying for all those accidents and claims up north?

Insurance companies are finding success by working only in specific geographic locations where accidents, risk and claims are relatively low. Previously, companies including the likes of Geico, Allstate, Progressive, Farmers, Liberty Mutual, Mercury and Liberty Mutual worked all regions and added their markup. Simple profit on volume. But eliminating high risk for low risk geographies can give some local insurers big cost savings. Chances are, you’re not going to have icy roads in St Petes.

If you’re younger and living in St Petes or Tampa, or Jacksonville, Orlando, Panama City, or Miami, then look for these smaller Florida insurance companies and ask your insurance broker about them. Learn more about luxury car insurance coverage.

And your savings could be even more than $10,000 over 5 years. Get as many quotes from insurance companies and brokers as possible. They won’t be insuring anyone in Chicago, Minneapolis or Toronto and they’ll be saving money by working only with Florida drivers.


The only way you’ll get the very best lowest insurance quotes, is to shop around online. Insurance companies will make you work really hard to get a low quote out of them. They know you’re after a cheap policy with all the best benefits such as free rental car, 1st accident forgiveness, free towing, roadside assitance, instant claims process and discounts for good driving.

How to Get a Lower Auto Insurance Quote?

  1. buy a cheap, older model car to drive to work
  2. buy a usage-based policy using telematics devices
  3. keep your credit rating sparkling clean
  4. eliminate your collision coverage
  5. install an anti-theft device
  6. bundle your home insurance with your auto insurance

St Petes drivers should get into the shopping mode and find the lowest cheapest car insurance quote possible. You’ve got the power to shop and save on insurance!

Check out insurance cars trucks in your city:

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One way to get the lowest car insurance rates is to use a telematics device. If your driving behavior is erratic and aggressive, the insurer may not offer you lower rates so bad drivers may not benefit at all. Check out this solution for lowering insurance rates for teen drivers.

Google’s New Algorithm Update: RankBrain

RankBrain is Going to Judge Your Content

Google is still king when it comes to sending us potential, profitable customers so it makes sense to be up on how our webpages are being ranked now and in future. Google said its Hummingbird algorithm update was a completely new algorithm. Well, that’s sort like saying you got a new carpet when it came back from the cleaners.

This time though, they’ve actually done something they promised for a long time — a self learning page indexing algorithm called RankBrain.  The search giant seemingly inspired by Steven Spielberg movies has sought to use machine learning (artificial intelligence) to improve search results.

Graphic Courtesy of Search Engine Land

More than ever now, we (well, probably just me) will have to consider how Google interprets our content flow, topic coverage and engagement if we expect to rank highly in search results.

It Learns as it Goes

RankBrain appears to learn more about what Google searchers are visiting, reading and spending time on.  It may give a boost to websites with content that’s more interesting to visitors and which seems to have more content that’s interesting on the topic. Rankbrain tries to interpret what people really mean when they do a particular keyword search along with trying to improve its understanding of the searcher’s intent.

RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system that’s being applied to and used with Google’s current search engine algorithms to provide better results to user queries. Rooted in machine learning, RankBrain will use mathematical processes and an advanced understanding of language semantics to gradually learn more about how and why people search, and apply those conclusions to future search results — Jason Demers on

Based on Jason’s description, I would surmise the definition of RankBrain as a program which discovers content paths that solve the user’s query fully and most accurately.

If RankBrain’s influence in SEO and content design is about to increase, here’s some questions you should start answering:

  • How useful and sticky is your content?
  • Does your content flow topically to help solve common problems that Google sees being important?
  • Is your keyword usage strategic/sophisticated enough to signify topical progression to Google?
  • Do you look at your stats to see if people are staying to read/experience your content?
  • What are the click paths they take?
  • What are Google’s robots really trying to learn – What is the ultimate goal for your visitor?
  • Is RankBrain measuring clickthrough rates, time on site, bounce rates, site usage, relevant content and keywords, or which links searchers are clicking on?
  • How will your content compete with larger publishers who offer a more thorough treatment of topics?

I’ve got 11 handy tips for you below on how you should design your content for better RankBrain rankings.

Google Continuously Upgrades its Algorithm (Kaizen)

Google’s always made small, gradual upgrades in its algorithm, but this time it might be getting close to a hypergrowth leap in how search rankings will be calculated.

Google has difficulty ranking a lot of pages on the Web because most pages have no links pointing to them and a lot of search queries are so unique, it can’t understand what the searcher wants. And Google is very dependent on links for selecting its search results.  Yet links don’t tell the whole story about good content, particularly recently published content. Website owners, bloggers, journalists etc don’t indicated enough when they point to a document about what it’s about, and they may not even take the time to link to an excellent piece of content. Yet this might be content that people really enjoy. Google wants to be more sure they’ve got the best content and the right content.

If Google was to improve their search results, they needed to discover how people are using the content. Do they visit a page, then click back immediately, or do they read the whole post? If people visit a page, stay to read it, and then read related material on that website, it might be a strong sign of high quality content. Larry Kim of Wordstream, a PPC optimization software firm, suggests that Google is using its quality measurement tools from Adwords to improve organic results.

The way 30 trillion web pages are ranked changed forever on October 26, 2015. That’s when the world became aware of RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning artificial intelligence system — Larry Kim in a Linkedin Pulse post.

What Do Your Visitors Care About?

Let’s have a gander at some of my blog post stats in this graphic below. You can see realtors are very keen on the topic of prospecting, and building skills and their brand image.  Snappy, intriguing titles help attract them, but might not entice them to keep reading.

The average time on page for visitors was 4 to 5 minutes which is pretty good in the era of 7 second attention spans. Most busy professionals won’t stick around too long which is why you see an 83% to 87% bounce rate.  They enjoy one article and off they go — unless you have a strong call to action to take them further. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to set up that strong content/conversion process on my blog. Obviously, the site design, content and value proposition have to be developed.  This is more of a fun site that I use to experiment and express myself with.

What RankBrain makes you consider is how you fulfill the search completely instead of having one page for a topic. People won’t engage with one page only, so RankBrain is likely going to learn that you don’t offer visitors much. So RankBrain could force us all to create more content than we want to and think strongly about how our content works as a whole to satisfy the needs of the 98% of people who visit and leave. Further, we might also want to shy away from poorly qualified traffic  (spam sites for example would get lots of unqualified traffic) as it would send negative engagement signals to Google.


Google compares the searcher’s keyword terms used to what they actually visited and read (BTW, Google can’t read videos and graphics). That’s the customer journey. They’re trying to learn what people actually wanted, and then present the next logical information to them on successive searches. Google wants to read your mind and spoon feed you what they believe is the right information as you search. That’s what this “machine learning” is mostly about.

If RankBrain is now the 3rd most important metric being used in how they rank pages, it might be wise for you to learn more about how they use it and begin boosting your content quality.  However, Google has never liked giving away their “secret sauce.”  That means we have to think about this!

Here’s some RankBrain ranking tips to help you Rank Higher:

  1. create more interesting content – include graphics, videos, quotes, interviews, infographics
  2. develop deeper content on topics and perspectives – delve into what customers don’t know
  3. discover what your customers consider the most interesting content
  4. do not let your webmaster install pop ups that delay the visitors use of the back button
  5. do not use a time wasting interstitial popup that annoys arriving visitors
  6. key on an issue the visitor is struggling with and present possible routes to a satisfying solution
  7. include comments, insights, and tips from experts
  8. avoid using common words that don’t help clarify the meaning of your specific topics — instead use words that apply to specific variations of topics you cover — (e.g., The residential photovoltaic arrays designed into our solar shingles for house roofs generate 12 watts per square foot of roof surface).
  9. explain how your other customers are having similar issues, challenges, and success
  10. use headings and make your content easy to read and scan
  11. include embedded links to let visitors find related material to explore

These tips should help you enrich your content, keep visitors longer, and make your content appear more relevant to Google. As time passes, we’ll learn more about RankBrain. Bookmark this page and I’ll keep you updated.

More information will be revealed about RankBrain and how search results are changing. Pagerank, semantics, Trustrank, and other elements are still important as part of the 200 factors, but our Big Brother Google is watching and judging our content quality.

See what Danny Sullivan said about RankBrain:


A wise alternative to hiring Toronto marketing agency is a dedicated content strategist or digital marketing strategist from Toronto. I can offer the best possible SEO, content marketing and social media strategies. As a dedicated SEO specialist /strategist or social media strategist, I can help you build impressive, qualified traffic via high quality, relevant content and outreach strategies. Top visibility on Facebook, Linkedin, and Google are huge assets. Let’s get started!

6 Keys to Growing Your Business in the US

The US Market alone, is 50 Times Bigger than Toronto

In studying marketing agencies in Toronto, one theme really stands out – location is king. Their target  client is within a very short distance. Today, it shouldn’t be because a huge pool of interested clients are just south of us.

superboyI’ve enjoyed working with US companies, some of them large and some small. What I like most about them is their willingness to take risks.  Yet they still want to save money, maximize reach, and receive first class service.  They’ve learned that Canadian companies offer all of that.

This is why we need to look south and expand, for own well being. The potential of that incredible sized market and the fun of doing business in the US should excite you.

Targeting the US is Good Business

Most businesses and exporters in Canada focus on the Canadian scene. Toronto in Toronto, Vancouver in Vancouver.  All a US company needs is the assurance that you communicate well, do great work, and will send someone to visit them for meetings. If business booms, then you might consider setting up an office in California, Massachusetts or New York.

Often, a distant provider has an open minded, enthusiastic and energetic attitude about their client’s business and products. Working for a California, Miami, or Boston client brings awe, imagination, and optimism that local workers don’t possess because it’s all so blasé  to them. US managers are aware of that and they’ll begin Googling  Toronto or Vancouver providers. It’s nice to be tops on Google!

For a US company to take you seriously, they need to see an outstanding unique value proposition.  I succeeded by being unique and being good at what I did. It’s still the same in 2016 except the competition is intense. However, those competitors aren’t that strong. If you present your services/products in a fashion that expose competitor’s weaknesses, you can win a US customer.

The US market (forecast to grow 54% in next 4 years) is 50 times larger than Toronto and our dollar gives us a big cost advantage up against US competitors.  And when you open your business to the US, it invariably shows up on the radar of customers in the UK, Germany, Japan, and China. Growing your business to the US is smart. Your desirability as a provider is much better than you’d imagine.



Digital Marketing Services US
Stats courtesy of Statista

Social media marketing expenditures will rise 120%.

US Digital Marketing Expenditure Forecast 2015 to 2019
US Digital Marketing Expenditure Forecast 2015 to 2019 — Pic courtesy of Statista

Export Payment Guarantees:

Canada’s federal EDC department offers a payment guarantee program which takes away a lot of risk for you as an exporter. Export Advice. Hire an international business student and get going on this!

When I ran my SEO and content development business years ago, international clients discovered me through Google. They couldn’t see how good I was at SEO but they could see my passion for it – my personal brand image worked.  The distance meant nothing to them. They wanted competence and that meant results from someone who was passionate about SEO. Their decision was made by the time they spoke to me on the phone.  They could see my focus was outward. I was no local yocal, and I had the guts to go up against more wealthy and enabled US providers.

Why Don’t they Choose a Local US Agency?

Big agencies have big prices and don’t always deliver.  Unfortunately they lack knowledgeable and passionate, engaging and social promoters of the client’s business. Having lots of people with special titles and being conveniently located doesn’t translate to a passionate engagement with client’s audiences. Many big companies bring people in-house because of this. What results is mediocre performance and you should point that out.

Find your favourite verticals and show your passion for them, whether it’s real estate, travel, digital marketing, fashion, restaurants, or whatever.  Pursuing these passions will make you and your agency better.

Go Big or Go Home

When I say look outward, you’re likely filled with doubts. It’s a crisis of confidence about your agency’s ability to compete.  You can compete.  I did. With relevant content and a passion for what I did, I landed US, China and UK clients worth $20k to $70k in revenue. The challenge is higher today but still doable. Don’t doubt it. There are multi-million dollar clients looking for great solutions.

Here’s what US Clients want:

  1. Passion  – are you enthused about their business and industry? How are you showing that in your marketing?
  2. Professionalism  –  Do you communicate with a clear focus that communicates your accent on quality?
  3. Trustworthiness – Do you communicate in a way that suggests commitment to their goals? Do you show follow through and responsibility?
  4. Credibility – do you have a track record and social proof that you are good at what you do? Can you deliver whatever is required?
  5. Relevance – Are you knowledgeable of their business, market and industry? Have you expressed viewpoints that reveal your depth of understanding?
  6. Performance – Do you understanding their product, retail market or online market? Do you have the right pieces of the big marketing puzzle. Even one outstanding capability such as SEO could land you the deal.

Clients won’t contact you until they know you have a passion for their business. That’s their biggest question mark.  If they believe the answer is no, the conversation stops there. With passion and expertise established, you can move onto showing you have even more to offer.

If you and your staff look compelling, motivated, and passionate and you demonstrate expertise in their field, they won’t be concerned with distance or price. They want quality. Your quality, ability to deliver, and passion for doing it will draw clients from everywhere.

Don’t worry about cost. The big US agencies you’re competing with have enormous overhead. Smaller companies are leveraging new SaaS software and services via the cloud and utilizing work at home arrangements.  Cost may be a decided advantage for you. The lower Canadian price is just the icing on the cake for potential clients. It could be the incentive that relaxes them and convinces them to give you a try. Don’t ask for the world. Prove yourself further.

US companies like Canadians. They trust that we’ll work hard and are dedicated. So many reasons to believe, and now you know how to do it. This will be fun so enjoy the process!

If you have a talented hybrid agency, your chances for International success are even higher. It might be time to reimagine your brand image and unique value proposition and acquire the top level talent that will take your business where it needs to be.


A wise alternative to hiring marketing agency is a dedicated content strategist or digital marketing strategist from Toronto. I can offer the best possible SEO, content marketing and social media strategies to help you succeed in the US. As a dedicated SEO specialist /strategist or social media strategist with education in International business, I can help you build impressive, qualified traffic via high quality, relevant content and outreach strategies. Top visibility on Facebook, Linkedin, and Google are huge assets. Let’s get started!

Trust in B2B or B2C — 10 Essentials of Trustworthiness

It’s All About Their Trust in You: Will You Deliver the Promised Value?

The trust factor is an important business decision point today. We all need reliable, competent, and trustworthy partners. Let’s discover the 10 essentials of trust, including the trust-building power of success.

When you’re developing connections that you hope will become clients/customers, trust will be a big chunk of your brand image and unique value proposition.  It may be at the core of what others see in you. In fact, trust is central to likability because we generally don’t like people who will cause us a lot of misery.

Trust is important because people don’t like losing. It hurts their self-esteem and confidence when they get ripped off, feelings hurt, they lose time and money, and their own trustworthiness is affected. Mistrust is like bad Karma even if you think it’s not deserved. It’s all relative to how they see life and people.

Relevance, integrity, competence, drive, consistency, communication, transparency, commitment and more traits are all part of this picture of trust we develop.  Hopefully you’ll be able to convey this to your prospects and clients via your Website and social posts. They trust that you want to make them successful and they’re confident of your presence in their business life.

If there’s a poor fit between you and them, integrity will fail, and then trust will spiral downward. So, much of what we call trust is actually an extension of relevance and compatibility. But even with perfect compatibility, the trust traits must be present. (e.g., without communication, trust and confidence will erode).

Trust in the Online World

Found on Steve Sipress

Google’s search engine ranks web pages and web sites based on a number of factors, but trustworthiness is one the top things they look for (Trustrank or Trust Factor).  They actually have a way of determining whether a page is reputable or deceptive.

What Customers Want

They want closer, more familiar and personal relationships, even in business. They want to talk with you, laugh, cry, agonize, and share their joys.

If you expose your “self” online then your initial meeting gets off to a great start.    By letting them discover common interests with you, know what you believe and value, and how you behave and express yourself, you’re making it easy for them to discover you as a reliable, competent, understood and trustworthy provider.

The Components of Trust

  1. Familiarity – are you like other people they know and have trusted?
  2. Similar values – do you value the same things?
  3. Relevance – are your relevant to their life and mission?
  4. Transparency – are your motives and behaviour visible?
  5. Integrity — will you be fair and ethical?
  6. Experience – do you have experience in their sector?
  7. Shared experiences — are there events/activities you have in common?
  8. Dependable and committed – what is your intent and do you follow through with agreements?
  9. Empathy — do you show you understand them and like them?
  10. Competence & Success — people trust success because it’s proof everything worked and they’re not about to suffer the humiliation of loss — they trust your POWER.

Transparency does differentiate. And it’s powerful. Transparency helps to deliver all the components of trust.  More business people are blogging and tweeting, and essentially, this is just a way to let strangers know who you are and to consider you as relevant.

If you’re hidden, it tells them you’re an old school guy hiding in the bushes. They can’t help thinking they’re going to get ambushed and robbed. Just as in personal relationships, openness and vulnerability are huge assets in developing trust. Let people know who you are, even with your flaws, and stand behind that message.

Natural, Organic Relations

As part of their day, in their quest for deeper insight, prospects arrive at your website. They will read a lot because they want to get to know you before they agree to a lasting relationship with you. An advertisement or a cold sales call isn’t organic and no trust has been established.

I’m a content strategist which means I’m responsible for creating content that captivates, informs, entices and builds a relationship or connection with customers. Hopefully the voice of that content resonates well with the customers I’m hoping to attract. As a business development manager, you’re using your content to mate with your targeted prospect’s needs. If you can build trust and prove fulfillment on many levels, you won’t have to sell anything.

Trust and credibility are key to customers.  Any branding and content strategy has to play up trust and credibility.

If your Realty IDX website isn’t performing well, then check the trustworthiness of your content, style and presentation. Your content strategy should be built on a foundation of trustworthiness.

Check out my articles on Rankbrain, ranking factors and essentials of SEO.

SEO Realtors |  Toronto Real Estate SEO | LA Real Estate SEO | San Diego SEO | Boston SEO | Real Estate Leads | Realtor Marketing | Housing Forecast | Vancouver SEO | Real Estate Blogging | Social Media for Realtors | Real Estate SEO Specialist | Prospecting Strategy | San Francisco SEO | Predictive Analytics & Realtors | MLS | SEO Specialist in Real Estate

Microsoft is Buying Linkedin

Linkedin Being Purchased for $26 Billion

Microsoft has lunged back into relevance online with the purchase of Linkedin – the huge professional networking platform with 343 million members, just like you. Microsoft couldn’t resist Linkedin’s incredible performance stats of 19% year over year growth.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft made the announcement today. It leaves us to ponder what Microsoft could do to improve performance. Only about a third of Linkedin users are active and most aren’t using it as their primary, or even secondary means of professional communication.  Microsoft could integrate it with its suite of office productivity software, thus taking it from an external communication network to where it is preferred to email and actively pushing us to engage our Linkedin connections. Perhaps we’ll find Linkedin more effective as a business generating tool?

Has Linkedin been a powerful networking tool for you? Are you active in networking? Would you say Linkedin is less effective than Facebook in connecting with the best quality prospects?

Is your internet marketing strategy failing to deliver? It might be time to hire an experienced and innovative strategist able to help you leverage the best high converting sources of prospects and present content to them they will find relevant.  Don’t sit and hope for better results — get active and you’ll get results.

Zillow Leads Premier Agent Program

Should You Use Zillow for Realtor Leads? has become the largest real estate advertising network on the web.  Only ten years ago, in 2006, the company was launched by two former employees of Microsoft. Since then, the Seattle based upstart has purchased a number of businesses to increase its reach and service offerings and its partnerships with Yahoo and MSN give it plenty of reach into the homebuyer and renter marketplaces.

Zillow generates its revenue via advertising.  It gets the majority of its traffic (40%) from Google and it is said to have up to 40 million visitors per month. That means it is a successful real estate site, one of the top visited sites in the US, and a key source of leads for realtors.  I’m not sure that it does have more traffic that, but we know it is one of the top real estate portals.

With its unique value proposition covering services and opportunities you won’t get from your MLS or brokerage, you may have to pay more attention to Zillow. Zillow is an attractive home listing publisher for home owners and those renting their properties.lead-sources-agentjet

Zestimate Tool and Info on 100 Million Homes

It’s said that Zillow has info on 100 million homes in the US including prices, home values over time, and home and property details where publicly available. It is competing effectively against the MLS boards. Zillow’s Zestimate tool is much ridiculed but it is highly used. Although the Zestimate home evaluation tool is often $8000 off on average, it still

As you’ll learn in this post, Zillow offers an extensive lead generation service which a few realtors believe in called Zillow Premier Agent. The video included in this post offers some good insight from one of their active clients who fields questions from some real estate marketers. As you can see in this chart below, agents actually do use Zillow for buyer/seller leads. That leaves us with the questions of lead quality, volume and cost.

I am a Zillow premiere agent and that means I show up to buyers and sellers on Zillow when they are looking for a house or looking to sell their house. I used to be a Trulia agent and we have had experience with as well. In my opinion Zillow has been the best lead source so far. Zillow gives us less leads, but they are higher quality. Zillow is a little more expensive than some other sites, but I think it is worth it — quote from

Zillow competes with other lead generation firms such as NAR’s Home Values, Bold Leads, Market Leader,  Agent Locators,  Agent Pronto and a fast increasing other lead sellers. Are these the best lead generation sources?  In the long run, the best solution is the one I provide which is via Google and Social Media lead generation. The issue with these lead generation firms might be with the quality. With Zillow as with any other ad generated lead, realtors must respond very fast before the weak lead becomes very cold.

The speed at which a lead becomes cold really tells you a lot about the quality. If you develop leads on your own idx website, the leads are warmer, better oriented to your offer and brand image, and likely to stay loyal.  They don’t go cold because this buyer or seller expects you to become their realtor.

Zillow’s reputation took a beating this summer when the company settled a sexual harassment suit out of court. An aggressive LA law firm put persistent heat on the company which was claimed to have been run like an “animal house.”  And Zillow was also punished regarding the hiring of Earl Samuelson of Apparently, trade secrets were divulged or could be divulged.  The law suits could cost Zillow some cash.

Here’s the company President speaking on CNBC

And here is Genny Williams of Get A Real Estate Life speaking with a realtor who relates his experience in using Zillow’s lead program.

Zillow vs Your Own Lead Generation System

I believe, that as an enterprising Realtor, you might well use the Zillow or Home Values system while building your own lead generation website and social media presence. You’ll always be paying for leads from Google Adwords or the real estate leads generation companies. Long term for the sake of your career and the possibility of a 7 figure income, you need to have a sustained, owned presence that you can groom and provide as an online focus for your inner circle of clients.

Consider how your clients just don’t get the clear Realtor branding message or the opportunity to calmly go to your website, ask questions and get the right response from you — because your brand and value proposition were properly built and you’re ready for the types of questions they will ask. That makes you look very good and is the reason why they won’t bother with another realtor.

Think about how the best realtors in the business such as Jade Mills, Santiago Arana and Tami Pardee in Los Angeles, or Merrily Hackett in Vancouver started out. They built equity and didn’t rent their success.

Find out more about digital marketing for realtors, social media for realtors, and the primacy of content and SEO.  See these powerful realtor marketing packages and know that you actually can become a dominant realtor online.

Related posts: Realtor Branding | Car Insurance |  Los Angeles Real Estate Forecast |  Housing Market 2017 | IDX Websites for Real Estate Agents |  SEO Consultant VancouverTREB Market ForecastRental Housing Market Outlook |  Toronto Home Sales 2016 | San Diego Housing Market | Real Estate Agents | Future of Real Estate | Toronto Real Estate SEO | Vancouver Real Estate SEO | Vancouver Condos | Toronto Condos | Vancouver Housing ForecastDigital Marketing for Realtors | Realtor Branding | Home LoansToronto MLS | Merrily HackettReal Estate SEO Specialist | Top Real Estate Lead Generation Sources | inhouse vs outsourcing | PPC Advertising Prices  | SEO Consultant Los Angeles

Gord Collins — Real Estate SEO Consultant —  I generate leads for realtors in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, St Louis, Minneapolis, Green Bay, Charlotte, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Oshawa, Hamilton, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Oakville, Calgary, Kelowna, Mississauga, Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Malibu, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Mountainview, Palo Alto, Portland, Washington, Atlanta, Irvine, Nashville, Sunnyvale, Salt Lake City, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, Costa Mesa, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Raleigh, Albuquerque, Glendale, Oceanside, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Carlsbad, Santa Clarita,  Henderson, Mesa, Temecula, Kirkland, Redmond, Kansas City, St Louis, Stockton, Scottsdale, Palm Springs, Indianapolis, Columbus, Colorado Springs, Fort Worth, Chula Vista, Escondido, Santa Monica, Miami Beach, and Honolulu. Find a Los Angeles Real Estate Agent who will actually work for you.