Web Dev Secrets

Tao of Marty

The Tao of Marty shares the OVER (gain) versus UNDER (loss) philosophy developed on the way to making $30M in online sales.  Want to earn money online? Read the Tao of Marty and please share your Tao too.

Web sites are CONSTRUCTS. They are ideas we form. A site IS this or that, and it works this or that way. But there’s a problem. The web doesn’t understand “sites.” The web is a series of interlinked pages.

Google ranks PAGEs, not websites. Yes, typically your homepage has more

Your homepage usually has more PageRank than other pages, but not always. Some sites may have a page way out in the “long tail” with a higher rank than HOME.

“Website” is a construct we understand, create and use NOT Google and not the web. The web is a series of pages. Your pages cluster into a group we’ve decided to call a “website” is a convenient term FOR US. In our consulting practice, we’ve seen companies with more rank invested in their Facebook page than their site. Is that a mistake?

In this particular case, a B2B commerce site, we argued making Facebook richer felt like a lot of effort with less reward than taking that great team and putting them on an owned property – the company’s site. But there was a problem.

The site wasn’t easy to use and needed a re-design. Web sites have shelf-life of about three years give or take a year (depends on your business vertical and how fast your competitive space moves). This company’s site was a pain, so their team did what Facebook was.

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All Websites Cost $50,000

Our client didn’t want to spend the $50,000 on redesigning his site. We don’t and didn’t blame him. $50K for most SMBs is a Brink’s truck of cash. It would be different if anyone could guarantee ROI.

They can’t and anyone who does is trying to sell you something.

Spending $50K to make a million sounds good. The RUB is design is a TINY fraction of what makes a site great these days. Could you spend $50K and make LESS money than before your redesign? Yep.

Yes, you could lose money. Redesigns mean going through the trauma of re-launching a known and modeled property. “Trauma” is the right word. When you re-launch links break, forms go whacky, dogs and cats live together, and chaos can ensue.

We just re-launched Moon-Audio.com, and they are up 40%. Here is old Moon and then the new Moon.

Moon Audio old design

Moon Audio new design

Making a move to a new DESIGN, changing SERVERS and being up 40% is hard work requiring a fantastic team of coders, backend support and SEO help. Doesn’t hurt to have great clients who make magical audio cables known around the world either.

We didn’t have a chance to put in the “pre-move” stuff we like to do. We didn’t up PPC spend by 30%. We didn’t create contests and games to increase engagement and traffic. One day Moon’s design and location changed and we hung on for dear life.

Here is how we spent a month preparing and if you are about to re-launch you should too:

  • Keyword Research (DAYS of it)
  • Competitive research (mostly on keywords)
  • Combine product dump files to improve title meta
  • Changing description meta to be consistent with titles
  • Changing names to be keyword dense (but not spammy)
  • Developing an internal search algorithm and using “directed search” where possible

Are there more sophisticated tools that could make so much manual intervention easier? Yes but most are “enterprise” tools and cost too much. As is often true successful moves boil down to a team, a spreadsheet and DAYS and DAYS of transposing, checking and sharing.

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Avoid Snake Oil

Al websites cost $50,000. Web development is a PAY NOW or PAY LATER thing. Think you’ve snaked some deal. What’s that? You got your neighbor’s son to create your site for a couple of grand. Yeah, not so much.

As I reminded a talented friend yesterday, there are fewer than 10,000 people IN THE WORLD who can tune a website to make money (she was one of the 10,000).

The reason sites cost $50,000 is that is the market rate, the rate where you site will be seen, engaged and scale. Sure there are exceptions who prove the $50,000 rule.

Have $50,000? how should you spend it?

We recommend learning WordPress. We ranted about leaving WordPress and we may, but WTE.net didn’t want us so we doubled down.   Don’t get hung up in TOOLS. Get SOMETHING up and live. Live is when feedback loops start. Don’t buy the “must keep our ideas secret” urban myth.

Don’t buy the “must keep our ideas secret” urban myth.There are no secrets, so start building community as fast and as cheaply as possible. Once you see traction double down and begin to add spend as you scale. The tricky math is knowing how much gas you need to go how far and how fast.

If your “Minimal Viable Product” (MVP) is tearing up the world go all in. You may need OPM (Other People’s Money). Online fires can move from one match to a blazing inferno fast.  Nothing kills a new brand faster than slow load times, “site down” whales or other technical glitches.

Because all websites cost $50,000 DOES NOT MEAN you need to spend it all NOW or with one vendor. Do as much as you can yourself. When you are about to jump off the roof, find help.

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Different Than You Think

Why tdo competitors square off over nothing? We see competitors locked in a battle over searches with little or no value all the time. The head butting comes from someone’s perceptions of what SHOULD BE.

Those kinds of opinions online can cost MILLIONS. Why can’t I KNOW such an important truth? Why aren’t I more be like Phil and let someone who yells roll off like yesterday’s rain?

The wrong opinions online can cost MILLIONS.

Try to bring as few preconceived ideas to the web as possible. Be as UNBIASED as possible. Suspend judgment. If a HiPPO (Highest Paid Person in the Room) tells you, the world is flat smile, nod and say, “You may be right.”

Most web marketers, like the friend I mentioned earlier, work for owners or managers who don’t really know what we do. Heck there are days and weeks I’m not sure the fifteen years I’ve been in this crazy business mean anything at all.

The Web and Internet marketing is different than you think. We have that realization once a week. I started creating websites in 1999. The cool thing is SO WHAT (lol). No one is ever too far ahead when things change all the time.

When you receive an email or a call from one of those call centers promising to get your site ranked “on top of the search engines” beware. There are a few problems with such a statement.

There is no static #1 position in Google anymore. What you and I see even when we type the same search at the same time may be very different. We use tools to benchmark absolute SEO position, but the only way to KNOW what if any value search positions have is to use analytics to connect searches to traffic and traffic to conversions.

Promising what can’t be guaranteed is snake oil. “There are a 50 / 50 chances we are full of sheep dip,” I told a client few weeks ago. Bad advice and inattentive programming hurt this client. Despite the chart showing the loss of traffic, traffic that equaled about $500,000, the customer decided to stick with his inattentive .Net programmers.

NEVER DO THAT (lol).

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Tao of MONEY Online

Our client’s site is ON FIRE. He would rather sit in a burning house he “knows” than jump into a fire hose he doesn’t. Hey, we’ve all been there, but when the web tells you MOVE you need to do so expeditiously. ,

The web has a strange Vegas-like way of valuing and then devaluing everything you just learned or hold ear. It is impossible to “break” your website, but you can make small fires BIG ONES.

Do you want to fight fires Or call 911? Correct answer – Call 911. Do MORE of what works and LESS of what doesn’t faster, always faster and presto you know as much about digital marketing as anyone.

MORE is going through a sea change to BETTER. Too much MORE and the new SEO will punish your site as Google did the New York Times a few weeks ago. The Times, like many newspapers, dumps content without much thought to digital engagement, sharing or community. Google wasn’t wild about “unsupported content” and they didn’t care where it came from.

“We are going to DO SOMETHING even if it is the wrong thing,” I used to say to my team as a Director of E-commerce. They laughed and thought I was crazy. The web only has one time – NOW. And NOW happens over and over with increasing SPEED, so DO SOMETHING because costs of doing nothing are…well everything.

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Burn Your Website Down Stories
– Share Yours

Burn your website down is a familiar feeling. We’ve all wanted to burn our websites down. Sometimes our websites catch on fire too. If you’ve ever felt like it’s time to burn down your site or if your site decided to combust spontaneously thanks to Google rubbing two sticks together (or whatever) share your #burndownyourwebsite story:

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