The FTC Ruling for Blogger Disclosures and Testimonials

Okay, before we get started on the latest FTC ruling for blogger disclosures and testimonials, I must offer my own disclosure here.  In no way am I a lawyer or advisor of law.  I’m just an online content writer that has been through the ever-evolving Wild West of Internet marketing for years. 

Did you know that five years of Internet Marketing is actually like 25 years in the real world?  Things just change so much within this form of technology that if you are serious about any sort of business opportunity, you have to know how to advertise online.  If you think that the rules will remain static, you’re dreaming. 

 The New FTC Ruling is Here to Help You

We’ve only started to harness this superhighway of information.  The recent federal trade commissionFTC ruling is here to set boundaries.  If you are a white hat marketer (heck, even a grey hat marketer), don’t worry because they’re on your side. 

You probably aren’t going to end up breaking any major laws, at least not when it comes to the guidance for online advertising that the Federal Trade Commission released on October 5, 2009.  If you want to make absolutely sure, you might just want to go straight to the source and look over this 80-page document yourself.

 Crackdown on Fake Blogs, Testimonials, and Reviews

Have you ever read one of those blogs that you can just tell is a fake personality made up to sell you the latest weight-loss product or health food supplement?  They are claiming that they lost over 900 pounds by sipping on some special concoction that tastes like the butt of a bear.

Well, now these bloggers need to offer a disclosure at the end stating that they are receiving a free product from the company selling it. 

The same goes for reviews.  This should come as no surprise because The Big G already took matters into their own hands a couple months ago and started shutting down false review sites created by the vendor of their own products or services.  Seems fair to me.

If you have a stellar testimonial on your product, you must follow it up with one of those disclosures like, “Results not typical…”

If you are an Internet Marketer, just keep your nose clean.  Provide information with value in your blogs, article directories, and other social media.  Then, you should have no problem gaining the trust of your prospects, the customer, or the FTC for that matter!

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What’s all the Buzz about the New FTC Bill?

What does the Recent FTC Ruling Mean for Internet Marketing?

 On October 5, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission came down with a new FTC bill concerning blogging, testimonials, and commissions.  If you actually take a moment to look at the 80-page document, you will discover that it really isn’t as scary as it seems. 

 Save the Drama for the FTC

I have to wonder if some Internet Marketers don’t thrive on this type of drama to sell their next big thing, drive more traffic to their website, or simply scare the competition into giving up.  I have a friend that I hadn’t heard from in months, but as soon as he found out about the social media “crisis”, he was on the Internet bringing it to my attention. 

 The problem is that no one is really taking the time to figure out what this exactly means for people who conduct business online.  They’d rather listen to the latest reason why SEO is dead. 

 The Future of Promotional Work Online

If you think that the Internet was created to be the next “free” superhighway of information and all this sales propaganda is unorthodox, I’m here to tell internet marketingyou that this nice yet unrealistic viewpoint died in the early ’90s when MCI decided to market their new phone service online. 

 What a wave of genius!  Who would have thought that this would be a means of advertisement?  I could never guess from the other forms of media that reigned popular like the newspaper and television…

 The FTC Tries to Set Boundaries in the Wild West of Internet Marketing

It’s no secret that the FTC has been down on MLM marketing for years.  You can find pages of articles about this all over their website, claiming MLM statistics to be misleading and that only 1% of the market actually makes more money, while the rest of the poor souls make something in the area of $16 a month in sales in their effort to feed the “pyramid”.

 The problem with MLM marketing and the FTC is the very grey area of grouping affiliate marketing and legitimate MLM into the “pyramid-scheme” stereotype.  The new FTC ruling is an effort to set some boundaries on these sales techniques.

 In our next few blogs, we will discuss why this recent FTC ruling actually works to the advantage of white hat Internet Marketers.

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Tips to Get Better Rankings in Local Search Engines

Local search engine optimization is quickly becoming standard for local brick and mortar businesses that want to be found online.  As we’ve discussed before, a rapid decline in direct mail marketing and advertising through mediums like the Yellow Pages are becoming obsolete.  Most consumers just turn on their computer to get a phone number or map to a location.

The problem–or maybe the advantage, depending on how you look at it–is that only about half of local business owners actually even own a website for their business.  What does this mean for you?  Well, if you get your head in the game, you will be noticed first.

Want to make sure you get listed in local search results?  You should.  Local search engines are the fastest growing verticals on the Internet.  Customers recognize the value of local search listings.  Fortunately for you, not all business owners do (yet).

Tip #1 Use Geo-Targeted Keywords

This means geographically targeting your keywords.  You may even want to try something that would come up in a regional search.  Let’s say that you own a dog-grooming store in Malibu.  Here are some examples of geographically targeted keywords that you might use.

· Dog Grooming Malibu
· Los Angeles Dog Grooming
· LA Dog Grooming
· Southern California Dog Grooming
· Dog Grooming in West LA

You get the idea.

Tip #2 Make Your Website Geographically FriendlyLocal search engines

While you may not pick up the search volume that a global search does, you will be more likely to convert a lead or sale to the people that do reach your site when you follow this advice:

· List your full address and telephone number with the area code.
· Include driving directions to your location with a service like Google Maps.
· Include pictures of your location.
· Make sure your site appears in any type of local or regional directory online.
· When you want to rank for certain locations, list it in your page titles.
· Try the Google Local Business Center and add in your keyphrases there.

Tip #3 Local Search and Mobile Rankings

One great thing about local listings is that they are often picked up by mobile searches for devices like the iPhone and Blackberry.  What better way for a retailer to get consumers that are ready to buy now with their phone in their hand and on the road to your store?

Following some of these simple strategies could put you on the first page of local searches in no time.  If you really want to optimize your business, it wouldn’t hurt to see a consultant and discuss deeper linking strategies.  This will save you time (and it’s still cheaper than advertising in the Yellow Pages…) A blended strategy that includes local search engine optimization, blogging, article content, and video or audio could make sales skyrocket.

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How Does Universal Search Affect Internet Marketing?

In 2007, all the SEO marketers wanted to know what universal search meant for them.   Could this be the death of SEO for Internet Marketers?  What will this do for organically written articles?  Will you have to rank in the top three rather than the top ten in order to make room for the other forms of media that will be listed on the front page?Universal Search

Almost three years later, universal search is a boon for those that are Internet savvy.  We have learned how to expand our business from a global search to a local search.  Videos and podcasts became a way of life for the average computer user and anyone that was serious about getting their message across. 

What is Universal Search?

You may be wondering what universal search is.  Universal search entails a blended form of performing a search.  When you begin a search, you no longer pull up straight text like in the days past.  You may find results that list images, press releases, videos, local businesses, maps, blogs, audio, and articles all included on the first page of your search.

SEO is Dead…  Or is It?

Along with every change that occurs, you will always find the doomsayers.  Universal search was supposed to be the death of SEO techniques.  However, others might argue that this just gave knowledgeable marketers some extra tools to be noticed. 

The fact is that the Internet will continually evolve with or without you.  Instead of fighting changes, there will always be a way to adapt with the times.  Furthermore, people will always be on the Internet looking for more information from people willing to offer information with value rather than a hard sell.

Some may say that universal search has made things infinitely more difficult.  Those of us that are ready to develop a new range of content, see this as an opportunity to get our message across on several platforms.

SEO that Evolves with the Times

When we utilize all the types of content out there including articles, video, podcasts, press releases, and images, we open the door to a range of mediums that appeal to a larger market.  After all, not everyone’s preferred style of learning is through linguistics.  It is obvious in today’s global community, that visual and auditory play just as large a role in gaining knowledge.

It is essential that we build a consistent message across all of these platforms in order to achieve the maximum amount of benefits available.  Optimize your content using universal search marketing strategies for your product, service, or information to be noticed first.

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Local Internet Marketing: Get Real Results

Let’s face it; no one uses the phone book anymore.  This is probably why so many local businesses are starting to turn towards local internet marketing.  At the same time, statistics are popping up on Internet forums and blogs suggesting that most local business owners don’t even own a website!

After taking a look at the amount of people looking for “local internet marketing” strategies online, I can see that anyone ready to jump on this still Local Internet Marketinghas fairly low competition.  Nielson actually conducted a survey suggesting that only 56% of small business owners own a website, while over 82% of consumers go online to find their local businesses.

Bridging the Gap between the Internet and the Consumer

Without a doubt, these statistics prove that any local business ready to get online should be able to have the lion’s share of their market on a local level.  Local internet marketing puts you on the map.  Seriously, in most cases, it’s as simple as just listing your business with Google Maps. 

Local marketing works even better when you pair it with Internet Marketing strategies such as blogging, article directories, videos, press releases, and website optimization. 

What does Local Internet Marketing Mean to a Small Business?

The steps you can take to do this on your own may seem easy.  If you haven’t done it before you probably want to look into outsourcing some of it. The reason is as simple as the old adage, “Time is money.” 

Your expertise combined with the expertise of an SEO consultant should put you way above any of your local competition.  In addition, the cost of Internet Marketing is pennies compared to the amount of money people spend on direct marketing campaigns.  Plus, you actually see results when you go online…

In our next few blog posts, we will address the different methods to use to get your business listed in local search engines along with combining a blended Internet marketing strategy of global and local Internet marketing with content that is useful and informative.

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Internet Marketing: Today and Tomorrow

Advertising’s Turnover to the Internet

Internet marketing has become a necessity for most businesses.  Print advertising companies are feeling the pinch. Marketing material is changing from direct mail and collateral to online marketing campaigns. Collateral will always be a requirement but not in the magnitude that it once was. The Content Based SEOworld of advertising has seen a major turnover and there appears to be no stopping internet marketing.

Savvy Businesses Get New Clients Online

Savvy businesses, that are willing to use new techniques, are benefiting from online articles, press releases, web 2.0 pages and email campaigns. They have whole departments dedicated to search engine optimization or they hire firms skilled in getting them the website traffic needed to succeed.  Benefits are realized and online leads are converted to prospects and clients.

Web 3.0: Insight to our Personalized Internet

Get ready world, because this is just the beginning. The internet isn’t going anywhere and new search engines are popping up with improved ways of searching. Not only are Web 2.0 pages used but Web 3.0 is on its way to breaking through with localized searches and intuitive ways of knowing what people want and how they want it. Data is linked for more insight into what searches produce.

Businesses Bottom Line Impact

Businesses  that want to succeed in the technology driven world of today and tomorrow will continue using the newest internet marketing  plans. The driving force is significant bottom line impact. After all, the bottom line drives all industries.

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Organic Listings or Pay Per Click

Google Searches Offer Two Choices

The internet is used for finding just about everything. When you search in Google you typically have two columns of choices to click. On the left hand side is the organic listings and the right side is the sponsored listings. The type of internet marketing a website uses determines where their website is listed.

Organic Listings

The left hand side has a list of websites that fit the criteria of your entered Online marketingsearch words. The position of each site is determined by their organic ranking. “Organic listings” is a term used to describe a search that returns results by indexing pages based on content and keyword relevancy. Listings here can be more relevant to your chosen topic and you have a larger variety of choices.

Sponsored Links or Pay per Click

The right side is reserved for the sponsored links or pay per click (PPC) sites. These websites have paid Google to list their website. They have chosen specific keywords that when searched makes their website pop up. This is basically determined by who paid the most money. They are simply paid advertisements. When a keyword search matches an advertiser’s keyword list their ad appears. Each time you click one of the sites the website owner pays Google.

Quality Content

Whether you choose the organic listings or sponsored links your website query will more than likely result in information than can help you. But remember the organic listing ranking is more likely to result from quality content appropriate to your topic.

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