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Old 08-25-2007   #1
soopermark
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How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

Hi,

I have been in business for 8 years now, my website had a high PR6 a couple years ago, is stable at 5 with good traffic. We have about 900 pages of content. We sell specialty products, and we give away information to anyone who comes to the site.

Over the years we have sold to nearly 80,000 individuals. Many of these people are web-savvy. We get tons of positive emails from super-satisfied customers who ordered our products, used our information, and it made them extremely happy. We pack and ship everything from our own warehouse, we do things right. Ship quick and offer a great product.

The thing is, lately there are so many copycat websites that give people the same information but they don't sell anything. They just sell Google ads that often lead to our site because we are one of very few actual sellers. Some of these guys are search engine pros, with their content and skill they are leapfrogging our natural search results.

We send out a monthly newsletter that's loaded with new information, and several thousand people read it religiously. People love our newsletter. How can I politely ask our dedicated customers to help us? I was thinking of asking people in our next newsletter to add our URL to their blogs, and go mention us in forums, link to us in any website, and go to sites like Epinions and type up a review of our site there. What do you suggest? What is the best way to get all of our satisfied customers work for us to improve our search positioning? Thanks for any advice!
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Old 08-25-2007   #2
cryptblade
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

Why don't you do a test campaign? If you send out your monthly newsletter, invite your subscribers to promote your site. Make a link for them to copy and paste; or give them a link to your Epinions page. Don't ask them to promote your site in forums or blogs - you don't get quality control with that and could end up getting you into trouble.

But you could start a test campaign and see if it helps.
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Old 08-25-2007   #3
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

>They just sell Google ads that often lead to our site

Essentially, you are giving them the incentive to compete with you for rankings when you buy these ads. If the “very few actual sellers” you mention could get together and stop buying content-partner network ads, this might be a disincentive for the MFA (made-for-AdWords) sites.

>Some of these guys are search engine pros

Right. There are some really good SEOs that spend 100% of their time running MFA sites. There’s big money in taking your traffic, and then selling it back to you. Depending on your industry, you might have to hire a pro yourself.

>thinking of asking people in our next newsletter to add our URL to their blogs, and go mention us in forums, link to us in any website, and go to sites like Epinions and type up a review of our site there.

Sounds right to me.
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Old 08-25-2007   #4
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

Hi,

Thanks for your responses. MFA, interesting acronym. Yes those are affecting my rankings. Far more in the last year than in previous years. I wonder if Google and other ad sellers like it that way because they get a lot of the revenue. Too bad for that.

There is no way I can contact the few rivals and ask them to stop buying ads. Long story but we are not on good terms with the few others mucking around in our line of business. Basically there were only 2 companies doing it right. I bought the other one a few years ago, after we became friends, so now there's one serious player, my company, operating our own deal in our own warehouse. A few fakers are out there too, shipping products, and what seems like an endless group of these MFAs with no tape guns of their own.

As for having no control over the content of the reviews, I am very confident that anyone who has ordered from us (literally 100% of our customers, hard to believe but true, and many are fanatic about our service and products) will give us a good review. And many will be happy to do it. I just need to find the right direction to turn them to. I don't think the web-savvy people need instructions on how to cut and paste a link, if I ask them to link from their site to ours. They'll know how to do it. I just wonder what language might be appropriate. I really need to beg them somehow using effective yet inspirational (?) wording so they get the point and go do it.

As for Epinions, is that the only site that has customer reviews? Are there others? Is bizrate good for SEO? If you could ask 50,000 people who knew your company based on a successful history of transactions, where would you tell them to go?

All ideas most appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 08-25-2007   #5
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

Assuming the MFAs are beginning to beat you out in the organics you should consider running adwords ads. Depending on your industry you might get your ad promoted to top (above the organics) thus grabbing traffic before the MFAs. Remember, it's very, very difficult for MFAs to justify a full paid ad campaign, so you have a chance to kill *their* traffic. Sure, it will cost you. But you have a product, so put in conversion tracking, know your ROI, and then run the ads like crazy. It will drive the MFAs mad.
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Old 08-25-2007   #6
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

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Originally Posted by soopermark View Post
As for having no control...(literally 100% of our customers, hard to believe but true, and many are fanatic about our service and products)
Quality control would be a BIG issue for you then in this case. You are talking in terms of SEO correct? Fanatic customers can end up making your site look spammy to the engines if your fans don't know what they are doing in terms of linking.

Quote:
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I just wonder what language might be appropriate. I really need to beg them somehow using effective yet inspirational (?) wording so they get the point and go do it.
Create some test copies. Try and test each copy. See which ones do well. There's no 1 way to ask. Unless you REALLY have no confidence in your writing skills, you probably won't make a mistake if your customers are as satisfied as you say they are. So, no harm in asking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by soopermark View Post
As for Epinions, is that the only site that has customer reviews? Are there others? Is bizrate good for SEO?
These sites have nothing to do with SEO. SEO is one thing. Bizrate/Epinions are totally, completely different. Don't even mix the two.
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Old 08-26-2007   #7
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

>There is no way I can contact the few rivals and ask them to stop buying ads

Not to stop buying ads, just to stop using content partners. These content partner ads usually produce low ROI, higher click fraud, low conversions, etc. I would say most pro AdWords managers don’t use them anyway.

>you probably won't make a mistake if your customers are as satisfied as you say they are

That sounds exactly right. If your clients are so happy and web-savvy, why not give them an idea of the problem you face?

>SEO is one thing. Bizrate/Epinions are totally, completely different. Don't even mix the two.

Yes, for SEO purposes it will be better to go for links in the first round of begging, and follow up later with requests for Bizrate/Epinions and the like.
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Old 08-26-2007   #8
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

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Quality control would be a BIG issue for you then in this case. You are talking in terms of SEO correct? Fanatic customers can end up making your site look spammy to the engines if your fans don't know what they are doing in terms of linking.
Hi,

Thanks a lot for the thoughtful and useful response. I was not aware that well-intentioned customers can cause a site to lose search engine placement. But I do not doubt it either. Would you please let me know of a "worst case scenario" that could cause that to happen? I am not sure what some customers could do wrong, or should I say I am not sure how that could happen.

Thanks again.
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Old 08-26-2007   #9
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

> "worst case scenario" that could cause that to happen?

There are things that could look like a bad pattern. For example, if a large number of links show up suddenly, this could have a bad effect. Not enough variation in the anchors can also be a problem. And you don’t want people putting your link alongside of paid links they might have, or, giving you links from lots of pages on their site.

There are others too but I think these are the main things. You can control or influence this by how you send and word your requests. A script could control the number or percentage of newsletters in each mailing that will contain your request. You could also use a script to vary the requests - particularly as to the anchors that you ask for.
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Old 09-03-2007   #10
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Smile Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

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Originally Posted by soopermark View Post
Hi,
How can I politely ask our dedicated customers to help us? I was thinking of asking people in our next newsletter to add our URL to their blogs, and go mention us in forums, link to us in any website, and go to sites like Epinions and type up a review of our site there. What do you suggest? What is the best way to get all of our satisfied customers work for us to improve our search positioning? Thanks for any advice!
You might consider a "linkbait testimonial contest"! Have a contest where your clients send in testimonials and you pick the best of the best to post on a special page. Maybe include their photo, information and a link to there business or offer a free gift certificate for the winners. Just an idea that I have see work for other sites, best of luck to you!
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Old 09-03-2007   #11
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Re: How to ask tens of thousands of customers for help

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Not to stop buying ads, just to stop using content partners. These content partner ads usually produce low ROI, higher click fraud, low conversions, etc. I would say most pro AdWords managers don’t use them anyway.
The best advice I have seen so far in this thread.
I just wish everyone would realize this, there would be no MFA sites and professional SEMs could actually use the content network profitably again.
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