Creating original content is the name of the game today. It is the key to increasing traffic to your website and to increase Google keyword ranking. The best foundational way to build your platform, grow an audience, and organically market and grow your business and exposure on the internet is through creating written content. And the most efficient way to do that is to use podcasting or videocasting as a tool, then convert it into written content. Sam Natello of DotCom Global Media has been around since the beginning of the internet, and he deals with all different aspects of doing business online. He shares producing great content is the absolute number one thing that Google looks for. Learn how to make new, fresh, original content that’s relevant to your industry from someone who’s seen it all, been there, and done that.
We have been talking on past episodes and we talk all the time to our clients about how creating original content is really the key to increasing site traffic to your website and to increase Google keyword ranking, which really is the name of the game today. It is really all about Google, whether you like them or not or want it to be. Really, you can try and game the system all you want, but the best foundational way to build your platform, grow an audience, and inherently or I would say organically market and grow your business and exposure on the internet is through creating written content. We, as you know, happen to believe that the most efficient way to do that is to use podcasting as a tool, or videocasting, and record that content and then have it converted into written content.
We were talking lately and we realized that we know it, we believe it, we’re saying it, we’re telling you and our customers that and doing it for them every day. But maybe our audience would like to hear from another party, from somebody independent who is an expert in the field and hear their opinion on the same subjects.
I’m going to share with you an interview that I just did with Sam Natello of DotCom Global Media. Sam started it back in 1995 in what is clearly the infancy of the internet, the very beginning. I remember in 1995, that’s when my first child was born who is now 22. It’s more than 22 years ago. I was in business independently for myself at that time and email was barely being used. The internet really wasn’t a mainstream tool. I remember being in business, I had a fax machine and that was what puts you on the map. It seems very funny today because faxes are used mostly by doctors’ offices and law firms these days, and the rest of us scan and email everything. The point is Sam has been around since the beginning of the internet in business and he’s seen it all, been there and done that. I think he’s a really good person to talk to about this.
Sam’s agency is a web design agency. It is also a digital marketing agency. He really deals with all different aspects of doing business online; not only designs the front of the website but builds the back-end of websites, all the functional aspects that need to be dealt with. I think he’s a really good person to talk to. I’m really excited to share with you this interview with Sam Natello.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Realities of Website SEO Today with Sam
Natello of DotCom
Sam, thank you so much for joining me today on Feed Your Brand. It’s great to have you on.
Nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
I’ve been wanting to have this interview for a long time because you are what I regard as an absolute expert in websites and digital marketing today. We often talk about to our audience what we believe are the best practices and the best ways to be using podcasting as a tool to market and grow your business. I’m sure our audience trusts us and believes us, and I’m sure they do research and find out themselves. But it’s nice to have another expert on the show that we can ask some questions of and either confirm or debate what the best practices are. Can you start by just briefly telling our audience just a little bit about DotCom and how long you’ve been around?
I started the company way back in 1995. I’m an old-timer in this industry. We really turned into an agency 1999. I started bringing a number of employees on board. We’re now twenty core people strong. A number of part-timers and outsourcers, of course, will round out that team, but there’s twenty of us core members. We do everything from website design to social media marketing to all forms of digital online marketing. Then there’s a very heavy back-end smart systems component that’s not very sexy to talk about but it’s actually, to me, a strength that we have that isn’t common in the industry. We’ve worked with Nike, Disney and the Yankees, and a very long list of companies like that. A lot of that work had its foundation in these back-end systems. Those systems tie into digital marketing and all kinds of different things. It’s very circular, it all works together.
Do you only work for those big companies like Disney or are you working for smaller businesses as well?
We moved over to the small business space. Some of it, honestly, was forced on us. The industry has changed. Disney, Nike and all those guys, they don’t outsource much of their work anymore. They don’t look for outside agencies to do very much, so we were forced to begin to make some changes. I, myself, am an entrepreneur. I’m a small business owner, again, I have twenty employees. I have a real heart for those folks because I understand that there are times when you can’t sleep at night because you’re not sure you’re meeting payroll on Friday. Or hopefully down the road, now you’re more successful and maybe you’ve moved into the nice house and you’ve been rewarded for your hard work, and now you’re looking at retirement. Spending time with your kids and grandkids and wife or husband, or whatever that may be, in retirement, play a little more golf. I understand what makes these folks tick and I have such a heart for it because that’s where my wife and I and our team is. We’re those people.
We’re those people too. We have been in business for a long time as well in different forms. We haven’t had one company since ’95, but I started in business in ’93 or ’94. At that time, having a fax machine puts you on the map as a small business owner, do you remember that? It was like, “Fax? What is that?”
I do, and a flat-bed scanner, that was the coolest thing ever.
You started your company definitely in what I think people refer to today as Internet 1.0. Whether we’re Internet 2.0 or beyond now, I don’t even know, it certainly has come a long way. I would like to ask you about one of the most over-used terms and maybe most misunderstood terms, and that is SEO. Is SEO today what it was then? Can you help shed a little light on the state of SEO today?
SEO most certainly is not in the same place, thank goodness, that it was. To be clear, I hear the word SEO, we talk about SEO, clients bring up that term, and sometimes you’re using a term and we think we’re talking about the same thing. Frankly, we’re not at times. It’s like Coke. Some people use the word Coke and they mean Coca Cola. Some people say Coke and they mean any cola; Pepsi would be fine, RC Cola, that kind of thing. Some people say Coke and they mean a totally different thing. That’s not really where I was heading but that could happen. SEO is very much like that. In my world, old school traditional SEO is dead. What the people would use it for, these agencies from India, you get those calls all the time, “We can help you with your SEO,” they’re really referring to the old school SEO and that is dead.
New SEO, we’re talking about SEO as it relates to doing the things that Google is telling you they want you to do in a way that Google’s telling you to do it for the benefit of ranking better, I believe in SEO tremendously. I want to do what Google is telling us they want us to do. Of course, I do. When we talk about SEO, it’s really compliance with Google’s wishes. That’s what I mean by SEO. Now the old school SEO about creating a whole bunch of backlinks and keyword stuffing and all these things that your audience may know a little bit about, on page stuff, there’s still a little role for that, don’t get me wrong, but that is dead really.
What is the primary thing that Google is looking for on a website in determining where it should rank? Is there one major thing or are there a couple of major things?
If you had to pin me down and say what is the one thing, I would say that there isn’t a one thing. Let’s start with the major thing and then we’ll look at the rest of it. The one major thing is new, fresh, original content, relevant content, of course, to your industry. It’s very simple. If you are producing great content, then now we have to define a little bit about what does great content look like and that sort of thing and how does Google see what great content is compared to what you and I might think it is. We could certainly dive into that, but if you’re producing great content, that is the absolute number one thing that Google’s looking for. That being said, we have identified 216 individual criteria that Google is clearly looking for. It’s not 216 equally important ones, content is by far the most important, but there’s a lot of little things that relate to that that go into it. It is not just one thing.
If you are engaged in a strategy of producing original content on a consistent regular basis, you are going in the right direction.
You just hit a second one right there because it’s great content and then you said consistent. That actually is the second most important criteria. Great content and you do it consistently, you’re way out ahead of the game.
That’s what we always tell the people that work with us at Brandcasters on their podcasts is that they say, “How many should I do a week or a month?” There’s definitely some debate to have about that if you’re trying to rank on the top of iTunes. You want to be producing as many episodes a week as you can and doing that consistently. That’s in iTunes world but in the web world, we tell them whatever it is that you decide to do, one, two, three episodes a week, because we use those to create content. Obviously, that’s our content strategy is we podcast our way to that content, is the consistency. We do tell people that all the time that Google recognizes if you’re doing this on a regular basis. They’d see that as being current. You’re continuing to put out new stuff. It’s not you have a bunch of stuff that’s been there for a long time and then you’re not putting any new out. The content probably still ranks but it’s different.
It is very different. I always like to make sure that folks understand. If you understand what Google’s motivations are, then it’s a lot easier to meet their needs because you now know why they are doing the things they are doing or why they want the things they want. Google is in business because they are excellent at what they do. I conduct a search, Google just has a knack of giving me great search results. Because I have a positive experience with them every time I use them, I will continue to go back to them over and over when I have searches.
If they stop giving me great relevant searches, and some other search engine starts being more relevant, then I’m going to stop using Google so much and their ad revenue goes way down. Their whole business model is to give great search results. In order for them to do that, one of the things that they’ve decided is that they trust a company that is continually producing new and unique information. They don’t know about your business and industry. Google’s a computer. It has to make certain assumptions that if you are constantly putting out new stuff, that it’s probably new relevant stuff and they’re going to have more faith and confidence in that than something that was put out two, three, four years ago.
I probably should have asked this upfront but really it is all about Google, isn’t it? There may be some other search engines out there. Isn’t the lion’s share of searches going through Google?
It is and then of course the second largest search engine in the world is YouTube, which is also owned by Google. Every other search engine that’s out there bases their model on the Google model. I’m using Google, and of course I do mean Google specifically, but I’m also using Google to represent the larger group of search engines that are all trying to out-Google Google.
To use your example, that would be, there’s Google, which is Coke, and then there are these other Googles, which are Pepsi and RC Cola and whatever else those other competitors might be. They all are still trying to produce basically a cola tasting product.
There’s a convergence. The Google guys are very, very smart. The Yahoo guys are very, very smart. They’re all very, very smart people and they’ve all come to roughly the same conclusion. What Google has seen is important, they all have seen as important. Their specific formula maybe slightly different, but they’re slight.
One of the things we experienced earlier this year with our own websites and also websites for the companies that we produce podcast and content for, right around March or April, all of a sudden we saw a boost in the ranking of those sites. We understood people referred to it as a Google slap or I think it’s maybe an algorithm change they did or something. Are you familiar with that? Can you shed a little light on that? What did you experience?
I think the people that call it a Google slap are clearly on the wrong side of that issue because we didn’t call it a Google slap around here. We saw it as a little bit of Google boost as well. Basically, Google is constantly revising their algorithm. They’re always trying to do things better. They’re trying to get better and better search results. They’re not out there to penalize a company. They’re not out there to slap somebody down. They’re out there to reward the folks that are doing a good job. That is their goal. If any company that’s looking for a shortcut, they’re looking to try to trick Google, I know there’s an awful lot of web companies and SEO companies out there that have their little tricks. Just like in the real world, there are times where cheaters prosper.
There are times when you can pull a fast one over someone and you actually can be successful in the short run. It’s not a strategy for long-term success but you might win the day. That’s what we’re finding, is that Google’s constantly adjusting their algorithms to get those guys that are playing tricks to not be successful, and to reward the companies that are doing a good job. Again, what does do a good job mean? Creating great content consistently, that’s what it means. If you’re doing that, you’re going to be rewarded. That’s what happened with that so-called Google slap, is that they caught a lot of the cheaters and the folks that have been doing a good job were rewarded.
You might be able to gain the system for a short period of time. It’s like if you’re going to be in stocks for your long-term retirement, you don’t get in and out of the market. If you stay creating content, that’s the long game strategy. I also sometimes talk about it as the foundation. There may be other ways you can market and pour more money on it and things like that, but if you don’t have that foundation of new content then you’re not going to win in this. Is that right?
It’s absolutely right. As a business owner, again we’ll get back to the audience about what their motivations are and what’s good for them, I’m assuming we’re talking to primarily small to mid-sized businesses and entrepreneurs. Again, you can play a game or your web design company or your SEO Company can play a game, and you don’t always know that the game has been played. All of a sudden your traffic’s going up and you’re having some success. You, as a business owner, are making business plans, you’re making hiring decisions and you’re making inventory decisions. You’re doing all kinds where you have money capital outlay and all kinds of things based on how your business is doing. Part of that might be hopefully what’s happening on Google and you’re making online sales or whatever that is. Then all of a sudden, Google slaps you down because they were playing a game, and you can be in a really rough spot. Businesses appreciate significant growth but predictable, steady, legitimate, honest growth so that I can count on it moving forward. That’s very important. Podcasting and all this content creation is the foundation for all of that.
I want to ask you about social media to an extent because I know a lot of our customers and the people that we work with do actually value creating the content and building a podcast audience because people hear you in their ears and they end up developing a different kind of relationship with you, even if it’s a one-way relationship. That’s meaningful and powerful in and of itself. Podcast is a wonderful thing. They all ask questions about social media, “How should I be engaging on social media platforms?” You’re a digital marketing agency so you’re marketing different businesses. What could you show us about the best practices for engaging in social media as a small business?
B2B businesses will use social media considerably differently than maybe a B2C would. We do have to recognize that there are significant differences depending on what type of business you are and who your audience is. Then of course, within that, there are different categories and different expectations. If I’m in the fashion industry then folks that follow fashion companies expect one thing. If I’m a tech company, my audience expects totally different things. We have to meet audience expectations. We have to understand how to engage.
There are so many things but the starting point is content strategy, which leads into your social media strategy. You have to have a real understanding of what your goal is. I know that sounds silly, but a lot of folks that I talk to, a lot of business owners, they have a very nebulous goal of something like, “I know I need to do social media, I need to be on social media.” Being on social media in and of itself is not a goal. That’s a means to achieve a goal, but in itself it is not a goal. You have to be really clear on what your goal is so that you can measure your progress and see if the tactics that you’re choosing are actually helping you achieve that goal. These are important things. That goal needs to be encompassed with your overall content strategy. How are the podcasts that you’re producing and the blog articles that come from that relate to the social post? How does the social post help promote and enhance those things? It’s really very circular. If everything you’re doing doesn’t support and enhance all the other things that you’re doing, then you probably have quite a bit of wasted motion. You’re not working very efficiently. That leads to wasted money, wasted effort, lost opportunities. It’s very, very important. Content strategy is everything.
Just to make this perfectly clear to our audience, we’re talking about written content on your website. I’m not going to get into the weeds right now of what makes a good post because we’re talking a little bigger picture than that. We’re talking about a written piece of content, has some images associated with it especially a main image. We’re talking about sharing that on social media, putting it either on Facebook or LinkedIn and linking back to your website is one of the goals, right?
It absolutely is one of the goals, yes.
Engaging on social media is really not going to be very productive for a business if you don’t have content to share and to draw an audience from social media, to come off that social media platform, and engage one your own website. Is that right?
It is absolutely probably the most important way to use social media in today’s day and age. Some of that has to do with the way Google is counting backlinks and traffic. There’s what we call a user flow. I don’t want to get too technical, but social media has a very big role in the way Google is evaluating, how others are using your content. There’s actually an SEO component to social media. Now social media in a pure sense is all about relationships and relationship building. If that is your focus and that’s why you’re “doing social media,” there’s a totally different approach to do social media and it’s awesome, it’s great, it’s powerful, and it probably should have a place in a lot of businesses. That’s not really what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about social media is used to support the content that you’ve been creating. By the way, great content is a great relationship builder too. You’re not hurting yourself by having something interesting to say and relevant to say, and all those things. Those are points of connection also so you’re never going to go wrong having great content and chopping it up and putting it on social media.
I do want to have a conversation at some point about other roles social media can play in a business, but I think it’s a subject for a future podcast, like maybe using it for lead generation for your business, things like that. We could go down that rabbit hole for quite a while and I don’t want to do too much in one episode. One additional thing I really do want to cover because I think there are a lot of listeners that have very well established websites. There are a lot of listeners that may be contemplating, “Should we start a new website for this particular marketing effort or off-shoot of our business. I have this podcast. The brand isn’t the same as my business brand but it’s related. Should I start a new website?”
Certainly, DotCom is a great place to go to build a website if you need to build one or need to have someone build it for you. I have a question to help people understand if they were to go and create their own WordPress website, let’s say they’ve got a domain name at GoDaddy, and GoDaddy has this service where you can start a WordPress site and they have a more managed one. Then they have one where you really are building a whole WordPress site yourself and you can do it yourself. My question to you is if someone builds a website themselves, is there a certain level of baseline configuration? How can people know when they’re creating their own website that it’s really healthy from a technical perspective? Is there a whole lot more beyond just choosing a WordPress theme and creating that site that people may not know that they’re swimming out in the middle of the Pacific and they don’t have a real life boat? I get concerned. Is it really easy today?
It’s quite a bit easier, there’s no question about it. Someone who’s a fairly adept computer user can go on and use these GoDaddy tools or a number of other companies, Wix and those sorts of things, and you can make your own website. Because it’s easier, I think we’re in dangerous territory these days. I think a lot of businesses and business owners think because they can do it, they should do it. I don’t know that as true because I know that I can make my own hang glider, but I don’t know that I should because it may not do everything I think it needs to do and that would be dangerous. For a business, whether you are an established business or a new business, I hear new businesses, “I just want a simple basic WordPress website and my cousin can do it,” but they don’t know what they don’t know. You can’t afford to have a poorly performing website if you’re in that case.
There’s so much theory and data out there about how many navigation options you should use and why and user-attention. We live in a time now you can’t get anybody’s attention. If I walk down the sidewalk in town with my shorts at the ankles, I’m not sure that more than 25% of the people would even notice that I do. Our faces are in cell phones and we’re listening and we’ve got ear buds in. It’s crazy how many things we’re doing at the same time so nobody’s paying attention. You don’t have your audience’s attention, you have to earn their attention. When folks come to your website, if they can’t figure out exactly who you are and exactly what you do, and you didn’t find a way to capture their attention, they’re gone. They’re not going to hang around. If four of the business owners that have marketing backgrounds and advertising backgrounds and they understand layout and design and those things, by all means take a shot maybe. If you don’t have that kind of background, you’re not going to hold people’s attention and your site’s not going to be effective. Forget the technical stuff because WordPress, you can add all these plugins. Then before you know it, something doesn’t work right.
I’m not trying to cry like the sky is falling, but it’s my heart for business owners. I’ve just seen it. My normal client that comes in, and I don’t want to talk about DotCom too much, but I’ve been doing this for twenty however many years. Most of the clients that come to us use the WordPress site or used the basic website, and for years they haven’t made any money and they’ve struggled and they can’t figure it out. As a result, their kid is not going to the college they wanted to go to because they can’t afford it. There are real problems that happen with this. Finally, when you make a decision to do it the right way, usually you’re glad that you did.
I’ve heard horror stories from other people I meet in business where they thought everything was fine with their website and they didn’t realize something wasn’t set properly and it was penalizing them in terms of Google and how Google was ranking them. I’m the type of person that really believes in spending money to save time rather than spending time trying to save money, like you said, having your nephew make your site or something or even doing it yourself. I’m an expert in certain areas but not there, so I would prefer to hire that out and have an expert really tell me if my website is in good shape or not. How often should your website be checked to make sure some of those baseline fundamental things are configured properly or something hasn’t happened without your knowledge?
I think there are two levels of checks. I think there are the fundamental checks. There are things called your domain authority, your Google trust flow. There are a number of terms that your audience may not be familiar with, but these are real things and these are numbers and there are tools. There are actually some free tools online that can help you get to some of these numbers. My opinion is that you should check your numbers quarterly absolutely. I’m in this industry so of course I’m sure my dentist would tell me that I have to floss every day. He’s the dentist and it’s just how it is. You do need to check those numbers at least annually. Those are the big numbers.
There are other indicator numbers though that I think you should check at least on a weekly basis, which is just what’s your traffic coming to your website? Are you paying attention to your traffic analytics? How many people are coming? How much time are they spending on the site? How many pages per visit are there? These are really easy numbers to get through to your traffic analytics. The cool thing about this is number one, you should know how people are using the site. Number two, after you’ve seen these numbers just a few times, you can literally glance at this in about ten seconds and just see, “Are my numbers this week more or less what they were last week? How are they compared to the week before?” Unless you see some big spike or some big dip, you could pretty much assume that everything’s probably on track, everything’s fine. Many, many times when we see a really big problem, there was evidence of that problem weeks and weeks before that in the traffic, and nobody noticed it because nobody was paying attention to the traffic. The traffic is a quick easy one to pay attention to. It can really keep you out of some hot water.
Does your company ever do any trainings? You have cut clients so maybe you’re not doing trainings for people to learn how to check these things on a semi-regular basis, I would imagine.
I’m a big believer in education and training. I believe that the more that you know about your website and your web marketing and your social media and all these stuff, the more you know about it, the better a job that we can all do together as we’re working together on it. It’s just a very important thing in my mind. Because I was spending so much time training our clients, we developed a training program. I didn’t really realize it at the time as I was developing it that it was turning into a program, but it turned into a program. We do coaching, consulting, training on a whole variety of topics, and just like you said, this happens to be one of those areas.
I actually didn’t know you did that before I asked the question, so that’s great to know. This isn’t to be a commercial but I want our listeners to know there are resources that they can reach out to. If you have a website and you really have no idea if it’s in the proper state to be able to take full advantage of all the content creation and social media marketing and different things you’re going to do as a business, don’t you offer a couple of levels of even just a flat fee site check? We don’t even have to talk about the numbers, but you offer some services like that, don’t you, that you can assess the health of a site? Can you just talk about maybe the two options you have?
We do do that work. There’s a quick check and then there’s an in-depth check. The quick check is, as you would expect, it’s inexpensive but it’s good. If we don’t turn up anything in the quick check, 99 times out of 100, there are no real problems and so you’re good and you know where you are, so we’re happy to do that. Then there’s a very in-depth check that’s really more appropriate for larger companies where there’s more things going on. We’re going to take a look at the way your marketing systems are tying into your website. There are sales funnel issues and all kinds of things that bigger companies really need somebody to look at it. We found that a lot of times, there isn’t anybody looking at these things.
I find that more often than not as well with a lot of the people that we deal with in business. I think it’s important for people to know there are resources you can go to to help you with these things. These don’t have to be break-the-bank type of budgets you’re spending. It’s just a little bit of insurance to make sure that your website is in good health when you think it is, right?
Yeah. It’s more than a check, by the way. We go back to that educational component. As we’re running our test and we’re getting our numbers and we’re looking, some of the stuff has past fails, some of this is scored with actually numbers or whatever. When you get the report back, there are detailed explanations about what all these things are, what their significance is, how they could be impacting you moving forward. There’s a lot of material there. I believe that there’s actually probably more value in the educational piece of this than there is sometimes in even the actual results if people walk away and have a much better understanding of what’s happening behind the scenes.
That’s really enlightening. I hadn’t thought about that but it makes perfect sense. What if there are people that are busy and focused on, “I’m a doctor. I’ve got a big practice. I’ve got to focus on the patients. I don’t have time to think about this stuff.” Can it be done for them?
All the checks can be done for them for sure. You don’t have to know, like anything else in this world. I don’t have to know how my car runs but as soon as there is a problem with it, I go and I take it to my mechanic. I was out of windshield washer fluid. I didn’t have to pay the mechanic $85 an hour to refill my windshield washer fluid. It’s usually in your best interest to have at least a basic understanding of what’s happening even though you yourself may not be the one that ends up fixing it. I’m not one to bury my head in the sand and I think business owners shouldn’t bury their heads in the sand either. As far as the time goes, I would say this and this is a strong statement but I believe it. If you don’t have time to pay attention to your website, you probably don’t have time to have a website because all it’s doing is costing you money. You might as well save and keep your money in your pocket.
Those are a couple of really good points, Sam. I think that’s well said. Maybe that’s where we leave it for today, but I really do want you to come back. This is going to be an open loop for our audience. I do want to have another interview at some point and start to dive down that other side of social media and how you can use it maybe for lead generation for your business. There may be different ways of marketing your business is a future episode. I hope you’ll be happy to come back to talk about that in the future.
Absolutely, that would be fun. I had a good time. I’m sure there’s plenty more to talk about, no doubt.
Sam, thank you so much for being a guest today on Feed Your Brand. We will look forward to talking to you again in the not too distant future.
The Realities of Website SEO Today – Final
I hope you really enjoyed that interview. I hope it didn’t get too far down some of the technical aspects. I don’t think it did. What I thought was so good about that discussion with Sam is that he’s really so knowledgeable and has tremendous experience. He was very happy to share that with us today and share his thoughts openly, it doesn’t matter if you’re ever going to become a customer of DotCom’s or not. The same thing is true with us here at Feed Your Brand, whether you’re at the right place in your business or your career that you want to start a podcast or you want to do it with us or not, it doesn’t matter. We’re providing you with our honest and unfiltered thoughts as to what it takes to market and grow your business today, especially in the context of the internet, which is really the modern-day yellow pages. The reality is if you want to take the knowledge that we’re helping to provide and share with you and use it on your own, wonderful and more power to you, that’s great. If you actually would like to have it done for you, hopefully you’ll consider coming and talk to us about that or talk with a company like DotCom.
I especially want to emphasize some of what we talked about in the latter part of that interview, which is really about getting your website health checked. I think this point can’t be emphasized enough. People think, “We have a website and it looks great and it seems to work great. Why am I going to mess with that? Why am I going to spend a little money?” I’ll tell you, we have found over years of doing this, because we have multiple websites in our businesses. We actually have three different kinds of revenue streams into our business. We have experienced our own websites, which are resource websites for the most part, providing information for free. Most of them do not have shopping carts or any ecommerce or databases within them. We have at our websites actually hacked and taken down.
In 2016, we had our website hacked and taken down four times in that year. It seemed ridiculous, why is this happening? It just turned out that people that have the skill and motivation, I really don’t understand the motivation honestly myself, but have that motivation to go and try to hack into a site, it’s really just like a challenge for them and to cause trouble. Our site was never held for ransom. There was never a financial consequence other than paying our development people to get the site back on track. People can go and hack into your website, create their own user account and then have free reign to go into your website and do whatever they want. You may think that’s a little extreme, we thought it was a little extreme for us at the time, and I think in reality it is a little extreme. I’m not telling this to you to be like a scare tactic, that’s really not my intention. This doesn’t happen to everybody or it certainly didn’t happen to everybody every year.
The point is that your website does age over time. Software is constantly upgraded. WordPress is updating their software pretty much on a monthly basis. I don’t know if any of you remember getting those emails that say your website has been upgraded to WordPress whatever number it is. That absolutely does happen and you really can’t stop it nor do you really want to stop it. Then if you have a bunch of plugins installed on your site, they all have to be updated as well. That doesn’t always happen automatically. You have to manually go in and do it. Then Google will change its algorithm from time to time. The servers hosting your websites also make changes. From my perspective, it’s too much for me to keep track of. It probably is for most of you as well, unless you’re a real hyper do-it-yourselfer and again, more power to you. If that’s you, that’s awesome, but it’s definitely not me.
I believe it is necessary to have an expert who knows all the details go through our websites at least on an annual basis. I think Sam was right, on a quarterly basis is probably recommended. It’s not that expensive. It might cost a couple of hundred dollars, it might not even cost that much if you’re doing it quarterly. On an annual basis in the $300 to $400 range, it’s probably realistic. As maintenance expense on your business to make sure your website remains healthy and doesn’t have problems, then I think it’s all worth it.
We had one of our clients who we do the podcast and blogs for recently had their site go completely down. In fact, in the last maybe quarter, I can think of two sites that have gone down and it really had to do with this plugin conflict things that weren’t quite updated on time. One of them took four or five days to get back up which was extreme, the other took maybe a day or two. That’s a little scary to have your website down for that period of time. You’re going to lose customers. People click on the link from Google that goes to a post on your site are going to go nowhere and then they’re going to think, “That site no longer exists, I’m moving on.” I think this stuff is important. We keep on top of it as much as we can for our clients and customers because we are in their websites all the time, creating and putting new posts up. When we see something that’s wrong, we alert them right away. We do have resources that we can refer you to. While we don’t do that specific work ourselves, we know experts in the field and we’ll refer you and try to help you as much as we can.
I think I’m going on maybe a little too much about that, but I just felt that that was a real important point. I think all the other things that Sam and I discussed in the interview are pretty well understood. I would love it if you would come and leave a comment for this episode. We do review all those and we’ll be happy to reply to you. You can reach out to us anywhere on social media @FeedYourBrand.
I hope you enjoyed that episode. I sure had a great time doing it. We’re going to continue to bring you a combination of episodes where we interview experts in their area of expertise that is related to what we talk about here on Feed Your Brand. Then also more episodes where it’s either just me or just Tracy or just the two of us talking on a key subject that we think you’d like to hear more about. Write into us either on social media, that’s probably the best way, or reach out to us in a comment on the website and let us know if there are additional subjects you’d like to hear more about. We’re happy to consider that in our editorial calendar for future episodes.
Thanks so much, everybody. It’s been my pleasure to be with you today. We’ll talk to you next time on Feed Your Brand.
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About Sam Natello
Sam founded DotCom Global Media in 1995 while working on his Master’s Degree in Informational Systems. Over the years he has worked with dozens of top companies, including: Nike, Disney, Herbalife, Dell Computers, Johnson & Johnson, Purina, The New York Yankees and many more. His agency occupies a very rare space in the online world – which is one of the keys to their success. They have won industry awards in the area of website design and a website-of-the-year award for their backend development work for an international client. Additionally, the primary focus of their agency has actually been on online marketing which has produced some incredible and well-documented results for their clients.
Sam believes that an “artificial division” has been created over the years between the 3 primary online elements of Design, Development, and Marketing – which is one of the primary reasons many companies are not more successful with their online campaigns . It is the fusion and seamless integration of great design combined with powerful backend smart systems and the application of effective online marketing campaigns that produces real results.