Friday, October 5, 2012

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Challenges #1

One of my primary businesses, Brock Health Administration, sells Private Health Services Plans.  Our primary source of new business is over the Internet.  That means we need to have a website that is Google friendly for searching by customers.  This process is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.  I will write a few articles on this topic from different angles.  But for the purposes of this post I just wanted to voice my challenges at getting this done.

To start, SEO is not a fixed solution that you buy and you’re done, like a new desk or lampshade.  It is a dynamic moving target. To be successful it needs to be continually monitored and adjusted.  It is a maintenance task and it is tedious.  It requires a passable technical understanding of computers, websites and specifically Google advertising and search engines.  It also requires a general grasp of marketing and human psychology.  And finally you need to clearly understand your product or service offering and your potential market audience.  That’s a tall order for what could be considered a tedious clerical maintenance task.  Juxtapose the skills against what you should pay a resource to do it.

For a brand new website starting at zero you can hire a light-weight firm to lay the groundwork to get you on the search engine map.  I am bombarded by many emails from firms in India that do this for a modest fee.  They are probably a cheap starting point to get in the directories, have some keyword density on your pages and make you Google friendly.  But to take it to a serious level you need to bring in the heavy artillery of social media, blogs, tweets, YouTube, AdWords and so on.  Someone needs to understand your business and manage this on a daily basis.  I am bright enough to know I don’t have the time nor inclination to do this.  I need to hire someone.

I had my site optimized about 4 years ago by a good firm in Toronto (Convurgency) for a one-time fee.  Now our business has grown and I need the next level. Unfortunately, I think there is a gap in service offerings, representing an opportunity for somebody. 

There are plenty of charlatans, wannabes, techies and light-weights in the market but few have all the characteristics needed to succeed.  

I have tried the casual part-time contractor for a few years.  It was probably the best of several bad options.  She was technically savvy with current social media and knew marketing but didn’t have a deep grasp of our business model nor the time to do the tedious task for extended periods.

I tried technical folks on different occasions but they seem to have limited patience with the tedium and little sense of advertising.

I did run into one fellow that sung all the right tunes in his pitch to me but was a zero on business delivery and follow-thru.  After 3 months and $4,500 in retainers I got 2 blog posts and a list of alt-tag changes for the site.  This was Matt Clark of Damang Media out of Calgary… a complete disappointment.  I’m posting their very light weight blog below as I figure I paid enough for it, I should at least give it some air-time!

If you compare it to our website, you can see it is an attempt to read our existing website to “learn” our business remotely and then write a short summary.  I surmise the plan is to fool some of my potential customers for some of the time.  Unfortunately that seems to be the new conventional wisdom especially for younger business people and as The Brief Case keeps spouting – it is not where I want to go.

I think it also speaks to one of the shortcoming of the younger vendors.  They know the technical and advertising stuff but they have no sense of running a business to deliver value to customers.  As I said earlier, this is a great business opportunity for someone with some ambition and enthusiasm to learn the various components and then execute it!

MY TWO THOUSAND DOLLAR BLOG POST:

Content Format:    word doc
Content Type:       Blog Posts
Target Keyword:   employee health plans
Word Count:          437
Page Title:             Benefits of Private Health Services Plans

You have probably heard about health services plans before even if you aren't entirely sure how they work. But as you look at your business, you don't really know if these employee health plans would benefit your company or your employees at all. Let's walk through some of the benefits of these plans to see if enrolling in a private health services plan could work for you and your employees.

First, a little history. Canada introduced these plans in 1986 as a tax relief measure for businesses. Using the private health services plan, companies could provide employee health plans and deduct the expenses. At the same time, the reimbursements to employees are tax free, too, lightening the tax load for business and employee alike.

Benefits of a Private Health Services Plan
1. Tax Relief — The primary benefit of a private health services plan is the tax relief for employees and businesses. The entire cost of the plan, funded by your business, is 100 percent deductible. Secondly, the reimbursements your employees receive are not considered taxable income so they aren't hit with any additional tax burden either.

2. Healthier and Happier Employees — Benefits packages that include employee health plans make your compensation package more attractive and allow you to hire and retain higher quality employees. They also will have access to more efficient healthcare and have more choice in providers and services. This all combines for healthier, happier employees who will stick around longer and have lower rates of absenteeism.

3. Clear Budgeting — You may have shied away from private health services plans in the past out of concern unforeseen costs or hidden fees would make budgeting a nightmare. However, these plans actually provide for some budgeting stability. First, there are no premiums to budget for. You only pay when a claim gets submitted. Secondly, the costs are a fixed percentage of each claim. You will know exactly what you will pay for each covered service so you can anticipate actual costs.

4. More Coverage — The other option for employee health plans is insured plans, but the private health services plan actually covers more services than those plans. With more coverage, your employees will receive more and better care. The services covered under private health services plans includes:
  • Medical care
  • Dental care
  • Vision care
  • Laboratory services
  • Hospital services
  • Medications
  • Medical equipment
  • And other expenses like ambulances, prosthetics and wheelchairs

With all these benefits, maybe it's time to give the private health services plan another look. You can increase employee happiness and save your business money by adding employee health plans to your business model.