Where Do I Start – Organic Search or Paid Advertising?

image of Q and AQ:  I have a very limited budget, only $500, where do you recommend I start, SEO or PPC?

Please clarify, $500 now and that’s it or $500 a month?

Response… $500 now and that’s it.

A:  I know there are countless stories of people that use shoestring marketing to build up a business.

When it comes to Google PPC or paid advertising, you need more than a shoestring budget.

It is possible to build up a profitable Google Adwords campaign on $500/month.  You still need to consider the management and consulting fees associated with that ad spend.

Unfortunately, what I’m hearing is that you only have $500 and that’s it.

There’s the old saying that “it takes money to make money” right?

I’ve also heard the saying that “scared money don’t make money”.

From my experience, if all you have is $500 to work with, putting it all into PPC is not the best choice.

This is especially true if your target website is not ready to convert and monetize that paid traffic.

Given the choice of SEO or PPC and only $500 I would go with finding an SEO that really knew their craft.

If that local search marketer is willing to provide you an couple of hours at a time of consulting this could help you.

With that consulting, expect to have your search consultant zero in on the most effective strategy that gives you the most bang for your buck.

Still with only $500, you can expect that YOU will be the one to implement most of the recommendations.

After you implement those recommendations, save up your dollars, and buy some more knowledge.

Check out this page to see if the 30 minute complimentary consultation is still available for you.

If you have a question you would like answered, please comment below.

How to Get Control of Your Local SEO

As a teenager I would visit the beach during the summer.  Along the boardwalk there are a few arcade places. They all have this game called Wack-A-Mole. The game always seemed to irritate me as a teenager. It kind of makes me feel completely ineffective and somewhat crazy.  I mean, I hit the head of that mole dead on and knocked it back into it’s hole.  But, damn if it didn’t pop up again. I guess the point of the game is to see how many moles you can whack before the timer goes off even when the annoying moles keep popping up. There just doesn’t seem to be any closure or deep satisfaction in the game. wackalocalseoAs an adult, I get to continue playing Wack-A-Mole except it is completely online and it costs way more than $0.50 to play. It involves finding and eliminating duplicate business listings in the local eco system. Another twist to the game involves finding, claiming, and correcting completely jacked up business listings. It is not very much fun.  The work is extremely tedious.  It is very time consuming.  It’s also not the least bit gratifying.  Basically, it sucks. There is a better way, a far better game to play.  But you have to pay to play. Tap into a few of the major local data providers.  Here are just a few benefits to doing so:

  • Take control of your Local SEO in the shortest time possible.
  • Even complete local business “newbies” can compete with the pros here.
  • Force your Google+ Places listing to page one.
  • Take the “Lazy Man’s” ride through the Local Eco-System.
  • Put your money to work for you rather than your personal time.

The big question remains… what major local data provider should you tap into? You could try LocalEze –  Sure it will cost some money to use it but how much is your time worth these days anyway?  Or, you could hire someone like me to take control of your local SEO.  That will take even more money every month.  I’ll use this resource as well as several others.

Still don’t want to use any of it?  …Okay.  Not sure why you are reading this blog then.  There are plenty of others out there that will list every stinking local directory you should be getting listed in if you want to go insane yourself.  

Before you go…  hit one of these social media buttons to help others take control of their local SEO. [socialring]

posted in SEO
The Hitchiker’s Guide to Google

See the poll at the end of this post to cast your vote on what the most massively useful item is that will help you while hitchhiking Google.

image of the bookI’m one of the few people I know that actually loves the book The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Probably because I actually read the book and did not resort to watching that stupid movie they tried to make on the book.  That was just gawd-awful.

I love the book so much that I named one of my dogs Douglas Adams.  His dog tags include all of the important bits of information you would expect along with 2 insightful words of wisdom for him to carry should his nose ever lead him away from home sweet home:  Don’t Panic.


One day I walked into the front door of my home sweet home to find it ransacked.  There were bits and pieces of papers, books, and cardboard strewn about the first floor.  Douglas Adams was standing at the top of the steps wagging his tail, so excited that I was home.

My initial thought that a burglar just ransacked my home was replaced with the realization that Doug decided to do some lite reading.  He chewed up a few dozen books on my bookshelf, one of which was my beloved paperback copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The deeper I go into search engine optimization the more I cannot help but find parallels between the book and Google.

For Example:

… an excerpt out of the book…

People of Earth, your attention, please. This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council. As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system. And regrettably, your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.

What I hear when I insert a Babel Fish into my ear…

People of search, your attention, please.   This is Matt Cutts of Galactic HyperZoo Animal Control GoogleBot.  As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the first page of search results of the Google pages require building of a hyperspatial money funnelling express route from your business advertising wallet to the Wall Street $1,000/share stock price. And regrettably, your business’ visibility is one of those scheduled for demotion.  The process will take slightly less than 0.53 of your search seconds while affecting only 1% of queries.  Thank you.

Lol.. am I the only one laughing?  Probably.  Ha!


What on Google earth could be as massively useful to you in search as a towel could be to you while hitchhiking across the universe?

btdubs… for my strags, a towel is the most important item a hitchhiker can carry.

If you can traverse the depths of Google search results while contending with Penguins, Pandas, and Hummingbirds to show up triumphantly at the top of page one for something like say… SEO…..

What would be your most massively useful possession?

Uurrm…. This is a head scratch’r indeed.

Maybe the answer lies in hitch hiker slang:  “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.”

Ford Prefect is a roving reporter for the interstellar travelling almanac The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

What if…..

What if Barry Schwartz were Ford Prefect, what would he carry?

I am a rabid reader of his SearchCap: The Day In Search column on  I hardly miss a day.  I find that round up to be the healthiest and most consistent pulse of the search industry.  I guess it’s the equivalent of Wall Street’s Wall Street Journal.

Even if I have had a particularly busier than usual kind of day, I’ll squint through my closing eyelids to read Search Cap on my iPhone just before passing out completely.

Hey, you sass that hoopy Barry Schwartz? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.

Definitions for a Strag:

Sass:  to know
Hoopy:  a really together guy
Frood:  a really amazingly together guy


Hey, you know that really together guy Barry Schwartz?  There’s a really amazingly together guy who really knows where his towel is.

More definitions:

Strag:  nonhitchhiker
Babel Fish:  small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. If you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything in any form of language
Vogon Poetry: the third worst poetry in the Universe

Lets have a vote.  What do you think is the most massively useful possession for hitchhiking Google?

[socialpoll id=”2179048″]


Please…. Let me know by answering the poll above or commenting below right now.  Or… if you like…. do both… for now I will be hopping a space ship in approximately four to one against and falling…three to one…two…one…


posted in SEO
Don’t Go To Sleep Tonight Without Doing This ONE Thing

I’m tired, I just want to go to bed

thank youI know you have felt like this at some point or another in the process of building your business.

If you haven’t… well I have one question for you. Are you really building a business or are you just tinkering in a hobby?

Last night I was so tired. I mean, it’s been catching up with me. I’ve been pulling over time on a new project.

But I had to do just ONE more thing.

I don’t even have kids so to all of you moms and dads out there trying to support a family AND build a business, Rock On!

We have 2 budgets to work with; Finances and Time

We all have the same 24 hours in a day.

Yet some people always seem to produce more, achieve more, or get to spend more time with their family don’t they?

It’s as if they have 36 hour days instead of the standard 24 huh?

I’m asking, why is that the case and where can I get ME some days like that?

When it comes to the finances, budgets vary greatly from one person to the next.

Does that frustrate you or get you excited?

I guess if you have a smaller financial budget than your neighbor it could be a little frustrating. Unless……

Unless you realize that IF you do things just a little differently within your time budget, you can actually create a larger financial budget to work with.

That’s a pretty awesome way of thinking isn’t it?

Money is producible. Time is not.

I’m always looking for tools and systems that will save me time on tedious work so that I may spend more time on creative work that matters to me.

I’ve got a ton of tools and systems to tap into at any given point to take care of tedious and repetitive tasks.

Here are just a few that help with Internet marketing and Local SEO.

It’s the creative work that matters.

The ideas, expertise, and value that you put out into the world is what will help you increase your financial budget. Add in a healthy dose of sales and marketing and you are unstoppable.

The creative work is what makes you feel alive isn’t it?

More than feeling alive, watching that financial budget grow as a result is what makes you feel alive at a BIG party! Woohoo!

How can I get me some more of that?

Do just one more thing today that will contribute to your financial budget.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Make a new contact through networking on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, or whatever playground you get your game on in.
  2. Nurture an existing contact by sending them some info that you know will help them, meeting up with them for coffee or tea, or making an introduction for them to help them grow their network.
  3. Write a blog post
  4. Send out an email to your list
  5. Make a video for YouTube
  6. Participate in forums, Facebook groups, or Linkedin groups offering support or answering questions
  7. Send out a direct mail piece
  8. Complete a training document
  9. Speak to one or a group of your target audience
  10. Learn ONE new thing
  11. Ask for a referral
  12. Give a referral
  13. Give
  14. Volunteer
  15. Say Thank You

It will be difficult to do all of the above each day. Push yourself to do at a minimum 1 of the items from 1-14 each day.

Every day, every free moment you have, and before you go to sleep tonight, add in the last item; Say Thank You.

Say Thank You to yourself, out loud, or to anyone that will listen.

Say thank you for all you have achieved today, all you have accomplished, all you have completed, everything that you have, and every person that you love.

Say thank you. That is required.

Goodnight my friend, sleep well.

WAIT! Share this post really quick before you turn out the lights!  THANK YOU!


SEO Authority Hack – How to Leverage Your BBB Accreditation

In the Google world of Penguins, Pandas, and Hummingbirds, it can be somewhat difficult for a new cash-strapped business to get any decent action in search.

A whole variety of challenges can also hit businesses that have been around for awhile whenever a new update rolls out.


This past summer, all of the shake-ups have resulted in something quite interesting on the first page of the SERPs (search engine results pages).

For many local queries with commercial intent, you will find nothing but authority sites like the Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, and BIG brands.

You just won’t see the little fly by night operations or the “mom and pop shops” so much anymore.

This is very good for the searcher since you can trust what you find online a little bit more these days.

Wait a second… I’m not saying that you can’t trust a mom and pop shop.  I am saying that they will need to rethink their online marketing strategy if they intend to compete in this space.   Rethink to move from the “build it and they will come” belief to “my expertise and reputation must speak out loud ONLINE for them to come”.

 “Search engines try to measure personal (or organizational) authority the way people do.” — Eric Enge from Search Engine Watch

One of the biggest things you can do to build authority online and on your website is to gain trust.

An authority website is a trusted site.  Usually the content on the site is extremely good, useful, full of value, and worthy of being shared on social media sites.  An authority site is also respected and used by other industry leaders.

By the way, this is some good stuff here, wouldn’t you agree?  If so, do me a favor and hit one of these social media buttons to share with others.


Whether you are a veteran business owner or a newbie, you must come to understand the need to create an authoritative presence online in everything you do.

If you have been in business for more than a year, you can be considered for accreditation with the Better Business Bureau.

If you have been in business for light years but are not accredited and you see the value of gaining new clients or customers from Internet search, you may want to reconsider since the search landscape is changing.

How to Leverage Your BBB Accreditation

If you have been accredited by the Better Business Bureau, you should be able to use their logo on your website. Logo

This logo conveys trust.


How else can you build authority in your business website?  Get authoritative back links.

Backlinks are still the backbone of search, but getting other sites to link to you is another story. You cannot control this process; you can only influence it by attracting high authority links.” –Neil Patel from Quick Sprout

If you are an accredited business, you get a nice back link to your website.  The BBB site is a very authoritative place to get an in bound link.  How do you “attract” it?  Get accredited.

The site carries a Domain Authority of 96 out of 100.  Let me show you what this kind of domain authority equates to in search… with pictures.


A search for heating and air conditioning wilmington de
The site shows up at #1 in non-paid results.

In some cases and search queries, the only way you are going to beat the site in Google is to PAY for advertising.

Traffic for some of these search terms will cost you $15 a click or more!


Query: roofing and siding contractors wilmington de
The site shows up at #1 in non-paid results.

Here’s another:


Search term: plumbing contractors wilmington de
The site shows up at #1 in non-paid results.

Authority status is becoming required online if you want to succeed.  Small businesses, local businesses, and non-branded businesses have the most work to do.  Leverage other authority sites whenever possible to build up your business online.

If your website is viewed as an authority in the eyes of Google, you will show up more often and closer to the top of organic search results.

Leveraging your BBB Accreditation is a decent contribution to your online marketing strategy.

Click To Learn A Little More About Done-For-You Online Marketing Campaigns Or 1:1 Consulting.

Click here for Delaware Search Engine Optimization

posted in SEO
3 Proven Networking Tactics Home Based Business Owners Can Use to Save Face Time

image of people networkingLet’s face it, face-to-face networking takes a boat load of your time.

If you are doing it to try to build up your home based business because you have no real advertising funds, these 3 tactics are just what you need.

Wait, did I just call you out and say “you have no real advertising funds”?

Yup, I sure did.

Look, let’s be real here. The biggest reason we hit the streets, go to business mixers and meetups, or attend Chamber of Commerce table top events is because it is one of the cheapest forms of advertising for our small home based business.  A lot of us start our home based businesses because we have significant dreams and goals but not so significant bank rolls.  lol…

Note:  Face-to-face networking is only the cheapest until you start to put a higher value on your time but that topic is saved for another post. 🙂

The biggest most valuable things you have inside of your business right now are your expertise and your time.

Otherwise, you would be dumping tens of thousands of dollars into digital media buying or hiring my consulting arm for Done-For-You Local SEO and Online Marketing Campaigns.

Man….  Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to spend so much time and so much gas money on running around town to grow your business?

I mean count it up. How much time are you spending? How much money are you pumping into your gas tank every week?

Let me know. By the way, if you are “feeling” me so far, hit one of these social media buttons real quick. Share this post and show some love for me!


Alrighty, lets get to it.

3 Proven Networking Tactics to Save Face Time

By the way, not only will these save you time in the long run, but when done with authentic purpose, they can contribute to your bottom line.

1. Become the “Go To” Expert in Your Area.

Being an expert is all relative. Aside from establishing the symbols of expert status like writing a book, being an expert is mostly relative.

It’s relative to those around you.  Do you know more than the other person on a particular topic?

It’s relative to how much study time you put into your craft. The more you study and practice, the more expertise you develop.

It’s relative to how many people you know. The more people you get to know that can’t do what you do but you offer them the perfect solution, the more you become the “go to” expert in your area.

Tip:  Don’t over think it. Just do what you do.
Look forward to those that are better than you for guidance, mentoring, and training.
Look backwards for those that haven’t a clue and offer help.

Beware of Mental Traps!

It’s easy to get hung up on watching your competition and everyone that you think is better than you. I’ve fallen into this trap.

It can be intimidating. Intimidation can be stifling. You start to tell yourself, “who would care to listen to me”.  Or, “I’m not that good”.

Let me tell you something… you have a ton of value to provide others.  But, in order to develop that “go to” expert status, you must go find the ones that were once where you were and help them out.

Find the people experiencing the exact problems you solve, and help them move forward.

Find them, help them, and you become their “go to” expert. After you help them out, get a recommendation on Linkedin or a testimonial for your website.

Here’s an example, I became the “go to” expert for SEO in my business community. I am by far not the best in this state. I know of a guy that is really underground and is absolutely crushing it with SEO. There are so many really, really, really smart people that really know their shit when it comes to SEO.

I may not the best, but in much of the business network in my town, I am THE “go to” expert for SEO.


[schema type=”review” rev_name=”The Go To SEO Expert in Delaware” rev_body=”Chris Darling has deservedly earned the reputation as *the* SEO expert within our large business network. The depth and breadth of her knowledge is outstanding, and she regularly stays up-to-date with the latest technical trends in her industry. In addition, her work ethic is unsurpassed. I’ve happily recommended Chris in the past and have gotten excellent feedback from those I’ve referred. In addition to her professionalism, she is a lot of fun to work with. If you’re looking to heighten your business’ presence on the Internet, do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Pick up the phone and call Chris.” author=”Brooke Grubb” pubdate=”2013-08-09″ user_review=”5″ min_review=”1″ max_review=”5″ ]

The more you become the “Go To” expert, the more people come to you and the less time you have to spend seeking them out.

2. Follow up with a Personal Email & Create Referral Sources

So, you met a bunch of people at the last event you went to huh?

As a good Networking Ninja, you deflected or collected a dozen or so business cards most likely.

What do you usually do with them? Throw them away? Add them to your email list? Shove them in a box somewhere?

Here is what I do and it usually gives me good results and kicks a new contact relationship off on the right foot.

I send them a personal email. Don’t dump them into your auto-responder. That’s kind of rude. It’s also against the CAN-SPAM regulations too.

Don’t just toss them aside either. That’s just lazy.

Go through each one and decide what to say in a personal email to them. Don’t pitch them on your business or services either. People see right through that crap. They will avoid you like the plague after that.

Say it was great to meet you. Reference something from your conversation with them. What was your connecting point?  What did they talk about?

Offer to meet 1:1 for coffee or tea so that you can learn more about what they do.

Even if this new connection is not a potential prospect, if you develop a trusted relationship with them, they could become a big referral source.

The more referral sources you have, the less time you have to spend doing face to face networking.

3. Listen More to Be a Problem Solver

Listen to what your new contact is saying or not saying. Ask them questions about their business. Find out where they are struggling.

Grab onto that whether it is something you can solve or not. If you know someone in your circle of influence that can help them out, this is golden.  Help them make a new connection.

Beware of the Talking Time Sucker:
If you have encountered a real talker that is sucking the life out of you, find a way to introduce them to someone else in the crowd.  For example:
“Hey Bob, there is someone here I would like you to meet. This is Suzy and she was just telling me about what she does. Suzy, Bob does, blah, blah, blah”. This is the point where you see something shiny and politely excuse yourself to use the restroom.

The simple fact is, the more people you help out with solving their problems, the bigger your network will grow.

They will remember you. The person you referred will remember you. It will come back to you in the form of warm referrals for what you do best and love the most.

The problem solvers get more respect than the opportunity pushers.

The more referrals you get from being a problem solver, the less time you have to spend doing face to face networking to push yourself onto prospects.

Bonus Tactic: Ask for Referrals

Through time, your network will grow. As it grows, manufacture reasons to reach out to your new contacts.

Nurture the relationships with free and informative case studies, reports, or breaking news.

Simply ask your new contacts to connect you with the people they know that would like help with X.