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Arnie Kuenn is the founder and president of Vertical Measures. Arnie has held executive positions in the world of new technologies and marketing for more than 20 years. In 1993 he successfully launched a technology and distance education company. In 1999, he founded MediaChoice, an Internet startup which received a patent for its personalization technology. The firm’s clients included CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and many major movie and music studios. The business was sold to Nielsen Media in 2004.
Arnie has served on the board of directors for the Arizona Internet & Software Association, was a member of the Microsoft Advisory Committee, was honored as a nominee for the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Small Business Owner of the Year award, and served on the 2008 Arizona Super Bowl Marketing Committee. He is currently the president of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association (AZIMA) and is a frequent speaker.
Arnie Kuenn founded Vertical Measures in 2005, as a result of the extensive Internet marketing performed at his previous startup, MediaChoice. Vertical Measures provides complete SEO & Internet marketing services, designed to help businesses improve their online presence and obtain higher search engine rankings. The company is best known for its quality link building and content marketing services. Vertical Measures is comprised of a group of individuals with backgrounds in internet marketing, social media, web design and technology, each offering their individual expertise in order to provide clients the very best services available.
Vertical Measures provides complete Internet marketing services. Is that more than just the standard Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that businesses typically invest in? What is involved in complete Internet marketing?
Standard SEO is actually a small portion of our business. I don’t have the exact figures, as they tend to change each month and in general as the industry evolves. The majority of our business is actually centered on content development. Complete Internet marketing at Vertical Measures really includes six core services; SEO, link building, social media, local search, PR & promotions and content development. We used to manage paid search, but have discontinued that in order to focus on organic search and social media. However, we do partner with other agencies that offer PPC management and web development when our clients want us to handle all aspects of their marketing needs.
A quarter of your SEO business comes from other SEO and web development companies outsourcing to you for your link building expertise. What makes Vertical Measures so attractive to other Internet businesses? Why don’t they just do the work themselves?
Other agencies outsource to us for two things really; link building and content. I think there are two reasons for this. One is expertise. You just can’t be all things to all people, and many agencies would rather focus on their skill set which often tends to be SEO and web design. The other reason is most people just hate link building and content creation. I wrote a somewhat controversial post on our blog about two years ago, stating that I didn’t think most SEOs were link builders and most link builders were not SEOs. What I was trying to articulate in that post was that my belief is link building is much like sales & marketing, where SEO is very technical. Usually you do not find those two personality traits in the same person. So getting back to the outsourcing, I think some firms just recognize that their core competency is either technically based or sales & marketing based. If it is technical, we are a good option for them to outsource their link building and content marketing projects.
What should business owners watch out for when requesting or accepting link exchanges with other sites? Are there links that can damage a sites reputation in the eyes of search engines?
Let me start by saying we don’t do a lot of link exchanges or reciprocal links any more. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, it’s just that the market has really changed over the years and since most webmasters are afraid of reciprocal links, the success rate is rather low, which means it can be a time consuming process. But to answer your question, site owners should use the same basic rule of thumb that they should use for most business decisions – common sense. Take a look at the site offering you a link. Is it directly related to your business? Does the site look professional and well run? Are there a minimum number of outbound links on the page that is going to link to you? Does it just make sense to have a link to your site on their site, and vice versa? If all of these can be answered with a “yes” then it is most likely safe and may even be an ideal link partnership. Regarding damaging links, it’s pretty hard to get hurt from a link if you already have a decent backlink profile, but if all you have are reciprocal links, from pages or sites you are not proud of, then yes, your reputation can suffer with the search engines.
Your clients include major ecommerce websites, universities, fortune 500 companies, and of course, SEO agencies. What marketing strategies have you employed to capture this level of clientele?
We are in the fortunate position of having almost all of our clients come from inbound marketing. Basically, we practice what we preach. We spend very little in hard dollars on marketing, instead we put our effort into creating solid, optimized content and then promote it. We rank well in the search engines for many of our core keywords, we do a lot of online promotion of our content, and I speak at many industry events throughout the year. Between those three primary activities, we generate enough interest in our services to keep our company on a nice, steady growth path.
You have launched and grown two other companies and been involved in technology and marketing for over 20 years. What have you found to be the most important entrepreneurial skills required to be successful?
I am sure you and your readers are hoping I can give you a clever, magic formula for success, but I am afraid I can only offer the most boring of answers. In my opinion, it takes courage, passion, hard work, fortitude and a dream to build a successful business. And even then it’s not guaranteed. My previous company had all of those elements. In 2000, we patented a recommendation technology based on what we called “affinity analysis”. It proved to be more accurate than any recommendation system out there. We could actually demonstrate that it was more accurate than what Amazon and Netflix were doing. We raised VC money, hired staff, signed some deals with major media companies. We had everything going for us and thought we were going to be the next Internet hotshots. But the Internet bubble burst, clients canceled contracts and the knockout punch for us was 9/11, after which our VCs cut off the funding. We held on for a while, and still own the patent, but eventually we had to let that business go. No matter how perfect you think your business plan is, sometimes it’s just not in the cards. So you need to keep plugging away. I would also add that you need a good support system. Your family support is critical and you should surround yourself with a few people who have been there before. Ideally, as a part of your business, but even if it just means having lunch with them once in a while. Oh, and you better like riding roller coasters, because that’s the type of ride most entrepreneurs experience.
What is the most common SEO mistake you see the average business owners make on their websites?
I thought I would take a different approach with this question to demonstrate how it hard it would be to give you just one common mistake. I sent your question to our client service team to get their feedback. Here are the first seven responses I received back.
1) Not using their targeted keyword in the content of the page.
2) No meta titles or descriptions on pages, especially blogs.
3) Putting their local information (like a phone number) in an image instead of text that can be crawled for local search positioning.
4) Without a doubt the most popular SEO mistake in my experience is trying to optimize a single page (usually the homepage) for too many keyword phrases. Keep it to 2-3 keyword phrases per page at most.
5) Poor title tags or description tags or no title tags and descriptions filled in at all.
6) Most common for business owner is not considering the keywords and using them properly. For example, I see heading, h1 – h6 times used wrongly all the time. Mostly for formatting rather than for breaking up content and using keywords.
7) Probably no title tags or descriptions… so many websites have incorrect (or not good) title tags and descriptions, and a bunch don’t have any!
As you can see there are a lot of different answers, but I do think the one theme above is using proper title and description metatags. We do offer a free SEO guide on our website if your readers are interested, and we have some great SEO video tutorials too.
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