Northeast Times

Good for business

In this era of com­pet­i­tion and tech­no­logy, Lance Bach­mann shows firms how to keep their name in front of the people.

Choos­ing Lance Bach­mann to or­ches­trate your com­pany’s mar­ket­ing strategy might be the biggest no-brain­er since Ox­iClean hired Billy Mays to be its fast-talk­ing in­fomer­cial pitch­man.

Bach­mann doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to selling his own In­ter­net-based firm, 1SEO.com, which spe­cial­izes in max­im­iz­ing cli­ents’ pres­ence and per­form­ance on search en­gines like Google, Bing and Ya­hoo!

The Ta­cony nat­ive has plastered his com­pany’s name every­where, it seems, in­clud­ing bro­chures, mugs, ball­point pens, flash­light key rings, mag­net­ic base­ball and foot­ball sched­ules, mouse pads, polo shirts and even a bill­board on In­ter­state 95. (The sign is view­able from the north­bound lanes between the Cottman Av­en­ue and Academy Road exits.)

Bach­mann en­thu­si­ast­ic­ally passes out the items to any vis­it­ors who ven­ture in­to his com­pany’s headquar­ters in Southamp­ton, Bucks County. But he’s even hap­pi­er talk­ing about how he’s built the busi­ness from scratch in­to a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar con­cern in a couple of years and how all in­dic­a­tions are that sales will con­tin­ue to mush­room in the months and years to come.

Its suc­cess fol­lows a simple for­mula. Most busi­nesses these days re­cog­nize the im­port­ance of cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing a strong pres­ence on the World Wide Web. Yet, most don’t have the fog­gi­est idea how to build a site that will act like a mag­net for po­ten­tial cli­ents or cus­tom­ers.

“This is ul­ti­mately the yel­low pages now,” said Bach­mann, com­par­ing mod­ern-day In­ter­net search en­gines to the bound busi­ness dir­ect­or­ies first pub­lished in the 1880s.

Bach­mann, 37, who moved to Bucks County as a teen and gradu­ated from Coun­cil Rock High School, knows bet­ter than most what the yel­low pages are all about.

After earn­ing a bach­el­or’s de­gree in edu­ca­tion from Temple, he in­stead landed in a sales ca­reer. He be­came an ac­count ex­ec­ut­ive and later a group and dis­trict man­ager with Ve­r­i­zon Yel­low Pages, spe­cial­iz­ing in In­ter­net ad­vert­ising and on­line sales. He boasts that his group gen­er­ated $8 mil­lion to $10 mil­lion in an­nu­al sales from Phil­adelphia and its sub­urbs.

In 2005 he left Ve­r­i­zon for AT&T’s Yel­lowPages.com, help­ing to open its new Phil­adelphia of­fice. In al­most four years there, he was pro­moted to vice pres­id­ent and fur­ther de­veloped his know­ledge of the in­ner-work­ings of on­line ad­vert­ising. But he also ex­per­i­enced per­son­al tragedy that even­tu­ally in­spired him to ven­ture out on his own.

On April 19, 2007, Bach­mann was liv­ing and work­ing in Cali­for­nia when he learned that one of his 13 sib­lings, a broth­er, had passed away. He and his wife split up on the very same day.

“It was two years [later] to the date that I walked in and resigned,” he said.

The premise of his com­pany is ba­sic, but the spe­cif­ics are for­eign to most in the busi­ness com­munity. “SEO” stands for search en­gine op­tim­iz­a­tion.

In oth­er words, whenev­er a per­son is surf­ing the Web and types a keyword in­to Google or an­oth­er search en­gine, Bach­mann wants to make sure that his cli­ents are at or near the top of the res­ult­ing list of links whenev­er pos­sible.

The key to it all is know­ing the pro­to­cols that the search en­gines use to for­mu­late their lists.

“They want you to play by cer­tain rules. They want you to ‘win,’ but they don’t want you to do bad stuff [to get high­er on the list],” Bach­mann said.

Google con­trols about 75 per­cent of the search en­gine mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to Bach­mann. Ya­hoo! and Bing con­trol most of the re­main­ing 25 per­cent.

All of the ma­jor en­gines tweak their sys­tems every six months or so. Bach­mann and his staff of about 20 have to stay on top of the changes.

The search en­gine pro­to­cols aren’t ne­ces­sar­ily kept secret, but most com­pany ex­ec­ut­ives would rather have someone else handle that work for them. “Any­one can learn SEO if they want to,” he said. “But do you have the time to learn it and can you com­pre­hend it?” Bach­mann said.

“You’ve got to know the al­gorithms for all three [en­gines] and what they’re look­ing for.”

In ad­di­tion to the un­paid Web list­ings, 1SEO.com spe­cial­izes in man­aging a cli­ent’s sponsored links, also known as “pay per clicks.” To get one of those, a com­pany must bid on how much it will pay the search en­gine each time a Web surfer uses the en­gine to link to the com­pany’s site. The highest three bid­ders for each keyword will ap­pear at the top of the page on any search for that keyword.

“You’re not go­ing to be num­ber one for every [keyword],” Bach­mann said, “You have to identi­fy good keywords that will be as­so­ci­ated with good traffic [for the busi­ness].”

While the un-sponsored links gen­er­ate most Web traffic for busi­nesses (about 81 per­cent of all hits), pay-per-clicks of­fer a much quick­er re­sponse. That is, it can take un-sponsored links from four to eight months to climb to the top of the search en­gine rank­ings for spe­cif­ic keywords.

About 55 per­cent of busi­nesses have a Web pres­ence, ac­cord­ing to Bach­mann, but he’s not really look­ing to re­cruit new cli­ents from the re­main­ing 45 per­cent. Most of those firms either do well enough without it or don’t have the re­sources to do it, he fig­ures.

In­stead, 1SEO.com tar­gets com­pan­ies with ex­ist­ing but in­ef­fect­ive sites. Some of its 100 cli­ents are Holt’s Ci­gars, Life Shield, Vil­lage Ca­ter­ing, Northamp­ton Val­ley Coun­try Club and Phil­adelphia Taxi.

Once the site is built and on­line, the real ana­lyt­ic­al work be­gins. 1SEO.com tracks a vari­ety of data in­clud­ing unique page vis­its, page views, the time that users spend on the cli­ent’s site or “bounce rate,” and what keywords that the vis­it­ors used to find the site and where in the three-di­men­sion­al world that the site vis­it­ors live.

“If you fol­low the data you win. You don’t fol­low the data and you lose,” Bach­mann said.

The firm’s fee struc­tures are cus­tom­ized to each cli­ent. Bach­mann, who de­scribes him­self as a nat­ur­ally com­pet­it­ive per­son, has big goals for his com­pany.

“I want to be the biggest SEO on the East Coast with­in five years,” he said. “Once you’re a com­pet­it­ive per­son, you can’t let go.” ••

Vis­it www.1SEO.com or call 877-311-7361 for in­form­a­tion about the com­pany.

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or bkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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