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 firstname.lastname@example.org