Link_Optimization

Footer Link Optimization for Search Engines and User Experience

Posted by | Content Marketing and Optimisation, Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Footer Link Optimization for Search Engines and User Experience: It’s huge – seriously big. And while it’s valuable for users and even contains some interesting content, it’s not really accomplishing the job of a footer – it’s more like a giant permanent content block on the site

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User Friendly Content

7 Tips To Write The Perfect Press Release

Posted by | Content Marketing and Optimisation, Facebook, Google, Link Building (SEO), Natural Search SEO, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Advice, Social Media Marketing, Twitter, Video & Rich Media, YouTube | No Comments

7 Tips To Write The Perfect Press Release

Writing the right press release is of course a difficult task. This is precisely the reason why we come cross thousands of inaccurate, badly edited press releases. Such press releases do not add value to website promotion; rather they have a negative effect. Therefore writing and formatting a press release correctly is an absolute must. The online press release is the most effective way of providing important updates and information in the Internet. If you are launching a new website, you cannot expect all your customers to know about the forthcoming project. A press release is the perfect way to give them this information to your customers and search engines.

1. Use Simple Language

The press release should be easy to understand. The paragraphs should be short and the language crisp. Like any other forms of writing avoid redundancy; rather focus on news. In short, the reader should understand clearly what news/new development you are trying to convey.

2.Call for Action

Like a sales copy a press release should encourage the readers to action. The news written should be interesting and compelling and the reader should feel free to contact you at the number given below the press release. Read More

email-marketing

Top 10 Email Marketing Tips for SME’s

Posted by | Content Marketing and Optimisation, Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Online PR | 3 Comments

If your a small business owner, you’ll understnand that lead generation is a vital element of your online business. With this in mind, email marketing is one of the lowest cost forms of online advertising currently available. This article attempts to compile the de facto top 10 Email Marketing Tips for small to medium businesses. The main objective is to help SMEs to better utilise their online marketing budget and realise greater return on investment.

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404-image

30 Fantastic 404 Pages – Inspirational Post!

Posted by | Content Marketing and Optimisation, Creative Digital Design, Marketing Tips, Olivia Naire | One Comment

30 Fantastic 404 Pages You will Love!

Now, we all agree that nobody likes to land on a 404 errors, but in the world of the web, sometimes landing on a 404 error is slightly inevitable. For those of you who don’t know what a 404 error page is; a 404 error page  shows up when user tries to browse to a web page that doesn’t exist anymore. The link may be broken, moved, or never existed. In this roundup we are featuring 30 interesting 404 pages for your inspiration. Enjoy!!

brandstack

hugsformonsters

 

inflicted

 

ipolecat

 

stereosuper

 

ngenworks

 

pixiapps

 

wireframeplus

 

pieoneers

jeandelbrel

 

dailymile

 

gdzl

 

cascadebreweryco

 

themanyfacesof

 

marketingvirtuel

dmcloud

irrationalgames

 

carolrivello

 

creashit

 

leegustin

 

apadeloup

 

sohtanaka

mailchimp

upthemes

 

davidhellmann

agens

 

4mots

 

criticalzero

playr

 

denisechandler

 

I have to say, I wouldn’t mind landing on a beautifully designed 404 error pages like those highlighted above.  Please share, comment and share the love! Thank you.

wpid-115693matter.jpg

Hackers Plot To “Destroy” Facebook On 5th November 2011…

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | One Comment

Hackers Plot To “Destroy” Facebook On 5th November 2011…

 

Anonymous To

 

A hacker group by the name of “Anonymous” have issued a loud warning to Facebook saying that it will be destroyed by 5th November 2011. If this is to be believed then mark your calendars for 5th November, because if the internet hacker collective Anonymous (including a whole load of script kiddies as well) is to be believed, Facebook will be “destroyed” on that day. The hacktivist group released a video on YouTube proclaiming what it dubs OpFaceBook. Their grouse lies against the the social networking website’s much publicised privacy violations.

 

 

 
Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world. Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria,” accused Anonymous in the release. It further derides Facebook‘s reluctance to part with user data despite account deletion. The message ends with a rather pragmatic warning: “When a service is “free,” it really means they’re making money off of you and your information”.

Soon enough, the Anonymous Twitter feed denied involvement through a tweet. This was followed with a much less ambiguous tweet that cried out in all caps that it isn’t Anonymous’ style to kill the messenger, which is Facebook in this case. This is reminiscent of the recent instances, where a total lack of control and cooperation has been evident among the Anonymous ranks.

 

At any rate, if not the entire Anonymous collective, at least some factions seem determined to bring Facebook down. It seems we will have to be patient untill 5th November. Just when you thought you’d heard it all…. Watch this space Facebook fans.

 

Twitter_Search

How to use Twitter Search and Why it’s important

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Twitter | One Comment

 

How to use Twitter Search and Why it’s important

 

 

 

Twitter has quite possibly become the widest, most insightful, and perpetually open window into the minds of the masses that the world has ever seen. Its large and growing group of users post everything from news about current events to, yes, the occasional photo of what’s for lunch. All this tweeting can be invaluable for any number of uses–but only if you know how to find what you need.

 

 

 

There are now over 200 million users who constantly post just about anything you can imagine: links to important news, complaints about a product, design tips and inspiration, favorite new bands, family photos–you name it. These diverse nuggets are getting posted by Twitter’s equally diverse share of the world’s population: the general public, celebrities, politicians, authorities, marketers, customer support, and more. Fun fact: 70 percent of Twitter’s usage now comes from outside the United States. If Twitter is the world’s largest water cooler, its search tools are an omnipresent pair of ears that can give you an instant perspective on any topic at any time.

 

Twitter’s popularity is due in part to how easy the company made it for users to post content. But the service’s architecture, rich API, and organic culture also make it easy to mine this increasing mountain of data for just the information you need. Want to check how a product launch is going or how you’re stacking up against a competitor? Need to monitor tweets about a major event? Or perhaps you want to get more personal with your customers and provide one-on-one support when they post complaints. These ideas are just scratching the surface, but a number of clients, tools, and tricks make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

 

There are a plethora of ways to mine Twitter, but let’s start with the basics at search.twitter.com. This decidedly Google-like page offers a very simple interface. It also displays Twitter’s signature list of trending topics–things that have captured the momentary attention span of Twitter users the world over.

 

Type your query, hit Return, and off you go. You can search for the name of a product, a person, a topic, a specific Twitter username, or a hashtag–a word with a pound sign (#) in front of it (such as: #io2011).

 

Hashtags on Twitter are akin to tags on Flickr or Pinboard–they’re a tool that grew organically out of the community as a way to tag a topic or event. You can click, or tap, on a hashtag on Twitter.com and most of its clients to see all other tweets that contain the same tag. You can also track hashtags, a technique that I’ll get to in a moment.

 

A useful perk of search.twitter.com is that its search results page is fluid. Instead of merely giving you a static list of results at the time you ran your query, it will actually continue watching Twitter for mentions and alert you at the top of the page when there are more to view. Dedicated apps for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad often provide a continuously updating live stream of these search results.

 

One drawback of Twitter’s search tools is that, because of the sheer volume of tweets its users generate, Twitter only provides access to a few days’ worth of archives. Twitter recently published some staggering stats: as of March 2011, users now create one billion tweets per week, or 140 million tweets per day. The company’s search index simply cannot keep up with that activity, which is something Twitter has been working to improve for over a year. In other words, our tweets are all still there; you just can’t search much farther back than a few days until Twitter improves its search infrastructure.

 

Twitter recently announced that its search results will include user-posted images and videos as well as just text tweets. At press time, this feature was still rolling out–some users could see it and some couldn’t.

wpid-londonfire.jpg

Londoners take to social media outlets during the riots

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | One Comment

IDG News Service – The photograph shows a hooded young man looking toward the sky just after he apparently threw something. Close by, a Citroen compact car is completely engulfed in flames.

 

 

The image is one of thousands of terrifying photos circulating in printed media and online outlets such as Facebook and Twitter following three nights of some of the most intense rioting in London in 30 years. The riots started on Sunday night following a peaceful march protesting the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man by police.

London fire Cars burn on a street in Ealing, London. (Toby Melville / Reuters)

The photo has been posted on the Tumbler blogging platform on a page called “Catch a Looter,” a grassroots attempt to help police identify some of the more flagrant participants in the riots who have set buses on fire, looted shops and clashed with police.

 

“Catch a Looter” is also posting videos, including the horrific one of a young boy sitting on the ground bleeding. He is helped up by one man, who pretends to aid him while another opens and then surreptitiously steals items from the boy’s backpack. Blood stains the sidewalk as he stumbles away.

 

The site’s creator, who did not want to be identified, said he wanted “to do something to help fight back against the opportunistic thieves and thugs who are ruining people’s lives casually and entirely for their own benefit.”

 

“My intention isn’t to start a witch hunt or vigilante group, merely to gather all the photos in one place for ease of use,” he said.

 

U.K. police and government officials have stressed that in the coming days they will seek to identify and prosecute people believed to have taken part in the city-wide rampages. Social networking and media sites will play an important role.

 

On Tuesday, the U.K.’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) began posting images from closed-circuit TV cameras of people suspected of looting on Flickr. The effort is part of Operation Withern, the service’s investigation into the riots.

 

“We have been making arrests all evening and have a team working during the night examining CCTV images,” according to a statement on Tuesday from the MPS.

 

The efforts are a more positive spin on the use of technology amid the disturbances. As with any major news event, Twitter is filled with posts, many labeled with the hashtag “#londonriots.”

Google+ vs Twitter Facebook growth

Has Google+ gone quiet? It made Facebook Tremble, but did it last?

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Online PR, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Advice, Social Media Marketing, Twitter, Video & Rich Media, YouTube | 4 Comments

Has Google+ gone quiet?

It made Facebook & Twitter Tremble, but did it last?

 

It took Facebook and Twitter more than two years each to hit the 20 million user mark. It took “little” social media startup Google+ just two weeks to do the same. Whilst joining Google+is still on an “invite only” basis, just last week, Google+ passed an estimated 10 million users, and on Friday, doubled that number. Wow, not bad for a months work!

 

Google+ vs Twitter Facebook growth

This graph above, built by tech engineer Leon Håland, provides a startling visual of the various trajectories, with Google+ taking off like an M16, while its competitors look like they’re taking their time toddling up the social networking hill.

“I’ve never seen anything grow this quickly,” Andrew Lipsman, vice president of industry analysis at comScore told the Wall Street Journal.

Twitter accumulated as many new visitors quickly in 2009, he said,

“but that happened over several months.”

As drastic as this difference is, nobody’s surprised and of course, past performance isn’t an indicator of future gains. Facebook and Twitter started from scratch, while Google+ lives on the top navigation on a 13-year-old search engine so ingrained with how we live now, it’s also a verb (as in, “to Google”). Google also owes thanks to Facebook and Twitter, where friends offer up their extra semi-exclusive invites to Google+ to those who call dibs.
Google+ membership may very well level off after the initial excitement dies down, and it’s still got a ways to go to compete with Facebook’s 750 million users and Twitter’s 200 million accounts.
We we’re listening to some conversations via buzz monitoring and found that, these comments we’re the top comments regarding Google+

  • “Google+ has gone quiet”
  • “Not sure what I need to do on here”
  • “Okay, so what next?”
  • “It’s okay, nothing special”
  • “I’m on Google+ it’s pretty cool”

So in summary, whilst Google+ has managed to surcharge is membership interest, will they be able to sustain the interest of the social network gooers like Facebook and Twitter do and will Google+ be great for businesses desperate to lead in the social media space?… in short, let’s watch this space.

 

Google+ where to next…?

Logo 3

Having a No.1 Ranking in Google Doesn’t Always Get Results

Posted by | Content Marketing and Optimisation, Google, Link Building (SEO), Link Building News, Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Online PR, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | No Comments

Having a No.1 Ranking in Google Doesn’t Always Get Results – Yes, you did read that correctly. You may have achieved your ultimate goal – the number one placement on Google. Is it getting the results you had hoped? Is your phone ringing or Inbox being filled with people seeking your services? If not, there may be a very good reason for that.

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social-media-bandwagon

10 Best Practices of Social Media Marketing

Posted by | Facebook, Link Building (SEO), Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Advice, Social Media Marketing, Twitter, YouTube | No Comments

Social Media Marketing is still quite new and for most brand owners and marketers; perfecting Social Media Marketing is still an ongoing process. In light of this, I have prepared 10 best practice Social Media Marketing tips for success in social media.

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2366403_f520

SEO Tips: 8 Steps to Optimize Your Blog Post

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | 5 Comments

If you’re writing and publishing blog posts, but not putting in the few extra steps to optimize and align them with an overall keyword strategy, then you’re not leveraging the full potential of that content and you’re not making your website pages visible and highlighted for the search engines.

 

Blog Optimizing: Back to the Basics

 

SEO Back to Basics

 

Content is a form of online currency that is crucial to any business’ online marketing. With consumers relying on search engines for product research and reviews, content is key for ranking among those search results because search engines largely determine the quality and relevancy of the Internet’s countless web pages by looking at the text on those pages.

 

Just having content, even great content, on your company’s website isn’t enough to grab the attention of search engines. Businesses must leverage this content using search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. Maintaining a corporate blog is a good SEO tactic that allows for rapid content creation without the constraints of website architecture and web development teams.

 

Here’s how you can optimize your blog post in eight steps.

 

1. Find a Compelling Subject

 

One method for differentiating your content from all the other writing available across the web is to offer a fresh perspective and a unique angle on a given subject matter. If you haven’t spent time working through this step, don’t bother with the rest of the optimization process.

 

2. Conduct Keyword Research

 

This step is the perfect litmus test for determining whether your blog post topic is aligned with what people are looking for. When developing your focused keyword list around the blog post topic, make sure to do a sanity check and confirm that consumers are actually using these keywords to search for your product/service.

 

Save yourself time in the long run and filter out visitors who are unlikely to buy your product by ensuring your keywords align with the purchasing intent of your target audience.

 

3. Select Keywords

 

In order to rank high for a given keyword phrase, it’s important that you only designate up to two to three keywords per website page. Limit your blog post to one primary keyword, as well as two or three variations of that keyword (e.g. optimize blog post, optimize blog, blog post optimize, blog optimize).

 

4. Track Keyword Ranking Trends

 

Make sure your focus keyword is worth optimizing for. If there are only 10 searches for a given keyword per month, it might not be worth your while.

 

Look at how your target keyword phrase is trending, in terms of global monthly searches, how competitive the search term is, and whether any of your competitors or one of your pages are already ranking for it.

 

5. Optimize the Page

 

Page optimization is crucial for boosting the visibility of your blog post for the search engines. After you create the content, insert your keyword phrase throughout the blog post in specific locations where the search engines will be looking for information about your page (i.e. URL, title tag, H1, H2, emphasized text in the body of the post, alt tags on images).

 

From here on out, every time you mention this specific keyword phrase on your website, use an internal link to its corresponding blog page. There are also available SEO plugins for certain blog platforms, like WordPress’ popular  “All in One SEO Pack,” to help you control these SEO elements.

 

6. Syndicate via Social Channels

 

Syndicate your blog post externally by sharing it across your social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, post comments with your blog post link on relevant, external articles to attract clicks through to your site.

 

Make sure to use the blog post’s target keywords in your syndication via tweets and Facebook status updates. Help your audience share your content as quickly and easily as possible by including social sharing buttons on your blog post pages like the tweet, Facebook Like, LinkedIn Share, and AddThis buttons.

 

Consider adding Facebook’s new comments plugin to drive engagement and sharing. Also, make your content available via RSS feed, so subscribers can regularly view your latest content on their news reader of choice.

 

7. Find Top Links

 

Inbound links are essential for boosting the search engine rank of a website page. A handful of relevant links will help you better rank. Use a link suggestion tool to help identify and track high-quality, relevant websites that you can reach out to with your blog post and request a link back to your page.

 

8. Track Keyword Performance

 

Monitor your blog post on a regular basis, in terms of rank, visits, and leads from its given keyword phrase over time. By checking back on your progress, you can understand what about your content is resonating with your audience and what to improve upon. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t, then repeat the successful tactics with your next piece of content.

 

Summary

 

SEO is a gradual process, but by just setting aside an hour a week, you can make a lot of progress over time. While many view paid search as a quick and easy way to drive traffic without a large time investment, once you switch it off, you lose that traffic. SEO, on the other hand, when done well, can have a long-lasting, sustainable impact for your website.

Social_Media_Strategy

Social Media Strategy Tips: 4 Steps for Evaluating Risk in Social Business

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing | One Comment

 

 

In the supply chain industry there is something known as functional mode effect analysis — a complicated term but a simple concept. This model can be applied quite effectively to the social business space. Being able to understand and evaluate these risks is crucial and something that every organization needs to think about. Here’s a visual to walk you through the steps.

evaluating-risk.png

 

 

Step 1

 

The organization needs to write down the risks that it perceives as a result of getting involved in social business. I arbitrarily picked the two risks above which were “employees don’t use tools” and “negative customer feedback.”

 

I would recommend a cross-functional meeting as opposed to just having someone from PR or marketing coming up with all of the risks. Since social business affects multiple parts of the organization you need to have those parts of the organization involved.

 

Step 2

 

Go through each risk and fill out the first four elements, leave the recommended action and responsibility pieces blank until you decide which risks you are going to address, something we will discuss below.

 

If we use Risk 1 above as an example we can see that the severity level (out of a scale of 1-10) of employees not using internal collaboration tools is an 8, the chances of that actually happening are a 4 and the probability of detecting that risk early on is a 7. Multiply these three numbers together to get a “priority index” which in our example for Risk 1 is 224.

 

Again, I just assigned these numbers randomly but these numbers should come from a discussion with your team, the point isn’t to get to some exact number but to help compare the risks to one another in relative terms.

 

Step 3

 

Go through this process for all of the risks you have identified to get the “priority index” number. Once this process is done your team needs to decide how many risks it can feasibly address immediately, perhaps it’s just the top 5 or 10, and maybe it’s all of them. In the example above I just selected two risks. The priority index score will help you and your team decide how to prioritize the risks your organization is being faced with.

 

Step 4

 

Once you have the list of risks you are going to deal with (say the top 10) you can go ahead and fill out the bottom two areas which are the recommended action to deal with the risk and whose responsibility it is to deal with the risk.

 

Going through this process isn’t very difficult but the value it will provide to your team in terms of evaluating, prioritizing, and mitigating perceived risks should be great. Other factors will also need to be considered such as “what resources are going to be required to for the action.”

 

Let’s use this as our starting ground to help us deal with risks in the social business space. I’m working on some other things around this which will help further the model and the discussion around risk in the social business space.

social-analytics

Tutorial: Social Media Analytics via Google Analytics

Posted by | Google, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | No Comments

In an effort to come to a better understanding of just what social media is worth, it’s important to actually segment out and track social media traffic. With a set of filters, a few goals, and a custom report, we can start to track which traffic mediums impact our business and deserve a greater focus.

 

The Social Media Analytics Report

 

Here’s what a completed report looks like:

 

samir-medium-report

 

We’re able to track each individual traffic medium and compare it against the number of goals completed.

 

The Website Settings Page

 

Google Analytics isn’t the easiest platform to navigate, so follow the screenshots below to get to the settings dashboard. From the settings dashboard we can create the filters and goals needed for the custom report.

 

First, log into your Google Analytics account and click on the gear on the top right of the page.

 

samir-site-settings

 

That brings you to the “Account Administration” screen. Click on the specific account you want to create the report, filters, and goals for.

 

samir-website-profiles

 

Once you’ve clicked on the account, you’ll be given a screen to choose the web property.

 

samir-web-property

 

Choose the web property, and then you’ll finally reach the settings page. This is where you’ll be able to edit your goals and filters from.

 

samir-setting-dashboard

 

Filtering Social Media Traffic

 

We’ll be creating two filters; one to clear the (none) descriptor and the second to rename traffic from specific sites as social media. Click on “filters” to create a new filter for the property.

 

samir-filters-setting

 

Remove the (none) Descriptor

 

When Google Analytics documents traffic from the source “direct,” meaning someone used a bookmark or typed in the URL, it automatically sets the medium as “(none).”

 

The “(none)” descriptor doesn’t really help us when we’re just looking at traffic mediums in our custom report. Creating a filter allows us to tell analytics to rename any traffic with the medium “(none)” as direct.

 

set-none-filter

 

Filter Specific Traffic as Social Media

 

The second filter we’ll create renames the medium of traffic from the social media sites we define from “referral” to “social media.”

 

I’ve defined Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, MySpace, YouTube, Vimeo, Delicious, Buzzfeed, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn as my social media sites. You can edit this list and add or remove whichever sites you deem to be social media.

 

In “Field A -> Extract B” I input:

 

stumbleupon.com|facebook.com|twitter.com|digg.com|reddit.com|linkedin.com|myspace.com| youtube.com|vimeo.com|delicious.com|buzzfeed.com

 

samir-set-social-media-filter

 

Once both filters are created, all new data will follow the rules prescribed. It’s important to note that only new data will follow the new rules, filters are not retroactive.

 

Set a Google Analytics Goal

 

The next step is to set a goal in Google Analytics. Goals allow you to track how specific traffic mediums are converting.

 

For me, the goal is to get consumers to contact me after learning about my marketing audit services. The page is relatively new and I’m interested in measuring the number of people that actually contact me after reading about the service.

 

Set a goal by clicking on “goals” on the web property settings page.

 

samir-goals-setting

 

Then click on “+ Goal” to create a new goal. You can choose sets of goals, to keep things organized – it doesn’t make a difference which set you use.

 

samir-goals-dashboard

 

On the goal settings page, start filling out the relevant information – outlined in the image below.

 

Make sure you set up your goal correctly. For example if you want users to get directions to your store from the URL http://example.com/directions, you’d input “/directions” as the goal URL.

 

If you want to track users through a number of actions, you can use a goal funnel to track multiple URLs.

 

For example, you might want to track how many users reach your contact form after reading about your services. Then you’d input your contact page as your goal, and your services page as a required step.

 

samir-goal-funnel

 

Once your goals and filters are all set, you’re ready to finally set up the custom report to track conversions from social media and other traffic mediums.

 

Create the Custom Report

 

The custom report outlines unique visitors, pageviews, and goals completed by traffic medium. You’ll be able to track conversions from organic traffic, direct traffic, referral traffic, and social media traffic.

 

You can create the custom report by clicking “Custom Reporting” on the top navigation in your analytics account. Click on “+ New Custom Report” to open up the custom report settings page.

 

samir-new-custom-report

 

On this page you’ll be able to create your custom report by choosing the dimensions and metrics you want to correlate.

 

The image below outlines the settings for the custom report that allows you to compare traffic mediums based on the amount of goals completed.

 

samir-actual-custom-report

 

If a medium sent thousands of visitors, but none of them completed a goal, that medium is worthless – it’s the reason why goal tracking is so important.

 

Once you’re happy with the metrics, name and save the report. Now you’ll be able to know which marketing channel is performing best and maximize your investment on it.

wpid-seo-is-dead-google-thumb-460x215-11429.png

The SEO Industry Needs Some Positive Reputation Management

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | No Comments

 

 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is poison. SEO is ruining the Internet. SEO is cheating. SEO is a dark art. SEO is content farming. SEO is in the toilet. OK, maybe the last one’s stretching it, but SEO has a bad name. Even Google doesn’t have nice things to say when you search for SEO:

seo-is-dead-google.png

 

 

Scammers and Spammers

 

Many people haven’t even heard of SEO. I generally get a blank stare when people ask what it is I do for a living. For those that do know of SEO, the industry definitely has a bad reputation. There are some SEO horror stories out there. As one example, a realtor friend of mine hired an SEO company to get her page one rankings on “Her town Real Estate” in 30 days, because they told her they could guarantee it. They didn’t deliver, because they couldn’t. They still took her money and stopped answering her phone calls.

top-10-google-rankings.png

 

 

Another example is an SEO company that charges £2,500 for a quality link building program, only to turn around and give an overseas company £25 to throw the same solitary link up in their 100 domain directory link farm (then charge the client £2,500 the next month to remove the links after they incurred a Google penalty). One client I worked with had recently severed ties with their previous agency. One of the first things I noticed was that they had a hidden links page on their site.

 

This links page (actually three pages) was littered with links to unrelated businesses, from Florida real estate firms, to California dentists, to Minnesota massage parlors. After a little investigation we determined that this was basically both the client list and the link building strategy for the previous agency. They hadn’t sought permission from their client to put this link list on their site — they had just buried it and hoped no one, apart from the search engines, would notice.

 

Is this Exclusively an SEO Issue?

 

For those of you out there thinking, “Well, I’m in social media, so I don’t have to deal with this,” yes you do. Wherever there’s an opportunity to make money there’s always going to be an unsavory element looking for ways for that money to end up in their bank account.

 

One person I recently talked to at an SES conference told me how they were locked in a fight with their previous social media consultant. Their contract had come to a conclusion, and the decision was made not to renew. The consultant then informed them that if they wanted access to their social media profiles they’d have to pay her for them, despite the contract stating that they were the property of the company.

 

They were negotiating with her, because they were concerned that if they went in hard with a legal response, she may have harmed their social media presence using the official accounts. Now, there may have been more to the story than I was privy to, but in a world where posting an inappropriate tweet can result in immediate outrage and potential lost business, it’s a real concern.

 

Cleaning up the Name

 

So what do we do? How do we clear the name of SEO? How do we make people understand what it is? Well, there’s no easy solution. All we can do is continue to educate people about what SEO can do, and conversely what it can’t and shouldn’t do. By publicizing the positive aspects of SEO (in other words the money that’s been generated either through SEO, or through SEO in conjunction with other marketing tactics) we’re going to at least make people take a second look at SEO and hopefully reprise their opinion.

 

By helping people to understand what they should be looking for when looking to hire a reputable SEO company, we’re going to help them avoid the spammers and scammers, and hopefully help them have a better understanding of, and experience with, SEO.

 

At least Bing seems to have a better opinion of SEO than Google.

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Olivia Naire is a Director of the SEO department at Ice Clear Media Ltd. in London, England. She has worked in SEO for over 9 years, both on the in-house and agency sides of the fence, and was a marketing manager in a “past life.” Olivia is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on a variety of online marketing topics,

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Samsung hits iPad users with ‘world’s first’ interactive 3D ad

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | No Comments

 

 

Samsung claims it is launching the first-ever interactive 3D ad for the iPad, to promote the technological capabilities of its Galaxy SII smartphone to UK consumers.

Samsung: 3D interactive iPad ad for the Galaxy SII smartphone goes live

Samsung: 3D interactive iPad ad for the Galaxy SII smartphone goes live

 

The campaign, which was devised by Starcom Mediavest and created by Cooliris, goes live today (30 June) and is being distributed via mobile ad network InMobi.

 

The six-figure campaign will run until 31 July.

 

The ad will be displayed on iPad’s TV Guide app, where it appears at the bottom of the screen.

 

IPad owners are able to use their touch screens to interact with, and manipulate, an image of the SII.

 

For instance, when a user tilts their tablet computer, the image of the Samsung SII smartphone moves in response.

 

The ad employs 3D technology developed by Cooliris and creates a variety of effects to form a 3D image, including parallax and motion effects and more traditional uses of light and shade.

 

 

Milton Elias, Starcom’s head of mobile, said: “As mobile technology continues to facilitate richer advertising experiences, we feel it’s important to explore this exciting new avenue as a solution for our clients.

 

“Cooliris’s 3D media ads take mobile and tablet ads to a new level of interactivity and consumer engagement that will play a part in defining the future of mobile advertising.”

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Barclays spoofs history of money for mobile payment push

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | One Comment

 

 

Barclaycard is promoting its contactless mobile payment service with a viral campaign spoofing the history of money.

Barclaycard: spoof viral depicts the history of payment through the ages

Barclaycard: spoof viral depicts the history of payment through the ages

 

The viral film depicts the history of payment, including bartering, the use of coins in Roman times and the introduction of banknotes in Georgian London, through to the advent of contactless mobile payment today.

 

The film, available on YouTube, was created and filmed by Dare and seeded online by Walker Media.

 

It features a voiceover by larger-than-life thespian Brian Blessed and a cameo by Amy Childs, the star of ‘The Only Way is Essex’.

 

Gary Twelvetree, Barclaycard’s global brand director, said: “The evolution of payment options is an interesting story and one we had to tell.

 

 

“Barclaycard is leading the way in payment innovation, having launched the first-ever credit card, and now we’re taking things into the future with launch of contactless mobile payment.”

 

Barclaycard’s new service, which began rolling out across UK high streets in May, allows shoppers to make purchases of up to £15 by tapping their handsets on readers at tills in more than 50,000 stores.

 

Earlier this month, Barclaycard rolled out a sequel to its 2008 ‘Waterslide’ ad to promote contactless mobile payment services.

 

Barclaycard became the first company to introduce the credit card to UK consumers, in 1966.

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Report sheds light on digital consumption of glossy mags

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | No Comments

 

 

Readers of women’s glossies are increasingly combining consumption of printed magazines and digital titles, according to new research revealed this afternoon by publisher Condé Nast.

Glossy mags: readers are increasingly combining both print and digital versions

Glossy mags: readers are increasingly combining both print and digital versions

 

The YouGov online survey and focus group research, commissioned by Vogue for its Business Report 2011, opens a window on how, in a market where digital products are beginning to reach maturity, glossy magazine readers are using both print and online titles distinctly.

 

The study said the number of women using magazine websites had risen 40% in the past two years and the number of readers of high-end glossies had risen 43%.

 

However, readers saw print and digital versions as distinct entities offering different experiences, as 82% of the total sample believed websites would not entirely replace print.

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Nokia launches social network Create for Millions comp

Posted by | Link Building (SEO), Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | No Comments

 

 

Nokia is offering its customers €1m in prizes to come up with state-of-the-art social network apps, as it bids to up the ante across the mass-market-priced mobile phone sector.

Nokia: launches Create for Millions social network competition

Nokia: launches Create for Millions social network competition

 

The Finnish company has been beset by problems of late, as its dominance has been hurt by the rise of Android and Apple phones across the premium mobile phone sector.

 

Nokia wants to increase its stake across the mid-tier sector via its Series 40 mobile phones.

 

Ithas today (28 June) launched ‘Create for Millions’ – a global competition that brings consumers and developers together to create apps and web apps for the Series 40 phones.

 

Winners of the competition could see their ideas becoming reality and introduced onto new Nokia mobile phones.

 

 

Nokia wants customers to submit ideas in one of three categories: health and beauty, social networking and location, and gaming.

 

Customers can also vote on entries and comment or collaborate on ideas already submitted.

 

Marco Argenti, senior vice-president, developer experience, Nokia, said: “This competition connects ideas generated by consumers with the creativity and skills from developers, aiming to create great, locally relevant applications together.

 

Nokia’s Series 40 is the software platform used across Nokia’s mass-market phones.

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Colgate uses Facebook followers in digital outdoor campaign

Posted by | Creative Digital Design, Facebook, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Advice, Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Colgate uses Facebook followers in digital outdoor campaign

Toothpaste brand Colgate has launched an interactive outdoor campaign, featuring pictures of its Facebook followers smiling in support of children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Colgate:launches interactive campaign featuring Facebook followers

Colgate: launches interactive campaign featuring Facebook followers

Created by VML London, the campaign uses UGC content from Colgate’s Facebook page, where people are asked to “share a smile” for Barnardo’s by uploading their picture of themselves smiling.

Uploaded Facebook pictures are randomly displayed on digital billboards across Birmingham, Liverpool and London.

The digital campaign was booked by Kinetic and is also running across JCDecaux’s Transvison network, and on CBS Outdoor’s XTP screens on the London Underground. The campaign is managed through Grand Visual’s OpenLoop platform.

The campaign aims to collect one million “smiles” throughout the summer. The brand has pledged to donate £100,000 to Barnardo’s when that target has been reached.

The outdoor campaign is part of Colgate’s broader online, radio, digital and experiential activity, produced by a collaboration of agencies including MEC, Cohn & Wolfe, VML London, Grand Visual, Mars and RKCR/Y&R.

Gemma Brown, account manager at VML London, said: “Digital outdoor is the perfect platform to leverage Colgate’s social media activity. Integrating the photos of Facebook users is a good fun incentive for anyone who’s dreamed of starring in their own billboard campaign.”

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Eric Schmidt on Google Search Result Answers

Posted by | Google, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC) | No Comments

During an interview last night with Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt at the D9 Conference, questions from Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher ranged from a new approach to answering questions in search results, to Google’s social media failures, and the launch of Google Offers. Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights.

 

Replacing Links With Answers in Search Results

 

Sounding similar to what Bing Director Stefan Weitz has been saying for a while now, Schmidt said Google is trying to move from link-based answers to algorithmically-based answers, adding that Google wants to produce the best answer for people.

 

He said an IP address, combined with browsing history and the social data users give to Google, will make up for data it can’t get from Facebook. Schmidt also said that Bing does a better job in a couple of narrow verticals.

 

Social Failure

 

The future, according to Schmidt, is SoLoMo – social, local, and mobile. However, Google’s social efforts haven’t amounted to anything and for years Google missed out on “the friend thing.” For that, Schmidt blamed himself.

 

“Three years ago I wrote memos talking about this general problem. I knew that I had to do something and I failed to do it,” Schmidt said. “A CEO should take responsibility. I screwed up.”

 

Schmidt also said that Google isn’t trying to duplicate Facebook or turn into a social network. Google wants to use data on social relationships to improve its products.

 

“Gang of Four”

 

There was discussion of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook as being the top four brands in the post-PC era because “they provide something you can’t do otherwise” — Google offers “all the world’s information”; Apple has “beautiful products”; Amazon is the “world’s largest store”; and Facebook has “every friend you’ve ever had, including ones you can’t quite remember.”

 

Schmidt made mention of either PayPal or Twitter being fifth or sixth on the list, and was asked why Microsoft was excluded. Schmidt said this is because “Microsoft is not driving the consumer revolution in the minds of the consumers.”

 

Google Offers Live Today

 

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Google Offers, Google’s new service offering discount deals of at least 50 percent off while taking a 20 percent cut from sales, launches today in Portland, Oregon and will be integrated with Google Wallet. The first business Portland-area residents can expect to find is a 70 percent discount on drinks, pastries and treats at Floyd’s Coffee Shop.

twitter-marketing-tips

Winning Twitter Marketing Tactics

Posted by | Marketing Tips, Online PR, Social Media Advice, Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Twitter isn’t very new but at the same time it’s not an old platform. With the number of high profile celebrities using Twitter, it was only a matter of time before everyone else jumped on-board. Just like any other traffic source, internet marketers learned to use Twitter to bring more customers into their business and make more money. This article will focus in on some techniques that you can use to do Twitter marketing the right way.

 

Twitter is a community, and like every community, you have to be accepted before you can do business. Plain and simple, if you come to Twitter and try to sell without offering value then you won’t make much money. That’s one of the biggest turn off’s for Twitter users because they are literally tired of all the spam floating around. A simple way to sidestep a common Twitter marketing mistake is to be sure to offer value and to keep your monetized links to a minimal and don’t make unrealistic claims about anything you are promoting. The best way to go around your Twitter promotion is to mix your informative tweets with your promotional links.

 

Give out quality information to your followers and add a tweet promoting your product for every few of these tweets. The easiest way to make people trust you is to make them believe that you’re not a spammer. There are two types of marketers online, you have the ones who build businesses and make huge sums of money every year and you have the others. Also, don’t only use Twitter to promote your products, you can network and find new partners and maybe even new friends. You have a chance to became one of the minority of marketers who are making a killing using Twitter.

 

The biggest reason people don’t succeed with Twitter marketing is because they aren’t able to give that human touch to it. In other words, Twitter users are human and they are always looking for someone to connect with on a personal level. You can’t just send out lots of promotional messages to people and expect them to buy from you. Twitter is full of people who are high on emotions. They are really looking to share, to know, to learn and to build a relationship. You should help them create a relationship and vice versa. You have to build up some trust and credibility before people will want to click on your links and read your offers.

Put a personal touch in all your messages and don’t try to sell anything directly. Twitter users are tired of the frequent spam, so they’ll appreciate it if you take the time to show them some personal concern. It’s better to hold off on promoting until people appreciate you for the useful, entertaining and friendly messages you send them. You have to balance the promotion with spreading knowledge.

 

Automating as much of the Twitter marketing process as possible will allow you to focus on the most important aspects. If you want to exploit trends and manage your keywords better then Tweet Deck, or something similar, is a good software solution. Knowing when your products or other keywords are mentioned is only one benefit of using this software. Software is good but only if it meets your needs, so do your research first. Search or ask questions on a marketing forum to find out what works best.

 

Promoting your business with Twitter is actually fairly simple. You can use this platform to the maximum; you just have to know how. Many people have this fear of using Twitter for marketing, especially because they’re not sure of how to go about it. It’s actually easier to figure out once you begin, taking it one step at a time. Soon you will realize that driving traffic using Twitter is simple and powerful. Just remember to apply the above tips and stay away from making simple mistakes that can ruin your campaigns.

 

Twitter marketing has its own special qualities, but you also have to apply the same wisdom and common sense you’d use with any other type of marketing.

Weblog

Maximizing Your Business Weblog

Posted by | Marketing Tips | One Comment

Maximizing Your Business Weblog

 

 

 

Market place Research

 

One particular of the most time consuming, not to mention funds consuming spots of any company is current market research. To be ready to come up with a product or support that people will purchase you want to know what they want. Rather of paying dollars conducting surveys and polls in individual, why not do it on-line? A company website is the perfect site to gather the details and data that you require about your clientele. You can quickly produce a quick questionnaire and post it on the blog for customers to answer. Some blogs even have uncomplicated buttons where visitors can vote on points. It does not matter what system you use, the bottom line is that it can get you the data you need. It will save you a good deal of time, money and energy as well.

 

 

 

Establish Authority

 

Credibility is something that folks appear for when they research on the web merchandise and solutions. Your weblog is the perfect place for you to set up your authority and credibility. This can quickly be performed by means of the articles or blog posts you supply and as a result of feedback or testimonials from clients. Enable guests to leave comments on your website. Of program you will want to reasonable these remarks so you can approve people that will be superior for your blog site. Leave out the off-subject feedback and retain the testimonials. It is a very good way to permit shoppers know that your goods or services have been experimented with and examined by other folks. The very best part? You don’t have to ask for these optimistic reactions. Consumers are probably to depart them powering if they are pleased with what they get.

 

 

 

Increase E-mail Subscriptions

 

Electronic mail marketing and advertising is one of the older kinds of world wide web marketing and advertising. However is has demonstrated to be one particular of the more powerful approaches. If you are locating it tricky to get subscriptions to your newsletter then your organization website can support. Readers typically are inclined to disregard that little box wherever they can sign up for a newsletter. Nevertheless if you develop a function about it in your website then probabilities are it will get much more awareness. Your web site is also the best spot to enhance freebies and other perks that clientele can get when they sign up for the newsletter or subscription. This makes it possible for you to get all those important email addresses that you require and at the very same time support to your clients.

 

 

 

Make Your Presence Felt

 

In the world of company nothing at all is a lot more vital than generating your presence felt. This goes for on the internet business advertising too. You want to let men and women know about your existence as a great deal as doable. All over again a small business web site is the best area to do this. You can effortlessly hyperlink your website to other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln and many others. This expands your presence on the net and would make your web site and company available in numerous ways. Also if you are a bit not sure of incorporating widgets to your main internet site then they can go appropriate on your blog.

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SEO 101: 5 Simple Steps to Selecting Your Keywords

Posted by | Link Building (SEO) | No Comments

SEO 101: 5 Simple Steps to Selecting Your Keywords

 

Let’s say you already have a website or are trying to optimize your blog, but haven’t invested much time in search engine optimization (SEO), or the efforts that you have made aren’t paying off. What’s next? Where do you even start?

 

SEO can be overwhelming if you look at it as an insurmountable project, but if you just take it a step at a time and start small, working your way up over time, the work can be easily achievable – even for a small team.

 

It’s natural for a company to think that they have the best insight as to what their relevant, target keywords are, but in reality, the way people search for a keyword may not match up with how you would expect your product or service to be found. This is why it’s important to do a sanity check, see what the data says and conduct thorough keyword research from the start, so you don’t waste cycles focusing on and optimizing for keywords that people aren’t actually using to find your business online.

 

Here are five simple steps to selecting your keywords.

 

1. Own Your Brand Terms

 

The first thing you want to be sure you rank for is your brand name. As a first step, search for your brand name and see where you rank.

 

If you don’t rank for your brand name, this is the first thing to go after. In most cases, this is a very easy step; you’re probably already there. If you have competitors ranking on Page 1 for your brand, you want to force them out and own this space (the search engine algorithms are now allowing a brand to own the full first page of results).

 

In addition to your brand name, make sure you own all terms associated with your brand name, like your brand-specific product names, as well as your management team’s names.

 

2. Get Keyword Suggestions

 

Add your URL, relevant keywords and competitors’ URLs to a keyword suggestion tool and get a list of recommended keywords. When adding keywords relevant to your brand to the suggestion tool, make sure to include a range of head terms, mid-terms and long-tail keywords.

Head terms = >1,000 monthly searchesMid-terms = 100-1,000 monthly searchesLong-tail keywords =

Get Keyword Suggestions

 

3. Beat Your Competitors

 

Identify your competitors’ target keywords by adding their homepage URL to your keyword suggestion tool. Validate your own keyword list against your competitors. Are there any major keywords that you missed?

 

4. Narrow Down Your Keyword List

 

Compare your resulting keyword list by relevancy, competition, search volume and current status. The goal is to ultimately pick 10 keywords per SEO campaign – your brand name and four additional keywords.

 

Start by narrowing your keyword list to only the relevant ones. Check to see which keywords you’re already ranking for. It will be easier to start where you’re already in the running.

 

Look at global monthly searches and competition; ideally, you’re looking for low competition and up to 1,000 monthly searches. Think about conversion. Try to imagine people searching on these terms, seeing your site and whether they would actually convert.

 

5. Build a Plan to Rank for These Target Keywords

 

Take these top target keywords and build an SEO campaign around them. Monitor the keywords over time by tracking the trends of ranks and by measuring what kind of traffic you’re getting from them.

 

Traffic From Referring Keywords

 

Keyword Trends Target

 

Summary

 

SEO may be a lot of work early on, but it can have enduring, long-term benefits. When done right, simple SEO can have a major impact on your website traffic and in creating brand awareness in a scalable way.

Internet_Marketing

3 Money Making Internet Marketing Tips

Posted by | Marketing Tips | No Comments

3 Money Making Internet Marketing  Ideas

 

The internet has become a massive social networking site that has got a lot potential as far as marketing is concerned. There could almost be unlimited opportunities when you think about the magnitude of the market share and reach. We’re going to share some excellent business tips for internet marketing, and we hope it inspires you to get involved.

 

1. Communicate Regularly

 

You can communicate on a daily basis with your audience with the help of the internet fan page. But what’s more important is that you make this fan page give you the results you want. Your mantra with your fan page is to be as popular as possible. And what attracts new fans? You have to provide top quality content that is updated often, and people love to see other people there – social proof thing going on. Just find ways to get people to open up and write something in your fan page. Try to get the pulse of your market by asking questions, polling them, putting out surveys, something that will strike a nerve in your visitors. This is also very useful because you can really come to understand your market much better, and that will always help you to give them what they’re looking for. So, in some ways you are doing massive market research as well as building positive relationships.

 

 

 

1. Have a Social Media Marketing Strategy

 

Go on and place your individual blog on your internet profile page. Yes, this is something that a lot of people don’t know exists or ever use. When you make a new article post, you can see it on your newsfeed. Why should you care about this Obviously, more readers to grow your business. And the best part is that you get to get backlinks to your site.

 

 

 

1. Plan Ahead

 

Make sure you have the right plan in hand when you start out and are clear about how to go about things. You want to get from point A to point B, so how will you get there and what do you need to get there. It’s all about awareness of what you’re doing because it is hard to take action if you don’t even know where you want to go. If you put everything into a Word document, or anything similar, then you can look at your plan and see more. No marketing situation is perfect, and all things have their pluses and minuses. The best approach with such a large and dynamic entity is keep your eye on what you want to do. All of your hard work will pay off over time if you do it the right way and keep taking action.

Website_Traffic

Free Guide For Website Traffic Building

Posted by | Link Building (SEO) | One Comment

Free Guide For Website Traffic Building

Traffic building may be a terribly essential half of Net promoting strategy. This is often as a result of if your web site will attract a most number of people, then the likelihood of individuals shopping for from you will also increase. But, not solely is it concerning attracting traffic to your website, but conjointly about retaining the traffic. List building and social bookmarking sites can facilitate you plenty during this matter.

If you find all this very confusing, this guideline can facilitate your in the method of traffic building:

Search Engine Optimization

Search engines are a terribly smart method of niche traffic building, as they can ensure that your targeted customer base visits your website. This can be because the people who are visiting you through the search engines can do so depending on the search results generated by the keywords connected to your business.

You’ll use Yahoo Keyword Selector Tool or Google Keyword Tool to seek out out the relevant search words with high traffic. You can conjointly take the help of the professional search engine optimizing companies, who will help you with the content and alternative technical aspects of SEO.

High Quality Content

One foolproof approach of traffic building is to make sure prime quality content for your blogs and websites. This is often because a person reading your website can only come back back to it if he finds your web content fascinating, friendly, and informative. You might post additional tips and information concerning your domain space in your blogs and websites, as this is a good way to confirm repeat guests who would possibly also think about buying from you in the close to future.

Long-Term Net Selling Strategy

You cannot hope for fast traffic building as a result of the process will take some time. You would like to implement a foolproof on-line marketing strategy, that can guarantee maximum on-line visibility for your business. For this, you should be terribly consistent and persistent with your blog posts, update your web site often, participate in social networking sites, communicate with your opt-in list frequently, thereby creating yourself visible and available.

Traffic building requires a lot of effort on your part, however you’ll rent a skilled agency to take care of these problems if you’re thinking that the whole work is troublesome to handle on your own. For a small business owner, traffic building has nice potential as several of them cannot afford expensive advertisements and press releases.

In case your web site is search engine optimized, it will facilitate your in traffic building to an extent. However your business should not sit idle in the form of a website, and you would like to get more dynamic and contemporary content to draw in the attention of your customers. If you can do this, your business can positively flourish to a great extent.

Online_Partnership

5 Key Benefits of Online Partnerships

Posted by | Link Building (SEO) | No Comments

5 Benefits of Online Partnerships

 

Most of us were raised to be competitive, beginning at a young age in school and sports, and then right on through to the business world. However, at least in business we’re seeing a shift toward companies that play well with others. Both business owners and consumers are looking for better, more sustainable alternatives to “business as usual.” And small businesses that embrace the collaborative spirit find themselves in a better position to compete with their larger counterparts.

 

We may have social media to thank for this new surge in collaboration. After all, social media is radically changing the way we communicate and interact, both as consumers and as businesses. It’s also changing how consumers decide with whom to do business. Today, countless businesses are placing renewed emphasis on corporate philanthropy, social responsibility and community relations. Social tools also give businesses, particularly small ones, an unprecedented opportunity to connect with others and collaborate.

 

Of course, collaboration isn’t just some “touchy-feely” trend. Practical benefits exist for companies that think outside the box and work with others. In short, businesses can harness the power of the collective to move forward in a variety of ways.

 

No matter your industry or occupation, business is driven by referrals and connections. A web designer recommends a copywriter or SEO expert. A plumber suggests a carpenter. A mechanic recommends a windshield repairman. The collaborative small business is always on the lookout for opportunities to help fellow small businesses out. You can either join a formal referral group or forge informal alliances with complementary companies. Whatever method you choose, just remember that whatever you give out, you’ll get back in return.

 

By seeking out a group of like-minded small businesses, you can gain a valuable source of motivation, inspiration and support. Beyond referrals, businesses can share challenges out to their network in order to brainstorm solutions for all. These types of communities can also help relieve the isolation felt by many entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals. Consider joining an online group, actively participating in online forums, finding a weekly/monthly local meetup group or spending time in collocated office space. You’ll be amazed at just how inspired you can become from the energy of others.

 

What if your business had a circle of small businesses that shared customers and participated in joint marketing opportunities? For example, a local CPA whose clients are primarily entrepreneurs can collaborate with other service providers to put on a “small biz bootcamp,” where they offer a helpful mix of expertise on financial planning, tax advising, advertising, web strategy, insurance, public speaking, etc. to their combined pool of customers. These informal alliances bring new value to current customers, as well as expand your visibility into new audiences.

 

All around us are examples of asset sharing that allow a business to lower its costs. Think about a gas station/convenience store that also includes a Subway or Pizza Hut. A shared storefront or office space is an obvious example, but there are other creative ways that small businesses can share ownership to lower their costs and risks.

 

By banding together during the purchasing or bargaining procedure, small businesses can achieve greater economies of scale and begin to enjoy some of the discounts typically reserved for larger companies. In some states, health cooperatives create pools for small businesses to obtain discounted rates on health insurance (of course, health insurance policies will vary by state and are generally in flux at the moment). Small businesses can also form alliances with others that have similar purchasing needs to achieve volume discounting on anything from paper supply to maintenance services to health club memberships.

 

In short, by seeing fellow small businesses as partners and not competitors, small business owners can harness the power of the collective to attract customers, seek inspiration and help their overall bottom line. Collaboration is the new competition, at least when it comes to building a small business.

Online_PR

Online PR & Black Hat SEO

Posted by | Social Media Marketing | No Comments

 

 

I bang the drum for public relations (PR) as being useful and complementary to search engine optimization (SEO) objectives. I worked in the PR industry at PR Newswire for five years, prior to joining Yahoo, and that knowledge and experience taught me the value of message depth, quality, and impact.

 

It was PR that first taught me the importance of relevance (not search), and it was PR that taught me about relationships way back when Friends Reunited was “social media.” Timing, too, is of critical importance in all our communications — I was taught to work it in PR.

 

Perhaps, then, I may be guilty of painting a one-dimensional picture of PR as a discipline.

 

Online PR & Black Hat SEO

 

Yes, good PR is about good content and talking to people and communicating value. But don’t think for a second that because those benefits exist, PR is a risk-free, good guy, white hat link building strategy. PR can backfire and possibly damage your clients’ reputation immeasurably.

 

Several SEO agencies are tuned into the value of combined PR strategies and techniques. Many SEO agencies may even employ a PR professional to help advise and devise PR-led SEO campaigns. All this is great.

 

However, there’s an inherent danger here in that “doing” PR with a purely SEO objective, or thinking of PR as white hat, could leave your organization open to a reputation issue that it’s not designed to handle.

 

Here’s the thing. SEO has a poor reputation with other marketing professions. Many non-SEOs think it’s all about using a variety of techniques to deliberately and falsely distort factors that might not otherwise occur naturally, with the objective of positively influencing search engine rankings and arguably (ultimately) user behavior.

 

OK, maybe there’s some truth in that. Certainly some black hat techniques may include deliberate manipulation and falsification. But I have news for you: PR is more closely aligned to black hat SEO than anything else.

 

PR is All About Manipulation

 

It’s about making people feel, then act in the way we want them to — whether that action is to join our cause, buy our product, or take our method.

 

Starting with message; that in itself is often engineered or created purely and specifically for that desired outcome, content is carefully crafted to emphasize the elements we want and bury those we’d rather not air.

 

Timing is gamed deliberately to ensure maximum (or minimum) impact. Incentive is often used in the form of “samples,” products to review, press trips, media junkets.

 

So what? That’s just business and human nature right?

 

True, but people don’t generally like to be manipulated. We like to buy that product because we think the brand association makes us sexier, healthier, fitter, or smarter; not because you deliberately contrived to market and position your message to make me think that way.

 

When Things Go Wrong

 

Pushing too hard, crafting a thin campaign, allowing the rudiments of your method to be leaked to that same media that is your oxygen, can also be your downfall too.

 

Consider the example of the leaked memo from the press officer of the British Transport Minister issued to ministers on September 11, 2001, suggesting “It’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury.” Diplomatic relations somewhat soured, global humiliation, internal investigations into all communications; expenses, news items released in the immediate aftermath. Quite a lot of damage to limit there!

 

Consider the blog “Wal-Marting Across America” written by two supposed Walmart fans, traveling around in an RV and gaily charting their journey from Walmart to Walmart. Exposed, of course, as paid for by Walmart and created by Edelman PR.

 

Scorn from peer community, national media disdain, hundreds of thousands of negative pieces online today — this one hasn’t been forgotten. Particularly not by Aaron Wall, who neatly slaps down a criticism of the SEO industry from Edelman senior staffer Steve Rubel some years after the fake blog debacle.

 

Consequences don’t stop at public and professional ridicule however; there’s also the legal and financial implications, such as in the case of Reverb Communications, who settled out of court on an FTC ruling that found them guilty of faking positive reviews, or in the case of Tele2, the Latvian phone company that lost its government contract after creating a hoax meteorite story, faced later fines and a criminal investigation.

 

PR Isn’t a Magic Bullet

 

I know what you’re thinking. Great link bait, right? And yes, scandal and notoriety may pull some links, but it’s unlikely they will be going directly to your client site, or your target page.

 

What if those links are going to your site, using anchors like “guilty of faking positive reviews”? Perhaps you’re more than capable of handling an ORM issue for your agency, but what happens to other clients when your A-team are firefighting your own reputation issues?

 

Despite these cautionary tales, I’m still a strong advocate of all that is good about PR practice and methodology and the symbiotic benefits to SEO. Just because a campaign has substance, content, story, and depth to it; it doesn’t necessarily make it legal or ethical.

 

We professionals in this industry know all too well the old adage that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

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Bangalore Suspends Google’s Street View Service

Posted by | Google | No Comments

Bangalore Suspends Google's Street View Service

 

The Street View feature, incorporated in Google Maps about four years ago, enables panoramic street views in select locations across the world. This is achieved by surveying the streets with specially modified vehicles housing clusters of wide-angle cameras and GPS units. Everything was fine and dandy for a while, but you can’t roam the streets with an AH-64D Longbow rivalling surveillance gear without causing a privacy violation or two. Google was soon caught with its pants down for sniffing out user data and it eventually had to pay the price. However, the internet behemoth pulled up its socks and complied with the safeguards laid down by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The case was closed and everyone lived happily ever after.

xxx

 

 

Looks like the Americans take their “drive-thrus” very seriously

 
Well, not really, because just three weeks after Google begun mapping Bangalore with its scary Street View cars, the operation came to a grinding halt after the commissioner of police voiced his objection through a letter. “We received a letter from the commissioner of police regarding Street View. We are currently reviewing it and have stopped our cars until we have a chance to answer any questions or concerns the police have”, elaborated the search firm on the development. Neither Google, nor the police have revealed the reasons behind the ban, but we surmise it’s the same ol’ privacy concerns.

Considering the questionable track record of the mapping service, India won’t be the first one to put the spokes in the wheels of the Street View car. Singapore, Canada, and several European nations have adopted the same approach in the past. The service has been known to collect user data over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks as well, so the govt’s concerns aren’t misplaced this time around. Only time will tell if Google can convince the Indian Government to let it resume the service.

Stock_Market

7 Stock Market Tips You Can’t Live Without

Posted by | Marketing Tips | No Comments

Every day there are a dozen new HOT stock market tips that guarantee your financial success. Every day there are hundreds if not thousands of people that jump on the bandwagon, and every day, each of those people are disappointed.

When it comes to popular stock market tips, there is no golden ticket to striking it rich. So I’m going to show you how to make your own HOT guidelines that will ensure you stay on the right course-the one that leads to success.

Stock Market Tip #1: Play Your Game

Develop a set of rules that you can follow. Whether they include some of the tips in this article or are strategies you’ve always lived by, STICK WITH THEM. An inconsistent, but more importantly an undisciplined trader will never make a profit. Chasing stock market tips won’t make you money. Your rules are your money. Again, there will always be hot stock market tips that ensure success, but if you continue to whole-heartedly practice your own tips, you’ll see profits in no time.

Stock Market Tip #2: Control Your Risk

There are many adventurous traders out there…and those are the ones that loose their fortunes. If you always look out to protect your capital base you’ll ensure your financial safety. Now one of the most important stock market tips I can give you is to continue to let that capital base grow. That way, even if all of your investments fail, you won’t be jeopardizing your previous profits. As a general stock market tip, never risk more than 3% of your portfolio on any one trade.

Stock Market Tip #3: The High Road in Cutting Your Losses

Things happen. People lose money…LOT’S of money. So don’t be one of them. Basically this stock market tip means don’t be stupid. If one of your investments turns sour don’t stick around hoping it will right itself. Have a set target loss percentage where you can cut and run. Again, it’s about being disciplined, remember? Set it no higher than 15% of your opt in, and you’ll have a save exit with every trade.

Stock Market Tip #4: The Sky’s the Limit

In contrast to Stock Market Tip #3, if a stock is rising beyond belief, don’t jump out in fear of it suddenly falling back to reality. Instead, ride it out as long as humanly possible. This is how the biggest and most talked about gains are made-this is how FORTUNES are made. This stock market tip will ensure that you give yourself the best chance possible of striking that gold mine. Now if the stock does in fact start to fall, go ahead and opt out. It’ll be worth more to you to risk that little loss in the end for that huge gain you’ll make.

Stock Market Tip #5: Back to School

You know the saying, “Learn one new thing every day?” Do it. Seriously. Our stock market is ever-changing, diversifying, and adjusting, and YOU need to do your homework. It takes a lot to stay on top of it all. So if you come across something that you’re not familiar with just look it up. If you think you know it all…go LOOK for something. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this stock market tip is to know all of the trading vocabulary. That’s also the easiest way to ensure you’re prepared to take on any obstacle that comes your way.

Stock Market Tip #6: How to Bring Your “A” Game

Stock market trading isn’t only about successful financial advancements. Well actually it is, but you’re not going to be able to do that every day if you don’t have the emotional strength to pull it off. This stuff is supposed to be fun. If you’re not at your best psychologically, you’re not going to be focused, you’ll make poor judgements, and most importantly you won’t make money. Just think about the meaning of this stock market tip. If you’re enjoying yourself, it’s no longer work, so you are free to “work” in a mentality that will, in fact, play to your strengths…and wallet.

Stock Market Tip #7: Staying Above the Curve

You don’t have to make a fortune with every trade you make. You don’t have to become a millionaire at the end of every trading day. Here’s stock market tip #7: You won’t. The people that shoot for that glory every day are the ones that are losing fortunes, not making them. What you need to do is play above the curve. Don’t be average, but don’t be extraordinary. Extraordinary has WAY too many risks to worry about. Fortunes are made gradually. It takes discipline and consistency…something the “average” trader lacks.

Online_Marketing

Finding and Using Online Marketing Tips

Posted by | Marketing Tips, Online PR | No Comments

When you are trying to get into marketing online you need to know how to find and use online marketing tips to your advantage. There are basically two types of tips that you can find and one is very good for the long run and health of your business, whereas the other type can help you make a little money fast, but will not help you in the long run. Here is what you need to know about both of these types of online marketing tips.

The Black Hat Online Marketing Tips

If you find what is known as Black Hat online marketing tips you will want to avoid these unless you just want to make a few quick bucks and be done. These types of tips are usually borderline illegal and very unethical. They may have to doing things that are against the terms and conditions of a website that you are using or against a monetization option you are using.

These are the type of online marketing tips that the lazy marketers use and they are marketed that way. They have been known to work, but they never work for the long run because black hat methods are typically like a scam. Google was taken advantage of by some of these methods and they shut down many websites because of it. Many saw their Google Adwords, Google Adsense, and hosting accounts shut down because of these types of methods.

The White Hat Online Marketing Tips

The best types of tips to find for your online marketing efforts are what are known as White Hat tips. These are the type of tips you can use for the long run and they can help you to get exactly what you are after out of your online business. These can include things like search engine optimization, article marketing, pay per click advertising, and many other things that are perfectly legal and ethical.

The best way to find the white hat tips is to look at the source that is providing the online marketing tips to you. If the source is known for scamming people or the sales pitch they are using sounds like a scam, then you are better off to avoid it all together. If they promise you can make a ton of money overnight and you will only work for a few minutes, then they are probably using black hat methods.

Those that use white hat methods know how well they work and they know that you may not make money from these methods for a month or so, but these are for the long run and if you want your business to be successful, then these are the online marketing tips you will trust.

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Old Version of Twitter to Be Eliminated “Very, Very Soon”

Posted by | Twitter | One Comment

Nine months after the launch of New Twitter, the social media company is letting users know that the old version of Twitter will be completely eliminated “very, very soon.”

The old version of Twitter always asked users to switch to the new version of Twitter, but today the message was changed, and it’s more urgent. “You will automatically be upgraded to New Twitter very, very soon,” the top of Old Twitter now reads. The color of the top bar has also been changed to yellow as an alert to users.

We’re not sure what Twitter means by “very,very soon” — it could be days or even weeks until Twitter flips the switch (we’ve emailed the Twitter for comment). However, it’s clear that Twitter is finally ready to eliminate the old version of Twitter altogether and bring everybody into the new design.

Some users are complaining about the change, but it seems to be a very small minority of Twitters 100+ million users.

Frankly, we’re surprised it took Twitter this long to make the switch permanent. The social media company launched the new version of Twitter more than nine months ago though. That’s more than enough time to introduce users to a new interface. It could be a technical issue, though; the social website did revert to the old interface after a bad code commit forced the company to take down New Twitter for several hours.

Are you sad to see the old Twitter finally go? Or should Twitter have made this move months ago? Let us know in the comments.

[via The Next Web]
Twitter

How to Social Media: 7 Tips for Better Twitter Chats

Posted by | Twitter | No Comments

How to Social Media: 7 Tips for Better Twitter Chats

 

Twitter chats are an increasingly common way for people to discuss a topic or passion online. Basically, a group will organize around a specific hashtag so people can follow a single thread of conversation on Twitter. There are now hundreds, if not thousands of regular Twitter chats going on, and for good reason. It’s an easy, low-commitment way to get involved in a conversation with other people in your industry. It’s also a great way to network and get new ideas.

 

Starting a Twitter chat, however, requires both time and effort. Make sure you’re setting yourself up for a positive outcome with these seven tips.

 

1. Be Clear About Your Goals Going Into the Chat

 

Some say there are already too many Twitter chats. How does creating a new one (as opposed to joining existing ones) help you or your company? When I spoke to creators of successful chats like #wjchat, #blogchat, #smmeasure and #u30pro, they pointed out some powerful benefits of doing it right. For a company, it can position you as a thought leader and grow brand awareness. For an individual it can help you meet people in your industry and grow your personal brand.

 

Still, it is not something to take on lightly. You’ll have to put in serious time before you see any results. If you’re in a company, make sure you talk about what success looks like before starting your chat. Consider metrics such as the number of people participating, mentions of your brand, sentiment of mentions, and lead generation.

 
2. Choose a Topic People Care About

 

How do you know if people care about your chat? They should already be discussing it informally. “It’s better to build a twitter chat around a topic of interest that’s directly related to your brand,” says David Spinks, creator of #u30pro, a Twitter chat for young professionals. “In the end, the participants will still relate the chat back to your brand because you’re the one organizing it.

 

3. Be Authentic

 

“The key to true reach and success is being authentic,” says Robert Hernandez, founder of #wjchat. “#wjchat is something organic and represents a passion shared by others. … If you have a topic you are passionate about, there may be others that are looking to connect with you.” Don’t do it just because you think you’re supposed to. Do it if you are genuinely looking for a way to engage and communicate with a community. Use that passion to stick with the chat when it starts out slow. Spinks says #u30pro’s first chat only had seven people and 150 tweets. Today, their typical chat includes 150 people and 1,200 tweets. Keep engaging and the right people and community should find you.

 

4. Choose a Schedule and Be Consistent

 

Most Twitter chats occur once a week for an hour, but if you’re just starting out, you may consider a bi-weekly or monthly chat instead as it’s easier to add sessions than to try and cut back. Sheldon Levine of #smmeasure says if he had to start again, he might have made #smmeasure a bi-weekly (as opposed to weekly) chat, simply because of the time commitment involved. Mack Collier of #blogchat points out the importance of choosing a time that works for both you and your audience. You want people to have time to join your chat. Collier suggested “either in the middle of the day around lunch time, or at night around 7 or 8 p.m. Central.”

 
5. Plan, But Stay Flexible

 

Most Twitter chats have a topical focus each week. The goal is to facilitate the conversation without getting in the way or letting it get out of hand (easier said than done). “Realize also that a Twitter chat for your brand will be another avenue for customers to express their complaints,” Spinks warns. “Twitter chats move fast, and can get out of hand quickly. It’s real time to the fullest.” Get ready for just about any question to come up. If you’re a business, make sure the person running the chat is someone who can speak for the company.

 
6. Bring In Thought Leaders
Don’t be afraid to get others involved, whether you need a partner to develop and plan the chat (#u30pro is operated by a team of four), or great guest “speakers” to help bring in audience. Twitter chats are successful because of the people in them. Do what you can to get great people involved, especially when you’re just starting.

 

7. Thank People Who Participate

 

If people take the time to engage with your chat, take a moment to thank them individually or in the chat itself. Collier has found huge success by following this strategy. “These are your rock stars, and you need to treat them as such,” he said. “That will simply give them more incentive to spread the word, and help you grow your community.”

 

 

 

Need help with your Social Media Marketing Campaigns? Contact our Social Media Team at Ice Clear Media [creative@iceclearmedia.com]

 

 

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Twitter to Put Promoted Tweets in Your Timeline

Posted by | News & Insight | No Comments

Twitter to Put Promoted Tweets in Your Timeline

 

 

 

 

We’ve already noted reports that Twitter is preparing to up its ad game by placing paid-for tweets right in the middle of your Twitter stream. Now we know the deadline for the change-over.

 

Promoted tweets will start showing up in users’ timelines within the next 8 weeks, according to several sources who have been briefed on the matter.

 

Twitter has been aggressively courting advertisers in the last few weeks, assuring them that promoted tweets are no experiment. They won’t just appear in Twitter search or Hootsuite, as in the company’s tentative moves in this direction in the past year. Nor will they be banished to the sidelines of Twitter.com, the way promoted trends are. They’re coming very soon, they’re here to stay, and the company is looking into ways to make sure we’ll see them — such as making the promoted tweets “sticky”, so they stay at the top of the page no matter how far you scroll down.

 

If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s the same idea that Twitter had for its iPhone app — the widely-reviled Quick Bar, rapidly dubbed the Dick Bar in honor of CEO Dick Costolo. Twitter seems to be betting that we’ll find a Quick Bar much less intrusive on the Web — which, given the amount of advertising we’re subjected to on the average page, may be a pretty safe bet. (Twitter declined to comment for this story).

 

What remains to be seen is whether advertisers will buy the idea and nudge Twitter into profitability. The site is expected to gross $100 million this year, far short of the $3.5 billion Facebook will be raking in from display ads alone.

 

What do you think? Will Twitter users revolt against sticky promoted tweets this fall as they did with the Quick Bar, accept them as a necessary evil, or perhaps even find them useful targeted advertising?

 

 

 

Let us know in the comments.

Website_Traffic1

4 Important Website Traffic Building Tips

Posted by | Marketing Tips | No Comments

4 Important Website Traffic Building Tips

 

Traffic building is one in all the foremost cherished goals of most on-line business owners. However, several people realise this act quite baffling. Here are some tips that can facilitate your in traffic building in an efficient approach:

1. Use Social Networking Sites

One nice method of traffic building, especially in the current scenario, is to use the potential of various social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. In case of informal social networking sites, folks can not be drawn to your posts if they find unabashed advertisements there, creating them a sales pitch.

But, there is ample scope of tacitly promoting your offerings, and you wish to create full utilization of the same. In case of business networking sites, the matters will be even less complicated for you, and you’ll easily share your URLs with a heap of prospective clients and business partners.

2. Use Blogs

Blogs are very sensible ways that of traffic building. A sensible blog post will bring a heap of traffic to your website. If individuals, who are reading your blogs, notice the knowledge useful and relevant, they could check your website to understand a lot of about your business.

There are a number of free blog portals, like WordPress.com and Blogger.com, where you’ll be able to post any tips or suggestions related to the product and services you’re selling.

You’ll be able to ask your readers to check your website at the tip of the post. This is a foolproof traffic building exercise and will yield results depending on the consistency and quality of your blog posts.

3. Forums and Message Forums

You can promote your website link by becoming a member of various forums and message boards. This may be an ideal traffic building exercise, however you would like to figure exhausting toward it. You’ve got to make a custom-made profile for each forum and then follow the activities that are happening in this community as your community members can simply sense whether your participation is genuine. Therefore be prepared to try and do your own legwork to create the most of such forums and message boards.

4.Teams

The Yahoo, Google, and MSN groups can also become sensible sources of traffic building. Several of them even have advertising facilities, which will help you directly promote your business. But, you will would like to follow the rules of those teams; else, you’ll be able to be banned for spamming.

In addition to these forums, you can even use photo sharing sites and social bookmarking sites for promoting your web site link. These informal and free platforms became a great means of traffic building. But, you wish to place in a lot of labor and showcase your humane side to your potential customers. If you can try this with success, it is doubtless to become a winning strategy.

 

 

 

We hoped you enjoyed article on 4 Important Website Traffic Building Tips, please share with freinds and leave a comment.

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Traffic Building Product Review – Google Traffic Pumper

Posted by | Marketing Tips | No Comments

Traffic Building Product Review – Google Traffic Pumper Traffic Building Product Review – Google Traffic Pumper

 

Within the course of selling any terribly common product that is needed each where you will come to appreciate the very fact that despite the very fact that it is in high demand you’ll only reach selling a small fraction because there are other individuals too out there who have the product to sell. However, within the event whereby you are able to direct tremendous traffic to your website one factor is positive to happen, and that is the actual fact that your sales will boom as a result of potential customers will come across your website before the opposite competitions. It can conjointly be said that while not any experience or financial backing you’ll keep a step ahead of the competition with the Google Traffic System Pumper which helps traffic building.

It’s a typical feature to determine websites failing to draw in traffic and dwindling sales ensuing from this condition where thus a lot of funds have being invested on promoting but nothing is yielding any effort. In order to reverse this trend most folks opt out of paid employment to concentrate on home business in the hope that it can bring some quite relief whereby life will be higher enjoyed like every one else. Quite sadly, this can be not typically the case as a result of most folks who begin home business usually end up not succeeding as a result of they fail to carry out proper analysis to understand what the requirement to try to to and apply in the business in order to succeed in traffic building.

It is common knowledge that each on-line business investor understands the actual fact that so as to survive in this business they have to create and drive traffic to their site so as to succeed. A lot of established business on the web invest therefore a lot of funds periodically on advert campaigns like pay per click in order to drive traffic. Abundant as their effort during this direction is laudable considering the amount they put into ad campaigns however the foremost crucial issue isn’t just getting the website noticed but more importantly targeted traffic. Targeted traffic is required by a business because those guests are those with a core interest in your niche as against untargeted traffic who are just casual surfers on the web looking out for nothing in particular.

The moment you come to the realisation about what the Google traffic pumper system will to near extinct websites you will immediately subscribe to its use because it’s known to work efficiently on traffic building the moment it is applied ensuing in regarding 5 hundred to a thousand hits among minutes of its launch. The instant this technique begins to perform like this on your web site you’ll be left with no selection but to open alternative websites in other to translate this performance to them. Extra websites translate to a lot of traffic for every of this sites, additional traffic translate to additional clients or repeat clients, and a lot of clients translate to success every time you post your product online for sale. That is why you would like to urge involved in the secrets of Google traffic pumper system because it works where others have failed to create any worth while impact.

Social Media Services

5 Social Media Strategies to Strengthen Your Online Presence

Posted by | Content Marketing and Optimisation, Facebook, Marketing Tips, Social Media Advice, Twitter, YouTube | One Comment

5 Social Media Strategies to Strengthen Your Online Presence

If you have taken your organization on line, you also have some social media accounts. As a issue of truth, there is a beneficial probability that you had a social media presence initial.

When I consult individuals with an on line presence the query, which social media web sites bring you the most targeted traffic, I just about generally get (without hesitation) Facebook and Twitter as the answer. But when I inquire what this website traffic does for their enterprise, the answers come a great deal additional hesitant.

5 Social media techniques to boost any small business:

1. Networking

This is an apparent social media system. It does not require a complete good deal of explanation. I consider that everybody with a pc understands that social media is the platform that has enabled us to network with people, we had no way of reaching prior to social media was born.

2. Purchaser services

Due to the fact the bulk of people today uses social media these days, the expectation is that you can go online and get all your concerns answered and problems addressed. This social media tactic is a incredibly complicated one particular in my opinion, since you have to be really careful to balance your on the internet and offline presence.

Simply because of the visibility on line there is a tendency to give on-line buyer assistance priority more than offline. This generates the chance that you produce the picture of only becoming beneficial if your steps are uncovered. Just one way to circumvent this is to post a phone amount online that buyers can contact, fairly than aiding consumers on the net. How long this techniques will keep on to perform I am not guaranteed of. But for now, it is probably your best wager.

3. Obtaining new consumers

There is, in my impression, no improved social media approach than 1 that focusses on discovering new clients. Even if your company is nearby, you can benefit tremendously. It is so much simpler to achieve people online than it is offline, that you will by definition boost your reach utilizing social media.

4. Set up your authority in your niche

By publishing your know-how and answering people today inquiries, related to your area of interest, you will immediately become an authority in your area of interest. The only key is to stick with it and to be constant in your method.

5. PR

This is where social media could be at its most impressive. The point that we can all encourage our firms without having remaining forced to shell out a fortune, has resulted in the leveling of the playing field. We can compete with greater businesses, reaching the very same goal group and creating a presence that is not also far eliminated from the bigger businesses.

I have confined myself to these five social media techniques, realizing entire perfectly that there are a lot of additional. But if you implement just these 5 your business will advantage drastically.

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Google Chrome Warns Against Malicious Downloads

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Google Chrome Warns Against Malicious Downloads

 

 

 

Google Chrome Warns Against Malicious Downloads

 

 

 

Google boasts about several security features in its Chrome web browser. Now, Google has added one more feature in Chrome web browser which will alert users against malicious file downloads. Now that’s something every browser should ideally have so that users don’t have to be dependent on anti-malware programs. This experimental feature is currently made available to Chrome Development Channel for testing and initially, it will alert against malicious Windows executables.

The Google Safe Browsing API comes into picture when the browser checks if the Windows executable being downloaded originates from a malicious code bearing site or not. Also, it has the same privacy policy as in the Safe Browsing feature which means Google will never know what URL you’ve visited to download that particular file.

This new alert against malicious file download could be too small to be noticed. At times, users are in such a hurry that they click on the ‘x’ (Close) on any pop-up message. So instead of showing an alert just above the status bar, something more attention drawing is required to make this feature actually useful.

Google Chrome has been offering features such as alerts the users against faulty websites that intend to inject malicious code in the user system. Google accumulates data about such websites and makes it available via Safe Browsing API. Several web browsers – Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari make use of Google’s Safe Browsing API to warn users if they happen to visit webpages that have been coded smartly to inject malware code in the system.

Google didn’t promise any date when the feature would be implemented and made available via a stable build of the Chrome browser.

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Frequently Asked Photo Questions for June 2011

Posted by | Creative Digital Design | 14 Comments

Have a question about digital photography? Send it to me. I reply to as many as I can–though given the quantity of e-mails that I get, I can’t promise a personal reply to each one. I round up the most interesting questions about once a month here in Digital Focus.

 

What’s the Best Photo File Format?

 

I recently had some prints made from photos I took with my digital SLR. I am not impressed with the quality–they are very grainy and some have a slight blur. Is this because of the picture format? I can shoot JPEG, RAW, and others. Which file type should I use, and for what occasion would I use others?

 

Most digital SLRs and even many point and shoot cameras give you the option of JPEG or RAW, Dennis. Some cameras also throw in the TIF format. In general, most people will get the best results from their camera’s highest quality JPG mode. The RAW format captures more color and exposure information than is visible in the JPG, which is ideal if you plan to edit the photo afterwards in a program like Adobe Photoshop. (Read “Using Your Camera’s RAW Mode” for more on this.) But if you aren’t the sort of person who tinkers with your photos, avoid the RAW format; it isn’t white balanced or sharpened, so unedited RAW results are generally inferior to a well-shot JPEG.

 

In your specific case, grain and blur are not the sort of thing caused by–or solved by–any particular file format. Instead, those are issues that can be fixed by learning the photography basics, like how to use your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. For tips on dealing with common photo problems like the ones you describe, read “5 Common Photo Problems, Avoided or Solved.”

Choosing a Scanner Setting

I’m scanning old negatives with a film scanner. I can chose from many different settings, such as TIF or JPEG, and various levels of compression. The default setting gives me a TIF with a file size of 67MB. If I capture in JPEG format, excellent quality file size is still 67MB, and high quality gives me 11-14MB files, and good quality is about 5MB. When I edit photos with Picnik, the maximum file size the program can process is 16MB, so scanning with excellent settings doesn’t seem to make sense. So should I use the Excellent setting, or the High setting? Am I losing any quality, and if so, how much? When I compare the same picture with both Good and Excellent settings, I don’t see a difference on my monitor.

 

The answer all depends upon how you plan to use your photos and how picky you are about image quality, Vincent. Consider music lovers for a moment. Many folks are perfectly happy listening to low-quality digital music on tinny ear buds. Me? I consider myself an audiophile; I am meticulous about ripping CDs at 320 kbps (the highest bitrate for the MP3 format). I won’t listen to music sampled at 128 kbps or streaming radio. But it turns out that there are even more dedicated audio snobs who put me to shame. I know folks who listen to vinyl only because they think CDs and all digital music, regardless of the sample rate, sounds terrible.

 

So, back to the issue at hand. If you are scanning these slides as true “archival quality” or “reference quality” originals, then you would want to scan them at the very highest quality possible: TIF, which is a “lossless” format. But there’s a cost to doing that because TIF is a cumbersome format to work with. Instead, the highest-quality JPEG is probably good enough if you are not a professional photographer. If you are even more casual about your photos and aren’t worried about preserving every bit of color, tone, and resolution, then the Excellent–or even Good–quality setting on your scanner is probably fine for your taste. Of course, if you plan to edit your photos in an online tool like Picnik, you probably aren’t concerned about preserving reference quality fidelity in your photos anyway, and lower-quality scans are adequate.

Photo Quality, Size, and Resolution Explained

I have seen pictures that completely fill my 22-inch monitor with excellent quality, and when you check the size they might only be 200KB or even less. How do megapixels relate to this?

 

This issue always seems to confuse folks, so thanks for asking, Shahid. There are a variety of values associated with photo size/resolution/quality, and they are only somewhat related to each other.

 

Let’s start with megapixels. That’s the key spec by which most cameras are sold, and it refers to the sheer number of pixels in the photos. A 1-megapixel camera takes photos with a million pixels in them; a 20-megapixel camera captures 20 million pixel photos. Think of it like a grid that tells you how wide and tall the photo is. For example, my 16-megapixel camera takes photos that measure 4928 by 3264 pixels. Multiple those numbers and you get 16 million pixels. Note that this says absolutely nothing about the actual quality of the photo–just the size.

 

Then there’s the file size. A photo might be 16MB, 2MB, or even just 100KB in size. This measures how much space the photo takes up on your computer’s hard drive. There’s no direct relationship between file size and megapixels, because file size also depends upon the amount of compression used to save the photo. A TIFF or a RAW photo generally has no compression, so all 16-megapixel RAW photos are always exactly the same size. But if you look at a hundred 16-megapixel JPGs, you’ll find that no two are the same size. The file size depends upon the compression used to save the photo and the amount of detail and color in the image to begin with. So the file size can give you some hints about the quality of the photo, but I wouldn’t try to read too much into that, either.

 

You mentioned that even seemingly small photos look excellent on your computer monitor. That’s not surprising. No matter how many millions of pixels are in a photo, it’ll always be resized to just 1280 by 1024 on your monitor, or however many pixels your display is set to.

 

As you can see, measuring image size and quality is difficult. And I’ve overlooked the most important consideration: taking a great photo to begin with. The photo needs to be focused sharply and properly exposed. All the megapixels in the world can’t fix a bad photo.

High Dynamic Range Revisited

Loved the article on creating high dynamic range photos using Ulead’s PhotoImpact. Is there a way to achieve similar results using Adobe Photoshop Elements 8?

 

Photoshop Elements does not have a high dynamic range feature built in, Carol, but there are free programs you can try. For example, I have written about Luminance HDR, which works nicely. And if you want to stick with Photoshop Elements, you can “fake” HDR photography in that program using the technique I described in “Improve Your Exposure in Tricky Lighting.”

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.

 

Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

 

photo

 

This week’s Hot Pic: “Warrior Dance,” by Ron Lashley, Flora Vista, New Mexico

 

Ron writes: “I took this photo in Farmington at an Indian dance demonstration which included several tribes like Apache and Navajo. I used a Sony A300 with a shutter speed of 1/160 second; it was somewhat difficult due to the dancer’s motion. I used Topaz Remask to remove the background, and then applied Topaz Clean and Simplify along with some hand painting to complete the effect.”

 

photo

 

This week’s runner-up: “Hiding,” by George Fritzsche, Bayport, New York

 

George writes: “I took this picture while playing with my son. We were playing hide and seek at a local beach on Long Island. I took my camera out and went around the other side of some playground equipment. I got this picture right before my son found me hiding.”

 

George used a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi.

wpid-silhouette01-5164584.jpg

5 Tips for Shooting Dramatic Silhouettes

Posted by | Creative Digital Design | One Comment

As any horror movie director will tell you, what you don’t see is often scarier than what you do. And while filmmakers know that the unseen can certainly be scary, photographers rely on the fact that often it’s just plain dramatic. That’s the idea behind silhouettes, which engage you by masking details in inky black shadows. By coyly hiding important elements of the photo in plain sight, silhouettes are some of the most iconic elements you can add to your photography repertoire. In the past, I’ve covered the basics of shooting silhouettes. This week, let’s look at five things you can do to take better silhouettes.

1. Set Up the Scene

silhouettesPhoto courtesy Flickr user Lin Fuchshuber.The basic idea behind any silhouette is that your subject is dark and underexposed, but set against a bright background. So for the best results, look for situations in which you can take advantage of a lot of contrast. Sunsets are a perennial favorite for silhouettes, but if you get low to the ground and aim upwards, you can get striking results by placing someone (or something) against a bright blue sky. Your options hardly end there; I’ve seen gorgeous silhouettes set against brightly lit stained glass windows inside churches, for example.

2. Turn Off the Flash

It’s critical to expose for the background. We want to keep light off of the subject, so your camera’s flash should be off. If your flash tends to fire automatically, you’ll want to find the flash setting and turn it off.

3. Expose for the Background, Not the Subject

silhouettesPhoto courtesy Flickr user latteda.Most digital cameras are pretty smart and can expose your scene pretty well even in terribly harsh, high-contrast situations. That’s exactly what we need to avoid in order to capture a good silhouette, though, so you should outsmart your camera by overriding the automatic exposure control. There are a few ways to do this. If your camera has an exposure lock button, you can point the camera at the bright background and then press the exposure lock. Keeping the button pressed, compose the shot and then take the picture.

 

Another option is to point the camera at the bright background while in automatic exposure mode and take note of the f/stop and shutter speed. Then put your camera in manual mode, dial in those settings, and compose and take the picture. Whatever you do, don’t just compose the photo and take it using auto or shutter or aperture priority, because those settings will average the exposure between the background and subject, and you won’t get a silhouette.

4. Keep the Subject in Focus

Focus is something else to consider when you take a silhouette. Depending upon how you frame the shot and what settings you use to set the exposure, your camera might accidentally lock the focus on the background. For your silhouette to have dramatic impact, though, it needs to be sharp. In most cases, fixing this problem is just a matter of ensuring that the focus locks on the subject when you press the shutter release. You might want to check your camera’s user guide and make sure that the exposure lock button doesn’t also lock the focus, for example. Worst case, you might need to switch to manual focus and set it yourself.

5. Perfect the Silhouette on Your PC

silhouettesFinally, keep in mind that it’s rare to capture a perfect silhouette “in the lens.” Most silhouettes will require some touchup in a photo editing program. The most common problem you’ll have is that the silhouette isn’t perfectly black–you’ll still see some color or detail. Fix that with your photo editor’s Burn tool. Burn is a brush that darkens the scene wherever you paint. So select the Burn tool (if you’re using Photoshop Elements, it’s in the second cubby from the bottom of the toolbar) and paint over the subject to remove all trace of color and detail.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.

 

Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

 

silhouettes

 

This week’s Hot Pic: “Small Balsam” by Phil Wright, Queensland, Australia

 

Phil writes: “I shot this after a flood in Queensland, using a Canon S95. I later tweaked it using Photoshop. The plants are always the first to recover and look better for it after a flood.”

 

silhouettes

 

This week’s runner-up: “Little Plane” by Rob O’Donnell, Mesa, Arizona

 

Rob says: “Living near an airport, I see a lot of airliners fly over. But when I saw this moon rise in the sky, I waited until I saw this little guy flying where few are able to fly.”

 

Rob captured this photo with a Sony A500.

Link_Building

Scaling Link Building – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by | Latest News | 4 Comments

Link building can be the most tedious and time-consuming task of SEO. At least, that’s how a lot of people feel about it. Ever want to know how to scale link building to avoid the pitfalls of wasted time and effort? This week, Tom Critchlow from Distilled interviews Ross Hudgens, an SEO currently working at Full Beaker in Bellevue, Washington, about some strategies you can use to scale your link building and get more links with less effort. Hiring people with hustle is a big part of it, but using APIs and outsourcing development can help too (though some aspects of linkbuilding simply are not outsourceable, as Tom and Ross explain). Do you have any strategies you use to scale your linkbuilding? Let us know in the comments below!

Tom: Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I am here today with Ross Hudgens, and we’re going to talk a little bit about scaling link building. So we talk about link building all the time in SEO. It is obviously one of the most important parts of any SEO campaign, but there is this kind of divide between an individual, maybe it’s a business owner, maybe it’s an individual in-house SEO, and he has to figure out how to scale link building. The company is growing, you’re doing a lot more stuff. How do you go from one individual to a team of people doing link building? We’re going to talk through some of the challenges. Ross Hudgens, where are you at the moment? Let’s talk a bit about your experience.Ross: I currently work at Full Beaker in Bellevue, Washington, and basically, what I am doing is building out a multitude of websites in-house and a team to basically go from a few websites to a huge team of link builders, properties, etc. So, with that there are a lot of problems with hiring, scaling link building, making it cost efficient, etc.

Tom: Sure. I have come up against challenges with hiring link builders all the time.

Ross: Right.

Tom: It’s a very unique blend of skills, I think.

Ross: Yeah.

Tom: I’d love to get your take on it. But some of the things that we look for when we’re hiring link builders at Distilled is kind of this weird mix of understanding the Internet, so it’s kind of you need to understand what Twitter is, what a blog is, how social networks work, all that kind of stuff. But you don’t necessarily need to understand all that much about SEO, per se. Right?

Ross: Yeah, definitely.

Tom: You can teach somebody easily what anchor text is.

Ross: Right. It’s interesting in general, like in my experience if you don’t have a huge website or brand to leverage off of, you’re almost better off saying you want to hire an internet marketing specialist rather than SEO, because no one really knows what SEO is or they’re going to fake it, maybe.

Tom: Absolutely.

Ross: But there is also a good part, if you have a big personal brand, or like Distilled, you guys have the power of being this recognizable figure, so you can say, “We’re hiring,” on Twitter and you can find those people that are inexperienced but still have a modicum of knowledge that they are probably going to be great link builders for you guys.

Tom: Absolutely. I have actually found some of the best kind of people we have hired that are good at link building are just guys that hustle. Right? So there is this concept I think you talked about on your blog. We’ve talked it before. It’s this idea that one of the most effective, actually across any SEO discipline, but particularly about link building, is just this idea of hiring people who know how to get stuff done. Right.? It is the kind of person who they send an email to somebody saying, “Hey, can you check out this content we’ve created?” They get an email back saying no, and they just don’t take that for answer.  Like you see this in Justin. Justin does this all the time.

Ross: Yeah, Justin is great at that. Definitely.

Tom: Yeah. He has this attitude of kind of approaching a problem, and this would be like sales. You get a no, but at least you have replied to me.

Ross: Right.

Tom: I know you’re alive. Right?

Ross: Definitely. So what’s interesting to me about that is how do you measure that upfront? Do you just have this sixth sense when you’re hiring someone that they have that pure hustle?

Tom: Actually, what we find the easiest thing is just go ahead and ask for it. Right? Go ahead and ask.

Ross: Right.

Tom: Say when was a time when you went and did something where no one had told you to do it, it wasn’t like on your job spec, but you just figured out a problem, identified it, and then gone and done it, like taken ownership of the problem. You’ll find that these people stick out like a sore thumb. You ask this question and some people will be like, “I don’t know. I cleaned the photocopier once.” And you ask some people and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, in my part-time, I organized a conference,” and it’s like oh. It’s like just those people you get a sense for being able to get stuff done.

Ross: A good citation of that kind of event. Right.

Tom: Absolutely. Then so to come back to something I was saying earlier, we find it really good to hire people who are kind of popular online.

Ross: Okay.

Tom: Like, if somebody has like 500 Facebook friends, that’s usually a good indication they understand the Internet quite well.

Ross: Right, that’s true.

Tom: They understand the psychologically of attention, which I think is important for link building. So it’s not necessarily kind of, like, they’re not a celebrity necessarily. It’s not like they’d have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers.

Ross: Right. But they’ve built up some kind of rapport and they know what’s going on, clearly.

Tom: Absolutely. Yeah, and they’re clearly like communicating with people. They are clearly comfortable spending a lot of time online, because at the end of the day, that’s what is going to happen.

Ross: Right. Yeah, because it’s the healthy balance, because you’re probably going to be hiring someone at the beginning stages when you are building out these teams. So it takes these little tiny bits about them to make sure they can be that Justin Briggs or that other great link builder for Distilled or any team. Right?

Tom: Absolutely. These people with personal social networks are often great assets, because you say, “Oh, I need to get some links for this gardening shed website.” They’ll be like, “Oh wait, I’ve got a buddy who is crazy about garden sheds.” Just let me send him a Facebook message. Then the next thing you know, you’ve got a guest post or link or whatever. So it’s kind of interesting this mix of skills that you need.

Ross: Yeah, definitely.

Tom: But I think, if I could sum it up, I think hustle is super important, and I think kind of just getting the ins and outs, even if it is not SEO, just getting like how stuff works online is really important. So let’s move on, because we’ve got other stuff to cover.

Ross: Sure.

Tom: Let’s imagine that we’ve hired a few link builders into our team.

Ross: Okay.

Tom: How do you go about training link builders? This is an interesting question.

Ross: Right. So one of my problems has been at first I would go and try and drop all my knowledge like a waterfall on the link builder, and that never works out. I will say look at this, this, this. The better thing to do is give them a few things to look at, and then constantly have them go out, find links, say we should target this website, we should target that website, and then give them feedback on a case by case basis and keep that going for a long time until it becomes this evolution where clearly they are progressing in their knowledge. They know how to value a link appropriately. Then you can let them go to be able to pick links and do that link building themselves, without your guidance basically.

Tom: Okay. That sounds like it takes a lot of time.

Ross: Right.

Tom: Talk me through kind of how much time you reckon that takes to kind of train somebody up. Do you micromanage? I’m curious like if the . . .

Ross: No, not at all. It’s more of just, yeah, at the beginning stages, hopefully, that’s why I definitely look for someone that’s a 1A when I am hiring a team,

Tom: Yeah.

Ross: It’s never I want to hire just an intern up front. Like, sometimes there is going to be that bigger cost of that first SEO. Ideally, a lot of SEO teams are built on interns and stuff like that, because it’s low cost for efficiency. But if you bring in a 1A that you can trust, and definitely, yes, it is time intensive at first, but I find you want them to have all the skills, and it is worth it upfront to sometimes . . . .

Tom: You mentioned this kind of concept of valuing a link.

Ross: Right.

Tom: So that’s some kind of a test they have to pass. It’s like, can this guy value a link properly or not? Talk me through how you might evaluate that.

Ross: One way, good way to do things is like we’ll get a giant link list of emails or just of URLs. We’ll say, just sent general link begging emails to these people. You can tell just based on who they email and etc. whether they can tell . . . one part is the weight of the link, how much power is it going to pass. Another part is are they going to link to us? So that’s an important dichotomy that they have to interrelate.

Tom: Okay.

Ross: So going through that process, looking through all those websites, it gives you a gauge of do they have the knowledge to determine what’s a good link, what’s spammy, what’s super strong, will never link to us. Through that process of looking at tons of websites and they’ll send you links, or you can just see their email gathering list, and you’ll say, this is bad, this is bad, this is bad, XY why that is, etc.

Tom: Yeah. Well, that’s really interesting. I think more generally like I’ve done a lot of SEO training. Kind of all kinds. I think the one thing that is universal across any kind of training is that feedback loop that you mentioned. Even if it is just for a very small subset of the kind of work they’ve been doing. So let’s say they’ve done like ten campaigns or ten reports or whatever, just focus down on one or two and just go through them in real detail. I think giving that feedback on every report, so this is okay, but you could have done it like this. . . .

Ross: Right.

Tom: Or why did you do it this way? Couldn’t you have done it a better way this way?

Ross: Yeah, exactly.

Tom: Or wouldn’t it have been quicker to do it this way? I find that just that small bit of feedback, that’s how people learn. When people say that you learn by doing, it’s true to a certain extent. But it’s almost like self-teaching, learning by doing, because you have to learn your own mistakes and do it the hard way. But if you have somebody else to go over the stuff with you, that’s much more effective.

Ross: Yeah, definitely.

Tom: So, I think that’s really important.

Ross: One good management tactic I have used in the past is when you’re explaining something to someone, you say at the end, “What do you think?” Like, “Does that make sense?”

Tom: Yeah.

Ross: So you want that positive feedback. Let them reiterate what you just said back to them, because sometimes there can be this curse of knowledge that you think they know everything you know, they are going to great it easily. That’s not the case. So you have them quickly reiterate at the end of every little explanation. What do you think? It’s a good way to make sure that they actually have takeaways from these kinds of things.

Tom: Yeah, absolutely. I have actually found something very similar, which is if somebody comes to you with a problem, don’t necessarily solve it straightaway. Even if you know the answer, I find it useful sometimes to say, “Well, what do you think might be the right answer?” I get them to think it through a little bit, and then it’s like you kind of lead them in the right direction. But that makes them understand it a lot better. It’s almost the difference between reading a page of notes or writing your own page of notes. It’s like if you write, if you physically go through all the steps, you’re going to remember it and take it in much better.

Ross: Yeah. It’s like looking at all the answers in the back of the book, basically. Right?

Tom: Exactly, yeah.

Ross: No one ever learns anything from that really. No.

Tom: No. I mean, you pass the test.

Ross: Right. You should get more points for just working on it, rather than looking at the odd answers. Right? So yeah.

Tom: Absolutely. So let’s move on because we’re short on time. But efficiency and cost control. So I think this is a really interesting problem to kind of solve. We talk in SEO a lot about raw SEO, but we never talk about the business side of it. If you have a team of link builders, somebody is paying for those people. Somebody is paying their salaries. At the end of the day that’s measured against some kind of cost, some kind of revenues coming in. What are the kind of things that we can do to improve efficiency and cost control?

Ross: One thing I think is building the value of your business. I know for Distilled you guys do a great job of this. You’re a big brand name. So you can bring in people and based on the recognition of working with you or another big brand if it’s in eBay, Amazon, etc., they can command a lower salary. They can build out a bigger team based on people want to work for that company whether or not they’re paid a lot and because it gives them a lot of benefit. It’s not like you’re ripping them off or anything. It is because you have a lot of value to offer them, and it is going to save you money as well. So that building up your personal brand, your business’ brand, is a great way to save money in the long run, rather than being under the radar because it is hard to get good people.

Tom: Absolutely.

Ross: It is hard to get cost efficient people.

Tom: There are some really cheap perks that you can offer as well. It’s like we run conferences. So sending our staff to conferences is very cheap for us.

Ross: Right.

Tom: But it has big value to the employees.

Ross: Yeah, definitely.

Tom: I hope there are no Distilled employees listening, You didn’t hear that. We love you guys.

Ross: So there are other things like some people like outsourcing stuff to India, etc., using Mechanical Turk, those kinds of things.

Tom: Does that work for you? Have you tried that?

Ross: For gathering emails, it’s okay.

Tom: Okay.

Ross: I have actually heard people have used developing. I haven’t actually done that myself yet. But it is something that is interesting having developers actually work for you in India or abroad. I don’t’ know. Have you tried that before?

Tom: Not outsourcing development per se. We do outsource a lot of content creation at Distilled, so we have a kind of a network of very trusted freelance writers. So it is not like we are outsourcing it to India or anything. We typically have met them. We typically have actually worked directly with them in the past. But those people are almost employees, I guess, but on a contract basis. That allows our consultants to not spend time actually writing content too much.

Ross: Right. It’s definitely time intensive.

Tom: Absolutely. Writers are good at it. That’s their job.

Ross: Right. Yeah, exactly.

Tom: You can’t necessarily expect SEOs to know how to create content just because they know SEO.

Ross: Right. Yeah, exactly. Everyone has their dynamic skill set.

Tom: Absolutely. So those are two of the ways that we have approached efficiency is outsourcing the bits that you can outsource. Content creation is something that we found can work okay, as long as it’s to good people. We haven’t found outsourcing outreach.

Ross: Okay.

Tom: I think that never works. Like, outreach is just such a creative . . .

Ross: Yeah, it’s too creative. Right.

Tom: You need to keep tight control on it. You look at someone like Justin doing outreach. You can’t outsource that.

Ross: Yeah, exactly. You can’t put hustle and get someone on Mechanical Turk to hustle for you.

Tom: Exactly, yeah. There is a great phrase we use within Distilled, where we say, “You can’t outsource giving a shit.”

Ross: Yeah, that’s true.

Tom: Which is true. When you are in-house or in an agency, it’s like you really want to succeed. You want to build up. But when you try to outsource it, it is a paycheck.

Ross: Exactly. You’re connected to that brand, that job, that business. It’s part of you. It’s a paycheck they’re trying to make.

Tom: So that’s one of the ways that we’ve done efficiency and cost control. The other way is kind of processes. So trying to build internal tools that save time. So, for example, we built a tool internally that does a whole bunch, like a bulk lookup on the SEOmoz API. So if you’ve got a list of 200 URLs, you can plug them into the spreadsheet and get all the metrics back straightaway. So it’s like that kind of thing can just incrementally save all your guys time.

Ross: Right.

Tom: It’s like you think about how many times you have to query, go into Open Site Explorer and stuff.

Ross: Oh, it’s huge.

Tom: You can just save time doing that.

Ross: Yeah, for sure.

Tom: So little things like that, and then there’s a whole bunch of other tools, like keyword research and all that kind of stuff.

Ross: Right. Building that proprietary. I mean, keeping your ear to the floor too. There are a lot of people doing great things in the tool world. Obviously SEOmoz, Raven, all these people put out great things that dramatically cut time for people, and if you’re not taking advantage of them, you’re wasting money and time and scalability.

Tom: Absolutely. Yeah. There’s a great app that Justin mentioned as well, called Tout app that helps you kind of scale your link building. It allows you to send emails to people right within your browser. You click a little JavaScript bookmarker, and then you can suddenly email them right within the app, which is pretty cool.

Ross: Yeah, that is cool.

Tom: I’ll link to it in the blog post. Cool. So we have kind of gone through this idea. You’ve hired some link builders, you’re trained them up. We’ve looked at cost control and making them efficient. But hiring, like scaling people isn’t the only way of scaling link building.

Ross: Right.

Tom: What are some of the other ways we can scale link building?

Ross: One thing is you’re going to start as a link builder. You’re going to have likely no network at all. Over time, you’re going to develop a long list of people who have linked to you. One thing I like to do – I call it the black book for SEOs – is just put in all the contacts, what the vertical was, who you emailed it from, etc., and you have this laundry list of people that you developed relationships with, what vertical it is, what asset you used to get that link. You can reflect back on that and that can develop to be a massive list over time, and that can save you a lot of time for sure.

Tom: Yeah, absolutely. At heart, link building is about relationships. So, don’t just start a list of links, start a list of relationships. We do exactly the same thing at Distilled.

Ross: Yeah, it’s huge definitely.

Tom: Then some of the other ways I think you can scale this are by trying to actually develop partnerships with people. So it’s like, for example, we’ve written some guest blogs for media publications and online magazines and online newspapers, those kinds of things. They’re time intensive. They’re hard to get. They give you a great link at the end of it. But then you can actually scale it up and take them out for lunch or take them out for coffee and be like, “Hey, we have a whole bunch of content we can create. We can save you a whole bunch of time. Why don’t we write a guest column? Or why don’t we get featured weekly in some kind of feature or something?” Trying to kind of entrench that relationship. Kind of go from that kind of one-off relationship of one piece of content to we’re sending something every week or we’ll help you out any time you need some data or whatever it might be.

Ross: Right.

Tom: You can scale that up, not in a way of scaling more people that you know, but scaling the benefit you get from that one relationship is a great way of doing it.

Ross: Yeah. That definitely makes sense. I think in general and expounding upon the relationship thing is the problem with that general link list is that they’re in a lot of niches that can only help you with one website. Maybe you will never get back to it for five year. But if you find those super high quality, maybe general newspaper type contacts, etc., in the media, those can be diversified, use them in a lot of different websites in a different way if you are creative and use that relationship intelligently. So that sounds like exactly what you guys are doing.

Tom: Absolutely, yeah. There are a whole bunch of other ways you can do it as well. We’re kind of developing these partnerships, almost link building at a kind of business-to-business level almost. It can be really valuable. We’ve worked with some companies where you develop a widget, and then you give that widget to a partner website and suddenly it is on every page of their site. Not always necessarily a good thing.

Ross: Yeah.

Tom: But you start to scale up the kind of benefit you are getting from that stuff.

Ross: Right, definitely.

Tom: That can really help. Some of the stuff you can do in return is sometimes pretty easy for you. Like SEOmoz, for example, I know we’ve developed a few partnerships where they get benefit back, whether it is driving conversions or whether it is driving links, and in return give away like either cheap or free access to their API. That doesn’t cost them anything too much. It costs them in their back-end resources.
But that kind of thing is a great way of using the assets you have as a company rather than as an individual to leverage that kind of business-to-business relationship.

Ross: Right. Yeah. You could do it from the personal side as well. Your SEO skills are so valuable, rarely does a contact you are going to make have that SEO skill and everyone, SEO is growing, there is more and more investment in it. So people are looking for that and definitely if you have high level SEO skill and a lot of people are going to charge into the five digits for a side audit, maybe more sometimes, when you can just give free advice, they’ll love you for that and favors will come back in droves basically.

Tom: I am a huge fan of that kind of karma.

Ross: Yeah.

Tom: Do something nice for somebody when you’re not asking for anything in return, but that will come back to you in time. You see Rand. Right? Rand is like the most giving person you have ever met.

Ross: Right. Yeah.

Tom: Anyone can email him. Sorry, Rand, you’re going to get all kinds of email now.

Ross: A lot of apologies here.

Tom: People grab him at conferences. People grab him in the SEOmoz comments. Randall always takes time to help people, be kind to people. Then you see that come back. It’s like Rand can pick up the phone and be like, oh hey, whether it is an entrepreneur or a business owner or a VC or somebody from the SEOmoz community. It’s like, “Oh hey, I was wondering if I could do this, or if you could do me a favor.”

Ross: Right.

Tom: That stuff just comes around.

Ross: It’s easy. Right. Yeah.

Tom: It’s a nice thing to do as well.

Ross: Yeah, definitely.

Tom: For a nice person.

Ross: Yeah, exactly. I agree with you totally.

Tom: Hopefully that was some interesting tips on how to scale link building. It is a difficult challenge. I’d love to know what you guys think in the comments. Let us know any tips you have for scaling teams or anything we missed. So thank you very much, Ross, for coming on.

Ross: Thank you, Tom.

Tom: Talk to you soon.

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The Three Types Of Searches

Posted by | Link Building (SEO) | 2 Comments

Writing Content for Small Businesses Online

 

For those new to the topic, I thought I’d go over it, and show it applies to SEO strategy. I’m basing this article on the study “A Taxonomy Of Web Search”(PDF), by Andrei Broder. Andrei is VP of Search Advertising at Yahoo, although he wrote this report while he was with AltaVista.

 

types of searches

 

In summary, a taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. In terms of search, we focus on classifying keywords into three distinct classes – navigational, informational and transactional. If you can determine user intent behind keyword queries, you can better target your keyword strategies. For example, if your aim is to sell goods online, you may choose to focus on transactional queries e.g. “where can I buy an LCD monitor….”, as opposed to informational queries e.g. “power requirements of an LCD monitor……”.

 

There is, of course, a lot of cross-over between these three types of queries, which I’ll address shortly. In the study, keyword queries are divided into three groups.

 

A navigational query indicates the searcher wants to find a specific site. For example, a search for “BMW” most likely indicates the the user wants to find BMW.com. Navigational queries usually only have one “right” answer. The user either finds the site they are after, or they do not.

 

An informational query indicates the searcher is looking for specific information. For example, “symptoms of cancer”, “San Francisco” or “Scoville heat units”. Informational queries tend to be broad. The informational query doesn’t tend to be site specific.

 

A transactional query indicates the searcher wants to perform a web-mediated activity. For example, “buy LCD TV online”. If your aim is to sell goods and services online, you might focus more on transactional queries than informational queries. The problem with such classification, of course, is that it is narrow. We can’t really determine user intent from just looking at the keyword, however this classification gives us a useful way of thinking about which keyword terms might be the most useful in achieving our goals.

 

There are some really interesting results in this report.

 

24.53% of people want to get to a specific website they already have in mind. This is what navigational query.

 

This is why brand, and making your brand memorable, is so important. Searchers often type a site name into a search engine, rather than type http://www….etc into the address bar. Optimizing for the name of your site is imperative if you want to catch navigational queries.

 

68.41% of people want to find a good site on a particular topic. They don’t have a specific site in mind – This is what they call an informational query

 

A lot of SEO is focused on this type of query.

 

Why did people conduct their searches?

8.16% were shopping for something to buy on the internet5.46% of people were shopping to buy an item, but not on the internet22.55% of people wanted to download a file (i.e. image, music, software, etc)57.19% None of these reasons

What were people looking for?

14.83% were looking for a collection of links to other sites regarding a particular topic76.62% The best site regarding this topic

Interesting, huh. Site’s like About.com and Mahalo capture both these types of queries.

 

types of searches

 

Now, with these figures in mind, check out this eye tracking study.

 

Although the test data is limited, it is interesting to note that sites targeting a transactional query can be further down the search result set than the informational query and still receive attention, if not a click.

 

When conducting an informational query, if searchers don’t see the information they want in the first search result, they will refine their search. The same goes for navigational queries.

 

If you’re targeting the transactional query, however, the wording of your title tag could give you an advantage over those who rank higher than you. When conducting a transactional query, searchers often hunt further down the result page, or across to the Adwords, to see which listing sounds most interesting to them.

 

So how do you apply this information?

 

If you choose to focus on one type of query…..

 

There are many cues of relevancy left by the market. All you have to do is look for them.

 

Google typically only shows AdWords ads above the organic search results *if* they generate a high clickthrough rate (CTR). And since advertisers using AdWords are paying for every click, you can presume that for expensive keywords many of those ads are matched up with strong user intent.

 

types of searches

 

Tools like SpyFu ad history and KeywordSpy can help show you who has been advertising on those keywords for the longest period of time. Those who have been doing it a long time are typically either optimizing their ad copy OR losing a lot of money.

 

types of searches

 

Google’s keyword tools, Insights for Search, and Google Trends show where a particular search query is popular (and if there is any interesting news that is driving search queries). In addition to seeing the query breakdown by country (or state, or city), you can view ads from different locations by using the Google ad preview tool and/or the Google Global plug in.

 

Google’s Insights for Search categorizes user searches for the broad match version of a particular keyword
types of searches

 

Microsoft offers a tool to categorize content.

 

types of searches
Google’s Ad Planner lets you select pre-defined audiences, websites, and keywords to analyze.

 

Both Microsoft and Quantcast offer similar functionality on a per website or per keyword basis.

 

types of searches

 

Microsoft offers a search funnels tool which allows you to research keywords they recently searched for prior to searching for a keyword, OR keywords they searched for after they searched for a keyword.

 

types of searches

 

Microsoft also has an entity association tool which can be used to find keywords that were co-occuring in the search or searched for in the same session.

 

types of searches

 

Microsoft’s Online Commercial Intent tool estimates if search queries or web pages have a high probability of being informational or commercial in nature.

 

types of searches

 

types of searches

 

Since Google AdWords factors ad clickthrough rate into their calculations, you can presume that the top advertisers are either getting a decent CTR, or are paying through the nose for clicks.

 

Compete.com’s keyword destination data lets you know the relative click volume sites receive for a particular search query.

 

types of searches

 

Beyond data from the above tools, you can also infer a lot of data just by putting yourself in the mind of the consumer

Determine which type of search you’re targeting – informational, transactional, navigational – and segment the audience accordinglyAlign your site to the intent of the user. For example, a searcher who is after information is going to want to see an authoritative looking site. What is an authoritative looking site? It will differ depending on the market you are in, but it is highly unlikely the searcher will react well to a site plastered with advertising. The site will have markers of authority, such as recommendations, perhaps a display of qualifications, and information laid out in an “academic” way (Wikipedia), as opposed to a blatant sales pitch (Multi-Level Marketing). The transaction searcher will want confirmation (e.g. a big logo) s/he has arrived in the right place.Look for emotional angles and user intent targeting strategies that competing businesses are missing. Is free shipping a big deal? Is everyone trying to sell to a person that is looking to research and compare? Find a compelling way to stand out and differentiate yourself from the competition. Even if you are only targeting 30% of searchers you can still get more traffic being the only person doing that rather than the 8th consecutive similar offer.Track user behavior to confirm intent. Get people to sign up for more detailed information, note which pages people spend the most time on, which keyword terms lead to conversion, etc. Feed this information back into your strategy

The transactional user is more likely to forgive ads. In fact, they may even welcome them, so long as the advertising is relevant.

 

Conversely….

 

One of the problems with the study, as noted in the study, is that it is very difficult to determine intent just by looking at the keyword.

 

For example, an informational search could end up being a transactional search once the user is satisfied that with the answer to the information they were seeking. For example, “symptoms of flu” might turn into a purchase for a flu remedy.

 

That’s why it can be a good idea to target all types of query, in an integrated way.

 

Carefully consider how you word your title tags. Integrate brand aspects for the navigational query i.e. “SEOBook.com – SEO Training Made Easy”. Convey the information you provide “i.e. SEO Training” and transactional information i.e. the implication is that people can buy “SEO training”. This information is also repeated in the snippet, although webmasters often have less control over this aspect.

 

Keep in mind that transactional doesn’t just mean e-commerce. It can relate to any desired action, such as a sign-up to a newsletter, or a request for more information.

 

One aspect of web marketing that is getting more important is building communities and tribes. People who will return, in other words. You’re unlikely to engage a community of people if all you ever offer is transactions. This is why Amazon integrates reviews and other social aspects in order to hook people in on a number of levels, even though the primary aim is to sell goods. Also check out Bill’s excellent “Bills Blues” example.

 

What approach do you take? Do you narrow in on one type of query? Go wide and try to catch all three? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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US PR agency loses biggest account with a single tweet

Posted by | Marketing Tips | No Comments

 

 

LOS ANGELES – Santa Monica-based PR agency Redner Group was sacked this week by its biggest client, video game publisher 2k, after it tweeted that it would punish bad reviews of the game ‘Duke Nukem Forever’ by withholding future releases from reviewers.

pr

The tweet from the @TheRednerGroup account read: “too many went too far with their reviews. We r [sic] reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t based on today’s venom.”

 

The tweet led games publisher 2k to part company with the Redner Group putting the agency’s future into doubt.

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6 Handy Tips for Getting Around Photoshop Elements

Posted by | Creative Digital Design | No Comments

Fifty years ago, any serious photographer would have told you that photography was equal parts taking the picture and developing it in the darkroom. Back then, however, few casual photographers bothered with the darkroom, so they missed out on the ability to really fine-tune their images. These days photography is still equal parts taking the picture and editing it–but the difference is that almost everyone does at least a little editing on the PC. Digital photography and image editing software have leveled the playing field: Now neophytes as well as pros can perfect their photos after they’re taken. Last week I explained how to easily improve your photo’s exposure using the Levels tool. This week, let’s go back to basics. I want to show you some essential keyboard shortcuts that make Adobe Photoshop Elements a joy to use.

 

Let me be clear: I’m generally not a keyboard shortcut sort of guy. I know a lot of people who seem to know every keyboard shortcut under the sun, whereas I hate to take my hand off the mouse. But even I recognize the value in these tricks, because they simplify tasks you need to perform over and over and over again when editing photos.

1. Use the Spacebar to Grab Your Photo

Here’s the most useful keyboard shortcut ever invented for photo editing: No matter what tool you currently have selected, just press and hold the spacebar to temporarily switch to the Hand tool. Drag your photo around until you can see the part you need, and then release. You’ll be returned to your selected tool, so you can keep working without interruption. This works even if you are in the middle of making a selection with something like the Lasso tool.

2. Use the Scroll Wheel to Move Around Your Photo

Suppose you’re zoomed in and want to get around the photo quickly. You could use the aforementioned spacebar trick to switch to the hand tool, but there’s another way: Use your mouse’s scroll wheel. When you roll the wheel, your photo will scroll up and down. But hold down the Ctrl key while you scroll, and it’ll move from right to left. In this way, you can easily go anywhere in the photo without clicking.

3. Zoom In and Out With Scroll-Alt

Before I learned this shortcut, zooming in Photoshop Elements was cumbersome and frustrating because it required clicking the Zoom tool and losing control of whatever tool I had been using. (In contrast, Corel’s Paintshop Pro zooms with the scroll wheel, which I find is much handier.) To zoom with Photoshop Elements, just hold the Alt key and then scroll the mouse wheel. This works for both Zoom In and Zoom Out, and you can do it at any time, no matter what tool you are currently using.

4. A Fast and Easy Way to Make the Canvas Bigger

Have you ever wanted to make a photo bigger by adding some blank canvas around the image? I’ve explained how to do this in the past by using the Image, Resize, Canvas Size menu option, but that’s clumsy and slow. Instead, you can add blank canvas space around your photo with the Crop tool. To do that, first make sure the photo doesn’t fill the entire program window–zoom out until you can see a grey border around the image. Next, click the Crop tool and use it to select the entire photo. You might think you can’t crop more than the entire photo, but you’d be wrong. Hold the Alt key and then drag a corner of the crop frame away from the photo. When the crop box is big enough, click the check box and voila–you’ll have a larger photo with blank canvas to work on.

5. Draw a Straight Line With Almost Any Tool

I’ve heard many people lament the lack of an easy way to draw a perfectly straight line in Photoshop Elements. Actually, it’s easy to draw straight lines–but even cooler, you can make almost any tool in Photoshop work in a perfectly straight line. The secret is to just hold the Shift key. Here’s how it works: Choose a tool (like the Brush or Pencil), click on the photo, hold Shift, and click somewhere else. You’ll get a line that connects the two points. If you want a perfectly vertical or horizontal line, click and then, without moving the mouse, hold Shift and then click and drag the mouse. If you drag it to the side, you’ll get a horizontal line. Drag up or down, and the line will be vertical.

6. Undo (and Redo) Your Changes

Finally, you should definitely remember the keyboard shortcut for Undo, which is Ctrl-Z. To redo a task, press Ctrl-Y. Photoshop Elements will remember up your last 50 tasks, so you can undo quite a bit before you run out of history. If you want even more undo flexibility, you can increase this value. Choose Edit, Preferences, Performance, and change the number in the History States field–you can set it as high as 1000.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.

 

Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

 

Photoshop Elements

 

 

 

This week’s Hot Pic: “Still Life with Ginger Ale and Lemon” by Eric Hoar, Springvale, Maryland

 

Eric writes: “I took this picture of my beverage with an incandescent table lamp behind it. I positioned a blue LCD flashlight so it would also backlight the glass. I adjusted the brightness and contrast to bring out the colors and used Photoshop Elements to eliminate the lampshade behind the glass.”

 

Eric shot the photo with a Panasonic Lumix DMC- ZS5.

 

Photoshop Elements

 

This week’s runner-up: “Flying” by Bob McMillian, San Diego, California

 

Bob says: “I was on a whale watching cruise back in February. On the way out, I caught this seagull, cruising in the airflow off the starboard side of the boat. In this shot, he seemed to be looking at me with a rather quizzical, “Why are you looking at me?” expression. I shot it with my Canon 50D.”

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A New Perspective On Link Building

Posted by | Latest News | One Comment

handshakeDictionary.com defines a link as “anything serving to connect one part or thing with another; a bond or tie.” Interestingly, the given definition for a relationship is “a connection, association, or involvement.” From a semantic point of view, these two words seem to be synonyms. Yet from an SEO point of view, all too often they are mortal enemies.

Let’s be honest, link building is not the most glamorous task out there. We all know it has to be done. We all know search engine algorithms heavily weight link metrics. But no one ever looks forward to sitting down and building links.

I believe this paradigm is self-defeating. If you don’t want to do something but still do it because you have to, how can you expect to be successful? In sports you hear phrases like “the other team just wanted it more” or “they didn’t show up to play” or something similar. When athletes are just going through the motions it is pretty obvious. What would make link building any different?

I think it is time to offer a new perspective on link building. Let’s start thinking of it as relationship building instead. Please bear in mind, I’m not talking about low level linking tactics like social bookmarks, directory submissions or article publication. No real relationship is involved in acquiring these links.

However, for those who like to leave blog comments, request link exchanges or email webmasters, it’s time to get your head in the game.

Building A Relationship Online

I’m not talking about eHarmony here. I’m talking about the relationships we can build with webmasters, which in turn naturally play out in their websites and ours. Let me start with a personal example.

I started a college football blog a few years ago. After about a year of the routine link building tactics, I decided it was time to start building relationships. For those of you familiar with the BCS, I am aggressively opposed to it. I did, however, know of a blog or two that favored it.

I decided to reach out to one of these webmasters. I suggested that he first post an argument in favor of the BCS. I would then respond on my blog and reference his original argument. The debate ended up going back and forth over a few months and several blog posts.

Naturally, I followed his blog and he followed mine. I linked to his blog and he linked to mine. My readers visited his blog and his readers visited mine. All the good things you are supposed to get from a successful SEO campaign naturally came to both of us through that relationship.

What would have happened if I was just another link in his blogroll? What would have happened if he was just another link in my comments? Perhaps our rankings would have improved slightly, but we both would have missed out on the extra visitors and subscriptions.

A Case Study: Danny Sullivan

danny sullivanIf you have been in the SEO industry for more than a day you probably know who Danny Sullivan is. Suppose you have a new blog about search engine marketing and really want a link from Search Engine Land. Is the best way to do this to simply scan the blog for an hour and then email the webmaster, asking for a link exchange?

Probably not. You probably want to build a relationship with Danny, which would in turn do more for your blog than that one link anyway. So how could you go about doing this?

First, find as much information as you can about Danny without being a creepy stalker. A quick Google search could tell you he runs Search Engine Land, has a personal blog at Daggle.com, has a Twitter and Facebook account, uploads photos to Flickr, answers questions on Quora, shares stories on Digg, posts videos on YouTube and even has a Wikipedia entry.

This can take all of 10 minutes and in that superficial research you can learn a lot about Danny as well as see other connections he has in the industry which could benefit you as well.

After doing the research, you should start engaging Danny in various ways. Some obvious methods would be to comment on his blog posts at Search Engine Land, interact on Twitter or reply to his answers on Quora. After a few weeks, Danny may start to recognize your name when he sees it.

The next thing I would try would probably be pitching a topic for SMX. If you write to Danny, who by now has a general idea of who you are, and come up with a great pitch for a great lecture at SMX, there’s a good chance you could present in front of hundreds of people in your industry.

Which do you suppose is more valuable, a link from Search Engine Land or a 15 minute introduction and presentation in front of other industry experts? Not to mention at that point you will have interacted directly with Danny as a result of being an SMX speaker. An aspiring SEO blogger would do well to have one of the most influential people in the industry as a friend on Facebook and follower on Twitter, don’t you think?

Finding Relationship Opportunities

Most of the time our existing relationships are what lead us to new relationships. You may not know Danny Sullivan or Rand Fishkin, but do you know someone who works at Search Engine Land or SEOMoz? The best relationship opportunities can be found in our existing relationships. Networking can be a very powerful tool in building new relationships.

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time is called The City Of Influence. I highly recommend it for those looking for more information on the value of relationships and how to network in order to build new relationships.

Another easy way to build a new relationship is by looking for guest blogging opportunities. For example, I just did a Google search for ‘finance + guest + blog’ and found several websites that publish guest posts as well as tips for being a guest blogger. If you were in the finance industry, these could be great relationships.

Bloggers seem to be the most open to making new connections, so another technique is to simply Google your keyword + blog. Look for blogs in your industry and find people you can reach out to. Another method would be to search Twitter for your keywords and see who you can connect with.

Speaking from personal experience, I get emails all the time from people looking for links. I ignore them. Every once in a while I get an inquiry from my personal blog, or a direct message in Twitter, or an email proposal that doesn’t involve links at all. I pay attention to these and other webmasters do too.

Conclusion

Rand Fishkin has a brilliant slideshow that explains the history and future of Google rankings. Evidence is pretty strong that social media is starting to have a big impact on organic rankings. In other words, relationships, not links, are poised to become the top ranking factor. Search engines openly say they calculate a users authority and trust. A tweet, like, citation or mention from an authority user is going to go a long way in the future of SEO.

So remember, links matter now and you need to have them to be successful. Don’t stop looking for link opportunities. But I would stress that the link building of the future is going to be relationship building. People are going to influence rankings more than links do.

So let’s stop focusing on the link building and start focusing on the relationship building. I believe we’ll all be better off for it.

P.S. Don’t miss Rand’s great post Head Smacking Tip #20: Don’t Ask Sites for Links. Find People and Connect that he wrote after this post was initially written.

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Dos and Don’ts to Improve Google Ranking: Ranking Factors, Good and Bad

Posted by | Search Engine Marketing | 2 Comments

Among SEO professionals, there isn’t always consensus on precisely which and to what degree site factors contribute or detract from rankings on Google because the factors actually vary by industry. There are indeed, a number of contentious issues: markup and content quality, use of title tags, site organization and even arguments that Google Analytics data factors in to site rankings. Not likely (yet), but certainly up for debate among SEO professionals.

However, there are some Google ranking factors that most professionals agree affect site positioning on Google SERPs. However, these are opinions, find out for yourself how these apply to projects you’re working on.

Recommended Steps to Improve Google Ranking

1. Use keywords in HTML title tags. Probably the most significant factor for a site regardless of the competitive landscape, the title tag must be consistent with content in the page for best results. The more keywords in your title, the less effective this factor, be judicious.

2. Create quality anchor text for inbound links. At one time, according to some SEO professionals, quality anchor text was an essential component of a well-ranked site. After all, this is the text the user opted to see by clicking a link on another site. Most SEOs still contend that quality anchor text is a highly significant, positive ranking factor. If not for spiders, for visitors clicking in as well. Obviously the text should be relevant to the destination page for best results; that’s where your on page optimization comes in to play.

3. Increase link popularity. Link popularity takes into account the number of inbound links present. Link authority has less relevance, though it is still a factor depending on the competitive landscape. Link popularity is based on a global count of links from all sites. However, quality links are still critical to creating site authority; authority means ranking for more phrases than you intentionally target.

4. Hang in there. The age of a site is an important positive weighting factor according to many SEO professionals. It’s certainly a reasonable assumption. Failed sites are dropped as soon as the hosting subscription ends. If a site has been around for 10 years, the owners must be dong something right, especially if link popularity is steady developed over the years. Unfortunately for site owners, there’s no way to speed up the aging process – except hanging in there.

5. Increase the popularity of internal links. These links direct visitors to helpful, related content. They’re important in providing visitors with a positive on-site experience. Search engines view on-site link popularity as a sign that visitors like what they see and want to learn more.

7. Build deep links. Deep links are relevant to the topicality of the target page or keyword. The relevance of these inbound links matters to a site’s Google ranking. However, please note point 3. The sheer number of inbound links is a factor as well. Quality deep links carry more weight and add credibility to a site.

8. Connect with sites selling to the same demographic. Create a number of links with sites within your topical community. This helps visitors further their searches – something Google likes very much.

9. Keep old links. Google looks for web stability. The older the link, the more trust it has. It indicates a happy relationship with the site owner linking in who recognizes the value of sending visitors off-site. Google watchers suggest a three to four month time window for spiders to determine that this is a well-established, long-term link that has value to visitors of both sites.

10. Use keywords in body text. Make sure that keywords receive prominent display in headlines, headers, sub-heads. It’s important that the keywords used in HTML text on page match with keywords used in the site’s meta data and title tags.

Not Recommended

1. Don’t use session IDs in URLs. It sounds like a good idea on the surface, an easy way to track customer information, but here’s the problem. Each time a spider crawls the site, a new URL with session ID is created. The spider now has two, or three or more URLs all showing duplicate content. Go back to Go, do not collect $200. Don’t confuse this with pages that may have a couple GET variables in them; avoid that when you can, but just avoid having your pages containing session IDs.

2. Choose a reputable web host. The most potent negative ranking factor is server accessibility. If your server, located in Timbuktu, is inaccessible to spiders, it’s inaccessible to visitors. Down time soon becomes down and out time.

3. Avoid duplicate content. Googlebots employ filters to detect duplicate content. Now, if you opt to post some syndicated articles, you’re providing a service to visitors. However, a bot will recognize that content (it’s already appeared on 400 sites) and you’ll see a drop in traffic rank.

4. Jettison low-quality links. Google assesses the character of your site by the company you keep so keep good company by unlinking from (1) links farms, (2) sites with absolutely no quality content and (3) otherwise low-quality sites; e.g. FFA (free for all) sites.

5. Avoid any kind of links deception. Googlebots aren’t smart, but they can detect some paid links and a variety of links scams, including generated links. If a Googlebot suspects links fraud, your site may be penalized and sent to the basement or banned altogether.

6. Avoid a log-in before visitors and bots access “the good stuff.” Log-ins can easily confuse a bot who won’t be able to access quality content hidden behind a log in. Even though users with Google toolbars will be unknowingly suggesting new URLs to be crawled as they surf about, having teasers for the content your monetizing by subscription will help your SEO.

7. Avoid using frames. Horizontal and vertical framesets are commonly used by designers to present more than one page of a site on the screen at the same time. However, frames are also bot traps. They can get in but they can’t get out, making it impossible for them to index a site – at all! Tell your developer to look at using iframes if possible or absolutely necessary.

8. Avoid duplicate title/meta tags. Title/meta tags are a valuable resource for site owners to expand access points to a site. Using title tags ensures that more pages are indexed and listed in Google’s SERPs as distinct links. All good. Unfortunately, too many duplicate title tags on pages in which the content topic hasn’t changed, is redundant and a waste of the bots time. Use tag your pages uniquely and judiciously.

9. Do not keyword stuff. Even though search engines no longer give much weight to keyword tags, keyword stuffing continues. Select 20 to 30 keywords – top-tier and long-tail – and focus on them. Keep keyword density in body text at no more than 3%. The old 5% rule still led to on-site gibberish – obviously these figures vary by competitive landscape.

10. Do not let quality slip – even for a day. Spiders crawl sites with greater frequency and sophistication and index updates are common as changes to a site are implemented. During periods of construction, be sure to keep spiders out of staging areas that have yet to be completed or block with robots. These works-in-progress may cost you points in the ranking sweepstakes.

Google controls 46% of all searches. Doesn’t it make sense to give this search engine exactly what it wants and delete what it doesn’t want?

Rhetorical question.

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We7 cash injection to fund expansion plans

Posted by | Marketing Tips | No Comments

 

 

We7, the UK-based music streaming service, is pushing into continental Europe to double its headcount with funding it has just secured from investors including former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel.

We7: funding boost fuels expansion into Europe

We7: funding boost fuels expansion into Europe

 

The company, which earlier this year launched a free ad-funded mobile app, would not disclose the value of the funding, which is believed to total at least seven figures.

 

The money will be used to grow We7′s headcount from the current 28 to around 50 within the next six months, with an emphasis on filling new sales and marketing roles in the UK and Europe.

 

It will also allow the firm to expand into new markets during 2011, in particular Belgium, Holland, Spain and Italy, while beyond that, it plans to move into Eastern markets.

 
Steve Purdham, chief executive, said: “In the next 24 months, digital music listening will move rapidly from the early adopters and music obsessives we have seen to date, into the mass-market and general music-listening communities.

 

“Over the coming months, we will be announcing new key partnerships, alongside expansion plans into Europe. These will allow us to showcase what We7 can do by expanding the familiar medium of radio as a digital backbone to additional services we’ll be offering.”

 

In the latest round of funding, original investors Gabriel and Eden Ventures have been joined by Qualcomm Incorporated and its venture capital operation, Pentech Ventures. Corporate finance advice was given by GP Bullhound.

 

We7 has three million users and is available free to anyone with an internet-enabled computer, iPhone or Android handset.

 

Purdham said that while the company was not yet profitable, its advertising revenue covered its music costs and he expected the firm to become “net profitable” in 12 months. Advertising accounts for 98% of We7′s revenues.

 

In March, We7 launched a beta version of its free ad-funded We7 Radio App. It uses buffering and caching technology when online, which lets users stream radio from their favourite stations to their mobile and listen to them offline.

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Five Simple Tips for Better Fireworks Photos

Posted by | Creative Digital Design | No Comments

This time of year, photographers dust off their cameras while dogs hide under the bed: It’s fireworks season. Trance and Topher (my dogs) notwithstanding, I love fireworks displays–especially on the Fourth of July–and I’m always eager to capture some of the magic on film. In years past, I’ve given you detailed advice for shooting fireworks, but this year I’ve decided to distill it all down to five simple tips. Follow these, and you should have some nifty fireworks photos this year.

1. Use a Tripod, Of Course

fireworks

 

This shot–which required an exposure of 2.5 seconds–would have been impossible without a tripod.If you’ve read Digital Focus, you have probably come across my frequent advice about using tripods. I think they’re essential–especially at night. And since fireworks need to be exposed for at least a second, and more likely several seconds, it’s just not practical to get good photos without locking your camera onto the top of a tripod.

2. Use the Right Exposure Setting

If you have a point-and-shoot camera, you might want to dial in the Fireworks mode. This setting gives you a somewhat slow shutter speed (probably about a half of a second, though it’ll vary depending upon your particular camera) to capture the distinctive light trails formed by fireworks. I should point out that when using this setting, a tripod isn’t essential, especially if you can brace the camera against something solid–like a car, chair, wall, or doorway.

 

Even better than Fireworks mode, though, is your camera’s manual exposure mode. In manual mode, you can experiment with your own shutter speeds and aperture settings. And you can try longer shutter speeds for more dramatic photos. The great thing about using manual mode for fireworks is that there are few settings that are just plain “wrong,” so you can experiment with a variety of settings to learn what works well, and what doesn’t.

3. Control the Exposure With the Aperture

fireworks

 

This scene is the result of a 4-second exposure at f/8.If you’re new to manual mode, you might feel overwhelmed by all the various settings–ISO, shutter speed, and aperture–and not know where to start. Here’s what you should do: set the ISO at 100 (or its lowest value) and the shutter speed at about 1 or 2 seconds. Then take some pictures, varying the aperture setting. The smaller the f/number you dial in, the brighter your fireworks will be. If your photos are getting overexposed, increase the f/number. If the photos are too dark, shoot a smaller f/number.

4. Control the Light Trails with the Shutter

fireworks

 

This busy scene is the result of a 6-second exposure at f/5.6.Likewise, you can make the light trails longer by increasing the shutter speed. You might want to start small (around a second), but you can shoot really long exposures (like 8 seconds or more) to fill the sky with multiple fireworks.

5. Focus at Infinity (and Leave It There)

Finally, don’t forget about the focus. If your camera is in Fireworks mode, it’ll automatically set the lens to focus on infinity. But if you’re handling the exposure details manually, set the focus at infinity and leave it there. The fireworks will all be far enough away that infinity is the right setting. If you leave the camera in auto-focus, you’ll no doubt find that you’ll miss shots while the camera “searches” for the right focus.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.

 

Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

 

flowers

 

This week’s Hot Pic: “Yellow Flowers #1″ by Jondaar, New Zealand

 

Jondaar says that he stumbled across this group of flowers as he was experimenting with changing the depth of field using aperture priority mode, and this was the result. He used a Camera Fujifilm Finepix S9600.

 

snow

 

This week’s runner-up: “Snowblowing in Maine” by Viki Quinn, Roanoke, Virginia

 

Viki says: “I used a Canon Power Shot SD1400 IS (its small size makes it so handy to carry!). This was originally a color photo, but I thought it was stronger in black and white.”

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10 Great Ways To Use Twitter To Your Business’s Advantage

Posted by | Twitter | No Comments

Twitter is the latest web-centric communications service to explode onto the scene, and businesses have moved in rapidly. However, a little discretion goes a long way, as the users of “social” sites and services have demonstrated that they will stomach only so much commercialization of what they consider their personal space. As MySpace evolved from an upstart new kid on the block where everyone let everything “hang out” to a part of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, people who’d had enough began looking for other places. This influenced the rise of Facebook. Now that Facebook has begun acting like a “regular old corporation,” too, folks are on the search again.

Your company can most definitely benefit from using Twitter. The primary use for it in business is to listen, because, as every top-performing salesman knows, listening is more important than talking most of the time. You want to hear from every customer, vendor, client, industry leader, journalist, activist, colleague and competitor who has anything to say about your product, service or business. Twitter has much in common with old-style networking, like early morning meetings at diners and water-cooler chats, except it’s been “virtualized” for 21st century knowledge sharing. With that brief introduction, let’s look at 10 great ways to use Twitter to your business’s advantage.

#1. Listen more, talk less: If you just think of Twitter as another way to “post” your messages and advertisements, you’re missing the whole point and your following will probably be nonexistent. Spend more time listening to what others are “tweeting” (posting) about you and you will gather valuable information. When you do post a message, make it something people want to know, not something you want them to know.

#2. Find your niche: Twitter’s uses are limited only by your imagination, or someone else’s if you’re fresh out of ideas. Don’t think of what you can get, but what you can offer and what you can learn. You may want to share knowledge, you may want to obtain it, or you may just want to assure customers, colleagues and others that you are available to them. You will benefit to the extent that you listen and stay engaged, which means referring back to #1 a lot.

#3. Develop a personality (or a few): A number of business bloggers have commented on how well Twitter works to humanize an otherwise impersonal entity like a corporation. A fresh and interesting personality attracts followers, and some successful firms even allow numerous voices to reach out from within the company’s offices and cubicles.

#4. Eavesdrop: There are several good tools for monitoring what is being said, starting with Twitter’s own search field. Search for your term(s) and when the results are displayed, you will also get a list of the current most-popular searches (to the right) so you always know what’s hot at the moment. The site monitter.com, as the name implies, was developed specifically for use with Twitter, to allow simultaneous multiple searches.

#5. Build your audience: The first thing to do is post a few tweets to get a handle on how it all works, of course, and dedicate some study time to see what your competitors and companies in the same industry are doing. Make use of the “Find People” function on the top of the Twitter page to find people in your own company, your current clients and colleagues, old classmates and friends, etc. Use the “@” reply to connect directly with people, to make sure they see your tweet, and discuss matters of interest to them. When they respond with the @ reply, other folks following them may notice you and choose to follow you, too.

#6. Follow the followers: You should find out who else your followers are following, as that can give you fresh insight into the types of people to seek. Use the various search methods (see #4 above) to find subjects that relate to your industry, and pay attention to who’s talking about these matters. Don’t be a broadcaster, be a conversationalist, and if you do Twitter right, you will build a following daily.

#7. Be human: Too many people, from firms both large and small, represent their firms poorly by appearing to be robots on a fixed schedule. They crank out PR verbiage and automated data and don’t offer anything for followers to grab hold of. You have to “throw them a line” or you will sail right by everyone.

#8. Be polite and respectful: This means that the rules for eating Thanksgiving dinner at the neighbor’s house are in effect-no politics, no religion, unless you’re a politician or a clergyman, of course. These subjects have no place in a business conversation, so leave them out.

#9: Play nice: Don’t get emotionally involved or rant about a person, place or product. One marketing blogger called Twitter “a ship we are all traveling on,” so it’s important to act appropriately-or be forced to “walk the plank.”

#10: Stay positive: Don’t be pessimistic, and don’t whine or complain about what’s wrong with this or that industry or the world in general. People will follow people they like, who offer something of value, who are upbeat and who stay on an even keel. Of course, some situations require a serious, even solemn approach, but those are the exceptions and should be handled delicately. Anyone can bellyache, gripe, moan and groan. A leader, on the other hand, offers solutions.

Bottom line? Twitter is a tool, and a good one, for keeping conversations going with stakeholders, potential customers, colleagues and even competitors. It takes real-time management because it’s a real-time tool, but when it’s done right Twitter can be an important addition to your sales, marketing and business communications arsenal.

firefox

Firefox For Android Updated With Privacy Feature

Posted by | News & Insight | No Comments

Firefox For Android Updated With Privacy Feature

Mozilla has released a ‘Do Not Track’ feature on Firefox, which enables private browsing on the cellular device. This feature seeks to increase the security amongst Android users. Sid Stamm, Security and Privacy Official at Mozilla said that, the unveiling of the HTTP Reader, which made use of the Do Not Track feature, received enormous support from users and other contemporaries. He says that the basic idea is to provide users with the same browser experience as the desktop version of the web browser.

firefox

Turning On the Do Not Track feature on your Android device is as easy as a flick of a switch. One needs to go to the browser preferences and slide the ‘Tell sites not to track me’ button. Bearing no differences to the desktop client, Stamm on his (http://blog.sidstamm.com/2011/05/do-not-track-now-on-firefox-mobile.html) blog says that the websites will receive the same signal from the mobile version as the desktop client enabled with the Do Not Track service sends.

Security seems to be a priority with developers these days, with major brands like Apple and Google being criticized for location tracking. It’s really commendable to see Mozilla trying to make mobile browsing more secure than before for its users.

Download Mozilla Firefox Beta for Android over here.

Skype - Doug Bewsher

Skype axes marketing chief before Microsoft takeover

Posted by | News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Social Media Marketing | No Comments

Doug Bewsher: Skype’s chief marketing officer is axed.

Skype, the internet telephony provider, has unceremoniously booted out chief marketing officer Doug Bewsher and seven other executives ahead of its £8.5bn (£5.2bn) takeover by Microsoft.

The news was reported yesterday by Bloomberg, in a follow-up of a report on blog Skype Journal, and quickly led to speculation that Skype wanted to eject its executives before their stock options grew in value when the Microsoft deal closed.

In addition to Bewsher (profiled by Marketing in April, just eight months into his job), the vice-president and general manager for the Americas and advertising Don Albert and six other boardroom members were also dismissed.

They were: David Gurlé, vice president and general manager for Skype Business; Christopher Dean, head of consumer market business development; Russ Shaw, vice president and general manager; and Anna Gillespie, head of human resources.

Ramu Sunkara and Allyson Campa, the founder and senior vice president of mobile video sharing software firm Qik, which Skype acquired earlier this year, were also shown the door.

According to reports, the timing of the dismissals has resulted in the value of the executives’ stock options being lower than if they had remained until after the sale.

A spokesman said:

  • “Skype, like any other pragmatic organisation, constantly assesses its team structure to deliver its users the best products.
  • “As part of a recent internal shift, Skype has made some management changes.”

Microsoft confirmed in May that it would buy Skype, with a price tag being four times more than analysts had expected. At the time Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said the deal would enable Microsoft to create the “future of real-time communications”.

Microsoft aims to disrupt the mobile market with its acquisition of Skype, according to industry specialists.

In 2010, 170 million Skype users made more than 207 billion minutes of voice and video calls.
Skype lost $7m on a turnover of $860 in 2010, and had debts of $686m.

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Taking a Great Facebook Profile Picture

Posted by | Creative Digital Design, Facebook, Marketing Tips, Social Media Advice | No Comments

Recently, I saw something online that struck me as a little funny: Someone was advertising a service to take portraits for Facebook profile photos. Why, I wondered, would anyone pay money to have their face snapped for a little 100-pixel thumbnail? Then I really started to notice… Forums are filled with people asking for advice on taking profile pictures. Folks seem to change their profile photo frequently rather than choosing a portrait and sticking with it, like you keep a driver’s license photo. (My daughter changes her Facebook profile photo weekly.) I’ve already talked about general tips for taking portraits, but this seems like a great time to dive into tips specifically for taking great profile photos.

Think Square

Facebook Profile PictureTraditional portrait photos usually have a vertical orientation, more tall than wide. It’s the very origin of the term “portrait orientation,” in fact. That’s not true about the photos used by most, if not all, social networking and sharing sites, though. Whether you’re taking a picture for Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Windows Live, or some other site, the little frame that your photo sits in is probably going to be perfectly square, or very nearly so.

That can pose a challenge, since we tend to think about portraits as rectangular. You’ll want to be sure that the camera is zoomed in (or you are physically close enough). When you compose the shot, put the emphasis on your face, not the rest of your body, or the square cropping will tend to make you appear miniscule, or show way too much of the background.

Use a Simple Background

Speaking of the background, you might want to keep it really simple. Remember that your profile photo will be very small. At Facebook, for example, most people see a profile photo that’s just 50 pixels square. That’s like looking at a postage stamp from 3 feet away, so any details in the background will end up looking like noise. You might know what you’re looking at, but that’s only because you saw the photo when it had 10 million pixels in it. Facebook visitors probably won’t have any idea what’s going on.

Facebook Profile Picture

Some people like to use props or a representative setting, but I think the best profile photos have a plain background. Recently, my wife decided she wanted a new profile photo and asked me to take a picture with her camera phone. Unfortunately, we were at a club waiting for a concert to start, and that is rarely the sort of place that’s conducive to good photography. Luckily, I found a wall that was solid red and the lighting wasn’t abysmal–so I took this shot, which she was quite happy with.

Fill the Frame

You already know we’re shooting a picture for an oddball square frame, and a noisy background can be a major distraction (I hope my daughter is reading this–her profile pictures are often an indiscriminate jumble of colored pixels, in which I can barely make her out from the background).

Facebook Profile Picture

So the logical next step? Fill the frame as much as possible. I think that tight, close-up face shots work best for profile photos. That reduces the clutter and lets visitors easily identify you. Here’s the picture I currently use on Facebook, which is mostly me, but has just a single background element–a computer monitor.

Facebook Profile Picture

Don’t go overboard, though. Some folks zoom in so far that you only see a part of their face. It’s not a flattering look–I call this the “help, let me out” pose.

Another thing that rarely works well is profile photos containing multiple people. Frequently, I see photos of two or three people, or even an entire family portrait, wedged into that tiny frame. It becomes challenging to identify anyone or anything in a space that small. My advice: Save the family portrait for the photo section of the site, and keep the profile focused on you.

Use Enough Light

Lighting is always important when taking any kind of photo, and doubly so if you’re using a camera phone. Certainly, your camera’s flash is the enemy. Close-up face shots are easily blown out by camera flash, and in the dark you’re likely to get red eye. When I shot that profile photo of my wife that I showed you earlier, I knew we were in a relatively dark place. But instead of using the flash, which would look horrible, I turned on her camera phone’s HDR mode, which tries to make the best of available light. The result wasn’t something I’d submit in a photo contest, but it was acceptable for Facebook.

Consider the Angle

Finally, one last bit of portrait wisdom: Consider your angle. You can take portraits straight on, for example, from below, or above. Folks are generally somewhat more photogenic when shot from an elevated position, which is why you see a lot of photos of people looking up into the camera on Facebook. It might be a cliché, but it actually works. You can easily get that shot yourself by holding your camera phone at arm’s length, just about at forehead or hair level, or someone can get the shot for you. Shots from below, though, are generally not that attractive.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.

Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

denver street life

This week’s Hot Pic: “Denver Street Life” by Leo Burkey, Denver, Colorado

Leo says that he processed this photo in Photoshop using a filter called Pixel Bender, which he thinks lends the photo a Norman Rockwell sort of feel.

cloudy day

This week’s runner-up: “Cloudy Day” by Nic Jaworski, Charlotte, North Carolina

Nic says that he shot this photo with his LG enV Touch camera phone on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Ice Clear Media are made about Creative Digital Marketing.

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21 Content Types to Share with Google

Posted by | News & Insight | One Comment

The search engines are hungry for vertical search content. The representation of content types beyond the traditional webpage in the SERPs seems to grow on a daily basis. In many cases it is actually easier to rank for a vertical channel like video for a given keyphrase than it is to rank a traditional webpage for the same keyphrase. Are you still trying to compete in the SERPs with traditional webpages alone? Have you given other mediums the attention they deserve?

 

I came across this handy Google page of 36 tools for submitting different content types. I merged a few and eliminated others to come up with a list of 21 interesting content types for your consideration. Take a look and try to think outside the box. Hopefully by the end of this read you’ll have a hit list of a few new channels to explore.

 

Content Types

 

 

 

 

1. Webmaster Tools (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Google Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google. To get started, simply add and verify your site and you’ll start to see information right away.”

 

My Take: If you aren’t already registered with Google Webmaster Tools get on over there and get it done. Use it to do things like diagnose crawling issues, upload sitemaps, and obtain another perspective of linking metrics.

 

2. Gadgets (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Building a gadget that people will want to see everyday requires thoughtful planning. Our 3-step process – Create, Promote, and Track & Optimize – will guide you through all the steps needed to make your gadget a success.”

 

CNN Gadget

 

My Take: What we’re talking about here are gadgets for iGoogle homepages. Promotion of a gadget is up to you. If done right your fans will install your gadget and you could get some nice direct referral traffic out of the deal.

 

3. RSS & FeedBurner (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “If you have a website, blog, audio/video content, or even photos, you can offer a feed of your content as an option. If you are using a popular blogging platform or publishing tool like TypePad, WordPress, or Blogger, you likely publish a feed automatically… FeedBurner’s services allow publishers who already have a feed to improve their understanding of and relationship with their audience. Once you have a working feed, run it through FeedBurner and realize a whole new set of benefits.”

 

My Take: If you take a look up at the top right hand corner of this webpage you can see that SEOmoz has 90K+ FeedBurner subscribers.

 

4. Blog Search (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “The Google Blog Search Pinging Service is a way to inform Google Blog Search of weblog updates. These updates are then published and shared with other search engines to allow them to discover the changes to your weblogs. In addition, Google Blog Search will add submitted weblogs to the list of blogs it needs to crawl and index.”

 

My Take: If you aren’t on one of the major blogging platforms this is probably worth a look.

 

5. Subscribed Links (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Subscribed Links let you create custom search results that users can add to their Google search pages. You can display links to your services for your customers, provide news and status information updated in near-real-time, answer questions, calculate useful quantities, and more.”

 

My Take: Hmm. This one looks like it has died a slow death. In order to make it work, you’d have to create something interesting and useful, inspire ‘subscriptions’ and hope that your users browse the web while logged in once and a while. I wasn’t able to find a quality implementation example worth sharing here and it seems that most of the original adopters have abandoned their submissions and allowed them to break including Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Roundtable.

 

6. Google Places (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Be there when they’re looking for you with Google Places for business – a free local platform from Google. Help your business stand out. Add photos, videos, and offers to show customers why they’ll want to choose you. Highlight special promotions, post live updates, and respond to reviews from your Places for business account.”

 

My Take: If you have one or more brick and mortar locations, you really need to get on this… yesterday. If you haven’t actively added you own listing, Google may have done so on your behalf – and incorrectly! The example below seems to display the home addresses of dentists in the 33556 zip code. If I were a dentist I sure wouldn’t want crisis dental issues showing up on my doorstep in the middle of the night. How about you?

 

Content Types

 

Really though, Google Places is an extremely important marketing channel for brick and mortars. Don’t even finish this article. Head on over to Google Places and get started right now.

 

7. Rich Snippets for Local Search (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Beyond improving the presentation of your pages in search results, rich snippets also help users find your website when it references a local place. By using structured markup to describe a business or organization mentioned on your page, you not only improve the Web by making it easier to recognize references to specific places but also help Google surface your site in local search results.”

 

My Take: Basically, Google wants to take your content and republish it on their pages. You’ll want to decide where you stand on this issue before jumping on this bandwagon.

 

8. Base Map Partner Program (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “We recognize that in order to provide our users with the best, most up-to-date map possible, we must partner with the most comprehensive and authoritative data sources. If your organization has authoritative vector data that would substantially improve the base map in Google Maps and Google Earth, we would like to hear from you.”

 

My Take: Does Google have your cities critical infrastructure like hospitals misrepresented? This is how you’d go about getting this type of thing fixed up.

 

9. Imagery Partner Program (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Does your organization have higher resolution or more current aerial imagery than we currently offer on Google Earth? Would you like citizens of your jurisdiction to benefit from your imagery when navigating on Google Maps or their mobile phone? Do you have historical imagery to share?”

 

“Through our Imagery Partner Program, you can make your imagery useful to residents of your community, professionals in the private sector and local governments.”

 

My Take: No sense reinventing the wheel right? If you recently painted a giant logo on the roof of your office building, perhaps you can lobby to have local resources redo areal imagery and submit the updates to Google. Just kidding! Kinda…

 

10. Transit Partner Program (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Currently over 500 cities world wide make their information available in Google Maps. If you provide a transportation service that is open to the public, and operates with fixed schedules and routes, we welcome your participation.”

 

My Take: If you are in command of this kind of data, you’re looking at a no-brainer here.

 

11. Street View (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “If you manage a unique property, such as a park, pedestrian mall, or university campus, you can request for the Street View team to visit your location. With the Street View Partner Program, we can visit your property and collect imagery using a car, trike, or even snowmobile. Once the images are added to Street View, people all over the world will be able to explore your property virtually.”

 

San Diego State University Street View

 

My Take: If you can convince the Google Street View team to visit your location, which is going to be the difficult part, I can’t see why you wouldn’t go for it!

 

12. SketchUp (link), 3D Warehouse (link) & Cities in 3D (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “With Google’s Cities in 3D Program, your local government, community group, or educational institution can share this 3D data with the public by adding a model of your city or community to Google Earth.”

 

Boston University on Google Earth

 

My Take: Looking to promote your city or physical landmarks? Learn how some are using this (paid) tool to build and then showcase their landmarks and cities with 3D models shared with Google Earth.

 

13. KML (link) &  KML Gallery (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser, such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile. You can create KML files to pinpoint locations, add image overlays, and expose rich data in new ways.”

 

Nuclear Plant Evacuation Radius

 

My Take: You know how all us Search Marketers keep talking about how you should publish quality and link-worthy content? Check out what geodesicdev.com has done with KML and Google Earth. If only they had a Search Marketer supporting the effort.

 

14. YouTube (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.”

 

My Take: YouTube can be an excellent marketing avenue if you have the right kind of content. There are also some nice links to be had if you’re able to secure yourself a YouTube Channel. You can apply for one here.

 

15. Video Search (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Are you a content publisher? Video Sitemaps are the best way to tell Google about your online videos so that they can be included in search results.”

 

My Take: Take this bull by the horns. It is often easier to rank in the search results with a video than it is to rank with a traditional webpage. You have a Flip, right? See what you can whip up. You might be the next weblebrity! Be sure to submit a video sitemap, host or at least embed your videos on your own site, and see what you can do about transcribing the content to provide more contextual relevance.

 

Oh, and try to avoid risking your life.

 

16. News (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “If you’d like your news site or blog to be included in Google News, please send us the URL and we’ll be happy to review it. Please note, however, that we can’t guarantee we’ll be able to include your site in Google News.”

 

Content Types

 

“Hey, I know you!”

 

My Take: Once you get passed the approval barrier for inclusion in Google News, be sure that you’re submitting a sitemap in the correct format for news. News sitemaps will help you bypass some bizarro nuances with this vertical, as outlined in the third paragraph here.

 

17. News Archive Search (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “News archive search provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives. Users can search for events, people or ideas and see how they have been described over time. In addition to searching for the most relevant articles for their query, users can also see a historical overview of the results by browsing an automatically generated timeline.”

 

“If you’re a content provider with historical content that would be a good fit in News archive search, we’d be interested to hear about it. We’re looking for all the world’s primary sources, and the older, the better.”

 

My Take: With all this focus on the fresh web and what is happening this instant, lets not loose sight of historical value. If you are a primary source of some dusty old content… goodie!

 

18. Book Search Partner Program (link) & Magazines (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “You’d sell a lot more books if a lot more people knew about them. We can help make that happen.”

 

My Take: First, you’ll need to have qualifying content. Next, you’ll need to decide what side of the fence you’re on with this one.

 

19. Scholar (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.”

 

My Take: If I was scholarly, I’d totally been up in there.

 

20. Panoramio (link)

 

In Google’s Words: Google really doesn’t say much about Panoramio but I will.

 

Panoramio Example

 

My Take: In the example above each of the images displayed in the SERPs for a location name are pulled from Panoramio. Commercial buildings, such as one owned by Cola-Cola are included. Consider photographing your physical buildings and optimizing the tags in Panoramio with location names. I’d love to see what the smart readers of this blog can make happen. Go, go, go! :D

 

21. Google Product Search – Base (link) & Product Reviews (link)

 

In Google’s Words: “Google Product Search helps shoppers find and buy products across the web. As a seller, you can submit your products to Google Product Search, allowing shoppers to quickly and easily find your site.”

 

My Take: If you sell products and aren’t already optimizing a feed into Google Product Search, hop on over. Make sure that you are on-top of evolving requirements and that your data is continually. Also, see about rolling in Product Reviews powered by BazaarVoice or PowerReviews.

 

Are you still with me? That was a long one. I know. I hope it was worth your time and that you have a couple new channels to explore!

 

Happy Optimizing!

youtube-logo

Google to Revamp YouTube with Original Content

Posted by | News & Insight, Social Media Advice, Social Media Marketing, YouTube | No Comments

The king of streaming video, YouTube, has made a success story out of hosting user generated content; stealing eyeballs off television networks, thanks to a user base that’s warmed up to the freedom of content that comes directly from the source and without the meddling of any TV network or production houses. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google wants to bite into the broadcast TV model by hosting around 20 channels showcasing several hours of professionally produced original programming per week. YouTube got a cool $100 million from Google to implement the original programming.
The streaming website will be competing with traditional TV networks with its own model of original content, which is a daunting proposition considering the quality of professionally produced network content. The question is – will the average user, who fires up YouTube expecting memetic videos uploaded by random users, want to see YouTube’s version of network programming?

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Gmail gets Background Customization Feature

Posted by | News & Insight | No Comments

Gmail gets Background Customization Feature

 

Google has added yet another eye-candy feature to its web-based email service – Gmail. Over two years ago, Google had added themes in Gmail which certainly impressed several users, geeks and Gmail loyalists. Today onwards, Google will let you customize your Gmail with any image or your own custom image for the background. Yes, you can customize your Gmail with Kelly Clarkson’s wallpaper, Dark Knight Rises Poster, or even a photo of your own. Wonder why took Gmail so long to introduce this feature.

Do note that adding a huge image to your Gmail background might make your web browser a wee bit slower. To customize background image on Gmail, go to Themes Tabs in Settings or just click here to go there directly in Gmail.

In the Themes tab, the last option is “Create your own theme” where you must click and a pop-up window will show up. Over there, you’ll get a wireframe like snapshot of your Gmail, where you can customize the different areas with the colors of your choice. Click on the small box on top left corner of that window to give you a drop-down menu about colors and an option to upload image.

Check out the image below to find the upload image option where in you can pull image from Picasa or upload directly from your computer.

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Workday – SEO Case Study

Posted by | Customer Reviews | No Comments

One of the best things about being an SEO is when your activities produce tangible results for a company that really moves the bottom line. What follows are some strategies and tactics that my company has used to increase one of our client’s year-over-year organic search traffic by more than 100 percent for every month (January to May) of 2011.

The Client: SEO Challenges & Goals

Workday.com is a 5-year-old company founded by Dave Duffield. They offer a SAAS, enterprise ERP and business management solution.

The challenges that Workday faced when we started with them over two years ago were similar to those faced by many other digital marketing professionals trying to make SEO part of the company DNA. As many of us know, things like link building and content production can be difficult to get budget for, especially in this economy.

Additionally, many of their marketing channels – including event marketing, PR, social media, and search (both paid and organic) – were living in silos that weren’t talking to one another. Therefore, a lot of opportunity was being left on the table from an SEO perspective.

Our goal for this campaign was to better align as many marketing channels as possible with SEO best practices in order to leverage all of these marketing activities from an organic search perspective. Additionally, we wanted to improve the internal communication, especially around keywords. We wanted everyone on our team and everyone on the various Workday teams that we work with to understand the importance of search, our target keywords, and priorities.

To do that, we focused on six areas. Let’s discuss some of the tactics that we used to successfully align each of these areas of focus with SEO best practices.

1. Internal Communication

Improving the lines of communication within the Workday organization was the cornerstone of our success. Getting everyone focused on the same goals will always have a tangible effect and produce better results than would have otherwise been possible.

In order to better align the members of various marketing teams, we provided them with keyword lists that were relevant to whatever projects they were working on. Some folks got the whole keyword set and some got a subset of the overall keyword list depending on their role in the company. Once those keywords had been provided, we trained each of those groups on how they could implement those keywords into the activities that they were responsible for (more about training later).

Equally important was getting this entire initiative prioritized by management and having that priority communicated to all of the teams that we were working with. There was a lot of enthusiastic support company-wide for our initiatives and that’s a big reason for the results that we got.

Part of the impetus for that enthusiasm was certainly due to upper level management communicating the priority of search to the entire company. Additionally, we were able to demonstrate using analytics how important SEO was to the marketing and sales efforts of the company which in turn created additional enthusiasm.

The other piece of the puzzle was a high degree of collaboration with the Workday team, including weekly SEO team meetings, our participation in quarterly marketing meetings where we were given a calendar of events and comprehensive understanding of the marketing plan for the company for the next 12 months. Workday hired an in-house SEO practitioner to help us implement recommendations more quickly as well as a central project management system that made it easy for people to get the information they needed to execute initiatives. At the end of the day, these tactics proved to be very successful in improving communication and getting everyone aligned with the goals and objectives of our SEO campaign.

2. Keyword Management

Segmenting Workday’s keywords into campaigns based on business objectives and then within those campaigns, segmenting by keyword group proved to be a very important part of our process. The segmentation allowed for more granular understanding of SEO performance, but it also made it easier for us to provide relevant keywords to various marketing teams within Workday.

Certain content writers and bloggers were given keywords that were relevant to their area of focus whereas other marketers were given the entire list depending on their role. Obviously training all these folks on how to use the keywords was a critical piece as well. But the segmentation of keywords made a big difference in the campaign.

3. Digital Content Strategy

Once the keywords were identified and segmented, a content gap analysis was performed to illustrate to the Workday team where they lacked sufficient content to address the keywords that they had targeted.

Additionally, a lot of the marketing content that they had lived behind an authentication wall. We created optimized sign up pages for this content that were targeted towards relevant keywords with content previews (snippets).

We also collaborated with various content producers to create new content (both text and video) that was aligned with their overall goal of thought leadership in the space and that was optimized around their most important keywords.

Keyword research is really user research that explains how your targeted audience is using language to describe your goods, services and concepts in your industry. Therefore, aligning your marketing content with those keywords means that you are talking the same language as the people you are trying to sell to, which improves your search rankings and conversions because people understand what you are saying.

The main goal within the digital content alignment was to have the people who are producing digital assets on an ongoing basis get the education that they need to create optimized content from inception. In other words, our SEO team wouldn’t need to optimize every new page on the site because it was built from an optimization perspective to begin with. For the most part, that is the case today.

4. Social Media

Social media was a huge area of focus for us. In addition to using social media channels like blogging, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to extend messaging, promote content, and engage our target audience, we wanted to use social media to create thought leadership, consistently produce new keyword focused content, and acquire new, relevant links that would make a difference in our SEO campaign.

In addition to the keyword lists and training that we provided their social media team, another successful tactic was a consistent posting schedule for all social media platforms for their content. We created a digital asset chart that gave instructions on how and where to promote each type of digital asset (blog post, video, webinar, etc). This way we always have a consistent approach to promoting content through social media, no matter whose job is ends up being.

One of the more successful social media strategies that Workday executed was their Technology Day where they invited some of the most influential bloggers in their space onsite to answer questions and demonstrate new technology. The event was a big hit with all of the participants and generated a number of excellent blog posts, tweets, and ultimately relevant links to the site. Using that event to distribute other digital assets like videos and infographics was also successful.

5. PR Optimization

One of the most important vehicles for link building for Workday.com has been press release optimization. Based on the strength of Workday’s brand, most of their press releases get picked up by a number of relevant and important publications.

By training their PR team on SEO best practices, we were able to make each release more impactful to the overall SEO campaign. The releases get more traffic because they get more search traffic, even if they live on someone else’s domain. And, because they are created with relevant, embedded links that point back to content on Workday.com, every time the release is picked up, Workday.com gets new, valuable links.

Obviously this tactic is only successful when you’re company has something meaningful to say. Fortunately for us and Workday, they always have a lot going on and a lot of great things to talk about.

6. SEO Training

This is another cornerstone in the success of this SEO campaign. Empowering people within the organization to make their own contributions to the SEO campaign is a huge priority for us in any engagement because ultimately it’s easier to scale across a large organization than trying to have one SEO team do everything. We conducted training for the following groups of people:

  • Content writers
  • Bloggers
  • PR team
  • Social media team
  • Internal SEO resources
  • Management
  • IT
  • Keyword Research
  • On Page Optimization (Content Optimization + Meta data + Page Titles)
  • PR Optimization
  • Social media / SEO best practices
  • Link optimization (internal and external)
  • Site-wide optimization (technical issues)

And, depending on which group we were training, we covered the following topics:

By demystifying SEO across various groups within the company, we were able to align all of the groups against the goals and priorities of the SEO campaign. By aligning all of these marketing groups with those goals and aligning their activities with SEO best practices, we have been able to help Workday achieve significant gains in organic search. And the program continues to grow to this day. Hopefully this model can provide a template for others to follow to achieve similar results.

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8 Methods + Lots of Tools for Getting to Know Your Audience

Posted by | News & Insight | No Comments

You provide something specific: That might be a product, a service, a trustworthy source of information, a community space… And you know exactly what your audiences may be searching for to find your wares. But do you know what they really want out of you? Do you know how they really feel? Do you know what they want more of or less of in your industry? Do you know what they like or don’t like on your site or your competitor’s sites? Do you know what they think about your new product launch? If you knew this information, how could you use it to improve your products or services?

 

In this post we’ll look at a few ways in which you can gather insightful information to help you position your brand against your competitors, laser target the specific desires of your audiences, and dive into the psyche of the people you want to attract and convert, categorized by what they want out of your industry, you, and your site.

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOUR INDUSTRY?

 

Let’s say you’re in the online car insurance industry. You are considering what steps need to be taken to avoid search engine algo disasters and provide unique, compelling content and services that your audiences want. You’ve done your keyword research, so you know what search terms people are using, but what do they really want from your industry? Here’s some ways to find out.

 

1) Industry Market Research

 

You can typically find a wealth of market research by industry from sites like the ones listed below, although oftentimes this research is not cheap.

 

What to look for:

Market demandMarket trendsMarket entryMarket issues/obstaclesStatistical details for your target audiences

Sources:

 

Chart from free Forrester report

 

2) Social Industry Sentiment

 

Many people think of social media as a way to connect with your industry influencers and brand advocates. But social media data is also spectacular for simply passively gathering insights. There is a wealth of information online about your industry and how people feel about it, talk about it, interact with it, etc. This information can help you take a strategic approach at entering an industry, or refine your current positioning and offerings within an industry.

 

What to look for:

Track industry terms as your topics, to find out what people are saying about the industry, what they want to see more of, what they don’t like or want to see less of, and potentially for spotting any industry trends through online conversations.Determine industry needs and sentiments in emerging markets before drawing up a product/service strategy.

Source A: Expensive, detailed (and mostly deep crawl) social media monitoring tools

 

There is still a major gap in social monitoring tools where the ones that provide the best crawl and interface for useful, actionable industry and/or brand health data can run you from $30,000/year to $30,000 month or more. For enterprise-level sites looking to harness conversations around the web, enterprise-level social monitoring solutions are the only answer (in this case, typically as an alternative or accompaniment to traditional survey-based brand health metrics). I’ve done audits on several of these solutions over the years and here are some worth looking into if you can throw the cash towards it.

NetBase – Still one of (if not the) best and most useful tools for brand sentiment I’ve seen yet. Competitive sentiment, competitive liked/disliked attributes, passion index, conversation drivers, etc.Dow Jones Insight – Flexible sentiment, regional trends, large coverage on- and offline, measures not just what happened, but also what was impact?Nielsen Online – LSI-type algorithm, feeling & tone metrics, measure by language + lots more.Visible Technologies – Subtopic identification, management tools, highly drillable, sortable data + more.Radian6 – Share of conversation, demographics, location, influence, Salesforce & WebTrends integration, lots of charts.

NetBase sample of benefits and drawbacks of hybrid car industry

 

Source B: Free and cheapish (but often not very deep crawl) sentiment tools

 

I want to have more faith in “tools for the people”, but in most cases, I’ve found search engines (see next section) to be more useful in finding good sentiment data than any of the free/cheap tools (and sometimes even the expensive tools). Try the software out and compare the insights you find with what you find in the next section using search engines to make the decision on whether it might be worth shelling out $200-$3000/mo or more towards these sentiment research tools.

Social Mention (free) – Sentiment, strength, passion & reach scores around a topic + top keywords, users, hashtags and sources.HowSociable (free) – Brand visibility score in several social networks.Trackur (paid) – Sentiment and influence metrics and tracking (history).eCairn (paid) – Share of voice, mind and/or topic + additional social media tools.Alterian SM2 (paid) – Share of voice, themes, demographics, sentiment analysis, etc.Trendrr (paid) – Sentiment analysis & influencer identification, location & demographic filters.Position2 (paid) – Share of voice, share of media, demographics, sentiment analysis, etc.And 195 more: http://www.salesrescueteam.com/social-media-measurement-tools/

Source C: Search Engines

 

If you don’t have a social listening tool or you’re just not getting good info from it, use the tool we all know and love: Search! Search engines still crawl much farther and deeper than most social media tools, so you can find more information if you know how to look. Search for any variation of things like:

“like” + [your brand name]“love” + [a feature you provide]“I wish” + [a feature you provide]“sucks” + [an author or blogger on your site or your competitor sites]“hate” + [your competitors’ brand names or features]

"love" + seomoz

 

Additionally, search Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! Answers or other social networks for the same type of information. I typically find the best feedback in this manner (using search + searching social networks), although it is more time consuming than the social media monitoring tools.

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOU?

 

3) Social Brand Asset Sentiment

 

In addition to what people want out of your industry, it is important to know what people want out of you and your brand assets. Your brand assets could include your services, products, product features, executives at the company, editorial personalities, and the brand name in general.

 

What to Look for + Sources

 

Test brand asset topics out in the social media monitoring tools mentioned above (including search engines) to gather insights on what people around the web are saying about your brand. Each tool may provide different types of information, like:

Positive and negative sentiment around brand assets and competitorsShare of voiceSpecific likes and dislikes (deeper dig into sentiment)Campaign reach/brand visibilityLocalized share of voice and sentiment trends

NetBase brand sentiment

 

4) Traditional Brand Sentiment

 

These survey-based reports typically show similar types of insights as the expensive social monitoring tools, only they are derived from surveys rather than scraped from the web.

 

What to Look for

Brand healthBrand sentimentBrand awareness/share of voiceBrand penetrationCSAT (Customer Satisfaction)Same measurements online for competitor brands

Sources:

 

Nielsen brand health sample metrics

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOUR SITE?

 

Lastly, you’ll want to gather insights on the site experience that your audiences are having, and how it can be streamlined and improved. Don’t forget, search engines want to see sites that people find valuable, so make sure you’re doing what you can to attract your audiences and keep them engaged, as well as prompting the sharing of your content in social spaces.

 

5) Solicited Site Feedback

 

If you ask your visitors for feedback you can use that data as well. Although soliciting feedback is not as unobtrusive as just using your site analytics data to determine where there are problems, it may be useful in getting a more human response to the potential issues on your site. Consider small incentives in return for feedback, like discounts, being entered into a contest, access to survey results (when appropriate), or other types of special recognition.

 

Sources:

 

Get Satisfaction management for Yahoo Mail community problems

 

6) On-Site Search Queries

 

Looking at what people are searching for on your site, and what they are or aren’t finding, can be very useful site feedback. For sites with large databases like music or movies, site search may be the simplest way to get to the destination. See what is searched for the most to provide that content up front. For other sites, look at what people are searching for, which may be an indication of what they expect to find but can’t. Determine how your site can better meet those needs.

 

What to Look for:

What people want or expect to find on the site.What people can’t find on the site.Searches on your site that return no results.Searches on your site that end in an exit rather than a click on search results.

Sources:

Your own on-site search analytics platform.

7) Click-tracking & heat maps

 

These colorful displays are probably the coolest ways of gathering site feedback. Use these tools to determine whether people are seeing your most important content and calls to action on each page.

 

What to Look for:

Are your primary calls to action getting clicks? Are they in view?Are you funneling visitors to the pages you want to?Are there links that are not getting any clicks?Is there content that isn’t getting eyeballs?What is the performance from search vs. the rest of the site?

Sources:

 

CrazyEgg heat map

 

8) Focus Groups and User Groups

 

Set up some objectives for a focus group to try to accomplish with your site and watch how they try to get there, what obstacles they come across along the way, how they think and feel about the experience, and more. This can be useful feedback from people who are not familiar with the site the way you and your team that are building the site are.

 

What to Look for:

How people feel towards planned new features or contentWays to improve existing features and contentWhether your users want or need new features or contentWhether there are features and content you can change, improve, or get rid ofHow people attempt to perform a task, and with what level of ease or difficulty

Sources:

Search for focus group companies in your area.Do research on how to conduct your own focus group.Psychster (usability)

Psychster study screenshot

 

Have any additional methods or tools not listed here? Please share!  Getting to Know Your Audience

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How People Value Data

Posted by | Search Engine Marketing | No Comments

The other day a person contacted me about wanting to help me with ad retargeting on one of my sites, but in order to do so they would have had to have tracked my site. That would have given them tons of great information about how they could retarget all my site’s visitors around the web. And they wanted me to give that up for free in an offer which was made to sound compelling, but lacked substance. And so they never got a response. :D

 

Given that we live in “the information age” it is surprising how little people value data & how little they expect you to value it. But there are still a lot of naive folks online! Google has a patent for finding under-served markets. And they own the leading search engine + the leading online ad network.

 

At any point in time they can change who they are voting for, and why they are voting that way.

 

They acquired YouTube and then universal search was all the rage.

 

Yes they have been pretty good at taking the longterm view, but that is *exactly* why so many businesses are afraid of them. Google throws off so much cash and collects so much data that they can go into just about any information market and practice price dumping to kill external innovation & lock up the market.

 

Once they own the market they have the data. From there a near infinite number of business models & opportunities appear.

 

Google recently became the #1 shopping search engine. How did they respond? More promotion of their shopping search feature.

 

How People Value Data

 

All those star ratings near the ads go to a thin affiliate / Google value add shopping search engine experience. Featured placement for those who are willing to share more data in exchange for promotion, and then over time Google will start collecting data directly and drive the (non-Google) duplication out of the marketplace.

 

You can tell where Google aims to position Google in the long run by what they consider to be spam. Early remote quality rater guidelines have highlighted how spammy the travel vertical is with hotel sites. Since then Google has added hotel prices to their search results, added hotels to some of their maps, and they just acquired ITA software – the company which powers many airline search sites.

 

Amongst this sort of backdrop there was an article in the NYT about small book shops partnering up with Google. The title of the article reads like it is straight out of a press release: Small Stores See Google as Ally in E-Book Market. And it includes the following quote

 

Mr. Sennett acknowledged that Google would also be a competitor, since it would also sell books from its Web site. But he seemed to believe that Google would favor its smaller partners.
“I don’t see Google directly working to undermine or outsell their retail partners,” he said. “I doubt they are going to be editorially recommending books and making choices about what people should read, which is what bookstores do.”
He added, “I wonder how naïve that is at this point. We’ll have to see.”

 

If they have all the sales data they don’t need to make recommendations. They let you and your customers do that. All they have to do to provide a better service than you can is aggregate the data.

 

The long view is this: if Google can cheaply duplicate your efforts you are unneeded duplication in the marketplace.

 

Look at the list of business models Google publicly stated they were leery on:

ebook sitesget rich quickcomparison shopping sitestravel aggregators

3 out of 4 ain’t bad. But they even on the one they missed, they still have an AdSense category for it. :D

 

How People Value Data

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Gmail enables Sending emails in Background

Posted by | Google | No Comments

Gmail enables Sending emails in Background

 

 

 

Google’s Gmail Labs is known for making nifty tweaks to the email service and thereby making it more efficient. This time, Google has added a new Background Send feature in Gmail Labs that lets users carry on with other tasks while the emails will continue being sent in background.

New Background Send feature can be enabled by accessing the Gmail Labs options available in Settings. Once you’ve enabled it, all you have to do is hit Send after you’ve composed an email and then carry on checking other emails.

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Here’s a condition which indeed is important – browser tab/window needs to be active while sending email. Means you need to be logged in and must have an active connection. Enabling Background Send, hitting Send button and then simply shutting down the PC or Mac won’t guarantee that your mail has been sent.

In case the recipients address is not correct or if there’s any other issue while sending an email in background, Gmail will show a warning message on top of your Inbox. The warning message will offer you an option to fix it instantly or fix it later. On a successful dispatch of messages, user will receive text – your message has been sent, just above the Inbox.

What we can notice here is that slowly, Gmail is acting like a proper application with background sending of messages. Though it’s not more of a visual effect, it’s still quite an implementation.

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Authenticity in Social Media: Don’t Get Mad, Get YouTube

Posted by | Social Media Marketing | No Comments

A recurring theme of Amber Mac’s keynote presentation at SES Toronto today was how companies need to face up to the challenge to authenticity that social media presents. The companies that were online, listening and responding to their customers were the ones best placed to avoid a costly hangover from a social media PR disaster. One of the key factors Amber Mac identified that made social media truly shareable was the quality of authenticity – real people demonstrating their own products. She noted that part of the appeal and success of the famous Will it Blend videos from Blendtec is the fact that it is the company’s CEO that maniacally blends everything he can get his hands on.

 

Similarly, what works for companies in social media also works against them – they have to deal with the “realness” of their customers – which reminded us of some funny stunts recently pulled by the disgruntled common man.

 

These days, if you need to fight city hall or battle corporate bureaucracy, then don’t get mad, get the YouTube community on your side.

 

Let’s look at three examples of brilliant YouTube protest videos. A New York City police officer recently gave Casey Neistat a £50 ticket for riding his bike outside the bike lane. Casey tried to explain that the bicycle lane isn’t always the safest place to ride, but the officer said that didn’t matter. You always had to stay in the bike lane.

 

Finally, there’s the now classic YouTube protest video, “United Breaks Guitars,” was made in July 2009 by Canadian singer/songwriter Dave Carroll. Here’s the backstory:

 

In the spring of 2008, Dave and his band, the Sons of Maxwell, were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and his Taylor guitar was seen being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. Dave discovered later that the £3,500 guitar was severely damaged. United didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people Dave communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate him for his loss.

 

So, he promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that he would write and produce three songs about his experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world.

 

The first of those songs has more than 10.5 million views.

 

The Times newspaper reported within four days of the video being posted online, United Airline’s stock price fell 10 percent, costing stockholders about £180 million in value.

 

So, what’s the moral of these stories? Don’t Get Mad, Get YouTube.

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Twitter Reverts to Old Format after Server Woes

Posted by | Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Earlier in the week, Twitter page announced that it was experiencing trouble displaying home timelines. That was followed by a message declaring, “We’ve temporarily disabled #NewTwitter. Our engineers are working on re-enabling it and we’ll update you shortly,” which led to another update minutes later that announced that Twitter was “Temporarily Disabling Trends” as well. Something is terribly wrong in Twitter land then.

Apparently, Twitter was either in the process of introducing or had already launched a new homepage that departed from the “discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world” spin of the current homepage and took on a new avatar that invited users to “follow your interests”. The new interest centric search suggests users to follow categories and will throw up results with accounts dealing with the sought categories, instead of just dishing out account names bearing the search phrase.

However, users were greeted with either the pre-redesign version of Twitter or an error message that said “something is technically wrong” with Twitter and “back to normal soon”. The root of Twitter’s woes can be traced out to an announcement proclaiming that all of its server infrastructure would be moved to a new secret location, which is in Utah by the way. After the teething troubles with the brand new server farms, Twitter has been forced to move most of the same infrastructure back to its facility in Sacramento, California.

Twitter Reverts to Old Format after Server Woes

It seems the server relocation to the new Utah site hasn’t worked out quite as well as Twitter had intended, which put a spanner in the works of all the new features that had been touted in September last year. Reverting to the old format and axing the new features may have got Twitter working again, but that’s not a healthy sign. Twitter will have to be a lot more circumspect with the load testing and debugging of the new additions, before unleashing them prematurely on unsuspecting users.

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Apple Adjusts In-App Subscription Policies

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Apple has walked back its somewhat-controversial policy regarding subscriptions sold via the App Store.

 

Under the company?s previous terms, media publishers were required to sell subscriptions through the App Store at rates preferable or equal to those offered via other channels, with Apple taking 30 percent of the fees.

 

Spokespeople for Apple reportedly confirmed the reversal to various media outlets, including Bloomberg.

 

?Content providers may offer In-App subscriptions at whatever price they wish,? read a June 9 posting on the Apple-centric blog MacRumors, which is widely credited with first noticing the change to Apple?s guidelines, ?and they are not required to offer an in-app subscription simply because they sell a subscription outside the App Store as well.?

 

Publishers hadn?t exactly greeted Apple?s original policy with glee, accusing the company of greediness in its dealings with publishers. ?An Apple-imposed arrangement that requires us to pay 30 percent of our revenue to Apple, in addition to content fees that we pay to the music labels, publishers and artists, is economically untenable,? Music-subscription service Rhapsody wrote in an emailed statement to eWEEK in February, soon after Apple announced its plans. ?The bottom line is: We would not be able to offer our service through the iTunes store if subjected to Apple?s 30 percent monthly fee vs. a typical 2.5 percent credit card fee.?

 

At the time, analysts also questioned whether the marketplace would tolerate Apple?s terms.

 

?At the end of the day, the market and customers will decide this,? Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg told eWEEK. ?If services begin pulling out of the iTunes marketplace, customers will be frustrated, and Apple will respond.?

 

That being said, he thought Apple had some flexibility in the matter: ?From Apple?s perspective, they can always move rates down, not raise them. Apple wants to make sure their customers are paying what they?d be paying anywhere.?

 

Other analysts took a much more dire view.

 

?What Apple has done already is sufficient to make providers of content aggressively invest in alternative means to reach the market,? James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in a Feb. 16 blog posting. ?You can fault the company for choosing not to anticipate that seeking a 30 percent toll would bring any subscription model of any type to its knees.?

 

Apple?s rivals immediately rushed in to exploit the potential schism between Apple and publishers. On Feb. 16, Google announced Google One Pass, a service that the search engine described as letting ?publishers set their own prices and terms for their digital content,? with Google taking 10 percent of any revenue.

 

Now Apple?s chosen to modify its policy, with some caveats. ?Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside the app,? reads the updated guidelines, ?as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content.? In-app purchasing will apparently continue to earn Apple its 30 percent, according to MacRumors, which could still rub some publishers the wrong way.

 

Nonetheless, the change is likely to adjust publishers? dealings with Apple yet again.

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A Third of Online Ads Come from Facebook Accounts

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

A Third of Online Ads Come from Facebook Accounts

 

A Third of Online Ads Come from Facebook Accounts

 

Nearly one in every three online ads in U.S. can now be attributed to Facebook accounts, according to website traffic counter Comscore. The number has doubled from what was recorded last year during the first quarter of 2010.

According to the results, 1.11 trillion ads were displayed to U.S. Internet users during the first quarter of 2011, of which, 346 billion were from Facebook accounts, thus accounting to a staggering 31.2 percent. Yahoo sites came in second with 122.5 billion impressions (10.1 percent), Microsoft came third with 53.5 billion (4.8 percent), AOL came in fourth with 33.4 billion (3 percent), while Google stood fifth with 27.9 billion impressions (2.5 percent).

Facebook’s advertising market share also increased 15 percent points from 16.2 percent in the first quarter, according to Comscore. Comscore EVP, Jeff Hackett said, “The U.S. online display advertising market maintained its strong momentum from last year with a terrific first quarter.”

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Facebook Will Not be Free Anymore

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | 5 Comments

Facebook Will No Longer be Free – Facebook has announced that it will charge users for holding an account on the website. Users will get two account options – Free and Pro. Free accounts will let users post photos and links, but will have size limited to thumbnail only, big banner ads and pop-ups.

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8 Methods + Lots of Tools for Getting to Know Your Audience

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

You provide something specific: That might be a product, a service, a trustworthy source of information, a community space… And you know exactly what your audiences may be searching for to find your wares. But do you know what they really want out of you? Do you know how they really feel? Do you know what they want more of or less of in your industry? Do you know what they like or don’t like on your site or your competitor’s sites? Do you know what they think about your new product launch? If you knew this information, how could you use it to improve your products or services?

 

In this post we’ll look at a few ways in which you can gather insightful information to help you position your brand against your competitors, laser target the specific desires of your audiences, and dive into the psyche of the people you want to attract and convert, categorized by what they want out of your industry, you, and your site.

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOUR INDUSTRY?

 

Let’s say you’re in the online car insurance industry. You are considering what steps need to be taken to avoid search engine algo disasters and provide unique, compelling content and services that your audiences want. You’ve done your keyword research, so you know what search terms people are using, but what do they really want from your industry? Here’s some ways to find out.

 

1) Industry Market Research

 

You can typically find a wealth of market research by industry from sites like the ones listed below, although oftentimes this research is not cheap.

 

What to look for:

Market demandMarket trendsMarket entryMarket issues/obstaclesStatistical details for your target audiences

Sources:

 

Chart from free Forrester report

 

2) Social Industry Sentiment

 

Many people think of social media as a way to connect with your industry influencers and brand advocates. But social media data is also spectacular for simply passively gathering insights. There is a wealth of information online about your industry and how people feel about it, talk about it, interact with it, etc. This information can help you take a strategic approach at entering an industry, or refine your current positioning and offerings within an industry.

 

What to look for:

Track industry terms as your topics, to find out what people are saying about the industry, what they want to see more of, what they don’t like or want to see less of, and potentially for spotting any industry trends through online conversations.Determine industry needs and sentiments in emerging markets before drawing up a product/service strategy.

Source A: Expensive, detailed (and mostly deep crawl) social media monitoring tools

 

There is still a major gap in social monitoring tools where the ones that provide the best crawl and interface for useful, actionable industry and/or brand health data can run you from $30,000/year to $30,000 month or more. For enterprise-level sites looking to harness conversations around the web, enterprise-level social monitoring solutions are the only answer (in this case, typically as an alternative or accompaniment to traditional survey-based brand health metrics). I’ve done audits on several of these solutions over the years and here are some worth looking into if you can throw the cash towards it.

NetBase – Still one of (if not the) best and most useful tools for brand sentiment I’ve seen yet. Competitive sentiment, competitive liked/disliked attributes, passion index, conversation drivers, etc.Dow Jones Insight – Flexible sentiment, regional trends, large coverage on- and offline, measures not just what happened, but also what was impact?Nielsen Online – LSI-type algorithm, feeling & tone metrics, measure by language + lots more.Visible Technologies – Subtopic identification, management tools, highly drillable, sortable data + more.Radian6 – Share of conversation, demographics, location, influence, Salesforce & WebTrends integration, lots of charts.

NetBase sample of benefits and drawbacks of hybrid car industry

 

Source B: Free and cheapish (but often not very deep crawl) sentiment tools

 

I want to have more faith in “tools for the people”, but in most cases, I’ve found search engines (see next section) to be more useful in finding good sentiment data than any of the free/cheap tools (and sometimes even the expensive tools). Try the software out and compare the insights you find with what you find in the next section using search engines to make the decision on whether it might be worth shelling out $200-$3000/mo or more towards these sentiment research tools.

Social Mention (free) – Sentiment, strength, passion & reach scores around a topic + top keywords, users, hashtags and sources.HowSociable (free) – Brand visibility score in several social networks.Trackur (paid) – Sentiment and influence metrics and tracking (history).eCairn (paid) – Share of voice, mind and/or topic + additional social media tools.Alterian SM2 (paid) – Share of voice, themes, demographics, sentiment analysis, etc.Trendrr (paid) – Sentiment analysis & influencer identification, location & demographic filters.Position2 (paid) – Share of voice, share of media, demographics, sentiment analysis, etc.And 195 more: http://www.salesrescueteam.com/social-media-measurement-tools/

Source C: Search Engines

 

If you don’t have a social listening tool or you’re just not getting good info from it, use the tool we all know and love: Search! Search engines still crawl much farther and deeper than most social media tools, so you can find more information if you know how to look. Search for any variation of things like:

“like” + [your brand name]“love” + [a feature you provide]“I wish” + [a feature you provide]“sucks” + [an author or blogger on your site or your competitor sites]“hate” + [your competitors’ brand names or features]

"love" + seomoz

 

Additionally, search Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! Answers or other social networks for the same type of information. I typically find the best feedback in this manner (using search + searching social networks), although it is more time consuming than the social media monitoring tools.

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOU?

 

3) Social Brand Asset Sentiment

 

In addition to what people want out of your industry, it is important to know what people want out of you and your brand assets. Your brand assets could include your services, products, product features, executives at the company, editorial personalities, and the brand name in general.

 

What to Look for + Sources

 

Test brand asset topics out in the social media monitoring tools mentioned above (including search engines) to gather insights on what people around the web are saying about your brand. Each tool may provide different types of information, like:

Positive and negative sentiment around brand assets and competitorsShare of voiceSpecific likes and dislikes (deeper dig into sentiment)Campaign reach/brand visibilityLocalized share of voice and sentiment trends

NetBase brand sentiment

 

4) Traditional Brand Sentiment

 

These survey-based reports typically show similar types of insights as the expensive social monitoring tools, only they are derived from surveys rather than scraped from the web.

 

What to Look for

Brand healthBrand sentimentBrand awareness/share of voiceBrand penetrationCSAT (Customer Satisfaction)Same measurements online for competitor brands

Sources:

 

Nielsen brand health sample metrics

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOUR SITE?

 

Lastly, you’ll want to gather insights on the site experience that your audiences are having, and how it can be streamlined and improved. Don’t forget, search engines want to see sites that people find valuable, so make sure you’re doing what you can to attract your audiences and keep them engaged, as well as prompting the sharing of your content in social spaces.

 

5) Solicited Site Feedback

 

If you ask your visitors for feedback you can use that data as well. Although soliciting feedback is not as unobtrusive as just using your site analytics data to determine where there are problems, it may be useful in getting a more human response to the potential issues on your site. Consider small incentives in return for feedback, like discounts, being entered into a contest, access to survey results (when appropriate), or other types of special recognition.

 

Sources:

 

Get Satisfaction management for Yahoo Mail community problems

 

6) On-Site Search Queries

 

Looking at what people are searching for on your site, and what they are or aren’t finding, can be very useful site feedback. For sites with large databases like music or movies, site search may be the simplest way to get to the destination. See what is searched for the most to provide that content up front. For other sites, look at what people are searching for, which may be an indication of what they expect to find but can’t. Determine how your site can better meet those needs.

 

What to Look for:

What people want or expect to find on the site.What people can’t find on the site.Searches on your site that return no results.Searches on your site that end in an exit rather than a click on search results.

Sources:

Your own on-site search analytics platform.

7) Click-tracking & heat maps

 

These colorful displays are probably the coolest ways of gathering site feedback. Use these tools to determine whether people are seeing your most important content and calls to action on each page.

 

What to Look for:

Are your primary calls to action getting clicks? Are they in view?Are you funneling visitors to the pages you want to?Are there links that are not getting any clicks?Is there content that isn’t getting eyeballs?What is the performance from search vs. the rest of the site?

Sources:

 

CrazyEgg heat map

 

8) Focus Groups and User Groups

 

Set up some objectives for a focus group to try to accomplish with your site and watch how they try to get there, what obstacles they come across along the way, how they think and feel about the experience, and more. This can be useful feedback from people who are not familiar with the site the way you and your team that are building the site are.

 

What to Look for:

How people feel towards planned new features or contentWays to improve existing features and contentWhether your users want or need new features or contentWhether there are features and content you can change, improve, or get rid ofHow people attempt to perform a task, and with what level of ease or difficulty

Sources:

Search for focus group companies in your area.Do research on how to conduct your own focus group.Psychster (usability)

Psychster study screenshot

 

Have any additional methods or tools not listed here? Please share! 

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Early Launch of SERPs Analysis Tool + June Linkscape Update

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | One Comment

If you’re anything like me, you spend several hours each month (maybe more often) preparing elaborate worksheets of ranking analyses to help uncover why a particular site/page is outranking another and what it will take to reach top rankings. Which is why the screenshot below has me pretty excited.

 

New SERPs Analysis

 

That’s the first version of the new SERPs Analysis Tool, and, even in this early form, it’s a thing of beauty. There’s data on nearly every point I’d put in a worksheet comparing search results (social data and more sophisticated on-page analysis is coming soon). It’s exportable to CSV so I can put the data into Excel and make cool charts and graphs, and it automatically generates based on any keyword set in a matter of 10-90 minutes (might be a bit longer this week since it just launched). Here’s some more views:

 

New SERPs Analysis On-Page + Domain Name Match Metrics

 

SERPs Analysis Anchor Text Metrics

 

SERPs Analysis Domain Metrics

 

Ever since Adam tossed out that awesome preview last month, I’ve been dying to play around with this. Now that it’s finally here, I can almost feel the pain of manual SERPs analysis disappearing. Feel free to give it a spin and provide feedback. To get the full data, just run a keyword difficulty report and click the “run full report” button.

 

Full Report Button in Keyword Difficulty Tool

 

In the next few weeks, we’ll have more data, some additional UI elements and a version in the web app, but for now, feel free to save enormous amounts of time + energy with this first version.

 

Of course, that’s not all!

 

Linkscape’s index is also updated as of Monday of this week (we accidentally had a brief rollback, but the correct data’s out there now) and have some new analyses of our metrics correlations, too. This is part of how we measure whether our data quality is improving – on the whole, our correlations should improve over time if our index quality (what we crawl, how we handle duplicates, canonicalization, etc) is getting better.

 

Index 41 Correlations with Google.com US Rankings

 

The short story is that there’s barely any change from the prior index from May (a couple metrics fell by >0.01), but we have improved somewhat from the figures presented in the ranking factors from late March (when, for example, Page Authority was as low as 0.28) .  We’ve also improved the coverage of the index for URLs we found in Google’s top 30 results across a large sample set of keywords from 84.27% to 85.59%. In the future, we’ll continue to try reporting regularly on these numbers to stay transparent about our own data confidence and quality.

 

Here’s the stats for the latest Linkscape update:

39,407,840,728 (39.4 billion) URLs371,306,396 (371 million) Subdomains119,104,781 (119 million) Root Domains397,844,228,049 (397 billion) LinksFollowed vs. Nofollowed 2.28% of all links found were nofollowed56.81% of nofollowed links are internal, 43.19% are externalRel Canonical – 7.91% of all pages now employ a rel=canonical tagThe average page has 60.67 links on it (down from 61.00 last index) 51.50 internal links on average9.17 external links on average

This index also features the first time we’re treating the rel=canonical attribute like a 301 redirect. After several tests internally and observing the search engines’ relatively liberal handling of rel=canonical, we feel this is the best behavior from a link-juice / metrics calculation perspective. You’ll still see these as regular “links” in Open Site Explorer for now, but we plan to update to show rel=canonicaling pages with a special notation (like a 301) in the tool soon.

 

Enjoy the fresh link data, the spiffy new SERPs Analysis feature and let us know if you’ve got feedback or suggestions.

 

p.s. The new tool is PRO-only, but if you want to give it a spin, there’s this spiffy free trial thingy we’ve got going :-)

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Twitter revamps Home Page again

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Twitter revamps Home Page again

 

Twitter revamps Home Page (again)

 

In April, popular micro-blogging social network -Twitter tried to makes it new slick homepage live. Due to some unexpected server issues, the new homepage got reverted to the previous one. But the new home page of Twitter was visible to select users only. Today the new Twitter Home Page/Sign-in Page was made live to all users.
Home Page refresh seems to be a yearly cycle for Twitter because the social network revamped its home page last year in March. Ever since the implementation of new Twitter Home Page took place, elements of service started its disappearing act one by one. While fixing those temporarily absent features like Trends, Lists, etc., new Home Page finally went live for all users. With the New Twitter and now a new Home Page, Twitter is slowly making User Interface changes. Several users loved the new neat looking homepage and that includes me too.
However, several users feel that it looks like Facebook login page but that won t cause any lawsuit between Twitter and Facebook. In any case, Twitter is more focused now on offering relevant search results in real-time than anything else. Do let me know your thoughts whether you like the new home page with good reasons for your opinion.

New Twitter Home PageNew Twitter Home Page

Old Twitter Home PageOld Twitter Home Page

 

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Google Unveils +1 Button For Third Party Websites

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Google Unveils +1 Button For Third Party Websites

 

Google Unveils +1 Button For Third Party Websites

 
After unveiling the +1 button in March, Google has started rolling out the button for third party websites. Google previewed this button, which works like the Facebook Like button, at the Google I/O conference and confirmed that this button will be launched within this week.

The +1 buttons will be in different sizes – Small, Medium, Standard and Tall, with and without the +1 counter, and websites can tie the buttons into their own site logon systems to know which pages are accessed more by users, to keep a record of this. After sufficient number of people have the +1 page on their website, users can view different data such as age and sex of people who recommend those particular pages. This can be done using Google s Analytics system.

Is Google stepping up its social networking strategy? Yes, it is doing it steadily and surely. They tried it with Buzz, not long ago, and it didn t quite succeed. Now they are trying other ways to step up to Facebook in Facebook s backyard. Will they succeed? Only time will tell.

 

 

 

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8 Methods + Lots of Tools for Getting to Know Your Audience

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

You provide something specific: That might be a product, a service, a trustworthy source of information, a community space… And you know exactly what your audiences may be searching for to find your wares. But do you know what they really want out of you? Do you know how they really feel? Do you know what they want more of or less of in your industry? Do you know what they like or don’t like on your site or your competitor’s sites? Do you know what they think about your new product launch? If you knew this information, how could you use it to improve your products or services?

 

In this post we’ll look at a few ways in which you can gather insightful information to help you position your brand against your competitors, laser target the specific desires of your audiences, and dive into the psyche of the people you want to attract and convert, categorized by what they want out of your industry, you, and your site.

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOUR INDUSTRY?

 

Let’s say you’re in the online car insurance industry. You are considering what steps need to be taken to avoid search engine algo disasters and provide unique, compelling content and services that your audiences want. You’ve done your keyword research, so you know what search terms people are using, but what do they really want from your industry? Here’s some ways to find out.

 

1) Industry Market Research

 

You can typically find a wealth of market research by industry from sites like the ones listed below, although oftentimes this research is not cheap.

 

What to look for:

Market demandMarket trendsMarket entryMarket issues/obstaclesStatistical details for your target audiences

Sources:

 

Chart from free Forrester report

 

2) Social Industry Sentiment

 

Many people think of social media as a way to connect with your industry influencers and brand advocates. But social media data is also spectacular for simply passively gathering insights. There is a wealth of information online about your industry and how people feel about it, talk about it, interact with it, etc. This information can help you take a strategic approach at entering an industry, or refine your current positioning and offerings within an industry.

 

What to look for:

Track industry terms as your topics, to find out what people are saying about the industry, what they want to see more of, what they don’t like or want to see less of, and potentially for spotting any industry trends through online conversations.Determine industry needs and sentiments in emerging markets before drawing up a product/service strategy.

Source A: Expensive, detailed (and mostly deep crawl) social media monitoring tools

 

There is still a major gap in social monitoring tools where the ones that provide the best crawl and interface for useful, actionable industry and/or brand health data can run you from $30,000/year to $30,000 month or more. For enterprise-level sites looking to harness conversations around the web, enterprise-level social monitoring solutions are the only answer (in this case, typically as an alternative or accompaniment to traditional survey-based brand health metrics). I’ve done audits on several of these solutions over the years and here are some worth looking into if you can throw the cash towards it.

NetBase – Still one of (if not the) best and most useful tools for brand sentiment I’ve seen yet. Competitive sentiment, competitive liked/disliked attributes, passion index, conversation drivers, etc.Dow Jones Insight – Flexible sentiment, regional trends, large coverage on- and offline, measures not just what happened, but also what was impact?Nielsen Online – LSI-type algorithm, feeling & tone metrics, measure by language + lots more.Visible Technologies – Subtopic identification, management tools, highly drillable, sortable data + more.Radian6 – Share of conversation, demographics, location, influence, Salesforce & WebTrends integration, lots of charts.

NetBase sample of benefits and drawbacks of hybrid car industry

 

Source B: Free and cheapish (but often not very deep crawl) sentiment tools

 

I want to have more faith in “tools for the people”, but in most cases, I’ve found search engines (see next section) to be more useful in finding good sentiment data than any of the free/cheap tools (and sometimes even the expensive tools). Try the software out and compare the insights you find with what you find in the next section using search engines to make the decision on whether it might be worth shelling out $200-$3000/mo or more towards these sentiment research tools.

Social Mention (free) – Sentiment, strength, passion & reach scores around a topic + top keywords, users, hashtags and sources.HowSociable (free) – Brand visibility score in several social networks.Trackur (paid) – Sentiment and influence metrics and tracking (history).eCairn (paid) – Share of voice, mind and/or topic + additional social media tools.Alterian SM2 (paid) – Share of voice, themes, demographics, sentiment analysis, etc.Trendrr (paid) – Sentiment analysis & influencer identification, location & demographic filters.Position2 (paid) – Share of voice, share of media, demographics, sentiment analysis, etc.And 195 more: http://www.salesrescueteam.com/social-media-measurement-tools/

Source C: Search Engines

 

If you don’t have a social listening tool or you’re just not getting good info from it, use the tool we all know and love: Search! Search engines still crawl much farther and deeper than most social media tools, so you can find more information if you know how to look. Search for any variation of things like:

“like” + [your brand name]“love” + [a feature you provide]“I wish” + [a feature you provide]“sucks” + [an author or blogger on your site or your competitor sites]“hate” + [your competitors’ brand names or features]

"love" + seomoz

 

Additionally, search Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! Answers or other social networks for the same type of information. I typically find the best feedback in this manner (using search + searching social networks), although it is more time consuming than the social media monitoring tools.

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOU?

 

3) Social Brand Asset Sentiment

 

In addition to what people want out of your industry, it is important to know what people want out of you and your brand assets. Your brand assets could include your services, products, product features, executives at the company, editorial personalities, and the brand name in general.

 

What to Look for + Sources

 

Test brand asset topics out in the social media monitoring tools mentioned above (including search engines) to gather insights on what people around the web are saying about your brand. Each tool may provide different types of information, like:

Positive and negative sentiment around brand assets and competitorsShare of voiceSpecific likes and dislikes (deeper dig into sentiment)Campaign reach/brand visibilityLocalized share of voice and sentiment trends

NetBase brand sentiment

 

4) Traditional Brand Sentiment

 

These survey-based reports typically show similar types of insights as the expensive social monitoring tools, only they are derived from surveys rather than scraped from the web.

 

What to Look for

Brand healthBrand sentimentBrand awareness/share of voiceBrand penetrationCSAT (Customer Satisfaction)Same measurements online for competitor brands

Sources:

 

Nielsen brand health sample metrics

 

WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOUR SITE?

 

Lastly, you’ll want to gather insights on the site experience that your audiences are having, and how it can be streamlined and improved. Don’t forget, search engines want to see sites that people find valuable, so make sure you’re doing what you can to attract your audiences and keep them engaged, as well as prompting the sharing of your content in social spaces.

 

5) Solicited Site Feedback

 

If you ask your visitors for feedback you can use that data as well. Although soliciting feedback is not as unobtrusive as just using your site analytics data to determine where there are problems, it may be useful in getting a more human response to the potential issues on your site. Consider small incentives in return for feedback, like discounts, being entered into a contest, access to survey results (when appropriate), or other types of special recognition.

 

Sources:

 

Get Satisfaction management for Yahoo Mail community problems

 

6) On-Site Search Queries

 

Looking at what people are searching for on your site, and what they are or aren’t finding, can be very useful site feedback. For sites with large databases like music or movies, site search may be the simplest way to get to the destination. See what is searched for the most to provide that content up front. For other sites, look at what people are searching for, which may be an indication of what they expect to find but can’t. Determine how your site can better meet those needs.

 

What to Look for:

What people want or expect to find on the site.What people can’t find on the site.Searches on your site that return no results.Searches on your site that end in an exit rather than a click on search results.

Sources:

Your own on-site search analytics platform.

7) Click-tracking & heat maps

 

These colorful displays are probably the coolest ways of gathering site feedback. Use these tools to determine whether people are seeing your most important content and calls to action on each page.

 

What to Look for:

Are your primary calls to action getting clicks? Are they in view?Are you funneling visitors to the pages you want to?Are there links that are not getting any clicks?Is there content that isn’t getting eyeballs?What is the performance from search vs. the rest of the site?

Sources:

 

CrazyEgg heat map

 

8) Focus Groups and User Groups

 

Set up some objectives for a focus group to try to accomplish with your site and watch how they try to get there, what obstacles they come across along the way, how they think and feel about the experience, and more. This can be useful feedback from people who are not familiar with the site the way you and your team that are building the site are.

 

What to Look for:

How people feel towards planned new features or contentWays to improve existing features and contentWhether your users want or need new features or contentWhether there are features and content you can change, improve, or get rid ofHow people attempt to perform a task, and with what level of ease or difficulty

Sources:

Search for focus group companies in your area.Do research on how to conduct your own focus group.Psychster (usability)

Psychster study screenshot

 

Have any additional methods or tools not listed here? Please share! 

Facebook

Facebook Will Not be Free Anymore

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | 10 Comments

 

Facebook Will Not be Free Anymore

This comes as a shocker to us. Facebook has announced that it will charge users for holding an account on the website. Users will get two account options – Free and Pro. Free accounts will let users post photos and links, but will have size limited to thumbnail only, big banner ads and pop-ups. Moreover, users will have to take a paid survey for each login. However, Facebook reassures that the entire process won’t take more than 10 minutes. The Pro account will let users post, share and view videos without worrying about the size and quality.

 

Facebook said that starting in the next few month (July/August/September), all users will be migrated to free accounts if they do not pay an amount, which is not disclosed as yet. Reports suggest it won’t be more than $10  per month.

 

As per the information available, the new paid account roll out will start with a pilot testing in U.S. wherein users will be given unlimited cloud storage to upload photos and videos. Following that, Facebook will start rolling out the paid account options across the globe.

Facebook has been drawing attention of loads of users, advertisers, companies, game developers and more. The social network already has several addictive games and lets advertisers post ads. Games will be free but can only be played if you buy a special gaming pack at an undisclosed price.

We know that maintaining such a heavy user base and implementing innovation for masses isn’t really a cost-effective strategy. However, charging users for holding accounts is a bit too much we think. Leave us a comment and let us know your reaction.
UPDATE: August 16th 2011

  • Facebook rumours continue to grow. Facebook – still are yet to confirm rumours… we wait…

UPDATE: August 2011 – September 1st 2011

  • Facebook Groups are created to stand up against charges and fees :

o Stop Facebook Charges

o If Facebook Charges A Fee We Will Discontinue Using It

o We will all go on strike if Facebook charges $14.99 a month!!!!!

o When Facebook charges ill get a life…LOL jk I’ll go on Bebo

o STOP the URBAN LEGEND about FACEBOOK CHARGES!!!

 

UPDATE: 25th September 2011

The continuing Web rumour about Facebook starting to charge users began with a hoax message rolling out and spreading virally, shortly after the site introduced the Timeline and Ticker, claiming that the users will have to pay for the new profile changes.

Many of us have seen this chain message:

“THIS IS OFFICIAL… IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS… FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES… IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON, IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY!!”

While the chain message’s origin is unknown, this is not the first time Facebook has been the accused of plans to start charging for membership fees.

UPDATE: Tuesday 27th September 2011

“A rumour on the Internet caught our attention. We have no plans to charge for Facebook. It’s free and always will be,” declared Facebook in a post with 460,678 likes, 46,029 comments and 102,825 shares. ~ Facebook

 

  • Facebook services are ad-supported and its revenue is expected to reach $4.27 billion in 2011, according to ZDNet.

Well, that’s the update for today guys! Though Facebook has again denied it will charge users, the rumour will not die… and you know what they say about rumours… they start from somewhere!

We’ll keep you updated. But for now, it’s certified… FACEBOOK WILL NOT CHARGE.. Just yet anyway!

Leave us a comment and let us know your reaction.

 
 

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Google Funds YouTube to Host Original Content

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | One Comment

Google to Revamp YouTube with Original Content

 

Google to Revamp YouTube with Original Content

 

The king of streaming video, YouTube, has made a success story out of hosting user generated content; stealing eyeballs off television networks, thanks to a user base that’s warmed up to the freedom of content that comes directly from the source and without the meddling of any TV network or production houses. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google wants to bite into the broadcast TV model by hosting around 20 channels showcasing several hours of professionally produced original programming per week. YouTube got a cool $100 million from Google to implement the original programming.

The streaming website will be competing with traditional TV networks with its own model of original content, which is a daunting proposition considering the quality of professionally produced network content. The question is – will the average user, who fires up YouTube expecting memetic videos uploaded by random users, want to see YouTube’s version of network programming?

Google-Plus-1-Button-for-Websites

Google Launches The “+1″ Button

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Facebook’s ‘Like’ button has been immensely popular ever since its inception. It was only a matter of time before others implemented the same feature. Google as you all know by now, had announced plans of launching the ‘+1′ button. Now they have gone a step further by announcing that the +1 button will be a feature added to websites so as to decrease the time spent for searching.

The users have to do is simply click ‘+1′ if they happen to like a website. At first it was reported that ‘+1′ would be implemented only with some websites, but now some reps have let a cat out of the bag by saying that just about any website will be able to add the ‘+1′ button which would help users rate their favourite posts.

How would this help?
Users searching for a particular article on Google can now see what their friends have liked, making it easier for them to pick the best out of the lot. Google has launched this service for websites today. This service is supposed to change the way one searches for articles or something on Google, such as a recipe. While some may think this is a good service, others may think otherwise. Either way, this is a welcome addition which will save a lot of time and most likely result in more relevant search results. You can read more about Google ‘+1′ button over here.

 

 

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Beware of Facebook Event Invites

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

 

 

Social networking site Facebook has a user base that has been growing by the day. However, on the flip side, this means more and more people are vulnerable to hacking and phishing scams.

While Facebook has always been susceptible to these threats, this time around, scammers have set off a new bogus event invites scam. Under this scam, spammers invite millions of Facebook users to fake events in an attempt to generate income from online survey scams.

IT security and data protection firm Sophos has warned Facebook users to be wary of one such event called “Who blocked you from his friend list?” It has already tricked more than 165,000 people into signing-up, with a staggering 10.3 million users still debating whether to respond or not.

The scammers embed instructions into the ‘More info’ section of the event’s summary, which leads unsuspecting Facebook users into visiting webpages for online surveys or competitions, designed to earn commission for those behind the scheme. In some instances, users are also asked for a mobile phone number, which is then signed up to an expensive premium rate service.

“These spammed-out event invitations and links to survey scams are one of the biggest nuisances on Facebook right now, impacting millions of users every day,” said Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos. “It would be great if Facebook was being more proactive in shutting down these obviously bogus events, as currently it’s far too easy for the scammers to fill their pockets through schemes like this.”

Facebook users are advised not to accept unsolicited invitations from suspicious events, and always think twice about clicking on links received via Facebook.

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8 Tips for Blogger Outreach

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

It’s worth quickly covering off why I think SEOs should be building relationships through outreach – a responsive network of bloggers with whom you have an ongoing conversation can help make your promotion efforts much easier. Contacting bloggers cold and only when you want something is bound to be less successful than if you put the groundwork in first.

 

So here’s a collection of tips for better and more efficient outreach that have come out of some of the work I’ve been doing recently.

 

Link request emails typically contain some sort of compliment about the website’s design or content. The trouble is that it often comes across as forced, and sometimes there’s not even a great deal to be complimentary about. When a compliment is obviously a thinly veiled attempt to get in the website owner’s good books, it can have the opposite effect.

 

Twitter is a much more natural place for this sort of activity – people are always bigging each other up. They RT, #FF, list people, post each other’s blog content, interact, ask questions, and share. It’s totally natural and can be much more subtle, so don’t forget to use all of these tools to get yourself noticed by your link targets.

 

For example, a month of gentle, regular retweeting and interaction could be the perfect way to build up to a link request email.

 

Website owners often go out of their way to hide their email addresses. They replace them with images, they use contact forms, and often use generic inboxes like contact@website.com.

 

At the same time, website owners go out of their way to promote their social media accounts pretty much everywhere they can. They add themselves to directories, put badges all over their sites, link to their profiles at the end of blog posts and more.

 

It’s pretty easy to work out how some website owners would prefer to be contacted, and finding social media profiles can often take a fraction of the time.

 

If you know the person’s name then you can often find them with a search like site:twitter.com rob millard. If you don’t know their name, how about searching LinkedIn for their job title and company name? site:linkedin.com inurl:/in/ distilled SEO consultant - easy!

 

You can also use tools like FollowerWonk, WeFollow, and Twitter’s internal search to find Twitter accounts that are relevant to your niche. Facebook’s internal search can help you do the same.

 

If you’re familiar with Google Docs and importxml() it’s relatively simple to scrape directories like FollowerWonk and WeFollow, and pull in each user’s web address from their Twitter bio. Once you’ve done that, you could use the SEOmoz API to find out which influential Twitter users actually have blogs worth getting links from.

 

There are a whole host of ways to find link building opportunities using Twitter search. Firstly, check out some of the hashtags used by journalists and bloggers such as #journorequest, #journalistrequest, and #HARO. Combine them which a keyword relevant to your niche and you often get some great opportunities. Speed is crucial though, so make sure you’re quick to respond.

 

Twitter Search Results

 

Advanced search queries for guest posting opportunities are fairly well documented, but you can use a similar approach with Twitter. Check out “guest post” + keyword or “guest blog” + keyword. These aren’t typically blogs asking for guest posts, but they’re promoting guest content which shows that they are likely to accept something similar by yours truly.

 

If you find that searches and hashtags like the ones mentioned above are yielding opportunities, why not set them up as an extra pane in a Twitter client such as TweetDeck so that you can scan them regularly.

 

When contacting a blogger about guest posting opportunities, I’ve found that I have a much higher success rate if I include a few ideas for headlines straight off.  You can make this technique even more effective if you do some quick research to find out what sort of content has worked well for them in the past. Who’s likely to turn down a free post on a subject that earned them loads of links last time round?

 

So the Top Pages report in OSE is a great place to start – are there any recurring themes that you can pick up on? For example, as a technology blog smartphone content might be way more popular than anything else, so pitch some ideas in that area.

 

Possibly a better approach would be to look at their site using PostRank as this includes other signals such as social media and number of comments.

 

Or, again, you could build a tool in Google Docs similar to the one Tom Critchlow outlined here and run the exported list of top pages through it to get social metrics.

 

My favourite use for lists is to create a private list for users that I’ve identified as outreach targets. This way, you can set up a pane in TweetDeck to monitor what those users are up to and look for opportunities to retweet, interact etc. Obviously a private list is preferred because you’ll blow your chances if somebody realises they’re on a list called “Bloggers to get links from lol”.

 

On the other hand, you could use public lists as a form of flattery. Create a list called “The world’s best travel bloggers” and then tweet about it. There’s no guarantee that they’ll see it, but you’d hope at least a few of the people on it would check it out.

 

This is one of my favourite uses for LinkedIn. Typically I tend to avoid actually contacting people through LinkedIn as it can come across just as forced as a cold email. But if you know who you’re targeting, find their profile and check out this box on the right hand side:

 

LinkedIn How you're connected

 

It could be that one of your colleagues already knows them, in which case you can leverage that existing relationship. Or it might be that another business contact knows them, in which case you could ask for an introduction which gives you an easy in.

 

Apart from the domain name, there’s very little in an email address that demonstrates the credibility of the user. This is another area in which social media’s strengths lie as outreach targets can easily check your profile and work out if you’re the sort of person they want to collaborate with.

 

As a result, it’s really worth putting in the time to make sure your profile looks authentic and credible. Even the simple things like your profile picture can make a difference – use a photo of your actual face rather than a logo so that people can see who they’re talking to. You can also build credibility by participating in relevant conversations and communities so that you demonstrate that you’re genuinely interested in your niche.

 

This is really at the end of the outreach process, but I often find that I’m contacting bloggers that operate in a niche within my niche. For example, a food blogger might build a relationship with a cupcake blog. If they like to consume content using RSS, it would be much better to give them a feed of posts which are strictly relevant to cupcakes.

 

Fortunately this is super-easy in WordPress. Find the relevant tag page or category page such as:

http://www.robsfoodblog.com/tags/cupcakes/

and add /feed/ to the end of the URL:

http://www.robsfoodblog.com/tags/cupcakes/feed/

Score! Obviously this won’t work exactly on every wordpress install as it depends how you’ve got your permalinks set up, but it should be possible if you have a play around.

 

That’s all for now! Hopefully this post gives you some ideas that might freshen up your outreach strategies. If you’ve got any further ideas or questions, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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Early Launch of SERPs Analysis Tool + June Linkscape Update

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Early Launch of SERPs Analysis Tool  – LinkScape

 

If you’re anything like me, you spend several hours each month (maybe more often) preparing elaborate worksheets of ranking analyses to help uncover why a particular site/page is outranking another and what it will take to reach top rankings. Which is why the screenshot below has me pretty excited.

 

New SERPs Analysis

 

That’s the first version of the new SERPs Analysis Tool, and, even in this early form, it’s a thing of beauty. There’s data on nearly every point I’d put in a worksheet comparing search results (social data and more sophisticated on-page analysis is coming soon). It’s exportable to CSV so I can put the data into Excel and make cool charts and graphs, and it automatically generates based on any keyword set in a matter of 10-90 minutes (might be a bit longer this week since it just launched). Here’s some more views:

 

New SERPs Analysis On-Page + Domain Name Match Metrics

 

SERPs Analysis Anchor Text Metrics

 

SERPs Analysis Domain Metrics

 

Ever since Adam tossed out that awesome preview last month, I’ve been dying to play around with this. Now that it’s finally here, I can almost feel the pain of manual SERPs analysis disappearing. Feel free to give it a spin and provide feedback. To get the full data, just run a keyword difficulty report and click the “run full report” button.

 

Full Report Button in Keyword Difficulty Tool

 

In the next few weeks, we’ll have more data, some additional UI elements and a version in the web app, but for now, feel free to save enormous amounts of time + energy with this first version.

 

Of course, that’s not all!

 

Linkscape’s index is also updated as of Monday of this week (we accidentally had a brief rollback, but the correct data’s out there now) and have some new analyses of our metrics correlations, too. This is part of how we measure whether our data quality is improving – on the whole, our correlations should improve over time if our index quality (what we crawl, how we handle duplicates, canonicalization, etc) is getting better.

 

Index 41 Correlations with Google.com US Rankings

 

The short story is that there’s barely any change from the prior index from May (a couple metrics fell by >0.01), but we have improved somewhat from the figures presented in the ranking factors from late March (when, for example, Page Authority was as low as 0.28) .  We’ve also improved the coverage of the index for URLs we found in Google’s top 30 results across a large sample set of keywords from 84.27% to 85.59%. In the future, we’ll continue to try reporting regularly on these numbers to stay transparent about our own data confidence and quality.

 

Here’s the stats for the latest Linkscape update:

39,407,840,728 (39.4 billion) URLs371,306,396 (371 million) Subdomains119,104,781 (119 million) Root Domains397,844,228,049 (397 billion) LinksFollowed vs. Nofollowed 2.28% of all links found were nofollowed56.81% of nofollowed links are internal, 43.19% are externalRel Canonical – 7.91% of all pages now employ a rel=canonical tagThe average page has 60.67 links on it (down from 61.00 last index) 51.50 internal links on average9.17 external links on average

This index also features the first time we’re treating the rel=canonical attribute like a 301 redirect. After several tests internally and observing the search engines’ relatively liberal handling of rel=canonical, we feel this is the best behavior from a link-juice / metrics calculation perspective. You’ll still see these as regular “links” in Open Site Explorer for now, but we plan to update to show rel=canonicaling pages with a special notation (like a 301) in the tool soon.

 

Enjoy the fresh link data, the spiffy new SERPs Analysis feature and let us know if you’ve got feedback or suggestions.

 

p.s. The new tool is PRO-only, but if you want to give it a spin, there’s this spiffy free trial thingy we’ve got going :-)

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Google Sued for Trademark Infringement Over Chromebook

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is facing another lawsuit over its operating system, but it isn’t for its Android mobile platform.

 

Intellectual property manager ISYS Technologies sued Google because it claims the search-engine giant’s Chrome operating system infringes on trademarks for its Xi3 ChromiumPC Modular Computer.

 

ISYS wants to stop Google’s retail partners Amazon.com and Best Buy from selling Chromebooks made by Samsung and Acer, the company said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg.

 

ISYS owns Xi3 Corp., a unit that built the ChromiumPC based on Google’s Chromium open-source operating system. The machine, which resembles a cross between a toaster and a cheese grater, is a dual-core computer capable of running Windows, Linux and other open-source operating systems.

 

ISYS said it holds patents for the ChromiumPC and filed a trademark registration for the device with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in June 2010.

 

Google, which declined to comment on the lawsuit, has opposed the granting of the trademark, according to ISYS.

 

Chrome OS-based notebooks are expected to go on sale June 15, providing an alternative to Windows and Mac machines running locally based applications. Samsung is selling a 3G Series 5 Chromebook for $499 and a WiFi-only version for $429. Acer is offering its WiFi-only Chromebook for $349.

 

Google believes most people are moving toward Web applications, and Google is using Chrome to provide a new Web platform upon which it can deliver its search, Web services and ads.

 

Xi3 expects to launch its ChromiumPC July 4, with pricing announced at that time.

 

“Although we’ve been promoting, discussing and working on modular computers for some time, we feel the market is now ready for a desktop computer with a cloud-based operating system like the one offered by Google,” Jason A. Sullivan, president and CEO of Xi3, said May 20 in a statement.

 

Lawsuits are becoming de rigueur for Google as it expands to new markets online. The company is facing a serious threat from Oracle, which claims Google’s Android OS violates patents and copyrights related to its Java platform.

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Microsoft Bing Gets iPhone App Discovery, Facebook Sharing

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Microsoft Bing made some mobile application and browsing moves to make it easier for users to find iPhone applications and share content via Facebook, features the company hopes will differentiate it from Google’s mobile offerings for the iPhone and Android handsets.

 

The Bing team added an auto app discovery feature that surfaces applications in the context of typical Web queries.

 

Now users who search for apps such as Thor 3D, Facebook and Hotels in Seattle from their iPhone’s Bing for Mobile app will see appropriate apps surface on Bing from their iPhone.

 

The idea is to help iPhone users avoid the needle-in-the-haystack search for Apple App Store apps, which now number more than 400,000.

 

Bing will also now find the app a user is searching for using the exact app name or other criteria. Now queries such as Top iPhone Apps, News Apps and Download Fruit Ninja will also surface relevant programs.

 

Moreover, to make it easier for iPhone users to get to the apps themselves, Bing can also launch some installed apps, such as Yelp, Facebook and IMDb, directly from the app search results.

 

If an app is not installed on a user’s iPhone, when they click on the download link Bing takes them to the iTunes App Store to download the app. If the app is already installed and the developer has enabled the launch functionality, then it will launch automatically.

 

This is something that Google, Apple and others may seriously consider trying their own implementation of to make app downloads more palatable for users.

 

Bing’s moves come as Google is improving app discovery in its Android Market. The company also quietly added a feature that tells users whether an app they want to download its compatible with their Android smartphone or tablet.

 

Bing’s upgrades for the iPhone come after Google’s mobile app team spent the last several months improving functionality for the Google Mobile app for iPhone.

 

Bing for Mobile Web browsing, m.bing.com, also has a few new features available for smartphones that support HTML5, including iPhone, Android and RIM BlackBerry OS 6 devices.

 

There is a new Share on Facebook feature, which lets users share images, local business details, and applications (for iOS devices) with Facebook friends.

 

The Bing for Mobile browser home page now features a carousel that lets users flip through the headlines or scroll down to see the top three headlines and images for U.S, world, local, entertainment, science/technology, business politics, sports, and health news.

 

Also, while it won’t be confused for Google’s Place Pages anytime soon, Microsoft also integrated map directions and business listings in a single view.

 

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Internet Marketing Tips to Promote Your Business in 2011

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Link Building News, Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Internet Marketing Tips to Promote Your Business in 2011

Just because you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on marketing and advertising doesn’t mean you have to sit back and hope for the best in 2011. In fact, there are many free online marketing methods small businesses can use to connect with potential customers. Below are eight proven marketing strategies you can use to boost customer acquisition and increase sales in 2011 – which will cost you only your time.

1. Create a simple, clean website.
There are lots of self-service website creation services, such as Weebly, BlinkWeb, and Squidoo, which allow non-technical users to create simple, functional sites for free. Your site should include key words about your business so that people looking for your products or services can find you.

2.  List your business on all free directory sites available to you.
MerchantCircle, Google Local Business Center, Angie’s List, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, YellowPages.com, SearchLocal, and SuperPages are some of the online business directory services that allow businesses to create a free listing. If the site already lists your business, you can “claim” it by adding more details to the listing, such as your company website URL, a map, phone numbers, or business hours.


3. Use email to stay in touch with your best clients/customers.
You likely already have the email addresses of your best clients or customers, so use them! An email newsletter is a great way to connect with your loyal customers. Create an email that includes a quick update on new products or services, and perhaps a printable coupon or promotional code. You can also add an image, a link to your website or a video you’ve posted on YouTube, or a link to you’re a business directory page that includes lots of positive customer reviews.

4. Create business pages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites.
Social networking is here to stay, so your company needs to join the fray. Start by creating a Facebook business page and a Twitter account in your company’s name; both are free. If you have video content about your business, create a free “video channel” on YouTube, while B2B companies should also create a LinkedIn profile that details your business profile, lists key contacts, and provides information about your products and services. Make sure to encourage customers to sign up for your pages by printing your Facebook address and Twitter handle on all business materials.

5. Get creative with promotions.
Everyone loves a bargain, and people are increasingly price sensitive after recently living through one of worst recessions in decades. Try offering different types of promotions: downloadable and printable coupons people can bring into your store or office; online coupon codes redeemable for a one-time discount; a 10%-off coupon for signing up for your email newsletter or Facebook Page; a refer-a-friend discount; or a discount for writing a review of your business on a directory site like Yelp. You can promote these discounts via free or inexpensive advertising options: your email newsletter, in-store banners, Twitter, and Facebook.

6.Search online for all businesses like yours.
Use Google, Twitter, Facebook, and other search engines to find similar businesses in your city and in other areas to get a sense for what marketing tricks your competitors are using. Check out their social networking pages and their websites, and try searching for their latest promotions. Sign up for their email newsletters. Armed with this free competitive intelligence, you can see what’s worked for companies you admire, and fine-tune your own marketing strategies to compete with them.

7. Show your expertise.
There are many sites where experts can provide answers to people asking questions about anything under the sun. Yahoo Answers, MerchantCircle Answers, and LinkedIn Answers are some of the most popular question-and-answer sites. Search all of these sites for questions related to your business or service expertise, and then provide answers to them. Offer thoughtful, expert advice people can really use; that’s great PR for your business in and of itself.

8. Create some online marketing videos.
Most people prefer to ‘see’ something rather than ‘read’ something – so create some videos for your business! There are several sites, such as Jivox and Spotzer, where you can create simple marketing videos for free using stock footage, then add your company’s URL, phone number, address, and clickable coupons. You can also shoot marketing videos yourself using an inexpensive hand-held camera, and then polish them with free online editing tools like JayCut. Post your videos on your Facebook Page and on YouTube, and use them on your website and in your email marketing campaigns.
Small business owners are a creative and hard-working bunch, used to doing a lot with few resources. In 2011, take the time to invest in the growth of your business, implementing a few creative marketing strategies that deliver real results in return for just a little elbow grease.
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How to Build Links Without Fancy Tools

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Link Building News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | One Comment

A question that I get asked quite a bit is something along the lines of “what link building tools do you use?”.

The honest truth is that I don’t use that many on client sites every day. I’ve certainly paid for and used quite a few over the last few years, but when I first started in SEO, I didn’t have the cash to buy tools or subscribe to them. This forced me to do things manually for quite a long time, but it helped me learn how link building really works from the ground up.

I’m still a bit of an old school SEO in some senses. I still believe that anyone learning SEO should not be allowed to use tools straight away and should learn manual processes first. Here are a few things I believe every SEO should do before being allowed anywhere near tools -

  • Build a website using only Notepad and an FTP program
  • Manually submit your website to paid and free directories
  • Write an article which targets a specific keyword
  • Write a press release in four paragraphs
  • Hand write META data for an entire site based on a keyword list
  • I could go on…!  But I’m sure you get the idea.

The point is, I believe that its vital to know the manual process so that you learn how these things really work.

In the interests of giving away some actionable tips, I’m going to focus on the link building process and explain how I believe an SEO should start the learning process.

The Tools You can Use

  • An email program
  • A spreadsheet
  • Google
  • See – I’m not totally mean, you can use some tools!

Below is the step by step process for getting links using only the three tools above. If you follow this process and learn to link build manually, it will help you much more in the long term and force you not to be reliant upon SEO tools. Whilst SEO tools can help you a lot, when it comes to link building, they should only assist your efforts – not do the link building for you.

I’m not going to talk too much about this, but the key thing here is to learn how to search. Sounds simple, but its something which is often taken for granted. You should start with the basics which I talk about in this post. The key thing here is to start with basic search queries, then learn how to refine those queries to save time and weed out results which you are not interested in. You can do this using some advanced search queries. However before you go off and use those outlined in the Ice Clear Media guide, try to come up with your own which are tailored to the site you are trying to get links for.

After working on this for a while, you should feel pretty comfortable with finding link targets manually and quickly filtering out the ones that you are not interested in. All by using your own advanced search queries – don’t use any tools for this!  Trust me, it will help you in the long run.

[list style="list1" color="blue"]
  • 1. Find contact details!

So many people spend ages figuring out if the site is a good one and looking for a page where they may get a link from. Then can’t find contact details!  Which means you’re a bit screwed – find contact details first.

  • 2. Use a Spreadsheet

At this point you will probably have had a quick look through the site and will have a feeling whether or not this site is relevant to you. If you feel it is, then add it to your spreadsheet.  Do NOT use any tools to record these sites yet, there are tools out there that allow you to manage link targets in a CRM type system. However you need to learn manually what data you should be capturing about each link target. Some CRM tools allow you to capture tons of data, but do you really need it all?  Maybe, maybe not. But the key is to decide for yourself what data you need in order to contact the website about getting a link. Once you have decided what data you want to capture, put it into your spreadsheet and make it easily sortable in columns.

It seems to be the norm to collect link targets into a big spreadsheet, then email them all in one go. Sure this can work, but this isn’t the best way to develop link building skills. I’d advise you to send the outreach email straight away whilst the site is fresh in your mind. This also means you have to write an email that isn’t templated and is totally personal to them – this is fine. This will help you develop a sense of how to personalise emails to give yourself as much chance as possible of getting a link.

  • 3. Crafting an outreach email from scratch

It is very important to learn how to craft an outreach email from scratch. At this point, do not write a template. It isn’t the best way to learn. Make each and every email personal to the link target, this will teach you the value of personalising an email and exactly how you can do so.

  • 4. Personally track who you contact…

As mentioned above, forget any fancy CRM or tracking systems, you’re still learning the ropes. Do it the basic way and use a spreadsheet. This will teach you to keep things simple and to only collect the data which is truly valuable, it will force you not to collect tons of metrics and details that you don’t really need. As you email each target, put a note in the spreadsheet so you know whats going on and can sort by who you have already contacted.

5. Follow up emails
If you haven’t had a response after a few days, send a short, friendly follow up to them. If you still don’t get a reply, I’d leave them be. If you have a response, obviously make sure you respond promptly!  If the response you get isn’t positive, still reply to them in a friendly way. Perhaps ask them if its ok to contact them in the future if there is other stuff you have which may be of interest to them.

  • 6. Keeping track of responses

Keep track of the responses in your spreadsheet. You can mark each response with traffic lights to make it easy to see at a glance what the responses have been like -

  • Green - good response, probably going to get a link
  • Amber – warm response, will need some more work
  • Red - no way am I getting a link!

Make a note of the links that you have secured in your spreadsheet.

  • 7. Link Building Metrics[/list]

Think about what metrics you should record about each one. Do you need the following?

[list style="list3" color="blue"]
  • URL Anchor text
  • Page being linked to
  • Cache date
  • Domain Authority
  • PageRank [/list]

I’m not saying you need all of these, you should decide for yourself what is important and how you are going to measure the value of a link.

What’s next?

Well once you have mastered the process manually, you’ll find that there are many tools that can speed up certain parts of this process. Using these tools is fine, but be aware that I’m yet to come across the perfect link building tool that does all of this to a high level of quality without human intervention. So knowing where you can automate and where you can’t, is vitally important.

Doing this process manually will also help you choose your link building tools better as you’ll know what attributes really matter to the whole process.

That’s it for this post, I hope you found it useful and please feel free to leave any feedback in the comments.

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White Hat SEO: It Really Works

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Link Building News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | One Comment

White Hat SEO:  Proof that it still works!

 

I hate webspam. I hate what it’s done to the reputation of hardworking, honest, smart web marketers who help websites earn search traffic. I hate how it’s poisoned the acronym SEO; a title I’m proud to wear. I hate that it makes legitimate marketing tactics less fruitful. And I hate, perhaps most of all, when it works.

 

Here’s a search for “buy propecia,” which is a drug I actually take to help prevent hair loss (My wife doesn’t think I’d look very good sans hair):

 

Buy Propecia

 

Like most search results in the pharma sphere, it’s polluted by pages that have artificially inflated their rankings. This is obvious to virtually everyone who’s even partially tech-savvy and it does three terrible things:

Marketers and technologists who observe results like this equate SEO with spamming. If you’ve read a Hacker News or StackOverflow thread on the topic, you’ve undoubtedly seen this perspective.SEOs new to the profession see this and think that whatever these sites are doing is an effective way to earn rankings, and try repeating their tactics (often harming their sites or those of employers/clients in the process).Consumers learn not to trust the search results from Google, killing business value for everyone in the web world, e.g. this post on Why You Should Never Search for Free WordPress Themes in Google

Spam removes economic and brand value from the search/social/web marketing ecosystem. If you create this kind of junk, at least be honest with yourself – you’re directly harming your fellow marketers, online businesses, searchers and future generations of web users.

 

Last week, Kris Roadruck wrote a post called “Whitehat SEO is a Joke.” He was upfront about the fact that it was intentionally provocative, not entirely truthful and more sensational than authentic. Despite these caveats, I think a response and some clarification about my thoughts on black hat in general are in order. I’m responding less because I think Kris believes it and more because of the surprisingly supportive response his post received in parts of the search community.

 

Kris begins his article with a personal realization:

 

“… I started realizing there were only really 2 kinds of white-hats. The ones complaining about how they were doing everything by the book and getting their asses handed to them by “unethical tactics”, and the ones that were claiming success that didn’t belong to them… because they… happened to be in a niche that bloggers find interesting or entertaining…”

 

“It’s easy to preach great content when you have a great subject. But no one gives a shit about non-clog toilets or pulse oximeters or single phase diode bridge rectifiers. Sure you might be able to piece together 1 or 2 bits of link-bait but you can be sure that you aren’t going to get the anchor text that you want.”

 

Kris’ premise seems compelling and even has elements of truth (great content does work better in fields where there’s more interest from web-savvy site owners), but on the whole, it’s a lie. That lie – that “great content” doesn’t work in boring niches – is one told out of laziness, jealousy and contempt. It’s told by spammers to other spammers because it glosses over the fact that white-hat, legitimate marketing can work well in ANY field, for any site.

 

How about some examples, you ask? Happy to:

 

Ready for Zero

Here’s Ready for Zero. It’s a Y-Combinator backed startup tackling the horrificly spammy and, worse-than-boring, field of credit card debt relief. They don’t rank yet (as they’ve just launched), but if they invest in SEO, they will. They have content – in this case a great team, great story, great investors and the right product – to earn all the links they’ll need. If I were an SEO consultant for a company seeking rankings for debt relief type searches, that’s exactly the “great content” I’d recommend.Here’s one that does rank – Oyster Hotel Reviews. Today, they’re on the first page for nearly every hotel they’ve covered, and in position 5 for the massively competitive phrase “hotel reviews” (and they’re the best result in the SERPs).Another that ranks – Pods Moving Company. It’s not the most exciting site in the world, but it’s a good idea with good marketing and it’s on the first page for “moving company,” another incredibly competitive result. And guess what? No links from bloggers, either (nor any black/gray hat links I could find).Speaking of not exciting but white hat and “great content,” here’s Ron Hazelton’s DIY Home Improvement. A mini-celebrity thanks to a home repair-focused TV show, his site isn’t exactly drawing in the Linkerati, but he markets it well and his stuff is good, so when you do searches like ‘toilet replacement’ Ron’s site is #1.Slightly less boring, but more competitive and equally un-blogger friendly is the world of business invoicing and bill paying. Yet, the gang at Freshbooks is kicking butt and taking page 1 rankings all over the place.Sound effects are another unlikely arena for building a big SEO success story, but despite avoiding every black hat tactic leveraged by the typical ringtone spammers, Seattle-based Hark.com has kicked serious butt here. They generate millions of visits from more than 750K keyword phrases each month, and they’ve built a serious brand in an industry rife with manipulation.Kris specifically called out bridge rectifiers as being an impossibly boring industry, yet here’s AllAboutCircuits, who shows up on page one for virtually every diode-related search. There’s nothing fancy there, either – it’s just great content, like this one on rectifier circuits. The illustrations are detailed, the content is awesome and they follow an almost-Wikipedia-like model to get contributors, many of whom link back.

I try hard, in my writing, my presentations and my professional contributions to this industry to be warm, generous and understanding. But, black hats telling the world that they turned their back on white hat because it’s impossible is a load of crap, and I’m not feeling very empathetic toward that viewpoint.

 

Yes, white hat SEO, particularly in boring industries for non-established sites is a tremendous challenge. It requires immense creativity, huge quantities of elbow grease and a lot of patience, too. Black hat takes some creativity sometimes, but often it’s about finding or learning the tactic Google + Bing haven’t caught up to and applying it over and over until it burns down your site and you have to find another. Black hat is fundamentally interesting and often amazingly entertaining, much in the same vein as movies and TV shows featuring clever bank robbers. But a statment like this has no legs to stand on:

 

“… the longer I practiced and studied greyhat, the more annoyed I got with the piss poor advice and absolute falsehoods I saw being doled out by so called SEO experts to newbie’s who had no way of knowing that the advice they were soaking up was going to keep them at the back of the search engine results pages (serps) for the foreseeable future. Whitehat isn’t just a bit slower. It’s wishful thinking. It’s fucking irresponsible.”

 

Thankfully, it’s easy to refute Kris’ points with hard, substantive examples (something his post doesn’t do at all).

 

Simply Hired

 

Job searches are among the most challenging, competitive results in the SERPs. Back in 2008 (when we still had a consulting practice), we worked with the crew at Simply Hired to set up a long term strategy to win. It involved a syndication strategy with smart linking and anchor text, embeddable widgets, a search-friendly, crawlable site, a data-rich blog and a massive online brand building campaign, too. After 6 months, Simply Hired had improved rankings and traffic, but they certainly weren’t #1 across the board. Today, however, I’m incredibly proud of their progress and I continue to stay in touch with their team and help out informally when/where I can. They’re on page 1 for “job search,” they rank for hundreds of thousands of job title + geo combinations and thanks to SEO (and dozens of other successful marketing + sales programs) they’re poised to be industry leaders in a massive market.

 

Simply Hired

 

These strategies that worked for Simply Hired (and worked for other former SEOmoz clients like Yelp, Etsy and Zillow) aren’t some dark secret, either. I wrote a lengthy blog post explaining the process in depth in a post called Ranking for Keyword + Cityname in Multiple Geographies. And I’m not alone, blogs like those from SearchEngineLand, SEOBook, Distilled and all of these others give tremendously valuable advice day after day.

 

I think Kris owes us some examples of “piss poor advice and absolute falsehoods” being “doled out by so called SEO experts.” I’ll agree that there’s some bad advice floating around the SEO world, and I’ll even admit to giving some myself (remeber when I thought XML Sitemaps were a bad idea?), but that’s a bold statement to make without any evidence.

 

Unfortunately, this next statement can’t be written off so easily:

 

“If you are charging your clients for service and not being competitive then you are ripping off your clients. It’s as simple as that. I know you whitehats are squirming in your seat right now shaking your little fists and saying, “It’s not sustainable. Our strategy is based around long term results!”. No, it’s not. Your strategy is based around wishful thinking and hoping that someday Google will do your job for you so you don’t have to. Until Google starts enforcing the rules, there aren’t any. And as long as that is true anyone who is not waiting around for them to be enforced is going to rank. Anyone who does wait around won’t. You have an obligation to your clients to do everything in your power to rank their sites using the most effective methods currently available to you.”

 

He’s dead wrong on the false choice between either being black hat or “not using the most effective methods.” A tax advisor that recommends quasi-legal, high-risk shelters might be using “the most effective methods,” to protect wealth, but that doesn’t make his more responsible peers obligation-dodging sissies. Search marketers, whether in-house or consultant DO have an obligation, in my opinion, to know and understand the full spectrum of tactics, white hat or black, but we also carry the same responsibility as any other professional with specialized knowledge: to recommend the right strategy for the situation.

 

Unless your manager/company/client is wholly comfortable with the high, variable risk that comes with black hat SEO, you’d better stay clear. I’m also of the mind that there’s almost nothing black hat can accomplish that white hat can’t do better over the long run, while building far more value. Unless it’s “I want to rank in the top 5 for ‘buy viagra’ in the next 7 days,” you’d better explain that you’re recommending black hat primarily because you’re not smart, talented and creative enough to find a white hat strategy to do it.

 

But, Kris makes a fair point with regards to Google (and Bing as well). The engines are not doing enough to stop spam + manipulation from black hat tactics. And, for as long as they fail on this front, there will be those seduced by Kris’ viewpoint (Kris himself used to be quite white hat). To be fair, they’ve done a good job on several fronts recently – pushing down low quality content farms in the Panda/Farmer update, making original content rank better, and putting more high quality brands in the SERPs (even if they’re not doing perfect SEO).

 

The biggest problem currently (IMO) are manipulative, black hat links through paid sources, automated link drops, reciprocal spam, article “spinning” (possibly my least favorite tactic on the rise), low quality directories, link “rings,” etc. There’s not a lot of truly new types of black hat link manipulation, but the old ones are, tragically, working again in a lot of niches. I hope that’s next on Google’s + Bing’s radars. If it is, a lot of black hats are going to have some painful times, but I think that’s the only way to solve the problems webspam creates. One of my favorite parts of being a white hat is chearing for the search quality teams rather than against them, and getting that little bump in traffic every time they improve the quality of their algorithms.

 

The last point of Kris’ I’ll tackle revolves around the jobs an SEO performs:

 

“If your main offering is quality content – YOU ARE NOT AN SEO, You are a writer. If you are billing your client SEO prices for writing services you are ripping them off. If you didn’t go to college for or otherwise study writing and literature and you are offering writing services to your client rather than advising them to hire someone who actually specializes and is trained in writing, you are ripping them off.

 

With the exception of very large sites, most onsite optimization opportunities can be identified and charted in an audit in a matter of a few days. Implementation in most cases won’t take very long either and doesn’t even really need to be conducted by an SEO if the audit is written up properly. What does that leave; content strategy and off-site SEO. The content strategy is just that… a STRATEGY, which can be handed off to a competent writer. If you are still charging your client after this point and you aren’t competing with all the tools available and you aren’t advising them of someone else who could or would, then you are doing your client a disservice.”

 

These are ludicrous statements, but I think Kris realizes it and is simply using them to generate controversy. Anyone who honestly believes that the extent of an SEO’s job is to develop content strategies, audit for on-page SEO and build links has never done the job professionally.

 

I wrote a blog post back in 2007 highlighting why SEO is so hard. In it, I talked about the massive quantity of things that affect SEO and that number has only grown. Today, a responsible SEO needs to be thinking about:

The business’ overall product, marketing and sales strategy and where SEO makes the most sense.Keyword research + targeting (a process that requires tools, patience, intuition, testing and experience)Funnel optimization (CRO has both direct and indirect SEO impacts these days)Testing + optimizing content for users (time on site, bounce rate, engagement, etc. all matter directly + indirectly, too)Content strategy (which ties into overall business strategy at the highest levels)On-page optimization (black hats were actually some of the earliest to notice that Google’s gotten so much smarter about on-page analysis than just keyword use and repetition, so I’m sure Kris knows how in-depth this process can be)Making the site search-engine friendly (a complex project even on many simple sites as features like faceted navigation, AJAX crawling, different treatment of Javascript/Flash and many, many more now exist)XML Sitemaps (we recently gave a 90 minute webinar on this topic that generated dozens of questions; it’s no fire-and-forget tactic)Analytics – visitor monitoring is just the start, there’s webmaster tools, link monitoring, brand/mention alerts, social media tracking and more Alternative search listings (local/maps/places, video, images, news, blogs, shopping, etc. Just one of these can be a full-time job.)Usability + user experience issues (since these can have a huge indirect and possibly direct impact on rankings)Reputation tracking + managementCompetitive researchSocial media marketing (FB shares are the most highly correlated metric we found to Google’s rankings. No SEO can afford to ignore social today, and that’s a massive strategic and tactical undertaking)Syndication, scraping, copyright and duplicate content issues

And hundreds of others.

 

If Kris thinks pounding links at a page until it ranks is the majority of his SEO responsibilities, I’m worried (Note: I don’t actually believe that; I’ve met Kris and he’s a very smart guy. Instead, I suspect significant hyperbole went into his writing). If anyone out there tells you this is how they’re going to do SEO, you’d better make sure they’re either a highly specialized contractor or find another provider who can help think holistically about all of the above.

 

To do this manipulative work, though, Bob had to work incredibly hard to have real conversations on these social sites, upload photos from events, tweet interesting stats and experiences that could be verified. In other words… He’s building great content!

 

My recommendation was simple – just call the account a “fan page” and suddenly, you’re 100% white hat. You’re building a great social profile; why not make it something Twitter/Facebook won’t shut down if they get word of it from the real owners? Why not go one extra step, remove the “official” title and BE white hat! Yes, you might have a slightly harder time building up the profiles, but they’ll last forever! You can sleep at night!

 

I highlight this story because it perfectly illustrates how close black and white hat marketing often are. It also shows why I love talking to black hats and learning from them. There’s almost always a way to take the knowledge and experiences from black hats (the best of whom, like Bob, are often massively creative) and apply it in white hat ways.

 

Three weeks prior, in London and then New Orleans, Distilled hosted a one-day intensive seminar on link building. One of the talks at each event was called “Lessons from the Dark Side: What White Hats can Learn from Black Hat SEO.” Two presenters, Martin Macdonald (in London) and Kris Roadruck (in NOLA), gave talks about their experiences with webspam’s effectiveness, limitations and takeaways. I thought both presentations were excellent – they clearly indicated the danger of black hat SEO (Kris’ deck started with almost a dozen slides about how + why not to do what he showed), but didn’t pull any punches in showing the ups and downs of a spammer’s life.

 

SEOs have a responsibility to understand and appreciate how and why black hat SEO operates. It’s certainly not the first or most important step in an SEO education, but it’s part of being a true professional. No one who does IT consulting would neglect to understand hacking + malicious attacks. No one who does public relations avoids studying the manipulative parts of their field. Even in industries like construction and contracting, it pays to understand how, why and when shoddy work and cut corners happen. So too must professional, white hat SEOs know the range of tactics at play in our field.

 

Knowing more about each of those practices listed can make you a better SEO. I’m not someone who pretends to have great expertise in this field, but every time I hear a black hat share a successful tactic (that isn’t illegal or just drive-by spam), I learn something and am often able to come up with a way to leverage the same effect in a white hat way.

 

There’s very few things in the world that I perceive as wholly black + white. Spamming the search engines vs. authentic, organic marketing, however, is one of them.

 

It’s my opinion that for real brands and real businesses, the choice of going 100% white hat will pay massive dividends every time. Here’s why:

There’s always a better way to spend that time + money. Spam isn’t free or easy, despite the image some black hats portray. When I hear about the actual costs and time commitments black hats invest, I’m blown away. For not much more time, and often less money, those same businesses and sites could invest in long-term, high value white hat tactics. Many just lack the creativity and willingness to do the hard work, others are seduced by the quick win or ignorant of the options available to them.White hat builds exciting companies, spam doesn’t. With a very small number of execptions, spam doesn’t build exciting, scalable, long-term companies. It creates relatively small amounts of temporary wealth. If you’re unwilling to trade short term gains for long term success, you’re probably hurting the online ecosystem – none of us should endorse that behavior.White hat rankings can be shared. That means never having to sweat hiding dirty secrets, protecting your tactics or link sources, jumping through hoops to keep your footprint anonymous or refraining from showing off your site. The benefits of transparency improve your ability to do PR, branding, networking and all of those, in turn, help SEO.Spam always carries risk. Whether it’s tomorrow, next month or 3 years from now before you’re knocked out of the search engines, it will happen. You can invest in multiple sites and tactics, shore up defenses and build anonymity to hide your online profile, but honestly, if you applied that creativity and effort to white hat…. Just saying.You’re renting rankings rather than buying them. Devaluation of spam tactics means you have to stay one step ahead of the engines, and can never spend a week free from sweating what will and won’t be found. White hat may take longer, but, if done right, it can build an unassailable position of strength long term.Reliability in the spam world sucks. The people who sell spammy links or offer spam services are nearly always fly-by-night operations, moving from one business model to the next. Spammers are almost never long-term operators.Any victory is a hollow one. I don’t just mean in a touchy-feely way, I mean that no matter how many times you rank well with spam or how much you make, it’s just money (and often far too little to sustain you, meaning you’ve got to go do more tomorrow). You’re not building something real, long-lasting and sustainable and you’re rarely fulfilling any of the other requirements for job satisfaction or happiness.The money’s not that good. Ask yourself who the most prolific, talented, high profile spammers are in the world. I can name a good dozen or so and none of them are retired, only a few are millionaires and not a one, to my knowledge, has done 8 figures (excluding a few truly dark hatted individuals who’ve earned their money from porn empires or illegal activities). There is legal danger. I hesitate to bring this up because some folks in the search sphere have over-emphasized this danger. However, the FTC, the British government and the EU all have regulations about disclosure of interests, and a lot of link buying and link spamming behavior violates these guidelines. We’ve yet to see serious enforcement, but personally, I have no tolerance for risk of this kind, and I suspect many others don’t either.Spam never builds value in multiple channels. What I love about the inbound/organic marketing philosophy is how it builds a site that attracts authentic traffic from hundreds of sources, often without any additional work. Spamming your way to a #1 ranking might send search traffic, but if the web shifts to Facebook/Twitter or if email marketing becomes the biggest tactic in your niche, or if a competitor wins purely on branding and branded search, you’re up a creek. You’ve built nothing of real value – nothing to make people come back and share and like, +1, tweet, link, email, stumble, vote for, shout to the heavens about. Spam builds a shell of a marketing strategy; one crack and it’s all over.

The graphics below were in a slide presentation I made, but they’re worth repeating here:

 

Invest in good quality SEO Link Building and On page activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who ranks #1 for “online dating?” It’s not a black hat, but a site that found a genius way to become a content and media hub, OKCupid. How about  ”buy shoes online,” one of the top converting terms in the apparel industry. It’s Zappos, a brand that’s put customer service, great product and a unique business model part of their SEO (big props to Adam Audette, who’s made them a shining star in the SEO e-commerce world). Or “real estate values,” an incredibly competitive term that’s only risen in popularity with the market crisis? It’s Zillow. Or “travel blog site,” where some brilliant viral marketing earned Travelpod the top position. Or “art prints,” where Benchmark-backed Art.com outranks even the exact match domain.

 

 

 

Building back links from the right areas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could go on and on and on. The sites that people WANT to click on in the results. The ones that make searchers, technologists, marketers and search quality engineers happy are sites that deserve to rank. When you build a brand that does that and optimize in a way that no webspam engineer would ever want to discount, you’ve built a true competitive advantage in SEO. Black hat is, much of the time, a sad excuse for a lack of creativity, discipline and willingness to invest in the long term.

 

Here’s to hoping the SEO industry continues to grow, flourish and attract brilliant, creative minds. Over the past 9 years of my career in the field, I’ve seen great progress, but not enough. I can promise that I, Ice Clear Media and our partners are going to do everything in our power to bring greater legitimacy, value and econmic opportunity to the field of search + inbound marketing. It’s a fight I look forward to every day.

 

I’d love to hear from you in the comments about why you’re a white hat, and if you do it, what success you’ve had (and feel free to link to your site).

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How Clever Is Twitter as a Search Engine?

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Link Building News, Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | One Comment

Twitter the new Search Engine?

 

Earlier this week, Twitter announced that they have made even more changes to their search and ‘who to follow’ function, following on from a major overhaul late in 2010. After reading a great blog on the subject by Danny Sullivan this week, I decided to do some testing of my own to see if I can pin down the pros and cons of the update for the average Twitter user and how it all relates to the online marketing industry.

 

To sum the updated feature up – when searching for a term in Twitter, the ‘who to follow’ suggestions previously only included accounts with your search term in the name or username as a result. Twitter’s latest update means that as well as, or even instead of, these search results, you will also be given ‘who to follow’ suggestions that are relevant, but which don’t necessarily contain a direct keyword reference. For example, searching this morning for ‘footballers’ brought up the ‘people’ suggestions below – all of which are Twitter accounts that you may well want to follow if you are interested in football, but none of which contain the term itself. Of course Twitter isn’t clever enough a search engine (yet) to automatically know whether I want to follow prolific people in the world of American Football or from the world of Soccer, so it suggests accounts related to both.

 

Twitter search suggestions for Football

 

From a marketing point of view, people will now be wondering how they can get their Twitter account on to the ‘recommended’ list for search terms related to their industry. Do Twitter employ a search algorithm which uses the content of people’s tweets to make their judgements? Their bio? Do you get onto the list because you are particularly active or have a certain amount of followers? It certainly isn’t only verified accounts that make it onto the top suggestions, as seen below when I searched for Everton players.

 

Twitter search suggestions for Everton players

 

Although the account of Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand has very little to do with Everton Football Club – unless Twitter knows something about the summer transfer window that the rest of us don’t!  Perhaps the results Twitter provide are simply tied in to the secret reputation score that Twitter admitted they had for every account during a summit in 2010?

 

Twitter told Danny Sullivan that the new search function returns suggestions “based on an algorithm. That algorithm looks at a variety of factors, including your profile information, engagement on Twitter, who you follow, and who follows you.”

 

So leaving marketing aside for a moment, are there any benefits for the average user here? Unequivocally so, in my opinion. Searching for any subject that you’re interested in will now bring relevant suggestions of accounts to follow based on whatever Twitter’s search criteria is, opening up a wealth of authoritative Twitter users which simply may not have been discovered otherwise, unless you already followed relevant accounts to that search term that is. However, it is a bit early to tell just how useful the suggestions may prove to be, especially the more specific/long tail your search terms.

 

Is Twitter’s search algorithm something which people will try to manipulate to get their account up there amongst the regularly recommended? Undoubtedly people will try. Presumably this will take the form of keywords in the bio and the content of tweets, plus a determined effort to follow the ‘right’ people and, probably most importantly, get them to follow you. Is this a bad thing? Possibly not… if it results in more active participation in relevant discussion by more users. I hope that this is more likely than an increase in worthless, spammy tweets, because if a major factor on Twitter reputation and authority is that you have others of authority following your account, this just won’t be the case if you resort to worthless tweets. Similar to any kind of effective web optimisation techniques, you will need to be contributing value in order to be followed (and stay followed) which should hopefully perpetuate a better Twitter community for all.

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Is Google Ready to Come Out of the Search Closet?

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Larry Page has only been chief executive of Google for just under a week, but he’s already working hard to make sure that the company is singing from the same hymn sheet. And from the looks of it, it’s a very social hymn sheet.

 

An internal Google memo, which was leaked to Business Insider, suggests that the company is making a high-profile breakthrough onto the social media scene their number one priority. How so? Because the memo alerts all employees in the company that 25 per cent of their annual bonus is tied into how successful Google’s 2011 social strategy is. “This is a joint effort so it’s important that we all get behind it,” writes Page in the memo.

 

Google +1 is still in its infancy, and it’s far too early to judge its ‘social search success’, but it’s clear that it’s a ceiling the company wants to break through. Google, for all its denials, needs to compete with Facebook for vital advertisement revenue. Such a strong memo to the staff indicates that Page is looking to succeed at all costs, whilst also stamping his mark on the company (again), showing his style will be different to that of his predecessor, Eric Schmidt.

 

Page has also promoted six people to the position of Senior Vice President, giving them greater control over their separate divisions – search, social, Chrome, advertising, mobile and YouTube. Social is the fish that both Page and Google want to land though, and it looks like they’ll work as hard as they possibly can to close the gap on its closest social rivals.

twitter marketing

Are you a Twitter Tsar?

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Link Building News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Well, ‘Twitter Tsar’ is what the media has dubbed the new position the Government is recruiting for. Earning the same wage as the Prime Minister, the new ‘Digital Director’ was recommended for the cabinet by Martha Lane Fox, an internet entrepreneur, and has been designed to help co-ordinate the country’s digital strategy.

 

The Government is looking for a 'Twitter Tsar'...

 

David Cameron’s made no secret of his desire to create a UK digital utopia to rival Silicon Valley, and it looks like a vision he wants to realise sooner than later if he’s recruiting digital experts for the cabinet. “Sitting at the heart of the government’s radical public service reform agenda, this will be a rewarding role with a great deal of public visibility,” reads the job description – the Government has recently voiced something close to annoyance at it being labelled as a ‘Twitter Tsar’, saying there’s “so much more to it than that.”

 

And, as a search engine marketing company, we’re inclined to agree! There are so many tools and techniques available as well as social media to master and make use of online. The role of Digital Director will replace three other existing roles and will help to make spending on online services more efficient.

 

We hope that the Government finds the right candidate for the job, and wish the successful applicant all the best for the future. But, realistically, it’s going to take a very long time before any kind of proper infrastructure is in place for the UK to realistically compete with Silicon Valley – but steps like this, no matter how small, are still steps in the right direction.

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Can Larry Page Reinvigorate Google?

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Can Larry Page Reinvigorate Google?

Eric Schmidt drew his time as Google’s Chief Executive to a close yesterday, making way for Larry Page to take over in his place. He has a lot to live up to – one of Eric’s last acts was to announce a leap in the company’s annual profits to $10.8billion. There’s no denying though that Google is at something of a crossroads at the moment, especially when it comes to matters such as the social challenges it faces.

 

From that point of view it might be the right time for Page to step up to the plate, as a recognisable face for Google, yet a face that’s been distant enough to come into the business in a different capacity and bring fresh impetus. Google’s currently embroiled in privacy issues with a number of European regulators, its digital library plans are currently in tatters and they’re still struggling to heard in the social elephant in the room in the form of Facebook and Twitter.

 

Larry Page is the new chief executive of Google

 

A past employee of Google, Dorie Clark of Clark Strategic Communications recently told BBC News: “Google has gone from the underdog to a major player that gobs of other companies want to take down. That being said, the public sees Google as a fascinating and valuable company. They do need to be watchful but I don’t think they are in danger of losing their cachet just yet.”

 

Google, for some of its perceived troubles at the moment, are still in an incredibly strong position. There is a sense though that the windows need opening to let some fresh air in and give the company a little spring clean though – competitors like Bing are growing slowly but surely and throwing more caution to the wind, especially when it comes to social search. Google though have been there before, met all their challenges head on and always come out on top. As an SEO agency we wish Mr. Page the best of luck!

google panda update

Panda to be Rolled Out Worldwide

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Google’s Panda Update Rolls out Worldwide

 

Google really want to be clear about their mission statement. They didn’t become the world’s largest search engine by luck alone – they did it by listening to their users and implementing changes for the better when required, to improve the quality of their search results time and time again.

 

For a while most tweaks to their search algorithm have been small and minor. But, determined to improve the overall user experience and put a bit more distance between themselves and Bing, they announced a pretty hefty overhaul of parts of the algorithm – dubbed ‘Panda’ – which their official blog claims impacted approximately 11.8 per cent of their search queries.

 

Panda to be Rolled Out Worldwide

 

Panda was designed to help weed out websites that try to get higher up search rankings without offering much in the way of real quality. Link farms and sites with a poorly thought-out, black hat search engine optimisation strategies should slip away, leaving only the most relevant sites available for searchers to choose to visit. With Panda, the average searcher should be the real winner, with quality sites topping the list.

 

Google called it a ‘ranking improvement’ when announced on their official blog, and they must be happy with the results because they’ve announced today that it’s being implemented ASAP to all English-language Google users. They cite positive feedback from searchers, say that publishers of real quality are getting more traffic and users are getting results that matter to them.

 

So will it be rolled out worldwide? In time – Google say that they want to tweak and refine the new update a little bit more before they add new languages, but it’s certain to hit a search engine near you sooner rather than later.

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Winklevoss Twins / Facebook Battle Over?

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Link Building News, Marketing Tips, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

 

 

Facebooks Winklevoss Twins battle for more cash…

 

 

Earlier this year, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss as well as Divya Narendra decided that the settlement they had reached with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook was no longer satisfactory.  They elected to turn down the agreement in order to seek more from the world’s largest social networking company.

 

As most of you have been following this story since the beginning and/or have seen the Academy Award nominated faux-documentary The Social Network, we shall keep the background to a minimum.

 

While all of the players in this suit attended Harvard University, the twins (from now on known as Winklevii) created ConnectU, a social networking startup.  They claimed that Zuckerberg ripped off their idea when he created Facebook, and feel as though they are entitled to a large percentage of its worth.  Zuckerberg denies the claim.  The original settlement was for Facebook to pay the Winklevii $20 million in cash and $45 in stock.  In January, the Winklevii argued that Facebook did not disclose certain internal valuations, and therefore their payout should have been much larger.

 

Well, today the battle may be over as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the original settlement will be enforced.  As quoted in Reuters:

 

“At some point, litigation must come to an end,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. “That point has now been reached.”

 

So, the Winklevii were ripped off by the callous Zuckerberg or they scored a whole bunch of dough for doing absolutely nothing – either way it seems as though the drawn out litigation might be over.  Sadly, there now may not be enough material for Social Network 2 :  The Legend of Zucky’s Gold.

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Google Told You So.

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Search Engines vs. SEO and Spam

 

I’m writing this article, because I am on a mission to explain, that SEO is more than just site “optimisation”. I could see what was coming down the pipeline loud and clear. SEO isn’t SEO anymore, it’s different. SEO (especially for enterprise-level sites) equals a damn good product.

 

Here’s a slide from a Yahoo presentation received some time ago, but it’s very relavent and clear to understand:

 

Search engines vs. spam timeline

 

See the point here? It’s the classic battle of SEOs vs. Search Engines that whittles the SEO techniques down to what eminently points to no other option but to have a great product. What is a great product? It’s a site that people want to go to, return to, share with their networks, email their friends, etc., (aka building natural links and “buzz”). Get it? Great content and natural links and buzz = the new SEO.  But it’s not actually new…, it just hasn’t always been adopted very well. Until now that is! Remember what it’s like when an algorithm shift changes the rules of SEO?

 

Of course you do.Since this timeline, not a lot has changed on the “SEO spam methods” side of things (and doesn’t that just tickle the “SEO is dead” funny bone). But wait; do you know what popular widely-preached tactics since 2007 are missing since this chart?  C’mon, think Panda/Farmer update. In the current days of black-hats-gone-grey, what’s the spam tactic to be battled at this point?

 

Google Webmaster guidelines on content

 

Matt Cutts blog post snippets on quality content

 

 

And I quote: “Great content has to be the foundation of any good website, because mediocre content tends not to attract exceptional links by itself. And if you’re trying to get exceptional back links on really sub par content, you’re going to find it very difficult (like a hard push upwards).”  “You want to have a well-rounded site, and one of the best ways to do that is to have fantastic, interesting, useful content, great resources, great information, and then that naturally attracts the links.  And then search engines want to reflect the fact that the web thinks that you are interesting or important or helpful.”

 

But I build exactly what people are looking for in search, how can that be bad?

 

There’s a difference between building content to attract your audiences and building content to attract search engines. But, your audiences are doing the searches in the search engines, right? So what is the difference? Someone asked me recently why ‘content-rich’ Suite101.com was on the Farmer update loser list. Here’s exactly what I sent back to him in an email:

Its obviously created for *search traffic*, meaning the company goal isn’t to invest everything into creating something rich and meaningful for their audiences, but instead the primary goal is to create content for search traffic, THEN maybe throw a little investment into the rest of the site experience.  That’s a Google no-no by the way. When there’s “shallow content”, the site likely isn’t the best resource for anyone researching something through search. Get what I mean?  Suite101, like every client that says their number one company goal is to get search traffic, is doing it wrong.  Their number one goal needs to be providing value to audiences.  Which in turn provides valuable content for search results. And on top of that, it provides a cleaner, less spammy and more useful web overall. Leave it to Google.

Learn from past mistakes

 

You’ve heard about the “quality content” mantra, right? If you’ve been in SEO for ten minutes you’re preaching it. So where did we all go so wrong? How can an entire innovative, on-the-ball SEO industry have let this go right over our heads? How can the warnings of the Do No Evil Silicon Valley giant have been so blatantly ignored as if nothing would ever come of them?

 

If you sit back and think about it (and if you’re old enough), you might get an eerie sense of those dotcom bubble burst days when millions of investor dollars were thrown into internet companies with no staff, no experience, no plan, and only existed as an overblown trend-following idea on paper. Some people had some new ideas and made some money online and all of a sudden everyone’s building online businesses, with dreams of (being) sugardaddies dancing in their heads, forgetting a very basic, fundamental core of a good long-term business model – providing actual value to their audiences. Shallow much?

 

The 2011 spin on quality content

 

This is the deal. We know that search engines want to provide sites that people (aka audiences) find valuable. We know that they use signals like social mentions and influence, and clickthroughs from search, and potentially dozens of other buzz-measuring indicators that go into determining if a site is something that people are really into or just some shallow content hanging around the web trying to feign legitimacy like Snooki at a Mensa convention. How to be one of those sites that people are into, that seeps of naturally linkable, sharable, emailable, tell all your friends, come hither, and come hither again content is fodder for another article. But as you create any content online ask yourself this question: “Self? How will this be more valuable to my audiences than what my competitors are doing?”  If you are lucky enough to not have any competitors, then just take that part off the sentence.

 

But I don’t have to tell you that, because if you’re listening…

 

Google Panda update announcement

 

…Google already told you so.

 

Stay tuned for my next post on how this update doesn’t just change an algorithm, it changes the web.

 

xo, Olivia Naire

Link building Traffic Sources

Diversify for Link Building Health

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Link Building News, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

The first step in SEO link building should be to analyse the existing link profile and plan which kinds of links are needed. Planning is vital to a healthy link profile. So is branching out. Although it would be wonderful if you could obtain only high-quality authority links for your site, this could raise some suspicions with the search engines as it wouldn’t look natural.

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Longtail SEO For Ecommerce

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Longtail Keywords and SEO For Ecommerce

 

The significance of longtail keywords can be exemplified by thinking about the following two people:

 

Bill is a cafeteria worker who spends his spare time fishing and has heard that his favorite TV shows will look even better on on this new-fangled technology called “HDTV”. He might as well upgrade from his 20” to something a little larger while he’s at it his friends tell him (though they don’t know much more about it than he does). He sits at his computer and enters “hdtv” into the Google search box.

 

Steve also works in a cafeteria but is a bit more tech-savy. He has and uses a Facebook account, watches videos on YouTube and looks up information on Google when he’s looking for an answer to one of his questions. He too is interested in HDTV but decides to check out a few review sites first before making the leap. He reads a great review on CNET and likes the specs of the “Panasonic Viera TC-P50G10” and decides to look around for pricing. He heads back to Google and searches for “panasonic viera tc-p50g10” or perhaps even “buy panasonic viera tc-p50g10 online”.

 

The difference between these two? Other than the fact that one has a dismal likelihood of conversion and the other a high likelihood – the difficulty in attaining top rankings for the two phrases is very different as well. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for going after the generic, high-traffic phrases but ignoring the higher converting, less-work-per-conversion phrases that are easier to attain rankings for – well – that just doesn’t make good business sense does it?

 

So – how do you rank for the longtail?

 

We all understand that the factors of SEO are the factors of SEO. Just like any other phrases – your ability to rank is quite simply based on a combination of page strength and relevancy (yes there are tons of signals Google uses but they essentially break down to these two points). To affect these areas we use a combination of onsite optimization and link building. Sounds easy so far? Perfect. So let’s take a look first at onsite optimization.

 

Optimizing your site for the longtail

 

I can’t possibly cover the different technologies and how to make sure your site is crawlable. Let’s just say – the first step is to make sure that the crawlers can get to your internal pages and that strength passes down. If the crawlers can’t get through to the internal pages then you’ve got bigger problems than tweaking your content and building some links. Contact a developer immediately and get that sorted out first – then continue reading.

 

Once you know that the crawlers are getting through and strength is passing we move on to the actual optimization. The first thing one wants to look at it how to push the items with the highest ROI potential up in the hierarchy of your site. Let’s use Amazon as an example of how that should be done (they know a thing or two about ranking for products).

 

Amazon uses one of my personal favorite tactics in that they automate the process but it’s not necessary. You probably don’t have the same number of products so you can likely do manually what they have to automate but let’s look at what they’re doing and you can apply the strategy as you see fit.

 

If I was Amazon and I wanted to rank my site for longtail phrases I’d want to rank for the phrases that had the highest search volume and highest chances of conversions. I’d have to apply global rules to a massive site (you don’t have to – you can likely do things on a case-by-case basis but I’m sure we can all agree – Amazon cannot). So to keep the most profitable phrases high in the hierarchy but still not ignore the other longtail phrases they have created a hierarchy that puts the top product categories one hop from the homepage (Laptops & Netbooks For Example) and on that page they have links to all the major brands and uses but my favorite tactic is that they have the bestsellers. This information is easily created from their database and insures that the more popular products are two hops from the homepage and linked to with the brand and model number. At the time of this writing they have a link to the “ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005PE-MU17-BK 10.1-Inch…”. If I search “asus eee pc 1005pe-m” who do you think shows up first? Amazon.

 

So step one – make sure you’re linking to the product pages with the brand and model number of the item and also put the more important items higher in the hierarchy of your site. Now this doesn’t mean cram all your products on the page. You have to apply the same principles to links with onsite as you do with offsite optimization. A page has a vote. It you have a page with 10 products listed on it – each product gets 1/10 of the weight passed to it. If the page has 500 products listed on it – well, you get my point. Figure out what matters and focus there.

 

Of course – you don’t want to ignore the other potential phrases. You’ll notice that as well as linking to the top products in each category they link to sub pages with brands, specs, etc. This is why they rank so well for so many phrases. Well – that’s part one.

 

Once you’ve got the internal linking sorted out you need to follow that up with some onsite relevancy. Here we’re referring to optimized titles, descriptions, H1 tags, content, etc. I’m going to have to leave a full breakdown of onsite optimization for another article but I can discuss some of the differences you’ll encounter with longtail optimization with ecommerce sites.

 

With “traditional” optimization we visit a page and adjust the relevant aspects (titles, content, etc.) manually. With large ecommerce sites we need to come up with rules that apply site wide. Developing titles, descriptions and content for each and every page one-by-one is likely not an option. If you look at Amazon again you’ll see that they automate the process by using the brand, model and categories in the title, description, keywords and H1 tag. Easily automated. Through their use of automated elements (“Customers bought with …”, specs, descriptions, reviews, etc.) they are also able to insure that that the brand and model number appear on the page.

 

Now that works well for Amazon. They have millions of links and huge site strength. But what if you don’t have that behind you. They can build a page, put it on their site and rank. You may need to invest some of your time in link building.

 

Link building for longtail optimization

 

There are two primary aspects of link building that one needs to address when we’re looking at longtail optimization. The first is to the homepage for site strength and the other is to specific internal pages. The reason that we’ll want to link to specific internal pages is that like it or not, you’re not as strong as Amazon and so you need to build links to compete where they do not.

 

I’ll leave the discussion of how to build links to other articles (you know – one of the 800,000 written on the subject) however we will discuss the purpose of the links and thus you’ll understand the pattern of the link building.

 

The homepage links are in place to simply build overall site strength and should be geared to your generic, homepage phrases – it’s the internal links that are specifically geared to brands and models. So we’ll focus on those links in this article.

 

How to build links to internal pages

 

Building links to internal pages is virtually identical to homepage. True you can’t use directories but that’s about the only link building tactic that doesn’t apply. There are two points that you’re going to want to direct links to:

 

1 – the category/brand main page.

 

The first point you’re going to want to direct links at is the main category page and the main sub-category points of the ecommerce site. You’ll want to direct these links in with anchor text that suits the brand and/or category subject. Let’s use Amazon as an example again.

 

For the purpose of longtail optimization – the links we’d direct to http://www.amazon.com/Netbooks-Computers/b?ie=UTF8&node=679517011 would primarily be geared to strengthening the page. Oh I’d use anchor text geared at “netbooks” and the link but the main point is to make that page stronger and in turn – the pages it links to. These links will also get the page spidered more.

 

What this will do is make the links to the brands stronger but most important – the links to the top sellers stronger and more quickly picked up. This is why they rank for new products in a matter of hours.

 

The individual brand and usage pages are the same from this perspective./ You’ll want to optimize the pages and you’ll want to focus the links for long term gain but the short term purpose is to pass strength to the product pages.

 

2 – the product pages.

 

On top of building links to pages one level up (as we’ve just discussed) you’ll also want to build links to the individual product pages. Amazon can build a page, link to it and have it rank – you probably cannot. For products and models you know will stand the test of time – building links can be a long term strategy but not my favorite (due mainly to the fact that it’s not exciting). Personally I like building links to “Coming soon” product pages and getting them spidered before there’s any competition and then adding in the product the day it launches giving you a one-up over your competitors in both timing and strength. Heck, you might even win out over Amazon for a while. :)

 

Don’t overdo it in the link building. You’ve got a lot of products. Unless you know a specific product is going to be HUGE you’ll want to just build a few links and move on. You’ve got a lot of products to cover.

 

Moving forward

 

Obviously I can’t cover all the various aspects of ranking for the longtail in a single1800 word article and in fact, if I turned this into a 180 page book I’d still not be able to cover all the variables but my hope is that I’ve given you food for thought in the tactics and timing you’ll find helpful in moving forward and ranking your website for the longtail phrases that convert so well and for which you can rank so quickly if you do it right.

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SEO and URL Shorteners

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | One Comment

URL Shorteners and what that means on SEO

URL Shorteners and SEO

With Google looking at social media these days, in terms of ranking signals, a lot of webmasters continue to wonder how Google treats URL-shorteners in terms of SEO. This isn’t completely new information to  a lot of SEO’s and Webmasters, but it still seems to be a topic that continues to come up fairly regularly. Google’s Matt Cutts addressed the issue in a video posted to Google’s Webmaster Help YouTube channel.

“Custom URL shorteners are essentially just like any other redirects,” he explains. “If we try to crawl a page, and we see a 301 or permanent redirect, which pretty much all well-behaved URL shorteners (like bit.ly or goo.gl) will do, if we see that 301 then that will pass PageRank to the final destination.”

“So in general, there really shouldn’t be any harm to using custom URL shorteners in your SEO,” he continues. “The PageRank will flow through. The anchor text will flow through, and so I wouldn’t necessarily worry about that at all.”

SEO and URL Shorteners

SEO and URL Shorteners

“Now, just to let you know, if you look at, for example, Twitter’s web pages, many of those links have a nofollow link,” he adds. “So those links that are on the webpage, may not necessarily flow PageRank, but we might be able to find out about those links through some other way – maybe a data feed or something like that. But just URL shorteners, as far as how they relate to SEO, are not necessarily a problem at all.”

SEO and URL Shorteners

SEO and URL Shorteners

URL Shorteners already affecting SEO…. what next?

firefox 4 logo

Firefox 4 Review: The verdict

Posted by | Facebook, Google, Latest News, Link Building (SEO), Multichannel Marketing, News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Marketing, Twitter | 2 Comments

was quite wary of switching to Firefox 4 because I’m quite resistive to change most of the time, especially when it comes to the tools I work with. Firefox 4 is the main application I use as an SEO Programmer, and its add-ons are the main reason for that. As I mentioned in my last blog, a lot of add-ons for Firefox 4 just weren’t available.

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Google Instant

Google Instant And SEO

Posted by | News & Insight, Olivia Naire | No Comments

Google Instant and SEO

Google Instant

From the moment Google Instant was announced back on September 8 there have been forum chats, blog posts, articles and podcasts discussing the ramification of this new technology.Some have called it the “Death of SEO” which others (myself included) have proclaimed this a step forward and an opportunity for SEO’s, not a threat. And then of course there’s those who don’t even know there’s been a change at all, let’s call them “the vast majority”. In this article we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of Google Instant as it pertains to SEO’s and to website owners as well as cover some of the reasons that this new technology may not have as large an impact on search behavior as some may fear/predict.

But first, let’s cover the basic question …

What Is Google Instant?

Google instant is a technology that allows Google to predict what you are looking for as you type. They are referring to it as ‘search-before-you-type” technology (catchy). Essentially – as I type a phrase (let’s say “buy shoes online”) as soon as I get to “buy sh” I start seeing results for “buy shoes”. As soon as I’ve entered “buy shoes “ (with a space after shoes indicating I want more than just the 2 word phrase) I start seeing results for “buy shoes online”.

Technologically this is genius. Google is now serving likely billions of additional search results pages per day as each query has multiplied results that apply to it. Well … I suppose we all wondered what the Caffeine infrastructure update was all about didn’t we? But what does this do in the real world?

Why Google Instant Isn’t A Big Deal

Alright, obviously it is a significant technological enhancement in search but the way some react you’d think the whole universe was about to be turned on it’s head. There are two reasons why that’s not the case.

I find it unlikely that many will notice right away that the change has occurred and further I find it even less likely that the majority will use the feature. You see – the major hindrance of this enhancement isn’t in the technology – it’s in the users. Only those who touch type and can do so without looking at their keyboard will be affected. If the user looks at their keyboard while typing then they wouldn’t even notice the results coming in ahead of their actual search.
This will only affect users who are searching in instances where the shorter or predicted terms match the users end goals. For example, if I am searching for “buy shoes online” and get as far as “buy sh” the top results are sites which clearly suit the needs of a searcher for “buy shoes online” and thus – this may work to the detriment of sites who rank well for “buy shoes online” as they may well lose traffic. In the case of a site targeting, oh – I don’t know – “seo consulting” there will likely be little affect if any. The searcher, looking for an SEO consultant, will find once they’ve entered “seo” that they are presented with Wikipedia and Google – sites that, while informative, don’t offer the services (or results) desired and thus – the searcher would be less affected. Once they proceeded on to enter the “seo c” the searcher would be presented with the results for “seo company” but I’m prone to believe that if the searcher wanted those results – they would have searched for it. For this phrase I’m confident we’ll see little in the way of negative affect from Google Instant.

So we’ve discussed why Google Instant isn’t a big deal, now let’s discuss …

Why Google Instant Is A Big Deal

On the other side of the coin lies the reasons why Google Instant brings forth a revolution in search technology. Followers of the Beanstalk blog or my radio show on WebmasterRadio.fm (Webcology) will know I’m not one to love everything Google does but in this case the immediate affects and long terms affects may well be significant and at the very least – one has to appreciate the brilliance behind the effort. In this section of the article we’re going to cover the three important perspectives involved with the launch off this (or any) Google product. They are:

The Searcher – we’ll look at the pros and cons from a searcher perspective. It’s this aspect that will dictate whether the feature will matter at all.

Google – we’ll look at the positive affect on Google. Of course – this aspect is of paramount importance for this feature to be kept.

SEO’s – I’m of course incredibly interested and have spent much of my analysis time determining the pros and cons to SEO’s (admittedly – there’s more than a bit of self interest here).

So let’s begin …

Google Instant And The Searcher

This is sort of a win-win for Google from a searcher perspective. One of two things will happen for the searcher. Either they won’t notice the change or won’t be affected and thus – Google will be exactly where they are now OR they will notice the change and will select results quicker and find the feature helpful. As I noted – it’s a win-win. There isn’t much of scenario from a searcher perspective where the searcher will be negatively impacted and if they are – they’d simply revert back to past searching patterns. From the perspective of impact on the user – Google has it made with this feature. Their worst-case scenario is that they’re exactly where they are now.

Google Instant From Google’s Perspective

Any feature added to any corporate system must serve a single primary function – it must make it’s developer money. We’ve already seen that the feature itself can’t really negatively impact the searcher but can it make Google money? There are two ways that this can happen:

Improved loyalty and marketshare, and
Increased revenue directly from the initiative

Fortunately for Google – they’re going to win on both fronts here and when we see the Q3 earnings and moreso in the Q4 earning Google reports we’ll begin to see how significant an impact this change will have for them – mainly in the second of the two monetary reward methods noted above. And here’s why …

We’ve already covered the improved loyalty this can have on the searchers. Anything that makes my life easier and makes my quest for information faster will make me more loyal. At worst – Google will see my behavior stay the same but for many, the search experience will become faster and more effective – especially once the technology is improved by user behavior to a degree that people trust it more. Overall there will be a net gain in the experience – we’ve only to wait to see how large that net gain is and how it translates into marketshare. The big win is in the second point.

For anyone who’s every bid with AdWords you’ll know that for the most part – bids for generic terms are more expensive than bids for very specific terms. If I’m bidding on “shoes” I’m going to pay more than I would for “shoes online”. So let’s view the world where I start showing the results (and paid ads) for “shoes” while someone is searching for “shoes online”. And what if that person sees the ads that was written and bid on for “shoes” but relates to their query and they click on it. Google just made more from the paid ad click. Maybe only pennies but multiply that by billions of searches per day and you’ve got a significant increase in annual revenue.

The move is a huge win for Google but it does come with a theoretical downside and that is annoying the businesses that are paying for the ads. The argument I’ve heard is that if businesses find that the cost of their campaigns is increasing higher than the ROI that they might get annoyed. Fair enough BUT I would argue – what are they going to do about it? As long as Google maintains the first consideration (the searcher) then the advertisers have no choice. They can drop their bids but at worst – they’ll level off to what they were paying for the longtail phrases. Again – worst case scenario, Google will find themselves where they are today.

Google Instant From The SEO’s Perspective

So let’s assume for a moment that Google Instant is here to stay. Based on all the ways Google and the searchers can win and the limited situational permutations by which they could only come out even I’d say that’s a safe assumption. Given this, what’s happens to SEO’s and those optimizing their own websites?

For one thing – we can’t assume that research we did up to and before the 8th will be relevant down the road. I have already scheduled to redo keyword research in a couple months to see what industries and search types have been most (and least) affected by this change. The main reason for this is that I have a strong suspicion that specific industries will be more prone to being affected by the change based mainly on search types (such as the “buy shoes” vs “seo consulting” example above) and demographics. A Linux developer site is more likely to have a demographic off touch typers who can type without looking at the keyboard than say a life insurance site with a more scattered and thus less technically proficient overall demographic.

So in the short term – life is going to be very interesting for the SEO and website owner while we figure out which industries and phrase types are most affected. In a few months when we see the trends and which phrases are being affected and how we’ll likely have to make adjustments to many campaigns. The downside for may business owners will be that for those who’s campaigns focuses on searches for longtail phrases – they may find the search volumes for their phrases decrease and a shift to more generic (and generally more expensive to attain) phrases is necessary. Only time will tell what the best moves are there and we may not know what exactly will shift and how for a few months yet and even then – we’ll then know the trends, not where things will settle (if anything in online marketing can be referred to as “settling” anymore).

If there is a segment that should be concerned about the situation it is small business owners with limited organic or PPC budgets. Google Instant – because it puts preferences to more generic phrases – clearly favors businesses with larger budgets. How much so we’ll know after we’ve had a chance to see how the search volumes shift. For SEO’s this presents two opportunities and for business owners who do their own SEO – it offers one. And here’s the good news for those.

For SEO’s you’ll find two new opportunities, The first is that there will be a shift to more generic terms in search volumes. This means that there will be stiffer competition for more competitive phrases. If this sounds like a bad thing it’s not. If you’re a skilled SEO who knows how to get the job done it means you’ll have more access to larger volumes of traffic without the added efforts required to rank for a wide array or phrases. Rather than needing to rank for 10 or 20 phrases to get traffic you’ll be able to focus in more and reap the same rewards in the way of traffic. On top of that – SEO’s will be able to charge more for the rankings as fewer phrases have a higher value. A win-win for SEOs and a win for business owners who either do their own SEO or have talented SEO’s on staff.

The second opportunity will come in the form of improved clickthrough rates though I’ll admit – at this point that’s just a theory (noted with a hint sent to Gord Hotchkiss to run eyetracking tests on this theory). If I type while looking at my screen and I’m entering in “buy shoes online” and I rank organically or via PPC for both “buy shoes” and “buy shoes online” I would hypothesize that searchers who complete the phrase “buy shoes online” who had the site (or ad) for “buy shoes” appear and then the same site appear for the full query will have a tendency to click on the familiar. This same principle has been witnessed in sites appearing in both paid and organic results who have an increase in their organic clickthrough rates. This will present opportunities for both PPC and organic marketers to improve the traffic to sites by ranking for specific phrases meant to both attain traffic on their own but also to improve traffic for the other. I would suggest that down the road we’ll be hearing of this phenomenon when conducting and discussing keyword research.

Conclusion

There isn’t much to conclude that hasn’t been discussed above. Virtually every party wins or at worst, breaks even with the introduction of this technology. The only victim appears to be small businesses without the budgets to compete for the more generic phrases but even they may win with a shift away from these phrases by the larger companies. It may well occur that while the search volume shift heads in favor of large companies with larger budget – that the lower hanging fruit, while reduced in it’s search volume, may fall too in the competition levels making it more affordable. Larger business may focus like snipers on larger phrases and smaller business may well be presented with the opportunity to go after more, less search phrases that aren’t worth targeting for larger companies – at least organically.

But only time will tell and of course – we have much data to collect and many algorithmic updates to come between here and there.

About the author:
Olivia Naire is the SEO and owner of Ice Clear Media – Search Engine Optimization Ltd. Ice Clear Media is a premium SEO services provider offering performance-based services, consulting, training, and link building. Be sure to keep up-to-date with their SEO blog and articles.

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How to Make Social Media work for your business

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How to make Social Media content work for you & your brand

social-media

 

Quality social media content can set you apart from competitors,  keep your brand in customer’s “top of mind” and enhance your positioning as a leader provided that content is the center of your online marketing strategy. Setting clear goals through different aspects of social media content management is a prerequisite for a successful online strategy.

 

Blogposts, status updates, videos, contests, tweets, poll questions, info graphics and photos… Choose responsibly the ideal social media channel and always consider your business objectives. Monitor your audience’s presence and activities so as to avoid creating an account to every available social channel without a clear focus.

 

Post at the optimal time using monitoring tools that help you define best time to post and express significant points by conveying your main message within the first characters. As soon as you determine the frequency and time of posting you can create a calendar using tools like Hootsuite or SproutSocial to administer and manage social media channels and all engagement activities: comments, new fans and followers, fans interaction and responding. Decide the frequency of your posts: weekday posts, weekend posts or all days of the week?

 

Define your audience by asking: Why, when, who? When you know the answer you can create your brand’s online personality and communicate your point of view as you interact with your fans/followers accordingly.

 

Stimulate interest through a varied, yet focused topic selection: education, entertainment, inspiration, promotion or a combination of all. Use how-to suggestions, questions, links to valuable sources, other people’s sources and promotional content in a valuable mixture.

 

Establish yourself as a leader through selective content and gain followers’ trust. Stay in consistence with your brand’s vision, image and character and always be original.

 

Social platforms-networks are channels for promotional-advertising content that should only be expressed in a subtle and intelligent manner. Focus finally on a constant user-engagement by stimulating reciprocal activity attracting users to share life experiences in connection to your brand.

 

Important note: Always be true and original when it comes to your social media content!

How to Analyse Social Media Traffic with Google Analytics

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How to Analyse Social Media Traffic with Google Analytics

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Most likely you have already setup a Google analytics account in order to analyze your website’s traffic.

 

Today we will see together a step by step guide on how to identify, segment and analyze your social media traffic by utilizing the Google Analytics platform. 

 

The first step is to discover the social media sites that have sent the most traffic to your site during the last 30 days.

 

To perform this action, go to Traffic Sources – Sources – Referrals.

 

Referrals

 

On the right side of your screen you will find the full list of your referral sources.

 

For our example site the top 3 referral sources are:

 

Referral-Sources

 

In order to create your advanced reports you have two options.

 

Create one advanced report for each social media source or create an aggregated advanced report for all your social media sources.

 

Let’s see first how to create an advanced report for each of your social media sources.

 

To perform this action, click the “Advanced Segments” button and then click + New Custom Segment.

 

Advanced-segments-Referral-Traffic

 

Let’s create an advanced segment for Facebook social media traffic first.

 

Add a name for your segment (we chose “Facebook” as a name) and include all “facebook” sources that sent traffic your site. Specifically:

Then click “Test Segment” to verify that the advanced report works properly and click “Save Segment”.

Referral-Traffic

 

In the same way, you can create an advanced report for each of your social media traffic sources (e.g twitter, pinterest, google+, linkedin, etc).

 

Now, in order to create an aggregated advanced report for all your social media sources you click again the “Advanced Segments” button and then click + New Custom Segment.

 

The difference now is that we will create this segment by selecting a “Matching RegExp” as an option from the dropdown menu. Then we will add all social media traffic sources separated by a pipeline (|), just like the code below:

facebook|t.co|plus.url.google|hootsuite|bit.ly|linkedin|youtube|delicious|stumbleupon

 

Note: Make sure that there are no spaces between words or pipelines.

 

 

You can also include other social media sites that send traffic to your website.

 

Then click “Test Segment” to verify that the advanced report works properly and click “Save Segment”.

 

Segment-Creation

 

Now that you have setup your advanced reports you are ready to analyze your social media traffic by whichever metric you want.

 

For example, you can select one or more advanced reports from your list and compare them for specific metrics like Engagement, user location or what devices they have used to access your website.

 

To do that, click the “Advanced Segments” button, then choose one or more of your “Custom Segments” and click Apply.

 

Now you are set to choose whichever metric you want (e.g Engagement) in order to analyze/compare your social media sources.

 

Advanced-segmentation

 

So, log into your Google analytics account:

Identify your social media traffic sourcesCreate your advanced reports

…and start analyzing your social media traffic today!

 

The more you get to know your visitors and the more you serve them, the more loyal they will become towards your website-brand.

 

Apart from keeping a track of the performance of your social media activity via advanced segmentation, you can use the Reputation Tracker of Web SEO Analytics, according to which you are going to have more valuable insight of the social media presence of your website. It enables you  to see the total number of shares, comments and mentions of your page on Facebook, on Twitter, on social bookmarking services (like StumbleUpon)

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The Importance of Backlinks in 2013: Dixon Jones Interview

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The Importance of Backlinks in 2013: Dixon Jones Interview

This is an interview with Dixon Jones. Dixon is the Marketing Director of MajesticSEO and a founding Director of Receptional, a leading UK Internet Marketing Consultancy. Dixon has been involved in running businesses since 1988 and has been involved in running and marketing online businesses since 1997. Follow Dixon on Twitter

 

Today we have with us Dixon Jones. Dixon is the Marketing Director at MajesticSEO and the Founding Director of Receptional LTD. The topic of this interview is revolved around the future of backlinks, effective link building methods, high quality backlinks and interesting new features coming up from Majestic SEO.

 

For me, a mention from a person on Twitter is EXACTLY the same meaning as a link. If the Twitter user is a robot, or spam, that nobody will listen or care, just like a link on a computer generated low quality web page. So yes – social signals count… but they are still links. I have always said that a “link” is a web based word for “relationship”.

 

I think that we (as SEOs) got a little too fixated on anchor text back in the days when we could pull this data from search engines and it has taken until Penguin for us to see that we were concentrating too much on this signal. I think a little bit of anchor text is still a good thing… just enough to give context. After that, you need several (but not hundreds) of respectable web pages citing your web page. The rest is crap.

 

I disagree that attracting high quality links is one of the hardest tasks. I believe the HARDEST task is building up a good reputation for innovation or for thought leadership or for downright integrity. If you cannot get people saying good things about you in the bars and offices then you will also not attract good links. The problem for many SEOs is that they do not have the social skills to have a conversation in a bar or an office! So they need to pair up with people with stronger social skills and realize that a good link starts with mutual respect.

 

Here’s what I can confirm. When Majestic has a big announcement, we tell 10-20 influential bloggers. People like State of Search, Search Engine Journal. They can either publish the news or not – that’s their choice as there is no financial inducement to do so. However – when they DO publish, we tend to get more traffic (from them and from Search engines) and when they don’t – it is USUALLY because we gave them something that they thought was not interesting. What we do try to do is avoid giving the information to the influential people at the same time as spamming it across blogs and forums. If we were to do press releases to large networks instead of named individuals, then most likely Google would not see the message as coming from authority sites. Even worse (MUCH WORSE) the influential bloggers would see that they just reported a story which was already live on low quality sites. They will only do that once… then you are on borrowed time. So Link Bait and Guest Blogging indeed still works – but the quality of the blog and its content FOCUS is very important. I see many low quality blogs which seem to talk about clothing in one post and Virtual hosting in the next. That is unlikely to be a focused blog and at this point in time, none of the link providers give CONTEXT to the sites – although there is increasing context surrounding the link itself. Consider this… what if a search engine categorized every site based on the most prominent keywords. The site has a fixed amount of juice (say from 0-100) Now if a site worth 10 points talks about 2 things religiously, then each page in context will be worth more than a site worth 100 that talks about 100 things. Because data is not yet visualized in context especially well (although anchor text spread helps), we miss the obvious.

majestic_seo2

One great way is to use this as a way to compare whether a keyword is better tracked down through organic means or through PPC means. The Google Keyword Tool gives (poor) information about how competitive a phrase is on PAID channels – and SEOs have (to date) been using this data as a proxy for organic keyword analysis. But in practice, there are differences between what people wrote about on the web and what people type into search engines.

 

Wow – now I look back at it, we were pretty busy last year weren’t we? Looking back at it, I am amazed that Flow Metrics were only launched in May or so:

 

So after launching Flow Metrics in May, which gave us by far the most solid metrics for evaluating a URL’s importance on the fly, we were able to dramatically increase the size of our Fresh index in June. This is a process that we may get back to in 2013 if needed. We were also able to start getting our data into smaller development tools through our OpenApps technology which meant that developers did not have to spend large amounts on our API if they were prepared to let their users have direct accounts with Majestic. This culminated in the Chrome Backlink Analyzer Extension, a GoogleDocs spreadsheet and integration into SEOGadget’s spreadsheets and we hope other developers will create new apps using this technology in 2013.

 

As you point out, we launched a global anchor text checker in July and then we were able to show you anchor text by site in the site explorer later in the year. August saw the launch of tracking reports. These are still underused – which is a shame because they are free for subscribers. They track the Flow Metrics of any URL over time, but you need to set the report running to keep track, as we do not want to record historical flow metrics data for 4 trillion URLS when our customers only care about a tiny fraction of these. The biggie, though, was the ability to show new and lost links day by day, straight into the Site Explorer. We wanted our users to come to our site regularly – not just once a month. Looking at the new/lost links chart gives people a reason to do that. Then – in December – we also launched “Bucketlists”. These are great for link research… whenever you are looking for good (or bad) links, you can add ones that interest you to a backlist, for later analysis or to pass to another member of the team to contact. So plenty of development… I am sure I missed lots… and I think we will try and build on most of those innovations in 2013 if we can keep up the momentum.

 

I would encourage users to use the feedback button now on every page on the site (except the homepage) if they see anything that we should be doing better. We are compiling this feedback and using it to help direct our efforts.

 

Dixon.

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How to Create an effective SEO Competitor Analysis – Part 2

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How to Create an effective SEO Competitor Analysis – Part 2

Search-engine-optimisation

 

On the first blog post we covered the  1st part of SEO competitor analysis including a range of topics (meta-tags review, keywords health-checks, internal linking checks, URL reviews) that you should pay attention to when you conduct an onsite SEO competitor analysis.

 

Concerning the second part there are equally important segments to be taken into consideration as seen below.

 

A poor website development or a poorly designed website can affect the page load time and by extension can seriously affect the user experience while on the website and in the end the onsite SEO results. If you have discerned this type of problem on your competitors’ website make sure to avoid such issues when it comes to your own website.

 

The images should be descriptive, as this has a significant impact on the SEO process. If your competitors have an image which is for example, stored under the title img881, then the onsite SEO is not successful. If the image is under the name Athens-Acropolis (in other words descriptive and relevant) then the onsite SEO can be considered successful so you would rather follow this particular approach.

 

You should focus your attention on the Headers (H1, H2, H3 etc) which are on the site, as they play a significant role on the onsite SEO. For example if you see on your competitors’ pages, headers like, Luxury Rooms in Crete, then it’s a strategy that you would like to implement accordingly.

 

Onsite-SEO-help

 

Search engines crawl on your pages and look for sitemaps facilitating the process of indexing your pages. Look for sitemaps and if your competitors do not have any, then you have the chance to be one step ahead of them in terms of onsite SEO. For this purpose, in case you do not have sitemaps, it is advisable to generate sitemaps and submit them on Google and Bing respectively.

 

A well designed and well developed website means that it can easily be analysed by search engines. So if you want to see how your competitor’s website is seen by search engines, you are advised to use the HTML validator (according to the W3C standards).

 

It is widely known, that Google (and Bing) do not like repetition regarding the content of a website. Google rewards originality and fresh content. Thus, it is essential to diagnose if your competitors have duplicated content (and if your website does) or they lack of content. The best possible way to make this diagnosis, especially when you have an online shop, is the use of the Duplicate Content tool of  Web SEO Analytics where you can make a comparison of 2 websites (of your competitors or your own)  and see whether their content is repetitive/duplicated or not. In this way, it will be easier for you to design your own strategy by creating a website with fresh and original content.

 

With the completion of this analysis you will be able to find and eliminate your weaknesses and with the onsite SEO competitor analysis, you will manage to gradually strengthen your position within the market…  The Duplicate Content tool is extremely useful for those of you who own Online Shops (e.g. electronics). Despite the fact that the technical specifications of a camera for example are specific and it’s difficult to find different words to describe the same features, according to Google it is encouraged to use fresh, unduplicated content. Thus, the Duplicate Content tool helps you in an automated way to minimize the hassle of finding out whether or not your website has duplicate content in relation to other pages.

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How to Create an effective SEO Competitor Analysis – Part 1

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How to Create an effective SEO Competitor Analysis – Part 1

swot analysis

 

The SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), is an integral part of the SEO process and it should not be overlooked. Before you start implementing your SEO strategy in practice and see quantifiable results, it is vital to start working on your SWOT analysis. An essential element of your SWOT analysis is your Onsite SEO Competitor Analysis. According to Sun Tzu, ‘’knowing your enemy is half the battle’’ and adjusting this quote in today’s corporate world, an effective and thorough Onsite SEO Competitor Analysis can offer in the long –run a major strategic advantage towards your competitors!

 

It is possible to conduct an onsite Search Engine Optimization because the websites of our competitors are available throughout the web. Additionally, there are tools that allow us to measure the efficiency of our competitors’ website in relation to our own. There are two cases to consider when conducting a Competitor Analysis and then adjust your strategy accordingly:

 

• For the first case, you can conduct a competitor analysis when you have a website by comparing it with your competitors’ websites.
• For the second case, alternatively, you can conduct a competitor analysis, when you don’t have a website. In the case in point you basically start off with your weaknesses. However, keep in mind that the weaknesses can be at the same time potential opportunities that can turn into strengths. In this blog post (separated in 2 parts), you are going to find out some simple and effective tips for the first case.

 

The list below states some of the essential things that we should pay attention to on our own websites. The ‘’juicy’’ part is related to the on-site SEO competitor analysis, cause knowing the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors will help us implement the best possible strategy for maximised and optimised results! Even if your competitors are established and traditional players within the market, yet with a poor SEO strategy, it is possible to outrank them once you define a clear strategy, starting with your onsite SEO competitor analysis.

 

On your competitors’ website on their source code, page by page, search and define the keywords that they chose to use. Note if there are any structural problems in terms of characters; (for example the limit of characters including spacing should not be more than 250 characters), so if they exceed the number of characters then it is obvious that their SEO strategy is poorly developed. Additionally you can use the SERP Analysis of Web SEO Analytics in order to analyse the competition on search engine results and become familiar with your competitor’s SEO strategy.

 

The structure of a URL is of vital importance so check out your competitor’s URL structure. If the URL is too long, with endless subdirectories then again their onsite SEO strategy is poorly developed. A best practice example is this: www.example.com/luxury-accommodation , instead of a long URL structure as: www.example.com/ Greece/Athensacropolishotels luxury-accommodation/. In other words, your URL should be short, descriptive and keyword-rich so as to enhance the chances for an effective  onsite competitor analysis.

 

SEO analysis

 

The Meta title should not be more than 65 characters. The most important keywords should be before the pipeline while your competitor’s brand name should be after the pipeline. If that’s not the case avoid following their lead cause ideally you should aim for something like this: SEO Keywords | Brand Name

 

Meta Description (which can be found again on the source code), should not exceed the limit of 160 characters, including the spacing. Your attention should be focussed on whether your competitors have eye-catching keywords which are going to enhance their ranking position on Google. If you see that they don’t have eye-catching keywords, then it’s most likely that you have the competitive advantage.

 

The Meta keyword description review was covered earlier in the Keyword health-checks section. Subsequently, it is important not to exceed the 250 characters limit that Google has set. Also make sure you check if your competitor uses the same keywords in all pages of his website. If the same keywords are used, then we have the so-called phenomenon of keyword cannibalisation.

 

The best practice for internal linking requires the use of related links so as to navigate the user through your site and direct him back to your homepage. If your competitors have not implemented this practice it is obvious that their SEO strategy is not very well structured. For this purpose, you can optimize the link structure for your pages by using the Link Structure of Web SEO Analytics.

 

You should also bear in mind that the number of internal links should not be more than 100 (according to Google). It is worth checking if your competitors exceed this number or in contrary if they have no links at all!

 

Stay tuned for the 2nd part of the Onsite SEO competitor analysis in which you will read about, the Page Load Time, Image Optimization, Heading Tags, XML Sitemap, Website Coding/Code Quality Checks, and Accessibility of the Website, Duplicate Content Checks, and Usability Checks…

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German Law Will Allow Free “Snippets” By Search Engines

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Google GermanyThe good news for search engines like Google is a proposed German copyright law won’t require them to pay to show short summaries of news content. However, uncertainty remains about how much might be “too much” and require a license. The new law is expected to pass on Friday.

 

Der Spiegel explains more about the change:

 

Google will still be permitted to use “snippets” of content from publisher’s web sites in its search results….
What the new draft does not stipulate, however, is the precise definition of the length permitted.

 

The draft bill introducing an ancilliary copyright for press publishers in Germany (Leistungsschutzrecht or LSR) goes to a final vote at 1oam Germany time on Friday. Below is my background about the hearings that happened this week, which in part lead to the snippets change.

 

Despite all the procedural and constitutional objections to the Leistungsschutz bill, there are also a couple of technical and political ones. Critics (and there are plenty of them) raise concerns that the collateral damage by this change in copyright will hurt search engines, innovation in general and especially smaller press publishers.They point to ambiguous language in the bill that will cause legal uncertainty and lawsuits that will take years to be settled.

 

The German government and supporters of the bill have done little to address these objections. On Saturday, I published an advance copy of the answers by the government in response to a letter of inquiry by the opposition Left Party. There is a continuing pattern in the government’s response referring open questions to be settled by courts or simply by ignoring the question.

 

One of the last opportunites to discuss the mechanisms of this ancilliary right within the parliament lasted for 90 minutes Wednesday at an expert hearing at the subcommittee for New Media (Unterausschuss Neue Medien, UANM) at the German Parliament.

 

Public invitations for this hearing were sent out only a couple of days ago, after two weeks of behind-the-curtain negotiation between the governing factions in parliament (Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Liberal Democrats (FDP)) and the opposition factions (Social Democrats, Left Party and Green Party).

 

CDU/CSU and FDP had previously refused to schedule another hearing next to the judiciary committee hearing in January, saying that all questions could also be addressed in this expert hearing. As it turned out, there were a couple of technical questions that could not be addressed, due to the fact that none of the invited experts in the judiciary committee hearing were experts in the field of technology. How could anyone have known that there are at least two kinds of experts out there!

 

Invited experts were

Dr. Wieland Holfelder, engineer at Google (there was a consensus agreement by the committee members  that he could pass non-technical questions to legal counsel Arnd Heller from Google, who was sitting behind him)Dr. Thomas Höppner, representative from the press publishers’ association BDZVProf. Dirk Lewandowski, University of Applied Sciences, HamburgMichael Steidl, International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), London

Two experts were invited by the majority factions (Höppner and Steidl), two experts were invited by the opposition (Holfelder and Lewandowski). The procedure was following the usual procedures: There were three rounds of questions for members of parliament, two questions from each faction to one expert or one question to two experts. There was no opportunity for introductory statements by the experts and no strictly enforced time limit on answers.

 

So, in order for an expert to be allowed to speak, he has to be given a question from a member of parliament. An expert is not allowed to ask questions or offer refutations to other experts directly. This results in a strategy that each side is going to give softball questions to their own experts and potentially compromising questions to the experts from the other side. It has to be assumed at many hearings that questions were exchanged before the meeting and that there is some level of expectation on what the answer might be. This is exceptionally true for partisan experts whose employers directly benefit from or suffer by the outcome of this legislative process.

 

Some of the softball questions provided the experts the opportunity to explain how robots.txt works (Holfelder) or explain the shortcomings of robots.txt (Steidl and Höppner).

 

Holfelder introduced himself as engineer who implemented his own web crawler 14 years ago. He distributed printouts of robots.txt examples and the resulting snippets in the search engine results pages. He explained additional meta-tags that Google uses to add or remove content from the Google (or any other of the leading search engines). To some extend, his presentation felt both verbose and strangely elementary. In an ideal world, none of this information would have been new to a subcommittee that specifically focusses on such topics.

 

Petra Sitte, (Left Party) had asked Holfelder to comment on ACAP, a protocol that was proposed by a few publishers and has failed to get any meaningful level of acceptance by the market. Holfelder provided a few examples in which implementing ACAP will be prone to spammers, as it mandates the way in which provided descriptions have to be shown.

 

Konstantin von Notz (Green Party) asked Holfelder whether it was possible for a search engine provider to detect whether specitic content on a web site is covered by this LSR or not. This is – in my opinion – one of the most important questions of this bill because it outlines the potential for huge collateral damage or legal uncertainty over the coming years.

 

The ancilliary copyright is awarded to a press publisher (a press publisher is defined as anyone who does what press usually does) for his press product (a product of what a press publisher usually does). It exists next to copyright awarded to the author who can license his/her content to anyone else. It means that it is not the text itself that defines whether conent is covered by the LSR.

 

Here is an example: A journalist maintains his  personal web site in order to advertise for his services as a freelancer. He has a selection of half a dozend of his articles on his web site that help to inform potential customers on his journalistic skills. These articles are of course protected by copyright. They will not, however, be covered by the ancilliary copyright because he is not a press publisher. The very same texts on the web site of a magazine’s web site will be covered by the LSR. How can a search engine determine if text on a web site is subject to both copyright *and* LSR?

 

Holfelder replied that Google has a couple of heuristics to determine whether a certain page is provided by a press publisher. However, this law has no provisions for “honest mistakes”. If Google failes to detect LSR content and does not receive prior permission to index such content, Google faces legal consequences. There is no such things as a “warning shot” or an obligation by the press publisher to proactively inform a search engine whether it things a certain page is LSR covered. This is the legal equivalent of a minefield.

 

Holfelder stated that a search engine would in this scenario tend towards overblocking in order to avoid a lawsuit for violating the LSR.

 

Höppner, the press publishers’ expert spent his time mocking a comparison about this bill that involves taxis and restaurants. He then stated how services such as Google News substitute visiting the original pages, with some rambling about a Google service called “Google Knowledge”. It was hard to tell whether he meant the failed Google Know project or the Google Knowledge Graph in the standard Google search.

 

His main argument on robots.txt was a passive-aggressive one. Publishers do not like robots.txt per se, they merely use it to fight for the last crumbs that search behemoths like Google have left them. In other words, if a press publisher is providing meta description text or Twitter cards, this should not be seen as some kind of agreement to actually use this text in order to build snippets in a search engine. I severely doubt that this position would hold in court or among the motivation of press publishers.

 

Prof Lewandowski’s contribution to the hearing was an interesting one as he is the first expert in a long time who does not seem to have an agenda with respecto to the LSR. His viewed were balanced, nuanced ones, highlighting both the high level of acceptance of robots.txt and some of its shortcomings. He pointed out that at least at Google News, the limited amount of sources and the opt-in-meachnism (yes, it’s more complicated than that) of Google News would permit running such a service in an LSR world.

 

Steidl used his time to explain IPTC’s contribution to the world of standards and mentioning the RightsML project which is in active development. He criticised robots.txt for being without a governing organisation and for failing to express rights on a sub-article level.

 

Both Google and the press publishers were not very eager to present actual numbers in Google News usage or how visitors are directed to third party web sites.

 

In round two, Google’s legal counsel Haller was asked how Google will react to this bill if enacted. He replied that Google does not know the final version of this bill, and that Google has not decided yet on how to implement it. He pointed out that his companry would have to not only deal with publishers from Germany but from the entire European economic area who could exercise their own LSR rights against Google.

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