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March 29, 2007

Got Plans for SES NYC This Year?

By Li Evans

So, what are your plans for SES NYC this year, beyond attending the sessions given by all the great presenters? Well if you are in town Monday night April 9th, why don't you help out a great cause and have some fun while you are at it.

Rmhc Greg Niland of GoodRoi, and leader of the of IM-NY has put together a great charity event for SES attendees!  This is going to be a 3 hour open bar party (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) at the Town Tavern in Greenwich Village.  IM-NY is asking everyone to donate $40 at the door which will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Two great companies, Best of the Web and Text Links Ads , are kicking in to cover the complete cost of the party!

Now the next item on the list, I'm sorry to say is pretty much going to be for the fairer of the sexes.  Although, I'm sure, if you are a man, and you want to come and have lunch with all of us, we won't kick you out!

Cafeclassico Thursday April 12th, we'll be holding a lunch at Cafe Classico, immediately following the 2nd session that day.  The second session ends at 12:15, so we've reserved some space at Cafe Classico starting at 12:30 p.m.  The restaurant is located at 35 West 57th Street (between 5 & 6th Ave) in New York.  This is just a short walk from the Hilton, so it should be easy for everyone to come and enjoy a great lunch.  If you would like to plan ahead, take a look at their lunch menu.

If you would like to come to the lunch, please drop a comment here, send an email to smg -a-t- searchmarketinggurus dot com, or join our Search Ladies yahoo group to keep up on all the great information.  SEO Fan Girl runs the group, so once you ask to join, she'll approve you.  Hope to see you there!

Microsoft Possibly Buying DoubleClick

By Michael Abolafia

Yesterday it was reported that DoubleClick is for sale and Microsoft is an interested party.  With the affiliate network Performics being under the DoubleClick umbrella this would have a significant impact on the Affiliate Marketing Industry.
Microsoft_4
Between Microsoft’s properties and financial power they would have the ability to change affiliate marketing as we know it today. 

  • How would they utilize Performics to build out their search adcenter
  • How could the Performics advertisers be featured in Microsoft products?

Technology is contstantly changing Affiliate Marketing.  However, Microsoft would have the ability to change the industry quicker then anyone else has in the past.

Thanks to Shawn Collins for pointing out that Microsoft just purchased MicrosoftAffiliateNetwork.org.

8 Online Marketing Tips for Libraries

By Li Evans

Librarybooks I've got a soft spot for libraries.  I love books, and as a kid, I'd spend hours upon hours with my neighbors in our library which was just around the block from my house.  Lately, a lot of librarians have been linking to Search Marketing Gurus.  Our article on the 31 Places to Manage Your Reputation Online has become rather popular with these great group of people.

So with all of that in mind, I wanted to come up with some quick tips and ideas to help any library with a website to take advantage of some simple and easy online marketing ideas:

  • List your library with Google Local
    Most libraries take for granted that they will come up in local searches.  While it can be assumed, this would be only natural that a library is listed in the Google Local listings, it isn't always the case.  Don't let your library miss out on this opportunity to be found, submit your library's information at Google's Business Center.

     

  • Promote Your Library's URL Offiline
    Library's can miss the perfect opportunity to reach beyond their doors when they don't promote their website URL.  From printing it on library cards, to ensuring that the stickers that show the book is property of the library, all present perfect opportunities to remind readers of the library's website, long after they walk out the doors.  Any type of fliers that are printed to promote library events, make sure your URL is prominently displayed as more and more people look to a website to gather more information about events they see posted on billboards, roadsigns and even on TV.

     

  • Photo Galleries & Flickr Badges
    People of all walks of life, love to look at pictures.  Showing off pictures of events at the library is a great way to draw attention to them and to share the great time that was had.  Flickr and other photo sharing services allow you to store your pictures and share them with an entire community.  Flickr also always you to create "badges" (like the one at the top of "SMG" here) which bring attention to your photos and get people interested in the website.

     

  • Start a Book Review Blog
    Starting a blog is simple these days.  From typepad, to wordpress to blogger, you can start a blog for free, customize it to your liking and update it as often as you want.  For libraries on a budget, most of these services have free versions which you can utilize.  Promoting is easy, just post a link to it within the navigation of your library's website.  Ensure that your blog is properly branded with your library's information and links back to the library's main site.

    Using the blog to help promote new books that are coming into the library by offering a review, is a great way to build up interest for people to check out and read the books.  You can also highlight the "classics", childens' books and the list can go on.  Don't forget, you can easily generate interest in a long forgotten book this way too!

     

  • Create "Reviews by Library Members" Section of the Library Website
    Get your membership involved.  Create a special section of your website dedicated to library members and what they read.  When checking out their books, ask your members if they'd be interested in sharing their opinions of the book when they bring it back in, and if they'd like you to feature it on the website.  Including a small picture of them along with their review can add that personal touch, which will more than likely encourage them to pass on the link to family and friends.

     

  • Events Calendar Online - PDF Version
    Posting your events on your website is a great way to inform visitors who come to your website of the upcoming events.  However, how do you hold their interest after they leave your website?  Create the calendar in some kind of text editor or spreadsheet and then make it into a down-loadable PDF version.  This will enable you to brand the calendar with the Library's information, and the visitor to hang it on their refrigerator, and keep you in mind each time they go for the milk with those cookies!

     

  • Create an Opt-In Email Newsletter
    If you haven't already, create an opt-in email newsletter for library members.  Offer a way to sign up on your website, and keep a sheet for a newsletter "sign up" right where members check in and check out their books.  Don't forget to ASK!! 

    Newsletters that people opt-in for are a great way to speak to a very captive and highly targeted audience.  They want to know what's going on at the library, they want to know what kind of books are coming in, and usually they want to help out if they can!  That leads me to my last "tip."

     

  • Create a Volunteers Section on the Website
    Wouldn't it be great to highlight those contributions of time, energy and assistance no matter how big or small they are?  Most people love to be recognized for their efforts, and we all like to be thanked for giving our time.  What better way to say thank you, than to have it for everyone to see?  Using pictures, quotes and special graphics can even personalize the page a little more.  It will also lead to your volunteers passing the link to the page along to their family and friends.

Feel free to contribute any other ideas you might have to help out your local library or any library for that matter!  These great folks, do a tremendous job each and every day to help all of our communities, it's the least we can do to help them out a little.

March 28, 2007

Women of Internet Marketing Wednesday Part 15

By Li Evans

Womenofinternetmarketing Welcome back to our 15th installment of the Women of Internet Marketing series!  I'd like to point out the link just below the banner to you all.  Our Women Of Internet Marketing link, will take you to special page that now has the list of each of the women featured linked to their interview.  You will also find on that page PDF versions of the interviews.  There's a full version that has all the interviews (which will be updated after each interview is conducted), as well as segmented pdf versions of the interviews for easier downloads.

I'm quite excited to bring you our two women this week because both of them were so much fun to learn about! Both have been in the industry for quite a while and both have had extraordinary successes.  Learning about what brought them into our industry was a treat in itself, as well as learning what they like, who they think is the best dresser and that even our "vets" tend to duck those questions our past interviewees have.  Let me introduce you to Anne Kennedy and Janet Driscoll Miller

Anne Kennedy
Annekennedy Anne Kennedy is one of this industry's most respected speakers and leaders, and has been working as a Search Marketer for over 10 years now. She's the managing partner at Beyond Ink and also runs SEONews.net. Anne's got a diverse background from being involved with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)to serving on the Board of Directors of Mesda, Maine's IT trade association, she's quite involved in all areas that are connected with our industry as well.

Anne has seen this industry grow from its infancy and has consistently guided her clients with successful results. Her company, Beyond Ink, has consistently created and built visibility for scores of businesses, achieving average traffic increases of 300-400 percent, improving conversion rates, and increasing e-commerce sales. Anne, as the managing partner of Beyond Ink runs the business and, guides her staff which includes past interviewee Alex Bennert to great success with their clients with amazing consistency.

So, now, lets get to know a lot more about Anne!

Q: So Anne, what do you consider to be your area of specialty or practice?
A:  Search marketing. Well, actually attracting and managing talent for search marketing. As the staff here keep reminding me, I run the business; I don’t do the business. Providing the occasional visionary comment, too.  Oh, and then there’s the leadership thing.

Beyondink Q: What's a typical day like for you at Beyond Ink?
A: I travel a lot, but when I'm in Maine it goes like this: We open and close late, because of all the west coast business, but I generally start my day at home early checking emails, and pinging Europe. When I get to our office and check in with our team to see who needs what from me. My job as leader is to enable them to get the best job done. We use YM as a virtual sign-in board; we provide laptops, broadband and VPN so they can work from anywhere, and do. Here the middle part of the day is almost always meetings on the phone and in person. My new mantra is to not schedule anything closer together than 30 mins. When I'm traveling, things are much the same, though switched around. For example when I'm in the UK I'll have the meetings first and then get on the IM to see what's up as the US Inkers are starting their days.

Q: Can you tell us what brought you into the Search Marketing Industry?
A:  After 30-odd years in marketing I was looking for a way to do public relations online and it quickly became clear that organic search was the prime way to get that critical third party endorsement. If your business can’t be found in search engines, your credibility takes a nose dive. As I was coming to this epiphany in 1998, I was sharing start-up office space with web developers who were really good at getting “hits” when it was easy. The owner said, “search engines are getting too complex for us to program ways to get traffic. You do it for us.” And handed me our first three clients, one of whom is still with us.

Q: What do you consider your most successful industry accomplishment?
A: Contributing to our clients’ success. Repeatedly. That’s what has kept us in business for 10 years.

Q: What makes you love this industry so much?
A:  First, I love the people. We have a real global family. In what other industry do competitors share trade secrets, leads and business? The friends I’ve made around the world mean a lot to me. Then there’s the travel; I love a business that requires me to visit places like Stockholm and Reykjavik. Most of all I love what we do. Search marketing is so much more satisfying than traditional push marketing; customers are actually looking for what we’re showing them and when we recognize that they are in charge, not we, the whole thing goes much better. So long to the Vance Packard Hidden Persuader days, when you could get a man to buy a car if it was red. (were guys really that easy?). The best of us respect our clients’ customers and respect the medium we work in.

Q: So, lets turn that question around and tell us what aggravates you most about this industry?
A: Speaking of respect, what really bugs me  are the fast buck companies that prey on limited knowledge to sell businesses services that are at best in effectual and at worst can actually damage their competitive positions. This has been a problem for as long as I have been doing this, and it just won’t go away. The lyrics may change but the song remains the same.

Q: You’ve been in this market for quite a while now, what are some of the major changes you’ve seen take place?
A:  Consolidation, monetization, and proliferation. When I started there were engines like Infoseek and Excite. Does anyone remember Northern Light? [Li: *nods* oh yeah!] In marketing, competitors winnow down into Coke and Pepsi, and maybe the “Uncola” if things get interesting. With three major players and Ask increasing market share at a good clip, the consolidation ain’t over yet. Meanwhile, monetization is a natural evolution, too. After all, “being in charge of all the world’s information” (Sergey Brin 2003) takes a lot of brain and processing power, and those don’t come cheap. By proliferation, I mean the increasing ways to search: shopping, news, image, local, mobile, and so forth. To me as a marketer, each is a new way for my clients to be found by their customers, which multiplies their odds of doing so.

Q: You’re involved in the PRSA, and are on the Board of Directors of Mesda, does being involved with these associations give you the opportunity to promote/dispel rumors about Online Marketing Industry?
A:  I try. Mesda is a great Maine trade association for IT, and through it I made my first friends when moved the business here in 1998. PRSA, on he other hand, suffers from a head-in-the-sand approach to search. There are a handful of great PR firms who ‘get’ search, but for the most part PRSA appears to subscribe to the magical thinking that if they ignore search it will go away. Perhaps traditional PR practioners fear no one will need them to talk to the media for them, when in fact there will always be a place for good strategic media relations. That said, the way journalists get information for stories has changed radically in ten years, and the PR firms that will suffer are the press-release-by-the-pound mills. If you understand search and how much editors and writers use the engines, then you realize they are a very important target audience for search and need to be respected as such.

Q: You’ve been involved with SES for quite a while as a speaker/moderator, how have you seen this conference change over the years?
A:  Other than doubling in attendance every time? Danny and Chris have done a great job keeping the content changing with the times. And we’ve had a lot of fun along the way. Attendees are more from marketing than the early days when they seemed to be a lot of techies. I remember my first SES, where the cloaking session was SRO, and Writing for Search Engines was sparsely attended. Well, guess which session is still on the grid? Though cloaking must have paid well, because the panelists wore really nice suits.

Q: What advice would you give for other women starting out in this industry, based on your own experience?
A:  Network. Make friends. Listen. Everything we know we have learned from each other. In the early days it was Marshall Simmonds’ i-search discussion list, where we traded tips and observations. Now there are great blogs and forums, with the engines themselves chiming in.

Q: Right now, how many women bloggers do you read?
A:    Ouch. I keep thinking I should read more. I’ll start with yours, OK? Still I went to some of BlogHer lat week in NYC and got really turned on by the caliber of talent there. So many blogs . . . so little time (sigh)

Alright, let's have a little fun! Yes, Fun! :)

Q: Mike Grehan or Lee Odden?
A: Oh Mike, definitely (kiss, kiss Mike! T won’t mind, it’s only me)

Q: Rand Fishkin, Greg Boser, Danny Sullivan and Andy Beal are all in a contest to rank for the phrase “I’m a hot & sexy SEO” – who wins? 
A:  Tough call, but that’s something I can actually imagine Greg saying, and Barbara would surely agree.

Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen at an SES conference?
A: Oh my, “crazy” can have so many meanings. Gonna duck that one; who knows which craziness I was in on?

Q: Any other comments you’d like to add?
A: I could go on for days, but better get this off to you. Next time definitely

Thanks Anne!
Anne: Thanks for asking!

Can I just say.... I just loved doing this interview with Anne! :)

Now lets learn about our next fun and talented woman featured tonight, Janet Driscoll Miller.

A few weeks back I got a really great email from a man who suggested a great woman for me to interview. I took that suggestion and did a little digging, then realized I'd met this women, but never got her name. Thanks to Tad Miller, both I and now you the audience will get to learn a lot more about his wonderful wife, Janet Driscoll Miller.

Janet Driscoll Miller
Janetmiller_pic Janet has had a long career in internet marketing and public relations, and has become a leader in our industry through her great work throughout her eight years in the industry. Janet is President, CEO and Lead Search Strategist for her company Search Mojo and has her own blog, Search Marketing Sage.

Prior to starting Search Mojo, Janet was the was the Director of Internet Marketing at WebSurveyor Corporation, where she helped to increase Web Surveyor's Google Page Rank from 5 to 9. She also increased their #1 rankings on Google by 900%, and decreased pay per click advertising spend while doubling conversion rate. Wow!

Alright so with that introduction, lets get to Janet's questions.

Q: So Janet, can you tell me just how  you landed in the Search Marketing Industry?
A:  Eons ago, I was in public relations. When the web was gaining in popularity, I moved to web design and web marketing because it combined the marketing and PR side that I loved with my other love -- technology. In 1999, I began to really delve into search marketing as it began to gain popularity. In 2004, I decided to focus on only search marketing vs. marketing communications or other forms of online marketing because I realized how quickly SEM changes. I knew if I focused in that one area, I could see greater success.

Searchmojologo Q: What's a typical day like for you at your company, Search Mojo (if there is anything that's typical!)?
A: LOL. That's a good question. Let's see... emails, problem solving, accounting stuff, more emails, conference calls.... it's a long day. As a growing company, I'm not only training the new staff and helping the experienced folks too, but I'm currently the accountant, office manager, IT manager, and everything else too. As we grow, that will change, but it is challenging to balance it all.

Q:   What would you consider to be your most successful industry accomplishment? 
A:  I'd have to say starting my own business and keeping it running successfully. It's a crowded space -- lots of companies want to offer SEM services. I think we're able to differentiate ourselves, so we're able to not only compete, but grow like wildfire!

Q:  Why do find that you love this industry?
A:  The thing I love most about SEM as an industry is that most SEM professionals view their colleagues as friends and advisors. There's an openness with SEM professionals that I've never seen in any other industry. Perhaps it derives from the nature of the web -- open access to information. But whatever the reason, I really appreciate the advice and guidance of my colleagues.

Q: What aggravates you most about this industry?
A: Part of what drove me into starting my own SEM firm was that I get very aggravated at the amount of misinformation floating around about SEM, and I get frustrated that so many companies fall prey to poor-performing SEM firms.

Q: Linkbaiting – love it, hate it – over-hyped, under-utilized  - think it needs a better name?
A:  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE link baiting. I think when used correctly, it's a great win-win for everyone -- a great tool and a great viral link builder. A good example is a link bait application I worked on with one client -- an online polling tool. The client is an online survey company, so the polling tool combined their technology and a link bait opportunity into one. It's a win for those who use the free application and for the software company.

Q: What’s the most exciting project you’ve ever worked on?
A:  That's a tough question. I think they're all very exciting! Each client brings new challenges, and so our jobs never get boring! I think the most exciting projects we've been working on lately have been with helping clients enhance their ROI tracking. It's important to us to help clients accurately track ROI so they understand the impact of SEM. Clients love to see the data, and we love to see the success. It's been really exciting.

Q: Janet, you’re a speaker at SES, which panels do you speak on and how did you become a speaker?
A:  I'm speaking on the SEM firm track on partnering with ad agencies. I really enjoy sharing data with others about how we've been successful as an SEM business, and hopefully my experience can help all of those folks thinking of starting or growing an SEM firm. I approached Danny Sullivan about my experience and the data I had to share, and he selected me for the panel. I feel very honored to be able to speak to my peers!

Q:   Now here's a bit of a touchy question, I hope we don't spark any debates here! Do you feel that doing SEO is as easy as baking a cake? 
A:    Most things in life and work can be simplified if you have a process. Baking a cake is a process -- you have a recipe. If you don't follow the recipe, baking a cake is difficult. BUT, if you have a good recipe, anything can be made simple. I think that's true of SEO as well.

Q: Who’s your favorite blogger to read?
A: I really enjoy Andy Beal's blog posts and I've been reading Lee Odden's posts for years.

Q: Right now, how many women bloggers do you read?
A:  Wow. Unfortunately, not many. I've found that the SEO/SEM industry is pretty male-dominated -- maybe it's just me thinking that? I was at a Web 2.0 conference recently as a speaker, and I was the only female panelist on the entire program for the day. I don't normally think about it being male vs. female -- I really just look for the most knowledgeable info.

And no for the fun part of the interview!
Q: Lee Odden  or Loren Baker?
A: Lee Odden!

Q: Best Dressed Male SEO?
A: Hmmm... how about Rand Fishkin and his cool yellow Pumas?

Q: Have you googled yourself on Google and been surprised with the results?
A:  Doesn't every SEO do this? :) Definitely surprised, but pleasantly surprised.

Q:   Craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
A:    Motherhood. By far. It's crazy, it's fun, and it allows me to stop being a workaholic.  I have already given my 19-month old daughter a toy palm pilot and cell phone so she can be high tech, just like Mommy.

That's too cute Janet! :)

I'd like to thank both of these women for taking the time to answer my interview questions.  Stop back next week where we'll have our 16th week of our series.  Keep up to date on our list of interviewees by checking our Women of Internet Marketing area on SMG!

March 27, 2007

Should Women Be Afraid to Blog?

By Li Evans

Bloggers I'm posing the question "Should Women Be Afraid to Blog?"  The recent support and outcry that arose when Kathy Sierra explained that the reason she canceled her keynote address and workshops at ETech was because of death threats she received on her blog, brought me to this question.  Should harassing comments, pointed posts, threatening emails deter women from starting their own blogs, expressing their opinions and sharing their deep knowledge of the industries they specialize in?

As a woman and a blogger, I was saddened by Kathy situation.  It saddened me because not only has it deterred her from speaking and demonstrating that women in our industry are just as knowledgeable and talented as our male counterparts, but it might deter her from sharing her knowledge to her vast audience from henceforth - and that's a great loss to the industry.

WomenbloggingThere's been speculation that Kathy's over exaggerated the situation, there's been an outcry against the people who encouraged the behavior that led to Kathy's decision.   Either way, Kathy's fear, exaggerated or not (I'm not hear to judge that), the point is that it is/was very real to her.  Real enough for her to take drastic action.  But should everyone limit themselves because of this kind of fear?

I'm of the opinion that, no, women should not be afraid to blog, share their knowledge and speak at conferences.  However, that said, women should expect to hear the occasional crass comment, hit the occasional "glass ceiling", and be prepared for some negative feedback in the form of sexism as they put themselves out into the "limelight."  It comes with the territory, and with it comes lessons in what topics you should approach with caution and others to go full throttle at.

I wanted to give you more than my opinion though, so I asked a few of our past Women of Internet Marketing this question - "Should Women Be Afraid to Blog" and to add their comments to that.  I first saw Kim Krause Berg's comment on SEOMoz and asked her if I could quote her, as well as her additional comments:

Kimkrauseberg" ... Threats on the 'Net have been going on for years, esp. when you write an unpopular opinion or speak your mind. Blogs are the medium now, but back in the days of Usenet and newsgroups, they came via email. I received two death threats in the 1990's and one other one was broadcast across an email list I moderated to all of the members there. The latter was made by a homeless man from a public library. (I did a lot of investigating for that one.)

I have changed my house locks. I've been forced to alert the schools my children had attended because they were in grade school at the time of the two threats I got. Both times it was because I wrote about "blackhat" SEO and ways to know if you are being scammed.

There are topics I will not write about now, and opinions I no longer share online. As much as some people like to believe in a "free" Internet, and free speech rights, there is no such thing as long as there is fear.

Incidentally, I don't think my being a woman has anything to do with my own experiences. The support from men I've rec'd far, far outweighs the relative few who wanted to be creeps."

Kim also adds this about her view on this topic and her comment on SEOMoz:

"In relation to women and blogging, plus I have different views when it comes to women business owners too.  For example, publishing a business address is considered a credibility factor, but for women who work from home, I feel it is not worth the risk. This is why I pay for a post office box.  Only recently did I start to admit the town I live in, but after this event and another one at the forums recently, I feel unsafe all over again."

Deb Mastaler of Alliance-Link and the Link Spiel Blog feels:

Debramastaler_2 "In a perfect world NO ONE should be afraid to blog.  But this isn’t a perfect world and if you put yourself out there you should expect a modicum of resistance and difference of opinion.  Does that include death threats?  Absolutely not and doesn’t include pointless, and totally uncalled for comments like these either. "

I posed the same question to Meg Walker of Network Solutions and EbuzzMaster Blog:

Megwalker "I am appalled by the threats against Kathy Sierra. The same rules that govern civilized behavior IRL should be those that people exercise in the blogosphere. Civil discourse, debates, disagreements, even arguments are acceptable – but what benefit comes to those people who are abusive and break federal laws with death threats? It’s not funny. It’s not entertainment. It’s illegal"

Becky Ryan (WebMoxy) of Trellian answered:

Beckyryan "If I was getting the threats and they crippled me to the point I was housebound and not going to a show.. What I would want to look into was to securing myself and passing laws to protect others from these type of incidents. "

Finally, Tamar Weinberg of RustyBrick & Search Engine Roundtable contributed:

Tamarweinberg_2 "I really don't understand why anyone would go after such a respected individual unless they were jealous of her popularity.  Is it a popularity contest?  "

In general we all, both men and women, should know there are inherent risks when we all enter the internet space and utilize it to market ourselves.  Women should know they can encounter these types of situations, but that shouldn't stop them from totally shutting down, preparing for the possibility though, is probably the best course of action that we can all take.

5 Great Resources for SEO Beginners

By Karl Ribas

A few days ago, while I was browsing the Cre8asite Forums (something I try to do weekly), I came across an interesting thread where the topic of discussion was on how to begin one's SEO/SEM career. Souravi asks:

"Hi, I am Souravi and I am new to this Search Engine World. I want to become a SEO. I have already started some online classes but I'm getting puzzled as to what to learn and what not to. I would like some sort of guidance from you guys to be in the right track. Can anyone please suggest where I should start and how I should continue in order to become proficient in SEO and SEM?"

As did those that also responded, I felt comfortable in suggesting to Souravi that he shouldn't limit himself to learning from only a few choice search marketers, regardless of their popularity or positions within the industry. Rather I suggested that he learn as much as possible from a variety of different sources and develop a deep understanding of all the areas that the SEO industry has to offer.

With that said, I want to take my response to Souravi's question one step forward and highlight a couple of really great (and FREE) resources that he, as well as anyone else looking to make their start in SEO, can use. The following resources are perfect starting points, and should help beginners to understand the ways of our diverse industry, as well as to help them to develop personal SEO marketing theories, strategies, and techniques.

Without further ado, here are the top 5 FREE resources that I believe every beginner SEO should be checking into:

1) SEOMoz's Beginner's Guide to Search Engine Optimization
What more can be said about the beginning stages of SEO development than what Rand and his group at SEOMoz have said already. Their guide (which is available in 4 different formats) provides a broad overview of search engine optimization, and focuses in on the various processes, techniques, and strategies that many SEO professionals invest in today. I encourage all SEO marketers (n00bs and novices) to have a look.

2) Jill Whalen's High Rankings Advisor
Jill's email newsletter (also available via RSS) covers the latest information surrounding search engine optimization. She and her team of guest writers offer a great deal of SEO tips and tricks in the forms of Q&A sessions, guest articles, industry interviews, and unbiased editorials. I've personally benefited greatly from reading issue after issue of Jill's advice and commentary, and I'm confident that others will as well... especially new SEO marketers.

3) Joe Balestrino's SEO Podcast
Hands down... this is the best SEO podcast that I've come across yet. With each episode, Joe, Alan, and company tackle some of the biggest questions and concerns surrounding search marketing, and they do an excellent job of providing step-by-step instructions to many basic and moderate level SEO techniques. I'd certainly recommend digging through and listening to past episodes... in no time you'll have a better understanding of SEO, as well as their catchy little jingle stuck in your head.

4) Kim Krause Berg's Cre8asite and Barry Schwartz's SERoundtable Forums
Normally, I wouldn't suggest forums as a starting point for beginners, but in the case of these two, an exception has to be made. Whether you're looking for answers to commonly asked questions or insider tips, tricks, news, and strategies you'll be sure to find it in the friendly confines of these forums. In addition to cycling freely through the plethora of SEO information that is currently available, beginners can pose help-questions directly to forum members... which in the case of the Cre8asite and SERoundtable forums, consists of many qualified industry professionals.

5) Lee Odden's Monster List of Search Marketing Blogs
Simply put, Lee and his team have done an outstanding job with cataloging over 250 search marketing blogs (with more added weekly). Blogs are essentially important in this industry as they seem to be the preferred way of announcing and sharing industry information. Beginners can review this list, read the descriptions that Lee has provided, and then choose the blogs that he or she feels are most appropriate for them. I recommend picking a few and adding them to your RSS reader with the understanding that you can always remove and add more as needed.

March 26, 2007

When Comments Cross The Line

By Li Evans

Kathysierra One of the premier women in our industry, Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users was suppose to keynote at ETech, as well as present a workshop.  She had to cancel.  Why?  Would you believe death threats are the reason?  As crazy as it sounds, it's true.

Over the past few weeks, Kathy has been dealing with crazy comments appearing on her blog, each time they seemed to get increasingly more "threatening".  For full details, you can check out her detailed list of events that have lead to canceling her speaking engagement.

As someone who likes to shine the light on the accomplishments of women in our industry and really encourage them to stand up and get involved by speaking and participating in the industry events - this makes one think twice before doing so.  Sure, this could be one crazy, obsessed person,  however you can never tell and on the other hand one person can cause a lot of damage.

Creatingpassionateusers As a fan of Kathy's blog, I for one, am saddened to hear about this. As a women in the industry, it makes me a bit ticked off that someone resorted to these types of methods to "scare her off."  I hope that Kathy finds out who this was and they are properly prosecuted so she can go on with her life and continue to accomplish more great things that other women in the industry can look up too.

Update:  Scoble's taking a week off "in support" of Kathy.  He's encouraging the blogosphere to "discuss" how to fix this type of culture from continuing.  I for one am all for that!

Will Jason Calacanis Be Dining on Crow Soon?

By Li Evans

Calacanis Last month, the guys over at ProNet, posed a challenge to Jason CalacanisCalacanis, for those who do not know, is the "A-List" blogger and "Entrepreneur in Action" at Sequoia capital, and formerly of AOL.   Apparently he's also taken up "fat blogging", although he obviously isn't the first to try this, just the one with the most readership. 

Even more to the story, this blogging evangelist has called the search marketing industry "bullshit" (and dropped the "F" bomb) at one our our industry's top events.  Calacanis, on many occasions, has referred to professionals in this industry as spammers, and other terms that insinuate "snake oil salesmen" or "charlatans."  All of this because he believes that it's as simple as a well written title tag and a bit of content.  Again, I go back to my whole "Jason Calacanis has never had to rank for viagra, has he?" statement, to put the fact into context, that he really doesn't understand what he complaining about.

Calacanischallengeprogress So enter Neil, Cameron and the whole team at ProNet with a challenge that they can ethically and responsibly apply proven search optimization strategies to help raise traffic and rankings for Calacanis' blog.  Jason, took them up on the challenge.  Guess what?  Neil updated on the progress they've made with the challenge, and from the looks of it, Neil and crew over at ProNet, are going to win that challenge.

Wonder if Jason Calacanis is going to need some honey barbecue sauce to eat with that crow?  Great job Neil!

Is Google Positioning itself to the Television Model?

By Account Deleted

Googletv If there is one thing that Google has taught us online marketers, it is to play the SEM game by their rules. They educate us and push us all to follow their own best practices and we have reacted as if it's gospel. If you don't follow the rules, they will penalize you in terms of increased cost per clicks and  higher budgets. But they do it in such a way where it appears to be benefiting everyone.

Over the years, Google has preached its Quality Score which is based on relevancy at the keyword, Ad/Creative and Landing page levels. So, we are all at the mercy of Google for when they make a change to an algorithm or change their quality score. However, I have to raise the question: Why is Google doing this?

It's easy to conclude that Google has already changed the online marketing world and everyone wants a piece of it. But there's comes a point where important decisions have to be made to sustain growth. Market Over Saturation is becoming an increasing problem and Google needs to find a way to handle both their investor's wallets where they need to constantly increase their adwords revenue as well as provide a product that continues to drive qualified leads and sales to businesses that will not drive up their online budgets.

My Prediction: I honestly believe there will be a major shift the Google Quality score in the next year where we will see an major increase in CPC (cost per click) for all search terms, (no matter what keyword match) and everyone will be re-focusing on Quality Score as the answer to helping their ROAS %. This would be welcome news to SEM agencies and SEM Blog sites where they have the most knowledge and insider tactics to improve Quality score.

I see that the change in New Quality Score will be based on Keyword Saturation, Competition, Negative keywords and Day parting. We have to believe there is a big percentage of customers users who are not taking advantage of Google's Quality Score tactics and raising the CPCs is Google's way of forcing everyone to play their game. Why? As more and more people bid in this marketplace, the saturation increases. I also believe that Day parting (choosing specific times of the day to advertise your business) will be more prominent as Search Engine Marketing matures itself towards the Television Advertising model.

What will happen is that in order to keep costs down, advertisers will spend more of their money at certain points in the day. For example: There is a business selling widgets and using Analytics, they discover that 75% of all sales occur during the the evening and early morning hours from 8pm-4am .EST rather than during the day. So, utilizing the Day-parting option, will allow for more qualified purchasers, rather than browsers, hence increasing their CPA, ROAS%, or whatever is their KPI metrics. This tactic keeps them profitable in SEM because the CPC's are lower and competition has tailed off because most would be running out of their daily spend.

In conclusion: These are actually very exciting times in Search Engine Marketing as we are starting to see trends of how to get the most out of the Internet channel. There are high saturation levels emerging and online marketers and strategists are starting to look at tactics from other media outlets such as TV to combat this very natural change in the Industry. Let's just hope everyone can grasp to all of the changes and make ourselves and our clients more profitable.

March 24, 2007

More SMG Updates

By Li Evans

Bubbles Update:  If you are coming from Digg to read about Google changing the Searchworld again - the article you want to read is "Can Google Change the Entire PPC & Affiliate Market Space?"

If you've been here over the past day you'll notice some changes going on here at SMG!  Beyond our general "look" changing with a new banner we launched last weekend, there's some aesthetic changes now going on.

You'll notice the link bar across the top, we're moving some of our side bar items onto their own pages, as we expect each of these areas to grow, and our sidebars would be scrolling forever if we kept the information growing there.

We'll be adding more links - you'll see what the ideas are, from the text above.  We're about 1/2 way there, hoping that by Sunday evening this will be wrapped up!

We are going to be switching the way we highlight our "Recommended Sites" are listed.  We're going to do a"monthly recommendation" of blogs (up to 5) listed and we'll have our own Blog Roll page.  This will allow us to add blogs we find and would like to recommend to our audience to check out.

Just so you know, nothing has disappeared entirely (save for all the reader subscription icons), most of the items have just moved, so take a look out the links as we add them! 

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