July 15, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: 5 Easy SEO Tips to Optimize a Website

By Li Evans

This week, it's back to basics with our online marketing tips video. 

For this week's video, there's 5 easy to use, and implement, tips that webmasters, web site owners and marketers can implement to get the basics of search engine optimization (SEO).

   

Full transcript after the jump ....

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: 5 Easy SEO Tips to Optimize a Website" »

July 01, 2008

Google Can Now Read Flash? Don't Jump for Joy Yet

By Li Evans

Adobe_flash_logo Last night the Official Google Blog, the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Adobe and even Matt Cutts all  announced that the Google's crawlers can now crawl and read the Adobe SWF files, just like it crawls and reads regular website pages.  Matt Cutt's talked about this a while back, but apparently the improvements announced are even better for flash sites.

I still raise my eyebrow though, call me a pessimist in this department.   Inherently Flash itself still has optimization drawbacks. So Google's saying they can crawl buttons, urls, etc. in Flash, but that doesn't mean that Flash offers the best way to be optimized for the content you are trying to present.  Some of the key indicators to what your page is about are still missing in Flash, especially for sites that are completely done in Flash.

URLs in Flash - Hashmarks?
I'm going to guess that the algorithm is going to make the assumption that each page in the flash file that is navigated to by a hash mark (#), as it's own page?   OK fine, but is that different than how it treats regular html pages who use the < a name="example" > and hash mark for easier pagination?

What About Title Tags and Descriptions?

Sites that run in entirely in Flash, every page has the same title tag.  That's because the SWF file sits within the "index" (or main loading URL page), and never moves.  Take a look at Nike.com if you want a perfect example of this.  Title tag never changes, each "page" is changed with the hash marks, it all runs off the index page that Nike has set aside for running the SWF file.

Along with the Title tag not changing, neither does the description.  We all know the description meta tag does nothing in the way of weighing a page's relevance, but it does factor in, in the presentation in the results.  Now, with flash sites, Google's going to take snippets of text from the "page" it sees within the SWF file and present that as a description.  How many Flash sites have you seen with optimized content - that made sense on its pages?

Hierarchical Tagging
Forget H1 through H6 tags to  structure your content on your web pages in Flash.  That's non-existent.  So how does Google know what you are really doing with your content on that page?  What's the most important?  Is there a general theme and components to that theme going on in the page?  Sure - visually you can probably tell that in Flash, but the spider can't see that you've got fonts bigger than the text to delineate the difference.

Forget About Movies & Images

Since Flash embeds them into playing in their own structure, Google can't read it.  So you've created this kick butt  product demonstration complete words that tell the consumer everything, right?  Think Google's going to find that now and put that into its index and rank it number 1 for whatever its demonstrating?  Think again, Google can only look at text that's in the SWF file.  Same goes for the images you embed in your SWF file, and while it can crawl buttons, it can read the button if its completely an image.

While, Google (and soon Yahoo! too) are going to be reading SWF files and incorporating them into their index, it doesn't mean you are going to rank any better than your competition who has an html page.  Why?  Because basically, you are just essentially handing Google a .txt file full of words and pointers to urls for those words. 

It's kind of like, showing someone a line drawing compared to a full color photograph of something you're trying to demonstrate, with the site being entirely done in Flash being the line drawing (ironic, no?). 

I don't know about you, but I'm still going to advise my clients to go with the "color photograph", that utilizes Flash elements, rather than the line drawing.

June 26, 2008

Are SEO Ethics Different than Social Media Ethics?

By Li Evans

Ethics I've been chewing on some thoughts lately.  These thoughts circle around social media and search marketing professionals claiming to be experts in this vast huge universe that involves social news, forums, micro-blogging, blogs and many, many more channels of engagement.  I was dismayed at some things that were presented on the Social Media Success panel in Toronto at SES.

Along with that, I was just flabbergasted at a submission on Sphinn about gaming Twitter for "do follow" links.  It wasn't so much the fact that someone wrote this post.  Nickycakes is a great programmer and does come up with some time saving ideas, so naturally if he sees opportunities from his frame of mind (being a reformed black hat and all) he's going to write about it. 

However, what really made my jaw drop was who all Sphunn this article to put it to the front page.  People who I have greatly respected and thought they were pretty honest when it came to doing things in social media.  But here they were promoting something that pretty clearly is something that would "spam" a social media channel.

I asked David Harry why he sphunn it, and he said that "social media spammers that proudly OUT their Twitter spamming tactics won't be around long if we PUBLICIZE the exploit."  David makes an excellent point there, perhaps a few are of like mind with him.  But I still couldn't get over who sphunn this up after it "went hot" and was well publicized. 

It all just has my mind churning, and I still do not get why people need to game social media. 

Take the tactic of "Vanity Baiting" for example.  This tactic, used by SEO's, made me stop and question everything that was said to me in the past by SEO's who now seem to be "overly gracious" with their comments.  Have I been "baited" for months with this vanity baiting tactic?  How can I trust anyone who uses this tactic, that they are being truthful with their compliments going forward? Was any of that real, or was that to get me to stumble, read, sphinn, and link to them?  If it was, it worked in the past because I have done all of that, now though I will have to think twice, because the trust that was there, is now gone.

What about gaming Twitter for backlinks?  Seems harmless?  Think again.  If you get found out as a spammer on Twitter (and now Plurk), the community bands together and not only reports your to the respective services, but the community shuns you.  Sure you may have your other spammer friends to follow you, but will anyone else?  Likely not, then what good is gaming Twitter?

What about multiple accounts on social media news and bookmarking services?  Think it's all about the "avatar"?  Think again.  It's about the human, and again, if you are found out to be building fake accounts - i.e. claiming to be a 43 year old mom of 3 who loves cooking, scrapbooking and knitting, when you are really a 30 something man, who's spamming the scrapbooking folks with your fake profile/avatar, all hell's going to break loose when those people you befriended through the bot you created, figure out your spamming them.  But hey! What's a few profiles to burn down, right?  Trouble is all that time spent "faking it" could have been spent being real and making real connections that gain you much more than links.

Want to know what's the saddest thing about all of this is to me?  None of these tactics are ever discussed in the social media channels where social media practitioners are active.  In fact, most of them are horrified that people not only do this, but strategize for their clients to do this.  They think of people who suggest such things, and tell people and clients to do these things are Spammers and Manipulators. 

The_plague These tactics are pretty much only discussed and promoted in the search marketing sphere of online marketing.  That folks, really saddens me. 

I don't believe a lot of SEO's want to manipulate Social Media or be likened to a spammer.  Unfortunately with tactics and blog posts like I demonstrated above, that are not only being presented, but promoted within the Search Industry, the people outside of the Search Industry are lumping us all together.  Think of that, the next time you meet someone at a social media event and say "I'm a search marketer" and they seem to not really want to associate with you, or look at you like you have the plague.

Hattips to Jennifer Laycock, Elizabeth Able, Mack Collier and David Harry for helping me out with this.

April 24, 2008

Online Content Strategies: One Hit Wonders or Writing for Your Audience?

By Li Evans

While I was at Unleashed, I got the opportunity to sit in on Matt Bailey's Analytics presentation.  If you haven't gotten the chance to see Matt speak, you should make it a point to do so in the near future.  Matt has a passion for relating information to an audience in a very enthusiastic way.

During SES, I let Brian Cosgrove have the honors of blogging about his session at SES NYC.  Brian's got a great summation about Matt's session at SES, which people were spilling out into the hallway to hear him speak.

Why I mention Matt's presentation, is because another post on Seth Godin's blog really got me to thinking.  Add that together with all the furor over Jason Calacanis' reported comments at SMX Social, (by the way Danny has clarified and I also got some clarification on this direct from Jason and he has promised a video response).  It really got me to thinking, seriously thinking.

Do you know, truly know who your audience is?

Are you creating content for your audience, or are you creating content for the search engines, or for the hopes of getting to the top of Digg, or maybe making it big at StumbleUpon?  Sure, these sites (search engines included) bring in, as Matt stated in his presentation, "butt loads" of traffic an links, however, is this really who you want coming into your site?

Jason isn't far off the mark, and neither is Seth, and Matt's right on the money.  Creating content for your audience is what website owners should be doing.  Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not in the slightest way saying "SEO is bullshit", you still need the SEO to have that content found.  However, if all you are doing is constantly creating "Top Ten Lists" or insane videos, and these really don't reflect your brand, product or service - you are just going to get that spike in traffic and nothing more.

One_hit_wonders One hit wonders in viral marketing and linkbait tend to create nothing in the way of decent targeted audience members.  While viral marketing can be great and wonderful for that bounce in traffic and maybe to get a new site discovered, can you sit down and analyze that segmented traffic and see if it was truly successful?  Did these visitors just come and view one page (your linkbait or viral piece) and leave?  Did they navigate any further in your site?  Did they subscribe to your newsletter or blog?  Did they read another article on you blog or even leave a comment?  Did you even have a goal for that viral strategy to begin with, because honestly "just getting hits" really isn't enough these days.

If you can't see that your content isn't appealing to your true audience, and is only being a one hit wonder to sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, maybe you should be rethinking your online content strategy.  Do you even have one to begin with or are you just hoping that with each launch of a viral campaign, this will be the "thing" that launches you into stardom on the internet?

Write content for your audience first, they are the ones that will buy what you are selling - not the "one hit wonders."  If you don't believe me, take a look at your analytics and see how high your bounce rate is for that segmented traffic.

March 18, 2008

SES New York: Landing Page Testing & Tuning

By Brian Cosgrove

Moderator: Sage Lewis, (www.sagerock.com)
Speakers:

Description:
This session had only one speaker which is atypical of an SES conference. Fortunately, this speaker came with a great ppt full of examples to illustrate each point and plenty of enthusiasm to keep the entire room engaged.

Who should design your website?

Marketers? IT? No! Visitors should design your website! You get thousands of people who can test out your experiments. Guinea Pigs who are willing to give you answers about your site.

Case Studies:

Tim presented a number of test scenarios from various sites. For example, he shows that RealAge.com received a 40% lift in conversion rate once the proper form was identified.

The headline, the length of questions, the look of the button,… these were all factors for the site’s registration page. The point is that a number of subtle changes meant $3 million to bottom line. Thinking streamlined, shorter, and simpler is a good way to get a page to convert. A big green round-edged button doesn’t seem to hurt either. In many cases a radical simplification is the best option.

The Matrix:

Tim’s Matrix is a calculation to decide whether people’s needs are being met.

The Matrix = Roles x Tasks x AIDA

AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

In essence this means:

Getting the Right People

through the Right Activity

in the Right Order.

Example Roles:

Southwest airlines had a number of actions that a new or returning visitor might want to perform. They made to sure to organize their homepage to reflects these roles.

Common Awareness Problems:

Banner Ads can be distracting and could lead users away from the primary point of the site.

Entry pop-ups are annoying and invasive.

A cluttered home page such as Adorama with 146 links is confusing and overwhelming.

A site with good awareness will focus on categories. That is, if you have a lot of crap, let people focus on the subset of crap that they care about.

Keys to Creating Awareness:

  1. Stop screaming at your visitors – Flashing banners or lots of competing visual elements will drive a negative response.
  2. Eliminate choices – Less choices puts more prominence on each one.
  3. Uncluttered what remains – A clean interface simplifies choice.

Rules of Web Awareness:

  1. If you cannot find something easily, it doesn’t exist.
  2. If you emphasize too many items, all of them lose importance.
  3. Any delay increases frustration.

Typical Desire Activities: Research and Compare.

Example: A user may go to a shoe store and research the options by a number of criteria such as – Text, Category, Brand, Size, Color “On Sale” “New”

A site that is unhelpful for the research component of desire is Zappos. Its search feature lends itself to zero-results options make you reenter your search criteria again (or enter a form to get updates on new sizes…).

Rules of Web Desire:

  1. Make me feel appreciated
  2. Make me feel safe
  3. Understand that I am in control

Action Stage Consideration:

Brand Strength – Some users buy on brand. This is more the result of long-term efforts.

Previous Resource Investment (“satisfycing”) - Maybe your option is the next best thing that comes along.

The total solution- Users may be looking for the all-in-one value: availability, customer service hours, return policy, price, free shipping, etc…

Risk reducers & credibility:

These concepts are different. Risk reducers eliminate things that would scare a user away. Credibility increases the likelihood that this site is the best place to convert.

Unhelpful Risk Reducers:

Trust and credibility symbols below the fold or placed as an after thought.

Helpful Risk Reducers:

Petsmart put their Hackersafe symbol in the upper left where a logo would normally appear. 

Credibility and Validation

A lead form on the left side of the page is complemented by a list of high-profile customers on the right.

Rules of Web Action:

  1. Get out of my way.
  2. Make it easy.
  3. Don’t surprise me.

Bad Web Action:

Overstock.com’s screen is reconfigured when clicking radio buttons indicating whether you’re new or returning. A better design would focus on the new customer first and make any registration occur after the checkout process.

Transaction Interruption such as a popup during checkout will drive down conversion. Don’t ask the customer “Would you like fries with that?” through a popup when they have their wallet open. Don’t interrupt checkout process.

Interaction

Most tuning methods don’t take into account the interaction between the elements. For example the term: “Ferraris are Fast” would go well with an image of a fast moving car. It would not go well with the image of a car wrapped around a tree. A picture of a car wrapped around a tree would go well with the headline “Volvos are Safe” if it accompanies a story of a person walking away from a horrific accident.

That is: It’s not the picture, it’s not headline, it’s the context in which they appear.

The best setting for a variable depends on its context and it’s best to maximize positive interactions. Not only do interactions exist, they can be very strong. Ignoring them will lead to suboptimal results. A/B split and Multivariate/Tagushi testing assume that there are no interactions.

A-B Split Test:

Test one variable at a time (with 2 or more vales), send equal traffic to all versions.

- Very simple to implement

- Requires atleast 10 conversions/day to get worthwhile results.

Multivariate

Test several variables at the same time, ignoring interaction.

The scope requires identifying the size of the test in terms of total unique recipes. For example: 12 variables making a total of 38 different values leads to 552960 different versions of the page. This type of testing needs more than 50 conversions a day to get valuable results.

Tuning Pitfall #1: Ignoring Your Baseline

- Always devote some bandwidth to your current version (the baseline)

Tuning Pitfall # 2 Not Collecting Enough Data

When considering numbers, remember that some degree of variance is inherent in chance. For example, 1/3 of the time, 90 is the same as 100. An inadequate sample size leads to very wide and overlapping error bars. When sample size is ramped up, bars get narrow and become uncrossed. Sample size matters.

February 24, 2008

SES London 2008: Linking Strategies

By SEOidiot

Moderator: Mike Grehan, Co-chair, SES London; CEO Searchvisible Limited

Speakers:
Dixon Jones: MD Receptional Limited
Ken McGaffin: Internet Marketing Consultant, LinkingMatters
Brian Turner: Director, Britecorp Limited
Matt Paines: MD, XSEO Limited

Dixon Jones
Proverb: "The bigger they are the harder they fall on you" - Google are huge and if they think you are trying to game them they will fall on you pretty hard.

Case Studies
Getting indexed was the easy bit, then its all about getting the users to the site.

Google has 90% market share because they understand more about the users intent and they understand the relationship between the two. The differential factor is the reputation of your site online in relation to the sites above and below for that query structure.

In the last 12 months links has gotten absurd due to things like the influence of social media and the change in the way that we use the internet.

Receptional do try to record and differentiate the quality of the links that they get for a client. Recording things like the number of gov or edu links to the site linking in as well as things like references within wikipedia etc.

Build techniques that give people the incentive to link to you rather than going and asking for them.

Some links give quality real people and traffic of value and many others will simply bring junk traffic.

Think up strategies that it will be hard for competitors to simply copy

Dixon showed us the example of when Maxim magazine got the Eva Longoria image on Google earth and how many people have linked to them from that piece of innovative marketing.
Stop dead links using .htaccess to send a 301 for commonly mistyped URLs that may have links pointing at them.
Cleaning your site needs a good understanding of 301 redirects and helps prevent duplicate content.

Use RSS to allow people to have live news etc from your site by building things like widgets to help your link building efforts.

Matt Paines
Matt showed us some of the old techniques that used to be used with his suggestion in brackets: -

Reciprocal (SOME)
Whilst this is a mainly dead practice now there is still some benefits in terms of strategic partnership. Where its a natural thing to do and adds value it can still have a valid reason to be there but its not a good thing to do if the engines can view it as inappropriate.

Blog (SOME)
Blog spam has killed this in many ways. Most blogging providers have exclusions on text links. Seek out blogs that don't exclude with nofollow and engage with the blogs content, don't pollute.

Guest Book (NO)
Now completely dead in Matts opinion

Directories (YES)
Google have developed their view on directories and only the major ones now have real value.

Forums (NO)
Very much like blogs many of these have now nofollowed the links, can also be dangerous from a reputation management point of view due to the nature of the conversations on forums.

Social Media (YES)
Whilst many of these sites don't pass link value they do pass traffic and conversation.

Link Baiting (YES)
Difficult to control the anchor text but a extremely valid way to build incentives to link.

Articles (YES)
Some of the big article sites like PRWeb have had their ability to pass page rank stripped but they do provide a good method for getting the word out about your site quickly.

Paid For (YES)
Valid but avoid networks. We have been paying for advertising on and off line for many years, Yahoo for example charge for the review and addition of your site to their directory.

Ken McGaffin (www.linkingmatters.com)
Ken came into link building through traditional marketing. After writing his report (Linkingmatters) he built sales for the report by getting links and yet even when he stopped asking the links still kept building.

Links without asking is what its about
You have to make content that people want to link to without having to ask them.

Make sure that your Marketing, PR and SEO/Link Building people meet together and develop a common strategy.

Link power
Majority comes into the home page and make sure you are using the link power to highlight the pages you need to.

Find out who links to you now (And who brings you traffic)

Get the most from the sites that link to you already.
When someone links to you it shows the start of a relationship with them.
Encourage deep links
Ask for keyword rich links
Explore relationships - business or otherwise
Consider joint publications

Look at market segments where you are weak
Carry out the keyword research
Find the authority sites
Test markets on and off site
Explore relationships, business or otherwise
Customize product offerings
Use public relations to establish position

Look for emerging markets (And establish your position early)
Microtrends by Mark J Penn is a good example of this technique.
Does the market exists and is it relevant

Plan initiatives for the year ahead

Link building isn't an SEO trick its a way of establishing your position in a market.

Brian Turner
Google is a links driven search engine, instead of looking at what the page said about itself they looked at what other sites said about it.

Link strategies

  • Submitted
  • Directories
  • Articles
  • Social media profiles
  • Forum signatures

Forum signatures
Benefits
Easy to create and control
Time consuming
Hazards
Duplication
Low impact

Paid
Sitewide links
Footer links
Advertiser / Sponsor links

Benefits
Choice of anchor text
Wide inventory
Traffic potential

Hazards
Usually strong footprint and easy to spot
Budget dependent
Limited control of format

Editorial
Natural blog posts
Media editorials
Natural references
Presell pages (Hosted marketing pages)

Benefits
Keyword association through page
Potential authority / trust
Natural placement
Traffic potential
Linkable content

Hazards
Difficult to acquire
Most expensive form of link

Presell pages
Most powerful tactic
Write an information rich piece of content were perhaps you link to other useful resources within the content as well as to the paid link page, thereby pre-qualifying the traffic.

Link sources
Different Class C (/24) IP Ranges
Varied anchor text
On Topic if possible - but not required
Quality, not quantity
Geo-target - UK domains for UK searches
Treat as PPC
Co-Ordinate links

February 20, 2008

SES London 08: Video & Podcast SEO

By Li Evans

Speakers:
Moderator:  Anne Kennedy

Amanda Watlington
Dsc_3189 Adding video and audio is compelling for brand marketers.  Helps to create engagements, loyalities.  Search marketers are challenged to create results with this medium.  This creates a direct medium to connect and communicate with the audience.  You can convey emotional content that you cannot do otherwise.  An approachable means to relating the approachableness of the company.

Video presents challenges.  Most users don't know where to look for it.  YouTube grabs the most attention.  Professional competes with consumer generated video. 

Tips:  offer in multiple formats, use tags, individual landing pages, user rss to distribute.  Create video with branding in it.  Avoid pop up players.

Podcasting:  success is based on planning.   is it a scheduled weekly show.  are you a full out entertainment site or just a blog?  Before you set out, name your show and research it.  Distinguish the show from the episode name.  Transcribe or abstract - transcript is better for SEO.

Come up with a keyword list before the show.  Build your infrastructure in advance.  Download and test tag editorers in advance.

Distribution is the SEO.  It's a 4 step process.  Optimising the sound (ID3 Tags).  Optimising the page.  Validate RSS Feeds.  Track and Monitor Submissions  Promote the podcasts!

Optimising Tag:  Album Name is the Show Name, Artist, Year, Episode #, Genre, Comments.
Make sure the file name is unique but makes sense, use words that make sense.

Optimising the Page:  Have a page for the show and then a page for each episode for each the episode.  Provide information on how to subscribe.  Include a player for people to listen online.

Onil Gunawandana of Blinkx

Dsc_3190 Blinkx has over 18 million hours of video.  Started in the UK but headquartered out of LA.  Public company.  They power the video player and video search of Ask.  They've had 50 million uniques world wide and 12 million uniques from UK in the past year.

When it comes to video, users expect be able to find a video easily and be able to watch it on the same page.  Goals for Video SEO
Advertising
    In-Video - Preroll or Invideo
    Out-Video - Banners, text ads like adwords
Traffic to site
Distribution for Promotional Video

They take the meta data, then speech recognition to convert the audio to text. 
SEO Tactics
    Metadata use it - sometimes it is often lost during conversion, metadata cleaning
    Key elements:  title and description.  filename.  category.  tags. 
    Sitemap / MRSS File
    Format - in format meta data
    Where to Submit - user generated video sites (YouTube MetaCafe), Video Search Engines (blinx)

Tim Gibbon:
Video is important as a marketing tool, engages with your audience, encourages interactivity.
Attracting users to your site:  make sure its RSS enable, title and keywords with each page.  Offer multiple download forms.  Allow users to embed the video on their own sites and blogs.  Have only one video per page, ensure your URL's are friendly.

Uploading to sites.  Descriptive and attention grabbing.  If the video allows you to select a still frame, ensure that it is one that captures attention.  Tags used are vital, ideally between 5-10.

Sites to use:  Blinkx, Fooooo and Truveo.  There are niche sites out there that we call gems look to find those.

You can input meta-data into the video itself.  Search Engines read the properties for video, word, pdf.  Some services allow embedded urls.  Can search on the content of the video rath than just the keywords associated with it.  Allow you to tweak keywords.

Dos/Don'ts - name properly, create video sitemaps, have only one video per page, rss enabled.  Don't stuff title, tag and descriptions.  Post poor quality and irrelevant, post pur commercials, cloak and flame your own content to boost hits, make content a one way dialogue.

Joe Morin of Boost
Dsc_3192 Video strategy - what is it?  Video optimization is SEO too.  It's necessary to have some kind of strategy.
Google has 51% of the market with YouTube.  Comscore stated the December was the heaviest video consumption month ever.  Convergence of Online & Offline advertising.

Just having the video isn't enough.  Distribution and Syndication of your video will draw so much more traffic and brand awareness.  Make sure social media channels are in place as well.  There's video crawlers optimization and uploaded optimization.

Don't use a stand alone player that loads up in a popup.  Make use of social media tags, comments & ratings.  For best results use metadeata during encoding.

Posted - use video overlays for branding.  Many hosted sites transcode the video so metadata may be stripped ou but encode anyway this may change over time.  Use the word "video" in the title.

TubeMogul - you can upload to 13 video aggregators with one upload.  Analytics can track views, ratings and comments.
VisibleMeasures - video measures.  views, pauses and rewinds.
Ooyala - Ex-Googlers that publishing and analytics.

Video Monetization
PreRoll, PostRoll, Pay per download, Contextual, In-Video advertising
   

SES London 08: News Search Optimisation

By Li Evans

Dsc_3184 Ann Kennedy introduces the panel of Tim Gibbon, Greg Jarboe and Lee Odden for the News Search Optimization Session.

Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR:
Last year's SES London, he told you somethings about press release optimization.  Everything has since been turned upside down.  This is bigger than a bread box and impacts all of us.

On 2/1/08 queries for Microsoft Yahoo spiked.  Google's Hot trends will show you the top 100 trends over the last 24 hours.  This is where hot keywords can surface.  This is where "the fish" are.  Brand new term "microsoft yahoo", somewhere around 7 a.m. in the morning.  Something happened.

If you went to Google and typed in that new term, what comes up first, it's news results not the typical blue link.  Shows Microsoft has bid on Yahoo!  If you had scanned down the results, you find "blog posts" at the bottom of the page.  Those blogs listed there were not on MS's blog relations list.  But it was hard to find what triggered this, but the end was a press release and letter from MS, he had to work hard to find "Microsoft Yahoo".  But this story triggered over 10k stories.

Everything you knew a year ago is wrong.  Press Release optimization is a tactic in a long strategy.  But everyone is doing it now, you need to take it to the next level.  Where you want to take it next is into a new realm, new relations - blogger relations.  You can focus on media relation.  The news sources for Google don't include the usual suspects. Google news is important, in December 3 million in the UK.

Focus on BBC News, Google UK News, Times Online, Google, Reuters UK, Guardian Unlimited, Google UK Image Search, Press Association.  Press Association was not part of Google News until Aug of last year.  Their content is now hosted in Google News.

90% of journalist say that visuals are important to their stories.  41% surveyed visuals could dictate content.  A release e-mailed with a jpg or tif file has a much better chance of making it into our newspaper. 

In many industries, blogs have become the new trade press.  Blog post generated 30 times more visitors than identical news articles. Articles and posts referred 34.4 times more visitors than releases.  Google is filtering press releases, they don't appear in the results.  The art of schmooze has turned news search SEO upside down.  If you think beyond the press release there is a world of benefit.

NewsKnife.com can give you a listing of all the news sources used by Google.  News sources also seem to take the "hard leads" first.

Lee Odden of TopRank Blog:
Intersection of SEO and PR - Pull PR.  Push being outreach, this is turning the news optimization world upside down.  Pull PR - standard search, news search, blog search, media search. Pull PR = SEO.

Why Optimize News?  Make sure whoever your intended audience is it's easily available to them in the formats they prefer.  Ranking on search engines brings credibility not unlike media coverage.  PR tactics used to improve search rankings.  Optimizing press releases and newsrooms are good tactics.

64% of journalists report they use the either Google or Yahoo! news at least once a week.  85% visit at least once a month.  Optimizing news makes it easy for users (journalists to find).  You are creating a wider footprint on the web.

PR content to Optimize - new releases, op-eds, media kits, corporate PR content, blogs, white papers, reports, webinars and demos, email newsletters, interviews, podcasts.  Optimize both onsite and offsite content.  Onsite - press releases, etc.  Offsite - social media profiles.  Inventory your digital assets and identify the appropriate channels of promotion.  Start with the outcome in mind, do keyword research.  Publish on your version first on your site and link back to it using "originally posted at" or "source of release".

Dsc_3185 Tim Gibbon of Elemental  Communications:
More people are using search to find what they need.  We need to communicate and challenge the way we meet media and bloggers.

Services like aggregators, news wires, news sites, portals. Each site offers different services and reach different audiences.  Evaluate them - who are they, how credible are they, where will your news appear, how did other releases do on their site, who are they affiliated with?

Manage your content, take control of it, optimise it, build quality content on your site, manage it.  Submit to generic and niche resources and sustain your efforts.  Fundamental SEO tactics should be applied to press releases.

Tim then shows some successful PR initiatives with clients.  Do's and Don'ts... Do's - implement measurements before you begin, prepare variations of the release, time releases for off and online communications, reach out to vendors and ask questions.  Don't - overload press releases with key words and phrases, expect online PR and social media to be a silver bullet, ignore offline media.

February 19, 2008

SES London 08: Organic Listings Forum

By Li Evans

Mike Grehan opens this panel by introducing the panel for the organic listings forum. 

  • David Naylor of Bronco
  • Ralph Tegtmeier (Fantomaster)
  • Edward Cowell (Teddy) of Neutralize
  • Steve Johnston of Google Consultant

Dsc_3147 Q:  Client wants to stay on .com, but want to know about other country domains
Teddy:  Reason you want to space your site over different domains is because of each search engines local filters.  It makes it easier and maximizes your footprint.  Hosting doesn't matter much anymore, because of Google's WMC. 

David:  Google just recently had a bug with the .com sites dropping in .co.uk index, but rising in .com.

Steve:  Links also help to "say" what/where you are.  Links to help reinforce where you are from.

Q:  What is important to sites, is it link or something else?
Teddy:  It's definitely changed.  Site level optimization is now just fundamental.

Steve:  Shift from onsite to offsite optimization, offsite becomes more important in highly competitve niches.

Dave:  2 years ago people were bashing around links.  His blog is an SEO Blog, took 1 backlink about "buy Viagra", and he ranked for buy viagra for years, only recently did he stop ranking for it.

Ralph:  There's links and there's links.  Whitehat is that you don't want links that don't look spammy, but that being said, this "don't buy links" attitude from Google is troubling.  You only find out the hard way about links.  Build your own closed circuit link network.  Keep it organic looking.

Mike:  Is it quality?
Dave:  Industry more.  Sometimes you need a little external help to keep it on the right track.  Once you have the authoritative status you can pretty much rank for anything.

Steve:  Its very much about quality and reputation management.  If you can't build sites that people want to link to its impossible to rank.

Q:  How big of an issue is subdomain or domain with keywords in it?
Teddy:  Was quite a big spam tactic a few years ago.  Google's changed their policy to show a lot less
from one site.  Now he errs away from using subdomains now.

Ralph:  Over optimized, keywrods in url really looks spammy, keeps it low key.  But more blackhat short term effect, this can be effective use of subdomains.  But from a long term perspective you shouldn't do this.

Dave:  When gogle introduce sandbox, subdomains weren't getting caught for 60 days.  However that's different names.  Subdomains should be legitimately used for geotargeting.
Steve:  Google considers it a different web structure, but doesn't inherit all the properties of main domain

Q:  What does Google do to detect link buyers?
Ralph:  There's a lot of "hand jobs" being done right now.  Essentially it's under cover intelligence.  The better link buying networks won't spill it all out to you because of this.  Some networks have their inventory online, this is also how Google finds them.

Steve:  Google is also guaranteeing they will look at all reports of paid links.  They invite web owners to participate.  Yahoo site explorer helps to find links. 

Teddy:  Depends what you are doing, and how you are doing.  Is it for advertising benefit or

Mike:  What do you feel about Nofollow?
Steve:  Google's clear, no follow paid advertising link.
Teddy:  Creating a massive load of confusions, and its back firing in a big way.
Ralph:  There's legality issues, Germany you are responsible for the links. 

Mike:  What About Using it within your own domain?
Dave:  Google doesn't even use nofollow, they link to people spending millions in Adwords.  Everyone is so paranoid cuz of Google's Market Share.  There should be a different way of handling it.  "Pay Me or I'll link to you".  Links have become like paranoia.  They first used this for trust, but now they have changed the game. 

Ralph:  Google has hijacked the nofollow and its meaning.

Q:  Is there a legal difference with nofollow?  Google makes its living off of selling links, but makes it hard for others to sell links.  Could it be considered anti-competitive?

Ralph:  Its being used as a political statement, we always nofollow links to Google.  Nofollow unfortunately  isn't going away.

Steve:  The quality and quantity of a link is what their algo is all about.  They are a victim of their success, big target for spam.

Mike:  How do the people with no site "vote", they vote with peer review.

Dave:  I do think there is going to be legal repercussions with this nofollow.  Especially with Google kicking people out of the index for selling or buying links.

Q:  Is it fair to say in some industries whitehat seo is out the window?

Ralph:  Yes, absolutely.  Porn, Diet, Pharma.  Forget about it.

Teddy:  I agree, Google wants relevancy, but spam is just overwhelming.

Dave:  Tim Maier of Yahoo put it perfectly, white hat in these industries is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Q:  What do you do if someone is maliciously lining to you?

Dave:  Do it back to them, there's not much you can't do.  If you report it, you run the risk being banned by Google, because they won't believe you.

Q:  Has the value of fresh content diminished at all?
Steve:  Fresh content generates content.  As long as your site is acquiring fresh links, that will help.

Ralph:  If you don't put up fresh content regularly, your site runs the risk of dropping in rank.

Teddy:  I think it deals with the industry.  Changing all the time has no value for some sites.  Blogs and news sites are different.  Speed is really important.

Li's Notes:
This was a really great session.  A lot of great discussion and even Adam Lasnik was in the room.  He mentioned that the request for a page on NoFollow like I requested is an excellent idea and they are going to get to work on it. 

December 06, 2007

So You Want to Be a Search Marketer at Search Engine Strategies in Chicago

By Li Evans

Kevin Ryan (moderator of panel)
I like to call this "the panel for my mom, cuz she's still waiting for me to get a real job".  This is a group of entrepreneurs who've come together to tell you the ups and downs of being a search marketer.

Dave Davies  (CEO Beanstalk)
To Do's

  •     Hire a great lawyer and an accountant, lawyers help you make sure the contracts are air tight.
  •     Stick to your strength, pick your strongest skill and be excellent.
  •     Take Care During Growth, only hire what you need, not what you want
  •     Watch your stats, and keep researching your market position

To Don'ts

  •     Don't be over optimistic
  •     Don't try to do everything
  •     Hire Friends
  •     Rest on your laurels, they will get crushed

#1 Tip - Love What You Do!

David Wallace  (CEO SearchRank)
Dave is presenting from the viewpoint of first doing SEO for his own sites, then offering it to others.
Today there's many ways to learn about search marketing:

  •     Free Resources - guides, blogs, etc.
  •     eBooks
  •     Online Courses
  •     Conferences

Tips

  •     Choose your niche - something that interests you but not highly competitive
  •     Secure a Domain Name
  •     Establish Web Site - Design yourself, hire a designer or use a template

Networking & Branding

  •     Develop Business Partnerships
  •     Network Online With Search Marketers
  •     Network in "Real Life" with Everyone

Branding Yourself

  •     Write Articles
  •     Participate in Forums
  •     Participate in Social Media
  •     Establish a Blog

Not To Do's

  •     Don't spam forums and blog comments
  •     Don't steal other's content or sales copy
  •     Don't come off as a know it all
  •     Don't promise what you can't deliver
  •     No matter what color hat you wear, don't be unethical in your business practices.

Nicole St. Martin  (Hot Gigs Jobs to Web)

  •     No college degree is required
  •     A Lot of Employment Flexibility
  •     Salaries are Lucrative
  •     Skill are Portable & Global

Great Time to be a Search Marketers

  •     "War for Talent"
  •     There's no new graduate pool

What skills are Needed

  •     Technical skills are needed
  •     Soft skills are just as important

Where Do I Learn?

  • HighRankings, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, Search Marketing Standard, Top Rank, Online Marketing Blog

Never be afraid to around yourself with people who know more than you

David Hoffman - (Search Smart Marketing)
Five Rules for Dating My Client (Partnering with Agencies, Web Developers, PR Firms & others)
Sign a PreNup (sign an NDA)

  •     Mutual Non-disclosure agreements should protect both parties
  •     Put agency's mind at ease
  •     Make sure you READ before you sign

Don't Disrespect the Family

  •     Meet deadlines
  •     Live up to their standards
  •     Establish guidelines for client contact

Earn Their Trust

  •     Exceed expectations
  •     Provide education: lunchtime seminars, pertinent articles
  •     Don't "nickel & dime"  make sure things are priced out and set early on

Be Discreet About Dating Others

  •     Working with multiple agencies can become dicey
  •     Avoid client conflicts
  •     Be wary of exclusivity

Keep Everyone Happy

  •     Make sure it's worth their while
  •     Make sure it's worth it's worth your while

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