Bring in the humans
To this point, the Web has been, by its nature, technology driven. Google is the most successful company of the Internet era thanks to its algorithm, a piece of technology adept at sorting the wheat from the chaff. Most of the leaps and bounds online have been in the realm of technology, whether it’s ad networks deciding marketing message placement by sniffing out users’ prior behavior or finely tuned measurement. Expect more advancement on those fronts, yet a greater emphasis on giving digital marketing a human face.
The algorithm is already getting a human touch with sites like Buzzfeed and Mahalo. Even Google is coming around to this notion by letting users tell it which sites are more relevant to them, a seemingly small step but one unthinkable for the engineer-driven Google just a couple years ago. New tools like Twitter will only increase the drive for people to connect with people, not just faceless entities. This will challenge marketing organizations and agencies, since humans don’t scale as easily as computers. The launch-and-forget mentality will need to give way to a 24 x 7 approach.
“There’s going to a big wake-up call for brands that the real work begins after the launch,” said David Armano, vp of experience design at digital agency Critical Mass. He sees cause marketing via social networks as a useful bridge to brands looking to infuse their mass reach ad tactics with a human touch.
One of the greatest advantages of the Internet and search engines like Google is that you can find almost anything about almost anything or anyone. This is particularly true following the advent of web 2.0 technologies and increasingly sophisticated websites indexing everything from video to audio – we’ve come a long way from text rich sites with just an image or two to mix things up.
Of course, this information superhighway is also incredibly bad news if you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself or your company on the wrong end of some bad press. Unlike the newspapers of yesteryear that were discarded after reading, online publications are indexed indefinitely, giving bad press an infinite shelf life
If your company is poorly represented on a site with a good PageRank, a respectable number of links and good rankings, chances are it will turn up near the top of the SERPs for searches on that company name. Not only does this mean the story will live on long after the facts may have changed, it’s also galling to discover that the old mantra of bad news selling translates equally aptly online. Say the bad press takes the form of a harsh critique of your restaurant. Upon seeing the piece, you take action and work solidly for six months to turn your eatery around. You change the menu, source new suppliers, opt for a complete revamp of the décor and hire a new head chef and sous chef. After all your hard work, you log back on and discover the bad review is still prominently positioned in a search for your business name. All because the review ran in an influential food mag or national newspaper.
How do you fight this and regain credibility? Most bad press relates to a particular service area or product, rather than attacking the entire business model. This, while unfortunate for the product being bad mouthed, is actually good news when it comes to rectifying the situation as it gives you a very specific plan of attack.
Even in SEO, the best defense is a good offense and there are several options available to you to replace the negative with the positive. The most effective way, is to focus on how the changes have been brought about and drown out the bad with good. That means developing a groundswell of support for the keyword or keywords being black balled. When attempting this, you must apply the fundamental rules of organic optimization while embracing the usefulness and grassroots potency of social media activity and multi-media content.
Research is always the first stage so ascertain which keywords trigger the bad press. Create a list so the whole set of phrases can be included in the image overhaul. This is also a good opportunity to re-assess any existing organic activity. Ask yourself if variations of these keywords such as location specific versions are now appropriate to your optimization. If you’ve grown as a company while making some fundamental changes to the business offering, chances are you will be able to add more words to the list.
The second stage is to understand why the negative press is gaining such prominent positions. Obviously if the site is well established and a respected resource, your situation isn’t helped. However, you can take advantage of their stronghold by running link reports and then sifting through the returned results. Pick out referrers with a good PageRank, domains that are particularly relevant to your own site and make a note of any social networking sites that you haven’t yet heard of or haven’t yet had the opportunity to use. This will form a fundamental part of your positivity drive.
Having developed an initial list of sites to target for linkbacks in order to negate the advantage of the bad publicity, you need to approach each of those sites and barter for a link. The most effective way to do this is to provide unique content. For newspaper sites, specialist portals and the like, why not create a press release announcing your re-launch, outlining all of the positive differences that have been made? Consider a launch party or opening night in order to get local press involved and then send out the PR to all of those sites on the original link back list. If you’re feeling brave, you can even send the piece to the author of the bad press you’re trying to sink. Invite them to come and review your product offering again, suggest a formal meeting or collaborate on a competition, pushing any newly gained sales tools such as client testimonials. The creation of new jobs if you’ve taken on new members of staff as part of the restructuring or even a great offer on the original product can pique the interest of the newshound who first slammed your offering.
With your PR campaign launched, you need to find other ways to build links and positive opinion about your brand or company. To do this, remember that the results pages of major engines like Google or no longer simply about text based content. Video, audio and images all play their part. Creating interesting and useful multi-media content makes a great addition to any traditional SEO campaign and is a useful part of the armor when driving out bad press. Create video content that is going to be of interest to others and make sure that it is easily shared. Video sharing typically takes place around sites like YouTube so incorporate this facility to get others to link back to it.
Social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, Squidoo, Sphin and Digg are all powerful tools and an extension of the content diversity you’ll need to push unfavorable listings off the front page. Any social media campaign activity should be thought of as a chance to communicate with the consumer, not sell to them. Create content specifically for this purpose, invite their feedback and provide a space for conversation and the links and client goodwill you seek will follow. This same approach can also be used for forum activity. Rather than jumping in with any excuse to link back to your site, watch first, participate second. Take time to understand the forum profile and then introduce relevant content and responses. Ask probing questions and give answers that inform and watch the links flood in. Content creation managed this way often grows organically, being picked up by blogs or industry commentators to create yet more links and more goodwill.
As with a full-on SEO campaign, attempt to turn around a poor online reputation need to be sustained if they are to succeed. If you don’t have time to dedicate yourself, consider hiring an SEO company or external consultant on a short term basis to carry out your brief
Today the U.S. Internet titan will take the wraps off its first-ever Google Canada Zeitgeist, a yearly ranking of the most common Web queries made by Canadians through the company’s search engine.
The results are as surprising as they are curious.
The most common keyword Canadians punched into Google this year was “Facebook,” the popular social-networking site. Google’s own video-sharing site YouTube came in at No. 2, and music-loving Canucks pushed “lyrics” into the No. 3 slot. The Top 10 also contained more mundane terms such as “map” and “weather.”
Until this year, the list only included U.S. search data, but for 2008, Google is taking the Zeitgeist international for the first time by publishing the top queries from 36 countries, including Canada.
If the federal election were to be decided on the basis of which party Canadians spent the most time Googling in 2008, then prime minister Elizabeth May would be unpacking at 24 Sussex Dr.
“Obama” was the keyword that saw the greatest increase in Canadian search queries between 2007 and 2008.
But on a global basis, no search keyword showed greater growth than “Sarah Palin.”
TOP POLITICAL PARTIES
1. Green Party
2. Liberal Party
3. Conservative Party
5. Bloc Québécois
1. Britney Spears
2. Jessica Alba
3. Heath Ledger
4. Lindsay Lohan
5. Angelina Jolie
6. Kim Kardashian
7. Megan Fox
8. Tila Tequila
9. Zac Efron
10. Pamela Anderson
TOP PERSONAL ELECTRONICS
1. Palm Treo
4. HP iPAQ
Zeitgeist Canada 2008
Canadians have Googled the social-networking site Facebook more than any other website this year.
For the first time, Internet search-engine giant Google released its most-popular and fastest-rising Canuck search queries for 2008.
Google says Britney Spears topped the list for most the sought-after celeb in Canadian cyberspace and the Green party as the most-searched political party.
The California-based company ranks the massively popular Facebook first overall.
It also says the search word “Obama” rose in popularity more than any other term between the end of 2007 and November 2008.
Yahoo! Canada released its most-searched items for 2008 earlier this month.
Yahoo! says Canadians queried the online multiplayer adventure game RuneScape more than anything else this year.
The company also says Miley Cyrus surged ahead of last year’s most-popular celebrity, Britney Spears.
1. Under-monetize to buy mindshare. (almost every category Google is in)
2. Offer a free version to make sure everyone who may want to has a chance to experience your product and/or service. (almost every category Google is in)
3. Offer something that forces people to keep coming back to your website. Alternatively, bundle your stuff into the browser. (the Google Toolbar is huge.)
4. Invest heavily in distribution deals and public relations. Keep making small changes and talking about how important they are so you stay in the media. Maintain that your success is because superior products even while you are buying marketshare.
5. If a business model competes with your model, try to guide the conversation and get market participants to attack each other to your own benefit (this, above all other reasons, is why it is not smart for “professional” SEOs to publicly endorse outing each other…nobody wins but Google).
6. Offer free or low cost versions of cash cows of competing services to distract them and/or force change upon them. (Google Docs)
7. Even when you have a market leading position, keep investing heavily in complimentary markets to reinforce your position as the default. Become ubiquitous. Become a verb. (mobile operating system)
8. When you tap out the potential of your product or service look for ways to make it deeper is select high value verticals. (onebox, universal search, site search)
9. When you have enough leverage and a large enough lead, change the market to put yourself at the center of it. (the Omnibox in Google Chrome)
If your site hasn’t added a Google Sitemap page, consider doing so. Google and other major search engines share a common feature that allows Webmasters to tell them about each page of their sites available for crawling and how often it changes and how important it is to the site. “You’re actually producing a page to have the search engine come to you,” he says.
Another free tool especially useful for small companies with a local clientele is Google Maps, a free local business-listing service, which displays an address, hours and description, sometimes at the top of a search-results page.
“It’s hard to pay for that kind of advertising
Welcome to Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. This document first began as an effort to help teams within Google, but we thought it’d be just as useful to webmasters that are new to the topic of search engine optimization and wish to improve their sites’ interaction with both users and search engines. Although this guide won’t tell you any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first for queries in Google (sorry!), following the best practices outlined below will make it easier for search engines to both crawl and index your content.
Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results. You’re likely already familiar with many of the topics in this
guide, because they’re essential ingredients for any webpage, but you may not be making the most out of them.
Search engine optimization affects only organic search results, not paid or “sponsored” results, such as Google AdWords Full SEO Guide Here
Online search provider Google has announced the launch of new voice search capabilities for Google Mobile App on the iPhone.
Gummi Hafsteinsson, product manager for the Google Mobile team, wrote in the official blog that the use of this tool can help to improve search engine optimisation for many businesses as it enables the user to input their location and retrieve results based on a user’s whereabouts and their proximity to what it is they are searching for.
Once the application is up and running on the phone, the user does not have to press any buttons to search the internet – they simply hold the phone to their ear, say what it is that they are looking for and wait for a beep to signify that the app has understood the request.
Meanwhile, Nick Fox, director of business product management at Google, recently commented in his blog that the company is continuing to experiment with advertising in unconventional places – for example Google’s sponsored content on the social video networking site YouTube.
News brought to you by Fresh – a best practice Internet Marketing Agency
The central focus of many SEO efforts is reaching the right people with the right information at the right time. Third-party search engine marketing firms, many of whom work tirelessly helping clients consume information in the highly dynamic world of SEO, face many challenges.
Third-party vendors or agencies are often forced into difficult situations in helping disjointed entities, such as design and programming departments, communicate effectively and achieve compromise to procreate sound discipline and ultimately achieve victory over hypocrisy.
What if you were the one on the inside, making the moves? I talked to in-house SEO folks about their daily frustrations in order to come up with a few best practices and identify problematic personalities. Here’s a discussion mash of that dialogue.
Megalomaniac Entitlement Syndrome (MES)
The MES (pronounced “mess”) brand of evil is easily identified as the “noob” with a passion for screwing up otherwise well-intentioned plans. The “noob” is not to be confused with the other form of new player, “newb,” in a particular arena who actually has intentions of getting better in a particular discipline.
A “noob” is just in the game to create chaos for the sake of his or her ego. The megalomaniac usually carries a senior management title (hence the entitlement) and can be identified by making unusually arrogant requests of the in-house search specialist.
Such requests can be identified very easily and will include irrational, ego-driven demands. For example, having just received one’s massage license, MES afflicted will demand to be number one in search results for said term and feel entitled to that position. The problem here: someone may actually promise the MES afflicted said position.
In-house SEO folks say the best way to counteract the effects of MES is to identify it early and treat it with a barrage of rational ideas. Sadly, many of the untreated MES afflicted end up either driving themselves or their staffs into a padded room.
Ill-informed Executive Decision Maker (IEDM)
Similar to the MES entry, the IEDM (pronounced “I-idiom”) is identified by making nutty decisions armed with enough information to be dangerous. For example, the IEDM may say something like, “My brother-in-law knows all about that search stuff, and I hired him to help you.”
According to many of the experts I spoke with, said brother-in-law is so poorly equipped to handle anything search related, he often causes nearly irreparable damage with his “advice,” and the in-house SEO practitioner spends more time doing damage control than achieving results.
The IEDM is a massive delegator that has yet to learn the delicate art of delegating to competence, as opposed to incompetence.
Counteracting the effects on an IEDM can be pretty simple. Many accept the nepotism or favoritism as a part of doing business and simply ignore the advice of said consultant while implementing their own strategic plan.
Screwball Consultant Meltdown (SCM)
The SCM (pronounced “scum”) is an affliction of the highest order that affects many in-house SEO folks who are either duped by consultants with a great sales pitch or have consultants forced upon them by IEDM’s.
SCM is a progressive disorder that usually can’t be treated with early detection. Those affected by the SCM often don’t see it coming. The consultants often bypass the in-house SEO practitioner and consistently attempt to undermine their efforts by abandoning contact protocols. They reach out to senior management directly and pile on unrealistic expectations, armed with misinformation.
There are few effective treatments for SCM, though the disorder has been linked to causative factors associated with the creation of IEDMs. Many have applied the IEDM treatment to SCM, though once meltdown has been realized, some never return from the abyss.
Matt Cutts Hater/Manipulator (MCHMr)
The MCHMr (pronounced M-C-hammer) spends all of his time reading Matt Cutts’ blog and attempts to counter-engineer or circumvent the efforts of Googlers everywhere. The MCHMr views everything Google does as evil, and this psychosis has bled into other areas of his or her life.
You can identify the MCHMr by intermittent but consistent negative references to either Matt Cutts or other Google representatives. They will attempt to dissuade senior management from listening to logic and reason by suggesting that Google is simply furthering its own evil agenda.
To date, the best way to counter the MCHMr is to stay on top of the information produced by the Google team, cross referencing the information with your own logical conclusions, and citing that information in each tactical execution.
And Yet, It Still Happens
The world is changing, but not as quickly as we’d like it to. Believe it or not, I still get calls from brand marketers and site owners (names withheld to protect the desperately naive) asking for advice on the best “SEO software.”
“SEO software?” Nice one. While I’m at it, I usually also pass along Batman’s phone number and contact information for the Green Lantern, just in case.
At the end of the day, whether you’re in the house or outside it, fighting the good fight is never easy. Though we don’t do it enough, hat’s off to the in-house SEO practitioners everywhere.
The Internet will overtake television as the biggest advertising medium in Britain this year, with over 19 percent of total ad spend, according to a forecast by Enders Analysis.
The main engine for growth continues to be paid search on sites such as Google but Enders said it had also seen early signs that the popularity of online video is now making a small contribution to a shift in advertising from television to the Internet.
Analysts previously said advertising budgets had moved to the Internet at the expense of newspapers in Britain — the most developed online advertising market in the world.
“Rising internet consumption and surging consumer e-commerce continue to drive strong growth in online advertising, particularly paid search, in spite of the deteriorating economic outlook,” the report said.
“Our forecast for 2008 is that online advertising expenditure will grow 26.4 percent in nominal terms to 3.56 billion pounds ($7 billion), overtaking TV ad spend, which we expect to fall 2.5 percent to 3.39 billion pounds.”
The report said Google would remain the biggest beneficiary of the growth in search advertising and predicted it would take 80 percent of UK spend on search advertising, up from 78 percent in 2007.
It predicted growth in online classified advertising, which increased 54 percent in 2007, would slow in 2008 due to declines in recruitment and property listings.
One source of growth is online video, however this could still be hard to develop as many of the most popular videos are short and user-generated clips put on sites like YouTube.
The report said broadcasters and online portals were achieving high CPMs — the all important cost per 1,000 views of an advert and a common industry metric — for in-stream video ads, reportedly averaging around 20 pounds, compared to 6 pounds for television spots.
However it warned that the high prices were a result of limited supply and said they would fall as volumes increased.
“In total, we estimate online video advertising will amount to about 35 million pounds or 1 percent of TV ad spend in 2008, with many advertisers using existing TV spots, the report said.
“Not all this money will come from TV budgets, but there are early signs of a direct shift in spend from TV to the Internet over and above the broader shift to online.”
Enders Analysis provides independent research on Telecommunications, Media and Technology.