Category Archives: internet marketing

The Growth of Social

Online marketing has been shifting for the last 18 months or so towards a more social environment. Facebook, Twitter, company blogs and games are even making an ever growing impact on the marketing world. As the social aspect of the web continues to gain momentum, you’d be foolish as a business owner to turn a blind eye.

Just one aspect to keep on your business radar would have to be the growing usage of online economies and digital currency. I’m not speaking of using credit cards to make online orders, the currency in question is like a Facebook credit. Micro transactions using a websites own marketable credit is a direction the social sites are currently using and one which will continue gaining headway in 2012. Facebook has it’s 800 million users and more than half of them play at least one of the social games found on the site. Just like the Air Miles program which rewards points for using their card at select retailers, social sites are getting in on the act in much the same way. Play a game or use an online product for a certain amount of time can earn you points or virtual currency to use on theirs or an affiliates site.

Also tieing into the micro economy and transaction realm, is the ever growing use of turning the world of business into more of a gaming atmosphere. Not in the sense that meetings will be comprised of blasting away zombies or taking out an enemy force, but issuing challenges and giving bonuses and rewards to successful completion of tasks. To further expound on the idea, all of the little tasks you complete each day help contribute to a greater overall company score which in turn grants you a position on your divisions leaderboard. This positioning may influence things like when your turn comes to book vacation days, helps drive you to a higher raise or perhaps even a promotion further into the company. It can help give instant gratification to workers and also long term growth as an employee as it can give everyone a visual of just how they’re doing in relation to their peers.

And of course, as the social scene continues to grow as we add +1 and Like buttons to our websites, sharing your ideas, opinions and tastes helps you and your website if you take the time to notice those metrics. Every new product you launch, new page you add to your website or blog post you submit with information about yourself and your company can, and will be scrutinized by the never sleeping eyes of the web. As scary as it may sound initially, it’s actually an incredibly powerful tool if you track the positive and the negative feedback you receive.

The social side of the web won’t slow down or stop growing anytime soon, with more and more people coming online everyday to share their likes and dislikes you’d be foolish as a business owner to shy away from it. After all, the people who grow the social web, are the customers you want coming through your door everyday to pick up your products.

Aging Search Engine Optimization

It’s been nearly 20 years since the terms search engine optimization became a staple on the web and it has gone through a number of changes. Both in perspectives, actual and perceived, and in usage. For the most part however the basics of proper web development, online marketing and promotion have stayed the same.

When building your website, there are only three words to keep in mind Keep It Simple. Search engines like to say they have no problems crawling imperfect code, it’s safer to assume search engines are dumb and help them in every way I can. Simple code is honest code it also makes your website easy to analyze and troubleshoot should anything break down. The more code you use on a page, the more things that can go wrong from spider access to browser compatibility.

Looking passed your coding, you need to keep in mind your overall design. It was a great example given, but when using Apple products as an example with their pure, simplistic forms. By contrast, too many websites, primarily enterprise sites, try to be all things to all people. Their administrators or managers fear they might miss out on a conversion for lack of a link.

Websites should have clean internal linking. You do not need a site-wide menu three levels deep. As long as people feel that they are progressing toward their goal or the useful information they seek, they will continue to click through your site.

Coming up next, the age old king of the web – content – will be discussed as well as how its importance has only increased over time on the web.

10 Google Search Changes

Google has announced 10 search changes – a mix of algorithmic, crawling, and user interface updates. Better long-tail indexing and parked domain detection are among the announced changes. Additionally, Google has committed to writing a new post with algorithm updates each month.

Google LogoThe 10 Changes

Here’s a quick breakdown of the 10 changes and what they mean for you:

  1. “Related query results refinements.” More results will be excluded when synonyms and related terms conflict with other words or phrases in the search query.
  2. “More comprehensive indexing.” Google is getting better at finding long-tail documents, making long-tail optimization even more important.
  3. “New ‘parked domain’ classifier.” Google now detects parked domains more easily, making them less likely to show up in the SERP.
  4. “More autocomplete predictions.” Does what it says.
  5. “Fresher and more complete blog search results.” Blog content now has a faster and deeper indexing system, making your blog even more valuable and likely to surface on the SERP.
  6. “Original content.” Google has “added new signals to help us make better predictions about which of two similar web pages is the original one.” In other words, Google has added some scraper counter-measures.
  7. “Live results for Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League.” Does what it says.
  8. “Image result freshness.” Google is now better at finding fresh images for news queries.
  9. “Layout on tablets.” Tablet users will see some changes in the color and layout that make Google more usable.
  10. “Top result selection code rewrite.” The code that “ensures that we don’t show too many results from one site” has been rewritten. While it will behave the same as before, it is now “easier to understand, simpler to maintain, and more flexible for future ex tensions.”

Rob D. Young

Bing Removes Sites From SERPs?

Did Bing play dirty over the shopping holidays? If you tried at all this most recent Cyber Monday to use the Bing search engine, the signs currently point to yes, they did play dirty with their results.

The creators of the idea of Cyber Monday, found themselves lost in Bings search listings because according to Bing their content was too “thin”. If the term is familiar, it’s because it sounds a lot like Google-speak when they started rolling out the infamous Panda updates and culling “thin content” based websites from their index. A difference to note however, Panda didn’t actually remove the offenders from the index, it just meant the odds of those sites ranking well plummeted.

Back now to Bings version of taking care of thin content and removing websites which fall into this category. Cyber Monday is now a billion dollar online shopping event, where website owners have the opportunity to make some good money heading into the holiday shopping weeks. If a site which could promise and deliver strong referrals could rank well, they would also stand to make a fair bit of change. Shop.org came up with the term Cyber Monday in ’05 and a year later created the corresponding website, cybermonday.com. This past Cyber Monday Google had the website in their SERPs, while Bing did not. Bing did however, have their shopping channel listed at the top of their results for searching cyber monday.

Bing has stated previously that they will dispense internet justice on sites deemed unworthy to be listed as part of their SERPs, but completely removing any and all traces of a site? Bing defines spam as:

Some pages captured in our index turn out to be pages of little or no value to users and may also have characteristics that artificially manipulate the way search and advertising systems work in order to distort their relevance relative to pages that offer more relevant information. Some of these pages include only advertisements and/or links to other websites that contain mostly ads, and no or only superficial content relevant to the subject of the search. To improve the search experience for consumers and deliver more relevant content, we might remove such pages from the index altogether, or adjust our algorithms to prioritize more useful and relevant pages in result sets.

So by removing the cybermonday.com website, if Bing were to stick to their guidelines they should remove all “thin” websites which fell under the same blanket. Yet they did not entirely and websites which feature almost identical content to the cybermonday.com website still appeared in their results. To further muddy the waters, the Bing powered search results which were served up in Yahoo would turn up Black Friday “websites” which would be deemed even thinner than the Cyber Monday website. With all the fuss that Bing was putting up about Google favoring their own results over all others, this sure doesn’t look well on the Bing radar. The Panda updates may drop websites rank if they’re found as being too thin a website, but at least they’re not completely removing them from the index ala Bing.

A Prieview of SOPA in Action

In what may yet become a global precedent, a judge in Nevada has passed judgement on nearly 700 domain names tied to counterfeiting Chanel products. Currently there are two bills being pushed to become law, whereby the courts and trademark owners could essentially tell search engines and social media sites what they are and aren’t allowed to index.

This current case has the makings of a SOPA like enforcement all over it, in that the judge didn’t bother to check domain registration locations only deemed that they all need to be turned over to a US GoDaddy registrar and that “all Internet search engines” and “all social media websites” explicitly naming Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Yahoo, and Google are required to remove the addresses from their indexes.

One law professor was empathetic towards companies trying to force IP protection of their products and was quick to point out that perhaps SOPA is just fake punch against internet pirates. “I’m sympathetic to the ‘whack-a-mole’ problem rights owners face, but this relief is just extraordinarily broad and is on shaky procedural grounds,” he writes. “I’m not sure how this court can direct a registry to change a domain name’s registrar of record or Google to de-list a site, but the court does so anyway. This is probably the most problematic aspect of the court’s orders.” said Venkat Balasubramani. The case with Chanel has shown he says, that IP rightsholders don’t necessarily even need the SOPA bill to pass to get what they want. Total control over their product, intellectual property (IP) and their trademarked name.

If rightsholders can already essentially dictate the terms they want federal judges to enforce, on globally owned website names and properties, much darker days are on the horizon for those who legitimately share ideas online. It shows there’s nothing stopping a we said/they said fight from enforcing the rule of law online.

Cyber Monday – Hottest Online Shopping Day

Thanksgiving has passed, Black Friday has passed, enter Cyber Monday. What was initially a made-up holiday to give underdog e-commerce sites a day of their own, it has become an undeniably very real and extremely lucrative event. At this same time last year, the Monday after Thanksgiving was the biggest online shopping day of the year by sales, and the first day ever that online spending passed $1 billion

This year, with a record-breaking Black Friday — $816 million online, 26 percent increase over last year, as well as increased in store sales — online retailers are gearing up for Monday to once again be their best of the season.

“It’s going to be up there again, no doubt, we were all surprised last year when we saw it turned out to be the biggest day of the season, But more and more retailers have become a part of the Cyber Monday kickoff, more and more consumers are aware of it and know there are special deals coming — and you put that together and you’ve got an important day.” said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore and an e-commerce expert.

The Monday after Thanksgiving was Amazon.com’s busiest day for the first time last year, when it sold 13.7 million items. Previously, the busiest day fell in mid-December on the last day Amazon offered free shipping in time for Christmas. The day was also the biggest last year for PayPal, which saw a 19 percent increase in online payment volume over the year before.

Still, there are naysayers who view the day as more hype than reality. “The majority of consumers are procrastinators and they’ll wait as long as they can, Cyber Monday is the start of the wave, not the top of the wave.” said Mark Vadon, Blue Nile’s chairman.

Cyber Monday was dreamed up in 2005 by Shop.org as a marketing ploy to kick off online holiday shopping. More people had high-speed Internet at work, the thinking went, the easier to shop with. But the day was far from the biggest shopping day of the holiday season, coming in at No. 12, according to comScore.

Now, retailers, hoping to stand out, are borrowing Shop.org’s formula to invent their own days. Coming soon are mobile Sunday, which PayPal christened the second Sunday in December, and free shipping day on Dec. 16, brought to you by FreeShipping.org. And beware of Red Tuesday, which the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies warns will hit shoppers who go into debt on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Mobile shopping is also expected to drive online sales on Monday, because people returning to work after the holiday can conveniently shop on their lunch break or under the conference table in a meeting, said Claudia Lombana, shopping specialist at PayPal.

“Just like Thanksgiving weekend shopping is a ritual in America, when people go with their families to look for deals, as soon as they go to the office on Monday they look online, it’s almost ceremonial.”

Search – Keep Private or No?

There’s a new type of search engine making a debut on the web dubbed Trapit. It’s unique in it’s own right simply because of the premise it has been built on, by learning what it is that you search for it delivers similar results for you to look through.

It’s not an unheard of idea, or even really a unique one at that, Trapit however takes a step further and tries to make educated guesses as to your preferences. It’s the same kind of algorithm that Apple’s new Siri technology uses to deliver your answers to you as you ask for them. Trapit does specifically type cast itself as a discovery engine, not a search engine, that doesn’t preclude what they have deemed to be an upcoming competition with Google out of the picture. Trapit co-founder Gary Griffiths called Google an online yellow pages, saying that it works well for direct queries but not for getting to new content.

It’s an interesting idea and a different perspective on delivering search results to be sure. But it’s a rather curious thought that general users are in so far okay with the way Trapit works. The puzzlement is coming from remembering the public enjoys being able to have their privacy protected, as they should. And that there have been more than one concern or complaint registered in Google’s realm about privacy and about how your search terms are saved and or indexed as part of your search history. My question to the early adopters and testers of Trapit would be then: How do you expect that Trapit learns what you may enjoy? It saves your searches, either on a cookie on your computer or within their members database and extrapolates from their via it’s algoritm.

But then again, it seems that it’s alright for a little player out there to have access to your searches and (potentially) information, but not the big guys who are frequently held accountable. Perhaps it’s just another case of wanting to eat your cake and have it too.

Google Makes Updates

“From destruction comes opportunity…”

Most people panic and throw in the towel when Google makes updates. That’s why so many “amateurs” never make it in the marketing game.

On the other hand, professionals are prepared. They constantly push forward and test everything to see what works. Also, when the amateurs get wiped out, that makes more room for professionals like us to rule the landscape.

So, are you an amateur or professional?

“What works in the aftermath…”

Surprisingly, the same tried and true, quality promotion tactics are still the best. (We can say this because we have over twelve years of experience living through all these updates)

But, the difference is HOW you do it. It’s the PROCESS and the FLOW that has changed. The promotional steps change, and the timing changes. See, you can’t just randomly promote your sites and build links anymore. You have to time everything properly. Otherwise Google will not reward you.

So, the frequency of your promotions has to change. And the order of your promotions has to change. Listen, we’ve been dealing with updates like this from Google for over a decade. And it’s really not that scary when you understand what Google wants.

The problem is that Google always modifies what they want, and when they want it. What’s more, is they aren’t very good at telling you what they want. That’s where it gets confusing. Sometimes the changes are subtle, sometimes they’re extreme. The good news is we’ve always come out ahead and now so can you! Call us Today for help.

Does SEO Matter?

It’s not a secret that the search engines have to frequently tweak their algorithms in order to shake things up a little on the SERPs. It also isn’t a secret that Google, Bing and Yahoo occasionally like to shuffle those results and sometimes you may find yourself without a positive ranking as you were accustomed too, only to find that a few days later you’re back where you’ve always been. So what point does it serve to remove you from your positioning, only to place you back? It can make you think, do search engines and SEO really make any difference at all if they can change things on a whim? The short answer is yes, the long answer.. well it’s the long answer for a reason.

In keeping with the times, you need to remember the web is everywhere. At home, work, on smartphones and tablets, it’s never been easier to be connected. And with all of that information at their fingertips, 9 out of 10 times people will search. They’ll visit Facebook or Twitter, Google or Yahoo and they’ll search for their answer or ask their friends for an opinion. For some it’s as small as what to have for dinner for any given evening. For others it can be as life defining as what area of a city to buy a new home in.

So yes search engine optimization matters and yes having a website is important. Google and Bing send out their robots and scour the web so that you don’t have too. They arrive on a site, chew through the content as quick as can be and ranks the new site against it’s current list. As a business, having your plumbing business on the top of the maps listings when someones water heater suddenly dies, means hundreds of dollars in difference to not taking the 20 minutes to set it up properly. There’s also the adword side of the search game which works on primarily a bid and auction system, so long as you have the best bid on a keyword you could rank on page 1 number 1 in the ad spaces.

That’s the cookie cutter steps that everyone should be taking or at the very least, be very well aware of that are available. This is where organic SEO comes into play. For what you could spend on an adwords campaign, if you put those resources and time into properly building and working on your website, you can rank in the organic listings for your key terms. This is also where you’ll notice when the search engines are doing their big shuffle when they reindex their results pages. First rule you need to remember about organic listings – if you randomly disappear with no warnings or emails from the search engine, don’t panic. Take a look at your site and ensure you haven’t broken any of the rules. If you’re good on all fronts, just wait at first. Be patient and wait to see what shakes out. Search engine optimization matters, as do search engines and having a proper website, not just a Facebook or Google+ Places page.

Online Marketing Budgets Increasing

It’s reassuring, that even though some businesses out there are slow to improve their websites or their online marketing toolset, the trend is slowly but surely shifting. While still only a fraction of the marketing dollars spent out there, the numbers are showing that around 17% of most businesses marketing budgests are being spent on online marketing. Any positive growth is good for everyone involved.

A great graphic depicting some of these changes has been put together, which outlines some of the changes coming about in the marketing world. In the US, 70% of the businesses out there have indicated that they will be increasing spending on social media advertising (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and 64% also chimed in to add their budget is increasing for SEO as well. With consumers spending more and more time searching online for their next purchase, it’s much more advantageous to get into the game now, as opposed to later. The longer you wait, the greater your costs are going to be. Surprisingly however, it came back that 17% of businesses out there planned on increasing their marketing budgets on print media, which is much like buying stock in Yahoo these days. I kid, I kid, all jokes aside however, almost anyone out there who has a job has access to the internet. It should be no surprise that on average people spend 3+ hours browsing the internet. 84% of people who use the internet, spend their time searching for information on what has caught their interest, there are billions of searches per day.

There’s a great deal more information which can be gleaned from the stats, have a look and take a moment to conisder your marketing plans. Are you on the side of innovation and forward thinking? Or trying to cling to an outdated, unmeasurable stand by. Just remember that the longer you wait, the more difficult the game becomes.