Category Archives: internet marketing

Public Relations Myths

Dear PR Professional

You probably had no idea, but the work you do could be among the most valuable SEO strategies out there, And it’s not because you’re a press release  or SEO-optimization guru (sorry!), but because you know how to drive media, mentions at scale and media mentions can drive links.

So in this spirit, let’s address a few myths and assumptions so we can work together effectively, I going to do couple each a day for the next week.

PR-SEO Myths and Truths

1.Myth: Press release optimization is an important value-add for PR-SEO.

Truth: There are very few situations where the tens or hundreds of transient,
low-quality links gained from an SEO-optimized press release will be more
valuable than a single link from “earned” coverage. Press release
syndication sites tend to be poor signals of quality because anyone use them,
even relatively poor websites. In other words, the links tend to be low
authority. Also, any good links tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared.

2.Myth:
PR delivers its primary value in traffic, branding, word-of-mouth buzz, awareness, influencer mindshare, and thought leadership.

Truth:
Maybe for some, but for websites that care primarily about organic search traffic (i.e., traffic they get from Google), your value is in links. And since search engines can only see links that stay in place, and only count “followed” links, PR’s value to SEO’s is measured by its ability to deliver permanent followed links. In fact, to put this in perspective, in most
cases, an SEO-driven site would prefer 50 links from no-name, medium authority
publications than a mention in a USA Today story.

Yellow Pages Getting Dragged into Digital

So the Yellow Pages are finally getting it, I spoke with these people when I first arrived in Canada in 2007 at their request and told them as much. 

But like most businesses here the truth hurts, YES you are behind a few years and playing catch up, but at least your starting to play now. The idea of a cocky little Brit telling them what they need to do with their business in a new digital world does not go down very well, they always know best.

So they have managed to get rid of the Auto Trader to the Brits to pay off mounting debts, losing $500k on what they paid for it, (bet they wished they listened now) but to be honest the British Autotader is a lot better, so may be something to look forward to in Canada.

Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst broadcast a new strategy for the directories arm of Telstra this week stateing

“The marketing and advertising environment confronting small businesses today is totally different to what it has been in the past. Gone are the days where a local business owner wanting to advertise their business would simply advertise in the Yellow Pages, paint contact details on their company car and print business cards,” he said. (No shit Sherlock)

“The explosion of technology and advertising channels, and the popularity of digital devices, has created a complex digital world that small businesses must be part of to ensure they are found by customers looking for their services.”

Well better late than never so they say, so when the Yellow Pages girls & boys come knocking for your advertising dollars, dont forget this is as new to them as it is to you, Remember experience counts, seek out the Orange in your area.

SEO or SEM – Your (budget) Size Matters

There’s many different facets to online marketing and each have varying degrees of difficulty associated with them. Organic search optimization, paid search marketing, even the old style banner marketing and popups are used around the web.

While it is the best marketing avenue to use, organic search optimization is a work of time and skill. It takes a veteran to pinpoint the issues in an SEO campaign which is floundering and to execute the solution. And it takes the business the confidence in their product and their website, as well as the knowledge that time is a crucial factor. It may very well take weeks for your site to begin dominating the listings you desire to drive your traffic. Bottom line verdict however, organic SEO is the highest return on investment marketing campaign you can utilize online.

If you have a small company, or limited time or budget, you may decide to head the route of AdWords, aka paid search marketing. These are the “Sponsored Links” which appear in your search engine results, much like the commercials of search. Usually boasting about the best deals anywhere and making promises of same day delivery or speediest response. The idea behind it is to be quick, compelling and appeal to your markets impulse shoppers. It can often be a lot to manage a paid search campaign as the cost per click of your ad can vary significantly day by day just by the bids placed on your chosen keyword text. AdWords is great however, for bringing near instant visibility to your website or a new campaign you maybe launching.

There are times when organic SEO companies will handle AdWords campaigns for clients as well, but because of how quickly the cost can shift for the ads, the responsibility falls to the client to manage their own campaign. It can be a great deal of time, and effort just to maintain and continually tweak your ads just to stay on top of your competitors. For those who are looking down that road, you’re not without help.

A new company dubbed AdGrok has stepped forth to assist the newbie and veteran AdWords user alike.

“AdWords is a huge, lucrative system, but it can be hard to tell exactly how an ad campaign is performing — especially if you’re a small business that doesn’t understand search engine marketing.” said AdGrok co-founder Antonio Garcia-Martinez.

Their goal, to be like the TurboTax of paid search advertising. With tools created like their “GrokBar” allowing you to view any of your websites pages with AdWords campaigns on them, you can make the decision as to tweak, or kill the ad based on it’s performance. It’s a very promising, quick and easy to use tool to manage your AdWords campaigns. If you’re looking to be in charge of your very own advertising campaign by all means look them up. But when you’re ready to play the game for real and knock the big boys off of their pedestal, come talk to the search engine optimization experts at Fresh Traffic.

Learn the lesson of SEO Mistakes

With JC Penny & Overstock.com getting penalized from Google for trying to outfox the search engines, what lesson can you learn from these stumbles?

Be careful when it comes to technology you may not fully understand. Let me say this again, Be careful when it comes to technology you may not fully understand.  

Today, countless organizations—small businesses especially—are being told that their fortunes will improve if they learn to harness the magical powers of SEO. If you own or operate a Web site for your business, the come-ons are no doubt familiar: “I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines,” goes one popular one.

Do organizations fall for these pitches? They sure do. In fact, entire industries have become enamoured with SEO. Take the media business. Today, many publishing companies are putting more investment into search gimmicks than in quality content. The result? Fewer impactful features, more animated slide shows and plenty of SEO-optimized headlines, including one from The Washington Post that read simply, “SEO headline here.”

Infatuation with SEO and related technologies extends to companies of all types. According to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), North American spending on search marketing is growing nearly 15 percent annually and will top $17 billion this year. This is in addition to the vast sums spent on SEO technology and consulting.

With these figures search has seized the attention of scores of business executives worldwide, Sooner or later, every competitive company will develop or invest in SEO capabilities. When this happens, distinguishing your organization with basic SEO technology and knowledge will become very difficult.

There are signs that some SEO companies are having to go to greater extremes to produce results for their clients. Is the sun is about to set on SEO. It might, but don’t cancel your contract with your SEO provider just yet, For the foreseeable future, SEO technology will remain a very valuable business tool, but only if you keep a competitive advantage. For that, you’re going to have to focus on business basics, including your innovation, prices and operational excellence.

Some thoughts echoed from Inder Sidhu the Senior Vice President of Strategy & Planning for Worldwide Operations at Cisco

Simple Content & Advocate Questions Answered

Content You have 2 options: 

1) Good content without promotion

or

2)  Good content with promotion. 

#2 wins every single time.  As long as there is a profit motive for good content, there is a profit motive for promoting it.  SEO is one tool.  SMO is another.

Advocates

So why does word of mouth from brand advocates work?

Consumers trust Word of Mouth. Which means conversion rates are higher.
You don’t pay advocates. There are costs of course, but you’re not paying advocates to make referrals.
Brand Advocates are not just for Christmas. Paid clicks are ‘perishable’ advocates are not.

I’d add a couple of other reasons myself:

Advocates are integrated marketers. They are online, offline and through the line. They don’t differentiate the way your agency or media campaigns do.

They give your marketing campaigns wings. Advocates are often spurred to advocate your products and services when they come across your marketing messages. They increase coverage and impact of your other marketing activity.

Advocacy means UGC. Brand Advocates write nice things online about your brand. They create keyword rich content just because they love you. And we all know what search engines love.
Longer and Deeper love. One other benefit of identifying and cultivating your brand advocates is of course that they are likely to stay more loyal for longer – so your CRM gets a boost too.

So advocates are great, but how do you find them? aren’t they as elusive as a four leaf clover?

The answer is so simple it hurts. You ask them! The simplest survey question of them all ”How likely are you to recommend us?” – and BINGO, you know who your advocates are. Now you just need to cultivate them.

“Traditional marketing has companies speak to many to reach one. Today we speak to one to reach many.”

Is Traditional Public Relations under threat

During the recent recession, when marketing budgets were slashed, the big losers were companies specialising in traditional public relations. Study after study showed that companies were spending less on press releases, print advertisements, promotional events and the like – whilst maintaining a healthy investment in online marketing.

The benefits of online marketing are seductive. If you invest in marketing techniques like pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, online display advertising and similar, you can keep close track of costs and your return on investment. Thanks to intelligent use of technology like Google Analytics, you know exactly how many people view your online content, and how many go on to buy from you. If you hire a decent online marketing agency, you will even know when visitors respond to an online advert, and then come back via organic search to buy from you.

Public Relations under threat

But where does this leave traditional PR? Is it dying? Among clients who use our copywriting services, there are many that no longer invest in traditional PR at all. Some of them are major players, with a reach that extends far beyond (for example) regions like Winnipeg or Manitoba and – in some cases – Canada.

So what’s going on?

In a nutshell, wise companies want modern public relations, and only a very few agencies are able to offer a full-service package that includes effective online strategy – indeed, a significant number are themselves almost impossible to find in search engines, which is the greatest warning sign of all.

Even so, full-service PR agencies are becoming increasingly irrelevant as they lose their status as the gatekeepers to effective publicity and promotion – greater democracy online means that many companies can safely bring elements of their PR work in-house, and mix-and-match complementary services from outside providers.

Modern PR

Traditional PR loses out to its modern counterpart in a number of significant ways. These are, to my mind, the most significant factors.

  1. Measuring the effect of traditional PR is difficult and complicated. Issue a traditional press release, and it’s hard to measure the effect it has. Yes, it might result in three newspaper mentions, but exactly what commercial benefits do you derive from them? In contrast, if you issue an online press release, with targeted keywords that link back to your site, you can measure exactly how many readers visit your website, and then find out exactly how many of them buy from you, sign up for your newsletter, or join your organization.
  2. You often pay twice for traditional PR. Why pay a PR agency for a press release, and then pay again to have it search engine optimized for publication across the web? Or to adapt it as an optimized news story for your own website? It’s cheaper and more effective to write the release using online PR techniques, and then to issue it to the press as well – it shouldn’t need rewriting.
  3. Traditional PR is expensive and has a limited reach. It costs a lot of money to pay a PR agency to send a press release to media contacts, or to organise a promotional event. Thanks to the web, no company needs to restrict itself to strictly local clientele. If your product is good, and you know how to promote it online, then you can cheaply tap into a much wider market – and that goes for butchers, bakers and candlestick makers as much as it does printers, publishers and factory outlets. It goes for individuals too – just look at eBay and Twitter.
  4. In the online world, its skill and knowledge – not a little black contacts book – that wins results. This, I think, is the biggest threat to traditional PR. The quality of offline public relations often rests on how well connected any particular PR agency is. Modern, online PR doesn’t rely on having Moleskin stuffed with the phone numbers of minor celebs – it’s the skill and knowledge needed to carve out an influential Twitter channel, get decent search engine listings, write effective online adverts, optimize web copy, create viral videos and more. And a lot of longstanding PR agencies simply haven’t got it yet.

But don’t write off traditional PR – yet

Traditional PR still has a number of uses, which may or may not fit your business aims. So don’t give up on it yet.

  1. Prestige. A well-connected PR agency can win you prestige by getting you featured in mainstream publications, or by organizing events with impressive guest lists. However, even on a local level, this can cost a small fortune – so you need to make sure that there will be at least long-term rewards.
  2. Local markets. Traditional PR is very good for selling to a local market. Getting featured in the local rag, or being thought of as a rising star in a local business community will help you. The danger lies in becoming dependent on regional – or smaller – markets, and not making the most of better and cheaper opportunities online. Ironically, carving out a niche in a larger market can make it much easier to sell nearer to home – it will give you the edge over purely local competitors.

Conclusion: balance your PR and look to the future

So, is traditional PR dying? On the whole, I don’t think it is – but I think a lot of traditional PR agencies will.

There’s already a new generation of specialists that already understand and practise modern, online PR – and they approach it from angles such as internet marketing, online copywriting and SEO web design. It’s going to be a lot easier for many of these firms to offer traditional PR services such as press release writing and distribution than it will be for the dinosaurs to play catch up. In fact, many of them already do.

The only missing factor is convenience. But without a PR agency handling all your communications, you get better transparency and competition. Every company is different, but my advice would be for you to consider the following public relations mix:

  • Hiring a web design agency that really understands SEO (and I can’t emphasise the word ‘really’ enough). Targeted search engine exposure is a must these days, even for the local market – our communities are more fluid than ever, and newcomers need to know about you. Building a website first and then optimising is pointless, time consuming and expensive. Hire a firm that will build you search engine optimized site, and will work on your SEO and pay-per-click advertising strategies delivers measurable returns on investment.
  • Hiring a good copywriter.  Take it as a hint if you like, but unless you have lots of fresh, optimized content online, your PR strategy is missing a chunk of its foundations. Use a copywriter who understands online PR, but who is also experienced in traditional print publications – it’s a money saver in the long term.
  • Build up and maintain your own contacts. Why pay to distribute press releases and other PR materials when you can do it yourself? Most companies are more well-connected than they think – ask all staff to chip in.
  • Organise your own events, or hire a specialist company. Events are part of the PR mix, but events specialists do them better. If you’ve got the expertise in-house, even better.

You will have your own approach, but I think one thing’s clear: the day of the gatekeeper PR agency is over. And the businesses that will be most successful in the next few years will – for the most part – be the ones that already realize this and are doing something about it.

Ben Locker

 

The Impulsive Searchers

With the speed and power of search, the growth of useful and useless information online and the proliferation of tabloid news everywhere it seems that the users are becoming more impulsive than ever before.

Taking even just a cursory glance at the trending topics and searches for the past few hours is largely indicative of this shift. Earlier in the day the top 10 trending searches were about the trades happening around the NHL. Checking just an hour later however, and everything has changed. And the top 5 searches right now don’t compare even remotely to this mornings news. Starting with the upcoming 2012 olympics logo and followed up quickly by charlie sheen on the today show appearance. Sheen has been in the news a lot lately with lifestyle choices and such, but with the havoc of the storm which passed through the southern states over night, a news station comes in at number 3 due to leveraging their social media strength above the news of an ESPN writer being arrested. Rounding out the top 5 hot searches is adnis dna and how or what do you owe this topic too? Charlie Sheen again as part of a statement made during his Today Show appearance in which he said he was filled with “tigers blood and adonis dna” of all things. Are those name brands now for designer drugs perhaps? The rest of the top 10 hot topics are just incredibly departed from the earlier news trends with Dr. Seuss and even Apollo 11 taking places in the ranks.

The only reason for bringing up all of the strange searche terms is this: the user base of search is becoming more and more impulsive in their queries for what they want. You have only a few seconds to capture their attention if you can get them to your website. Click through analysis done by search engines in the past show that users very rarely visit page 2 of the search results, and most often don’t even scroll passed the top 5 results. If you’re not sitting on page one for your market, and ideally even the top 5, you’re losing out on immense levels of potential business. So when you’re finished reading about Dr. Seuss, Apollo 11 and Nitro’s Law (Google it, I dare you) perhaps you’ll decide it’s time to get your game and website in shape, and where you belong.

Local Social Media and Online Branding

There’s an interesting graphic floating around, detailing some interesting facts and figures in relation to business and social media. Not difficult to find, just a quick and simple search will turn it up for you. It’s not the picture itself that’s remarkable, it’s the statistics buried within it.

Statistics like a case study about Twitter usage to leverage business interest for example. There’s the odd news story which can be seen buried a few pages into the paper about how an employee has been reprimanded, or even fired because of an upopular Tweet made about them and their place of business. Some Twitter users who’ve used the service to vent their frustrations have even admitted to receiving rapid responses from major brands when airing their grievances, likely looking to make amends. It used to be when you provide a solid and great service, that person would tell a few friends and if the service was poor they’d tell dozens. Thee ideology is still in place, but the viewerbase has increased to, well the internet. Billions of searches per day on the search engines out there, can you risk not monitoring your brand and image online? The Twitter statistic by the way, detailed that of 53% of users making purchase suggestions for a company, nearly half of their followers follow up on that Tweet.

Another statistic in the graphic was that approximately 75% of small business owners have some sort of social media presence, whether on a social networking site or not, and that adoption of the technology has doubled from the year previous. And that in the past year, 2010, those businesses who’ve focused on local social media and local group sites like Groupon etc, have all boosted their customer base and even their offline sales through their website.

Social media and proper online branding techniques can drive your business exposure by leaps and bounds to your market, both locally and online. To ensure you’re utilizing all of the avenues open to you be sure to contact Winnipegs best online branding experts.

The Undeath of Social Media

It’s a funny thing, you join a site like Facebook or LinkedIn, make your connections and go on with your day to day. You get up in the morning, have your breakfast, go to work, etc etc. Facebook has become such an integrated part of everyday life for so many of it’s users, and Twitter has forged some cult like followings in some cases, that statements like this:

“It’s a bubble. Social networks have been around for a long time, people get excited about joining a network and use it for a couple of months but once they get to know people they’ll use other communication..”

seem almost silly in relation. What should make things even more interesting to note, is the quote is from an article dating back to November of 2005 about the ‘oldest social media network around’ Friendster. It’s been five and a half years now since the social network bubble apparently, yet here we are eyes deep Facebooking and Twittering to our lives content. How is it that this bubble hasn’t burst?

The coming of age of the first of the digital generation is mostly to blame. If you were born past the year 1995, you could crown yourself a member of this generation. The Facebooking, Twittering, mobile and social media networking evolution of the world.

Sit up and take notice baby boomers, the world isn’t yours anymore, it’s being reworked, remolded and shaped to fit the information and digital generation. Relax, sit back and enjoy your retirement. We’ll take the reins from here.