Category Archives: internet marketing

No Master of All

There are a great many different trades out there, with widely varying skillsets. Chefs, mechanics, electrical engineers basically you could list jobs until you run out of breath. But just because someone once cooked breakfast, I wouldn’t assume that they could handle a full course meal for 100 guests. The skillset just isn’t there.

So it’s the same for search engine optimization and search engine marketing. The terms are very different, and different measures and skills need to be applied when working with the two. As a for instance, the largest difference in SEO and SEM is placement within the SERPs. SEO will return organic placements, in the center of the page only partially based on your content if it was deemed relevant to the search parameters. SEM on the other hand, will net you a place within the sponsored links area of the SERPs, where compelling ad copy can net customers. Different skills for different results.

Just as SEO and SEM differ, so does the practice of SEO, web design and web programming. Web designers who sell themselves as web programmers who can also list you page one for SEO, that’s an exceedingly wide range of skills. Often these skillsets can mesh and work well with one another, but just as the saying goes “jack of all trades, master of none” if you try and contract a do it all for your online branding, you’ll find your results lacking.

Web designers typically aren’t interested in what’s necessary for organic SEO to be most efficient, as it really has nothing to do with how aesthetically pleasing the page is. Web programmers conversely, are likely to use a lot of dynamic coding which doesn’t play well with organic SEO either. There is a middle ground, where an aesthetically pleasing website, can be active and interactic for your users. Ensuring you properly weigh out a budget for your web design, programming *and* SEO separately, is your first step to running your way up the SERPs.

Google gets closer

Google has rolled out another new feature to search, and this time they’re getting to your roots. Currently dubbed Place Search, the idea is that all of the local information of Google Maps and listings are being turned into a searchable interface.

Couple in Google Instant, and the search page changes to show you their prediction as to what you’re looking for. Restaurants, appliance sales and repair or what ever else might tickle your fancy, if it’s local, it will have a new search results page. What you’ll find when the page comes up is phone numbers, address, a brief description of the ad as well as reviews if you happen to make a choice and click on a link.

Jackie Bavaro – Place Search’s product manager:

“Today we’re introducing Place Search, a new kind of local search result that organizes the world’s information around places. We’ve clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go…”
“Place Search results will begin appearing automatically on Google when we predict you’re looking for local information.”

She added:

“In addition, you’ll find a new link for “Places” in the left-hand panel of the search results page so you can switch to these results whenever you want. For example, when I’m in New York, I love to go out and play foosball, but a search for [foosball] doesn’t automatically show me Place Search results. If I click “Places” I get the new view.
“We’ve made results like this possible by developing technology to better understand places. With Place Search, we’re dynamically connecting hundreds of millions of websites with more than 50 million real-world locations. We automatically identify when sites are talking about physical places and cluster links even when they don’t provide addresses and use different names.”

Local search just took a huge leap for Google, in a way it’s their answer to FourSquare local reporting and listing power. If you’re not being found now on Place Search, it’s the next step in the powerful world of SEO, and there’s only two places in the race for the top. Page one, or page none. Where are you?

SEO is Dead!? Again?

In the not so new news, the death of SEO is being cried again. The cause this time is the Facebook and Bing partnership. I’ve read about the social search changes that have been incorporated, and just as Google shrugged it off, I’m inclined to do the same.

The changes that Bing and Facebook bring together is definitely interesting, no doubt. However, the idea that the entire industry of search marketing, search engine optimization and search engine rankings being dealt a deathblow by this partnership is laughable. If anything, the new partnership relies on SEO and SEM to function appropriately.

For another perspective, imagine going into a hardware store, and seeing all of the isles and rows numbered and having short labels for the contents of each row. Makes your shopping trip quick and efficient to know that you can find power drills and skill saws in the power tools isle. This would be a very basic example of SEO. Now applying the new Facebook/Bing method, you’re in that same hardware store, nothing is labelled or itemized (because it’s killed SEO remember) but you know there’s a power drill in there that your friend likes and owns. Great to know that your buddy has a favorite tool that you were thinking about, but how do you go about finding it?

Two very basic examples, but they illustrate the interpretation of the new personalized search Bing and Facebook are rolling out. Social Media Optimization (SMO) isn’t a new idea, it’s not revolutionary, it’s adwords on a more personal level. It displays information relative and relavant to your account and what it knows about you, not for your searchs. One last point to consider and digest, without search engine optimization, social media optimization wouldn’t exist, and without SEO, SMO will disappear.

The New Social Search – BingBook?

There was the big conference today from Microsoft Bing and Facebook, and from the sounds of things they’re trying to give the world of search a stiff shake. The partnership idea that’s been rolled out (very small snippet) is when you search for an item or topic on Bing, your socially relevant searches would appear first. Your friends likes/dislikes on a subject or topic that you’ve plugged in. Some good questions have been asked from the conference, items of privacy of course what with Facebooks infamous history thus far, and of course someone asked about the money incentive (no answer on that last one). The far reaching goal is that your search is tailored exclusively for you. It’s personalization of the SERPs for *everyone* who uses Bing.

About the privacy factor, the social search angle is functioning like a module within Bing. A module, which can be turned off should you choose to shut it.

Zuckerberg stated : “We have this idea. 500 million people can look you up on Facebook. We think why shouldn’t applications be able to do this to?”

Because everyone is searchable on Facebook, set to private or not, the train of thought is to allow applications the same level of trust. Bascially you’re allowing Bing, to see all of your informationg you’ve made public on Facebook, and makes that information searchable to your friends list.

The social search angle isn’t meant to completely remove the traditional SERPs page you’re accustomed to seeing, it’s being added to help personalize your queries and provide you with unique results, relevant to you. It’s an updated twist on the personalized search results you start to see within Google for example, minus the cookie saving sessions. The negative side I personally see at this juncture, would be the fact that you need to Opt-out of the service should you choose not to use it. Some would think Facebook learned their opt-in, opt-out lessons by now. Only time now will be the determining factor on this new idea.

Does your website need an update?

Appearance, usage, accessibility and speed. Four qualities which should be incredibly important to any website owner and doubly so for users. If a site isn’t appealing to the eye, easy to use, have intuitive navigation and is slow to browse, it’s almost certain to be skipped over by users first and search engines later.

The qualitites came to mind over a conversation with a friend, they’d lamented that the coroporate side had changed the website and made it unfriendly to use. Previously their site was css based, very little code written on page, and had a good deal of content to be indexed relevant to their rather competitive niche. The new look and layout for their site, abandoned CSS in favor of Java, Ajax and active scroll over elements on the page.

The new site is visually more appealing than the old one, the effects that were added with all of the new coding however, was unecessary. Dropping indexable, search engine friend CSS for Java and Ajax was a half step backwards though in the search wars. While the coding offers a great deal of flexibility in what your website can look like and do, it’s basically entirely skipped over by search engines. The website in question has been running a brief survey on the new look and feel, and so far the consistent response has been that past consistent users, have begun to use other portals to meet their needs. Their new site, while more appealing to look at, was too slow, difficult to navigate and wasn’t easy to understand at all.

It’s a good example of the addage, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”

The Rebirth of SEO

The world wide web is growing everyday, with any and all sorts of content which you can imagine. Google, the largest, most widely used search engine globally, has the leading edge in the speed of searching, and delivering the web to each individual users needs. billions upon billions of pages viewed, indexed, and ready to serve.

The introduction of Google Instant, the displaying of search results while you type your search terms, should have come as no surprise. In terms of speed and reliability, it’s definitely faster (if only by a few seconds at times) than finishing a well formed query. Through their closed testing, one of Googles statements pertaining to longer searchs versus shorter, longer is not always better. Whether you type in 1 word and receive a viable, useable result, or use a 4-5 word query which returns the same result, it’s the few seconds here and there, which can end up meaning big on the bottom line. Both as an online business, and as an online consumer.

There’s been the calls of Google Instant being the death of SEO, and/or the end of SEM. When in fact it will be much the opposite. The introduction of instant search will help seperate the wheat from the chaff in the search business. It became a popular niche if you will, for anyone and everyone to become an SEO expert overnight by long tail optimizing for people online. It began to devalue the true worth of the real experts, those of us who can drive our clients campaigns to page 1 with three and less terms. Honing your skills and knowledge to be razor sharp in adapting to the algorithmic shifts as necessary, to maintain rankings, and continually build upon it’s success, and improve.

Google Instant isn’t the end of SEO, it’s not the death of SEM. It’s a new birth, the reset button on the industry that’s been long overdue. As the brands and businesses who targetted only long tail terms scratch their heads and wonder where their traffic has been trickling off to, and while the garage and Twitter based “SEO experts” struggle, the leaders in the industry can rest easy. Knowing that our ability, our knowledge, and our skills will rank our clients on Page 1.. Google Instant search or not.

Time to be Found – Google Instant

So the big news so far this week would most definitely have to go to the newest change in Google search, Google Instant.

Google Instant is starting to roll-out to users on Google domains in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia who use the following browsers: Chrome v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v8.

In a nutshell, Google is completetly your searches for you as you type, so no need to hit that enter button. They broke down the search time in a basic format. It takes about 9 seconds to type a query, 1 second to return results, and on average, 15 seconds to select your best choice. The idea, is that Instant will reduce search times by as much as 5 seconds!

Unless your a professional racer of some sorts, 5 seconds may not seem like a lot, but it can mean the difference between an ad impression, click through, or new visitor to your site. As a business owner, you need to decide and realize what your time, product and online presence are worth to you. Google Instant isn’t available widely, and can be shut off by users who dislike the service. But, what are you worth? Is your competitors site optimized better? Is your nearest rival perhaps in a better search position on the “normal” SERPs? With the looming introduction of permanent Instant, how much is your online brand worth to you? A difference of 5 seconds could mean the difference between a new contract, or being on the receiving end of a dusty unused website.

Positive Bounce Rate?

Of all the verbage thrown around when working with online marketing, a term that is often used as a negative, would have to be bounce rate. Used usually as “The bounce rate of your site/page/products is why you don’t have conversions” It’s seen as a black spot on a site, and needs to be handled as soon as possible. Bounce rate can also be used as a metric for growth as well how ever, if your SEO expert is on the ball, they’ll understand how to analyse and adjust your pages to change that rate.

A definition via Wikipedia:

Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is a term used in web site traffic analysis. It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.

A visitor can bounce by:
Clicking on a link to a page on a different web site
Closing an open window or tab
Typing a new URL
Clicking the “Back” button to leave the site
Session timeout

Using the above list, you can begin to personally gauge where your pages may be going awry with a high bounce rate. Do you include links to external sites? If you do, are those sites also yours? Do you have loud music/sounds or flashy videos on your site which may startle people and annoy them to closing your page? Is there nothing eye catching on the page to compell visitors to stay on your site? Session timeouts are generally gauged in the 30 minute range, and if a visitor hasn’t purchased your product, or visited other pages on your site within that time frame, then you need to begin, by looking at your content.

Just as a rule of thumb, remember that your SEO can bring you visitors, it’s up to you to convert those visitors to customers and/or clients.

Grow Yourself Online

There’s a lot to consider as a business owner when you begin to think of ways to promote yourself. There’s online, print, radio, tv, flyers.. the list and different and interesting ways you can brand yourself and make yourself known, are many.

Being that Fresh Traffic is Canada’s SEO experts, we’re in the business of online branding, or internet marketing if you prefer. From Wikipedia

Brand: A brand is the identity of a specific product, service, or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan.

We all know the Pepsi logo, the Coke signature, the Walt Disney castle. All of these images can elicit ideas, memories, and thoughts just because of the brand that they’ve built for them selves. They’re multi-national symbols, recognizable worldwide. It’s always good to dream big..

As a fledgling business owner, your world consists primarily of your immediate location. And there are numerous ways in which you can reach out to your potential clientele. But if you limit yourself, and your business, to your immediate location, you will never gain the ability to grow beyond it. Think of a goldfish and the size of it’s bowl, it won’t out grow it’s means to survive. If you place yourself, and your business within a boundary, you lose the ability to break those boundaries.

Enter the internet, world wide web, the 24/7 marketplace. It does not sleep, does not have borders, and has billions of people snaking their way around it. It’s massive, largely untamed, and free range. And there’s room for you, and your future. Your brand. When you’re ready to leave the fishbowl, know that here at Fresh we’re ready to direct you. We’re the online branding and internet marketing experts. Contact us today, and help us, help you.

Wor(l)d of Mouth

It’s not an unsual method of finding a service or product, you ask your friends and family for their opinions. It helps you form your own preliminary opinion, and with a few questions in mind you go for it. The trend however is shifting with the realization that word of mouth, has been changing more into world of mouth.

In a new Cone Inc. report indicates that consumers don’t take word of mouth as gospel when making their decisions. Eighty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement,

“After getting a recommendation about a product or service I may want to purchase, I go online to do additional research about that product or service before deciding whether to purchase it.”

One of the surprising finds, was the disproval of the thought that bad news travels faster than good news. Online, the sway power of good reviews and news of a product or service was proven more potent than bad news and reviews. Only 68 percent of respondants admitted to changing their minds based on bad reviews, where as 80 percent agreed, positive reviews found online solidified their decisions of a recommended product or service.

These numbers in mind, it’s worth noting that while search engine optimization and search engine marketing are incredibly important to your business, it’s just as important to focus some of your attention to the social interaction of your client base. Whether it’s having a submitted question and answer form, a Twitter feed where client concerns can be addressed, or a Facebook page and wall, it’s worth the time to put in direct client interaction. Face time with your customers is still paramount in the digital world, and as the numbers from the Cone Inc. report shows, having a positive image online will help you immensely.