Category Archives: internet

Online Marketing for 2011

And with the Happy New Year celebrations behind us all, it’s that time again where people make those resolutions to themselves to lose weight, be a happier person, exercise more etc. The very nature of resolutions is a noble one, but unfortunately most people shoot too high, disappoint themselves for not being able to perform or maintain and end up quitting all together. The best method, is baby steps of course.

Of course I can’t tell you if you need to exercise more, or eat better, but I can promise that if you take baby steps involved with your online marketing, you will see results, and results which will leave you very happy and in a very strong position for the next holiday shopping spree.

Your first baby step, should involve actually breaking down your current online agenda. Is your website up to date? Has your site been built with tons of active elements like Flash or Java menus? Is it easy to navigate your website? It’s hard, but try and imagine visiting your website for the first time as a new visitor, can you find information quickly and easily? It’s a small, but extremely important step in reprioritizing your online efforts in the new year. If you can realize what needs to be fixed after all, you can move forward with confidence.

Your next step, after having a good honest look at your website, should be a stark examination of your current online marketing efforts. Are you an AdWords afficionado? Does your web copy read naturally, or is it full of technical jargon about your product or services? It’s a fine line to sell yourself online to new clients, you need to be able to explain yourself as simply as possible, as accurate and concise as can be.

Now that you have a clear staging point from which to begin, it’s time to bring in the experts. SEO and online marketing experts at Fresh Traffic draw on over 25 years of experience in providing Search Engine Optimization & Internet marketing solutions. As specialists in Online Brand Development & Search Engine Optimization, Fresh Traffic makes the Internet an accessible & successful addition to all businesses, driving more unique visitors & brand impressions to websites. We’re the best at bringing you the traffic you desire to your site, start the new year right and let 2011 be your best online year yet.

Internet Clarity

Facebook killers, Google killers, Bing killers.. it’s a wonder we have an internet experience at all with all of thie violence online. The most interesting part about all of the ‘killers’ out there however, is that none of it’s true. At least, not in the plainest definition of the word ‘killer’.

Facebook isn’t out to kill or replace Google, and Google isn’t out to kill Bing or Facebook or any other online entity out there. Everyone of those sites are players online, and for the most part have captivated the audience in their respective arena. Google has search and advertising, Facebook is the global social network, and Bing tries to be a little bit of both while propping up Yahoo with their results. Competition breeds creativity and provides a marketplace for other businesses and entrepreneurs to make a name for themselves, whether by carving out a niche for themselves, or being unique, and good enough at what they do, to be gulped up by the larger fish. Facebook, Google and Bing all play by much the same rulebook: if it can’t be built in house, either buy it or find it and adapt. The one key point that those big players all agree on as well, is they want to make the internet a more engaging place to be. Facebook has their games, groups and pages, Google has maps, places and search marketing, and Bing has social search, maps and a unique search page.

So when you’re reading your paper in the moring, watching the news or going through your emails for the day and the words ‘Facbook/Google killer’ are in the subject or title line, take the thoughts with a grain of salt. There isn’t any new tech out there which will just swoop in and replace everyone, nor will there be any massive swings of usage online. All of the major players each provide much different services, and while Bing and Google remain the closest in terms of the ‘competitor’ angle, even they will admit they do things differently with different focus.

Where the Hacktivists Are

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, chances are somewhere along the way you’ve seen the news about Wikileaks. The ‘definition’ from Wikipedia: WikiLeaks is an international new media non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous news sources and leaks. The publish news and information that’s just really difficult to obtain in simple terms.

The sites founder, Julian Assange, has had a rather interesting few weeks. He’s gone from the voice of open government and free speech, to being placed on Interpols most wanted list for the recent debacle. WikiLkeaks, is currently in the process of leaking over 250,000 documents onto the internet. A great many people have called Assange many things, terrorist, dissident, guilty of treason, the list seemingly gets added to daily. The website doesn’t earn money, it’s powered purely by donation presumably, and as a result, they have a few friends.

It now seems however, that Mastercard, PayPal and Visa have pulled the ability to donate to WikiLeaks, a few friends have been angered. A few would be putting it mildly, as there’s no confirmed number but it’s somewhere in the area of 8000 plus. A group, calling itself ‘Anonymous’ is retaliating against the payment agencies, saying they’re hindering free speech on the internet. From D-DoS attacks, to mirroring the WikiLeaks site, they’re doing their part to keep the information flowing. And seeing as at a recent tally, just over 1200 of the 250,000 cables have been produced, it’s going to be a long push with a great many people helping along the way.

If you’d like to know more about the Wiki Hacktivists, or just keep up to date on what’s being said, join the discussion! There’s lots to be done.

The World won’t wait Winnipeg

Where are you Winnipeg? You’re at the geographic center (more or less) of North America, in a position that with a little work could and should be home to every global corporations office. All because of where you are. Costs aren’t extravagant, the weather is tolerable so long as you dress appropriately and the people are friendly (like our license plates!). But where are you?

Winnipeg businesses are few and far between in the new world. The internet, the world wide web, the 24/7 storefront of the entire world. There’s been money pumped into ‘Selling the city’ yet I mention Winnipeg in conversations and get a lot of ‘Where’s that?’. The most apalling time to get the token response is when you’re speaking to Canadians. So what’s the problem, what’s the solution? You’re running against yourselves Winnipeg, you’re trying to play catch up to the rest of the world, who has already been in the race online for years now. This isn’t a ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ metaphor, it’s not a post with a moral message. It’s plain, blank truth.

It’s a race online, as it is in any business metric to be noticed. And the harsh reality of it is, Winnipeg still doesn’t get it. There are a few, a handful of sparks who have taken up the charge for themselves online to be found. To shake the tree of the SERPs and claw their way to the top. It’s not something that happens overnight, it’s not something that costs $250 and a week of keyword stuffing into urls for your website. It takes the skills, experience and knowledge of the SEO experts in your home town Winnipeg.

You need to be found Winnipeg, and who better to get you where you need to be than your local SEO experts at Fresh Traffic. It’s time to pick up your socks and get to running, because the pack won’t wait for you, they’re just getting further and further ahead.

The future of the Web – Facebook Style

Lots of news came out of the Web 2.0 summit, and there was an interview hosted by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle where they spoke with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. They touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the new Facebook Messages service, to privacy and on to opinions and thoughts of “what’s next?” for the web.

Zuckerberg said that initially the idea of Messages came to him when having a conversation with a high school student who lamented that email is “too slow”. Taking the idea to the drawing board, the development team decided that they could lose certain aspects which makes email a “slow” medium of conversation. Things like the subject line, multiple paragraph letters and formal signatures. Messages aims to streamline communications between instant messaging, SMS (simple messaging service) and email.

When Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook and some of the privacy concerns, as well as the seeming mantra of “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” he deflected the conversation within a sentance or two back to the Messages service. Mark made the point that even though Facebook allows the friendship relationship to share information across wide groups, he made the point that “I don’t know that we’re 100% right about it”. Also admitting that Facebook is often in the crosshairs of privacy watchdogs because “Facebook is at the forefront of the internet privacy issue, and are trying to come up with solutions” Getting everything right, everytime isn’t a possibility for any company on the web, but it’s perhaps the two values being pressed to development teams at Facebook that keeps it in the privacy limelight; move fast, and be bold. If an idea is fleshed out, take the chances and move fast on it and let it into the social world. Change is always scary, but it’s also the quickest and surest way to grow and adapt.

A rather pointed question about competition was directed about the ad network on Facebook, in the form of being socially driven. Zuckerberg somewhat deflected this question as well, stating that he’s not sure it’s the right direction right now, and that there’s still a lot of work left to do on the web. When it came to the user base of Facebook, the metric which was given was that “50% of user accounts on Facebook are active everyday” and in the next 5 years or so, we’re going to see the internet moving into a more socially interactive model. Seeing as how Facebook is *the* social place to be online right now, the question was asked if there will be other social graphs to make an appearance and gain importance. In answer, Zuckerberg showed that a few years ago, app developers wouldn’t have contributed to the web space mainly because the user base wasn’t centralized. Now that developers can safely assume that 60% of their userbase are Facebook users and are “socially enabled” it allows companies and businesses to develop apps and services that even just 2 years ago didn’t make sense. The expectation is there will be various social graphs online, and they will all be able to work together.

One of the better questions pose was in terms of with Facebook becoming such a giant in the social space, is Facebook aiming to be the prime destination online, or is Facebook wanting to be an enabler for the web. Unexpectedly in a sense, Mark made the admittance that Facebook will be more of an enabler of the web as we move forward. There was a graphic at the summit, outlining the web in different countries in a way. At the end of the interview Zuckerberg pointed out that the image should be changed. As the graphic detailed the internet and online industry in a “zero sum” fashion, as in no room to grow or change other than taking anothers place, the image should be comprised primarily of an undetermined space. It’s the skewed view of the media, and a great many industry analysts that the web is a defined space, that leads to the headlines of “Facebook declares war on Google” and so on.

It was a good interview to listen too, and Zuckerberg had some interesting points to share on the web industry as a whole. Have a watch for yourself and see.

Google hits the Street – And About Being Social

Another one bites the dust? Google is rumored to picking up social media currency creator Jambool, makers of Social Gold. Social Gold is a secure payment method used in online games like Mafia Wars. Social Gold gives app developers the ability to build payments directly into their games and other applications.

It’s just another cog in the machine that Big G is speculated to be building, not to compete with Facebook however as we don’t need more of the same thing. Social websites retain interest and enjoy long term loyalty when interactivity can take a front seat to the experience. Just look to your nearest Facebook notices page for reference. Odds are, you have more than a few friends involved in Farmville, Mafia Wars and so on. Add in the ability to connect to your family and friends as you like, with interactivity that can possibly be shared, and you’ll have a good recipe for some long term memberships.

It keeps going and going..

The StreetView saga that is. Germany, US, Italy, Spain and a few others are still investigating just how much data the camera cars have captured. While the EU has acquited the giant of any blatant wrong doing.

This Tuesday, as I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned in the news, South Korea Police raided Google offices and siezed harddrives and computers related to the StreetView cars.

“We can confirm that the police have visited Google Korea in conjunction with their investigation around data collection by Street View cars. We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have,” said Lois Kim, a Google spokeswoman.

Korea’s National Police Agency said that Google collected and stored the information illegally. NPA stated that the company collected data from “unspecified users” and their unsecured wi-fi networks for about six months while the vehicles snapped photos for StreetView. All the drama and hooplah aside, it doesn’t mean that anything will happen. Google will probably not even face any charges.

In light of all of the free publicity, Google announced that it plans on introducing StreetView for 20 of the largest German cities by the end of the year. German authorities insisted that peoples faces, and license plates be blurred out, and the public can request to have their homes removed from the StreetView website. According to the Associated Press, these features are purely unique to Germany. A move no doubt, to dispel any fears about privacy.

Google has said time and again, that the collection of data was accidental, but it was not illegal.

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.

Local Social Media – The Webs Future

Social networking is the new kid on the internet block, with Facebook being the most obvious example of it’s popularity, it won’t be going anywhere soon. Full of games, groups, and social calendars, employers and businesses often block the websites access as it erodes their employees productivity. Users often get spam wall postings from friends who play the games like Mafia Wars or Farmville, and a general malcontent seems to be evident about such, until people are shown how to block the messages.

But is it all bad? A recent survey by Pew and Elon found that:

85% of nearly a thousand techies agreed, the social benefits of Facebook, Twitter, etc, will outweigh the negatives over the coming decade. E-mail, instant messaging, social networking, and similar Web services offer simple ways to forge and rediscover social ties that can make a difference in people’s lives.

So all the spam, time lost, and invites from long lost relatives, being sociable on the internet isn’t a bad thing. The larger agreement between the panel was that the social interaction created by the internet, and the services available, has enriched their life currently, and can be seen to help encourage this growth. It may sound like it’s a too good to be true scenario, but if you begin as a business, to think of it only in cost investment first; all of the social networks are free to join and use. Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google Buzz and apps, all quick to join, setup, and share your information with those you invite to share with.

Of course there’s the downside mentioned earlier. Time wasted on sites, not to mention the stigma of lost face to face interaction, and the recent privacy concerns of some sites. But Pew and Elon didn’t select their panel from random passing people from the public. They used the social services to reach their findings. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs were all tapped for their answers and opinions. Clay Shirky, Esther Dyson, Nicholas Carr, Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark were only a few of the people who provided their feedback.

Newmark: “The Net is about people connecting online, for commerce, politics, and personally, and we already see that enhances real-life relationships. Location-based social networking, in particular, will be a big part of our lives.

As large as the world is, as diverse as the population seems. The more people discover about themselves, the more they wish to build, and form relationships around themselves locally. Local social media networking looks to be the way forward.

Basically Google

Recently Google produced a short video where in they dug into a few sites with checking out their optimization. People submitted sites for review, and Matt Cutts showed just a few of the things that are stand out points in the SEO game.

In essence, they really just covered the best practices rules of SEO, but as always it was great to hear them.

Be sure to use text on your page - Google Bot can’t see images the way a user can, so you need to have text on your page. Text also helps with your content and about selecting your keywords to attact searchers. Keeping your content original, and with the option of having user generated content as filler is also good.

Focus is better - If you have multiple sites, it’s better in the long run for you to focus on your main site as opposed to any others so as not to dilute your time and/or skills. Focusing your time, and energy, into building, SEO’ing, and maintaining a single site will pay off better than trying to spread your self out.

Titles, Metas, and Layout - All are very important, the title tag was a topic point multiple times within the presentation. It seems a lot of companies construct, or implement poor titles on their sites and pages within their sites. A good practice is for your titles to include the keyword(s) for that page. The meta keywords tag, while not indexed, is not ignored, and the description tag is important, so be sure not to blank it. If your page has no meta description tag, Google will do it’s best to try and find a description from your page text to use on the SERPs, but, no one knows your content like you do, right? And layout, if you’re going to build a site and promote it to your patrons, be mindful of it’s layout. If you place the quality content too far down the page, you run the risk of people using that back button before they discover just how valuable your website truly is.

If you use a Content Management System - Keep it up to date!! They spent a good deal of time on this topic as well, as CMS are prone to attack. The more popular one is, the higher the inherent risk. By keeping your CMS up to date, you lessen the risk of successful hacks on your website.

Morning Coffee

M – “I started dating this girl, and I want to Google her because she said she’s done some modelling, what do you think?”
W – “You could check Facebook first and see if she’s on there, and what her friends are like.”
M – “Yeah, that’s a good idea I guess. My boss was asking me today if we should try search engine optimization on our site.”
W – “We’ve been looking at it too, the web guys are trying to decide who we should talk to about it, or just do it ourselves.”

A very generic, not so surprising conversation today, but what if you heard it 6+ years ago? You’d have thought they were nuts, and using language and words that had no meaning or bearing on the world today. Google. Facebook, search engine optimization, all everyday terms in normal conversation between two people buying coffee in the morning.

The internet has become so entwined in our everyday lives, that it would be completely strange, to not talk about using it in some way or another in our day to day. In the conversation above, two references to online marketing were used within the span of a few seconds of conversation. Don’t see it? Googling a persons name just to see if they come up, and a brief conversation about how their business is contemplating the use of search engine optimization for their website.

Social media, Google, SEO.. they’re not passing trends. They’re not fly by night, and they’re not going to disappear or magically stop working. They are topics which get discussed over the morning coffee run by the interns. The choice you need to make as a user, or business, will you have the tools work for you, or against you.