Stop In-House SEO Disasters Now!

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.

Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce 2008th Member

The Fresh Traffic Group’s Jerry Booth was recognized at a Chamber luncheon on Monday 29th as the city’s 2008th member.

He was welcomed in by the organizations president & CEO Dave Angus.

The days event was a who’s who in Winnipeg Business Circles with guest speaker Gail Asper presiding.

Jerry says the Fresh Traffic Group is hoping to get involved with all the new and exciting things happening in the city by bringing the online marketing skills required to new projects like the airport expansion, tourism and the human rights museum.

Internet Advertising will rise by 20 per cent this year

PricewaterhouseCoopers releases a new report suggesting that spending on Internet Advertising will rise by 20 per cent this year, with expenditure on search to soar by 30 per cent.
It cited the attractiveness of the online medium’s return on investment compared with other marketing channels as one of the main reasons for this predicted growth in the face of the slowing economy.

Yahoo!announced the launch of a new ad platform allowing businesses to buy and sell display ads from one web-based service.
The APT platform is currently being used by a small number of local US newspapers and will be rolled out to more customers in 2009.

MySpace finally launched its long-awaited music service, MySpace Music, which offers free streaming and paid-for downloads, as well as a range of tickets and other merchandise.
Users can build their own playlists and the service is primarily ad-supported.

Meanwhile, Hitwise released new figures showing that the credit crunch is prompting large numbers of Britons to look on the internet for money-saving deals and vouchers, as well as online sales.

Big Jump In Watching TV Online

The number of people using the internet to catch up on their favourite TV shows has almost doubled in the past year.

Watching TV online increased among the British public from 9% of households in 2007 to 17% in 2008, according to a report by the communications regulator Ofcom.

Viewers are increasingly watching programmes when they want and how they want rather than relying on TV schedules, the report suggested.

It is particularly popular among the 15 to 24-year-old age group, with 26% of them using the internet to watch TV in 2008, up 16% in 12 months.

More than half (51%) used it to watch video clips and webcasts.

The report also found that people in the UK spent a record amount of time on the phone last year.

And for the first time young people have become more attached to their mobiles than television.

They watched nearly an hour less TV each week (17 hours) in 2007 than they did in 2002.

Pensioners are increasingly surfing the internet with take-up of computers, mobiles, the internet and digital TV growing at a faster rate among older people than the rest of the population.

The so-called silver surfer, whose interest in such technology has been low until now, is particularly keen on using the internet for email, instant messaging and chat rooms, while a fifth also contribute to someone else’s blog.

Over-65s spend 90 minutes more time online at home each day than their younger counterparts.

For the first time, more money was spent on online advertising spend than the combined advertising spend on ITV1, Channel 4, S4C and Five.

Organic SEO reminder

With all of the Search Engine Optimization information out on the web, there tends to be a lot of chaff needing to seperated from the wheat. Time and time again there is a key point which needs to be retold to clients it seems endlessly in the “quick-fix” world we’re in. So then, here it is, one more time for (hopefully) everyone to see!

When your SEO campaign is underway, don’t become impatient with the results! Truly organic SEO takes time, it can be as long as 3-6 months before any significant gain is noticed in your traffic. It’s like planting a garden, when all of the SEO has been finished on your pages (those are the seeds by the way), it’s then time to get to work on the linking strategy (water!). This is where the patience comes in. You wouldn’t pick corn or potatoes which haven’t fully grown, and the same needs to be said of SEO. By changing your pages, altering code, or uploading pages which haven’t been properly worked over, you tear at all of the work that’s been done (the roots).

With this simple SEO tip in mind, happy gardening!

A few Search Engine Optimization Myths

There are several SEO myths which abound about what works and what doesn’t and these myths can be daunting as a potential client. We thought a handy guide to a few of the SEO myths would be useful, as it could help make a more informed decision.

One time SEO for long term ranking

SEO is a strategy, and as any marketing strategy it has to be continuously readjusted for optimal performance. SEO begins with two basic components: the primary site optimization carried out upon signing the contract – which constitutes a large part of the work involved – and the continual website tweaks that are required due to monthly or unexpected shifts in the search engine market. The basic site optimization is the part of SEO which should be carried out only once. Unlike any other medium, the online market is the most dynamic and fast changing for a business to evolve in. That is why month to month changes in search engine algorithms require continuous attention.

Performing in house SEO is more efficient

Initially it may appear, that performing SEO in house is more cost effective. You still have to take in consideration staff training, gaining access to essential SEO industry tools and information and that requires time, effort and money. Allowing untrained staff to perform SEO can be risky as search engines hand out penalties for breaking their guidelines. However, working closely with a SEO that provides consultancy and training can prove to be a solid long-term solution. In time, your staff will be properly prepared to take over some of your optimization needs.

Search Engine Optimization is cost prohibitive

SEO is not a cost, it’s an investment and like any investment it brings a measurable return. Think in terms of ROI, not in terms of cost.

Basic Search Engine Optimization Information

Life is full of do’s and don’ts, and SEO is no exception. Out of all of the tactics available to companies to improve your visibility in the online world, some tactics are ideal, some are highly frowned upon, and some are disputed or on the edge. The industry has applied a lable, or buzz term to these methods, referred as White Hat, Black Hat, and Grey Hat SEO techniques.

White Hat tactics are considered 100% totally safe and they are most often directly recommended by the search engine companies themselves. They are centered around the ideas of sound website building strategies, and not on the flexible nature of any given search engine.

White Hat typically includes:

* Solid, regularly updated content
* Relevant metatags
* Friendly, interactive page design
* Honest linking strategies

In terms of time investment, White Hat techniques take the longest to implement, but all are held in high regard in the search engine optimization world.

Black Hat tactics are forbidden or deeply frowned on by the search engines. These can, and most certainly will, get your site, or your clients site, banned from the index if you are found to be using any of them. The philosophy behind Black Hat SEO revolves around trying to manipulate the search engines to direct traffic instead of earning it.

Black Hat SEO is generally used by people who sell illegal or immoral content. This on it’s own should be reason enough to steer clear, because your reputation WILL be forever tarnished if you associate yourself with these unethical practices.

Black Hat tactics include (but are not limited to):

* Buying links in huge numbers, ignoring relevance, for fast inbound links
* Invisible, or hidden text on your pages; ie the text is identical to your background
* Misleading meta tags

Using any of the above methods will more than likely flag your website within the search index and get the site banned!

Grey Hat SEO tends to fall in between the cracks of the search engines rules. some experts might deem them as highly controversial, while the next may be unconcerned. There is no clear rule set about Grey hat SEO strategies, because there is no clear indication about whether they do harm to your websites presence. You must study the information, and decide for yourself, which side you think is telling the truth.

Grey Hat techniques can include:

* Owning a number of sites and cross linking them back to each other
* Purchasing links on every page of a smaller, relevant site
* Working for links on a high quality site, that may not be relevant to your site

There are a lot of Grey Hat techniques, and you’ll find that usually they are highly debated in the search engine optimization world.

In the end, the only “unknown” is the search engine algorithms (the code that helps the search engine decide what is legit and what is not), are not predictable, and they are constantly changing, so a technique that works one day may not work the next and vice versa.

In the end, the only real answer is, research all available information, and then make a decision based on how much risk you are willing to assume.

However, if you don’t have the time to put into the deluge of online resources available about SEO and the proper way to implement it, that’s where we comes in.

Online Advertising in Canada

Online advertising will continue to grow at a blistering pace, in Canada growing over the immediate future into a $3.4 billion US industry. The public is moving online at home, at work, on their mobile phones, in order to access multi-media content and information.

Online advertising is experiencing unparalleled growth in Canada, passing a 33% growth to $1.3 billion US last year. It’s projected that by 2012, web-based advertising is expected to remain “Canada’s fastest growing segment” growing by an additional 21%.

The fastest projected movers will be keyword searches, classified advertising online, and online video advertising.

UK Online ad spending to overtake TV this year

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.

Some basic SEO instructions

SEO is everywhere, and there’s millions of pages out there telling you how to meta tag this and hyperlink that, and you’ve slowly found yourself drowning a sea of technical jargon. What about SEO made easy? Take a moment, and think about how magazines are put together.

The Table Of Contents tells you story titles, often times gives a brief description, and provides the page number telling you where you can find any particular story. In relation to SEO, the table of contents could be considered the sitemap.

Now flipping over to a story page, the titles will be printed in big, bold font. Occasionally, there will be a brief synopsis about the story, in an italicized font that is a bit bigger than the rest of the story. This in relation to Search Engine Optimization could be considered the title tags.

Pictures throughout the story are found with captions that tend to further develop the story, by describing the picture. When it comes to optimization, this could be considered providing a tag for all of your pictures.

In a longer story there will typically be subheadings, in either a larger, or italicized font. The primary body of the story will be a in regular plain text, with the occasional bolded or italicized word or phrase. Keywords!!

A person who is flipping through the pages can by analyzing the title and other large text on the page, can quickly assess the content and make the decision as to whether they want to read the full story. People are GoogleBots?

When all of the fancy words, and technical jargon are stripped away, the above pattern is a portion of what tickles Googles fancy. Sadly, the rest is that stuff I told you to forget in the first place.