Category Archives: search engine marketing

How Important Are Marketing Conferences and Events to You?

Marketing Conferences – which ones matter to you?

In an age of information overload – marketers and techies have to choose wisely in their choice of which conferences to attend. If you are a speaker or product promoter, then it’s vital to get your voice heard before your prospects and potential new customers.

If you are looking to broaden your knowledge, network or understanding, then conferences and events can be a great way of achieving this.

Of course, you have to draw the line somewhere.  You can’t spend your life attending conferences week in week out. Your liver won’t think too highly of you and your pocket could become considerably lighter as a result.

Be it adtech, pubcon, SES, SMX, Blogworld the list could go on….What are your must see’s for the remainder of 2010 and 2011?

Would love to hear your views!

[poll id="2"]

Update: Marty and Amrit were kind enough to respond to a tweet I asked earlier. Thanks guys!

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SEO isnt dead, it just evolved a little

The online space never stands still – keep raising the bar

The great thing about online marketing is that it never sit stills it’s constantly evolving, constantly shifting. Today’s billy big bollox is often tommorrows has been. Sites that don’t step up are often swept away in whatever algorithmic or quality rater review so happens to contribute to their demise.

The simple thing is this – “If you want to succeed online, then you have to make a good site” it really is that simple – add value and you’ll stand the test of time, fail to do that and you’ll perish.

I wrote a strategy document for a client about 9 months or so ago. The client happened to have a site that was related to travel.  They were for all intents and purposes, a bit of a thin affiliate.  To be honest at the time, I groaned about this client, in fact I sighed deeply, as I’d been there before in a past life. I’d built many a thin affiliate site adding limited value and been a little naive to think they’d all last forever.

I guess looking back, as painful as it was to see my little spam babies die a death, it taught me an important lesson about search and marketing and what’s required to keep something alive online in 2008.

I was the archetypal technology driven code solutionist,  the challenge of ranking in SERPs was and still is in lots of ways all about creating the write kinds of signal, be they on the page on the domain or off the domain. My view or approach was by and large relatively simple. Create a domain and attack the aspects of the search engine systems that decided what sites lived and what sites died.  The methodology was simple, look at who is there in the space and do what they do, albeit better.

Of course, that’s a simplistic overview to what is a multifaced problem – companies invest thousands of pounds paying people like me to win in the SERPs. Winning in the SERPs today on the face of it, may still appear to be a  simplistic route of  change the code on page and get a few links, yet when you get under the hood you realise that of course, it’s a little more sophisticated than that.

You need a site that is technically competent, that also engages your audience, without an audience you have no base, no visitors, no sales.

Create conversations get people talking

Here’s a big secret no-one knew ;0) …online marketing today is very similar to offline marketing!

You want to create a product that people want to both buy in to, and that people will keep coming back to too. You want to have products that are recognised for the value they add to the space and that stimulate debate and conversations.You want to be known in the marketplace as a leader in that field, recognised for what you give to those who buy into you.

Advertising agencies use traditional old style media  to tap into our emotions and stimulate conversations and help us identify when we are out shopping in stores. Billboards, posters, leaflets all help re-enforce that familiarity created by that image of the  sexy female pouting or husky hunk posing to some chilled tune in an idyllic  setting using that laptop or driving that car or lounging on that new leather 3 piece suite. The idea is that we want to be those people, and that by buying those products we can. It is of course a symptom of a fucked up existence that a lot of us  feel the need to do this, but it’s how it is.  It’s the way society works, it drives consumerism and helps keep things ticking over – heck, why shouldn’t people get to live out their dreams, what’s wrong with a little artificially induced self actualisation, be anyone you want to be right? A huge topic in itself, yet like it or not, it’s a part of this conversation, people talk about things that are good or cool or interesting, people want to be associated with these and as a result will talk about them, be it over coffee, over a pint, at home, on the phone, the list could of course go on.

Online, it isn’t too dissimilar. Search engines are organisations run and administered by? Bingo, you got it – people. The old school way of SEO was simply about get your onsite code right and you’d rank. It then changed a little and required lots of links from wherever you could get them. It changed again and was reliant upon the quality and type of links, today it’s evolving further still.

Do search engines want to mirror societies needs and wishes?

Search engines have access to lots of metrics that tell them different things – toolbars,  analytics, clickthrough rates on ads, ISP data, link graphs, bounce rates etc all contribute in one shape or form to how a search engine see’s a domain.  It’s fair to conclude that a search engineer would be far more inclined to find ways to rank good content that was more difficult for SEO’s to get in and meddle with or manipulate. Only a fool would ignore the fact that search engines have accessed billions of documents and have performed numerous studies into what is a natural link graph versus what isn’t.

Whitelisting aside, you’d be a fool not to try and develop a site so that it has a natural link profile rather than one that is overtly manufactured, yet you’d be a fool if you tried to manufacture it especially when you don’t need to!

It’s not a contradictory thing, it’s simply a case of there being an effective way and a not so effective way. One way is just about links and links and links, whereas the other is about the right types of links generated in the right types of places in the right kinds of ways.

No one wants to hang in a crappy neighbourhood

If your site is shit and you really believe that you can keyword stuff or shitty productise yourself  to page one of a SERP through technology and guille alone, then you are a big nutter who is wasting not only your time, but the time of every other person who lands on your sorry arsed excuse for a site, stop, build something worthy of the people who you are trying to pull. No one likes you, you are Millwall, you may not care, but others do.

People like good haunts and will tell others

If you have a good site in a niche, then you are probably adding value to that space and are already on the road to creating a good user experience. You probably already have your social share buttons similar to those you’ll see at the bottom of this post, you might already have your facebook page, your myspace page, a Bebo page – maybe you’ve gone the micro blogging route and dipped your toe into the twitter, perhaps you have a seesmic or 12second thing going on, a youtube channel, a presence in the Google Universal search serps – maybe you podcast them and stick them on itunes…

Getting down with the masses and talking with your customers

If you haven’t then what are you waiting for? Why aren’t you out there engaging with your audience? Don’t you want them to talk about your product and what it is you do? Don’t you want to develop relationships with your consumers and have them come back to you time and time again? Do you really want to be reliant on Google and the ever escalating costs of PPC for ever and a day? No of course you don’t, you want these people to come back and tell their friends, which is why you should give them the tools to do so.

Companies like DELL have bought into social and are reaping the rewards.

Less altruistically, some businesses have discovered that Twitter is an effective way of communicating with consumers. Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) says Twitter has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts. People who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products are available the company’s Home Outlet Store. They can click over to purchase the product or forward the information to others.

Tools like Radian 6 are used to identfiy pinch points and conversation nodes. Opinion formers are identifed and enaged with. If a problem with a new product is identified then rather than let it grow legs and become some uncontrollable monster the social graph of the web can be quickly identified.

Companies like Google use social media in similar ways. (They aren’t just about algorithms) Matt Cutts more commonly uses his blog but also uses his Twitter account as does a colleague of his John Mueller who on occassions has reached out to users of their product, engaging with people who are having issues.

Many companies experience reputation management issues on the web, these could so often have been nipped in the bud had the companies affected had a social media plan in place. Blogs, forums, social accounts all enable for engagement with ones online user base, I’d argue that they are fundamental for any orgnisation or individual doing business on the web today.

But back to search and seo and using these signals, what do search engines get from these and why are they important?

Search Engines  Signals and Social

Very recently, Google introduced a search wiki element to it’s SERPS. Lots of people have moaned and groaned and theorised so I won’t do too much of that. The point is that people can (if they so wish) change aspects of their SERPs. Personalisation has been given one more additional option.

If people like a site, they can vote it up. If a site is voted up, it’s less susceptible to any algorithmic shifts (for that user) and will therefore (for that user) have a little more stability (for that query).  It’s reasonable to suggest that enough people from a diverse enough set of ISP, IP, OS and Geographical variances vote up a site on a given query then maybe, just maybe that Google too might see this as an additional signal of quality and do the same in its non personalised results. Ignoring the fact that it seems odd that people would vote up a site in a result before they clicked it of course, and you begin to see how quality really can make a difference.

Taking all of this a little step further, we only have to see the power of some sites and their ability to rank to begin to appreciate the value of social in an algorithmic sense.

If people are talking about you (linking) on platforms that are regulary spidered, then if the engines so chose to, these could be interpreted as a powerful set of social signals. That is, real people talking about real products that offer real value or the obverse as the case may be.   If sites are regulary cited in social spaces be it via making the front page of  social bookmarking sites like digg, or appearing in hundreds of favoutited social profiles of stumbleupon users, or via a sudden flurry of tweets from hundreds of tweeters on twitter.com then you can pretty much bet that the site being referenced has stimulated something that is discussionworthy. be that good or bad is up for the engines to determine, however the important takeaway is that it’s a safer signal of something that hasn’t been artificially manipulated by some savvy SEO,and  even if it has, then the effort required to do so, is a signal in itself that the people who decided to push it so hard, felt it relevant to the queries that the site will seek to target, and subsequently rank for.

Anyways, that’s enough – thanks to David for getting me thinking about this stuff , thanks for reading, maybe you learnt something. :)

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An ever changing post for an ever changing world

This post will never stay the same, just like the internet it will constantly move and shift. It will display different kinds of links to different urls, similar to Google Zetgeist it’ll draw upon what people are looking for, it’ll try and help those who want people to write about those ideas and topics that are important to them.

What do you want to write about? $sql="select * from keywords where kid > 2 order by rand() Limit 0, 1″;
$result = mysql_query($sql); @ $num_results = mysql_num_rows($result);

$row = mysql_fetch_array($result);
$kz=”creation”;
//$boldit=str_replace(“$k”, “$k“,$row[kw]);
//$k=strpos($row[kw]);
$lowerdasheds=str_replace(” “, “-”,$row[kw]);
$klower=str_replace(” “, “-”,$kz);
$klower=strtolower($klower);
$lowerdasheds=strtolower($lowerdasheds);
?>
#flickr_badge_source_txt {padding:0; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif; color:#666666;} #flickr_badge_icon {display:block !important; margin:0 !important; border: 1px solid rgb(0, 0, 0) !important;} #flickr_icon_td {padding:0 5px 0 0 !important;} .flickr_badge_image {text-align:center !important;} .flickr_badge_image img {border: 1px solid black !important;} #flickr_www {display:block; padding:0 10px 0 10px !important; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif !important; color:#3993ff !important;} #flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:hover, #flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:link, #flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:active, #flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:visited {text-decoration:none !important; background:inherit !important;color:#3993ff;} #flickr_badge_wrapper {} #flickr_badge_source {padding:0 !important; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif !important; color:#666666 !important;}

Ha, huh? It might seem risible, it might seem very serious (I can’t predict which word appears it’s completley random, until my script breaks that is!) but for your eyes, today that word is a word or phrase that someone somewhere is paying top $ for in a PPC campaign.

You’d think that at some point eventually, those very people would simply build good content related to and get the traffic that way. After all, that’s all the engines want really, good content that people will read and come back to and talk about…Could it really be that simple, write it and they will come?

I’m kinda wondering too how people will react (if they do at all of course) will they say rob over at yack yack is talking about or will the ever shifting keyword or phrase go unnoticed and get them talking about it in more generalised ways…we shall see, its fun to test and prod!

Please do tell, what is this post about? Is it about or is it about something entirely different?

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Getting noticed in a sea of endless chatter whilst avoiding the schizophrenic monster

Most bloggers and site owners want to be heard.

Lets have it right, who really likes sitting in the corner chatting away to themselves? Blogging for most is a conversational medium. For some it isn’t of course, but for most who do get it, they actually want to engage with other like minded humans who have an interest in what they write about.

The same can be said for other site owners. Those who run businesses desire to have conversations with peoples wallets and purses. Informationists and academics want to have conversations with their lessers and their peers, everybody wants to chat it seems.

Getting your site noticed through social mediums

There are a number of ways that people notice what we say.

We can talk about other people in the blogosphere and link through to them. Bloggers are curious beasts, blogs like wordpress for example, come complete with a dashboard that pulls links from Technorati. Technorati gets these from the various pinging services that are ‘pinged’ when a wordpress user publishes a post.

Ok its state the obvious time for most but it needs saying nonetheless.

By seeing who is ‘talking’ about us, we can then go over and participate in the conversation. If we say something worth listening to, then we might even gain a few new visitors and overtime a good subscriber base.

We also get noticed when we leave a comment on someone elses blog. People can read what we say and if sufficiently interested can click on our sig link and visit our blog.

We can also tag our posts with related keywords. By doing this we help social aggregators classify our content. People who subscribe to these tags or classifications might then notice a relevant or interesting post in their feed readers and decide to pay us a visit.

We can also participate in well trafficked sites that are relevant to our topics and participate in the groups and conversations that develop. Forum type sites with established communites topical to our content, social media type sites, like Stumbleupon Bumpzee Mybloglog and Blogcatalog .By doing so (as in the scenario above )we draw attention to ourselves and might even get a click through to our little personal hives of inactivity.

Pushing the envelope and going that little bit further

Of course, to take such an approach takes a lot of hard work time and effort. We don’t just build up a rep overnight. It takes time to build a subscriber base, we gain these by getting noticed and building a readership. As we get more involved in some of the principals of building traffic, we might well get into things like logfile analysis, user click through paths, traffic referals and other metrics that show us who is coming to us and from where.

We might notice that our post about our topic close to our hearts is getting a lot of traffic from a particular source this will often be a search engine. Some of us might get a little fascinated by how all this works and delve a little deeper. We’ll do a little seacrh on the Internet for stuff about blog promotion or website promotion or blog marketing and encounter this thing called SEO . We might then read up on it and think to ourselves ah, so I just got to get me some links of the right kind and write about stuff in the right way and kazaam, more traffic will follow.

So we set out on our road and begin to modify our tactics somewhat to fit in with the plans of those who seem to know what they are talking about. We might begin to behave in imaginative ways that we might not have behaved in otherwise. We begin to think like a search engine bot and forget who we are as we find ourselves signing off as ‘Big Money Keyword’ or ‘What I Do keyword’ in our blog posts or social interaction signature links. Some of us have huge sucess too; we get a little arrogant and brag about how great our content is and how marvellous our abilities are. We effectively say, ‘hey its easy to game the search engines and here’s how’

Searchbots have human faces 

It’s tempting to think of search engines and algos as some cold non aware construct oblivious to all that goes on around it.

Would it be right to think of them in terms of a simple series of ifelse statements and databases with indices and bits and bytes? No of course not, they are of course much much more than that.

Google for example has a team of people dedicated to ensuring the integrity of its index. It can’t just sit idley by and allow a situation to develop that gives an impression that they are easy to game or manipulate. The fact may well be that technically they are. It may well be that given the right amount of resources and commitment to a topic that anyone on the planet can rank for anything they so wish, but hell it doesn’t happen in isolation and you’d better not stand there and say, hey look at what I did. If you do, then you are opening yourself up to some greater scrutiny. Do not expect the people behind the search engine technology to sit by and just let you get on with your ‘I’m the dogs bollocks boasts’ they can’t and they won’t.

It is their baby, their show, their index.

Don’t break the golden rule

I might be helpful to paint a little crazy world anaolgy – Consider a big house owned by a schizophrenic monster .

She owns a house with a lot of food in it created by a magic larder that is stocked by a bunch of unsuspecting farm labourers, she has so much food that she doesn’t know what to do with it.

She manages to sell a lot of it, but not all, she accepts too that every once in a while a percentage of this food will taken by people who don’t pay for it in the conventional sense. This isn’t so bad as these people help in other ways; they help fix up the house and make it look a little more attractive and presentable to those who do pay.

The house has lots of these helpers, new volunteers arrive daily standing outside shouting ‘hey I can do the ironing, or the painting or the cooking’. The house has a continual long line of people all queueing up to do their bit for free food.

These queues stay long because those who are already inside eating obviously like their jobs and their free food so much, that they don’t ever want to leave.

There are only a maximum of 10 of these places at any one time. However, there is also a golden unwritten rule which says you can never ever brag about the free food you get. If you do, and she hears you then you might just be kicked out and forced to wait in line again like all those others who don’t like to pay.

The golden rule is that if you are doing wll in the search engines then you just mustn’t mustn’t brag about it. They know what they send you, they can flick the switch at a whim and you have no say whatsoever. They aren’t a democrasy, they aren’t accountable, they can do what the hell they like and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.

She is always listening, always paying attention, remember that and you’ll be just fine.

Build your own traffic sources, create buzz, create your own sustainance, plough your own field, grow your own crops. If you happen to get invited in for some free food, then great enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t get too comfortable as its a cold long wait in any queue.

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