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Musings About Online Marketing

Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

The Google Monster

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This whole rant/post is going to come off kind of strange, considering my income is fairly dependent on effective advertising via Google, but it’s just something I want to toss out there and see what others might think on this topic.

Google scares the crap out of me.

They know far too much about us, and the vast majority of Google users aren’t even aware of how their behavior, data, everything is being used by Google.  “Big Brother” is not a myth.

Google knows a LOT about us.  I think the depth of the information may surprise you.  I’m really not comfortable with Google watching every move I make…  you know, like that Sting guy did when he was with the Police.

Okay, back to the topic – how do you go about educating the general public to be savvy about what not only Google, but any Internet company knows about them? Considering that we live in a world where someone can put out a kiosk that says “Win a FREE Boat!” and many people will give their name and address freely, not thinking of how their info will be used, it’s not likely. It’s likely many people care far less about this than I do.

I’ve experienced extreme privacy freaks in my day – people who will not accept cookies on their browser at any cost, even though some cookies simply enhance a site experience. They’d rather not risk their information being captured at all. I’m sure they are the same with the way their personal info is handled offline. These people feel that all information collected on them will be used in “evil” ways. Even though marketers can all attest that the information is being helped to improve user experience, you still have to wonder about how much a company that can follow so many unaware people as they go from website to website, and stores the information for future use.

Right now, I don’t think Google’s intentions are evil. I really think that they are looking at all the ways they can make life better. They are providing a lot of services and products that are useful to people, often free of cost. However, at what point does Google decide that all of this information they control should be used for the “greater good?” What does that even mean to them? Are we headed towards a future where ads are everywhere, and they are all personalized for you? Think Minority Report.

Somehow, Google has gotten this far with things by keeping a relatively low profile, even though Eric Schmidt has recently made some fairly inflammatory comments about how Google views our privacy on the Web.

Microsoft has been smacked in the nose how many times?  When will Google finally get theirs?

Just some food for thought as we head into the weekend. My advice – be savvy about how you do things on the Internet – don’t put all your eggs in one basket, even if one company makes it extremely easy to do so.

Written by rogersikes

January 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Misc, Online Marketing, PPC, SEO

Keeping It Simple – Client Communication

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Having been doing search marketing for a while, I’ve come across a plethora of possibilities – what could be wrong, what is wrong, what to do to fix what’s wrong, what’s working, what’s not working, and what to do to make what’s not working work better.

Once again, I think I just confused myself with that last paragraph.

Sometimes it’s easy to inundate a client with too much information in reports and feedback that we give them. It’s always a good practice to keep in mind that most of the time, they are not as well versed in SEM as we are, and they just need to know the numbers that are most relevant to the overall performance of their campaigns, not the deep and dirty details. If you give them too much, they might be left wondering which metrics really matter, and get the wrong impression on what truly defines success or failure of a campaign.

By no means am I implying that you hold back on information. Always make the client aware that you can provide any data they might want (as long as it’s available, of course).

Written by rogersikes

July 21, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Online Marketing, PPC, SEO

Being “Professional”

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This email is secondhand, and I have removed any clues as to who actually wrote it. It is completely real, and was sent to someone in reaction to a link request. I’ll discuss everything below the email as to 1) how this could have been avoided and 2) what kind of jackass would feel compelled to waste his time ranting about such a trivial thing.

Here’s the email exchange starting with the original link request:

Good morning!

My name is XXXXXX and I’m mailing you as a longtime reader and visitor of XXXXXXX and your articles. The reason I’m contacting you is because I’m a XXXXXXXXXXX and content writer in XXXXXXXX. I write for and manage two websites that have been established to connect XXXXXXX with XXXXXXX jobs and XXXXXXX schools. Both of these sites are very content-rich and authoritative – containing a database of thousands of schools and jobs for XXXXXXX across the United States.

I’ll stop beating around the bush. 🙂

I guess what I’m trying to ask is if there is any way you’d consider providing links to these sites in your ‘XXXXXX Links’ section? I really do believe that your readers might find these useful and beneficial to their careers, whether they are looking to relocate jobs or to train somewhere – they can find all of it on my sites.

I also think it might add a unique element to XXXXXXXXX that hasn’t been previously covered. Since XXXXXXX is one of the most authoritative websites related to XXXXXXXX you can imagine my enthusiasm about trying to make this work.

Here are the sites for your review:

1) XXXXXXXXXXX

2) XXXXXXXXXXX

Do you think this might be at all possible?

Thanks for your consideration!

Sincerely,

XXXXXXXXXXXX

And here is the response that the person making the request received:

Hi XXXXXXX,

You could not have made a bigger mistake in emailing me.

You see, XXXXXXXX@XXXXXXXXXXX.com forwards to me – XXXXXXXXXX – and I’m the one personally responsible for pushing XXXXXXXXXX to the #1 positions in Google for all of the head terms in the XXXXXXXX SERPs. Go check “XXXXXXXX” and “XXXXXXXXX” on Google and let me know what you see. Late last year, XXXXXXXXXXX was so impressed with our work in terms of rankings and traffic that they actually purchased XXXXXXXXXXX and then in turn hired me to run all SEO and SEM development for all of their web projects. I cast an amazingly wide shadow in the online XXXXXXXX industry, so be extra careful when emailing because there’s a good chance it’ll get kicked up to my inbox. But before you go search those terms, keep reading this email – you might learn something.

I figured that XXXXXXX – you know, the guy that built XXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXX – would have mentioned something to you, to XXXXXXX, or to someone at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX when they purchased his websites last year – yes, the same 2 that you listed below. I used to brainstorm with XXXXXXXX during a joint venture we had and if there’s anything I learned from him, it’s link building can be done in a very, very wrong way. Such as sending a cookie cutter email like you did, not an effective way to get links – at all. You say like reading XXXXXXXXXXX? Honestly, I doubt it, but it makes for a caring tone in your email. And just what articles are you referring to that you browsed? I’d tell you the last article I posted on that site, but I’d rather you find it– good luck, you’ll need it. I could always draw you a treasure map in MS Paint and place the image on a webpage and then rank that in the SERPs showing you where it is! Or maybe not. Got a smiley face on? 🙂 Oh come on, this is good stuff!

Next, just why would I want to place a link on MY XXXXXXX site, to YOUR XXXXXXX site? Isn’t that kind of, well, counterproductive – to say the least? Hmmm, let me think, I’ve worked for how many years to entrench my website atop Google’s SERPs and now I want to funnel traffic away from it to your site – BRILLIANT! Or maybe not. I’m guessing that you’re not checking exactly who you’re sending emails to close enough and that you’ve already realized that emailing a direct competitor is a sure fire waste of everyone’s time. Speaking of which, I feel I’ve wasted more than enough of my time with this response.

It’s most unfortunate that you didn’t reflect a few seconds on just who the recipient might be in your email, because if you had, you surely could have avoided such an embarrassing response.

Best of luck in your development,

XXXXXX

XXXXXXX
SR Manager, SEO/SEM

In my opinion, both parties are at fault for something here. The person making the link request should have dug a little deeper and determined, “Hey, this is a competitor site. They wouldn’t link to us, nor would we want to link to them.” The initial email should never have been sent.

The ensuing reply is ridiculous. I really don’t give a crap who he is or what kind of shadow he casts over everything. It’s bridge burning at its finest, and if this guy has to ever look for another job, he has one less place he can look. There are quite a few egos in the SEM biz, as it’s pretty common in advertising in general. I personally find that kind of behavior appalling and don’t have a ton of patience for people who actually go out of their way to belittle someone else in such a manner. For such a self-proclaimed accomplished professional, he sure does lack the social skills I would think necessary to ever get ahead in life. He’ll surely learn about karma soon enough.

So the lesson here is that you need to fully consider what a site is trying to accomplish before requesting a link and make sure they are not a direct competitor. If you make the request without considering all these things, you could possibly get a scathing reply from a 40 year old troll who most likely operates out of his parents’ basement.

No matter which end of this conversation you might be coming from (the person requesting or the person receiving the request), just simply respond with a “thanks, but no thanks” and move on with your life. Or, offer some tips. Just try to avoid telling that person how awesome you are and what kind of grip you have on the seedy underbelly of whatever exciting industry it might be that you represent.

Okay. Rant over. 🙂

Written by rogersikes

February 11, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Happy Holidays!

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It’s been quite a while since I made a post, but I want to assure you that I’m doing well, and have plans to post much more often next year. 😀

Speaking of next year, we’re in the mire of a weakening economy and are face with a lot of uncertainty when it comes to how to spend your marketing dollars, and how to do so on a tight budget. Below are my thoughts and suggestions on how to maximize your advertising efforts.

1. For starters, don’t give up advertising on “traditional” channels (tv, radio, newspaper, yellow pages, direct mail). All of these things provide a stimulus that either drives a direct response, or prompts further research online.

2. Use PPC to ensure you appear on words that tie into your traditional ad campaigns. While it might not be in your budget to do a huge campaign with thousands of keywords, make sure you are present on any and all keywords that tie into your product, business name, and possibly your commercials.

3. Don’t forget about SEO. The key to long term success in the search game is making sure that your site is well optimized and is visible across all search channels. If you have rich media resources, such as video, etc., make sure it’s available on Youtube and other video sites.

4. Create a community for your customers. Use your email newsletter to inform them of ways to save money and do things more efficiently. Establish your brand as a resource and show that you recognize how things are in this day and age when it comes to managing a tight budget.

5. As with any type of ad campaign, create well-defined goals. What are you looking to accomplish with any of these activities? Put a number to it. Measure it. Make sure you know how effectively your dollars are being spent.

There’s a lot of uncertainty as we move ahead in this recession, but the key thing to remember is that marketing is key during times like these. If you set goals, you will be able to see just how effectively your budget is being spent, and maximize your ad spend.

Happy Holidays to all, and here’s to a great 2009!

Written by rogersikes

December 23, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Google SearchWiki

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Google unleased their SearchWiki upon the world yesterday (but seriously, does the Average Joe really know much about it yet?).  In a nutshell, SearchWiki allows a user to customize search results.  How, you may ask?  Well, you can move results up or down in the rankings, and you can also add results if you are not seeing a site that you use frequently.

A user can also make notes about any listing or remove a listing from the results page altogether.

In the video below, you’ll hear emphasis that this doesn’t affect search results for users who are not logged in, or when a user who is logged opts to view the non-custom results.

They say that now…  but you have to wonder at what point these will start factoring into the algorithms.  My instinct tells me that we’ll see some influence on it once Google figures out how to combat any potential black hat tactics.

Here’s the Google propaganda video:

This is a grand example of why SEOs must stay well informed of trends and think about how new changes can affect your approach to keeping a site visible.

Written by rogersikes

November 21, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Google Search-based Keyword Tool

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This is a neat feature for when you are doing keyword research on Google.  It really works well for both PPC and SEO.

First impressions of the starting point may be that you’ve seen all of this before.  Mostly likely, you have seen all the kinds of data in different places before, but now Google is putting it all in one convenient spot for you to research keywords down to a very detailed level.  I used one of my favorite record labels (Sub Pop) as well as one of my favorite topics (music) as an example.

 

 At this point, you may be telling yourself, "big deal."

After you enter in the URL you are researching along with selected keywords, you reach a screen that shows suggested keywords, monthly searches, advertiser competition, and the suggested bid.  Again, nothing real groundbreaking or different from the other External tool that Google offers.  Note that you can see how keywords perform in specific categories as well.  Now, click on the magnifying glass next to one of the keyword suggestions.

 

Google Search-Based Keyword Tool Step 2

 

Here’s where it gets really exciting.  When you drill down into the keyword detail, you get a page that shows you the geographic locations searches are coming from, current trending, and much more.  You can drill down into a region to see exactly what cities are generating searches.  You can also look at various date ranges and add other terms for comparison.  There are some more numbers and features available if you log in to your Google account.  I suggest logging in and checking it out for yourself.  😀

Google Search-Based Keyword Tool Step 3

Most free tools are just about what you would expect.  You have to go to several different spots to compile sufficient data to make a client proposal or devise a strategy for your ad campaign.  Google has managed to provide so much of that for free.  Having been in the search engine marketing business since 2000, it’s exciting to see the level of detail now available in this area.  In the early days, you’d just pick a bunch of keywords and bid on them using some archaic tracking methods that involved a lot of spreadsheet, blood, sweat, and tears to pull everything together to make informed decisions.  Now, all this information is easily available, even free in so many cases. 

Google, I’m tipping my hat to you.  This time.  Don’t get cocky.

Written by rogersikes

November 20, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Are there SEO Secrets? Not so much.

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A post at SERoundtable.com discusses a thread on the High Rankings forums about whether or not true SEO experts are invisible, as in they are working behind the scenes with a top secret formula to boost their clients’ rankings.  To kind of parrot what was stated on SER, while there are numerous agencies that know the basics of SEO, what sets the professionals apart is the knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge to any given client.

You can get best practices for SEO all over the internet.  Sure, there are some things that need to be done under the hood of a website that aren’t as well documented, but if you look hard enough, you can find all the information you need.

The key to all of this is how well your SEO company can keep up with the ever changing rules of SEO.  A good search engine optimization company has employees who stay informed, practices a very rigid approach when it comes to SEO, and does not allow themselves to cross the line into black hat tactics that can endanger their clients’ search engine presence in the long term.

The way I always think about it is when the University of Kansas Jayhawks fell to the Bucknell Bison in the NCAA Tournament a few years ago.  Bucknell, a big underdog and the #14 seed in their region, came out on top because of smart, precise play, despite being physically overmatched by the Jayhawks.  The fastest way to the top isn’t always the best.  Being disciplined and taking a structured approach can take you very far.

The same thing applies to SEO.  If your SEO agency truly has professionals doing work for you, they will know best practices and how to apply them effectively.  Every little detail counts – and if anyone is ever to be considered an “expert” by others, then they will know all the little nuances that give your website all the traction possible.

Written by rogersikes

October 22, 2008 at 9:52 pm