The Secrets of Search Engine Optimizaton

Posted by admin on September 5th, 2008

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the most important element in building a successful website. Much thought and research must go into a site before it is ever developed and designed.  Most people online have heard the term SEO and have some idea of what is involved yet it remains a mysterious process to many. One of the reasons SEO is so mysterious is that it can be a complicated endeavor and search engines are constantly changing the way they rank sites and the way the recognize the many tools of SEO.

At the forefront of the SEO check and balance system is the leading search engine Google. They have pretty much set the standard for technology in search engine algorithms that can track the relevancy of a website to its content and SEO efforts. Their ranking system remains one of the most popular methods of determining a web site’s quality because of their diligent efforts of weeding out the bad apples that have little to offer a consumer other than skilled manipulation and the ability to ‘play the system’ to their advantage.

Of course taking advantage of the system makes perfect sense from a business standpoint but from the search engine outlook of wanting to provide the best quality sites on their results for the viewer it can become difficult to differentiate the site that is good quality wise from the site that is good because it has a very manipulative operator at the helm.

Because the rules for SEO evolve and change rapidly the mystique of search engine optimization continues to confuse website owners. Many people build their websites thinking the only SEO tool they need is key word density. While key words are an important aspect in SEO they are not the only means to an end, they are simply a part of the puzzle. There is another tried and true method of SEO that is as relevant today as it was at the start of the concept of web 2.0 marketing and that is back linking. While back linking remains one of the most successful ways to get your site to rank high on the search engines it also has undergone some changes making the types of links important so that search engines do not penalize a site for bad incoming links.

The term “back link” refers to an outside link on another site that points to yours. In the past any link from another site would have a positive impact on your site by the search engines. Because there were so many gimmicks developed in the last few years to garner massive back links to websites such as link farms, and irrelevant reciprocal linking Google began to develop a way to weed out links that were purchased, or had little meaning or relevancy.

Even though back linking is used to manipulate search engine popularity there are many very legitimate reasons for using the system of back linking. Finding web sites that have a common interest to your own who are willing to place your link on their site can get you extra exposure. When their visitors come to their site they will see your link and likely visit your site as well.

The fact that on-site links like that have such a perceived relevance to the visitor makes them a valuable marketing tool, but that perception of quality is also why Google works so hard to be sure they are real quality links. You will get higher ranking on a search engine for a number of truly appropriate back linking partnerships however if the sites linking to you do not share any common information or products Google will penalize you for the link. There are new programs in the works with Google where your site could even be devalued if the site that links to you is determined to be bad quality so it is important who you choose to link to, and also who links to you.

In the past many web site owners would open up multiple websites with the sole purpose of promoting one principle site. They would use the extra websites as a means of placing back links to the main site. Google now watches for sites that are created with the same IP address. Creating a large number of websites on the same IP address and putting back links on them to quickly develop a number of links is known as link bombing. That is not to say that you cannot ever link to your own website from a site you own. If there is a reason to show your visitors some additional information a few well placed back links are fine. It is when there are many links from each site all pointing to a single ‘main’ site that the search engines look at them suspiciously.

The system Google is working hard to put in place to discount a link from a bad site is why it is very important to know who is linking to you and if their site stacks up to your standards. It is no longer true that all inbound links to your site are good links. There are very good tools available online for free that can show you who is linking to you. If you find a site that is linking to you that you feel is questionable in terms of how they relate to your website either in information or product you should contact the webmaster of the site and demand that they remove the link to your website to avoid being penalized by the search engines.

Probably the best way to obtain a back link to your site is through anchor text. That is when you have another website with content that is relevant to your own (relevancy is ALWAYS important) including your site in the actual content of their site with a hyperlink inside the text. These back links are valued much higher than a simple sidebar link as long as they appear in the text in a way that has a fluid and meaningful association with the content of the article. There are several ways to get such back links.

Providing articles to content sites with your link built into the article is one method. If you write very compelling information on your website is another as someone else with a similar site may wish to point it out on their own. You may not even realize they are doing it unless they tell you about it. This is one of the main reasons it is important to keep an eye on who is back linking to you. While the majority of those types of links are wonderful and you should thank the site owner for their inclusion, if you feel the site that is linking to you does not meet your standards, have similar information, or the content is not relevant to your site you should definitely ask them to remove your link.

Back linking is an extremely important aspect of SEO development and it is something you need to understand well in order to implement and control it properly. There are many secrets and mysteries in the SEO world that diligent study can clear up. Keeping your website in good standing with the search engines and popular with your visitors is the best way to ensure a vital and profitable future for your business online.

Trends That Will Help Define the Future of PR and Marketing

Posted by admin on September 1st, 2008

In June Edelman, my employer, and PRWeek held a two-day summit on the changing media landscape and its affect on business and education. More than 90 people participated. Recently we published a paper chock full of with actionable insights for businesses.  Here’s the conclusion I wrote.

Trends That Will Help Define the Future

The best way to think about new media, I have learned, is to look at the recent past and at the trends that are here now and seemingly have staying power. Apple CEO Steve Jobs once famously said “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” He’s right. With that in mind, there are three trends that are likely to shape things over the next four years.

The Attention Crash

Though the current global financial crisis grabs all the headlines, there’s another storm quietly brewing – a crisis of attention scarcity. The inputs we have into our lives – that which we allow and those that are forced upon us – are exceeding what we are capable of managing.

The Attention Crash is here and it will only get worse. There will always be more content vying for consideration. In fact, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said “By the year 2019, it’s going to be possible to have an iPod-like device that will have 85 years of video on it. So you will be dead before you watch the whole [thing].”

Generation Y seems to be able to better manage this new environment, having grown up with a mouse in hand. But marketers who are a little more gray will need to adapt by creating and earning media that can break through the clutter and “stick.” This requires they keep things short, simple and visual.

Brands, media and individuals will have a role in mitigating the Attention Crash. Every high–interest niche will be met by digital curators who can separate art from junk online and present it in a very digestible form.

Already, some are jumping in. Intel partnered with PopURLs.com to create a news tracker for IT professionals. The site also features Intel white papers and blogs. The New York Times too is transforming into a digital curator. On the newspaper’s technology site reporters cull through blog conversations that have bubbled up during the day and highlight and link to the most notable posts.

Social Networks Become “Like Air”

Social networking is here to stay – but it’s changing. As my fellow panelist Charlene Li says, it’s becoming “like air” on the Web. In essence, social networking is nothing new, really. It’s simply a digital, global and scalable manifestation of our desire to communicate with other humans. The technology makes it easy for like-minded individuals to connect and collaborate around the topics they care about. This can range from personal to professional interests. A lot of it revolves around social causes.

Today we have three big social network hubs – LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace (an Edelman client). In addition, we have an expanding constellation of smaller social networks such as Beebo, Twitter, YouTube and the hundreds of thousands of vertical communities that comprise Ning – a do-it-yourself platform. There will be room for all of them to thrive, but consumers soon won’t need to visit these destinations to connect with their network.

Social circles are becoming portable so they can follow the consumer to any site they want to visit. Facebook and Google, for example, each have competing technology platforms that Web site owners can integrate to allow consumers and their social circle to connect in new experiences without having to sign up for another network.

Brand marketers that may be tempted to build their own social networks need to consider that there may not be room in people’s lives for more than one or two. They will need to plug into the social “air” supply that the large networks are building across the Web so that consumers can stay connected to their existing networks.

Google: The Reputation Engine

The third trend that also will continue its current trajectory is the rising influence of search, particularly Google. The search engine, as of this writing, has 70 percent market share in the U.S. and is even higher in other countries – but not all.

Google is much more than a search engine. It’s media.

Every day people make purchasing and life decisions based on what they find on the Web. Patients visit their doctor’s office armed with reams of information they found on Google, some of it right, some wrong. Consumers are accessing Google from their cell phones to compare prices when shopping. And Wikipedia, a site that no one controls, tends to dominate many high–profile search results.

Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others are increasingly tweaking their algorithms to stop spammers and other “black-hat” types. Today most search engine result pages tend to favor high–quality content produced by media, brands and individuals.

Communicators will need to know how to create and earn content that is not only findable, but worthy of discussion so that it earns and maintains visibility in Google – which often makes judgments based on quality.

What the future looks like in four years know one knows. However, if businesses follow these trends, at least directionally, they will be prepared to navigate the new environment.

The 10 Most Important Blogger Hangouts

Posted by admin on August 7th, 2008

Where do all the cool bloggers hanging out these days?
Well, with the hundreds of thousands of blog sites that are out there, social marketing is sweeping the web and certainly becoming the number one way to do any internet marketing.  Here’s a list of 10 Important Blogger Hangouts (note:  these are listed in no particular order, they are all important and each have a little something different to offer)

Blog Catalog:  This blog hangout claims to be the Ultimate Blog Directory.  Blog Catalog lists a wide variety of blogs, for every topic you can imagine.  Blog Catalog offers free submission of your blog to their directory, making your blog more visible to other bloggers.  FTR Profile
MyBlogLog:  One of the original social sites, MyBlogLog is a great way to see what others are interested in.  Develop a network of friends, and find out what links they find great.  Track information about your website, find out what your users are interested in when they visit!  Join the FTR Blog Marketing Group
Facebook:  Facebook keeps you connected with your friends and makes it easy for you to build networks to include other bloggers with similar interests.  You will find that you can get many, many social marketing tips by using words that relate to your niche as a search topic and joining the right networks!  FTR on Facebook
Social Marketing Central:  This blog site is crammed full of people who are all clamoring for the top spot as an authority in their own expert niche.  Getting involved with this group will help you get insider secrets to social marketing strategies, and you’ll see your traffic and your profits increase substantially!
Twitter:  Twitter helps networks and friends stay connected by having everyone answer one simple question, “What are you doing?”  Bloggers use it as a mini-blogging tool, making frequent posts is easy with Twitter.  Lead others to your blog almost effortlessly.  Follow Me
FriendFeed:  A great way to hook up and monitor your fellow bloggers and friends across a decent selection of popular social sites.  You can run your FriendFeed on your blog or on your profile pages at Facebook and elsewhere to show off your network and get more attention.  FTR Friend Feed
YouTube:  No blogger misses a day on YouTube.  This is a great place to find video clips for your blog, and other interesting topics to blog about.  Just about anything goes on YouTube, and it has a huge slice of Internet traffic each day, one of the biggest draws on the Internet.  Find out what the buzz is all about.  FTR Videos
Digg:  Digg offers a major clearinghouse of “all things interesting” on the web.  Find out what’s hot, get tons of information for your blog, and get your information out there to be “dug.”  Millions of visitors decide what makes the front page, based on submissions from all over the globe.  Friend Me
Technorati:  Make your blog even more powerful by using Technorati.  Live updates and incredibly dynamic indexing makes Technorati a great tool for your blogging toolbox.  Search the site for any relevant information, and instantly be greeted with the most up-to-date results for any topic.  Fav the FTR!
MySpace:  Originally intended for teens and young adults, MySpace has become a powerful networking site for Internet marketing.  By targeting particular networks and groups, MySpace offers bloggers a way to gain exposure quickly and share anything of interest easily.  Friend me!
If you are serious about blogging, you must be using most or all of these tools to keep connected to the world, via the Internet!  What other great blogger hangouts do you think should be added to this list?

The Forgotten Market – Your Own.

Posted by admin on June 11th, 2008

Online marketing is defined from Wikipedia as the selling of products on the Internet. Online marketing, (also known as web marketing, search engine marketing, SEO or internet marketing) is extremely vital in todays internet savvy world. Online marketing employs different techniques to those of traditional marketing. As with any product or service, however, not all online marketing services are created equal.

It is unfortunate that many businesses forget to market on the internet for their business. Usually its the same “But…my business is different” attitude that causes this. Many feel that since they only serve a local area, or a smaller geographic market that Internet Marketing is not needed. This could not be further from the truth. A simple and effective internet marketing campaign using Pay-per-click marketing or Search Engine Marketing could have an incredible ROI or return on investment. Not only could you be on page one of Google search results multiple times you could virtually brand yourself as the “Top” business in your field for your local geographic area. Who wouldn’t want that?

Internet marketing ties together creative and technical aspects of the internet, including design, development, advertising and sales. Internet marketing methods and strategies encompass a wide range of services such as search engine marketing (SEM)which can be broken down into search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC), display advertising, text-based advertising, behavioral marketing, software-based ads, e-mail marketing, newsletter marketing, Customer Relationship Management Marketing affiliate marketing, web press releases, interactive advertising, online reputation management(ORM), online market research, and also Social Media Marketing Methods such as blog marketing, multivariate testing or optimization and viral marketing.

With research confirming that 70-80% of prospective web customers use search engines or search directories to find relevant content, search engine marketing is the most widely used method of attracting visitors to a website. As a result, competition is fierce at the top of the search engines. Are you forgetting your own market? The shift to the internet in happening, are you being left behind?