December 18, 2008
Top 10 things your email vendor won't tell youBy Bo Chipman and Scott Sutton
When selecting an ESP, many marketers aren't aware of the small details that may prevent them from optimizing returns. Take a look at the issues that can pop up when executing a non-standard campaign.
Do you understand what goes on "behind the scenes" at your email service provider (ESP)? Many marketers do not, and this can prevent them from optimizing returns and avoiding potential disasters.
This article outlines some of the key issues we have encountered while providing strategic consulting to Fortune 500 companies. When your ESP promises they can handle the following tasks, it's time to investigate further to ensure they can actually deliver.
Scott Sutton is director, account management, client services at Merkle.
In the beginning, email service providers were simply that -- service providers. Scores of small companies were content to provide the technological backbone and knowledge required to support simple email programs. As email increased in importance, marketers began to demand more of their email programs, and providers saw an opportunity to expand their offerings. Now the top ESPs claim to provide one-stop services for all email needs, but is this really the case? Here's what they won't tell you, and what you should make sure to ask about when determining the right ESP for your needs.
1. Strategy: Most ESPs are good at maximizing your email-specific marketing goals. However, single channel strategies are no longer sufficient. Many ESPs do not have the experience to develop holistic customer strategies that integrate effectively across channels.
2. Analytics: For many ESPs, analytics means campaign reporting. While this is important, high performance email programs require more advanced analytics. Many ESPs cannot execute complicated analyses or build models that predict customer behavior.
3. Test design: Simple subject lines are a necessity in today's email strategy -- and most ESPs can handle that process. However, when we move beyond ad hoc tests, ESPs generally have limited expertise in sophisticated test design, particularly for tests involving multiple factors.
4. Test execution: Email touches are at a premium, and most programs struggle to devote adequate circulation to testing. Complex experimental designs (DOE) can resolve this issue by efficiently testing multiple variables. Unfortunately, many providers struggle to execute complex test designs.
5. Hold-out groups: Control groups (hold-outs, or business-as-usual controls) are a critical component for any testing program. Most ESPs can select control groups, but they often lack processes and procedures for ensuring that control groups are re-integrated into the program when the test ends.
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6. Contact governance: Email marketers generally agree it is critical to regulate the number of emails that consumers receive. In practice, however, ESPs often have difficulty incorporating triggered messages or other non-standard programs into a comprehensive contact governance system. Existing email platforms were not designed to provide this kind of flexibility, and processing times often make execution unfeasible for large marketing programs.
7. Segmentation: Any discussion of relevance must begin with customer segmentation, whether that segmentation occurs at an aggregate level or on a "one-to-one" basis. Meaningful segmentation requires access to a wide array of consumer demographic and behavioral data that may change frequently. Not all providers are equipped to handle the number of attributes or the required update frequency, particularly when dealing with large email populations.
8. Multi-touch campaigns: The purpose of segmenting consumers is to provide customized communications. Optimizing email performance requires sending different communication streams to different consumers and changing these streams when consumers exhibit certain behaviors (e.g., click or purchase). Many providers have a hard time creating and maintaining groups that will receive special multi-touch programs. An even smaller set have the capacity to seamlessly move consumers from one stream to another.
9. Campaign management tool(s): ESPs often claim that their tools make executing segmented communications effortless, and their sales demonstrations often seem to bear that out. Executing in real-world marketing, however, often proves more difficult. It may turn out that seamless execution through the tool requires hours of back-end work to set up in the database. It's important to see how tools perform on real data with real, complex campaigns.
10. Data management: Providers generally understand the importance of integrating email data into broader consumer marketing databases. In theory, this is a relatively simple matter of exchanging data. In practice, many ESPs are good at loading data into their tools, but struggle getting it back out.
This is not an exhaustive list of potential challenges, so it's prudent to ask probing questions whenever you feel you might need your ESP to execute non-routine tasks. Marketers should pay close attention to customer preference management, email hygiene and ISP relationship management, among other areas.
Although the industry faces challenges meeting ever expanding client demands, the situation isn't dire. Most ESPs provide excellent service, and they generally shine when it comes to the nuts and bolts of pushing undifferentiated emails. When it comes to more complex tasks, marketers need to clearly understand their ESPs' limits and develop strategies to fill any gaps. Marketers that do not take this approach will not maximize email program performance.
December 1, 2008
How to Promote Your Blog – The Definitive Guide to Promoting Your Blog OnlineMany of our clients ask us this question time and time again. “How do I promote my blog?” We are glad that they ask because we have a blog of our own and we have become very successful at driving huge loads of traffic to it.
If you always wanted to know how to promote your blog, this article is exactly what you are looking for.
Write quality content
It might sound obvious to most of us that your blog’s content has to be excellent. In many cases, however, bloggers write mediocre posts and spend most of their time trying to drive traffic to their blogs. Granted, they get a fair amount of visits, but those people will never come back. Converting one-time visitors into subscribers is by far the most important thing you need to do to keep a steady flow of traffic visiting your blog.
There is another excellent reason to write quality articles. The better your content is the more people will link to your blog. And as we all know, quality incoming links are the key to high search engine rankings.
Let your readers subscribe
There are two major ways people can subscribe to your blog: email and RSS. Give them both options. RSS is a great technology but a huge percentage of your readers are not very familiar with it.
Submit your feeds
Every time you write a new post, submit its RSS/Atom feed to the major feed directories: FeedAge, FeedRaider, FeedAgg, FeedFury, GoldenFeed, and BlogDigger. Also submit your blog’s main RSS if you haven’t done so yet.
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Ping your posts
When you ping your posts, the search engines are more likely to index them faster. These are the ping services that I use:
http://rpc.pingomatic.com/ , http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2 , http://bblog.com/ping.php , http://blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC , http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc , http://coreblog.org/ping/ , http://ping.cocolog-nifty.com/xmlrpc , http://ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php , http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php , http://rcs.datashed.net/RPC2 , http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/ , http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping , http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2 , http://xmlrpc.blogg.de/ , http://xping.pubsub.com/ping/ , http://api.moreover.com/RPC2 , http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2 , http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php , http://www.weblogues.com/RPC/ , http://ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/ , http://ping.feedburner.com/ , http://api.feedster.com/ping , http://www.popdex.com/addsite.php , http://ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php , and http://www.lasermemory.com/lsrpc/ .
Social bookmark your own posts
Create an account with the top social bookmarking services and bookmark each new post that you write. These are some of the ones I use: Digg, Delicious, Propeller, Technorati, Reddit, Google Bookmarks, Yahoo Bookmarks, MSN Bookmarks, Blinklist, Linkagogo, Wists, Kaboodle, Furl, Faves, and StumbleUpon.
Add social bookmarking capabilities to your blog
Give people the opportunity to bookmark your posts. There are several plugins that work for most blogging platforms. My favorites are ShareThis and Sociable.
Send a press release
I use PRWeb Premium service only when I launch a new blog for a client. It costs $360 so you can understand why I don’t recommend doing this for every new post you write. For new posts I use the free option of PR.com . You don’t get maximum exposure but it’s free and it only takes a couple of minutes to send a release using their service.
Submit your blog to the major blog directories
These are my favorite free blog directories. List your blog in all of them!
http://www.blog-search.com/ , http://www.blogarama.com/ , http://www.blogbunch.com/ , http://www.blogcatalog.com/ , http://www.blogcode.com/ , http://www.blogexplosion.com/ , http://www.blogflux.com/ , http://www.bloggernity.com/ , http://www.bloghop.com/ , http://www.bloghub.com/ , http://www.bloglisting.net/ , http://www.blogrankings.com/ , http://www.blogtoplist.com/ , http://www.britblog.com/ , http://findingblog.com/ , http://www.geekyspeaky.com/links/ , http://www.getblogs.com/ , http://www.globeofblogs.com/ , http://www.iblogbusiness.com/ , http://www.lsblogs.com/ , http://myblog2u.com/ , http://www.quickblogdirectory.com/ , http://sportsblogs.org/ , http://www.theweblogreview.com/index.php , http://www.weblogalot.com/ , and http://www.dmoz.org .
Web 2.0 social networks
Submitting your articles to the most popular Web 2.0 social networks can seriously boost your traffic. For a comprehensive list of these networks check out this link: http://www.theoutsourcingcompany.com/blog/internet-marketing/the-best-websites-to-publish-your-articles/
Forums and blogs
Interact with your community, provide useful tips, and answer their questions. Become an authority in the field and invite them to visit your blog. Don’t spam them, though. Make sure that you are helping them, not just posting your blog’s link everywhere.
Use viral marketing
I think that all blogs should have an option to “Tell your friends” about it. Sure, your visitors can copy your link, open their email clients, and send your blog’s link to their friends. But if you don’t make it easy for them, chances are that they won’t.
If you liked this post, you will find more great tips on my blog, www.TheOutsourcingCompany.com/blog .
The Outsourcing Company - Professional Web Design
Marketing in the World of the WebRetailers will eventually recover from the consumption tailspin that threatens this holiday season. But quite apart from the recession, there are other, profound changes underway in the retail sector. As the evidence mounts about the power of social networks to reconfigure individual behavior, the crucial question facing industry is: How to leverage this phenomenon into actual profits?
The second generation of Internet ("Web 2.0") companies such as MySpace, Facebook, Linked/In and YouTube exploded upon the scene three years ago. Today, MySpace and Facebook together have more users than the entire U.S. population; and the online community concept is already becoming a powerful tool for everything from creating customer loyalty, to assistance in product design, to a sounding board for company strategy.
Corporations from IBM to Toyota and Johnson & Johnson have been rushing to establish their own affiliated social networks and bind their customers ever more closely. There isn't a smart company today that isn't implementing some kind of online community, wiki or blog strategy.
But companies with millions of members of online communities are now asking: What next? How do we sell them products and services, or mobilize them into massive de facto R&D, manufacturing and sales departments? We have been studying the challenge and have concluded that very few of the traditional techniques of classical marketing (call them Marketing 1.0), or even of eCommerce (Marketing 2.0) will work in the world of social networks. A very different set of tools, concepts and practices is needed. Call it Marketing 3.0. Here are five:
- From loyalty to attention. Before you can win consumer loyalty, you have to capture and reward consumer attention. Old propositions -- network television's tired offer of 22 minutes of canned sitcoms in exchange for eight minutes of untargeted commercials -- won't cut it. Consumers are demanding a better deal.
Some brands are starting to flirt with better exchange rates: Virgin Mobile gives a minute of free phone time for every minute of advertising a customer accepts. Ryan Air recently announced it would offer $15 coach tickets from the U.S. to Europe, subsidized by passenger attention to advertising and in-flight sales pitches.
Smart marketers will of necessity become obsessed with customer attention in the way they once obsessed over customer loyalty. The shrewd brands will create elaborate attention-rewards programs, and incentives to break through the noise and make that critical initial connection.
- From crowds to clouds. Once you get that attention -- once you generate heavy traffic to your site, gather a large league of "friends" on MySpace, or spawn a dedicated following on Twitter -- how do you monetize the crowd?
Smart brands are turning their crowds into "clouds": organic, self-forming and often self-governing communities of interest. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Frito-Lay and Harley-Davidson use their clouds as feedback loops to get better faster by obtaining good, timely, often brutally honest customer insights. And the members of clouds can become true believers; they don't just watch your commercials, they make them.
Right now, few companies are emotionally equipped to wring the best benefits of a cloud, because the most valuable voices out there usually belong to the malcontents. In the old model, customer-service departments aimed to placate or jettison disgruntled customers. In the cloud model, the idea is to cultivate and reward them. That's not an easy transition.
- From places to spaces. Consumers are increasingly organizing themselves into new communities -- not just the big generic social communities, but myriad idiosyncratic slices of narrow, passionate interest (i.e., BlackPlanet, Inpowr and MomsCafe).
These new market spaces, or "meganiches," may seem small, even strange at first. But when they're efficiently targeted, they can be highly responsive, lucrative and loyal. Well-established meganiche Web sites include Gamefaq.com for video gamers, Dpreview.com for digital photography aficionados, and Howardchui.com dedicated to mobile phone zealots.
With this shift toward self-organization by consumers, national advertising campaigns as we know them will increasingly become a waste of time and money for many companies. The trick for brands is to cohabit social spaces with these consumers. Social media, and its verb form, "friending," requires entirely new forms of advertising: bottom up instead of top down, personal rather than public, and subtle rather than full frontal.
- From memes to bemes. In the Age of Broadcast, good advertising could occasionally manufacture memes of tremendous social impact. Think of "Where's the Beef?" or "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." If you can't recall an irresistible or effective turn of phrase of late, it's because it is exceedingly difficult to spread a meme in today's fragmented media environment. Marketing 3.0 is now the science of devising and managing directed business memes: call them bemes. Bemes are sent by members of social communities to each other and typically contain a reward or exclusive offer, which, when redeemed, also results in a reward coupon for the sender. This encourages members of social communities to propagate a "viral" ad. One well-documented beme was "The Subservient Chicken" from Burger King.
Brute force marketing won't work inside social networks. The best online marketing now takes place among people who know and trust each other. Consider how rumors work. Like a rumor, a beme is a bit of useful information that rewards each person who passes it along. Want to be a sensation? Create a beme that consumers willingly accept and share with others.
- From silos to simultaneity. Too many retailers today persist in believing that online shopping is merely a virtual extension of real world shopping. That is a big mistake.
Rather, online and offline need to coexist, and we need to rethink how they relate. For example, to their surprise, companies like BestBuy (which even encourages customers to shop the aisles but buy online from in-store kiosks) and Macy's are discovering that physical retailing is a perfect way to move units online. That is, the physical world has become the showroom for the virtual realm.
Retailers now must reimagine a world where consumers experience products in stores but ultimately buy them on the Web: Stores are for experiences, the network is for inventories. And what in turn prepares potential customers for what to look for in stores? Online communities.
All of this suggests that Marketing 3.0 is not only different from its predecessors, but actively undermines them. If your marketing program fails to adapt to this new world, it won't just become irrelevant -- it will actually work against you.
Mr. Hayes, a former vice president at HP and Applied Materials, is the author of "Jump Point: How Network Culture is Revolutionizing Business" (McGraw-Hill, 2008). Mr. Malone, a columnist for ABCNews.com, is the author of the forthcoming book "The Future Arrived Yesterday."
Turn to SEO to help beat a bad economyPaid search helped the industry through dire times before, but don't put all your eggs in one basket during the current crisis. SEO can be just as effective as SEM, sometimes at much less cost.
Interactive marketers and ecommerce companies alike are increasingly worried about the economy. If we dial back seven years ago, to the rather dismal fall of 2001, we might all feel a little better. As reported by ClickZ at that time, Odyssey's "Breadbox" study found 51 percent of consumers reported they were more likely to pursue bargains given the negative economic environment. Meanwhile, 65 percent of online shoppers said they felt shopping online saved them money and 55 percent of all U.S. consumers believed that people using online services for shopping were likely to be enjoying retail savings.
The same survey would garner similar results today, and that is good news for those of us working in search. In times of economic downturn, consumers tend to shop online more, not less. While search enables online shoppers to comparison shop, there is also the perception that the best bargains are found online as well. As with 2001, I predict that online shopping numbers will either increase or change very little from where they were last holiday season.
A recent piece in the Washington Post should provide some comfort as well for interactive marketers. In her piece on comScore, "Counting Clicks: Now a Mainstay," Kim Hart makes the point that, "Eyeballs matter even more [in an economic downturn] now that legitimate companies' fortunes rise and fall with internet traffic and the advertising it attracts." Even as the market retracts and advertising budgets follow suit, one thing is for sure: search marketing will still reign. If one only looks at the article's predictions for comScore's financial future during the recession, it becomes clear: Companies that want to survive will have to maintain their online presence, and to do so they will need search.
Few question the fact that paid search pushed the interactive advertising community through tough economic times at the beginning of this decade. Paid search metrics tell marketers how many consumers are paying attention to paid advertorial, which is why eyeballs and ROI have dominated search since its inception. However, after a few years of focusing on pay-per-click campaigns, growth at most Fortune 500 companies over the past four years necessitated progress in organic search engine rankings as well.
I am willing to bet one thing will be different this year from 2001. With a whole lot more actionable intelligence and consumer eyeballs in the natural search space during this economic downturn, (1) CMOs will not wait to implement natural search strategies and (2) natural search will give paid a run for its money as the champion of interactive.
For example, look at a large enterprise software company, a channel that is very competitive in any economy, good or bad. The company was seeking solutions to build online brand awareness and increase conversion events. We listened to their search strategy, which predictably was heavily dependent on paid search. Then we made fewer than 20 basic, natural search recommendations and implemented them.
Just by changing its SEO tactics, the company quadrupled its Google ranking for one of its important keywords, moving from the third page of results to the fourth position on page one. Website traffic increased, bringing an additional 400 visitors per month, which also increased the number of leads and product and demonstration inquires. All of these fantastic results came from natural search optimization, not paid search. It was the natural search optimization that actually showed the company where its search strategy weaknesses were, and obviously provided effective course correction.
Great search marketing needs measurement and data points beyond the audience exposure that SEM represents. Despite its historic status as the engine that pushes our industry along even in difficult financial times, paid search data alone won't tell marketers about the impact individual keywords have on a particular search campaign. Paid search data alone doesn't tell search marketers which pages consumers visit most often and which pages are the last visited before conversion. Most CMOs would agree that it is more important than ever to know how the consumer came to their decision.
For years, marketers have complained that paid search results and natural search results are simply too different. With budgets retracting, it is imperative that CMOs justify expenditures. The good news is that technology is a great equalizer, and advancements have leveled the search playing field. There are ways to produce similar data that enables an "apples-to-apples" way of making evaluations and budget decisions.
For years marketers have been improving their page ranking using paid search. Now, marketers can improve their page ranking with SEO as well. As the example above shows, by looking at more than page ranking and meta descriptions and by incorporating links, visits, crawlability, and relevance, SEO can develop performance criteria comparable with SEM performance data. By evaluating multiple facets of SEO, marketers can receive an aggregate accounting of what is working.
We have known for a long time that traffic in search is entirely disproportionate to spend. Eighty-six percent of consumer clicks happen in the natural space, yet the lion's share of spend goes to paid search. Marketers have been told for years that this is acceptable because paid search is easier to justify. With new economic woes fueling stress in every market sector, and so much more to be gained in natural search, I am thinking that by next year, interactive will have a new favorite.
Seth Besmertnik is CEO, Conductor
Bankruptcy Talks Appear to Stall Sales for Big 3 BrandBANDON, Ore. — As talks of bankruptcy have swirled throughout the industry lately, it appears that the domestic automaker impacted most heavily by these discussion has been General Motors, according to the latest analysis from CNW Research.
More specifically, CNW's latest Purchase Path study indicated that 32.3 percent of new-vehicle intenders who decided not to buy a GM unit claimed that the bankruptcy discussion was the primary reason for doing so.
Meanwhile, though it was also the top reason why shoppers avoided Chrysler, only 19.7 percent of those who steered clear of its brands cited bankruptcy as the primary reason. Moreover, just 17.7 percent said they didn't buy a Ford because of bankruptcy talk.
"GM's October sales led us to adding some additional questions to our monthly survey of new-vehicle intenders," indicated CNW president Art Spinella. "Put simply: Bankruptcy talk hit GM harder than Chrysler or Ford."
However, he added: "Remember that this was during a time of a bankruptcy discussion only, not an actual filing."
Moving on, the top reason consumers gave for not purchasing a Ford was "liked a competitive product more" (25.3 percent). Styling was also a big concern (15.6 percent).
In addition to bankruptcy issues, Chrysler avoiders mentioned "not a legacy brand" (18.1 percent) and "liked a competitive brand more" (17.2 percent) as top reasons for not buying from the automaker.
CNW also included the following chart illustrating why consumers avoided particular brands:
Reason for Avoidance GM Chrysler Ford
Bankruptcy Discussion/Possibility 32.3 percent 19.7 percent 17.7 percent
Dealership-related issues 10.6 percent 12.6 percent 8.9 percent
Friends/relatives dissuaded 7.4 percent 8.8 percent 4.8 percent
Not a legacy brand 13.7 percent 18.1 percent 11.6 percent
Like a competitive product more 15.1 percent 17.2 percent 25.3 percent
Product not suitable 6.1 percent 5.3 percent 7.8 percent
Styling 9.2 percent 12.9 percent 15.6 percent
Other 5.6 percent 5.4 percent 8.3 percent
For more information, visit www.cnwmr.com.
November 25, 2008
Pitching Cars Online in Tough TimesNOVEMBER 21, 2008
Detroit can’t stop advertising altogether, so it’s focusing on efficiency.
Since the auto industry is facing serious challenges, it’s no surprise that the long-time top ad spending vertical had the steepest year-over-year drop of any of the top 10 industries tracked by TNS Retail Forward during the first half of 2008.
However, as in many industries, online is still growing despite a sharp drop in total ad spending. Nielsen Online AdRelevance said that online ad spending by the auto industry in the first half of 2008 was up 45% over 2007, excluding paid search and online video.
eMarketer estimates that online ad spending by automakers will nearly double by 2012 to $5.61 billion, up from $2.98 billion in 2008.
John Kovac, senior director of consumer advertising at AutoTrader.com, told eMarketer that digital’s appeal to the industry was simple.
“We are important to dealers’ media mix right now because we are an efficient media form for them,” he said, adding that digital would continue to be popular with carmakers. “There’s going to be a focus on efficiency, more so than ever. Every dollar that’s spent has to have a return. Whether that’s search, investment in SEO, integrated partnerships or display, we’re looking to get more efficient.”
November 21, 2008
Google Answers Some Tricky QuestionsBy Jason Lee Miller - Thu, 11/13/2008 - 11:10am.
Well, most of them
Recently, during a live chat Q&A, Googlers Matt Cutts and Maile Ohye, among others, faced the burning questions of webmasters around the world. Together, they put to rest some fears and myths, and confirmed some speculations.
Below are the meatier results, with the straightest answers given first, followed by responses that were a bit on the ambiguous side, which we took the liberty of translating. Did you know there are about 200 factors that go into determining a site’s ranking in the search results? How about that Google made 450 tweaks to its algorithm last year?
Only one question during that session received conflicting answers from Googlers and wasn’t reconciled: Does the age of a website/domain affect its ranking?
Ohye answered this way: a site's reputation can be a indicator to search engines, but of course, it's not everything. Having a site for a long period of time can establish credibility with users, and as a search engine we also want to reflect this type of credibility. Of course, newer domains can also gain users and credibility. It seems like running a good site is a bit like running a reputable business. So yes, if your domain has been credible for years it can help. If you buy an old domain and put all your content on it in hopes of getting instant rankings, that's not the best idea.
But, when the question was rephrased from another webmaster, Cutts answered: In the majority of cases, it actually doesn't matter--we want to return the best information, not just the oldest information. Especially if you're a mom/pop site, we try to find ways to rank your site even if your site is newer or doesn't have many links. I think it is fair for Google to use that as a signal in some circumstances, and I try never to rule a signal out completely, but I wouldn't obsess about it.
Official translation: Sometimes, when we say it does.
GOOGLE STRAIGHT TALK
Do 301 redirects carry over PageRank?
Where appropriate, ranking signals will be transferred across 301 redirects (if the same page has moved from one URL to another). This may take some time, so you should probably leave the redirect in place as long as you have control over the URL.
How many 301 redirects are acceptable?
It's ok to chain a few together. The HTTP 1.0 standard allows for a maximum of 5 redirects for a URL, so keep it minimal.
Why do pages translated into different languages each have different rankings in their respective engines?
Google looks at content on a URL-by-URL basis, so even if you have translated top content from one language to another, Google might not treat it the same way as they would treat the original content. It's also possible that the translated content is not as relevant as other original content in that language. Generally speaking, making sure that your content is as unique and compelling as possible for the users in that target market is the best thing to do.
Do backlinks from bad sites negatively affect my PageRank?
Those links might be positively affecting your PageRank (PageRank does not go down from "bad" links like those from adult sites). In general, you don't have to worry about bad links like that which point to your site that aren't under your control.
How often does your search algorithm change?
We change the algorithms all the time - last year we had over 450 changes.
Could sharing an IP address with a bad site get my site penalized?
The situations where it would matter are when the server is overloaded (can't respond to your visitors) and when it's incorrectly configured (not returning your site to your visitors). But otherwise that is no longer a concern.
Does Google have a problem with rank-checking software?
Rank-checking software is against Google’s Terms of Service and could result in blocking your IP address, and it doesn’t really help, especially when it comes to personalized or geotargeted results.
CIRCUITOUS ROUTES AND TRANSLATIONS
Question: Is there PageRank boost from .edu or .gov links?
Google’s Answer: You don't get any PageRank boost from having an .edu link or .gov link automatically. If you get an .edu link and no one is linking to that .edu page, you're not going to get any PageRank at all because that .edu page doesn't have any PageRank.
Translation: If the .edu or .gov page is linked to, then yes, because that webpage now has some authority, just like with any (non-.gov or .edu) page.
Question: Does a page load time play a crucial role in Google Page Ranking? If yes how important is it?
Google’s Answer: I think the more important issue here is user experience. If your site loads fast, your users will be happy; if it loads slow, users will be less happy. Make your users happy, right?
Translation: Yes, and as important as 200 other factors.
Question: Aaron D'Souza of the Search Quality team was reported as stating that publishing the same content on two separate geotargeted paths under your domain will not trigger the dupe content filters. Is this correct?
Google’s Answer: In general, in a case like that, we'd try to pick the best page based on various factors, including geotargeting and language choices. If that page is one which is also available for other geotargeting/language choices, we will generally try to pick the version that our algorithms feel makes the most sense.
Translation: Yes, we think.
Question: I have reported sites that clearly have paid links (e.g. the backlink page says "Advertising" above the link), but Google does not seem to take action. Why would that be the case? These are .orgs who are clearly selling their .org juice.
Google’s Answer: While paid links and spam reports are being taken very seriously by Google, the results may not be seen immediately for users or even not at all. This does not mean no action is being taken on the offending sites. Also, the TLD of the sites should not be a factor being taken into account. For this reason reporting both, web spam and PageRank passing link selling makes sense and contributes in an important way to the quality of Google's index.
Translation, partly based on .gov/.edu response: Google treats all top level domains the same, so a .org would have no more juice than a .com or .info. Further, clearly marked paid links (ones on pages labeled “Advertising”) are not necessarily violations of Google’s guidelines. If the links you reported were found to be nofollow links, then no action would be necessary. But keep trying to sabotage the competition. Business is war.
Question: Is it true that the fewer the links FROM your website, the more influence they have on the sites receiving those links?
Google’s Answer: PageRank is split up over the links from a page, but I would recommend not concentrating on this (as you won't be able to "measure" and act upon it anyway) and instead making your site as usable as possible for your visitors.
Translation: Yes, the more you link the more the link juice passed on is diluted, but don’t go trying to figure out the formula in order to game the system. We’ll figure you out. We’re Google.
Question: Does getting a lot of comments in a blog help in being well indexed/ranked by Google?
Google’s answer: Having a lot of enthusiastic users commenting on your posts and doing so generating content on your site, certainly does not harm your rankings :-) Furthermore, a large fan base gives the webmaster a bit of independence from search engine traffic, which is the reason why generating original and compelling content in order to nurture a group of committed users is something I would highly recommend to any blogger
Question: Recently, you removed this suggestion: "Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!" from your guidelines. Is there any chance that you will be discounting these kinds of links for ranking value in future?
Google’s Answer: There's always the chance that we'll discount directory links in the future. What we were seeing was quite a few novice people would see the "directory" recommendation and go out and just try to submit to a ton of directories, even if some of the directories were lower-quality or even fly-by-night directories that weren't great for users. Right now we haven't changed how we're weighting directory links--we've only removed the directory suggestion from the webmaster guidelines.
Question: Until recentley (the last six months or so) a high ranking was achievable by submitting articles to article directories (providing they were 40%-60% unique), it no longer seems to be the case. Have links from article sites been de-valued at all?
Google’s Answer: In my experience, not every article directory site is high-quality. Sometimes you see a ton of articles copied all over the place, and it's hard to even find original content on the site. The user experience for a lot of those article directory sites can be pretty bad too. So you'd see users landing on those sorts of pages have a bad experience. If you're thinking of boosting your reputation and getting to be well-known, I might not start as the very first thing with an article directory. Sometimes it's nice to get to be known a little better before jumping in and submitting a ton of articles as the first thing.
Citi: Online Ad Market Fading Fastby Mark Walsh, Tuesday, Nov 18, 2008 7:00 AM ET
Display advertising is declining faster than expected and marketers are holding back on spending in 2009 because of growing economic uncertainty, according to a new report by Citi Internet analyst Mark Mahaney.
Based on insights gained from last Friday's AdRevenue 08 conference in San Francisco, Mahaney suggested that the online ad market is in worse shape than previously imagined.
"October spending in display saw a sharp deceleration from September as advertisers continue to worry about the macro environment," he wrote. "Premium, guaranteed advertising, especially, has been highly impacted across all verticals."
A separate analysis by TechCrunch of online ad revenue of the top four Web companies--Yahoo, Google, AOL and Microsoft--showed only 0.6% growth in the third quarter, down from 12.7% growth in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Citi only last week revised its 2008 Internet ad forecast downward from 16.1% to 11.4%, and its 2009 outlook from 14.1% to 5.8%. Anecdotal information picked up at the AdRevenue conference suggests that estimates could be lowered again in the coming months.
"Several publishers we spoke with indicated that many advertisers have not yet set their '09 budgets, which would have already been set by this time last year for '08," wrote Mahaney. "In addition, one agency informed us that some of their larger clients have preemptively cut their Q4 budgets across the board in anticipation of a severely challenged holiday season."
Display ad pricing is also under increasing pressure, especially from social media sites. According to PubMatic, which runs the AdRevenue conference, effective CPMs (eCPMs) fell 21% on average from the second to the third quarter, with the biggest declines coming at small and medium sites.
Citi expects pricing on premium placements to continue falling while CPMs on targeted niche should continue to rise as advertisers seek out specific audiences at the expense of sites with wider reach.
On the bright side, ad budgets are shifting from traditional media (mainly print and radio) to performance-based display ads, ad exchanges and search advertising. Citi predicts ad exchanges and ad networks to benefit from that trend into next year. Even so, the report noted that publishers complain about too many ad networks claiming to do similar things.
"As such, there appears to be a flight to quality and to vertical ad networks, especially as marketing budgets become constricted in the current macro environment," it stated. With more than 300 ad networks in operation, industry observers are already projecting that the downturn will force the category to contract.
November 13, 2008
50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence onWeb sites to help your company network, advertise recruit and more.
By Inside CRM Editors
If your business limits its online presence to advertising banners and blogging, it's missing out. The Internet provides powerful networking opportunities that allow users to effectively target their audience by logging on to social sites like LinkedIn, Digg and more. Take advantage of these tools by asserting your company's presence online and reaching more potential customers, business partners and employees.
Share your favorite sites on the Web with potential clients and business partners by commenting on, uploading and ranking different newsworthy articles. You can also create a member profile that directs traffic back to your company's Web site.
1. Reddit: Upload stories and articles on reddit to drive traffic to your site or blog. Submit items often so that you'll gain a more loyal following and increase your presence on the site.
2. Digg: Digg has a huge following online because of its optimum usability. Visitors can submit and browse articles in categories like technology, business, entertainment, sports and more.
3. Del.icio.us: Social bookmark your way to better business with sites like del.icio.us, which invite users to organize and publicize interesting items through tagging and networking.
4. StumbleUpon: You'll open your online presence up to a whole new audience just by adding the StumbleUpon toolbar to your browser and "channel surf[ing] the Web. You'll "connect with friends and share your discoveries," as well as "meet people that have similar interests."
5. Technorati: If you want to increase your blog's readership, consider registering it with Technorati, a network of blogs and writers that lists top stories in categories like Business, Entertainment and Technology.
6. Ning: After hanging around the same social networks for a while, you may feel inspired to create your own, where you can bring together clients, vendors, customers and co-workers in a confidential, secure corner of the Web. Ning lets users design free social networks that they can share with anyone.
7. Squidoo: According to Squidoo, "everyone's an expert on something. Share your knowledge!" Share your industry's secrets by answering questions and designing a profile page to help other members.
8. Furl: Make Furl "your personal Web file" by bookmarking great sites and sharing them with other users by recommending links, commenting on articles and utilizing other fantastic features.
9. Tubearoo: This video network works like other social-bookmarking sites, except that it focuses on uploaded videos. Businesses can create and upload tutorials, commentaries and interviews with industry insiders to promote their own services.
10. WikiHow: Create a how-to guide or tutorial on wikiHow to share your company's services with the public for free.
11. YouTube: From the fashion industry to Capitol Hill, everyone has a video floating around on YouTube. Shoot a behind-the-scenes video from your company's latest commercial or event to give customers and clients an idea of what you do each day.
12. Ma.gnolia: Share your favorite sites with friends, colleagues and clients by organizing your bookmarks with Ma.gnolia. Clients will appreciate both your Internet-savviness and your ability to stay current and organized.
Sign up with these online networking communities as a company or as an individual to take advantage of recruiting opportunities, cross-promotional events and more.
13. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a popular networking site where alumni, business associates, recent graduates and other professionals connect online.
14. Ecademy: Ecademy prides itself on "connecting business people" through its online network, blog and message-board chats, as well as its premier BlackStar membership program, which awards exclusive benefits.
15. Ryze: Ryze lets members organize contacts and friends; upcoming events; and even job, real-estate and roommate classifieds.
16. YorZ: This networking site doubles as a job site. Members can post openings for free to attract quality candidates.
17. Xing: An account with networking site Xing can "open doors to thousands of companies." Use the professional contact manager to organize your new friends and colleagues, and take advantage of the Business Accelerator application to "find experts at the click of a button, market yourself in a professional context [and] open up new sales channels."
18. Facebook: Facebook is no longer just for college kids who want to post their party pics. Businesses vie for advertising opportunities, event promotion and more on this social-networking site.
19. Care2: Care2 isn't just a networking community for professionals: It's touted as "the global network for organizations and people who Care2 make a difference." If your business is making efforts to go green, let others know by becoming a presence on this site.
20. Gather: This networking community is made up of members who think. Browse categories concerning books, health, money, news and more to ignite discussions on politics, business and entertainment. This will help your company tap into its target audience and find out what they want.
21. MEETin.org: Once you've acquired a group of contacts in your city by networking on MEETin.org, organize an event so that you can meet face-to-face.
22. Tribe: Cities like Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, New York and Chicago have unique online communities on tribe. Users can search for favorite restaurants, events, clubs and more.
23. Ziggs: Ziggs is "organizing and connecting people in a professional way." Join groups and make contacts through your Ziggs account to increase your company's presence online and further your own personal career.
24. Plaxo: Join Plaxo to organize your contacts and stay updated with feeds from Digg, Amazon.com, del.icio.us and more.
25. NetParty: If you want to attract young professionals in cities like Boston, Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando Fla., create an account with the networking site NetParty. You'll be able to connect with qualified, up-and-coming professionals online, then meet them at a real-life happy-hour event where you can pass out business cards, pitch new job openings and more.
26. Networking For Professionals: Networking For Professionals is another online community that combines the Internet with special events in the real world. Post photos, videos, résumés and clips on your online profile while you meet new business contacts.
Niche Social-Media Sites
Consider linking up with one of these social-media sites to narrow down your business's target audience. You'll find other professionals, enthusiasts and consumers who are most likely already interested in what your company has to offer.
27. Pixel Groovy: Web workers will love Pixel Groovy, an open-source site that lets members submit and rate tutorials for Web 2.0, email and online-marketing issues.
28. Mixx: Mixx prides itself on being "your link to the Web content that really matters." Submit and rate stories, photos and news to drive traffic to your own site. You'll also meet others with similar interests.
29. Tweako: Gadget-minded computer geeks can network with each other on Tweako, a site that promotes information sharing for the technologically savvy.
30. Small Business Brief: When members post entrepreneur-related articles, a photo and a link to their profile appear, gaining you valuable exposure and legitimacy online.
31. Sphinn: Sphinn is an online forum and networking site for the Internet marketing crowd. Upload articles and guides from your blog to create interest in your own company or connect with other professionals for form new contacts.
32. BuzzFlash.net: This one-stop news resource is great for businesses that want to contribute articles on a variety of subjects, from the environment to politics to health.
33. HubSpot: HubSpot is another news site aimed at connecting business professionals.
34. SEO TAGG: Stay on top of news from the Web marketing and SEO (search-engine optimization) industries by becoming an active member of this online community.
General Social-Media Sites
The following social-media sites provide excellent opportunities for businesses to advertise; promote specials, events or services; and feature published, knowledgeable employees.
35. Wikipedia: Besides creating your own business reference page on Wikipedia, you can connect with other users on Wikipedia's Community Portal and at the village pump, where you'll find conscientious professionals enthusiastic about news, business, research and more.
36. Newsvine: Feature top employees by uploading their articles, studies or other news-related items to this site. A free account will also get you your own column and access to the Newsvine community.
37. 43 Things: This site bills itself as "the world's most popular online goal setting community." By publicizing your company's goals and ambitions, you'll gain a following of customers, investors and promoters who cheer you on as you achieve success.
38. Wetpaint: If you're tired of blogs and generic Web sites, create your own wiki with Wetpaint to reach your audience and increase your company's presence online. You can easily organize articles, contact information, photos and other information to promote your business.
39. Frappr: Embed a Frappr map and guestbook into your company's Web page so that you can pinpoint exactly how users find your site, discover in real-time what they have to say about your company profile and services, and create an "interactive, fun and engaging" spot for visitors.
40. Yahoo! Answers: Start fielding Yahoo! users' questions with this social-media Q&A service. Search for questions in your particular areas of expertise by clicking categories like Business & Finance, Health, News & Events and more. If you continue to dole out useful advice and link your answer to your company's Web page, you'll quickly gain a new following of curious customers.
If you want to secure high-quality talent during your company's next hiring spree, you'll need to maintain a strong presence on popular job sites like the ones listed below.
41. CareerBuilder.com: Reach millions of candidates by posting jobs on this must-visit site.
42. The Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal: The Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal attracts well-educated professionals who are at the top of their game. Post a job or search résumés here.
43. CollegeRecruiter.com: If your firm wants to hire promising entry-level employees, check CollegeRecuriter.com for candidates with college degrees.
44. Monster: Post often to separate your business from all the other big companies that use this site to advertise job openings.
45. Sologig: Top freelancers and contractors post résumés and look for work on this popular site.
46. AllFreelance.com: This site "offers self-employed small business owners links to freelance & work at home job boards, self-promotion tips" and more.
47. Freelance Switch Job Listings: Freelance Switch is the freelancer's online mecca and boasts articles, resource toolboxes, valuable tips and a job board.
48. GoFreelance: Employers looking to boost their vendor base should check GoFreelance for professionals in the writing, design, editing and Web industries.
49. Yahoo! Hot Jobs: This site is often one of the first places that job seekers visit. Post open opportunities and check out informative articles and guides to gain insight on the hiring and interviewing process.
50. Guru.com: Build your company's repertoire with top freelancing professionals by advertising projects on this site, otherwise known as "the world's largest online service marketplace."
Study Finds Growing Green MarketNEW YORK The drive to sustainability is having a broad effect on consumers, with three in four defining themselves as "green," according to a new study.
According to the survey, the green market has grown far beyond its roots as a niche, with 77 percent of consumers identifying themselves as "green." Over half (57 percent) said they made a green purchase decision in the past six months.
Yahoo commissioned the survey, which polled 1,500 people age 18-54 in person in Los Angeles, Chicago and Portland, Ore. Respondents were recruited online.
While it found broad support for green, consumers unsurprisingly varied in their commitment to the cause. Yahoo pegs about 23 percent of consumers as "deeply committed." A larger segment, about 24 percent, finds green "trendy," Yahoo concludes, particularly young consumers 18-34.
It found that currently green consumers are most likely to take sustainability into account when buying cleaning and personal care products. Larger purchase decisions, such as a car, will soon be highly influenced by green concerns, the Yahoo study found: 71 percent said they are interested in buying an environmentally sound auto in the future.
In making decisions, green consumers find information in both traditional and online media. Respondents nearly evenly split between the two, with 72 percent saying they get information in traditional media and 68 percent citing online. When it comes to the Web, the Yahoo! study found portals have continued staying power as an information provider, with 51 percent citing it as a green information source. Search came in second at 44 percent.
Two sources that fared much worse: company Web sites, which only 20 percent turned to, and blogs at 21 percent.