This brief (approximately 90 seconds) video is a quick but important exchange between Seth Godin and Tom Peters on blogging and its marketing power. In it, Peters calls blogging “the best marketing damn marketing tool by an order of magnitude” he’s ever had and ironically notes that it happens to be free. If you are contemplating a blog or content marketing strategy, maybe this is the last nudge you need to move forward.
Dell got a fairly bad rap a while back its treatment of famous blogger Jeff Jarvis. Dubbed “dell hell,” it has become a case study in how bloggers can have a true impact in commerce.
Fast forward almost three years and Dell has really turned the tables in many respects. An item in the Wall Street Journal tells a pretty cool story of Michael Dell getting the blogosphere to work for him in an effort to launch a new product. I think this is a very good example of social media coming full circle within a corporation.
The New York Times has an interesting article today about social networking and its next phase. Most have followed the meteoric rise of social networking sites like MySpace.com, FaceBook, and others. They became so very popular when users discovered that they could not just read content, but congregate with others around the content, communicate with others about the content, and in some ways actually become the content. Advertising dollars and investment capital have quickly followed.
At this point, it seems like countless sites are trying to figure out how to tap into the social networking phenomenon (and capital pool). You hear fairly often that we’re going to be “the MySpace of X” or “the MySpace of Y.” While this isn’t necessarily a bad goal, I wonder how realistic it is.
The article in The Times brings up two good points. First, it’s tough to convince users to join a social networking site when there are few other members; starting from scratch has even proven difficult for Nike’s Joga.com. Second, it is inconvenient for users to go through the registration process for more than one or two of these sites.
It’s almost a necessity for every corporation to be thinking about social networking and how to integrate it into a marketing and/or customer service strategy. But I think that most would do better to explore joining existing ommunities instead of creating new ones.
Almost every day I entertain the question of how one can snatch a number one listing on Google for a particular keyword or keyphrase. As anyone who has worked with search engines know, this is not at all a simple answer. There are too many variables to consider in terms of industry, stature in the marketplace, target market, and longevity. My typical tact is to try not to give a definitive answer (because, often, one does not exist) but to help clients think about how Google functions and how it might work for them. Similar to the ‘training versus educating’ line of demarcation, the first step toward Google success is learning how to think about it.
In my conversations with clients, I try and help them think through several concepts related to how Google functions with a Web site and how it assigns rankings. Many of the mechanics of Google are trade secrets (think the Coca-Cola recipe) and unknown by anyone outside of a select few employees. There are several widely accepted principles, though, that guide search engine marketers in how to cozy up to high Google rankings.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s think of these accepted principles in two categories:
1. On-site factors: Google takes a look at the content and structure of your Web site to determine how relevant it is to a particular keyword or keyphrase
2. Off-site factors: Google looks at the greater Internet (factors external to your Web site) and how it relates to your site
Once you understand this delineation, you’re on the way to understanding higher rankings. Let’s take a look at some of the invididual principles within each of these categories. On-site factors
1. Google cares about your content, how original and genuine it is, how often it is updated, and how many times a particular keyword/keyphrase is used.
2. Google looks for specific, descriptive tags (called META tags and TITLE tags) and the keywords therein.
3. The presence of a site map (similar to an outline) within your Web site denotes structure, organization, and a specific hierarchy to Google.
4. Google evaluates your site to determine how structurally sound (i.e. strong coding) your site is as a measure of its relevance.
5. Google can’t often interpret images and FLASH content, so the site must contain a balance between readable text and graphics. Off-site factors
1. Google counts the number of sites that link to yours.
2. Google determines how relevant/important those linking sites are; a link from a heavily-visited site is more valuable than a link from a site with little traffic.
3. Google looks to see how long your domain has been existence and in its database; as a rule of thumb, domains with longer lives are seen as more legitimate.
4. Google evaluates the text within incoming links as a way to characterize what words are associated with your site.
5. Google looks to other closely-related sites like a corporate blog or other affiliated site as a way to determine how relevant your site is.
This list isn’t meant to represent a be-all / end-all. Anyone who tells you that they have such a list is likely exaggerating (or violating a Google patent protection). It hopefully is, though, a start toward helping you to strategically think about Google and how to find your way to the top!
Many of the marketers and business owners that I speak with are highly interested in being highly ranked in search engines–especially Google. Many have gone to the trouble of performing some surface level research on the basics of search engine success: things like meta tags, title tags, and incorporating keywords and phrases into the site’s text.
But one of the key issues that is surprising to people involves keyword selection. I have found that those keywords and phrases that you assume will be successful are often not. Using software tools, we often explore the real data reflecting the words/phrases that searchers are using and how often they are being used.
I’m usually surprised when I look at the search volume of various terms (which I assume to be popular) in contrast to those phrases which are similar in nature. For example, I once saw that ‘personal injury law’ didn’t have close to the level of search volume as ‘auto accident attorney.’ Humans search differently than that of the marketer’s perception. Keyword research is essential to search engine success.
Brian Clark has a great piece on his blog describing the art of keyword research and why it is important.