SEO tips to getting your site holiday ready (no... it's NOT too early)

Miami web manager's holiday SEO tipsThose of you with school-age children may have been preoccupied with back-to-school, but now it’s time to start preparing your site for the holidays. The holiday shopping season is not that far off, so get on with implementing these traffic-building tips in order to achieve maximum search engine visibility.

Build Your Links

By acquiring a handful of links from high PageRank-endowed relevant sites, you will automatically enhance your site’s worthiness in the eyes of the search engines (PageRank is, on a logarithmic scale of 0 to 10, Google’s importance score). In my experience, a single link from a PageRank 8 homepage has significantly boosted rankings within several weeks. It's also worthwhile giving attention to existing inbound links where the anchor text is less than ideal (e.g. "click here" or "visit site"). If you can influence the text used in links by bloggers and business partners alike, you will profit in terms of additional rankings and traffic. Don’t forget to build your links slowly or you may raise red flags with Google and Yahoo!

Participate in the Blogosphere

Leverage the power of blogs for SEO. It's a great way to positively impact your site’s traffic and readership. One key to success when blogging is to write posts frequently so that you have very few "gaps" in time. A great time management technique is to load in prewritten, post-dated blog content into your blog software, such as WordPress [or Blogspot], so that all of your blog posts aren't clumped together.

Spend as much time commenting on the blogs of important bloggers in your industry as you spend writing for your own blog. That will help get you on the radar screen of these [SEO] influencers. You can also generate positive buzz in the blogosphere by sending free product samples or review copies to these bloggers with "no strings attached" — it’s a bad idea to try to buy bloggers off by sending them useless [crap]. Remember that bloggers can wreak havoc on reputations, so tread carefully.

If you don’t have time to blog yourself, you could try recruiting passionate customers as blog authors and run a group blog.

Re-Organize Your Internal Links

Your customers probably have different buying habits during the holiday season than they do at any other time of the year. Therefore, it's common sense that you should modify your internal linking structure to reflect seasonality. Don’t trash your existing site’s navigation, simply augment it with additional links containing keyword-rich anchor text, to create shortcuts that pass PageRank to your popular holiday categories and products. For example, if all of your holiday ornaments are three clicks away from your home page, create a text link on your home page that reads "Christmas ornaments" or "holiday ornaments." Don't rely on links on your sitemap page or on footer links to achieve this; such links are less than ideal. Don’t go overboard in your homepage linking. Keep in mind that Google’s [Web Manager] Guidelines advises you to keep the number of links on a page to fewer than 100.

Escape the Code Freeze

A common IT practice among mid to large size online merchants is to institute a "code freeze," or site lockdown, during the holiday shopping season to minimize the potential for catastrophic errors and downtime. If your organization institutes a code freeze, you may not be able to make changes to your site for months. This means your on-page SEO effectively stagnates for an entire quarter. It also means you must race against the clock to implement SEO initiatives of any significance; and if you don't make it in time, you must wait until the new year.

One way around this stress-inducing "time crunch" is to implement a third-party proxy platform. Such a system allows you to implement optimizations to the proxy throughout the holidays, quickly and easily, without impacting your native site.

Perhaps your code freeze still allows you to add static "landing pages" during the holiday season. That's better than nothing, but remember that it typically takes several weeks for new pages to make it into the search engines — and during the holidays, time is of the essence. So, the sooner you can add links to these new pages, the better.

Miami web manager's holiday SEO tipsWrap Your Gifts

With giveaways like FREE gift wrap and FREE shipping you'll attract holiday shoppers because you’re providing them with real value. Incorporate powerful messaging (e.g. free gift wrap, free shipping) into your Google snippets by adding them to meta description tags. Since hundreds of thousands of people search for phrases that include "gifts", you would do well to create a Gift Ideas page, optimize it, and place it one click away from your homepage to maximize its PageRank and give it the best opportunity to rank well.

Another way to give during the holiday season is to offer gift certificates for the last-minute shopper. Feature gift certificates prominently on your site and cross-sell them on your "gifts" and "gift ideas" pages to achieve maximum visibility. Start optimizing for gift certificate related search terms through featuring your gift certificates now, not just once the holiday season kicks into full swing.

The Bottom-Line: "The holidays offer opportunities to catch up on sales goals and / or beat projections. Whether you're a mom-and-pop shop or a web manager looking for that extra year-end bonus, you'll want to implement these holiday web SEO tips ASAP.", says Ivan. He added, "As a rule of thumb, I like to launch holiday campaigns two months in advance so as we near the actual date, I'm sure my sites and creative are 100%, up and running. The last thing you want to do is correct website errors on your Halloween campaign on October 25th!"

Image(s): PJLighthouse and Webpro News. Source: Practical eCommerce. Read the web manager article here.

Seven headaches of the website manager

miami web manager headacheThe job of the website manager (editor) is not easy. Despite the fact that content is everywhere, few organizations understand it properly. The true value and cost of content is rarely recognized. So, as a website manager, you have lots of headaches. But stick with it. Things are slowly getting better.

Gradually, the web is becoming like other aspects of business. It's becoming professionally managed and measured. The best websites are putting [web managers] in charge. [Web managers] worry about getting the right content to the right person at the right time at the right cost.

The job of the [web manager] is not easy. Typical problems that a [web manager] faces today include:

  1. Senior management who don't understand

  2. An IT department obsessed with features

  3. A marketing department in love with graphics

  4. Managers who want to be unique

  5. Plenty of responsibility and little authority

  6. Too little content or too much

  7. Little budget and few staff
miami web manager headachesSenior management who don't understand

Some senior management who don't understand the web simply ignore it. They starve it of resources and credibility. From an intranet perspective, the fact that senior management [doesn't read the web] makes is very difficult to get general staff buy-in.

An IT department obsessed with features

Many IT people are addicted to features. They have a compelling need to complicate. They are always chasing the latest technology fix. They want to buy content management software, not to solve the content problem, but because it will keep them busy, and is a cool thing to do.

A marketing department in love with graphics

Many marketing and advertising people are easily bored. They look at the website and think it's boring. They like lots of graphics because text is so boring. They want lots of animations because that will stop the customer getting bored. They really do think the web is boring and would just love to be off directing an expensive TV ad campaign.

Managers who want to be unique

Every department and product group wants their own unique look 'n' feel for their section of the website. IBM had that problem. They had 7,000 intranets. It was chaotic, totally unmanageable and turned staff away. Now IBM has one intranet. Staff are much happier.

Plenty of responsibility and little authority

You're in charge of the website but you have no authority to set policy, let alone police it. Sections of your website publish awful content. Other sections are filled with out-of-date content. You can advise them to become more professional. But you have no power to make them toe the line.

Too little content or too much

People won't give you content because "it's not my job." Or, they will throw you some print stuff, saying, "throw that up on the web." Other departments are churning out vast quantities of content that no sane person will ever consider reading.

Little budget and few staff

Your website is being fed just enough to keep it alive. There are hardly any full-time staff. People are expected to magically find time to create content. There is no real strategy or long-term plan. Time to ask senior management a question: Why do we have a website?

The Bottom-Line: "Although Gerry McGovern originally wrote this article over five years ago, much of what he stated still holds true. Luckily, e-Commerce has proved it's value (to some people, at least) and web managers in general are becoming more respected and are being listened to. But it's still a mostly thankless job that you've got to really love if you decide to go into it.", says Ivan. He added, "It's not all bad however. I personally love what I do partly because I am respected by many of the personality types Gerry writes about. Yes, I'd like budgets increased and an overall better understanding of why what I do is important but respect to let me do my thing and smiles when my thing makes people lots of money is good enough for me!"

Image(s): FreeRepublic and Stabilized-Ricebran.com. Source: Gerry McGovern. Read the web manager article here.

Design a website that [actually] sells

Howdy guys!

Sorry for the delay — but I am back. You know it makes me wonder how so many people ,miss the boat with design. It doesn't have to be complicated. Are you designing a website to sells products? I'm guessing most will answer - a resound YES!

No matter what your selling from clothing to e-books, your site's design will either turn visitors into customers or send them looking for another site to buy from. There are many basic web design factors that all websites should follow; proper use of white space, easy to understand navigation, conspicuous contact info and the like, but what design features really makes a website that sells?

The old [K.I.S.S.] adage, keep it simple stupid, does hold true to web design. While a lack of depth and design on your website is not good, erring on the side of simplicity is always better than overdoing it. Nothing scares off visitors faster than gratuitous animations, flash, graphics, gaudy colors, confusing navigation; actually the list goes on and on.

If you want your website to sell, make sure it looks professional. You can be creative with your design but your site still needs to have identifiable navigation, clearly posted contact information, and an easy to follow ordering process.

Make sure your visitors can get around your site easily. Having flash navigation or some weird system of random circles may seem like a great way to make your site's navigation unique, but visitors will often find it too weird, get frustrated, and leave.

Always post your contact information where customers can easily find it and if you are serious about selling online, get a customer service phone number. Would you trust a website without contact information or contact information that is hard to find? Probably not. Neither will your visitors.

Your site should be designed to make the buying process as easy as possible for your customers. Many sales are lost due to people abandoning their orders midway through because they got confused of frustrated. Be sure to keep your customers all the way through the ordering process by making your forms easy to understand.

Lastly, don't fill your sales page with lots of fluff such as big text, fake testimonials, tacky guarantees, and multiple calls to action. Keep it short, simple and to the point. Tell your customers what your product can do for them, add a short call to action and end it. Customers know when you are just trying to add a lot of hype and most don't appreciate it.

The Bottom-Line: "Simple sells. Too much design, even when it's good, distracts the visitor from the main objective.", says Ivan. He added, "From interior design to architectural design to web design, your best bet is to go minimalist. It'll cost you less, deploy faster and always looks modern, elegant and expensive when done right."

Image(s): Design Guru Ryan. Source: Design Guru Ryan. Sign up for the email newsletter here.

Architects' websites suck

Why are architects' websites so badly designed?

You have to negotiate moving maps, mystifying symbols and surprise pop-up menus. Like a highbrow version of Tomb Raider. Architects like to picture themselves at the top of the design pyramid - the all-rounders who can design anything from a city to an earring. So why can't they design their own websites?

I spend a great deal of time negotiating architects' websites and, at the risk of biting the hand that feeds me, I'm amazed how bad most of them are. If their buildings were designed like their websites, people would forever be getting lost in mazes of corridors or opening doors to find a 10-story drop on the other side or, like me, banging their heads against brick walls.

Take Renzo Piano. One of the world's greatest architects, no doubt, but try to use his website and you'll see what I mean. See how long it takes you to find the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas (one of his lesser known projects). It took me a good 10 minutes to work out there was any info at all. Only by dragging your cursor over the "Renzo Piano Building Workshop" logo do you fleetingly access the secret portal. Then you have to negotiate a succession of moving maps, mystifying symbols and surprise pop-up menus to find anything. It's like a highbrow version of Tomb Raider. And be careful not to press the back button on your browser or you're ejected from the whole site and back to square one. Renzo Piano has designed an airport in the middle of the sea for God's sake - why should a website be beyond him? You'd be better off simply calling them up - but just you try finding the phone number.

It's unfair to single out Piano - there are countless British architects whose sites are equally poor. Perhaps architects seriously imagine we want to spend half an hour watching Flash animations or maybe it's a blind spot in their otherwise impregnable design armoury?

I'll name and shame a few to give you an idea (all fine architects, I hasten to add):

  1. Zaha Hadid: "Look at a nice picture of me, then good luck finding what you're after."

  2. Will Alsop: A classic architect conceit: organise your work under pretentious titles like "moving", "healing", "playing" - as in, "I don't design mere tube stations and hospitals, you know."

  3. David Chipperfield: Tiny, light grey text on a white background is an architects' favourite for some reason (not legibility). Poorly sighted clients apply elsewhere.

  4. Heneghan Peng: So minimal, it's practically a blank screen.

  5. AHMM: Click the link, go and make a cup of tea, come back and it'll still be loading (at least on my tired old machine). [This has since been fixed, thankfully.]

  6. What Architecture: A radical, graphic reinvention of the art of information display which you'll need a degree in advanced cartography to work out.

  7. Herzog & De Meuron, Peter Zumthor, Etc.: Of course, if you're a super-elite practice you don't have a website at all.
[But really folks, if] you need to look on the internet, you're really not worthy to hire [these starchitects].

The Bottom-Line: "As a business-person, the #1 thing to avoid is making it about you. Even Donald Trump knows it's about product and service. He is simply a brand mascot. Many people in the design world tend to forget why they got to where they're at and disregard smart design in attempts at displaying themselves in the most unique circumstances. I guess they can afford this in the short-term but as you can see from an earlier post, Zaha Hadid doesn't get much love online.", says Ivan. He added, "My advice, talk to my friend Gregor at SWISSLOGIC. He'll turn that work of art into a functioning work of SEO web designed art!"

Image(s): TreeHugger and guardian.co.uk. Source: Steve Rose. Read the article here.

Google's stock (GOOG) will DOUBLE in 5 years

Being away from the Internet for a few days, I was surprised to see [Google's stock] GOOG trading below 500 for the first time in more than 3 months. They missed consensus earnings estimates by a few cents and the stock has been beaten down around 20% in the last couple weeks.

This is a buying opportunity. There are no signs that Google’s growth will dip below 30% for the next 5 years. Yahoo! is a train wreck and Microsoft refuses to take the steps necessary to compete. This last quarter GOOG earned $4.64 per share. At 30% per year, that will be $17.23 per share for the quarter in 5 years or annual earnings of around $69 per share. Even at a PE ratio of 20, that gives us a valuation of $1,378 per share. At 30x earnings (about where they trade today) that’s $2,067 per share. Even if it trades at a mere 10x, you’re looking at $1,033 per share — or more than double what you can buy it for today.

Even if their growth slows to 20% per year, that would still give us earnings 5 years out of $46 a share. At 20x, that’s 923 (still about double what you can pick it up for today).

I’d love to see MSFT get their sh!t together and start to grab market share. In fact, I know exactly how they could do it and would love to manage the project. But, alas, that’s not going to happen. Even if it does, the writing will be on the wall long enough for any of us in the search space to unload our GOOG shares before the Wall Street firms have a clue.

GOOG is for all intents and purposes a monopoly. They are arrogant d!cks to deal with; monopolies always are. But they have the reach, growth and traffic — so we really have no choice.

As long as we know we’re getting f^cked dealing with a monopoly, we might as well make money on the proposition. That’s why I’m recommending you put any money you’re not going to need for the next 5 years into [Google (GOOG) stock].

The Bottom-Line: "Everyone knows the best time to spend money is when others aren't. The trick is spending on smart investments and there are less people doing smart things these days. Not that that's a bad thing... for smart people, that is!", says Ivan. He added, "The writing is on the wall and GOOG is one of those stocks that will pay off very handsomely in the future if you can sit it out for a bit. Another top pick of mine is Citibank (C). They're doing horribly but will never go out of business because neither the shareholders nor the economy could handle that and as we know, the deeper the dip, the greater the ascent. But who am I to give stock tips anyway?!"

Image: Boston.com. Source: Quadzilla. Read the article here.

Come and play in Miami's ONLY snow playground

Making money online; 2 sure bets

One of the most irritating topics that people seem to want to talk about ad nauseum is how to make money online. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of reading horrible advice on this subject, and I’m even more sick and tired of responding to people’s questions about Google AdSense, which is quite literally the worst monetization service of all time for people who don’t have millions of pageviews per month. In other words, AdSense ain’t gonna work for you, cowboy.

To rectify this abominable confluence of bad info and terrible services, I’m going to clue you in on two sure-fire ways you can actually make real, spendable, negotiable cash from your website. Not surprisingly, both methods of earning money involve actual products, and while not necessarily falling under the “easy” category, they both find their roots in the “no bullsh*t” category, which I happen to love.

Method One: Sell Your Own Product

It’s no coincidence that the best way to make money offline also happens to be the best way to make money online. Selling your own product and living by the objective economic laws of supply and demand is by far the best way to generate cash and to protect yourself from all the crap that goes on in the world.

Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably aware of the fact that the U.S. stock market is currently tanking. However, if you own a business and sell your own product, this shouldn’t make any difference to you. After all, you’re selling a product that has a nice demand behind it; you support your customers; and you’re still making sales and forging your place in the market.

Best of all, selling a product online has tons of ancillary benefits:

  • You’re insulated from Google to some degree, so “big brother” can kiss your sweet @ss. You literally own a piece of the market and your vertical will persist regardless of Google’s opinion or influence (or anyone else’s for that matter).

  • You get to build your business by developing your product and responding to the marketplace, and the Internet is the most feedback-oriented marketplace there is. Talk about a harmonious situation — I hear doves chirping and violins playing in the background when I even think about this.

  • You don’t need to compromise your site – or your users – with ads. Even beautiful ads are ugly and given the choice, I don’t think anyone who would choose to fill up the real estate on their website with someone else’s crap when they could be using the same space to promote their own stuff. You want absolute control over every pixel of your site while still making money? You need to sell your own product, my friend.
Now, I realize that not everyone has their own product to sell, so from the perspective of ubiquitous application, this isn’t a great solution. Fortunately, this is where the second sure-fire money-making method picks up the slack.

Method Two: Affiliate Product Sales

If selling your own product is the best way to make money online, then it should come as no surprise that selling someone else’s product is the second best way to make money online. In nerdy marketing circles, this practice is known as affiliate sales, and there are tons of Average Joes out there who are doing this and making sustainable incomes.

As for the people who are a little more clever than Average Joe?

They’re making a killing.

If you want to find success as an affiliate marketer, the “secret” is simply to pimp a product that you not only use, but also genuinely like. The more knowledgeable and transparent you are, the better you’ll do, but if you can only be one thing, be genuine.

There are countless affiliate programs available online, so which one should you promote? The short answer here is to promote as many programs as it makes sense to promote! For instance, as a web developer, I routinely deal with a few [web] merchants who also offer affiliate programs:
  1. aMember — payment and subscription software that I use to manage my customer database on DIYthemes (my WordPress theme marketplace)

  2. vbSEO — a clever collection of PHP scripts that turns vBulletin forum software into an SEO powerhouse

  3. MidPhase — shared server web hosting for smaller sites

  4. SingleHop — dedicated server hosting for larger, more demanding sites (for instance, DIYthemes is hosted here)
Given the nature of my work, it makes perfect sense for me to promote these programs wherever appropriate. Now, I don’t really go nuts with these promos, but then again, I’m by no means a hardcore affiliate marketer. Despite this, 7% of my income in 2007 came from affiliate sales, so I’m living proof that even a half-@ssed effort in this area can produce a decent return.

How About a Hot New Affiliate Program?

If the dating game has taught me anything, it’s that hot and new are always fun, at least for a little while. Interestingly, the affiliate marketing industry exhibits a similar trend—new programs will get hot, generate tons of cash for those involved, and then slowly level off or die out depending on the quality of the product.

Today, I’m pleased to announce the new DIYthemes affiliate program, which I’ve opened in collaboration with Brian Clark of Copyblogger (and affiliate marketing) fame. Brian is literally the most genuine, transparent, and intelligent marketer I’ve ever met, so obviously, getting him on my team for this one was a no-brainer. He knows what it takes to be a successful affiliate, and I wouldn’t have bothered to open this program unless I knew I could help a lot of people kick @ss.

We’re paying out 33% commissions, and based on initial sales and user testimonials from our flagship WordPress theme, this program is going to be hot.

So seriously, head on over to DIYthemes, sign up for the affiliate program, and replace that damn AdSense already. What have you got to lose, two dollars… this month?

See you on the site!

The Bottom-Line: "Wanna make easy money, hang out with friends and chat over $4 cafinated drinks? Get a job! Many people don't have the drive to work without a manager over their shoulders telling them what to do and many managers don't want the hassle of micro-managing staffers.", says a grinning Ivan. He added, "If you really want to shine. I mean really shine, follow the advice above. Whether you're aiming to make big bucks from home (and trust me, it's very doable) or looking for new sources of revenue to present at your next meeting, online is the sure way to do it."

Image: Pearsonified. Source: Chris Pearson. Read the full article here.

How to approach [anyone]

Today I received an email from a potential logo design client.

Image copyright: ConnArtistIt read in full, “can you design my fashion logo”.

No introduction. No punctuation. No details or common courtesy.

I cannot design your fashion logo.

The Bottom-Line: "One of the first rules we learned in school was to 'be nice'", says Ivan. He added, "My rule of thumb is to be polite to everyone. If I'm treated poorly, I'll simply be kurt but still respectful. It works!"

Image: ConnArtist. Source: David Airey. Read the full article here.

Find that dream job (by noon!) using uncommon search tactics

Rules are meant to be broken. Think outside the box. Be original. These are all clichés meant to inspire and remind you that creativity can often be rewarded in life.

Yet, even the most adventurous of us can't overcome our reservations when it comes to job hunting. Everything you've been told about the application and interview processes emphasizes being professional. Don't try to be funny in your cover letter. Wear a conservative business suit. Show how you'll fit in as one of the team. In other words, do what everyone else is doing.

For some people, that just won't do.

Tony Beshara, author of "Acing the Interview," has seen his share of unusual job search methods over the years, ranging from quirky to bold. And several of them have been successful.

"For a marketing job, the candidate bought a pair of baby shoes, wrapped one in a box along with her résumé and sent it directly to the hiring authority," Beshara remembers. "The box had a tag that said 'Let me get my foot in the door and you will be pleased.' When she went to the interview, she took the other shoe with her, which was a great way to start the interview."

Another job candidate who was hoping to land a sales position sent his résumé to the hiring manager with miniature star tickets that fell out when you opened it up. Across the top he had written "Hire a Star."

Quiet and clever tactics don't work for everybody, though. Beshara recalls another job seeker who decided to wear a sandwich board that read, "Brand new, hardworking MBA needs work." He then stood at one of Dallas' busiest intersections during the morning rush hour.

"He had a job by noon."

Even advertising your job hunt to thousands of morning commuters seems insignificant when compared to the gutsy move of John Gaines, a copywriter in Seattle. During his weeklong freelancing stint at an ad agency, he decided he wanted a permanent position with the company.

"The Monday after my assignment ended, I came in early and fished some important-looking papers out of a recycling bin. I found an empty office with a computer whose monitor didn't face the door and sat in it surfing the 'Net for a few hours every day."

He walked around the office at regular intervals carrying the papers and interacted with other employees. If they asked what he was doing, he told them he was a freelancer who was "handling some paperwork." He eventually had another freelancing stint with them that became a five-year relationship.

Other tactics aren't as premeditated or elaborate.

When marketing and management expert Mark Stevens met with a candidate whose credentials showed great promise, he was disappointed when the interview didn't go well. The applicant wasn't engaged in the interview and as soon as he left he threw away his résumé.

"The next day, I received a FedEx package from him, with a book of poetry on human loss and a loving letter about how his mother had died that week," Stevens remembers. He knew he hadn't made a good impression and asked for a second chance. Stevens gave it to him and ended up hiring him.

When you're hunting for a job, keep in mind that these unorthodox methods worked for these job seekers. Not only did they have the guts to try them out, but they also encountered hiring managers who were willing to take their efforts seriously.

Although wearing a sandwich board on a highway isn't the most reliable way to land a job, that job seeker did set himself apart from the thousands of other new MBAs fresh out of school. In a competitive job market, look for any opportunity, big or little, to give yourself an edge over the other applicants.

The Bottom-Line: "Think of yourself as a salesperson. The product you're selling is you. This could be hard for someone (like me) that that (a) doesn't like to selll and (b) hates thinking of themself as a product. Sound advice... GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!!!!", says a smiling Ivan. He added, "If you really, really want to make the sale, pull out all the stops. I like to read case studies on how ad execs landed ideal jobs with a bit of creativity and ingenuity then adapt their ideas to my situation. That's a good start for anyone lacking creative juices."

Image: CartoonStock. Source: Anthony Balderrama for CareerBuilder. Read the full article here.

Get great media coverage

SEO is about the off page factors as well as the on page factors - small businesses usually neglect the former. Getting external sites to write about you, especially top news sites, can do wonders for your inbound links and as a result improve your search engine rankings. Here’s how one company got top rate media coverage.

It’s been one of those days all week for Adelaide Fives, one half of the founding partnership of In Good Company Workplaces in New York. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the New York Times featured her company in their business pages, unexpectedly throwing it into the limelight. Having just appeared on Fox News and successfully secured another television feature, Fives is reeling from what has been a roller coaster ride with the media.

Fives comes across as a sparky young woman in her phone interview and she's buzzing with excitement over the recent attention she and business partner, Amy Abrams, have been attracting.

Setting goals

In Good Company opened its doors in September 2007 offering women productive and flexible workspaces to hire. Within six months their ‘community’ of female only entrepreneurs grew to over 120 members. As the year came to a close, Fives and Abrams made a list of goals for 2008; one of them was to feature in the New York Times, and in February they achieved that, despite never having had any experience in PR or marketing.

“We felt that what we were doing was very press worthy and that there were a lot of stories to be told around our business,” says Fives.

“We got in touch with Marci Alboher (journalist for the New York Times) and she was polite and said that if we were of interest to her she would be in touch.

“For five months we stayed on her radar and invited her to events or kept her updated on what we were doing. We were conscious that we didn’t want to come across as too pushy, but it’s a fine line.”

Perserverance

Fives' and Abrams' patience looked as if it would pay off after Alboher called them to say she would be mentioning the company in a trend article on flexible workspaces. After a marathon two-hour interview and a photo shoot at the In Good Company offices, the story was dropped because a similar story had been published in the New York Times that week, which left Fives and Abrams deflated. However, their luck turned when Alboher contacted them the following week to say she wanted to write a feature on In Good Company for the business pages.

“We had gone through this roller coaster of being excited, being let down and then everything being back on again,” says Fives.

Over four days Alboher interviewed a number of the members of In Good Company, as well as investors and industry commentators for the article. The online publication also carried a link to each of the women’s websites.

Fives says they were “ecstatic” with the finished New York Times article. “We felt it reflected our business well and we were flattered by her nice comments and our members comments too, so we felt touched by that.”

Consequences of good media attention

Just as Fives and Abrams sighed with relief that the article had been well received, the phone began ringing with inquiries from women wanting to become members, demanding realtors asking them to join their client list, and calls from people looking for advice on how to launch their own flexible workspace companies.

The huge interest raised some interesting dilemmas for the In Good Company team, explains Fives.

“We have met a tremendous amount of women and had a lot of interest from people who want to do something similar. That’s been a little tricky because we have extension plans and although we are very collaborative sometimes we can’t because we can’t give away our business model.

“We have had to change some of our practices, so now we have a more intense screening process for new members and ask more questions when we take inquires or have people come meet with us.”

Although Fives doesn’t know exactly how much more traffic has come through the site, she confirmed it was “a lot.” She has an interesting perspective on traffic, saying that she is more interested in the number of people who contact her who are appropriate for the business.

Negative exposure

After the New York Times article was published, Fox News invited Fives, Abrams and Ann Lansing (a designer who uses the workspace) to appear on a business bulletin.

Unfortunately the male presenter accused them of running a feminist company which was “right up there with bra burners”. Fives and Abrams, coolly explained the concept of having a community workspace for female entrepreneurs and described why it had grown in popularity. Eventually the gray suit decided to ditch his bad cop routine and ended the interview by saying he thought they had a great idea on their hands.

A live television interview broadcast is daunting even for the professionals. Fives said she kept calm by showing little emotion, and by not letting the interviewer know she was annoyed.

“He asked me why women are different than men. Well, I don’t really feel qualified to answer that, so I thought how can I answer this question without looking stupid, but at the same time not getting into a conversation that’s not interesting.”

Fives and Abrams stuck to their message and came across as extremely professional and articulate. They have since continued to reap the rewards of their coverage in the New York Times with more local media outlets covering their story.

“I haven’t stopped since the article was published so this is a really exciting and positive time for us,” says Fives.

Getting good media coverage – Adelaide's top tips

  1. Decide what is newsworthy about your business. It’s not enough to say you have a great service.

  2. If you are a service provider sometimes it’s easier to be quoted as an expert. Think about how you can pitch that.

  3. Do your research. Identify appropriate and approachable local media first and then identify who within that newspaper would be the right person to speak to.

  4. Reach out in a professional and open way and not in a ‘salesy’ way which can come across as too pushy.

  5. Tell the journalist why you are interesting. You can’t say ‘here’s a list of things about me — find out what’s interesting’, that’s not going to work.

  6. Stay on the journalists’ radar but again, don’t be pushy.
Click In Good Company Workplaces to read the whole of their press coverage.

Key Points:
  • Persevere. Getting good press coverage can sometimes seem more like a marathon than a sprint, so don’t lose patience.

  • Make sure the publication is relevant to your company.

  • Be prepared for inquiries that will result in media coverage. You don’t want to get into a situation where customers want your products off the back of the reading a newspaper or magazine, and they can’t get it.
Image: Wordtracker. Source: Rachelle Money. Read the full article here or visit Wordtracker.com.

Rachelle Money: Rachelle Money is a freelance journalist based in Scotland, UK. She graduated from the Scottish School of Journalism in 2005 where she was awarded an internship with two national publications - The Sunday Herald newspaper and The Big Issue magazine. Rachelle has been working with Wordtracker since August 2007 and is a regular contributor to the newsletter.

Top 4 surefire ways to increase website traffic

Hope your summer is going great! While hopefully you are working on your tans, we at IX Web Hosting are dreaming up ways to go beyond our fundamental commitment of hosting your website. So, for this newsletter, we began compiling a list of "tips" that will help increase your site’s traffic – and grow your business (if you sell anything) – the goal of every webmaster.

TIP 1 - SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Search Engine Optimization (also called 'SEO') will let your website appear on the first few pages of search results in search engines like Google or Yahoo. Your visitors always use certain search phrases (also called ‘keywords’) to find your site. Your goal with that is to make those visitors who look for keywords that relate to your site actually find you. Not to scare you off, but SEO is a science on its own – but I think it’s important for every webmaster to be able to use it. It’s a very powerful way to increase your website’s traffic. In future newsletters, I’ll be getting into the SEO topic in greater detail and how we use it every day here at IX to grow our company. For now, you may want to take a look at the following beginner's guide that can help you get started.

TIP 2 - Use Testimonials

Think about how many times you’ve visited a new website. Were you a little apprehensive about the site or about placing an order, especially for the first time? Did you read the reviews? More than likely you did, let’s face it; most people read reviews before they buy something from a site or participate in a website’s community. Letting your visitors know about the experience other visitors have with your site or business will skyrocket your website’s credibility.

TIP 3 - Surveys And Customer Feedback

If you are offering products or services on your site, your most valuable source of information is your customers. Creating customer surveys can provide you with a wealth of information. You can also find tools to post your customers’ feedback on your site; just be sure to use one that verifies negative feedback so that it is not posted immediately without you having a chance to try to resolve the issue. Attention to the feedback your visitors give you is very important – it’ll help you improve your site, service, and make the experience of your visitors more intriguing. And that will make them come back again and again.

TIP 4 - Website Credibility

Another way to increase your website’s credibility is by displaying site seals that show you are offering a recognized product or service, or that you are associated with a trusted organization. The impact of these types of seals is significant because it tells your visitors that quality is important and it gives them a feeling of security. If visitors feels comfortable about your site, product, or service they are much more likely to return to your site in the future.

In making this list, I stumbled upon a tool called RatePoint that could help you in all the areas above. It was just featured in Entrepreneur Magazine.

Since many of you have indicated you might be interested in this type of tool, I talked with the company and was able to get an exclusive deal just for IX Web Hosting customers. We are able to offer you the RatePoint membership for only $14.95/month (more than 15% off) and they give you TWO FREE MONTHS on top of that. If you think you would like to try it, take a quick look at the video, it explains all you need to know about it.

The Bottom-Line: "Just when people got comfortable making purchases online, some bad-apple web retailers come out over-promising and under-delivering", says Ivan. He added, "What this means is that smaller retailers especially, will need to prove to consumers that they're credible legitimate businesses and the web makes it easier and much more cost-effective. It's really the only way to compete with chain retailers!"

Source: Fathi Said, CEO of IX Web Hosting. Visit his site here.

USA Today on shipping container houses

Got a bunch of shipping containers and don't know what to do with them? Build a luxury house! If you're like most people, you probably don't have a bunch of cargo shipping containers just laying around but believe it or not, there are people out there that don't know what to do with theirs. I read once that the U.S. had thousands of these shipping containers sitting here empty because it cost too much money to ship them back to where they came from! This presented a big problem for many ports and shipping companies and a HUGE OPPORTUNITY for smart marketers.

Architects have long been known for imaginative designs and structures that pretty much defy reality. Creating things that shouldn't be is in and of itself, amazing! Blending things that were not meant to be, or polar opposites to create visually appealing functional art is the abstract definition of modern architecture and the way the industry embraces these weird forms brings new meaning to the term 'brand loyalty'.

The Bottom-Line: The architecture industry is full of emotion and life. Architecture is dramatic. It's glamourous. Even when it's in full marketing mode, it takes it's audience into another world where people feel empowered by marvels of creation and the defiance of "I can do it!" I encourage anyone studying brand loyalty or advertising to research the business of design architecture. It would be an eye-opening experience. We could all learn a thing or two from this passionate business. After all, it's what propelled Apple from almost extinct to Wonder Brand.

Image: Materialicious and USA Today. Source: USA Today. Read the full article here or visit Materialicious.

2009 Honda hybrid ... see the future of Honda hybrids

Great headline, horrible landing page. See how Honda messed up.

Since the days of Henry Ford, car buying has always been emotional. No one knows this better than Honda so you'd think as they promote there upcoming hybrids (again, a series of cars designed to sell on emotions) they'd use many, many photos to further entice reviewers.

BMW and Ford are two manufacturers that have done great jobs of showing a lot without giving anything away. Inviting publishers and photographers to their facilities but barring them from "special areas" all the while hoping they sneak in to get some out of focus or way-too-far-to-decipher shots.

The Bottom-Line: "Honda missed an excellent opportunity to interact, entertain and basically strengthen their hold on the hybrid market", said Ivan. He added, "This definitely is not the time to drop the ball when other brands like Toyota and General Motors are in the rear-views."

Source: American Honda Motor Co., Inc. See the landing page here.

Google is now pretty good at crawling flash

Historically, search engines have been unable to extract content, such as text and links, from Flash (SWF) files. Subsequently, much of the Flash-based content on the web has been unavailable in search results. This situation has been frustrating for web developers, who have tried to come up with workarounds to help get search engines to index and rank their Flash pages.

This situation hasn't been ideal for searchers either, as this limitation has kept them from seeing potentially great matches for their queries because they've been locked away in Flash files.

According to Adobe and Google, all of that is changing. Google is launching what they tell me is a "deep algorithmic change," augmented by Flash reader technology supplied by Adobe, that enables them to "read" Flash files and extract text and links from it for better indexing and ranking. This could be great news for both site owners and searchers.

Below, more details about how it all works, as well as some caveats for those who see this development as a Flash panacea and think they no longer have to ensure their Flash applications are search engine friendly.

Google can now crawl and index Flash files

Google has been working on improving how they crawl and index rich content (such as Flash and JavaScript) for some time, and in fact have been able to extract some text and links from Flash files for a while. However, their methods weren't perfect, and they tell me that this new technology from Adobe makes Google's algorithms "less error prone" and enables them to access content created in any version of Flash in a variety of languages.

Adobe is providing a Flash player to (some) search engines

Adobe says they have developed an optimized Flash player for search engines and are collaborating with both Google and Yahoo!. Yahoo! has not yet implemented the technology, although they stated that “Yahoo! is committed to supporting webmaster needs with plans to support searchable SWF and is working with Adobe to determine the best possible implementation.” Adobe hasn't made the technology available to Microsoft's Live Search, although they say they are "exploring ways to make the technology more broadly available" to "help make all SWF content more easily searchable". Adobe didn't comment on whether the fact that Microsoft developing competing Silverlight was a factor in their decision not to collaborate with Microsoft Live Search for this initial announcement.

A big step forward

Previously, Google's help documentation has warned against the use of Flash-only sites:

"In general, search engines are text based. This means that in order to be crawled and indexed, your content needs to be in text format. This doesn't mean that you can't include images, Flash files, videos, and other rich media content on your site; it just means that any content you embed in these files should also be available in text format or it won't be accessible to search engines."
They have suggested using Flash sparingly or using a method such as Scalable Inman Flash Replacement (sIFR) to provide an HTML source that can be rendered as either Flash or non-Flash.

That seems to have changed. The help documentation hasn't been updated, but the post on the Google Webmaster blog says that Googlebot can now extract textual content and links so Google can better crawl, index, and rank the web site.

Both Google and Adobe stressed to me that this is a big win for both site owners and searchers and that it should improve relevancy in search results. They noted that Flash developers don't have to do anything in their applications to make this new technology work for their sites.

This is certainly great news for the web, as it's a sign that search engines, which are the primary method of navigating the web, are evolving beyond text to take into account newer web technologies.

Just how much will this change impact search relevance? It's hard to say until we see the changes, which Google says may take time to percolate through the pipeline. In particular, they note that snippets, the descriptions that display under search results, will be improved. Before, Google often couldn't extract any content from a Flash file, so the description for a Flash page was often either be empty or would consist of the only text available from the file, such as the Flash version or the word "loading."

But although Adobe's press release talks about "dramatic" improvements in search results and more relevant listings for "millions of RIAs" (rich internet applications), neither Adobe nor Google could give me numbers about how many more pages Google was now about to crawl and index and how much this has impacted search results.

A quick look at how SWF files are currently indexed shows that there's a lot of room for improvement, so this may indeed be big news for search.

seo internet marketing company in florida

Flash developers should still spend time on search engine optimization

However, this isn't the perfect solution that it may seem. Adobe assures developers that "RIA developers and rich Web content producers won’t need to amend existing and future content to make it searchable — they can be confident it can now be found by users around the globe." But that's not entirely true, particularly for Flash pages that have little textual content.

Only text and links are affected

As Danny Sullivan noted last year when word of Google's work in this area first came up, most Flash content isn't made up of primarily words. It's made up of images, video, and animation, and none of that will be surfaced in search results with this advancement. Google's new Flash algorithms extract text and links only. Everything else is still a black box.

Associate a unique URL with each unique piece of content

In addition, the searcher experience is better served by Flash implementations that provide a unique URL for each set of content. Some Flash implementations dynamically load text as the user interacts with the application, but the URL remains the same. In this scenario, Googlebot can now follow those interactions (in a limited way) and if the URL doesn't change, then all content that is dynamically loaded as the interactions progress is associated with a single URL.

Adobe says the Flash player it is providing to search engines "allows their search spiders to introspect and navigate through a live SWF application as if they were virtual users. The Flash Player technology, optimized for search spiders, enables the ability to traverse and parse all of the different paths in a SWF-based RIA, similar to traversing multiple pages in a standard web application."

This means that if the content that is dynamically loaded into the Flash application from the fifth interaction matches a searcher query, that Flash application may be served in the search results. But when the searcher clicks over to that result, the content won't be found on the page. The searcher will have to interact with the application until that content is loaded. Searchers may instead feel frustrated and abandon the page. For the best user experience and higher conversion rates from search, Flash developers should be careful to avoid this situation by creating distinct URLs for each piece of content. This implementation helps the Flash site be more viral as well, as users can email, Digg, and otherwise share the content more easily.

Google acknowledges this scenario may not be an ideal searcher experience, but points out that other non-HTML file formats such as PDFs have the same limitations. When a searcher clicks through the Google search results to a PDF file, the content that matched the query may not be on the first page of that PDF and the searcher has to scroll through the file to find the desired content. Google notes that just as they flag PDF files to alert searchers that the result is non-HTML, they do the same with Flash file, as shown below.

seo internet marketing company in florida

What this means for SEO's

Flash has often been a source of frustration for SEO's who argue that text should be in HTML, with Flash used for non-textual content, such as video illustrations. Can SEO's now remove the "review Flash implementation" line from their checklists? Probably not. However, it should be easier for SEO's to work with Flash-based sites going forward.

SEO's should keep in mind that these new algorithms don't take into account any meta data or formatting markup in the Flash file and, for now, Google's cache won't show a representation of the extracted text so site owners can't verify what is actually being crawled by viewing the cached copy. In addition, since Googlebot doesn't execute most JavaScript, Google won't crawl or index any Flash executed via JavaScript. Any external sources that the Flash file loads will be indexed separately, rather than as part of the Flash file. And as noted earlier, all non-textual content will remain uncrawled. This new Flash support covers all languages other than bidrectional ones (Hebrew and Arabic) and all versions of Flash.

What this means for accessibility and usability

Flash developers should continue to think about not only how well their applications can be found in search, but how usable and accessible they are.

Eric Wittman, director of platform distribution and business development at Adobe, told me that Flash web sites can be built for usability and accessibility. He noted that 98% of desktop computers have Flash support, although he acknowledged that he didn't know how many have Flash blockers installed, and he didn't provide numbers on the percentage of mobile devices that don't support Flash.

He noted that screen reader support has been available since Flash Player 6 and that the newer Flex framework includes support for accessibility.

At the recent Developer Day at SMX Advanced, we talked a lot about making Flash applications accessible and search-engine friendly using graceful degradation, and both sFIR and SWFObject came up several times as good methods for ensuring this. I find that still to be good advice even in light of this announcement.

Overall, this announcement is great news for both content owners and searchers. Web developers are becoming more focused on architecting their sites to ensure they can be found in search engines, as search has become one of the primary acquisition channels online. As web technologies evolve, it's important for search engines to evolve as well to ensure they provide the most relevant results for searchers. I'm eager to see how substantial a change this proves to be, although web developers should continue keeping search-friendly practices in mind when developing sites.

The Bottom-Line: "I could say this is great news for providers and clients alike but what I really want to take away from this is the bigger, hidden lesson", said Ivan. He added, "Google was Adobe's #1 problem. Indirectly, Google was killing Flash technology. Finding an advocate of full-on Flash websites was near impossible. Even people that favored the design benefits of Flash were afraid to come out and say so. This is a smart move for Adobe to partner with Google. In fact, we should all look at this as a reminder that sometimes partnerships can be a better selling tool than traditional [direct] sales eforts."

Source: Search Engine Land. Read the full article here.

Travel companions to make your next trip (gasp!) enjoyable

Late Flight? These electronic gadgets won’t get you there any faster, but they might make the wait more productive.
–Neil Parmer

LAPTOP

MacBook Air $1,799

PROS: Handy in dim settings like airplanes; letters on keyboard automatically illuminate in darkness. At only 3 lbs and 0.76 inches, it slips into a briefcase

CONS: It has just one USB port and no CD/DVD drive (that attachment costs another $99)

PORTABLE ENTERTAINMENT

Slingbox Pro $230

PROS: Enables travelers to catch up on TV shows saved at home and by routing them to a cell phone or laptop.

CONS: Requires at least four cables to connect the device, TV set-top box and Internet modem. Although setup software is free for laptops, it costs $30 for cell phones.

NOISE CANCELING HEADPHONES

JCV-HA NC250 $200

PROS: Comfortably seal around the ears. Battery is conveniently tucked under the earpiece, and the headphones fit neatly in a protective case.

CONS: While great at muffling background noise, they don’t completely block out loud cell phone conversations.

BLUETOOTH HEADSET

BlueAnt Z9 $100

PROS: It took only about 5 minutes to follow instructions and sync the device to our cell phones. Sound remained clear even when we went to another room more than 30 ft away.

CONS: The plastic hook that slid behind our ear was tricky to adjust, especially when we wore glasses.

DISPOSABLE BATTERY CHARGER

Cellboost IP2 $8

PROS: Our dead IPod Nano started playing music as soon as we plugged it this wireless charger. Just 30 minutes of charge gave us more than 4 hours of songs.

CONS: Though it fits in our pockets, the device was heavier than our Nano and more than twice as thick.

Destination: ANYWHERE -- The workplace redefined

The rules of business are always evolving. We need more flexibility and need to do more with less- work harder and smarter. Fortunately, technology changes even faster than business does. Here are four devices, not only well suited for the modern businessperson, they’re svelte, sleek, and (dare we mention) ultra-cool.

PANASONIC

The Toughbook 19 exudes the same kind of rugged elegance that, say, a Hummer does- or perhaps a charging rhino. It’s a touch over 5 pounds; after lugging this beauty around for a week or two, we doubt you’ll need the gym to pump up. This is the ultimate machine for a road warrior, with a full magnesium alloy case protecting softer parts, like its built in wireless. It also boasts a moisture – and dust- resistant LCD, keyboard, and touchpad to keep your inputs working and display sharp, whether in PC or "hand-writing friendly tablet mode".

AT&T

Samsung’s Blackjack II, exclusively offered by AT&T, is a fully functioning smartphone that doesn’t need a stylus. You won’t need extra props to enjoy using this slick device. High-speed mobile Internet from just about anywhere ensures that nothing important goes unnoticed. Navigation is performed with a combination click-wheel, jog dial, while data input-text messaging, editing documents or doing office email- is easily with a full-QWERTY keyboard. While the black is preferably serviceable, the wine red- colored option is downright sexy.

IBM

Lenovo, an IBM partner, touts its newest notebook, the ThinkPad X300, as its sleekest, greenest ever. The ultra thin, full-function widescreen laptop weighs under three pounds and is less than an inch wide, yet it’s packed with all the standard features, including, a DVD burner, advanced wireless options, a camera, and GPS. “We designed the ThinkPad X300 notebook PC for users who want the thinnest and lightest and lightest PC technology without having to compromise on functionality”, says Tom Ribble, director of ThinkPad products marketing at Lenovo. It’s environmentally friendly too. The X300 uses 25% less energy than other X-series models and comes with mercury-free display.

XEROX

The Xerox DocuMate 152 scanner is small enough to fit on a desktop and fast enough for small office use. The color sheet –fed scanner allows users to scan double-sided documents at speeds up to 30 images per minute. DocuMate 152 also comes with $600 in state –of-the-art software that delivers quality scans from even poor originals. “The next generation of scanner technology is not just about scanning images faster and cheaper, it’s about solving real-world problems” says John Capurso, vice president of marketing for Xerox DocuMate.

B2B marketing has a bright future ahead of itself

There's a bright future out there for B2B search marketing, if you're just willing to search for it. The number of vertical search options for B2B marketers is steadily moving up, reflecting the amount of B2B online activity in general. While most marketers still focus mainly on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, Galen de Young says there's a world of riches awaiting those who broaden their own search horizons. Among the sites he highlights:

Business.com. This one is "far and away the leading general B2B search engine and directory, with six million unique visitors per month," de Young reports. Update of note: In March, Business.com launched Channels, adding two vertical search portals (Money and Technology) to its general search capabilities.

Jayde.com. While several times smaller in traffic than Business.com, this is still worth checking out. "Many of the search results on Jayde have company profiles with links to internal Web pages, similar to Google's site links," says de Young.

Zibb.com. Although it's the smallest of the three general B2B search engines listed here, Zibb is growing. "[I]ts traffic has nearly doubled in the past three months," de Young says.

Companies with a global focus may also want to check out: Alibaba (27 million members in 200 countries); Made-In-China; and TooToo.

The Po!nt: Expand your search marketing horizons. There are a wide range of more specialized search sites out there that could help you target the perfect audience.

Source: Search Engine Land. Read the full article here.

Articles that suck (and this one is from FORTUNE MAGAZINE)

So Fortune Magazine — published by Time Warner, Inc. (TWX) — has an article titled Jimmy Choo founder’s well-heeled office. In it they talk to Tamara Mellon the founder and president of Jimmy Choo and she gives some tragically desperate to sound hip and inspired, suggestions on setting up an executive office space. OK good title, lame-ish content, but where’s the payoff with some pictures of the office space?! That’s it there aren’t any ... zip ... zero ... zilch ... nada ... the big fat goose egg ... not even a hopelessly outdated paginated format slide show ... NOTHING.

I don’t share this with you because it’s entertaining to watch me rant, I share it with you to show you what it is that makes your articles do better or worse in online and on social media websites. When you write a title you are making a contract with your readers, and when you fail to deliver, they end up unsatisfied, and unfulfilled. Now go look at Lifehacker’s Coolest Cubicle Contest for an example of how it should be done. Old media get off your kiester and get to work ... there are lots of hungry people in the wings ... and they are ready to start drinking your milkshake.

The Bottom-Line: "Everyone knows I'm an advocate of publicity and basically just getting yourself out there but doing so for the sake of doing so isn't a smart move either." says Ivan. "The best way to jeopardize your media contacts and readership is to put out lame, bland content and break all the cardinal rules of an interesting [piece]. Do your homework or hire someone who can put together a strategy for you and follow it, religiously!"

Source: Graywolf's SEO Blog. Click here for the post.

Se Habla Search? (Spanish SEO / SEO en espanol)

Not everyone online in the U.S. speaks English as a first language – but almost everyone online uses search. In fact, millions of searches are performed in foreign languages every day. Advertisers that aren’t buying non-English keywords, writing search ad creative in other languages and optimizing landing pages for non-English speakers are missing out on huge revenue opportunities.

Take Hispanics, for example. Hispanics are one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the U.S. and will reach nearly 25% of the overall population by 2050 – and they’re going online in record numbers. Can your company afford to miss out on connecting with over 20 million online Hispanics because you don’t have a Spanish SEM program?

I know what you’re thinking: how can I manage foreign-language SEM programs on top of the hundreds of thousands of English keywords I already manage? The trick is to start small; pick a few high-impact Spanish-language keywords (Spanish is a good place to start, since it’s one of the most widely-spoken languages in the U.S. after English), write some culturally relevant creative that avoids stereotypes, test your campaigns to make sure they’re working, and then modify them if they’re falling short of your objectives. Lots of brands are getting non-English search marketing right, including Best Buy and Advance Auto Parts.

Because our company’s focus is the Hispanic market, I’ll outline how to create, manage and optimize a successful Spanish-language SEM program, but these principles could apply to any foreign language.

The Right Keywords

First, identify your top keywords in English, and then, find the equivalent in Spanish. Make sure you consult with a native speaker to pinpoint the right keywords – sometimes literal translations aren’t correct. For example, if you translate "debt" into Spanish using Babelfish or a dictionary, you’ll get the term "deuda." But when Spanish-speakers are talking about debt in the terms of what to do about it, they actually use the word "préstamos."

Smart Creative

You may have the right keywords, but if you then have ad copy that doesn’t incite your target audience to click on your ads, those keyword purchases were worthless.

Make sure the Spanish used in the text ad is accurate, contextually and culturally relevant (checked by a native speaker), and conveys a relevant promotional message. Lastly, stick with straightforward calls-to-action: 10% off, free shipping, "the largest selection on the Web," etc.

Relevant Landing Pages

Make sure your text ads lead searchers to a landing page that reflects the offer you just enticed them with – 10% off, free shipping, etc. You don’t need to translate your entire site, but a landing page in Spanish goes a long way in keeping a Spanish-speaking consumer on your site. As always, make sure these landing pages are checked and double-checked by a native speaker.

Test and Re-Test

So you’ve got your Spanish keywords, you’ve written some snappy ad copy, optimized your landing pages and you’re all set to start reeling in Spanish-speaking customers, right? Yes and no. Once you have all your campaigns up and running, it’s critical that you continually test and re-test their effectiveness. Do analysis of your Spanish-language keywords to see which ones are delivering the highest click-through and conversion rates – you may be surprised at which terms are the most effective. Sometimes the ad with the highest click-through rate has the lowest conversion rate. You can test everything from the ad creative and the landing page language and design, to specific promotional offers to see which ones work the best.

That way, you can eliminate the clunker campaigns and focus on the winners.
In fact, testing is the real "secret sauce" to being successful in multi-cultural and multi-lingual marketing. At Consorte, we carefully test each and every campaign to see if it resonates with a particular target segment of the market – such as young men in Los Angeles who like music or Spanish-speaking homeowners in Texas. And often, testing and analysis proves the opposite of what one might anticipate would work.

Hispanics are now 15% of the U.S. population and the U.S. Hispanic online market is growing rapidly, especially Hispanic online search – 80% of the online Hispanic population searches online. A large percentage of that group views the web in Spanish (51%) and prefers to get information about products in Spanish (65%). Now more than ever, Spanish-language search should be a part of your online marketing program.

The Bottom-Line: "With the rise of personalized search and the surge of Hispanic / Latinos online buying power, now is the time to invest in [region-specific] search engine marketing... before everyone else does." says Ivan. "Right now, smaller boutique firms and freelancers are providing these services affordably. This won't happen for long."

Source: Adotas. Click here for the post.

Lisa Barone had tons of questions after attending SMX.

"But at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice that this year’s Advanced show seemed to lean a whole lot more to the grey / black hat side of things. I couldn’t help but wonder: When did advanced search engine optimization get confused with being a black hat?"

Right around the time that Google took this stance solidified it:

"Web spam is when somebody tries to cheat or take shortcuts so that their Web site shows up higher [in search results rankings] than it deserves to show up," - Matt Cutts

If you are not trying to get your client’s websites to rank higher than they "deserve", why should they hire you?

She continued:

"Here are some of the "advanced search engine optimization" techniques I picked up during my time in Seattle.

  • There are lots of old sites lying around on the Interwebz with great link juice. Buy them and capitalize on that. But do it carefully or Google will pick up on it and reset the score.

  • Conditional redirects are teh awesome.

  • Search marketers don’t need ethics. They’re marketers. Check the ethics at the door.

  • You can never have too many .edu links.

  • I need to grow some balls, stop fearing Matt Cutts and start buying links.
Where were the white hat advanced search engine optimization techniques in Seattle?"

Hanging out with the Tooth Fairy and the Loch Nes Monster.

"Why was most of the material presented pushing grey and black hat?"

Because black hat seo is the only place where there is any development. White hat can work, but it’s exactly the same stuff that worked 6 years ago. Why do you need to go to a conference to get 6 year old information?

"Are we supposed to believe that that’s what advanced SEO is - spamming?"

Yes.

"If so, that’s a bunch of crap."

Uh oh, call the wambulance . . .

"Or maybe SMX just thinks there’s no one qualified to teach advanced white hat techniques. I guess those folks were out drinking with all the ladies NOT on the Give It Up panel."

Is she saying she was out drinking with all the advanced white hats?

"I don’t understand."

Ditto!

"To me, advanced search engine optimization is about analytics",

I see . .

"it’s about siloing"

Siloing is not exactly news. The top Google result for SEO Siloing is a Grey Wolf Article from almost 2 years ago.

"it’s about perfecting your site architecture so that you don’t have to even worry about tactics like cloaking for conditional redirects."

Google Cloaks. The NY Times Cloaks. But I have an open mind: maybe your head-in-the-sand theory on SEO is the best strategy. . .

"There have to be other white hat advanced search engine optimization techniques out there."

Sounds like what they said about SETI.

"Why weren’t they covered?"

Because if you cover a white hat technique that works, the technique gets banned and the site gets bitch-slapped. Off-topic Link bait will probably be next on the chopping block.

Google does not want you or your clients sites to rank ANY higher than they "deserve" to. Google defines deserve; they are a for-profit company. That means that just about any intentional manipulation will be, by definition, black hat.

Want to sum up white hat SEO? It boils down to:
  1. Site Architecture - Can be learned in 4 hours or less.

  2. Analytics - Can you install a javascript and log in?

  3. PPC - Even though we used to call that SEM . . .

  4. Content - which is better handled by copywriters.
Alas! The Emperor has no clothes. There are no advanced white hat SEO techniques.

Source: QuadsZilla's SEO Black Hat Blog. Click here for the post.