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Well as the dust settles on the Internet's worst kept secret, a Search deal between Yahoo and Microsoft has been announced. However as the news spills out into the blogosphere and into mainstream sources there are a number of questions that need to be answered. In fact we have 20 of our own questions that we would like answered.
20 Questions About the Yahoo Microsoft Deal
How will attracting more users and advertisers lead to more relevant ads and search results? (as stated by Ballmer in the official MSFT Press Release)
How many Yahoo engineers will be looking for work?
How effective or not was Microsoft's marketing campaign for BING?
Why now? What changed in 16 months since initial talks began?
What will become of the user data that Yahoo has acquired over the years?
Will Steve Ballmer stop acting crazy now?
Just how much will this change the Search Landscape?
What will Google's reaction be?
Does this mean that Microsoft failed at Search and need the resources and efforts of Yahoo to compete in the Search arena?
What will ASK's reaction be (those "we're number three banners and T-shirts could be big sellers")
Will we see some new players in Search emerge?
Will the deal mean a better search experience for me personally and for searchers overall?
How will advertiser's react?
What is Jerry Yang thinking?
Yahoo's (YHOO) share price dropped 11.15% after the announcement. How will investors react to the deal?
Which sounds better, Binghoo or Yah-Bing?
Is having Microsoft`s Bing being the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search platform for Yahoo! sites really a good idea?
Why is Twitter so popular? (ok we threw this one in for filler and to see if you were paying attention).
The Yahoo / Microsoft deal is big news, it should prove interesting to see how everything will play out. I would like to hear what the Google Guys had to say about the initial announcement. It should not have come as any shock to them as discussions about the deal date back to 2007.
Well Carol Bartz, you fought the good fight. I guess that this deal was inevitable, but Microsoft and Yahoo have announced a deal as communicated by the official press release:
Yahoo! and Microsoft announced an agreement that will improve the Web search experience for users and advertisers, and deliver sustained innovation to the industry. In simple terms, Microsoft will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.
Key Terms of the Deal
The key terms of the agreement are as follows:
The term of the agreement is 10 years;
Microsoft will acquire an exclusive 10 year license to Yahoo!'s core search technologies, and Microsoft will have the ability to integrate Yahoo! search technologies into its existing Web search platforms;
Microsoft's Bing will be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search platform for Yahoo! sites. Yahoo! will continue to use its technology and data in other areas of its business such as enhancing display advertising technology;
Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies' premium search advertisers. Self-serve advertising for both companies will be fulfilled by Microsoft's AdCenter platform, and prices for all search ads will continue to be set by AdCenter's automated auction process;
Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising business and sales force;
Yahoo! will innovate and "own" the user experience on Yahoo! properties, including the user experience for search, even though it will be powered by Microsoft technology;
Microsoft will compensate Yahoo! through a revenue sharing agreement on traffic generated on Yahoo!'s network of both owned and operated (O&O) and affiliate sites;
Microsoft will pay traffic acquisition costs (TAC) to Yahoo! at an initial rate of 88 percent of search revenue generated on Yahoo!'s O&O sites during the first five years of the agreement; and
Yahoo! will continue to syndicate its existing search affiliate partnerships.
Microsoft will guarantee Yahoo!'s O&O revenue per search (RPS) in each country for the first 18 months following initial implementation in that country;
At full implementation (expected to occur within 24 months following regulatory approval), Yahoo! estimates, based on current levels of revenue and current operating expenses, that this agreement will provide a benefit to annual GAAP operating income of approximately $500 million and capital expenditure savings of approximately $200 million. Yahoo! also estimates that this agreement will provide a benefit to annual operating cash flow of approximately $275 million; and
The agreement protects consumer privacy by limiting the data shared between the companies to the minimum necessary to operate and improve the combined search platform, and restricts the use of search data shared between the companies. The agreement maintains the industry-leading privacy practices that each company follows today.
The agreement does not cover each company's Web properties and products, email, instant messaging, display advertising, or any other aspect of the companies' businesses. In those areas, the companies will continue to compete vigorously.
Carol Bartz posted what the deal means for you on the Yodel blog:
Better search: You’ll still find search boxes all across Yahoo!, but this deal will make the difference between a great Yahoo! search experience and an awesome one. Some of the biggest brains in the business work on Yahoo! Search, and they will continue to innovate to create a better search experience on Yahoo!. As a result of the deal, Microsoft, which has great technologists and deep pockets,will have the scale to bring users faster, more useful and more personally relevant search.
Better everything else: With Microsoft powering Yahoo! Search, we’ll be able to focus on the things we do best -– being the center of people’s lives online with properties like our homepage, mail, finance, news, sports, entertainment, mobile, etc. Sure, we’re the world’s largest online media company and your loyalty has made that possible. But we’re not satisfied – we still want you to say “wow” a lot more often. And that’s what makes this deal especially exciting.
Better competition: Competition equals innovation. But with one player dominating 70% of search, that field has been pretty lopsided. This transaction will create a healthy competitor that’ll keep everyone on their toes.
No word on Google's response as of yet. More details to come...
We have written about URL best practices and URL guidelines in the past, but we thought that it would be a good time to remind everyone out there about some URL best practices. I am amazed at the various sites out there including some large brands who have yet to address issues with their URL structure. Perhaps part of the reason for this is that it is a big job to transform the URL structure and hierarchy of your site, especially if you are placing well in the search engines for your important key phrases.
The Importance of Search Engine Friendly URLS
Having clean and search engine friendly URLs can be the difference as to why one site places better in the search results than another. Traditionally the search engines have shown a preference for static appearing URLs that have limited parameters and are short in nature. Shorter, cleaner URLs tend to resonate better with the user as well.
URLs help users navigate the website when they reflect the overall site information architecture. Search engine friendly URLs are extremely important in the SEO success of your website. Effective URLS:
Improve customer site experience with a consistent approach for domain name formats to improve site usability.
Make it easier for the search engines to crawl, index and rank your site’s content.
15 Reminders for URL Best Practices
Plan a logical site hierarchy for your site
Keep important content as close to the root folder as possible; no more than three folders deep.
Be consistent with URLs
Incorporate relevant keywords into URLs where possible
Use hyphens as word separators
Strive to keep URLs short – they will be remembered more
Create static URLs as opposed to long dynamic URLs – as the search engines still have an easier time following static URLs
Any time a URL needs to be redirected, make use of a permanent 301 redirect
Avoid having a page redirect multiple times
Keep the use of URL redirection to a minimum
If URLs are long and dynamic consider using URL re-writing to make the URLs cleaner (there are various URL rewriting tools that can be used)
Avoid duplicate content with dynamically driven pages/URLs
URLs should be in lower case throughout
Avoid creating file names/URLs with characters which may be reserved for special use or be unsafe, e.g. # $ %.
Avoid extensive use of session IDs as session variables can cause the same page to appear with constantly changing URLs. This runs the risk of getting pages flagged or even penalized for duplicate content
If your SEO team or in-house SEO's are commenting on the need to address your URLs, you should listen. While cleaning up your URL structure may not be easy and take careful planning and resources, the outcome can provide tremendous benefit from and SEO perspective. Why limit your site when you shouldn't have to with a clean URL structure?
Carrying on our discussion with dashboards and reports, I thought that we would revisit some common key performance indicators that should be considered in SEO/online marketing dashboards. Of course the KPIs and metrics that you measure depends on the type of site that you have. There are different KPIs for different type of sites. Examples of the different type of sites include:
Information Portals/Educational Websites
Lead Generation Websites
What is a KPI?
Remember that a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is:
a metric that an organization measures to help determine its progress towards a goal;
a reflection of the tactical performance of an organization;
is used to substantiate an organization’s objectives.
In essence, a KPI is a quantifiable measurement that can be tracked and evaluated, based on the objectives that what you want to achieve. KPIs will change depending on the industry that you are in and depending on the type of site that you have; they cannot be universally applied.
Depending on the type of site that you have, there are various SEO performance indicators that you may want to track. These performance metrics may include:
* New account sign-ups
* Contact Us form completions
* Number of PDF or brochure downloads
* Number of reviews submitted
* Article views
* Press Release Views
* Case Study downloads
* Online Sales/Conversions
* News Letter Signups
* Page Views
* Returning Visitors
When it comes to your SEO dashboard, ideally there should only be four or five metrics that you will need to communicate. Again these will depend on the purpose of your site. These metrics will revolve around organic traffic, conversions and your return from your SEO through a dollarized value. Common performance indicators may include:
Percentage increase of natural search (organic traffic)
Percentage breakdown of non-branded vs. branded keyword traffic
Percentage of revenue generated from natural search vs. paid search vs. other medium
Revenue generated from SEO (natural search revenue)
Overall revenue generated from online marketing activity
There are a ton of metrics that can and sometimes should be measured. However at the end of the day, you need to communicate the bottom line and how SEO has contributed to it. If you are an e-commerce site that means tying in your organic search traffic to conversions, sales and return on investment. Comparing this with your entire online portfolio and revenue being generated through sponsored search and social media efforts, email marketing etc.
In order to track your progress, you need to ensure that you have established clear business objectives and clean online objectives. Once these objectives are defined, keep your performance indicators simple. You can track all of that other stuff internally to help identify trends and forecast recommendations, but again at the end of the day, it is about meeting your business objectives. Your dashboard is a simple tool to communicate whether your objectives are being met.
Article Originally Found here: http://ask.enquiro.com/2009/the-difference-between-dashboards-and-a-reports/
Ahh reporting… marketers live and die by reports, business' live and die by reports, coaches live and get fired by reports. At some point in your life you will have measured and communicated success (or failure) in the form of a report or dashboard. We all use them, heck in the online marketing world we use them each an every day. So why then is there confusion by the masses over dashboards vs. reports? For whatever reason, there seems to be a lot of confusion over what a dashboard is and should consist of compared to that of which a report should consist of.
I think that we can agree that both dashboards and reports are used to communicate data and information. Yet dashboards and reports are and should be very different from one another. To understand this difference, let's look at some of the definitions of each.
Definition of a Dashboard
According to Google, a dashboard is a two column webpage with four placeholder gadgets to make it easy to get started creating an overview of information.
Wikipedia's definition for dashboard (construct) is a set of indicators that relate to the observable environment.
Perhaps one of the best definitions of a dashboard is from Stephen Few author of Information Dashboard Design -
“A dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives which fits entirely on a single computer screen so it can be monitored at a glance.”
Web analytics master Avinash Kaushik suggests that 80% of Web Analytics dashboards are these excessive excel sheets that really do not tell us anything. They are not actionable. As Enquiro's own web analytics expert John Yuill reminds us od something Avinash Kaushik points out:
dashboards empower a rapid understanding of business performance by tracking the critical business data in an easy to understand manner. Effective dashboards can be a very powerful communication medium and greatly accretive to driving actions. – Avinash Kaushik
There are some key components to this statement:
easy to understand
critical business data
Dashboards are meant to provide a quick indication as to the status of what is being measures. In an automobile a dashboard provides information on how much fuel you have left, or if there is anything mechanically wrong or how many bars of electricity you have left etc. The dame goes for online marketing dashboards, a dashboard should isolate key metrics, be simple and be visually appealing incorporating appropriate charts where necessary.
There are numerous examples of dashboards out there:
Dashboard - definition, examples
View more presentations from matthieua.
Definitions of Reports
Reports on the other hand are more detailed in nature. Reports tend to tell more of a story and as a result are more detailed in nature. Reports also take time to digest whereas a dashboard is meant to offer information in a quick manner. Reports can be used to communicate a number of items including:
findings of a study or test
representation of an account
informing of an action or result caused by an action
sharing of news
filing of a complaint
a composition for the purposes of education
Some common definitions of reports include:
From Princeton – a written document describing the findings of some individual or group
An account presented usually in detail. – Free Dictionary.com
a document characterized by information or other content reflective of inquiry or investigation – Wikipedia
So what are the main differences between a report and a dashboard?
Dashboards are short and concise. Reports can be but are usually longer in nature.
Dashboards are visual. Reports have visual components.
Dashboards focus on specific KPIs. Reports include more background and data.
Dashboards are meant to be monitored at a glance. Reports require more in-depth attention (i.e. require reading through)
Dashboards communicate specifics. Reports often tell more of a story.
Reports can include dashboards. Dashboards cannot or at least should not include a true report.
Dashboards are simple. Reports tend to be more complex in nature.
Dashboards are actionable. Reports can have actionable components.
From a number of “dashboards” and “reports” that I have seen out there, in the world of SEO and online marketing, there appears to be a disconnect with regards to reporting and dashboards. Quite often a new client comes to us and we ask to see some historical data, the client presents us with a plethora of data and lengthily reports. To gain an immediate understanding of how the client is performing all we need is to review simple and concise dashboards. The additional information in the form of the various reports can be beneficial, but we aim to get up to speed as soon as possible and do not always have the luxury of time to review all the minutiae of the reports. Dashboards can provide a great deal of information in a short period of time.
If you are concerned with the time it takes to complete your monthly, weekly or daily reporting, effective dashboards can help improve lean initiatives. Examine your dashboards and continue to revisit them. Are they concise, simple to digest and are they actionable? If not you probably have some work to do.
Perhaps it's because I'm not a big fan of Twitter, and perhaps it is because it was around first, but I have noticed that I have become a loyal user of Facebook. If you look at my profile you will see that I have a comment where I said that "...I'm not a fan of Facebook, I'm only here because I lost a bet..." Well that was in part true when I first joined Facebook as I was really trying to hold out on using it. I was still one of the early ones to sign up for a Facebook account, but I thought that it was only to check it out and that I would delete my account in a few weeks.
The Facebook Addiction
As I started poking around Facebook way back when, it happened. I was bitten, not by a radio-active spider, but by the Facebook Addiction bug. All of a sudden, long lost friends started adding me, people who I had always wondered about from my childhood. Some that had moved away when I was younger, others that had moved on throughout the years. Then family members who I do not necessarily keep in contact with on a weekly or monthly basis were now messaging me and leaving notes on my wall every couple of days. That was pretty cool. It was nice conversing with family memebers more regularly as well as catching up with some old friends. I could see why people were becoming easily addicted.
Since this time, I have really learned to enjoy Facebook and in this time have become a loyal user of Facebook. I tend to go on Facebook nearly everyday especially more recently. I have been able to use Facebook to:
view wedding pictures from my cousins wedding
let me family know about the birth of my son along with updates of how he and my wife were doing after his birth and the days after
upload pictures of my son to share with my family and friends
update my family's status as we were/are evacuated from our home due to wildfires in our area
inform friends and family that we were safe during this time of evacuation
obtain updates from friends and co-workers
read entertaining comments on pictures
receive and view thoughts and well wishes from friends and family
There is a consistent theme here. It is personalization. While some fear Big Brother and are weary of giving out too much information online, I think that environments like Facebook can be a great way to share and obtain information. I was one of those people who was hesitant to provide a ton of information online. I still avoid sharing a lot of stuff. So while, like many, I may not like all of the changes to Facebook's interface, I can still appreciate what I am able to use Facebook for, and that is to connect with friends and family. A lot of the information is timely more so than say if I did a search on Google. Twitter is limited in what you can and should share, Facebook makes it easy for me to control what I share and with whom. Of course there are business benefits to using Facebook as well.
In a recent issue of Wired magazine, there was an intriguing story about Facebook and how they are looking to challenge Google in the online world. While it is not a search engine per se. Facebook is an ever increasing online destination and has caused a ripple in the online world over the past couple of seasons. Why do you think that both Google and Microsoft (with Microsoft winning out) wanted to purchase a stake in Facebook? Facebook has some very valuable user data, and while you might be hesitant about giving information out, the more that you do share the richer your experience may be.
Somehow I have become a loyal user of Facebook. Who would have thought that would be possible?
Earlier this year when we launched our annual top 100 marketing buzzwords list, the phrase in the number five position could have easily topped the list and chances are that if this list of buzzwords was updated at the halfway point of 2009, "benchmarking" could very well be in the top position. Especially as it pertains to online and SEO.
Online marketing and SEO is still fairly new which makes benchmarking in the online sense new to many as well. Marketers need to benchmark their performance against competitors. Marketers have been doing this in the offline world for quite some time, but benchmarking online performance against competition is something that has only transpired over the past decade or so.
Benchmarking and SEO
Benchmarking - the process of comparing your efforts against that of other businesses in your industry. Benchmarking involves measuring your current practices (best practices), comparing them against your competition, identifying, understanding and adapting practices that are effectively being used by your competitors.
With the rise of the digital world comes new marketing efforts, new metrics to track progress and new ways to compare how your business measures up to others in your industry. The importance of being able to benchmark your own web properties against other players in your industry can provide a great advantage when developing online strategies and SEO initiatives. The search engines and organic search present a whole new list of items to measure against. From keyword placement to traffic and conversions, the ability to compare and measure data against your competition with regards to online efforts is something new to many traditional marketers. The digital world moves fast and benchmarking efforts often have to be adjusted to ensure that you are accurately meauring and comparing items against competitors that are a true indication of the make up of your industry. Items such as viral efforts, social networks, blended search, upstream and downstream may impact how you benchmark the success of your website vs. that of your competitors.
When benchmarking your online marketing and SEO efforts, there are a number of areas to focus on. Many of these items can be applied to both B2B and B2C SEO benchmarking practices.
15 Items to Consider for SEO Benchmarking
The list below, outlines different ways to benchmark your site vs. your online competition. Of course this is specific to online, but it is worth mentioning that effective benchmarking should factor in online and offline to paint a true picture as to how tou measure up in your industry.
Where note, we have included helpful tools that can be used to help with the benchmarking.
Branded Presence (try Google Trends. Compare branded searches such as this one for Bing, Google and Yahoo)
Upstream and downstream traffic on your web site vs. your competitors sites. (try compete.com or Hitwise data)
Online History/Online Presence (try a Wikipedia search for your brand vs. that of your competitors. Pepsi vs. Coke?)
Social Media Presence (search for your competitors on Twitter or Facebook)
How does my website rank against competitors in the shopping results against all websites? (product keyword search in Google)
How does my online news releases match up against competitors in the news results of Google, Yahoo or other news aggregators? (Google News, Yahoo News search)
How do my videos match up against competitors in YouTube, Yahoo Video and other video aggregator sites for given search terms and in overall visibility? (YouTube, MetaCafe, Yahoo Video)
How much time do people spend on my website versus competitive websites? (Hitwise)
What percentage of visitors to my competitor’s website are new and what percentage are loyal? (Hitwise)
Which search engines drive traffic to my website versus competitive websites? (your analytics, Hitwise, Compete)
What are the differences between the profile of my online audience, and that of my competitors’ online audience? (Hitwise)
What are the differences between the search terms I use to drive traffic to my website, versus the terms my competitors use? (your analytics, competitor's meta data)
How does my on-page optimization stack up to that of my competitors? (your analytics, competitor's meta data)
How much traffic does my competitor receive from Paid vs. Organic search campaign? (Hitwise)
Comparison of mentions in industry blogs and notable sites (industry blogs)
The Internet is a very competitive environment. As a result, benchmarking has become even more important. Benchmarking in SEO is more of a performance type of benchmarking. However it should be noted that there are different types of benchmarking that include:
For marketers, benchmarking is a critical tool that can be used to develop strategy and identify areas of opportunity. In the Search industry people say that rankings are dead. While benchmarking involves more than just rankings, you are in essence rating your website and online marketing efforts with that of your competition. As humans, we tend to rank items to help us compare these items. The ability to compare or benchmark allows us as marketers to make necessary improvements to our own processes and to gain a true measure of how we stack up to our competition so that we can provide the best service to our desired audience.
Best practices are established for a reason. Those who execute these best practices efficiently and are able to measure against these best practices will continue to have the most success whether online or offline.
As we reported in our last post, the comparison of Microsoft Bing to Google are really starting to pick up. Some sources were suggesting that Bing was gaining market share while others mentioned that Bing was gaining in popularity but not at the expense of the other major search engines. June 2009 data compared to the previous month as reported by notable sources illustrate the following trends with regards to Bing's market share:
comScore: 8.4%, up from 8.0%
Compete: 6.2%, up from 6.5%
Hitwise: 5.25%, down from 5.64%
Nothing substantial here really. With all of the hype about Bing, we would expect some larger increases would we not? Well let's be honest we are talking about Microsoft and their search offering. I would suspect we actually start seeing Bing's popularity decline as summer search activity dies down. Danny Sullivan makes a good point when he mentions that regular search activity occurs in the fall not in the summer.
The popularity of Bing or (lack thereof) remains to be seen, but as Microsoft's promotional efforts for Bing wrap up, will the search engine live up to the hype? Is there enough viral buzz about Bing to take them to the next level of popularity with searchers? I somehow doubt it. Early reports suggest that even with the marketing blitz being used by Microsoft, it is unlikely that Bing is stealing market share from Google or Yahoo. At this point Bing is definitely no threat to Google and perhaps never will be a threat to Google's domination in Search. As an aside, it will be interesting to see how Google fares with the announcement that they are launching their own operating system. Perhaps Google is the Microsoft killer that many have been looking for over the past decade.
Since it's launch, we have been relatively quiet about Microsoft's latest search offering Bing. Frankly we were waiting for the hype to settle down. Not to mention that we have seen this before with Microsoft and the re-branding of their search engine. There has been lots of discussion as to whether Bing is going to change the search world. Well we are not so sure about that. Is Bing a Google killer? Nope definitely not. Is Bing a Yahoo killer? Highly unlikely, but not impossible. Microsoft was late in the Search game but they are slowly making some small strides.
Based on compete.com data from June 2009, Bing has made a splash, but not necessarily at the expense of the other engines. If we look at unique visitor data for June 2009, we see that Google is by far and away the most popular with over 141 million unique visitors, representing an increase of 0.37% over the previous month and an increase of 8.23% over the previous year. Compare this to Bing which had about 49.5 million unique visitors representing a pretty impressive 8,108% increase over the previous month. Yet Bing is still the proverbial number three search engine (in terms of unique visitor data) behind both Google and Yahoo.
It would be easy to suggest that that fantastic monthly increase for Bing is due to the advertising and promotion of Microsoft, but really it has probably more to do with the novelty of the re-branded search offering from Microsoft. So far my favorite thing about Bing is the cool splash pages that they provide. Which of the Bing features are truly innovative?
Features of Microsoft's Bing Search Engine
Bing Search history - not really innovative here.
Bing Related Searches - ASK has been doing this for years. ASK 3-D provided a very cool user experience. Again nothing really new here.
Bing Logical Categories - try a search for a product in Bing such as a digital camera or laptop. Within the right menu it shows organized logical categories related to laptop like Shopping, Brands, Buying Guide, Top 10 and more. Again search engines such as ASK and Yahoo already do this.
Video Search - The user interface for Bing’s Video search has been modified to simplify the grouping of videos from content providers such as Hulu and YouTube. Ok this is a little bit cool. Bing video results spread across the page while Google’s run down the left side. Clicking a small video icon in Bing — small video icons in Bing start playing when you mouse over them. Again I believe that ASK was the first engine to offer this feature.
Quick Previews/Hover - ok this is pretty much one of my favorite features of Bing. When you hover the mouse over a small orange dot to the right of links on a results page, a box appears with a text-based summary of what’s on that site. The preview box may also include links to other parts of the site or at least a “Go to this Page” link. This feature is great to help assist the Searcher in finding the information that they are looking for quicker. This is a somewhat innovative feature to the search results page.
Explore Pane - To show more information on the results page, Microsoft uses what’s called an Explorer Pane in Bing. It’s a navigation menu that runs down the left hand column of the page that offers different categories depending on your search. Try a search for "Las Vegas" and see which result and categories appear.
So while there are a couple of new features that we can appreciate, there is still a ton of room for improvement. The results are still not the greatest. This is expecially true depending on the type of query that you do. I would like to see more blended results. Bing does incoporate blended results, for example a search for "Michael Jackson" presents you with the options for news, video, images, albums, and biography. You also get some blended results at the top and near the bottom of the results page. I would like to see this with more queries.
But is this enough for Bing to steal market share from the other search engines?
With regards to Bing, as Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land recently pointed out, "... you can see Microsoft immediately gains 3% — but this doesn’t come at the expense of the other search engines. People were checking out Bing in addition to visiting their regular services. Since the launch, Bing’s had a high of 12.1% share (also in bold) but mainly hovers at the 11% mark." While it may be too early to tell, Bing has not made a big dent in obtaining market share from the other search engines. We will just have to wait and see if the novelty and hype wear down or if Bing is here to stay.
In the past, we have discussed the business benefits of using Facebook, now let's examine the business benefits of using Twitter. The micro-blogging sensation Twitter is still popular with many and recently hit mainstream as celebrities and athletes, in addition to the early adopters are using the 140 characters to communicate and send updates to the world as to their status and upcoming events. People are using Twitter to stay connected to the world in real-time. Whereas in the past people used newspapers or TV or radio to "get informed", the results were not always in real-time. Twitter allows people to find information in real-time. This can be beneficial to not only individuals, but businesses as well.
There has been a lot of discussion about Internet-Speed lately. Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro illustrated an example of Google's Jim Lecinski discussing Internet Speed when he defined Internet Speed as:
Internet Speed Defined
Jim Lecinski from Google’s Chicago office has a chart he loves to show in client presentations. It slaps you upside the head with the reality of “internet speed”. He first recounts a typical conversation with a client that falls squarely in the first category of “getting it”.
Jim: “What are you doing with your online campaigns?”
Client: “Oh, we have a lot happening. We’re expanding our keyword list next quarter and we’ll optimize that campaign over the following quarter. In Q3 and 4 we’re going to run some experiments with social media that we’re excited about. For the next fiscal, we’ve built more into the budget for better tracking and attribution. That will help as we move to cross channel optimization because we’ll get great data showing us what’s working and what’s not. That will also allow us to step up our landing page testing and optimization.”
Jim: “So, you’ve got your plans set out for about 18 to 24 months ahead?”
Client: “You bet. We’re moving very quickly.”
Then Jim shows them the Google Trends graph that reminds them that both YouTube and FaceBook went from zero to Internet domination in under 24 months. Further, few people had heard of Twitter 12 short months ago.
That’s Internet Speed.
That’s “Getting It”.
The YouTube, Facebook and Twitter examples all represent products and environments that leveraged Internet Speed. These examples are three of the most successful businesses that have used Internet Speed to their advantage. I digress, but you can see the importance of Internet Speed and the need for information in real-time (which is easily obtained by services such as Twitter).
15 Business Benefits of Twitter
For businesses, there are a number of benefits to using Twitter. Many of which deal with the real-time gathering of information. Here are some ways that businesses should be leveraging Twitter.
Participating in Industry Conversation - your target audience and/or potential prospects are on Twitter where they may be discussing their frustrations or are communicating positive experiences. Why not be a part of that? Participate in the conversation when it makes sense to do so. Thinking of Twitter as the newest type of social mixer to engage with your industry.
Brand Awareness - businesses can use Twitter to keep their brand top of mind. Whether you are Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) promoting an upcoming Kiss concert in Windsor, Canada or Toys R Us (@ToysRUs) promoting the latest Transformer toys, Twitter allows a business to keep their brand out there for people to engage with.
Use Twitter to gain Competitive Intelligence - hey guess what? Your competitors are on Twitter. As a result you might want to consider monitoring their tweets from time to time to see what they are working on. Perhaps they are preparing to launch a new product or are opening a new branch. Heck maybe they are going through massive layoffs and an opportunity presents itself to acquire them or at least hire some of their laid off employees. Twitter can be a great environment for monitoring what the competition is doing. It can also be a great way just to see how your competition is using Twitter themselves. Perhaps you can pick up a tip or two.
Engage with your target audience - Twitter allows you to interact with potential prospects and your target audience. While you do not want to be "in their face" all of the time, Twitter does allow you to engage with these people by re-tweeting their posts or responding to something that they may have tweeted about, which leads us to ...
Online Reputation Management - information on Twitter breaks quickly. The reported death of Michael Jackson on June 25th, was one example of this. Businesses can use Twitter to monitor what is being said about their brand almost in real-time. If someone had a negative experience with your brand, chances are they may tweet about it. If so, work to address the issues and communicate the fact that you are doing so. Remember Twitter is a social environment so transparency and honesty can be a good thing.
Promote your Blog Content - if your company has a corporate blog or various blogs, you can use Twitter to promote your blog content. Heck you can set up a feed to automatically post your blog post URLs directly to Twitter.
Twitter and Mobile - because Twitter is so simple to use and is limited to 140 characters, mobile use with Twitter is also easy. You can both send and receive updates what you and your friends are doing on the go using a simple SMS. Twitter can be a great mobile communication tool. As we know in business, this can be a pretty powerful thing.
Understanding Tool - Businesses can use Twitter as an understanding tool to learn what their desired target demographic is saying and looking for. For example, if you are a brand that targets a younger target market, just by listening to their conversation via Twitter, you can learn what their latest interests are and what’s the next shiny new object that they are looking to latch on to.
Feedback Mechanism - launching a new product? Perhaps you are launching a new website? Businesses can use Twitter to obtain instant feedback on these items and as a result make any necessary changes before the formal launch. This feedback can be invaluable and by using Twitter, it is free!
Promotion - of course you can use Twitter as a promotional tool to announce offline endeavors or upcoming online events (webinars, virtual tradeshows etc). If you are an e-commerce site, perhaps you have a deal of the day where you can promote these deals such as how Toys.com is currently leveraging Twitter @toysdeals. The fact is you do not want to be too promotional, but Twitter does present the opportunity to promote your products or service and brand to your friends.
SEO Boost - if you have great content on your website and you want to drive additional traffic to this content on your website, you can use Twitter to do so. A quick tweet with the URL can help drive additional traffic to a preferred landing page on your site to help coax the conversion on your site.
Ask Questions Receive Answers - those who do not ask will not receive. As a business, perhaps you are looking for a specific answer to a question that you have. Maybe you are looking for some industry stats. You can use Twitter to pose the question and if the question is engaging and if your friends are remotely interested in the same question, you should receive a response. Twitter is a social community and usually these social communities are tight knit. Someone is bound to answer your question and at least point you in the right direction.
HR Tool - while this may not be the best way to go about your hiring practices, you can tweet about your HR needs and link to relevant job postings on your site via Twitter. You just might receive some additional interest that you may not have otherwise had.
Press Release / News Management - Have a major announcement? Use Twitter to promote your press releases and to communicate company news. Remember our earlier discussion on Internet Speed? News travels fast online, Twitter is another information super-highway that can help communicate news quickly.
Internal Communication Tool - while not many businesses think to do this, but you can use Twitter as an internal communication tool within your business. There are various ways to do this. Of course one of the best examples of this is Zappos, who encourage employees to tweet. http://twitter.zappos.com/. Again the timeliness of the information plays a key role in using Twitter as an internal communication tool. While we have instant messaging, using Twitter to communicate internally can also be an effective way of sharing information within. Of course there are pros and cons to this, but use your discretion.
Twitter has become this new darling of the Internet. However "it's not just for kids anymore...". Businesses can leverage Twitter as an effetive listening and communication tool and use the power of Internet Speed to gather and share information. The digital world can be a great place to be.
We have recently completed our latest B2B webinar series on the BuyerSphere.
Here is a look a Gord’s recent interview with SEO-PR on The BuyerSphere Project.
Gord Hotchkiss, CEO Enquiro, discusses the BuyerSphere Project: Understanding B2B Buyer Patterns panel which he will be moderating at SES San Jose 2009. The Buyersphere Project examined the buying behavior patterns of marketers. Google, Covario, Business.com, Demandbase and Marketo, all sponsored the initiative. It was a three phase research project incorporating interviews with more than 100 BtoB buyers.
A survey was put together, 5 white papers and the goal was to discover how purchasing decisions get made within a company. Gord says it was previously thought that BtoB purchasing is based on rational decision making but this is not always the case. Gord suggests influences maybe online or offline but they all play a part in determining how purchasing decisions are made. Gord also discusses the advance of a generational shift in behavior, described as the "digital natives" and the "digital immigrants." Online usage differs between the two segments.
The BuyerSphere Project at SES San Jose
August 12, 4:00 – 5:15pm
- Gord Hotchkiss, President & CEO, Enquiro
- Mark McMaster, Senior Planner of B2B and Technology Markets, Google
- Ben Hanna, VP Marketing, Business.com
- Chris Golec, Founder and CEO, Demandbase
- Jon Miller, VP Marketing, Marketo
- Matthias Blume, Chief Analytics Officer, Covario
A major B2B research initiative, conducted by Enquiro with input from Google, Business.com, Covario, Marketo and DemandBase, showed that most marketers are not effectively leveraging online assets to their best potential. Among other things, the notion of a strictly followed, traditional buying funnel is simply not accurate in many instances, risk dictates buying behavior, search is incredibly important as an integrator across online and offline channels and face-to-face persuasion is still necessary in many high risk, complex purchases.
As part of a sound blended search optimization strategy, you should be optimizing your press and news releases. For the simple reason of reach, properly optimizing your news releases can help drive some additional traffic to your web site and provide yet another touch point for reaching your target audience.
Of course, when optimized properly, your news releases can get listed in Google News and Yahoo News thereby reaching a wider audience. As Google communicates,
If you'd like your news site or blog to be included in Google News, please send us the URL and we'll be happy to review it. Please note, however, that we can't guarantee we'll be able to include your site in Google News.
More on submitting your content to Google can be found here.
Getting listed on Yahoo News is not quite as simple, however you can get listed in Yahoo News by leveraging third party press release distribution options. As Yahoo states:
All press releases available on Yahoo! originate from other sources. We can't take individual press releases and add them to our service.
If you're interested in having your corporate press releases show up on Yahoo!, please contact PR Newswire, Business Wire, PrimeZone, or Market Wire. For Canadian corporate press releases, please get in touch with Canadian Corporate News, Canada Newswire, or BCE Emergis.
So with the launch of Microsoft Bing, how can you get your news into Bing news? Well according to Brett Yount, Program Manager | Bing Webmaster Center, they currently hand-pick news for their Bing News vertical. If you would like to submit your site for review, please email . Additional updates can be found in Bing community forums.
Yesterday, SEMPO Institute, the distance learning division of SEMPO, (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization), http://www.sempo.org/, announced it is adding two new courses to its popular Effective Search Marketing online classes: “Linking and Brand Management” and “Social Media.”
Both courses are live online and available for immediate registration at https://www.sempoinstitute.com/search-marketing-enrollment/default.aspx
The courses are part of SEMPO Institute’s Effective Search Marketing series and are $299 each.
“SEMPO Institute’s growing menu of short courses fits the demands of busy search marketers who want to hone in on a particular topic that correlates with their job responsibilities, in order to increase their skills and add even further value to their client work,” says Adam Cohen, partner in Rosetta, a leading U.S. interactive agency, and a member of SEMPO’s Social Media course review team.
As an organization, SEMPO is addressing the impact of the proliferation of social media, from an education and editorial perspective. SEMPO recently released the first in a series of point-of-view opinions, this one focusing on social media. It is accessible at http://www.sempo.org/learning_center/editorials.
Effective Search Marketing: Linking and Brand Management will teach you:
Internal and External Linking
Links with Content
Strategies for Inbound Links
Tactics to Attract Links
Brand Reputation Methods
Tools for Brand Reputation Management
Effective Search Marketing: Social Media Marketing will teach you:
Well this is my first blog post after I became a new daddy on Canada Day, July 1. What an amazing experience. My wife and I welcomed a baby boy named Elias to the world on Canada Day. He arrived nine days early in what I suggest is a beautiful miracle as I was hoping for a Canada Day baby.
The entire day was fantastic, and technology played a key role in being able to communicate the events of the day. Earlier this Spring, I purchased an iPhone with the thought that it would allow me to stay better connected more easily... and while I was not one of those geeky Apple fans I must say that I love my iPhone. As we brought in a new digital native into the world, not only was I able to phone family members and friends about the birth of little Eli, but I was also able to take pictures and immediately post them to Facebook. This was important as my father and brother were making the trip to a family wedding on the prairies and were able to see Elias for the first time via Facebook. (Again he was nine days early). I was also able to post pictures allowing other family members and friends to see our new bundle of joy. This is something that could not be as little as ten years ago.
With technologies such as the iPhone, Facebook and Twitter I was able to communicate the birth of my son to family members and friends quickly and efficiently. I wonder about the technologies that will be developed in years from now, when my son turns ten or when he is twenty. As a little digital native, how long until he experiences the online world to find information, to learn and to experience.
In 2009, just the fact that I was able to use a phone to access and upload information online and be able to communicate the greatest day of my life through Twitter and Facebook is pretty remarkable. So while I may have missed the fireworks on this Canada Day in 2009, my son will have fireworks every year as he celebrates his birthday with the birth of the greatest nation in the world. When Canada turns 143 years old, my son will turn one. You can bet that the technologies and innovations as they allow us now, will in the future allow people like my son to find information faster and more efficiently via the Internet. Man, technology sure is cool is it not?