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15 Cool Health & Wellness iPhone Apps
Friday, January 29, 2010
Well it has been quite a week with lots of buzz about social media, Apple, Google and Microsoft.  So we thought that we would finish up the month with a totally unrelated post about our favorite Health and Wellness Apps available for the iPhone.

There are a number of cool apps for the active folks out there.  Here is a look at some of our favorite health and wellness iPhone apps.

15 Cool Health & Wellness iPhone Apps
  1. Nutrition Menu - This iPhone application contains a nutritional database that allows you to choose healthy meals and tally up your Food Score. Over 41,000 restaurant menu items of 351 USA and some Canadian restaurants. 149 built-in exercises. Food Score settings adjustable to fit any diet.  Released in October 2009, this app is only $2.99
  2. GoodGuide - The world's largest and most reliable resource for buying safe, healthy and green products. This iPhone application gives ratings to over 65,000 products based on health, environmental and social impacts.  The great thing about this app is that it is free.
  3. 101 Cookbooks: Find lots of great healthy recipes to cook on this app.  Might I recommend the recipe for Double Broccoli Quinoa.
  4. Pocket First Aid App - this is a prety cool idea for an app.  Includes the latest up-to-date emergency information from the American Heart Association. Allows you to review first aid procedures anytime, anywhere. From your home, to your car, to the wilderness.
  5. Lose It!: Using this app, you can set goals and establish a daily calorie budget to lose weight.
  6. Food Information Database: This app will make it easy for you to keep nutritional information on restaurants handy when you’re going out to eat
  7. Food Network: The Food Network app will give you access to healthy recipes and videos.
  8. GymGoal - for all of the folks obsessed with going to the gym..  GymGoal Lite database contains 210 illustrated weight training exercises. Every exercise comes with detailed instructions.
  9. Trailguru: For the outdoor enthusiasts, Trailguru will help you find trails in the great outdoors.
  10. BP Buddy: This blood pressure helper makes it easy for you to track your blood pressure levels.
  11. FitSync: FitSync makes it easy to get training, logs, and a community of users.
  12. LVN to RN 8h2o: With the help of this app, you’ll be able to keep track of how many glasses of water you drink.
  13. Custom Sounds of Nature: Use ambient sounds to relax using this app.
  14. Heart Rate Calculator: This calculator will help you figure out your target heart rate.
  15. Bio Dictionary: Use this dictionary to look up health issues and medical terms.
Feel free to try them out today. Looking for even more health and wellness iPhone apps? Click here.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, January 29, 2010   0 comments
B2B Social Best Practices in the Marketing Cloud
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Live blogging a great webinar on Social Media, Marketing in the Cloud.  Presented by Marketing Cloud Alliance, speakers included:
  • Laura Ramos - Forrester Research
  • Jon Miller - Marketo
  • David Alston - Radian 6

Laura began by discussing how social media is a hot topic in the B2B arena.  Many B2B companies are getting serious about social media as a tool.  According to Forrester 37% of B2B marketers plan to invest in technology to support social media.  She went on to add that B2B marketers are using a number of different tactics for generating leads. She compared pre-web and Web 1.0 (driven by the seller)  interactions with Web 2.0 and how the interactions in the later are driven by the buyer.  Social media and the cloud are how they interact and try to obtain their information.  There is an engagement with the converation between the buyer and the seller.

She described the POST method used by Forrester:
P - People - assessing your consumers' social activities
O - Objectives - deciding on what you want to accomplish
S - Strategy - plan for how relationships with customers will change
T - Technology, Tactics and Tools - decide which social tools and technologies will work for you

She went on to suggest that technology buyers are a socially active crowd.  You need to understand how buyers participate to help set your social strategy.  There are six different categories that can be used to help you plan out your social strategy.


Courtesy of Forrester

Learn what your customers are saying and tapping into their social activity.  This will help you participate in the cloud and online environment where your audience is frequenting.  Laura touched on "Spreading" which is helping customers implement new business capabilities and adopt then internally or within a community.  MetricStream's Compliance Online was an example shared to illustrate.  Laura did mention that leads can be hard to find in the cloud.  You need to work with your audience and you can no longer use a "push" strategy to acquire their interest.

Laura discussed how to use the POST methodology to set your social media strategy:
  • Learn: Social behaviors of your audience
  • Answer: how will you change your relationship with that audience through the Cloud
  • Create a plan that incorporates social activity into your marketing plans
  • Use the "value chain" to assess which audience, objectives and approach to pursue.
She gave an example of what a value chain is as well as an example value chain for Cloud marketing as seen here:



She offered some great summarized tips on a cloud strategy for B2B marketing:
  • people are willing to engage socially
  • concentrate on objectives; not technology
  • use social media to compliment marketing programs that engage
 Jon Miller was up next.  He started out by describing how social media impact each of the stages of the revenue cycle beginning before prospects are even identified. He broke it down into three areas:
  1. Seed Nurturing - make valuable content freely available, create a reputation that build trust and credibility.  He mention Enquiro's research on the BuyerSphere and the elements of fear and risk for the buyer.  (Download the first 25 pages of the BuyerSphere book from Enquiro for free by going here.)
  2. Lead Nurturing - building and maintaining relationships with prospects as they educate themselves.  This happens through listening, segmenting and targeting as well as interaction.  Communication in channels that are relevany can be key with lead nurturing.
  3. Customer Nurturing - deepening and expanding relationships with existing customers.  Help reaffirm purchases after the decision (i.e. sale) is made.  This is very true with complex purchases, help the buyer avoid buyer's remorse.  Discover new needs and requirement needs of your audience.  Manage customer satisfaction and retention while deepening relationships.
Some great insight from John Miller.  There was a question asked if there are certain B2B businesses are more suited to social media.  While there are some early adopters it can work for any business if leveraged properly.

David Alston from Radian 6 was up next and started by mentioning that it is important for marketers to engage.  Marketers need to shift their paradigm.  He emphasized that social media is not a media.  It's about a two way conversation, a channel.  He used the phone as an analogy.  You need to listen to your customers, whether it is a complaint an idea or a compliment.  He touched on the new framework which he referred to as the 5 C's:
  1. Content - related to the old marketing "P" of promotion.  Rather than try to create marketing speak, create valuable content that people will want to share.  Again make this content free.
  2. Community - the community is alive and listens to itself, it has its own rules.  Avoid telling or "yelling" at the audience.  You need to live in the community and be an active participant.
  3. Conversation - don't talk at, talk with.  You need to be a good listener.  Conversation is where relationships are formed.
  4. Collaboration - what is the community trying to learn or accomplish?  Work together and findthe solution.  Participate and spend time with them.
  5. Connections - while you live in the community, you need to be active and make connections with people in the community and grow these relationships over time.
He presented a social media maturity model as seen here:



He went on to describe some tips when leveraging social media which included:
  • finding and building community on passion
  • propelling campaigns through listening
  • push leads into the funnel - listening for the point of need
  • track and activate advocates 
  • answer questions (in your own field) - share your expertise (do not be salesy)
  • uncover content that the community needs
  • find and resolve complaints
  • track resonance of other issues that come up
Overall a great presentation with some helpful tips for B2B marketers who are either currently using social media as a tool or are considering tapping into social media as a nurturing and marketing tool.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, January 27, 2010   0 comments
Google & Apple: Allies No More?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I just read an interesting post from the Sydney Morning Herald that I thought was worth sharing. 


Google raises stakes with Apple as it launches new unofficial iPhone app 

What is interesting about this is the change in the relationship between Google and Apple over recent months.  As the article points out,
Google's decision to release a new unofficial app for the iPhone on the eve of Apple's tablet computer launch is fuelling speculation about the deteriorating relationship between the one-time Silicon Valley allies.
 There has been intense speculation that when Apple announces its new tablet on Wednesday (US time) that it will drop Google as the default search engine on the iPhone (and on the new new tablet which will probably use the same or similar operating system) and replace it with Microsoft's Bing search engine.

Interesting, and perhaps just the start of an epic battle between the two tech giants.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, January 26, 2010   0 comments
Digital Natives: Billionaires are the New Millionaires
The digital age has made a lot of people a lot of money.  Of course you have the Google guys, we all know how Google makes its money, and then of course how Google made the YouTube guys rich.  There is a saying that "Youth is King", well this has become most evident in recent years with an increasing number of young billionaires capitalizing on the digital world.   Things such as social networking, online videos, and the like.  In 2007, reports suggest that there were 946 billionaires.  Of these billionaires, many are in the 50+ age group, but it looks like that is starting to change.

Forbes has released a great article on the next Bill Gates outlining some of the world's newest and youngest billionaires.  You might recognize a few of the names, but here is a look at some of the digital moguls out there.

Yoshikazu Tanaka - with an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion, at age 32, Yoshikazu is the second youngest self-made millionaire.  His fortune was a result of the creation of social networking site Gree.  Gree has been transformed into a mobile gaming site.  GREE offers various functions, such as profile, diary, community, photo, mail and other functions,to personal computer (PC) users.

Mark Zuckerberg - ah Mr. Facebook his self.  At age 25, Zuckerberg is worth an estimated net worth of $2 billion.  While a sophomore at Harvard, Zuckerberg started the social networking site Facebook for College and University students, when in May 2006, Facebook was launched to the general public.  Having purchased the domain facebook.com for an estimated $200,000, Zuckerberg has turned the popular social networking site into an $11 billion company.

Ma Huateng - one half of the Chinese version of the "Google Guys".  At age 38, Ma is worth an estimated $3.8 billion.  Along with Zhang Zhidong, Huateng started Tencent, China's most popular online chatting platform.  It's QQ.com site is the World's 11th most popular web site (based on data from Alexa).

Zhnag Zhidong - the same age as his counterpart, Zhang is worth a reported $1.4 billion having started Tencent in 1998.  The Tencent Group is a leading provider of Internet service and mobile value-added services in China.  With a vision "to be the most respected Internet company", Tencent has grown to become China's largest and most used Internet service portal.

Larry Page - ok we all know of the success and history of Google.  So it is no surprise that Larry Page is under 40 years old (he's 37) and is worth around $15 billion.  With Google's stock up over 80% since last year, Google continues to roll and the Google Guys continue to improve their wealth.

Sergey Brin - a year younger than his counterpart Larry Page, dropping out of Standford's computer science PH.D program and starting on a project named Backrub has profoundly changed Brin's life.  Google continues to "organize the world's information" and has redefined online advertising and made the Google Guys wealthy and famous.  Not to mention the coolness of their company's name becoming an actual verb in everyday language.  Becoming a billionaire at age 32 and 33 is quite an accomplishment.

The digital world has allowed the creative and innovative talents of digital natives to be shared with the world.    Many of us are enjoying the fruits of their labor.  Is there anyone who does not use Google or Facebook?  While there have not been any game changers that will become the latest Internet darling, you can expect to see more digital natives and younger billionaires on the horizon.  Dot.com bust?   No way, the digital era is still unfolding and there is lots of room for improvement and innovation.  As a result billionaires are becoming the new millionaires.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, January 26, 2010   0 comments
Search Activity on the Increase Across the Globe
Friday, January 22, 2010
Some interesting findings from comSCore as they released a study on growth in the global search market in 2009.  Jack Flanagan, comScore executive vice president suggests “Search is clearly becoming a more ubiquitous behavior among Internet users that drives navigation not only directly from search engines but also within sites and across networks. If you equate the advancement of search with the ability of humans to cultivate information, then the world is rapidly becoming a more knowledgeable ecosystem.”.

Russia, France and Brazil saw the greatest increases based on the number of searches conducted in those countries.



In terms of Search enginess, Russian search engine Yandex experienced the greatest increase in terms of searches icreasing by 91% based on the comScore data.




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posted by Jody @ Friday, January 22, 2010   1 comments
Neverblue Advances Proprietary Tracking Platform: Launches Server-to-Server Tracking
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Victoria, BC, January 21st, 2009 – Neverblue, a premier global lead generation network announced today the public launch of its Server-to-Server (S2S) tracking system. S2S technologies are aimed at minimizing lead tracking issues which can be created by consumer browser settings, mobile browsers, new web browsers and plug-ins that block and/or remove cookies.

“S2S is the latest addition to Neverblue’s arsenal of tracking technologies” said Gavin Aitken, Director of Technology at Neverblue.  “It integrates seamlessly and extends classical pixel tracking technologies thereby improving the overall reliability of performance-based tracking by connecting the advertiser’s tracking technology directly to Neverblue’s.”

This new technology is being rapidly adopted by Neverblue’s top-tier performance advertisers looking for a competitive edge.  By integrating Neverblue’s S2S tracking system, advertisers’ campaigns can end up driving up to 10% more conversions. This improvement can become the competitive differentiator attracting high caliber publishers who are always seeking to optimize the value of their traffic.

“Top publishers are gravitating toward campaigns that have both pixel and S2S tracking because the metrics promise improved ROI.   It’s pretty exciting how things spiral up; a 2% gain in conversion on a given campaign can be parlayed by a top publisher into higher bids, better placements, and a dominant market position” said Aitken, “We’ve seen this can then  result in more than a 10% surge in quality lead generation.”

Neverblue makes this new technology available to top advertisers free of charge and encourages all of the industry leaders to add S2S tracking to their campaigns.  It only takes a few hours to implement and is compatible with all major web development software.
“Many of our largest advertisers integrated the technology quickly when we quietly launched in late 2009 and are enjoying the associated gains.  This new tracking technology is simply another step forward, aimed at improving performance marketing for both affiliates and advertisers” said Hakan Lindskog, President and CEO, Neverblue. “Neverblue is one of an elite group of networks who have created their own proprietary tracking platforms.  We are recognized as an industry leader for our performance marketing technology and will continue to invest strategically.”
About Neverblue
Based in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Neverblue is a premier global lead generation network that delivers millions of profitable customers to clients from all over the world, including members of the Fortune 1000™. Neverblue is a wholly-owned, Canadian subsidiary company of Vertrue Inc., an $800 million Internet direct marketing services company.

Media Contact
Breanne Storey
Marketing & Communications Specialist
Email:

Phone: +1 (250) 386-5323 x.276
Cell: +1 (250) 858-5323

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, January 21, 2010   0 comments
11 Interesting and Useful URL Shortening Resources
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
It seems as though everyone is getting into the URL shortening business these days, Facebook, Bing, Google, YouTube.  So along with all of these announcements comes the numerous blog posts about this URL shortener or comparisons between URL shorteners, or whether it is even a good idea to shorten your URLs?  So rather than have you sift through all of this information out there, we decided to compile a list of some of the more interesting posts on URL shortening that have graced the Web over recent months.

First, we should describe exactly what URL shortening is. As described similarly by Wikipedia,

URL Shortening - the process by which a web site owner  makes a web page available under a very short URL in addition to the original address.

11 URL Shortening Resources That You May Find Useful
  1. URL Toolbox: 90+ URL Shortening Services - an exhaustive list or URL shortening options from Mashable.  Who know that there were so many options?
    http://mashable.com/2008/01/08/url-shortening-services/

  2. URL Shorteners: Which Shortening Service Should You Use? - Great post from Danny Sullivan, the God-father of Search on which URL shortening service you should be using.  http://searchengineland.com/analysis-which-url-shortening-service-should-you-use-17204

  3. Google Jumps on the URL Shortening Bandwagon... - this article from Web Monkley makes some critical points on URL shortening.

    Of course the bigger problems with URL shorteners — link-rot, spam and redirect mishaps to name a few — are still problems regardless of whether the shortener is controlled by Google or anyone else. And for anyone who thinks that Google services have a better chance of being around far into the future, may we remind you that Google Notebook, Google Answers and several other services have disappeared over the years.
    As always, if you really want a future-proof URL shortener, your best bet is to build your own using one of the many libraries and apps available for Python, PHP, Ruby and other popular programming languages.
    http://www.webmonkey.com/blog/Google_Jumps_on_the_URL-Shortening_Bandwagon_With_GooDOTgl



  4. Wikipedia mentions that "The first notable URL shortening service, TinyURL, was launched in 2002; however, the idea dates to at least 2001."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL_shortening

  5. URL Shorteners Come to Google, Facebook - the folks over at Search Engine Land share their thoughts on a couple of new players in the URL shortening field.  http://searchengineland.com/url-shorteners-come-to-google-facebook-31880. An interesting reminder from Google:


    Google URL shortener is not a stand-alone service; you can’t use it to shorten links directly. Currently, Google URL Shortener is only available from the Google Toolbar and FeedBurner. If the service proves useful, we may eventually make it available for a wider audience in the future.
  6. Official Google Announcement - Google URL Shortening -  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/making-urls-shorter-for-google-toolbar.html

  7. 11 Best URL Shortening Services – Vote Your Favorite - another interesting comparison from Lee Odden and the folks at Top Rank Online Marketing blog.  http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/01/11-best-url-shortening-services-vote-your-favorite/

  8. URL shortening is hot--but look before you leap - this post makes a number of great points including mentioning the fact that:

    One of the problems with short URLs is knowing what you're getting into when you click them. Is that link really the fun video of the guy tripping into the lake, or is it site that will spam you or attempt to install malware? Is it really a warning from your bank about a bad transaction, or is it a phishing attack to try to fool you into parting with your password?
    Clicking many regular URLs involves a leap of faith, to be sure, but not being able to see a "youtube.com" or "bankofamerica.com" name because it's masked by a short URL makes that leap even longer.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10277724-2.html



  9. URL Shortening Services, The Ultimate List - http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/url-shortening-services-the-ultimate-list/

  10. Fa.il: Bing's URL Shortener Is Longer Than Bing's Own Domain - is it me, or is Bing always late for the dance?  http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/01/15/bing-url-shortener/

  11. Survey of URL Shortening Service APIs - includes a nice overview of URL shortening:

    URL shortening services map long URLs to shorter URLs usually encoding the path with a sequence of letters and numbers and provide a redirect to the original URL when the short form is clicked. The shortened URLs are useful for Twitter tweets since they take up fewer of the 140 characters...
     http://userprimary.net/user/2009/01/18/survey-of-url-shortening-service-apis/


From an SEO perspective, we might make the recommendation that before you select a URL shortening service, that you consider creating search engine friendly URLs to begin with.  This may involve rewriting your existing URLs or even mapping out a new hierarchy if you are planning a site redesign.  URL structure is important to the search engine spiders but also to site visitors, which means that URL shortening may in fact be something that you will need to evaluate prior to making a final decision on a URL shortening service.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, January 20, 2010   4 comments
SEO Roadmaps: Building an SEO Roadmap to Guide Your Online Marketing Focus
Monday, January 18, 2010
Originally posted on ASK Enquiro.


As we started working with a number of our B2B clients, one thing that we noticed is that many (if not all) required some direction when it came to SEO.  Some clients were, and still are, at various levels of the organic search maturity model which means that the level of engagement and level of SEO knowledge varied.  No matter at what stage the client is in, there was a consistent need for direction.
It seems as though there is always the question of where can we focus our SEO efforts?  This is a great question as there are many areas that may require attention.  Again, most clients are at different places when it comes to SEO.  However one area of SEO, for whatever reason that is often overlooked, is in the fundamentals:
  • On-Page Optimization – title tags, meta data, on-page headings, page copy etc.
  • Interlinking – mapping out where and when to interlink site pages
  • Technical obstacles – coding issues
  • Building links – improving your external link inventory
Quite often it means revisiting these elements to ensure that the site is fully optimized and providing the right messaging to the right people at the right time.  When it comes to SEO, it is all about focus.  An SEO roadmap helps the client focus on the activities that need to be addressed so that they can experience the greatest return with their online marketing efforts.
Focus:  Here and Now
Having a clear focus can make any marketing effort easier to act upon.  Focus simply means directing your attention towards something.  Students, for example,  focus their studies on a particular topic.  Restaurants focus their menus on specific meals. Olympic athletes focus on a specific sport.  The focus is clear and at times narrowed, but success is due in part to focus.  In business, it is easy to determine the have’s from and the also-rans based simply on focus.  Those businesses that have clear business objectives often perform better than businesses that have a lack of clear vision or focus. Client Focus With online marketing and SEO, focus is just as important for success to be achieved.  From initial evaluation to the prioritizing of tasks to the implementation of recommendations to value justification to on-going maintenance, the ability to map out the “areas of focus” becomes increasingly important.
As a result, we established SEO roadmaps to help the client understand, and prioritize their SEO tactics and overall strategy.  The purpose of the SEO roadmap is many, but in essence, the SEO roadmap is used to assist  clients in:
  1. Awareness – of the tasks that need to be completed to enjoy full SEO success
  2. Prioritization -all of the items and tasks required to achieve organic success
  3. Ensuring Accountability – SEO roadmaps illustrate who is accountable for a given task which is useful in identifying any potential hurdles or time management efforts that may be required to implement a given task
  4. Illustration – of the overall goals and what the return we are striving for as they relate to the overall business objectives of the company.  To help tell the story.
The fact is that the SEO roadmap becomes a critical piece of intelligence for all parties involved.  It helps with the focus of where efforts need to be, where they should be and most importantly perhaps where they should not be.  (What I mean by this is, that we have seen companies who try to jump to the latest and greatest SEO tactic or buzz topic, when they in fact have not yet addressed the fundamentals or have even developed a strategy as to what they want to accomplish or achieve.
So what then should your SEO roadmap consist of?  Well this can vary but at the very least it should contain the following elements:
  1. Action Items / Tasks
  2. Description of Item/Task
  3. Accountability – who will be responsible for implementation?
  4. Estimated Completion Date
Quite often it is always a good idea to include a value justification piece as to what the result will be of acting on a specific action item or task.  Ideally the best SEO roadmaps are the ones that are not overly complicated.  The most effective SEO roadmaps are the ones that are simple, clear and concise.
If you want to refine your online focus, consider creating an SEO roadmap to help establish the path that you need to achieve your online goals.  From there, plug your SEO roadmap into your overall online marketing roadmap and continue to revisit your business objectives so that you remain focused towards achieving your goals.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, January 18, 2010   0 comments
High Bounce Rates Are Not Necessarily a Bad Thing
Friday, January 15, 2010
The attention span of the online generation (aka digital natives) is somewhat, shall we say, "reduced" to put it politely.  Have you ever taken the time to watch your son or daughter or coworker for that matter and see just how they interact online as the travel the World Wide Wide?  At times it is quite impressive and sometimes it is rather annoying, but the fact is their attention span is most likely different from previous generations. 

The ability to find information quickly at your fingertips has had a profound impact on our capability to gather and consume information.  As a result of the varying attention spans, there are different reason as to why your site visitors interact with your site (or any site for that matter) and why your bounce rates are affected by this.  Many talk about reducing bounce rates, but just because you have higher bounce rates does not mean that you should be trying to reduce your bounce rates.  Sure we want people to stick around so we can wow them with our product or service offering, but we may be forgetting an interesting point.  People's time is invaluable to them.  Why do you think we have seen the invention of things such as:

  • "Fast Food" Restaurants
  • Drive-Thru Checkouts
  • Drive-Thru ATMs
  • 1-hour Photo Labs
People are in a rush.  Why is that?  Well perhaps because people want to experience more, or perhaps they just want to wrap up their day, or maybe it is because they have poor time management skills?  Regardless, people are in a hurry and the Internet directly speaks to all of us in this time accelerated manner.

So getting back to bounce rates, sure we are all trying to reduce bounce rates and keep the visitor on our site for longer durations, but knowing that they may be in a rush and knowing just how important their time is to them, helping them find the information they are looking for quickly can provide a great return. 

The Need to Provide the Right Information at the Right Time

Bounce rate is about keeping the visitor on your site so that they visit subsequent pages and further engage with your content.  It is a very important metric, no question.  However does a high bounce rate mean that users are not engaging with your site?  The answer is no.  They may not just be clicking through to other pages on your web site.  So then, what happens if the landing page they land on has the information that they need?  Perhaps they are looking for a mailing address or a simple fact.  Maybe they are looking for a date or a formula or an ingredient.  You provide them with this information and your job is done.  Or is it?

Now depending on the page, a high bounce rate could simply mean that the visitor was able to quickly find the information that they were looking for.  This is great if you are an information portal because chances are they user will return (again providing they found the information that they were looking for).  But what if you are an e-commerce site?  What if you are selling a product or service online?  In this case this is where the typical discussion about lowering bounce rates becomes important.  Confused yet?  Well we're not saying that high bounce rates are a good thing, but they don't always have to be a bad thing.  At the end of the day, the goal is the same, to provide the user with the information that they are looking for.

Relevant content will always be important.  Think of why Google is so successful, there is a perception that Google provides the most relevant results out there.  As part of Google's messaging, they have stated that they want to organize the World's information (presumably so that it is easy to find and is accurate and relevant to a searcher's query.)

Bounce rates can be difficult to control.   Think about how hyper-competitive the Web is.  If you have a site or a page on hockey skates, apple pie recipes or weather patterns in Canada, chances are somebody else does too.  People have options and people are informed.  The growing population of digital natives presents a whole new group of Web savy surfers.  As a result, we can expect bounce rates to remain high for the simple fact that there are more options available and people's attention spans are getting shorter.

This is why the value of a repeat visitor is often not as appreciated as it should be.  Jakob Nielsen featured a great post on reducing bounce rate and fighting for that second click which you can find here.  Nielsen discusses the importance of realizing that there is no such thing as a single bounce rate.  In his post he breaks down bounce rates by entry source and talks about the importance of a loyal site visitor.  We tend to agree.  You want to lower your bounce rate?  Work on improving the number of repeat visitors to your web site.  Until then, we may just have to deal with higher bounce rates.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, January 15, 2010   3 comments
Google vs. China and the Winner Is.....
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Unless you have been unplugged in the past day or two, you have no doubt heard of  the battle between Google and the Chinese government as Chinese censorship policy may force Google to shut down Google.cn.  According to reports,
By leaving China, Google would be giving up access to the world’s largest Internet market. Google will make about $600 million of its revenue in China this year, according to Imran Khan, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. Analysts predict the company will have sales of $20.4 billion in 2010, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Google released a "censored version" of their search engine and entered China in early 2006, an interesting move at the time considering all of the restrictions and filters on the results shown in that country.  Fast forward and the inevitable has happened as Google does not want to have its result censored any longer.

According to the official blog post from Google,
We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."
There will definitely be some intresting results (no pun intended) as this story countinues to play out.  Looks like the news has helped Baidu's stock price as  jumped by nearly 14% today.




Google's (GOOG) stock meanwhile dropped about .57%. Seems as though early reports suggest that most are on the fence with regards to Google's stance.

Related Resources

Google:  Assessing the Fallout From China Stance - Barrons.com
Google may click away from China -  The Globe and Mail
Google Considering China Pullout in the Wake of Suspected Government Hacking - Search Engine Watch
Google and China: Maybe They Can’t Get Along - Marketing Pilgrim
Google vs. China: Free speech, finances or both? - CNN

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, January 13, 2010   0 comments
Covario Inc. Acquires Netconcepts
Announced yesterday, Covario Inc. has acquired Netconcepts. 

SAN DIEGO, CA and MADISON, WI (January 12, 2010). Covario Inc., the leader in enterprise class search advertising software and services, announced today that it has acquired Netconcepts, LLC, a Madison, WI-based solutions provider, specializing in the management of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. The combined firms will do business as Covario, Inc., headquartered in San Diego, CA.

Covario’s acquisition strengthens its industry leading position providing SEO solutions to the world’s largest advertisers. The combined company will have nearly 100 customers in key industries such as high tech, financial services, ecommerce, retail, consumer electronics, media, life sciences, and consumer packaged goods. Covario will integrate Netconcepts’ GravityStream™ technology into Covario’s SEO consulting practice and Organic Search Insight™ software.
Netconcepts, founded in 1995, is the leader in driving online sales for the retail and ecommerce space through management of natural search engine rankings using its GravityStream technology. Key clients include Cabela’s, Northern Tool, Ann Taylor, Deckers, Woolrich, and Builder’s Square. The company also recently introduced a solution to facilitate the creation of websites optimized for mobile handset viewing, and to better rank for mobile searches The merger will help these retail clients, and other clients, gain access to Covario’s software and team of service experts to better synchronize their paid and organic search efforts. This will create marketing efficiencies, improve results for both search types, and ultimately improve return on investment (ROI). GravityStream is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) web content management (WCM) solution that allows an advertiser to deploy SEO strategies in a scalable and cost effective way.

“With the acquisition of Netconcepts and the GravityStream technology, Covario is bringing a unique solution to advertisers to help them accelerate their ability to present their brands on all the major search engines globally,” said Russ Mann, Chief Executive Officer of Covario. “By coupling the predictive analytics in Covario’s Organic Search Insight with easy execution capabilities of Netconcepts’ GravityStream technology, advertisers will be able to identify the SEO actions that drive better rankings, and then deploy those strategies quickly, and in a highly scalable way to achieve their ROI goals.”
 
Full release here.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, January 13, 2010   0 comments
Online Marketing is is More than Just SEO & PPC
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Wow, it seems as though everyone and their dog is making SEO predictions for 2010. Some good some bad, some insightful, some obvious. Matt McGee over at Search Engine Land has compiled a list of 2010 Marketing Predictions from notable industry bloggers.  One thing is for sure, the times continue to be a - changin'. There are a number of search marketers who are playing up and reacting to personalization and real-time search as though these things are like an online plague and should be avoided at all costs.  I have a difficult time understanding this perception.  For me online marketing is more than SEO and PPC, it always has been. Personalization and real-time search are two things that can assist in enhancing online marketing efforts.  They are simply two pieces of a much larger pie.

The fact is search marketers should not fear things like personalization, real-time search that produce dynamic search results or even things like algorithm changes.  Online marketing is more than SEO and optimizing to "manipulate" search engine results.  Online marketing is more than paying for a given term to appear on a results page.  It's about providing the right content to the right audience at the right time.. which is why social works so well, it's on the users' own terms.  Moving forward in 2010 and beyond, online marketing is more than search engine optimization, it is about things like engagement, understanding, relevancy, content and attribution.

Yes there are tactics that can assist in gaining visibility in the search engine results page.  Things like building relevant and quality link inventories, on-page optimization, content development and the like all serve a purpose as SEO tactics.   Bid management, ad copy and sponsored management all serve as part of PPC tactics that you may be employing, yet online marketing is so much more.  SEO + PPC does not = Online Marketing.

Components of Online Marketing

Online marketing, when defined, is basically the process of incorporating combined efforts to promote a product, service or event via the World Wide Web.  It involves the creation, communication and delivering of these products, services or event and the perceived value associated with each.  At its core online marketing may also be known as internet marketing or web marketing.  Search, as in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Search Engine Marketing (i.e. PPC) are but two pieces of online marketing.  There are a number of other items that make up online marketing including the following:
  1. Web Analytics
  2. Usability Testing
  3. Social Media
  4. Messaging
  5. User Geneerated Content
  6. Content Syndication
  7. Video Messaging
  8. Image/Visual Messaging
  9. Email Marketing
  10. Contextual Advertising
  11. Paid Inclusion
  12. Affiliate Marketing
  13. News Articles
  14. Press Releases
  15. Display Advertising
  16. Blogging & Microblogging
  17. Search Marketing
  18. Local Search Advertising/Geo Targeting
  19. Mobile Marketing
  20. Online Reputation Management
  21. SEO
  22. PPC
  23. Online Partnerships
  24. Link Building
  25. e-Commerce
Wikipedia Listing for Online Marketing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_marketing

In addition to the above items, online marketing also involves components of traditional marketing items and the ability to focus on the 5 "P's" of Marketing:
  • Product/Service
  • Price
  • Placement
  • Promotion
  • People
Online Marketing combines technical innovation with traditional marketing elements.  Search is but a medium or tool that assists in the online marketing process.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, January 12, 2010   1 comments
Top Marketing Buzzwords for 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Buzzword - a phrase or word that entices people to discuss a topic in repetition.

Well it is that time of year again, time to share with the world our annual list of Top Marketing Buzzwords that you can expect to hear in the upcoming year.  Before we get to this year's list, let's take a look at some of the top buzzwords from previous years.


Top 100 Marketing Buzzwords 2009
Top 100 Marketing Buzzwords 2008
Top 100 Marketing Buzzwords 2007

 Last year's list featured a number of interesting terms indicitive of the type of year we were heading into with phrases such as "bail-out" and "value justification" making the list.  Will there be a lot of the same this year? Well as every year, expect to find some repetition, but I think that some of the buzzwords on the list 2010 may surprise you.




Top 100 Marketing Buzzwords for 2010
  1. Value Justification - top spot two years running for this term.  Expect to hear a lot of buzz about value justificaton in your office, with your department and in the media.  The economy in North America, while getting better, is still struggling and employers will be looking for even more value justification in 2010.  
  2. Real-Time - this is specific to Search as this was probably the most popular buzzword being used in late 2009 and into 2010.  Things like real-time search is high on the list of items being worked on by Google and real-time information through tools such as Twitter and Facebook continues to be a hot topic.
  3. Attribution - as marketers are asked to provide more value with less, look for marketers to take a long, hard look at attribution and attribution models to help communicate results and return more effectively.
  4. Personalization - was #6 on our list last year.  With the increase of digital natives populating online environments, look for Search Engines and traditional websites and businesses to provide more personalized offerings in 2010.
  5. Prorogue - this is currently one of the most popular buzzwords in Canada as of late, with a number of Canadians upset with Prime Minister Harper's prorogue (postponement) of Parliament to begin 2010.  Look for others to start using this term and for this term to increase in popularity in Q1 2010.  
  6. Value Proposition
  7. Success Metrics
  8. Benchmarking
  9. Lean
  10. Social Media
  11. Blended Search
  12. Reassurance
  13. Optimization
  14. Incremental
  15. Impact Analysis
  16. Economic Assurance
  17. ROI
  18. Recession Proofing
  19. Nexus One
  20. Work in Progress
  21. Relevance
  22. Short Term Solution
  23. Maturity Models
  24. Transparency
  25. Long-tail
  26. Visibility
  27. Content Optimization
  28. Usability
  29. Value Stream
  30. Twitter
  31. Best Practices
  32. ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend)
  33. iPhone App
  34. Business Objectives
  35. Online Budget
  36. Value Add
  37. Alignment
  38. Loyalty
  39. Online Budget
  40. Impact Investing
  41. Restructuring
  42. Engagement Metrics
  43. Universal Search
  44. Consumer Appeal
  45. Leveraging Relationships
  46. Demand Creation
  47. Incremental Improvement
  48. Lifelong Value
  49. Consumer Retention
  50. Cutbacks
  51. Intent
  52. Low-hanging fruit
  53. Bounce Rate
  54. Accountability Management
  55. Workflow
  56. Search Maturation
  57. Simplification
  58. Viral Marketing
  59. Downtrending
  60. Emotional Ecomomy
  61. Greenlining
  62. Brandstorming
  63. Unbanked
  64. Exit Strategy
  65. Cost-conscious
  66. Deferred Success
  67. Mancession
  68. Re-engineering
  69. Mergers
  70. Paradigm Shifts
  71. BuyerSphere
  72. Reputation Management
  73. Consumer Initiated Marketing
  74. Hulu
  75. Microblogging
  76. Re-skilling
  77. Webmaster Tools
  78. Dollarization
  79. Semantic Mapping
  80. Organic Search
  81. Segmentation
  82. The Obama Effect
  83. Prime Placement
  84. Deferred Success
  85. Trended Analysis
  86. Embedding
  87. Mobile
  88. Digital Native
  89. Success Metrics Analysis
  90. PPC Cuts
  91. Chimerica
  92. Critical Timing
  93. Redeploying Assets
  94. Downsizing
  95. Online Evangelism
  96. Mobilization
  97. Depression Proofing
  98. Torso (keyword)
  99.  Share of Voice
  100.  Green Shoots
There you have it another year of marketing buzzwords that you can expect to hear around the water cooler, at restaurants, in airports or just about anywhere where the discussion surrounds business or Search marketing.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, January 11, 2010   1 comments
The Real Time Web Continues to be Hot
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Guest post by Evan Britton, founder of Sency

There is a new way to search the web, and boatloads of users who have experienced the real time web have been impressed with the results. Traditional search engines rank sites based on relevancy. Because of this, the results don’t change a lot; a search today will reveal most of the same sites and information that were there last month. However, with companies like Twitter and Facebook having millions of users continue to post content and status updates – there is now real time content on the web which updates each second. Search engines and startups have leveraged this information to offer internet users instant access to what is happening right now.

So, when breaking news happens, a real time search will instantly give you the public’s thoughts, opinions, and experiences in relation to the breaking news. A search on Google news would give you links to articles written by people in the media, a real time search will allow you to sift through all internet users comments and thoughts. There have been several startups which have launched search engines and tools to try and offer users a good experience in searching and navigating through the real time web:

Here is a list of three startups along with a quick overview of what makes each of them stand out:

  1. Topsy (http://topsy.com) What makes Topsy’s real time search engine stand out is that it is focused on real time links as opposed to real time content. So, when you perform a search at Topsy, instead of seeing what people are talking about on the real time web, you are going to see what the most popular and prominent links are being shared on the real time web. You can ever sort to see the most shared links over the past hour, day, week, or month.

  2. OneRiot (http://oneriot.com/) Rumors have been swirling all over the web in regards to a partnership Yahoo is discussing with OneRiot. OneRiot offers users a real time search engine which can be sorted based on web results and video results. OneRiot also announced in early October that it will be rolling out a platform for advertisers to pay for listings to featured content on their results pages. While most real time web companies have been focused on technology and traffic, OneRiot seems to be an early leader in the monetization of the real time web.

  3.  Sency* (http://sency.com) Sency has built a free feed for websites and blogs (http://sency.com/feed.php). The feed brings in real time content which updates automatically on the site or blog it is published on. The site and blog owners are able to select which keyword they want the feed to scroll for. So, a blog about sports, can for example, have automatically updating real time content anytime someone uses the word baseball or football shows up on the real time web.
*this article was written by Evan Britton, founder of Sency

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, January 06, 2010   0 comments
comScore: Videos Viewed Online Surpass 30 Billion for First Time on Record
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
comScore has released November data from the comScore Video Metrix service that illustrates that nearly 31 billion videos were viewed during the month of November a record level.  Other findings from the release:
  • more than 170 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during the month
  • Google Sites accounting for 39 percent of all videos viewed online in the U.S.
  • Google delivered 12.2 billion videos viewed with YouTube.com accounting for nearly 99 percent of all videos viewed from Google properties
  • Hulu ranked second with 924 million videos viewed (3.0 percent)
  • Viacom Digital was third with 500 million (1.6 percent)
  • Microsoft Sites with 480 million (1.5 percent)
  • 84.8 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • The average online video viewer watched 12.2 hours of video.  Is it me, or does this seem high?
  • The duration of the average online video was 4.0 minutes

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, January 05, 2010   0 comments
Page Speed Coming to a Ranking Algorithm Near You
Monday, January 04, 2010
Last year while visiting a client with Enquiro, we were communicating the importance of Internet Speed and the fact that the Internet can be a quick place to find information and as a result you need to ensure that your web site is built to handle Internet Speed.  For years now, whenever I audit a client's site, one of the technical items that we look at is page load times and size of pages from a coding perspective.  We use various tools to do spot checks on a client's web pages to see how these pages are performing in from a technical stand point.

Page speed has always been an interesting factor from a user's perspective.  Remember the "old days" when using dial up connections and having to wait... and wait for a page to load?  Very frustrating at times.  Fast forward a couple of years as Search Engines and (search engine bots, spiders and crawlers) enter the picture.  Think about these crawlers trying to access a given web page and discover all of the coding and content on the Web.  Huge block of unneccessary coding can prevent these crawlers from finding the actual copy nd topic of the page.  Remember that Google is trying to organize the world's information.  In an attempt to do this, they are trying to provide the best results based on a given keyword query.  They continue to add to the number pages in their index, at last count I believe this was at 19 billion or so.  They try not to serve up duplicates and they try to serve up timely and relevant results.  Not an easy task by any means. 

In 2009, there was much discussion about real-time search and the ability to find timely information.  This was, no doubt, a result of items such as microblogging services such as Twitter and other social environments such as Facebook.  There are tools such as Surchur http://surchur.com/ which acts as a real time board pulling in the hot topics and hottest keywords from a number of sources including Google Trends, Yahoo Buzz and Twitter.  People are looking for timely (but accurate) information.  Internet Speed allows them to find this information, at least for the most part.

Part of Internet Speed is page speed and the ability to serve up pages that load fast.  You can see by recent efforts from Google that page speed will become even more important in 2010.  So much so that there are rumblings that Google  is considering incorporating page speed as a more important piece of their ranking algorithm. 

Page Speed is Important to Google

Google's Caffiene update is focused around providing real-time search results coupled with the importance of blended search and personalization, to provide a richer search experience.  According to Google's Matt Cutts, "... a lot of people within Google think that the Web should be fast...".  It appears that in the not to distant future faster sites may in fact be rewarding with better rankings in the Google Search Results Pages.  Again, this gets back to the user, they do not want to have to wait for a given page to load, they want everything now... or at least as soon as possible.  Slow loading sites may lose the visitor forever as they bounce from the site to another. 

As part of your SEO and online marketing strategies in 2010, making your site faster and optimizing for speed may be one area that you want to focus on.  Especially if Google does factor page speed into the ranking algorithm.  You will be better served by making your site quick and efficient for the search engines and users to visit.  Google recently announced a Site Speed site, which provides webmasters with even more resources specifically aimed at speeding up their pages.  Some of the other items that Google has recently announced with regards to site speed include:
  • Google Page Speed - an open source Firefox Add-on that can be used to evaluate performance.
  • Google Analytics now supports asynchronous tagging, so a web page load no longer blocks on Analytics JavaScript.
  • Google Web Toolkit now includes a declarative UI, incremental app download, and the Speed Tracer profiling tool.
  • Google Public DNS: Make your web experience faster and more secure.
Google has even shared some great performance best practices when it comes to page speed.  According to Google,
Page Speed evaluates performance from the client point of view, typically measured as the page load time. This is the lapsed time between the moment a user requests a new page and the moment the page is fully rendered by the browser. The best practices cover many of the steps involved in page load time, including resolving DNS names, setting up TCP connections, transmitting HTTP requests, downloading resources, fetching resources from cache, parsing and executing scripts, and rendering objects on the page. Essentially Page Speed evaluates how well your pages either eliminate these steps altogether, parallelize them, and shorten the time they take to complete.
The best practices are covered in five categories:
  1. Optimizing caching — keeping your application's data and logic off the network altogether
  2. Minimizing round-trip times — reducing the number of serial request-response cycles
  3. Minimizing request size — reducing upload size
  4. Minimizing payload size — reducing the size of responses, downloads, and cached pages
  5. Optimizing browser rendering — improving the browser's layout of a page
There are a number of things that can be done to address page load times from a coding poerspective (this warrants a post on its own) but to name a few:
  • Externalizing JS
  • Externalizing CSS
  • Removing unused CSS
  • Enabling compression
  • Optimizing images
  • Serving Resources from a unique URL(to eliminate duplicate download bytes)
Optimizing for Page Speed can not only help your site perform well from a technical stand point, but it can help improve bounce rates, and in the near future may actually help improve your rankings in Google.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, January 04, 2010   0 comments
Search Marketing in 2010
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Just about this time every year industry experts throw out their bold predictions as to where Search will go in the upcoming year.  As an example see: http://www.verticalmeasures.com/expert-interviews/2010-predictions-from-10-internet-experts/.  Late in 2008, we featured a series on where Search was heading in 2009.  Part one of SEO 2009 mentioned four elements of change for Search in 2009.
  1. Refocusing on Metrics that Matter
  2. Understanding the SEO does in fact provide value
  3. Shifting of Budget towards SEO
  4. Personalization and Blended Search Results
I'm not sure if these were just safe predictions, but from my experience in 2009, all four of these areas were front and center in 2009.  Others are now saying that some of these items is where Search and SEO is going in 2010.  (For the record we were a year early and believe that in 2010, Search will be continuing to evolve.)

Part six of our series on SEO in 2009 discussed the emergence and importance of universal and blended search ads well as personalization.  Recent activity by Google confirms the importance of blended search.  Combine that with the push for real-time information and real-time search and voila looks like blended search has all of a sudden come to the forefront.  It looks like Universal and Blended Search will be a hot topic at SMX West in March.  According to the site:

This year’s SMX West agenda dives deep on developments and solutions redefining search marketing…
  • Google’s universal search, and blended search in general, continue to alter profoundly the SEO landscape, offering new opportunities for visibility. Yet, old-school SEO tactics virtually ignore universal and blended search.
  • Real-time search is shaking up results pages in ways that marketers are still digesting, while personalized search means everyone sees something different in response to a query. How do marketers react?
 When Google released Universal Search results on their SERPs in May/June 2007 we new that this was not just a test.  As a searcher I know that I needed a richer experience and not just ten blue links.  I do engage with other types of results such as news results, shopping listings, images and video.  The fact is, there are numerous types of blended search results.

While we mentioned that blended search was going to be big in 2009, we think that it will become even more important in 2010.  While we typically do not like to make predictions per se, for Search in 2010, here's what we see as being the areas of focus.

Search Marketing in 2010
  1. Continued Integration of Paid & Natural Search
  2. Increased Importance of Blended Search
  3. More Focus on Real-Time Search and timely Search results
  4. A deeper look at attribution and attributing ROI to actual efforts
I think that we are going to see a definite separation between those companies that truly "Get It" and those that do not. Search marketing maturity models will become a map for companies that get it.  Regardless, Search is not going away and while it may become refined, SEO and organic search marketing efforts will continue to become critical to the online and perhaps more importantly offline success of organizations.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, January 03, 2010   0 comments
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