Posts Tagged SEO

Sunday Column (77)

This week was odd, I think anyway. At work meetings got cancelled, everyone is busy, sales is slow but the prospect and response is great. Does that all make sense? More trouble with BT Business, as they just decided to charge us an arm and a leg for 1 hour calls to Germany (£53), which is just ridiculous or better: criminal. Overall things are good, and I registered a few domains to work on our corporate SEO. Overall, we are on track 🙂

PS: if any competitor reads that, most good domains are now gone 🙂

Privately, what has happened? I had drinks with two good friends, ex work colleagues and SEOs on Tuesday after I spent all day going to Manchester and back. We didn’t really get drunk but had a fantastic time, some ideas and lots of thoughts. Fantastic. Really enjoyed that guys!

I didn’t manage Tai Chi this week and decided on the new course in September. Colin got over his cold, so did I and my wife is feeling ok-ish, and she digged out the old guitar from her dad. Lovely to see her play (see!), but Colin seems to enjoy it 😉

As for myself, I began to absolutely enjoy a nice piece from Mozart, Serenata Nottura, 1st Movement, Marcia Maestoso.

Also, my parents had their 40th wedding anniversary this weekend. I find it amazing and beautiful to think that one day, in a few many years….my wife and I hopefully celebrate 25 or even 50 years of marriage. My grand parents were married for over 65 years. What an achievement, and commitment. I am very proud.

On Saturday I took the boy swimming. Just Colin and me, as Jen needed some rest. I believe the next 6 months are going to be tough with us coming out stronger on the other end. It was great to take Colin swimming though, and having some father and son time.

The night we finished with the first ever roast lamb. It was fatty but overall a good taste and a nice diner.

Today we went to our neighbour’s daughters 100 day birthday party. Something which is very common in Korea allegedly. We enjoyed it a lot.

Speak next week,
Volker

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Digital Marketing Thoughts

Ok, I admit it. On Sunday afternoon, just before the game, I had one of those moments. I thought I had to write a blog post about Digital Marketing and why and how it works. Here are those thoughts:

I spoke about Inbound Marketing on my blog before. The idea of inbound marketing is that, particularly online, you as a company or individual make enough noise to be seen and getting interest. This interest is then converted into sales. I know that is over simplified, but that is basically it.

To do that, e.g. making enough noise, a lot of companies use Social Media these days. Twitter to form an opinion or to build a brand, maybe a Facebook page, some Facebook discussions, a group on LinkedIn or just a good blog that gets quoted within the industry. Speaking at events is usually welcomed, or sponsorship at events to associate a brand with a sport, e.g. Rolex and Golf as an example.

Now, there is another way of creating awareness. I recently, as you know, entered the online display arena with a company that executes media plans across ad exchanges. That means we can buy inventory more cost effective and get a greater reach for less money than using ad networks for instance. This brand performance can be used solely for branding or it could be used for branding in association with direct response to actually measure the ROI straight away, similar to search marketing.

Another way is to use TV of course. Maybe less targeted (until IPTV comes into play) and of course more expensive. However, the costs of producing a good display ad (creative) or TV advert might differ, but both shouldn’t be neglected.

To my mind, and thanks to Kotler, the 4Ps are still valid. Product, place, price, promotion. People buy because they know a product or a brand and they saw it in a place or associate it with a certain status. Then the price….that is tricky but general speaking if one really likes something, one will be able to afford it. So now, the promotion, is really what I am talking about.

Looking at a Digital Marketing Strategy, there are only a few ways to think, and these ways are 90% online and 10% offline (or all online) and to have the right mix between inbound and outbound Direct Response. What do I mean with that?

1st:
As a brand you need to create a lot of awareness. Brand performance is the newest word I use for that. To do that you can use a mixture of TV and Display Advertising with a measurable KPI, e.g. sign-ups or voucher code use. This way you don’t only spend money on a big brand reach and awareness campaign but you start from the beginning to focus on your ROI for every penny you spend.

2nd:
User Engagement. Again: competition or user codes, discussions in forums or blogs, feedback and research rounds, social media like Facebook and Twitter. Having all that combined and using the feedback you are getting from your customers to improve your service and products is key.

3rd:
The trick is to utilise the user engagement (2) and turn that into sales. Using DR (direct response) channels like Display (DR & brand awareness = brand performance), PPC (DR but also brand awareness), social media, and Email campaigns. That means you are turning your brand performance into DR and get a list of hot leads.

4th:
Use good sales people and close those hot leads. Using their feedback and good account management skills for client engagement to make sure clients are happy.

5th:
Feed all those information back into your system – CRM Software. That means you have a feedback loop and know exactly which channel worked best, where to spend more money, where to spend less money and which channel gives you the greatest ROI. Measuring, comparing, adjusting.

It sounds simple but there are a lot of things where brands do go wrong. And, don’t forget, not every user is the same, and not every brand either 😉

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my Digital Marketing Ideas.

Volker

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Sunday Column (18)

Another week? Not a normal week, that is for sure. Monday I spent all day preparing for a big presentation on Tuesday. That presentation went really well, showing off my knowledge about incorporating SEO, PPC and Social Media in Business Development/Marketing: my topic, my passion! That was good and the feedback was good too.
Another couple of companies and recruitment consultants got back to me and it was all looking good for offers, opportunities and future job offerings. Given the recession, I have done well securing interviews and offers. Now, fingers crossed.
However, nothing was decided early this week. Wednesday through to Friday I spent waiting. Waiting for 2 things: Jobs of course but, almost more important, waiting to understand my boy.

Colin decided to get louder, more noisy and grumpy. Oh dear, whilst it is totally normal, we didn’t know what to do. We had a health visitor around who gave us a great introduction on what they do and how they monitor babys’ progress. I should mention the health visitor came as a routine and not because Colin got louder! There is great support for children and families here in the UK. Also we had someone around that solely looks after breast feeding mums. That was helpful too. Overall, Colin is more awake, needs more attention and just takes up more time. Difficult to hold him and do work or write blogs at the same time, but we are coping 😉

So overall this week was all about our wee boy. Getting an understanding of his needs and wants and see how much we need to feed him, what kind of food (bottle or breast) and if he is ok. Because you are worrying if he does not settle at all. Hence it is good to get advice on what to do and the support scheme here in the UK is fabulous. It might be better in other countries, but for what we need, I am very surprised how good it is. At least I know my taxes and NI are well spent … at least in some areas.

Bottle or breast? That decision is really with the mother, mainly because she is the “main feeder“. However, whilst men always want women to breast feed, I think it is important to take the mother into consideration as well. This article from KindsHealth says “The AAP says babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months. Beyond that, the AAP encourages breastfeeding until at least 12 months, and longer if both the mother and baby are willing.” That is in an ideal world. The quality of breast milk, they say, is better for the baby and will avoid some allergies in the future. And, by using formula, “be assured that your baby’s nutritional needs will be met“.
So feeding formula is nothing to worry about, probably less to worry about for the mum because she knows how much milk she gives to her baby. This is an ongoing discussion we have, and many other parents I was speaking to, and it comes down to personal choice, and the mother’s feeling. After all her sanity and her well being are as important as the baby’s needs. So I support my wife in whatever she decides to do.

Enough about that – could write a whole blog post about it. My paternity leave ended this Friday. However, I took Monday and Tuesday off as well. Reason is that I hope to sort out my job situation for the 6th of July and not return to my current work at all. But, without official confirmation, I don’t want to blog about it yet.

Friday night we had some friends around and with the muggy weather watered down our thirst with wine, whisky and had some pizza. Saturday and Sunday really flew past, and I had great moments with my boy. I really appreciate the time I can take at the moment to see him grow up and everyone warns me that this time never comes around again. Of course it doesn’t but will I realise it in time.

Have a good week next week and I keep you posted on the job situation.

Jenny, Volker, Colin Ballueder

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Twitter results in Google

Wow, I am impressed. Maybe I missed an announcement over the last few days but Google now includes Twitter search results in their search – at least for their Google Alerts.

google-alerts-ballueder2

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Telemarketing – does it still work?

By now most people should know a few things about me. I am keen on Marketing, particular Inbound Marketing, and you might not know that I started my career in telemarketing.

A few months back I needed less convincing to use telemarketing and cold calling. I thought, if there is a company out there that fits the niche for my company’s service, then a call to them will work. And, it does. However, it is not as effective as getting this person to find you.

On Linkedina group of Business Development guys discussed telemarketing and particularly cold calling. My comment was: “I have done cold calling for many years but think it proves less and less effective. Ideally you focus on inbound marketing to generate leads. Prospects are funneled through to you and find you online (SEO, PPC, Blogs, Social Media) and if you have the right USP, they will fill in a contact form. Once that is done, you call them. I would almost call that a “luke warm” contact 😉 Because the prospect did the first step and you already know that they know you. From there it is much easier to introduce yourself.
Having said all that, for some goods cold calling will still work and becomes a numbers game. Simple example is a washing machine. Everyone needs one, and everyone wants one. There is a saturation in the market but if you call 100 households, I am sure you can sell at least 1 washing machine
.”

So, we are looking at several cases here. Cold calling for B2C and B2B and then for products that are niche and products that are common. From my point of view, like the washing machine example, if you have a commonly available product and cold call B2B or B2C, you will eventually win new clients. It is a numbers game.

If you are B2B and you have a niche product people will find you anyway, particularly if you are using inbound marketing and optimise your site with SEO. However, if you are somewhere in the middle, a combination can work. Don’t call it “cold calling” but “telemarketing”. Start a survey and ask people “is that a service you could be interested in?” – get their “opt-in” to send them further information, get them curious about what you have to say.

Once you made them curious, then you got them to search for a keyword you can push in your email, something easy to optmise for and with little competition. You push a keyword that people will connect to your product and services. This is a great SEO tip too 😉

So, to summarise, I still believe that telemarketing and telesales can be useful if it is used as a qualifying tool after the initial contact has been made through a trade show, a contact form or other means of marketing. Used mainly for inbound and “luke warm” outbound calls, as part of a strong inbound marketing mix, telemarketing is a good tool for companies.

And, for anyone who ever worked in telemarketing, it is a great way of starting your sales career. You never have any hesitation to pick up the phone – even if the president was on the other side of the line 😉

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Inbound Marketing for SMEs and Start-Ups

I read a fantastic article from Rand the other day on his blog of SEOmoz.

Really interesting. I summarised it for myself as “Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools work but only up to a certain extend” and thought of myself about inbound marketing once again.

So let me think about it. I am an SME, do not have a lot of brand awareness, or I am a start-up, just entering the market. What is it I have to do to get noticed?

I would suggest that first of all you need brand awareness. This can be done by registering in various organisations, directories, adverts in industry specific magazines, PR and push your profile online on:

Twitter: create a company profile, start following people and stay personal in order to create a “personal brand” people like to follow. Have something to say and add value with every “tweet”. Try to engage with the community and be “a friend”.
Linkedin: create a corporate profile and make all your friends/connections aware of it. Add slide shows via Slideshare and show off the knowledge you have. Link your corporate blog to the profile too.
Blog: having a corporate blog is great to engage with your consumers/clients and it is important that you keep it up to date. Do some keyword research and write all your articles keyword rich so that your blog shows up for the same keywords as your website. Your blog can link with the right anchor text to your website.
Website – don’t be silly, I thought that was already done 😉 – make sure you do basic SEO on it and make sure that you rank for the important keywords, do some link building and watch your competitors with google alerts and make sure you get alerts if someone places a link back to your site. Later on, do more link building and concentrate on high value links, e.g. from Universities or Government sites; also increase your keywords (keyword expansion).
– Online PR: using both your blog and your PR agency, push your PR in as many channels as possible to get brand awareness.

Wow, this only took 5 minutes to write up. Is that all?

I believe that brand consistency is important. Think of a theme that you can tell your clients and prospects. Become a thought leader or a knowledgeable person that will bring new ideas and values to their everyday life. If you have a USP (unique selling point), then make use of that one before anyone else is coming after you. Create a seminar or webinar series and use email marketing, twitter and SEO, possibly a good PPC campaign, to drive traffic and attendees to the seminar. Price it affordable so that people won’t have to think twice if they want to attend or not.

Now, why am I summarising a good inbound marketing strategy and what has this to do with Rand’s article. Rand writes in his article that the ROI from your twitter or blogs might only be low to moderate, whilst traditional SEO and web marketing, this could be affiliate, display ads, email marketing, is moderate to high. Of course it takes longer but in the long run, it is more effective.

And, before I forget, don’t forget to measure it. Online marketing is measurable and therefore you need an analytics tool to track down where your visitors are coming from. If you don’t know, then it is time to find out and increase the spend on the channels that allow you for greater ROI!

If you have any questions or would like an introductory meeting on how to create your marketing plan, please contact Volker from cb consulting London.

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International Search Summit Oslo (4)

The last block of the International Search Summit in Oslo is on its way.

Yet another great case study presented by Pontus Kristiansson, Avail Intelligence: European landscape – Behavioral Merchandising and On Site Optimisation. I asked Pontus earlier what they are doing and, in a nutshell, he explained that they analyse the search behaviour and from that data Avail makes sure that the “product pictures” shown on e-commerce sites are relevant to the user. And, therefore, they increase the conversion rate for their clients.

pontus-avail

Wow, this is great. This goes beyond testing what Divolution spoke about at our International Search Summit in London 2008. So now we cannot only test your site on which frames and boxes convert best for your target audience, you can also determine which pictures in the box that converts best will increase the conversion on top of the design. I hope that makes sense?!

behavioural-targeting

Now, does SEO, PPC, e-commerce etc. work – Andy Atkins-Krueger of WebCertain now speaks about Tracking – An Overview of the importance of synchronised tracking and how search patterns are different in different regions. He also introduces WebCertain’s newest product Global Central, the only tracking tool that compares “apples with apples” for various campaigns in various countries, and shows all those results in ONE screen.

Tracking is still very important to see your visitors journey, your conversion rate, the bounce rate etc. – all your KPIs need to be measured and analysed to ensure you are doing the right thing to rectify any campaigns towards achieving your ROI.

Before the round up, Jørgen Brunborg-Næss of Synlighet speaks about Airline – Tracking challenges and KPI differences in a multinational campaign.

Jørgen has worked with clients such as Norwegian (airline), VG.no (newspaper) and Gooba (auction). His presentation focuses on “Norwegian Air Shuttle” for whom Synlighet manages the PPC campaign. Really, the key summaries are:

– acknowledge that each market has its own characteristics
– build a common campaign structure that allows you to easily transfer learning from one market to another
– measure, report and compare on details

Summarising the event, host John Brenne and Andy Atkins-Krueger round up the well organised and well presented day. Real life case studies on SEO and PPC, international campaigns and tracking. Which factors to consider for international search marketing and ways of converting visitors into customers.

Another great event for the search marketing industry is over. Not long until WebCertain opens its doors for the International Search Marketing Summit focusing on International Social Media Campaigns and Developments in the British Library in London.

Bookmark our site, www.internationalsearchsummit.com, and register today to join our event on the 14th of May 2009 with an incredible early bird price of only £345.

Also, feel free to register for WebCertain’s newsletter Secrets.

I will go to the networking event now, having a glass of vino to round up the day and discuss search marketing issues … before heading back to London shortly.

Have a good weekend everyone.

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International Search Summit Oslo (3)

The afternoon here in Oslo starts off with “SEO Howlers”. Andy from WebCertain, Kristjan from Nordic eMarketingg and Sergey from Zett.no start off to point out interesting facts of what they found on various international sites, such as teh “formula to lose money” and “robot.txt that just don’t work”.

It is hard to summarise a session whilst moderating it at the same time. However, the howlers point out common or not so common mistakes made by search marketers across the world.

Since I am moderating, after listening earlier at the International Search Summit, I only briefly summarise the key points (sorry). If you want to be involved, register today for our London International Search Summit, the early bird discount expires on the 31st of March 2009

Following form there is speaker Beate Lofseik of MakingWaves.com outlines an interesting case study about VisitNorway.com for their SEO efforts. Beate is an experienced Webmaster and Public Affairs officer and worked for IM Skaugen, Oslo Stock Exchange and Terra-Gruppen.

She focuses on the main categories of:
content
– Technical
– URLs
– Links

Regarding content, telling a story and giving things people want to read about. It shows, as Peter outlines in his session below, that content is still king. And, that it is so important. Good content, keyword rich with specific messages. Combining it with the above, e.g. a good URL structure in a search engine friendly CMS with lots of links. Basic, but very effective SEO!

The last session before the afternoon coffee break is about “Roadmap: Working with clients to realise their international potential”. WebCertain’s Client Services Manager Paul Reeve together with Peter Kersbergen, SEO Strategist, speak about synchronising the search marketing activities for clients and why the centralised approach of WebCertain works better than a non centralised approach.

WebCertain is the only international search marketing agency offering over 32 languages in house and work on all international campaigns from one location with native speakers. Paul points out which impact the agency structure has on the way agencies can work on international campaigns, drawing on his 20 year’s experience in the travel industry and managing their online marketing.

The advantages of centralised operations are:

– No time zone issues
– 1 point of contact
– Dedicated search linguists and native speakers
– Synchronised search, working on PPC and SEO campaigns across various countries
– The centralised approach allows to turn on e.g. one PPC campaign in Japan whilst turning the one in Brazil off
Centralised global tracking

But also, coming from a client services point of view, Paul outlines “what good clients are”. Simliar to Efva this morning, he outlines how important it is to form a partnership between the agency and the client to improve the overall marketing and making search part of the overall marketing mix.

Peter concludes the first part of the afternoon with the key factors to be considered running international campaigns. He points out the importance of:

– Domain choice
– Domain names
– Local hosting
– Language choice
– Language tags
– Webmaster Tools
– Localised URLs
– Content
– Duplicate Content
– Local Links
– Country Selector
– Dynamic SEO

Some members of the audience are pictured here 🙂

peter-and-paul

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International Search Summit Oslo (2)

After the first part of the Summit we are back in Oslo for the 2nd part.

The second part of the International Search Summit in Oslo hosted by WebCertain, the leading international search marketing specialists, starts with a case study:

Gard Jenssen from Seobra.no,
shows us “How to use SEO for B2B sales support internationally”. Gard
was VP Product Development at Yahoo! Europe, VP Product at Kelkoo, National Expert at European Commission in charge of the
EC’s first web site, Chief Development Editor at Origo.no (Telenor Media) and created the first version of the Norwegian Government’s web site in 1994.

His session discusses the Search Journey, starting with the user’s intention and search, looking at the results and finding and buying. Particularly the B2B sector he points out are “professional buyers” and do thorough research. Often their product search is very “long tail”. So in order to attract any visitors to your site, you need to make sure you have a good keyword strategy and using AdWords for “learning” and for leads. A good strategy is always to run some AdWords to see which keywords are converting and then use them for PPC as well as SEO.

Gard uses his client never.no as a case study and how he improved their campaigns. Very impressive results for a B2B client!

Following up from Gard is Kristjan Mar Hauksson from Nordic eMarketing. He presents a case study on “What you need from an CMS to make it SEO friendly?”.

A “crawlable” CMS is key:

– overcoming indexing barriers
– relevant, good HTML/xHTML
– accessibility
– site and information architecture
– content, right keywords
– links, in and out!

Jens Peter Nielsen from Dynamic Web has a very interesting case study about “Assisting clients with multiple domains using a CMS platform to reach its global potential in search”.

Jens has over 10 years experience in the industry and his case study about company having 120 stores in 45 countries. The main challenges were:

– 40 languages
– over 200 domains and its domain structure
– adjusting the CMS
– 301 redirects
– 404 error pages

The results for his clients, after 27 weeks, he is looking at:
– 30% increase in visitors
– 25% more visitors from search engines

Off for a networking lunch now. The audience here in Oslo is very high calibre. International Search Marketeers from leading Scandinavian companies that run international campaigns and work on multilingual search marketing projects.

Don’t forget, the next MUST ATTEND event for International Search Marketeers is taking place on the 14th of May 2009 in the British Library in London.

Early Bird Discount of £345 is available until end of March 2009!

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International Search Summit Oslo (1)

Today, the 1st International Search Summit outside London takes place – in Oslo, Norway. WebCertain, the multilingual search marketing specialist, hosts the 3rd International Search Summit after 2 successful events in the British Library in London 2008.

2009 will see the next London event, International Search Summit on the 14th of May in the British Library. Speakers there include Bebo, Linkedin and Plaxo as well as international search specialists speaking about Twitter, Facebook, and other social media marketing tendencies and techniques.

The Oslo event on international search kicks off with John Brenne from the WebCertain Oslo office introducing the event and pointing out issues related to “going global”:

– Research
– Language
– Localisation aspects
– Currency
– Methods of payment

Following on from that, WebCertain’s MD Andy Atkins-Krueger, is speaking about “Guidelines for Setting up sites for international markets”. Andy points out the huge opportunity globally online:

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

Also, in terms of tracking domain names, the most growth is seen in emerging markets such as China, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, and India but also in Germany. Languages used online are still lead by English but followed by Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and French. Further in the top 10 are German, Arabic, Portuguese, Korean and Italian. So the European top languages, English and FIGS (French, Italian, German Spanish) plus Chinese are still the key languages online. Andy points out that the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), as mentioned above, have a huge potential for online business!

Brazil for instance has a fast growing Internet user base but also their most popular social network, Orkut, has about 20m users!

Even Russia’s social networks, Odnoklassniki and Vkkontake, have around 18 million and 14 million users respectively. Russia is still a market where Google still hasn’t been able to catch up with Yandex from being the most used Search Engine!

China’s leading sarch engine is still Baidu . Andy concludes his interesting presentation about the right coding, long tail in different countries, SEO localisation, local link building, and further tips to run international campaigns and choosing / avoiding localisation problems. For some languages, there are no translation for certain terms. My most favourite example is “weekend break” which just does not have translation into German, however there are localisations, e.g. “ein Wochenende wegfahren”, “Wochenend Reise”.

Efva Gabrielsson works for Lawson Software and manages their web content and online marketing. She is responsible for the online marketing activities, including SEO and SEM. Main aims and objectives for her is to increase relevant visitors to their site, reduce the bounce rate and being in control of critical parts, e.g. PPC Management and landing pages.

Efva points out the difficulties in house teams face, e.g. getting funding and understanding from top management for online marketing. Also, she outlines how to chose an agency and what questions to ask them:

– Who is dealing with my account?
– How would you optimise costs?
– How do you track conversions and which tools do you use?
– What track record do you have?
– How do you handle global campaigns? Native speakers?
– Do you offer bespoke reporting?
– Do you offer multi variable testing?
– Can you show me your track record/references?
– Can I keep my (ad words) account/own my account?
– Have you worked with similar clients in the field? Experience?
– How do you get me top rankings? White hat techniques?
– Do you take the overall marketing strategy into consideration?

Important aspects are to integrate:

– PR and communication
– Advertising
– Marketing and Strategy
– Goals per business unit
– Integrate IT and other systems

She concludes that it is important to work in partnership with the agency and compares the advantages / disadvantages of outsourcing Search Marketing or to do it in house – or both.

Her lessons learned are summarised as:

– Be a demanding customer.
– Rewrite the contract until you feel good.
– Evaluate the agency and strategic expert – consider changing if you are not happy.
– Consider doing (at least part of it) yourself.
– Rely on your program and not on the people executing it.

This concludes the first part of the International Search Summit in Oslo.

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