This is the last day of 2010, so it is time to look back at what we’ve done.
This was so important to me and required so much of my efforts, that in August I announced that I am stopping my classes, also.
In the middle of it all, we moved into our new office in March. Here’s the pictures of it.
Given this, I blogged less this year (only 55 times) than since I started this blog in 2006. I just didn’t have the time. I had to focus.
(But my focus is about to change.)
I’m happy to report that the efforts were not in vain. In all honestly, much of the effort I put forth had little to no effect. But some things worked VERY well. In fact, December was our best month in two and a half years. SCORE!
Looking back, here are the 6 posts I thought were my best. I hope you like them…
I can assure you that 2011 is going to be VERY different for me and my business. HIPPO Internet Marketing is about to announce some big news next week.
The work I did for the e-commerce side of my business was not in vain. I’ll continue that work. But my focus is about to shift over to the Internet Marketing Training and Social Media side very quickly.
If you’d like to stay informed, please be sure to sign-up for updates via our newsletter at www.HippoIMT.com.
Today, Pew Research released some new stats about Twitter that might really make you think about how much time you spend there. Their report says that only 8% of online Americans use Twitter.
When you do the math, 8% of online Americans translates into 6% of all Americans. Then, only about 36% of Twitter users use the service with any regularity. That gets us down to about 2% of all Americans.
Of course, 2% of all Americans is about 5 million Americans.
Here’s something to think about…
Either way, it’s always good to separate the hype from the facts. Keep that 2% number in mind as you plan your next marketing mix of time and money.
Here at HIPPO Internet Marketing Training, I’m desperately seeking some help to get setup for creating video.
I’ve got some big initiatives that will involve online video. I want it to look good. We want to do it on a reasonably low budget, yet move far beyond using a web-cam, iPhone, or flip camera.
Please, please, please… If you know of anyone that can help us as listed below, please send them to this page. I’m desperate and want to move quickly. HONESTLY!
We’re in the process of securing a small studio and need help setting it up.
1. Most importantly, we need help with purchasing and setting up professional quality lighting. This small studio will need to be permanently setup for use with either a white-board or a green-screen at any time.
2. We also have several other rooms (see this link) at our disposal and will eventually want help learning how to best set them up for quality lighting, video & audio recording, and even live streaming.
3. We may need assistance with microphone and camera selection for the above mentioned settings, while staying within budget.
4. We need some basic support with using Sony Vegas software for video editing.
5. NOTE: We are only looking for a freelancer to give an hour or two here and there initially. This is not a full-time or even part-time position.
1. No need to send a resume. Please simply send me an email (Corey at HippoIM dot com).
2. Include your experience and interest level. You must have experience working with lighting, audio, and video to be considered.
3. Explain your general pricing. In other words, if you have specific rates, let me know. If you prefer doing some sort of exchange of services, or some other method, just tell me. I’m sure we can work something out.
No problem. But please forward this page, tweet it, facebook it, or do whatever you can to spread the word. We want to get started QUICK. We need someone that knows what they are doing.
Thank you in advance.
HIPPO Internet Marketing Training
Looking for a Social Media Policy Template that you can steal, edit, and reuse for your business?
Any business that has more than just a few employees really should document their social media policy. This is how you not only discourage your employees from doing something really stupid. You also encourage them to do what’s right.
As a side benefit, you have more of a leg to stand on when you try to discipline those that do something stupid.
Many of my readers may not realize that I occasionally guest-post for Social Fresh. So here are some links to a recent series I did. The first two simply lead up to the last one, which is the one that will likely benefit you the most.
PS: If you like that third one, make sure to retweet it. It’s been pretty popular on twitter. It’s the one with the actual social media policy template on it.
Here is a list of all my notes and blog posts from Pubcon 2010.
If you see something that interests you, check it out. If not, please click on the bottom post (about the main take-aways). Be sure to review the bolded points in that post.
I’m currently on my plane ride home from Vegas. Unfortunately, this plane does not have Internet access like my last one did. So this is a good time to write out a bunch of my observations and thoughts from the conference I just attended.
WARNING: This post is going to be long. Feel free to just scan over the Bolded/capitalized headings and just read what you are interested in.
(You can also just read the very brief points at the end.)
1. PUBCON HAS A DIFFERENT FEEL
The style of Pubcon is different than any other conference in my opinion. Brett Tabke is a genuine nice guy that does this conference year after year. Many of the speakers and attendees know him personally and speak positively of him. The conference has an overall feeling of individuals helping individuals. Everyone is not just friendly, but genuinely helpful.
Guys like Jerry West, Greg Boser, Brad Geddes, Christine Churchill, and countless others all rally together to learn from each other and to help newbies at Pubcon. The whole event is very welcoming to newcomers. This is evident not only in the presentations, but in the constant conversations between sessions. Pubcon is mostly about search, but like most conferences, they delve into other areas such as social media, new media, etc.
2. SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING TOOLS
For keyword research, several marketers are complaining about the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. They are not showing all data as of just a few weeks ago. It looks like many are going back to using WordTracker and Keyword Discovery for inventory data. Another incredible tool to mine new keyword phrases is Scrapebox. It’s amazing.
For Link Building and other SEO tools, it seems as if SEOmoz and SEOBook are the clear leaders.
For SEO reporting, Raven Tools is quickly becoming the industry favorite.
3. PAY PER CLICK SEARCH MARKETING
I was surprised that more people were not excited about jumping head first into Microsoft AdCenter now that it is powering both Bing and Yahoo. Rather, most everyone still focuses their energy on Google AdWords and simply copy what works into Microsoft AdCenter.
The strongest tips that came out of PPC were to focus more intently on negative keywords. Several presenters encouraged using thousands of negative keywords. Use tools such as Scrapebox to find as many as possible.
Some other good tips were to focus on Quality Score. Improving your QS can have a dramatic effect on your spending.
4. FACEBOOK MARKETING
Between the sessions I attended and the conversations I had, it’s becoming more obvious that using Facebook for marketing is really in its infancy. Very few marketers are just STARTING to even try this, let alone see the potential.
The technique that many are using is to use targeted ads to drive traffic to custom built pages that engage and reward “liking” the page. Hopefully, the viral effect kicks in. If your audience engages, their friends see them and may join too.
The concept is that you then “own the audience” and can try to engage them on the page over and over. You may choose to push them toward an offer on your website or just keep engaging them to the benefit of the brand.
Interestingly, if it doesn’t work, it’s easy to start over, give up, and try something different on a Facebook page. So the general idea is to keep trying something until it starts clicking with your target audience. Very little harm is done if you fail at first. Just reiterate and move on.
It works. People make very good money at it. Search engine placement for the right keywords is money in the bank. In fact, it is reoccurring money that keeps on coming in.
This is so true that those that are involved in successful e-commerce can’t help but laugh at those that are trying to make money in social media. Both e-commerce and affiliate marketers look at social media and just smile, as if they know something the others don’t. (It’s kind of amusing to watch, actually.)
Several of the attendees of Pubcon are clearly making good money and are happy to just pick up a few tidbits here and there and get to know the others that are doing the same. There is much less effort into trying to “look cool” and “be in the forefront”, as is seen in the other conferences.
Search engine marketing combined with e-commerce and/or affiliate marketing is not a hobby. It’s an income stream. And it works. It really does. (But please don’t tell anyone. Smile.)
6. THE FUTURE OF SEARCH ENGINES
In many ways, the future of how search engines will work is already here. When you type something into Google or Bing, you don’t just get 10 links anymore. Those days are mostly over.
You get what is called “universal search”, which means the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) shows videos, news, realtime (twitter), images, local info, and other things. You need to take all this into consideration.
SERPS are also taking more “unstated signals” into account. They try to determine where you are, what else you are already interested in or like, who your friends are, and what device you are using (PC, mobile phone, tablet, or even television).
7. WHAT GOOGLE THINKS
Matt Cutts (the voice of Google) gave a presentation, but others spoke about Google as well. Overall, I get the impression that Google is scared of Facebook because of the data they own and won’t share. (What you like and who your friends are – often referred to as your social graph.)
Google also is very aggressively pursuing mobile and television. (Duh. It’s where the true growth and money is.)
Google is also admitting that spam is starting to increase within their SERPS. Therefore they are soon going to start taking an even stronger attack against spam, buying links, and other inappropriate activities that they feel promotes the wrong sites. They are already rewarding the larger brands over smaller ones. Several noted this.
Matt specifically encouraged all webmasters and site owners to claim their site in Google Webmaster Tools and turn on the flag that allows Google to email them when they note something of concern.
8. SOCIAL MEDIA vs SEARCH ENGINES
This is a topic that I brought up to some very interesting people in my conversations. It seems as if several in the “social media” camp believe that the two may eventually combine and/or social may start taking away from search engines.
In my conversations with several very smart people that know both industries well, there seemed to be agreement that this just plain is not true. It won’t happen.
Social is good for hearing from and learning from your friends. Ask your followers on Twitter what they recommend. Check Facebook to see what your “social graph” likes, etc. But when you want to do the research yourself and/or follow up to determine how you feel, you almost always end up back at Google.
I had this very conversation with Tim Mayer after his keynote on the future of search. I also had a roundtable discussion (at a literal roundtable at lunch) with Brett Tabke, Warren Whitlock, Brian Carter, and a few others on this.
After thinking a lot about this, I firmly believe that search engines are here to stay. Social media is here to stay, too. And although they may assist each other a little, they are never going to combine. Nor are they ever going to cannibalize the other. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it – for now.
9. VIDEO AND MOBILE ONLINE
These are by far the two biggest and hottest topics in all of the Internet right now. Period. Both of these are much greater opportunities, easier, and more powerful online than anything else, including social media.
How’s that for a bold statement?
If you are not starting to create videos and are not at least staying informed of what is happening with smart phones, you are totally missing the bus. The time is RIGHT NOW to get involved. The wave is coming and it’s time to get in front of it. No joke.
10. LOCAL MARKETING
For the past six years, local marketing online has always been the next big thing and right around the corner. I feel that it’s actually true this year. The growth of mobile phones, combined with the effort both Facebook and Google are putting into this makes the claim more believable this year than ever before.
Then again, we said that last year, and the year before that, and the year before that… You get the picture. We’ll just have to wait and see.
(Sorry for the long post.)
1. Pubcon is great.
2. Go buy Scrapebox for keyword research
3. Use more negative keywords in AdWords
4. Don’t be afraid of marketing in Facebook
5. Don’t let people know that e-commerce makes real money
6. Realize that search engines show more than just websites
7. Don’t bother trying to spam Google
8. Learn how to market in both search & social
9. Start jumping into Video and Mobile right now
10. Local marketing is about to take off (maybe)
PS: I have another post ready to come out of me about the true state of Search Engine Optimization and those that practice it. More about that later. Stay tuned.
This session is on Link Buying.
Jamie Steven, VP of Marketing at SEOmoz is up first. He is formerly of Rhapsody, Best Buy, and Microsoft.
SEOmoz recently did a survey:
14% of surveyors bought links from websites/web masters.
8% of them bought links from link brokers or service.
People who bought links are twice as likely to file a spam report about their competition.
NOTE: If your competitors are buying links, they are much more likely to report you if you try to. (In other words, it’s a dog eat dog world to play in.)
Jamie is promoting the idea of not buying links. He states that the companies he has worked for does not want to be in the market of buying links. It’s not because they don’t work. It is because they are too risky. He feels there are better ways to spend your money, such as “business development”.
He gave some data on three examples of how SEOmoz bought 3 different links and pointed them to different sites. The jump in ranking within 4-8 days was very impressive. Buying links does work.
If you do get “caught” buying links, getting penalized is terrible, awful, & horrible. Reconsideration can take months or years. If your competitors are buying links, they are more likely to report you for buying links.
Matt Cutts acknowledged just last night that some of the people at Google that have been working on web spam have been working on other projects. But there will now be a renewed effort toward getting rid of web spam. Even Matt admits that spam has been on the rise in Google and they are about to do something about it – soon.
At SEOmoz, they get inquiries from their customers that have been penalized. It is not uncommon to hear of websites that have bought links suddenly lose rankings. The penalty is hard to overcome. They file several reconsideration reports. They have even sent letters directly to Matt Cutts. Often it takes many months to gain back what you’ve lost.
He acknowledges that buying links is an option for businesses are turn and burn. If you plan on killing the domain, buying links can propel you to the top quickly. It’s just risky, that’s all.
6 Creative Ways to Spend Money and Earn Great Links…
1. Earn links through business development. Partner with legitimate businesses to produce valid and powerful links.
2. Political / Non-Profit Donations will often result in a good link.
3. Events – If you throw or sponsor an event in your city. Find Twitter influencers using the Top 50 users in your city via Twitaholic.com. Verify that they have blogs and websites and invite them.
4. Buy existing content – Host content on your site and pay to have a cross-domain rel=canonical to your site.
5. Corporate scholarship – Offer a corporate college scholarship and the scholarship will get listed in a bunch of directories. Universities and high schools will also link to you.
6. Target influencers on Facebook. Create Facebook ads targeted to specific people using “employees of” targeting. Direct to content on your site worthy of a link, or content specifically tailored to that influencer.
Jim Boykin of “We Build Pages” is up next.
Three years ago he was on this same panel and said “Don’t Irritate Google” and “Stay Under the Radar”. Those are the only two rules to buying links.
Use MajesticSEO, OpenSiteExplorer, and Blekko to determine links.
He admits that buying links is a Risk vs Reward. The odds of getting penalized is debatable.
Top 10 ways of getting caught by Google…
Trip a link buying filter
If your broker gets caught.
Someone blogs about your buying links
You are #1 for competitive phrase and not the best site
You irritate your competitive people below you.
You buy links from brokers that do it a lot.
You have no natural back links.
Start bragging about your rankings.
Report your competitor to Google when you buy links.
Talk on a panel at Pubcon about how to buy links.
Do you think you are penalized?
Just because you drop rankings in Google does not mean you are banned.
Remove links. All of them.
Do a reinclusion request. Beg. Tell Google you fixed it. Tell Google you fired your SEO agency that bought links. Have the CEO tell Google that they fired the guy that hired the SEO agency that bought links.
Todd Malicoat of MarketMotive is next.
He says that the “buying links” issue is real. He explains that you can call link buying “business development”. But either way, you are buying links. So the discussion will continue.
He encourages using MOZrank for determining the value of a link as opposed to PageRank.
Paid link brokers are generally a bad idea now. It doesn’t work or is too risky.
SEOQuake is a great toolbar for determining the value of a link.
Unique domains linking to the site is probably the most important aspect.
Domain age is important too.
Total number of pages indexed in Google.
Check the CPC of the keyword being targeted.
At MarketMotive, they have a full chart of what to look for.
Find good websites to get links from by using the Google Directory.
NOTE: The main takeaway from this entire session was that buying links is very risky. Yet, it’s about the only way to win in very competitive markets. So you need to know the risks.
Also, the difference between “buying links” and “forming partnerships” can be a very thin line. Google determines the difference. So be careful. How close you get to that line can be dangerous.
That being said, links work.
Each situation is different as to how you go about getting them and what you feel is appropriate or necessary for your site (or your client’s site).
Today is the final day at Pubcon Vegas. We’re starting off with Tim Mayer. For those of you who don’t know Tim, he was a director of Product Manager in 2000. He then became the VP of Overture and then a VP of Search at Yahoo! for seven years.
He and Brett Tabke (Pubcon owner) go back a long time. He is currently advising several startups including some in the mobile and online TV space.
He’s talking about the Future of Search: Mobile, Social, & Vertical.
Here are some interesting trends he is noting.
PC growth in growth is slowing down to single digit growth.
Mobile search growth is exploding.
Brands are becoming more important on the web. Consumers want to connect with their favorites.
Different types of inputs will become common. People don’t just use a keyboard to type into a box.
He feels the search engines of the future will use the information it knows about you to recommend choices for dining, entertainment, etc. He feels that transactions will happen on the web on the search engine while interacting with best of breed sites such as OpenTable, Fandango, etc.
Five Key Trends for Transforming Search
1. Mobile queries (20% by 2012)
They fall under three categories
3. Product Lookup
(These queries will become longer and more natural language than typical PC-based queries.)
2. Growth in Apps, not browsers
Apps are taking more and more time of users. HTML5 will similarly change the landscape of the web.
3. Input is difficult
4. More Context is happening
The sites are determining your preferences, the sites you visit, the friends you have, etc. They will use this data to make your web experience more relevant.
5. Verticalizing of SERP
Massive growth is happening in best of breed sites such as Ebay, Amazon, Youtube, etc. People are associating the brand with the activities. They do not start at Bing, Google, etc. They go straight to the site of their choice and search there.
The search engines will need to make a more compelling reason to start there to keep their audience. That is why Vertical-izing and Universal search is seeing such growth at Google and Bing. They want people to start at their site.
WHERE ARE THE FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES?
For technology providers…
App discovery. This is the key to customer satisfaction in the smart phone era. Right now it is difficult to find good apps. Determining which apps are better than others is tricky. This is a hard problem to solve. There will be a lot of growth in this area.
Matching Intent / Queries with Apps. It is difficult to not only find the right app, but to keep them separate. (People did not like tabbed search.) They don’t want to go through a two-step process. There is opportunity for technology providers to make a single search box to find the best app (and mobile website) for specific intents. Google has been doing this for web on the PC for years. This does not exist well on mobile yet.
If the past is search, the future is prediction and suggestion.
Location, social, and other data should be used to know what the user wants before he even asks or to refine his requests.
Mobile advertising. The rates are still very low. Most have not figured out how to use the mobile inventory and to make it work. There is huge opportunity in this area for those that learn it well.
First mover app in category on a new platform. Whoever comes out with specific apps for specific categories first will win the game. It’s wide open in many categories.
Commerce: Price comparison – offine to online. This is similar to the affiliates of the years ago. Price comparison apps have not been fully developed. People want this.
Optimize Vertical entity pages for search. Create videos, products, local, etc. Being strong in these areas is the future.
NOTE: With the changes in the industry, Tim expects more change in the next two years than we have seen in the last 6 to 8 years. We’re going to see online tv, more growth in mobile, etc. The ten blue links are becoming less and less important.
Adam Audette is up first.
What shoppers want in 2010…
Brand loyalty is less important.
Free shipping is more important.
Deals are more important.
Comparison Shopping Engines are actually gaining ground, even though Google is not sending as much traffic toward them.
Free shipping is one of the most important differentiators. About 51% of shoppers are “somewhat likely” to cancel their entire order if shipping is not free.
Video sells! 65% of people are visual learners. People process info 30% quicker with video and text as opposed to just text. (Everyone knows no one reads on the Internet, they just scan.) Retail sites that have video have a 64% more likely chance of purchasing. Zappos has seen an incredible lift, even when their videos are not that well embedded. Experiment with product videos.
Regarding Google Instant and E-commerce, they examined the difference before and after Google Instant. The number of keywords per search barely changed. They sampled 12 retailers and when aggregated, the changes were even less. MayDay had a much bigger impact on SEO.
Rel Canonical is a good way of removing duplicated urls in the Google index. They experienced a bump in traffic and revenue when using it correctly. It is only used by Google right now, not Bing. Bing may start using it soon. Fix the problem via other methods if possible, but use Rel Canonical if necessary.
Bing is not Google. They do not have the market volume. However, there are differences. They do not seem to favor e-commerce as well. They are very vulnerable to link spam. They are focused on user experience. Bing users are 31% more likely to buy than Internet in general. Bing users are 11 % more likely to buy than Google users. Their users tend toward shopping, for sure.
Bing engineers have stated that they rely on XML site maps, especially for deep content. They rely on RSS feeds also. They want normalized urls. They encourage using parameter handling in Bing Tools. They use that better than 301 redirects. Keep it simple for Bing. Make consistent urls.
Follow @audette on Twitter for more from him.
Next is Bill Atchison
He encourages using descriptive keywords in the descriptions of products.
Verify that your meta descriptions and titles are unique per product page.
Go into Google Webmaster Central and let them know which parameters are not unique pages. Do the same in Bing Tools.
He recommends trying Google AdSense on the footer of every page – temporarily. It can help with indexing of your site and also show how good your SEO is. He also recommended blocking bots such as Internet archive and caches from the search engines.
He also discourages PageRank sculpting. He’s seen it go very wrong too often. He also encourages checking out www.noarchive.net.
Next up is Rob Snell. He wrote the “Starting a Yahoo Business for Dummies” book.
He also says that Google MayDay had more of an effect than Google Instant. He recommends prioritizing seo pages based on revenue. Determine how much revenue you get per keyword phrase. He uses that to determine what to optimize and prioritize.
He has 20K store pages. Doing a site: command in google shows 4.5 K pages. Only 575 page actually drive revenue from the last 30 days. The top 100 pages drive 71% of the revenue. That helps him to determine where he should send links, etc.
Bing does not drive enough revenue to make it worth paying attention to yet. Yahoo traffic has grown in the last 30 days.
Most of my customers are PC people with IE. They use a specific resolution. He uses that type of computer to see what they see. Typically, the top two SEO results are the only ones that get seen above the fold.
Universal search is now showing products within the SERPs. Make sure your products are in Google Products. Go to Google Products and do a site: command.
Use Google Webmaster Central to determine Impressions. Drill down into the info to find out how well Google Products is working for you. Put your manufacturer name in there.
He feels Google Instant is pushing people toward higher CPC terms. Interesting thought.
He recommends using Safari and choosing the pull-down to “reset Safari” to get true clean results that are not tainted by your previous searches, etc.
Learn more from him at RobSnell.com. He has some other info on e-commerce SEO.
One more comment from William Atchison: Use an anonymous proxy server to filter out local results.
Wesley Cox is up first.
Video SEO is the next frontier. There is a lot of opportunity, low barrier to entry. Over the last 24 months, Google started adding more and more to their SERPs.
Google loves video. They show a preference toward them. They put them in the forefront often. Why? They are often very relevant results.
Very few videos are optimized. Google is looking for your videos. You just need to show them what they want. They will then rank them. It’s easy. You just need to do it.
For video SEO strategy, think about your core brand values, products, services, offerings, features and benefits, key differentiators, positioning, and integrated communications.
Know your audience. The various styles of video include promotional, documentary style, learning and teaching, news and information, comedy and entertainment.
For production tips, use good camera equipment, lenses, lighting, special effects, and motion graphics. Production process includes creative strategy, storyboarding, script writing, production planning, shooting, editing.
For optimization, optimize the title, description, tags, and captions. It is not as voodoo as regular SEO. It’s pretty straight forward. Follow what Google tells you to do. Do a Google Video site map. Just follow the instructions.
Track success by monitoring views, comments, ratings, social graphs, etc.
Morgan Brown is now talking about 25 steps to video search domination.
Video is going up, up, up. It is a total land grab. He agrees.
38% of online users find video via search. Search is the #1 referrer to web videos. A video is 50 times more likely than a text page on the same topic to appear on Google SERPs. The thumbnails are very compelling to click on.
HERE ARE HIS TIPS…
Create compelling content
Save your money. (Do it cheap)
Keep them short.
Create good thumbnails
Optimize your titles
Optimize your descriptions (first 140 characters)
Nail the end slate (give a url)
Make an offer
Make it easy to share
Add video to YOUR site
Get the basics right
Put video on pages that convert
Use video site maps
Put your videos on Facebook (#3 in viewership)
– and everywhere else (tubemogul)
Keep them watching. Use playlists, annotations.
Get subscribers. Ask them to do so.
Comment, comment, comment
Track and learn
Be what people are looking for
Maximize benefits of sharing
Drive views with promoted videos (YouTube)
Put it all together
Be sure to validate your video site map with Google. If it is broken, they will ignore it. Give YouTube your transcription.
Brian MacDonald is next from Barefoot proximity, talking about SEO for rich media.
Different video locations have different demographics. He produces slightly different videos for Vimeo than for YouTube. He also uses different video locations to test different thumbnails to see which get clicked more.
Again, video sitemaps are critical.
Match your site map
Marty Weintraub is next. He recommends Mozenda and Scrapebox.
The way he showed to use it was incredible. I was so captivated I could not take the time to blog it. I need to check out his blog at www.AimClearBlog.com. In particular, he showed how to use Scrapebox to figure out what people are searching on in YouTube. You can then create videos to match what people want.