Posts Tagged ‘ Internet marketing

I’m not a Google Hater…

I’ve had a few posts about Google recently that were somewhat critical. I think it surprised people given how highly I’ve spoken of Google in the past…one friend even went as far as to call me a “Google Hater.”

I thought I’d clear the air – I’m not a Google hater. 

On the contrary, I’m still a Google lover. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • They have the best search engine bar none
  • They have the best advertising product/platform
  • Gmail is great (although I also use Hotmail)
  • Chrome is a pretty slick browser
  • Google Maps is light years better than MapQuest or Bing Maps
  • I’d love to get a Chromebook
  • I use an Android phone and think its a great product, although it’s no iPhone
  • Their story & company mission are admirable & inspiring

I have plenty of love for (most) Google products. 

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Jalopnik’s Cruel April Fools Joke

Autoblognik

Today is a April Fools – and the joke played by Jalopnik “Say Hello to Autoblognik and Goodbye to Me” struck a chord with me. It’s actually a decent premise for an April Fools joke – they claim they were acquired by Aol. (who has been on an acquisition binge of mainstream blogs) and that Aol. was going to re-do the site. The problem with this joke is that many formerly loyal readers of Jalopnik like myself would LOVE for this to happen.

Jalopnik used to be my favorite blog on the internet. I’d visit it 4-5 times a day, chat with my car buddies about it (“did you see that post on Jalopnik today? OMG it was awesome…”), and I was generally what you could call a Jalopnik fan-boy.

When the redesign of all Gawker Media sites launched a few months ago, Ray Wert pleaded to readers to be patient and try to get used to it – I did my best, visiting each day and trying to force myself to like it, or at least try to understand why they did it.

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An Awesome Content Creation Tip by Joe Pulizzi: Try to Create 10 Pieces of Content for Every One Idea You Have

Joe Pulizzi at AZIMA

Joe Pulizzi at AZIMA, Pic courtesy of @ArnieK

I just got back from the monthly Arizona Interactive Marketing Association event which was on Content Marketing featuring guest speaker Joe Pulizzi of Junta42. As an SEO I dabble quite a bit in content creation, content syndication and content marketing, so I was excited to hear his speach, and Joe certainly didn’t disappoint. I had also just recently finished his book, Get Content, Get Customers, and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re interested in a good introductory text to content marketing. He also gets extra cool points for signing my book after his talk.

In the very beginning of his talk, Joe noted that if you took away just one thing from his presentation, then his talk would be a success.

That one “ah-hah!” moment for me was this sage piece of advice:

Try to create 10 pieces of content for every one idea you have

While seemingly simple, its a very powerful tip for bloggers like myself. Why?

  1. It will help you to produce more content – no more writers-block or starring deeply into the computer screen wondering what to write about this week – as long as you can think of one idea every 10 weeks, you can produce a new post every week!
  2. It forces you to go more niche – instead of writing on a very broad subject, you’ll break that subject into 10 seperate blog posts (or articles), and those 10 posts will be much more targeted & focused on a more-specific more-niche subject – this is better for SEO (think of the power of the long tail), better for readers (more focused), and better for conversions (more qualified lead generation)
  3. It forces you to write more concise posts – if you’re splitting one idea into 10 posts, you’re less likely to ramble. Added bonus: shorter posts are easier to read, which is better for your audience.
  4. You can spread your content out over time – keeping up with your content schedule (e.g. one post per week) can be tough, but if you have an inventory of ideas stockpiled, you don’t have to worry.
  5. You can compile your 10 posts into a Content Series – this content series all about one over-arching idea/concept can then be re-purposed into a newsletter, e-book, best practices presentation, white paper, etc. Now you have even more content at your disposal!

There you have it – my favorite takeway: turn one golden idea into ten, all with just a little content marketing magic.

My second favorite takeway – people love numbered lists. Hence the list of five ideas above 🙂

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Email Template for Requesting Permission to Link to a Site From Your Blog

An (unnamed) friend recently asked me if I had an email template he could use to proactively contact any blogs or websites he wanted to link to, and ask their permission first before placing the link in their post.

Here is the template I sent him:

Dear Webmaster,
Is it okay if we link to your website from our PageRank 6 domain that ranks in the top 5,000 most highly trafficked sites on Alexa? If you say no, I’ll assume you’re unfit to make decisions on behalf of your company and just place the link anyway, as you’d have to be certifiably insane to say no. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Your Name

Blogs are meant to be creative, interpersonal, casual, and collaborative.

Blogs are social media.

Do you ask permission before retweeting someone? Or liking someone else’s Facebook post?

Why ask permission before linking to someone? Is there a difference?

The Google Instant Announcement Parody, Xtranormal Style

Below is a parody-style recap of the Google Instant search announcement yesterday as recreated using Xtranormal. The gentleman sitting behind the desk is a fictional Danny Sullivan, and most of his quotes are lifted from tweets he made throughout the day (e.g. See, Google knows I’m not a teenage girl). The other fellow is a random “Search Noob” that pokes fun at all of the twitter commentators who kind of freaked out before fully comprehending the announcement…and lastly, the reference to Steve Rubel at the end is referring to a tweet he made that said “SEO is irrelevant” during the announcement, which definitely ruffled a lot of feathers. The “pistol whip” comment is also a subtle nod to one of my favorite movies, Super Troopers, in which Captain O’Hagan vows to pistol whip the next person to say Shenanigans, which prompts Mac to ask a leading question he knows Farva will answer with “Shenanigans.”

This is by no means meant to be disrespectful to anyone involved and is merely adding some humor to the situation, so if this offends you I am sorry in advance. To the rest of you, enjoy!

10 Things I Learned at OMS Phoenix Yesterday

Online Marketing Summit Phoenix

I attended the Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix yesterday, and wanted to share a few insights & tips I learned. It was a great conference and it was nice to see a lot of familiar faces and learn some new things. Thanks to everyone that made it possible! We covered a wide range of topics including SEO, Social Media, Conversion Optimization, Content Strategy, and everything in between. In no particular order, here were my favorite takeaways:

#10: Create a Search & Social Media Center for Excellence: Create a central repository for best practices, keywords, social media engagement guidelines, etc, for all employees. This will benefit everyone involved by:

  • Leveraging synergies across all of your digital channels – search, social, PR, web development, email marketing, and display.
  • Getting PR & Social Media people the proper URLs and anchor text for Press Releases & Social Media messaging, as well as tips for optimal distribution
  • Allowing more people to get involved with responding to complaints or questions via twitter & message boards by posting engagement guidelines. Phone support people can respond to complaints on twitter during downtime if they have training & knowledge base.

#9: A Cheaper Press Release – WebWire.com

  • I submit a ton of online press releases for clients through PRNewswire, Marketwire, and PRWeb – but they cost several hundred bucks a pop. It doesn’t look like the distribution network is as robust for Webwire, but for $20, that’s a cheap backlink at the very least…thanks @fionnd of Elixir for this tip!
Adwords Suggestions for the brand iCrossing

Adwords Tool Keyword Suggestions for the query iCrossing

#8: Search your brand & competitors & Adwords Tool – See what suggestions Google has for your brand name, and your competitors brand names in the Google Keyword Tool and Google Search Suggest.

  • This can be helpful to: find interesting keyword ideas for brand pages, find new content ideas & content gaps, and discover reputation management issues. Check out the image to the right for suggestions google had for the word “icrossing” – very on target!

#7: Some Cool Stats & Quotes

  • #1 position on SERP gets 43% of the clicks – Arnie K of Vertical Measures, a link building company
  • “Rankings are something you can influence, not something you can control” – Arnie K – good perspective
  • If you have a website, you are a publisher – Mike Corak
  • .The BEST time to post a blog is Tuesday morning, while the WORST is Friday afternoon. – Dan Tyre  of hubspot
  • “Brands must behave and enage like people do…” ~Brian Haven of iCrossing
  • Blogs are the unsung heroes of SEO
  • Do not neglect your blog child
  • If you talk to people the way advertising talked to people they’d punch you in the face – Steve Groves

#6: Check out your backlink diversity – diversity of backlinks has increased in importance in the past year or so – those with unnatural backlink profiles do not get the same benefits they used to. Don’t overdo one method of link building (e.g. directory submissions) if you’re not going to do others.

#5: Use Social Media Profile Pages for Quick & Free Backlinks – it’s easy to get links on many social networking sites, and even if they’re nofollowed, it’s still a great tool for reputation management and probably still pass along some SEO value as well. Examples: Naymz, 123People, BusinessWeek.com, Google Profiles, LinkedIn…

#4: The Real SEO Value of a No Follow Link? There was some discussion that a rel=nofollow link has been shown to influence rankings and has SEO value. Something to consider – don’t dismiss a link just because it’s nofollowed! In my personal experience I’ve seen evidence that there is some SEO value here as well, although I haven’t seen any conclusive case studies to prove it.

The last three tips were from Jeff Eisenberg, a famous conversion optimization expert who wrote “A Call to Action” along with his brother Bryan. This was the best presentation of the whole summit in my opinion, the whole presentation was captivating and inspiring – check him and his brother out at: http://www.bryaneisenberg.com/

#3: Analyze Every Word & Image on your Money Pages

  • When Dell changed “Learn More” to “Help Me Choose” on the computer configuration page, they saw an increase of MILLIONS of dollars. Why? When customers are ready to check out, they don’t want education (Learn More), but they do want help making sure they picked the right accessories & upgrades (Help Me Choose).
  • Another Example: Overstock.com had horrible conversions on their DVD page, something that should sell well. Turns out an image talking about Childrens Movies turned off users, thinking they were on the wrong page. They changed the image to something generic, and generated a $25m sales jump
  • The takeway? Understand the mindset of the customer, and talk in their language.

#2: Make your forms & check-out pages warm & fuzzy

  • Filing in Credit Card info is the scariest moment for the consumer, and where abandonment most commonly occurs.
  • Post your return policy, quality guarantees, etc, on this page and make the customer feel warm and fuzzy
  • Examples – adding customer testimonials on check-out page, always display savings (if applicable), show quality/product guarantees
  • Warren Buffet’s shoe company added a “Return-O-Meter” to their check out page showing how often a shoe is returned, and why (e.g. too wide, too small, etc). The result? Lower abandonment rate (higher confidence in purchase) plus fewer returns.

#1: Leverage Your Reviews!

  • The Eisenberg Brothers have been very successful using reviews to increase conversions.
  • With internal search on a website, allow users to search by Best Reviews/Most Reviews. When Customers Sort this way, there is a huge increase in conversions
  • Run promotions like Top Reviewed under $50. These types of categories convert much higher.
  • Another example: Vitacost – after a customer purchases something, Vitacost thanks them for the order and asks them to review – the result? Customers would go to Vitacost.com, review the product, and actually buy more products during that session!
  • Reviews have the ability to turn worthless customer (who buys very little, very infrequently, usually on sale, but leaves a review) into a very valuable customer, as their review may sway the big buyers.

PS If I mentioned something you said and didn’t properly attribute it back to you, please leave a comment and let me know and I’ll be happy to include a link back to your website or twitter profile! I was scribbling furiously on a notepad and some of the details got lost or mixed up…

Monetizing My Blog(s) by Trial and Error

Blog MonetizationI’ve been working on monetizing my Modified Car Blog and thought I’d post some initial results of what has(n’t) worked so far. The blog gets between 30-50 unique visitors a day and is a very niche blog (Modified Cars/Audis), so I didn’t have high hopes but thought it was worth a shot. I didn’t really know where to start but found this article, How I Make Money Online, written by someone I follow on twitter, and figured it was a good start.

First I tried Image Space Media, a new advertising concept that places hover-over links in images. They actually contacted me, asking me to try it out, which I thought was pretty cool. However, I don’t really have the traffic to get sufficient clicks to make this solution worthwhile, and I thought it detracted from the user experience since ads were popping up all over the place. It’s cool concept for other blogs though, it just wasn’t the right solution for mine.

Next I tried Kontera, which places text link ads around random words that will take you to an advertiser. I got a lot more clicks than I’ve seen through AdSense, although it was still earning me less than a dollar a month, and again, I kind of felt it took away from the user experience, so I canned it.

Next I ventured into Affiliate Marketing through Commission Junction. I’ve only made one sale, and it was to myself, and with a minimum $100 payout (of which I’m $97 away from), so I don’t foresee this being very profitable…although I’ve been experimenting with which products I’m displaying and think there is some potential there, so I’m keeping it for the time being.

A few days I ago I decided to scale back the commission ads to just a few super relevant products that I’d actually purchase myself, and use some of the newly freed-up advertising space for what people usually try first – Google AdSense. The initial results are pretty discouraging, as I’ve had no clicks nor revenue since installing, although it’s still very early in the game. I’m encouraged by the ads I do see appear – they’re mostly local Audi dealerships, aftermarket performance parts & accessories, and other items that are highly contextually relevant. I will keep experimenting with placement and formatting to increase clicks, because I do think the ads being displayed are worthwhile.

Anyone reading this that has ideas or comments on how to monetize a low volume, niche blog, I’m all ears! Until then, it’s a game of trial and error, running 1-2 month experiments with different ad types and seeing what works or doesn’t. It’s still fun testing things out, even though my results so far haven’t turned actual revenue. I’m encouraged by SEO & Internet Marketing expert Bill Hunt, who I had the privilege of meeting last month at a SEMPO AZ event called  “Search 3.0“, who told me the secret to his success has been to always test and experiment, with a healthy dose of curiosity and skepticism for SEO tactics. I’ll be sure to post an update in a few months on how the rest of my experiments go, and if I ever find a profitable solution!

Update: It’s been over one week since installing AdSense…and I’M RICH! Okay maybe not, but $1.03 per week isn’t bad either. At the very least it’s motivation to keep trying, so I guess AdSense seems to be the best ad solution to-date for me.  Hopefully I can keep tweaking the presentation and producing good content to increase both impressions and click-through rates a little. Having AdSense on two blogs is nice, right now I have one click from each.