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Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

Bad Cop

 

Bad Cop Threatening Man

The New York Times recently published the article A Bully Finds A Pulpit On The Web. In it the journalist tells of the bullying tactics used by the owner of an online store for designer glasses. The owner is deliberately and inexcusably horrible to his customers, and has gone so far as to threaten them physically. And incredibly, he claims this is all part of his SEO plan. The owner says that when unhappy customers take to the web to rant about him, they name both him and the company, with lots of relevant keywords, which increases his search engine rankings.

 

“I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”

 

I am not going to name either the owner or the company as I don’t wish to add any fuel to this fire, but you can read the NY Times article.

 

Many of those in the industry will have heard of ‘Black Hat SEO’, that is to say SEO which employs unethical tactics to hit the top of search engine rankings. Tactics which include invisible text (white text on white background that the user won’t see but a search engine will) and keyword stuffing (a long list of keywords on a page that mean nothing to the user but that might attract the search engine spiders).

 

These tactics are frown on and if Google finds out they can ban you from the search results, as happened BMW previously, and let’s face it, if you aren’t on Google you may as well not exist.

 

But the tactics employed by this particular individual take black hat to a level I would never have dreamed people would stoop to.

 

Threatening people and getting arrested all so you can sell some more units? That’s no way to live your life and you are ruining other people’s.

 

Good Cop

Good Cop Smiling

 

And then you have the companies that are just so lovely and treat customers so incredibly well . . .

 

I recently bought a present for a friend’s baby from Threadless, a little babygro in pink. Unfortunately when the package arrived they had sent the babygro in blue.

 

I went online and opened a ticket with the customer service to report the problem.

 

I received an almost immediate response which:

1) apologised for the error;

2) advised that the correct item was being shipping straight away;

3) offered a coupon code for $5 off;

and

4) said I was to keep the incorrect item as a further apology.

 

Threadless Card

Card From Threadless

Now if that wasn’t impressive enough, when the package arrived with the correct item, there was a handwritten card inside apologising again!

 

As a result I think I love Threadless even more now – and I’m obviously talking about the experience on my blog – which will also be tweeted – talk about turning a negative experience into a positive one!

 

Which Camp?

 

Some people might feel that the negative experience is going to get talked about more online, and maybe this particular incidence will, given the extreme nature of it. But as mentioned in a previous post people online want to read positive comments and stories, and your followers actual decrease the more you post negatively.

 

Also, while Google and others might not use sentiment analysis at the moment, you can hedge your bets that they will start integrating customer reviews soon enough (some already have) and then . . . well people using the negative tactics will tumble to the bottom of the heap never to return.

 

It pays to be nice . . . plus . . . what would your mother think!



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Blogging Is Dead

Recently while in the company of other marketing professionals the subject of blogging came up. I was surprised to hear some remark that blogging wasn’t really relevant anymore and others agreeing and saying that their blog had never done anything to help grow their business.

There are compelling statistics that would argue against this. According to a study by Hubspot, companies that blog get:

  • 55% more visitors;
  • 97% more inbound links; and
  • 434% more indexed pages.

They seem like 3 pretty compelling reasons to blog to me! We’re all constantly trying to get that coveted number 1 spot on Google and blogging seems to be the dream ticket to that particular SEO jackpot.

But, these were marketeers talking, and they were talking about their experiences, so maybe we have to consider what is going ‘wrong’ for them?

I think perhaps some people view a blog as a magic ‘silver bullet’, much like they do with other social media tools; set one up, post a few times and – magic! – brand new customers falling over themselves to give you money . . . well no, I’m sorry folks, but that’s not quite how it works.

Blogging, like everything else, requires dedication of your time and energy before you can reap rewards, but as the Hubspot study shows, the rewards are big.

So what do we need to do to make it go ‘right’?

  • Create valuable content for our target audience.
  • Know who our target audience is!
  • Incorporate our keywords into each blog post and blog heading.
  • Post 3 times a week (at least).
  • Submit our blog to Google and directories such as Technorati.
  • Keep an eye on our Blog’s grade for helpful tips on improving.

And what happens, if we do all that and we’re still not getting any comments from readers?

If nobody is reading, you say, what reason is there to continue?

Well Mark Schaefer can give you 10 reasons to blog even if nobody reads it; reasons including the SEO benefits, the marketing differentiation of distinguishing yourself from your competitors, the cost effectiveness of drip feeding communication into your customers’ inboxes and using the blog as a testing ground for new product developments.

And to those who believe that Twitter and the continued rise of micro blogging means there is ‘no need’ for ‘real blogging’ I say to you … did you read those statistics at the beginning of the post? Twitter isn’t going to give you 97% more inbound links or 434% more indexed pages. And, if you are trying to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry you need to be providing valuable content . . . and you can’t do that with 140 characters.

 

 

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Last Friday I attended a webinar given by Mike Volpe at Hubspot. He was talking about Social Media and mentioned that Search Engines are now giving weight to “social signals” and that ‘Likes’ and ‘Tweet This’ were becoming the new Inbound Links . . . if we had been in an auditorium I think you would have been able to hear a pin drop! However we were all listening online and following the hashtag on Twitter, so instead the Twitter stream was suddenly crowded with people reacting.

This was new information for a lot of us, and some felt it was potentially a huge game changer.

Those familiar with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will know that Inbound Links are given sustantial weight by Google’s algorithm when determining where to rank your site in the page results. The more high-quality inbound links you have, the better. In fact, research conducted by SEOmoz showed that 22% of the top 70 SEO experts felt that the Link Popularity of a webpage was the most important factor in SEO, putting it higher than actual page content.

 

Important SEO Factors For Google Pie Chart

Relative Importance of Algo Components In Google - SEOmoz Expert Poll Results

 

If ‘Likes’ and ‘Tweet This’ are to become as important as Inbound Links, well then, does that mean ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ and ‘Friends’ will become as important as unique website visitors? and if so, to quote Apple . . . “this changes everything”. . . or does it?

We already put a lot of our energies into Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, our blogs, our company websites etc. All the time crafting new (hopefully valuable) content for our customers, engaging with them through their preferred channels and trying to attract them to our business. These efforts, if successful, will result in Links, Likes, Tweets, Followers, Fans and Friends.

I decided to do a little routing around on the internet after the webinar and found a posting on the SEOmoz members blog on 3rd November 2010 entitled  Why Facebook Likes Are Not Replacing Links Anytime Soon. So it seems not everyone is in agreement, and perhaps the jury is still out on whether Social Media signals are to definitively become a part of SEO or not.

So, what do we do?

Probably err on the side of caution and assume that Search Engines are listening to social signals. So assuming that . . . do we change anything that we are doing for our SEO strategy?

Probably not.

It’s nice to know that Google and other Search Engines may start giving weight to social signals, but if we are already following the Social Media strategy we know we should be … create, engage, listen, nurture, convert … then we probably won’t need to change anything, just continue to create and listen to our customers.

If we are attracting Links and Social Media attention, then the rankings will follow.

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