Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Simple & effective link baits/ link building tactics

Jason Lee Miller at WebProNews wrote a piece today "Making Link Bait Work for You".

I liked the piece because it summarizes the three basic approaches that work when working on building link popularity. I like such categorization/grouping [let's say, the 50,000 feet view] because it often makes the problem/project at hand seem much simpler/ less daunting than when looking at the specific items. Undoubtedly, it is the latter that will ultimately get the results, but looking at the broad picture often lets us be creative and come up with "innovative" specifics.

Nevertheless, excerpts from Jason's article on link bait are included below- typically, most websites will need a good mix of all of these simple link building tactics for an effective campaign, but choose the one that suits your objectives and your website/ product/ service the most.

Long term success of any link building campaign or effort really depends on how scalable a particular approach is, how we can get "x" multiples in return (aka, links) of the effort we put in. This requires thought, time and effort (read, money)-- a fact that is not often appreciated/understood enough.

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The Resource Approach (Becoming the Expert In Your Field/Niche)
-- Create expert articles/lists/data sheets
-- Create practical or fun tools
-- Write How-To articles
-- Create a comprehensive blog roll (give link love, get link love)
-- Compile informative news stories and articles

The News Approach
- Get the scoop. Be first with industry news
-- Interview prominent people in your field
-- Investigate a hot topic
-- Do an exposé

The Humor/Novelty Approach
-- Post funny/interesting/amazing photos related to your industry
-- Create humorous/unique videos (Use Blendtec for inspiration)
-- Create lists; people love lists – Top 10 Ways to…; 10 Signs You're…

But whatever you create as link bait, don't just post and forget it. Send out emails to industry people, drop a link into Digg, post at YouTube. In short, take advantage of every medium at your disposal.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

SEO Simplified: 3 'simple' SEO tips for great search engine traffic

Most of us in the SEO business know of the scepticism with which we are viewed---- some 'luminaries' have even branded SEO professionals as glorified snake oil salesmen. SEO is not rocket science, they scream at every given opportunity.

You know what, they may well be right.

There are only 3 things anybody has to do to drive search engine traffic to your website through the roof. So, here are those 3 simple SEO tips.

Content: Create "great" content, "frequently".
Now "great" is very subjective isn't it. So let's qualify that further: Relevant, Topical/Timely.

Accessibility: Make that great content accessible
Accessible to both humans and search engine spiders....

Popularity: Make the great content/website you create "popular"-- Spread the word, make your site known.

Absolutely simple, isn't it? If you said, "Yeah, what the heck, I knew that. I want to know HOW", I'm glad.

That's the 'rocket science' SEO consultants & other SEO professionals get paid for to think and execute.

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SEO 'Quote of the Day':
Plan & prepare for (SEO) success, and you will achieve more (SEO) success by accident as well.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Challenges in B2B online marketing

I found a useful blog post titled, the Top 5 Challenges for B2B Demand Generation Marketers.

An excerpt that I found particularly relevant and important for companies that have second thoughts about using online marketing / search marketing for their B2B marketing efforts (emphasis mine).

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What matters today in marketing is to be findable when people are looking. This, of course, means being everywhere they might possibly be when they start searching.

There are two interesting implications to this. First, it implies lots of cross-media, low-volume campaign all year long rather than spending your budget on one or two big programs. This way you can spread your budget across time period and channels.

Second, you need to focus your efforts where people look – and by far, this means managing your search engine marketing campaigns, especially on Google.


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Friday, November 09, 2007

Lessons from Alibaba.com

Last week, Alibaba.com finally went public when it listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange after almost a couple of years of speculation and tantalising prospective investors. It was an IPO that didn't disappoint investors; it turned out to be the second biggest public offering after Google's.

Now, I have a greater interest & stake in the success of a key competitor to Alibaba.com in the B2B space, Global Sources, a company that I worked with for quite a few years, loved and learnt a lot from. My wife, who I met when at Global Sources, continues to work with the organization and owns a piece of the company [every employee and shareholder should feel that way, irrespective of the 'size of the ownership', shouldn't they?]. Though my personal preferences and sense of gratitude to Global Sources could cloud my objectivity a bit, it doesn't stop me from admiring Alibaba.com for doing more than a few things right and offering some valuable and inter-related lessons to others in the process.

a) Thinking big: The founder of Alibaba.com, Jack Ma, has talked about Alibaba.com being among the world's top 3 Internet properties in several interviews. The line between thinking big and being a visionary on the one hand and sounding pompous, arrogant and even silly on the other may be thin. Yet, as most successful Internet businesses show, there is a direct correlation between the "scale of success" and the "size of the vision". eBay is "The World's Online Marketplace", Amazon.com is the earth's largest store, Google wants to organize the world's information and so on.

b) Volume / Size: In the Internet business, volume is critical. Get very large numbers into the system. Getting 10,000 prospects to spend $10 with you is typically a much easier, viable and sustainable option than trying to get 10 people to spend $10,000 with you. Once you have the critical mass of "community", the options of what you can do to monetize it just multiply. Just look at Google, eBay, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook.....

c) Speed: Move fast. A slightly longish pit-stop is all it takes for somebody to race miles ahead.

d) Investing in visibility: Several years ago, when Alibaba.com was just a tiny start-up, I remember seeing and hearing about the company on CNBC / CNN. They were there at some of the biggest trade shows around the world. The company paid for that visibility with advertising and some smart PR and invested in market creation as much as market acquisition. Don't underestimate the value of "presence"--- whether it be attracting prospective customers, the best people to work with you or the big strategic investors [Yahoo pumped in billions of dollars into Alibaba for a stake in the group last year]. From what little I've seen & understand of investments by strategic investors, most institutional investors bet their money on projected future returns, not on past performance. So, be a bit liberal with investing in visibility [no, I am not advocating being silly and throwing away money without an eye on return on investment]--- if done well, the investment will pay off, though not in the quarterly/ half-yearly timeframe you would want it to.

There may be several arguments against the point above, ie. spending money to create visibility and waiting (what may seem ages) for the returns to come in. The biggest example that folks cite everytime there is a discussion along these lines is Google--- "Google didn't spend a penny on advertising to get where they are today", I hear. Fair enough. But Google did something else--- they invested quite a bit in product innovation to vastly differentiate their offering from the others. Product innovation/ differentiation doesn't come cheap, and it is a much harder thing to achieve than creating visibility and loyalty for a 'decent' product.

How successful Alibaba.com will be in sustaining and growing its business going forward remains to be seen. It must be said though that flush with money, they have all the key ingredients to deliver on the promise displayed thus far.

At a personal level though, I will be hopeful of my former employer taking some giant steps forward and realizing its enormous potential.

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Google Adwords 'site targeting' now offers CPC bidding

The Adwords program has made an important change to its "site targeting" option. One, it will now be called placement targeting to reflect the additional targeting options now available [including specific sections/ sub-sections of a website, targeting by demographics and ad formats].

The second, and more important, change is the option for cost per click (CPC) bidding. Previously, Adwords offered CPM bidding for the site targeting feature. The flexibility to use both CPC & CPM when using placement targeting is good for advertisers and could see more advertisers using this feature now.

Our experience with the few 'site targeted' Adwords campaigns we managed was that it seemed to be significantly more expensive than the regular keyword targeting campaigns; hopefully, the latest addition will change that. It will surely be worth testing out.

Here's the official announcement on placement targeting from the Google Adwords blog.

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