LinkedIn’s Guide To Maximizing Your Marketing Strategy

Members of NVI attended a LinkedIn seminar held at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal last week. Speakers at the event included Brian Church, the Country Manager at
LinkedIn Canada, Julie Howlett, LinkedIn Canada’s Account Director and Steve Watt, a Marketing Manager at LinkedIn.

The theme of the seminar was to present key LinkedIn marketing solutions to help businesses get the most out of LinkedIn. Up until recently, LinkedIn has been a service used by business professionals to put up their CVs, recruit people, and network.

Over the last year, it has expanded its services to organizations as well. LinkedIn is (finally) harnessing the power of its high-profile network to become a key B2B marketing tool that offers companies a valuable way to advertise, manage their professional identity, build strong business relationships and ultimately, get leads, revenue and conversions.

Why LinkedIn Makes Sense
1. #1 resource for career-minded professionals
2. Over 120 million members
3. Precise targeting by seniority, industry, job function and geography

If you’re kind of new to the concept of LinkedIn as a marketing tool let’s delve right into the 4 things you should do to maximize your LinkedIn marketing efforts.

1. Optimize your Company Page: utilize all of LinkedIn’s new Company page features to strengthen your presence on LinkedIn and online.
2. Get Recommendations: build a highly targeted network of followers and increase number of brand evangelists
3. Amplify your message: through “paid media” (LinkedIn Recommendation Ads for example) you can scale your message to boost your social capabilities
4. Analyze and Refine: Track progress and message strength using LinkedIn Analytics Tool

1. Optimize Your Company Page

Your Company Page is where LinkedIn members can discover more about your company and engage with your brand. From new job postings, products and services, new hires, recent Tweets, new blog posts, to user recommendations, this is where members can learn who you are, what you’re up to and “Recommend” you to others in their network. Recommendations are akin to “authority” Likes that can help drive traffic to your LinkedIn page, your website and increase engagement and buzz surrounding your brand, from highly targeted prospects in the LinkedIn network.

Products & Services Tab

The products and service tab gives you the opportunity to highlight all of your best products and services. You can add comprehensive descriptions for each p/s with relevant links back to product pages on your website. As LinkedIn already gets top rankings on the SERP it can be a great way to pass on page rank to your site.

Display Banners

You can create up to 3 different display banners for your products and services page with links in them. Since you are targeting business networks specifically, it’s an opportunity to get creative with your banner ads. For example, providing stats on the company’s performance, incentives to “Become a fan on Facebook” or
better yet, “Follow Us on LinkedIn”.

Video

Video can do a lot to enhance user experience on your products and services homepage. You can embed videos from YouTube, advertise services, show video tutorials, host contests, announce special offers (LinkedIn highly recommends providing special offers to members) and more.

Get Recommendations

LinkedIn’s recommendation engine is probably the most valuable new feature of its service update. Once you’ve set up your services page, LinkedIn sends you the coding to add a LinkedIn “Recommend” button on your business website.

Many companies have been seeing significant results by using the Recommendation Ads paid service. Recommendation ads help gain a critical mass of recommendations more quickly. You can define your target audiences and customize your message so it displays relevant content for up to 5 different audience segments.

LinkedIn says you should actively seek recommendations as part of all your customer communications.Through LinkedIn’s “request Recommendations” module, you can invite members to recommend products and services straight from your products and services tab.

Since recommendations are the most trusted form of marketing, getting recommendations from trusted peers is an active way of strengthening your brands reputation, and increasing your brand and products’ potential to spread virally throughout LinkedIn’s broad network of company pages and professionals ones.

Members will see what someone in their network said about you, and these badges of approval then appear on your LinkedIn company page, helping empower your brand’s authority and presence on the most widely-used business network.

Amplify Your Message

Case study: Hewlett-Packard
HP was looking to expand its social capabilities and reach to get both commercial clients and customers engaging about HP products and endorsing the brand. Utilizing LinkedIn’s company page module and running a paid campaign through Recommendation Ads the company saw unprecedented results in only 2 weeks.

The ads encouraged LinkedIn members to visit the HP Company Page on LinkedIn, recommend HP products and services, and share those recommendations with their network.

Results:
• 2,000 product recommendations in two weeks
• 20,000 new followers on HP Company Page
• 500,000 viral updates about HP products and services.

Analyze and Refine

The LinkedIn Analytics tab is only viewable to admins and shows you who is visiting your company page, what pages they viewed most, and how you fare in comparison to others in your industry. You can also refine your analysis to learn which industries, functions and companies make up your group of followers.

By tracking analytics and progress, you have the ability to learn which products are most popular, which don’t get enough traction, who your followers are and how you can improve your message to target new communities.

It will be interesting to see the evolution of LinkedIn’s B2B marketing services as more companies jump on the bandwagon. Since there are little to no other competitors doing what Linkedin is doing right now,  the recommendations engine could prove to be a highly useful tool for raising brand awareness, reputation, trust and loyalty. Applying LinkedIn as part of an integrated campaign seems like it has the potential to yield some pretty outstanding results.

ASW11 Coverage: Mobile Marketing – The 97% Response Rate Channel

Disclaimer: This is a live blog post from Affiliate Summit West 2011. Everything that follows this italicized paragraph is based on the words of the presenters and are not my own. If you feel that I’ve misrepresented anything or anyone, please leave a comment below.

Presenters:

  • Brian Williams (@brianwilliams)
  • Mike Koenigs (@mikekoenigs)

Brian Williams

There are 2 billion desktops and laptops worldwide, but there are 6 billion mobile phone users. Furthermore, SMS has a 96% open-rate.

One in nine people have a Facebook account, and the average age of FB users is 38 years old, and 61% of FB users are older than that. And 64% of Twitter users are 35 or older.

While one of Brian’s FB ad for a product got little response, the same ad on mobile got 203 opt-ins within 12 hours. The ad cost just over $238 and generated over $53K in sales. None of this required a list.

In fact, mobile marketing in general doesn’t requre a list, and results tend to be lightning fast. “It’s like having a hypnotists commanding your customers what to do.”

Mike Koenigs

There are four principles of the “Power Tribe”:

  • Capture
  • Connect
  • Communicate
  • and Close

Capture: When Tony Robins was on Larry King with 3 million viewers, mentioning a domain only generated about 10,000 leads. With opt-in text, however, you can increase a 15% lead converstion rate to 200% or more.

Connect: Next, you want to target the “influencers” — i.e. the people with a major Twitter or LinkedIn following. Identifying these VIPs has a major impact on your bottom-line. So use various social tools to learn everything you can about your prospects. Then be ready to act on that knowledge.

Communicate: Generally, these people are flattered that you’re connecting with them, and are enthusiastic about sharing your message. Leverage live events such as tele-seminars, webinars, etc., that feature a respectable expert, and integrate live chat so that someone is responding to their feedback/questions in real time.

Close: If you meet your prospects on their terms, you will be much more likely to close a deal with them. Analyze the logs from live events to see who is logging in late, logging out early, or not logging in at all, and use that data as a basis for a follow-up. Send them SMS and email to remind them of upcoming “live events” and when they don’t show up at all, solicit their feedback as to why. It will generally resonate with them, which will reinforce your connection to them.

The 5 Force Multipliers
Overall, remember to use all five tools/tactics at your disposal:

  • Multi-Channel Reminders
  • Multimedia Delivery (e.g. tele-seminars, webinars, etc.)
  • Use Social Influence
  • Behavioral Follow Up
  • Live Chat

ASW11 Coverage: Mobile Affiliate Site Strategies

Disclaimer: This post is live blog coverage of a session at Affiliate Summit West 2011. All that follows this italicized paragraph is based on the presenters’ words and are not those of NVI. If you feel that anything below is a misrepresentation of what was said, please leave a comment below.

Moderator: Dush Ramachandran (@DushR)

Panelists:

  • Michael Martin(@googleandblog)
  • Scott Bain (@scottbain)
  • Keith Poshen (@http://twitter.com/kzorz)

Michael Martin on Mobile SEO

There were 150,000 mobile sites in 2008. There are 3.1 million today. And they’re growing in traffic. For example, the mobile ESPN site now gets more traffic than the desktop site.

The goal of Android is to grow mobile search. In fact, mobile search has grown 500% in the last two years. Android users also search twice as much as users with other devices.

To create a mobile site, you don’t need a .mobi site. In fact, for SEO purposes, you should create your mobile site within a subdirectory or subfolder.

Just as with desktop sites, your mobile site should load quickly to rank better. So have separate mobile CSS. Also, have an XML site map. Finally, make sure your site is touch friendly.

If your site is powered by WordPress, WP Touch is a good plugin for rendering mobile sites. Also, a good tool for testing your mobile site is MobiReady.

Scott Bain on Buying Mobile Media

Google, Yahoo!, and Bing all offer a way to buy local mobile traffic. But there are other places to buy traffic, as well — including Twitter, Facebook and MocoSpace.

Only 25% of US mobile traffic is from smart phones. The remainder comes from “dumb phones.” So if you’re only focusing on iPhone users, for example, you’re missing out on a lot of traffic.

When it comes to optimizing your traffic, you need to invest in some kind of analytics tool. Look at user agent data — e.g. what carrier you’re getting traffic from, and what kind of devices that traffic is using. If you’re not tracking this data, you’re just throwing traffic at the wall. This data will tell you which devices convert and which don’t — allowing you to optimized user experience.

Also, your traffic should be mobile specific. Don’t just squish your website down.

Know where your user is in the buying cycle and make creatives according to that. This way, you won’t pay for unqualified clicks.

Consider using click-to-call, but be wary of the “OMG factor.” This is when users click, realize that they’re actually calling, and then hang-up. So know where your users are in the buying cycle, so you’re not paying for calls that aren’t going to convert.

There is also email-bridging — i.e. letting them email you with a click. But you can’t do more than 3-4 fields on forms on forms, because users will lose interest.

Keith Poshen on Monetizing Mobile Users

When it comes to apps vs HTML5, they each have their facored use. HTML5 is still being explored. It lets you do a lot more with your mobile site, but it still doesn’t stand up to a dedicated app.

The issue with HTML5 is mental bandwidth. Mobile users have short attention spans. So the less effort required, the more usage you’ll get. Icons are also very powerful; they create visual experience, helping the user interact with a page more easily.

You should also develop for as many platforms as possible. And if you can’t, go with HTML5 and wrap it for each platform.

The user’s context is also paramount. You need to know what your users is doing at that moment. The more you know about your users, the better.

Cramming a web app/site onto a small screen is stupid. Only do what’s natural for a mobile device, and don’t force the user to do anything.

Screen size and functionality should fit the device — e.g. not too many fields. Keep the user-interface intuitive. And offer a link to the regular site.

For HTML5 sites, stick with tap-only and light javascript so that it loads fast (i.e. 15 seconds or less).

Mobile ads rely on clicks (i.e. not CPM). Pay per call is great for locally relevant content, but you should keep it relevant to the content (i.e. search term, page content, etc.). CPA, however, is still in its infancy.

iTunes in-app purchases are also very lucrative. Apple skims 30%, but they are still worth if you want to monetize mobile traffic.

Jim Hedger on Personalized Search

In this second half of our interview with Jim Hedger, Jim discusses how personalized search is going to impact business’s ability to rank on their targeted terms. Specifically, Jim sees search results that are personalized by location as representing a clear opportunity for brick & mortar businesses.

First, search results that are personalized by location will give local businesses an immediate competitive advantages. Secondly, large national retailers now have an opportunity to optimize their site for each of their brick & mortar locations.

We caught up with Jim at SES Toronto 2010.

SES Toronto Live Blogging 2010: Facebook Feeding Frenzy

  • Moderator:
    Andrew Goodman, SES Advisory Board & President, Page Zero Media
  • Speakers:
    Mark Rosenberg, Of Counsel, Sills Cummis & Gross P.C.
    Dennis Yu, Chief Executive Officer, BlitzLocal
    Duane Brown, Brand Manager, Hover, a service of Tucows Inc.
    Helen M. Overland, VP Client Services, Search Engine People

Up first is Dennis from BlizLocal

Dennis starts of by showing the power of targeting, where they decided to target people in a certain place with certain criteria, who worked at a certain place, intentionally targeting a single person who was actually an employee of BlitzLocal – so they made the ad personal, to… one person.

Weekly world news have done a lot recently with facebook – with facebook you don’t pay for the click every time, you pay for the click the first time, then you get to communicate with that person as often as you like.

What kind of ads work on Facebook? Well actually you have to test. Facebook does have a quality score – and just like adwords if you achieve a good quality score you can edge back your CPM cost.

Don’t trust suggested bids, ads burn out QUICKLY – there is a whole heck of a lot of inventory here. It’s not a set it and forget it network at all.

The average CTR on facebook is 0.02%

The first step is a click to a fan conversion page, then you have to convert them to a fan, theeeeeeeen you have to convert them to a sale.

  • Don’t send your traffic to ‘the wall’, create a custom tab and you’ll achieve a much higher conversion to fan rate.
  • Make sure your facebook page is created by a dummy geneeric account, not by an employees real account – cus what happens if they leave your company? You lose control.

He shows off some AMAZING stats on a CPM basis with very targeted ads to an incentivised fan page, and you can get some suuuuuper cheap very good traffic.

To achieve this be vigilant in shutting down ads that aren’t getting a good CTR and landing pages that aren’t getting a good fan conversion rate.

The most powerful thing in Facebook is the ability to target people who are already fans of your page ooooooooooor people who are *friends* of people who are already fans. When you target a friend, you steal some trust – you really get a ‘your friend judy likes this’ opportunity, which is highly effective.

Facebook has analytics to show where your  fans are coming from, and it hooks up with google analytics so you get funnels and all that sticky goodness.

Great presentation, but needless to say he had an hour’s worth of presentation he tried to pack into 10 minutes, so … go download the presentation!

Helen from Search Engine People is up next

Connecting with Facebook open graph – this technology is still kinda new, so nobody is really an expert, it only dates back to late April.

Facebook connect lets independent websites have facebook users ’sign up’ for their site via only their facebook account, effectively a one-click-to-membership tool for independent mom-and-pop websites.

But facebook open graph is like facebook connect with a bunch of extra goodies – buttons, tabs, and other things you can put on your site. If someone comes to your site and they are currently logged into facebook, they get extra content or extra functionality – the like button, and other things. CNN is even using it, so it’s not just mom-and-pop. You’ll see your friends stuff popping up on CNN, even if it’s the first time you’ve gone to CNN.com, so long as you’re logged into facebook at the time.

The like button is the most popular little widget – the new like button can like your content on your site, and it gets published through to their facebook page. This means their facebook timeline will now include a link OUT to YOUR WEBSITE – it’s a traffic generation option. They also become fans of that webpage, they don’t have to go to your facebook page to sign up, it’s automatic if they ‘like’ anything on your site. So now you can msg them, cus they’re a fan. So now every page of your website can become the equiv of a facebook fan page. This is really open and cool stuff.

The ability to msg these people is a very powerful win – you also of course get some traffic directly from facebook. What you give in return is giving up data about your traffic stats – Facebook now knows all about your website, and, if they’ree a facebooker, they know EVERYTHING about your visitors. This is valueable information for Facebook – so that’s the tradeoff, you’re compromising the implied privacy of your website’s users.

where to go? developers.facebook.com/plugins as a starting point

So facebook connect is now Facebook Open Graph

There are a number of new widgets such as facebook managing your comments, even live chatting through facebook ON YOUR WEBSITE

You can msg people who have ‘liked’ your real website, not just your fan page on facebook – in fact, everey page of your website is now a fan page.

I have to admit, this stuff is crazy – it’s a real evolution of how facebook can actually apply to not only online marketing, but also online community building for smaller guys.

The two last speakers unfortunately don’t get my live blogging love, as my laptop is officially dead – in quick summary:

Duane covered the fact that there are many many many options beyond facebook – if you want to go niche, consider going to actual websites with their own communities.

Mark is a lawyer specializing in privacy concerns and stated that even after the recent changes to privacy at Facebook there is still a huge cause for concern – perhaps even more so with the proliferation of the like button to other websites – people think they’re participating in a poll, but really they’re giving up their name, ip address, interests, connections, and all sorts of shit.

Overall this was actually the most interesting session I attended at SES Toronto this year, based largely upon the fact that Facebook’s new Open Graph is … well, actually something new, and interesting from a marketing perspective. More than this though, it’s interesting from a web development perspective – the opportunity to ineropolate with the massive beast that is Facebook, and reduce the challenges that smaller sites have in building their own communities – it’s not about just advertising.

SES Toronto 2010 Live Blogging: Managing a Global SEO Campaign

Moderator:
Anne F. Kennedy, SES Advisory Board, International Search Strategist, Beyond Ink USA

Speakers:
Ian McAnerin, CEO, McAnerin Networks Inc.
Crispin Sheridan, SES Advisory Board & Sr Director of Search Marketing Strategy, SAP
Michael Bonfils, International Managing Director, SEM International

Author’s Note: As an old-school SEO who has dealt with international SEO efforts for years and watched them evolve, I’m pleased to be able to cover this session, and I’m really hoping people are going to delve into content distribution, search engine geographic relevancy indicators, local search, mobile location-aware search, and alt-country search engines – not just ‘people spell things differently in England’ junk. But I’m not going to hold my breath… c’mon SES, surprise and entertain me!

Up first is Ian

Ian starts by listing countries with the top e-conomies – basically the G8 plus the BRIC countries, and a handful of surprises, Turkey and Vietnam, Poland and Netherlands.

Aso top ten languages on the net are English and Chinese, followed distantly by Spanish and Japanese, with some French German and Arabic gaining ground. Google is the dominant search engine for latin-based languages, ones that use our familiar alphabet. For non-latin languages, such as Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese, it’s usually a local search engine, or a highly localized Yahoo version.

Organic search share breaks down like this, globally – percentage splits

  • 86 to gogole
  • 6 to yahoo
  • 3 to bing
  • 3 to baidu
  • 1 to ask
  • 3 to others

in the US

  • 77 google
  • 10 yahoo
  • 9 bing
  • 1 ask
  • 3 others

Other parts of the world are less spread out

in Mexico

  • 98 to Google
  • 4 to Yahoo
  • 3 to Bing
  • In China91 to Baidu since Google left
  • 5 to others
  • 3 to yahoo

in Canada english

  • 82 google
  • 9 to bing
  • 6 to yahoo

In Canada, French

  • 75 google
  • 23 to bing
  • 2 to yahoo

So… don’t do GLOBAL search campaigns, do a multi-national, multi-lingual search campaign.

  1. Plan centrally – vision
  2. synchronize globally -strategy
  3. execute locally – tactics

General recommendations – localize with a local office, let local people write and translate the content, don’t let the global office do that. The inverse is that a local office should not make any branding decisions, that’s a global strategy issue.

There are translation issues – the UK vs the US english, translations of things like ‘up the creek’ if you happen to be a forieng company that has its office literally up the creek.  or ‘chevy nova’, where nova means ‘doesn’t go’ in spanish.

Good design is as much a cultural issue as it is a technical. Some cultures like pastels, latin american’s like bold colours, square corners – if you’re serious about internationalization and want to target micro-regions, find out what works best design wise.

Avoid generic ethnic images when localizing

Avoid using text elements (like paragraphs) for sizing, as the translated version will not likely turn out to be the same size.

Ecommerce details are critical – shipping information and zip codes are important – be very clear about where you ship to etc

Site planning best practices:

  • subdomain or subdirectory for language
  • domain for country

francais.domain.ca (canadian french)

domain.ca/english (canadian english)

personal preference:

subdomain for language

domain for country

directory for topic

language.domain.ccTLD/topic – eg english.boomboom.it/ourboombooms

there are four levels to this

  1. unilingual one country – easy
  2. one language, multi-national –
  3. multiliingual – one country: languages are not countries, they’re different
  4. multilingual multi-national: hardest to do but once done right, gets the best response additional advice-

Tips:

  • sell in a mature markets, brand in emerging markets
  • never geolocate a search engine – they represent all users (this is contrary to Google’s advice, which says treat the like a user and redirect as you would a user, but in questions when asked about this he basically said that Google may say that, but haven’t implemented it well)
  • flags are for countries, not languages
  • ‘english site’ goes to home page, ‘english’ goes to same page, but in english
  • never translate – localize

Next up – Crispin

This guy works for SAP, it’s the big German software company, third biggest software company in the world.

The SAP websites that represent each country grew up organically in different countries over the years.

Start with business goals /outcomes – SEO is not just a technical thing that doesn’t relate to value, it relates to branding, leads sales, and becomes monetizable.

We had over eighty languages to deal with, lots of duplicate content in English and Spanish – this is a classic international SEO issue. They have tried to reduce the amount of dupplication

SAP also has a complex content supply chain.

Tactics:

  • webmaster tools country flag, then country domains  – they own the cc’s but havent migrated to them yet
  • canonical tagging – tell the search engines which duplicate page is the ‘master’ page to rank
  • content
  • keyword cluster research
  • keyword mapping = existing content and indentifies content gaps
  • local link building
  • social media
  • local partners

We prioritize keywords – (cluster approach) compared the volume of keywords along with the value of those keywords (Basically the PPC value) – map this into xy and you find the lowest hanging fruit.

Some basic keyword research lets you decide to otpimize for ’small business software’ which has 100000 searches, instead of small business solutions

link building – deep and local + via “addthis” on your site allows users to share, bookmark and link to sap.com pages35k inbound links

Tools they use:

SEO insights

SEOLabs

Takeaways

  • determine your business outcomes – value your micro and macro conversions
  • do your homework on the greatest areas of opportunity
  • measure test and promote your successes – talk to your bosses–

Michael is up next

This is a case study – a fictitious company ”Tom Whortons

background – a successful online site selling coffee beans to businesses online in Canada and the use, was given 1million dollars to expand internationally

they tried to accomplish this by

  • identifying markets
  • duplicated content and design
  • translated website and keywords

results were disastrous

no sales in brazil

lawsuit in Germany

Anger from bad translation in Korea

The issues that arise

  • launched in the wrong target markets – web analytics was the only research used to determine who to market to – just because you’re already getting a bit of traffic from a country isn’t an indicator that it’s a target market
  • Automatic translation failed
  • actual translations: cafe du cancer, non-homo milk, straight tea
  • ignored global seo issues – online payment disaster, only accepted credit cards
  • launched out of sync with other geographic areas budgetary chaos

how to address the challenges

  • Redefine target markets
  • Evaluate content / created a translation strategy
  • solve search and technical issues related to SEO

Redefine target markets:

new target market calculation method –

local competition, actually look at how it is done locally now +

technical factors – is it hard to put a server in china, etc +

web analytics +

keyword research data is most important – finding out how much traffic is available

all of that = new target market

challenge 2 – evaluating content

if local successful competitors are built around quality points, not price points, perhaps you should consider imitating – in Germany price points and looking cheap is a negative, not a positive.

Ecommerce options of the good competition –

the style and length of descriptive content

the way location trust indicators are displayed

find a ‘localization specialist’ – which is different from a translator. they need to be native to the country, not just someone who speaks the language. They also have industry knowledge, and because they’re culturally involved, some linguistic knowledge. Anybody always has to use third party proofreading. They may use semantic based machine translation, which is different that simply autotranslation.

challenge 3 – keyword research specialist

so put a search marketers and a localization expert in the same room together – you wont easily find someone who is good at  both, but b uild a team.

global keyword development

  1. plural vs singular
  2. dropped accents
  3. common mistypes caused by keyboard layouts
  4. broken compounds – mother-tongue, alley-way
  5. alternate characters
  6. inflections
  7. linguistic dialects and diversity

‘coffee bean’ in French by Google

‘grain de cafe’ – not bad

keyword specialist says – cafe en grain also, often without the accent on cafe – POW three new phrases to optimize for that no machine will tell you

solving some SEO technical issues

  • servers and data-centers – having a server in the US doesn’t always help, the best recommendation is have a box in every country, though that’s difficult sometimes
  • Domain names should be country-specific, it will help rankings, but also build local trust
  • Duplicate content – often a huge issue in international SEO – best thing is to change-up the entire content of the site
  • Global payment solutions – different countries have different ways to pay – china uses money transfers, for instance

Centralized project management

have a single point of contact for centralized communication  of

  • global search marketing teams
  • advertising agencies
  • collaborative tools
  • global best practices

take aways

  • use multiple avenues of research to identify your target markets
  • don’t trust a translator, ever
  • flollow global seo best practices – hosting, tlds, avoid duplicate content
  • align your processes

SES Toronto Live Blogging: Information Architecture, Site Tuning & SEO

Information Architecture:

Moderator:

Bryan Eisenberg, SES Advisory Board and NYTimes Bestselling Author, bryaneisenberg.com

Speakers:

Ezra Silverton, President & Founder, 9th sphere

Dan Klyn, Information Architect, Riders Discount

First Up is Dan Klyn

I’m not going to get into what information architecture is too muchin a technical sense, I’ll talk more about the nature of what information architecture is

Let’s look at an example ‘goldline’ – it’s obvious this page has been shaped by SEO – H1 tags etc etc, I found this through the phrase ‘curling gear’, but this page says curling gear everywhere, but doesn’t have any obvious way to find curling gear. So I click on ‘curling equipment’ link, and it’s a duplicate page ‘optimized’ for ‘curling equipment’ -there is a stupid weird link that I found eventually. So this site has goooood SEO? but horrific information architecture, not intuitive for users.

What is information architecture? I’ve found that looking at the building blocks, the basic underlying stucture is how to achieve an understanding

  • ontology
  • taxonomy
  • choreography

Ontology basically means ‘of being’ – speaker says that ontology is about the semantics of what someone is talking about – using a lingerie example (thank you sir, for the images), a client decided a product positioning strategy would be to change the way ‘underwear’ and ‘panties’ should be referred to as ‘pants’ – but this breaks the ontology of what everybody thinks of in the real world. This is a fundamental problem with the ontology of the site.

Obviously this is an issue for search

Before you can move on to taxonomy, the classification of things, you first have to decide upon a ubiquitous ontology, where what your saying means something that other people can understand.

Taxonomy – the science of order and arrangement

Speaker presents a taxonomy that they created for a client a while ago – it looks like a well laid out site navigation, classifying different types and styles of flooring, from prefinished to bamboo to engineered – the process of deciding how things should be labled. Sometimes there are clashes between an SEO decision of what to call something, based on keyword research. If the keyword research dictates a page should be labelled in a way that doesn’t fall into a logical taxonomy, it can be counter-productive.

Choreography – circular dance

once an ontology and taxonomy for a site have been completed, there are interactions between the site and user that have to take place – dealing with how users interact with the site, in accordance with the taxonomy and ontology, is dealing with choreography.

speaker uses a shopping cart page as an example – somebody decided on this example page that before you can move on to check-out your product, you need to have entered a zip code and a shipping type. This is counter to the ontology of online shopping that big beasts like Amazon have created already. the choreography of how users expect to move through a checkout has been altered in this example case, which gives you a large CHECKOUT ERROR if you don’t put your zip code in – these are disconnects between what it means to check-out, and what the site has decided is necessary.

Information architecutre isn’t just graphics, it’s about choosing the right way to present information, it’s a whole way of life in which the aim is not to make something look good, but to make it BE good.

Ezra Silverton is up next

plans to cover:

  • strategic planning around goals
  • site structure and architecture
  • tips to improve site performance
  • seo considerations
  • case study

strategic planning

  • confirm your purpose – eg, to sell our new service
  • set clear website goals- the WHAT – eg, make the website our primary selling tool, build credibility, educate and sell services
  • strategic planning around your goals – the HOW – eg: awards, samples,e comm

site strucutre:

  • what needs to be on your site to achieve your goals
  • create content first and organize to align with goals
  • guide visitors through the path of conversion
  • determine navigation
  • design/gui
  • technical development

taking SEO into account at each level

site performance

  • ensure architecture is structured for code efficiencies
  • golbal CSS- use CSS for gradients, drop shadows, etc, instead of images (CSS3)
  • global javascript file
  • optimize images for web
  • use CSS sprites – which are quite cool, load once, use many
  • server side caching
  • minimize number of page layouts, use includes
  • content delivery network – use other servers’ resources, like youtube if you can’t  handle video

performacne tools:

  • firebug – getfirebug.com – shows running time of the pages and each requests’ response, where js is spending time
  • page speed form google
  • yslow from yahoo

suggests using both the google and yahoo tool as they address different things

SEO considerations

  • goals plus content plus navigation come first
  • SEO enhances marketing efforts
  • keyphrases in consideration – will implementing the keyphrases into navigation/content help achieve sites goals and ensure good usability/
  • google has made page speed a ranking factor

Case study: roadtoitaly.com

there was a lot of unorganized content, hundreds of pages of non-speed-optimized content etc

steps in redesign:

  • primary goal – to convert more visitors
  • audited old website – structure, code, analytics, marketing efforts and complain logs
  • learned existing sales process and information necessary at each stage
  • determined strategy
  • gathered all information/content
  • determine navigation and calls to action
  • revised content to incorporate keyphrases
  • creative design
  • technical development
  • user testing
  • changes and launch

the end result concentrated on the three types of users they expected to come through the site – the further you get into the site, the more specific you get and the more detailed the information gets

Traffic increased by over 80% with the same content. Page views went up – all engagement metrics were basically positive.

Final notes

  1. focus on your goals and let decision support them
  2. site performance tactics are important bu don’t let it control your site – similar to seo tactics
  3. don’t forget your visitors’ experience

Q&A

Q: For the first presenter – you mentioned a disconnect between keyword research and information architecture, but shouldn’t looking at keyword research help drive how that information architecture comes together, even more-so than management intuition?

A: Yes there can be a benefit to looking at how people are searching for things in determining your architecture – Chevrolet management recently decided to never use the word ‘chevy’ again, but from an SEO perspective, keyword research might indicate that this is a mistake

Author’s Notes: I’m not going to go into too much editorial detail on this one, as I did the previous session, in part because I was actually a speaker on this panel at last year’s SES Toronto session – but I will say that it was immensely different, and I think somewhat unfortunately, SEO took a back-seat this year. There was a lot of talk about defining ontologies and whatnot, but very little actual merging of that information with real-world SEO and how to implement a site structure that benefits a site, other than labeling your categories with good words… there is so much more meaty information needed for people who want to reconcile the often abstract concepts of information architecture and real-world on-site SEO goodness. The one question I documented here was actually asked by me, because I sincerely believe that it is a major mistake to embark upon defining your information architecture, ontology and taxonomy, without first looking at keyword reserach and figuring out HOW PEOPLE SEARCH FOR WHAT YOU OFFER – if you appeal to the words and phrases people use to search for your products or services, not only will you actually have a chance at snagging them from search engines, but when they land on your site there will not be a disconnect between searcher intent, and what you display (unless you display something that does not realte to the search term you optimized your page for, which is truthfully not that uncommon an event, but it’s a different problem, that’s just lazy SEO that doesn’t take searcher intent into account).

Overall session: fairly informative but too narrow in scope, and not SEO focussed or connected enough

SES Toronto 2010 Live Blogging: SEO Then and Now

SEO Then and Now

  • Moderator:
    Jim Hedger, Search Marketing Consultant,
  • Speakers:
    Erika D. Brown, EVP Corporate Strategy, Digital Media Practice, Frost & Sullivan
    Anne F. Kennedy, SES Advisory Board, International Search Strategist, Beyond Ink USA
    Judith Lewis, Head of Search, Project Metal

Okay, a little preamble by me (your humble author) – I’m about to present a bunch of other people’s opinions on SEO, as they decree them from the SES stage, but I’m writing this preamble post-session, and I just have disclaim a little. I disagree with a large percentage of what was presented, I think got the impression the speakers were stuck in the ‘then’ portion of ‘then and now’, and much of what they recommended was not only outdated, but just plain incorrect. It saddens me to say this, because I love Jim, he’s a great guy and a good SEO, but Jim wasn’t presenting, he was just moderating – so I’m going to intersprese some terse ‘authors notes’ throughout this kinda-live blogging when I feel like the point has been missed, or something is off base… this might take a while

First up is Judith

So, essentially not much has changed in search since 2000 – the big changes were from 1995 to 2000 – Way back when Google was proud of its 25 million indexed pages, which is a paltry number by today’s standards. Way back when all you needed was a title tag and a URL …. hmmm, I still fix peoples title tags every. single. horrid. day. of . my. life. (sorry, that’s me, the author’s horrid life, not Judith’s).

Top ranking factors – domain name, keyword stuffing, link building, multiple domains/duplicate content, doorway pages, spamming forums – so what’s changed? Well, it’s the same, but simplified, you don’t keyword stuff now, but you still need keywords present. One major change was the simple ability to actually use your meta-description, and have an effect of what was shown on a SERP.

Elements wise, not much has changed since 2000, search engines still use the same core elements. Is this a contentious notion? Not by my standards. This is why people who go back to the basics often do well.

The core ranking factors from 2000 are:

  • focus – site should be focused on a few keywords
  • content – content should be valuable and on a focused topic
  • uniqueness – your site should offers something else nobody has

Has this changed at all?

Addme.com SEO ranking factors include

  • title tag
  • keyword selection
  • meta tags
  • page content

Are images in results an actual change? Speaker’s point here is that it’s all still old school – there are tweaks that have been added to mitigate the basics, but the core is the same.

  • body copy
  • alt text
  • trim down the toys, java, frames
  • links on your main page
  • link popularity

So what is new?

  • canonicalization
  • ducplicate content penalties
  • filtering out less valuable links
  • social media mentions / citations
  • spidering and ranking pdf’s flash etc
  • spidering css
  • link juice sculping came and went
  • deeper understanding of actual link value
  • domain authority – now better understood

The core math is still the same

Q from Jim: Have links’ values changed?
A: Google is trying to rely less on links and social media citations are going to be more important

Author’s note: okay, so let’s think about this – not much has changed? Where is the focus in this presentation on the evolution of link value, of the shift from quantity to quality, of refinement from anchor-text-spammability to nuanced link placement and organic-looking links, about oranic-looking link growth, about googlebowling and washing? this is the evolution of SEO – yeah you have to still have a focused page that refers to and references phrases the way people search (though that was barely touched on), but popularity metrics, which are, ahem, the core of ranking, have evolved tremendously, and that wasn’t even talked about.

Next up is Erika Brown

My intention is to look at things from a tactical viewpoint, starting with the basics and getting advanced

Moving from Search ENGINE optimziation, to search EVERYTHING OPTIMIZATION

You have to optimize all your digital assets – let’s go!

The goal is to own the real-estate on the first page of the SERPs

These days first page results are not just HTML documents – news, twitter, images, podcasts, pdfs, articles, blogs, videos, social media, linked-in, facebook, word docs, excel.

So what are the best practices for these assets? Let’s start with the basics

  • meta data still matters – whatever keywords you select with your title tag, you need to reiterate in the same order in your meta description, and body text – and it’s important to use robot revisit tags (Really?, really?
  • Internal linking still matters, as do internal anchor text
  • Folder naming gets heavy weight (what???) – she is claiming that folder names help get indented listings, this is complete BS, but whatever
  • Reiterate your keywords in your body text.

SEO PR – put your keywords in the title of the press release, and again in the subtitle, and in the body text – okay but (authors note) PR sites lost the majority of their ability to pass pagerank umm, about four years ago.. .uggg. Did you really just tell people to go and make spammy keyword-stuffed press releases for link building purposes? Either your tests are on completely noncompetitive phrases and so gave you  what border on false-positives for efficacy, or… I don’t know, please people, don’t think that press releases should be considered anything more than press releases. It’s one of the most banal and near-useless link building ‘techniques’ left on the digital planet.

Optimizing digital assets

  • Edit your documents properties to include relevant keywords in a description like you would an HTML meta
  • Save your document with a relevant name including keywords – in MS, click prepare/properties – in the frame there is title, subject and keywords. Tada, just like HTML.

Google / Yahoo Local?

  • sing up with your gmail account
  • follow a few easy instructions to add official business title, address, phone, payment info, images, video
  • Add keywords in descriptions
  • Reviews really matter – write your own, add meta keywords in title and review – one review per gmail account, don’t spam it

Author’s note – the presenter says don’t spam it, then she proceeds to tell you to spam it – lilterally saying have your clients add their own reviews, but only one per day – yup that’s spammin it. What she meant to say, I guess, is don’t look like you’re spamming it.

So really, no talk about how Google or Yahoo may actually calculate their local ranking factors, or how you can position yourself better within them, just sign up, keyword stuff, and spam some reviews. Sigh.

Microsites (author’s note… uh-oh)

  • Can be just one page
  • the more the better
  • trends to bypass some fo the legal and pr/marketing departments
  • you can end up having multiple listings in the SERPS
  • the microsites must be very different ffrom your main sitee
  • do not use the same meta, or design
  • if content is identical they’ll be discounted

Author’s note – wow… really? Did you just tell us to go and create a bunch of near-valueless sites in an attempt to flood the index and ‘take over the real-estate’ of the first SERP? There are so many things fundamentally wrong with this empty-shell of an explanation – fortunately Anne Kennedy adds a little meat to this discussion in the Q&A after the presentations – but essentially, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don’t go creating valueless micro-sites for the purposes of spamming the hell out of Google – as the Google employee in the audience said later, you’re just polluting the web. And it’s more than that, this is 2010, this IS NOW NOT THEN, and in the now, in the real world, you need to create value in every single site you build, or you’re building your rankings on stilts, and they may be cut out from under you at any point. There was no mention here towards building a real network that could be done in a gray-hat/black-hat style, nobody mentioned a single thing other than ‘design them differently and use different text’ – I would say that, if you want to get agressive, purchasing or developing real sites that relate to your product/service and have A REASON FOR EXISTING, can be a very effective technique, and may result in you owning some more SERP real-estate, and potentially some more mind-share in your mind-space, but the way it was descirbed in this presentation is compelete BS, and seriously people, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

SEO Video

  • manually create acounts at youtube, metacafew, livevideo, yahoo video
  • fill out profile in each site
  • upload the same video to each site on DIFFERETN DAYS – this is apparently the secret……. how many dots can I put after that…… todisplay my incredulity?

I’m going to stop now, because honestly, I think we’re stuck on the ‘SEO Then’ portion of things…

Question – no dupe design, are you sure you get spanked for that?

A: Templates are pretty easy to discern. Add a little swirl. Author’s note – She really said that, add a little swirl. I’m going crazy here.

Anne Kennedy is up next

She thinks this is great cus we’ve seen where we’ve been – but now, there is no now… k she’s screwin with my head. There is no now, now, but I thought there wasn’t anything but now… not even then. Apparently the universe has been lying to me, and I think we’re all getting a little too metaphysical for an SEO presentation.

When Google started we had no: web 2.0, UGC, ajax, flash, adwords, social media, meaningful metrics – so what’s next?

She feels what has really changed is meaningful analytics (author agrees!)

1999 – rankings, hits and clicks with Web position gold, webtrends, urchin

2010 – ROI and user behavior – google analytics, yahoo web analytics, omniture, coremetrics, lyris, visibility score, hubspot, etc

The real value that has emerged of late is interesting ways to view how people not only come to your site, but what they do when they get there, and after they leave.

We’re also getting a bit of demographic information (mostly from Yahoo, because they’ve had email accounts and they’ve been quietly collecting data.. booo) – so the engines are focussing on user intent and utilizing the information they’ve gathered.

Where is this data coming from? Alternate query input – what’s that? Well, videos are – youtube queries are actually outpacing Google queries – when we search for videos, we search differently. Search engineers learn from this. Maybe.

MOBILE MOOOOOOOOOOOBILE yaay someone mentioned mobile (srsly ppl, this is the future, pay attention)

mobile penetration is so much greater in Asia and eastern Europe, because of infrastructure issues, and now we’re finally catching up. Google acquired AdMob for a… lot of money – do you have a good mobile site? It’s not just about that, but she recommends Cindy Cruum’s mobile marketing book (don’t know how to spell that name)

  • have a mobile site
  • different mobile crawlers evaluate your sites differently
  • multiple inde… oh just kill that slide why don’t you

Let’s talk about the iphad… ahhh the iphad…. game changer… really? ipad pplz view more videos, it’s an entertainment consumption device. Can we embed video in books? i think the point here is that media has to evolve, just like the Wired magazines that cost more for the ipad because they’re full on multi-media experiences – is this the future of publishing?

Apps are another alternate query input – and now apps are appearing in search engine results.

search is outmoded – it’s about objects, not text and links. It’s about spatial search, like bing maps, it’s about semantic web with context with text, it’s about augmented reality. it’s all about objects. Bing is the thought leader in this space, because they came late, they came after links were considered old-school, and they now have an object oriented perspective they’re bringing to bear. Obviously this relates well to mobile, space-aware, streetview with augmented reality overlays, etc, etc.

Beyond SEO now

  • new devices make web access highly portable and entertainment on demand
  • alternate query search sites bring you traffic
  • app store is a search engine, you can rank your apps
  • apps are ranking in regular SERPS
  • augmented reality allows you to layer real world information over a web page

it’s about

  • plentiful data
  • multiple traffic sources
  • displaying localized, personalized data onsite

Author’s note – Okay Anne is the most on-the-ball here. She spoke a bit to the future, didn’t seem stuck in the past, and ‘predicted’ that mobile will be big, not that that is earth shattering, but c’mon, it’s way more important than micro-sites

Q&A

Q: how important are websites like slideshare

A: The more you post in different locations the better – every time you post, different title, different keywords, add it to your own website and approach it with meta-data. remember to alt-tag your video or podcast with the word ‘powerpoint’ with the word ‘podcast’

Q: Microsites, isn’t one site with a good user experience better? how would you even maintain it?

A: Microsites are excellent. I would recommend actually creating a sub-folder if you want to place your videos or things (author’s note – you mean… content?), but the goal is to edge out the competition and gain as much real-estate as possible

A: if I own all 10 results, I own all 10 results

Q: what did you mean by social media citation?

A: a citation is a reference to your site that isn’t a link necessarily, so Google is going to look for brand mentions etc.

Q: would you create microsites for big companies?

A: excellent for reputation management

A from Anne: if we’re not talking about spam, we’re talking about ’surround-sound-marketing’, consider the Intel sponsors of tomorrow program – it’s a microsite, but it’s about the Intel brand, and it has a reason for being in and of itself. This discussion shouldn’t be about microsites, it should be about how many different ways you can get your marketing message out. (yaaaay a NOW answer in reference to this micro-site BS – unless you’re creating sites for a reason, and spam is not a legitimate reason, you’re shooting yourself in the foot – now, you may be married to a foot doctor, and so you’re creating business with all this foot shooting, but dammit if you aren’t going to bleed to death…)

Q: regards to citations, what value do no-follow links have?

A: I get value out of no-follow links, ppl are too obsessed with follow/nofollow, it still becomes a citation and an authority point, just don’t get them from bad neighbourhoods

Authors note – I find it funny that someone who two seconds ago was basically advocating spam spam spam, is now downplaying the importance of the difference between no-follow and do-follow links…

Q: about folders, and properly naming them – we have a dynamic site, how much of a disadvantage of that?

A: most CMSs aren’t friendly – rewrite your URLs – (author’s note, this is wrong, really.. unless your URLs are stupid bad, with more than five or six varaibles, don’t worry about them)

Authors note – okay this is where things got kinda stupid – the second presenter, Erika, waxed on about folder-names being important, and helping you achieve double (or indented) listings in google – THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE – here is how double listings are created in google: if you have two pages that deserve to rank in the top ten on your site, the second page will be pulled up and made into an indented listing. So if you have two pages on your site that legitimately deserve to rank for the same phrase, and the first page ranks #3, and the second page would naturally rank #9, that second page will be pulled up from 9 to become an indented listing under #3. Tada – it has nothing to do with how your folder is named. That is one of a billion quality indicators, and quite frankly, an out-dated, hugely unimportant one in the grand scheme of things. Please don’t pass on this bad knowledge.

Q: pros and cons of having new domains for microsite vs using an existing one

A: new domain, heavy on your keyowrd phrase (wow spam city mania)

Q / statement: if you build out a good site, instead of microsites, you’ll win in the long-run, microsites are lower quality, it’s a regression

That was a google rep stating that – but guess what, she’s the only one (other than Anne’s surround-sound metaphor) that was making any real-world sense.

Overall session experience: Poor

But Jim is still the man, I just wish he were presenting

The PostRank Algorithm Explained

This is the second half of our interview with Ilya Grigorik, the CTO of PostRank. PostRank is a company that provides social media monitoring and analytics, by measuring the impact of tweets, blogs, social bookmarks, etc.

In this installment, Ilya discusses the how the PostRank algorithm works. He explained how the PostRank Algorithm assigns different value to different actions on the social web. In a nutshell, the more effort that an action takes, the more it is worth in the eyes of the PostRank algorithm.

Ilya Grigorik on Search and Social Media

Another person we got to interview at SMX Toronto 2010 was Ilya Grigorik, the CTO of PostRank. Ilya sat on the panel of a session called Social Media: Insight and Inspiration where panelists discussed how search and social media are evolving and influencing each other.

After the session, Ilya gave us a few minutes to discuss what he sees as the intersection of search and social media intersecting. Essentially, Ilya sees social media playing a major role in the personalization of search results. To that extent, he also sees search and social media merging into a single medium. As a result, he expect (1) links to become less important for rankings, and (2) a user’s own personal network having more of an influence in the results that search engines show them