Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Random but Interesting Sights To Find Your Dream Job

Looking for the best career search websites? Online tools to help you check out that prospective employee, new next-door neighbor or potentially significant other? Specialty search engines? The story behind LOLcats? Resources to improve your Internet marketing skills? Find music online? Record and promote podcasts?

Find the answers to these random and unrelated questions and more in this set of valuable but difficult-to-classify posts from the last year.

Help wanted. Desperately. by Reflections of a Newsosaur

In a great post about online career resources, Alan Mutter traces the decline of the newspaper industry to the fall in help-wanted classified advertising. Mutter contends that newspapers once virtually owned the business of connecting employers with job-seekers, but, failing to sense the shift happening around them, have conceded billions of dollars in classified ad revenues, first to sites like CareerBuilderMonster, and more recently to SimplyHired, and Oodle.

New Sites Make It Easier To Spy on Your Friends by The Wall Street Journal

Though the tone is a bit overly dramatic, Vauhini Vara makes some good points here about how you can use sites like Google Maps and Spokeo to learn things about others they may not want you to know—and how to protect yourself from the same behavior. Most of this is common sense (or at least should be): be careful about what you post on sites like your Amazon Wish List and Flickr, and don't ever give a social media site access to your email address book.


10 Rules for Setting Your Internet Marketing Budget by Conversation Marketing

In yet another of his many remarkable posts, Ian Lurie provides practical responses to the "It costs WHAT?!" question, such as: "If you expect to get a #1 ranking on Google for $99, you're insane;" "Reliable hosting costs more than $9.95 a month;" and my favorite: "If you're spending $250,000 to build your product and get it to market, don't tell me you can't spend $15,000 to give it a decent web site, unless you want to watch my eyes bug out like I've been suddenly depressurized."


The Big List Of Major B2B Search Engines by Search Engine Land

The resourceful Galen DeYoung notes here that while "most search marketers focus on Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft...B2B search marketers also have a growing number of vertical search options." While these search engines / portals / directories have much lower traffic than the big three, that traffic is much more focused. Galen reviews a number of sites that can provide both direct traffic as well as being valuable for B2B SEO links, such as Alibaba.


The new fame: Internet celebrity by CNN

Reporting from last year's ROFLCon, an event devoted to Internet culture, Anne Hammock describes how the web has changed the possibilities for, and very definition of, fame. The conference, described as " the biggest gathering of micro-celebrities ever," brought together such niche luminaries as "World of Warcraft character Leeroy Jenkins (born Ben Shultz)...Kyle MacDonald, who gained international attention for an online chronicle of his adventures starting with one red paper clip and trading, one item at a time, up to a home in Saskatchewan, Canada" and some of the people behind LOLcats.


Finding Google custom search engines by Phil Bradley's weblog

Phil Bradley shows how to find Google custom search engines, created through Google's Custom Search Engine program, which "allows expert human editors to enhance the results (of standard Google searches). For example, custom search engines can be built that provide different information to patients searching for diagnosis and treatment information about a particular illness than for doctors seeking out the latest clinical and scientific research on the same malady.


The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Podcasting by Search for Blogging

Mert Erkal delivers just what this post's title promises. If you're a podcasting pro, you can safely skip this one. But those just getting started with online audio will find a great list of helpful resources here, from free podcasting software (Audacity) to guides and tutorials on podcast production, as well as several links to worthy example podcasts.


16 Free Search Engines For Finding Music Online – Start Listening Now! by AddictiveTips

There's no need to limit yourself to iTunes. This article reviews free search engines for finding and listening to music online, from the popular Last.fm to less-known sites like, BeeMP3, Spotify and Internet jukebox Songza.

Previous posts in this series:

Best of 2008: SEO Guidance, Part 1
Best of 2008: Interactive PR, Part 1
Best of 2008: SEO Tools, Part 1
Best of 2008: Search Engine Marketing
Best of 2008: Web Analytics
Best of 2008: Email Marketing Tips
Best of 2008: SEO Keyword Tips & Tools
Best of 2008: Sales & Marketing Copywriting
Best of 2008: SEO Link Building
Best of 2008: Website Design
Best of 2008: WordPress Tools and Tips
Best of 2008: Web & SEO Copywriting
Best of 2008: SEO Guidance, Part 2
Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 1
Best of 2008: AdWords Tips and Tactics, Part 1
Best of 2008: SEO Tools, Part 2
Best of 2008: SEM Landing Pages
Best of 2008: Blogging for Business, Part 1
Best of 2008: Interactive PR, Part 2
Best of 2008: SEO Guidance, Part 3
Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 2
Best of 2008: AdWords Tips and Tactics, Part 2
Best of 2008: Strategy and Branding, Part 1
Best of 2008: Cool Web Tools, Part 1
Best of 2008: Blogging for Business, Part 2

*****

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Gord Hotchkiss, Neuroplasticity and Kids

Search marketing guru Gord Hotchkiss wrote an intriguing post last Thursday on neuroplasticity—the ability of the human brain to constantly adapt to its environment. In Grandma Via YouTube, he points out while this happens throughout our lives, and is generally called simply "learning," "there are two phases where the brain literally reforms itself in a massive restructuring: right around two years of age and again as teenagers."Pondering the implications of this in an age of rapid technological advancement, Hotchkiss asks: "What happens when our children's brains develop to handle something we never had to deal with as children? Quite literally, their brains function differently than ours. This becomes particularly significant when the rate of adoption is very rapid, making a technology ubiquitous in a generation or less."

To put this in historical context, had you been born as recently as the late 1700s, your brain development likely would have differed little from that of your parents, or grandparents
, because your lifestyle likely would have been very similar. That's certainly not to say that there was no progress taking place, only that it was much more gradual than today with major technological advancements fewer and farther between.

Author Tim Harford chronicled the accelerating pace of technological change lucidly in The Logic of Life:

"Imagine compressing the last million years of human history into just one year. Three thousand years would pass each day...On this compressed time-scale, our ancestors first used fire sometime in the spring. Despite this early breakthrough, new ideas were slow to arrive on the scene. Until late October our ancestors were still wielding the most basic stone tools...About December 19, the beginnings of civilization were visible: cave paintings an
d burial sites. It wasn't until December 27 that there was much evidence of sewing needles, spear throwers, or the bow and arrow."

Harford also notes that human living standards (a rough proxy for technological development) have increased as much since 1880 as the did from the dawn of humanity until that point. It was the industrial revolution of the early 1800s that really kick-started the process of accelerating technological development.

Getting back to Hotchkiss, this means that neuroplasticity has created greater generational effects since the invention of the steam engine than before that. Still, those differences remained reasonably subtle for the next 150 years or so. They became much more apparent only in the last half-century. The term "generation gap" was first used in the 1960s. Of course, teenagers and forty-somethings had always possessed different knowledge, interests and attititudes. But by the 1960s, neuroplasticity and the accelerating pace of change noticably produced for the first time a far more profound effect: teens didn't simply think about different things than their parents, they actually thought differently. Their brains didn't work the same way.
Hotchkiss identifies television as the primary cause of this difference, though certainly many other world-changing technological developments of mid-century also may have played a role, from the birth control pill to transistors and space travel.

The continued acceleration of technological development means that the brains of today's children will be even more different from those of their parents than those of the "generation gap" adolescents of the 60s were from their parents'. This will have profound implications for many areas of life: family structure, politics, business, you name it.

The most profound, however, will likely be in education. Effectively educating today's children to continue our human progress may require much different approaches than those of even a generation ago. Their brains work differently, not just from their parents' but also from their teachers.' Content-wise, education must pass along the wisdom of the past (e.g., philosophy, natural law, economics) as well as the knowledge of the present. Methodologically, we are in uncharted territory; no one can possibly know what approaches will work best, but a freer market in K-12 education
—where innovation can thrive and competition can help isolate and hone the best ideas—would give us a much better shot at identifying and utilizing the best practices for all of the coming generations that just don't think like you and me.

*****


Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com

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Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Debate: Social Networking or Social Notworking?

With all the hype that's built up around social media marketing, it probably shouldn't be surprising to see a backlash of sorts in the form of a spate of recent articles suggesting that social media is worthless for marketers. These remind one of the link-baiting SEO is dead articles that pop up periodically.

For example, Luis Paez takes some liberties with statistics to make the case that social media is useless for marketing. There's even a term for this alleged uselessness: social notworking. Get it? As in, when people are Twittering, Digging or interacting on a social networking site, they are not working. And these sites are not working to bring in new business. Isn't that clever?

Well, let's see, what are some of the business uses for social media?
  • Monitoring what's being said about your company, industry and competitors
  • Reaching new prospects
  • Responding to customers
  • Connecting with key influencers
  • Enhancing your company's credibility by promoting your thought-leadership content
Nah, none of that sounds useful for business, does it? Let's get real; social media is a hammer. In the hands of a skilled craftsman, a hammer can be used to help create something beautiful, functional and durable. In the hands a sugared-up toddler however, it will only produce a trail of destruction.

Approaching social media for business haphazardly is as useful as swinging that hammer wildly. Developing a strategy or blueprint first is necessary. But with planning, social media can unquestionably produce results for business. Use social media sites for online reputation management. Promote your content across the different types of social networking, social bookmarking and media sharing sites. Develop a business strategy for Facebook. Learn how to use Twitter for business.

Let the social media Luddites whine about how ineffective social media is for business because it involves—horrors!—actually interacting with prospective customers and prospects rather than carpet-bombing them with advertising from a safe altitude.

People no longer want to be "marketed to" and they can increasingly tune out commercial content. They do want to be talked to, however, by people who understand their problems and can help fix them. Social media works for that purpose, no matter what the naysayers write.

*****


Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

SEO and PPC - 7 Reasons Companies Need Both

SEO-Top-Traffic-SourcesGiven that, depending on whose numbers you trust, organic search accounts for 75-80% of all clicks while search ads get just 15-20%, it's fair to ask the question: with a limited online marketing budget (do you know anyone who has an unlimited budget?), why spend scarce dollars on paid search at all? Can't I get most of the clicks for "free" using SEO rather than paying for clicks on search ads?

Well, in a word, "no." Here's why companies need to invest in both organic optimization and search engine advertising:

1. Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Stating that 75% of search clicks are on the organic results rather than ads isn't untrue, but it is misleading. That's the rough figure for all searches. But not all searches are commercial in nature. Someone searching for "who invented photography?" is far less likely to click on a paid ad than some searching for "Canon PowerShot SD1100." Put another way, searchers with an intent to buy are far more likely to click on an ad than those just conducting research for term papers or whatever—and those are precisely the searchers whose clicks are worth paying for.

2. SEO isn't free. Getting a high organic rank for a popular, competitive key phrase takes (sometimes many) hours of work by someone skilled in SEO. The resulting clicks may be "free," but getting—and keeping—that high spot in organic rankings costs real money. SEM is just the opposite; the labor cost of adding a single new keyphrase to an SEM campaign is negligible, but there is a cost for each resulting click. What you get with a paid ad is immediate gratification and more direct control of which spot your ad appears in. Depending on factors like the the difficulty of SEO-ing for a particular phrase and the per-click cost, PPC clicks can sometimes be less expensive than those "free" organic visits.

3. SEM = more keywords per page. It's generally impractical to SEO a single page for more than 2-4 variations of a particular key phrase. Search marketing lets you point many more keywords to a single landing page. While the landing page should of course be relevant for all the keywords used in ad group that points to it, and keywords should be grouped carefully, a productive campaign can still have 30 or more keywords pointing to a single landing page.

4. Results while you watch, not while you wait. Getting results with SEO takes time. Particularly for relatively small or new websites that don't have a lot of backlinks pointing to them, it can take three weeks or more for changes to be fully re-indexed by the search engines and changes in search result positions to be noticeable. In contrast, SEM lets you get your message onto the first page of search engines almost instanteously.

5. Attract buyers, not just browsers. As noted in point #1 above, not all searchers are in the market to buy something, at least not immediately. Of course, if someone is searching on a phrase relevant to your product or service, you want to get their attention regardless of what point they are at in thier buying cycle—but with different content. The careful use of SEO and SEM together lets you steer those just starting their research to thought-leadership articles and white paper downloads, while guiding those further along in the process to a webinar, product trial, or how-to-buy page.

6. You can SEM keywords you can't SEO. Some search phrases (usually for competitive reasons) can simply be extremely difficult to naturally optimize for. SEM enables your site to show up highly in searches for virtually any phrase.

7. You can SEM content you can't SEO. Just as some phrases are hard to organically optimize for, so are some types of content. SEO is best for relatively stable content, such as blog posts and product/service description pages. SEM is ideal for content that doesn't lend itself well to organic search optimization, such as microsites (that likely have limited content and few backlinks), time-sensitive offers and dynamic content.

Strategically using SEO and SEM together enables web marketers to efficiently attract visitors at all stages of the buying cycle to appropriate content, and minimize lost opportunities.

*****


Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips from ooVoo

As new technologies evolve, so do the etiquette standards of accepted behavior associated with them. Ever gotten an email in ALL CAPS, from someone not realizing they were virtually shouting? What about talking loudly on cell phones in a quiet train car or other public place? Today these seem like obvious etiquette missteps (well, to most people anyway) but early on, when people were learning the rules, they weren’t as apparent.

As video conferencing becomes commonplace, video calling provider ooVoo wants people to get the best possible experience and outcome.

While you may be able to get away with no pants, please DON’T remove articles of clothing while on a video conference. It happens—check out this clip of a woman removing her bra while on a business conference call (don't worry, it's safe for the office):



While I've never personally seen anything quite like this, I was on a video conference call once where a guy was reading and forwarding email jokes while the call was in progress. No kidding. Quite embarrassing.

To save us all, ooVoo turned to the etiquette experts at Beverly Hills Manners to help develop tips to optimize the outcome of video chat and video conferencing. Among their tips:
  • Pick a facilitator to help manage any over-exuberant participants.

  • Ask permission if you wish to record a video chat. Privacy is expected until consent is given otherwise.

  • Pay attention and listen – if you try to fake it, you’ll be caught.

  • Acknowledge the power of your body language – avoid personal gestures such as hair playing, scratching, picking, etc…

  • Don’t eat or drink during a business video conference call.
You can find more of ooVoo’s video conferencing etiquette tips online here.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Best of 2008: Strategy and Branding, Part 1

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: Strategy and Branding on the Webbiquity blog.


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Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Monday, June 01, 2009

The 9 Must-Have Qualities of a User-Focused B2B Website Design

Note: This is the final article in a four-part series of guest posts on B2B branding strategy and website design from Rebekah E. Donaldson ("Red") and Cris Rominger of B2B Communications.When approaching a re-skin or redesign of your company’s website, it’s helpful to keep in mind both branding goals and user goals. For example, consider these questions:

Website branding goals
  • Do the changes communicate professionalism? Are they appropriate for our industry/market?
  • Do the changes render error-free on different browsers? At different resolutions? On different operating systems?
Website user goals
  • Do the changes help users accomplish their goals on the site quickly and easily?
  • Are we communicating a clear value proposition?
  • Is our site organized for our visitors? Are the paths to information clear?
  • Is the orientation clear? Is the labeling instructive?
  • Does our content instill trust and credibility? Is it formatted for online readers?
  • Does our writing compel visitors to take action?
  • Is our content portable?
Managing design to hit branding goals

While these questions may sound straightforward, they are also very easy to overlook in implementation.

Last October, Forrester Research released its Best and Worst of Brand Building Web Sites, 2008 Report. They looked at 20 top brands through two key questions:
  • Does the site cater to user needs? (termed “brand action” in the results)
  • Does the site support brand positioning?
The results were shocking: only 4 sites passed test #1 – Does the site cater to user needs? Only 7 sites passed test #2 – Does the site support brand positioning? And only 1 site passed both tests.

Fixing branding problems

According to Forrester principal analyst and report author Ron Rogowski, “Common Brand Action problems included poor text legibility, confusing category names, and missing or buried content. On the Brand Image side, sites were guilty of layouts, imagery, and production values that failed to support brand positioning. To improve the online brand experience, top firms should document their users' goals, clearly define their brand attributes, and map relevant attributes to the right target users.”

Rogowski goes on to recommend that companies “…should also collect brand positioning statements and conduct Brand Image Reviews to ensure that the site presents the brand's core attributes in a manner that is consistent with other channels and relevant to target users.”

If you need help evaluating your proposed site changes, try going down the free checklist we have posted called The B2B Website ROI Checklist.

Previous: Make Sure Your Logo Can Handle the Job at Any Size

*****

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