Archive for the ‘Search and Marketing’ Category

The Seedy and Desperate World of Comment Spam

Angry spammer

Angry spammer

Today somebody left a comment on a website I manage. The page they left the comment on was reviewing a new service in the industry that launched in 2011. It was something I saw in the local press and found interesting, so I “blogged” about it. I do this rather a lot. Anyway, this was their comment (I have changed their name, email and the names of the companies involved).

The comment

A new comment on the post “Service A – New Way Work Without a Contract” is waiting for your approval

Author : Lucy X (IP: 212.159.129.196 , host-212-159-129-196.static.as13285.net)
E-mail : [email protected]
URL    :
Network  : Tiscali UK Limited
Comment:
There is a new player in the game, who is shaking up the industry. Service A have been affected by http://ServiceB.co.uk, there have been cases where Service A have called up there existing partners not to join Service B. This has backfired with clients wanting to work with Service B as they seem to offer a few photoshoot of the service and inside video tour.

That last bit did not make a lot of sense. However, I decided that maybe this was a new and important service so I should give them the benefit of the doubt and dig a little deeper. I checked the website. it was a bit basic, but appeared legit. Even though I could not publish their potentially defamatory comment, there might be an interesting service to cover on the blog. So I replied to the email that was left with the comment. It had a male name on so I thought to tread carefully, their email address may have been used without their knowing (some spammers do this to avoid getting their emails blacklisted). This was the conversation:

  • Me: Hello NotLucy, I received this comment on my blog from your email address, but signed Lucy X. Do you know anything about this?
  • Lucy: Hello, Yeah me and my partner share same email address. Yes I posted that earlier on. Kind regards, Lucy X
  • Me: Hi Lucy, OK, and what is your relationship with Service B? Is this your own company? 
  • Lucy: I wish I owned it. I have no relationship. I’ve use both Service A and Service B to buy my passes. I write blogs on how the fitness industry is changing, and if I see opportunities like this then I don’t miss out and make my point ;) Kind regards, Lucy
  • Me: Ok, thanks for letting me know. Unfortunately I will not be able to approve the comment then as it could be considered defamatory against Service A. Cannot be too careful these days.

All OK. But then Lucy decided to get nasty. I have highlighted the most important lines.

  • Lucy: To be honest, it is an independent review. I don’t see why it shouldn’t get approved? I’ve been doing this for years where if I spot something unique I can write about a business… I do and always gets approved. So basically your saying Service A paid to have the article there and you don’t want ruin your relationship. What sort of a website is this. Thanks for the emails and the evidence of what sort of website you are. I will write something about your website when I see opportunity elsewhere to state your not independent and transparent about what you do.
  • Me: Please do not leap to conclusions. It is an independent review, we are an independent website. However, your comment stated that Service A actively asked clients not to use the other service.“there have been cases where Service A have called up there existing partners not to join Service B.”This may be true, but without proof it cannot be published. These days people are quick to issue take down notices and threaten legal action for such comments. I speak from experience, so am now careful about what gets published.If Service A read that comment they would be within their rights to take action if they felt that it was defamatory.

    It does not matter that it is an independent review. It is an attack on another company and I personally am not in a position to verify the facts or defend it in court.

    Suggested reading: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/aug/26/defamation-cases-twitter-blogs

    Be careful what you write and publish, sometimes things come back to haunt.

I did not hear back. Maybe they saw sense, maybe they are planning yet another negative SEO attack. Who knows? That site, which was once great, it pretty dead now. But I will still ensure that spammers, plagiarists, fraudsters and crooks don’t have a voice.

The real lesson from this is simple: never reply to a spammer. Don’t trust any of them.

I was sort of hoping I was helping them, but in truth, probably just adding to the bullets embedded in my lame foot.

Google Provides Disavow Updates

Today and uploaded another disavow file to Google Webmaster Tools. And a little afterwards, I received an email informing me that it had been processed.

Not sure what processed means – does it mean that they will no longer count as links to my site, or that they will no longer appear as backlinks in WMT? Or does it just mean “thanks, we got it, now you will wait about six months to find out if it was worth the effort”?

What it looks like:

Disavowed LinksExciting isn’t it?

Hang on, what is Disavow?

That is a very good question!

This is what we know disavow should do, according to Google:

  • Any web pages or domains that are “disavowed” will have their PageRank nullified.

Why would you do that?

  • Traditionally all links were good for a website, the more links you had, the higher the PageRank, the better you ranked in Google search. But in 2012 Google introduced a new facet to its search engine algorithm which combated web-spam by making cheap, spammy, paid links decrease the PageRank of the website (or at least, that is what we think….)

We think?

  • Well, this is what Google says, however, there are potentially two parts to this algorithm (oh, the algorithm was code-named Penguin):
    1. Links from some websites / domains would be de-valued. So no PageRank would be gained by having links on them. Sites which are probably in this group are web directories. Why? Because there was a time when even Google said that web directories were generally OK. But abuse of them, manipulation etc. lead to spam. Directories were built to sell links etc.
    2. Links from some other sites are not just devalued, but they will harm your site. Google used to say that there is nothing a competitor can do to harm your site. Now it says something like (I am paraphrasing because I cannot find what they say….), there is not much a competitor can do to harm your site.
    3. We do not know the types of site, but a guess would be:
      • Sites that are known to sell links
      • Sites that are spammy and breach many Google policy guidelines
      • Sites that have spun text / gibberish that are automatically created for the purpose of creating manipulative links.
      • Sites that do not moderate comments and let links in them pass pagerank.
      • Sites that begin with the letter P.
      • Probably loads of others.

So, what happened? Why disavow tool?

  • As soon as Penguin 1 rolled out in 2012 people started talking about “negative SEO” – people deliberately creating the spammiest, nastiest links possible to try to incur a penalty on another site.
  • People complained to Google. Bing launched a disavow tool. Google followed!
  • Google’s advice to anybody suffering either a manual unnatural link penalty or a Penguin algorithmic penalty is to try to get the links removed, and if this fails, disavow them with the tool.

Why not remove links?

  • This is the ideal option, but sometimes it is impossible to get a link removed because:
    1. The webmaster does not want to remove it, it is there to harm you on purpose.
    2. The webmaster is no longer interested in running the website and is ignoring all emails. You have to wait for the domain to expire or webhosting to cancel the account.
    3. Some webmasters are charging a fee to remove the links. Google’s advice is to not pay, just disavow.

Did that cover all the questions about disavow? Ah …

How do we use the disavow tool?

  • Go here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main?pli=1
  • Pick your domain. Read the warnings.
  • Upload a .txt file that is a list of domains. Ideally use this format:

domain:spammydirectory.com
domain:buyseolinks.net
etc.

  • After uploading the file Google will confirm on the screen how many URLs and domains were added. Shortly after you will get an email like the one above.

And then what happens?

  • This is the million dollar question! Google have said in the past that Googlebot (the search engine spider that crawls the web –  geddit?) will need to visit all the bad websites to check if the link is there, then look to see if you have added it to disavow, and if you have, they can discount it.

What if you disavow good links accidentally?

  • No problem. Google uses the last disavow file you upload and ignores the previous, so if you accidentally disavow a link from the BBC or NASA, fear not, just remove them from the list and upload a new file.

Sounds crazy! Why can’t they just ignore them immediately and update your rankings?

  • Another very good question! Dunno. Maybe they will soon though……

Does it work?

  • Dunno. People have had manual penalties revoked by Google after removing links and disavowing links. Nobody to date has made a proven recovery from Penguin after disavowing links.

Nobody?

  • No. Some claim to have recovered, but the recovery is no more than 25% of the fall, and this could be attributed to new links, better content, improved site structure and navigation, fewer spammy adverts – all sorts of things.

 

It is all very depressing really. Note, this is my take on disavow and not entirely based on facts, only opinions derived from personal, limited, experience.

 

WebMeUp – a new SEO and backlink tool

I recently came across WebMeUp.com while searching for new ways to track down dodgy backlinks following a Google Penguin penalty. I had already used Google Webmaster Tools but felt that I needed something easier to run a report in that also provided sortable data via the report rather than having to download into a spreadsheet and juggle the results around myself.

Unlike some of the other backlink analysis tools, WebMeUp gives away a lot of information for free. When you first sign up you get, I think, full access for free, then after a couple of weeks it will go back to basic. For pure back link checks it is all free though. Although that may change in the future after I have written this. The paid options allow you to do much more, but for the average person who just wants to check for bad links to add to the Google Disavow list, this works great. Let’s take a look.

First step – homepage

WebMeUp homepage

WebMeUp homepage – click to enlarge

The homepage is minimal with a large box to add a domain for checking.

I entered Webologist and hit enter. It starts checking, giving a little progress graphic along the way.

Once the report is ready a video appears that explains how WebMeUp works. You can skip the video if you like.

You are asked to register for an account, or connect with Facebook, when you get started. The project page shows the domain you entered earlier and gives some data, such as Domain Strength, Google PR, Alexa Rank, Visibility, Pages in Google and the total number of backlinks.

As mentioned I first used this tool specifically to look at backlink data, so I will talk about that first before I run through some of the other interesting tools. I should point out that I think many of the additional tools are premium services, but let’s see.

Backlinks

WebMeUp backlinks

WebMeUp Backlinks > Profile

There are around 40 pieces of information for each link, there is a huge amount of data. The summary page allows you to sort the backlinks by page, title of page, nofollow/follow, anchor text, anchor URL, page strength (not sure how this is calculated), Google PR for the page, Google PR for the domain, Alexa Rank, age, country and IP address.

Penguin tip: I sorted by IP address to chase down link farms which are probably causing a problem and also by anchor text to find bad links using optimised anchor text. Found a lot of additional links using these methods.

Viewing backlinks by domain is helpful too as you can quickly spot when one domain seems to be excessively linking. While looking at Webologist I spotted that I have 21 links from a website called marijuana-movies.com. All the pages with a link on are listed. The website is no longer active so I cannot see what was linking – probably a good thing though! However, this does mean that the link information is a little out of date – but then so is backlink information in Google Webmaster Tools and services such as MajesticSEO and Link Detox.

The report brought up one of my better recent links is from Managewp.org where some members linked up the recent post I wrote about Testing the Google Publisher Plugin for WordPress. I had no idea other people had picked up on this post and started linking to it – cool. In fact, I had never heard of ManageWP either, looks pretty handy. Maybe Webologist will become more popular one day after all!

Ordering links by PageRank is handy – a quick scan of the zero pagerank links brings up some sites I really should disavow!

When you connect your Google Analytics it will show you which backlinks are bring the most traffic to the site – this is real reason to get backlinks, they send referral traffic which can be more important than winning top search engine positions.

Configuring and Enhancing

You can configure the settings easily, add more sites, turn off search engines and analyse social too. You can add your most important keywords to WebMeUp and it will track where they are appearing in various search engines for specific searches. WebMeUp analyses not only Google web search but also image, shopping, videos and places.

You can add your competitors too to keep an eye on what they are doing. I have not yet delved too deeply into the additional features which require you to add your own data, but they do look like they could be useful. The data is added manually, it is really simple.

For keywords you can simply download the Search Traffic > Search Queries data from Google Webmaster tools. To test I just took the top 100 keyword phrases from WMT and pasted into WeMeUp. It took seconds for it to upload and within a couple of minutes the new information had been processed. You need to then connect with Google Analytics. If you have multiple accounts in Analytics this is not a problem, just click the one you need to connect to the WebMeUp project.

Keywords and Ranking

Webmeup keyword checking

Webmeup keyword checking

Once keywords are added and WebMeUp is linked with your Google Analytics accounts there is a whole new stack of data to study.

For each keyword you can see how many visits there have been. In the Rankings section there is a breakdown by search engine with additional data such as bounce rate. The most important piece of information for many will be the Google rank – where it is now in the Google search engine.

For each keyword phrase you can assign a tag to allow reports to be rather more quickly in the future.

A slight annoyance with WebMeUp is that it does seem to take a long time to check – on the Keyword and Rankings pages the page was on “Checking” for a long time. There is a green progress bar though, so at least you do know that it is still working. This is a good time to make a cup of tea …..

Keyword Efficiency Rank – KEI

This statistic caught my eye – WebMeUp provides a rating for how efficient a particular keyword is. The term has certainly been around a long time. It is a way to identify keywords with less competition that will still deliver some traffic.

Many people make the mistake of targeting the most popular keywords and fail to realise (at first) that they cannot compete with the 1000 websites that are already ahead of them. But by focussing on lesser keywords you can make ground and get some valuable traffic.

Of course, you do need to have some pages and keyword data before you can assess your progress.

Pages – Site Audit

There is a lot of information on on-page features too – it is not all about backlinks. The on-page features provide advice on improving titles and also alerts to problems in the code that may be negatively impacting your website.

I have always been a big fan of on-page SEO, in fact I only really started looking at backlinks after finding myself with a Penguin penalty!

The Page information is ace. The summary pages gives info on pages indexed in Google, load time, Google PR distribution (are important pages buried and receiving little PR?), HTTP response codes, errors and warnings.

Errors

Errors include 404 pages and pages with duplicate titles. This is quickly updated, I deleted a page this morning and it is already reported as a 404 – I am still linking to the deleted page somewhere on the site – and it tells me where. Great!

Duplicate page titles is something I need to look at for Webologist – I have some tags and categories with the same name. Rule No.1 of running a WordPress site should be to never have cats and tags with the same name!

Warnings

Warnings include pages with Flash, frames and “Heavy” pages. Also if URLs are considered too long (not sure how bad that really is). Pages with many outgoing links, or more important, pages with broken links are also reported.

On-page warnings include long titles, empty meta descriptions (they good for increasing CTR in search, so are important for SEO) and metas that are too long.

Info

The Info section gives details of indexing and crawlability, redirects and encoding / technical issues. For each section there are some SEO recommendations, for example under the indexing and crawlability section it shows “Pages restricted from indexing” – if indexing is blocked with robots.txt or meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” in the header of the site, affected pages are listed.

Monitoring SEO

WebmeUp - Ranking success

WebmeUp – Ranking success report

Once you have your keywords, competitors and Analytics in the tool it seems to do a good job of keeping track of what is going on. For the top 100 keywords it reports in a leader board style for Ranking Success on the dashboard, detailing how many keywords are still number 1, how many in top 10, top 20 and top 100, and also changes. I do not have change data yet, too soon to tell at the moment.

Social Media Monitoring

WebMeUp also monitors some social networking and bookmarking websites; Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Delicious, StumbleUpon and Diigo. LinkedIn and Pinterest are notable omissions.

Not Provided solution?

WebMeUp are still developing their tools. While writing this blog post I had an email from them inviting me to look at their new traffic stats.

The “not provided” solution you’ve been waiting for so long has been finally released — meet the “Approximated traffic” feature in WebMeUp!

Ever since Google stopped providing keyword search referral data SEOs have been a little confused about how people get to the websites that they manage. WebMeUp say that they have a solution.

Conclusion

I am certainly not familiar with many SEO packages but having used a few, mostly for backlink anaylsis over the past year, I do like WebMeUp. The fact that they provide a lot for free (to start with) is good. But then, MajesticSEO and Google Webmaster Tools is also free for your own sites.

I have not used WebMeUp to spy on competitors yet – but it is probably worth a look for that too!

WebMeUp.com is definitely worth adding to your list of SEO tools.

Guest Blogging – Avoid Crap Sites

guest blogging death

You may be tempted to guest blog to get “natural” links. Well, if you do, be careful.

A lot of low quality sites have moved into the guest blogging realm, both in receiving and submitting guest posts. Many sites look great on the surface, but in reality they are worthless, made for advertising, spam engines that deserve nothing better than an EMP grenade shoved up their virtual bottom.

This screenshot shows some of the “results” from guest blogging I did in 2012. For each guest post that I had published I added the URL to a private page in WordPress. With the excellent Broken Link Checker running all the time, I would be alerted to blog posts disappearing.

I soon got bored of checking the reports and soon learned that there is no point in contacting the host blogger to ask why the page was deleted. They never reply because they are mostly scum.

And that’s it. Lesson of the day – find a good website, build a relationship, offer a guest post. Some people call it outreach. I think I will call it talking to other people. Not all of the sites listed here are bad, just some. Some just delete posts without telling anybody, but they are OK. Just saying.

guest blogging death

 

Spy On Your Competitors With SEMRush

I recently wanted to look at what a competitor site was up to regarding their online marketing, and decided to make use of SEMRush from SeoQuake. SEMRush provides both SEO and Adwords analysis of any website.

As Interflora was in the news recently, let’s take a look at their UK site in SEMRush. SEMRush provides a whole host of information on a website, including:

  • SEMRush Rank – a rating of sites by the number of visitors coming from the first 20 search results
  • SE Traffic - Estimated number of visitors coming from the first 20 search results (per month)
  • SE Traffic price - Estimated cost of purchasing the same number of visitors through Ads
  • Ads Traffic - Estimated number of visitors coming from Ads (per month)

  • Ads Traffic price - Estimated expenses the site has for advertising in Ads (per month)

Interflora.co.uk

Advertising Research

A brief look at Interflora.co.uk shows that it is paying around £3.92 to appear in the first position in Adwords for “flowers”, and more interesting, is that it pays £0.68 to hold the number one position for “interflora discount code“.

This suggests that Interflora is better off paying for that traffic than paying affiliates who direct them traffic. Shows that they are certainly aware of how their customers search, what they want and how to ensure that they win this search with minimum cost.

Also, Interflora are paying £0.78 per click for searches on Interflora – after Google temporarily penalised Interflora, they would have been spending a small fortune to retain their customers.

Another interesting result is that Interflora pays £4.51 for “flower delivery London” and £4.49 for “london flowers” – these search terms provide around 2,800 searches each month. This is one of their most expensive keywords. However, with their flowers costing from £23 to £60, and the fact that they have an excellent reputation, means that they probably converts a lot of those searches to a sale and make a good profit.

Organic Research

Organic research is the SEO part – it shows where they appear for the major search terms. Unsurpirsing, they are number 1 for www.interflora.co.uk, interflora.co.uk, www.interflora.

They also rank for many misspellings, the most popular (in search volume) are inteflora and intaflora. This data can be used by competitors and affiliates who are trying to muscle in on their market.

Backlinks

SEO is still about backlinks. While content is king, I am still not aware of any website which gets any useful amount of search traffic without having some good backlinks out there.

Backlink research can help you in one main way – you can contact the sites where your competitors have links and get your own. If they are mentioned in a press release, alert the website to your own news. If they got a link from a guest post, ask to write for the site too. If the link looks a little suspect (i.e. a paid link which is passing PageRank) then you can chose to join them in link buying or report them. Neither option is considered fair game though!

The Backlink report unfortunately did not return any results for me – I got a Connection timed out. Please, click here to refresh message. I have been having some issues with my Windows 7 PC and its Internet connection – so I am sure this is a problem here, not there. OK, fixed with a quick ipconfig /flushdns.

The first run of the report showed only 6 backlinks, which cannot be accurate. This was a report for URL Links. A report for backlinks by subdomain returns more, but just 9. Backlinks by domain gives 11,609 found backlinks, and 2094 total backlinks (total number of backlinks shown in report. ). That is more like it!

What does SEMRush tell us about Interflora? Well, they have a lot of links from trustworthy sources, such as Wikipedia, Twitter, Youtube (although these are “no followed”).

The first big SEO link is one on BBC News (from the story “Interflora sues Marks & Spencer over Google ad links“) – N.B. Suing is expensive, so you need to do a thorough cost-benefit analysis before taking somebody to court to get a link! They also have a link the The Telegraph’s article, “Sweethearts lose out in flower power stakes“.

It is interesting to see that The Telegraph links Interflora to the side of the article, under External Links. I still do not understand why so many of the mainstream news sites have an editorial policy of not linking to companies. But also, the same article mentions Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Syngenta and the Flower Council of Holland, but none of them get a link. 

It seems that in the case of Interflora, they have built up many links on the top news sites. But how? Well, a lot of their links are also coming from PRNewswire. Interflora may just be writing a lot of press releases and getting some of these on the mainstream press. Important: Press Release sites vary hugely in quality. Some will get your Press Release on the desks of the world’s top journalists, others will get published to their own site (which few people read) and never get any further. Like all things, you get what you pay for.

Competitors

Where it gets really interesting is looking at the competitors report. Who are your SEO competitors? If you do not know, you need to find out! If you only rank for a few keywords you may think that your competitors are those sites which rank near you for the same. But, what about all the keywords that they rank for, and you do not?

Well, Interflora.co.uk’s main competitors according to SEMRush are:

  • tescofreshflowers.com
  • flowersleeds.co.uk
  • interflora.com.au
  • myreminders.co.uk
  • flowers.org.uk
  • flowersglobal.com
  • eflorist.co.uk
  • artsandflowersleeds.co.uk
  • leedshouseofflowers.co.uk
  • 1stinflowers.com
  • sendflowersabroad.co.uk

Plus a lot more. What can a company learn from this then? Well, first task is to look at where they are winning in search and advertising. Looking at these companies in SEMRush may then reveal that there are some lucrative Adwords keywords that you had never thought about, or they may have done some simple yet effective SEO, such as getting listed on some industry directories or mentioned in industry blogs.

As Tescoflowers probably get a lot of their strength from the Tesco domain, lets look briefly at flowersleeds.co.uk. The most striking thing is that in Jul 2010 they had almost no SE traffic, but it then shot up throughout 2011, took a dip in October 2012, then rose again. They do not advertise at all on Adwords (according to SEMRush) but work on SEO almost entirely. Their biggest keyword? It is “Interflora leeds”. Of course, this is an Interflora franchise site, operated by Alan Brown Flowers and Interflora British Unit. So, their biggest competitor is essentially a part of their business.

So, where do Flowersleeds.co.uk get their links? Well, here SEMRush seems to fail us. They only have 1 link, on Floristdelivery.co.uk. However, MajesticSEO shows up 33 backlinks from 10 domains, one of which is interflora.ie.

Turn Competitors into Partners

Sometimes Competitors may not know that they are your competitor. In some niches your competitors could become a part of your link building strategy. Contact them to request a guest posting slot – offer to write on a topic which compliments their site, but has not yet been covered. They may be happy to accept.

Position changes

A new report in SEMRush is Position changes. Interflora’s report is not a surprise – they lost a huge number of position (8309 in all) in February 2013. This is useful to see if new competitors have suddenly appeared.

Keyword Research

“In this section you can discover new, valuable keywords, using related and full search reports”

A great way to quickly see the top keywords for you or your competitors for Adwords (CPC scores are given).

Ranks

SEMrush Rank

The SEMRush Rank report gives a current league table of websites in the US, UK, CA, RU, DE, FR, IT, BR and AU. Did you know that in the UK Tripadvisor is more popular than DailyMail, and Argos ranks at no.21 – pretty good!

Winners & Losers

The Winners & Losers report provides a quick overview of how the top companies change their position and strategy. You can see changes in SE traffic, and advertising costs / ads keywords. If you want to buy the same amount of traffic that Tripadvisor gets through Google you will need to spend around £1.7 million a month.

SEM Rush has a lot of offer webmasters. There is a huge amount of information there and I feel that I am only just getting to grips with the very basics. Of course, the most important thing when using these tools is to have a plan – know what you are looking for and know how you plan to use that information. While it is interesting to know how much a competitor pays for their Adwords, or how they do their SEO, you have to be ready to take action, otherwise the reports are pointless!

Majestic SEO Partnership With Serpico

Bit of SEO News. I just logged in to Majestic SEO for the first time in ages. I used to use it a while back to look at back links to get some link build ideas for some sites. But in the last year or so I have really focussed on blindly writing new content that interests me in the hope that other people also like it. Not really a professional approach, in fact most marketing and SEO types I know cringe when I say this, but it just about works for me. But, for those times I want to get an idea of what others are doing, I use Majestic SEO.

They list their latest news on the homepage once you log in, and I saw the headline “Majestic SEO Partnership With Serpico“. Serpico (www.serpicoseo.com) offers software to help manage a backlink campaign.

While Majestic is great at reporting on current links, after running your reports you then have to take it offline (e.g. into a spreadsheet) to start your campaign of contacting website owners and editors to negotiate linking opportunities (asking for a link or a guest posting opportunity usually). Where Serpico steps in is it allows you to “Monitor your backlinks, keywords, rankings, and competition” and “Focus your campaigns with projects that have their own keywords and competitors“. Colaboration is also a key feature, once you set up a project you can have unlimited users attached to it.

Serpico may also be useful for SEO consultants as you can “Easily create custom PDF ranking reports with white labeling“. They have a 14 day free trial at the moment, after which a starter plan is $49 a month, and the Basic Plan is $99 / month ($1188 a year). It is not cheap. Is it worth it? No idea, but I will take a look at the free trial, when I can find a little more than a moment.

Content Marketing Show 2012 – Part 2 – Stories, Data, Journalism

OK, on with the show. Last night I started writing up some notes from the Content Marketing Show 2012. Today I continue. As promised, I will keep this short and sweet.

Stories That Scale by Anthony Mayfield

Anthony works for Brilliant Noise and can be found @brilliantnoise. The key notes are:

  • Big Data, Big Stories
  • Using “joined up data” – in a business, cross departmental information
  • e,g. US Elections – Data linked to Story Telling – stories told based on the data gathered – Obama was not pissing in the wind.
  • Recommended reading: The Real Marketing Lesson We’ve All Just Learned by Neil Perkin
  • Having editors and data analysts working together – new to big business, something bloggers almost naturally do.
  • Forresters Content Ecosystem
  • Recommended Tool: stortystream.it – Story Telling for Brands
  • White Paper to Read: brilliantnoise.com/nokiapaper – “This paper outlines Nokia’s thinking around its global social media strategy developed with Brilliant Noise.

Good if you have lots of data! This was one of the talks that seemed to be aimed at bigger businesses and agencies.

Tales from a Content Marketing Rookie, by Mila McLean Homburg

Mila @MrsHombur works with Kelvin at Site Visability. She spoke from personal experience mostly. On Twitter she describes herself as a “keyboard warrior“.

  • Traditional Marketing Matters – offline, targeting, segmentation
  • STRUCTURE CONTENT AROUND THE BRAND (and what is popular about the brand)
  • Know Your Client (or yourself!) – Goals? Keywords?
  • Target the Audience – who are you writing for? Use PERSONAS
  • Know where the audience spends time online
  • Speak their language! If the target audience are teenagers, know how to communicate effectively
  • DO IT PROPERLY – Always review and edit your work (unless writing up some conference note that nobody will ever read)
  • Proof read, style, layout etc.
  • Be Proactive
  • Think Big! Go beyond blogs and articles.
  • Make your project double amazing
  • Set standards and do your best

5 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Journalists But Were Afraid to Ask by Désiré Athow

This topic excited me – reaching out to journalists always seemed a sensible option, but never quite knew what to do. Désireé @desireathow is an editor and has worked with many journalists over the years. Here are my key notes:

  • PR Journalists tend to be more social that traditional journalists – a good thing
  • Match content from source to readers – target the right journalists!
  • Google Panda has made content marketing more important.
  • Journalists actually dislike PR / outreach
  • Case study of “Doritos Gate” – I got lost here, struggled to follow the relevance of this.
  • Journalists love EXCLUSIVES – Give your news to one paper and it could work best for you
  • An EXCLUSIVE could just be tweaking existing content – I see this in the press and it annoys me! So often a news story turns out to be 6 months old.
  • Journalists are Under Pressure and Short on Time – Help them meet targets to write new content
  • Journalists get a lot of emails – but, many prefer to get an email that a phone call or Tweet.
  • Emphasis on Extending Audience – if your news will reach a wider audience then more chance of it being used.
  • There are only a finite number of journalists relevant to your business area – get to know them
  • Use Twitter, LinkedIn etc to follow and interact with them, build a relationship
  • Journalists tend to reply on personal accounts, not business accounts.
  • Find 10 -15 and network with them
  • PASSION drives them
  • Work on those phone calls (although he said emails may be best)
  • Grammar and spelling – check your article thoroughly before sending
Désiré then told us how to get the best out of a journo;
  • Do not alienate them
  • Grow relationships
  • Go to events
  • Attend press meetings and f2f meetings
Next up will be Stephen Pavlovich from, Wish.co.uk, Chelsea Blacker from Blueglass, Steve Leighton from Has Bean, Jochen Mebus from Text Broker, Andy Keetch from Brand Watch, Simon Penson from Zazzle Media and Matt Roberts from Linkdex. They will probably be another 2 posts!

The Content Marketing Show – Holborn, November 2012

Red Lion SquareToday I skived off proper work to sit on a series of uncomfortable chairs at the inaugural Content Marketing Show, which was organised by the chap behind Brighton SEO (which I also went to this year, but could not find the time to write-up), Kelvin Newman from Site Visibility.

The event was held at Conway Hall on Red Lion Square, near Holborn. In the gardens at Red Lion Square there is a statue of Fenner Brockway, British anti-war activist, and a bust of Bertrand Russell, the philosopher and anti-war activist. Conway Hall is home to the South Place Ethical Society and they organise regular talks and lectures on humanism, bioethics and related topics. They also do Sunday concerts there, and it was a nice hall, if you sit on the chairs in the stalls, and not the ones on the balcony! I started upstairs on the balcony seats as I arrived late, but soon had a numb bottom. After the break I got a seat at the back on the ground floor, that was just a wooden bench. More numbness. After the first talk in the second interval, I moved to a proper chair, and managed to concentrate better for the rest of the day.

See? This is why I do not write-up these web marketing / SEO things much, I ramble on about busts and bottoms. The show must go on!

Now, there are no doubt some excellent summaries and also detailed reviews of this show already and many of the speakers have all the info on their blogs and some have put presentations up on Slide Share. So there is little point in me writing it all up (besides, it is already past my bedtime). So I will share my notes. When I attend these events, I try to only write down actionable ideas and avoid scribbling out everything that is said. That being said, I did write some rubbish today, so I will edit it down. Let’s go! Oh, I missed most of the first speaker, Philip Sheldrake, so will skip that. But you can read what he had to say on Koozai’s blog post about the show: Morning Session Write-up of the #Contentmarketingshow.

Agile Content Strategy by Lauren Pope

Lauren @La_Pope is from an agile development background and has applied this methodology to the creations and promotion of web content for some major brands in the energy sector. She broke the agile development process down to 3 main parts: Ask Why? > Iterate > Analyse (repeat). The key points which I plan to put to action are:

  • Put the user at the centre of everything
  • Iteration – do not let evergreen content stagnate – refresh
  • Analyse what worked, what did not work – take action, create plan
  • Look at Time On Page – work on engaging readers
  • Look at the keywords for pages with a high bounce rate and try to improve those pages – ensure that most common search queries are answered
  • Content has a lifespan – if no longer needed, kill it.

Lauren very briefly mentioned Persona Development. In fact, this came up a few times, and it is still something I have not delved into. So I will. This link is as much for my benefit as yours, I have not read it yet, just linking to review later …. www.usability.gov/methods/analyze_current/personas.html – first result in Google on the topic, so I assume that they know what they are talking about!

Digital Storytelling: The Power of Content Marketing – Ian Humphreys

Key message from Ian Humphreys @ianphumphreys (all speakers are really into Twitter, in fact, not a single Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ profile was shared, but all had Twitter – I will link them all up, if I remember / have time).

  • Create great narratives
  • Encourage conversations
  • Each piece of content should have a Beginning, Middle, End
  • Great narrative combines a Brand’s Story and the Customer Experience
  • Generally, the central theme is around lifestyle, experiences – things that trigger an emotional response.
  • Case study of Chevy ad used. (I own a Chevy Lacetti, known as a Station Wagon in America)
  • Set a narrative > Populate Content > Encourage Customers to Share
  • *** Let Others (Customers) Tell Their Story ***
This can be summed up as Community. You want your clients / customers to be engaged with your brand. Make your site social, use social media platforms, make it easy for people to share, to talk etc.

How To Win At Pooh Sticks – Tom Ewing

Tom @tomewing spoke about “Content within the context of the stream”, the stream being all the crap that flows out of the Internet (I think). He quoted some chap who said that the Internet had moved from being about Pages to being about a Stream. People no longer sit and read a page, instead they sit back and let a stream of data flow over them. You need your content to be a part of this stream. And you need to prod it with a stick. No, hang on, I said that, not he. The key notes:

  • What type of content thrives in the stream? Nano-stories
  • The stream has a fast paced turnover ….
  • The “individual bits” don’t matter much really, being part of the stream does
  • *** Flow + Stock ***
  • Flow is your input in the stream, Stock are your products, pages etc.
This all seems a bit vague now I am reviewing the notes. I think the key really is – be active on social, use it to network with others. The actual stuff you write matters less than the activity itself. Leave the proper content to you brand, website etc.
Two Networks:
  • Friendship Network
  • Interest Network
Someone described the friendship network as being people you went to school with, and interest network as people you wished you went to school with. I see it more as Facebook and Twitter/Google+ ….
Pinterest – (amazingly, the only mention today!) – the most popular word used on Pinterest is Love. The most repinned (repinned is not a real word, yet) words are chicken and recipe. There was an interesting point about this ….. oh. If you want your content shared on Pinterest, make sure it is a chicken recipe. Um, no, that can’t be it.
Creation – Replication – Mutation
The three ways content is shared online. Creation, like photos, blog posts, videos etc. Replication – Pinterest is the obvious example. Mutation – YouTube video montages etc.

What Makes the Most Sharable Content?

Tom talked a bit about this. SURPRISE!
Studies found that a combination of Emotion and Surprise leads to the most shares, likes etc. The best emotion is happiness – people are more likely to share something which makes them happy than something which shocks.
Final key points:
  • Your stock is your customers flow
  • Culture beats features
  • Shape your customer’s story, do not interrupt them
**************************
INTERVAL – OK, I have so many more pages of notes, more than I though. Will continue tomorrow. I also feel I have drifted from the objective of writing only the ACTIONABLE POINTS. Need to focus!

 

What Is Natural Link Building? Is all SEO Unnatural?

Since the whole Panda / Penguin thing (totally different, but get bundled together all the time now) people have started to ask some pretty dumb questions. The newest question I am seeing people ask (what people? provide references! No, can’t be arsed) is “what is natural link building?“. (is a full stop required when there is a question mark in a bracket?).(?)….

Today I got a new spammy SEO email (Akismet passed it). This is what the SEO guru said to me today. I shall call this “an example of unnatural link building”.

An Example of Unnatural Link Building

We provide a S.E.O. Special Offer going for the following package: -

1. 150 Directory submissions
2. 10 Social Bookmarking Submissions
3. 10 Article Submissions (1 article x 10 article directories)
4. 10 Press Release Submissions (1 press release x 10 press release
websites)
5. 10 Blog Submissions
6. 1 unique, 400 word article written
7. 1 unique, 400 word press releases
8. 15 One Way back links with mix PR
9. Meta tags changes suggestions
10. Keyword research
11. Competitor Analysis
12. Heading tag changes
13. Alt tag changes
14. Interlinking wherever required.
15. Keyword Density in site content.
16. HTML Site Map
17. XML site map and Submission in webmaster tool

Best rates for this package are: USD150 per month per project.

The usual drivel. What is really worrying about this is no. 17 – never give them access to your Google account!!!! Numbers 12-16 are pretty dangerous too – should you let an SEO company like this start hacking away at your website? No no no!

OK, so that is not natural link building. Now, when I saw this I thought, “hey, this would make a cool infographic”. But I am crap at designing and drawing, so instead, I decided to blog. So, now an example of Natural Link Building. I shall call this “An Example of Natural Link Building”.

An Example of Natural Link Building

As you can see, I am in a silly mood this evening. Anyway, this is natural link building.

  1. Build a nice website. A crappy website may work pretty well too.
  2. Write something.
  3. Write something.
  4. Hope someone reads your Facebook wall post and shares the link.
  5. Hope more people see the page.
  6. Hope Google picks it up because someone Tweeted it and then someone else aggregates Tweets and then they get scrapped somewhere else and for some reason this gets it indexed.
  7. Hope more people read the page and like it too.
  8. Then one day, someone will link to it.

See the difference there? In short, these are the rules of un/natural link building:

  • Natural Link Building – you hope other people build links without you even knowing about it.
  • Unnatural Link Building – you build your own links.

Simple really.

Of course, the question people should really be asking is, what sort of unnatural link building is useful to people and search engines, and what sort is considered spam and hated by search engines?

It is at this point in a blog that you would expect to read the line: “We will discuss this in the next post“. But I doubt I will write a post on the topic.

To be honest, this whole post is just me procrastinating. I really do have more important things to write about, but suffering a bit of writers block right now, so drivelling SEO bollocks instead.

Email Newsletters – From PHPList to MailChimp

OK, I finally moved to a better platform for my newsletters. I was using PHPList, but was getting very annoyed with it as it took forever to send out emails and I had no idea if people were reading them! My webhost server only allows 350 mails to be sent an hour and with PHPList sending needed browser refreshes (a bug I think) which meant it would actually take me about a day to send to my list!

So I moved to MailChimp, as suggested by +Mat Bennett, and sent out my first email last night.

So far today (it has been almost 25 hours) 10.1% of people have opened it. This is about half the industry average (according to MailChimp).

Better news is that 4.2% of people followed a link to the site, which more than the 3.4% industry average. So I must have done something right.

But I was wondering, how long do people leave it before deciding that if anyone is going to open an email, they would have done it already? Is 24 hours about right, or do some people open emails days / weeks after? I guess it depends how many mails they get each day.

So far just set up a basic sign up form. Hopefully this will get more people signing up though.

What I really like is that it records failed deliveries and deletes the emails. This is very handy. My list is a couple / few years old and I had no idea if people are receiving mails or not. Only 78 have failed, which I think is pretty good considering.

I was going to post this on Google+ but decided to blog it here. These social media sites keep trying to trick us into writing for them instead of us!

The New Facebook Fan Page Timeline

From March 30, 2012, Facebook is making some pretty dramatic changes to fan pages. If you have been on Facebook recently, you’ll notice that normal profiles were transformed a few months ago into something called the timeline. Now fan pages will be forced to go through a similar transformation.

Naturally, there is a lot of controversy and whining surrounding this change. You would think that internet marketers would be all for change- after all, their entire careers were only made possible by recent innovations. In reality, some marketers don’t like change. They like to learn a system and create predictable money-making processes around it. Sure it is a pain to have to revamp your brand page in order to neatly fit into the Timeline format. Once you have put in the effort, however, you should see the rewards. The new timeline format allows you to communicate some very powerful things to your fans.

The timeline format gives you the opportunity to show the history of your brand as opposed to just talking about it. Seeing is more powerful than discovery, and that includes establishing your company’s history. You can gain an enormous amount of credibility by showing the viewers of your fan page how you have consistently offered tremendous value to customers. When people can visit your fan page and see customers just like them getting the kinds of positive results which they themselves want, and that is very powerful.

Social proof is one of the most powerful ways to influence people, and the new timeline format for your fan page allows you to demonstrate a lot of social proof, especially if you have been on Facebook for a while. Even if you haven’t been on Facebook for a long time, you still have an opportunity to fill out your company’s history. You should immediately begin inserting different important events into your timeline so that the rich history that we talked about a little while ago can be seen. As you go to work filling out your timeline, keep in mind the overall importance of story.

While all of the factors talked about so far in this article are important, it is ultimately more important than anything else for the viewers of the page to be able to see a cohesive story as they go through your timeline. If you insert pictures, videos and testimonials into your timeline, you will create a much richer story that can help the reader of your fan page better connect with your company. They should wish that they were a part of that product launch back in 2009, or that they could have been one of the first to receive that product you released 10 years ago.

Remember, your Facebook Fan Page is all about building up your relationship with your fans and establishing credibility. The new timeline features allow you to do this in completely new and exciting ways! As you make the transition, keep in mind that the bar is set very low right now. Most brands are not doing anything to prepare for this change, so just by taking some kind of action you are way ahead of the curve.

When the timeline transition is fully completed, there will be a lot of scrambling to figure out exactly what approaches are best and which are not. I encourage you to read different blogs to get a sense of what is testing really well and what is not. You are a part of the beginning of a great opportunity, so the more on top things you are, the more you will be able to take advantage of it.

Claire Ward writes for Coldwatercoolers.co.uk, a supplier of water cooler products and accessories based in the UK.

DroidAnalytics

The DroidAnalytics app review

Whether you’re an SEO or just someone who likes to check your site’s SEO parameters all the time, the DroidAnalytics app is definitely for you! It’s basically a pretty private story because I fell in love with the app at first site. So, please don’t talk too bad about the app in the comments. Just kidding. :) OK, now let’s talk business, guys.

Profiles

One of the first features that will catch your eye is that thing that you can have lots of profiles at the same time. Just login to all of them and then you’ll be able to switch over to the one you need at a particular moment. In case you happen to be an SEO manager, you’ll need this very feature left and right.

Main screen

Droid Analytics stats tableOnce you click on the profile you want to check stats for, you’ll be redirected to the main screen of your profile. Most of the screen is occupied by the stats table that gives you the details of daily page views, visits, visitors, P/V (page view per visit), Bounce (bounce rate), and time (time on site). At the bottom of the screen, you can see the other features.

Main options

Now let’s see what sort of options you can use (the ones at the bottom of the main screen):

  • The very first option allows you to see your site’s graph by Page Views, Visitors, Visits, Bounce, Avg. Time, and P/V;
  • The second option (the one with the clock icon) enables you to view your hourly stats for today, yesterday, this last 7 days, this last 30 days, and using the current date range;
  • The third option makes it possible to see stats weekly;
  • The fourth one shows stats monthly;
  • And the fifth option shows stats annually (it’s useful only if you have a rather old site);
  • The next option (the one with the calendar icon) allows you to set your desired date range;
  • The second to last button has the ability to show top keywords, countries, sources of traffic, search engines, referring sites, browsers, operating system, page paths, and even goal conversions! I know some of the features may be even unknown to fresh SEOs, but you still have them in the very feature-rich app;
  • And the last option on the main screen just shows a list of the site profiles you can choose from.

Now, if you click the menu button on your Android device, you’ll be able to see the settings of the app.

Settings

The data settings section allows you to select the amount of the days to get in daily view, weeks to get in weekly view, months to  get in monthly view, and … you got it …. years to get in yearly view. Sorry for the prolonged tandem of tautologies. My bad :)

In the Top Settings section, you can define max results for top keywords view, top countries view and so on. The display settings feature allows to just specify the number and date format. The What’s New section just displays the change log that you might want to read. And the last option is pretty much just a link to the other apps of the developers.

Personal conclusion

All and all, the app is really good. Pretty nice performance and useful results right at the click of your finger, for lack of a better word. But there’s one thing that sorta disappointed me a bit. Once you fire up the app, it’s in portrait view, but after you select your site profile it goes to landscape view. And you are sort of forced to turn around your device.

Disclaimer: perhaps it works like that only with Samsung Galaxy Tab GT-P1000 running gingerbread, but I can’t say that for sure.    In either case, if you’re an SEO geek, you want that app. Hands down!

I’m Kenneth from the WebDesign Bureau (Webdesy.com). I can explain how to make a website or just create it for you. Plus, I’m crazy about all the things web and mobile.

Using Facebook and Twitter To Promote Your Business

Here is a selection of blog posts on the two main social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, and how they can be used to help promote your business.

The Importance of a Good Twitter Name

Dec 3, 2010 

Funny news on Test Match Special just now. Aggers interviewed a woman from Massachusetts who has the Twitter name @theashes. She knew nothing about cricket, but her boyfriend picked the name for her.

Since the 2010 Ashes Series started (cricket competition between England and Australia, held every 2 years, this year its in Australia) she started receiving thousands of followers. She was awoken on the first night when follow announcements and messages started appearing on her mobile phone - literally hundreds every hour.

As a result she has started taking an interest in cricket. What’s more, her followers have decided to club together to get her on a plan to Australia to catch the one of the matches – and she has accepted the invitation.

But the story here for us is that this is once again proof that a good domain name can go a long way still. Although you will struggle to keep a brand or trademark name, something generic that has meaning could win you a lot of followers. Then, you could use this following to promote anything you wanted.

Twitter Follow Management

Mar 7, 2011 

In this post I was just talking about tidying up my Twitter follow list. It is important to keep your account clean, or at least, some social marketing exerts believe that it is! Do not just follow every who follows you.

Decided today to start culling my Twitter follow list. I seem to be following a lot of people that never say anything. On closer inspection many of them stopped tweeting a long time ago. Some had not tweeted since 2008 or 2009. So it was time to cut out the dead wood and bury some old birds.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be an easy task in Twitter. I was hoping for an option to bulk delete anyone that had not tweeted for X days / month. But the only option is to look at each profile page and then click unfollow. A long and boring process.

Many Spammy Accounts Abandoned

One interesting discovery was that amongst all the good stuff I follow there are many spammy accounts that started out providing good information, and then at some point just tweeted affiliate links and other rubbish, then gave up altogether. I was thinking, is this in itself proof that spamming Twitter does not work? If it did work then I assume that these people would still be tweeting.

Also, many of the sites still going strong are real communities, such as university departments, sports clubs, fitness clubs and other health and fitness professionals. They are providing a good service of tweets, although I admit that I still struggle to really read many of them. Twitter just seems to be too noisy.

Now thinking that maybe I should cut back more, maybe limit myself to 50 high quality Tweeters and leave it at that? Still got about 500 more to cull though.

Auto Posting from a Facebook Page to Twitter

I have been experimenting with this and think I have found a better way to use them. I now have my FB pages connected to a Twitter page, so anything posted FB goes to Twitter. But there’s more!

I found that if you post too little on FB it goes straight to Twitter with no link back. So I always post enough to ensure Twitter readers get a link to read more. This means more traffic (readers) to my FB page. I do not know how many words / characters is needed, not bothered trying to work that out. Just write “enough”. I guess more than 140 characters will do it (the Twitter limit).

Also, if you add a website link to your FB post, then that link appears on Twitter (shortened) and you lose your FB visitors (probably OK if linking to your own site, but if talking about news etc, you lose chance of discussion). So now if I wish to share some news, I write a fair sized paragraph in FB and post it to the Page wall. I then follow that up with a link to the news article as a comment below. This means that on Twitter people will see a snippet of my description of the news, follow the link to FB where they can then “Like” and comment on the news.

This increases people visiting my FB page, increases fans and likes (shares) and increasing discussion. I am still linking to the source of the material so the integrity of the Internet (iting news without linking is just wrong!) is still in place.

A simple but effective way to use Facebook and Twitter, without having to keep repeating yourself on both platforms. or losing your readers to other sites!

Bing Show Twitter Updates in Search Results

Jul 3, 2009

Since publishing this Google started showing new Tweets on its search pages too, although that service seems to have stopped. Twitter accounts do appear in the SERPs though.

Bing is taking its battle with the mighty Google seriously. When Bing was first launched people thought that it was simply a rebranding of the old Microsfot Search Engine. But they have bigger plans in the pipeline, and are looking at ways to get fresh content that Google has yet to do themselves. But will it be enough to really cause a stir and win some of business from Google?

“Bing will initially display Twitter feed entries, or Tweets, from prominent users of the social-networking site, Microsoft said yesterday in a blog posting. Users who search for names like Al Gore along with the word Twitter will get the former vice president’s latest Tweets and a link to see more.”

Source: Bloomberg Technology News

How Twitter Can Mess Up Your Marketing Campaigns!

Or more specifically, how a wayward, drunken Tweet can backfire!

Axl Rose’s Cheeky Tweet or Serious Problem?

Aug 16, 2010

Axl Rose, frontman of Guns ‘n’ Roses, updated his Twtter page late last night with the following:

“All upcoming Guns N’ Roses dates are officially cancelled. Please contact your place of purchase for any refunds.”

At the moment nobody knows any more. His tour is currently in central America, so he is either being very cheeky and causing panic for his fans, or there is a serious problem. He next tour dates are in the UK, with Reading, Leeds and Belfast at the end of August. The band then returns for a London gig at the o2 on the 13th October, followed by Birmingham and Manchester.

His Twitter page has 65,845 followers at the moment, and he follows nobody. Looks like he is making good use of Twitter to speak directly to his fans without having to get managers and PR people involved. Good work Axl – just don’t write on it when drunk! Over at Planet Rock they are wondering if his Twitter account was hijacked by Slash! (he’s the original Guns n’ Roses guitarist for you youngsters).

TwitLonger.com - Speaks More On Twitter

An interesting discovery. All of Axl Rose’s Tweets have a link, and that links leads to a website called TwitLonger.com. This is an independant website that allows you to sign up and write a longer entry, like a blog post, which will then send a Tweet to your profile. A clever way to make money from Twitter. They host the blogs and place Google Adsense averts beneath each post.

If you want to do this on your own, you can get WordPress blogs to updated Twitter automatically. If you want to learn this just ask me and I will write a post on it. It is very simple.

The Limitations of Twitter

twitter over capacity

Like any tool, it is prone to collapse. Also, there is no guarantee that it will be around forever either. So do not put all your eggs in once basket! Here are a couple of errors that we have experienced in our relatively short time on Twitter.

Nov 24, 2009

Today Twitter was full. Just an error message saying that there were too many people tweeting and a request to try again later. Twitter is now HUGE. Are its servers big enough for further expansion? Not really sure what their image represents on this page. Tweeting birds carrying a whale. Hmmmm.

Another DNS Attack on Twitter

Aug 15, 2009

Cannot access Twitter again today. Last week there was reports of a DNS attack on Twitter, maybe it is happening again. Currently just getting a server error for the site.

HTTP Server Error 503
No available server to handle this request

More soon.

A Twitter Case Study: How Google Utilise Twitter

Google are a great example of how to use Twitter to connect with your client base. You may be surprised at the number of Twitter accounts that Google has. If in doubt about good practice to use on Twitter, look at how they use it, how they update the community and respond to questions. Here is a full listing of Google’s Twitter pages:

twitter.com/Google - our central account
twitter.com/Blogger - for Blogger fans
twitter.com/GoogleCalendar - user tips & updates
twitter.com/GoogleImages - news, tips, tricks on our visual image search
twitter.com/GoogleNews - latest headlines via Google News
twitter.com/GoogleReader - from our feed reader team
twitter.com/iGoogle - news & notes from Google’s personalized homepage
twitter.com/GoogleStudents - news of interest to students using Google
twitter.com/YouTube - for YouTube fans
twitter.com/GoogleAtWork - solutions for IT and workplace productivity

Geo-related
twitter.com/SketchUp - Google SketchUp news
twitter.com/3DWH - SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse
twitter.com/Modelyourtown - 3D modeling to build your favorite places
twitter.com/EarthOutreach - Earth & Maps tools for nonprofits & orgs
twitter.com/GoogleMaps - uses, tips, mashups

Ads-related 
twitter.com/AdSense - for online publishers
twitter.com/GoogleAnalytics - insights for website effectiveness
twitter.com/GoogleAdBuilder - re building display ads
twitter.com/GoogleRetail - for retail advertisers
twitter.com/TechnologyUK - for U.K. tech advertisers
twitter.com/InsideAdWordsDE - for German AdWords customers
twitter.com/GoogleAgencyDE - for German ad agencies
twitter.com/AdSensePT - info for Portuguese-language publishers
twitter.com/AdWordsRussia - AdWords news & tips in Russian
twitter.com/DentroDeAdWords - Spanish updates from the Inside AdWords blog
twitter.com/AdWordsAPI - AdWords API tips

Developer & technical 
twitter.com/GoogleResearch - from our research scientists
twitter.com/GoogleWMC - Google Webmaster Central
twitter.com/GoogleCode - latest updates for Google developer products
twitter.com/GoogleData - Data APIs provide a standard protocol for reading and writing web data
twitter.com/app_engine - web apps run on Google infrastructure
twitter.com/DataLiberation - our initiative for complete import/export of all data
twitter.com/GoogleMapsAPI - about using Google Maps embedded in websites
twitter.com/GoogleIO - Google’s largest annual developer event

Culture, People 
twitter.com/googletalks - notes from our @Google speaker series
twitter.com/googlejobs - the voice of Google recruiters

Country or Region 
twitter.com/googlearabia - news from the Google Arabia Blog

twitter.com/googledownunder - Google activities in Australia & New Zealand
twitter.com/GoogleDE - Google in Germany
twitter.com/GoogleKorea - News & notes in Korean

twitter.com/GoogleLatAm - Latin America (en Espanol)
twitter.com/GooglePolicyIt - Notes on Google policy issues in Italy

Next time you have a Google problem, or want to know the latest information on one of their products, see if they have been Tweeting about it first.

What Defines an English person? Google is Being Cheeky Again!

If you search Google for “what defines an english person?” at the moment the result is rather cheeky. The screenshot of my search results show the first result, a result that I cannot possibly repeat here without causing offence. OK, as there should not be any children reading this blog, I will tell you. A search for “what defines an english person?” brings up the Wikipedia page for Cunt as the first result. Well, isn’t that nice!

The only words highlighted on the search results page are “defined”, “English” from “Compact Oxford English Dictionary” and “person” from “an unpleasant or stupid person”. So, either Google is making a big mistake, someone at Google is being very cheeky, or some people have been “Google bombing” this search phrase. Which is it?

Google search results for What defines an English person

Google search results for "What defines an English person"

I guess I will soon find out if writing naughty words in blog posts gets your dumped by Google. It is an assumption that this is the case. Although Wikipedia seem to be immune to this, if it is true.

The same result is also seen at no.1 for “Define an English person“. Apparently there have been some complaints in the Google webmaster forums about this, although I have not read them yet myself.

Anyway, why does Wikipedia’s Cunt page rank first? I quick review of text links in Blekko do not suggest any Google bombing for “English people” so this could just be one of those freakish anomolies. A few names do come up there, which is rather funny.

The Social Side of SEO

Using Social Media to Optimise Your Search Engine Presence

For several years people have viewed SEO and Social Networking as two disparate entities, both good for promoting your website and brand, but not things that can work together effectively.

Now though, that’s really not the case, and a good, search friendly social media presence can seriously bolster your search engine rankings. Major search engine players, including Google, Bing and Yahoo, incorporate social media data into their results, so timing has never been better for updating and invigorating your website’s social media status.

Social Media – The Golden Rule

In order to have your social media directly affect your search engine standings in a positive way you first need to make a strong profile and to do that you need to know the Golden Rule…Keep it social!

The whole point of social media from a business perspective is to interact and engage with your customers; to make sure that previous customers return and that new customers take that first plunge with you. The biggest mistake you can do when entering the world of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is to forget to interact with your customers and just spam, spam, spam them with links and pointless, irrelevant quotes. That is not being social.

Talk to people on social networks, ask them questions, be personable, run a fun competition every once and a while, and the rewards will be reaped. Twitter is especially blighted by companies that think what makes a good account is tweeting links continuously, plugging everything and anything on their website. This is patently wrong. Spammy accounts like these often have thousands of followers, but look a little closer and you will see that those followers are just other spam accounts, locked in an endless cycle of sending and receiving insignificant junk tweets.

Social Blogging

It is all well and good having an active social life, but in order for it to improve website listings you need to incorporate it. Add social buttons to the beginning and end of blog posts, news items and articles for people to share them, and install a plugin on your blog in order to display all of your latest posts and mentions.

Having a simple block in a prominent position on your site, which updates regularly from your preferred social media platform, can be a gold mine of keywords that search engines lap up. It also pays to have a big “Follow” or “Like” button in this widget, to make it easier for visitors to connect with you and stay up to date with all the latest news. If your website is getting mentioned on their Facebook wall every day then your website is much more likely to stay fresh in their minds.

Social buttons on articles, news items and blog posts are a must for any website in 2011. Those little widgets at the bottom of an article can create a wealth of traffic as people find the page, enjoy it and repost it through one of their many social sites. Many of their friends see it, maybe two or three of them enjoy it enough to click one of the buttons, passing it on to more people, and so on and so on. The possibilities really are endless!

Make sure you include a button to Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon as well as the social sites you actively update, because a good couple of links from those sites can make a tremendous difference.

Social Search Engine Optimisation

So how exactly does a good social standing directly affect SEO? To put it simply there are 800 million active users on Facebook, 100 million tweeters on Twitter and an estimated 75 million using Google+. Just a fraction of those people clicking, liking, retweeting and +1ing your links, viewing your profile page, and using search engines to find out even more about you can only have a positive effect on your search engine standings.

Add to this the fact that the number of active links to websites is still a major part of how search engines rank them and that keyword rich content can easily be generated with a social media plugin, and you’ve got a powerful SEO tool that is free and can be updated effectively every day in a matter of minutes.

Social media is a major factor in millions of people’s lives around the world, including your customers. Embrace it.

A good SEO course, combined with strong Social Media training, could be the best way to make your social media count. Siliconbeachtraining.co.uk also provide a wide range of programming courses including SQL Training, as well as accredited courses in Prince2 project management.