Eandjconsulting.net Offer Banner On Your Website for $750 / mo

I just received an email asking to purchase advertising space on my website for up to $750 a month. Here is the full email (warning – do not click the links / enter the email, it attempts to run a Java program on your computer!!!):

Hello!

My name is Liza Mecklenburg, representing the advertising department
of the JPP Consulting company. We are interested to place an ad
(banner), of your choice, on your website.
Design and sizes can be seen on our website at
www.eandjconsulting.net/ id_8ae87/
Depending on the banner size you choose we can pay up to
US$750/month.

If you are interested please let me hear from you.

Kind Regards,
Liza Mecklenburg
[email protected]

It sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? I can chose the banner design and size ( I will obviously chose the most expensive), and they will pay me $750 a month.

They do not ask about the number of visitors I get to my site either. Amazing!

When you follow the link Java asks if it can run (I use Chrome and have set Java to always request permission to run). This is so that you can see these banners. This is all very, very suspicious. I mean, why not just have a page with jpg or gif banners like other sites? Or, why not add the banners to the email? All seems very, very fishy.

I did a quick Internet search and the first result is a Fake Banner Ad – WARNING on Warriorforum (an Internet marketing forum).

Even just opening the email (which I did) may cause more problems. Brad Mc Bard opened such an email and afterwards received a virus-infected email.

So this is certainly a scam, designed to con you into thinking that you have just attracted a wealthy advertiser, but it really just wants to infest your computer with a virus and do all sorts of nasty things. So, if you get an email like this, do not click the links, do not respond. No sensible advertiser will offer you $750 a month, or any amount of money, without know more about your website first.

Adsense Now Allowed on Gambling, Casino, Tip and Betting Sites

A big change has just come to Google Adsense, and this may have a huge impact on advertising platforms such as Aleavendo, a gambling pay-per-click (PPC) service, which until now has looked to be a dominant PPC  advertising network for gambling sites.

Here is the Google Adsense update:

Start monetising your online gambling content with AdSense

We’ve recently updated our gambling content policies for publishers in selected countries where gambling is legal. Publishers in these countries can now apply to monetise their online gambling content. Permitted gambling content includes: online casino games, sports betting, bingo, lotteries, tips, odds, handicapping, mahjong, educational/supplemental materials and bonus codes.

Please visit our AdSense gambling policy page for more details on this new policy and contact us if you’re interested in monetising your gambling content.

It was not long ago that Google sent me an email to inform me that Runners and Riders, my dad’s horse racing blog which I manage, was in breach of Adsense policies. Looks like I will be able to pop some ads back on soon, once I get a written go-ahead from Google. Although, unfortunately my dad stopped writing his blog – just spotted that the last post was in July 2012.

Internet Problem – Error 118 (net::ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT)

I have been getting this problem for a while now. I have a Windows 7 computer and a Belkon router. I use both Chrome and Firefox. In Chrome, at times, some websites fail to load up. Often Google sites are the main problem, with others loading OK. Often the problem happens with Facebook too. Chrome provides this error message:

This web page is not available

Google Chrome could not load the web page because accounts.google.com took too long to respond. The website may be down or you may be experiencing issues with your Internet connection.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Reload this web page later.
  • Check your Internet connection. Reboot any routers, modems or other network devices that you may be using.
  • Add Google Chrome as a permitted programme in your firewall or antivirus software’s settings. If it is already a permitted programme, try deleting it from the list of permitted programmes and adding it again.
  • If you use a proxy server, check your proxy settings or contact your network administrator to make sure the proxy server is working. If you don’t believe you should be using a proxy server, adjust your proxy settings: Go to the Chrome menu > Settings > + Show advanced settings > Change proxy settings… > LAN Settings and deselect the “Use a proxy server for your LAN” checkbox.

Error 118 (net::ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT): The operation timed out.

I have now found a way to quickly, and almost always successfully fix this. Although it is annoying that it persists. But this is what I have done, and still do;

1. Change to Google DNS

In my PC I have set the DNS to use Google DNS. This is done by going to your Windows Control Panel > Network and Internet ? Change adapter settings (this option is on the left nav bar, see screenshot).

Changing to Google DNS in Windows 7

Changing to Google DNS in Windows 7

 

Then you see the Local Area Connection - Left Mouse Click it to highlight it, and then Right Mouse Click it and select Properties at the bottom. Then highlight Internet Protocol Version 4 and click Properties. Here are more screenshots:

GoogleDNS.1

GoogleDNS.2

In the last to boxes of the IPv4 window there are Prefered DNS server and Alternate DNS Server. Change these to 8.8.4.4. and 8.8.8.8. as shown. If there is something there now, take a note, just in case you need to put it back.

So, now your computer will use Google DNS. I have found that this causes fewer problems, but I am still getting the errors.

Flush DNS and Renew DNS

The other thing I do, which generally works, is Flush and Renew DNS in the Windows Command Prompt. To open the Command Prompt you can just hold down the Windows key and press R (Win-R) which brings up the “Run box”, then type cmd and hit OK. This will open the box. Alternatively you can find it with the mouse from Windows Start > All Programs > Accessories.

To flush the DNS type

ipconfig /flushdns

Flush DNS

How to Flush DNS
(Click to Englarge)

Then to renew DNS, type:

ipconfig /renew

Renew DNS

How to Renew DNS
(Click to Englarge)

If you keep the Command Prompt open all the time in the background, as soon as you get these network / Internet problems, you can open the Window then press the up arrow once to get the last command you typed (i.e. ipconfig /renew) and then hit enter. And then press the up arrow twice to get to the command before that (i.e. ipconfig /flushdns).

This Almost Always Works

On the rare occasion that this does not “fix” my Internet problem, I have rebooted the Router, or sometimes if desperate, run CCleaner, and failing that, rebooted the PC. Although maybe, I have not had to do that since adding the Google DNS.

You can learn more about Google DNS here: Changing your DNS servers settings - Google.com

More about Flushing and Renew DNS here: Ipconfig – Microsoft

Is this a perfect solution? No, of course it isn’t!

 

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!

William Hill Launches Live Casino On iPad

Offir Keren, William Hill's Casino Product Marketing Manager showing off Live Casino.

Offir Keren, William Hill’s Casino Product Marketing Manager showing off Live Casino.

This week we were invited along to an internet marketing conference so decided to spend a day learning what is happening with online casinos and gambling. While we support proper casinos, we cannot ignore the growing popularity of virtual casinos.

On Friday, the first main day of the London Affiliate Conference, we spoke with Offir Keren, William Hill’s Casino Product Marketing Manager. He was showing off (rightly so) their new Live Casino on for the iPad. The Live Casino for iPad, which has only been online for 2 weeks, provides clients with a very personal casino experience on a mobile platform.

Rather than the usual virtual gaming room with animations and graphics, the Live Casino has a real roulette operator streamed over the web in high-definition. Bets are placed using the graphics interface in real-time. You can choose from various camera angles, so can watch the operator or watch a close up of the roulette wheel. It really is as close to playing in a real casino as you can get and it is the first live casino platform designed for a tablet.

At first I was rather sceptical of what he was about to show me. I was soon won over though. Although there is no interaction with the dealer the video quality is excellent and choice of camera angles gives you some added control of how you play.

William Hill are certainly very proud of what they are touting as “the world’s finest online Live Casino“. 

The iPad version offers roulette only at the moment, on the PC you can play Live Baccarat, Casino Holdem and Roulette UK. At the moment the iPad version is available on your browser (using HTML5) but soon will be available on Apple AppStore to download.

According to their website (accessed on 11th Feb 2013) they offer:

  • £25 new-player bonus that welcomes you to the world of live casino games
  • Experienced, personable dealers
  • The usual brilliant William Hill customer support
  • Online guides, information and FAQs
  • Numerous safe and reliable banking options

Offir mentioned that Live Casino is already one of their most popular platforms, and at only 2 weeks in, it is set to become a major player in the online casino world.

I suspect that this is just the beginning and that in future there will be online casinos with where players can interact with the dealers and other players.

So, if you fancy some gaming fun and cannot get along to your local casino, then the next best thing could well be William Hill’s Live Casino. Visit their website to learn more, and play - http://vegas.williamhill.com/live-casino/.

Mobile Marketing Tips for Ecommerce Businesses

A Guest Post By Rachel McDonald from Shopify.co.uk, the UK’s Ecommerce Leader.

Ecommerce has grown exponentially in the past few years, with most brand names now represented online. Yet as technology continues to improve, eCommerce must move along with it. The latest push has been towards mobile commerce, as consumers become ever more reliant on their smartphones and tablets. You can now use your smartphone as a tool for communication, business, entertainment, and as a retail device. As a result, eCommerce businesses must not only think about using website builder software to create a professional online shop, but they must also consider how to optimize it for mobile use. Mobile technology can also be used as a marketing tool, using tips such as the following.

Optimize Ecommerce Site for Mobile Use

Webologist uses a different theme on mobile phones.

Webologist uses a different theme on mobile phones.

If you haven’t already ensured that your website is optimized for mobile browsing, you will want to take care of this. A mobile-friendly site is essential to drawing in traffic from smartphone and tablet users.

To make your site more mobile-friendly, be sure that it’s free of clutter, flash animation, and pop-up ads. The best website templates will already give you a clean and easy-to-navigate site, which should translate well to the small screen.

Test a few options out on varying sizes of computer screens and mobile devices before you decide on a final layout.

Create Mobile Competitions

Win CompetitionOne way to reach out to your customers using mobile devices is via SMS messages. You can
send promotional texts to those who have opted into your contact list or made purchases in the past.

These types of marketing messages should be sent sparingly. Another option is to
use SMS technology for contests or competitions. Customers who make a purchase or visit your website can receive a personalized code to text in to win a prize or discount. They can also choose to opt in at this time for future updates from your business.

Use QR Codes

A QR Code For This Page

A QR Code For This Page

Quick response codes are being used more and more for marketing purposes. Similar to retail bar-codes  these are two-dimensional codes that can be scanned with any smartphone to receive information or a link. You could place these QR codes on your products or website, allowing visitors to scan them and be taken to a special message, video, or separate website. They can be incorporated into games or competitions for a fun, user-friendly interactive experience.

Create Specialized Apps

If you have a higher marketing budget, you can even create your own mobile apps to engage your customers. These can be used to provide information about your business, streamline purchases, or even be used strictly for entertainment purposes. Although these are probably not the best marketing options for eCommerce businesses just starting out, once you’re more established they can help retain your audience’s interest. There are websites and eCommerce platforms that can help you get started.

With the extensive use of mobile technology today, eCommerce businesses are constantly looking for new ways to harness this technology for marketing purposes. Although mobile marketing is still in its infancy, it provides a wide range of potential for those willing to get creative.

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.

The Best Way To Take A Website Screenshot And Publish? Goo.gl

I sometimes use the Goo.gl URL shortening service, albeit very rarely. Today I noticed that it created a rather handy screenshot of the webpage that I shortened a URL for. Got me thinking. Wooo.

I had once in the past looked for a service which took full screenshots but found nothing great. I tend to resort to minimizing a page as much as possible and hitting Alt-PrtScrn, usually with pretty poor results. Goo.gl does it so much better.

Now, I have no idea if the thumbnail and screenshot will survive for ever, but it might just do. Here is the example I did today;

I created a short URL to Tweet the story HMV Closing Down? using Goo.gl. It created goo.gl/tNNl0 and provided this screenshot;

EssexPortal screenshot from Goo.glAs you can see, it is the full length of the page. And, it is still active. There is not much I want to add really.

Oh, Goo.gl also produces QR codes. Look:

EssexPortal HMV QR Code

So if you need a QR code, no need to go to another service. Does it track the QR code clicks? No idea. I guess so … not sure how those are reported though.

The live URL for the screenshot is: https://www.google.com/webpagethumbnail ?c=41&r=4&s=300&d= http://www.essexportal.co.uk/ ….. and the URL for the QR code is http://chart.googleapis.com/chart?cht.… (both trimmed to display on this blog post) but if they stop working my broken link checker will tell me.

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!

 

WordPress Password Hijkack? pwd = W1seb0x50

As I have mentioned before I run several WordPress sites, and on them I have a firewall that reports any odd goings ons. Today a bunch of sites had this warning:

WordPress Firewall has detected and blocked a potential attack!

Web Page:   www.***********.co.uk/wp-login.php
Warning: URL may contain dangerous content!
Offending IP:   178.137.94.88 [ Get IP location ]
Offending Parameter:   pwd = W1seb0x50
This may be a “WordPress-Specific SQL Injection Attack.”

Sometimes these are innocent, this may not be. I suspect at the moment then it is trying to find a vulnerability in an old version of WordPress. Of course, many people get WordPress installed by a web designer, or DIY, and forget about it. So there are many out-of-date versions on the Internet.

Come to think of it, Google Webmaster Tools even alerts its customers when it spots old software.

Anyway. Be careful, update your WordPress.

Just Googled [W1seb0x50] and it appears to be a typical (or atypical) attempt to access a computer by guessing the password. Odd that it comes up a few times.

Evil Photo Editing Software!

Webologist's evil catOn Halloween I saw a few scary profile photos. People had editing their usual profile pic to make themselves look evil, dead, like a witch, vampire or zombie etc. The tool that was used often is Picmonkey.com, so I decided to take a look. As I am one of the few people to know that all cats are evil, I decided to use a cat as an example instead of a person (i,e. me!).

Using Picmonkey is really easy. You can drag a photo from a folder on your computer to the input box on the website. From there you can choose a range of edit options. While the Halloween part is gimmicky, there are plenty of useful photo edit options. For anyone who wants to do a quick photo edit without installing some software (there are some great free options to install on a PC, like Irfanview and GIMP for Windows), Picmonkey is a good tool.

One nice feature of Picmonkey is the photo collage tool. Well, it makes a nice montage of photos, like what those pro photographers sell you. The best way to learn more about Picmonkey is to read their blog - blog.picmonkey.com - and have a play. I am only really posting this as I wanted to share this silly photo of an evil cat.

I also have to admit that I did this on a bit of a whim and grabbed a cat photo off Google image search. I have tried to find the original photo, but my edit has distorted it so much even Google image search cannot find the original! It does turn out that I am not the first the make the same cat photo into an evil one though! Weird. Google image search can find other distortions, but not the original.

Our New Guide To Star Wars

Well, Star Wars is now owned by Walt Disney. This will mean some great new rides at Disney World, and finally we get to see the next instalments of the Star Wars films. George Lucas originally planned 9 movies, with 3 stories following on from Return of the Jedi. Follow on stories have also been written by various authors, such as Sean Williams, Brian Daley, William C. Dietz,  A.C. Crispin and L. Neil Smith. I have read some and they are good books!

So, here is our new visual guide to how we expect to see Star Wars evolve over the next few years!

NewGuideToStarWars

Google’s Bad Advertising Practices

OK, I will be clear – Google are certainly not breaking any rules. It’s just, I disapprove. They do not meet my quality guidelines. Why? They are currently running an advert to promote the Google Engage Program. I mentioned this on Google+ the other day but the problem is still there (who am I kidding? Nobody will read this either). Here is their advert (note, this is an image, you cannot click it. Well, you can click it, but nothing will happen):

This Is Not An Advert

This Is Not An Advert

But, if you type Google.co.uk/Engage into your browser Google returns a 404 message. Look:

Gogole 404 message

Clicking the ad takes you to the right page. But not everyone clicks adverts. I saw this on my own site, so naturally did not click it (clicking ads on your own site is still against Google TOS I believe even though they are now clever enough to disregard those clicks automagically).

If you are really curious, the correct URL is http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/ads/engage/ – at least, if you are in the UK.

Poor practice in my books.

If you display a URL, make sure it works!