Reasons to blog

I saw this article today on the benefits of blogging:

  1. Blogs refine your thoughts
  2. Blogs reward the creator
  3. Blogs amplify your humanity
  4. Blogs connect us to our tribes
  5. Blogs give introverts a voice
  6. Blogs reward the “new age” publishers
  7. Blogs embrace the experimenters
  8. Blogs accelerate discovery
  9. Blogs open up a world without borders

I’ve written about the reflective power of writing. E.g. here.

I bet, there were similar articles about writing ever since writing was invented.

It’s quite difficult to carve out a space in our multimedia world to sit down and write and reflect and create. Many times I just feel like I am part of the echo chamber. Not adding any value. Not going deep enough.

One reason to keep your blog going is digital memories.

The weather was beautiful today. Sunny and warm. I tried to capture the day and hold onto the moment with these snapshots.

Walking down the stairs:

Photo

Crossing the river Rhein at the Kraftwerk:

hello basel

This bicycle colour is cool:

hell-blau

Looking down:

muster

Just like in San Francisco, the fog moved in at around 5 pm:

der nebel kommt

Autumn colours:

leaves

I am continuing my Vine experiment. Here’s the new water fountain in Riehen Dorf:

Video isn’t easy. At all. This Coschedule blog post mentions some tools to explore:

  • Video Hance (iPhone)
  • QuickCast (iPhone)
  • ScreenFlow (desktop tool)

Always a good resource, Hubspot lists video ideas to try out for your business.

What tools or apps can you recommend? I’m on Android.

By chance, I learnt that there is an edit function in Vine.

Referral traffic from social media has dropped

I saw this Bufferapp article on declining social media traffic.

We’ve lost nearly half our social referral traffic in the last year

I say. No wonder. Everybody is online, creating tonnes of content. Most people are too busy to read, let alone follow so many data streams.

Many web pages don’t get any traffic at all. A few sites get all the traffic.

Interesting read. I recommend reading it.

My tip: don’t share or comment on articles that you haven’t read. Even bots can do that. Be human.

And. If you do like an article? Comment, share and write a blog post on it.

If you’re on Facebook and want to see better content, I recommend following Robert Scoble’s advice. The filtering is improving. And this week’s announcement on Facebook Search means we may have a viable alternative to Google Search. At some point in the future.

Lucky chiperoni.ch. It doesn’t need to grow traffic.

Have a look at my photos on Flickr.

walk this way

Content first

Last Saturday I attended UX camp Switzerland. A very good event to learn about user experience, human-centered design, usability testing, MVP and prototyping tools.

Talks I listened to:

Stefanie Klekamp presented lots of background info on the Think Aloud usability testing method. Which I found useful. She explained the theories behind the method and also pointed to the research and shortcomings of the test. Shortcomings such as confirmation bias and evaluator effect. She briefly touched on Hawthorne effect, Rosenthal effect, primacy recency effect, hindsight bias. Practical tips for your next Think Aloud user test:

  1. Carry out a SWOT analysis of the website or app that you are testing beforehand.
  2. Take simple notes immediately.

Overall conclusion: Think Aloud user tests are a good practical method to test websites and apps early and often.

Next, I attended a talk by Tobias Günter called “Texter sind die besseren Designer” (in English: “Copywriters are the better designers”). His message was: We spend lots of time and resources on design and programming our web apps, but the content itself is often an afterthought. It’s reflected in the words we use: “Texte abfüllen”. Often there’s no content plan to begin with. Concept work is often based on “Lorem ipsum” dummy texts. If you consider the slogan “mobile first”, it should really be “content first”. Content is the reason people visit a website, or install an app in the first place. Often, content is not developed for mobile devices. Some copywriting guidelines to consider:

  • Keep it simple – only 1 thought per sentence
  • Add sub-headings
  • Add structure
  • Add some redundancy and repetitions
  • Add a focal point for images

Some further tools mentioned to improve content development:

  1. Develop your content page as if there is no start page and no website hierarchy
  2. Develop your content as if there is no navigation, header, footer, sidebar
  3. Think of URLs as verbs
  4. Test your texts
  5. Develop your texts iteratively; continuously improve your content

A good discussion followed. Every content page should be considered as being a landing page on its own. New developments include dynamic navigation entries depending on the content page I arrive at as a reader

Some web agencies now carry out a content audit of existing and new content. I found a related presentation on Slideshare after the talk:

 

Next, Samuel Frischknecht talked about minimum viable product (MVP) and presented some real-life client examples. He referred to a book called Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf. The lean process is

  1. Declare an assumption
  2. Create a MVP
  3. Run an experiment
  4. Collect feedback and carry out research

The book looks interesting and maybe it will answer some of my open questions on Scrum and design.

 

I attended more talks in the afternoon, but my ability to take notes decreased rapidly. I was tired.

Conclusion:
UXcamp was good. Many thanks to the organisers and sponsors. A good way to catch up on new developments and learn about a topic in one day.

Disclaimer:
All mistakes are my own. Please let me know if I got something really wrong. I’m here to learn. These notes help me to reflect and learn.

Quote of the day #SEO

Social media isn’t reaching people like it used to.

via The New Emphasis On Link Building: What's Behind It And How To React.

Back to link building? Probably.

Read this advice:

The best way to have your website rank higher is to make it better for your users. Being better requires that your website is one or some of these types of things in comparison to your competitors…

  • more useful
  • more simple
  • more comprehensive
  • more funny
  • solve problems quicker or more effectively
  • more visually stunning

Google Hummingbird links

The latest addition to the SEO zoo is a hummingbird.

The algorithm change was announced in September 2013 but went live a month earlier.

Searchengineland has some useful background information:

FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm

Hummingbird’s Impact On B2B Sites

Apparently this release will improve Google’s ability to predict a user’s search intent.
Conversational search has been improved.

Looks like Google+ might be another factor to add to the 200 items Google looks at? Search Engine Journal says:

If you are joining Google Plus Communities and building an audience on Plus, answering questions, creating video content via Hangouts and Youtube, and using hashtags, you will be jumping on the Social Search bandwagon that Google is actively promoting.

SEJ infographic

Apparently the advice remains the same: develop original, high-quality content.

See Searchengineland’s SEO success factors.

Tracking conversion in single page web apps

Last week I asked for help on using Google Analytics to track conversion in single page web apps:

Tweet, tweet:

The challenge is to track user behaviour in a Javascript frontend that doesn’t have “pages”. My question: What’s better? Should I use events or model the wizard steps as page views?

Here’s what I found in a brief Google search:

***

Via this Search Engine Land article:

Are Virtual Pageviews Right For You?
Pros:

  • Supports goal configuration – cannot configure a goal with an event ( refuted by https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1383265?hl=en https://www.blastam.com/blog/index.php/2011/03/how-to-use-events-goals-google-analytics/ )
  • Doesn’t artificially inflate bounce rate

Cons:

  • Artificially inflates pageviews for the site
  • Limited information available – events are much more robust or correlating conversions and user behavior

Source

***

The cross-reference above, points to this article on benefits of using events:

Top 4 Benefits of Using Events in Goals

  1. Track visitors who don’t convert with traditional transactional or lead generation goals
  2. More easily track Influencers/Advocates on your site
  3. Measure “interactions” that can lead to better understanding of site engagement
  4. My absolute favorite…Measure “interactions” in the early stages of the buying cycle that demonstrate the quality of the visits that increase the top of the funnel and ultimately lead to increased revenue producing goals.

***

This background article is useful, especially the section on Virtual Page Views.

***

And another reference:

“I’m a big fan of virtual pageviews for form tracking simply because GA still doesn’t allow the use of events in a multi-step funnel.”

***

Conclusion:
This means I’ll use virtual page views to track sequential, wizard steps so that I can track the funnel. And events to track individual goals.

Tips? Usage examples?
Any further hints and experience are appreciated.

Google Analytics

Keep this link: “How to launch anything”

I enjoyed reading this article by Nathan Barry:

“How to launch anything”

Recommended read.

space invaders

My summary in my own words:

Start marketing early – even before the product is developed. This helps to identify your audience and to write a marketing plan.

Write with a purpose. Set a goal and work towards the goal.

Analyze your starting point. Who do you have in your network? Who and what can help you reach your goal?

No marketing budget to buy ads? Start teaching. Teach everything you know. It’s a way to start building trust and building a relationship.

Create a good landing page with an email opt-in form.

Write educational blog posts. Focus on creating high quality blog entries that teach the reader. Re-write and edit your blog entries until you feel they could be part of a book.
Mention your product. Include an email opt-in form in each blog post. But don’t write to sell, write to teach.

Collect email addresses and send out a regular newsletter. Remember contacts go cold.

Plan your launch sequence. Communicate all details well in advance. Send a pitch email one day before the launch. On the launch day, send a simple announcement email. Publish your sales page. Consider offering a discount on launch day.

Say thank you to everyone who helped you on the launch.

Successful blogging?

I love reading list articles. Here’s one that appeared on my radar today:

6 Pillars of a Successful Blog

And just for fun, I’ll run thru the list and assess my own private blogging chez moi.

So let’s get started…

Purpose/Message/Mission
This is a private blog. The main purpose is to learn and reflect.

It’s an ever-evolving mix of learning, reflection, discovery and knowledge management. I’ve always said it’s like a scrap book. Chiperoni.ch will no longer do well from an SEO point-of-view, because the topics are too diverse, too sporadic. I write about the Internet and online marketing. I link to my huge Flickr collection of snapshots. I write about architecture and travel. I post Youtube videos. I try out WordPress plugins and themes.

If you’re setting up a blog for business purposes, think about your purpose. Brainstorm ideas. Put together an editorial calendar. This will help you stand out from the crowd.

Email Newsletter
I don’t send out an email newsletter for this blog. While this Google service still exists, you can get an email notification via Feedburner:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

There are some pretty cool email newsletter plugins for WordPress. I briefly tried Wysija. There’s also Sendpress and Email Newsletter to try. And yes, I wholeheartedly agree… if you want your blog to grow, send out a regular email newsletter.

I do have a cool WordPress plugin called Thank me later, which sends auto-sends thank you messages to people that leave a comment.

A Free E-Book/Manifesto
There is no free e-book to download. There is no manifesto to link to at Chiperoni.ch. Yet. I have plans to write a book or two. Maybe. Some day.

David Meerman-Scott uses e-books very effectively for his topics.

I am a regular reader of the e-books at Hubspot.

IMHO, you should spend some $$ on your e-book layout to get a better return.

A Product/Business Model
There is no business model at Chiperoni.ch. I am here for fun. This is a private, non-profit blog. There is no advertising. So far I have not published any paid blog entries here. If this changes, I will publish a disclosure statement.

Again if you’re planning to offer a product or service, put some thought into your business model. A good starter is this business model generation canvas. It leads you through various business questions.

Site Design
I like minimal blog designs. Currently I am using themes by Elma.

If you’re building a business, test your site design using a poor man’s usability test. Ideally before coding; using a paper test. Find 5 people that fit your site’s target audience. Think of some site tasks you would like to test, e.g. how to contact you; how to ask for a quote. Ask your test person to think out loud while performing the tasks. And then sit next to them and quietly observe how your test person navigates through your site.

Check your site design from an SEO point of view. Are there enough text areas for your key phrases on your main landing pages? I would avoid overusing fancy carousel and slider plugins. Do you have one sentence explaining your main mission, written in HTML?

Effective Self Promotion
It’s 2013. You need to find creative ways to promote your business blog. The Internet is a vast ocean of data. Nobody is waiting for your cool product or service. If your self promotion is too low-key, nobody will notice you. If your self promotion is too heavy and your service offering doesn’t match, you will put people off.

I am stating the obvious. My only advice is to try various ideas and find a marketing mix that works for you. Trial and error.

Or build a private, non-profit blog like Chiperoni.ch. And as such I don’t need to join the success theater.

looking closely

Social media sending less traffic, less clicks?

While analyzing website analytics on this blog and on other sites, I’ve noticed that, in year-on-year comparisons, website links within social media streams on Facebook and Twitter are getting less clicks. Despite more followers and more content activity.

Reasons?

I think many of us are nearing saturation point.

Sharing and liking functions are everywhere. More networks. More info. On top of all of the other to do lists and requirements and optimizations and check lists and productivity methods. The time I spend on browsing and exploring has decreased. Meanwhile, the supply of web content is infinite.

Gone are the days where I was in social media discovery mode. I haven’t downloaded Vine. Or tried Highlight. I didn’t even visit Pinterest since the re-design.

In addition, Facebook decides where to display posts, based on some secret algorithm based on some secret mixture of likes and previous behaviour. Maybe nobody sees my posts to start with cos i don’t have any fans/likes?

Another reason is that very often I no longer need to click the link to go to the site. I can read the article in my preferred app or reading environment.

A surfeit of social media?

Maybe. But IMHO there is also less interaction and engagement. The excitement of interacting online is no longer new. It’s pervasive. Ubiquitous.

And there’s the very real fear of losing privacy. And trolls. And spam. And corporations owning and reselling our data.

Free and open

Let’s not take our connected world for granted. Let’s not forget the benefits of connecting and linking with others.

Let’s acknowledge and thank our sources. Simple things like leaving a comment or adding a backlink. Creating and adapting rather than consuming.

What does it mean for communications at your day job?

First and foremost, do not assume that anybody is interested in your press releases, product announcements, emails or company fan page. We’re not. Remember, everybody has a tight schedule.

If you want to fail, assume they’re interested.

Give more than you take.

Make it easy to find and read your message. You need to be aware of best practises for good content, usability, on-page SEO, online advertising.

Be flexible. Try different distribution channels. If you think your potential audience is on Linkedin or on Pinterest, try it. Try new things. IMHO, you’ll need a mixed strategy of traditional, email-based and social media channels.

Keep playing. Keep testing. Keep iterating.

Related articles:
http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/b2b-social-traffic_b35539

http://blog.kissmetrics.com/email-crushes-social-media/

All The Marketing Statistics You Need To Know

Agile Marketing

Sub-consciously I’ve started following content streams on Agile Marketing. The topic seems to pop up everywhere I turn. Or maybe there are more people writing about this topic?

Even Copyblogger had a post on How to Create an Agile Content Marketing Strategy

IMHO it makes a lot of sense to apply agile management methods to Marketing. Content delivery is becoming more complex – there are smartphones, tablets, regular business monitors, large monitors. There are high expectations that a website will lead to an increase in conversions, while at the same time the sheer amount of data has increased exponentially. SEO requires high quality content. Every content page should be a good landing page. Etc.

I am interested in exploring this topic further, esp. from a B2B point of view.

Please feel free to send in your ideas and comments.

Preparing my next social media talk

I have been invited to speak on social media somewhere in Germany. (Im Ausland!!!) Apparently this gathering of people doesn’t use new media applications yet. (Really? Truely?)

This is my abstract:

Erst gab es Blogs und Flickr, dann kam Twitter und Facebook, und jetzt gibt es G+, Pinterest, Foursquare und Klout.

Immer mehr Web-Anwendungen drängen auf den Markt und buhlen um unsere Online-Aufmerksamkeit.

Wie nutze ich Social Media für mein Unternehmen?
Lohnt sich der Aufwand für mein KMU?
Wie manage ich private und berufliche Kontakte?

I have approximately 30 mins. Which means about 12 to 15 slides. I am planning 4 main sections:

1) What is social media?

2) Using new media tools for my company

3) Using new media tools for personal reasons – develop your micro-brand

4) How to get started – Chiperoni’s recommended checklist

Okay here we go! Details:

1) What is social media?

Social media is a misnomer for online apps, that use current web and mobile technologies to publish information (text, audio, video).

[…]social media isn’t a PR tool; it’s not a marketing tool ; it’s a communications tool and a media making/distribution tool set.

Social media is fast. It requires no techie skills such as FTP, HTML, CSS. Everyone is a publisher. Within 3 minutes I can set up an account on Facebook, WordPress.com, Twitter, or Tumblr and vent my anger or frustration or delight about a product or service or person. This is referred to as user-generated content.

Screens of examples: blogs, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Klout, Foursquare

Nobody can say what social media tools will prosper and what tools will peter out a la MySpace and co. But the principle of real-time will remain.

Social media has substantially changed the way organizations, communities, and individuals communicate.

News finds me.

It’s not about stats, no. of likes, or followers.

Note to Social Media Mar­ke­ting Dorks: The hard currency of the Inter­net is not Face­book “Likes” or Twit­ter “Ret­weets”, as flavor-of-the-month as they might be. By them­sel­ves, they’re worthless.
The hard currency of the Inter­net is “Social Objects”.
i.e. Social Objects for peo­ple to SHARE MEANINGFULLY with other people

2) Using new media tools for my company

I assume that a company wants to raise awareness and influence a buyer’s decision. 😉

In the 90s we accessed the printed version of Zimpel to find out which journalist wrote about microengineering and sent out faxes. Today lots of journis are on Twitter. See Leumund’s list of Swiss journalists on Twitter

Very obviously, as a Marketing Communications specialist, I am going to adapt and move to Twitter. Especially if I am a small or medium-sized business.

Huge benefit: As an SME, I can circumvent the gatekeepers and get access to my stakeholders directamente. Press releases are no longer for the press only, but for everybody interested in your company’s products or services.

Huge benefit no. 2: SEO. More surface area for Google to find me. (Analogy: ocean of data – more islands pointing back to my company website)

Huge benefit no. 3: when a shit storm is raging against my company or an external communication crisis comes along, I already know how to use new media.
Example: SWISS during volcano crisis.

Huge benefit no. 4: costs are still lower than print, billboard or radio/TV advertising.

BUT, social media is not working for all companies. You need to find the right platform and the right strategy / tone of voice / mix of useful content vs pure advertising. Everyone needs their own tailor-fit strategy.

3) Using new media tools for personal reasons – develop your micro-brand

My personal benefits have been:

  • Networking
  • Learning
  • Reflection
  • Knowledge management
  • Positioning myself as a specialist
  • Fun

For every online comment you receive, there are about 200 visitors that didn’t say a thing about your post. Very few people comment online, but many people will read your entries and comment offline when you meet face-to-face. Or even e-mail you photos of Nutella alternatives from their last vacation to post in your collection.

4) How to get started – Chiperoni’s recommended checklist

Inspired by Su Franke, David Meerman Scott and Elise Bauer…

Before you dive in and set up your social media accounts, please consider the following checklist:

  • Do some research beforehand – which new media platform is suitable for my topic? Is my potential audience using this web application? Can I add value to the existing online conversations?
  • Look at the legalese – who owns my content? What limitations are there in the terms and conditions?
  • What information about my company or my personal life, am I prepared to make public? Would I say the same kind of things in a real-life, face-to-face meeting or in front of an audience?
  • How do I handle private contacts vs business contacts on my social application? Do I know enough about the privacy settings? What happens if I make a mistake and I set the wrong privacy for an entry?
  • How important are online contacts / networks for me?
  • Consider the effort – you will need to post at regular intervals to gain any kind of traction. Prepare a pipeline of topics / an editorial calendar. Set up Google Reader with a list of sources that write about your topic.
  • Frequency is very important
  • Be authentic
  • Be a thought leader – develop useful content. Most of us have been overexposed to advertising. I am jaded. I am cynical. I will challenge and question any kind of advertising posted on the internetz. Instead follow Elise’s ideas on thought leadership.
  • Find your social object.

See David Meerman Scott’s book on the new rules of PR and marketing. There’s an excellent free e-book to get you started.

I strongly recommend Su Franke’s talk on networking.

Especially Su’s last slide is important: once you start your social media home, don’t leave it uninhabited.

Last slide – further reading:
all of the above links and some more!

Your comments? Additions? Feedback?

How to increase website traffic

I recently took part in a webinar on increasing website traffic.

Here are my notes:

10. Engage socially

Engage and participate in online conversations in a pertinent and relevant way
Keep track how people respond
Track how many people reach the site via FB and Twitter
Tweak your message
Repeat

Rule of thumb regarding social media content:

Original thoughts 30%
Reposting 25%
Conversation 25%
Marketing 20%

Twitter and Facebook are the must-dos for social media

9. Offer significant call-to-actions

e.g. button in a different color and size

8. Get more links

Use Competitive Link Finder by SEOmoz to find where competitors are getting backlinks

Find linking partners

7. Fix the links you’ve got already

i.e. ask websites that are pointing to your website to update their links if the links are broken or not up-to-date

6. Use multivariate testing – A/B testing

Change one thing at a time and watch the results, i.e.

  • Test
  • See the effect
  • Improve

Tools:
Google Website Optimizer
Visual Website Optimizer

5. Put the keyword on the page

Include the keywords in the

  • Title tag
  • URL
  • Heading 1 and subheadings

Don’t overdo it. Write web pages for humans not search engines

Meta tags (description, keywords) are ignored by Google – no longer checked.

4. The secret of awesome web headlines

Work on your headings.

Cross-reference to http://www.copyblogger.com/10-sure-fire-headline-formulas-that-work/

  • Who Else Wants [blank]?
  • The Secret of [blank]
  • Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of

3. Don’t make me think

We don’t read pages, we scan them

We don’t make optimal choices, we satisfice

We don’t figure out how things work, we muddle through

Design for Power Skimmers

2. Know your Google Analytics

1. Begin with an SEO Audit

(this is where the presenter added a sales pitch for their own services)

Tools recommended:
http://www.marketsamurai.com/full-version.php 149 US$
Google Adwords Keyword Tool – Google has largest base of data
Crazy Egg 19$ per month

The 3Ps of News Distribution

Via Cyberwriter, here are the 3Ps of news distribution:

  • Portable : 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.
  • Personalized : 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.
  • Participatory : 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

See Overview | Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Twitter for the masses

I saw this retweet pointing to Jeremy Toeman’s article Will normal folks ever use Twitter?”. (By default that makes me un-normal….)

never

He makes an excellent point which matches my own experience. Most people don’t see the added benefit of using Twitter. The uses are difficult to grasp. Especially since Twitter turned off the SMS service for the rest of the world, which is the single feature that got me started on Twitter. Connecting the mobile world with the web world – at no extra cost – was a killer app in 2007. Unfortunately it didn’t last. Read this 2008 article, What Twitter’s global failure means for Africa by @whiteafrican.

In addition to not understanding Twitter uses, many people don’t like reading online. Reading deadwood media is more relaxing for the eyes, still more portable, less battery-dependent.

My suggested uses
Listed below are some of my Twitter use cases.

Search
Twitter Search is great for non-mainstream, niche topics. Many bloggers have added Twitter to their publishing toolset. Un-normal people everywhere in the world that are at the scene, on the ground have access to mobile phones and send out tweets. The data is raw, not confirmed, and unfiltered, but it gives a voice to the unheard and a different opinion from mainstream media outlets that dominate western opinion (commonly known as the gatekeepers). Google now searches Twitter and displays recent tweets:

google-search-for-twitter

The use:
In addition to all the mainstream media I hear and read, I read tweets on currents affairs as a supplement.

Traffic
Twitter generates traffic for your website, photo stream, blog, online shop. If you want to be noticed by the early adopter market segment, Twitter is the place to be. I would compare it with blogging in 2004 to 2005, when it was easy to google bomb yourself into the top 10 search results. One thing is certain, web traffic streams are constantly changing. Maybe Twitter will be discarded. The key is good content. Regurgitating or copying content that is not your own will not help you in the long run. Writing yet another review on an over-hyped topic is destined for oblivion. A good example how to build a web audience in a consistent way is Handmade 2.0.

The use:
Since generating traffic for websites is part of my day job, hanging out on Twitter helps me to figure out the changing traffic streams.

Tech help
I use Twitter to get feedback and help on technical topics. I share my knowledge and experience.

The use:
Share knowledge, learn!

Connect
Still fascinating after 14 years on the Internetz: connecting with others. Discussing. Reviewing.

For example, every Sunday evening on German TV there is a murder mystery called Tatort. It’s an institution for some. A distraction for others, ironing clothes for the work week ahead. With Twitter you can review the latest Tatort in real-time.

The use:
As in the C.S. Lewis quote: We read to know, we are not alone.

Intro to SEO and SEM

I am faced with the challenge to explain SEO and SEM in a 1 hour presentation. The audience consists of business folks.

Where to start explaining is the hard part.

Also there are so many myths in this area – garnered by SEO vendors selling their services as a “Wunderwaffe” for instant web traffic success.

As is typical at Chiperoni headquarters, here are a couple of ideas and a rough outline for my presentation.

Ideas and links

I liked this section of Derek Powazek’s recent criticism of all things SEO:

The One True Way

Which brings us, finally, to the One True Way to get a lot of traffic on the web. It’s pretty simple, and I’m going to give it to you here, for free:

Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again.

That’s it. Make something you believe in. Make it beautiful, confident, and real. Sweat every detail. If it’s not getting traffic, maybe it wasn’t good enough. Try again.

Then tell people about it. Start with your friends. Send them a personal note – not an automated blast from a spam cannon. Post it to your Twitter feed, email list, personal blog. (Don’t have those things? Start them.) Tell people who give a shit – not strangers. Tell them why it matters to you. Find the places where your community congregates online and participate. Connect with them like a person, not a corporation. Engage. Be real.

Then do it again. And again. You’ll build a reputation for doing good work, meaning what you say, and building trust.

It’ll take time. A lot of time. But it works. And it’s the only thing that does.

‘Cos it explains why you can have all the SEO you want but without personal drive, it will take you nowhere. It’s the content that matters.

Within a larger organization, this personalized focused drive isn’t always possible and needs to be planned and managed carefully.

Derek’s approach misses some aspects. As pointed out by Danny Sullivan at “An Open Letter To Derek Powazek On The Value Of SEO”. Many aspects that long-term bloggers learnt between the lines while trying to google-bomb their way into the top 10 are unknown to website owners and need explaining. (May I take this opportunity to remind my blogging friends that I am still the top hit for “boring flower snapshot”? Yes, I may).

Rough outline
Here’s a first outline, which I’ll convert into PPT slides on Monday:

1. SEO – from directory lists to a secret search algorithm

2. White hat SEO vs. black hat SEO
Goodbye to link farms, Keyword stuffing, Cloaking, Redirects

3. Myths and legends

4. Technical Aspects of SEO

5. The Google Webmaster Guideline
Web developer must clearly have SEO thoughts in mind when building the site:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Keywords
  • Clear navigation structure
  • Readable URLS

But this is only the basis…

6. Writing for the Web and SEO

How to get into the top 10 search items for a search phrase:

  • Technical aspects – is your website conform with Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Keyword research – identify 5 to 12 keywords that users will enter to find a service or product
  • Content – write copy that supports the buying process and incorporates your main keywords, see “Content drives action”. Write for people not search engines. Incorporate keywords intelligently. At the end of the day, it is people that will read and share your link.
  • Coherence – the whole site with its meta tags and content must fit together – in German we say the site “muss stimmig sein“.
  • Frequency – the Internet has become more dynamic than ever. The real-time web is here to stay. The companies and the technologies may/will change. But the concept will remain. It is like an ocean of data, seeping around us. Create a flow of articles, news items and events at regular intervals. To continue the analogy – offer a stream of data that grows into a river and forms a wide tributary when it reaches the ocean.
  • Outposts – Google decides how important a website is based on the number of back-links. Strive to get listed within your industry sectors leading websites and online directories. Publish articles at external news sites. Use online PR distribution services such as PRWeb. Build your online reputation. Links from non-relevant, off-topic sites will have no impact on your search engine ranking.
  • Patience – it takes time to build web reputation. No instant fix.
  • Old “traditional” media vs. new “online” media – don’t neglect one or the other. Use all distribution channels to make your marketing message known. But – an important but – read the TOS at Facebook, Twitter beforehand. Maybe your company cannot afford having its data locked in by some of the TOS we see these days. Just like with print, be aware that some new media may not be beneficial for your product or service.

What do you think?

Other aspects to consider?

Social Media News Room

Twitter / Home

Cyberwiter posted the above tweet on using social media to enhance your company’s online news room.

The article lists ways how to aggregate text, images, audio and video to make it useful for corporations and their target audience.

Ein gutgemachter Social Media Newsroom ist essentiell für die Online-PR: Er …

1. eröffnet einen schnellen Zugang zu den wichtigsten Unternehmensinhalten
2. lebt von aktuellen und vielfältigen Inhalten, die möglichst täglich erneuert werden
3. ist komplett per RSS abonnierbar und individualisierbar
4. basiert auf Pull-Elementen und nicht auf Push
5. spricht Journalisten wie andere Influencer gleichermaàŸen an
6. verweist nicht nur auf die eigenen, sondern auch auf fremde Quellen (Verlinkung)
7. öffnet seinen Pressespiegel für alle (Social Bookmarking erleichtert das)
8. ermöglicht den schnellen Kontakt für einen Dialog (Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc.)
9. nutzt Real-Time-Elemente (Livestreaming auf Basis von Twitter oder Friendfeed)
10. erleichtert die Vernetzung mit den Ansprechpartnern im Unternehmen
11. bietet reichhaltiges lizenzfreies Video- und Bild-Material (gerne auch Pod- oder Vodcasts)
12. fordert alle Besucher zu Copy & Paste auf
13. regt Online-Diskussionen auf anderen Plattformen (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc.) an
14. Integriert eigene Corporate Blogs und Microblogs
15. bringt die News des Unternehmens zum Laufen

The article lists a number of corporate examples.

The web consultant hiding here at Chiperoni headquarters (errr… me!) believes this is one way corporations can profit from new media technologies.

  • Build a better online newsroom using these new distribution channels. Instead of sitting on the sidelines commenting on the quality of content. While I don’t know which services will survive the next couple of years, I do know that the real-time web is here to stay. Unless we run out off electricity to power all of the server farms.
  • Start small. Grow incrementally. Bring lots of endurance and patience. Remember that most people stop blogging after 3 months. A large percentage of Twitter is dormant.
  • Avoid PR speak. Press releases no longer target journalists alone. Publish useful content that supports the buying process. Read David Meerman Scott’s book.
  • Aggregate useful content. Become a subject matter expert on the web.
  • Offer a quality filter for your company’s specific area of expertise. Don’t try to copy private bloggers or twitterers. Be authentic and personable. But don’t swamp us with blog posts and tweets from your coffee break. And please do check for spelling mistakes. I expect a newsroom to have a higher quality.

And I’m not only talking. I have been using blogging technology and RSS feeds within a company context for over four years.

My experience… some traditional PR distribution services still don’t understand that it’s important to be included in Google News.

It is. Whether you like Google or not.

A newsroom is more than just collecting and archiving press releases…

To build a community around Twitter or Facebook or similar, you will need a concept and a company policy regarding behavior in your communities. And before you quote me wrongly. I am not saying your company should start a Twitter or Facebook channel. Think about your time resources and goals beforehand. Ultimately you will want to draw people to your site or sub-sites. And there may be a different way that is better suited for your corporate environment. And most importantly, read the TOS before you start posting your content on third party sites.

See my simple WordPress prototype here – a quick test install to demonstrate how WordPress can be used for a simple corporate newsroom.

I need to run and finish my MBA assignments for today…

Gaming the System

Recommended read via Mlle A.‘s Delicious bookmarks:

How we killed social media

And probably a reason why many companies that are latecomers to the social media circus will never understand, why everybody is was so excited.

Instead of following the latest social media advertising trend, my advice is: Be yourself.

Be your-crazy-self.

If it means only 20 unique visits per day, that’s much better than selling your ideas, your soul and well-being for 5K hits that will not return and will make you look trashy.

Imagine 20 people walking into your brick-and-mortar shop per day.

Don’t try to blog or post photos or twitter or upload videos or bookmark articles or share RSS feeds for advertising purposes only.

Have fun.

Don’t copy.

Don’t be fake.

Be Visible.

Persuade with good content at regular intervals.

When I presented a talk about blogging for content developers at an STC conference in Zurich, it was a photo collection of Nutella alternatives that Mlle A. and I started at http://www.flickr.com/groups/nutellaalternative/ that people noticed. Lots of craziness in there.

But I’m also using my energy for other projects such as the Malawi group at Flickr:

My talk about cell phones in Africa was well received because I’m genuinely interested in ICT developments in Africa, because now I can connect with family and friends. Which I couldn’t in the early 90s, due to very high telephone costs.

I don’t need to push my own business. Chiperoni and all of its side streams is just a fun project to try out new technologies and practice my writing skills and keep online bookmarks. And as such I’m probably a lot freer than somebody that needs to pay their bills with their online shop.

Consider these facts:

Social media is really disrupting the traditional conventional advertising and news world. Maybe at the end of it, all kinds of media will be dead… new and old. C.f. my recent post on “Where are the business models for content?”.

Search engines have become all powerful. Important facts and knowledge are getting ignored because they’re not in the search results on page 1.

That’s why independent niche blogging is important to me. Excellent research skills are much needed.

That’s why your point of view and your understanding of a topic can make a difference. And that’s why you should continue to blog and tweet and post photos… But IMHO the gold rush is over. It’s hard work. No quick wins.

In a corporate environment, asking all of your company employees to digg an article or tweet by command is fake, if you don’t engage further and learn to use the new tools and make networking part of your company culture. C.f Scoble on Zappos.

I would try to move away from “all about me and my beautiful company” kind of articles to showing your expertise and understanding for your particular part of the world market.

Where are the business models for content?

News of dying newspapers and print magazines have been making the rounds. But also some well-established and respected blogs are closing, or struggling.

Mlle A. of Handmade2.0 recently commented on a design blog’s call for donations:

It’s not just print mags that face hardship. Meaning, blogs that started out with an unpaid version and that are now shooting stars among the design-spotting blogs have a serious problem: keeping up the level and quality, expanding the team AND being able to pay their editors, while at the same time people expect blogs to be completely free of charges. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

It’s not just online vs. print. It’s about new business models for content.

More than ever we need good and independent journalists, who have time to research and follow up on stories.

I noticed that some digital photography blogs have been bought by large online shops, e.g. Amazon bought dpreview.com in 2007 and another digital photography blog war recently acquired by a big player. Can’t think of the name. It was mentioned on a TWIP podcast and I remember thinking that it is a great example how content can help drive traffic to a site. Before buying a DSLR I spent a disproportionate amount time on photography equipment blogs.

But what about the less gadget-orientated news? The Watergate kind of journalism. News about local politics in your home town. How will that evolve?

Lots of questions, while I dive into the next chapter of “Principles of Business Economics”.

Media making and distribution tool set…

Quick post to archive a good quote by Chris Brogan:

(…) social media isn’t a PR tool; it’s not a marketing tool ; it’s a communications tool and a media making/distribution tool set. And further, it’s not the only way to the finish line out there. It’s about working on the larger need and then using the tools judiciously.

It’s the Small Gestures

In a world full of advertising and sales pitches, it’s the little things that count.

Like a handwritten note on the bottom of the fitness center’s invoice:
Bisch fleissig

The owner of the fitness center is a tough business woman. No discount. No rebate. No nothing. But she does build relationships. Which is the right approach.

I mentioned in my previous blog post that building communities is hard work. And I mentioned the Flickr example. While googling for the quote, I stumbled across the fact that George Oates was fired at Flickr in December 08.

While I don’t want to delve into something I know nothing about, I just can’t help feeling that this is a bad marketing move. And maybe Flickr is indeed being pruned for sale.