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January 12, 2009

Explore the Web with Alternative Browsers

Web browsers are integral to everyday life for anyone who spends any time on the Internet. Whether you work for an online company, spend your days blogging and tweeting, buy everything from clothes to airline tickets online or connect to friends, music, and your community on the Internet, you do so within the confines of a browser. Most people use the same few browsers, and probably don't think much about what their particular browser choice offers (or doesn't offer) when compared to other browsers. Since the space in which you interact with online content does help shape your online experience though, I thought it'd be interesting to present alternatives to the most used browsers.

Almost everyone - 98.09% of web users - access the web using three basic browsers - Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari according to research from Net Applications. The Net Applications graph below shows 2008 web browser market share in the 3rd quarter. It's interesting to note that the introduction of Google Chrome in September of this year actually altered the browser share landscape - when I looked at the data for the entirety of 2008, Chrome didn't appear. When I looked at the data for the third quarter however, Chrome made a slight difference in the browser shares.

Browser_Market_Share.jpg

So what do the "Other" browsers offer that differentiates them from the Big Three?

Released as a beta product in September, Google Chrome is attracting attention with its simple design and open source code. Designed to support web applications that run within the browser and prevent the entire browser from crashing if one tab crashes, Google Chrome solves problems that other browsers have not yet fully addressed. Google Chrome also has helpful features - like the ability to open web applications via desktop shortcuts (instead of through the browser) - that offer users flexibility in how they access their favorite applications.

A multi-platform supported browser that works on Windows, MacOS, Linux, Solaris, QNX, OS/2, FreeBSD, and BeOS, Opera browsers are available for the desktop, on advanced mobile devices (such as Blackberries), and even on low-end phones. Opera offers advanced web browsing features that include advanced tab management, customizable web searches, a "Speed Dial" feature that allows you to access your favorite websites using visual bookmarks that appear when you open a new tab, an email client that indexes and sorts your messages for you.

Though not listed in Net Application's data, Flock is another browser that connects users with social networks and Web 2.0 features. Powered by the same technology that runs the Mozilla Firefox browser, Flock integrates photo, video and social networking services right into the browser. When using Flock, it's easy to create blog right from the interface, subscribe to and read RSS feeds in the window, and log-in to your favorite networks and communities automatically when opening the browser. Flock has also developed the Gloss Edition browser, which is the first browser designed specifically for people interested in fashion and entertainment.

As people reach the limits of interacting with the Internet and its content, companies are bound to jump in and offer new, different, more personalized and ever-increasingly niche ways of working online. What browser you choose (and which add-ons you install) can change how you view the web and how you view the world. If you've never experienced browser beyond Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, consider checking out one of these alternatives. To learn about browsers not mentioned here, check out the Wikipedia article dedicated to the subject.

November 03, 2008

The Basics of Content Jacking

restrained_revised.jpg
There's a new criminal in town, and it's out to get your content! As the web expands, and content creators face increasing pressure to develop new, unique, interesting and accessible content for the masses, content theft increases too. Content jacking is the unauthorized, unattributed redistribution of content from its original website to another site, and content thieves will sometimes post articles without permission, or even scrape entire websites and steal all of the content contained therein. Either way, content thieves break copyright laws and can even damage a website's site rankings or reputation, depending on how they use the stolen goods.

In his blog Social Impressions, blogger Reem Abeidoh writes about his experience having his content jacked in Keep Your Sticky Fingers Off My Content! Having found out his content was being stolen after checking out his Google Analytics data, Abeidoh contacted a fellow blogger, who quickly initiated a campaign aimed at getting the offender (a site called inter alia) to remove the stolen post from his blog. Within a short period of time, Abeidoh's extended online community members had left 15 negative comments on the offender's blog, and stories were submitted to Mixx and Digg that pointed out the plagiarism and encouraged people to comment on inter alia's site about their cyber crime.

MIchael Stelzner, author of Writing White Papers, discusses Content Jacking in a post titled, Contentjacking: The New Cyber Crime. In his post, Stelzner mentions how an entire article of his was reposted on another blog. In the comments following his post, most bloggers agree whole-heartedly that content jacking is definitely a crime, although there was no true consensus in determining what should (or can) be done to stop the practice.

While some Content Jackers may unintentionally break the law in their theft (not everyone is familiar with the ins and outs of copyright law after all, and we might extend the benefit-of-the-doubt to some unknowing folks), the practice of Page Jacking is almost always done maliciously. Page Jacking, according to The ABC of SEO, is, "the wholesale rip-offs of multiple pages, (and) even whole sites." In their highly informative article titled, "Page Jacking," the good people who run The ABC of SEO define and really explain what it means, and what you can do, when your website is hijacked.

Apparently, some nefarious types will redirect websites, so that users land on their site instead of your site, and essentially steal your online presence, search engine ranking, and organically-generated traffic. To do this, the offending site can use a cloaking technique that serves to redirect your site traffic. According to the article, when this is done, you may not realize it unless you notice a drop off in your site traffic or in your search engine results.

Learn more about how you can stop content theft in The 6 Steps to Stop Content Theft from The Blog Herald, and in Thwarting Content Theft from SEO Chat. You can also find about more about stopping content theft in social media in the SEO 2.0 article titled, How to Spot Content Theft on Social Media and Elsewhere.

October 02, 2008

Search and Google Aren't Synonymous

search.jpgThere has been quite a bit of disappointment over Google, Yahoo and Microsoft searches, and their agreement in censoring search results as part of China's Golden Shield Project. According to Wikipedia the Golden Shield Policy is the censorship and surveillance project operated by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) of the People's Republic of China. Because of this policy, some people have ceased their use of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft searches, and are looking for alternative search engines to fill the void.

In complying with the Chinese government's censorship policies, the following appears when a censored term is searched using the popular search engines: In accordance with local laws, regulations and policies, part of the search result is not shown. (translated). And while the search engines have been censoring their results for several years at this point, the censorship controversy has been in the news recently due to the recent Beijing Olympics and the heavy media presence in the country.

Even though the problem encountered by journalists covering the Olympics had more to do with IP addresses being blocked (for "controversial" sites like Amnesty International and BBC China), the renewed interest in China's Internet policies has served to push the search engine censorship issue back into the mainstream. You can read more about what exactly Google (and other search engines) censors in Google Censorship - How it all Works, an informative article on Narender, an Internet marketing and creation oriented blog.

I've compiled a list of search engine alternatives that can be used as an alternative to the big 3 who operate under Chinese regulations.


dogpile_revised.gifDogpile
is a search engine with a twist - instead of indexing the results for one search engine, it compiles and indexes results from 6 separate search engines to return a robust selection of results. Owned by InfoSpace, Dogpile has been around since 1996, and has won awards for customer satisfaction. Be warned however! The list of search engines that Dogpile uses to compile their results includes: Google, Yahoo! Search, and Live Search. I guess it's not a great alternative if you want to go totally Google-Yahoo-Microsoft free.

Ask.com is one of the larger search engines, and has been around since 1996. Formerly AskJeeves (home to the online butler who was supposed to answer your questions), the Ask.com algorithm provides relevant search results by identifying the most authoritative sites on the Web.

FactBites has an interesting take on returning search results - instead of simply returning a site's description, it presents real, meaningful sentences related to the topics you're searching about. So instead of simply directing users to the self-created descriptions about the websites they're searching, FactBites digs a little deeper and gives you a more informed look at their results.

Mahalo_revised.gifMahalo (which means thank you in Hawaiian), bills itself as "the world's first human-powered search engine," and prides itself on better organizing the information they compile so that searchers save time and find what interests them quickly and easily. Search terms are organized into pages (like Fashion or Gadgets), and sub-topics are further categorized into lists on each main page. This kind of search is great for looking for topics to blog on (something I spend plenty of time doing), or for researching specific products.

ChaCha is a potentially cutting-edge earch engine that allows users "to ask any question in conversational English and receive an accurate answer as a text message in just a few minutes." ChaCha is a cool mobile tool, as you send text messages to the engine, and receive responses on your mobile device. Once your question is received, it's routed to the most knowledgeable ChaCha Community Guides (real people!) who are required to pass tests before they're able to work answering queries.

cuil_revised_2.pngCuil is a brand new search engine (launched on July 28, 2008), and claims to be the biggest search engine on the Web. Based out of Menlo Park, California, and founded by a former Google executive, Cuil claims to have indexed 120 billion Web pages - three times more than any other search engine. I checked out Cuil, and while this blog didn't come up in the top 10 search results when I entered the name (Accelerating IT Sales), the user interface is a pleasure, and I could see myself overlooking the ranking issue and giving the engine a fair shake.

There are plenty of other search engines out there just waiting to be discovered by those who are tired of, or want something different from Google. You can find comprehensive lists of search engines in this Wikipedia article, including topic-specific and niche engines that you might otherwise never hear about. Happy Searching!

September 22, 2008

BtoB Online Goes Interactive with the Lead Generation Guide 2008

bb-logo_revised.gifThe recently released the BtoB Online Lead Generation Guide 2008 provides a comprehensive overview of the B2B lead generation industry's recent innovations and upcoming trends, and is published in an interactive format that puts their own suggestions regarding content usage into action.

The interactive guide has a range of features that allow users to search, bookmark, customize, and generally manipulate their experience with the content within. To explain all of the features, the guide contains a narrated tutorial that points out and explains each of the features available.

The fact that BtoB Online published the guide as more an interactive tool than as a document is interesting, and could signify a change in how content is distributed online. In the past, most similar publications have been offered as PDFs, or made available via a website. In choosing to distribute this guide as a tool however, BtoB Online is signaling the need to produce and distribute content that users can tweak to meet their needs.

By selecting any number of navigation options from the top-of-page navigation bar, users can select exactly how they want to view and use the content. In addition to deciding how I want my pages to appear (thumbnails or full-size viewing, 1-or-2 pages visible), I can select the "Links" option and see a list of all of the URLs on the page or in the guide! The publication also contains a fairly in-depth search feature, the ability to bookmark pages and have the bookmarks appear in my browser bookmarks/favorites, and social networking functionalities.

The inclusion of a "Share" option in the navigation bar is a big step for the B2B crowd which has been slower than the consumer sect in the full adoption of social networking within the industry. By addressing social networking in the very make-up of this guide however, BtoB Online is acknowledging the momentum that social networking has gained in the past year, and invited the use of social networking across the industry.

The guide can be embedded into blogs as a custom widget, shared with friends via an easy-to-use message containing the URL, or submitted to social networking sites such as Stumbledupon, Newsvine, and digg, among others.

In addition to the new interactive format, the guide also contains a host of valuable information for anyone working in the B2B lead generation industry. From advice on lead scoring and lead nurturing to resources for those looking to find out more about lead management vendors or understand the industry through statistics, the guide is packed full of useful tools.

September 09, 2008

Keywords, content and tag clouds

Have you seen or heard of tag clouds, yet never been too sure what they are or why they're on so many sites? Have you ever want to see what your website or blog would look like with a tag cloud? I was curious about tag clouds myself - so I did a little research and created a few tag clouds to share on this site.

According to Wikipedia, tag clouds are "...visual depictions of user-generated tags, or simply the word content of a site, used typically to describe the content of web sites." Flikr, the photo sharing site, was the first high-profile website to use tag clouds, while the origins of tag clouds can be traced back to Douglas Coupland's 1995 Microserfs.

The first site I found was TagCrowd. TagCrowd is a web service that allows you to use their technology to create a tag cloud for any website, grouping of text, or uploaded file. I went to the site and created a tag cloud for this website, and (after a little tweaking on my part to remove some irrelevant words such as "comes" and "permalink," was rewarded with this nifty visualization of the content on this site:

created at TagCrowd.com


Tag Cloud Generator is a free site that lets you create and customize your own tag clouds by adding specific tags, changing the font/background color and the size and alignment of your tags. I like this site - it was easy to use, didn't require that I register, and created a visually appealing cloud tag for this site:


MakeCloud is another free service that lets you create a tag cloud from any RSS Feed or website.


tag cloud


The cloud created using MakeCloud doesn't have the same formatting as the Tag Crowd option, but it still expresses the site content visually, and, while there are fewer tags, I thought that most included were highly relevant to the content on this site.

I also made a really neat looking tag cloud using Wordle - you can view it in their gallery here. Wordle images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license, and can be used for any purposes. Keep in mind that if you use a Wordle image on your website or blog however, you must attribute it to Creative Commons.

I found yet another cool site in ZoomClouds. After an easy sign-up process, I was able to create and customize a tag cloud for the Accelerating IT Sales RSS Feed. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the cloud to preview in this post after pasting in the code, so I'm unable to show you the ZoomCloud output, which was pretty cool. You can check it out on their website here.

If you're interested in learning more about all of the different kinds of tag clouds you can make, check out this highly information article from Smashing Magazine, Tag Clouds Gallery: Examples And Good Practices. I had no idea that so much went into tag clouds, or that there were so many kinds of tag clouds that one could choose to put on their site until I read this article.

Tag clouds are an interesting way to quickly scan a site to figure out if its content is relevant to your needs. You can use tag clouds to search for topical information without having to come up with specific search terms on your own. Personally, I find tag clouds to be helpful, especially when I'm doing research this this blog. Since I write about so many different topics (social media, lead generation, IT Sales, multimedia content, etc), I don't always know what I'm looking for when I set out to find ideas for new blog posts.

August 22, 2008

Optimizing Organic Search Strategies

searching_revised.jpgWhile site subscribers are the bread-and-butter for all kinds of B2B organizations, building a strong subscriber base over time is essential to maintaining and growing your pool of leads over time. Organic Search, defined by SEO-Space is the "process by which web users find web sites by a keyword query and click on an unpaid search engine listing," and is increasingly being used by B2B marketers as an inexpensive and highly efficient method of building an audience using existing infrastructure (search tools like Google), and their own content.

When making a conscious effort to increase your search rankings and drive traffic to your site via organic search methods, it's important that you consider all of the different tactics required to create a successful strategy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a relatively complex field, and implementing search tactics that work requires that you do more than simply tag your content with keywords. Search experts, such as the folks at Search Engine Land, have taken the time to compile a list of common mistakes made by marketers when attempting to optimize their sites to generate (unpaid) search traffic.

In their article, Six Mistakes B2B Marketers Continue To Make With Organic Search, Search Engine Land outlines the most common mistakes made in terms of getting a great organic search strategy up and running. With a focus on the mistakes of B2B marketers, Search Engine Land offers tips on how these generally tech-savvy organizations can get their organic search strategies straight. And while inadequate site architecture (which is difficult to correct if you don't have a site redesign planned) tops the list of errors, the other errors commonly associated with optimizing organic search can all be remedied without having to rip apart your entire site.

Inadequate Site Architecture - if you're trying to drive traffic to your website based on specific search terms, you need to make sure that there are landing pages on your site to increase traffic to your site, and "welcome" traffic once it lands. If you simply drive traffic to your site, without tagging specific pages for specific search terms, not only do you lose out on an opportunity to push your site up in the search rankings, but you also lose the ability to effectively track your visitors once they hit your site.

Lousy Meta Descriptions - according to the article, many B2B marketers fail to fill out their site meta descriptions, and when they do fill out meta tags, they often either leave the task to the IT department, or write tags that they understand, but which don't resonate with users. Instead of taking a casual attitude to crafting meta descriptions, it's important to consult with (or hire) someone who understands how to write meta descriptions and which descriptions will attract the most search traffic.

Not Analyzing Organic Landing Pages
- In order to successfully implement a search strategy, you need to make sure that your organic landing pages are attracting the appropriate traffic. It's important to analyze your organic landing pages for, "for all significant, ranking keywords," and ensure that any organic traffic is, in fact, landing on the pages you want them to land on!

Not Monitoring Analytics - While pay-per-click search results are generally analyzed at length, organic search results don't always get the same attention. To capture the effectiveness of organic search however, it's crucial that you look at all of the statistics related to your search campaign and analyze your traffic, where it originates from, its bounce rates and so on. By understanding the path that organic search traffic takes to your site, you gain a better understanding of how you can better attract more of it.

Failing to Optimize Printed Marketing Assets Before Converting them to the Web - Before starting a campaign that's heavy on white papers, case studies and technology briefs formated as PDFs, make sure you optimize those materials for search. While the casual web surfer might not click on a PDF link, a tech-savvy B2B buyer may be specifically searching for these types of materials, and will be more likely to click on them if they come up towards the top of their search.

Duplicate Title Tags and Meta Descriptions - If you haven't optimized your site content for search, chances are excellent that you have duplicate title tags and meta descriptions associated with your site. Because of this, your search rankings will be lower, and users won't necessarily be able to find your valuable content.

While these 6 common mistakes represent just the tip of the organic search iceberg, they present a good place to start when evaluating your organic search strategy. If you're interested in learning more about optimizing your site (and/or content) for search, you may want to visit Search Engine Guide, Search Engine Journal, SearchEngineWatch, or any of these other sites compiled by SearchRank.

June 02, 2008

Managing the Buzz of an Interactive World

buzz_revised.jpgWith the introduction and widespread use of social media online, the digital landscape has changed from a one-way content stream (companies create and deliver content to users), to a two-way content stream (companies and consumers both create and deliver content). This two-way content stream has been good for companies; the more users engage with a company's marketing materials, the more connected they feel toward the company's brand. At the same time however, social media has opened companies to negative and potentially brand-damaging user interactions.

As more people user social media, and more companies incorporate social media tools into their sites, users have more ways to communicate their views with corporate entities, and corporations have less control over the messages going out with their names attached. If users decide that they are unhappy with a company's actions, they can use the company's own website and communications channels to express their dismay over the situation.

Once angry comments, or "buzz," start popping up on blogs or in user forums, companies no longer control their overall image and reputations can suffer. Rob Key, CEO of Converseon sums it up, "You no longer own your brand. Your brand is a conversation." Once conversations about your company turn negative, your hard-earned reputation can be sullied, and your company's earnings can even suffer.

Because user-participation online is not going away, companies need strategies to manage their online reputations without stifling the voices of their customers. It's clear that people want to participate in their online experiences, and by turning off the comment functionality on blogs, or disallowing user-generated content on websites, companies will only push their users further away and erode their reputation and their customer base.

To help companies keep abreast of the online "buzz" being generated in their name, companies can use "buzz monitoring" tools that track names, products and brands all over the web. In addition to the paid services that exist, companies can start tracking their online reputation with any of these 26 free buzz tracking tools. While you may not be able to control the conversations taking place about your company, you can monitor what people are saying, respond to negative posts, and reach out to people to limit the damage.

Learn more about how to monitor your company's reputation with the Free Online Reputation Management Beginner's Guide by Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim. Even though the guide was originally published in 2006, the tips and tools offered by Beal are relevant to everything that's going on today and deal with how to manage negative consumer generated media (CGM) before it ruins your corporate reputation. You can also learn more on The Forrester Blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals post by Peter Kim, Three Key Applications for Brand Monitoring.

May 02, 2008

Designing Better Landing Pages

958915_sphere_revised.jpgIf you're in the business of generating online leads, you need a Landing Page that doesn't scare users away from becoming registered site members. A good Landing Page is one that encourages the casual user to register and convert, obtain the offer that drew them to your site, and return regularly. A good Landing Page whisks users through the registration process quickly, provides questions and response options that match their experiences, and doesn't demand the surrender of too much personal information.

I've culled some basic Landing Page design tips from experts in the field, and included them below. Crafting a well-designed Landing Page that converts a high number of users and generates quality leads requires far more than I've offered here.

1. Keep it short and simple. Jon Miller of Marketo and Modern B2B Marketing makes a great point in
Two Practical Landing Page Tips That Will Save You Money
. Using his company's Landing Page software, testing capabilities and tools, Miller ran a test to see which Landing Page forms convert at a higher rate - those with short forms (5 information fields), medium forms (7 information fields), or long forms (9 information fields). The short forms won hands down, with users converting at a higher rate and each conversion costing less. Miller's findings are clear - the more information you ask of your users, the less likely they are to provide it and the more that conversion costs.

2. Inspire trust with consistency in branding. Your Landing Page is part of your organization's corporate marketing message, and it's important to remind users that by registering via this page, they'll receive trustworthy content and information. By incorporating consistent branding on your Landing Pages (instead of implementing a particular product's branding campaign on its Landing Page), you present a united front to your users and let them know that your company is responsible for their personal information. In Think Beyond the Click: How to Build Landing Pages that Convert, Julie Mason writing for SearchEngineLand points out that the number one reasons people decline to submit personal information (or submit fake data) is because the site doesn't look credible.

3. Don't use too many bells and whistles. When encouraging site registration via a Landing Page, the last thing you want to do is frustrate your users and force them to navigate away from the Landing Page (or worse - close out their browser window entirely) because the graphics or pop-ups are too invasive. In 10 Landing Page Optimization Tactics by Larry Chase, Chase explains that while some users may appreciate the graphics display (especially gamers), most users just want to hand over their personal information so they can get the offer they've been promised. Hold off on using music, video, or pop-ups on Landing Pages and allow users to register with as little interruption as possible,

4. Limit navigation and escape routes! Once a user reaches your Landing Page, the goal is that they register. Period. While you typically want to offer users links to research they might find interesting or encourage people to investigate your site for themselves, you don't want to do this from your Landing Page. In Online Marketing Blog's Ten Tips for Lead Generation Landing Pages, Lee Odden says, "...each link is an invitation for the visitor to click away instead of converting. " By sticking with your corporate branding, a straight-forward registration form and a header or footer (with a link to your homepage), you have a better chance of converting users.

5. Don't forget your end of the bargain. It's essential to deliver on your promise once a user has taken the time to fill out your registration form and become a member of your site. When a user finds themselves on a Landing Page, they've arrived there after deciding to download a white paper, watch a webinar, or take some other action. If you strand your new member on a generic thank you page they're going to be frustrated, unsure of how to retrieve the content they registered for, and unhappy with their experience on your site. Make sure your re-direct new registrants to the content they want and save your thank you message for a follow-up email message.

April 08, 2008

Connect with Content via Niche Search Engines

Junta42_revised.jpg

If you are a content creator, there's a good chance that you spend plenty of time trolling the Web looking for information to use when writing articles and blogs. While you can do Google searches to find information that suits your research needs, the results can be overly broad if you haven't mastered the art of keyword searching. Blogs are great places to look when doing research too, but sometimes the abundance of blog posts on whatever topics you're looking for can be overwhelming. With so many online search and research tools, it can be tough to find what you're looking for by virtue of there being so much that matches your research needs!

There is a new trend however, that may offer some research help - niche search communities that gather contextual information from around the web and present it in a single location. Junta 42 is a content marketing search community that is set up so content is gathered by Junta 42 community and staff members who search the web and submit the content to the site. In order to maintain a standard, Junta 42 staff members filter submitted content and ensure that community members are not simply posting anything to the site.

There are plenty of niche search engines in existence on the Web, but what sets Junta 42 apart from most of the others I found is that it is dedicated to provided content about how best to market content - and therefore best meets my own research needs. In terms of writing about marketing, it's always helpful to find tools that are designed to help me do my job - and this one does.

As the Web continues to grow, it's interesting to watch how our need to segment, filter and funnel data into smaller and smaller chunks increases. The organization of information online is challenged by the size and (lack of) overall management of the Internet. Niche search engines are invaluable to the organization of online information, as they centrally distribute very specific content, and decrease time spent searching the web. The interactive component of niche search engines like these encourages user participation in tracking down and sharing content with others, and increases the likelihood of connecting with the people with whom you share a niche industry.

April 01, 2008

Start Managing Your Online Reputation

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With so many social networking Websites and interactive options available across the Web, it's easy to lose track of the sites you're participated in or joined over the past few years. The use of social media provides so many opportunities to express yourself, introduce yourself, and generally get yourself known online, that you may need to consider what kind of online reputation you've been building over time - either intentionally or accidentally.

Without even meaning to, your participation in various online sites could have created a trail of misleading, incorrect, or less-than-flattering profiles scattered about the web. Search tools like Google Alerts or Yahoo Alerts allow people to find every instance of your name and profile online, and if you have incorrect information out there - you need to consider the impact of that information popping up when a prospective employer Googles your name, or a potential client stumbles across an out-of-date LinkedIn profile.

Think about profiles you've created over the past 5 years and ask yourself the following questions:

Since creating your online profiles have you...

• moved, gotten a new phone number or changed your email address?
• gotten married, divorced or had children?
• gotten a new job/left an old job?
• graduated from school?
• updated any training or certifications?
• won awards, joined professional organizations or community groups?
• changed industries?
• gotten a new title or changed job responsibilities?
• started or closed a company?
• expanded your online presence with a website or blog?
• changed industries or left the job market altogether?

If you answered yes to any of these, and have not updated your online profiles recently, you might consider doing a Google search on your own name and seeing what comes up. While you may think that managing your online reputation isn't all that important, if you're not engaged in a job search or looking to expand your network, you need to consider that it's better to be proactive and manage this information before you need a new job than wait and try to do it all once it's time to get back out there and make new connections.

It's already clear how important online reputations can be on eAuction sites like eBay and Amazon, where users post positive and negative feedback about their interactions with other buyers and sellers. A bad eBay reputation can get a seller blacklisted, and make participation in the site difficult. With so much in our lives being accessed online, it's starting to matter more and more what you have on your MySpace and Facebook profiles that you stopped checking 2 years ago, as well as what's on your updated LinkedIn page.

Check out these resources to learn more about how you can manage your reputation and control what others learn when they search for you online.

Reputation Repair is Mission Critical from Brand Titan

Online Reputation Monitoring Beginners Guide by Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim

34 Online Reputation Management Tools by Duct Tape Marketing

Remember, these are basic tips for starting the process of managing your online reputation management. I will address more in-depth steps you can take to control your image online in another post.

December 28, 2007

Grade Your Website's Marketing Muscle

I recently ran across an interesting tool that grades Websites according to their online marketing effectiveness. Website Grader by HubSpot is a free tool that allows you to enter your Website URL, keywords associated with your site, and competitor Website URLs, than generates a report that ranks how well your site performs when searched.

According to HubSpot, Website Grader "provides a score that incorporates things like Website traffic, SEO, social popularity and other technical factors. It also provides some basic advice on how the Website can be improved from a marketing perspective."

If you are considering optimizing your site for Search, or are curious as to how well your site is searched, check out this free tool. I plugged in the Web Buyer's Guide information, and found that we have a score of 99 out of 100. This means that out of all of the sites that have been analyzed by Website Grader, the WBG scores higher than 99% of them for its marketing effectiveness.

The personalized report I got after submitting the WBG information also gave me detailed analysis of how our site ranks on Google, Technorati, and on social networking sites such as Digg and del.icio.us.

-BH

November 26, 2007

Copywriting with Keywords for Improved Search Results

Adding SEO (search engine optimization) practices to your Web site is a multi-step process that can involve making changes to your site's architecture, who you link to and how (for credibility's sake), and how you market your site and site materials. While implementing some of these processes take time and the cooperation of most of your company's departments, there are quick and easy ways you can improve your search results.

One site you can send your copywriters to is Wordtracker.com, where they have set up free Keyword Suggestion tool. With this keyword suggestion tool, you can enter a keyword, find out how many times that keyword was searched (according to Wordtracker's formula), and see 100 related keywords that are being searched.

When writing headlines, titles, and abstracts or summaries, your copywriters can see which terms are generating the most searches online and use the more popular terms to describe your marketing materials. Using this tool, I typed in "virtualization," and found it to be the most popular of 1614 searches related to virtualization - this didn't surprise me. What I did find surprising, was that the 3rd most popular related search term - "virtualization software" was only searched 29 times.

Search algorithms are still somewhat a mystery, but this free keyword suggestion tool can take some of the guesswork out of writing copy for optimal searches. Check out a list of 12 keyword suggestion tools at The SEO Company.

-BH