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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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February 3, 2014

Is Guest Blogging Dead?

February 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

Is it time to give up on guest blogging?Matt Cutts sure knows how to get the SEO community worked up, doesn’t he? Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, told the community recently that guest blogging is dead, due to its overuse by search marketing companies for link-building. Money quote:

‘Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking “guest post outsourcing” and writing articles about “how to automate guest blogging.”’ [Editor's Note: The deluge of requests like these that I receive on a daily basis is one of the reasons I'm no longer accepting unsolicited guest posts]

Anyway, no one would blame you if you said, “OK. That’s good enough for me. I’ll never guest post again.” After all, when Google (in the form of Matt Cutts) says something’s toast, well, that’s usually good enough for most people.

It’s also wrong.

The reality is much more complex than that. Guest blogging, when done well, isn’t only about links. In theory, anyway, guest blogging is supposed to be about raising awareness of and traffic to your brand’s web presence (and both of those comprise a huge part of a solid e-commerce and Internet marketing strategy). Given that that’s the case, why would throw away years of work building relationships with publishers and bloggers? And why would you abandon a tactic that offers you brand awareness and traffic? 

Done well, guest blogging can (and often should) continue to be part of your brand’s Internet marketing efforts. In fact, Cutts suggested the same in the comments to his original post (Search Engine Land offers a solid round-up in the “Postscript” of this article).

Among the ways you can make it work for your brand include:

  • Focusing on quality sites in your market, emphasizing quality over quantity.
  • Building the right content for your site first. 
  • Writing and commenting regularly on a small set of external sites to build a relationship.
  • Tracking traffic and conversions from your selected sites.

My latest Biznology post explores each of these tactics (and several others) in more detail. Check out the whole post, “Should Guest Blogging Still Be Part of Your SEO Strategy?” when you get a chance for more tips on how to make guest blogging work for your brand. Because guest blogging is not dead. Not by a long shot. (And, no, it’s not a zombie, either). Like much of Internet marketing, it’s evolving and changing as your customers change. The question is whether you’re changing along with it.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole post over on Biznology.

I’d also recommend you look at this presentation, “Today and Tomorrow: The Changing Customer Journey,” which looks at how your customers are changing… and how you can change with them:

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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October 9, 2013

Search's Continued Evolution – Thinks Out Loud Episode 45

October 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

SEO

Search’s Continued Evolution Headlines

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 01s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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October 2, 2013

Google's SEO Shutdown?

October 2, 2013 | By | No Comments

Google's SEO Shutdown

Google’s SEO Shutdown Headlines

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 19m 59s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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September 3, 2013

Is Google Destined to Win?

September 3, 2013 | By | No Comments

Who is destined to win?

“…Destiny is just another word for inevitable, and nothing’s inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say, ‘You’re evitable!’” Winifred ‘Fred’ Burkle, Angel episode #3.7, “Offspring”

When it comes to the future of online travel—and, yes, that very much includes mobile—no one is “destined” to win. Not Google. Not Expedia. Not Booking.com. Nor Priceline, TripAdvisor, Hipmunk. No one.

For reals.

Take a look at a couple of companies who once were “destined” to win and where they are right now:

  • Travelocity all but created the online travel space. Now they’ve all but been purchased by Expedia.
  • Speaking of Expedia, everybody knew Expedia would dominate online travel. Yet, Priceline, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com have got the online travel giant looking over their shoulder with worry. Or, rather, wondering how they got passed so fast.

Despite compelling arguments to the contrary, Google is no more immune to market risks and competition than anyone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Google has a number of assets in its favor. They’ve built a remarkable machine for gathering and understanding customer data. They spend tremendous resources listening and responding to customer needs. And they’ve got a healthy head start.

Those undoubtably represent significant advantages relative to any resurgent heavyweight or upstart competitor.

But, plenty of upstarts have excelled throughout the years by exploiting larger rivals’ weaknesses and blind spots. It happens all the time, even when the bigger company ought to know better. For example, the market-leading Internet portal/search engine Excite—which had achieved its success by outmaneuvering Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and Netscape—once had the opportunity to buy a tiny startup offering a compelling new feature for the bargain basement price of $750,000 (Excite was then valued at $35 billion). Excite passed, feeling that a.) the price was too high for such a simple tool and, b.) their technology and strategic advantages would enable continued market dominance.

Um… yeah. That worked out well for Excite.

The startup’s name? C’mon, say it with me now: Google.

Google’s advantages today are much more significant than Excite’s were, of course. Just like Microsoft’s were in PC’s not too long ago. And Expedia’s in travel. And Blackberry’s in smartphones. And Nokia’s in feature phones.

Funny how that worked out for all those players, eh?

Unsurprisingly, Google isn’t exactly resting on its laurels. Plenty of start-ups and incumbent players recognize the opportunity and are pursuing it aggressively. As Glenn Gruber writes for Tnooz, “there is a major job still to be done in mobile travel.” Google’s making great moves in that area. But that doesn’t mean they’re destined to win.

The bad news, of course, is the same is true for you. The future belongs to those who show up, who plan, and who execute. Every. Single. Day. Destiny belongs to those who take it.

Vacation’s over. Let’s get to work.

If you’re interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going—as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries—register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” You can get your free copy of the report here.

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes in the marketplace, including:

Tim Peter

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August 19, 2013

Say What? Computers May Stop Using Screens and What That Means for Your Business

August 19, 2013 | By | No Comments

Predicting the futureQuartz has a good look at how Google is preparing for screenless computers. Key quote:

“The future of Google’s voice interfaces isn’t just accurate interpretation of commands, but real interaction—hence the ‘conversation’ part of Huffman’s Conversation Search group. One trick Google’s voice interface can already do is understand pronouns like he, she and it. ‘You can ask yourself why in language do things like pronouns exist—well, they exist because it lets us communicate faster than we do without them,’ says Huffman.

To demonstrate, Huffman follows up his question about how far it is to Hearst Castle with the sentence ‘give me directions,’ which doesn’t even include the pronoun ‘it,’ but his phone begins rattling off directions in its tinny computerized voice, anyway.”

I’ve been talking about this trend for a while, (most notably in a Travel Tuesday post called
“What Watson, Xbox, and Google Are Telling You Right Now”). But regardless of the industry, this scenario describes where we’re headed:

“Imagine your customer driving his family to Disney for summer vacation, leaving New York early in the day.

Now imagine 8 hours later, the kids are getting restless and the parents want to find a place to stay somewhere near, say, Nashville, NC.

They’ve got a voice-responsive mobile computer sitting in their center console and the power of Google, or Bing, or Watson on the other end of the line to help them find a hotel that meets their needs and, when they’re ready, book it.”

The key point is that the 10 blue links that make up search results pages are increasingly rare—I recently heard one observer claim those now make up fewer than 15% of all search results (though I’ve been unable to verify that stat).

In any case, your marketing must adapt as your customers adopt new technologies and as their behavior shifts. Google’s doing it today. The real question as you head into planning for next year is what you need to do to get ready.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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August 7, 2013

Why Search Isn't About Search Any Longer

August 7, 2013 | By | One Comment

Have you seen this?

Google Now local restaurant suggestions

These are “cards” in Google Now, suggestions of restaurants I (or you) might want to check out. Google offered me these cards the other day on my phone.

For no particular reason.

Well, except that these were nearby restaurants. And it was lunchtime.

None of this would be that impressive if not for the fact that I didn’t search for nearby restaurants at lunchtime.

Nope. Google did it for me.

I’d opened the Google app on my phone to search for something else and these cards happened to be right up top, ready when I needed them.

I’ve been talking about the future of search for some time, noting the growth of the channel and shifts in user interface to voice. I’ve even noted the how maps/location-based services continue to change search and the effect these various shifts will have on your overall distribution strategy.

But until you’ve experienced what it’s like to not search and have relevant answers find you, you don’t realize how massive a shift this will really be. As I’ve said before, we’re entering an era where search results will find customers instead of customers finding search results.

And, of course, these shifts depend heavily on Google and its competitors understanding their customers—your customers—deeply. If only there were ways for the AGFAM giants to learn what your customers do. Something that gave them insights into your customers’ social, local, and mobile behaviors.

Oh, right…

Because mobile isn’t just an output device, a place for Google to show its recommended results. It’s also a data-collection device (though, you probably knew that thanks to recent headlines).

The real point here is that because of this data—and the shifts in search it enables—search marketing is changing. Significantly.

The key question is whether you’re changing your search marketing along with it.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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July 19, 2013

Local Search is More than Meets the Eye

July 19, 2013 | By | No Comments

20130719-162343.jpgWhen is local not local? It’s not meant as a riddle, but instead as a thought-starter, something to get you thinking about what local really means for your customers.

Oh, and for your brand.

Because, as I write in my latest piece for Mike Moran’s Biznology blog, “Why Local Search is Just Like Politics,” local is about more than just geography (or, more correctly, proximity).

It’s also about those things your customers think about when they really need an answer, when they’re really in the market, when they’re ready to buy. Because local is more than just geography. It’s more than just proximity.

In the immortal words from Jaws: The Revenge, “This time, it’s personal.”

Local search, largely driven by mobile and the “always connected” nature of your customers, is all about personal response.

And my Biznology post explores how you can use that to your advantage in more detail. Check it out if you get the chance.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including:

Tim Peter

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July 15, 2013

3 Reasons Why Blogging Still Works for Marketing

July 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

Blogging still works as a marketing techniqueIt’s no secret I’ve long been a fan of blogging for business. And, for the most part, I still am [*].

But in prep for announcing this year’s Blogging All-Star Lineup (you can see last year’s list here), I thought I’d give you three reasons why blogging still makes sense for your business:

  1. Your customers have questions that need answering. Customers, regardless of what they’re looking for, continue to begin their journey with search. And those that ask their friends (either IRL folks, or those they know only through social networks), typically rely on well-informed individuals. Guess where those well-informed folks get their information.
  2. You have answers for those questions. I’m sure you do. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be world-class (though, it helps). What you do have to do is a.) know more than your customers do and, b.) don’t overstate what you do know. A big part of your brand story is based on what’s true about you. Your customers are smart. They’ll see through BS. Just tell the truth about where you’re able to help and the people who need that help will find you.
  3. You want to rank well in search engines when people ask those questions. Not much to say about this one.

Blogging isn’t a panacea. It isn’t a silver bullet. It isn’t the Holy Grail. But in an era when many happily flit from technique to technique in hopes of finding a panacea/silver bullet/Holy Grail, it’s amazing how effective a well-structured blog that focuses on answering your customers’ needs works for many, many businesses.

Now, check back tomorrow when I announce this year’s Marketing and E-commerce Blogging All-Stars, the folks who share what they know to help your business grow.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including:

[*] – Of course exceptions exist. But, for many businesses, I think you should probably blog for your business. (I’m open to hearing about edge cases; let me know your reasons against in the comments).

Tim Peter

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June 26, 2013

FTC Will Review Google's Pending Waze Acquisition

June 26, 2013 | By | No Comments

Google maps flight search smallA couple of weeks ago, the news broke that Google was buying social-mapping service Waze, which I also talked about at length in the weekly podcast.

Well, not so fast…

According to AllThingsD, the FTC plans to investigate whether the deal violates antitrust. Money quote:

“Google Maps is a leading mapping and navigation service. Waze was a rising rival. In fact, back in April, Waze CEO Noam Bardin was talking up his company as the search behemoth’s only viable competitor in that space.”

I may owe John Pope an apology

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing in a multiscreen world? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here or use the form below to receive yours today.


And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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June 24, 2013

Understanding the Big Picture: Why Visuals Matter to Your Digital Marketing

June 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

Picture thisMany people know that the World Wide Web came from a need to share information stored in documents, with emphasis on text. The http placed in front of every Web address stands for “hyper-text transfer protocol,” HTML stands for “hyper-text markup language,” and, in fact, the creator of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, objected to including a special tag for images in the early HTML specification.

Oh, what a long way we’ve come.

Today, I’d argue the Web is as much about visuals as it is about words. In fact, I argue that precisely in my latest Biznology post, “Why a Picture is Worth a Thousand Clicks: Visuals Boost Your SEO”. Noting Twitter’s acquisition of Vine, Instagram’s addition of video tools, and Facebook allowing images in comments as several examples, I point out:

“Now, those items might not look like much of a trend to you. But, then consider two recent announcements from Google:

  1. The search giant just introduced Local Carousel, including a stream of images to the top of local search results—above the first paid listing and the first organic result, pushing additional organic results well below the fold.
  2. AdWords has launched an AdWords Images Extension beta, including images as part of advertisers’ paid listings.

When Google starts to put its money—and its search engine results pages—behind something, you know it’s a trend worth watching. What Google seems to have learned is that consumers click on items with images more frequently than those without.”

Visual content plays a huge role in driving your customers’ purchase decisions and the clicks that start them down that path. Plenty of studies support that notion. Images and videos are no longer optional in delivering the right experience for your customers. If you’ll pardon the cliché, your pictures really are worth a thousand words.

So, if you want your web presence to really work for your business, I strongly recommend you pay more attention to the visuals you offer. And if you want to make those visuals work for you, take a minute and check out my post over on Biznology. If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s well worth a look.


Interested in learning more about the future of marketing? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including: