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July 30, 2014

The State of Search Marketing – Thinks Out Loud Episode 83

July 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

What's the state of search

The State of Search Marketing Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy this look at what your customers expect from e-commerce in 2014 and my slides from the “Digital Marketing Directions – Exploit the Trends that Shape Travel Marketing” talk I gave recently:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 19s

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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July 24, 2014

Panda Attacks: What You Can Learn from eBay’s E-commerce SEO Mistake

July 24, 2014 | By | No Comments

E-commerce SEO tipsFor the last week or so, I’ve been looking at ways to improve your overall e-commerce effectiveness, noting why e-commerce will continue its strong growth, and why e-commerce and mobile go hand-in-hand. But search remains a huge part of effective traffic driver for many businesses. The question you need to worry about: Is your e-commerce SEO up to snuff?

You see, eBay, who you’d think would be really good at both e-commerce and SEO, committed one of Google’s deadly sins: They presented consumers with a large number of thin, uninteresting pages. And Google struck back, delisting tons of pages and cutting eBay’s search engine traffic by greater than 33% (according to Search Engine Land). Well, earlier this week, we all learned that this Panda penalty will cost eBay almost $200 million in revenue this year.

Um… yikes.

The only good news from this story is that you don’t have to let this happen to you. Instead, you can learn from eBay’s mistakes to improve your e-commerce SEO — and stay in Google’s good graces. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

  • Provide your customers useful, helpful, relevant content. Ebay’s biggest problem, by far, was the number of truly awful pages on their site, with many showing a product image, headline, and little else. Create rich, detailed product descriptions for your products and services, work to attract relevant links from appropriate channel partners, and continue to improve your site’s response time to demonstrate to Google — and to your customers — that you offer quality content.
  • Focus on your most important product pages. Your time is your most valuable resource. Don’t waste it worrying about the pages and products no one sees. Instead, put your web analytics and sales data to work, see which products and pages your customers spend the most time with, then focus on improving those pages first. Over time you can then roll out what you’ve learned to the rest of your site.
  • Mobile matters. I know, I know. I’ve talked about the importance of mobile in search and e-commerce for a while now. But I’m serious. It really matters. Mobile now accounts for at least a third of all search traffic. And Google has admitted that mobile-friendly sites rank better in mobile search than those that make it hard for customers to browse, shop, and buy. Regardless of Panda or anything else Google may do, you risk losing customers to competitors if they can’t find your site in Google — or use it when they arrive. Improve your overall e-commerce usability and your mobile presence to help your customers

I’ve looked at each of these items in more detail — plus offered 5 more e-commerce SEO tips — in my latest Biznology column: e-Commerce SEO: How to avoid eBay’s $200 million Panda mistake. Check out the entire list when you get a moment.

And, if you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and 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.

You may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing. Again, it was built for a travel audience, but its lessons apply across industries. The full deck is here:

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the e-commerce and how to make it work for your business, including:

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 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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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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June 21, 2013

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May 23, 2013

Tim Peter

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May 22, 2013

What Voice-Powered Search Will Do For Travel Marketing

May 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

Changes in searchThe drive market (i.e., folks traveling by car with no reservations booked) has long represented the holy grail for travel marketers, an almost mythical creation, promising fabulous rewards if only someone could figure out how to reach it.

Not that no one’s tried. Obviously, outdoor media has dominated the push for drive market travelers. But the returns from print and outdoor have proved mixed and attribution almost impossible (and, yes, there is some correlation there).

But, there’s hope on the horizon. Search is changing in a big way. And with those changes comes the opportunity to reach drive market travelers — as well as loads of other folks, too.

You can read all about this development in this week’s Thinks Travel Tuesday post: What Watson, Xbox, and Google Are Telling You Right Now. Check it out if you get the chance.

You can also 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 the social, local, mobile web, including:

Tim Peter

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August 24, 2012

This week's best social, search and e-commerce tips (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – August 24, 2012)

August 24, 2012 | By | No Comments

Social media marketing smallJust a quick look this week at the best social, search and e-commerce tips I’ve run across. Enjoy:

Have a great weekend, Big Thinkers. See you back here next week.


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And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

Tim Peter

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August 22, 2012

SEO is Dead?

August 22, 2012 | By | 2 Comments

SEOSo it seems I pissed some people off. My recent Biznology post “Why SEO is Really Dead This Time and What to Do About It” has gotten under the skin of a number of fine folks, many of whom practice search engine optimization for a living.

First, this isn’t an apology. And don’t go looking for a weaselly response. I stand by what I wrote. In fact, I genuinely hope what I said is true. Of course, it’s possible I’m wrong. I just don’t think that’s the case.

Second, there’s an inherent problem any time you talk about SEO, one that any good business process management text recommends you avoid. The problem is that SEO refers alternately to the practice of optimizing websites to improve discovery by the search engines, the people who undertake that practice, and the industry those two comprise. When you refer to “an SEO,” you’re really talking about the individual (or company), not the techniques and practices. By contrast, “SEO” by itself typically refers to the practice, and “the SEO industry” means, well, just what it says. Further confusing matters, search engine marketing (SEM) may mean SEO to some folks but might mean only focusing on paid search tactics (also called PPC) to others.

I have tremendous respect for a large number of SEO’s (individuals and companies). I have worked with many excellent individuals and organizations on any number of SEO-related projects since I first started doing Internet marketing and website development way back in 1996. I frequently link to and like the fine work done by people like Jill Whalen, Barry Schwartz, Rand FIshkin and his team at SEOmoz, Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, Rimm-Kaufman Group and countless others.

For the record, I don’t think SEO’s (the people and companies) or SEO (the industry) are dead. Or even dying. SEO’s who continue to provide their customers a valuable service will continue to find work. And plenty of it. Too many businesses need the kinds of help that such reputable SEO’s provide. Just as I’ve argued before, these folks will continue to adapt their services to suit the needs of their customers and of the search engines.

The practice as we know it, on the other hand…

Why?

Simple. There are a ton of charlatans and snake-oil salesmen in the SEO industry (and in online marketing generally, for that matter). They have bolstered their reputations and client rosters by trading in shady practices, gaming the system, skewing the rankings. Or, just as bad from the standpoint of legitimate service providers, over-promising and under-delivering. Oh… and giving SEO’s everywhere a bad name. We’ve come up with cute names for these folks, calling them “black hat SEO’s,” referring to the outlaws of the Old West or “gray hats,” willing to skirt the line.

I actually hate the “black hat” and “gray hat” terms. SEO’s ought to insist on another term for these folks, one that disassociates sketchy activity from serious online marketing efforts focused on building brands and businesses along with rankings. In the classic film Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart admonishes Peter Lorre by saying, “I don’t mind a parasite; I object to a cut-rate one.” By the same token, I don’t mind black hats; I object to the dishonest ones.

Google and Bing continually modify their algorithms and indexes to account for these dishonest folks. Google has updated its algorithm more than 500 times already in 2012, looking to identify results that don’t make sense and promote those that do. One of these changes, known as Penguin, specifically focused on the practices these folks liked to employ. Another, Panda, was designed to hit pages that only a (cut-rate/dishonest) SEO could love.

Now, to be fair, Google isn’t perfect. These updates in far too many cases hurt legitimate sites because they “looked like” the kinds of garbage the guys and gals I’m talking about churn out. For businesses dependent upon Google for traffic and revenue, the effects can be devastating. I’ve heard from businesses all over the globe wondering what they’re supposed to do now that the search results they’ve come to depend on no longer deliver results. Happily, many solid, capable, legitimate SEO’s exist, willing and able to help these businesses recover.

The problem the bad guys create for SEO’s in general is that we are forced to explicitly acknowledge and promote the legitimacy of the good guys. SEO as an industry is not a scam. It’s just that enough scam artists ply their trade within the industry that it looks that way to the average client.

The search engines recognize this problem and understand exactly how much these practices threaten the legitimacy of their business. And they’re taking steps to do something about it. Panda was one such step. Penguin was another. Google (in the form of Matt Cutts) has stated, “…expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact.” [Emphasis mine].

They’ve declared war. And the kinds of SEO designed only to game the system won’t work anymore — or at least not for very long. Yes, it’s likely to be an ongoing game of “whack-a-mole,” where Google and Bing will keep bashing new tactics as they appear (and as they’ve done for years).

The difference is that it’s now a core focus.

So, the point of saying “SEO is Dead,” isn’t to declare the end to the industry. It isn’t to piss off hard-working, honest SEO’s. And it’s decidedly not to tell businesses that they can’t benefit from those hard-working, honest folks. It’s to acknowledge the reality that Google and Bing have declared war on the bad guys and on deceptive practices designed to game the system. It’s to let both the bad guys and, more importantly, their clients know that the game is over. If your intent is to rank well in the search engines, you’re better served spending more time worrying about your customers and less time worrying about the search engines. Just like the good guys have been saying for a long, long time.

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

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

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