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The Power of the BLOG

Dear Friend,
Can a Blog earn you a prison sentence? Ask Mojtaba Saminejad. He is an Iranian whose Blog, published in the Farsi language, earned him a two-year prison sentence in June 2005.
The online community is fast waking up to the power of blogs which have spread across the internet like wild fire. If you are still grappling with the word BLOG, these are online websites which are diary-like in approach and people are free to publish news or their ideas and thoughts. Blogs are very popular as they are simple to use and in most cases, free.

However, professional bloggers (people who have a decent no. of hours of blogging to their credit) will admit that blogging is not as easy as waking up in the morning, checking out some posts and putting together a few witty lines before you brush your teeth. You do need to be knowledgeable about the subject you are writing on or you are likely to be torn apart by people who are.

Having a Blog has its own set of inherent advantages which are obvious and some which are not so obvious. The better known advantages are:

Freedom to express: If you like to build a chain of communication and use that as food for thought and for your existence, a BLOG is the best way to create this outlet. You can express your opinion openly and you just might be surprised by the number of people who would agree with you. Such communication channels also help build momentum for a particular line of thought.

Networking at its best: If you own a blog which has genuine exchange of ideas it can evolve onto a good platform to network and grow your business. It is easier to impress potential customers with a strong and valid point of view rather than a price quote.

Excellent advertising platform: The sheer size of community generated at a popular blog provides an excellent advertising platform for advertisers. With the hunger for new advertising platforms which is both innovative and cost effective, blogs seems like the next location for the big bucks of advertisers.

Gauging public opinion on products and services: Bloggers post comments at a fiery pace. It is not uncommon to see a couple of comments posted within a few minutes of the original post. The topic and title of the blog needs to be alluring enough to get such quick responses. Blogs thus become an excellent forum to gauge public opinion on products and services and even political and business events. 

Useful tool for inter-company communication without the red tape: IBM recently started a blog for its employees on the intranet. Reason? Simple, to get employees interacting with each other and building up a knowledge based community for putting together new ideas as well as provide good human resource practices. More and more companies are ignoring the naysayers for blogs and going ahead with using this tool for fostering better employee relations within the company.  The knowledge sharing is also excellent and HR personnel can monitor comments to get an idea about new policies or identify troublesome issues head on and well in advance.

Other benefits which are worth mentioning if you own a blog is search engine optimization due to the high volume of content featured here, updating yourself on the latest trend in the marketplace which subsequently helps you identify new opportunities which helps you stay ahead and allows you to be tech-savvy in your social and professional circle. The benefits outlined above should be enough to inspire you to start a blog at the earliest!

Search Engine Marketing With Blogs

Blogs are fast becoming the SEO tool of choice by many webmasters. Why? Content. Search engines love content. The more content your blog can provide on a steady basis, the better your ability to increase traffic. Blogs are easy to start and anyone can for more effective SEO management.

What content do you place in your blog? You can place any useful information or articles about your product or service. If, for example, you are a wedding planner, you should write about tips future brides may not be aware of in relation to planning their wedding. You might talk about wedding scams, catering faux pas, honeymoon hotspots etc… Let the readers know you have something more to offer then just a simple service. People who feel comfortable about a person or organization are far more likely to buy from them. Let your readers know who you are and what you are capable of doing for them.

Now that you have your content, you need to get it into the reader’s hands. The advantage of using a blog is that you can syndicate your content. Rich Site Summary or RSS is a format used to syndicate your content instantly. In other words, people can have your content posted on their web site or sent to their email. Most blog sites will give you your own special URL to submit to sites that syndicate content. These sites will then contact your URL for the content. The more you update your site the more your site will be indexed or PINGED by RSS feeds. To help ensure your RSS feed is being indexed, enter the RSS tag into the of your site. Just enter your site title and the URL with your special URL for RSS. This and other tags can be used in most blogs. Take advantage of them.

Creating a blog will allow your content to be syndicated which in turn will increase traffic to your web site as well as build your link popularity through RSS and blog directories. This will give you and your products or services recognition. The knowledge and personal insights that you share will help build your business and your customer relations. The RSS feeds and blog directories will also help build your page rank on search engines. Blogs have all the ingredients to be one of the best free advertising tools the Internet has to offer. Why aren’t you taking advantage?

The Importance of Web Analytics :: Using Your Analytics Properly

Analytics are very important to your web marketing campaign. If you do not use analytics properly you may not understand how effective your search engine marketing is.

In this article I look at some practical examples of when to use analytics and some things you need to identify in order to get the most out of your analytics.

I came across a situation today that I thought I’d share. It has to do with a client’s analytics.

Many times, as a search engine marketer, it is up to us to tell the client what they should be looking for in their analytics. Right away this seems odd to me. It’s like me telling my client what their business model is, or how they should be selling their product online.

But this does seem to be a common thread among some site owners. They had an idea for a product or service and they wanted to promote it online. So they had a website built, and may have initially had it optimized. But that is as far as their experience goes.

They have no idea on how to track progress or improvements. All to often the numbers they do look at are not the best results to view.

two perspectives on analytics – SEO and client

With my client today, we were trying to nail down what should have been important numbers. And it was a very similar case – they had invested in this super-duper analytics package that was collecting and displaying data upteen different ways, yet they had no idea how to interpret the numbers.

They thought their traffic was increasing, but they had on idea why, really, nor did they have any idea what their customers were doing once they hit the website.

And, as sometimes happens, we fell into the trap of telling them what they should be looking for.

“You want to see search engine referrals going up. That means it’s working” or “increased page views is a good thing.”

But this really isn’t solving their problem is it?

Sometimes as search marketers, we need to step back and say “I know what I need for numbers, but what does my client need to see.”

So this was the approach we took today – let’s have a discussion with the client and focus on what they want to see, not what we need to show them to prove our value as search engine marketers.

When we were done, we had not only shortened their monthly analytics report to a few key metrics (down from pages and pages of statistical analysis) but we had also decreased the time required to complete this analysis.

Sure we still will do some of the analysis for our own purposes, but does the client really care how many backlinks or pages indexed they have? Not likely.

Nope, more often than not, the client wants to know that they are making money. Pure and simple.

So, if you can show them that they are making money, that’s all they really care about. You can add value as a search engine marketer by showing areas of improvement (“did you know that your Google referrals went up by 15% this month? That proves the value of our services, yada yada yada…”)

As long as you can illustrate the bottom line to the client in terms they understand, at that it is improving, then you as a search marketer have done your job.

Keep the pages indexed, backlinks, referrals by keyword and other non-client related data to yourself and present a concise simple report that even the CEO (who has 25 hours per day of work) can look at and understand that the SEO program is paying for itself.

Now let’s look at analytics from the client’s perspective.

If you are a client of an SEO firm, or just want to get a better idea of just how your site is doing online, first you must decide what it is you want to see. Do you want to see sales figures? Or would you rather just look at the aggregate numbers like total visitors and search engine referrals?

What has more value to you – reams and reams of data, or a simple, one page summary of overall performance?

As a recommendation, I’d say you only need enough data to make your business decisions.

In other words, if your website is e-commerce based, all you really need initially are the sales numbers over time. You should also understand how the sales cycle works, and perhaps look at your conversion funnel to see where people are dropping off. Most good analytics packages offer some sort of funnel analysis.

Understanding your sales funnel can also help you improve your sales. Sometimes an analysis of the sales funnel can help you determine where the drop offs occur. By modifying the funnel you can improve your drop off rate, increasing your sales. And really, this has less to do with SEO and more to do with traditional business marketing.

For example, let’s say your site gets 2000 visitors per month. Let’s also assume your site has a 3 step sales process, and your average sale is $11 per item.

If half of your site’s visitors start down the sales path, that means 1000 start (a 50% drop off rate at the first step – this could be due by a requirement to sign up to browse your site). If 40% of that total drop off at the second step, and 30% of that group complete the sale, that equates to $495 in sales, about a 2.25% conversion rate as only 45 of the original 2000 people purchased.

Now let’s experiment with the sales funnel:

If you can improve the final step of the sale by just 10% – that equates to an additional $165 in sales, a 3% conversion rate. However if you can improve the first step of the conversion, reducing that 50% bounce rate to 25%, you can increase your sales by $247.50 – a 3.38% conversion rate.

Further, if you shorten the conversion funnel by 1 step – making a 2 step sale, rather than a 3 step sale, you can increase your sales by over $330 – a 3.75% conversion rate. That’s still assuming the same number of monthly visitors start down the conversion path.

However, if you don’t or can’t find this data in your analytics package you wouldn’t be able to perform such analysis.

And this is where, if you are dealing with an SEO firm, you must get the data you need.

Simply knowing how many referrals you got from Google or Yahoo! won’t help you make the business decisions you need to make.

So whether you are an SEO firm or professional, or employ one, be sure that the metrics you see are the ones you need to make your decisions.

As a client, don’t be afraid to ask – what does this do for me? Because unless you’ve discussed your needs with your SEO, they will likely provide you with the numbers they deem as the best. That is, the ones that illustrate their value to you.

That’s not to say that those numbers are invalid, its just that they don’t do you as much good as those you need to make your business decisions.

Similarly, as an SEO, if you don’t know what your client needs to see, in terms of numbers, how can you justify your income from them. If search engine referrals have gone up, but conversion haven’t then there is no immediate value to the client.

Sure you can say “but we got you all these top rankings” but unless they are turning into sales, your contract with that client won’t last that long.

So be sure as you work with your SEO firm or client that you nail those metrics early, so there is no misunderstanding, and everyone knows what successes are measured by.

How do google and yahoo calculate their online advertising fee for …

You can apply for the Google service to provide a revenue through avertising on your own website.

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How do google and yahoo calculate their online advertising fee for …

New Google Tool Benefits Both AdWords and AdSense Users | WebProNews

New Google Tool Benefits Both AdWords and AdSense Users. By Chris Crum – Wed, 05/06/2009 – 09:05. Google Ad Center Publisher Center Launches.

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New Google Tool Benefits Both AdWords and AdSense Users | WebProNews