Friday, April 25, 2008

Tags and Keywords

For those who don't understand the SEO process, one of the very first things we do is try to identify your business, product, service or message in terms of single words or short phrases - called "keywords" or "key phrases". This is because people using search engines typically use single words or short phrases to begin their discovery process, as the initial filter for a set of results. Search engines compare these words against the words used on webpages, and try to make the best matches for delivering results. Many times, you as a business owner may describe what you sell in terms that your customers may not actually, typically use. It's our job to try to make the connection between the kind of language your customers are using, and the language on your website.

One note about "keywords" vs. "tags". "Keywords" are really the actual words that are used by both search engine consumers (i.e. searchers) and providers (i.e. website owners) for direct links between ideas and content. "Tags" are user-defined words used to categorize or classify content, to help others organize or navigate the content. "Tags" are basically more informal, less precise keywords. Sounds like the same thing, but you'll find the term "tags" being used on many social media/bookmarking sites, vs. keywords.

Therefore, we'll start with identifying all possible keywords/key phrases that may best describe your business, that are either most often used by searchers, or should be used (based on industry expertise). We'll test these (by updating copy in ads, blogs or your website), and start narrowing down those that seem to resonate the best, and drive the best search results. Our keyword research is most effective when we're researching topics we're very familiar with. For example, we were asked to help sell "technology governance services". What words ought to be used for this, or might people use to search for more information? Here's a first list we generated...our point is, with this blog entry, that most marketing efforts really need to start with a basic agreement of the target keywords/phrases. If this isn't done first, then all following efforts may be misguided.

Governance Process Issues
IT Governance Improvement
Lack of IT Governance
IT Governance Solutions
Bad IT Investments
Investment Portfolio Management Techniques
Governance Process Integration
Business Process Governance Issues
Governance Decisions
IT Process Governance
Governance Framework
Governance Process Framework
Governance Roadmap
Architecture Governance
Data Governance
Process Governance
Information Governance
IT Governance Practice
Compliance Driven Governance
Governance Decisions
Governance Assessment
Governance Diagnostic
Information Technology Governance
Regulatory Compliance
Technological Accountability
IT Decision Rights
IT Decision Process
IT Risk Management and Governance
Enterprise Governance
Strategic Alignment
Performance Measurement
Resource Management
Value Delivery
IT Alignment
Enterprise Architecture Governance
IT Objectives
IT Accountability
CIO Accountability
CIO Strategy
CIO Agenda
IT Business Value
IT Governance Model
IT Governance Definition
Corporate Governance
CobiT Governance
ITIL Governance
ITIL Assessment
SOA Governance
Reengineering IT Governance
IT Governance Executive Dashboard
IT Roadmap
Enterprise IT Governance
IT Business Value
Integrated IT Governance


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Business Owners - You need BOTH a Website Team AND an Internet Marketing Team

Many businesses hire consultants, engineers or website design companies to deliver projects, capabilities and subject-matter expertise regarding Enterprise Content Management, including the entire lifecycle of digital content/asset management. This includes delivery of Portal and Search capabilities, website content management and process capabilities, and back-end data management and storage architectures. The business goals are ultimately about efficient, effective and secure management of information in support of delivery of business products and processes. From a business perspective, however, how do you really know these technical engineering efforts were actually well-executed and ultimately successful?

Most likely the website engineering efforts are measured in terms of contract compliance, adherence and mapping to specific requirements, and satisfaction with delivery and communication on the part of the customer (i.e. your business). In other words, performance is measured only from the perspective of the “Business-to-Business” (i.e. B2B) relationship (i.e. between you and your web design/build team), and from the perspective of your own internal B2B relationships (i.e. cost and process efficiencies gained within your own company). Can your web consultant demonstrate gains or actively improve your business performance from the perspective of your own Business-to-Customer relationships?

Consider this website project scenario. You buy services to develop a great new externally-facing website or portal, with a robust content management capability to support it. It includes very efficient and secure data management architecture, including a secure, SOA-based integration architecture for delivery of messages between the sub-systems and external systems. You also get extensive portal usability features and website statistic reporting functions. The capabilities are implemented in a manner that maps successfully to your Enterprise Architecture (or at least best practice standards), from an IT investment perspective. Then the consultant company either continues to run the website, or it's turned over to another Maintenance team. It's a total success, and a great system. But you may have completely overlooked the competition, and failed to manage your external digital assets.

The competition has evidently also upgraded their website. Additionally, they’ve invoked an extensive Internet Marketing campaign to make sure their customers and partners can quickly and easily find all of the information and products they have to offer, and find it before they find any information you have to offer. Steps they’ve taken, that you didn't:

• Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques were used across the site, to make sure that it ranks exceedingly well for all target keywords/phrases used in search engines

• Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques were used in coordination with all other marketing and advertising, including keyword-optimized backlinks, copy, advertising, articles, whitepapers and press releases being deployed and managed among all relevant third-party sites, directories, news outlets and online industry destinations. This marketing included multi-media (i.e. photos, videos, audio), and both organic (i.e. “free”) and paid (i.e. multiple “pay-per-click” and other paid advertising) channels.

• Social Media Optimization (SMO) techniques were used to help generate additional, on-site, relevant and search-engine friendly content for the website, leveraging Web 2.0 features – this included Blog-style content, feedback/commenting capabilities, participatory forums, consumption and publishing via RSS format, demographic targeting/referrals to feed mashups, etc.

• Social Media Marketing (SMM) techniques were used to encourage additional, off-site content and information that linked to the website and its information, and to encourage positive reputation-building among target demographics and communities on target channels - these techniques yielded even more great search results and collateral press.

These Internet Marketing steps yielded very rapid results. Your site experienced an expected “bump” in traffic, and steady increase in conversions, though some apparent “anomalies” in decreased traffic for particular segments you didn’t focus too much on.

Their site experienced overwhelming “flash traffic” from many online and offline sources, was picked up by media outlets, clobbered you in the search engine rankings (SERPS) for hundreds of keywords and keyphrases, and resulted in a dramatic increases in both their customer awareness and actual market penetration/share.

How could this have been avoided? You need to make sure there's synergy and integration between the provider of your INTERNAL Content Management, Search and Website/Portal capabilities (i.e. B2B), and the provider of your EXTERNAL Content Management, Distribution and Search requirements (i.e. B2C and C2C). A Website Design/Engineering Team AND and Internet Marketing Team. These providers may well be different companies, but make sure you consider utilizing both of these perspectives and types of providers at the same time.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Virginia Internet Marketing Training - Ask Kelly & Ted

Here's a question that's come up - "why is my Alexa ranking so low"?

Here's our answer:

Alexa is just one indicator out of many of your site's traffic and trends, and isn't ever as accurate as metrics collected with your own website statistics package. Alexa gets its rankings via installations of its toolbar - which is a bit skewed towards the Internet-literate and somewhat technical crowd (who actually decide to install the toolbar). That's why sites that don't have anything to do with technology will be ranked artificially lower.

Also, the Alexa toolbar doesn't install at this time for IE on Microsoft Vista machines - so basically you're getting evidence of traffic from just a few segments of Internet users, not all. Additionally, any ranking by Alexa is usually quite delayed, and tends really not to be statistically relevant or useful for sites that aren't in the top few 100,000. We don't view Alexa rankings as useful past a possible general indicator of trends; your Google Analytics are the very best source of traffic trends.

Alexa rankings can be manipulated to some extent, thereby not being very objective measures. For example, in your next newsletter, tell everyone to go ahead and install the Alexa toolbar and set as the default homepage. You'll get a boost, for sure, in Alexa's rankings - but it's a false indicator of actual, useful traffic.

So for now (if you're a smaller site, just getting started, etc.), just ignore Alexa - focus on the Google Analytics (or whatever your site metrics package is). Your overall "ranking" in Alexa doesn't really have any relevance in terms of SEO. What's important is that all the keywords/keyphrases you're focusing on are coming up high in the search results, AND more and more people are actually clicking on them, AND you're getting more "coversions" (i.e. email signups, advertising signups, etc.) from your site. Instead of "ranking" against all other general sites, focus on "ranking" against your competition for advertising dollars and subscribers.


Monday, April 7, 2008

A little experiment with images

According to this blog from Search Engine Land, much more emphasis needs to be addressed by online marketers on achieving results via universal search - i.e. pay attention to your images and videos.
business woman working at computer
The fact that images are highly appealing, can convey an enormous amount of emotion-provoking information in a blink, and can be nearly universal from a language and culture perspective isn't new. The fact that image management should be a serious element of your online marketing strategy might be new to many businesses.

In our marketing travels, we've seen many genres of images competing for consumer eyeballs - some focused and niche, some global and mundane. Here's a bit of an experiment - the next few blog posts will include a photo of what we think is probably one of the most appealing types of images for marketing and advertising - a woman working on a computer, or with a computer-driven device. There's many reasons and opinions for this; but we'll simply test it right here for a while to prove the point.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Northern Virginia Multi-Media Advertising, Graphic Design, Production and Distribution

KME Internet Marketing will shortly be offering logo and graphic design, multi-media advertising and production capabilities to its customers, for coordinated business advertising across the Internet, TV, Radio, Print and Point Displays/Billboards. Formats will include not only websites, blogs, social media outlets and email, but also AV-audio/video (online files, streaming and CD/DVDs) and print production. Production capabilities will include website design, graphic design, AV studio production, and photography.

For businesses who want to coordinate and extend their advertising dollars and presence across all Internet channels and media, as well as into more traditional channels (i.e. "offline") including local TV, Radio, Print and other distributed media, KME Internet Marketing and its partners can provide a "one-stop shopping" capability and campaign management resource from its Northern Virginia Internet Marketing and Multi-media advertising production headquarters.