The importance of having a good SEO person in your company

A couple of months ago I attended the annual Bruce Clay training in Sydney. Now being an SEO for the last 5 years, I’ve heard about Bruce Clay a lot and hes one of the 4 guys I follow in SEO, the other 3 being Rand Fishkin, Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan. So being at the training was abit of a dream come true.

The training was quite pricy, but I was keen on what I could learn and also keen on meeting other SEOs that were at the event to gather their thoughts about the current SEO climate with pandas and penguins jumping all around.

The training went well, and Bruce Clay definitely knows a lot about SEO. From the training I realised that Bruce Clay really understands the algorithm rather than just speculating like most  “SEO experts” do.

Ben Liau - Bruce Clay
Ben Liau - Bruce Clay

 

As an SEO of over 5 years, I still learned alot and got quite a few great tips, and had my curly questions answered by Bruce Clay.

I was also surprised at the attendance at the training, a real mix bag of professionals including, big brands, big agencies, small seo specialist and pure play online retailers.

From chatting with many attendees, and listening to answers about questions from them, it ironically turns out most big agencies don’t know that much about SEO. This is followed by the big brands who basically work with these agencies. ( I don’t mean all of them, just speaking in general). The attendees that I came across that really know SEO were the pure play online retailers and some of the niche SEO specialists.

And another thing that was evidently clear, was that marketing people weren’t friends with IT people in many large companies. Also not surprisingly big brands and agencies work in silos, which seems to have been the case for many years now.

I think there are a few challenges SEOs in big brands face:

1. You have to act as a middle man between stake holders and agencies without learning that much SEO in the process.

2. You have to jump through many hoops to get anything done.

3. You have to work with people from other departments that don’t really want to work with you (IT Department).

Its does seems quite challenging being an SEO in that situation. But one thing big brands should do, is trust their digital marketing managers, and not put them through hoops every time they need something changed or something new implemented. The digital marketing industry is every changing, and if it going to take months to implement something new, big brands will miss the boat on the best time to execute.

I think the best strategy for big brands are to hire digital marketing experts who have had the experience of making smaller brands successful. These are the people who have fought for ROI without having much resources to use. When a person makes something out of nothing, thats when they become truly skilled at what they do, and become thought leaders in their space. These are the people who really know digital marketing and are passionate about it.

Also a good SEO must have a mix of skills. They must understand marketing to manage stake holders, and know how websites work, and abit of coding would be beneficial. They must also understand  IT infrastructure, to be able to talk to and build relationships with the IT department.

Another major quality an SEO must have is the ability to analyse data. There is no point getting an SEO that can just write content and link build, at the end of the day they will need to be able to analyse the data and make strategic decisions before they start optimising the site.

In saying all that finding a good SEO person is not easy. Im lucky, I know a hand full of SEOs that have those very skills. So if you are looking for a good SEO let me know and id be happy to pass on the contacts.

Happy Optimising people.

Mummy Bloggers and the power of their influence

 

mummy blogger - digitalonlinestrategy.com
mummy blogger - digitalonlinestrategy.com

I just attended the Digital Parents Blogger Conference in Melbourne last week.

This was not my first bloggers conference, but it was my first mummy bloggers conference. And if you think mummy bloggers are just mums with a lot of time on their hands, think again. Mummy bloggers are one of, if not the most influential type of bloggers around.

Because I work in the kids products industry, I’d thought that this would be a great way to understand the world of the mummy blogger. I was interested to understand how mummy bloggers thought they would fit into the great marketing mix, and what they thought they could offer brands.

I think brands and specifically PR agencies often underestimate how strong influencers bloggers can be, especially mummy bloggers, because they write from the heart and are able to touch readers emotionally while making a connection.

 

From the conference ive realized  mummy bloggers:

  • Blog about real issues that people can relate with.
  • Are the best and most honest product reviewers
  • Make awesome brand advocates
  • Can positively lift a brands reputation and at the same time quickly drag it back down.
  • Are social media engagers
  • Are very under-valued by PR companies.
  • Create tight knit communities that support them.

 

At the conference I was inspired by why many mummy bloggers started their blog. It was not about the money, but a place for channelling their emotion whether it about their life, kids, or even family issues.

Mummy blogger aren’t all about business, and are happy to help small businesses that they love and having a following of readers and fans that can relate to them, make them the best kind of bloggers to review products because their readers trust their judgement.

I take my hat off to all the brave mummy bloggers that wear their hearts on their sleeves and are happy to share their lives and experiences with the world. They make awesome brand advocates and actually make up most of the target market for almost all retail products.

I conclude that mummy bloggers are cool, and that brands should recognise their potential for marketing a brand.

Feel free to connect with me on Google

My first speaking opportunity at the Online Retailer Conference

I know its been just over a month since the online retailer conference, but I would like to share my very first speaking experience at the online retailer conference that was held in Sydney on the 26th September 2011.

We arrived in beautiful Sydney at 8am Monday morning for the social media summit, which was the pre conference event day. I had woken up at 3.30am in the same morning as our flight was in Avalon, Victoria which was 1.5 hours drive from where I lived.

As you can imagine the morning started pretty fuzzy. We got to our hotel and checked in, before quickly getting to the Sydney exhibition centre as we were running abit late.

When we got there we had already missed half of the keynote given by Dave Haber from ice.com . But the rest of the presentation was great, and it was good to get an inside look at how ice.com run their social media department. Then we had Nick Lansley from Tesco, who looked like he had just run a marathon prior to coming up on stage. Nick shared some pretty insightful stuff about mobile, also touching on great innovations in some of the Asian countries.

During the break I had a good chat to Dave Haber, about their social media resourcing, as I was looking to grow the moooo marketing team. He mentioned that having someone assist with social media is great, but it was best to ease them into the role, and give them more responsibility as they progress, but also still manage and monitor the metrics from a higher level. At ice.com, Dave runs all the social media marketing with Lauren who helps with the content. Its pretty amazing for just a 2 person team, to pull off such great social media campaigns.

Next we were broken up into 2 tracts mobile and social media. The first social media marketing track looked great, but ended up quite boring. I then moved over to the mobile track, which was Craig Sulliven, who was an ace and a real gun with testing, and definitely great value with insights. I then went to more of the social media track but again, the presentations were not as good.

At the breaks, we had networking sessions and I did meet some interesting people and it was a great day for networking. That night we went over our presentation and were making many tweaks, so it was still very much a work in progress.

The next day, which was the 1st official day of the main conference, the rest of my team rocked up. The 1st day keynote speakers were great, Yona from beyondtherack.com, gave us insight on how they got started and the hurdles they faced when starting, which was very inspirational. Tyler Hoffman from Google, as expected just pushed googles new products.

Gabby from catchoftheday.com.au was quite amusing, doing his usually controversial trolling, while the others were pretty average. We then broke up into the 5 tracks, I moved quite a bit between tracks from stuff on SEO, to SEM to email marketing to website usability. 1 standout was an american guy from Silverpop who gave us some good insights on email marketing and mobile.

After the conference it was time for the ORIAS, we were nominated for 2 awards, best pure play and best use of technology. We lost both to surf stitch . The ORIAS was good, with Vince Sorrenti doing a stand up skit for us, he was pretty funny. Food was just ok. I ended up with chicken while the 2 people next to me at steak, which was quite annoying. Big winners for the night were: style tread, appliances online, dick smith, and surf stitch. After the long day, and night, we went back to the hotel for another practice presentation session, but decided that we were too tired and would do it in the morning. Next morning it was D day for our presentation. We did a final rehearsal, and saved the keynote presentation on a thumb drive to give to Kylie.

The keynotes for the 2nd day were great, with the ex Wallmart SVP, and a great presentation from Jon Kamaluddin from asos.com. The 2nd day of the conference seemed a little better than the 1st day with quite a few stand out presentations including one on website usability from Josh Himwish from diapers.com, and another good one session on split testing from Craig Sullivan.

And then it was our turn to present. This was my very first time in front of such a big crowd and to say I was nervous was an understatement. I walked in and sat next to Mike my co speaker. I asked him if he was ready, and he said he was kinda nervous. So it was time for our big talk, and we were already 5 mins late because of technical issues. I was quite confidant until everyone started coming in and we had a full house, which what I was not expecting.

When I got on stage to start, I was hit with a wall of nervousness. And my co-speaker accidentally stuffed up our initial introductions so I didn’t get a chance to say it was my 1st time and to excuse my nervousness. So basically I was stuck to having to talk for around 15 mins consistently, while all I wanted to do was run off stage. Again it was my first ever time in front of so many people, but I thought to myself, it is now or never. I so just did it. And with all eyes looking at me, I pushed forward.

It didn’t go the way I had practiced, my tones were all wrong, but I didn’t give up I just kept going, trying my best to engage the crowd. As it came to Mikes turn to speak, I could see he was quite nervous, he started going for it, but I think due to the time limit was rushing.Mike started just reading as much as he could, he even went over his spot and started reading over mine. Finally it was wrap up time and I wrapped up to finish things off. At the end I apologised for the nervousness and told them to contact me if they had questions.

On the way out there were a few people who asked for my card which was nice, and a few others smiled at me before they left which was encouraging, I also got some positive twitter mentions which really made my day. Metal note first thing to do is join toast masters to improve my presentation skills. By next year I should be all ready for more speaking events.

A big thanks to the online retailer team for giving me the opportunity.

Does More Posts = More Traffic?

Yesterday in a post discussing the popularity of list-style posts in blogging, a commenter asked me to look at the frequency of post types in relation to the traffic they bring. Following this comment I put together some statistics and ended up wondering a slightly different question, does having more blog posts mean you end up with more traffic?

In the previous post I pulled up some statistics from Google Analytics to reveal that on our AppStorm blogs we had the following distribution of traffic to our different post types:

  • Roundups: 843,024 Pageviews in July
  • Reviews: 126,161 Pageviews in July
  • How-To: 95,905 Pageviews in July

Following on from Martin Ansty’s question in the comments, I checked and we have published the following quantities of posts:

  • 288 Roundups
  • 339 Reviews
  • 159 How-to Posts

Doing the Math

So in other words, not only are list-style Roundups generating way more traffic, there are less of them. If you combine the results:

  • Average Review nets 370 pageviews p/month
  • Average How-to Post nets 600 pageviews p/month
  • Average Roundup nets 2900 pageviews p/month

So by this math, if we can add, say, another 300 Roundups to AppStorm in the next year then this time next year we’d have added 300×3000 pageviews p/month = 900,000 pageviews p/month! 300 Roundups over 3 app review blogs over a year means just 2 a week – that seems very achievable, and adding 900,000 pageviews would be a 60% traffic increase!

Does this really work?

Of course whether adding more posts really brings new people seems very debatable. After all it seems equally possible that the same traffic just gets spread over an increasingly large pool of blog posts.

So what I did was to go back in time to get some historical data from December 2009 which is about 8 months ago. At that time on just the Mac Apps blog there were 57 Roundup posts, and that month they netted 161,000 pageviews. In other words each Roundup post brought in 2850 pageviews on average. That is almost EXACTLY the same traffic to post ratio! So this observation sounds very promising for our hypothesis!

Taking this logic to the extreme

So let’s take this logic all the way to see if it really does hold up. Imagine instead of publishing 300 Roundups over the next year, we published 300,000 Roundups! Forget about the impossibility of such a feat, and let’s just focus on the numbers here.

By my previous logic, every one of those Roundups should bring in about 3,000 pageviews. So by publishing the huge number of additional posts, we should end up with a whopping 900,000,000 pageviews a month!

To give that number some context, according to Google’s list of the top 1000 Sites in the world, this would place AppStorm in the top 20, and make it easily the largest blog in the world.

This doesn’t really seem very realistic as it completely ignores the fact that there is a finite limit to how many people are interested in reading about apps!

So surely at some point adding more posts does NOT equal more traffic.

This makes intuitive sense, and when I think about another blog of ours, FreelanceSwitch, it also makes empirical sense. While AppStorm is a fast growing site, FreelanceSwitch has remained very steady for a couple of years now. Is that because we stopped posting? Nope! In the last two years we’ve added hundreds more posts to the site, so by my earlier math we should have grown our traffic by a huge amount – which we haven’t.

So clearly in AppStorm’s case the post to traffic ratio is only holding because the traffic happens to be growing on the site at the moment, and it hasn’t reached its full potential yet.

Increasing Frequency

Another question is in regard to frequency of posts. Sites like Lifehacker, Mashable and TechCrunch all post many, many times a day. I’ve definitely read in places (that I can’t remember now) that one of the biggest reasons they post more frequently is because it means more traffic.

An increased frequency of posts definitely equates to more traffic if the same number of readers end up reading more posts. It also makes sense that there would be some benefit to having that much more content on the site, simply from the point of view of search traffic, chance of being linked to and chance of hitting a topic or post that goes viral or popular.

Conclusions

So to sum up my little bit of quick and dirty analysis, I would say that more posts, particularly more concurrent posts, does have a relationship to traffic. However I would not believe that it’s a linear relationship, at least not for any serious length of time because there are definite ceilings to how many people are interested in a particular topic.

As for AppStorm I do have a feeling that we’re going to have to increase the post frequency on our blogs to put all these hypothesis to the test soon!

Collis Ta’eed 15th August

 

Best SEO Blogs: Top 10 Sources to Stay Up-to-Date

Posted by randfish on August 7th, 2010 at 10:12 pm Search Community

Like many overly-connected web junkies, I find myself increasingly overwhelmed by information, resources and news. Sorting the signal from the noise is essential to staying sane, but missing an important development can be costly. To balance this conflict, I’ve recently re-arranged my daily reading habits (which I’ve written about several times before) and my Firefox sidebar (a critical feature that keeps me from switching to Chrome).

I’ll start by sharing my top 10 sources in the field of search & SEO, then give you a full link list for those interested in seeing all the resources I use. I’ve whittled the list down to just ten to help maximize value while minimizing time expended (in my less busy days, I’d read 4-5 dozen blogs daily and even more than that each week).

Top 10 Search / SEO Blogs

#1 – Search Engine Land

Best SEO Blogs - SearchEngineLand

  • Why I Read It: For several years now, SELand has been the fastest, most accurate and well-written news source in the world of search. The news pieces in particular provide deep, useful, interesting coverage of their subjects, and though some of the columns on tactics/strategies are not as high quality, a few are still worth a read. Overall, SELand is the best place to keep up with the overall search/technology industry, and that’s important to anyone operating a business in the field.
  • Focus: Search industry and search engine news
  • Update Frequency: Multiple times daily

#2 – SEOmoz

SEOmoz Blog

  • Why I Read It: Obviously, it’s hard not to be biased, but removing the personal interest, the SEOmoz Blog is still my favorite source for tactical & strategic advice, as well as “how-to” content. I’m personally responsible for 1 out of every 4-6 articles, but the other 75%+ almost always give me insight into something new. The comments are also, IMO, often as good or better than the posts – the moz community attracts a lot of talented, open, sharing professionals and that keeps me reading daily.
  • Focus: SEO & web marketing tactics & strategies
  • Update Frequency: 1-2 posts per weekday

#3 – SEOBook

SEOBook Blog

  • Why I Read It: The SEOBook blog occassionally offers some highly useful advice or new tactics, but recently, most of the commentary focuses on the shifting trends in the SEO industry, along with a healthy dose of engine and establishment-critical editorials. These are often quite instructive on their own, and I think more than a few have had substantive impact on changing the direction of players big and small.
  • Focus: Inudstry trends as they relate to SEO; Editorials on abuse & manipulation
  • Update Frequency: 1-3X per week

#4 – Search Engine Roundtable

SERoundtable Blog

  • Why I Read It: Barry Schwartz has long maintained this bastion of recaps, roundups and highlights from search-related discussions and forums across the web. The topics are varied, but usually useful and interesting enough to warrant at least a daily browse or two.
  • Focus: Roundup of forum topics, industry news, SEO discussions
  • Update Frequency: 3-4X Daily

#5 – Search Engine Journal

SEJournal Blog

  • Why I Read It: The Journal strikes a nice balance between tactical/strategic articles and industry coverage, and anything SELand misses is often here quite quickly. They also do some nice roundups of tools and resources, which I find useful from an analysis & competitive research perspective.
  • Focus: Indsutry News, Tactics, Tools & Resources
  • Update Frequency: 2-3X Daily

#6 – Conversation Marketing

Conversation Marketing

  • Why I Read It: I think Ian Lurie might be the fastest rising on my list. His blog has gone from ocassionally interesting to nearly indispensable over the last 18 months, as the quality of content, focus on smart web/SEO strategies and witty humor shine through. As far as advice/strategy blogs go in the web marketing field, his is one of my favorites for consistently great quality.
  • Focus: Strategic advice, how-to articles and the occassional humorous rant
  • Update Frequency: 2-4X weekly

#7 – SEO By the Sea

 SEO by the Sea

  • Why I Read It: Bill Slawski takes a unique approach to the SEO field, covering patent applications, IR papers, algorithmic search technology and other technically interesting and often useful topics. There’s probably no better analysis source out there for this niche, and Bill’s work will often inspire posts here on SEOmoz (e.g. 17 Ways Search Engines Judge the Value of a Link).
  • Focus: IR papers, patents and search technology
  • Update Frequency: 1-3X per week

#8 – Blogstorm

Blogstorm

  • Why I Read It: Although Blogstorm doesn’t update as frequently as some of the others, neraly every post is excellent. In the last 6 months, I’ve been seriously impressed by the uniqueness of the material covered and the insight shown by the writers (mostly Patrick Altoft with occassional other contributors). One of my favorites, for example, was their update to some of the AOL CTR data, which I didn’t see well covered elsewhere.
  • Focus: SEO insider analysis, strategies and research coverage
  • Update Frequency: 3-5X monthly

#9 – Dave Naylor

 David Naylor

  • Why I Read It: Dave’s depth of knowledge is legendary and unlike many successful business owners in the field, he’s personally kept himself deeply aware of and involved in SEO campaigns. This acute attention to the goings-on of the search rankings have made his articles priceless (even if the grammar/spelling isn’t always stellar). The staff, who write 50%+ of the content these days, are also impressively knowledgable and maintain a good level of discourse and disclosure.
  • Focus: Organic search rankings analysis and macro-industry trends
  • Update Frequency: 1-3X weekly

#10 – Marketing Pilgrim

 Marketing Pilgrim

  • Why I Read It: A good mix of writers cover the search industry news and some tactical/strategic subjects as well. The writing style is compelling and it’s great to get an alternative perspective. I’ve also noticed that MP will sometimes find a news item that other sites miss and I really appreciate the feeling of comprehensiveness that comes from following them + SELand & SERoundtable.
  • Focus: Industry news, tactical advice and a bit of reputation/social management
  • Update Frequency: 2-3X daily

Other sites that I’ll read regularly (who only barely missed my top 10) include Distilled, YOUmoz, Performable, Chris Brogan, the Webmaster Central Blog, Eric Enge, Avinash Kaushik, SEWatch, Gil Reich & the eMarketer blog. I also highly recommend skimming through SEO Alltop, as it lets me quickly review anything from the longer tail of SEO sites.