Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Why is Google still ranking keyword stuffers? What is SEO in 2013?

Cool customer by Mastrobiggo

So you can still rank through keyword stuffing. Today I have found yet another copywriter using keyword stuffing to rank in a location he is not based at, which makes a mockery of local listings. He is not the first one, a few months back I nabbed one who has removed the page and is becoming prominent in the copywriting world.

The mind boggles... why are customers choosing these people as suppliers? They are using old SEO or black hat SEO, which are against Google's policy, to rank with words that are not relevant to their services - hardly a professional quality. They might be getting away with it for a while, but Google's Bell will toll for their websites.

I know Google cannot police everything, but it's very difficult to report this behaviour, can Google please provide an email address so disgruntled web surfers can contribute links? What's the point of Google Places if these underhand tactics are not discouraged?

SEO is part of digital marketing now, move ON
There has been talk that SEO is dead (see previous blog topic), that there is a new SEO, bla, bla, but SEO as it stands in 2013 is part of the digital marketing mix, which includes: ppc, link building, PR/reputation management, analytics, responsive design (one has to consider mobile users) and social media. SEO is not hocus pocus, it is a perfectly respectable business in an unregulated industry. SEO stands for optimization and online authority - and yes, you need all the elements of digital marketing to rank a website.

The unregulated industry bit can explain why SEO rates vary so much. It's a no brainer, though, good SEO increases sales, so why should this be a low-cost service? I'm not saying that it warrants eye-watering day rates, but people on peanutsperhour offering SEO for a fistful of dollars are, fittingly, cowboys.

Content marketing is as important as design
Content marketing includes words, infographics, images... so spending all the money on a designer and not willing to pay a writer is not sensible. And within content marketing,  pictures/infographics might be worth 1000 words, but they won't prop up weak copywriting.

I must confess, I rubbed my hands when international marketing conferences proclaimed content was king. In reality, people don't want to spend any money for copywriting because they think they can hire a cheap monkey or write the copy themselves. Newsflash, it has taken me several years to become a good copywriter and I have a solid background in journalism. Digital copywriting is a different skill from print journalism and it's very different from blogging.

The written bit people want to pay peanuts/bananas for is the sales message - whistles-and-bells design plus good SEO will attract visitors to a website but lacklustre copy will bounce them off in a jiffy. It doesn't matter if a shopfront is shiny, if the merchandise is badly displayed, nobody in their right mind will want to buy it unless it's as cheap as chips.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Can visual jokes create engagement?

I have got old news from you...

I'm a fan of usvsth3m.com/ and recently sent them the above Slideshare presentation I created using comedy sketches I wrote for a radio show a few years back. Sadly they were rejected again, in all their visual glory by this fine prank website.

Today I had another go with an idea that came to me looking at Benedict Cumberbatch in his Assange role. He looked very much like Warhol, so I did an image search and found confirmation in a picture on Wikimedia. I took the picture from usvsth3m.com/, turned it into black and white and created this spoof in Quark 5, then pdfed it, then turned it into a jpg (I don't have InDesign on my computer, nor the latest version of Quark, hence the long-winded process). I tweeted it and while double-checking the spelling of the surname of this fine, attractive actor, I realised it was his birthday! So I tweeted it again as a birthday card of sorts.

I'm going to post this joke on Facebook and Pinterest too.  Let's see what happens. Not expecting much, maybe a laugh or two from my followers.

Pinterest version

And I have a companion... in the Private Eye stylee...

UPDATE.... another one placed on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Lifelong learning + what's in a website name?

No relevance whatsoever to this article but it's eye-catching. Courtesy of tumblr through UsVsTh3m

I read an interesting conversation (or should I say convo?) on a business forum this week. I'm on a special Business Ignition Bootcamp - I say special because it was only open to 200 people worldwide and I feel lucky I got in. We are specially selected guinea pigs, which is exciting to me - I'm a sucker for beta stuff, and this is the best beta opportunity (or should I say oppo) to date.

It's also special because it is run by an ethical digital marketing company, Firepole Marketing - you won't find black hat SEO there or any other algorithm fiddling activity but a strong belief in content marketing. I'm doing yet another course (it seems every year I do a course, last year it was all about counselling skills) because I'm a fan of lifelong learning. This is handy because in SEO you have to keep learning or you will be obsolete in not time. Platforms are invented every week and Google's penguins and pandas breed at an alarming rate. To paraphrase a famous tagline you don't want to pick [on that] Penguin! I have to do a lot of reading, SEW and Social Media Examiner are very handy newsletters to be subscribed to as reputable practitioners offer a wealth of DIY tips in easy-to-read articles.

Choosing a website domain

Back to the convo, it was about choosing a website name. One of the posters said it took him longer to find a name than to write down a business plan. This is very wise as a website name will have an impact on SEO. Pick the wrong one and you risk potential low ranking and confusion (for instance IP stands for intellectual property and also internet protocol, so if you call yourself IP solutions, people might not understand which service you are offering).

I will give you an example loosely based on previous job. However, this is a fictional business I made up for argument's sake. If you rent ski chalets in Bulgaria and call yourself Bulgariawinterexplorer.com because it sounds like fun, you will need a bigger SEO effort than with Bulgariaskichalets.com or Bulgarianchaletrental.com. It's wise to find out high-ranking keywords for your product/services through Google’s keyword tool and also have a look in Google Trends for phrasal keywords that fit your business. Phrasal keywords would be, in this case, Bansko ski chalets (a popular destination) holiday ski chalets in Bulgaria, Bulgarian holiday rentals... The more the merrier, as you'd need those for your headlines and subheads. Then pick your name. Some businesses rather like the idea of having a quirky name, which is fine, but you will need to do more work to promote your business so people understand what you are selling. There is nothing wrong with Bulgariawinterexplorer.com and it does hint at the snow bit, but this business could be a travel agent, a holiday rental, a bespoke travel guide, it doesn't spell out ski chalets. Another scenario is that the best name is taken or it costs too much, then I'd say, be creative but include a keyword in the name. For instance if Bulgariaskichalets.com is taken, consider using an adjective, such as Bulgarialuxuryskichalets.com or Bulgariabudgetskichalets.com, this will also give your customers a hint about prices.

SEO tip for creative names

If you still want that creative name, pick a sentence that is SEO friendly. So when your business appear on a Google's page it might read like:


Ski chalets in Bulgaria | Holiday rentals in Bulgaria | Bansko chalets

Followed by a good introduction of your product.

Roger out and over to you!