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What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting

March 2006

A case for the ROI of Blogging

One belief that I am certain about is that great blogging translates into great search engine rankings. With that assumption in mind, here's a case for the value of blogging...

My team and I recently conducted research on 140 progressive companies to evaluate their Search Engine Marketing participation (are they spending in Google) and potential spend (what could they spend per month if they bid for top position on their logical keywords). The list of companies came directly from a published client list of a top tier PR agency.

Here's what we found...

  • The average client of this PR firm has the potential to spend $21,000 per month in Google Advertising (the high was as much as $251,000 per month)
  • All clients combined have the potential to spend $36 Million per year
  • 28% are spending on PPC Ads -- Verified that the company was advertising in either Google or Yahoo paid search programs.
  • Estimated Average Spend $12,816 per month for the companies that are participating in either Google or Yahoo paid search programs. -- Calculated by removing the top 5 highest spenders and the 5 lowest then averaging the remaining paid search spenders
  • 62% optimize their site in some way for search engine rankings.

The point of this basic research is to show the value of Blogging. There are many potential benefits of blogging but just looking at the SEO benefits alone should make a strong case to any Marketing Director (from a company that is spending or planning to spend on direct traffic from search engines) that blogging is a strategy to consider going forward. The message here is - look at how much a company could spend on paid search advertising. Blogging is a way to invest into your organic rankings rather than paying upwards of $144k each year on paid search.

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Filed under: Search Engine Optimization

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on March 22, 2006 5:38 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

Do Conversion Rates Trump Google Juice?

Thanks to Neville Hobson (in FIR Podcast #121) for highlighting KDPaine's post that asks whether "Google Juice" is The ultimate measure of success. Katie thinks it is in 2006. Shel thinks it's a great way in the door, but it's not the "ultimate" measure.

For most of my clients, top rankings are huge but at the end of the quarter we need to demonstrate to the company's leadership how rankings translate into growth for their business. I think the "ultimate" measure of success is the conversion rate for quantifiable actions such as subscriptions, downloads, completed contact leads or sales.

Conversion totals and rates measure online marketing success, site design success and product positioning and more. For example, I recently meet with a prospect that worked with some top SEO advisors to optimize the writing of her website. She achieved success with SEO. By doing it, her retail products site achieved top rankings on a number of very important keywords, but her conversion rates went way down because the implementation of the SEO advice impacted on user experience. The big reason is that the SEO advice was to add lots of keyword optimized content to the home page and other pages of the site. In the process, very little attention was paid to what this strategy was doing to the user's experience. Sales did increase because of the added traffic. But now this particular prospect is looking to improve the user experience.

The point here is that while top rankings are very valuable for bringing in traffic the site needs to have a strategy to convert those visitors into some kind of business benefit otherwise a top ranking is just a bragging right.

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Filed under: Search Engine Optimization

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on March 22, 2006 1:15 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

The Noisy Tragedy Only Exists If You Don't Interact

Seth Godin suggests that the volume of content from a blog will produce more readers and even more loyal readers in his post, "The noisy tragedy of the blog commons."

I don't believe the volume of content on blogs or an individual blog is anything new, I know I was not able to keep up with the volume of traditional media content.

To me it's a matter of design and desire.

RSS feed readers do give people the ability to review more content easily, but even this new design tool for reviewing content can overwhelmed the reader. I think a happy medium will develop for people, if you cannot cope with the volume of RSS feeds, unsubscribe or hire someone to help.

Seth suggests,

"over time, as blogs reach the mass market, the number of new readers coming in is going to go down, and the percentage of loyal readers will increase. The loyal readers are going to matter more. Blogs with restraint, selectivity, cogency and brevity (okay, that's a long way of saying "making every word count") will use attention more efficiently and ought to win."

I think Seth raises an interesting point about the content issue, and he might be right if content on your blog was the only way to get new readers. That's why I disagree with him as content is not the only determining factor in gaining new readers.

Developing relevant content is a super way to build loyal readers. But to find new audiences, a blogger has to be involved in their community. Effective blogging to me requires blogger relations or outreach on the part of a blogger. I think commenting and sending trackbacks are two of the best ways to interact within your community. That community involvement translates into conversation on other blogs, and if relevant, will produce new readers for the blogger. Seth misses one of the most important factors in successful blogging. Conversation on and between other blogs produces new readers.

Thanks Stowe

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Filed under: Blogging Tips

Posted by on March 14, 2006 11:09 AM | | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (2)

Scraper No Scraping - Idea for Fighting Plagiarism for Google or Microsoft R&D

Thanks to Barry Campbell, for highlighting this very disturbing article by Lee Gomes in today's WSJ, titled Writer Creates 'Original Content' But Is in for a Surprise. It talks about how shady firms are paying writers to plagiarize from multiple websites. The plagiarism, or scaping is done to produce search engine optimized content for better rankings. Gomes points out that search engines are responsible for inciting this riot, just like a TV cameraman in a crowd. Search engines are being fooled; but getting richer? Ultimately the real content originators and the advertisers are the ones paying the price. It's a problem and it needs to be stopped or curtailed. Here's an idea for combating plagiarism online. Invent some kind of license tag, or beacon that identifies and recognizes a content originator and tracks future iterations. When content is published with this beacon, it pings the search engines and says here's some new content by a trusted source. Any new text published on the web using all or parts of the text would then get published to an inbox managed by the Content Originator of that text. The inbox would allow the CO to self-police their content and report alleged cases of plagiarism back to the engine. In cases where there is a possible violation, there should be some kind of escalation procedure to notify the alleged offender to either dispute or remove the offending content. The stick could be some kind of penalization for the domain or IP address. Hey, Google PR Department, if you're listening to blogs, this might be just the thing to make us CEOs happy and it may possibly take the sting off of the whole caving into China thing. My daughter watches Dora The Explorer. Dora and Boots say "Swiper no swiping" to Swiper the Fox. Most of the time the fox goes off with his tail between his legs saying "oh man". Too bad we can't just say "Scraper no scapping", to the scarapers.

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Filed under: Fighting Spam

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on March 7, 2006 8:44 PM | | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

Promoting Blogging to the CEO

So you're sold on blogging. You see the great potential for your company in terms of PR, capturing market share and building better products. You understand that there is this huge networking party going on online--one you can participate in from the comfort of your own office. Moreover, you are aware that the discussions are taking place regardless of your participation, and the only question that remains is if you're going to cede the entire space to the competition or jump in. Maybe your marketing department is looking for additional ways to generate ROI with organic search engine traffic. You recognize that blogging is a great way to create a body of relevant content and quality links to make that happen. In short, you're ready to burst into the executive dining room, gather around the c-level execs and open their eyes to what you see as the greatest online opportunity to come along since the search engine. I understand. I am convinced too. But you know as well as I do, if you are to bring this truly innovative idea to the bosses, you'll have to come armed with more than just your enthusiasm. Here are some ideas on how to conduct a blogging assessment yourself, and ultimately, get the ball rolling with the execs. This will enable you to transform blogging from abstract Internet technology into a concrete discussion about business benefits. The Preparation The first thing you need to do is find proof that your company should or should not be blogging. If you can prove to yourself that people are talking out there and there's an opening for someone from your company to add value to the conversation, then you can speak with confidence to your leadership about why they should be considering blogging. RESOURCES

  1. Start by using technorati.com and blogpulse.com to search on your company's brand names and your competitor's brand names as well as relevant search phrases and business categories. Sift through the spam and document every post you can find that has some meaningful connection to your business and its goals.

  2. Search del.icio.us to see what others are book marking.

  3. Find examples of how other thought leaders (maybe CEOs or product managers from competing organizations) are gaining a following through blogs.

  4. Find examples of how a relevant blog post translates into media coverage, search engine listings and speaking opportunities.

  5. Find examples of competitors who have blogs are getting better search engine rankings.

  6. Find blog posts speaking positive or negatively about your company or your competitors.

  7. Identify spots where your business is absent from important conversations.

The Discussion Now, you have conducted valuable research, and you're armed with some initial evidence to support your advocacy of blogging. You're ready to develop champions in the senior leadership positions of your company. But before you pull the execs away from their lamb chops, here are a few things to consider. While you want to be a strong proponent of blogging, be sure to acknowledge that it's something that needs to be explored further before moving ahead. After all, blogging is not a small undertaking and requires a strong strategic commitment and investment. Without the resources--strategy, technology and people--in place, you will not succeed. And finally, be well versed in the potential benefits. Fortunately, they are many and include the types of things c-level execs like to hear:

  • Demonstrated thought leadership within your industry

  • Improved search engine rankings and increased traffic

  • Enhanced product development

  • Increased press coverage and buzz on-and off-line

  • Superior lead generation

  • Better community goodwill

Here are some case studies and white paper to help you explore these potential benefits further.

RESOURCES

ConverStatioins Business Blogging Basics

Blogging Case Studies: IBM, Microsoft, Macromedia, Annie's Home Grown and Backbone's Corporate Blogging Survey 2005

Podcast: The Holtz Hobson Report

Books: Naked Conversations, Cluetrain Manifesto , We the Media, What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting:

Corporate Blogs: Fortune 500 companies that are already blogging.

List of CEO Bloggers: CEOBlogsList

These are the actions of someone who cares about the company's future--someone I would consider promoting. (But that's just me; and I'm a little biased.) It's a lot of upfront work, but well worth it for your company. And if you do decide to start blogging, there's even more work ahead, like establishing a blogging strategy and policy. But, I'll get into that next time.

Filed under: Blogging Tips

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on March 7, 2006 1:03 PM | | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0)

Seth Godin Live at Google Video

This is a great free educational resource for any marketer. It just so happens that it's the worlds smartest marketing guy talking to the worlds smartest company.

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Posted by Stephen Turcotte on March 4, 2006 10:00 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Podcast Tips And A Podcast From The Hobson And Holtz Report

Podcasts are fast becoming an important communications tool for companies. Knowing how to conduct a good podcast takes skill and experience. Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson are two of the new communications industry's most eloquent and prolific podcasters. Their twice-weekly podcast, the Hobson and Holtz report, provides expert opinion and interviews with communications professionals.

You have the same ability to interact with an audience using a podcast as you do with a blog. Shel and Neville's podcasts feature the ability to comment, either by writing a comment on the show's blog, sending an email, or calling the show's comment line and recording a comment. Shel and Neville don't always have an answer for listeners to the show, and respond by turning to their audience for help in answering their listeners' questions.

If you work in the communications industry, if there's one podcast you should listen too on a regular basis it's the Hobson and Holtz report. That's why I was delighted to be invited to chat about SCOUT on their show from the New Communications Forum in Palo Alto. While Stephen Turcotte the President of Backbone Media, sent a clip from the search engine strategies show featuring interviews with Robert Scoble and Sam Decker.

One other feature of the Hobson and Holtz report you will find really valuable for identifying people or sections within the Hobson and Holtz report are show notes that pinpoint different sections of the podcast with individual feeds to that section. The show notes are especially valuable for returning visitors who want to quickly review a particular section within the podcast.

The Hobson and Holtz show was recorded from the New Communications Forum in Palo Alto, California. This show's recording features interview's with attendees, speakers and two keynote speakers. Thanks Shel and Neville for continuing to produce such a great show!

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Filed under: Podcasts

Posted by on March 3, 2006 10:32 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

A promising week for a new corporate blogging service

Have you ever launched a product or service before? It's a lot of fun and it's also a bit scary. I think it must be like a rocket scientist waiting to see their rocket clear the launch pad. It's also like showing your baby to the world for the first time. That's what it's been like for us this week here at the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York. Tuesday was our official launch day and I have to say it was a big success. By that I mean, our brand new trade show booth looked great, all of our materials were ready, we had a great location and we got lots of leads and positive feedback.

The Backbone Media / Scout corporate blogging team - left to right - Steven Abramowitz, Kristine Munroe, Stephen Turcotte, Olga Krivchenko, John Cass

The trade show floor opened at 9 and by 10:30 there was a sea of people at our booth speaking with my team and I and offering very positive feedback about our little baby. That morning was the peak of the traffic but throughout the show, we had a steady stream of marketers, advertisers and bloggers coming to the booth, to pick up our brochure, our corporate blogging tips and to understand what SCOUT is all about.

Robert Scoble

A couple of special moments happened during the first day. Robert Scoble stopped by our booth to check out SCOUT. We talked about SCOUT, and about the need for blogging to be strategic, and about blogging challenging the very psyche and culture of an organization. Robert connected it with a section of the book he wrote with Shel Israel titled Naked Conversations. There is a section of the book that talks about poking at the corporate membrane. Robert stayed and chatted for a while. Luckily, we had an IRiver and a digital camera handy and we were able to capture the moment. The team and I have been developing what we believe is a realistic and achievable approach to successful blogging for quite some time. It was very gratifying to hear some positive feedback from a legend in the industry.

Constantin Basturea and John Cass

Later in the day we were also visited by Constantin Basturea. It was also an honor to meet Constantin in person. John Cass is a huge fan, and they went on talking for quite a while.

Stephan Spencer and Adrian Courtenay

Another blogging advocate that I admire, Stephan Spencer, stopped in to say 'hello' along with one of his blogging clients, Adrian Courteny, Founder and CEO of DM News and co-author of the DM News Blog.

Feeling good about the lift off. It was a fun and exciting week.

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Filed under: Search Engine Strategies

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on March 1, 2006 9:30 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Thoughts On How To Become A Great Blogger

Luis Suarez wrote about the SCOUT blogging tips web page here on the new SCOUT weblog a few days ago. I enjoyed reading his perspective on each of the tips.

Luis asked if anyone wanted to talk in an interview on blogging related issues. Luis I`d love to chat with you about blogging and social networking shoot me an email at john AT backbonemedia DOT com or im me at bostonmarketing.

Here are Luis`s thoughts on each of the tips we presented:

  1. Understanding the fundamentals of Blogger Relations: I never thought about it this way but the article has got a point. If you want to get out there and connect with others you would need to work on your Blogger Relations, indeed, perhaps at the same level if not more (Because of the remoteness) than the traditional PR. And perhaps being shy may not help a lot.
  2. Create value: Indeed, this is one of the reasons why I primarily created all of my weblogs. To be able to add further into the conversation(s) my two cents worth of comments on the topics that I have got a passion for, because after all, it is all down to how passionate you are about the topics you want to discuss in order to be able to create that sustainable value.
  3. Grow and sustain your audience by providing real analysis: Spot on! Otherwise why would you want to reference on something if you are going to be able to read in the original resource. What is the point? We can all read the original article by ourselves. In my case, I just want to know people's opinions about that piece of news. For the rest I can get the details myself. That is where I think the power of weblogging is; in augmenting the original conversation(s).
  4. Report on community opinion: This is a very powerful option since it would allow to build further up on that sense of belonging to the group or the community with which you can start creating multiple connections at multiple levels and make it all a very worth while discussion where everyone provides their share on establishing the connection.
  5. Respond with comments to build relationships and traffic: This is one of those tips that I cannot but stress how important it is. I am one of those lucky folks whose Internet weblog is not very popular. Yes, to me, that is a good thing ! It has got a good share of readers who get to comment every now and then and I am just very delighted that I can dedicate the time to respond to them the way they deserve for coming back over and over again and sharing their thoughts. That is, to me, what differentiates a good weblogger from a mediocre one just looking to have their traffic increased so that they rank higher. Waste of time.
  6. Track your conversations: This is also another tip that I have been employing from the very beginning since I started weblogging away. I have even weblogged myself about it elsewhere when I provided an overview about coComment and how I am currently using myself BlinkList to keep track of all of the comments I share out there in the Blogosphere. Yes, indeed, it is all about the conversations so you might as well go ahead and keep track of them.
  7. Don't be afraid of criticism: No, indeed, don`t be afraid of it because that is actually what is going to give character to your weblog and what will make people stick together with you. Believe it or not, you will be able to attract some more traffic through that criticism than just talking to yourself. It is just so much more entertaining and engaging, specially if you would want to be part of the conversations.
  8. Conduct interviews to generate content and ideas: Great tip ! Something I haven`t exploited myself yet for any of my weblogs I maintain but perhaps something that I may be able to use some time in the future. Does anybody out there from you folks fancy doing an interview to talk about KM, Communities of Practice, Social Networking and the like? Let me know
  9. Promote your weblog: Yes, in principle, I agree with giving some more promotion to your own weblogs, like I have mentioned elsewhere in another weblog posts, but I have also indicated that you should probably not overdo it in detriment of providing that value that is mentioned above. I think they could both walk hand in hand to provide some good balance. Sometimes it is not about getting the word out and about all over the place, but getting the right word out and about. That is, to me, what really matters. The rest is circumstantial. Check this other weblog post from Steve Rubel on the subject and its subsequent commentary (I will talk about it more in detail at a later time, not to worry; one metablog post at a time) for some additional reading on the topic.
  10. Monitor the web for brand names and references: As far as I can see anybody who may not have been doing this for quite some time now, even if you do not have a weblog, I feel that they just do not want to be part of the conversations taking place out there and therefore become an integral part of them. Thus, if you haven`t done so yet, get involved ! We will all be much better off if you do so.

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Filed under: Blogging Tips

Posted by on March 1, 2006 7:12 AM | | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (1)

Luis Suarez Blog On The SCOUT Tips Post

Luis Suarez wrote a really great follow up to the SCOUT tips on becoming a great blogger, and I would have blogged about it yesterday, but I`ve been busy with the Search Engine Strategies show. Luis thanks for the post and great ideas. Unfortunately I see that your website is down at the moment so I am not sure if my link to Luis`s site will work.

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Filed under: Blogging Tips

Posted by on March 1, 2006 12:06 AM | | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)