February 2007

Backbone Media, Inc. Moves to 3,200-SF Office at 411 Waverley Oaks Road in Waltham, Mass.

Innovative online marketing company expands into new space.

For Immediate Release

WALTHAM, MA (Feb. 23, 2007) — Backbone Media Inc., a full service website design, development, search engine marketing and blogging strategies company, today announced that it has relocated its corporate offices to a 3,200-square-foot office at 411 Waverley Oaks Road in Waltham, Mass.

Filed under: Press

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on February 23, 2007 12:28 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Why aren't more companies blogging by now?

In May 2005, Business Week issued a bold cover story; Blogs will change your business. Almost Two years later Gartner is predicting that blogging will reach its apex in 2007. This prediction is misleading if you're trying to gauge the adoption rate of corporate blogs. I think that a distinction should be made between random individual blogs and company blogs. Considering the fact that only a tiny fraction of companies are blogging now, the only logical conclusion is that the rate of corporate blogging will exponentially increase as workforce familiarity and the competitive nature of the market ensue.

Brian Edwards at the new Cedar Mill Communications blog recently posted an insightful review of the Northeastern University and Backbone Media Blogging Success Study's findings in a post, What makes a corporate blog sing?”. Brian has offered three very good insights into understanding why adoption of blogging will take some time. Here's a summry of his main points...

  1. "First, is time. The CEO is supposed to be the one blogging, but rarely will blogging take precedence over closing big deals or keeping the board happy..."

  2. "Second, companies aren’t convinced that blogs are a good idea and will be effective..."

  3. "Third, the blogging and social media skill set is non-existent at most companies..."

I would add a fourth to the list; 'the Keeping up with the Joneses factor'. C level support is crucial for a blog to make it out of the gates and through the first year. Chief Executives and Directors that remain on the sidelines are not going to apply a sense of urgency to blogging until they see their adversaries / rivals / competitors doing it. I've seen it happen. As soon as a key competitor pokes its blog through the corporate membrane, the 'blogging thing' becomes part of this week's agenda.

I'm just a biased CEO Blogger so take this for what it's worth; corporate blogging will become a standard tool for companies in the years to come. I would compare the adoption of corporate blogging with the adoption of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO practices have been around since 1995, but they were not really embraced by a critical mass of companies until after the Internet bubble burst in late 2000. Before the crash, Search Engine Marketing was a fast growing industry but many marketers preferred the glitz and familiarity of the CPM banner advertising over the arcane practice of positioning a company website on target keywords. The turning point for SEM was when the new economic realities forced marketers to explore new ways to market on a shoestring budget. It took a major shift in thinking and the SEM professional community to show companies reports on missed keyword opportunities, relative position of competitors and ROI to finally establish critical support from industry influencers.

In my opinion, Search Engine Marketing is a simple concept, but the glories of corporate blogging and social media are not so cut and dry.The act of corporate blogging crosses major disciplines such as PR, Legal, IT. Brand Positioning, Customer Service and more. Executives are faced with a much steeper learning curve and larger barriers to entry than simply hiring an SEM firm. Therefore, I am not surprised that the adoption of social media by companies is not wide spread. I think it will take three to four more years before we see widespread adoption. I believe it will be brought on through

  1. Greater understanding of the benefits of blogging among the C suite

  2. More high profile case studies of successful corporate blogging strategies

  3. The inevitable influx of a new workforce that is familiar with what it means to participate in social media prefer text messaging and IM over email, phones and fax machines.

There is nothing wrong with treading lightly when it comes to social media. As we reported in the Blogging Success Study, there are several Factors to Consider Before Starting a Company Blog, not least of which is having somthing to say. Blogging is not something that every company needs to be rush into. It's certaily not for every company. There are many companies that should not blog. However, every company has a responsibility to its stakeholders to explore the possibilities and then make the call based on their own set of goals and circumstances. 

Tags: blog+adoption, company+blog, corporate+blogging, growth+rate+of+blogging, online+marketing, search+engine+optimization, social+media
Filed under: Blogging Strategy

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on February 20, 2007 1:58 AM | | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)

Don't Miss the New Communications Forum 07 In Las Vegas

No Limit Texas holdem poker and optimizing blogs for search engines are two of my most favorite subjects. That’s why I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been invited to speak on the later at The New Communications Forum Conference and Expo 07 being held at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, Las Vegas next month (March 7 – 9th). Here’s a link to see a list of the companies that will be in attendance at this year's event. If you want to go, here's a promo code ( 612SHN ) that will get you a $200. discount!

newcomm07_button.gif Just in case you have not heard about it, the NewComm forum is the premiere conference for exploring the revolutionary impact of participatory communication, such as blogs, podcasts, wikis and other forms of social media. The organizers are The Society for New Communications Research and Lawrence Ragan Communications. They have teamed up to bring 28 interactive sessions in four conference tracks focusing on: Internal Communications, Public Relations, Advertising & Marketing and New Media & Journalism.

“This year’s Forum will be the biggest and best ever,” said Jen McClure, executive director, Society for New Communications Research. “We’ll be addressing topics such as how to really listen to and create lasting relationships with your customers, how to use Web 2.0 tools in your communications strategy, best practices for corporate blogging, bridging new media with traditional media, the social media press release, managing brand reputation and crisis communications in the blogosphere, citizen-generated video, Second Life, measuring social media programs and more. In addition, there will be plenty of opportunities to network, learn and discuss in a relaxed and fun setting.”

Along with the four tracks the NewComm forum will also include

  • Four hands-on pre-conference boot camps, including -- Blogging 101, Podcasting 101, Wikis 101, Videocasting 101. 

  • One in-depth post-conference master class: What's next: How to map your social media strategy

Who is the conference for? Whether you are new to social media or looking to improve an existing program, NewComm Forum 07 will address every level of expertise and all channels of communication. It’s for…

  • Internal Communications to connect with employees

  • PR & External Communications to enhance your reputation

  • Advertising & Marketing to stay ahead of the competition

  • New Media & Journalism to find new ways to communicate

Who’s Speaking? The keynote speakers are David Weinberger, co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto, and Shel Holtz, of For Immediate Release Podcast and VP of New Marketing for crayon.

The conference also boasts a world renowned conference faculty of instructors, speakers & panelists --- Tom Abate, John Bell, Elisa Camahort, John Cass, Jamie Chabra, Jeff De Cagna, Todd Defren, Andrea Eckerle, Kimberly A. Fabrizio, Tom Foremski, Paul Gillin, Eileen Gittins, Josh Hallett, Chris Heuer, Neville Hobson, Shel Israel, Dan Karleen, Rob Key, Kathy Klotz-Guest, David Kligman, JD Lasica, Benjamin Levy, Dr. Bernard Luskin, Albert Maruggi, Jim Nail, Brian Oberkirch, Katie Delahaye Paine, David Parmet, Shoba Purushothaman, Giovanni Rodriguez, Joel Richman, Gordon Rudow, Zane Safrit, Eric Schwartzman, Ted Shelton, Brian Solis, Lisa Stone, David Strom, Laura Sturaitis, Carol Thomas, Jeffrey Treem, Stephen Turcotte, Kami Watson Huyse, Jeremy Wright and Linda Zimmer.

Here’s the official promo for my session in the Advertising and marketing Track at the end of Day Two.

How Your Blog can Achieve Top Search Engine Rankings

Want to position your company or organization as an industry resource? Get to the top of search-engine rankings with two-way communication? Learn how to incorporate organic search engine marketing into your blog strategy. During this practical session, Stephen Turcotte will show you the tools and techniques experts use to pick the best keywords. You’ll leave with:

  • A checklist of technical tips and strategies that can be applied to optimize your blog’s organic search engine rankings

  • Methods to establish which keywords are the biggest searches for your audience

I’m also looking forward to attending all the great sessions in the Advertising and Marketing track and making a personal connection with as many of the speakers and attendees as I can. Maybe I’ll even get in a few rounds of no limit holdem in the Venetian’s exquisite poker room. Hopefully I’ll see you there too. Viva Las Vegas~

Tags: blogging, Las Vegas, NewComm+Forum, optimizing+blogs, search+engine+optimization, SNCR, social+media, speaking, The+New+Communications+Forum+Conference+and+Expo+07, thought+leaders, workshops
Filed under: New Communications

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on February 7, 2007 12:02 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

The Ups and Downs of Multiple Website Identities

I recently responded to a business reporter who posed a question to PR Newswire’s Profnet. The reporter asked to “speak with small-business owners who have more than one Web site up-and-running, to understand the pros and cons of establishing more than one online identity”. I wrote to her saying that I have some insight on this since I am a small business owner who manages a few different websites for my own company and clients. She responded asking “Could you tell me more about your different websites?" I responded to that request, but never heard back from her. No problem. She was probably too busy on deadline to acknowledge my response. That disclaimer aside, I’d like to share with you the jist of what I wrote in my email.

Backbone Media, Inc. owns and operate two websites.

BackboneMedia.com – This is the website for our main business. It provides information about all of our website development, website design, search engine marketing, and blogging services. This website address has been our company URL since 1996.

ScoutBlogging.com -  Scout is a new blogging service for companies. The website launched in March 06. We created the new website in order to provide a unique identity for Scout.

The upside to having multiple websites is that the Backbone Media service offering already covers a wide range of website services. I did not want the new Scout Blogging Service to get lost within the Backbone umbrella website. I also wanted to really promote this as a new and different branded service. Another factor in the decision Also, I did not think visitors would really understand the importance of the Scout Blogging Service if it was simply featured as another department of BackboneMedia.com.

Many people will probably focus on the branding implications of multiple websites. Those are definitely important, but I also think there are some serious SEO implications of starting new unique domain. Link popularity plays a big role in where a website is listed in the search engine rankings. The topic of inbound links is the biggest downside to having multiple websites. A company has only so much bandwidth to spend promoting a website. In most cases I think it’s better to focus your efforts into generating high quality links to one website rather than spreading your efforts over two or several different websites. The theory here is that there is more Search engine optimization power in concentrating 700 inbound links to one website rather than spreading them over multiple websites. It usually takes several months for a new optimized website to be indexed appropriately into the Google organic listings. The existing website may have already established a decent Google Page Rank that can be used as a plank for quicker inclusion in search results. A new website will have to start from scratch.

I have some anecdotal proof of this. Back in the spring of 2005 we conducted a survey for a paper called Corporate Blogging: Is it Worth the Hype. We used Zoomerang survey software and posted the survey questionnaire (within a frameset) at this address on our established domain www.backbonemedia.com/blogsurvey/. This page quickly ranked in the top 5 Google listings for the search phrase “corporate blogging”. We later replaced that page with the html version of the survey results and links to the paper's PDF. It now holds a steady #3 position in Google’s organic search engine rankings.

That being said, there are also good SEO implications to having multiple websites. The biggest benefit to multiple websites is that search engines attribute a lot of weight to the content in the root index page (default home page) of a website. To make a long story short, there are several key content areas of the home page that a search engine will look to see what the page is about; domain name, title tag, text headings, first sentence, body copy and internal links and anchor text. If your website is selling multiple categories of services, (such as our Search Engine Marketing, Website Development, Website Design, and Blogging Services) there is little room to promote all of them without having to demote some of them to a lower position in the pecking order. A website entirely devoted to one subject (in Scout's case "corporate blogging services") allows the site owner to really emphasize the primary / root phrases and support keywords for that service, and also expand into the long tail of keyword phrases.

Another observation: While conducting the survey we also created a blog dedicated to discussing the results of the survey and corporate blogging in general. The domain for this blog was actually a sub domain of backbonemedia.com -- address http://blogsurvey.backbonemedia.com . It is worth noting that this blog (setup as a sub domain) maintains a lower position on “corporate blogging” even though there is considerably more activity around the subject of corporate blogging.

Here’s my explanation of why the sub folder url backbonemeida.com/blogsurvey/ ranks higher than blogsurvey.backbonemdia.com.

  1. Backbonemedia.com has been our company's official address since 1996.

  2. At the time the lauch of the blog survey in Spring 2005, the site had a page rank of 7

  3. It already had hundreds of inbound links (decent link popularity).

  4. The frameset page was optimized for the term “corporate blogging".

  5. The announcement of the survey created many relevant links to the page from the blogosphere. 

  6. Once the page appeared in the top rankings it probably generated a favorable Click Through Rate (CTR) since it was a relevant result.

In summary: starting a new website is not ideal if you’re eager for short term search engine position results. It's better to leverage your existing page rank and link popularity by creating a section in your existing website (as long as you have a related website that is in good standing with the search engines). However, if brand differentiation is more important than search engine rankings, go with a new domain (not a sub domain).

Tags: multiple+websites search+engine+optimization, new+brand, new+web+site, new+website
Filed under: Product Development, Search Engine Optimization

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on February 1, 2007 10:04 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)