Thursday, August 31, 2006

Seth's Blog: What should Starbucks do?

Seth Godin just posted another fantastic little nugget of insight

Seth's Blog: What should Starbucks do?

Yet again he get's straight to the point with common sense advice which in any large company would get caught by the lawyers.

My tip, by-pass them. Say you thought it was ok if they pick up on it.

Chances are they won't and you'll have a better customer experience. There's a reason your company lawyer has his own office and isn't let out into the real world.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Long Tail

I’ve just started to read The Long Tail. And for an economics book it’s great read, it’s actually been really hard to put down, no honest.

The main point is that the web now offers the widest spread of products available not just the hits which are at the head of the tail. All this starts to become really obvious once you begin to read it also shows why lots of traditional bricks and mortar companies have struggled with going into e-commerce.

I worked at one and they just couldn’t get out of the shelf idea that only the best sellers a should be available and they could get their heads around cross promotion.

Still to finish the Long Tail but so far it’s more insightful than The World is Flat was.

The missing Spam email loop

We've all sent email which appear to have disappeared until you ask the person you sent it to to look in the spam folder and see if it's there.

I've had many a fraught conversation over this which could have been solved if there was a Spam email loop. The bones of the system must already exist the same way out of office does or the undeliverable message.

All that's needed is a message that says "your email has been marked as spam". You can then contact the person to tell them. This would also help with the Spammer problem, because they would get so many of these messages that the admin would stop their systems.

If you know of any system like this please let me know. I'd definitely use it.

Ethics in Marketing, who'd have thought it!

Seth Godin makes a good point about Marketers ethics, I kind of agree. I've never thought about the waste too much when I posted millions of bits of paper over the years.

I've never had qualms about it because it is a legitimate tool for doing my job. Now my work is nearly all digital there's no physical waste but the waste could now be time.

Great piece Seth!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Adsense Test

From my previous post, I thought I'd try a test and see if I can change the Google ad to some thing totally unrelated by only mentioning the word once.


There you go, won't type it again. Lets see what happens.

If the ad changes to relate the word then I have to call into question how Google's ads work. Clearly no other posts mention that word and the blog is totally off that subject.

Odd things on Google Adsense

In a post I put on this morning I used the word "Lady". This is the only mention of this word in my entire blog. But as soon as I posted it, the Google Adsense ad at the top of the blog, suddenly mentioned "ladies shoes".

I know my blog is still pretty new, but that is the most absurd and irrelevant ad I've seen in a while. I feel sorry for the poor site, who has that as an impression on their Adsense account.

This post has probably maintained that ad as I've just mentioned ladies again. Hope the wife's not reading ;-)

PR (press releases) to help your website

PR the old kind not Google Page Rank. Is a great tool and always has been. The tricky thing is working out the impact of it and assigning return on investment on it. I'm a direct marketer at heart and like to know how much I'm paying for my responses and how much I'm making.

Traditional PR has never been able to provide that. It's always been a finger in the air measurement. However web based PR changes all that. When someone reads your Press Release they can do an number of things to spread it, blog it, link to it and even come straight to your site. Over on Online Marketing Blog they've kindly listed a whole bunch of great resources for online PR.

For my two pence worth, the best way is to work long and hard and build strong relationships with key players in your niche. But you have to start some where and the online distribution areas are a perfect place

The best page jacking nutter email in a long while

Over on SEOMoz I found a great little article about page jacking. Page jacking for mere mortals is a waste of time, Google will see it as duplicate content and it will probably lower your serps.

The great thing abut this article is the link to a email exchange with a lady who thought some one had page jacked her site. In this instance and little knowledge does you know good at all. Then add on paranoia and you have a very funny, if long winded email rant.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I was right! Write for humans not search engines!

Paranoia has been raking me. Should I SEO my site or not?

Matt Cutts gives a cheeky insight into the direction Google appear to be taking. This is one of Matt's best blogs to date, but ensure you read between the lines I think he's giving an internet fable.

Monday, August 21, 2006

"The world is flat" - the trust issue

I'm getting through "The World is Flat". It's a great book, if several hundred words too long (get an editor Thomas). It's opened my eyes to what can be achieved when you look a little further afield than you would normally. Already I gained a small buying advantage buy going directly to China and bypassing the usual middle men involved.

The main issue in all this is trust. Yes it's great to be able to source from China and make a saving on budget. But how do you really know what you'll get when the world is only email flat? My point is that I'm only making a small order, I can't afford to visit the factory, it would wipe out my saving. So I have to trust the supplier. I hope I can.

Friday, August 18, 2006

SEO or No SEO?

What do you do with your site. Obviously you want to be ranked on Google and the other search engines.

There are a lot of things you can do to get there.
  • Inbound Links
  • Keyword Density
  • Getting the right title for your page
  • Clean Code
  • Link Bait
  • and million other things

But there seems to be paranoia doing the rounds check out Webmaster World.
Should you do these deliberately? How does Google know if these are deliberate or not?

I don't know the answer, maybe Matt Cutts does? I'm sure he won't tell.

If you know or know a man who does, please tell me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Free translation added

You may have noticed I've added free translation to the blog. This is a service my company website offers, you can download it free from here Website translation.

This is only machine translation, but it gives a very good idea of the content all you need do is click the corresponding flag. And the site instantly translates.

I added this after taking a look at my Google Analytics and spotting that I have French visitors.

Au revoir!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Continual learning a missed trick

Most people realise that continual learning throughout life is a good idea. Trouble is that so same people can't be bothered doing it. There are so many things to do in a day where the hell are you going to fit learning something in.

At my work for Applied Language, a translation agency, we have a range of offices around the world: UK, USA, Bulgaria, Guatemala and France. Keeping all these people at the top of their game, in the company culture and continually learning is a tough job. Especially as we are a relatively small company only 44.

One of the many ways we achieve all three of thee things is by book competitions. Now this starts to sound very old and kind of school like. Well in a way it is. Every few months we read a business book.

We've done:
  1. Eat that Frog (time management)
  2. Fish (attitude)
  3. Broken Windows (little things help)
  4. and we've just done Who moved my cheese (coping with change)

We distribute the books several weeks before the competition to give plenty of time and then hold the quiz online using Survey Monkey.

All the entries are scored and the employee with the highest mark wins £150 ortheirr national equivalent.

All the staff take part from the MD down.

We're now taking this a step further and buying audio books as we've already given all the staff MP3 players.

This is a really easy way to achieve inter-department/country competition and continual learning.

Link building 101

Like most people I hate link building. It's a an evil you can't live without unfortunately.

Luckily Andy Hagans and Aaron Wall have put together a 101 of link building. This give great ideas and lots of information not just on what works but why it works.

I've already bookmarked the great links on here I need.

Cheers to both of you.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Top ten tips for Web Site optimisation

I love top 10 tips and these are great. Simple and straight forward just how things should be.

Marketing Profs have the answers

Things that bug me about Microsoft No1

No. 1 of an incidental series

Why is the Empty "Deleted Items" Folder in Microsoft Outlook under Tools and not Actions?

Emptying is an action.

Monday, August 14, 2006

England due to suffer in the flat world

One of the main themes of "The World is Flat" is that the decline in science being studied in the US means that the future of scientific development will ultimately move to the new developing countries: China, India and Russia. This is because of the pent up scientific knowledge and the ethos of a cultures yearning to learn more and more.

Evidence of this has now been reported in the UK. I know a lot of people who are worried about a flattening world and the loss of UK jobs to immigrants and overseas workers. The trouble is that they only see the disappearance of "traditional" manufacturing and labour intensive work.

They haven't twigged that the high level scientific and creative thinking will soon leave these shores as the developing countries continue to absorb knowledge.

Please sit up and take notice! You're all watching a game which already finished!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Your real website visitors are people!

Though search engines can only see and index text at the moment, they’re not your real visitors.

People are!

Any website should be built for humans. And there’s nothing that gives people more information than a picture. Your website can have the best possible description of your service or product but words are always down to interpretation. A picture on the other hand can take the place of a million words.

But be careful. Not just any old image will do. Be very careful to add the best pictures you can get hold of and make sure they are in character with your brand. For example I’d advise charities to steer clear of highly polished obviously professional pictures, because it portrays the wrong emotion.

From my time as a designer and a paper based marketer I know that the one thing people love to see is other people. A human face especially on a website is a really good idea. And an even better is real people, yes that means you and your staff.

When that’s not possible get hold of the best images you can, but remember the last point.

Here are a few great places for images which are either free or only $1.

The best one - iStock
Good and free - Morguefile
Good and free as well, good for backgrounds and textures- Image After

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Search Engine Optomisation - Where to start?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is now an essential part of any competent website. Whether it's handled in-house or sub contracted to a specialist company.

Without SEO you just have a bunch of really expensive graphics and text that only the people in your company ever see (oh and their parents and families).

Getting your site to number one in Google is most companies aim, but not everyone can be no 1 for every term. So the best idea is to find the niche terms that convert into whatever your company needs from its website, sales leads, downloads etc.

Search engines now run a large part of the world because so many people depend on them. So getting your pages to no1 is ever more relevant.

Here are a few of the places you can get more detailed info on what the latest developments are and how you can use them.

Where to start
First stop should be the engines own set of rules, these are always quite vague but the assistance is vital:
Google Webmasters guide

Next top are some very relevant blogs
Matt Cutts Google's inside man
Aaron Wall's SEO Blog
SEO Moz Blog

And finally, the best forum there is
Web Master World

For seasoned SEO people these sites will be in there favourites already, but for beginners these are the best places to start.

This list is by no means exhaustive so if you know any more sites, then please let me know. I'll post the best ones here soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Internet myopia

Is it just me, or do you suffer from internet myopia too?

Every day I religiously visit the same set of web pages, looking for information, entertainment or just fresh content for a writer I like. I'm happy with how I do this but I get the feeling that I'm missing out on what's out there.

The trouble I have, and you do to if you have a website, is how to get people to make your site part of their daily round of sites and include it in thier own little myopia.

There are a few ways to achieve this both involve a either time or money. Choose whichever you have most of.
  1. Have link bait on your site - Money Solution
    My site is translation services so the link bait we have is free translation. Every body wants something for free and we give it to them. We don't make a penny, but the link bait gives us access to the audience we need.
  2. Update regularly - Time Solution
    Having fresh content is the other way to get and keep new visitors but it takes time. Just pinching other people's news or content is a waste. You need to make your own and make it highly relevant. That way you become and authority and the first and hopefully last stop.

In a ideal world you'll do both, but for most of us mortals you only have the time or money for one. Do one well is the best advice I'd give.