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Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

SEO is free | Top 25 backlink sources

August 31st, 2006

Now that we’ve covered essential aspects of developing a web site or blog that will rank well in search engines, it’s time to move on to some specific action items we can take to get us noticed. As a quick review, here’s what we’ve covered in this previous string of posts:

You’ve got a quality site, now deal with Newton

After meeting the quality prerequisite, we need to ethically get the word out to the world that we’ve got a great site. While maintaining a quality site will be the ultimate reason for long term SEO success, we still have to get the whole thing kick started. As a former boss of mine used to say, “Having a great idea and not telling anyone has the same result as having no ideas at all.”

So what we’re dealing with now is Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” We’ve built the mass into our site to keep it going but the challenge for now is to take it from rest to motion. Our slingshot will be Google et. al. who, if we treat them right, can serve as our matchmaker to unite us with those people out there who need our solutions most.

Will work for backlinks

The good news is that Google and company claim to want the same thing…they want to serve up the most valuable sites to their users for any combination of keywords. The most important means by which Google and the other major search engines claim to decide which sites are truly the most valuable is by taking a vote from the Internet community. The votes they use are link backs from other sites.

So your mission is clear, submit your URL for consideration to as many other sites, indexes, and directories as possible. There are many options for where to submit, but some of the most important ones I’ve listed below. I recommend to our clients that they go through this list methodically to get the best exposure possible for nominal cost. Keep in mind the process and protocol for getting your URL listed at each one of these sources will vary…some are an automated submission and others will require you calling the organization to make a case for being listed, yet others may require you make a contribution of value to their community.

  1. All the major search engines of course, you might consider using a service like Traffic Blazer from RisingLineWeb.com
  2. dmoz.com (open directory project)
  3. Superpages.com
  4. Local business directories
  5. Technorati.com
  6. Public Library Sites (you’ll need to make a convincing case as to why they should list your link)
  7. MyPages.com
  8. blogflux.com
  9. blogtopsites.com
  10. blogwise.com
  11. iblogbusiness.com
  12. Blogger.com (your profile)
  13. goarticles.com
  14. syndic8.com
  15. blogdigger.com
  16. weblogs.com
  17. Press Release Sites e.g. prweb.com
  18. Squidoo.com
  19. Craigslist.org
  20. Digg.com
  21. del.icio.us
  22. Furl
  23. Shadows.com
  24. MyWeb
  25. StumbleUpon
  26. blog-directory.org

The process of submitting to these potential partners can be time consuming. To keep from being overwhelmed, consider setting aside 15-30 minutes every week or two for backlink hunting. As always, I would be interested in your feedback or suggestions.

SEO is free | The truth about Search Engine Optimization (Part 2)

August 23rd, 2006

The systemMy introductory post on the truth about Search Engine Optimization was an indulgence in drama that hopefully got the point across that search engine optimization is not about beating the system just to show up in the top of someone’s search list. The temptation to focus on the means instead of the end is always there and while it can yield some immediate, apparently beneficial gains, in the long run it depreciates the value a site offers to it target visitors. When developing and implementing an SEO strategy, do pay attention to the details but don’t focus on them.

Remember that the ultimate determination of your site showing up on the short list of search engines is when it proves to the world that it offers consistent valuable content that is relevant to your target audience.

It’s a lot like a sales person who doesn’t pay attention to the details of how they dress when they call on customers…they put themselves at a disadvantage for sure, but if their technical knowledge, customer service, and
closing ability are honed, they’ll be successful anyway. Web sites are much the same. It helps to be dressed for the occasion of attracting attention, but you’ve got to have the goods to back it up.

It should be no surprise that some of the best council on search engine optimization comes from those who write the SEO rules, or a good portion of them at least—Google.  Google provides two pages of guidelines for building a web site that will best suited to be indexed and highly ranked.  If you’ve not visited these pages, they are a must for anyone who contributes to the management of a website:

Out of all the content on these two pages, the most important is in this short sentence: “Make pages for users, not for search engines.”

Suomi Finland and Nokia – A Benchmark for European Blogging

August 21st, 2006

As I was visiting some relatives in Finland last month, I noticed that very few Nordic Web sites had incorporated blogging and New Media features at a corporate level. Blogging and podcasting have already become commonplace amongst the general population in Finland, as it has in the United States, however there is a glaring gap between most corporate Web sites and available New Media technology.

Something inherent about the Finnish society is that people adapt to technology very quickly. In fact, it is a country where you find youth text messaging live television talk show hosts from their mobile/cell phones although they’re being charged to do so. Finns, and I’m supposing other Europeans, would most likely embrace companies or organizations that would open up the level of transparency in regards to products, services, and community. For instance, Nokia is Finland’s most influential consumer brand, of which people proudly show off their new model phones amongst friends and family, along the same level as a car, home, or other status symbols. So as to exploit and enhance this brand power, I could certainly envision Nokia providing an interactive community where its customers could go online to chat about new product features, designs, like and dislikes, desires for future technology and so forth. Not only would this create further intimacy amongst Nokia’s customer base, but also it would enhance customer evangelism while at the same time providing in-depth and basically free unsolicited market research. Plus, Nokia has already experimented with the blogosphere by sending bloggers new phone models and had phenomenal response; why shouldn’t Nokia then take blogging to the next level and engage their customers? Nokia also has a few non-employed enthusiasts blogging about their products, the next step would be to envelop this community within the Nokia.com sphere to help shape the content and engage in the discussion.

So as to prove this isn’t a Nokia centric blog, Fazer, Finnair, Hesburger, and Stockmann are four other Finnish companies that come to mind that could leverage new media technology and customer evangelism. In fact, no matter the firm or industry, the main ingredient for success is to identify a loyal customer base and empower enthusiastic individuals with tools like blogs and customer reviews so as to become a participative marketing and sales extension for little to no cost. Although this may appear somewhat iffy in terms of ethics, the truth is that most customer evangelists don’t want to be bought, they’ll proactively solicit the virtues of a company’s products and services simply because they feel an inherent personal emotional identification around the brand. In other words, the brand becomes a reflection on their personality.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate the old mantra to those of you who haven’t heard it before … great brands create consumer evangelists by empowering their customers to be a strategic marketing force. Companies that have succeeded, such as Apple Computers, Under Armour, and Southwest Airlines, know what makes their customers tick. If you’re a marketer reading this blog, I highly encourage you to check out some articles under Google keyword search using “Customer Evangelism.” One article in particular that I would recommend is the “Customer Evangelism Manifesto” by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba; it has honestly revolutionized our corporate drive at RisingLine New Media Marketing. Anyway, I hope this blog provided some helpful information. Please feel free to provide feedback or ask questions.

Fiskars: Cutting-Edge Customer Evangelism

August 2nd, 2006

I recently became aware of the inspiring story of Fiskars, you know, the company that makes the orange handled scissors.  When started learning about Fiskars I thought, “What marketing insight could be gleaned from a company that makes such a boring commodity?” I was soon to learn that it’s the commonness of their product that makes the Fiskars story so inspiring.

Imagine being handed the job as the marketing director for Fiskars–a successful international corporation with a legacy dating from 1649. You’ve been given the world wide marketing responsibility for….long pause….scissors.

I’m sure it’s out there, but I can’t imagine a product that would be more dull (not literally of course) and more resigned to the classification of “commodity pumped out of China for a few cents each.”

Just for fun, here’s part of the provocative description of scissors from Wikipedia:

Scissors are a tool used for cutting thin material which requires little force. They are used for cutting, for example, paper, cardboard, metal foil, thin plastic, food, cloth, rope and wire. They are also used for cutting hair and nails.

So, given this bleak scenario what has Fiskars done? They’ve taken one of the toughest products imaginable and perfected the basic essences of marketing by:

  • Identifying the real need behind why their customers buy their product.
  • Branding themselves around those needs (not around their product).
  • Creating strong emotional bonds with their customers.
  • Creating an online community offering real extended value.
  • Embracing Customer Evangelism Marketing.

It’s not necessary for me to explain Fiskars’ near-perfect emotional branding, they’ve done such a great job it’s apparent just by visiting their website.

The story of Fiskars can be a big downer too. When I absorb the marketing masterpiece they’ve created out of such a ubiquitous product, it takes away all excuses for why any other product would be difficult to successfully differentiate. Almost anything, compared to scissors, would be better positioned to achieve marketing success. If you’ve been using that type of excuse, just imagine what the marketing leadership of Fiskars would do if they were at your company selling your product.

Fiskars deserves high honor for their leadership in quality consumer evangelism marketing, and for the inspiration they provide to the rest of us.

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