Bing Optimisation – Is It Part Of Your SEO Strategy?

Just over a week ago both the Australian and Canadian governments approved a deal to see Bing power Yahoo’s search results. So whilst Google has 87.79% share of search traffic down under, collectively under a Bing/Yahoo arrangement 1 in 10 clicks in Australia would go to a Bing search result. So suddenly this deal combined with the added promotion behind Bing in Australia means that marketers should take note of the important considerations to improve Bing rankings and exposure without comprising Google rankings.

The Core Elements

Overall it seems Bing has bought back some of the key elements that once held significant weighting within Google’s algorithm. However Bing has learnt from the loopholes used by black hat SEOs and improved on it to so ensure spammers don’t benefit from manipulating SERPs.

So what should a Webmaster focus on to rank on Bing?
Content and more content; Bing loves it and some experts recommend pages should contain a minimum of 300 words. In addition Bing seems to be a little anal and favours content which is free of spelling errors giving you an added reason to proof read your content.
It’s not how much you’ve got, it’s what you do with it; Back links do play a key role in optimizing for Bing however quantity is less important than the context of the link. In particular links from sites that are of a similar theme seem to provide the most strength to your Bing SEO efforts.
Keywords Tag – An oldie but a goodie; Bing’s own blog has advised webmasters to ensure they are optimizing keywords within all of the important parts of the code ie in H1 tags, Title Tags and even the keywords tag.
Give Love & Get Love – It seems that unlike Google, part of Bing’s algorithm favours sites that link out to other sites related to a sites theme.

Other Important Considerations

Outside of the core elements there are some other key variables which marketers need to consider to get the most out of their Bing search efforts.

Are you even there?

As stated above Bing’s algorithm does include some of the older Google techniques – but with a stronger monitoring system to detect SPAM and penalize offenders. As a result it seems that Bing is suffering from some teething problems. The Bing search blog seems to be somewhat inundated with webmasters whose sites have disappeared from the index for various reasons. Whilst Bing has similar rules in place to Google which cause sites to be de-indexed, Bing has also stated that as their algorithm changes, sites may disappear from the index completely as they have been incorrectly flagged as Spam.
Thus as a starting point it is important to ensure your site is in the index and if you are experiencing problems follow these instructions.

Bing Search ResultsBing Document Preview Feature

Bing provides a document preview function to allow searchers to instantly see more content on a page without the need to go to a website.

Why is this important? Not only can content help you rank but Bing uses this information to assist searches to find what they are looking for with a try before you buy type function. This means SEOs have direct influence over how search listings are presented, to attract more users to your site.
The examples below for Clive Peeters and Freedom Furniture demonstrate how some of the big retailers of Australia are currently being affected by this feature.

Enhancing the preview function

If you want to ensure that Bing is displaying useful previews, the most important thing is to ensure that site pages include useful content not just images and this content is featured at the top of your site code.

However if you are restricted with your current site, webmasters can also insert the tag within the tags on each HTML page to disable the feature.

There is also a site-wide exclusion, insert the following line in your web server’s HTTP header:
x-robots-tag: nopreview.

Want to learn more?

Bing has released a series of tools and articles to help Webmasters, get the most out of Bing. I have included some of the most useful links below:
Bing’s White Paper For Webmasters

If you have got any top tips to help fellow SEOs optimize for Bing please leave them below.

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40 Mind Blowing Australian Digital Statistics

compilation of Digital Statistics 2009

It’s been a big year in digital for Australia. And a big year should be rounded off with my biggest compilation of digital statistics. So here they are;

General Internet Usage Statistics

1. At the end of June this year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 8.4million active internet subscribers in Australia. Sunshine Coast Daily, June 2009
2. According to ComScore Australia’s internet population over the age of 15 in 2009 grew to 12.6 million Australians from 11.3 in 2008. ComScore, November 2009
3. 19% of Australia’s internet population is 55+, 18% is 45 – 54, 21% is 35 – 44, 20% is 25 – 34 & 21% is 15 – 24. ComScore, November 2009

4. In October, Australian users spent 27.2 hours browsing online. Nielsen, November 2009
5. According to ComScore some of the most popular retail categories visited online by Australian internet users include Computer Hardware 22.4% of internet users, Books 21.4% of internet users& comparison shopping sites 18.2%. ComScore, November 2009
6. Around 3 million Australians illegally download music every year, that is 1 in 4 Australian internet users. November 2009

Social Media MarketingSocial Media

7. A study on social networking usage in Australia, found more than 70 percent of Internet users in Australia visited a social networking site in June, up 29 percent from the previous year. ComScore, August 2009
8. Facebook’s now accounts for 29 per cent of all time spent online by Australians – this has seen research group Nielsen define the trend as Facebook Time and Non Facebook Time.Nielsen, November 2009
9. October social networking usage – Facebook’s unique audience was 8.1 million, followed by MySpace which was steady on 2.3 million users while Bebo lagged well behind on 358,000. Nielsen, November 2009
10. Australian Facebook users uploaded 80 million pictures, wrote 32 million wall posts and 45 million status updates in October. Nielsen, November 2009
11. Twitter growth in the past 12 months in Australia equates to 1150%. November 2009

12. 79.1% of internet users in Australia view online video. Universal McCann, July 2009
13. YouTube receives 6.17 million monthly Australian visitors. ComScore, 2009
14. Wikipedia received 5.2 million Australian visitors. Nielsen, November 2009
15. Blogger received 3.1 million Australian visitors. Nielsen, November 2009
16. Yahoo!7 Answers received 2.5 million Australia visitors. Nielsen, November 2009

Online Advertising

Ad Placement17. Australians are some of the least likely to click on online display ads in the world. Latin America and Europe record double the CTR in Rich Media than that of Australasia and North America with the global average standing at .1%. Eyeblaster Research, 2009
18. One third of Australian consumers exposed to an online ad are able to recall that ad when asked. Nielsen Online, November 2009.
19. Australia’s online advertising industry hit record levels for Q3, with online ad spend now equating to $466 million. IAB Australia, November 2009
20. Search and Directories account for 51 percent of the total advertising expenditure in Oz General Display accounts for 26 percent and Classifieds 23 percent based on Q3 2009. IAB Australia, November 2009

21. Search and Directories grew 12 percent for Q3 year on year; while General Display declined 3.8 percent and Classifieds declined 5 percent. IAB Australia, November 2009
22. Online video advertising equates to 4% of the total general display advertising market in Australia. IAB Australia, November 2009
23. CPM advertising equates to 75 percent of the general display category, with only 22 percent reported for response and 3 percent for hybrid in Australia. IAB Australia, November 2009
24. Finance, Computers & Communications and Motor Vehicles dominant General Display advertising, comprising of 42 percent of the General Display spending. IAB Australia, November 2009

Mobile Phone

Mobile Internet Usage Habits25. A third of all Australians now check emails on their handset. Australian Interactive Media Industry Association Survey, September 2009
26. Year on year Australians accessing social media sites from their handset have grown from 7% to 32%. Australian Interactive Media Industry Association Survey, September 2009
27. Telsyte forecasts that mobile ad spend will grow to $20 million by the end of 2009 from just $7 million in 2008. Business Spectator, November 2009
28. Page views of Australian mobile internet sites grew 24.4% between October 2008 and July 2009. July 2009

29. 39% of Australian respondents stated in a recent survey that they would accept ads on their mobile phone in exchange for free mobile content or special offers. AIMIA, September 2009
30. 43% of Australian respondents stated in a recent survey that they had used their phones to carry out a mobile search in the last 12 months, compared to 47% who stated they intend to do so in the next 12 months. AIMIA, September 2009
31. 25% of respondents have used their mobile phone for banking in the last 12 months. Males, (26–40 year olds), and those single or living independently are more likely to use the phone for banking. AIMIA, September 2009
32. 14% of respondents to a recent survey stated they have used their mobile phone to buy things not for their mobile phone. Males, those living single independently, and those 25 years and under were also more likely to use their mobile phone to pay for other things.AIMIA, September 2009

eCommerce
33. About three per cent of retail spending is online in Australia, whereas in the USA and the UK it is between six and eight per cent. November 2009
34. Australian online shoppers spend about US$1000 per year online. November 2009
35. In Australia 27 per cent of online shoppers prefer to pay with PayPal which is the 2nd strongest market for PayPal globally. Nielsen, 2009

Search
Onsite Search36. In Australia year on year there has been a decrease in one word search terms of 2.3% and two word search terms of 1.9%. Hitwise, November 2009
37. Search requests longer than three words have increased over the past 12 months by 2.8%. Four – words have increased 1.2% and 5 words plus have seen a solid increase over the past two years, with a 1.2% increase in the past 12 months. Hitwise, November 2009
38. Bing’s search queries having a far greater proportion of single and two word requests, 56.2% versus Google.com.au’s 46.7%, Google.com’s 47.0% and Yahoo!7 Search’s 48.1%.Hitwise, November 2009

39. Google’s share of search as at 1st week of November was 87.79%, whilst Bing was 4.59% and Yahoo was 6.27%. Hitwise, November 2009
40. According to Hitwise search is the largest online category in Australia at 12% followed by social media at 10%. Hitwise, November 2009

References

http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/aussies-call-an-end-to-just-phoning-on-mobiles-20090929-ga33.html
http://www.thesheet.com/nl06_news_selected.php?act=2&stream=1&selkey=9187&hlc=2&hlw=
http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,26380786-23272,00.html
http://www.iabaustralia.com.au/index.php?/news/story/online_advertising_posts_highest_quarter_ever_-_466_million
http://www.aimia.com.au/enews/mobile/090929%20AIMIA_Report_FINAL.pdf

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The Who, When & What of Xmas Retailing in Australia

Online Christmas Sale

With just over 6 weeks until the fat man makes his way down the chimney most retailers are in the thick of the promotional season. But are you maximising the online retailing opportunity? This article looks at the when, who and what of online Xmas retailing in Australia to help you ramp up your promotional efforts.

Who?

Online Shoppers During Christmas SeasonNielsen research group says that 38% of Christmas purchases last year were made online, with each internet-connected Australian spending an average of $224 via the web. However who is spending the dosh? A Christmas gifts survey conducted by http://www.itsinthestarsonline.com found 45% of Australian men have never shopped for gifts online, compared to 23.9% of women. From the limited statistics on offer in Australia we are able to draw conclusions that online shopping is a prominent channel for purchasing Christmas gifts and probably is more so for women.

What is however more important to consider is the role that online plays in the entire Christmas shopping process. Whilst 1 in 3 are buying online, many more would be researching their gifts prior to completing the purchase in-store thus it is important to have a presence online over this key season.

When?

Hitwise Electronics Search Trends
Hitwise Electronics Search Trends

Statistics from 2008 show that whilst retailers see the last 6 weeks as the Christmas frenzy, online retailing for Christmas starts to pick up at the start of November – this reinforces the point above that many shoppers hit the net to do their research prior to heading out.

Other popular electronics categories include; Mobile, Computers (notebooks and MP3 players) and Cameras. Headphones, Navigation and Set Top Boxes.

But electronics is not the only lucrative channel. According to Mastercard toys are another popular online category in Australia and if we look at Google Insights we can see search volumes for toys have increased significantly over the past 90 days as we move into the peak retailing period.

 

Google Search Insights, Toys

Further to this, Australia’s National Retailer Association has revealed that 1 in 5 Australian consumers will buy gift vouchers for Christmas – up by 7%. Google’s Insight search shows that one of the hottest places for consumers to look for this is online – with the growth in search obvious from the below graph.

Gift Voucher Google Search

Other important information: Statistics show that this year Australians plan to spend less at Christmas. A survey from the Westpac-Melbourne Institute revealed 35% of consumers are not willing to spend as much money this Christmas period compared to last year. With consumers being very cost conscious retailers need to consider to tailor their product offerings and messaging to suit those looking to save some money this Xmas.

Here’s Getprice CEO Chris Hitchens talking about 2009’s Christmas and summer trends in online shopping…

Got any insight or advice for online retailers? If so share it below.

 

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A Long Long Road Ahead – Australia’s Digital Industry

Australia's Digital Industry

6 weeks ago I returned to Australia after a 2 years of working in the UK digital industry.

Despite keeping a very close eye on the market here I felt like a freshie jumping back into the Australian digital pond. And so now as I establish myself in my new role and am getting re-acquainted with the market I feel I am well equipped to give a outsiders views on our industry – before I become completely sub-merged in it.

Since returning I have invested a lot of time in establishing a digital roster and also found time to attend the Digital Marketing & Media Summit 2009 in Melbourne. All of this listening and active dialogue with “experts” in the space has allowed me to draw some conclusions on the state of our market – which demonstrate some very harsh realities. It’s a long long road ahead!

Let’s start with agencies – over the past few weeks I have met with a whole host of agencies ranging from so called search experts to digital generalists and whilst there are some shining stars, the rest resemble cowboys in the wild west. I am amazed by the many high profile search agencies that sell their automated link building services through their “network” of sites, and digital agencies who clearly display a lack of basic knowledge of how to structure an email template. So it is no wonder there is not a flurry of digital case studies demonstrating successful monetization of the channel here in Australia.

Digital Marketing & Media Summit 2009However the cream on my digital cake was today when I attended the Digital Marketing & Media Summit 2009 which showcased what should have been the creme de la creme of the industry. Putting aside the few star performers, the majority left me wondering where some of the truly good examples are hiding. To hear Nissan’s agency discuss their latest campaign was a real eye opener. Their agency expressed as part of the z370 launch there was a Facebook page which low and behold resulted in replies from consumers to their surprise. So what happened? This caused a problem because no one could monitor it therefore their move into social media was considered by the agency as an unsuccessful attempt showing the sheer lack of knowledge of the space.

Or perhaps what was more frightening was the iSpyLevi case study where the agency was asked if the campaign showed any contribution to sales which the agency replied that they didn’t know. I understand that social media doesn’t always have a direct flow on effect but with such a high profile campaign surely there was some uplift and what’s more surely the agency would want to know this important information. And to top it off during the campaign period they took their site down, in a time where users should most likely be attracted to their site to possibly buy.

So in an industry where client side professionals are dependent on agencies to advice, it’s no wonder senior executives are still worried if an investment in a certain area of digital will pay dividends.

So faced with this market, what is a client marketer to do? From one client side marketer to another here are my top tips to navigate the agency landscape and find suppliers who get digital;

1) Client side marketers need to invest more time to learn about digital from the local and global industry. Gather your knowledge from trusted sources and retrain yourself so you can make educated decisions. Sites such as digitalministry.com.au, internetretailing.com.au and even the blog onlinemarketingbanter.com are great places to start locally. Globally leverage sites such as eConsultancy.com, sphinn.com (which is a social bookmarking site for marketers) or davechaffey.com for digital in general or for search usesearchengineland.com, seomoz.org or even seobook.com
2) Question your agency and re-question their abilities. If they have done one campaign it doesn’t make them an expert – and if they are a traditional agency question if they really have the ability and knowledge in the digital space. Your brand is not a playground for experimentation.
3) Meet with lots of suppliers before making a decision. There are good agencies out there but you need to spend the time to find them.
Social Media Metrics4) Go by recommendations; Of the few digital professionals you trust or look up to on the client side – seek their recommendations PS if you are still unsure on this one and need some help drop me a line am happy to provide recommendations.
5) What about the metrics – Find out what the agency has delivered – not just view their creative. Many agencies are so proud of their micro-sites and mobile apps that they haven’t had time to stop and measure what they have delivered. Yes this in a space which has far more measurability than any other.
6) Ask for transparency – This is particularly crucial for search – if an agency cannot provide visibility of your AdWords account or will not tell you what they are doing to get you to rank in Google then run for the hills. If your site gets blacklisted for bad SEO behaviour your URL will be stripped from the index with a slim chance to return or rank again.

What do you think about the Australian digital industry? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Has Google Stepped Away From Its Motto – Don’t Be Evil?

I have a slight problem, one which I struggle with and well it is in fact a big problem……. it’s Google. Google has changed our lives and is probably one of the or if not the most influential brands of our time. But since Google was formed in the university dorms by the Google Guys a lot has changed and it seems Google has forgotten the very core of what they stand for – don’t be evil!

Looking at it from a marketers perspective I am torn about how I feel about the brand. On the one hand, I am concerned by their domination in search and how the lack of competition will drive up paid search costs in the coming years. This will have a massive impact and price many small businesses out of the market, which are those same businesses who over the past 5 years have built their business around the search engine.

However on the other hand I am grateful for the way they have transformed the online media industry almost forcing platforms to move to a cost per action model enabling marketers to deliver guaranteed return from investment. And even more so I am pleased to see Google keeping the “bastards honest” as they say in the analytics industry.

And whilst I hold high admiration for their level of innovation I am concerned just how far Google will go in the name of profit. You see the bottom line is Google is a media company. And like any media company Google must enhance the user experience as much as possible to keep the money rolling in – and this is at the expense of many industries that fund their own existence.
So whilst Google dominates the search landscape this is not enough for them. Google has their eyes firmly set on 3 core areas. So what are they and what is the impact on the existing market players and the industry.

Smartphones1. Mobile Space

Google knows the mobile battle ground is one that needs to be fought given its potential in the coming years. However for once it has some stiff competition with Apple. It although seems the pursuit to innovate will impact more than just Apple themselves. Only 2 days ago Google announced their intentions to weave technology for driving directions and road data into new versions of its Android operating system for smartphones, which is wrecking havoc to the Satellite Navigation industry.

2. Own Vertical Segments

Google also realises that horizontal search engines don’t cut the mustard like they used to. Engines that are able to aggregate different forms of data and provide a more rich user experience throughout the various stages of decision making will dominate the search landscape. As such in Australia Google has its sights set on the property sector having released their own property search overlay on Google Maps. In addition if we look further afield to the US we see that Google has also made a move into the mortgage market. Google has also shown they want a greater share of the music pie launching “OneBox” in conjunction with MySpace’s iLike and Lala.com. This is definitely just the beginning and unfortunately this could spell an end to the aggregator models that dominate industries such as jobs, finance and even travel.

Social Media Strategy3. Social media

This is definitely one area that is threatening Google’s revenue model. Users are spending increasing amounts of time on social sites. As a category in Australia social media is about to overtake search engines and this is likely to be similar across the world. Google’s latest move in the social search space is its first major step to try to bring consumers back to Google by acting as a central source for their social media activities.

Google’s social search also aggregates a users social circle activities with existing search results – adding a more dynamic way of aggregating social elements into the existing search infrastructure. View more information here. This combined with Google Wave signals there need to be getting a greater slice of the pie in this market. But this is one area that I think they can’t win and thus we will continue to see Google attempt to acquire some of the big boys as their efforts fall short of engaging consumers…….. at least for the next few years.

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7 Australian Social Media Examples & Case Studies

Social Media Marketing

With social media usage exploding in Australia, many Australian organisations are seriously considering social media to support the achievement of marketing objectives. And whilst the creation of Facebook fan pages and a Twitter account springs to many minds there is so much more opportunity out there.

This post provides a collection of social media examples from Australia to showcase some of the campaigns that have circulating our shores over the past 6 – 9 months and to inspire many more to come.

Tourism Queensland’s – Best Job In The World

The launch of a global campaign to find a caretaker of paradise island in Queensland saw Tourism Queensland generate over 203 million euro’s worth of PR globally from a spend of 570,000 euro’s. The competition drew 34,000 video entries from over 200 countries.

Australian Tourism – Leveraging Specialist Bloggers

Australian TourismTo extend its reach on the web Tourism Australia invited leading online opinion leaders to experience Australia. Tourism Australia aims to work with these key influencers to drive the desire in others to travel to Australia through positive word of mouth commentary.

View one of the posts

Sportsgirls Forum

Sportsgirl have stood up and taken note of the social shopping trends overseas and built their own online forum. Since its launch 3 months ago the forum shows very strong engagement and interaction and is definitely worth a mention.

Childcare Chat

With all of the previous bad PR circulating ABC Learning, ABC has launched an online forum to enable parents to share experiences and knowledge. This is definitely one of the more risky concepts given the negative high profile image of ABC Learning, however it demonstrates that the brand is willing to actively solicit conversations in an open forum about its brand whilst also providing a platform for peer to peer advice and knowledge to be shared.

View more about the strategy

Wrigley’s 5 Gum Launch

Wrigley's 5Gum CobaltWrigleys launched its new 5 gum chewing gum with an integrated campaign including various formats of social media including Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. It seems from results some social channels were more successful than others – but with over 15,000 viewers viewing YouTube video’s it is not a bad effort.

View more about the strategy
View their YouTube channel

Virgin Blues Tweet Sales

Virgin Blue trialled a new sales channel by offering 1000 $9 flights through Twitter to celebrate its 9th birthday. Flights were snapped up during the first day of the sale.

View more about the results

Borders Online Chain Story

Borders in-conjunction with James Patterson launched the worlds first chain story. James Patterson wrote the first and last chapter with aspiring writers and fans called on to write the remaining 28 chapters. A unique way to tap into the community, the campaign drummed up publicity on Fairfax and News Limited. Not to mention coverage on Radio National, ABC Radio Melbourne and Radio 2UE.

View more about the strategy

This is obviously just a sample of some of the social media examples in Australia. If you know of others please share them below.

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Modern Day Cyber Squatting – Is Your Brand Protected?

Brand Presence in Social Media

According to Hitwise, social media in Australia is among the top online categories – second only to “search engines”. Social media is so popular that in the coming year to 2 years it is believed it will surpass search – making it the most popular category of sites visited by Australians.

But our love of social media has left many brands exposed to what is now the modern day version of cyber-squatting – which I term social-squatting but is also known as brand-jacking.

Risks associated with failing to secure your brand in the online space

Brandjacking social mediaWhilst many of the major social networking sites forbid brand-jacking, policing the trading of such accounts is at best difficult – and it is an issue which that social networks themselves will face increasingly over the coming years. Given the sheer volume of complaints that will arise, I believe many platforms will adopt a similar model to that of Google and remove themselves from any responsibility to intervene leaving organisations to settle disputes amongst themselves.

This however is not the only threat, brands that are not trademarked could see themselves face high costs to acquire their presence from a brand-jacker.

Further still apart from costs related to acquiring your brand, social-jacking can also damage a brand. With consumers now comfortable with expressing themselves in the social space – brand-jackers are acquiring brands not only for financial gain but with the intention of distributing bad PR.

Has your organisation secured your brand in the social space?

Whilst many Australian organisations are sitting on the sidelines, still undecided about whether to enter the social media space, organisations need to at least consider securing their brand on social platforms or face the risks associated with a lack of action.
I trawled Twitter for some of the biggest names in the Australian finance industry and was surprised to see the lack of thought and in some cases action to secure their Twitter brand online. Of all of the major competitors, Westpac is the stand out. It is obvious that they have given the most thought to their Twitter presence registering the following Twitter accounts– www.twitter.com/westpac, www.twitter.com/westpac_com_au,www.twitter.com/westpac_help, www.twitter.com/westpacbank.

Look further afield to the retail sector and it is a similar story with some of the large players securing their place in the social space whilst others have yet to even consider it.

What to do?

Facebook and Twitter SearchWith over 1.5 million Australians on Twitter and 8 million Australians on Facebook, Australian organisations need to make the first step and secure their brand before it’s too late. To start, brainstorm the key ways users search for your brand to ensure you secure the key 2 or 3 usernames that most accurately reflect your brand. The next step is to review if the profile names have been secured or are available to be registered. To make the review process easier, consider utilising http://www.usernamecheck.com/ and http://knowem.com/. These platforms search across up to 120 social sites at once providing a snapshot of if the profile name is available. You can even automate the registration process.

For more information about the top tips about securing your online profile –refer to
http://www.watchingwebsites.com/archives/registering-your-username-on-many-social-media-sites-pros-and-cons

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Online Video – How Big Is The Opportunity?

On the weekend I had the opportunity to witness one of my close friends get married. As they commenced their bridal dance I was amazed to see these two individuals perform an elegant and well timed waltz which looked to me to be the result of 6 weeks of dance lessons in the lead up to the wedding. But how wrong I was.

So what does this have to do with digital marketing? Well nothing except for the fact that I found out later that the graceful dance moves of the happy couple were learnt via YouTube, and this prompted me to write about the video opportunity in Australia.

How big is video in Oz?

According to Sensis, 36% of Australians now download video or watch streamed video online, up 4% on last year, which means the majority are yet to be watching video online. There was a similar rise in uploading video to sites like YouTube, an activity which 14% of Australians have tried in the last year.

However despite only 1 in 3 watching online video, the opportunity is still significant. In January and February of this year 6,000,000 alone watched clips about the Victorian bushfire from Fairfax properties. In addition in July 2009 Ninemsn launched its own video category which has been in direct response to growth in demand for online video – growing from 1 million downloads a month in 2006 to 11 million a month in 2009. So whilst the majority of Australians are yet to cotton on to the video phenomenon those that have are doing so in large quantities.

In addition, we only need to look abroad to witness the growth and size of the video market to see how this medium will grow in the next 12 to 24 months. According to ComScore the UK viewed over 5 billion videos in April 2009 whilst in the US video downloads equalled 16.5 billion in the same month.

Who is using it?

Contrary to popular belief that video content is consumed by those in younger demographics, a survey from 3,000 Australian YouTube users revealed;
Those aged 18 – 29 are consuming 32% of online video content in Australia, whilst those aged 30 – 39 made up a further 20% of video consumers. Those aged 60+ and 14 – 17 were nearly equal in their consumption of video equating to 10% and 7% respectively.

Tips for Video

Online Video StreamingWhilst there are many opportunities for marketing through video from pre-roll video advertising through to hosting a YouTube channel, those considering to create a video or videos as part of their marketing strategy should consider the following tips to creating high impact video’s;

1) Time; Whilst you may be eager to create a video incorporating a plethora of information, the best videos are created to be 2 – 3 minutes in length.
2) Distribution; Whilst some video’s, like will it blend have achieved universal recognition with over 7 million downloads, most video’s need a strong distribution strategy to ensure the relevant market is aware of the content that you have created. Video search optimisation here is key, as is integrating video into your communications and social media strategy.
3) Quality; Whilst online video is a medium that can be attractive due to being low cost, ensure that quality is not compromised. Ensure sound is clear and lighting does not affect filming – testing prior to final filming is key here.

Whilst these are some of the learning’s I have taken from online video, there are many others out there. HubSpot provides a very useful formula for online video creation which is located here

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Are You a Little Channel Dependent?

Google Caffeine Update

In August 2009 it was reported that Webjet was cutting back on its paid search activity and was getting out of affiliate marketing because of its reliance on the channels. And whilst Webjet feels that its decision is also partly because of its brand maturity, I think this highlights an important consideration for brands in the online space – Is your online strategy too dependent on one online channel?

Google Caffeine UpdateChannel dependence is an issue that any online business should consider the ramifications of. Whilst Webjet has realised the potential issues before there have been serious consequences, other businesses have not been so lucky. A few years ago I stepped into an organisation operating in the classifieds sector that had a strong reliance on email marketing, so much so that it delivered 70% of their conversions. And tried as I might to change their mindset on singular channel reliance the powers at be were not bought in to increasing marketing spend to diversify. Only then, when site content dipped dramatically (which was the sole driver of the email program), did the organisation sit up and take note. The net effect resulted in a decline in site conversion of 30% in a 1 month period. Ouch!

And it seems in the world of the Google Behemoth that many businesses could be exposed to a similar issue. In a recent article in the Brisbane Times, Melbourne-based website publisher Joey Lee, who runs more than 15 websites, highlighted the impact a Google change had on his business in 2003. Mr Lee said “In 2003, with Google’s ‘Florida Update’ [a surprise new algorithm that dramatically changed search results and site listings] my traffic and revenue dropped 40 per cent.” So with a big Google update looming – Google Caffeine – could your online strategy be overexposed to organic search? Or with paid search inflation at spiralling out of control, can you business continue to compete in 12 months time?

The message here online marketers is simple. Whilst some online channels may appear to be more cost effective than others – consider the risks and costs associated with channel dependence, and channel proof your online strategy before your dealt a serious blow.

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Playing a Little Defence On The SEO Court

Google Spam Report, Defensive SEO

When developing and refining a search strategy, many SEOs focus on how to aggressively improve one’s own site rankings. But what many fail to do is consider playing defence when competitors are climbing the rankings at a rapid rate.

After managing the marketing function for a job site in what is considered a very competitive industry in the UK, I realised that it is rarely enough to rely on playing a purely offensive game because you may not get ahead if the other team is not playing by the rules.

And whilst the early days of SEO was rife with black hat SEO, it seems there are still many out there prepared to play the dangerous game of cat and mouse with Google to get ahead.

For those who therefore want to play a little “d” as part of their SEO strategy it is important to analyse the competitor sets strategies, to identify the more unsavoury tactics that may be deployed to outrank your site.

Here I will share 3 techniques that I have seen deployed by 3 different competitors that were in my competitive set.

Google Can Find Your Hidden text1. Hidden Text

This technique has been around for a long time but it still props up in various forms. In this particular instance the competing site hid text within the page making it invisible to the naked eye. However if you happened to click on a particular part of the page, the page would extend and the SEO copy would suddenly be revealed.

How can you spot it?

Compare content in the back end code with that on pages within a site. If the content is not visible on the site it could be hidden through the use of white text or by using a similar technique to the one that I have described above.

2. Excessive Link Buying;

Another prominent competitor in the space was engaging in excessive link buying to build artificial rank. Since 2008 Google has frowned upon the use of such a technique given its ease to build PageRank.

How to spot it?

Excessive link building is usually simplified through the use of a link broker. As a result the offending links usually adopt a similar format. Start by reviewing competitor sites utilising Yahoo Site Explorer. Look for links that appear on irrelevant or spammy sites. In addition look at how links appear on sites – are they in a similar format with the same anchor text and are there many of them?

3. Bogus Domains

Yet another competitor was using a technique whereby they registered a large number of domains to create bogus landing pages which were then hosted on different servers. These pages were created to target specific keywords and were used to point towards a master domain to make the site look popular by Google’s standards.

How to spot it?

This one can be a little more difficult to identify. Look for patterns in the types of domains pointing to the site, are they similar in nature? Are the pages just simple landing pages like doorway pages that link through to the master site? Do they provide the user with any value or do they simply look to be set up for the purpose of rankings?

Google Spam Report, Defensive SEOWhat to do about it?

The most important part to a defensive SEO strategy is to report an offending site to Google. Submit your case via the Google SPAM report form and Google will then review it which can lead to downgrading a sites PageRank, impact rankings or if severe can result in Google blacklisting the offending site from the SERPs.

Have you found a competing site that you think might not be playing by the rules? If so please email me at marketing@digitalmarketinglab.com.au and I would be happy to look at it for you.

 

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