Travel and the Online Job Marketplace

Travel and Online Work

Money is the motivation behind everything nowadays and the success of every business is quantified in terms of how much money it gives back in return.

Employment and unemployment are usually on topic wherever you go. But ever since the Internet, it is no longer business as usual for most employers and employees! People are now getting to virtual online work platforms contrary to the past when employers and employees were confined to their geographical locations. This makes it possible for you to literally work for any company or client around the world from anywhere you want.

Making Money Online; What It Entails

For most people, surfing the internet is just part of your day to day life.

However, whilst most people simply use the internet to login to facebook, check news sites or watch cute cat videos on youtube, some people are actually earning a living from it online.

There are very many ways of making a modest living online but the two most common methods are:

Affiliate MarketingFreelancer – SEO, Web Design, Graphics Design. Whatever skills you’ve got that is transferrable online, there are people willing to pay for the service.

Affiliate marketing – Make money selling other peoples products. Sounds easy enough provided you can generate traffic and conversion to your website.

In my opinion, code, design and seo are the most highly sought after skills online. An article on the true cost of seo demonstrates just how valuable this skill really is.

The best part of it all is that you don’t have to waste time travelling to your clients’ location. No. You only have to contact them and once the negotiation process is done (online), You can get down to working and after completing the contract as agreed, submit the work online. If you use seo for affiliate marketing then you don’t even need to deal with clients.

Freelancing has a big future in employment in my opinion. In years to come, most of the world’s population will be working and employing online. For example, as per now, around 50 million people in the US alone work online.

There are online platforms via which the employees and employers meet. These platforms are referred to as online work platforms. It’s no longer just the odd small business turning to these online work platforms, huge companies also use these for the flexibility of hiring a skilled contractor without all the red tape.

The main platforms on the market at the moment are; Upwork, Freelancer.com, Fiverr and Guru. But there are many more of these each offering something unique.

Of course, your online money making ventures are not limited to being a freelancer or online contract work. Other ways to make money online include trading Forex, commodities, stock and binary Options. These require skills and I would not advise you to jump in lightly as they require investment and high risk.

How to Get Started in The Online Job Market

You need skills. Remember working online is still a form of employment and in every employment the employer will always go for specific skills. You therefore have to have learn and perfect some skills. Now you may have graduated with a journalism degree so you can write great content which is highly in demand right now, or you are an experienced graphics designer. When you are qualified and experienced you can get a job anywhere.

Online Working PlatformsHowever the beauty of the internet is that it allows you to learn skills which aren’t even taught in schools or colleges. Search engine optimisation or digital marketing for example is a case of learning from online material and trial and experience. If you want to learn seo there are plenty of available guides online, I wrote a guide to local seo myself.

If you have the skills, you can go ahead and sign up to one of the many sites. The platform of your choice should have ample clients looking for freelancers with your type of skills and should also be secure.  For example, if you are a web developer, you should look for platforms like freelancer.com or Upwork where there are many clients who require web development services.

Every online working platform makes money by cutting some amount from the pay that the client makes. Different online working platforms cut different percentage from what your client pays you. For example, Upwork will cut 10% of the pay while

Fiverr will cut 20% of your pay. So take that into consideration.

You will be required to add some information on how you will be withdrawing your funds. This will require you to have a link from your online work platform to your bank account. There are various ways to withdraw funds to your bank account. Some of the most popular ways to withdraw your funds is via PayPal, Bank Wire Transfer, Payoneer and Skrill. You have to ensure that the information that you disclose at this point is safe to avoid instances of your bank account being hacked into.

After registering yourself with an online work platforms of your choice, you will have to work on your profile. The profile is what reflects your skills to potential clients. When a client wants to know whether you are capable of performing a certain task, they will first look at your profile to see whether you have the necessary skills or experience. Working on the profile is one of the harder parts to perfect.

How to Make Your Profile Look Appealing

Online Resume and ProfileThe first thing is to complete your profile to 100%. In most cases, you will be required to fill a form with your name, country of origin, your telephone on mobile number, your email address and an upload of your picture. The picture should be very decent to portray professionalism.

Add your education background as well as any work or employment history that you have had. You should be careful to provide an academic background and work history that matches the skills that you claim to possess. This will go a long way in giving your clients that confidence that you are extremely good in whatever you do.

In some online work platforms, you will also be required to do some tests related to your skills as a way to ascertain that you are really good in whatever you claim to be good at. Before taking any test, ensure that you understand the areas that are covered in the test for you to score highly. The higher the points you get in these tests the better placed you are among your fellow freelancers with the same skills as you.

Then, the most important thing on your profile is your reputation among the clients that you have had a chance to work for. When you are given any task, you should ensure that you do it to perfection so that the client will rate you high or even come back to you for extra work. When you get many positive reviews (5 stars) from your past clients, you stand a greater chance when clients are making a decision on whom to offer their contracts to from a large number of applicants.

What You Need

For you to work online, you will require:
A computer
Internet access
A bank account

That’s it. To summarise; learn some valuable skills, make use of available digital resources, sign up to an only work platform, perform the task well, get paid!

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A Social Step in The Right Direction for Your SEO Strategy

Online SEO

By now we all know the importance of both content and link building to an SEO strategy. But the phenomenon of social media has delivered new tools to provide SEO’s with new techniques to dominate the SERPs.

Social SEO – What is it all about?

Whilst past SEO strategies have largely involved artificially creating relevance and popularity of a site, social media has provided new tools to leverage collaboration and interaction to build real popularity and authority on the web. It is this which some experts believe will form a major part of Google’s ranking algorithm in the future as they continue in their quest to deliver users truly relevant content.

Social Search ToolboxSocial Search Tool Box

The diagram below lists 4 of the key social tools that I believe search marketers can leverage to dominate the SERPs.

A closer look at the tool box

Search engines reward fresh content – which is one of the key reasons blogging can form an integral part of a search strategy. In addition, as a blog provides topical, humorous or even controversial content, it is more likely to be of interest to the user and shared with peers, as opposed to traditional site content which in some cases is prepared solely for the purpose of ranking within search engines. In addition user interaction in the form of users reviews and comments can also play an integral role in SERPs, as comments provides additional fresh content that can be indexed by the search engine.

However despite the content benefits, blogs provide a much bigger opportunity to search marketers. Popular blog content is often syndicated through RSS or cited by other blogs and sites which can generate additional back links to your site – which would normally take weeks to build manually.

Blogging;

Digital Asset Sharing Sites

With nearly 1 in 3 of all search results including universal/blended content, rich content is an important part of SEO. Over and above the basic optimisation techniques however it is the social aspects of sites such as YouTube, Flickr and many others which can help your organisation to dominate the search results. Social popularity measured by views, ratings, comments are sometimes used by Google to rank results. For example YouTube video’s ratings, views and comments are used to rank video content within SERPs. In addition the more popular the content is on these sites, the better they will then rank when new users search for related content on these platforms. This will in turn enables users to find your rich content and either embed it into their blogs / sites or share it with their community, all of which assists to generate additional inbound links for your site.

Social Bookmarking / News Sites

Social bookmarking and news sites have empowered users to store, organise and in some cases rate their favourite content on the web. As sites such as Digg, Delicious, Reddit and many increased in popularity, it has enabled brands to bypass the traditional PR channels, and enables web users to determine what is newsworthy or simply useful to their needs.

So you might be thinking that these sites have linking value. Unfortunately these sites use nofollow tags, thus there is no direct link value derived from such a strategy. As however these sites rank prominently within SERPs, it can assist organisations to dominate top 10 results with additional offsite listings. And similar to digital asset sharing sites, prominent content is more likely to be easier to locate and published on sites/blogs creating back links to your site.

A blog is obviously a great platform of content to leverage social news/bookmarking, however to do so it is important to empower users with widgets to circulate this content. This unfortunately means that brands have less control over their brand than previously – but this is the nature of social media.

Online NetworkingSocial Networking

Whilst links featured on the major platforms, ie Facebook, Twitter, MySpace do not provide the valuable link juice, social networking is still an important part of the strategy. And by now you would understand why? Social networking provides a strong platform for content from blogs or sites to be distributed and shared across communities and the web. In addition however content on these networks such as profiles, questions and answers and other branded content are often indexed providing organisations with additional opportunities to dominate SERPs through offsite methods.

However probably the most significant development in this space is the evolution of “social search” which is expected to be the next big trend – and Twitter is leading the way in this area. The key benefit of social search over traditional search is; content is indexed in real time, providing users with the immediacy to answer timely questions. As a result it is important to consider how your organisation can integrate with platforms such as Twitter, as an increasing number of users will begin to search via such networks and I have no doubt more of the traditional engines will look to leverage this content more and more in the future.

Final words to the wise

Whilst the above techniques will leave many SEOs salivating there are a few important considerations.

A social media marketing strategy is not just an extension of the existing SEO strategy. Social media marketing is a shift from traditional marketing techniques and can require the involvement of many organisation stakeholders. Thus it is advisable that a senior stakeholder determines the key objectives social media must achieve for the organisation, and SEOs can then determine how best to form part of this greater strategy.

Whilst many of the above techniques cover the viral nature of the web – the heart of any social search strategy is the content. Whilst SEOs have in the past had more control over crafting copy for search engines – the balance of optimisation and quality content has never been more important. In addition as the web becomes increasingly saturated with content, organisations need to innovate in this area and push the boundaries to provide users with something truly unique and worth sharing.

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The SEO Merry Go Round – You Just Can’t Afford To Get Off

As 2011 steams ahead, so too is Google with their algorithm changes and innovation. In a recent interview Amit Singhal, a Google software engineer, advised Google’s innovation cycle is accelerating and the search giant is just getting started on the next generation of search. And if new releases and plans for 2011 are anything to go by, search marketers are in for a bumpy ride.

This year to date we have already seen the farmer update, as well as Google hinting that soon to follow will be an algorithm change which will lessen the weight assigned to keyword domains.
So what is the implication of some of these changes, and what else is coming?

Google FarmerFarmer Update

The farmer update, which was released in February 2011, targets the many content farms that have sprung up in the past few years. Whilst content is king, Google’s aim is to deliver quality search results and content. On that basis content sites which contain a vast amount of low quality content have seen a dramatic decline in rankings and traffic.

Implication: Despite the effect the farmer update will have on article submission as a key form of link building – it also has several other ramifications. Websites which have created content for the sole basis of ranking could also be in trouble as this algorithm change isn’t just targeting content farms. Sites which contain a sizeable amount of low quality content created for search are also in the firing line and the impact can spread far beyond penalisation of these pages. Google has indicated overall site rankings could be impacted as a result of poor content so it’s time for SEOs to get with the times and produce content which is fit for users not just spiders.

For more details on the Farmer update click here.

Keyword Rich Domains Under Review

In a recent video on YouTube Matt Cutts stated; We have looked at the rankings and weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. So we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given 2 different domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain name with a bunch of keywords in it.
Whilst Google is yet to adjust the algorithm there is no doubt that if Matt Cutts is talking about it, there is an algorithm change on its way.

Implication: This will be an interesting space to watch as Google will need to juggle how this impacts sites with keyword rich domains that are legitimate brands (not just created for the basis of ranking). Some experts believe Google may start by targeting hyphenated domains as this is a clear a signal of a spammy domain name.

Google Social Search Updates

Social Search StrategyInnovation and algorithm changes in the field of social search are high on the agenda for 2011. It has been widely publicised that social factors affect rankings and their influence is likely to increase overtime however Google is also pushing the envelope in the area of personalising results through social data. In February Google announced changes to search that will bring that will bring users more relevant, recommended results from their connections.

Implication: It is still very early days in the area of social search and there is no doubt Google has stumbled a few times and will continue to do so as they experiment. Like the impact of the farmer update, social factors will force SEO tactics to be more closely aligned with other online marketing strategies. In particular alignment across content and social media will have a significant impact on SEO outcomes in the months and years ahead.

What else do you think Google has in store in 2011?

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4 C’s To Build Compelling Content Online

Content is King

It has been said that the brands that will succeed and thrive in the coming decade will be those who become publishers. Content is becoming one of the key pillars of any online strategy as it is utilised to drive organic search tactics, forms a key part of social media activities and is also being used to position brands as experts and a trusted source in their field. This content wave is one that has not gone un-noticed by Australian organisations.

The importance organisations are placing on content is is reflected by the increasing demand for content specialists and producers. Content generation is however is more than hiring dedicated resources to support the cause and deliver tangible outcomes. So if you are contemplating content as part of your strategy – here are my 4 Cs to produce interesting content online. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather is some of the major factors that can be the difference between a successful content strategy or no more than online dribble.

1. Content Trending & Monitoring

Monitoring what is topical in your industry and forecasting what will be topical in the coming months is one of the keys to producing relevant and timely content for your audience. Social news and bookmarking sites as well as social media monitoring tools enable us to determine what is popular and what our audience is likely to be seeking content for. Content trending and monitoring is also about learning from the content your users are consuming. What kind of articles and topics do your users respond well to and how can you give them more of it? Both of these sources of intelligence form an integral part of any content planning and creation process.

2. Cutting Edge

Digital Blog TrendsThe content arena is vast and often your organisation will be competing against a mass of content related to your product / service or industry. One of the fundamental things to therefore consider is how are you going to build cutting edge content that will keep people coming back for more? When I set out blogging there were 2 key things that defined my content position / edge in the market;

– Local Statistics & Trends; Stats and trends for Australia’s digital market were and still are difficult to come by. Searching for them is time consuming and they are rarely found in 1 single source thus my first edge was to deliver marketers with this source on an ongoing basis to support business case development.

– Client Side Marketing View; Many of the digital blogs that are written are done so by agency professionals who experience very different challenges to client side marketers. I wanted to cover the topics and issues that client marketers face to enable them to make more informed decisions in their role.

Defining your content edge requires you to define boundaries for topics – to identify what you will and will not cover. To do this you need to effectively scope your market and find your edge. Aside from this the other key to producing edgy content is to ensure that you are not simply re-gurgitation the same news and content as everyone else. If its topical use it as a base and re-package it to add new information and value to your users.

3. Content Fatigue

One of the hardest things about developing strong content online is maintaining a constant flow of quality content. The first 6 months is the easy bit, it is after this time where it becomes more difficult. A solid content strategy must consider source and define avenues for content generation and contribution. Below is content source diagram which defines some of the key avenues I use to create compelling content beyond the honeymoon period.

4. Content Distribution

Great content is only great if people can find it and it supports the achievement of your organisations goals. Like any marketing a creative idea is never enough – it is as much about the distribution as it is about the idea thus what is your distribution strategy?

Distribution extends well beyond social sharing buttons. A content strategy should be integrated within your existing communication strategies such as your email lifecycle and also be used to drive sign ups to your database. Your content should also be optimised for search and even paid search may be used as a form to drive users to the content. Your content may also feed into your social profiles – however ensure that this is not the sole purpose of your social profile.

Australian Examples

So with that said – just who in Australia is delivering a good content strategy. Below are 2 examples;
– Blackmores; For a little while now Blackmores has been delivering quality content in the form of health and weight-loss advice to their users. The value delivered through content has been one of the key online value propositions used by Blackmores to build a substantial database of existing and prospective customers.

– Coles; Coles have developed an online content strategy in line with their offline activities. Their content strategy revolves around recipes and cooking tips from Curtis Stone. Coles has tapped into Australia’s cooking obsession and provides hints and tips as well as recipes to cook like a professional or on a budget. This is enabling Coles to build a sticky onsite experience and get people back into Coles supermarkets – a tactic which I am sure is delivering success for the supermarket giant.

I would love to know of more organisations using content to support the achievement of online objectives – thus please share them below.

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End of Financial Year Performance – Digital Style

There has definitely been staggering growth in the Australian digital space during the 1st 6 months of the year. With a new financial year upon us I have no doubt that companies in Australia will continue to shift funding from offline to online. Thus I felt it timely to release a compilation of general digital statistics from the first half of 2010 to assist marketers and agencies alike to build their business case for online marketing initiatives. Enjoy!

eCommerce & General Internet Usage

1. Online Internet Usage in Oz – According to Nielsen, Australians spend an average of 17.6 hours a week online, making up 33 per cent of their total media time.
2. Online retail spend in Australia – eBay-owned payment company PayPal predicts online retail spending to reach $33.8 billion in Australia by 2012 – a significant increase on the $24 billion generated during 2009.
3. Loss of online sales to international providers – 40% of Australians online spend is going to overseas stores. Compare this to the US who are losing 10% to overseas counterparts and this crystalises the impact of delayed online investment by Australian retailers.
4. Average consumer online spend Australia – According to Frerk-Malte Feller, Managing Director, PayPal – in the last six months alone the average consumer spent $1,223 online, an increase of $130 from the second half of 2009.”
5. Retailer online investment in 2010 – According to a Forrester report released in July “online retailing in Australia 2010: Marketing, merchandising and customer service”, 69% of retailers are planning to invest in improved site content and 66 per cent will spend more time on online marketing to drive sales & growth.
6. Online purchasing frequency – According to the ACRS’ latest report: “Value and Optimisation in Multi-Channel Retailing”, approx 36% of Australians are making purchases online at least once a month and 6% are buying online once every week.
7. Online / Offline Channel Effect – According to the ACRS by 2012, nearly half of all retail transactions are expected to be executed by consumers crossing channels – making multi-channel retailing essential.

Social Media

8. Social Network & Forum Usage – According to Hitwise Australia social networking and forum usage increased 36.1% in the past year and overtook search engines as the most visited industry by Australian Internet users in March 2010.
9. The power of online WOM – According to a survey conducted by RightNow 16% of Australian consumers said they had stopped doing business with a company because of a social media discussion they had seen about how the company treats customers. Another 16% stated they had also seen a positive consumer discussion about a company and had gone on to make a purchase.
10. Influence of Online Reviews – A study by RightNow found more than half of respondents (58 per cent) deemed customer reviews and feedback online to be the most important source to influence decision making, of least importance was advertising in any shape or form.
11. Online Community Usage – Australians look to communities of interest such as parenting or sports sites as a key channel for social media discussion – 62 percent of Australian Internet users visited a message board or forum in 2009.
12. Online Video Usage – Australians have a huge interest in online videos and this continues to grow. In January 2010 alone, Australians consumed 33 million videos online daily.
13. LinkedIn Members – LinkedIn has seen one of the fastest growth trends amongst social media sites in Australia, with unique audience numbers increasing by 99 percent from July 2009 to May 2010.
14. Twitter Users – According to Tribalytic Twitter subscribers in Australia are estimated to stand at 2.5 million.
15. FourSquare Members – According to socialmedianews.com.au Sydney FourSquare users have reached the 60,000 mark.

Mobile Statistics

Mobile Internet Usage16. Australian Mobile Internet Usage – Australians’ ownership of internet enabled phones now sits at 43 per cent, with 29 per cent regularly using it to search, email, find maps and share their lives on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
17. Mobile Internet Behaviour – Internet searches are the most popular online activity on the phones. Some 73 per cent of mobile internet users users conduct online searches by mobile now, compared with 30 per cent a year ago.
18. Mobile Device Share – Nokia has 35% share of handsets in Australia vs Apple’s at 28%. Apples share is expected to reach 61 per cent this year, according to MediaSmart.

Search

19. Search Engine Market Share – According to Hitwise for the week ending the 10th of July 2010, Google’s market share in Australia equated to 92.52%, Bing was 3.44% and Yahoo was 2.39%.
20. Political Term Search Growth – Given the upcoming election this last one is a timely. Political related search terms are on the rise – Yahoo recorded a 6829.44% rise on the search term ‘Julia Gillard,’ a huge 8164.49% increase on the term ‘Julia Gillard biography’ and a 2600% increase on ‘Julia Gillard pics,’ from Wednesday 23 June until Friday 25 June. Additional search terms on the rise at Yahoo! included, ‘Australian Labor Party’ (2597.72%), ‘Tony Abbott’ (3107.65%), ‘Kevin Rudd’ (3106.67%), ‘Kevin Rudd biography’ (2042.72%) and ‘Julia Gillard MP’ (1334.60%).

Watch: The growth of eCommerce and eBusiness in Australia in 2010?

References

http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=C9356544-1A64-67EA-E489E8D76F64ADA4
http://www.smh.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/aussie-advertisers-yet-to-take-bite-of-apple-20100708-102ej.html
http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/australians-take-to-mobile-internet-20100429-tszn.html
http://www.socialmedianews.com.au/foursquare-has-60000-users-in-sydney-business-urvey/

Consumer-Electronics


http://www.insideretailing.com.au/Latest/tabid/53/ID/8517/Australia-reaches-customer-experience-impasse.aspx
http://www.dynamicbusiness.com.au/articles/articles-news/online-retail-grow-40-percent-by-2012-1785.html
http://blog.tribalytic.com/2010/05/13/how-many-australian-twitter-users-are-there-and-where-are-they-from/
http://www.hitwise.com/au/datacentre/main/dashboard-1706.html
http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/351204/search_engines_running_hot_gillard_krudd/
http://www.buzznumbershq.com/2010/australian-social-networks-and-forums-usage-increased-36-1-in-the-past-year/
http://www.marketingmag.com.au/news/view/consumers-go-multi-channel-for-retail-2238

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The Next Big Thing – Social Search?

Facebook and Twitter Search

There is no doubt that over the past few years search marketers have turned their attention to social media as a key channel to support the viral creation of links and to dominate SERPs onsite and offsite. However whilst most of our attention has been focussed around ranking in Google – many of us have failed to see the search opportunity that has grown within social networks and now many social networks such as Twitter search channels in their own right.

The sheer volume of users on social networks has even Google shaking in their boots and for good reason. Over the past few years Google’s direct search competitors have attempted to take on Google in the search race without denting their share. However in the meantime an unlikely competitor has risen to the top. Facebook has captured the attention of users on the internet and is now dominating the users internet experience attracting more visitors than Google in the month of May. And whilst the primary function of Facebook and other platforms like Twitter is not to search – social search is becoming significant. In fact according to a recent Nielsen study, social media sites such as Wikipedia, blogs, and social networks account for 18% of where searches begin. If this is the case social search is much bigger than Bing and Yahoo search combined in Australia.

Why is this so? In a recent article on Search Engine Watch – Mark Drummond put it nicely – “Facebook brings an entirely new opportunity for flavored search: ranking search results using the social connections between people, as captured in the open graph. What Google lacks is intimate knowledge of our interests and plans to proactively deliver information to us and this is precisely the advantage that Facebook has over Google.

Social Search Facts For Facebook & Twitter

Facebook

Facebook SearchFacebook racked up over 600 million searches in May 2010. Compare this to January 2009 where search volumes were a mere 161 million and it is obvious to see that Facebook search is becoming a sizeable opportunity. A significant portion of searches are obviously related to people search as the average query length on Facebook is 2 words – however search is starting to evolve to cover topics related to fashion, electronics and travel. What is however most interesting is that Facebook are actively focussing on improving search within its eco-system with the launch of Open Graph. By leveraging content from its “LIKE” feature combined with sites actively integrating with Facebook ie like TripAdvisor, Facebook has started to collate content to serve up to users when they search for a particular theme or topic. Whilst still in a very premature stage – get it right and this could significantly move the goal posts in the search landscape as content is served up on the basis of user popularity. For more on Facebook search – refer here.

Twitter

Twitter SearchIt is hard to pin point accurate statistics for Twitter search with reports ranging from 350 million to 18 billion searches per month. Regardless of this, the numbers are sizeable. Combine this with content that finds users – rather than users searching for content and there is no doubt that Twitter presents a significant opportunity for businesses. But this doesnt come without a high level of competition. Twitter reporting more than four billion tweets are sent using the service in a given month – that is a lot of content that could appear within the SERPs thus optimisation is key.

What To Do About Social Search? 

Some of the normal rules still apply such as effectively tagging content, using descriptive keywords and the rest but what else do you need to consider?

Optimisation for Facebook

Facebook has released documentation to effectively embed tags onsite for open graph. By doing so you turn your web pages into graph objects, which will enable these pages to become part of the eco-system. For more information on the important tags that should be utilised refer to the below link;

http://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph

Optimisation for Twitter

In the 2nd half of 2010, Twitter is planning to launch Twitter annotations. The full benefits of this feature is not clear however it is believed to provide the ability to augment our 140 characters with other useful information to assist Twitter to more effectively understand the content its users are sharing. With this I expect a series of key optimisation techniques to emerge to improve your visibility within Twitter search. I also assume this will be combined with an improved search engine on Twitter so users can filter and sort information to find what they are looking for.

Have you begun to optimise your site for social search? If so share some of your experiences below.

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Search Down Under – SEO Cafe Learnings

SEO Marketing

On Tuesday evening in a boardroom in Elizabeth Street MELBOURNE, 12 marketers / search professionals gathered for a roundtable discussion on organic search. This discussion was the first “trial” session for myself and my friends at internet retailing to facilitate a discussion around the topic of search in Australia.

The session was attended by marketers / search professionals from agencies and client side roles and were from all experience levels. What was great to see was the enthusiasm from those with expertise to share strategies and techniques and the thirst of knowledge from beginners. The session covered a range of discussion topics from social search through to algorithm changes, link building and measurement, and this article summarises the key learnings from the events discussion.

Googles Mayday Algorithm Changes

Google’s latest algorithm change in May termed “Mayday” has been dubbed the long tail game changer with many larger websites potentially feeling the effects of a loss in traffic from Google’s algorithm update. The session explored the impact of the Mayday change and the general consensus was that some had definitely seen a decline in traffic from long tail terms whilst others had seen steady month on month traffic.

Has your site been affected?

Through Google analytics advanced segmentation marketers / search pro’s can segment short tail and long tail terms into 2 categories and analyse the behaviour of each. For those wishing to utilise this segmentation technique refer to the following article which provides a quick link for the segment to be set up within your Google analytics profile – http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/google-analytics-short-taillong-tail-segmentation.html

Twitter & Facebook Search

Twitter SearchThe group discussed the opportunity which lies within social search, however the discussion around “social search” being a search channel in its own right delivered some interesting insight. During the discussion statistics about the current volume of searches being conducted on some of the major social platforms and the growth potential in the future were shared.

Facebook Search; comScore said search queries on Facebook grew from 395 million in January 2010 to 436 million in February 2010, a growth of 10 percent. And by May 2010, search engine watch was quoting 600 million searches.

Twitter Search Statistics; According to statistics released at SMX Australia there are 500 million searches being conducted globally per month.

Leveraging This Opportunity

Viewing social channels as search platforms in their own right provides new opportunities for SEOs. By optimising content posted / shared on these platforms to maximise visibility for relevant searches, organisations can start to tap into the potential value derived from the many searches already occurring within the social space.

Measurement – Metrics To Measure Search Performance

Google AnalyticsThe discussion turned to how search pro’s and marketers are measuring organic search efforts. Whilst personalisation and localisation are playing an increasing role within SERPs it seems many still utilise ranking tools to measure performance alongside of other key indicators such as back links, indexed pages and of course traffic generated through search efforts and the engagement / conversion of that traffic.

However one of the most interesting comments regarding measurement surfaced around brand vs non brand related terms and how marketers should measure these as part of search performance. As search is an acquisition channel, should brand related searches count as a win for SEO traffic, or brand? Some within the group advised that brand terms are omitted from reporting the performance of search which is an interesting phenomenon. At the very least marketers need to consider if they should be segmenting organic search into 2 categories brand vs non brand search – as brand related searches could increase within any given month as a result of other marketing/brand initiatives and thus could skew general SEO performance.

Google’s Vertical Search Strategy & Implications

Vertical search has obviously been a key area of development / innovation for Google and Bing over the past year and it is interesting to see Google replicate a lot of filtering tools deployed by Bing in 2009. However one of the most interesting which was discussed during the session was the ramifications of the new “fewer shopping sites” filtering options on the search results page. Unfortunately for eCommerce sites, if a user selects this filtering option – it remains selected for subsequent searches – this may therefore result in many eCommerce sites dropping off page 1 of SERPs during an entire user browsing session – which could have significant ramifications on traffic.

It is difficult to quantify the impact these latest changes are having on sites. In addition it is also difficult to determine if Google have made this latest change to support the introduction of Google products into Australia and globally, however there is no doubt that this will be an topic that will be discussed in greater detail by local marketers / SEO’s over the coming months.

Thank you to all who attended the event. And for those that didn’t I hope the above summary provides some useful insight to further improve your organic search efforts.

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SEO Roundtable / Conversation Cafe in Melbourne

SEO Marketing

If you currently working in an SEO role or in the digital space and are interested in joining a discussion about the state of the search market in Australia then this event could be for you. As one of the facilitators at the SEO roundtable in Melbourne being held by Internet Retailing, it would be great to see a range of client side and agency SEO / marketing professionals at the event!

Running for a 2 hour period (from 6 – 8pm), this event aims to bring people together to discuss the latest techniques being used to improve organic search results. If you are interested in coming along please visit the URL below.

Hope to see you there.

http://www.internetretailing.com.au/learn-about-seo.html

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How Offline Activity Presents Online Opportunity

Masterchef Australia

It is often said that retailers are yet to quantify the link between online browsing and offline purchases and it is these trends that are hindering investment in digital. However a similar relationship exists between offline activities and their ability to drive online visitors and conversions and I am not talking about in traditional offline campaigns.

Popular TV series like Masterchef are capturing audiences offline and their love and excitement of this show is being translate into online activity. However is your brand taking advantage of the hype?

How MasterChef Is Driving Online Activity

The latest series of Masterchef has taken Australia by storm with 1.69 million people tuning into the premier of the series. But it isn’t just this 1½ hour slot that people are tuning into daily. Search trends show that at present the terms “MasterChef” & “Master Chef” are attracting 400,000 searches per month online alone.

What is however interesting is when overlaying monthly trends with generic terms like recipes it is clear that increases in food related searches mirror that of searches for the Masterchef show. Combine this with a simple Twitter search for the term Masterchef and it is easy to see just how hooked Australians really are. However whilst this seems like an obvious trend, it seems few are translating this into their online strategy.

Translating Trends Into Traffic

Not every show on TV presents a MasterChef opportunity however following the trends could prove very lucrative online for many organisations who operate in a field related to the latest hit TV show.

At present I believe there is probably 2 or 3 opportunities going by the wayside – MasterChef being one of them. And whilst Coles seems to own the branding rights on MasterChef, there are still many online opportunities to take advantage of – particularly if you were one of Coles biggest rivals. One of the other notable opportunities would be Underbelly which had 2.2 million people tune in to its series premier. Such programs could drive searches and interest in Australian crimes movies and books which could prove particularly beneficial for brands such as Borders.

Online Tactics Not For The Faint Hearted

Online TVWhilst planning tactics and initiatives around popular shows is not a completely new, this is not only relevant to offline TV activity. The rise of social media has meant that real time search is becoming increasingly more important as consumers react to their surroundings and move online for instant information gratification related to shows or events or world news.

Earlier this year I covered this very topic in an article about real time search and highlighted how Amazon re-acted to Michael Jacksons demise – with a full micro-site and digital strategy up within hours of his death. As a result of their swift action Amazon had cashed in on the opportunity before their competitors had even considered how to leverage the opportunity.

To build strategies around “pop search & social media culture” is of course not an easy task and requires flexibility in systems, processes and also a change in mindset for planning and reacting to news and fads. However those that do will gain a distinct advantage over their competitors in the coming years and are more likely to gain an advantage over their competitors online.

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Learning’s From SES London From My Couch In Melbourne

SEO Marketing

Last year when working in London, I had the privilege to attend SES the Search Engine Strategies conference in London. Being back on home soil obviously means that this year I have had to miss out however I have been following the guru’s who have attended the event to provide Australia’s digital network with some of the key learning’s from the event.

Overall from all the commentary it seems that there were no major new revelations but a lot of good nuggets to help SEOs improve their search strategy.

Conversions & Metrics

One of the hottest topics for the conference seemed to be centred around ways to drive intelligence out of your analytics to make more informed decisions about your search strategy. For too long SEOs have measured effectiveness of efforts through rankings and other superficial measures. However experts have taken the opportunity at this conference to challenge SEOs thinking. Below are some of the different ways SEOs should consider slicing and dicing their data to gain new insight (and in fact many of these can be applied to other channels to compare success).

1. Search term segmentation

Brand EngagementOne of the new measures organizations are looking at is to quantify brand engagement (I think it is more recall) through analyzing search and direct visitor traffic;

Brand Engagement (recall) = (Direct site visitors + Brand Searches) / (Total Search Visits + Direct Visits)

To me however search term segmentation extends well beyond generic vs brand terms. Grouping keywords into topics / related segments and analyzing onsite behavior and conversion is a useful way to understand how certain kinds of keywords are performing and where some of the best traffic / value is being derived from with your search activities. This analysis enables SEOs to determine where their effort is best spent.

2. Per visit values

The per visit value equation allows SEOs to go beyond traffic. This measure allows SEOs to determine how much value monetary or otherwise is on average delivered by each visitor to a site.

Visit Value: Goal Value Total From Search / Total Search Visits

By understanding this value SEOs can develop strategies to improve that value or alternatively use this information to forecast the future value that can be gained through further investment.

For non e-commence sites this one is often a little trickier, however like ecommerce sites traffic = revenue but just in a different form. Non revenue generating sites need to attribute advertising $$$ and value derived from visitors. By doing so non e-commerce sites can start to become more strategic in their analysis of value from search and traffic in general.

Aside from measurement and conversion some of the other important topics covered were related to content and strategy. Whilst I didn’t glean as much from these there are definitely some golden moments that are worth reiterating.

SEO Strategy & Content

SEO and Content StrategyPlanning – “Chasing keywords is a reactionary way to develop your search strategy – it needs to be proactive”

With keyword research a staple in the search diet, this is definitely a new way of thinking about how to plan search. Should we ditch our keyword tools? On the contrary search marketers need to be smarter at identifying trends to get ahead of the search curve and use tools to identify these trends.

Execution – “Getting good at execution is key”
Search experts can benefit from riding the topic wave. 2 hours after Michael Jacksons death Amazon had revamped their whole MP3 site whilst competitors didn’t get anything up until the end of the week. Whilst sites being indexed within hours of making a change is a luxury for some, the message here is clear – agility and quick execution in search can give you the edge over your competitors.

Delivery – Content really can disappoint
For years organisations have allowed search people to bastardise their site in pursuit of rankings but now search industry has to evolve. The bottom line is more time needs to go into the planning of content to really understand user behaviour and to deliver high quality engaging content. In this era content just for search will fail it will be those who build for the user first and the search engine second that will win.
The above are of course just my highlights from the event. If you want to read more on the outcomes of the event I have attached some of the best blog coverage on the seminars. Enjoy!

http://blog.arhg.net/2010/02/is-seo-dead-ses-london-takes-look.html
http://www.seo-chicks.com/1532/ses-london-panel-meaningful-seo-metrics.html
http://www.facebook.com/notes/search-engine-strategies-conference-expo/ses-london-2010-day-1-blog-coverage/316758288685
http://www.seo-chicks.com/1532/ses-london-panel-meaningful-seo-metrics.html
http://blog.freshegg.com/state-uk-search-industry-ses-london-2010-recap_2881

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