Archive for the ‘Search engine optimisation’ Category

Why your PR focus should be on media releases and search marketing

Publicity is all about attracting attention to your business from your target audience. It’s the core of public relations – the relationship between you and your public.

In my experience as an editor and now a publicity manager, the best ways for a small business to achieve this are:

  1. Press release campaigns: sending specific messages to targeted media contacts.
  2. Search marketing: optimising your site so that journalists and your public can find you.

We have just seen coverage in Australian Traveller magazine and The Age travel section for one of our Hidden Jewel winners – Auswalk. These features are examples of how a business can benefit from being linked to an authoritative article relating directly to their business. The content of the feature is likely to draw interested readers – and the recommended businesses are likely to be their first port of call when they decide to book.

So how do you become a source that journalists choose to recommend?

In this case, the Australian Traveller article was a direct result of our May 2007 press release campaign, and shows how a press release can continue to bring results even months after distribution. Even if a media release isn’t picked up immediately, many editors will file releases that contain useful background and links for future articles.

The Age article demonstrates how publicity isn’t always a precise science. While our contacts at The Age did receive the press release, it is quite possible that the feature writer used online search to obtain their information. We may never know because asking a journalist where they sourced their information is something we rarely do – they are very busy people after all.

However, we do know that, increasingly, journalists are using Google to research their articles. I used to do this myself when I worked as a travel writer and editor, and the information and leads I obtained from the sites would then form the basis of my research. The more authoritative and useful the information, and the more helpful the leads, the more likely they were to be recommended in my features.

Assuming a journo writing about walking holidays in each state would use ‘walking holidays Victoria’ as a keyword (a word or phrase typed into a search engine), a quick Google search turns up Auswalk in the top 3 links, below the sponsored links. So it would only take a few seconds to find the best source for this information.

This is why online marketing is important not only to attract your public directly, but also to enable journalists researching on a particular topic to find you. Publish your media releases on your site, along with lots of other optimised, authoritative content, and your chance of coverage increases even further.

So take your keyword analysis seriously – being found by the media can result in a multiplied effect if they include your business in their publication, significantly raising your credibility and your public’s awareness.

Rising in the search rankings through back links

In his blog post on search engine optimisation, Glenn included an important point about link-building:

“Another big clue the search engines use as to how relevant your web page is are the other web pages that link to you. If 5,000 golfing sites link to your golf page, the search engine will see this as more relevant that another golf page with equally good content, but no ‘back links’.”

What does this mean for a small business like yours?

I asked Elizabeth Fleetwood, who runs Hobart Historic Tours, about the importance of link-building to a business like hers:

“Link-building is huge for a small business. It appears that websites are noticed according to the links one has. The search engines are becoming so sophisticated that it is now no longer simply a matter of how many links, but whether they are relevant – i.e. from related organisations.”

Elizabeth builds her network of links by looking for other sites that are relevant to her business, and then setting up reciprocal links. She suggests starting with businesses you deal with regularly, or who have a high status within your industry.

“If this means talking to many different people and sharing industry experience/info, that is all very good for everyone.”

I would take this a step further by recommending two other important strategies:
1. Good, relevant, authoritative and regularly updated content on your site will help equally relevant and authoritative sources to find you and link to you as a natural part of their own content.
2. Linking to pages and blog posts that are useful to your audience, and commenting on posts in other blogs, will naturally bring you to the attention of those sources – again encouraging them to link to you.

Thanks for your input Elizabeth – you won yourself a back link!

Measures and metrics for niche blogging

Niche blogging will eventually change the way people measure the value of blogs. Most of the media attention for bloggers is based on high volume blogs, as measured by traditional website metrics (unique visitors, pageviews) and blog traffic metrics such as Technorati.

But for a small business owner who runs a niche blog with no advertising and yet gains a lot from each new customer, a very small amount of traffic can lead to enough conversions to make a huge difference to his or her business.

Niche bloggers don’t all care about massive amounts of traffic. A highly successful niche blog won’t show up in the top anything at Technorati, and may never get a high page rank. But they have an audience, in many cases a highly profitable one in their niche.

So, if you are a niche blogger, don’t be disheartened by the metrics of the big sites. Track your new clients, track your acquisition costs. Measure and test. And enjoy the benefits of niche blogging!

The end of search marketing

Mike Moran Search Marketing
Reading Mike Moran’s Search Marketing was well worth the effort – its a thorough, incredibly well documented text on how search marketing works.

On Mike’s Biznology blog, he has written a post on Open Season on Search Marketing. Its a great post, and I am definitely in the camp that believes in search marketing.

Its just that I think that one day search marketing will be far less important, because Content Marketing will be king (or queen).

Consider that you get traffic your website from three primary sources, two online and one offline:

  • Search Marketing – people search using keywords or directories, and your organic search result or paid search result leads them to your site. To market with search, read Mike’s book, or at least his SkinFlint’s Guide to Search Marketing
  • Content Marketing – people read content or otherwise (e.g. forums, referrals) find out about you on the web, and find their way to your site without search. To market using your content, you actively build content that reaches your audience right where they live (online).
  • Offline Marketing – people find out about your site offline and come directly to your site. Offline marketing would include publicity, writing news or magazine articles, or advertising. ‘Old fashioned’ marketing if you like.

As the web matures and online communities of interest strengthen, I believe Content Marketing will eclipse Search Marketing in importance. Together, Search Marketing and Content Marketing will turn Offline Marketing on its ear. Why bother searching for something if you already know where to find it?

The Googlezillas of Content Marketing? I’m thinking content will be a lot more decentralised. Category killers will exist, but not with the same dominance that Google has. Instead communities of interest will coalese around key bloggers, forums, MySpace networks and so on. Clay Shirky over at Wired Magazine wrote about the Meganiche, and I think he is spot on.

So, Mike Moran is right, and you would be a brave soul to run a business on the web today and ignore Search Marketing. But don’t ignore Content Marketing either. The doyens of Content Marketing are David Meerman Scott and Brian Clark (although he isn’t referring to it using this term yet). Read them, and learn all you can about it.

What do you think?

Networking to build links

Russell Barton, a Master Photographer started his photography blog and has done very well with it. Its getting him in touch with people who matter to him – paying clients. Russell is one of those bloggers who have a natural ‘voice’. And Russell also talks with his pictures. He tells a story, and his words and photos both assist.

Anyway, Russell is also a natural at something that is *more* important than having a natural blogging voice – he is a natural networker. Now I know Russell is a networker (because I met him through BNI), but he is now moving that networking skill online. Networking online in the blog community is very important for blogging A listers. Now A list bloggers write great content (that search engines and people love), and through their content network very well and that leads to back-links (that search engines and people love).

Building relationships online not only leads to linkages, but a lot of other opportunities as well. New business ventures. New knowledge. New friendships.

There are some interesting people talking about the real-politik of blog networking. In polite company, its called link building. Pragmatists talk about link-bait and other such techniques. But the no-shitake-call-it-how-it-is set talk about – only somewhat tongue in cheek – how bloggers ‘suck up’ to each other.

It would be nice if it was possible to build an audience/links etc on the merit of content alone, but if you take the top bloggers word for it, there is a lot of networking activity required. Here are some very good bloggers who tell it how it is:

All links to this post gratefully accepted :)

OBO will be the next acronym you need to learn about

You wouldn’t have heard about OBO yet. But my guess is you will.

OBO In Google Jan 2 2007
Googling OBO on Jan 2, 2007

We need an acronym like OBO to stand for Online Business Optimisation (or optimization if you prefer). A lot of small businesses are having to coming to grips with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – because when your business is online you just have to.

Compare OBO (a fledgling acronym) to its fully fledged partner, SEO:

But the availability of SEO services are only a part of the picture.

To run a business online, you need:
An online prescence -> then traffic to your site -> then conversations with your prospects -> then conversion to customers -> then follow up.

SEO helps with traffic, that is all. So I’m going to call 2007 as the year of OBO. OBO will of course include SEO, and help a business optimise itself online across each of these stages. OBO needs copywriting skills, in spades. SEO already recognises that it needs more copywriting, and as OBO takes hold, copywriters are going to find themselves more in demand than ever.

There are already a few companies positioning themselves as experts in Online Business Optimisation (and yes, a lot more for Online Business Optimization). But nobody has coined the acronym. Something must be wrong in the acronym supply chain – are Gartner/Meta/Hurwitz asleep at the wheel?

I’m off to outline the OBO Book :)

Write for visitors

Getting traffic to your site is of great interest to blog authors. And it seems there is no end of experts willing to give you tips on what you MUST do to get your site optimised.

Well, Google have recently published a nice summary of how to do good for your site in search engine terms. Its called Target Visitors or Search Engines?.

Our blogging clients will be familiar with our philosophy that the primary objective is to publish great content. That way, you get a team of experts at Google, Yahoo et al working for you, as its great content they want to deliver from search. So its great to hear Google articulate this:
“… the good news is that the guidelines and tips about how Google crawls and indexes sites come down to wanting great content for our search results..”

Ok, but you’ll be pleased to know we also go to some trouble to build good search engine practices into our blog sites. Google recommend that you make good use of page titles, and ensure that the content on the page matches it. For our sites, we use the Optimal Content plugin so that the page title or blog title appear as the page title, followed by the name of the blog (“Page title – Blog Title”). Having the page/post title up front is a way of making sure your page is indexed as accurately as possible.

You may also have noticed our blog sites use friendly link names … so rather than, we have This makes it easy for your readers, and easier for search engines to determine what the page is about.

For those of you interested in setting meta keywords and meta descriptions, we can activate a WordPress plugin for you that lets you set these for each page and post. Its additional effort, and there is debate about how important it is. Still, if you decide you want to do this, its very easy to get up and going.

So in a nutshell, we’ve built in search engine friendly elements from the start, and will continue to add features that automate search engine friendliness. But as Google suggests, focus on creating a great site for visitors, and you have your eye on the main game.