Improve conversion rate with the cre methodology

It is at least three years that I have been following the work done by Conversion Rate Experts, a UK agency that specialises in helping organisations increase sales or any other form or visitor conversion via specific converion rate technicques. Less than two years ago, they helped the guys at SEOMoz achieve a 170% increase in conversions, which was news all over the SEO and conversion marketing world.

The guys at KISS metrics have come up with an infographic (below) that captures perfectly the essential steps to follow to improve conversions on your website, using the CRE (Conversion Rate Experts) method. One of the products from Kiss metrics that I do  not hesitate to recommend is KISS Insights. I have been using this little jewel for two years on personal sites to gather information about visitors to some of my personal sites and it does a wonderful job at helping me understand website visitors. It is mentioned on the step 3 below:

 

CRE method for conversion rate optimisation

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What is corporate SEO?

Diffficult road by © Radu Razvan - Fotolia.com

It's a tough way up!

Image by © Radu Razvan

You may wonder sometimes what corporate SEO is all about and what makes it different to forms of SEO.  You relate it to enterprise SEO as a concept but would like to have a fairer idea as to what it actually entails. So I am going to explain what corporate SEO means to me and share my impressions from an inhouse perspective.

The main area of business at organisation where I work is cultural relations via education promotion, development and partnerships in a mixed commercial and non profit environment. With that in mind this article may not suit every reader, but it may go some way to providing a useful insight into corporate SEO.

Definition and context

Unlike the SEO done in small and medium enterprises (SME), at a large enterprise, there exists a different breed of SEO. This kind of SEO deals with human and work environment factors that can add a considerable level of complexity to the workplace. Such complexity can go from just being moderate to very severe, and if you aim for success, it certainly needs to be taken into account  as early as possible into an SEO project.

The Environment

I am trying to take this to the basics. So I ask myself this question: ‘At what point do you find yourself doing  ’corporate SEO’ ?’

I’d say that as complexity starts building around your work environment, and you find yourself more regularly dealing with tasks that are not genuinely SEO-related, you inevitably find yourself closer to be doing corporate SEO. Let me split the explanation into three main areas:

Company size

Would you say that it all starts getting ‘corporate’ in organisations of over 100 employees or even less?  Perhaps the organisation grows from that to hundreds of employees, and from that to tens of locations nationwide, and eventually into a large network of overseas operations…  it all then gets corporately more complex (or you could say complicated), not just for the SEO but for all other business areas within the enterprise: marketing, branding, IT, PR…

Web network size

You could be dealing with a single website with a significant number of technical issues, a large amount of content with several dependencies and connecting with quite a number of stakeholders, and end up facing up a considerable level of corporate hassle. You’ll be doing corporate SEO then

In turn you could be dealing with a complex network of websites dependant of a dispersed network of offices across the globe. Each of these country operations may then be running their websites with more or less ties from the central office. Every country operation within the network and their respective country website may need guidance, direction and training. You’ll then need a global SEO strategy that takes into account the overall corporate strategy plans. This then turns into Corporate SEO.

Dependencies and stakeholders

Somehow I tend to relate the dependencies to the stakeholders. So this could be a typical scenario in the large enterprise:

  • the brand department who will want to enforce their branding strategy
  • the Content department who will want to ensure that content is innovative, compelling and engaging
  • the Business managers who are usually driven by revenue will understandably ask things like:  ’what is the value of doing this… or that?’
  • the Comms and PR department care about what is said about the company: the message
  • IT & web infrastructure department who want to ensure the smooth running of a safe web network.

As an SEO Manager you will need to work in harmony with each of those stakeholders, understand and work around the politics surrounding this environment and find a way to fit in in order to take forward your agenda.

The characteristics

Doing SEO in a highly corporate environment makes it hard to take advantage of a timely opportunity the environment may bring you. You will not be lucky enough to have the flexibility to execute an swift adhoc tactic despite how unique such opportunity may be. Chances are that you may need something that is not easily at hand:  web server space, embedding of a script of a site, content usage permission, approval from the sector team owning the content, the go-ahead from a key stakeholder, etc..).

See what I mean? before you can execute you have carefully plan, persuade others, get buy-in, get support, budget….  it is not easy to swiftly execute as efficiently in a corporate environment as it is in an ordinary environement working for a small or medium-size website.

The typical ninja-like tactics that you learn at the conferences will make your more knowlegeable, help you understand your job better and contribute to your overall education, but you will not always be able to bring all new skills and learning into your job if you work in a corporate environment.

A strategy plan needs to be devised, and that plan needs to take into account some key factors such as dependencies, resources, allocation of tasks, delegation, reporting, stakeholder’s buy-in and sign-off, cooperation from teams and more importantly: an approved budget.

Corporate SEO work is ‘different’  in many ways, some of which are:

  1. the often sizeable bureaucracy makes processes harder to carry out
  2. the hierarchical culture at the workplace may easily hamper any of your proposed actions
  3. successfully integrating SEO into the business and organisational processes is challenging
  4. there is a constant need to lobby around and gain stakeholders’ buy-in for your project/s
  5. you are often requested to prove benefit of your recommended implementations, so brush up your analytics skills and be prepared present data in an attractive manner
  6. the need to have a highly strategic approach to everything you do
  7. the need to have strong technical SEO skills and knowledge and understand your platorm inside out

Conclusions

A highly tactical SEO strategy based on taking advantage of opportunistic situations won’t be as effective as an strategic and organisational approach to SEO .

Corporate SEO is more about taking advantage of the industrial strength elements of the environment:  often the biggest wins are on optimising the technical platform, on training others to do the SEO and effectively integrate it into their jobs or on improving the workflow of integrating SEO onto the content production process for global replication.

Success depends much on factors like:  the feasibility of your strategy, the level of global buy-in you get, your budget, how successfully you integrate the SEO into the business, how successfully you work in teams,  and overall the successful delivery of your strategy.

I hope to have been able to shed a bit more of light on the concept of Corporate SEO. Please feel free to voice your opinion in the comments if you think I may have missed anything useful.

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‘Congreso SEO Profesional’ 2011 in Valencia

Last weekend I happened to be attending an SEO conference in Valencia called ‘Congreso SEO Profesional’. The event is organised by ‘Marketing Online Valencia’, an agency that takes pride in using analytics at the heart of their online marketing strategies. I was excited about this event as this was only my second ever SEO conference in Spanish territory. The first one was two years ago: SMX Madrid  in June 2009. So I was excited.

Speaking session at Congreso SEO profesional in Valencia

Speaking session at Congreso SEO profesional in Valencia

This SEO conference outstands from most of the mainstream conferences in Spain in that it is a guerrilla-based, tactical SEO conference on steroids. Having attended other similar tactics-based conferences in the UK, eg: SEOmoz Pro training, I can comfortably state that this conference was of equal of even higher value to anyone who wants to learn the nitty gritty of doing SEO.

With only two consecutive years running, the Congreso SEO conference in Valencia, has become popular amongst industry professionals for its transparency towards all sorts of SEO tactics. That is, blackhat SEO presentations are encouraged as much as other types of instructional or educational sessions, eg: advanced analytics.  The requests for speaking are carefully scrutinised by the organisers to ensure all presentations are of high value.

Who were the speakers?

There were speakers from all sorts of sectors and levels: from consultants and freelancers to SEO agency owners and from small business owners running a one man show (Juan Palomo) to in house SEOs working for small and medium-sized businesses. You can read about the programme and the full list of speakers here.

Who were the attendees?

Typically this section is always left for the end of the post, but I am going to mention the attendees first because it is with them that I learned the most and shared the best moments of this conference. The first night before the conference I was lucky enough to catch up with a group of lads with very diverse profiles: Rubén Baquero of i-Neumaticos,  Frenchy Ouviña from Reservas de coches, Lee Chapman, Daniel Caro from Andalucia.org, Adrian el Gota, Rudi Van der Zalm from Hispacar and Daniel Falcón from Neo Consulting. It was a fantastic start to building lots of interesting contacts (and links of course).

The next day during the conference, I met many more SEOs, like Nazareno Luque from Quills, Rober Ferreras from Apartamentos Granvia, Antonio González de Marcoestil….. and also some agency SEOs I had been following on Twitter for a while:  the infamous Miguel Pascual from Interdigital or Arturo Marimón from SEOcom. I could go on for ever mentioning names, as by the second day, the list built up bigger, but let’s shift over the conference programme :

Great Content

The various blackhat-related tweets that went round during the conference may have either prompted you to think that you would like to attend, or put you off from attending. I would like to clarify something: none of the sessions, in my opinion, were just about blackhat.  It is true that there was an uninhibited and constant display of blackhat or greyish techniques throughout many sessions, but the ‘Congreso SEO professional’ conference is highly educational.  If any, you need to have a fair knowledge of the Spanish language to take advantage of all goodness going on.

I feel that I can classify the sessions into five different buckets:

  1. Informational & educational
  2. Strategic & analytical
  3. Tactics-based
  4. Case studies
  5. SEO tools.

Informational/educational

The informational sessions were to say highly informational in the sense that they were going to the point with the ‘meat’ of the topics. For example the magnificent explanation of the Panda update algorithm covered by Carlos Redondo saved everyone hours of research and reading. He compiled a massive amount of information, including dates, events, and facts. He analysed every possible angle of the Panda update to help us all understand the intricacies and specificities of this new algorithm.

Strategic & analytical

Equally fulfilling was the ecommerce-oriented analytics session delivered by Fernando Macia. He staged a brilliant, fast-pace demonstration of efficient analytics and ROI-drive decision making using e-commerce scenarios in his presentation.

I personally found Paul Gailey’s infographics sessions both strategic and tactical, yet creative and inspirational. Not because infographics may be a new thing at all, but because of the guidance given, the tools and tactics tips he gave us and the depth of his presentation.

Tactics-based

As I said earlier, many of the sessions have a blackhat component, but at the same time they are all  highly instructional too. It is up to the participant to decide what to do with the knowledge acquired and how much of the naughty stuff you want to implement.

David Carrero’s presentation on speed load optimisation shined because of the real life scenarios he used. He demonstrated how site traffic can improve through speed load optimisation. David even embedded a touch of greyhat in his slides by suggesting that some of the images used for your site’s interface could be hosted on an external host (eg: Google blogger) to minimise the number of calls on one’s server as well as the use of image sprites. He also covered CDNs which is something I am 100% concerned with in my in-house role.

Case studies

There were great case studies on websites affected by Panda presented by Ricardo Tayar in his role as Director of Search for Master D and Giannella Ligato, as a SEO Consultant from Dime Hoteles. They spoke about their websites business models, the challenges faced up when they got hit by Panda, the post-Panda actions and solutions they implemented to alleviate the fall in traffic. One of these two cases even had an international dimension: the Brazil market. The other one was based on the fast-moving, highly competitive sector of travel. Not sure I am allowed to mention the name of the companies.

I can’t leave this section without mentioning Rodney Cullen’s presentation, where he showed off how a combination analysis, test and mistakes made he got one of his sites to skyrocket in traffic. The tip on not combining the ‘noindex’ (in the meta robots ) and the canonical tags was very welcome by everyone, though there are those who think that this is not the case. Every site is different though. Read Rodney’s post here (only in Spanish )

SEO Tool demos

The SEO Tool showcase sessions were instructional too to the point that they all contained an element of case study and taught us not only how to use the tool, but what aspects of competitor analysis to focus on and what data to extrapolate to help draw conclusions on actions. They definitely brought in just about as much value as the case studies.

The showcase sessions on competitor analysis and reporting presented by Eduard Bayo on SEO guardian and by Graham Hunt on Market Samurai unveiled great tactics and methodologies to analyse the competition in an efficient and intelligent manner as well as practical. The case studies used here reflected practical case studies with an outset and outcome. Rodney Cullen

I am only mentioning a few of the speakers, perhaps they ones that for me were matched to my main interest in the enterprise. This however doesn’t go to say that all other sessions were not equally interesting and useful. Every one of the sessions shed value and contributed something valuable. For example the session on Google Local by Jorge Gonzalez from Publigrup was a cracker! I absolutely loved to see and realise how vulnerable the Google local platform still is.

The secrecy dimension

The organisers made it very clear from the beginning to keep some of the content quiet and refrain from letting some of the sensitive stuff out: the names of the companies used through the case studies, details on the blackhat tactics or methodology mentioned by the presenters. They wanted to keep the uniqueness of the content to the attendees and due to this atmosphere of exclusivity, everyone seems to be more prone to give you their best tips and tricks both through the sessions and outside, during coffee, drinks or other networking times.

The networking and the ‘linktonics’

If you decide to make the move to Valencia (perhaps in Madrid next year?) and join one of these conferences, you will not only enjoy and learn from the sessions but also the networking. Which of the two gives you more value? I wouldn’t be able to choose between the two. The sessions are great, but it is through the networking on all conference that you always exchange, share and discuss viewpoints, strategies and tactics that may or may not work for each sector or business model. If you look to learn blackhat, I’d say that it is through the networking where you are more likely to learn than during the sessions.

On the ‘Congreso SEO’ the added bonus is that people go round looking for opportunities to exchange links. They are all keen to proposals that entail collaboration on content-supported links, straight link exchange and any kind of link building collaboration. Nearly everyone runs their own websites and boasted a number of blogs and websites, some even large number of blogs. In turn, mostly everyone I met encouraged and supported the idea of collaboration based on a safe one-way link approach.

Lastly, how could I possibly finish this post without mentioning the great social momentum at Red VLC, one of the trendiest and most prestigious clubs in Valencia. Participants, speakers and other local SEOs were invited over. We were treated to a sophisticated tapas dinner with great food, wine, cocktails. The conversations revolved around all sorts of technical SEO stuff, exchanging & buying links (‘linktonics’), SEO tricks & tips, buying domains, ‘JuanPalomo’ SEO and even Corporate SEO. Everyone had a lot of fun and it seemed that, for some, the party carried on till wee hours. When I left at 4.30 am,  I got the impression that the majority were still at the club talking ‘SEO lingo’.

Conclusions

This conference has been without any doubt the most instructional, educational, valuable and enjoyable SEO conference I have attended for a good while. Other conferences I usually attend are good too, eg: ISS for example as it has a high component of ‘International’ stuff, which is irreplaceable for the kind of corporate SEO I do, but Congreso SEO has contributed significantly to my overall SEO knowledge. It is to say that a lot of the stuff you learn here presents a big ‘no no’ into a corporate environment, but it is still interesting and useful stuff to learn about.  Blackhat, spam and manipulative SEO is out there and you want to make sure you understand it just so that you can identify and understand it when/if your competitors use it.

‘Congreso SEO’ is a highly recommendable SEO event, which I thoroughly enjoyed and would not hesitate to recommend. Whether you work for an agency or work  in-house, or a small enterprise enviroment or for a international organisation, if you speak and understand Spanish, this conference should be on your list.

If you were there and would like to add anything please feel free to do so in the comments…

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Leweb 2011 Paris is nearly here

leweb conference in Paris 2011

leweb'11 Paris

Last year I attended Le Web Conference in Paris for first time. This conference rocks! It is the largest European conference in the web marketplace. There is a place in there for a diverse range of audiences: inhouse marketers looking to keep abreast of Internet developments, digital marketers looking to learn new things and meet contacts, entrepreneurs looking to establish new partnerships and expand their business, start-ups looking to promote their ideas to potential audiences and business partners.

This year LeWeb 2011 expands onto a 3-day conference on 7, 8, and 9 December, and the theme is SOLOMO, which stands for Social-Local-Mobile.

Tickets are still going at €1490 until end of September. However if you are a freelance developer, a student or a startup, there is a special price for you. Read about it at the bottom of the registration page. Further, if you are a start-up and want to join the startup competition, the registration is open!

Some interesting figures:

  • 3000 participants
  • 60 countries
  • 300 + journalists
  • 50 partners
  • hear and see the industry’s most known icons before you

I enjoyed this conference so much last year that I wrote a blog post covering the highlights of LeWeb’10 on the Youmoz section of SEOmoz, and a more detailed one on my own blog.

To get a better picture of what you will get at Le Web if you attend, watch Loic and Geraldine presenting LeWeb 2011:

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Matt Cutt is back on track with a new set of instructional ‘technical SEO’ videos, with whiteboard and all, Rand Fishkin’s style. I found this video (embedded below) particularly helpful as it covers a question that most in-house enterprise SEOs dealing with large enterprise-level websites may have asked themselves at some point in their jobs: ‘will it be an issue to have 301 redirects chained together?’ I am sure most of us agree that it is not good practice having a ‘301 redirect’ chained to another one, but if that accidentally happened?

The video is actually not just about how many 301 redirects you can chain together. It covers some other basic and useful typical questions:

  • linking urls by topicality instead of just linking to the homepage
  • No. of total 301 urls you can do on a site, is there a limit?

but the chaining of 301 redirects and the perceived risk of penalisation is what I had been wondering about.

If you have happened to have gone round asking this question to other SEO industry peers, in SEO forums or in conferences, you will have most likely got the same answer I did, typically along the lines of: ‘…ummm I wouldn’t overdo it and, if possible, I would stick to just having one sequence of redirects and avoid having double redirects or more in case you get penalised….’, well watch the video to hear Matt Cutts’s googly opinion:

On this video, Matt confirms that the Googlebot starts being suspicious on multiple redirect levels when it bumps onto a 4th or 5th sequential redirect. If you watch the video, make sure you are patient as it covers this at the end of it.

“We are willing to follow multiple hubs, multiple levels of urls…at the same time you get too many, if you’re getting up to four or five hubs, then that’s starting to get a bit dangerous, in the sense that Google may decide not to follow all those redirects”

I conclude that if the unavoidable situation of having double redirects happens, if we ever slip, we are on the safe side with Google. The question that lies pending for those international SEOs responsible for multiregional sites is: ‘ what about the other search engines, how does Bing, Naver, Yandex, Baidu, Sezam and other local or regional search engines react to that?’ If you have an insight to share on this respect, please feel free to comment.

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Three advice tips for inhouse SEOs from Matt Cutts

A recent video by Matt Cutts gives his advice for in-house SEOs. Whether this can be taken to enterprise-level SEO advice or not, it depends much on the size of the organisation where you work.

The advice given is however applicable 100% to enterprise-level SEO. The three main areas that Matt proposes to work on are:

  • Speed performance of your website
  • Having good internal CMS practices
  • Embracing social media marketing

He states that speed performance is only a slight factor in the algorithm, but it can affect ROI on your site, as web user tend to favour sites that are fast. He actually suggest minifying CSS and javascrip files.

With regards to the good internal CMS practices, Matt advises to have an organisation strategy in place that includes educating people on SEO and why it is there, but also ensuring that there is a good interlinking strategy in place with the right use of anchor text.

Lastly, Matts advises to pay attention to social media marketing as a great way to drive traffic to your site. He does not mention the social signals used by google for website rankings, but focuses on the add-value aspects of building great content and spread it using social media.

They are definitely three good pieces of advice for in-house SEOs that can put you in the right pace to improve and make your search marketing strategies more effective, don’t you think?

Image top right by Aramistech

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Stumbleupon outpaces facebook growth: Infographic

If you wonder what people actually mean when they talk about the ‘sharing’ industry in a social media context, you may like this infographic as it sheds light about the concept of ‘sharing’ , the main online players in the market and some interesting volume figures.

What I find remarkable is that although Facebook may still retain a 44% of the overall sharing volume, other services like Stumbleupon may have outpaced facebook growth.

Infographic on sharing by Addthis

Infographic on sharing by Addthis (Author: Jeff Wong Design)

I could not find a script to insert the infographic but the originating source is Addthis and the design author is Jeff Wong Design.

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Le Web Paris 2010

Le Web logo

I attended ‘LeWeb’ 2010!

I had only known about ‘LeWeb‘ Internet conference for three years, and always missed the chance to attend, until last year. This event brings the ‘crème de la crème’ from the internet world in terms of speakers, entrepreneurs, marketing directors and celebrities from the digital world. It is all about presenting innovation, discussing latest industry news, the start-ups and the opportunities for the start-ups, digital and social media, the social game industry, and the workshops.

Le Web 2010 - bird eye view over main lounge

LeWeb 2010

The entrance fee to the LeWeb is pricey: €1995 for the full price, but €995 if you buy at early bird discount like I did. I have been looking forward to the event for the whole year, followed all
arrangements and plans, participated in comms with the community via Twitter, facebook throughout the year, and I even got all  excited and wrote a post about it.

It is clear that I missed quite a lot of good sessions during the two days event as it is a huge venue comprising 3 buildings and hundreds of debates, product showcase. So it is easy to miss important bits and bobs, for example I missed the Facebook workshops as they were constantly packed.

Yet, I hope that my recap will give you a good grasp for what you can find there if you decide to attend next year. But let’s move onto discussing some hightlights:

 

Day 1

  1. The ‘state of the industry’ morning sessions was informative and entertaining. It was interesting to see debate into some of the trickiest and most controversial areas of the Internet at present: Windows phone 7, privacy concerns on facebook, Twitter and MySpace news, all spiced up with Michael Arrington (Chief Editor at TechCurnch)’s ‘on the spot’ and direct questions. A good way to start the conference. For info, all footage on ‘leWeb’ sessions can be found on LeWeb’s youTube channel. 2. The Ignite sessions were very entertainining and my preferred presentation was ‘Japanese Geek Culture’ by Fumi Yamazaki, a Japanese Blogger that currently works for Google. Fumi spoke about the awesome sharing, reusing and remixing Japanese geek culture.
  2. The Fireside discussion between M.Arrington and Marissa Meyers was interesting. Marissa was praising the many great features of Android phones, including the amazing 3D local maps functionality, which is really something. Michael Arrington asked the audience if they would consider switching to Android after seeing that, and only five people raised hands, not good publicity for Google Android-enabled phones. Marissa spoke about contextual discovery, about acquisitions and about ‘Hotpot’, Google’s new local reviews platform. Watch the video here or read a full post on this interview on State of Search’s blog.
  3. The session with Tomoko Namba, CEO at DeNa was great. DeNa is one of the largest mobile social network and mobile game companies in Japan: 20 millions registered users, 1.2 billion dollars in revenue from selling virtual goods eg: mobile-based social games. Loic compared their platform to facebook as there is a social element to the games, with the difference that users actually make friends on the platform and play games together, but without having previous met f2f : virtual friendship. However MobileGate, their flagship platform is an area where apart from having inhouse developed games other developers can come in and deploy their games too. They are now moving onto smartphone platforms and also desktop and outside Japan they are acquiring companies : MGBOKO, which is another Games platform outside Japan. Awesome stuff! Watch the whole discussion.
  4. The workshop on HTML5 was instructional for me as I still had not had time to learn much on HTML 5 and the supporting environments. Although I got there once it was already started, I grabbed some tips on the functionality of the the 3WDOC authoring studio, which has the ability to showcase video on a webpage without any supporting piece software. It will be offered as  freemium and integrated versions in WordPress with watermak and option to remove it if you pay.
  5. Q&A with Dennis Crowley, Co-founder of Foursquare and Loic LeMeur. I was intrigued to hear more about Foursquare’s plans to provide further functionality or enhance the product. Such question was asked by an attendee from Siberia who got a free pass from Loic leMeur to attend the conference. Apparently the guys at Foursquare are thinking what they could possibly do with all the data they are compiling but for the moment there are no decisions, well there may be but nothing was given out at the gig. Dennis seemed calmed and unworried as he was sitting there answering questions with confidence despite knowing that some competitors were launching similar products eg: Facebook Places. Watch the Q&A with Dennis on Youtube.
  6. At the media Panel at 18.00 Brent Hoberman made some really good points about the difficulties for foreign companies to penetrate in Europe. This complexities are diverse, for example in France’s employment law is so complex that you need to bring specific expertise to deal with that single area. Leo Laporte asked Loic why he didnt set up Seesmic in Paris, instead of San Francisco. Loic speaks about the complexities of setting up an idea in Europe, and having to fly to Berlin, Madrid, etc… and by the time you realise, chances are that someone may have already developed a similar business in the Sylicon valley. Watch this discussion here.

Day 2

The start of the day took me to the building next along (Plenary II stage –Eiffel dock), a smaller but more homely building. I was looking for something more geeky and data-driven, so I dived
straight for: ‘Lean Analytics for Start-ups’ by AlistairCroll, from Bitcurrent.

The main goal of his presentation was to present key analytics for start-ups. Alastair explained the intent behind the analytics, having clear KPIs and the essentials of tracking things
like visits, bounces, etc… but also tracking other things like usability (eg: via heatmaps, form completion tools, use surveys….)

He then delved into the need for optimising your page load using an experiment he made on users which showed that a faster site always returns better user experience: more engagement, more visits per visitor, less bounces… point taken: users want faster navigation and sites. He briefly picks on community Managers stating that they should be there to analyse the start of the funnel and making sure that their work leads to meeting the objectives for the campaign.

The most important part of the presentation in terms of the analytics: ‘In a start-up the purpose of analytics is to iterate to a product/market fit before the money runs out’. Here’s some learning points:

  1. Focus on the Viral coeficient: how many people that use your product helps promote it to others, example: ‘get your private free email: www.hotmail.com
  2. How well are your messages being amplified: Twitter is given as an example: how many people view your message, RT, and how many visit your page, and eventually ‘the total revenue’ in $ per social media (or Twitter) campaign.
  3. No. visitors vs conversion rate + other metrics like what visitors think of us, how engaged they are
  4. Extended funnel abandonment
  5. what moved us away from goals?
  6. what is the cost per visitor
  7. Minimum sustainable burn: min cost to run the company Watchthe session on youtube or his slides

Next on was the “Asia: Digital Life, Real Billions” where a group of Asian top entrepreneurs were interviewed. Amongst the panelists, we had :

  • Naoki Aoyaki, Senior Vice President, Business Development & CFO, GREE
  • Takuya Miyata, Senior Vice President, Global Business, mixi
  • Yiqun Bo, Vice-President & Co-Founder, Great Wall Club
  • Steven Goh, CEO, Mig33
  • Chang Kim, ex-CEO of TNC, Product Manager, Google Blogger
  • Jimmy Kim, CEO, Nexonova
Leweb, day 2, Asia Digital life real billions

Leweb, day 2, Asia Digital life real billions

I learned quite a bit about the Social gaming industry in Japan. One piece of data that really got my eyes opened was given by Takuya Miyata: apparently Japan’s No2 social network Gree spends 10 million $/month in TV commercials!

However, I think he said that it worked out at about $12 per acquisition, so advertising spent is even justified?

The next session on ‘How Social is Changing the Gaming Industry’ was a bit slow though it was interesting to hear from the panelists how they went about monetising, being Micropayments & advertising the two main revenue making models in the gaming industry. So I decided to cross over the road onto the Pullman Plenary Room. I stopped a few moments for coffee, some networking and also viewed some product demos at the stands.
I then headed for the ‘Start up competition Finals’ where I really enjoyed seeing the final 4 winning startups showcasing their ideas. I thought one of them was very imaginative and typical of a French mind: ‘Super Marmite’, a site to go to find out who’s cooking and willing to sell you a portion around your local area, request a visit to try whatever the person is cooking and arrive at the spot with your taperware, pay, eat healthy and socialise. The presenter was a young lad full of charisma who put a bit of humour on the session. I am glad they got the No1 prize on originality.

I was sad to see that no Spanish startups were competing with other French, Dutch and German startups… why are Spanish start ups not selling themselves outside: is it the recession, the lack of information, language barriers? Read more about the startups that presented at LeWeb on this TechCrunch post .

Keynote: Social Media And Big Business: Trends for 2011 by industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah kicked off his presentation by saying : ‘you need to be where the money is and how you should spend your social media budget’. Wow! he then got everyone’s attention. It’s worth watching his video but if you cannot be bothered, here’s some of the main points of his presentation.

spending in social business programs

The biggest area of growth in 2011 is hiring people to run the programmes/campaigns on social media. We should invest in scalable social media programmes by:

  • Hiring: hire the business people first, then those to run the programmes
  • Hiring: hire the business people first, then those to run the programmes
  • Integrate social media features the right way into your website not just placing a follow me bottom and encourage traffic to go away.
  • Use advertising that enacts word of mouth
  • Develop an army of advocates that can spread the word about your products and services perhapsjust in return for free products
  • Invest in social CRM
  • learning to measure right: don’t give executives engagement metrics like retweets and followers, but performance metrics: revenue, reputation, customer satisfaction. Give to each one the metrics they are interested in

Download his presentation slides.

Q&A with Gary Vaynerchuk, Host, Wine Library TV,
Author, CrushIT

This was the last session of LeWeb conference but probably one of the most entertaining, enjoyable and fulfilling. We were all tired but Gary Vaynerchuk woke us all up.
Gary knows how to draw the public’s attention by bringing an unusual, outrageous fun to the Q&A. Gary got the session started with some rants about social media stuff, the humanisation of
businesses, how they are starting to get closer to customers, talk to them, feel what they need, listen to them…. but Loic prompted him into the Q&A. The session can be viewed on LeWeb Youtube channel too.

The main highlight of his presentation arrived the moment someone asked: What is the ROI of social media? to which Gary replied:

‘what is the ROI of your mum’?

Tip: jump straight to min 37.30 as the whole session is about 45 mins.

That one must have been one of the most tweeted phrases of LeWeb. LeWeb10 was over, and I guess everyone is now looking forward to LeWeb11

Summary

I was a great, fulfilling experience that got me inspired for days, however I didnt feel like I learned anything practical. My knowledge on the digital world definitely got enhanced as I found out about new things, but didnt get any takeaways with me in terms of practical advice, so perhaps this type of conferences are not for me.

I acknowledge the fact that this was not a search engine marketing conference and didn’t expect anything like that, but got a bit dissappointed of the poor or virtually no coverage that ‘Search’ gets at LeWeb, apart from a few mentions here and there by a couple of speakers, like Marissa Mayer.

Let me just add the impressive figures about network usage data at LeWeb:

* Total Unique Devices: 4688
* Total Traffic: 1.12 TB
* Top (Ab)user (wireless): klug20s @ 11.2 GB
* Top (Ab)user (wired): Tubby Builder @ 110 GB
* Top 5 Applications: Flash Video, iTunes, Twitter, YouTube, email
* Top 5 OS: iPhone, OSX, iPad, W7, Android
* Top Client devices: 71.8% Apple, Intel 10%, HTC 5%
* Devices having used Twitter: 2602

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The International Search Summit conference came back to London on 28 October this year. I was invited to speak about my experiences doing SEO for a non profit in the form of a case study for the British Council. Hence the title of the presentation: Global SEM in an international non-for-profit.

International search summit London 2010

My slide deck has been uploaded on slideshare. You can view the presentation on the embedded slides or download it. Feel free to repurpose it for your own use if you find them useful, but if you do please be kind and remove all British Council branding and imagery.

It is difficult to convey the same ideas and concepts on these slides without the accompanying speech, but the top messages are there.

The main areas I spoke about were

  • the British Council’s mission and objectives
  • the web network model,  the diversity of the projects we work on
  • the challenges we face as an public body international cultural relations organisation
  • the much needed marketing resources
  • the deficiencies of our technical platform and CMS
  • the simple but effective low cost SEO strategies that bring benefit to the organisation
  • the importance of giving credit for the achievements
  • a couple of tools I use for the management of SEO projects.

One of the top messages that I tried to send across was to do with how the power of a big brand can make the simplest of your SEO strategies successful, how the absolute industrial strength of our sites can support longtail strategies by realising our internal linking power, and how the added support of simple link building strategies like niche directory submissions can give us the needed edge to achieve search engine visibility for competitive terms.

Updates like the MayDay or Vince in the past may seem to have brought opportunities for brands and/or losses for smaller businesses.  My experience of doing SEO for an organisation with recognised brand status and positioning is that whatever the various updates that may have taken place on the Google other international search engines the advantage of having a recognised brand can result in garnering amazing opportunities to gain links. This in turns impacts positively on the SEO strategies if the value of those branded links is used efficiently via internal linking structures that work and avoiding critical mistakes like javascript navigation structures.

If you would like to read more about the event, Gemma Birch, from WebCertain wrote a piece on the Multilingual Search Blog where they present Inway Ni owner of one of the most successful gaming sites in China: http://www.4399.com/ as the winner to the Medallion Speaker at the ISS.

You can find coverage of the event at other sites: Yandex, Baidu and Google competition on the Freshegg site and several live blogging sessions at State of Search where you can read all related posts by Louise Venter, of which I particularly like the one by Mark Hauksson on IP addresses and GEO targetting .

Did you happen to attend the ISS in London too? please feel free to comment on the presentations you found useful and/or enjoyed the most.

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Google Instant is talk of the town at the moment. The hype is that it gives you a live feed of different results upon one single intended search. In other words, Google dynamically changes the results as you type your search term at the same time as it gives you a list of suggested terms to consider. In Europe users need to be logged to their Google account as Google Instant works in conjunction with personalised search.

Google Instant is currently a fresh trending topic, so if you actually type ‘Google Instant’ in Google, you will see a cool blend of results that will give you an idea of the kind of excitement that’s going round about it at the moment.

You will likely see some of the most popular tweets, likely to be the most retweeted too:

google instant blended tweet results

Some news results from sources that are likely to be getting the most votes in terms of mentions, links, retweets or facebook likes:

Google instant news in the Google UK serps

Of course, some videos too:

Google Instant videos in blended serps

I have read plenty of posts on Google Instant, its effects on searches and the various different sceptical or rather more optimistic opinions about how it affects SEO. Some sources are informative with plenty of factual data to look at, other more scientific ones are based on actual testing & analysis, and other posts seem to be putting into perspective the relationship between Google Instant, personalised search and the premise that Google is using user’s personal data to tailor the best results for them. I personally like this post and video, and this other one from Danny Sullivan, both being positive opinions that encourage SEOs to stop worrying about Google Instant and focus on their strategies.

Brett Tabke, from WebmasterWorld forums comments on a blog post from Steve Rubel, where he claims that with the arrival of Google Instant, SEO is dead:

It makes SEO INFINITELY more possible. SEO’s are licking their chops over this. We can now rank for ‘letters’ instead of just words. It opens the door to a whole new type of optimization.

Generally speaking, the consensus amongst SEOs seems that Google Instant will bring good new SEO opportunities for some and obviously some challenges for others, and Google Instant will in no way kill SEO. Like with every new change Google makes in either its ranking algorithm or user interface, some benefit from it while others get hit. I think it is much about how prepared an SEO is to adapt to the new environment and move forward with the new trends, invest enough time analysing your stats data, the new serps learn to play with the new toys.

My impresion of the new ‘feature’ is very positive from a user perspective, actually I quite like it, and that’s the goal that seems obvious for Google: to please the user. Users will seemingly be able to switch off this feature, which is always appreciated (but they say that Google plans to make it a default feature in future):

It is possible to switch off Google Instant

The SERPs for the sites that I manage either professionally or by hobby do not seem affected at all, though I have to admit I have not yet performed thorough analysis and compare data before and after Google Instant went live. I did actually performed the following search before and after: if I type the word ‘learn….’ in Google.fr, I get the following SERPs:

serps for word 'learn' in Google.fr

I entered: 'learn'

However, if I carry on typing ‘learn english’, the SERPs change radically to show two of the results that concern me:

serps for learn english in google.fr

SERPs for 'Learn English' in google.fr

Those results have stayed pretty much the same before and after Google Instant even when being logged to my Google account or change IP location in the same town. Like with personalised search, those sites that rank high and attract the most of the CTRs obviously stand much better chance to carry on boasting top positions as they’ll be favoured by users and their frequent click-throughs.

I do recognise though that any user with an intent to seek information to say, learn english, may get somehow distracted by the early serps shown before reaching the end of his/her intended keyphrase. That would effectively steal a potential user from my ‘learn english’ rankings, it can happen, but I trust that the user, in the quest, for better results, will eventually find my sites.

Until I am able to experience the opposite, I cannot say that SEO is dead or that Google Instant is badly affecting my long tail traffic specifically or my SEO in general. I admit though that I am curious to know whether the other international search engines will followsuit with the same idea.

Google Instant affects PPC though…

Lastly, just to say that as I found myself listening to a Strike Point podcasts in my way to work, I heard Dave Naylor, as he conversed with Mikkel deMib, make a very valid point about how Instant could affect Adwords advertisers’ interests. He explained how he feared that, with Google Instant, as the SERPs dynamically change throughout a given search term, particularly long tail phrases, Google will generate and actually count a higher number of page impressions. These additional page impressions will negatively affect the clickthrough rate for your ads and ultimately the overall Quality score for your campaign. I tend to agree that there is some risk for publishers there and an opportunity for financial gain by Google.

To illustrate the above, let’s imagine that I decided to buy the following three keywords ‘learn’, ‘learn english’ and ‘learn english online’, all three…. and every day 10 Google Instant users would type ‘learn english online’. each search would trigger 3 different results on the SERPs where my ads would be shown 3 times! Yet I would have only stand one single chance to gain one single click-through from each of the users. Result: my CTR for that adgroup would suffer and so my quality score… which means more cash into Google’s pocket!

so what’s your take on Google Instant? Can you figure out anyways in which it may affect your search marketing? have you noticed any declines in traffic since it went live?

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