April 23, 2014

About Contributor Lee Odden

Number of posts contributed
51
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Online Marketing Blog
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Profile
Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, an industry leader in strategic internet marketing consulting, training and implementation services. TopRank provides a holistic mix of online marketing expertise including: search engine and social media marketing, blogging and online public relations. As veteran internet marketers, the TopRank team works with an impressive roster of clients that range from Northwest Airlines to McKesson to the PRSA. Odden is one of 25 online marketing experts featured in the book, “Online Marketing Heroes" published by Wiley and has been cited for his search marketing expertise by The Economist, U.S. News and numerous search marketing industry publications. Advertising Age has ranked TopRank's Online Marketing Blog as one of the top marketing blogs on the web. As a speaker and a trainer, Odden was selected to develop content for the DMA Search Engine Marketing Certification Advanced Course and regularly presents at: DMA, PRSA, Search Engine Strategies, WebmasterWorld Pubcon, MediaPost Search Insider Summit and the Media Relations Summit conferences.

Posts by Lee:

Content Curation in B2B Marketing

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 06/29/10

Content Curation in B2B MarketingMany of the B2B companies that publish corporate blogs have long realized the value of publishing useful content in the form of white papers, case studies, webinars, newsletters and other types of educational content.

Business buyers typically seek additional information and resources for information on business products and services. In the growing content marketing field, some companies choose a pure creation strategy (often using blogging platforms for publishing) and find it to be a challenge.

Within the field of content marketing, content curation blends a mix of new content with the filtering and management of useful information streams from blogs and other RSS resources. The curation of useful content for B2B marketing serves as a productive and manageable solution for providing prospective customers a steady stream of useful information from trusted sources.  Pure content creation is demanding. Pure automation of content aggregation doesn’t foster interaction. For B2B marketers, content curation provides the best of both worlds.

To make more sense out of the notion of content curation, here are some useful thought leader definitions of the topic and insight into where curation might fit within a digital marketing program:

Joe Pulizzi – Founder Junta42 and Content Marketing Institute, Co-Author of Get Content, Get Customers.

Content curation is editing on steroids.

As more content floods through all aspects of the web (as well as print and online), we’ll need more brands stepping up to make sense of what we really should be paying attention to. Content curation is as important in the content marketing toolbox as is creation. We need both…and curation doesn’t work without creation (much like Google trying to save the newspapers because they need great news to survive, but that is for another story). For some brands, curation may be enough. You can’t find the resources to develop the most valuable, most compelling content in your industry? Then just tap into your network that does, and package that content to present you as the trusted industry leader. It’s still a needed service, just a bit different from creation.

Where it will go, no one knows…but I’ve heard from smarter people than me that content curation is the future (even present) of media. I’d rather say curation and creation go together like Macaroni & Cheese…a splendid combination.

Pawan Deshpande – CEO, HiveFire, Makers of Curata

Content curation is the cure for a broken content marketing strategy. Content marketing is about a brand producing valuable content, and prospects being educated with that content. It’s valuable, it works and it’s not going away.

But the only problem is that day by day, it’s less effective as everyone produces more and more content. Brands are increasingly competing to get their content noticed. At the same time, prospects are increasingly spending more time searching for relevant content.

Content curation has emerged as a new and powerful way for marketers to seamlessly sift through the flood of content available to prospects. Like the owner of a high-end art gallery, you have to sift through the information from across the web and “curate” it to ensure that it is relevant to the customer. You will be navigating your prospects through this sea of content by leading them to the most relevant important information.

It’s already happened in the consumer world: Sites like Digg (social curation) which have little or no original content have become key resources for information. Similarly we are seeing leading businesses take a similar approach to become the experts for their respective areas.

Paul Gillin – Consultant and Author of The New Influencers and Secrets of Social Media Marketing

I define content curation as the process of assembling, summarizing and categorizing and interpreting information from multiple sources in a context that is relevant to a particular audience. I think this discipline will be absolutely essential to content marketing in the future because of changes in the media landscape.

Marketers can build trust with their constituencies by providing focused curation in areas that matter to their constituents. Original content will always have value, but curation is coming to have nearly equal value.  The key is to stake out unique topic areas and to become the most trusted source in those areas. You don’t need a lot of money to do this. You just need to know the subject matter very well.

So it seems that not only do companies need to enter the world of publishing, but undertake the role of digital librarian as well. I cannot imagine the need for original blogging going away anytime soon. But I can see blogging complemented and even facilitated by the incorporation of curated feeds (excerpts) from other blogs and information sources. Citation and links benefit the sources and the collection of useful information benefits the readers.  Satisfied readers can turn into interested prospects and satisfied customers.

12 Tips for Marketing New Blogs

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 06/16/10

Plenty of new B2C and B2B blogs are launched every day and the sheer volume of content makes standing out increasingly difficult. My personal experience as a B2B Marketing pro, is that blogs can be one of the most effective ways create connections with prospects and customers through useful content. However, that content will go unnoticed unless you promote it. To that end, here are 12 tips for marketing a new blog.

  1. Add A Link – If it’s a company blog, or if it’s attached to another site, add a link to the blog from the main navigation on the parent website.
  2. Create A Badge – On the main website, add a badge to the homepage, or sidebar, that promotes the blog. Images are a good way to catch a visitor’s attention.
  3. Email – Add a link to the blog in your email signature.
  4. Newsletter – Announce the blog in the company newsletter.
  5. Network – Announce the blog to your Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Linked in connections and any other social networks that you are apart of.
  6. Press Release – If you feel that the blog is important enough to support a press release, put one out.
  7. Submit – Submit the blog to blog & feed directories.
  8. Share – Share your blog with co-workers, friends and others in your network. You never know when they might promote it for you.
  9. Link – One way to get other bloggers to notice you is to link to them. Summarize someone else’s long blog post, expand upon someones shorter post, or just write your thoughts on a topic that someone else wrote about and link back to the original post.
  10. Give Away – If it’s a product blog, run a promotion on the blog giving away one of your products. Sometimes the value that can come out of giving something away can be more beneficial than all the items above.
  11. Guest Post – If there are other blogs in your industry, ask around and see if they’d allow you to guest post for them. In return, you’d get a link back to your blog in your profile, or post, on their site.
  12. Ask – Tap into the social networks within the industry you’re trying to reach and ask them what they’re interested in. Here’s an example of a post that did just that on Twitter for this blog. Show interest in the interest of your audience and they’ll pay more attention and share your content.

Of course, there’s no substitute for good content, so even the best blog marketing tactics will be fruitless unless those visitors find something useful AND the blog publisher has made it easy to share that content. This is a simple, yet effective formula at the center of our blog marketing services.

What tips and tactics have you found to be effective for promoting a new blog?

New Survey: Are Blogs Still Important for SEO and Why?

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 01/27/10

Blog SEO SurveyA large number of companies are familiar with the process of starting a blog, but few have experienced the challenges of maintaining and growing a blog for more than a year. Understanding long term benefits is key to sustainable business blogging. One of the most notable benefits of publishing blog content, especially if optimized, is the compliment to search engine optimization efforts.

TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog recently conducted a survey with 326 Corporate, Agency, Small Biz and Independent marketers. Long time readers of Business Blog Consulting understand the SEO value of blogging, however, we wanted to check in with marketers with a variety of blogging experience to see what their experiences have been firsthand.

Key findings:

95% indicated blogs are used as part of their search engine optimization efforts
87.4% successfully increased measurable SEO objectives as a direct result of blogging
90% cited blogging as important, significantly important or a primary SEO tactic

Blogs are started for many reasons ranging from corporate communications in a newsroom format to conversational posts from executives or subject matter experts. When it came to SEO benefits from blogging, the top choices were:

  • Creat new optimized content
  • Linking from blog posts to optimized web site content
  • Attract external links
  • Increase crawl rate / frequency
  • Community building for content/links promotion
  • Content Syndication

The timeframe between starting a blogging effort and seeing results is a very common question for companies considering a blog as part of the marketing and communications mix. In the TopRank survey, respondents reported seeing SEO results fairly quickly:

94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months
54% of respondents start to see SEO benefits from blogging within 3 months

After timeframe to see results, the next most common question about building a case for a corporate blog are the results. Adding a SEO effort to a corporate blog allows companies to increase the outcomes and reach of the content published. The top benefits from blog SEO included:

  • Increasing company site traffic
  • Increase company leads/sales
  • Inbound links
  • Referrals from the blog
  • Lead generation from the blog
  • Improved web site rankings
  • Increased blog traffic

Starting a blog purely for SEO reasons will make content sustainability difficult in the long run. A blogging strategy must meet meet other goals as well, especially those that involve engaging customers or interactions with readers. Other success measures from blogging include:

  • Increase overall online exposure. They won’t know about you if you don’t say anything, participate
  • Contribute to company’s bottom line goals in at least a semi-direct way
  • Branding and owning SERPS
  • Increase quality of site traffic
  • Improve visibility and prominence in search engine results is by far the most important, it’s all about search
  • Branding
  • Incease visibility and demonstrate the company is “up to date”

Convincing management that a corporate blog or any kind of blog is not always easy. Nor is long term creation of content and promotion. Many of the comments about obstacles to blogging centered around time, resources, measurement and a lack of awareness.

  • 67.2% cited resource issues as the most common objection to implementing a blog
  • 42% cited content sourcing issues
  • 35% didn’t see the benefit of blogging
  • Regulated industry or legal issues got in the way for 19.3

Is blogging here to stay? 92% of respondents feel blogging will continue to be an important content optimization and marketing tactic for the next 3+ years.

Read the full results of the Blogging and SEO Survey here along with a large number of comments from respondents on measuring success and SEO applications of blogging. Follow @leeodden on Twitter for more insights into Social SEO and Blogging.

Take the Business Blogging and SEO Survey

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 01/14/10

Blog SEO Survey Blogs serve many purposes for companies and individuals alike. As easy to use content management systems, blog software enables companies that are “content challenged” a mechanism to create content for subscribing customers and search engines.

While many companies start blogs with SEO in mind, there are many overzealous claims and exaggerated expectations about what works and what doesn’t.

At MarketingBlog.com we’re currently running a poll with business bloggers to better understand the perceived SEO impact of business blogging and would greatly appreciate 1-2 minutes of your participation: http://bit.ly/6Lr4Xb

Responses will be aggregated early next week and an executive summary will be published here on Business Blog Consulting. Full results will also be available in a Business Blogging and SEO Report.

If you’re a business blogger, please take and share the survey.

To make it easy to share the survey on Twitter, Facebook or FriendFeed, here’s a bit of text to copy/paste:

Take the Biz Blogging and SEO survey: http://bit.ly/6Lr4Xb

Blogging Top Ranked Digital Marketing Tactic for 2009

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 04/21/09

Companies world-wide are cutting costs as well as looking for creative, high impact and accountable marketing. With concerns over the recession and its impact on marketing, I recently ran a poll of the 17,000 subscribers at Online Marketing Blog to discover their intentions for digital marketing tactics in 2009.

Poll respondents cast 1,559 votes for their top three digital marketing tactics (from a list of 45) for 200. Blogging, Twitter and Search Engine Optimization topped the list. Out of the top ten rated marketing tactics, six fell into the category of Social Media Marketing.

The actual question asked was, “What 3 digital marketing channels & tactics will you emphasize in 2009?” Here are the top ten tactics selected:

• Blogging (34%)
• Microblogging (Twitter) (29%)
• Search engine optimization (28%)
• Social network participation (Facebook, LinkedIn) (26%)
• Email marketing (17%)
• Social media monitoring & outreach (17%)
• Pay per click (14%)
• Blogger relations (12%)
• Video marketing (10%)
• Social media advertising (7%)

Email marketing rated higher than PPC which is surprising given the budgets spent on PPC vs email. Some tactics are much easier to implement than others, or less expensive, which may explain a few of the top choices, such as Twitter.

Corporate web sites didn’t rate in the top ten tactics. Does this mean the death of company web sites? Some companies are succumbing to the social media perspective to extremes, like the Skittles site which had been simplified to a page of search results from Twitter and then changed to their Facebook page. Others are adding social features to their company sites to complement existing messaging and functionality.

By now, most companies have their 2009 online marketing plans in place. Does this ranked order of tactics mean you should change up your online marketing mix? The answer is that digital marketing tactics should match the needs of the situation, company resources, the target market and end consumer preferences. The proper tactical mix for a digital marketing program could be anything from the 45 tactics listed in the TopRank Blog poll and still be successful as long as they support a valid strategy.

Some companies are prepared for digital and social media marketing programs and many are not. To get “ready”, companies need to develop a social media roadmap and get up to speed on both best and worst practices. Whether those methods of reaching and communicating with customers reconciles with existing marketing plans or not, companies would do well to allocate resources to some level of ongoing social media training, testing and development of expertise in the social media space.

Being Direct About Social Media Marketing

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 02/10/09

Compared to typical direct marketing efforts (snail mail, DRTV, email, etc) where an offer is created based on a company developing a product and packing it to meet a need or purpose, a social media marketing program will focuses on creating awareness, relationships and possibly involving communities with creating the offer before it’s every promoted.

As a comparison, take a look at what a typical direct marketing program might look like:

  • Develop top level messaging
  • Research and build an email list
  • Acquire snail mail lists and segment
  • Create and implement a series of email offers to the list with landing pages
  • Create and implement a series of direct mail pieces
  • Setup and run PPC campaign(s) with landing pages
  • Craft story and press releases
  • Research publications for planned stories and journalists covering the topic
  • Distribute optimized press releases via wire services
  • Pitch story to industry and regional publications, editors/journalists
  • Leverage coverage from pitching as part of final email promotions
  • Solicit feedback from those signing up and use as testimonials for subsequent promotions

The list could go on and on really, depending on the budget, timeline and objectives. From the perspective of a traditional marketer, it seems pretty logical, right? It’s a straightforward marketing campaign based on developing an offer, defining a target audience and creating a series of messages intended to communicate the offer and convert. It also uses public relations to augment direct marketing efforts in addition to leveraging positive feedback for subsequent promotions.

While the above overview marketing plan is pretty straight forward, it runs contrary in many ways to the kind of digital marketing programs that companies the world over are warming up to: Social Media Marketing.

With social media marketing, there is an assumption that there is already involvement with the social communities involved – profile(s), network of friends, content submission, voting and participation. That’s the big mistake most marketers make when trying to promote products and services on the social web. They’ll create an account on a social media site, put up some content and expect the social media world to be their oyster without having built a network first.

So, what would a social media marketing focused program look like as an alternative to the direct marketing promotion above?  Let’s take a look:

  • Monitor discussion on social communities and networks for key conversations, keywords and topics
  • Identify top concerns relevant to what the company is promoting and develop messaging for solution
  • Identify influentials in the social communities, bloggers and authorities – ask them their opinion
  • Identify media types most often used with topics and communities – text, video, image, podcast as well platforms for communication: blog posts, comments, microblogging, status updates, social network notes, social news and bookmarking and as possible, direct messaging and IM
  • Create messaging specific to media type and platform as way of sharing information about the offer
  • Create content destinations that explain the offer and that also offer the opportunity to interact, share opinions and comments – blog posts, video, event pages on social networks (like a landing page, but focused on being informative and encouraging discussion, not salesey)
  • Reach out to influentials on a one to one basis, recognizing them for sharing their opinion, explaining the offer and your goals – ask them to join in in spreading the good word. Explain what’s in it for them and what’s in it for the community.
  • Monitor the communications that result in the most signups and provide feedback on progress
  • Offer influential bloggers a “free pass” to blog the event or a preview of what’s being offered
  • Recognize participation and contribution to reaching goals
  • Continue to engage interested participants and communities

Seems like a lot of work and possibly more effort than it’s worth to a traditional direct marketer. But to those involved with social media and social communities, it’s familiar territory. Focusing on developing solutions based on what the audience wants, then involving the community in developing and promoting creates evangelists for the promotion. Recognizing participation energizes the community and can multiply the speed and breadth of message distribution, discussion and action.

Social marketing invests in social communities with useful content/solutions as well as participation and recognition. That investment delivers long term dividends far beyond a one time promotional program using direct marketing tactics.

If the budget, timeline and resources warrant it, a combination of both sets of tactics can be very appropriate.

Learning From Business Blogging Mistakes

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 07/7/08

With as many right things you can do with a blog to make it successful, there are nearly as many things you can do wrong. Below are 3 common mistakes companies make with corporate blogs, why they make them and what you can do to avoid them.

Mistake Number One: Not Setting Goals
Many business blogs are started without specific goals. Blog software is typically so easy to install and setup that the number of new blogs has been overwhelming, making it difficult for any one blog to stand out.

Identifying the purpose of the blog is as important as researching similar blogs and the communities they are involved with. The networks of users associated with blogs similar in purpose and content to your own should match the blog’s target audience.

Mistake Number Two: Not Keeping Control
Since many companies start blogs as an experiment, they often are not taken as seriously. As a result, third party blog hosting platform and url are often used such as companyname.blogspot.com, companyname.wordpress.com or companyname.typepad.com.

Why shouldn’t you host your blog using a third party domain name? First, you have no control. If you want to change blogging platforms, there is typically no reasonable way to redirect traffic from the old blog to the new address in a search engine friendly way.
Mistake Number Three: Not Sourcing Content
The excitement and promise from starting a corporate blog can often become a case of overenthusiasm when it comes to writing content. Most people are hard pressed to write good emails, let alone 400 word blog posts. Writing original content every day or at least a few times a week can become near impossible if plans are not made editorially and for sourcing content within the organization.

Obviously there are many more mistakes companies make with corporate blogs ranging from not optimizing blog templates and posts to inconsistent posting to a lack of metrics. We’ll save those for another “Business Blog Mistakes” post version 2.0. Companies that want to avoid making business blogging mistakes can hire a blog consultant like the folks at TopRank or any of the contributors listed in the left side bar of Business Blog Consulting.

Measuring Business Blogging Success

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 10/10/07

It’s easy to start a blog. Not so easy to be successful. But what is success? Especially for a business blog?   Some of the measurable outcomes from business blogging include:

  • Media attention
  • Speaking requests
  • Customer loyalty
  • Inbound links to the blog
  • Search engine ranking for the corporate site
  • Corporate website traffic
  • Leads/sales initiated
  • Volume of blog traffic
  • Technorati and other credible rankings
  • Search engine ranking for the blog
  • Increased company visibility within the industry
  • Increased media coverage
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Increased sales leads/revenue/new customers

And there are more depending on the purpose of the blog, whether it’s to create thought leadership, announce new products, offer SEO friendly content for a troublesome CMS or ecommerce platform, generate leads, support media relations initiatives or simply serve as a sounding board for ideas.  The true measure of success for a business blog is entirely predicated on its purpose.

Once defined, implemented and measurements are put in place, any business can create a successful blog. It’s simply a matter of time, resources and a willingness to try until “what works” reveals itself.   Here’s a more detailed exploration of this idea as well as a long list of considerations that companies need to be aware of when starting a company blog. If you’re into checklists, then be sure to read Stephan’s “Essential Checklist for Starting a Blog“.

Windows Desktop Blogging Software

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 05/17/07

Sometimes, writing blog entries via a web form just doesn’t work. That’s why I’m looking forward to Mariner Software’s new blogging client called WinJournal. The WinJournal name might be familiar since Mariner Software also created MacJournal.

Currently in beta testing mode, WinJournal offers journaling, blogging and podcasting in one application. The blogging capabilities work with all popular Windows blogging software including: MovableType, TypePad, WordPress, Live Journal, Blogger and Windows Spaces. WinJournal also allows you to publish blog entries to a web server via FTP so it can be used as a web site editor as well. WinJournal can also be used to write entries stored locally.

Other options include: wiki style links, spell check, auto save, security/encryption, WYSIWYG text editor, calendar, multiple journals, labels, full screen mode and tabs. There is also a skins manager to change the look an feel of the WinJournal software. This is a good thing since the default skin under XP isn’t so good.

Other popular desktop blogging software includes: Qumana, , , , , Rocket Post 2 and Zoundry. Thomas has a short review on desktop and web based browsers at OMB.

Technorati Adds Authority Metric

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 05/11/07

Technorati launched a blog authority widget last month but now that Authority score is showing up next to blog search results and on a new and improved blog profile page. I’ve been paying a lot more attention to Technorati since Online Marketing Blog the top 100 Favorites list and made an appearance on the top 100 Popular blogs list recently.

Basically, the Authority score is based on the number of blogs linking to your blog within a certain period of time. I had someone ask me if they should start promoting their blog differently in order to up their “Authority” score. My recommendation is, don’t do anything that isn’t going to further the main goals of the blog. Getting on a list that can send you traffic and build credibility is nice, but if those visitors don’t respond well to your content, they’re just drive by traffic.

Blogs as SEO Tools

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 01/23/07

Can blogs be optimized for search marketing? Absolutely! Blogs are basically content management systems with additional functionality such as comments, trackbacks and RSS. In many ways, blogs are no different than web sites.

If a document can be optimized and that document gets indexed, categorized and ranked by any kind of search engine, it’s an opportunity for search marketing. As such, marketers should be aware of how document optimization within various channels can be used within the overall online marketing mix. Blogs are one of many platforms that benefit from optimization.

At a minimum, using blog software to manage certain kinds of content on a web site such as an online media room, to archive newsletters, post frequently asked questions and to provide product updates can make a site that is otherwise very search engine un-friendly, become a viable source of great rankings. This applies to both regular search engines as well as blog search engines. These are applications for a blog besides the common use as a platform to increase credibility and communicate a more personalized voice for a company.

Blogs are no silver bullet though and require working hard and smart – especially smart. However the payoff can be significant. To prove the point that blogs are effective tools for improving search engine visibility, I can offer that my own blog (Online Marketing Blog) receives the majority of it’s traffic from search engines.

Here are a few Google ranking examples of the top referring search phrases in the past month for Online Marketing Blog:

Even more niche phrases bring in quality search traffic such as:

which are all services our search marketing agency provides. Of course the rules can change slightly over time, but here are a set of benefits I often find myself explaining to people wondering about the search engine optimization benefits of having a blog.

  1. Structured content – Blog software with category features allows the aggregation of content according to themes. This makes it easier to algorithmically categorize content. If you can make it easier for search engines to understand your content, you have a much better chance of ranking well on those topics.
  2. Crawlable URLs – Most blog software offers uncomplicated URL structure, making it fairly easy for search engine spiders to find and crawl blog content.
  3. Internal links – Blogs that post product or service related information can deep link anchor text to product information or purchase pages deep within the web site. This is very beneficial for ranking on long tail phrases.
  4. Inbound link magnet – One of the biggest benefits, blogs link freely to each other – much more than web sites do. Blogs are also a significant source of many posts to social news and social media web sites. Text, audio and video are all easily supported for syndication by blogs. The more media available, the more likely it will attract incoming links. Additionally, there are many widgets and plugins that make it easy to share blog content, thus encouraging links and traffic.
  5. RSS – Links to RSS feed urls that use the blog domain name will assist in building link popularity and when RSS content is syndicated or cited by other blogs, any embedded links will also assist in sending traffic.
  6. Fresh content – Both readers and search engines reward fresh content with repeat visits. From a search engine perspective, that means your site can be crawled more frequently, allowing your new content to become searchable more quickly. Fresh content is also indicative of a more authoritative web site.
  7. Active community – Comments and trackback features in blog software encourage interaction. An active blog community creates the kinds of citations or signals from other sites (annotated and contextually relevant links) that search engines tend to reward in the rankings. Loyal blog readers can boost a site’s visibility through advocacy on other blogs, in forums offline at conferences as well as on their own blogs and within the comments of your blog.
  8. Non-Search traffic – I think the greatest benefit of having an active blog has little to do with improving your search engine rankings though. The best thing about blogs is that they allow you to generate substantial amounts of traffic via RSS and links that have NOTHING to do with search engines. My recommendation to marketers in 2007 is to pursue traffic alternatives to search engines as aggresively as their budgets and marketing programs will allow. The result will be incremental increases in site traffic with search engine referred traffic an added bonus, if not correspondingly enhanced.
  9. Blog & RSS Directories – With a blog and corresponding RSS feed(s), your site can now benefit from visibility within blog and RSS search engines. Web sites without feeds (your competition maybe?) are not included in these kinds of directories and search engines.

Felllow BBC’er Stephan Spencer has also written extensively about optimizing blogs and using blogs as SEO tools.

So there you go. A basic list of practical reasons a blog can be beneficial as a site optimization tool and for improved web site traffic along with practical examples. What SEO benefits have you found from having and promoted a blog?

Tread Carefully on the Participatory Web

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 01/3/07

During the Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago recently, the managing editor of WebProNews Mike McDonald did a video interview with BBC bloggers Stephan Spencer and myself about the “participatory web”.

stephan-lee-wpn.jpg

Public relations agencies are scrambling and sometimes floundering at their efforts to use social media to further client branding and marketing goals. Mike asks some great questions ranging from “how do you make money with the participatory web?”, “What things should you do and what do you need to watch out for?” and thoughts on things like pay per post.

Stephan does a much better job at pronouncing “participatory” than I do, :) He also provides some great examples on how to be transparent as well as the consequences for not doing so.

Being good BBC bloggers, both Stephan and I mention Business Blog Consulting, in unison no less! Be sure to give it a view.

Viral Marketing with Blogs

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 11/29/06

On my own blog, I’ve written several times lately on how blogs can be effective tools for viral marketing campaigns. One can look no further than the One Red Paperclip promotion for an example of how these kinds of viral campaigns using blogs can work.

A recent viral campaign using a blog that is under way now is My Super Proposal. This is about a guy, “JP” that is trying to catch the attention of a major advertiser to foot the bill for a commercial where he’ll propose to his girlfriend during the Super Bowl. Doritos and the NFL.com are currently running such contests. He’s staying somewhat anonymous so as not to tip off his girlfriend.

A blogger and search marketing friend of mine, Joe Morin has connected with JP to help him promote the site and get media coverage. More about how that all started here.

The blog started out asking for donations big and small in order to raise $2+ million for a Super Bowl commercial, but those ads are now all sold out. He did manage to raise $74k though, which if not spent on a commercial, will be donated to a children’s hospital.

This Super Bowl Proposal blog has been covered by the likes of AdRants & AdJab already and there’s even an interview with “JP� over at the Nashville City Paper. NPR and USA Today should be running stories soon along with some buzz within the blog and search marketing communities such as this post on the Search Engine Watch blog.

Should JP pull this off, or even get close, it promises to be one of the more creative ways to use a blog for viral marketing and hopefully make a young lady very happy.

Lowdown with Chris Pirillo

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 10/15/06

At the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York earlier this year, I had a chance to start doing an interview with super blogger, past TechTV host and organizer of the Gnomedex conference, Chris Pirillo. It was to be a video interview with my new Sony Cybershot, but I didn’t have very much memory left and the interview was cut short. I’ve since corrected the problem with a 4gb and another 2gb memory stick for almost 2 1/2 hours of decent quality video on two postage stamp sized chips.

Six months later I finally reconnected with Chris (which is amazing since we’re on IM) and was able to ask him a variety of questions ranging from social media to RSS. Here’s a snippet:

“In this interview, Chris talks about his TagJag project, web traffic from social media, favorite conferences, plans for Lockergnome 2.0, his upcoming wedding with fiancee Ponzi and fun quotes like: “Google is the internetâ€?, “Email is deadâ€? and “Let’s not blog about blogging about blogging about blogs anymore, okay?â€?.”

I can appreciate the enthusiasm for RSS, but I don’t think email is dead by a longshot. RSS to email at least. In fact, during dinner last night with “Mr. RSS” himself, Rok Hrastnik and I talked about RSS being too easy to use and that it can get to a point of information overload. The closest solution is the “river of news” concept, but how many good solutions are there for that?

If you would like all the Q/A with Chris Pirillo, here is the full interview.

Speaking of RSS, if you are at the DMA 06 conference this week, be sure to check out the blogs, RSS and podcasting session from 4:30-5:30, room 135 in the Moscone North building with Stephan Spencer, Amanda Watlington and myself.

Also, there is the RSS Roundtable meeting on Tuesday night sponsored by Pheedo, PRWeb, SimpleFeed and Silverpop downtown San Francisco which should be a good discussion.

What’s Your Blog Juice?

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 10/12/06

A bit of ripe linkbait has been launched by Text Link Ads in the form of a “Blog Juice Calculator“. The tool takes into account 4 metrics when calculating a blog’s popularity: RSS subscribers (Bloglines only), Alexa traffic ranking, Technorati rank, and incoming links

Here’s how the BBC group fared:

http://bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/ 6.3
http://www.bourland.com/ 1.3
http://www.flyteblog.com/ 3.8
http://radiantmarketinggroup.com/ 0.9
http://falkow.blogsite.com/ 2.4
http://www.businessblogconsulting.com 6.1
http://www.pheedo.info/ 3.1
http://hyku.com/ 2.1
http://blog.larixconsulting.com/blog 2.8
http://www.toprankblog.com 7.1
http://www.stephanspencer.com/ 5.8
http://www.intuitive.com/blog/ 6.6
http://www.onebyonemedia.com/ 2.4
http://www.danavan.net/weblog/ 4.3
http://www.thinkinghomebusiness.com/blog 3.1
http://www.debbieweil.com/ 3.2

http://wordbiz.com/.05

http://blogwrite.blogs.com/ 1.6
http://ensight.org/ 4.1

Is a tool like this useful? Even though mine did well, I’m not sure yet. I was expecting higher scores for BBC contributors all around.  TLA uses this kind of data to determine how much a link is worth on a web site or blog, so I guess in some ways it might be. I’m just not 100% convinved yet.

Blog PR

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 10/8/06

Blogs are increasingly competitive sources of information for users’ time online compared to mainstream media and many marketers and public relations practitioners persist at stumbling about the blogosphere like bulls in a china shop.

Since my own blog gets about 5-10 pitches per week on average, I think I have a pretty good idea of the variety of ways blogs in general are getting pitched these days. The verdict? Not good.

The emergence of such blogs as The Bad Pitch Blog which is updated a lot more frequently and far more popular than The Good Pitch Blog goes to show that there’s simply not enough attention paid to what constitutes a good pitch. And we all know what Rick thinks about a crappy pitch.

On the topic of blog relations, you hear a lot about being careful of pitching bloggers and that you shouldn’t pitch blogs the same way as you would a print journalist. That’s true for the most part, but there are also many similarities.

To help pros and flacks alike, here are a few of my own tips on pitching blogs which may help PR practitioners resonate more with the blogging community.

  1. Be relevant. It seems so simple and obvious, yet it is the biggest mistake made when pitching bloggers. Look at the categories of the blog and look at previous blog posts. Is your pitch REALLY relevant for the blog? With a lot of the pitches we get, you can tell there’s been no attempt to look any further than the title of the blog. For example, on my own blog I get pitches about things like online advertising or creative interactive advertising campaigns ala Adrants and a quick look at the categories or previous blog posts reveals that the blog clearly does not cover advertising.
  2. Personalize. Getting an email pitch with no personal reference at all, or just a press release and no message is a sure trip to the trash folder. Even more annoying is when there is an attempt to personalize, but it’s copy/paste and the fonts are completely different between the template text being used and the “personalized” content, which often ends up not being very accurate anyway. Take the time to research the blog, make comments and get involved. Be honest about who you are in the comments and provide thoughtful insight that is of value and relevant to the blog post.
  3. Make it easy. Time and time again, I get pitches with one sentence and then the full press release copied into the email or worse, attached as a MS Word doc. This can be very annoying and shows there has been very little effort made. Most bloggers don’t write 600 word stories in response to a press release. They are far more prone to link to a press release. So provide a summary of the release in the email, and a link to the full version of the press release hosted elsewhere. Some bloggers might just copy and paste your summary, add some commentary and a link to the full release you’ve provided. Remember, popular bloggers are very busy. Make it easy for them to blog your story.
  4. Schwag is good. I’ll admit it. I don’t mind getting books sent to me to review. In almost all cases I will at least mention the book in a post if it’s relevant to the topics we cover. I know one thing is for sure, if a search engine or company sent us schwag, we would absolutely post a photo of it along with some honest commentary. Does it suck or is it cool? People want to know!
  5. Be persistent. Don’t be offended or give up if a blogger doesn’t take your story the first time. Be courteous and smart about repeat attempts though. Watch to see if they really do pick up on your story before sending another pitch. Of course, this is not a problem if you actually read their blog.

Here are a number of additional resources on blogger relations and pitching bloggers:

In case you’ll be attending the DMA06 conference in San Francisco later this month, be sure to check out the session on Blogs, RSS and Podcasting with Dr. Amanda Watlington, BBC co-contributor Stephan Spencer and myself where I will be presenting on using blogs for public relations.

New RSS Ad Program Feedvertising

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 09/29/06

Feedvertising

A new blog/RSS advertising option has launched this week from the folks at Text Link Ads called Feedvertising, which is a service that allows you to monetize your RSS feeds with ads. Text Link Ads will sell the ads for you, or as is the case with my blog, I combine links to my an affiliate program with Marketing Sherpa along with a few ads sold by Text Link Ads.

Not only is Feedvertising a potential source of revenue for blogs, but it’s also a clever way to cross promote other areas of your blog, company web site or other web sites that you publish.

Here is a tutorial on Feedvertising over at Tubetorial that explains how it works or you can check out the Feedvertising web site.

Co-founder of Text Link ads Andy Hagans took a few minutes to answer a few questions about Feedvertising for me. Basically Andy says Feedvertising is a way to give RSS feed publishers a lot more control over ads and the market is still very new.

What prompted you to develop this tool?

Advertising via RSS is a small but emerging market. We took a look at existing products and didn’t see anything that was very impressive, from a blogger or advertiser standpoint: pricing was often confusing and inefficient; the ads were often graphical or JavaScript-based, resulting in banner-blindness; and finally, most systems left bloggers without any control over what ads ended up in their feed.

We developed Feedvertising with the idea that bloggers should be able to monetize their RSS feeds while maintaining complete control; i.e., they can manually add their own ads or promotions, or sell space through the TLA system, or do a combination of both.

What kind of earning potential is there for advertisers and what’s the business model for Text Link Ads with this tool?

The business model for TLA is to help monetize those feeds where the blogger chooses to do so through the TLA system. We think the earning potential is great, as reaching the influencers who use RSS is a very important marketing objective for companies who are trying to gain mindshare among early adopters or bloggers. Right now we are testing the price points, so the exact numbers will probably change over time.

What do you think of the RSS advertising market? What are some innovative uses of RSS where advertising might be most productive? ie, advertising on a blog feed is one thing, advertising on a new product RSS feed is another.

Again, this market is pretty immature, but so are all marketing channels in the beginning. Our goal is to stay innovative as this channel evolves and expands. As long as we stay commited to delivering value to both bloggers and advertisers, the feature set should move naturally with that.

What kinds of blogs are best suited for this kind of advertising? What kind of traffic should a blog/RSS feed be getting in terms of hits or subscribers before it makes sense to advertise?

Without getting into numbers, it really comes down to advertiser demand. If your blog has a smaller number of RSS subscribers, but those subscribers are mostly business executives (or any other valuable audience segment), there is still going to be demand from the advertising side.

That said, we think Feedvertising is a great product for ANY blog, even a new one or one with small readership; at the very least, you can use Feedvertising to cross-promote your own feature pages, or other sites.

There are other great reviews of Feedvertising at TechCrunch and Problogger.

Influential Authorities on Blog Marketing

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 07/23/06

Onalytica has published the results of their analysis on the most influential authorities on “blog marketing”. The top 20 influential sites/blogs include:

  • New York Times
  • Josh Hallett – hyku
  • Seth Godin
  • Steve Rubel – Micropersuasion
  • Businessweek
  • ClickZ
  • Wired
  • Patsi Krakoff and Denise Wakeman – Next Level Biz Tips
  • WebProNews
  • Danny Sullivan – Search Engine Watch
  • Fast Company
  • Lee Odden – Top Rank Results
  • Marketing Sherpa
  • Darren Rowse – Problogger
  • AllBusiness.com
  • Hugh Mac Leod – Gaping Void
  • Jeff Jarvis – Buzz Machine
  • Ben McConnel and Jackie Huba – Church of the Customer
  • Mitch Joel – Twist Image
  • Steve Hall – Adrants

Business Blog Consulting alumni Steve Rubel was listed and I’m happy to report current contributor Josh Hallett of hyku and my own company TopRank were listed as well.

The analysis focuses on influence and popularity showing that the most popular authorities are not necessarily the most influential. Popularity was measured by the number of referrers and influence was measure by the authority of the referrers.

Limiting the measure of popularity to link referrers seems a bit simplistic. Traffic would appear to be a logical factor as well.

In the previous analysis on the most influential authorities on “business blogs” (full report pdf), Business Blog Consulting was listed as the fourth most influential sandwiched between BusinessWeek and CNN.

FeedBlitz Steps Up

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 07/20/06

FeedBlitz, the popular RSS to email service with over 50,000 active feeds has recently taken on financing and is also hiring. I took the opportunity to check up with Phil Hollows, founder of FeedBlitz to get an idea of how FeedBlitz has evolved as a blog marketing tool and what he has in store.

“As I look at the RSS to mail market today, one of the core strategic decisions I have to take is deciding what we’re not going to do, because the realm of possibilities is so large. It boils down to this. Our mission is messaging using RSS and related technologies to underpin what we deliver. And our philosophy is to make your messaging work with whatever services you want to use. So you will see us enabling greater and simpler integration with third party services, instead of adding features or services that are already successful and prevalent in the broader market. We will stay focused, in other words. We’ll also make it easy for third parties to integrate FeedBlitz into their sites and services. “

The insights offered in the interview range from how FeedBlitz got started, to how it was marketed to become the top RSS to email service, as well as some interesting ideas on how to use RSS as a marketing vehicle. Hollows also gives these three tips for blog owners that are users or considering use of RSS to email tools:

1) Why not? You’ll get 10-50% circulation boost, push content delivery, better SERP placement, gain lead information, develop metrics, all automatically.

2) Customize your emails to match your branding and messaging, and enable subscriber tracking metrics to measure your activity and effectiveness.

3) Don’t wait. It’s fundamentally free, takes only a minute or so to set up, just do it.

FeedBlitz also offers a blog/RSS search site called, FeedAdvisor which recommends feeds based on subscription patterns. Information about the new features coming up with FeedBlitz as well as the positions they are hiring for are posted on their blog.  The full interview is over at Online Marketing Blog.

FeedBurner Invades blogbeat

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on on 07/18/06

The news is out on the Blogbeat.net site and the FeedBurner blog of the blogbeat acquisition by FeedBurner. On the blogbeat site a comic newspaper “They Daily Analytic” headline reads, “FeedBurner Invasion! Planet blogbeat acquired by FeedBurner Overlords”.

Blogbeat functionality will be incorporated into FeedBurner’s StandardStats service and integration will be complete during fourth quarter 2006. Current blogbeat customers will get a refund as the new service is free. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The addition of blogbeat technology should further enhance FeedBurner’s lead as a RSS resource for bloggers or will it? The reviews I’ve read about blogbeat haven’t been that great. I did a trial a while back and went back to the trusty analytics package I’ve been using for years. Integration into the FeedBurner control panel would be convenient though.

 

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