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Tony Adam

Entrepreneur, Marketer, Aspiring Polymath

SEO
Online Reputation Management DOES matter
April 23, 2009 32
  
     
So, I wake up this morning and see a post written by Darren Slatten completely dismissing the importance of Online Reputation Management. And, I found the post a little comedic at best, so, I'll give him a little bit of credit for that, but, one thing I won't give him credit for is researching the topic. Now, I am not going to attack Darren personally or professionally, because I haven't worked with him, nor do I know his abilities, and, it's just not my place to do so. This is just a post telling you why Online Reputation Management is EXTREMELY important.

Why Online Reputation Management is important

For companies and individuals alike, there is a major need for reputation management. It's the reason that conferences have panels specifically on the topic. That reason is that individuals and businesses alike can be affected by negative reputation. This isn't just an issue of popularity either, it's an issue of brand perception, an individuals brand perception, or even the ability to be hired/fired from a job. Having Online Reputation Management concerns can cause revenue losses and/or income. I really want to state that if you have not dealt with this or have no experience in understanding the Reputation Management space, then please, do not write about why it is not important.

Who are these people?!

Rather than continuing to tell you why ORM is so important, I'll answer the question you might ask: "who are the people or companies that care about online reputation management?" Lets run through a few of these right here to provide a better understanding of why ORM is important:

CEOs

An organization with a CEO that has negative perceptions in the press or social atmosphere can lead to the organization or the brand of that organization having negative sentiments or perceptions. I'm not just talking about the SERPs here, but, in terms of Social Mentions in blogs, microblogs, and/or news results that surround that individual. Did you know 87% of people believe a CEO's reputation reflects on the overall company's reputation?

Political Figures

Think about the number of times have you seen a political figure that gets tons of bad press and has led to the downfall of his/her campaign or election/re-election to office. Social Media is now playing a part in the political climate and because of that we saw now President Obama reach millions of people. But, to take this to the next level, lets look at an example that deals with President Obama. How many of you can say you know that he is a smoker? (Now, I am not judging him on this, but using it as a point of reference). This was downplayed a ton during the elections again because of the fact that his team did not want to create a negative perception of the candidate during the elections. This becoming an issue could have, hypothetically, led to the loss of many votes, especially from anti-cigarette and anti-smoking groups.

Companies and Brands

Companies and the brands of those companies alike experience the most pain when it comes to reputation management. Something that is a hard fact: Companies and Brands with negative search results tied to brand related queries will see a drop in revenue because a user/customer is likely to switch products/services based on that negative result. Even more interesting is that queries relative to corporate figures will also lead to a dip in revenue/sales. It's estimated that 58% of searchers will visit a competing website after seeing negative search results. An example of this is tied to PayPal and my experience working there. PayPal saw 4 of it's top 10 search results tied to the brand query "paypal" go to flame sites. Working internally, there was an estimated figure in net revenue losses per negative search result. That is where that 58% number above comes in...because of this negative reputation caused by search results, users were switching.

Celebrities

Celebrities make the news all the time for the stupid things that they do. Whether it is someone driving drunk or who's sleeping with who, it is all things that affect their personal brand. And, in this case, their personal brand is like that of a business, their personal brand is the most important thing to their livelihood. Because I am all about examples, lets continue down that path and look at the sports figure that we all know I can't stand: Kobe Bryant. He was accused of raping a girl in a hotel room back in 2003/2004. Luckily for Bryant this was during a time when Social Media was not as prominent, but, unluckily for Bryant it still effected him financially. He lost endorsement deals from companies like Nike because of the negative press and negative reputation.

The Job Market

The economic climate is horrible at the moment. Unemployment is at astonishing highs and it's tough to find a job right now. Now, to add to that, recruiters and HR teams are getting saavier and understanding Search and Social Media extremely well. What does that mean for you? It means that Online Reputation Management is important to your personal brand. Because, not only are they looking, but 78% of recruiters research a candidate online and 35% actually reject a candidate based on this. Andy Beal even wrote a post on why your Google Reputation can hurt your career. Creating a personal brand is even more important as researchers and experts in the job market reference this all the time. I can't tell you how many times I'm watching CNN, (and let me tell you, I caught a lot of it while I only had a few channels the last couple months!), and these experts mention Facebook, Google, search, and your personal brand being EXTREMELY important, not just now during economic uncertainty, but, forever.

Don't be silly, Online Reputation Management does matter:

Again, this is another situation where we have someone that is creating a post that is possibly baiting for reactions or what not. Or, we have another person in the industry that is writing something without actually researching the topic. But, please please please people, if you have no experience or expertise on a topic, then stay away from writing it, it just makes you look like you haven't done your research. And, if you look at the stats above, then it's pretty obvious that ORM does matter. **Credit for ORM stats goes to Marketing Pilgrim and Oilman.
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Networking
Keys to building quality relationships and things to avoid
February 18, 2009 27
  
     
I could go on and on for hours about how people abuse relationships because I am sooo passionate about the topic. Within Internet Marketing, I have developed some solid relationships with and would work with them, partner with them, and/or hang out with them at the drop of a dime. The problem here is that there are people that don't understand there is big difference between someone that is a contact vs. someone that you have established a relationship with and the value of that relationship.

Relationships versus Contacts: Quality is the key

I'm a networking machine and I like to meet people, that's just how I am built. I look for ways that I can help people and/or look for ways that we can help each other out. There are a variety of ways to do this, whether through learning and education, partnerships, or referrals. That said, I need to establish relationships with the people that I meet. Granted, I do meet a lot of people and I do have a contact list, but, I am not here to win a "popularity" contest, have a large amount of Twitter followers, or friends on Facebook. To me, that is not what this is all about, there is more to it than sheer numbers. The real value is in the quality of the relationship and not the quantity of contacts. Building up a lot of followers on Twitter or a huge friends list on Facebook is fine, do it if you have to, but realize that you are really just playing a popularity game and not creating opportunities or relationships, especially if your goal is solely in the numbers. I have added a ton of people in the past and then groomed/weeded people in/out of my friends list on Social Platforms and in life, but, the ones that I keep are great relationships and partnerships that have thrived. The people that I have established relationships with have led to great career opportunities, partnerships, knowledge, and most importantly, long lasting friendships. This is not something that you will get by only going for the quantity of contacts and trying to win some sort of popularity contest or ego driven "grader" application.

Relationship & Perception Killers: Social Capital, Trading up & Burning Bridges

As I mentioned above, there is a group of people that are all about ego stroking and popularity contests, it is an inevitable fact of life. With that comes interesting attempts at leveraging "Social Capital" or "Trading up" without the care of burning a bridge. I've run into this many times in my career where I have either been used for access to the relationships I have created, to provide knowledge to the individual, or in a partnership to create opportunity. I bring this up because I am starting to see more and more individuals like this sprouting up within the Internet Marketing, Social Media, and Technology communities. These people go to events, parties, and participate in Social Media sites for the sole purpose of using them for only personal gain, ego stroking, or popularity. The key takeaway is that the individual does not take value in the relationship built, thus trading up and burning a bridge. People like this have no problem "trading up" for new contacts for friendships because they have not vested anything into the current ones they have. They saw a value that could be used or leveraged, took advantage of this, and now have no reason not to burn the bridge that they have created. I can't and never will understand this form of deception and personally am appalled by it. Also, as it related to being popular, there really doesn't leave much time for actually achieving any goals and/or providing value within the industry you are in. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't have fun and enjoy life, but there is a time and place for everything. At the end of the day, in my opinion, it is about what you do and the relationships you've created and not how popular you are. This isn't only related to partying and the offline social scene as well. Think of the time you spend on Twitter and Facebook. If you are spending enormous amounts of time on Social Platforms like these without actually thinking of or caring about the actual value within it, you are wasting away your days. Social Media is about the conversation, but that doesn't mean to over do it, think of it like parties and events, if you are over doing it, when are you actually going to get anything done. Lets put this to the test in the case of a startup. I was having this conversation with someone I respect in the technology industry and it came up. If the owner/founders of a startup are spending ridiculous amounts of time on partying, drinking, only building social capital, and/or rotting away the days on Facebook, it is going to be very hard for your startup to prove value or change the perception of your worth. Imagine the stakeholders and/or people that are funding your business, won't they be questioning the decision making? Assume you have done a "friends and family round" of raising capital, how do you think that bridge is going to hold up if you haven't treated it with respect or as a relationship that you care about. Remember, it is one thing to have fun and enjoy life, but, it's another to be attempting to win a popularity contest. When it comes down to it, using your time wisely, being efficient, and getting shit done is the most important thing in life, bottom line. (Remember, these are my opinions, you can agree and/or disagree as you wish.) Remember to Subscribe to my RSS and Follow me on Twitter to keep the conversation going!
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Analytics
Checking StumbleUpon Referrals and Reviews to specific URLs
February 6, 2009 15
  
     
I was listening in on Office Hours on WebmasterRadio.fm today and the question came up of how to find the referrer URL from StumbleUpon to your site. When you look at Google Analytics the referrer shows up as refer.php or toolbar. This won't take you to the page that refers to your URL, similar to how digg would do something like /movies/some-movie-specific-url. It is a little bit of a process to figuring this out and also keeping in mind that a large percentage of StumbleUpon users view new pages via the Stumble button. This will show you how to track the referrals from the StumbleUpon page linked to your URL. Google Analytics shows you the base analytics data, but again, refer.php and toolbar are shown:

As mentioned, you can't click through from the refer.php to view the actual reviewed page. That just takes you to a generic page that tells you your site is on StumbleUpon. Not much help is it? If you want to check the page that links to you from StumbleUpon you are going to need to make sure that you have the StumbleUpon toolbar. If you don't, download it and install it. Once you've done that, you'll notice there is a little "comment" bubble, which takes you to a page to review a URL. The Review Button is highlighted in red in the top of the image:

That will take you to the page with the StumbleUpon reviews to the URL that you want to track. Once you get there, you will notice your URL stringle after in the address bar: StumbleUpon URL String:

You'll also notice the title of the page, who submitted the page, stumbles, and reviews for the page you are tracking. StumbleUpon Page with Reviews: Again, thats where you are going to find anything that is tied to the page/URL you are attempting to track, but, you have to keep in mind that there are still users that view your site with the Stumble Button in the toolbar. That is basically how StumbleUpon works, you click the button, a new site comes up, and so on. Stumble Toolbar button highlighted in red:

Remember: If you are trying to view the reviews/stumbles and page your URL is linked to from StumbleUpon, then click the review button, but, its important to note the toolbar clicks. Typically the way pages are browsed to via StumbleUpon is through the toolbar. I hope this answers the question for the person that asked the question on Office Hours with Vanessa Fox. If not definitely leave a comment and we'll figure it out from there! Also, If anyone has more detail or would like to add on to this, please leave a comment and I can even update the post, etc. Some Notes from Twitter: - Matt Inman recommended Mint Website Analytics which tracks Viral / Linkbait - Joost De Valk also has some Mint Peppers (Mint Plugins)
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Analytics
Measuring success in SEO and Social Media by determining ROI, Analytics, Metrics up front
February 4, 2009 11
  
     
When you are working at an organization that doesn't have the right analytics, its painful. This also goes for working with clients that don't have the money to buy an analytics package like Omniture or WebTrends. I've been through this on both sides of the organizational and the client side as well. (A couple times it was even my fault! Ooops, my bad! :P ). It is important to understand that not providing metrics and/or reporting or being able to measure certain aspects of your job and/or client work is going to have a negative effect on your overall performance. Before starting any project you're going to be working, whether it's on the In-House or Client side of things, you need to know goals. The most important thing that you can do for yourself and for your "client" is going to be figuring out the goals of any project you are working on. Is it ranking for a certain number of keywords? working on Brand or Reputation Management type things, or increasing traffic by a certain percentage? Once you have determined those goals, start by figuring out what types of analytics and metrics you will need to measure to be successful in your campaigns. Here is a list of the items necessary. Analytics: There is absolutely no excuse now at days for not having any sort of analytics packages to use. There are free solutions like Google Analytics that has everything all the way through Advanced Segmentation, etc. to Omniture with tons of click funnel reporting and more. Important Metrics: Now that you have analytics setup, you need to define the common metrics that you will be reporting on. If you're goal is to drive traffic to a specific part of the site, then you should have a saved query or report that you can click on and get to quickly to perform that task. Also, define other important metrics or metrics that you find valuable to the current role/climit - Time spent on site (per LP) - Click thru Rate - Bounce Rate - Keyword by Landing PAge - etc. Dashboards: If possible, you should setup dashboards that give you an overview of the quick and dirty statistics that you need for the week/month/year. If these are also a click away or triggered by email, then you are golden. This is really not a "crucial" element, but a nice to have. Subscriptions: RSS and Email subscription can be important numbers that you are looking at, especially if one of your many goals is to increase engagement. Feedburner does a good job of tracking RSS subscriptions and you can use other web services or email providers to track email subscription. Social, Brand, and Reputation Monitoring: If you are doing any Social Media or Brand Marketing and/or Reputation Management type work, you are going to want to setup the right type of alerts to monitor the brand and or key terms around your brand. Three tools that I use consistently are Google Alerts, TweetBeep, and Trackur. Trending Metrics: When doing any news related work you are going to want to monitor and measure the trends in the industry. You can do this by monitoring and reporting on Google Insights data for high trafficked terms around a particular event, date, etc. Also, if you are doing something that is going to "create buzz" or a "trending topic" then you are going to want to monitor that carefuly and report on this by showing the ability to create something that went "hot." Reporting: You and your client or group have definied success metrics as I mentioned above at this point. Also, you should have great metrics and dashboards that measure that data. Now that you have all of that, use it to your advantage by creating reports using charts and graphs that show off the progress and/or lack of progress. Create a reporting template and provide analysis: You should start by creating a template for tracking this data and provide some sort of analysis. Sometimes having the data/charts in Excel and only rolling the charts into a powerpoint are a great way to provide analysis and value to just a chart, graph, or list of numbers in a table. I've learned had tons of experience of looking like an idiot or losing income by not having the appropriate metrics and reporting in place for clients and internally at a company. But, I can tell you that there are also organizations out there that flat out don't have this in place or won't be able to put this into place, and, well, you'll just have to deal with it. But, when that situation arises, make sure that you are upfront and straight forward about that and the situation it will cause. If you have done that, it will usually ready the client for the type of things that you will use to measure success.
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SEO
Startup Mistakes: Just launched my site, now I need SEO
January 26, 2009 25
  
     
I have been in SEO and Internet Marketing for some time now and I can't tell you how many sites I have worked with or seen that have come to me after launch and said "I need SEO now!" Heck, I was even victim to that when I was tasked with my first major web project. I worked on getting a site built, did all the research, but didn't think about SEO or Internet Marketing until after the fact, and it really was much more painful that way. The pain of launching a site and then worrying about Internet Marketing efforts is because of the affect on time, money, resources. Also, you take away from great opportunities that are out there for startups in the form of buzz. Building marketing strategies into your product is ever more critical in today's internet marketplace. (I'll stick to SEO on this post to keep a unified theme, but minor semantic tweeks would really speak to entire Internet Marketing strategies.) That said, understanding the mistakes that people like myself have made in regards to SEO will help you to learn and build strategies for obtaining search traffic when launching a new site. Time is money: You've just built your site, you've launched, and now you want to start thinking about SEO. The problem is, all that up front work like site architecture is going to have to be re-done, which puts you behind and could effect your bottom line. Time truly is money and in this case, it is a direct correlation. Engineering efforts and resources: Just as we mentioned in the last example, there are occasions where sites launch and the entire site now need to be re-architected to accomodate SEO. This basically means that you are stopping all your new product development and possibly monetization efforts in order to build in elemetns that should have been done from the get go. The pre-launch and launch buzz!: YOU JUST LAUNCHED your site and generated buzz (crosses fingers, hopefully!) to your startup through mentions in sites like Mashable, Techcrunch, etc. Also, news in the form of publicity and press releases are also an opportunity at gaining momentum on your SEO efforts. If you had your hands on keyword research, created a theme around your site, and had a strategy for external links from all these "news" outlets, you could have turned leveraged some "Buzz Marketing" and turned it into SEO (more specifically Link) Juice. When launching a site it is so easy to get caught up and not think through all the opportunity available to you with SEO. Don't let that happen to your site and think through how you can build SEO and Internet Marketing into your site launch. Save yourself time, money, and effort and use the new product buzz to your advantage by helping you acquire traffic through SEO.
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SEO
4 Main Reasons you should be linking in Blogs
November 25, 2008 9
  
     
We create blogs with tons of great content and we base our content on Social Media that attracts a link or two. (Boy, isn't that the understatement of the year!) We rely on this content to create user engagement and get people to keep coming back. But something that is also just as important as creating great content, is knowing when to link to internal and external resources appropriately.

User Experiences and Topic Depth

Linking to external resources in blogs and articles creates that richer and more complete user experience. Doing so provides the user reading an article more depth and coverage on a topic or news item. Further expanding that, linking to external resources that cover multiple view points, opinions, etc. further validates the credibility of your blog. That is what you are going for, especially to first time readers. Establishing a sense of credibility and in-depth resources and/or content will create an authoritative presence for your blogs/articles.

Blogging Etiquette and Links

The blogosphere and social media circles can run pretty tight, but also be wound pretty darn tight as well. So, by never linking out or linking out, but slapping "nofollow" all over the place can create quite a stir. There is a certain level of etiquette that is expected within blogs/articles. Giving the resource you have linked to credit plays an important role in the level of respect given to your content. The last thing you want to be seen as is yet another site "Hoarding Link Juice." Pro Blogger has a great resource for this called The Etiquette of Linking.

Linking Internally

Internal linking is probably one of the most overlooked factors in blogging, but, it is also my favorite topic of discussion lately. Linking internally is not only highly useful to the user, but extremely important to search engine relevance. Since it is important to provide additional resources in the blog post/article, as mentioned above, it is an added benefit if you can link to your own resources. This is something that can be achieved by creating pattern matching systems in larger organizations. It can even be as simple as educating bloggers, writers, and editors to take a minute to link to internal resources. Looking at an example, lets take a sports blog and an article that could be written about the recent injury to Kyle Orton on the Chicago Bears. Within that article you could link to the "Kyle Orton" bio page and the "Chicago Bears" team page. This is all kinds of SEO Hotness (yes, I just said that!) because you are creating relevance for search engines, since linking and the anchor text are important (if not the most important ranking factor). Internal Linking plays a major role in the overall Internal Link Architecture mix. But, to expand on that, this creates a wholistic user experience to resources that the reader could reference.

Getting Exposure

Finally, and most importantly, linking to external resources will get you more exposure because the blogosphere will notice when you link out, especially to their resources. If you are in a particular niche, you will notice that a lot of link love will be passed back and forth, once you start handing it out. The important thing to remember is that you want to be "top of mind" when bloggers/writers are looking for additional resources. Linking to external resources can do just that, because again, we track who links to us, at least I do. Now, I am not saying to have a free for all and just link to people in hopes that you'll make yourself known. But what this does mean is that it is okay to link externally, because it will be appreciated by those that you link to. You never know who might reciprocate the link love and dish it right back to you by linking back to our content as a result.

Summary: Link...Link...Link

Link to external content to provide relevance and deeper resources. Follow "Blogger Etiquette" by linking externally and not "nofollowing" your entire site. Flow the link equity to deep content and relevant internal pages. And, finally, remember that linking to external resources will get you more exposure and keep you top of mind. Need more information on linking for your business?! See my SEO Consulting Services page to get in touch with me about these services. Or, follow me on twitter to keep the conversation going!
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SEO
AJAX and Non-JavaScript Experiences for SEO friendly websites
August 27, 2008 8
  
     
With the "Web 2.0" world that we live in, companies are inclined to create "snazzy" new AJAX experiences for users. I have been dubbing this the AJAX Dilemma lately because organizations/companies/website owners are creating sites that are not accessible and SEO friendly. They are risking crippling their businesses in the areas of search traffic by not planning SEO into the lifecycle of the product. Ensuring there is a Non-Javascript experience for search engines and accessibility is not a new practice. Creating sites using "Progressive Enhancement" and using "Unobtrusive JavaScript" has been around for quite some time.By creating web standard code and using the methods above, you are not sacrificing SEO for User Experience. This is important to creating search friendly websites because ensurng search engines are able to crawl and index your content is necessary to acquiring search traffic and market share. By not embracing these approaches, you are leaving yourself in a handicap for SEO efforts and leaves you at a competitive disadvantage. In fact, it should not even just be designed on a project per project basis, but should be built into code that takes advantage of web standards and progressive enhancement.

The AJAX Dilemma for SEO

Show and Hide type interactions that are used in content areas throughout a site, like tabs or accordions, can create a crippling effect on the amount of content crawled by search engines, if they are not built correct. This content is typically built with poorly written JavaScript that does not take advantage of Web Standard code. The hidden content areas, when clicked on, will provide a string that follows the URL like, #somehiddencontent. Traditionally search engines ignore everything after the "#" (hash) tag. Here are some examples of these interactions that are poorly written and don't provide a graceful fail when JavaScript is turned off. Here is an example of tabs used on iFoods.tv with JavaScript on: Here is that same interaction, with JavaScript turned off: Notice something different? Of course you do, it is VERY blatently obvious that the entire content within the tabs is completely missing. This is a large opportunity that is missed by ifoodstv.com at getting content not only indexed, but great internal links to deep content. Now, taking a look at the way that iMedix does tabs is a little different, here it is with JavaScript on: Here it is with JavaScript Off, on a different tab: Do you notice a difference here at all? No?! Well, thats right, because there isn't one. Also, to add to that, iMedix is rewriting URLs so that there are no hash tags in the URLs: This is a fantastic job of ensuring that there is not only crawlable content, but crawlable URLs. This is very important, search engines tend to ignore things after hash tags (#) in URLs. This is especially impotant with AJAX since that is typically how urls are created. Jeremy Keith (JavaScript expert extraordinaire) has described some ways to get around the AJAX issues, including has tags, and has described it as Hijax.

The Solution

The solution to creating AJAX that is SEO friendly is to ensure that you are building your site using Progressive Enhancement and Unobtrusive JavaScript. Along with that, url issues that could lead to canonicalization and duplicate content issues can be avoided using methods like Hijax. With the extremely competitive markets out there on the web, this is VERY important. It is possible to create rich user experiences with Ajax that are great for SEO. As an example of how to do this, you can build standard interactions on your site that are accessible and search friendly. (This is how we built any standard interaction at PayPal). Any standard show/hide type interaction can be built using standardized JavaScript APIs. Doing this will create Non-JavaScript versions of interactions that are accessible and search friendly, but along with that will drastically reduce the amount of code that you have to write and increase developer efficiency.

Resources to help with AJAX and SEO

Google Webmaster Central: A spiders view of Web 2.0 Dom Scripting: Hijax Progressive Enhancement with AJAX Follow me on Twitter for more info @tonyadam or subscribe to my feed to keep up to date!
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