Seven Ways to Enhance a Website's Link Popularity

Many times we are asked by our clients questions like “What’s wrong with my website?” or “Is it adequate to support the interaction with bloggers?”  Achieving link popularity (i.e., having many people who link to your website) is very important, as it is one of the most important parameters used by search engines to build their result rankings; if one such adage existed, we could say that “One incoming link is worth 1,000 tweets”.   Experience shows that a very effective way to address this issue is by defining as precisely as possible the functional specifications (i.e., what we need the website to do), leaving to the client’s IT department to figure out how they will do this, keeping into account whatever technical and policy restrictions they might have.   Functional Specifications 1. Channels – Are we making it easy for people to recognize themselves in our website structure? In other words, was the structure designed to service our company or to address the information needs of our visitors? Is information clearly categorized or am I asking visitors to wade through the mix of all I have to offer to find what’s relevant for them? Think of the difference between generalist TV and satellite TV if you need inspiration; of course, deciding which channels requires understanding the needs and behavioural profiles of our (potential) visitors, which in itself may represent a challenge.

2. RSS Granularity – RSS is a very powerful “push” mechanism that allows our content to be syndicated to the outside world, thereby establishing a more permanent bond with visitors: even when they are not on our site, an RSS feed alerts them about the fact we have published some new information we believe might be relevant. The key word here is “relevant.” Nobody wants to hear when a company updates the biographies of its board members (unless I’m an investor or someone who’s interested in corporate governance). Here’s another example. If a person came to a site looking for the technical specifications of alloy wheels for the Fiat Punto, it’s probably pointless to alert them to the fact we have a new design available for the Maserati GranTurismo. So if we did our channels definition well, each channel should have its own thematic RSS feed that makes sure I only get the information I want. Ditto for any other mechanism the website offers for navigating content (see below #3 and #6).

3. Search RSS – Every website on the planet has a search function; but only a small fraction offer an RSS feed from the results page. This is an untapped opportunity for many because it’s capitalizing on something that our visitors told us they are interested in. See my Puntos example in #2.

4. Permalinks – Many websites serve their content using a database back end to quickly access the information; this is very efficient, but it sometimes means that each page does not have a static URL, but instead a dynamic URL is generated with each query. For social media use this is a deadly issue, because it means that all deep links to my website content generate 404 errors every time they are followed. Bloggers learned to recognize this and therefore refrain from deep-linking content on sites that use dynamic URLs.

5. Embedding – Pictures and videos are often used by bloggers to support a post, but they are much more likely to do so if the resources are legally and technically usable. From a technical standpoint, we must make it very easy for bloggers to embed our material, which means providing embedding code snippets (please see YouTube or Flickr for an example). From a legal standpoint, pictures and videos should be properly licensed (e.g., through the use of creative commons licenses or equivalent).

6. Tagging – However carefully we may have selected our channels, there will always be cases where something fits in more than one channel, or doesn’t really fit in any of the existing channels. The solution for this is tagging, allowing qualifiers to be added to any piece of content (text, picture, video, podcasts) to make it easier to find relevant information. This is especially important for nontextual content, which would otherwise escape the internal search engine. Tagging should not be open to visitors, but should be usable ALSO as an RSS feed and should be easily accessible (i.e., clicking on a tag queries the website for all the content thus tagged).

7. Newsletters – While powerful, RSS is not universal, and there might be visitors to our website who do not use or are familiar with RSS feeds. It is therefore a good idea to provide an alternative mechanism: such as an e-mail newsletter. Users should be able to select the topics they would like to keep abreast as well as the periodicity of the newsletter. Format-wise, while PDF offers the absolute guarantee of layout fidelity, the vast majority of e-mail clients are able to digest properly written HTML. Obviously, the newsletter must be powered by an automated system which collects information from the website content management system based on the user profile and automatically sends the newsletter with the appropriate periodicity.

Continue Reading

Word of Mouth Marketing Association Conference 2010

Word of Mouth Marketing Association Conference 2010

A group report from Joe Becker along with Ben Foster, Ketchum Vice President and Digital Strategist, and Stephanie Miller, Ketchum Social Media Specialist.The 2010 Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) School of WOM was recently held in Chicago, and the social media community has been buzzing about trends, key learnings and the most-talked-about tweets. The three-day event featured best practices and case studies from some of the world’s top brands, including Coca-Cola, Best Buy, FedEx, Proctor & Gamble, Google, the IOC and Kraft Foods.

  The School of WOM is led by a “faculty” of industry experts from agencies such as Zócalo Group’s Paul Rand. Nearly 300 people attended, and more than 2,500 tweets were captured with the #WOMMA hashtag. Below represents some of the most talked about tweets, which inherently represent key takeaways and trends. 

Continue Reading

Best People or Best Ideas?

Best People or Best Ideas?

  If you have to choose between ideas and people – which do you choose? What’s more important? To have the best ideas to solve your problem or to have the best people on your team?     Ed Catmull, Oscar Award winner and President of the Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios has the answer: People. His reasoning makes so much sense. An incapable team can demolish any idea. But a good team can make something out of anything – even a flimsy idea.   

Continue Reading

Globish Friends

I must have half a dozen friends who have told me they learned English by watching the American TV sitcom, “Friends.” 


My buddy Akmal from Uzbekistan even has the accent from his favourite character, Joey. (I have to say it was a little odd to hear him say “Hey! Fuggetaboutit!” — perfectly in character, in a street market in downtown Tashkent … but I digress.)


This occurred to me while reading the reviews of what I believe will be the first book I download on my spiffy new Father’s Day present. The book is called “Globish,” by Robert McCrum. Its premise is that English has now become the world’s default language, birthed by non-native English speakers who found they could communicate through an exchange of a basic vocabulary of English words. 


“Globish” (so named by a French former IBM executive) is “overwhelmingly an economic phenomenon,” according to a recent piece in the New Yorker — “(It’s) the language of Singaporean businessmen closing deals with the help of a small arsenal of English words, and of European officials calming financial markets by uttering stock phrases on television.” A review in the International Herald Tribune called Globish ‘”the worldwide dialect of the third millennium” sustained by, McCrum asserts, “the Internet, global marketing, mass consumerism, instant communications, international soccer, and texting and (Mr. McCrum is English) cricket and the legacy of Winston Churchill.”


At dinner in Dubai last week, the new client prospect I was meeting stopped herself in mid-sentence, laughing, no doubt, at the giant question mark hanging over my head. She paused to explain two Arabic words she had been sprinkling liberally into our conversation. She’s an Egyptian and has lived in seven different cities, picking up phrases and languages at every stop. 


I would argue she is also fluent in Globish. “Yanni” means “it means” and “massalan” means “for example,” she explained. 


My friend Hania (MD of Ketchum Raad Middle East) then added, “When you text “yanni” one does so by typing ya3ni. Using certain numbers such as 3 is the new Arabic way to express letters that not do not have an equivalent in English … such as 7 for the heavy Arabic ‘h’ in words like 7abibi [my love] — a very common word in Levant that we use for all! Also 2 for the ‘a’ in the middle of words sounding like ‘a’ in ‘at’.  For example, “Ya 2allah” = “Oh God”, another common phrase used when frustrated or sad. A third word commonly used among Arabs while speaking in English:  “Yalla” for “Come on” or “Let’s go.” This applies mostly to the new generation – it’s like the SMS lingo of LOL, cul8r.


“So — Ya 2allah! 2 hot for pool 2day.  Yalla … I have 2 go 3abibi!”


Confused? Well, take heart. There’s still plenty of room for retro language with the next generation, apparently.  


Yesterday, while watching the World Cup with my England-born daughter, we were whooping it up after a cracker of a goal by Brazil. She turned to me and asked “Hey Dada, what’s the word that Americans use when they’re excited about something?”


“Awesome?” I ventured.


“Yes – that’s it! Awesome!”


 


 

 

Continue Reading

The Culturalist

Our CulturaLUST of the week is Jonah Hill for being able to pull off two comedic rolls this weekend — one on the lighter side in  Get Him to the Greek as Russell Brand’s well-meaning sidekick the other on the darker side in Cyrus as a jealous son weary of his mother’s suitor. We hope he’s laughing all the way to the box office at haters that thought he was a one-trick pony. Our CulturalBUST of the week is the overexposure of Megan Fox – talent, check, beauty, check, sense of humor, check — so why can we only talk about her hot factor? Come on, people, if we only want to talk about pure hotness, we have a fresh season of True Blood ahead of us. For more cultural picks, check out last week’s issue of the Culturalist.

Continue Reading

When an Idea Is Bad

When an Idea Is Bad

“We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward.” Those words, calling for the quiet burial of the Chevy name, recently ricocheted off the computer screens of thousands of General Motors employees, creating an emotional tsunami among Chevy loyalists. Needless to say, the counsel expressed in this General Motors internal memo was soon branded a bad idea by the company’s top brass. Like the New Coke, the Edsel, the Flobee, and Pizza Cones, this “bury the Chevy name” farrago joins a pantheon of bad ideas. 

Continue Reading

Does Social Media Matter?

Research, or any recent conversation with a marketer will tell you that social media is one of the marketing hottest topics. What’s working? What’s not? What’s the latest? How do I put it in context?  That’s why Ketchum’s Brand Marketing Practice decided to sponsor BlogHer’s annual social media study, aptly named the 2010 Social Media Matters Study. Findings from the study will help marketers better understand where to focus online, especially when it comes to purchase recommendations. Key findings include:

Social media is growing with over three-quarters (77%) of adults 18+ online now participating weekly or more.
3 in 4 women online are active social media users.
Blogs are second only to Internet search as the preferred media source for product purchasing information for BlogHer Network users.
Half of the total U.S. online population and 81% of the BlogHer Network audience turn to blogs for advice and guidance.
Men are just as active as women in social media, but they prefer different destinations (YouTube vs. Facebook or social gaming).

  Does social media matter? Just if you want consumers to buy or recommend your product.

Continue Reading

South Africa Calling!

South Africa Calling!

Bafana! Bafana! Bafaaana! This was the sound of thousands of ordinary South Africans who heeded the call of a local radio station and some corporate sponsors to come out and show their support for the national team. Now, it is pretty much accepted that our boys are not going to hold the solid gold symbol of the ultimate sporting accolade up high, but that was not on the point on Wednesday last week.     The Sandton Bafana Bafana parade. 

Continue Reading

Give Yourself a New Point of View

Give Yourself a New Point of View

When it comes to generating new ideas,  a lot depends – literally – on your point of view. As I stand looking out of my office window, I can see familiar sights:  Lake Michigan, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, a small group of people gathered in the shade of a tree; 12 tennis courts; two groups of people playing with a Frisbee; and the architecture and sculptures of Millennium Park. I could use any of these as springboards to new ideas. It’s like a math equation:  Your Creative Challenge + Any Piece of Inspiration = A Brand New Idea. Oops, did I just suck all of the fun out of creativity by comparing it to math? 

Continue Reading

Feels Like a Grind? Stress Implications of Creative Work

What’s happening to those people who have been described by Richard Florida as the “creative class” and who have been — according to the urban theorist’s global best-selling book — on the rise: Growing in number, social scale and influence on how today’s and tomorrow workplace will look like. This was in 2003. Florida then traced the fundamental theme that for him ran through a host of seemingly unrelated changes in American society: the growing role of creativity in our economy. That sounded good, and almost like a good way out of what another academic, Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, calls the “Toxic Workplace.” According to his research, we can observe a significant trend in today’s work environments with overwork and job stress leading to increases in smoking, alcohol abuse and high blood pressure, while layoffs contribute to depression, violence, and even lowered life expectancy. The “disease” of the time, which is a time of dramatically accelerating change, economic pressure and increasing psychological stress, is a phenomenon called burnout. The less freedom to set our own work pace that we have, the less self-direction we have in defining what we want to do, the less choices we have, and the less autonomy we have in our work environment, the more emotional exhaustion, occupational indifference and diminished competence we can observe. The so-called creative class, the people working in more stimulating and creative environments, in self-directed teams or on their own at their own chosen speed, therefore, should not be infected by the ubiquitous burnout virus. All wrong, as we now learn from Sociology professor Scott Schieman from the University of Toronto, who recently published his research findings in Social Sciences Research and looked at the demands and the stress implications of creative work. Schiemann and his team measured the extent to which people engaged in creative work activities using data from a national survey of more than 1,200 American workers. They asked participants questions like How often do you have the chance to learn new things? How often do you have the chance to solve problems? How often does your job allow you to develop your skills or abilities? And, How often does your job require you to be creative? They used responses to these questions to create an index that they label “creative work activities.” In their publication, the authors describe three core sets of findings:

People who score higher on the creative work index are more likely to experience excessive job pressures, feel overwhelmed by their workloads, and more frequently receive work-related contact (e-mails, texts, calls) outside of normal work hours;
In turn, people who experience these job-related pressures engage in more frequent “work-family multi-tasking” — that is, they try to juggle job- and home-related tasks at the same time while they are at home;
Taken together, these job demands and work-family multi-tasking result in more conflict between work and family roles — a central cause of problems for functioning in the family/household domain

In his book from 2003, Richard Florida concluded that “It is time for the creative class to grow up — boomers and Xers, liberals and conservatives, urbanites and suburbanites — and evolve from an amorphous group of self-directed while high-achieving individuals into a responsible, more cohesive group interested in the common good.” It took just seven years for this group to evolve into one that is suffering from burnout while balancing the demands of work and life.

Continue Reading