Making Communications Buzz

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Collaboration Online: It's Web 2-thiness

While many of us wait for yet another invitation from Google (along with countless thousands of others, I am still waiting for an invitation to sign up for Google Analytics), this time for the honor of signing up for Writely, check out a similar suite of Web 2.0 products from 37signals.

This is what Web 2.0 is all about: Web applications that allow you to post a document that others can view, edit and comment on; manage a project; organize documents; group chat for businesses... All of which can be stored in secure, password protected server space.

Why didn't someone think of this stuff sooner? Because they were busy inovatively defending their various monopolies in court.

Maybe Google should hire away some folks from 37signals to help them get up to speed with Writely.

Search Engine Visibility: All About Name Dropping?

Let me start by saying that this post has nothing to do with the Da Vinci Code. But I want to mention this because "Da Vinci Code" has a huge "buzz" index right now, so a link to anything having to do with "Da Vinci Code" will surely help to elevate the standing of Making Communications Buzz, aka The McBuzzBlog and McBuzz Communications.

Is this shameless self-promotion through name dropping? Yes. Is there any other reason for name dropping? This instance of name dropping is supposed to be humorous.

I mention the Da Vinci Code because one of the things McBuzz Communications does is help clients increase their Web site's ranking in search engines, and, at present, linking to Web sites with a high rank or having sites with a high rank link to you is one of the best ways to do this.

Web logs like Making Communications Buzz are, among other things, a new kind of tool to increase a site's rank because they are updated frequently and they usually include features that automatically tell search engines when they have been updated. Integrating a blog into a standard, more static, "brochure-like" Web site makes the standard site more visible to search engines.

When a blog covers topics with a strong "buzz" index (i.e., lots of people are searching for that content on Google, Yahoo! and MSN) and many highly-ranked blogs link to that blog by referring to it in their posts, or with a permanent link, that blog gets a high rank. A good example is Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion blog. And if you want excellent info on Web marketing and customer conversion, you can follow the rise in rank of Increasing Your Web Site's Conversion Rate, the LunaMetrics Web log by Robbin Steif.

As Wikipedia notes, name dropping is generally seen in a negative light. Question is, where do you draw the line between name dropping on the Internet and talking about important stuff (or at least stuff people think is important) with the good intention of spreading the word or exploring a particular topic for the benefit of readers?

Monday, May 15, 2006

XML Sitemap Generator - What a Great (Free) Tool!

Someday soon this blog will bifurcate into a techie blog and a customer- and prospective customer-facing blog. Till then, here's a techie entry.

Thanks to Robbin Steif and her LunaMetrics Blog for this hot tip. Google Sitemaps is a service from Google that allows anyone to create a specially formatted sitemap file containing all the URLs in a Web site. Google crawlers use the file to index the site. Yahoo! offers a similar service as part of their "Submit Your Site for Free" submission process.

These services are particularly useful for sites with dynamically generated pages.

But how do I create such a file? And who has the time, you ask? Well, (here's the tip) that's where the very clever crew at come in with their free XML Sitemap Generator.

I tried a few other online sitemap generating tools before using this one, and it pretty much blows the others away. Compare the simplicity and ease of use of the Generator to the free Google Sitemap Generator and its lengthy page of instructions. Does this mean Google will be buying soon?

The site includes all the instructions you need to be able to create and upload a sitemap for Google and for Yahoo! in a matter of minutes. So check it out.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Is Google the Only Game in Town for Search?

When was the last time you heard someone say, "If you want to find out more, just 'Yahoo!' it"?

Right. Never. Why? Because nearly 50% of all searches done on the Web use Google. The runner-up is Yahoo!, accounting for about 22% of all searches. (Source: Nielsen//NetRatings )

That is why, when we talk about "optimizing" a Web site for search engines, what we (more than likely) really mean is "making it show up on page 1 or 2 of Google results for certain keywords".

These results are what's known as "organic" search results, because no money is paid to the search site (Google, Yahoo!, MSN) to make your site show up at the top. Your ranking depends solely on the computer algorithmns used by the search site.

Google's algorithms favor sites with content that matches the keywords being searched and that are linked to by other highly-ranked (authoritative?) sites. Google does not screen its organic results, so sometimes searches can have unanticipated or disturbing consequences.

There is another option when it comes to search marketing on the Web: Paid Search Analysis. One form of Paid Search Analysis uses Google AdWords.

In general, here's how Paid Search works: You bid for the rights to specific keywords or key phrases on any number of search sites. When someone does a search using your keyword, your site is listed as a sponsoring link, and you pay again whenever someone clicks on that link.

A consultant like McBuzz Communications analyzes how your keywords are "converting" (bringing people to your Web site) and recommends changes to overall budgets, increases or decreases to keyword bids, additional keywords and keywords that should be dropped.

These results have nothing to do with how your site ranks in organic search results.

Whether you choose to focus on search engine optimization for organic results, or on paid search — or on a blend of the two (probably the best choice) — it makes sense to go with Google. Just remember, 50% versus 22%.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Are Blogs Really "Essential" to a Good Career?

Here is an article from the Boston Globe: "Blogs 'essential' to a good career". The title tells you everything you need to know. Question is: Is this true? Answer: Well, no. Not exactly.

There are still plenty of other ways to advance your career: networking by going to conferences or joining the Lion's Club or whatever — the old-school stuff.

Sure, even if you are a computer programming genius or a successful entrepreneur, it's good to engage in a variety of networking forums and events.

But, here's the conclusion I have come to: You can start blogging now, or you can start a few years from now — when most of your competitors have already got it wired.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Web Site Marketing: Define Your Terms

Site optimization: work in progress.
Here is a Web site home page with a fundamental SEO shortcoming: The term of utmost importance to the site's content, project alignment, is used twice on the home page but it is not clear what the term means: The Outset Consulting Group Home Page (Sample).

Sometimes, however, there is a quick fix when it comes to defining terms — and also optimizing a site for crawlers like Google's Googlebot. On this site, project alignment is defined (more or less) on an interal page: The Outset Consulting Group: Value Proposition.

The quick fix: Make the term project alignment on the home page a link to the Value Proposition page: The Outset Consulting Group Home Page (Revised).

This does two things:

1. It helps human site visitors find the definition of project alignment immediately. (Whether or not this defnition is an effective one, and whether it should appear on the home page itself, are different questions, to be addressed in another post.)

2. It provides a link within the site for the term project alignment, which shows crawlers like Googlebot that the term is significanct.