Jump to content

Cre8asiteforums Internet Marketing
and Conversion Web Design


Photo

Bang, Bang,


  • Please log in to reply
21 replies to this topic

#1 iamlost

iamlost

    The Wind Master

  • Site Administrators
  • 4609 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 02:03 PM

I've been waiting for the opening shot of consolidation in the search industry (SI), excluding SEs, and I think it just went 'bang'. Actually it went 'bang, bang'.

For years most firms have had a site as official interface and a blog for marketing, eg:
KeyRelevance (Christine Churchill)
* Site
* Blog

TopRank Online Marketing (Lee Odden)
* Site
* Blog

Or have a forum for marketing, eg:
High Rankings (Jill Whelan)
* Site
* Forum

There have been a few developments as some individuals moved to leverage their skills and knowledge:
* Aaron Wall had been using a blog to market his product, a well received eBook. He changed the product from a publication to a subscription format, while still using the blog as a marketing device.

* Rand Fishkin and Gillian Muessig built a typical search service firm on the back of an atypical marketing effort via a site and a blog. They then switched business models to a premier subscription service while retaining the open blog and limited search tools as marketing vehicles.

* Danny Sullivan (and friends) developed an SI article and news site with a detached commentary SM discussion site, both likely designed as cost recovery marketing drivers for a continuing series of worldwide conferences. An interesting updating of the Search Engine World and WebmasterWorld models.

The first bang:
Jim Boykin, of We Build Pages and link ninja fame brought onboard Lisa Barone, Rhea Drysdale, and Patrick Sexton (does he always go for the double female advantage?).

The second bang:
Jeff Quipp, Search Engine People.

...and make SEO-Scoop one of the hubs for information in the search and social media industries ... the HuffingtonPost of the search industry if you will.

Search Engine People Purchases SEO-Scoop.com

Note: corrected a speeling error, SEP could use an editor. :)


These two firms are not merely looking to grow or adapt but to dominate. It will be interesting to see how each leverages, or not, the current economic stall.

And how the rest of the SI responds.

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

Yup, definitely three bags worth.

#2 bwelford

bwelford

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Site Administrators
  • 9008 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 02:26 PM

It's certainly exciting to see this new 'Huffington Post' come out of the starting blocks. Knowing the characters involved I'm sure we are all in for some good interactions.

However a few thoughts ... The saving grace in all this is that Google still indexes web pages one at a time. :)

OK you have to have the back-links but if you have something that's worth saying and you write the appropriate Title and Meta Description, then your web page may be the one that gets the clicks and some of the traffic.

The counter-argument of course is the social media aspect of all this. Does social media work by groups or by individuals?

#3 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13527 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 02:34 PM

What fascinates me is that the "BANG" in the SEO/M industry isn't including user testing, usability testing, functional testing, conversions testing, requirements gathering and documentation, etc.

Of those on this list, I know of 2 companies who understand ALL those things and include those services with their SEO services.

There are 2 more who offer a version of usability testing in-house but neither offers advanced usability services and neither of them does application functional/UI testing.

The rest don't pursue usability or dabbled it in briefly and possibly don't understand the business logic behind it for marketing and seo clients.

Which is a real shame because the future is people and human computer interaction via the Internet.

I seem to fight tooth and nail to get companies to understand how important usability site changes are to their conversion rates. In one week, one of my clients, after applying just the basics from my cheapest possible site review, told me his sales went up 34%!

Having seen the light, he's hired me for some REAL full blow usability work now that he knows it makes a difference. He studies his stats, hires advanced designers, gets usability consulting and is in no way letting this economy slow him down.

The "BANG", as I see it, and the future of marketing is less emphasis on tricking search engines and more time and skills put towards credibility, branding, trust, networking, partnerships (such as DD and SEP) and all out FULL THROTTLE attention to clients who care about the user experience.

:mr_rant:

#4 iamlost

iamlost

    The Wind Master

  • Site Administrators
  • 4609 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 03:26 PM

Which is a real shame because the future is people and human computer interaction via the Internet.

I quite agree.
BUT
HOWEVER
Don'tcha just love agreement with qualifiers? :)

What is happening at the moment is movement within the search industry. Which is predicated on the requirements of the search engines, particularly Google. And the SEs do not care about many of the things that actual human visitors do or those that promote human conversion outside their own applications.

What I see happening is movement for strategic postioning of assets and for marketing of enhanced search services. That most (I am not pointing any particular fingers) search industry firms focus on search to the detriment of other traffic sources is because SEO/SEM is easier to sell to clients than holistic traffic generation and requires expertise in only one to a half dozen similar traffic originators.

And if most do not consider other traffic sources (SM is generally only used for link generation and traffic surges that don't convert but that look good on graphs) why would you be surprised they fail to consider usability? Heck, most of them have a hard time with ye olde default, traffic conversion; the point of the entire exercise.

All of the organisations I've referenced (and many more I did not) are chock full of bright and capable people. Who appear to be knowledgeable and skilled at what they do. You and I might like to see a more holistic approach but that is currently a rare offering, more spoken about than done.

The industry, such as it is, is seeing two companies in metamorphosis. What will emerge, and when, is rather like going to a butterfly garden. Most intreguing.

#5 SEOigloo

SEOigloo

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 2100 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 03:33 PM

:fireworks: :fireworks: :fireworks:

I'd like to congratulate our Ruud and our Donna on their deal. The Huffington Post of search? That sounds pretty intriguing, my friends! I'll be really excited to watch this take shape, and I think it's cool that we'll have both North American countries represented in the mix there.

My big question...will SEO Scoop remain purple? :)

Iamlost -
Can you share some of your further views about the potential effects you are citing of consolidation? I'd like to better understand your point.

Miriam

#6 iamlost

iamlost

    The Wind Master

  • Site Administrators
  • 4609 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 03:40 PM

My big question...will SEO Scoop remain purple?

You and I think alike :)

#7 Ruud

Ruud

    Hall of Fame

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 4887 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:08 PM

At Search Engine People we're fortunate to have somebody working in-house with over seven years of usability experience. She's been responsible for the recent complete overhaul of our website.

At the same time -- and I have to stress that I'm talking on personal title here -- the SEO/SEM/webdev/usability/etc. field is so intertwined that it's easy to lose focus on the core product. So we have webdev companies which also do Seo, marketing companies which also do usability, etc.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that. If you can handle this expansion with quality and integrity and remain standing in the market, all the more power you (generic).

I know that that Search Engine People we've been tempted at times to expand into web development as well as other areas. Each time when that comes up we do a little soul-searching and Jeff, who's a brilliant businessperson, tries to figure out if this benefits Search Engine People, the people working for Search Engine People, the people relying on Search Engine People, and the customer. Almost always it fails at least on of these tests. Almost always somebody somewhere is better served with a dedicated professional.

I think that at first customers pay us to deliver qualified traffic to the doors of their website. How these doors are best installed and how this entrance is made accessible to as many people as possible, I think this is beyond what the SEO company should be doing. Initially...

#8 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13527 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:25 PM

How these doors are best installed and how this entrance is made accessible to as many people as possible, I think this is beyond what the SEO company should be doing. Initially...


And there's the rub :) I hear this constantly!

If I could play with it for a minute...the crux of most SEO companies is to:

1. get a site into search engines

2. get a site's pages indexed by se's

3. promote/market sites via SE's, SM, off-line advertising, PR, etc.

95. They're not concerned with the user experience for their clients' site visitors/clients/users/customers.

What I'm saying is that if I was given a choice on whom to hire, I would choose the company that offers

1,2, 3, AND 95...because I would want the most bang for my marketing buck :)

As in, selling a broken, poorly designed site is not going to keep a company in business for very long, one way or another. And if they go out of business because their site is crappy, they no longer need SEO/M services.

:cower:

#9 iamlost

iamlost

    The Wind Master

  • Site Administrators
  • 4609 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:27 PM

Can you share some of your further views about the potential effects you are citing of consolidation? I'd like to better understand your point.

I provided some background on how certain known firms and individuals occupy their industry space and viewed against that canvas WBP and SEP are 'moving on up'. Not simply more of the same or with a marketing twist but an elbowing movement for breadth within the status quo.

Exactly what WBP envisions is unclear but Mr. Boykin is obviously poised for a major transformation - he does not need Barone, Drysdale, and Sexton to scrounge for links. He may stop at being just another 'full service' search firm or he may not.

Mr. Quipp's comment about seo-scoop is pure going for the brass ring. Head to head against YOUmoz and the SEOmoz blog, SEL and Sphinn, while remaining a search services firm is unprecedented. Of course there is room for many at the top, this isn't a 'how many SEOs on a pin' argument. However, if from the outset, he plans to dominate search as the HuffPost does news blogging that is a major commitment to change. To dominance.

The magic number in most industries is seven. Seven top dogs. To date there really haven't been any. There are probably two dozen top search firms that are reasonably well known and another several dozen equally good that remain largely unrecognised - because there is far more work than skilled workers.

No one has needed or wanted to push. I may be wrong but I view the recent WBP and SEP moves as major pushes for recognition, for elbow room, for dominance. Of course, things may just settle back down to business as usual. So now I am watching for the push back from any or all of those 'established' competitors. If and how that occurs will tell a tale. As will where Messieurs Boykin and Quipp decide to go and where to stop.

Like I said: show time! Three bags full.

#10 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13527 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:32 PM

I want to add that I know of one company on iamlost's list (not SEP) that is "training" an SEO to do usability rather than hiring a usability specialist with experience.

Which brings me to my second concern of late, and that's in-house services claiming to be "expert". Some of the feedback I've been getting from 2 of my talks at SEO conferences is that I'm FAR and AWAY ahead of the pack and the audience has no idea what to do with me. They're still back at the "What is usability?" stage and yet, their companies are sending them out to learn usability to do in-house because they feel they can't afford consultants like me.

If companies knew precisely what they were getting...I shudder sometimes.

One person I spoke with today advised me to "tone down my expertise" for my Chicago talk at SES.

#11 iamlost

iamlost

    The Wind Master

  • Site Administrators
  • 4609 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:44 PM

One person I spoke with today advised me to "tone down my expertise" for my Chicago talk at SES.

Never.
Ever.

OK?
Glad that is settled.

What you are 'selling', and when speaking 'advertising', is your expertise. Set the bar as high above your competition as possible.

The more just like them you appear the less they will feel a need for your services. There is, however, a fine line: you can not give away your skill but beware sharing too much knowledge - for free.

#12 bwelford

bwelford

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Site Administrators
  • 9008 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:49 PM

It struck me, Kim, that if you brought along a panel of three typical users to any of your talks and allowed them to comment on any of the points you were making, that could be a very telling demonstration of what is really important.

I think so many of the techy experts are product-driven rather than customer-centric or user-centric. If they too had that panel of three typical users to test out any of the points they were making, we might see a different industry make-up. What's the point in impressing your equally techy geek friends if it doesn't work for the ultimate customers.

#13 DonnaFontenot

DonnaFontenot

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Site Administrators
  • 3803 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 05:14 PM

Some of the feedback I've been getting from 2 of my talks at SEO conferences is that I'm FAR and AWAY ahead of the pack and the audience has no idea what to do with me.


Ya know what that says to me Kim? That says to me that you need to be marketing your services at the Targets and Walmarts of the world. The companies that know how important usability is because they are being sued over it, and they WANT someone who knows their sh*t, and they can pay BIG BUCKS for that someone - which of course is YOU.

#14 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13527 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 05:39 PM

and they can pay BIG BUCKS for that someone


Poor iamlost...this thread got hijacked by Kimmy ranting :)

But DD let's me try and tie it back...let me try and give another example of possibly a BANG with a short fuse.

This is regular problem in corporations.

1. Big company, gigantic marketing budget, popular product

2. Can order products online, has call center and live help, 24/7

3. Site is one big database driven application that takes employees in several departments to run and maintain.

4. SITE USABILITY SUCKS

5. NO user testing...maybe dabbling in surveys here and there and focus groups

6. Has functional QA testing but NO Usability QA testing

7. Management won't consider usability or usability consulting. Tries to pretend they "have enough usability" when someone like me can plainly illustrate they absolutely do not.

I keep hitting the management level brick wall of death. They absolutely refuse to understand the value and in Targets case, only did the bare minimum required to satisfy the lawsuit but did not branch out to better overall user experience design.

Which is why I keep dropping huge hints that whatever company truly "gets it" regarding the connection between usability and marketing, they will survive. There will be no dotcom crash II for them.

#15 Ruud

Ruud

    Hall of Fame

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 4887 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 06:31 PM

(Again, speaking on personal title)

When it comes to SEO companies drawing a line; you have to... somewhere, some time. You simply can't do it all. And the more that you try to do so, the more you dilute your own brand, loose your own focus.

A responsible SEO company, one was even a modicum of integrity, has the client's best interest in mind. As such, such a company will always advise their client to the best of their abilities and, when faced with the limits of their abilities, suggest outside professional help.

Is that how it has to be? Or how it has to stay?

No, I'm all for change in this area. I would like to see nothing more than SEO companies, Search Engine People included, have the ability to do it all. I'd love for us to be well oiled machines that handle both the online and offline marketing of the company, design and execute their website, increase their conversion through usability, and, honestly, much much more.

Part of what IAMLOST is talking about is that we see precisely those kind of power houses emerge in the current market. And they don't come about from just pure growth, a lot comes and has to come from acquisitions.

Increasingly traditional advertising and marketing companies are making their way into SEO and SEM. They too will end up also offering additional services such as usability and, yes, web design and web development.

When, like Search Engine People, you've grown sufficiently then you can also offer these additional services, like we do with usability. But initially you can't be the handyman: you have to be the plumber or electrician. A specialist. The Specialist.

As for your experiences during those conferences, Kim... you know those panels where they assess websites in their issues life, right there and then? You should do something like that. Just a quick, clean, look and see; your site doesn't offer it to the optimum because this and that.

As for hitting a brick wall... maybe the magic is in the wording? Call it "convertibility" instead of "usability" :)

#16 SEOigloo

SEOigloo

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 2100 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 06:52 PM

One person I spoke with today advised me to "tone down my expertise" for my Chicago talk at SES.

:)

Seriously? That's crazy, Kim. For goodness' sakes, they've brought you on because you are an expert. Gosh, I hate it when people want to dumb things down. How are people supposed to get smarter if everything being shoved at them has been dumbed down?

That being said, if the person who gave you this gem of advice has been to hear you speak, maybe what they are saying has value and the problem is that they're not saying what they mean well.

Do they mean that the technical terms are beyond them?

That more real-life examples need to be given?

That the contents of a presentation need to be broken down into smaller, more easy-to-swallow chunks?

Telling you to be less knowledgeable is simply bad advice, but concise constructive criticism could turn out to be useful feedback, particularly considering your experiences with nearly everyone still trying to understand what usability is.

#17 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13527 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 08:12 PM

if the person who gave you this gem of advice has been to hear you speak, maybe what they are saying has value and the problem is that they're not saying what they mean well.


Indeed, it was feedback from someone who saw my SEO/Usability talk in NY. Felt I was forced to squish what I wanted to say into 20 minutes and I had great stuff he wanted to know, but having to rush through it was a pain. And...he wondered if the audience even knew what usability even was. He found me to be passionate and expert...but forced to hold back.

Its sad because SES Chicago has too many of us on a panel for SEO/Usabilty and I get 8-10 minutes.
What do SEO's want to know in 8 minutes that will help them with usability?

And...getting back to iamlost again, do marketing companies even WANT to know? The acquisition of DD's site by SEP is an expansion and narrowing of focus for them...making them truly stand out.

Is it fair for me to say HEY WAIT! Where's the usability side of the equation?

I'm not convinced it is but I feel compelled to keep bringing up the point that sooner or later, marketing clients will need the user experience side.

Did a bit of writing on it The Shots Heard Around the Search Marketing Industry Will Bang Better with Usability, linking here, so maybe "iamlost" can get some more input besides me ranting my fool head off

:dramaqueen:

#18 sanity

sanity

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6889 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 10:40 PM

Great thread. And some great analysis - thanks iamlost!!

I can't go past this:

As in, selling a broken, poorly designed site is not going to keep a company in business for very long, one way or another. And if they go out of business because their site is crappy, they no longer need SEO/M services.

Kim I hear you. I can't justify trying to just send more traffic to a site I know won't convert. It's like adding gold leaf to a poo. It's still a poo.

I thought we were getting somewhere as an industry a few years ago - focusing on design, usability and search to create a site that provides a return but lately we seem to have slipped back a bit. Maybe in the economic times it will become important again.

#19 A.N.Onym

A.N.Onym

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Invited Users For Labs
  • 4003 posts

Posted 12 November 2008 - 11:00 PM

Interesting.

In these recent consolidation efforts I see, finally, a trend that SEO is becoming marketing. It is not enough to get SE traffic, but to build reputation.

I think Jim's and Jeff's efforts to acquire an authority will allow them to charge more without increasing workload or hiring substantially more people, while allowing them to enter new markets and gain market share.


As Kim ranted, I don't see SEOs grasping usability, though some try to explore it.

Kim, you should ask yourself, "What would Ammon do?" (or better yet, call Ammon :)).

Ammon would probably craft a killer case study that would show:
- how quick, simple tweaks brought great conversions
- by how much the SEO metrics rose
- how it helped to increase overall customer value (including amount of referrals)

Bringing this client to the conference is a good idea, I guess.

If I were you, I'd:
- focus on the basic steps from SEO to usability
- explain everything precisely, so it becomes clear how usability helps SEO (instead of A->C, go A->B->C).
- use *simple* words
- illustrate with real examples with good numbers (the one you cited in this thread works)
- translate your speak to the SEO language (how it helps SEO metrics and SEOs themselves)

For example, what SEOs need to know about usability is:
- usability is what converts traffic to customers
- SEO clients need customers, not just traffic, because it is the customers, who pay money
- the more customers your client has, the more happy he is and the more he uses your SEO+usability services
- usability often helps SEO

Usability helps SEO, because it is about
- using relevant words in page titles, navigation and anchor text (that's keyword research and internal linking)
- providing useful and relevant information to the visitors (that's internal linking)
- making it easier to convert by using simpler forms, better landing pages (more profit, sometimes 30-150% more, from the same traffic = that's gold for SEOs and their clients, if they can give their clients this advantage)
- answering all questions the visitor has on all pages (that's also better content, which leads to more long tail traffic that converts better)
- providing relevant information and building a relationship with the customer (targeted traffic, repeat visitors, higher conversions)

As you can see, the words in brackets is what SEOs do and what they'll want to get more of.

For me, the biggest benefit of the usability side to SEO (aside from marketing, which I think is more important), is that by having happier customers with more money, they can continue hiring me to do SEO and usability, thus giving me a lot more work, than otherwise.

This is important in the time of the crisis, of course, because increasing traffic with SEO is relatively slow, you can boost profits by 30-50% in a relatively short amount of time with usability.

If you aren't booked for a couple of years after this talk, I'll lose faith in the SEO industry :)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 12 November 2008 - 11:06 PM.


#20 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13527 posts

Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:02 AM

As Kim ranted, I don't see SEOs grasping usability, though some try to explore it.

Kim, you should ask yourself, "What would Ammon do?" (or better yet, call Ammon tongue.gif).


Yura, you're a great friend!

I agree. I can tell more and more web designers and marketers are exploring usability and even understand some of the logic, but still don't grasp the value and how it ties into their work.

Ammon DID coach me for a long time :) Being a marketer, Ammon tried to push me into thinking and acting like one...but sadly, I'm not a natural marketer. I'm a teacher. I'm comfortable working my butt off and being in the trenches rather than being out front. It's been taking a long time to get to this point, where I'm willing to speak at conferences.

One of my more recent clients is gathering his before and after data for a case study for me.

#21 SEOigloo

SEOigloo

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 2100 posts

Posted 13 November 2008 - 03:36 PM

Iamlost - Just wanted to say thanks for coming back and responding to my request for further information. I appreciate that. I surely do learn oodles from reading what you've got to say :)
Miriam

#22 glyn

glyn

    Sonic Boom Member

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 2524 posts

Posted 14 November 2008 - 03:58 AM

Hi Kim,

I do agree with your sentiments regarding the role of an SEO agency. In fact I prefer to call what I do as Integrated Communications. It's true that some companies focus on the traditional keywords and positioning. But on the basis that low/medium level optimization is available publicly to be read on the net, and can therefore pretty much be implemented by anyone, the question is "how do I take things to the next level".

Usability is one level as you note. And there are a few others.

On the basis that there is no SEO methology that cannot be explained away by a competitor, the added value of your company is something that needs to thought about very carefully. :angel:

Glyn




RSS Feed

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users