Insights from Nebo

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February 22, 2008

Creating and Optimizing Copy

Content is king.  Or at least that's the mantra of many SEM's.  It's also accurate.  As such, the power of creating quality copy for your sites is a fairly common topic among SEO/SEM industry bloggers.  It comes up at least once a week in the forums I read and it's a valid point.  Writing optimized copy is an absolute necessity when it comes to optimizing your site.

If you don't offer your visitors anything worthwhile, why would they return to your site?  The work horse of SEO is your copy, the actual words on the page.  Without quality copy, you might as well stop the rest of your attempts at site optimization.

Sure, paid campaigns can get you to the top sponsored spots, but what good is that if you have nothing to back it up?  Not only will you never rank for the organic search terms, but those who do click through won't stay.  People want to feel like you're speaking only to them.   They want your site to read like a conversation, because most people actually envision what they're reading.  They "see" a conversation taking place as they read your copy.  It's like you're actually having a discussion.  Of course, in some cases you can have an actual discussion using Social Media Optimization (SMO), but that's a post for another day.  For now, let's focus on keeping your readers' attention by creating informative copy. 

You've got to speak to the reader by avoiding terms like "we" when discussing your products or services.  The reader doesn't want to read about how great you are.  The reader wants to read about how great you are for what they need you to do.  You've got to appeal on a personal level.  You make widgets.  Great!  Don't take an entire page to tell me about how long you've been making widgets.  Use that space to tell me how your widgets are going to make my life easier!

If done correctly, your website copy should be optimized for search engines without even trying. 

If you're honestly giving your visitors informative, compelling copy, you're giving them what they want, what they're searching for.  In the end, it'll be those words that lead the search engines, and your new clients, straight to your front door.

February 15, 2008

The Buzz on Valentine's Day

In an attempt to come up with a witty and entertaining post for today, I spent the morning looking for the top search terms for Valentine's Day.  To my surprise, I found very few services offering this type of information.  There were several sites showing search trends, but only one place really showed the popular terms for any given day.  Yahoo! Buzz offers a variety of information based upon what Yahoo! users are actually searching.  AOL has a similar set up, AOL Hot Searches, but it didn't seem as organized or nearly as in-depth.  Anyhow, the only real kicker about the Buzz seems to be the delay.

While you can see search popularity for a number of categories, you can't get the info for 2 days.  What does that mean to you and me?  Well, it means that we won't have any entertaining Valentine's Day search results until tomorrow.

According to the Yahoo! Buzz FAQ, it takes 24 hours to process the results.  The processing time creates a pause in posting results, so it really takes 2 days to see the info.  Like I said, I've been looking for Valentine's Day results from yesterday's Hallmark holiday.  That was a Thursday.  The Yahoo! results won't be posted until tomorrow, a Saturday.

It's understandable.  That's a lot of data to crunch and I'm happy they provide a daily breakdown at all.  It seems like everyone else is reporting weekly or monthly trends on particular terms.  That's fine for something like targeted keyword research, but information that specific doesn't really do anything to satisfy my little lunchroom poll based on the broad range of possible search terms from Valentine's Day. 

I guess I'll just have to wait until tomorrow to see if Cupid was busy searching for the best price on roses for his lady friend or if he was simply sitting in his mother's basement, searching for various other stuff.

February 8, 2008

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend

With the recent discussions surrounding the possible purchase, or hostile takeover, of Yahoo! by Microsoft, I'm left with a fairly simple question.  Will it do any good?

It's no secret that neither Yahoo! nor Microsoft have been able to come close to securing as much of the search market share as Google.  In all honesty, Google has absolutely trounced everyone in the business and has been steadily creeping into other markets to do more of the same, because Google's products work.  The vast majority of their products do exactly what they say they're going to do.  Not only that, but Google hasn't been as openly evil about squashing everyone in their path (a lesson Microsoft never quite figured out).

Google is at the very top of its game and expanding rapidly into every other market including outer space!  Both Yahoo! and Microsoft have been trying for years to take Google down a peg or two with no success and it isn't for a lack of trying.  The two companies have even been working together in recent years, but they haven't been able to make a dent in Google's almost monopolistic rule of search.   So what will they be able to accomplish as a single company that they haven't been able to accomplish as partners?

If anything, a merging of numbers 2 and 3 will require a lengthy blending period, stalling their plans for some time.  By all accounts, a merger would be a long, hard road to travel, because each company has its own set of fiercely loyal employees.  Employees whose loyalty may only be outweighed by their sheer hatred of the other company.  That creates a hostile working environment at best.  There's even been reference to open internal sabotage if the companies go through with a merger.  However, even if they embraced each other with loving, open arms (doubtful), would they be more likely to unhinge Google operating as a single company?  I doubt it. 

Google has won its large share of the market by consistently delivering quality results.  Their stuff works.  Period.  Google may not have the communal feel of Yahoo! or the . . . stuffy, business-like image of Microsoft (?), but they do have reliable and relevant search results and that's what we're talking about.  Still, if there is to be a merger, Yahoo! brings with it a dedicated community and an ever growing set of tools.  Microsoft has gobs and gobs of cash, so they bring the bank to the table.  But, Google has gobs and tools of its own.

It's going to be an uphill battle whether they continue to go it alone or if they eventually join forces.  This is a fight Microsoft should be very familiar, because they've been on the Goliath end for decades.  The suits know how hard it is to win a fight this monstrous, because they've been squashing the little guys for years.   Having the experience of the opposing side alone should send shivers down their collective spines.

Of course, the old saying is true.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  So, Yahoo! and Microsoft have a common interest at stake - survival.  However, I don't think the common goal of survival by defeating Google is strong enough to abandon the most primal instinct of self preservation.  A partnership built on envy and fueled by mistrust doesn't stand any better chance than if the two companies continue to attack Google on their own.

January 31, 2008

The Big Game Means Big Ads

We're just days away from Super Bowl Sunday and we all know what that means . . . a new round of commercials!

The clash of the year's best teams is obviously the central event, but it's no exaggeration to say the halftime show and flurry of world premier ads are the reason non-sport types tune in.  Historically, the ads broadcast throughout the Super Bowl have launched hilarious new campaigns for existing products and brought much deserved attention to the relative newcomers in the television advertising game.  I'm talking to you GoDaddy.  As interactive marketing professionals, we all love to see what's unveiled on Super Bowl Sunday, so you can bet we'll be watching with the proper assortment of beverages and junk food nearby.

The ads during the Super Bowl have become an institution in their own rite.  They're as much a part of game day as the halftime show, and in most cases much, much better.   History has shown us campaign after campaign of imaginative and attention grabbing spots.  The beer bottle football championship games were a big hit in their day.  In fact, the talking frogs remained a fixture in television advertising well past the following year's Super Bowl.  Over and over again, the Super Bowl offers some of the best ads of the year.

Most of them tend to lean toward the humorous or outright ridiculous and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Personally, I prefer the humorous to the controversial, so I'll suggest the "Terry Tate" ads by Reebok were probably the best ever.  Seriously.  Having an "office linebacker" was a great idea and it made me laugh out loud.  It still does.

If memory serves, last year was pretty lackluster in the commercial department, but I will always tune in with renewed enthusiasm.  I can't wait to see what Sunday brings.  The Internet will be buzzing after each commercial airs.  You can count on that.

January 18, 2008

Original Content for E-Commerce

If you've got an e-commerce site, how much thought do really you put into creating content?   Are you guilty of simply hitting Ctrl+C and copying product information straight from the manufacturer's site and pasting it on yours?  I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure it's legal to do it.  And even if it isn't, I doubt they care.  Especially considering your site is helping them sell their product.  The big question is . . . is it good for your business to simply regurgitate the manufacturer's brochure?

I'm going to say it doesn't do you any good at all.

When we write web site copy for our e-commerce clients, we create original content for each product.  Is it more work than hitting Ctrl+C?  Sure, but our clients benefit more from original content than the written equivalent of a baby bird's first meal (That's regurgitation, folks!).  For the most part, original content will rank higher on SERPs when compared to all the sites relying on the ol' copy and paste method, because there's more substance.

All things being equal, the site with fresh, informative copy is going to outrank sites hawking the same product for two reasons.

  1. They contain the same information, but our site isn't a clone of all the other sites selling that same product.
  2. Our site simply has more words on the page and that's more room to optimize content!

The sites we produce with original content will obviously contain some, if not all, of the very same product information from the manufacturer's brochure.  That's usually the stats and product description, so it's still important.  However, by including that extra bit of info to help the customer realize why the product is right for them, or by creating a real life product scenario, our sites move beyond the product brochure.  They move beyond all those other sites, too.  Many times, we surpass even the manufacturer's site in the SERPs, because we take the time to make sure the internet searching customers get the information they're looking for and more.