Social Media Optimization and other geeky SEO stuff

A few weeks ago I wrote my first entry to the 10 Golden Lists on Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Here are some additional notes on SEO to supplement that post:

  1. Think local – Google has developed an obsession with giving you local search results when you search for results in a specific location. This makes sense and is a current window of opportunity while other local businesses adapt. A key part of your strategy, if you are a local business, should be to get a good presence on Google Places and optimise locally:
    • Make your search keywords include the city/suburb you are hoping to be found in.
    • Get links from other local sites – they will be more valuable than links from sites located in different countries.
  2. Relevance – a recent observation I have made is that my blog is an SEO nightmare. I do not focus on one topic and for this reason keep confusing the search engines regarding what the purpose of this site is. For this reason, this SEO post is unlikely to ever rank highly in search results, which brings me to my last point.

SEO is NOT everything I have set up SEO projects on other sites that have done fairly well so I thought maybe I should try something new with this blog. I now get most of my traffic from social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter and I’ve even started using a new term for this kind of digital marketing – Social Media Optimisation. SMO is an exciting new way of thinking that may never live up to my expectations, but pursuing this kind of digital strategy will give me an opportunity to escape the largely uncertain, ever-changing and saturated world of SEO and possibly gain first-mover advantage in what I believe may well be the marketing medium of the next decade.

Oh and look, a Facebook like button below…

Manchester United – first time VIP

When I was in my second year at university I worked for a while in the executive lounges at Old Trafford. I remembered wondering why people spent so much money to get fed a meal and watch a Manchester United game, when I though the real atmosphere and excitement of going to a game was going like a regular, true fan – dressed up, drunk, cold, singing and without having to worry about leaving ten minutes before the games finishes just to miss the traffic.

Last night I was fortunate enough to get invited to go to the game, for free, VIP style. I think I now have a better understanding, for the most part, why people fork out over £3,000 per person for a season at the suites instead of the £600 or so needed to get a Stretford End season ticket.

Captain’s Lounge – Old Trafford

The decision is, for most people, purely a business one. Get a table of four for £15,000, and you get:

  • To watch the game, with tasty food, a free programme and gift, entertainment, great seats and a place to chill out afterwards if you are driving and want to wait for the traffic to pass.
  • A place to host potential clients
  • Incentives you can offer to employees who perform well
  • A great way to develop or sustain good relationships with suppliers, key clients or important contacts in your network.
  • The cost is probably tax-deductable while I doubt you can pull that off with standard season tickets.

I think for any mid-sized company with owners that are Manchester United fans, executive tickets for every United game is well-worth the money.

One thing I would do though, no matter what, I will have a system in place to make sure that there is always someone at my table if I can’t make it – too many seats are paid for and empty. Even if its just a little thank you for your business (clients) or hard work (employees), I am sure there are people in your network that would appreciate the gesture – after all, its all already paid for, and for goodness sake, its tickets to a Manchester United game, the greatest team in the world.

30 Day Challenge Experience

I’ll admit it, this year I am yet to the do the 30 Day Challenge (now re-branded to “the Challenge“). I suck, I know. I have however done it for the past three years and although none of the websites I have created through the 30DC are making me millions, I have made money from all of them.

It was interesting for me to observe the evolution of the method used through the SEO of two sites which have similar competition and were created, step-by-step, using the suggestions from the 30DC crew.

The first is: Poker Amateur

  • The site ranking for the search term “poker amateur” is NON-EXISTENT. I have a very strong feeling that some of the suggestions from the 30DC that year were in fact black-hat SEO tactics (or at least ‘not-encouraged’). This may have penalised me because it was ranking quite well for a while.
  • I realise that LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Scribd all rank really well with Google. Although the relevance factor is often missing, I am still convinced it is worth having a profile/articles on all of these – 75% of my traffic comes from these sites.

The second site is: Diamond In Africa

  • Ranking really, really well. In fact I see it as no1. for the search term “diamonds in africa“. Could be slightly different for others.
  • I believe that ‘phrase’ is not commercially attractive and my intuition is that people searching for “diamonds in africa” are most probably not looking to buy. However I have two results on the first page of searches for “buy diamonds from africa”. Score! Probably should set up some conversion tracking to check were people enquiring about prices have come from.
  • As our target market and greatest traffic is from clients in the US, I specified on Google Webmasters that the site should be focused on US searches. The odd things is, as soon as I did this I got to no.1 for but went down the rankings in Odd… Things seem to have returned to normal now though.
  • Getting about 250 clicks per month, 70% of that traffic comes from search engines. SEO Score! Market Size fail!
  • I now rank higher than the site for my SEO phrase – somehow I thought I would never take no1 away from that site, but I now know the big guys can be removed from their throne. Amazon and Wikipedia, make way for Nik and his cheesy SEO tactics. (I wonder if I’ll now rank for “cheesy SEO”)

My question, to anyone willing to answer this is…

“How important is the domain name? If I find a market that can be SEOd (good traffic, little competition) should I pursue it even if I can’t get a good domain name for the keyword? Also, I have been reading something about the new Google algorithm liking brands… does this mean its now easier to build a and optimise it for a different set of keywords?”

Its clear that Diamonds In Africa is a success while Poker Amateur was not. I now know there are many reasons for this but my advice to anyone doing the 30DC is: Think of it as rough guide, not an Internet marketing bible… but as far as rough guides go… the 30DC is pretty damn good.