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For almost a full year we have been preaching a brand of search engine optimization that quotes heavily from the gospel of Usability. Under our marketing philosophy, sites should be designed and optimized in order to make transit from any given entry point (not necessarily the index page) to the desired goals and expectations of both visitors and site owners, as simple and intuitive as possible. Read more…

It is twenty days shy of Christmas and Bill Stroll, our sales and marketing manager just spent ten minutes on the phone talking about Valentines Day. It’s not really a strange subject to come up in conversation at this time of the year. Valentines Day is the next major commercial marketing event. The nature of search marketing leads us to plan months into the future as seasonal and event specific content needs to be developed, posted, spidered in order to achieve eventual top10 placements.

As recently as three years ago, we would caution clients to expect a three to sixteen week turn-around time between posting optimized content and positive results. For some, that would mean the development of commercial content for Valentines Day might begin in late October and early November in order to have it ready for a post-Christmas shift in target audience. Now, content posted to established (long-term) websites on a Monday could appear in the Top10 before the following Friday, sometimes hours after it was posted.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that content creators and webmasters targeting a mid-February audience should wait until the end of January or early February to begin to develop Valentine’s related content though. As the years have gone on, a lot more information gets added to the web and much of that information is more professional, better written and far better optimized for search placement. For smaller businesses, this can mean long hours of writing, researching and designing in order to have a series of seasonal pages ready for posting in order to compete with larger websites.

Successful marketing is a process of long-term planning and execution of those plans in an ordered campaign. When designing a sales-orientated website, planning for annual special events is a good way to capture interest and increase sales. Search engine users are fairly predictable. Being the general public, they are interested in whatever is interesting at any given time. As search marketers, we know when search traffic will spike for specific holidays and events with a far greater degree of accuracy than the television and print media can offer.

Search marketers also know that seasonally topical information can be posted at any time of the year. Think of the search engines as a reference guide to a massive filing cabinet. There might be files about any number of subjects amongst the vast amount of information stored in that cabinet but its specific items are only accessed when needed. A Top10 placement can be achieved for products or services relating to Valentine’s Day in September and remain in place months after February 14th, provided the page is actively updated and not left static and stagnant.

Long term content is often much easier to get placements for than new content is. Documents that exist for longer periods of time tend to have more incoming links and are viewed as more “trusted” by search engines. As mentioned above, that content should change from time to time as a static page is not seen as favorably as an active one.

In previous years, search engines tended to put more emphasis on the Home, or index page of a website. That would necessitate seasonally topical content being inserted on the first page of the site six to twelve weeks before placements were expected, or the development of seasonal sub-domains. Now that search engines tend to treat all documents within a domain as equals, event or seasonal information can be an ongoing part of a much larger website. This again allows search marketers to view the web as a filing cabinet. It is a good thing to have information easily accessible at any time of the year and it is always a good time to promote seasonally topical information, even if the season or event is six months away.

There is a natural rush towards the date of the seasonal holiday or event that should be accounted for in search marketing planning. During the 2004 US elections, real estate in Maryland and Virginia was reaching a peak that tends to follow US election cycles. In the weeks leading up to the election, a massive rush from Maryland and Virginia based realtors flooded many SEO shops, even those of us a continent away on the west coast. Realtors who first approached SEO or SEM shops naturally tended to fare better than those who waited until mid-rush. (Many SEO and SEM shops offer exclusivity on keyword targets to clients and tend to not represent more than one client per keyword or keyword phrase).

A point Bill made in our discussion stood out. We should be telling our clients to try to envision their websites months or even a year in advance and asking questions about long-term marketing planning. What are our clients doing at various points in the year? Is there information on their websites that would be searched for with greater frequency one month over another? Are there products or services that have a seasonal tie-in?

In previous years, spiders drove the search marketing sales cycle. To get a strong Valentines Day placement, we would be working on optimizing content starting this week. Today, the search marketing sales cycle is much more similar to that of the brick-and-mortar world. For smaller clients and those with new websites, today is the time to starting to plan for next year’s Halloween to Christmas season, along with the dozen or so other consumer events of the calendar year.

An interesting phenomenon is coming to a monitor near you, perhaps the one you are looking at right now. The days of convergence are upon us. The trend towards the merging of media via the Internet is already causing significant cultural shifts as witnessed by the power bloggers have exercised in relation to TV and print journalism. What a difference an era makes. A decade ago, the traditional media set the pace by telling our stories and provided practical means of mass-communications. Today, the Internet provides a globally stable transmission line and the Web serves as both production studio and broadcast medium. The Internet’s growth and more importantly, the ease of access for anyone with a computer, a connection and a bit of talent, has pushed the majority of traditional media outlets into a period of survival strategy and planning. Read more…

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

Revolution 2.1

The second Internet revolution has clearly started to take shape. Remember the massive changes forecast by hundreds of tech-writers, including myself, for the past two years? While slower in coming than expected, the last critical stage for their mass adoption of these changes, their introduction, appears to have begun. Welcome to Revolution 2.1. Read more…

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

AOL Webcasts Green Day LA Show

AOL Webcasts Green Day LA show

AOL’s love affair with the pop-punk band Green Day continues with the live webcast of the band’s Los Angeles show last night. A replay of the entire Green Day concert is available at AOL. The show features ten songs, most of which were drawn from their latest CD, American Idiot. Read more…

This was a truly interesting week. On top of the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, the past five days provided search marketers a front-row view of international economic development, the growth of a media empire, the internal disruptive influence of corporate culture shifts, and a colligate game of “mine is bigger than yours.” While a happy family obligation kept me away from San Jose, the week had several profoundly powerful sleeper stories that show how serious, ironic and silly the world of search is. Read more…

Over the past two years, both the business and practice of search engine marketing have become much more complex. The same is true of the websites search engine marketers work with. The evolving design techniques and technologies that have made the website of today far more versatile than those of previous years, have also made them harder to work with for third party service vendors such as SEOs. Read more…

The summer of 2005 is going to be an interesting one. The world of search will be fundamentally different by Labour Day. From the recent changes at Google (the effects of which will be shown over time in the core algorithm), to the introduction of several unique types of search engines, dozens of fresh ideas and innovations are finding their way onto our monitors each day. The landscape of the search environment is going to alter its appearance before the leaves change colour in mid-autumn. These changes should serve to solidify the market for a number of new niches in the search-marketing sector. Read more…

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

MSN Enters Paid Search Market

MSN has added a second pillar to its new search division and a new threat to rivals Google and Yahoo with today’s introduction of its own paid-advertising program, MSN Paid Search Solution. Read more…

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

Consumers Search Before Buying

When hunting for stronger sales, it is wise to go where the game is. When the game gets very much smarter, wise hunters learn to adapt. – quote found inscribed in obscure cave formation near Fernwood BC.

As the oft’ quoted phrase goes, “…the more things change, the more they stay the same.” This phrase can be applied to the search engine marketing sector time and time again. Though several events in the business world of search attracted major media attention last week, interest in organic search has re-emerged among webmasters and search marketing agencies. Two years after the popularization of pay-per-click programs, advertisers are starting to form sophisticated strategies combining managed PPC campaigns and consistent organic placements. Read more…