Content is King – always

The race is on. If you are entirely an online Travel Agent then content is something that you just can’t ignore. It is the thing that will get you noticed on Google and help your search engine rankings. So it was probably just a matter of time before content morphed into something else as seen by the OTA – Black Tomato, with their new online lifestyle magazine. They were always producing lots of copy for their site so this was said to be just a natural progression.

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Is Branched Out really the new Linked In?

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There’s a heap of buzz around the launch of the new jobs site on Facebook called Branch Out. Primarily the buzz is because this is built within the Facebook platform. the potential to go viral via your friends is huge. You can import your LinkedIn profile as well so it’s easy to set up.

It will be interesting to see just how this shapes up against LinkedIn. Facebook is primarily a personal site where you may well buy holidays, shoes and converse with your friends but do you really want your friends on Facebook to know you are looking for a job, especially if these include workmates? The seperation of your business profile on LinkedIn and your personal time in Facebook seemed clearcut to me. Does this blur the boundaries too far?

SEO – an Insider’s View

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Let’s just take one thing for granted. Google is the most powerful company on the planet right now. ALL it’s income comes from PPC Paid Advertising. There is no way at all that they will develop a system that will deplete their income potential model. Now – over to SEO:

I’ve recently had two meetings, one with an SEO agency and one with an SEO Expert. The interesting thing about both meetings was the fact that in order to get anywhere in SEO you need to commit serious money investing in it and won’t see a return for at least the first 18 months. Perhaps for the first 3 years you will have spent more money on it than was in the budget (seems that marketing online budgets are very flexible when it comes to PPC). Google admit to changing the algorithm regularly and so this is just an ongoing battle. You can really only ever afford to do SEO if you have a fast growing business. If you have a mature family business that is not intent on large growth then outside SEO expertise will just be a drain on finances (you are better off doing it in house over time).

The Agency Pitch

We work on the basis of being able to replace PPC and so in the long run you will spend less money advertising for new business. We have many mysterious and technical ways of achieving this.

The Consultant Pitch

I’m about risk management. Bypassing years of historical trading and internet presence to fool Google into thinking that I have a much better reputation than my new site would otherwise indicate. The nub of the issue is really link building, and tons of them. The technical stuff is just a given these days’ Content and link building are the only ways you can perform better in search and both costs lots of money and link building is quite dubious in some instances so my role is to manage the risk of building SEO for a new client.

Conclusion

There are no guarantees to SEO. You should of course SEO optimise and write great content and link build, but do this over the long term with an inhouse team. Write a budget for it (named investment in the future), but don’t throw all your other marketing activities (online PPc and offline) out of the bath. SEO is a long term investment. We are in a recession, spend at your peril (unless you happen to be a company that is immune to the recession) and concentrate on spending money to get immediate sales.

Foot Note: The consultant commented how difficult it is to make any money out of running an agency. Too many high cost people and too high an expectation from clients. In fact, if they did their job properly for the clients then they would not make any money. So, here’s news to those companies hoping to outsource the magic. You can’t unless you have very deep pockets. Get learning.

Posted via email from steve rushton

Is this the start of UK Auditors getting caught?

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The top bods in the top four UK Accountancy Practices appeared in front of the Lord’s this week to answer questions about the role that Auditors had to play in the reporting on banks financial stability…..

Accountancy Age, November 23, 2010: Debate focused on the use of “going concern” guidance, issued by auditors if they believe a company will survive the next year. Auditors said they did not change their going concern guidance because they were told the government would bail out the banks.

“Going concern [means] that a business can pay its debts as they fall due. You meant something thing quite different, you meant that the government would dip into its pockets and give the company money and then it can pay it debts and you gave an unqualified report on that basis,” Lipsey said.

Lord Lawson said there was a “threat to solvency” for UK banks which was not reflected in the auditors’ reports.

“I find that absolutely astonishing, absolutely astonishing. It seems to me that you are saying that you noticed they were on very thin ice but you were completely relaxed about it because you knew there would be support, in other words, the taxpayer would support them,” he said.

 

I am astonished as well that they appear to be so relaxed about the whole thing. The ONLY reason that auditors exist is to ensure that the directors of a business have behaved responsibly, in line with the wishes and good will of shareholders and that the accounts reflect a true and fair result. Why Auditing firms have not gone down I have no idea. We may all want to chase the devil bankers who have been paid so many bonus’ but they will argue that they earned those bonus’ good and proper in accordance with the rules that the banks set. The role of the Auditors is surely to then check that this is right? 

In fact the bankers were paid massive bonus’, based on short term profits from long term debt ridden liabilities that the tax payer has had to pick up. The Auditors missed this – I mean MISSED THIS. How can that be? What on earth are they auditing or is it just that they spend too long ensuring that the numbers have been transactionally added up, without standing back and wondering what the number mean.

As for ‘Going Concern’ – it’s ludicrous. The whole financial sector, including responsibilities of audit firms needs a massive overhaul. Stop paying the big bonus’ and get them all back to work properly.

 

Posted via email from steve rushton

SEO Experts – What’s the Craic?

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SEO agencies and experts continue their quest for search engine domination. It continues to be a conundrum to me how and why Google would want them to succeed when their business model relies solely on PPC income.

There has also been much debate over social media and exactly how companies should or should not invest in social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkediN and Facebook. The debate rages on but one thing is for sure, it’s always difficult outsmarting an organisation such as Google that employs such talented and intelligent people. 

Check out this latest screen grab. All these results fell above the ‘fold’ in the page (I was using an iPad) and what is interesting here is the dominance of News feeds, Twitter streams in real time and of course PPC. Where are the natural search results? All below the fold and if you look at the heat map I published on an earlier blog you will see that of course it is the top of the page that the most activity. Any comments SEO guys?

Posted via email from steve rushton

Gareth Malone’s Extraordinary School for Boys

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BBC’s excellent experiment taking the choirmaster to a school where the boys were way behind girls in literacy.

Results were amazing. Partly because Gareth taught the boys in their way and also because he concentrated on literacy for 8 weeks with them. The reaction by my 6 year old son’s teacher was that :

1. she did not believe boys needed teaching differently to girls (wrong – and there are neuroscience tests that prove that now!)

2. She wished she had more time to teach literacy (so leaves it to us!). Scrap French for 5 year olds if there isn’t enough time for English I say and all the extra curricula stuff and general messing around. Get teaching…..

Globalisation and the political nonsense of border controls

This is another article on ‘non joined up writing’.

Simon Fairlie wrote in the Sunday Times (19th September 2010) that the government had solved the dangers posed by the 9000 year old practise of feeding swill to pigs ( a great recycling system) after a farmer failed to cook the swill and caused a disease outbreak. Instead of making sure that controls were in place and education to ensure that swill had been cooked prior to feed (and after all we had survived 9000 years with the same practise) our esteemed politicians decided to ban the practice (not nice for pigs when they are designed for a meat and veg diet and rubbish for carbon emissions). Instead we now grow GM soya by cutting down South American Rain Forest and contributing to global warming. Clearly better to kill off the whole human population via global warming disasters than risk the non cooking of pig swill.

This morning papers run articles that the latest ban on Tier 2 workers is going to have an impact on our ability to climb out of recession.  Another great politician blunder by failing to sort the problem. All industry is now dependent on global workforces. Some of the best performing internet businesses rely on global programmers. Closer to home the last government raised the standard of living so that it is now not possible for employers to be able to get white English people of their unemployed backsides because benefits far outweight what they are worth paying in the workforce (and what the wider population will pay for goods). What is this governements plan to tackle that? Border control, stop the workers coming in. Wouldn’t a better answer be to just reform benefits? Make people want to work?

The crutial issue is though the damage that will be done now when industries as diverse as ship building and catering cannot employ workers because no one at home is qualified or motivated enough to do the job anf foreign workers cannot come here. Why this ‘visible’ labour, that adds into our wider economy through spending in shops etc. is not acceptable when the government bangs about Globalisation being good and then lauds the industries using labour around the world to manufacture/programme/process and hence build the economies in those countries is beyond me.