Bill Gates’ New Website and a Free Lesson in SEO

You’ve got to hand it to Danny Sullivan. Earlier yesterday, he wrote a blog post which scolds Bill Gates’ new website from an SEO perspective. For online marketers, it’s a fantastic lesson in SEO 101. For Bill Gates, a reason to smile, blush, or point a finger. You be the judge.

In case you hadn’t heard, or seen, Bill Gates launched his own website last week called The Gates Notes. Bill Gates’ new website allows you to “stay up to date on where Bill is at, what Bill is learning and what is on his mind.” The Twittersphere welcomed Bill Gates last week as well. In case you’re not following him, Bill Gates’ Twitter username is, unsurprisingly, @billgates.

So back to Danny Sullivan’s critique of The Gates Notes. Danny starts off by showing the Search Results Page for the query ‘bill gates blog’. The results show his blog listed in the top 10 in Google, but being outranked by some fake Bill Gates blogs. Interestingly, in Bing, his new blog didn’t show up at all in the top 10.

The blog post proceeds with a well-laid-out walk through SEO 101. And the example he uses happens to be the founder of Microsoft, the world’s second richest man who has just started blogging and tweeting. It points out the importance of:

– relevant title tags
– description tags
– unique title tags for each web page
– the power of inbound links, even from Twitter

I’ve just taken a look at The Gates Notes site and it looks like some changes have already been made to the Bill Gates site. Back on his blog post, Danny Sullivan is taking some heat, but also a lot of well deserved praise in the comments section. And it looks like Bill reached out to him on Twitter as well:

Bill Gates Twitter reply to Danny Sullivan

Bill Gates Twitter reply to Danny Sullivan

To read the original blog post, an SEO analysis of Bill Gates’ new website, visit: http://searchengineland.com/some-seo-advice-for-bill-gates-34303.

Bookmark Picks of the Week

During the course of a week, I’ll scan hundreds of tweets, receive dozens of newsletters and flip through numerous blog posts. Here are a few which I think you’ll enjoy.

1. What if Google had to design their user interface for Google?

Not brand new, but nevertheless a good laugh and SEO 101 lesson for any search marketer! How would you apply SEO best practices to the Google home page? Here the author demonstrates cross linking, fresh content, social bookmarking, reinforcing with keyword content, and a keyword-rich URL for Google’s search page.

2. Omniture’s Pick the Winner

Brilliantly designed for their target market, Omniture scores big with this new ‘Pick the Winner’ campaign. Step up to the vintage arcade machine and try your hand at guessing the correct results to A/B tests. How high did you score?

3. The Impact of Google’s Social Search

Jeremiah Owyang weighs in on how Google’s Social Search will change web strategy.

4. The Complete Guide to Google Wave

A little over a month after Google Wave was released in limited numbers to the public, the first Google Wave guide book has come out. It’s long, detailed and thorough. And the online version is completely free.

5. The 10 Best Leadership Books of All Time

A Washington Post article that presents a list of top leadership books, according to Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten.

Omniture-arcade

Straight From Google – What You Need to Know about SEO

This is a 45-minute video of Matt Cutts’ recent presentation at WordCamp – has to be one of the best recent summaries of SEO best practices you can find on video. My thanks go out to Jody Nimetz at the Marketing Jive blog for passing this my way.

12 Questions B2B Marketers are Asking (or Should be Asking)

Blogging from SES San Jose, 2009

At a conference like SES, you’ll find search agencies, representatives from the search engines, consultants, bloggers, … and marketers. The marketers will fall into dozens of categories, by industry, company size, etc., and B2C and/or B2B. I’ve spent a great deal of time with B2B marketers over the last couple of years at trade shows like this one, as well as in sales calls, webinars and client meetings. These are some of the questions you will hear them asking in San Jose.  They will come up in sessions, in the coffee line-ups, and yes, maybe even occasionally at the #SearchBash.

It often starts with the standard challenges tied to Search, like increased visibility, traffic, lead quality, and brand management. But a lot of it goes beyond search:

1.      Am I getting everything I can out of our analytics software? The answer I hear most of the time is a convincing: NO.

2.      Is Search working in tandem with other online channels? If I outsource SEO and PPC, will they work with our web developers, ad agency, PR, etc.?  Also, can a search agency understand my vertical industry well enough?

3.      Is my paid Search cannibalizing traffic that would otherwise be coming from SEO?

4.      Do we have an accurate model of our customer’s buying process? This question is often followed by, “it depends”, or even silence. How does the buying funnel model apply?

5.      How much of our marketing/sales cycle can be handled online? Is it siloed off from our face-to-face meetings with prospects?

6.      Marketing automation software – how much can it do?  How does it tie in to our sales CRM?  Lead nurturing: how much can be automated? What are we supposed to nurture leads with?

7.      How do I measure engagement over a long sales cycle and multiple buyers at the same time?

8.      Reporting: how do I attribute a sales opportunity to the proper marketing campaign(s)? Who gets credit for the sales lead?

9.      Social media: is it relevant to my buyers, really? Can’t we just start our own social network? Who in the company should be managing the Twitter account? The Facebook profile? Should our YouTube videos be professionally done? How do buyer demographics affect the way they buy from us? Do digital natives operate differently than digital immigrants?

10.   What about tools like PPC bid management software? At what point can we afford to make the investment, and will it be more effective?

11.   If only our whole marketing team really got search… How can we get everybody on the same page?

12.   Is a thought leadership strategy effective? How can we get started? I think this is especially relevant for service-based B2B companies seeking to establish their brand. There are several examples of companies that have built a fabulous reputation and wide visibility this way without spending a ton of money on advertising.

These questions don’t have quick answers, and each one is worthy of an in-depth panel discussion in itself.  But if you’re at SES today, you might want to check out one of the following four sessions on the B2B and verticals track, including Gord Hotchkiss’ panel called The BuyerSphere Project, Understanding B2B Buying Behavior.

mapping-the-buyersphere

The SES San Jose Survival Guide (Top Ten Things To Do Before Going to SES)

As I write this, thousands of us search marketing folks around the globe are packing our bags and getting ready to swoop into San Jose, California for the largest search engine strategies conference of the year, known by the industry simply as SES San Jose. Our company has been a part of these conferences for some time, but each show is a mixture of old and new. And for many of you who may be attending SES San Jose for the first time, here is something you may just want to bookmark and read during some downtime in the airport:

My SES San Jose Survival Guide

1. Follow the SES San Jose hashtag #sessj on Twitter. You will find a lot of great people there. And if the hashtag isn’t enough, here are two Twitter accounts you’ll want to follow right away: @matt_mcgowan and @SESConf.

2. Become a fan of the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo Facebook page. They currently have 503 fans and counting.

3. Join the SES LinkedIn group: over 8,500 members and counting.

4. Subscribe to the SES YouTube Channel. You’ll find over 300 videos which have been posted over the past couple of years.

5. Flip through the July 2009 edition of the SES Magazine. There will undoubtedly a lot of these to be found at the conference itself, but you may not have known that they also have an online version.

6. A closer look at the SES San Jose conference agenda. I won’t reveal my favorites in this post, but take a look at these buzz words, courtesy of wordle.net:
wordle-ses-500

7. Watch SES San Jose social media metrics on socialmention.com.

8. Check out the Search Engine Strategies blog.

9. For more official PR material, take a look at the SES press room.

and, last but not least…

10. Don’t forget to pack good walking shoes, a generous stack of your business cards, and an RSVP to the WebmasterRadio.FM Search Bash Tuesday night.

Have I forgotten anything? Please let me know by leaving a comment below!

How Does Your Risk Fit Into My Funnel?

I had the pleasure of producing Enquiro’s recent webinar titled Beyond the B2B Buying Funnel. Being a B2B marketer myself, I’m quite fond of the funnel concept and use it to map things like lead volume vs. position in the sales/marketing cycle. An interview I conducted with Jim Sterne takes a look at funnels of different shapes and how they reveal demand generation ailments and successes.

But where does the funnel fall short? One of the main messages I’ve taken from the material is that we shouldn’t look to the funnel model to imply a clear top-to-bottom progression in the sales process. Gord Hotchkiss refers to new research which shows that buyers are prone to experiencing a “risk gap” which, if not addressed by the marketer, acts as a plug in the funnel.

Risk is a fascinating concept in the field of B2B buying. One of the webinar presenters, Jon Miller, pointed out that a bad purchase decision can cost you your reputation or even your job, while good decisions will often benefit the company more than the individual.

So how does an individual mitigate risk? In-depth interviews with buyers, which were a part of the research methodology, show that buyers gravitate to six ways of dealing with it:

  1. Rely on own past experience and drawing upon company-approved vendors
  2. Listening to word of mouth and experience of others
  3. Asking their existing vendors for advice
  4. Assessing the credibility of the potential vendor
  5. Checking out the vendor online, including on search engines
  6. Weighing price options

Keep in mind that there is the risk to the individual, other individuals involved in the purchase decision, and risk to the organization as a whole. It becomes complex very quickly when risks to the different buyers aren’t the same – and they rarely are. And while companies have ways of giving structure to buying, e.g. through RFQ processes, findings show that the important decisions on a personal level aren’t always necessarily rational. We depend on our own library of heuristic shortcuts to come to decisions which can be irrational. Gord Hotchkiss also talked about these shortcuts, and how they are based on existing belief structures in this post on Herbert Simon’s concept of bounded rationality.

While it may be difficult to market against irrational buying decisions, there is hope, especially if we understand how irrational behavior is linked to risk. Part of eliminating the risk gap includes going back to basic sales and marketing principles, identifying and developing a market before we sell to them. As marketers, it is vital that we understand the specific risk gaps associated with buying from our company, in our industry, and help the buyer bridge those more effectively.

The 60-minute webinar was recorded and is available on demand. In it, you’ll hear Gord Hotchkiss present the new research along with Mark McMaster (Google), Ben Hanna (Business.com), Jon Miller (Marketo), Matthias Blume (Covario) and Chris Golec (Demandbase). The B2B Expert Series of webinars is moderated by Bill Barnes.

When Does Google Ban Big Websites?

A couple of my colleagues at Enquiro recently attended the Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference in San Jose, California.  SES is one of the world’s leading shows on search engine marketing.  One of the sessions they attended was titled “Black Hat, White Hat: Playing Dirty with SEO.”  The discussion topic in the room turned to big brands and black-hat SEO techniques, and whether Google plays fair when it determines which sites should be banned.

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Webspam, happened to be in the audience and stepped up to the mic to give a response.  Thanks to Chris Davies for capturing the video: