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Archive for September, 2009

Working From Home…

September 30, 2009 2 comments

It is days like today…

bad weather

I am thankful my commute is measured in steps, not miles…

home office

and there is a Starbucks (SBUX) in my kitchen.

starbucks coffee

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Luxury Car Dealer Completely Messes up Email Campaign

September 29, 2009 1 comment

spyker-c8-spyderIt’s a tale of wealth, a tale of power…and ignorance and laziness. This is the tale of the Spyker of Salt Lake City launch.

Before I get started, let me assure you all of what you are about to read is true. There has been no embellishment or hyperbole on my part.

The Spyker launch began with an email received at nearly 10 pm Friday, August 28th. First of all, I’m not sure why I’m receiving the email. Sure I bought a car from the dealership a year ago, but they normally mail me things, not email. I’m not even sure how they got my email. Secondly, who does a product launch at 10 pm on a Friday?

Anyway, I read the email and wondered what a Spyker was. I figured it was the same dealership that launched Bentley last year, so I thought it might be cool, but I didn’t know for sure. Eleven minutes later, my phone buzzed again. Another message from Adam Heller at Spyker. He had forgotten to send the attachment in the first email.

spyker-invite1

All hell didn’t break loose until Monday. That’s when the first of several messages asking to be removed from the mail list showed up in my inbox. So not only had Mr. Heller sent the email at a poor time and forgotten the attachment, he did a regular carbon copy to everyone on his list, thus divulging private emails to everybody who received the invitation.

spyker-invite2

Why did a partner at a major accounting firm choose to hit reply all when they asked to be removed? I don’t know. Then a few other requests for removal came across my inbox. That’s when I thought, “this will not end well.”

Then someone sent this gem to everyone on the list –

For those of you requesting to be removed- could you please do us all a favor and hit “reply”- not “reply all”- this is email 101…

Yes, yes it is.

Finally, someone wrote –

Hi Adam,
I’m also a spammer and would like to thank you for all the great new email addresses.

From one spammer to another, THANKS!!!!

At three pm on August 31, the issue was resolved –

Dear Nigel,
In reference to a recent email regarding the Spyker Lifestyle event in Park City, we made a significant oversight on our part to not Blind Copy the invitation list. We sincerely apologize for the mistake and want to assure those people who have asked to be removed from our list are in fact, removed immediately. We ask that you help in resolution of this matter that you do not “reply to all” on the previous email.
The inconvenience this may have caused was unintended wholeheartedly.
Sincerely,
Hadley Auto Company
As I write this, I realize the sender was Adam Heller’s email and he changed his sent from name to “Hadly” auto…spelled incorrectly.

I don’t know how this event turned out. I planned to go, but for some reason the date of the event slipped my mind. It turns out it was September 4th and 5th…the beginning of college football season this year. The Bentley event I attended last fall was sparsely attended, but I sure do see a lot of new Bentley’s around town. That event was well executed and conducted by regular mail.

What can we learn from this whole fiasco?

Email campaigns can be very dangerous if they’re not executed properly. You need to think strategically about an email campaign before you launch it. Not only can you anger customers, but you can break Federal law. I’ve said before I think email marketing is dead, but assuming that’s how you want to proceed, let’s talk about some best practices.

Timing – Did you notice that nobody emailed to complain until Monday…a full 48 hours after the email was sent? That’s because this list was full of professionals who could possibly afford a niche luxury sports car. Many had supplied a work email and thus didn’t respond until Monday. I’ve found after running three different newsletter campaigns the best time to send is early in the morning and between Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday’s people are just getting back to work and on Friday’s they’re thinking about the weekend.

The timing of the event itself was poor in my opinion, but I can’t really speak to the results since I didn’t attend. What was I doing instead? Watching college football. In the United States, never, ever schedule a business event on the opening weekend of college football.

Delivery system – Using a delivery system instead of an email program like Outlook has many advantages. First of all, you can manage your lists. Sophisticated email marketers will send different messages to different people while using the same system. List management helps with new subscriptions and removals, making what we saw earlier completely unnecessary. A list management system also insures delivery. Companies have complex spam blocking procedures in place. Do you want your subscribers to receive your email? List management servers are white listed so your message will get through. You can also get useful statistics from a delivery system like open rates, forwards and unsubscribes. While they will cost you a little bit of money, they’re very reasonable.

In the past I used AWeber for a subscription base of about 15,000 and Constant Contact for a list of about 300…similar to the size of the Spyker list. Many CRM software packages have an email component as well.

Opting in should be easy, so should opting out – No matter what kind of delivery system you use, the sign in/sign out process should be easy. It should typically be a double opt in and a single opt out. One thing Spyker got right was assuring those who wanted out got an easy exit.

Protect your client’s data at all costs – These were just email addresses, not social security numbers or bank accounts. The couple email addresses I plugged into Google as a test yielded full names, occupations and even educational history. If I was nefarious, I could dig up quite a bit on these people, just with their email address as a foundation.

Apologize for your mistakes – This was another thing Spyker of Salt Lake City did do right. They apologized for the inconvenience, the breach of security and removed those people from the list who wanted to be removed. If done properly, they wouldn’t have had anything to apologize for, but it seems to have resolved the problem.

Are there better options to email marketing? – I think so. I believe smart marketers are converting their email lists to something else like a Facebook business page or fan page. People who join these pages are going to be much more enthusiastic to hear messages from you and you’ll be able to ping them more often. A luxury car sale for instance is not a one pitch close. You have to engage your client multiple times to get them to consider shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a car they don’t need…no matter how much they may want it. I believe business pages will eventually become great customer service tools as well.

If you do stick with email, plan on sending out the message several times. I might have attended the event had I been reminded when it was. As it happened the whole mailing list screw up frazzled everyone involved.

So what can we learn from this luxury car dealer about email campaigns?

1. Time your delivery.
2. Don’t use an email client with a CC list, use professional software.
3. Do protect your client’s data.
4. Do apologize if you make a mistake.

Three Ways to Out Rank Your Competitors on Google

September 28, 2009 10 comments

head to headTaking on the big dogs is always hard to do.  That’s what I did when I started optimizing for “Salt Lake City SEO.”

One of the fundamentals of SEO is established sites tend to out rank new sites because they have more links and more content.

While researching for that post, I found I could easily out rank my competition on the blog side, but out ranking on the website side would be much more difficult.  That’s OK.  I have a plan.

Use established sites to gain search engine ranking

There are probably a million sites to leverage to get a good ranking, but I like to submit to sites that will duplicate my work through RSS.

Article Directories

The easiest way to do this is submit content to article sites.  Article sites have been around a lot longer than any new websites, so they’ll show up in search engine results higher and sooner than anything else.  They also act as a filter for the visitor because if someone reads my article, then comes to my site for more information, it seems they are becoming a pretty well qualified prospect.  I only submit to article sites that allow anchor text so I am maximizing my time.  Other websites that use syndicated content take those feeds as is, so my anchor text gets duplicated all over the web.  I can even submit older articles from this site verbatim without worrying about a duplicate content penalty.

I am currently submitting articles to three of my favorite directories.  I will let you know how that turns out.

Press Releases

Press releases are one of my favorite ways to generate buzz, branding and inbound links.  They are great for new sites because the fact you’re launching a site is newsworthy in itself.  Press release sites not only distribute to major news sites, they also utilize RSS so blogs and other news aggregators scrape and publish your content.  To get the best distribution and the ability to use anchor text, it will cost you money, but the exposure is well worth it.

The key to writing a successful press release is making it newsworthy.  While it’s worth the money spent just for the links and the distribution, ideally you want to generate a release that will create press.  Too many web marketers submit press releases that are poorly written or just plain spam.  By taking the time to write something newsworthy, you will create something worth your effort.

I have not submitted any press releases yet, but I came up with two newsworthy ideas I think will generate some press.  I’m still working on some details, but plan to have idea one fully implemented this week.

Directory Sites

While doing some research on my targeted key words, I found some localized directory sites I thought would be worth submitting to.  Besides Blogtopsites and Blogtoplist which I always submit to, I found Blogcatalog and MerchantCircle.  Much to my surprise, I found the following for my key phrase a couple days ago:

Hi front page of Google!

Hi front page of Google!

Over time and after implementing some of my other strategies, I believe this site will rank in the top ten, but for now I’m pretty pleased.  Look out big dogs, I’m nipping at your heels!

If you want a hint about the future of SEO, this is it.  Other sites are the place you want to be; Facebook, Twitter, Directories, Google Maps, etc.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Seth Godin.  He’s launching Brands in Public, a content aggregator for companies.  For $400 a month you can get some pretty cheap SEO, but the idea has its detractors.  No matter how much people hate it, it’s going to happen.

Embrace change.

Blog Carnival Recap – 09-27-09

September 28, 2009 Leave a comment

carnival recapIt’s time for a new feature here at SEO by Swaby…the weekly blog carnival recap.

As I’ve told you, a blog carnival is a great way to get strong inbound links for content you’ve already written.  Now that I’ve got a few articles written, it’s time to promote again.  Carnivals are one of the best and easiest ways to do that.

Since my topic focus is quite wide, I’ve been fortunate to submit to nearly a dozen carnivals last week.  Because they don’t all publish at the same time, here’s what I’ve got so far:

Carnival of Social Media – Looks like a new one.  Could be good.

Working at Home Carnival – Been around for a while.  Lot’s of different subjects.

Blogging Blog Carnival – Still waiting to achieve maximum potential.

Blog it and Earn it Carnival – One of the better carnivals I’ve seen so far.

More carnivals will be coming your way next week.  Did you notice that some articles listed have a summary paragraph?  This was submitted by the author and can be a way to make your article stand out from the others.

I’ve got a lot of great articles coming out this week on this blog including:

Luxury car dealer completely messes up email campaign

and

Three ways to outrank your competition on Google.

Plus we’re looking for Utah’s top blogger.  Stay tuned!

Blog Carnivals as an Easy Inbound Link Source

September 25, 2009 5 comments

carnival clownsWhat the hell is a blog carnival?  That’s the question I found myself asking three years ago when I started my real estate blog.  What should I expect?  Do they work?  Will I get traffic?  Links?

Don’t worry, I will give you the answers to all of these questions and more.

A blog carnival is a kind of review of posts from other blogs, hosted by one site.  Depending on the structure of the carnival, there may be some commentary by the host, there may be judging or there may be just a list.  Those sites that get listed in the carnival are supposed to link back to the host, thus giving them added incentive for taking the time to review the submissions.

Sounds good right?  You get exposure on someone else’s site with an audience of your blog peers.  The first time I participated, I thought I would get a ton of traffic for my infant blog.  I didn’t.  The first time I hosted I thought traffic would be swarming.  It wasn’t.  What it did do was give me very solid inbound links and put me in touch with my fellow real estate bloggers.  From that standpoint blog carnivals are very beneficial and I highly recommend submitting and hosting one yourself.

I’ve been blogging here for a little over a month now.  I think I’ve got some great content.  Time to share.  So I headed over to the blog carnival directory.  Here is the place to find your niche and submit.  Back when I was a real estate blogger, there were about four or five carnivals I could legitimately submit.  You don’t want to spam the carnival.  There was one on personal finance, one on real estate investing and the grand daddy of them all…the Carnival of Real Estate.  After a little practice writing I got to the point where I could pretty much get listed for whatever article I submitted, but that meant I had to think of these audiences when I wrote.  Any lending advice for individuals was a good fit for the personal finance carnival, while I had to think more about real estate investors for the other one.  For the big one, an article on Salt Lake real estate wouldn’t usually do.  I had to have a more generic real estate or mortgage article.

Being an SEO blogger is so much broader that I can submit to a number of different carnivals.  Anything small business, technology, social media, blogging, etc. will work and I’ve got a pretty wide range of articles in the archives to submit.

I wait to really turn on the promotion engine until I have content.

Whenever you submit to a new carnival, it’s a good idea to look at the last one.  Then you can get an idea of what the submission criteria is, who’s been hosting, how many competitor articles there are and whether the hosts will just publish anything.  Usually they’re a bit selective.

So I honed my list last week and started submitting.  I don’t know whether this is new, but the blog carnival directory now allows you to save carnivals and you can use the saved list as a dashboard to quickly submit.  When I was doing this before, I had to go down their huge list each week.  Well the first article was published on a carnival called “blogging.”  Can anybody guess what it’s about?

If I may be blunt, this was a ho-hum carnival.  It was a list.  Boooring.  My apologies to the host.  The real estate carnivals used to be so much fun!  Most hosts would have a theme and then the main page of the carnival would do a special post for the host.  Look at the most recent carnival of real estate.  The host didn’t have a theme, but he did do a review of the posts and pointed out what caught his eye for the “winners.”  Plus he’s got quite a few comments showing the sense of community amongst that group of bloggers.

So what can you expect from participating in a blog carnival?  Not much in terms of traffic, but quite a bit in terms of inbound links and connections within your community.

Blog Carnival Submission Tips:

Don’t submit the same article to all the carnivals.  Mix it up.  Some of them actually require exclusive submissions.

Do read the rules before you submit.

Don’t spam!

Don’t submit poorly written articles.  You’re wasting your time and the host’s.

Do thank the host.

Do participate in the conversation that occurs on the thread.  Some of your new link partners will come from that community.

Do provide a link back to the carnival.  Provide a link even if your article didn’t get selected this week.

Do pay attention to submission deadlines.  Each carnival is different and each one can publish on a different day.

Do start a carnival of your own if you can’t find one in your topic area.

Blog for a Job – Three Ways to Succeed

September 24, 2009 6 comments

ikea_job_interviewWith unemployment in America soaring to nearly 10%, it’s now more important than ever to be able to distinguish yourself to employers.  Many people start writing blogs for personal reasons or business reasons, but finding job is a great reason to write one too.  This is especially true if you’re currently unemployed.

I’ve found that having a blog to provide as a reference is even more powerful than having a resume.  You can lie on a resume, but you can’t lie on a blog.  Your visitors will confront you if you do.  Plus a blog gives a potential employer true insight into how you think and how you write.

Blogging has become accepted as a legitimate profession, so it gets media attention.  I’ve been reading some stories in the media about people blogging for jobs and found that success relies on being one of these three types of bloggers:

  • Being an expert
  • Being unique
  • Being strategic

Elizabeth Ragone became an expert after she was bought out of her position at a clothing store.  She turned to the Internet to help with her job search, build a personal brand and do consulting work.

Ragone also put more emphasis on social networking and created a blog with her résumé and experience on the job hunt “to establish a personal brand.”

In the meantime, Ragone started a small consulting business to help pay the bills. “It was the best of both worlds: openly looking but employed and therefore more desirable,” Ragone said. “I wasn’t desperate.” She chronicled her activities on her blog.

When she found the job she wanted, Ragone showed them her blog –

She pointed them to her blog which elaborated on her knowledge of e-commerce and business. By April she was hired, and in May she relocated with her family and started her new career.

Everybody has some expertise in something.  Hopefully it’s in your career field, but even if it isn’t, blogging can show an employer how you think, how you write and even how you market yourself.

Brianna Karp has a unique story she blogged about that gave her a job and a bunch of media attention which has landed her another job.  Like many other Americans, Karp found herself homeless after losing her job as an executive assistant.  She detailed her struggles finding employment, parking the inherited travel trailer she was living in and shopping for thrift store clothing on her blog.  As a result, she recently won an internship with Elle magazine and has been profiled nationally and internationally.

If you don’t have a super inspiring story to capture media attention, don’t worry.  What’s your passion?  For Leslie Hall it’s tacky sweaters, spandex and performing gay marriage ceremonies in Ames, Iowa.

In April, Iowa became the third U.S. state to legalize gay marriage, and that got Hall’s wheels turning.

“I mean, talk about Iowa business opportunities popping up at even the darkest of times,” she said.

The $299 package includes a ring bearer, a cake from Dairy Queen, two songs performed by Hall and a ceremony in any style the couple chooses.

Her plan seems to be successful –

Now, Hall said, she’s in talks with HBO for her own show.

“You just try and make money through your art any way you can and I’ve just been lucky enough to do it through music, fashion, photos and performance,” Hall said. “I think I can take this all the way to Hollywood.”

Being strategic is what helped Renee Libby land a job in her advertising field.  She used Twitter to follow people in advertising and formed 140 character relationships by tweeting relevant news and links to her own articles.

To connect to others, users choose to “follow” them and then gain access to their tweets. Once someone receives an alert that they have a new follower, they often reciprocate.

Libby successfully used this strategy to get a freelance position which soon turned into a full-time job.  She’s even making more money than she did at her former employer!

Rachel Gold is strategically scheduling interviews with companies that aren’t hiring in hopes of landing a job.

She has focused her job search on social networking Web sites, making contacts with recruiters that could someday lead to a job.

Each week, she sets up meetings with potential future employers even though there may not be jobs open at the time.

And yes, she blogs.  She writes about things she’s doing and enjoying New York City on a budget.  Gold has also posted her resume on her site.  While she’s still looking for employment, I believe her personal word of mouth campaign with employers that may not quite be ready to hire today will work out for her.  National media exposure on CNN can’t hurt either!

If you’re one of the nearly six million Americans who is out of a job right now, why not start blogging?  If you have expertise, passion or a strategy, blogging can help you find a job.  Personally I think someone who doesn’t have any Internet presence is almost as bad has someone who has a negative presence.  You don’t have to blog to get on Google.  Join LinkedIn, or Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be able to find like minded people.  Blogging will give you something to do while searching for a job, plus it will update your writing, typing, reading and software skills.  Keep the rust off!

Link Building – Avoid the Bad Neighborhoods

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

bad neighborhoodIn my last two articles on link building, I’ve mentioned the bad neighborhood concept, but not really explained it fully.

I’d like to discuss the concept and share a tool you can use to avoid Internet bad neighborhoods.

Everybody has stumbled across an Internet bad neighborhood at some point in their surfing.  Sites with multiple pop-up ads, link farms, pay per surf offers, safelists and others are types of bad neighborhood sites.  The search engines hate them because they try and game the system and typically don’t offer any quality content.

Google writes on their webmaster site

  • Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

Google wants search to be natural and will penalize sites that try to skirt the rules.

How do you avoid bad neighborhoods?

Don’t link to them.  If somebody asks me for a link, I look at the site.  Is it relevant to mine?  Does it offer value to my readers?  Is it full of ads and popups?  If these questions aren’t answered to my satisfaction, I don’t link to it.  I normally find sites I link to through Google searches.  Those are generally safe to link to.  Now that I’m getting pushed links from Twitter, Facebook and other social sites, I simply look at the site and ignore it if it doesn’t offer any value.  If it does, I bookmark it for later use.

What if you can’t tell you’re in a bad neighborhood?

There are a few occasions when this might happen.  While researching this article, I found a pretty cool tool to help.  This tool is useful on several levels just as a link checker so you can verify you don’t have any broken links on your page.  It’s also possible a domain you once linked to has expired and been taken over by some scam artist.  This tool will help you go through those old links to verify they still work!

Use links to your advantage, avoid Internet bad neighborhoods and enjoy good search engine rankings and visitors who are interested in your site.

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