Friday, July 29, 2011

Why Your Link Requests Are Failing

by Kristi Hines, July 26, 2011

Picture this: You walk up to a local business, walk through the door, up to the first person you see, and say "Hi, I'd like you to put this sticker on your window because I sell products that people who come to your establishment might like, too." (Said sticker is an address to your business.)

Think it will be successful? Probably not.

Now let's try this scenario: Instead of asking for them to put a sticker on their window, you pick up one of their mailers to customers and ask them to put your address in the middle of one of their articles, again because readers of the mailer might be interested in your products.

Again, this probably won't be successful. Your only chance in either scenario is going to be if said local business accepts advertising, in which case you're going to have to pay them to get your business advertised on their window or in their mailer.

Now let's think about quality. Sure the Joe Schmo business next door might take you up on your offer. But what if you tried to walk up to the biggest retail chain in your area and asked them to do the same thing? Would your request be granted? Doubtful.

This is, essentially, what clients want link builders to do for them. They don't want to offer anything of value content-wise, but they want people who have probably never heard of them before to just magically place their name and website address on their website. And it's just about as absurd as the above described scenarios.

So the next time clients are complaining about the fact that the links they get are only paid or only high quality, it's time to turn the tables on them.

It's not you, the link builder, who is to blame because I'm sure you've been successful with clients who have good content on their site, or at least a good reputation.

It's the client that needs work. You need to stop link building and start content development. And not just one piece of content that might not appeal to everyone, but several pieces. Think about developing the kind of content that Wikipedia would find as a suitable resource for one of their pages.

How-to guides, tutorials, detailed histories, facts about the industry, current trends, videos, and so forth. These are the types of content that people will want to link to. No one wants to just link to sales pages and product pages unless the page you're targeting specifically says, "Here are some great resources to buy __."

What if your client refuses to add any link-worthy content to their site? Then tell them that, realistically, the only opportunities you'll be able to get for them are directories, paid advertising links, or other lower hanging fruit.

Why? Because authority sites link to valuable resources - not just products or sales pages, especially if it's you competing against thousands of other stores that offer the same items or services.

In short, your client needs to ensure that their site offers value. If it does, then it will gain links. If not, then they will have to settle for whatever they can get, and that may not be what they optimally are looking for.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

71% of Online Americans Visit Video-Sharing Sites by Greg Jarboe, July 27, 2011

Kathleen Moore of the Pew Internet Project has just written a report that says 71 percent of online Americans now use video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, up from 33 percent 4.5 years ago. The use of video-sharing sites on any given day has also jumped, from 8 percent of online Americans in December 2006 to 28 percent in May 2011.

Pew also found that Internet users in rural areas are now just as likely as users in urban and suburban areas to have used these sites, and online African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than Internet-using whites to visit video-sharing sites. In addition, 81 percent of parents in the survey reported visiting video‐sharing sites, compared with 61 percent of the non-parents.

According to Moore, “The rise of broadband and better mobile networks and devices has meant that video has become an increasingly popular part of users’ online experiences.” She added, “People use these sites for every imaginable reason – to laugh and learn, to watch the best and worst of popular culture and to check out news. And video-sharing sites are very social spaces as people vote on, comment on, and share these videos with others.”

In her report, Moore also said, “The rise in use of video‐sharing sites is at least partly being driven by the growth in content on sites like YouTube and by user contributions, which then possibly encourage site visits by contributors’ friends and others who pass around links about popular amateur videos.”

According to the latest statistics from YouTube, 48 hours of content are uploaded every minute to the site, and the range of contributions is striking. YouTube lists 28 different categories for channels of video.

YouTube viewership has grown from 8 million views a day by the end of 2005, to over 3 billion views a day in 2011, according to the company’s data. And the company receives over 200 million views a day via mobile connections.

And, as I mentioned on July 17, comScore and YouTube are partnering to launch YouTube Partner Reporting this summer. This new enhanced online video measurement feature will break out individual audiences and demographic data for partners and their channels for the first time.

Finally, if you’re going to SES San Francisco 2011 next month, check out these sessions, which will cover YouTube or video marketing:

Social Media Solutions on a Budget
•Next Gen YouTube Marketing
•SEW Labs - The Use of Video in Social Media
•The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Local Online Business Listing Hijacking: Protecting Your Identity

Jeff Beard, July 15, 2011

Many businesses, local search platforms, and social networks suffer from listings hijackers. Usually, listings hijackers are individuals that attempt to tamper with local business listings, repurposing those online identities for their own benefit. Many of their dubious hijacking methods can be compared to black hat SEO techniques.

Some of these hijackers claim other local business’ organic listings that haven’t been claimed and authorized by a representative of the business itself, because they don't have physical locations, but could benefit from having one due to the business they generate from local markets. Others might hijack listings merely for the competitive advantage of replacing a competitor's online information with their own business name, address, and phone number (NAP) details.

These hijackers and spammers are creating havoc for legitimate local businesses, as well as the local search industry as a whole, because they negatively impact the sanctity of local business listing NAPs (and often categories).

Unfortunately, many local search platforms don't yet offer adequate solutions to stop listings hijackers because a solid verification and authorization process has not been put in place. Most sites aren’t able to verify that the individual claiming or modifying a listing is a true representative of that business.

How Big is the Problem?

To shed some light, here are some statistics from the past 12 months:

In the Localeze database, unauthorized individuals have made more than 11,000 failed attempts to claim listings by changing the business name, phone number, and category within a listing (but not the address).
Nearly 25 percent of unauthorized attempts originated from IP addresses outside the U.S.
Most of these individuals were trying to hijack listings by claiming the listing’s address and changing the category to a service-to-home category. This indicates that the hijackers were likely representatives of a business with no fixed location and/or with a network of mobile workers.

The categories most prone to listings hijackers are largely service-based businesses and include:

Locksmiths (a category which just received mainstream attention in The New York Times)
Plumbing Contractors
Automobile Glass
Computer Service & Repair
Garage Doors & Openers Service and Repair

A Real Life Example of Local Search Business Hijacking

Some hijackers try to take advantage of local business listings outside of these categories by claiming listings from other categories and repurposing them as their own, to generate leads, for sale, for local businesses like plumbers or locksmiths. These individuals are essentially stealing listings illicitly, aggregating leads to build traffic and passing them on to local business customers.

To illustrate the problem, we reviewed a case where an individual attempted to hijack a business listing in Dallas listed as a dental office. The would-be claimer tried to change the business name to “Royal Locksmiths” and replace the local phone number with a toll-free number. They also tried to change the business category from “Dental Offices” to “Locksmiths.”

It was clear the individual trying to claim the listing was questionable. To confirm there was a dental office at the listed address, we called the local phone number in the organic listing and determined the office had been there for more than seven years.

We called the toll-free number submitted for “Royal Locksmiths” and asked when we could stop in to have a key made. Their reply: “We don’t have an office you can come to.”

This is just one example highlighting the chaos that hijackers are creating across the local search business listings ecosystem.

What Should Businesses do to Protect Their Online Identities?

The majority of organic local business listings remain unclaimed and unprotected by an authorized business representative. This leaves those listing identities highly vulnerable to hijacking by spammers, squatters, and even competitors.

To closely guard their online presence and protect their identities, businesses should always verify and claim listings on as many local search platforms and social sites as possible and/or partner with business listing management providers to ensure consistency, governance, and reach. This includes managing listings over time and routinely checking to make sure local online NAP information is appearing correctly. Otherwise, online business listings could be tampered with and disseminated across the local search ecosystem, making it a major challenge for customers to find a local business in online or mobile search results.

Monday, July 18, 2011

5 Reasons Google+ Is Not A Facebook Killer by Dave Davies

For the past couple weeks, a select gathering of us (likely including many Search Engine Watch readers) have been playing with Google+. It's an interesting social media experiment by Google, but it is likely to remain that. Another "almost ran" in the social media game; another Google property that just won't quite make it. Here are five reasons why.
1. Usability
A huge problem Google will face here is that we all know how we use our social media tools and why.
Let's look back to May 2010, when Facebook had the "audacity" to force a layout change on its users – a change that garnered 1.7 million protests and many more complaints (including one from yours truly). If people are this opposed to simply adjusting how they use a single social media site (and let's be honest, the changes really weren't that significant; no manual required), who's going to want to learn an entirely new layout and way to communicate to do... the same things you can do on Facebook.
The overall layout of Google+ is similar to that of Facebook (coincidence?) but the subtle differences are going to be problematic in a world where you have the user's attention for a whopping five seconds. If they can't find what they're looking for, they're gone.
2. Verbiage
Let's say I tell you I "beige" something... what does that mean to you? Not a whole lot I'd imagine, because you don't have a base of reference for the word "beige" as a vote of support or opposition. 
Now let's say I tell you I "like" something... what does that mean to you? Fortunately, we've all gone through our lives "liking" things so we have an easy reference.
I'm pretty sure by now you all see where this is going. None of us has a pre-exposed reference to "+1" as any type of support point. I've never listened to a band in a pub and shouted to the guy next to me, "I really plus one this song... it's awesome!"
People like what they know and from the outset, the idea of +1 as a rating of support has been a point of head scratching and mild snickering. This additional lack of intuitive use is another point against Google in the battle for users' hearts and minds.
3. Usefulness
Google+ has some awesome features. My personal favorite is Circles.  That one may want to share something publicly but differently is a concept well grasped by Google.
The friends I went to the pub with and listened to the song I completely "plus one" are different than my co-workers. And goodness knows my SEO friends are different than anyone else I know.
Google created Circles to allow the easy filtering of messages by grouping friends and the easy sharing of images, status updates, etc. to and from these same groups. It's a great idea.
Unfortunately, my dad doesn't have this problem, nor does my sister, nor does my grandmother; in fact, about 80 percent of the people I know are OK with one level of sharing. And if it is a bit of a bother to them, it's less of a bother to put on the personal filter every now and then than to try to adopt yet another communications medium.
Sure, we geeks love new toys and we like to try new things, so we were happy to create a new account, figure out how to use it, play around in the settings, upload our photos again, etc. But how many of your relatives would?
4. Purpose
Sometimes the simple question needs to be asked (and every 2-year-old knows it): Why?
We know why Google wants the project to be successful. If Google+ became even half as successful as Facebook, the information on relationships they could collect and what that could mean to them as far as feeding advertising in our direction more accurately would be incredible. But we're not Google.
Oh sure, we'll play around with Google+, but if your non-tech friends and family don't adopt it, it'll likely become that thing you check every blue moon when you remember it's there.
The problem Google is up against is that Facebook really isn't bad. Plus, it's already got virtually everyone you likely know signed up, connected, profiles built, comments, and history. Why would anyone give that up when there isn't a problem? So you can drop people in Circles as you attempt to rebuild your full friends list and convince your parents to join Google+?
And for those of you thinking, why not use both, I would ask ... why? Do we really want to waste more time updating our statuses – now on multiple websites? Tagging photos, chatting with friends, etc.? I think not.
5. Convenience
I touched on it before, but it's a core issue with Google+ that's worth discussing on its own. Using Google+ is not convenient.
I, like many, am busy. The number of draws on my time increases almost daily, many of these draws from the online world. I've got Facebook, Twitter, Skype, AIM, MSN, forums, a blog, email, the phone and (here comes the shocker) live human interaction. Why on Earth would I want another?
The single biggest problem that Google may be up against right now is that they're fighting a battle from behind. While I anticipate very solid growth early on, once users realize that many of their friends haven't moved over, rather than have to access yet another social media resource to communicate, they'll slowly move back to just the one. The one where all their friends and contacts already are, where they can communicate in one location: Facebook.
Will Google+ die? Maybe not. It's possible the folks at Google will adapt and focus it more against LinkedIn than Facebook; that battle they could win, as it's the same audience.
But Google+ is not set to become the Facebook killer it's hyped to be. It just doesn't solve any problems worth solving for the majority of people.
And now, back to check my Facebook messages – and maybe Google+, if there's time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

TOP 25 - July 2011 Edition - Charlotte Twitterati™

This month’s Top 25 is brought to you by   
Veranda® ArmorGuard™ Composite Decking

CGR Creative is bringing you the 3rd Edition of our Charlotte Twitterati. The Charlotte Twitterati is our monthly index of the Queen City’s most influential citizens. Each month we present an updated list of the top 25.

Top 25

  1. Jeff Elder - @jeffelder - 128
  2. Donna Maria Coles Johnson - @indiebusiness - 120
  3. Quote Of the Day - @quotetheday - 119
  4. Uncle Bob Martin - @unclebobmartin - 119 
  5. Brandon Uttley - @brandonuttley - 115
  6. Mommywords - @mommywords - 114
  7. Jeff Gluck - @jeff_gluck - 114
  8. TweetMyJOBS- @tweetmyjobs - 114
  9. Osfoora - @osfoora - 114
  10. Brad Williams - @chrisharrisnfl - 108
  11. Charlotte Observer - @theobserver - 107
  12. Genevieve Jooste - @GenevieveJooste - 105
  13. Denny Hamlin - @dennyhamlin -104
  14. Robert Enriquez - @roberte - 102
  15. Mysty Wuori - @mysticle - 103
  16. Jenna Fryer -@jennafryer - 100 
  17. The Android Site - @theandroidsite -99
  18. Lauriana Zukowski - @laurianaz -99
  19. Sandy Salle - @hillsofafrica -98
  20. Marc DeCaria - @MarcDecaria - 98
  21. SPEED - @speed - 97 
  22. Discovery Place - @discoveryplace - 91
  23. Scott Speed - @scottspeed - 90
  24. Brandon Kirkley - @brandonkirkley - 89
  25. Jeff Gordon - @jeffgordonweb - 87

How We Calculate It
The Top 25 is determined by combining individual scores from and We get the initial list from the top 50 listed on and We create a list of all the names and then look at their Klout and PeerIndex scores. The composite totals give us the monthly Charlotte Twitterati.

Charlotte, NC
According to, Charlotte is the 27th most active city in the United States and 41st in the World. This is based on number of users listing Charlotte, NC on their Twitter profile.

Follow the Twitterati!/cgrcreative/charlotte-twitterati
Keep up with the Joneses by subscribing to our list on Twitter which tracks every member of the Twitterati in one group.

About CGR Creative
CGR Creative is a full-service advertising agency located in Charlotte's historic Southend area. We offer web design, graphic design, search engine optimization, printing

Who Did We Miss?
Do you have any recommendations for a highly influential, Charlotte-based user we missed? Please send us an email with your nomination, and we will add them to the index. Send your message to

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter as well - twitter@cgrcreative.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Office Style: Suits

Maintaining stylish looks during summer-time heat can be quite tricky, but not impossible. The bar is raised when trying to sustain your fashion appeal in a more business conscience setting, such as the corporate office. When dress-codes are a factor, or an event requires you to dress more formally, do not worry; there’s a way to continue to be stylish without dying from heat exhaustion.

Two fabric’s you’ll want to have, hold, and cherish: linen and light cotton.  They’ll never forsake you in the hot and sticky months, and did I mention how well they breathe? May I suggest investing in a few light-cotton and linen suits?  They’ll have you looking as though you’re ready for a productive day at the office, while you feel like you're casual and ready for a night out. This season is meant for bright colors and laid back comfort, so why not do both? Don’t be afraid to add some summer time flair to your ensembles; it is “SUMMER” after all. Try putting on some accessories with your suits (Beaded bracelet, colored strap watch,  etc. ), lose the laces on the foot wear, and let your ankles breathe like the rest of your body. Try on some loafers or some casual sneakers; its summer time, act like it.

Fit: The materials linen and light cotton are designed to be a little loose fitted and flowing for comfort, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about fit; it’s still very important. Look for shirts and jackets with a slim flattering fit, high armhole, slim sleeve, and pants that are more of a straight leg fit. I would also recommend looking for a jacket with a more natural shoulder. A soft shoulder (jacket with a small shoulder pad) is more appropriate when worn casually. GAP and J.CREW are two brands that consistently design jackets of this caliber every Spring/Summer season.

Color Tips: Allow your style to talk through your accessories and shoes, keep your suit on the classy side. You want to look good in the office, not appear as if you’re trying to break the dress-code. With that said, try putting your stamp on a few colors like dark British khaki, deep olive, navy blue or, even, the mostly overlooked,  brown; they’ll be some great colors to own.

After a day at the office, unbutton the shirt, and remove the tie. Take it casual with a t-shirt and some sneakers for a quick summer weekend or night out.

Friday, July 1, 2011

When is the Best Time to Start a PPC Campaign?

Pay-Per-Click, or PPC Search Engine Marekting, is quite lucrative for Google and the other tier one search engines. The online market dictates competition which yields higher Cost-Per-Clicks. Some keywords could cost anywhere from $2.00 to an upwards of $82.00 per keyword phrase. It's pretty insane.  It does work to increase new acquisitions though.

What are the benefits to PPC? You can get your ad rotated right on page one of Google, Bing or Yahoo/MSN. If you run through your budget, your ad will find its way off the Search Engine Results page as quickly as it got there. If you are strategic in your efforts to market your NEW product or service, even remarket it, then you might find PPC is well worth the money. If you are a highly competitive business, you may want to consider running a small PPC campaign. The great thing about Adwords is you can target any geo location to rotate your advertisements. You will also see where every dollar is going as long as your tracking is set up correctly. Then you can decide if the Return on your Investment is there or not. If you don't have a decent budget to invest in PPC, then don't waste your time.  Try another marketing strategy that benefits your budget.

Once you set up your Adwords campaign, be sure to link it to Google Analytics for more robust metrics. You will be able to measure page views, unique visitors, bounce rate, and more. It gives you a great gauge for your performance and helps you optimize accordingly. If you are not too savvy with managing and optimizing online campaigns, definitely hire an agency to do it for you.  You will find it's worth a few extra bucks to pay an expert in the grand scheme of things.

After you get your name out on the web via PPC, it's best to work on a simultaneous SEO and social media/PR campaign to continue the legacy.