Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Are You Collaborating Enough?

May 8, 2008

Listening to Marketing Over Coffee on the way home, there was a very small section talking about GoogleDocs and how you can activate a form to collect data for you. It also made me think further on the question about how much we’re collaborating (or not collaborating) online.

We had to create a wiki for our social media class, and of course, wikis tell you how much (or little) someone edited the final output. It was noted that a handful of people contributed the majority of the content, which made our Professor, Michael Netzley, less than thrilled. I brought up the point that though a few people may have been the actual ones to enter the text, doesn’t mean the whole team did not collaborate together. Both sides are debatable, but that’s not the point.

I’m an assistant scout leader for my alma mater’s scout troop and every year around this time we have a camp. As with previous years, the emails pile up, meeting minutes get distributed, camp schedules get sent and changed and re-sent and re-changed until eventually, no one knows what in the world is going on anymore.

To solve this, I set up a wiki for the leaders. It’s a private wiki so I’m sorry I can’t share the link. I will however say that we’re using PBwiki, which I find to be superior to Wetpaint in terms of editing as well as help. But that aside, so far it’s been helping us keep track of personnel and manpower, topics of discussion, a couple of things to be noted, schedules, equipment lists and so on.

No more losing of minutes on paper, no more “can you send me the latest schedule? I can’t find it”. Everything is up there and updated. To the minute.

So why aren’t more of us doing this? Is it the challenge of working alone as Michael brings up? Or an unwillingness to change our styles of working?

Does it make sense for us to share our items on Google Reader (my shared items are here)? Or on del.icio.us? How about collaborating on Google Docs in the classroom? In the office?

To me the biggest problem is convincing the people you’re working with that it’s worth their while. In my scout case study, I knew the people who were primarily going to enter the data would be the younger adult leaders, while the older leaders would keep and eye on it from time to time. To both of these groups, you gotta speak their language.

To my peers, it was the idea of collaboration. To see everything in one place, to have links and for easy reading. To the senior leaders, it was the idea of streamlining information. Not losing paper, not having to distinguish whether schedule(final).doc is the true schedule or schedule(final)THISISTHEREALFINAL.doc is the true schedule.

So how’s collaboration working (or not working) for you? Are you using wikis regularly? Online document processors or software based? Is it a challenge convincing your classmates/colleagues to use it as well?

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SEO Guest Post #3: How Much Should You Know About SEO?

March 24, 2008

How much should the average blogger know about SEO?

Frankly, the average blogger does not need to be worry about SEO. Here’s why:

First, the blogging platform which most bloggers use, such as Blogger.com and WordPress.com are generally search engine friendly come complete with SEO-friendly default template or theme.

Second, most bloggers do not need to rely on the search engines to bring them traffic. They can get traffic from the plethora of social networks and Web 2.0 sites.

If you are interested to find out what are the other 20 ways of generating traffic, click: The 21 Traffic Generation Methods

SEO For Blogs

SEO is appplicable to the more advanced bloggers, who are not in the average or casual bloggers category, and those sites which rely on the search engines to drive new visitors to their blogs.

Usually, these blogs focus on a topic of interest or a niche, e.g. Engadget.com which blogs about the latest electronic gadgets and Blogopreneur.com which focuses on SEO and Blog Marketing.

blog marketing singapore

The 7 Unbreakable Rules of SEO

In order to make your blog rank well for your targeted keywords, these are the 7 things that you need to do and must pay attention to:

  1. Focus on one keyword per blog post. Stay within the theme of the keyword.
  2. Keyword-rich blog title. Blog engines such as WordPress automically uses the blog title in the <title> tag.
  3. Write a description for each post and add it to the <meta name=”description” …> tag. Make sure you include your targeted keyword in the description. See #7 below.
  4. Use the keywords in the first paragraph of your post and repeat it as many times as per your editorial requirement.
  5. Focus on writing great content. Make it useful to your targeted readers and interesting enough for fellow bloggers to quote you and give you that valuable backlink.
  6. Use a SEO-friendly theme. The WordPress’s default Kubrick theme is SEO-friendly. And most variants of the Kubrick theme are also SEO-friendly. Don’t worry about the cosmetic effect first. It is more important to get into Google and have a good following because of your interesting content.
  7. The SEO-All-in-One Pack for WordPress is a must-have plugin if you want your blog SEO-friendly and it helps you to prevent duplicated content. This WordPress plugin for SEO also enables you to enter description for each individual post.

P.S. You will need the self-installed version of WordPress to install plugin. So you will not be able to do #2 and #7 if you are using free blog at WordPress.com.

About the author: Shi Heng Cheong is the SEO Trainer with Finggle Pte Ltd, a SEO training company based in Singapore.

Lessons From The SMU = NTU Ad

March 21, 2008

Now that the SMU = NTU ad buzz is dying down (or is it just picking up? TIMM Guru put an ad up on Google for people to discover why NTU used the keywords), I think it’s important to look at a few lessons from the whole fiasco:

1) Track What’s Happening

I set up a Google Alert for “SMU NTU” yesterday and quite a few people picked this up, as well as the front page of Singapore Daily. If you’re a company, especially in our small market in Singapore, can you afford this kind of negative publicity? Even if there’s no “new media” person at your company, the least you should do is set up a Google Alert for your company’s name.

2) Respond Quickly

But it’s not enough to know that people are talking about you. You need to respond. Fast. I know on the comments page of sg_ljers one NTU student is valiantly trying to defend the school, but it isn’t working. To be fair, for all we know this could have been the result of a genuine mistake, maybe the mistake was on Google’s part, maybe it’s a typo. The fact is we will not know because NTU chose to keep quiet. It’s going to hit 48 hours since the news was first posted and the blogosphere will move on. People will forever remember the incident as a “fault” of NTU’s, simply because they did not take the opportunity to engage and respond.

3) Your Brand Isn’t What You say It Is, It’s What Google & The Internet Says It Is

The commenter on sg_ljers said:

But I just want to highlight how easily people can draw conclusions based on what they see (which is worse than conclusions based on what they don’t see). Hasn’t it occurred to anyone that SMU might have the same tactic? Hasn’t it occurred to you that maybe NTU is not behind that link? Personally I wouldn’t think that the NTU corp comm would be so dumb as to ruin their own reputation like that.

Yes, bloggers draw conclusions at face value and quickly and will look for the most controversial story instead of the most likely one (although in this case they are probably the same). We’re not journalists, we’re not going to do research or contact NTU Corporate Communications to find out. We will just blog. And the internet will represent it as such. And who reads the internet? Well…

4) Know Your Audience

If this appeared in the Straits Times forum, you can bet NTU would have responded quickly. But choosing not to join the conversation online may be their biggest folly. Who’s reading print? Not me. Probably people much older than me. Who’s on the internet? Who’s picking up this story on Twitter? Your prospective students (or from a business perspective, prospective customers). Just because the discussion is not via your media of choice, does not mean the people in that discussion do not matter. They could matter more.

5) The Internet Is Permanent

Google “SMU NTU” now and you’ll see the SMU = NTU ad as the first link. Now every year new students are going to compare the two business schools and see this issue as well as this (from Tomorrow.sg):

They will draw their own conclusions. I’m betting those conclusions aren’t positive. Again, your brand is what Google says it is.

Finally, I ran this article not to be sensational or controversial for the sake of being controversial, but as an experiment to see if NTU would reply, even with an explicit call out. I think the results speak for themselves.

My word of advice to all companies would be not to ignore what is said about you online. The content creators (ie bloggers, Youtube video creators, Flickr posters, podcasters) are the new gatekeepers of the online community. This one post led to all those other online posts which will enjoy the multiplier effect via word of mouth to reach thousands (more if it were Xiaxue). And you ignore them at your peril.

By the way I can’t seem to replicate the results anymore. Can you? Result of NTU getting rid of the ad? We’ll probably never know. Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Where Did SMU = NTU Ad Go??

March 19, 2008

Wanida picked up the NTU advertisement post and posted it on Sg_ljers, which got quite a conversation.

Keen eyes noticed that if you try to search for it right now, the NTU ad is no longer there. Here’s the screenshot taken at 11:13pm (click for bigger picture).

No NTU Ad?

So I’m calling out NTU to respond either here or at Sg_ljers or anywhere on the internet: What happened to your ad? Did you read about this and remove it? Did it run out of budget? (Nods to Amelia).

Whatever the reason, why was it done in the first place? Clearly the corporate communications department is new media savvy enough to use AdWords, now use that same ability to respond to the conversation! I think the blogosphere should know what’s going on.

Google SMU = Get NTU?

March 19, 2008

Google SMU Singapore (Singapore Management University) now and you’ll get this result (click for bigger picture):

Google “SMU + Singapore”

The top result? A fake paid link by NTU (Nanyang Technological University). I understand Google can be gamed, but do we really need to do this? Is it bordering on unethical behavior? What do you think?

Edit: Note that I’m not making a big deal out of NTU appearing on an SMU search. It happens with Google and it’s okay. The point is that the paid link says “SMU Singapore” but the URL link is “ntu.edu.sg”. Clearly misleading.

Did Marketers Ever Have Control?

March 15, 2008

Thinking about my Snapfish posts and the whole debate going on about whether or not we as marketers or communications people should be comfortable with using social media for business because taking that leap requires giving up a large portion of control to your consumers or the general public.

Name-dropping in history

Sticking just to music, bands that existed before or just when the internet came into existence did name-drop brands. From LFO (Abercrombie & Fitch), Barenaked Ladies (Snickers), Run DMC (Adidas) and recently, Melee (JetBlue). (Here’s a good list of brand names appearing in songs)

Though product placement is gaining popularity now, it certainly wasn’t in the early ’90s, though Abercrombie & Fitch enjoyed some market growth and Run DMC was eventually approached to be Adidas’s spokesperson.

Prior to the internet, unless you were one of those bands or maybe Oprah, what you thought about a brand would not grow larger than conversation at the bar.

What’s Changed: The Ants Have Megaphones

Borrowing the phrase from Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail (brilliant book), the ants have megaphones. The democratisation of media means that anyone can be a critic, a brand advocate, or a “journalist”. Because of that, your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what Google says it is. Given the long tail of bloggers, reviews, youtube videos and the like, a search for your brand could turn up negative reference (Dell Hell anyone?)

I don’t think marketers ever had control. But now they have to sit up and deal with the fact that many “ants” collectively can affect a brand (for better or worse), and we’re not as easy to deal with compared to offering a spokesperson contract to Run DMC. We want honest and open company dealings and we will take companies to task for failing to do so.

In short: our conversations are not restricted to bar talk anymore, and it would be folly for a company to ignore it.

Positive or negative brand experiences with social media? Let’s hear it! (Don’t worry, I don’t think you’re ants!)

SEO Guest Post #1

February 29, 2008

As promised, we’re kicking off a series of guest posts by Shi Heng Cheong on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Here’s question #1:

1) What is SEO and Why Does it Matter?


SEO is about getting visitors to your Web site from search engines by being visible when people search for terms related to your site’ content. SEO is more than just getting high ranking in the search engine results page(SERP).

Targeted Traffic High Response

You want search engine traffic because these are filtered traffic and highly relevant to your site’s content which in turn increases the success rate of getting your most wanted response.

Effective search engine optimization strategies can get you the search engine visibility and targeted traffic to promote your services and products. It is low cost, offers measureable results and imposes no geographical barrier.

On the other hand, advertising and promotion using traditional media is high cost, results not easily measureable and usually confined by geographical barriers.

Search Engine and The Long Tail

Search engine is an effective tool for filtering The Long Tail, and it is in this part of the market that search engine optimization and search marketing excel.

Now, small and medium-sized companies with limited marketing resources can tap into this huge number of niches and grow their business. The days of blockbuster hits are numbered. With the Internet and ever increasing online space, more variety can be offered in smaller numbers. Think Amazon.com and eBay.com.

The search engine helps the consumers to find the unique products they want. As for the merchants, it is important that their Web site can be found in the search engine results listing.

SEO – Marketers’ Core Competence

Search engine optimization should and will be the core competence for all marketers as companies rely more on the Internet to conduct business. Using the search engine to promote your business need not be rocket science.

Here’s the 3 simple steps that will ensure good ranking and quality traffic to your site:

1. Select the right keywords

2. Make your Web design search engine friendly

3. Make your site simple and easy-to-use

About the author: Shi Heng Cheong is with Finggle Pte Ltd – a search marketing training company that conducts regular SEO Web Design Courses and SEO workshops to Web specialists, marketing professionals and business owners.

Adventures In Social Media #2

February 26, 2008

Last week I posted adventures in social media #1 with Derrick Kwa, and this week I’m moving on to #2 Shi Heng Cheong with aka TIMM Guru (that’s The Internet Marketing Machine Guru), specialising in SEO (search engine optimisation) in Singapore.

Shi found my post on Singapore trying to join the Google race and left his comment here, as well as a post of his own.

Shi will be contributing a number of guest posts to this blog revolving around the top 10 questions about SEO that you should want to know.

If you have no idea what SEO is or are tempted to brush it off as unimportant, don’t. Remember how the saying used to be “no one ever got fired for putting a 30 second spot in the marketing plan”? Well, the new saying is “no one ever got fired for putting search in the marketing plan”, and that’s what SEO is all about.

First guest post on SEO should be up by the end of this week or early next week, subscribe via RSS to make sure you don’t miss out on it!

Follow Up On Singapore’s Google Race

January 26, 2008

I’ve been blogging multiple times a day for the last few days and sometimes I wonder if it’s an overkill, but yet there’s so much in the blogosphere that I really feel I need to share.

One great conversation that has been picked up, is that of Singapore attempting to create the next Google which I posted about here. While I certainly don’t claim to have started this conversation, it’s been talked about in other sites like Geek SG and TIMMGuru posted a very Singaporean comment (and I mean that in a good way), about how this isn’t so much about the ends of creating a Google clone, but the process in which Singapore gets the publicity (mockingly so or not), which then serves the purpose of attracting talent.

What are your views on the issue? Comment here, over at GeekSG or TIMMGuru, it doesn’t really matter, but the web should hear the voices of others – particularly Singaporeans – on what they think on the issue.

Google Notebook = End Of Research Headaches

January 24, 2008

I really don’t know how new Google Notebook is, because officially the press release states May 2006, but I’ve not heard of it till now (nor have I heard of anyone discussing it).

What’s so great about it, comes about especially when doing research. When I travel or do research on a product or just general research for a paper, I usually end up creating a bookmark folder and dumping everything inside, and then when I need to consolidate my information I have to open up all the bookmarks again and find the relevant part. Either that or I cut and paste everything to one big Microsoft Word document, but then it’s not universally accessible (ie if I make note of travel places, unless I carry that document around, it’s useless outside of my desktop).

The solution? Google Notebook. It puts everything on one page, and you can even create sub-sections to find the exact things you want. I posted an image below for my exchange research, you can see that even though the entire sheet is called “Exchange”, I can separate them by schools (or whatever criteria I want), and easily see where different sections begin and end later. Of course, I can Google search the whole document as well. Can’t recommend this enough.

Click for full view

 Google Notebook

I think the best thing about this Google product, is that it’s instantly relevant. How many times have you downloaded something and it takes too long to fiddle around with and it gets uninstalled? Happened to me for Google Desktop. In fact I recently re-downloaded it after a year to see if it got better. Nope. I think they need to get their Desktop product team to learn a thing or two from their Notebook team. Not in terms of design, but in communicating what the product does better. The “Take A Tour” feature for Notebook is definitely far superior to that of Desktop.