Archive for the ‘Search’ Category

Don’t Look Any Further. Social Media = CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

May 12, 2008

I originally meant for this post to show some excerpts from Pat’s blog today, titled “The Holy Trinity Of Blogging“, until I realised she has it so spot on and so easily understood that there really is little else I could add by posting about it. (That said, do check out the link, relevant to individuals and companies alike.)

But as I sat down to start writing tonight, I realised there’s a bigger question here: Why, out of the many, many links sent to me and blog posts that I read a day, did I want to particularly highlight Pat’s? Someone who I have never talked to online or in person? Of course because it’s relevant and well-written, but there’s something else.

It started with a tweet:

This is the second direct message she sent me, the first was even more targeted, saying something like “for the social media junkie” followed by the URL.

Let’s go back to CRM, according to Wikipedia, it

helps companies understand, as well as anticipate, the needs of current and potential customers.

Isn’t that exactly what happened here? Unlike the mass tweets about a “new blog post” (which I don’t mind at all), this really makes me sit up and take notice, because I know it’s a careful, considered move to bring the level of interaction one step closer (from general tweets to a direct message). And the reason why that step would be taken is because she knows that that post would be particularly relevant to me.

“So what” you say? Well, what if you could do that for your customers? Companies are obsessed about CRM, about data, interactions, trends and the like. And here they are in front of you. What if you knew Person A particularly likes a biscuit flavour that you happen to be bringing in? A personal email with an invite to be the first to taste it? Or an ad in the newspaper in hopes the general population will pick up on it and drop by?

It’s a lot of work, no doubt about it. But hey, people pay money for CRM software and hotels notice how guests shift their furniture so that they can do it for them for future visits. Is this really too much? Especially in Singapore?

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NTU Replies To The SMU = NTU Ad (Finally)

March 26, 2008

Huishan, my friend and NTU student emailed NTU’s corporate communications department to find out their side of the story and here’s an excerpt:

NTU had bought into the search engine’s Sponsored Links with keyword search. When one does a search using one of the keywords, a link to NTU marked “sponsored link” will appear. The descriptor should be “NTU Official Site” or “Study in Singapore” and not what appeared in the printed-screen above. There is no intention to mislead. The underlined descriptor above the ntu website address should not bear the SMU name; but names like “NTU Official Site” or “Study in Singapore”. The title of the sponsored link observed in your screen capture on Thursday evening was due to a feature of the search engine known as ‘dynamic ad copy’. When a user typed in eg. ‘SMU Singapore’, the search engine automatically generated ‘SMU Singapore’ as the title of our sponsored link. This resulted in the screen that you emailed us on Thursday.

Full story can be found here.

While NTU did take a week to reply, at least they did reply and not wait until it appeared in the newspapers. So I’ll give them credit for that. Unfortunately I think most of the blogosphere has moved on in a week, and people not keeping up with the issue anymore may not read this update, and just continue to maintain the impression of NTU based on the fiasco.

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.

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 #2

March 8, 2008

2) What Do You Do in Your SEO-Related Field Of Work?

As a trainer in SEO and search marketing, I allocate “surfing time” everyday to visit forums, read blogs and articles to keep abreast with the latest SEO and traffic generation techiniques.

Then I spend most of my “free” time testing these techniques to see how effective they are before implementing them into my SEO training workshops.

Not When, But How Quickly Can Your Site Be Found

Currently, I am working on a simple method to help small and medium-sized business’s Web sites to get into Google organic listing in a very short time, say within a few hours.

For large portals e.g. http://www.channelnewsasia.com and http://www.asiaone.com, which already have high Google PageRank, getting into the SERP quickly is not a problem. However, for many small and medium-size companies in Singapore, it is a challenge even to be listed in the seach engines for one’s company name.

SEO Specialist: The Web Site Repairman

Many of the small and medium-sized company sites are broken and not accessible to the search engine robots. The problem could be due to a combination of factors:

1. Pure graphic page
2. Flash only splash page
3. Excessive use of Javascript
4. Zero hyperlink to inner pages
5. Illegal re-direction
6. and many more…

In order to fix these problems and make the Web site search engine friendly, you will need the help of an experienced SEO specialist. Sometime it is easier and cheaper to create a new page than to fix a broken one.

Web site owners, Web masters and Web designers may use the 3 simple steps I mentioned in SEO Guest Post #1 to ensure good search engine ranking and quality traffic to your new Web site.

SEO Specialist: The Marketing Maverick

Building Websites to market your business using the new media requires a change from the conventional thinking of traditional media.

The final goal may be the same: you want paying customers. However, the rules are different. For example, Long Tail keywords are more profitable than generic keywords. Also, using less graphics and more words may help you to convert more sales.

A good SEO specialist, besides possessing the required technical knowledge of tweaking the Web page for search engine robots and algorithm, will also need to have a great understanding of marketing in order to give advice on the most probable keywords and how to make your page layout appears simple and easy to use and yet useful for your visitors to return again and again.

Enormous amounts of time and effort has to be spent on collecting the right marketing knowledge and building the required technical experience to provide effective solutions and strategies to make a Web site successful.

That may well be the job description of a SEO specialist.

About the author: Shi Heng Cheong is a SEO Specialist turned SEO Trainer based in Singapore. He blogs about SEO and search marketing related topics at http://shihengcheong.com/blog/ and http://www.TIMMGuru.com

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!

If I Have Unlimited Choice, How Do I Decide?

February 25, 2008

Just over a week ago I highlighted a chance to get on AssetBar as provided by Louis Gray, as well as introduce LinkRiver, picked up from the same source.

I don’t know how many people took up those invitations, but I sure did and I have to admit my reaction is kinda mixed. I liked the features of AssetBar, but not the UI (user interface). I liked LinkRiver’s functions, but found it a little hard to find friends. All in all, great products, but I wasn’t sure they would ever take the place of Google Reader. Not that it really mattered, I wasn’t looking for a replacement, just different ways of using the same RSS function on the web.

As a pretty typical Internet user, my attention span isn’t great, and I thought “Ok nice programme, doesn’t do a lot for me, I’ll try to keep it in mind.” What changed it was that creators from both applications dropped me a message at my blog to say “look out for this” or “just to clarify this”.

In other words: they were listening. I commented on this somewhere, which lead to Louis beating me to the punch (on time, but not message), that companies that listen to their users will win in the end

And that alone was enough for me to consciously set aside time to continually explore their applications, and I’m sure one day they’ll give Google Reader a run for their money.

If you’ve had similar stories, or other such applications/programmes to share, feel free to comment and share them!

By the way, I am well aware that these posts are just flying over the heads of many of my friends, but I’m going to be introducing 2 things that have totally changed my internet usage habits: RSS and del.icio.us. So if you’ve been one of them who’s been telling me “your blog is so technical now” or “why do I want to be even more connected?”. Stay tuned and read on.

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.