Customer Service / Online Marketing – One Rock at a Time

How to move mountains – eCommerce & eMarketing strategy for success!

Over at The Search Agents’ blog, I comment (rather sarcastically I might add) on Bing’s foray into various verticals in an attempt (and a bad one at that) of differentiating itself from Google’s simplicity (which it does very well by confusing the hell out of the user)

Check it out and please add your comments if you agree or disagree.

Creating cool designs that provide ‘neat’ eye candy and little substance appear to be the norm for many creative agencies. Flash design is somewhat passé and almost certainly viewed as an obstruction by many users seeking their holy grail; information.

Usability has been a buzzword mostly centered on design elements, their colors, placement, size, shape and repetition. Fortunately, a few designers, strategists and thought leaders on the forward edge of the development curve have come to the realization that usability is as much about (or even more about) experience rather than design.

Expectations need to be met. Interactions need to have a purpose. Steps and pathways need to be meaningful. And most important, the experience needs to be intuitive, sometimes entertaining, relevant, fulfilling, and deliver to the needs of the user.

When looking at the naissance of a web presence, plan using experience as your guide by looking at interactions, goals, relevance, and delivery to, or above, expectation.

Once that plan is in place then consider how the design and usability can support and enhance the ‘experiential process.’

I love reviewing good design and then moving on. Good experience I’ll stick around for.

From my agency days springs the expression “Garbage in, garbage out” used in video and audio production meaning essentially, the best (audio / video product) quality comes from the best quality source material.

Sure, you could hide the occasional aircraft noise in a perfect 20 minute interview, but you couldn’t get pristine out of an interview at Grand Central Station with system announcements every 3 minutes.

Problems in post production were almost always solvable by exact and precise preparation before a shoot or audio session.

Same goes for web analytics.

Using Google Analytics as an example, having distinct goals and pathways defined to measure success will always give better and more actionable results than poorly planned goal implementation (or not doing it at all!)

Clients without transactional (i.e. purchase) goals on their sites often omit goal setting as they only believe the relevance is to dollars and cents results. Goals can be as simple as ensuring certain content is reviewed, or comment is left, or a click through is obtained (it could be between pages or sites or specific exit points.)

Data is the most valuable aspect of web analytics, setting real and relevant goals is a necessity in any search engine optimization campaign.

Dirty data in = dirty data out = waste (garbage or rubbish) of time.

Take out the garbage and benefit from the clean, fresh (and valuable) data!

I saw this article on a well-trafficked blog in regards to achieving high Google rankings.


It’s a simple two-step process

Getting high rankings on Google is a simple two-step process:

  1. You must optimize your web page contents so that Google can find out what your website is about. Optimize your web pages for your keywords so that Google knows that your website is relevant to these keywords and your topic.

  2. Other websites must confirm that your website is about that topic. That’s what inbound links are for.

It’s as simple as that. If your website passes Google’s analysis of all ranking factors, it will get a top 10 ranking.

The key here are the simplicity of the steps (I don’t think anyone experienced with SEO will say the process or expertise required makes them “simple” to execute) and the simplicity of the results “If your website passes Google’s analysis of all ranking factors, it will get a top 10 ranking.” (emphasis added by me)

I equate this simplistic statement of the simplicity of SEO as like me saying, “Winning the Indy Car championship requires two simple steps”

1. Get in

2. Put your foot on the gas

If you follow these steps you can win the Indy Car championship!

< Oh... and by the way, everyone else has to crash and burn for this to actually happen. >
See, the problem is, is that SEO isn’t in a vacuum. There’s other smart people out there trying to optimize content, on page, off page factors and not everyone can get “top 10 ranking” – it’s logistically impossible and unrealistic to expect.

I would recommend everyone add to the top of their SEO list.

#1 Be unique, create unique content, be a subject expert.

It does make the other “simple two-steps” at least have some basis in reality.

Checking my referrer logs I found a Google referral from a somewhat strange (to me) search term.

“paint a vivid word picture disney ads”

The power of Google is that you can be found even if there’s no apparent relevance, at least initially – the listing has since dropped from Google’s #1 SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

[note: “painting a vivid picture” and “Disney” and “ads” were mentioned in two separate posts]

Remember everything you write and post out to the blogosphere has the potential to drive traffic (whether you want that traffic or not) so picking the right words to say is key – a better mousetrap for the mouse you want to catch.

Write well, write unique and write often… choose your words carefully… they count!

I’d like to apologize in advance for the deception in the title. Even though Plymouth, MN comes close (it just won best place to live in America)  there is no ‘perfect’ community either on or offline. But there are certain similarities in almost perfect communities that contribute to their success that we can look at as components to include in our “community building for success 101” projects 🙂

The Cornerstones of Community Building

#1 Empowerment

The community is the people and the people are the community. A community must give citizens the ability to define how the community operates and evolves.

#2 Relevance

The community must attract citizens by providing interest and an environment of relevance to their own needs. A community must be unique for them, yet allow many of the same to feel uniqueness through personalization and adaption.

#3 Discovery

The community must allow people to explore, discover and connect with each other, and themselves, through identification and leveraging of similarities, differences, interests and human nature.

#4 Participation

The community must illicit, encourage and support involvement so that citizens understand that they are the integral part of the community, the “raison d’etre” for the community’s existence, and to realize that without their participation the community potentially withers and dies.

Looking to build the next Facebook or LinkedIn?

Integrating these four components may not guarantee 5 million users overnight (you’ll have to invade a small country for that!), but they will lay a solid foundation for community building and increase your chances of success.

Welcome thoughts and comments!