All things marketing related.

Why Networking Really Matters: What Makes an Expert, an Expert?

In anticipation of this year’s PodCamp, I attended the SpeakerUp meeting the organizers hold for individuals interested in presenting a session. At the event, I helped explain and elaborate on some of the concepts past speakers were discussing with a nice gentleman sitting next to me. At the end of the meeting, I distributed a few business cards with individuals, including the man sitting next to me. The week following the meeting I received a nice matte card in the mail at my day job with cj Advertising, the card was from the nice gent I was conversing with, a Tennessee state representative. Every opportunity to connect with others is important. No matter the size of the event or the location; anytime there is a chance to network, it should be taken. Every industry has it’s own form of technical conference. Some are meant to connect businesses with customers others connect businesses with other businesses that can augment the methods an organization uses to service their clientele. In search and online marketing, there are a number of events that help industry professionals share knowledge, develop strategy, identify changes and create new valuable relationships. There is no college or certificate program for search marketing. The knowledge SEOs/SEMs/Analysts and other web technologists use to perform our duties comes from monitoring search engine signals, paying attention to news or releases, industry events and networking with others. One of the first networking events I attended was PodCamp Nashville in 2010. Aside from getting out and talking shop at the Cadillac Ranch in downtown Nashville, the event opened my mind to the fact that not all knowledge is contained in a book or behind some velvet rope. Many gurus and experts have obtained these statuses from developing their networks and following other specialists as they develop their own methods for problem solving. As my father often told me growing up, “if you’re gonna walk through a minefield, follow someone.” True experts, regardless of the industry, know when they have reached the end of their knowledge base. The ‘expert’ has the wisdom to ask for help; either from friends or people with the know-how to find the solutions. This ‘wisdom’ requires knowing who you can turn to; hence the importance of networking. If you are questioning whether 2013’s PodCamp Nashville is worth your time, ask yourself one question: how valuable is your network? After attending SMX West in 2012, I found that creating real-world connections was important to my professional success. Just as a website needs visitors, your marketing/advertising success requires that someone take an interest in or at the least, know about you. You may have Earth-shattering ideas or concepts; but if no one hears your voice it doesn’t matter. The Wrapper Now for a worthwhile plug! This year’s PodCamp is free to attend and they’re are some great speakers offering up important information, including myself! At this event you can: Network with professionals from around Nashville (not just marketers and advertisers either). Learn more about some of the big names in the Music City: Emma, Horton, Raven and so many more! Enjoy learning about several digital areas: web marketing, self-publishing, content creation, Google, etc. So, register and start signing up for sessions (make sure to sign up for mine: Becoming THE Authority on Google). The only thing you’ll need to pay for is the gas to get to the Hotel Preston, your lunch ($15) and any drinks you may want to lubricate your palate with. You have nothing stopping you from succeeding but yourself. UPDATE: Following PodCamp, there are a number of networking...

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The ‘New’ Exact Match – Broad Match Modified

During a discussion with some of my SEM colleagues, we got onto the topic of keyword match types and how there seems to be some change in the way that Google’s Adwords system evaluates the quality score of some keywords in correlation to the match type. One SEM specialist pointed out that there seemed to be some ‘oddness’ happening with exact matches and bids. In his opinion, his exact matches should have had higher quality scores than his broad match modified keywords and by relevancy standards, have a lower CPC (cost per click); however this was not the case. The match type of a keyword plays a part in determining when ads are displayed for users searching related terms and how much it will cost an advertiser when users click the ad (and of course, how much money Google makes). We search marketers want to get the most bang-for-the-buck so we watch conversion rates, impressions and CPC closely when evaluating keywords – new and old. Adwords Keyword Match Types For those unfamiliar with match types the traditional definition of the match types are: Broad Match – With this match type, any term(s) or phrase that matches the keyword target may generate the ad. Phrase Match – Denoted by (” “) surrounding the keyword when viewed in spreadsheets or in the interface, this match type may generated ads for any combination of the words used in the keyword phrase. Exact Match – The most specific method of keyword targeting in Adwords, exact match is used to generate ads for term(s) and phrases that are used exactly as they appear in your campaign. Note*: We know that negative keywords are a type of match but for this post we are referring to types that generate ads. So don’t get your panties in a wad. Towards the middle of 2011, around April, Google released the fourth match type: Broad Match Modifer. With this match type (which many say replaces [or should for that matter] broad match) users are able to gain the benefit of broad match’s wide berth while also incorporating some measure of control of the terms that need to be present for the keyword to be relevant. As Jeremy Decker puts it in the post 6 Ways to Ensure Your Adwords Campaign Fails, using broad match is great way to waste your or your clients’ time and money. That isn’t to say that broad match isn’t useful in some situations, but generally there are usually better ways to make use of the spend – unless you’re looking to meet spending expectations or you’re Nike. I digress. In the conversation about Adwords, my colleague cited that for many of his terms that used exact match his CPC was often 20-45% higher than those comparable ad groups using broad match modifiers. In some cases, the quality score were either the same. In a few however, he stated that the quality score for the exact match was lower than the broad match modified keyword. In reviewing my own Adwords campaigns I was able to confirm his findings much to my own dismay. Adwords Broad Match Modifiers So, what is a broad match modifier, really? Broad match modifiers are denoted by using a “+” in front of a given set of keywords. Say you have a phrase match that is okay but can be interpreted in more than a few ways. Furthermore, the phrase match type may limit the number of variations for which the ads will be triggered; but going with broad matches will either 1) cause the inner campaign drama (the wonderful error...

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Looking for Work? cj Advertising is Hiring!!

Looking to break into the advertising arena or in need of a career change? Maybe you are a seasoned SEO/SEM, multimedia wiz, or caring account manager. Well, cj Advertising of Nashville, Tennessee is hiring. There are a number of open and available positions with this award winning marketing firm specializing in personal injury brands. Watch the ‘culture’ video below (featuring our fearless leader, Arnie, and your’s truly) and if we haven’t scared you off, visit for more details. Enjoy and good...

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OrangeSoda: About that AMEX ‘Debacle’

Nothing is more surprising than when a small-to-medium sized business takes their social media seriously. Working in the marketing industry, I often find clients are either on the side of ‘do that magic SEO stuff that makes us #1 on Google’ or ‘I wrote all my title tags using keywords… from my keyword tag.’ You can then understand my amazement when OrangeSoda’s Dan Garfield, Site Architect and Sr. Brand Manager, contacted me directly after publishing the following tweet: As mentioned in the tweet, OrangeSoda, Inc. has been acquired by Deluxe Corporation as reported in a press release. My comment stemmed from a number of news and blog post related to Google Webmaster Tools’ emails concerning the detection of “unnatural links” and American Express. In summary, AMEX established a division focused on marketing small business clients through the use of link building, social media, and directory submissions. One article I referenced early on while investigating the unnatural link emails associated with Google’s Penguin release was by Bill Hartzer titled: How NOT to Build Links to Your Website: Courtesy of American Express. In his article Bill offered one key point of evidence from emails business owners received from AMEX’s Market 3D division: Not much was said about the Webmaster notifications by OrangeSoda or AMEX, so I was surprised by the call. During the course of the conversation, which was quiet pleasant – to Dan’s credit, we discussed some of the specifics of the actually result of Penguin and OrangeSoda’s work with AMEX. According to Dan, out of six thousand clients at the time of the algo change and 3D partnership, only 2 clients received these notifications. Furthermore, Dan stated that neither client was negatively impacted in ranking when the notifications were received. Who these clients are/were is a matter of privacy. So, on one hand, there is information stating that AMEX went about SEO in all the wrong ways (i.e. buying links, ‘SEO’ content, etc.). While on the other hand, OrangeSoda is, c/o Dan, stating that for what they were responsible for there were little, if any, issues. I will say that Dan was forthcoming to the fact that the business owners were not barred from using other marketing services. Either way, the burden falls on business owners to take an active role in their marketing and link profiles. My concern is that the email the clients receive still puts OrangeSoda as the ‘executor’ of the 3D marketing program, placing responsibility on them. In his follow up email, Dan offered this information: Things have been crazy busy here in the last few months leading up to our acquisition and I don’t think we’ve had the proper time to talk about how Penguin and Panda have affected our clients. The great news is that our clients are doing better than ever, the updates seem to have helped our clients rankings. There’s also been some hubbub around Google Webmasters letters. Of our nearly 6,000 clients we were able to confirm that two people had received a letter from Google Webmasters and neither of those clients seemed to have any affect on their rankings. We’ve been thinking that we should do a blog post every time Google updates to talk about how it affected our clients. We’re still mulling it over but we agree with you that transparency is the best policy so that’s what we’re striving for. I did make the suggestion to Dan that the company not sit behind a steel curtain and let us lowly SEOs run about making wild accusations; at best we are wild guesstimaters. Instead, put out some...

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The New Raven CRM Tool

Raven Tools continues to improve upon a product that many individuals, SEOs, and agencies rely on for developing well thought out, data-driven Internet marketing strategies. The latest endeavor to come from the Raven camp: Raven CRM. Many of us in the marketing industry know the value Raven provides through their suite in terms of link building, keyword tracking, competitive analysis, and so much more. As Google, Bing, and other indexing services continue putting more emphasis on the value of social media, Raven is looking to provide users of their tool set with another innovative solution to maximize social media. The unique CRM, links into the existing suite and is integrated to provide a method for pulling in contact details from social media accounts, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.  This allows administrators and users to connect link building profiles with contacts, leveraging the relationships for better results. This is why the CRM does not stand for Customer Relationship Manager, but Contact Relationship Manager – it’s pulling in contacts and leads (we’ll get to that) not ‘only’ existing customers. Along with integrations with the current Raven tools you may or may not be familiar with, the CRM accommodates online web form platforms like Wufoo and MailChimp to pull in leads. On May 10th, Jon Henshaw, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of Raven Internet Marketing Tools held a webinar to introduce users to the Raven CRM. Here are a few of my personal highlights: Raven CRM Walkthrough Use the CRM to pull in contact data from any social profiles: such as twitter, business website, facebook, etc. You can identify links that you have established with/or in conjunction with a given contact. Setup tasks related to users to remind you about the type of interaction you need to engage in with a user. The CRM has shortcuts to engage users from within Raven Tools – such as tweeting a user. Link Building: Under the CRM, any contacts you add can also be identified with links the user has established via social mediums. Emails: Using an email service like Wufoo or Chimp, you can pull in the contact form leads and manage contact details. Converting leads into contacts using the system. Contact records also support the system’s tags as well. The CRM currently uses the default email client, but more options are in development – as always. For the official story and details of the CRM and to learn more about Raven SEO Tools visit

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Ethics and integrity in data gathering

Ethics and integrity are big concerns of my organization. We have four key areas of excellence: Team driven culture, integrity, creative enthusiasm and customer service. Operating in an ethical manner will typically result in meeting at least two of these areas if not all of them. Information is a unique commodity that requires a new perspective compared to what most would consider an ethical concern in the less-technology driven cultures in the past. Customer information, data, and knowledge carry value and power – with that power comes a responsibility to use it in a way that reflects the values of the customer as well as the values of the organization; where those values are upright. According to the article by Winn and Jondet, there is no current standard for handling information and communication technology (ICT) networks. ICT networks handle the expanse between consumers, suppliers and businesses. As such there is little that governments can do to regulate ICT networks, similar to how there are no large scale regulations for the Internet as a whole. Ethics plays a pivotal role in how professional organizations handle the information the customers generate, it is counter productive to be inconsistent or negligent with the security of consumer data. Regulators and standard organizations offer programs that help promote standards, but there is little oversight in the long run. For our organization, we handle the clients’ leads, phone calls and initial case interviews. The information we collect is extremely sensitive and very valuable in itself. We are obligated not to use the information directly, release any details outside of our organization, and responsible for protecting clients (and their clients) from any adverse affects that could result from their information being publically available. For these reasons, there are a number of security systems – with multiple layers, to ensure as much protection as technologically possible. To support this mission even more, our security policies are very detailed, explicitly enforced and readily available. Winn, J., & Jondet, N. (2008, December). A “new approach” to standards and consumer protection. Journal of Consumer Policy, 31(4),...

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