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Often time we come across tales of success and achievement that you could turn into a bedtime story for children to encourage them in that despite challenges, better days are ahead. The stories that we tend to remember however are the spookie ones, the eerie ones that make you feel like this could have been you. It could have been your company. Everything seemed right, but then the descent started and it is not done yet.

The story of Yahoo! (which some of us try to say is not finished …ie I still own Yahoo! stocks), is just a melodrama of one hit and several misses. It is even sadder that they came up with some pretty phenomenal ideas, to only get beaten later on by the very people they inspire in the first place. O the acquisitions that kept coming and never produced any results. All in all, it is just a pretty sad story of a Giant Company that could…..

The Brutal Decline of Yahoo!

Research by Scores.org

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One of the major issues with Blogging is that you have to struggle to find great illustrations for the items you want to write. If you have deep pockets you could resort to acquiring licenses from services like Getty. You could purchase stock images from the likes of Istockphoto. One option is to take your own pictures. Unfortunately, not all of us are as talented as Christa Watson, so here are a couple a solutions which you can leverage:

- Your friends

- Sharapic.net

- Kave Wall

- Flickr

Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.Here are some recently added bits and pieces.

-  Google Advance Image Search

- Wikimedia Commons

- Creativity 103

- Every Stock Photo

- Morgue File

- Compfight

- LightMatter

- Urban Dirty

- Free Photo Bank

- Geograph Britain and Ireland

- Shutter Glow

- NASA

- Trip Album

- Freefoto

- Animal Photos

- Insect Images

- Stock.XCHNG

- Stock Arch

- Free Range

- Open Photo

- Car Pictures

- NOAA Photo Library

Most NOAA photos and slides are in the public domain and CANNOT be copyrighted.
There is no fee for downloading any images on the NOAA Photo Library.  Educational use is encouraged as the primary goal of the NOAA Photo Library is to help all understand our oceans and atmosphere so as to be better stewards of our environment for future generations.
A few photos in the NOAA Photo Library that are known to have copyright restrictions are so noted in the caption information associated with those images.
Credit MUST be given to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.  Where a photographer is noted, please credit the photographer and his/her affiliated organization as well.

Most NOAA photos and slides are in the public domain and CANNOT be copyrighted.There is no fee for downloading any images on the NOAA Photo Library.  Educational use is encouraged as the primary goal of the NOAA Photo Library is to help all understand our oceans and atmosphere so as to be better stewards of our environment for future generations.  A few photos in the NOAA Photo Library that are known to have copyright restrictions are so noted in the caption information associated with those images.
Credit MUST be given to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.  Where a photographer is noted, please credit the photographer and his/her affiliated organization as well.

Fish and Wildlife Service’s online digital media library

Here you will find a wide assortment of selected images, publications, video and audio clips that are in the public domain. You are free to use them as you wish – no permission is necessary. We do ask that you give credit to the photographer or creator and the US Fish and Wildlife Service in a format similar to the example below.

Visit here to learn more  about Creative Commons. You can view the extent of the possibilities in what great work people share. They are trully limitless:

30 Stunning Urban HDR Photos with Creative Commons Licenses

30+ Top Flickr Hacks for Bloggers, Photographers, and Creative Commons Lovers

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Back in the late 1990s, many internet marketing companies focussed only on the search engines. There is no denying that the search engines do bring results and hence traffic to a website, but there is life beyond the search engines too!

The exceptional, and hence very busy, companies realised that there was far more to marketing than the search engines, and delivered broad and effective campaigns to their clients, using a variety of different strategies and plenty of metrics to assess results. It has taken almost a decade for the industry to catch up that search engines are not the be all and end all of internet marketing, and that the terms “SEO” and “SEM” are just part of the mix.

However, most website owners are still stuck in the ‘old school’ way of thinking, believing that, having built a website, all that is required is to be number one on the search engines and that is the end of the game plan. This level of thinking has far too frequently been backed up by SEO companies who could see a fast buck in optimising a website and ranking it, often for completely obscure terms, to satisfy the customer without educating either the customer or themselves in the finer points of internet marketing.

Invariably, once ranked on the search engines, the customer discovers that little has changed in the way of traffic, enquiries, sales, brand recognition, and so on, and seeks further assistance to increase the results from all aspects of the website marketing, and generate a return on investment. This can become something of a bottomless pit into which to thrown money, particularly if the company being employed to achieve the aims required is only really expert in SEO.

SEO and SEM are just one strategy to deploy in a marketing campaign, and many of the great IM companies take a holistic view to promoting a website, company or product set. Not only do they seek to generate valuable and unique content for the client (or advise on how to do this), but they employ a range of strategies and processes in order to deliver consistent, high quality traffic to a website, and increase the number of conversions from each action to maximise the potential results.

When seeking out a website promotion company, you should look for companies which offer that breadth of thinking. The services they will offer should include:

* Email Marketing
* Forum and blog marketing
* Pay Per Click campaigns
* Landing Pages
* Conversion tracking and metrics
* Ebooks and article marketing services
* Press release distribution
* Optimised content creation
* Social networking and bookmarking
* Video and audio content and promotion
* As well as the good old on and offpage optimisation required to get the search engine rankings.

For every company looking to promote online, there will be a different mix of strategies which will yield the best results, depending on product, brand, target audience and more. It is only by understanding your company and the needs of your potential customers that a suitable internet marketing campaign can be designed, tested and deployed.

Just optimising a few pages for some keywords and phrases has never been sufficient to bring appropriate results, but many in the search engine industry have managed to get away with doing just that, and little more, for over a decade. Now, with the rise of social networks, and the move away from static to dynamic content, virals, and the rise in popularity of video and audio have meant that any company with too narrow a focus when considering marketing tactics can only achieve so much.

Whether you employ an internet marketing company, or train in-house staff to deliver your website promotion, be wary of any specific focus on the terms SEO and SEM. The implication that these are the only methods which will yield results, or the fact that whoever is using them may be unaware of all that is required to deliver an effective online promotion campaign should be fair warning that the person or company using them is still adopting an outmoded way of thinking.

Phil Robinson is an experienced online marketing consultant and Founder of ClickThrough Marketing – an international Search Engine Marketing & Internet Marketing agency.

ClickThrough specialise in Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Marketing, Online PR, Social Marketing & Website Conversion Strategies.

 

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According toa studyconducted by search marketing firm Engine Ready, visitors coming to an online retailer’s website from a paid search ad are 50% more likely to make a purchase than visitors coming from an organic search result.

The study, which tracked 20.8 million visits to 26 online retail sites over a 12 month period, found that the overall conversion rate from paid search was 2.03% compared to 1.26% from organic search. The study also found that paid search visitors purchased, on average, more than their organic counterparts.

If Engine Ready’s findings are to be believed, one might be inclined to conclude that investments in paid search advertising might provide more bang for the buck than investments in SEO. But would that really be the case?

Warren Cowan, the CEO of search agency Greenlight, doesn’t think so. He believes that Engine Ready’s study neglects the entire purchase cycle:

What this research tells you is that paid search has a higher conversion rate than natural search. However, these results are gained by attributing sole value to the last click, ignoring the value of the other channels that lead to it.

Stating that Engine Ready’s study paints “an interesting but largely naive picture“, he cites his company’s own research showing that “sales attributed to SEO on a last click basis increases by as much as 30-50% when the first click is taken into account“.

So who is right? Engine Ready’s data is quite interesting and worthy of consideration but I think Cowan makes a valuable point: a lot can take place between the first click and the last click. Simply looking at the last click paints an incomplete picture of how users discover and interact with websites during the full purchase cycle.

Personally, I think there can be little doubt that PPC and SEO are both usually important components of a comprehensive online marketing strategy. Obviously, resource allocation is important and companies do need to make decisions about how their search marketing budget gets spent.

But the most important factor in making those decisions is collecting the right data. Some companieswillget more from PPC than they will from SEO. And vice versa. But you can only determine that when you take a 30,000 foot snapshot and know what’s taking place from the first time the visitor clicks on the link to the time the visitor clicks that ‘checkout‘ button.

Originally Posted by Patricio Robles on http://econsultancy.com/blog/4431-does-paid-search-deliver-more-conversions-than-organic-search

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The folk at Campaign Monitor have important information on the likely rendering capabilities of Outlook 2010, slated for release in about a year.

In essence, the problems associated with Outlook 2007 have not been fixed. So Outlook 2010 is set to be equally resistant to animated gifs, background images, various CSS properties, etc..

Since HTML email design adapts to the lowest common denominator, Outlook 2010 would continue to place limits on design creativity and functionality.

The only “good” news is that if you’ve adapted your emails for Outlook 2007, you hopefully shouldn’t need to make new changes for Outlook 2010. (Perhaps a designer can clarify that for us?)

The original issues around Outlook 2007 led to the creation of the Email Standards Project and today saw them set up an initiative to try and get Microsoft to take appropriate remedial action.

Microsoft’s argument is that their approach (using Word to render emails) ensures that emails composed in newer versions of the Outlook email client will look as intended when received by those same clients.

Which is a solid argument if the whole world is using that product to send and receive email.

Oh.

It’s a strangely insular kind of logic which I don’t really get. The Campaign Monitor post has further details and relevant quotes from Microsoft staff.

But there’s a lesson for us here.

Outlook 2007 (and its likely successor) don’t support particular HTML design features that we’d quite like to use in our promotions and newsletters.

That’s a big issue for email designers. But you know what? The email industry (not the email marketing industry) and seemingly Microsoft isn’t that bothered.

Put your email user cap on. The vast majority of messages you considertruly important are nothing more than text and maybe the odd image or attachment. Mails from friends, family and work colleagues, and simple transactional emails.

Of course there will be exceptions, but the vast majority of “important” messages received by Outlook 2007 users look fine. A few bulk marketing emails may look a little weird as not everyone has adapted to the constraints imposed by Outlook 2007. But do these users care?

Are the protests about Outlook 2007 and now 2010 coming from people who are not designers or marketers? It’s likely to be the key question for the software folk behind Outlook.

Let’s be clear: I’m not saying our concerns about Outlook are unimportant or irrelevant. I’m a long-time supporter of the Email Standards Project and you’ll find my ugly face adorning FixOutlook.org, too.

But the whole issue reflects the fact that recipients do not see our emails and the complexities of HTML email design as quite so urgent and important as we perhaps do. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this argument.

It might also explain why mobile device manufacturers have – until recently – been extremely lax about support for HTML email.

People use mobile devices to check their email for important messages. And marketing email isn’t that important to them. So support for HTML email was perhaps never a great priority. (The follow-up to last week’smobile email post is out later this week BTW.)

So can we learn anything from the Outlook debate?

Perhaps it serves as a useful reminder: the format or the medium is important, but not nearly as important as the basic value of the delivered information. We need to make people care what their commercial HTML email looks like and can do.

Meanwhile, add your voice to the others at FixOutlook.org.

Originally Posted by Mark Brownlow on http://www.email-marketing-reports.com/iland/2009/06/outlook-2010-bad-news-for-html-email.html

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Usability expert Jakob Nielsen once said that email marketing is “probably the single highest ROI-action you can take to improve your internet presence.” Some studies have shown that an effective email marketing campaign can generate an ROI of nearly $10 for every $1 spent. Research by the Direct Marketing Association concluded that email marketing outperformed all other direct marketing methods in ROI.

In other words, email marketing is a highly effective tool for putting money in your pockets. At the core of email marketing is linking. Within your newsletters, you’ll be asking your customers to click links to learn more about your products and services and to take action on special deals.

To help you get the most from those links, I’ve come up with this short list of email marketing linking tips.

  • Make sure the link works—I know this is a “Duh” tip, but I’ve actually come across broken links in newsletters sent to me before. This is inexcusable. It takes 2 seconds to check a link to make sure it works. Always do this before sending out your email marketing message.
  • Don’t have too many links in a single email—The goal of your email marketing campaign is to get your readers to take action, right? Well, how can you expect them to take action if you’re asking them to do 10 different things at once? Don’t overdo it with the links or else you’ll confuse, frustrate, and overwhelm your readers.
  • Keep links relevant to the discussion at hand—A highly focused newsletter will always outperform one that bounces around from topic to topic. Keep your messages and your links tight and focused on a particular subject. In other words, if you’re promoting a deal on iPods in your email, don’t link out to a landing page for DVDs. Makes sense, right?
  • Link to specific landing pages that encourage action—This is the most important tip on the list. Going back to the iPod example, do not say “Click here to view our selection of iPod nanos” with a link that takes them to your homepage. Instead, link them to an action-oriented landing page specifically on your iPod nanos. Your readers don’t want to dig around your website to find your iPod nanos. Direct linking to landing pages is essential for achieving a decent conversion rate.

Do you use email marketing for your business? Share your favorite tips in the replies!

Originally posted by Eric Brantner on http://www.seohosting.com/blog/email-marketing/email-marketing-tip-make-your-links-count/

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A recent Forrester research report,US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2007 to 2012, concludes that all marketing will become interactive over the next five years, with no single channel dominating the scene.

We’ve seen some evidence of erosion in the ad spend for traditional media this year, as the latestTNS Media Intelligence reportshows a decline in U.S. ad spend for newspapers, radio, and broadcast TV. However, Internet spending increased 17.7 percent to $5.52 billion over the first six months of this year. This supports Forrester’s contention of the shift toward interactive advertising.

Forrester predicts the interactive marketing spend will increase to $61 billion by 2012, and that interactive marketing, coupled with its technological advances, will drive the customer-centric model, demanding integration of all marketing efforts to achieve optimum results with less emphasis on media buying.

Interactive marketing drives growth

What does this have to do with in-house SEM training? Forrester believes four interactive marketing areas will drive major growth: search marketing, online video ads, social media, and mobile marketing—all of which require serious attention and aptitude for search marketing and optimization skills.

Yet, our interactive industry is still young, and we don’t have a lot of trained personnel to provide the skills needed to fuel this growth. With the barrier between traditional and interactive marketing dissolving, Forrester predicts a 27 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the interactive marketing spend over the next five years. Currently, interactive marketing accounts for 8 percent of all ad spending, and this will increase to 18 percent of total ad budgets in five years. Search marketing is slated to triple in five years. The search category is increasing at 26 percent CAGR and will reach $25 billion by 2012 (Forrester Research).

In-house versus outsource

The question of whether it’s best to outsource search search marketing or bring it in-house has created ambivalence for years, and is currently a topic covered in many industry conference sessions. Research shows at least two-thirds of U.S. businesses prefer to keep SEM in-house.

Reasons can vary, but basically, there are special challenges in executing SEO strategies, especially when it comes to integrating recommendations with other marketing and IT activities among multiple divisions. When it comes to paid search, different departments or divisions can be targeting the same or similar terms, resulting in these units competing against each other for keywords when there is no centralization. The trend is definitely toward in-house SEM, and the headhunters have their jobs cut out for them.

The challenge of in-house search marketing

One of the most difficult challenges marketers face with in-house search marketing is the management, organization, and training of personnel. Very likely, in-house training for SEO, PPC, developers, graphic designers, copywriters, and brand managers will be the norm in the next couple of years, if not sooner. Businesses continue to develop in-house search departments, but if they proceed without SEM/SEO training, they might as well begin their dissolution process in 2008 because their competitors have been and will continue to ramp-up in search knowledge transfer.

Search Marketing:To illustrate the effectiveness of in-house training, I can report that by implementing SEO best practices in-house training in January 2007, a national retailer increased year-over-year, non-brand keyword organic revenue 258 percent in Q1 and Q2 (the company chooses to remain anonymous). Their success is only one of many in-house training success stories. Smart firms will put SEO best practices in-house training on their to-do list today.

Online Video:Increasing consumer adoption of online video will result in a dramatic 72 percent increase in online video ad spending to $7.1 billion by 2012. Forrester Research states, “More customer-centric online video applications will increase the medium’s appeal for consumers and marketers.”

To quoteThe Weather Channel’s search marketing manager Derek Fulford, “…applying SEO basics to your video content will put you ahead of the curve.” Derek has done an excellent job of improving his company’s web site organic search results and raised its Quality Score for Paid Search in the process by complementing video with text-based content.

SEO video best practices being developed today should be on your list for training sessions as soon as possible. Derek was able to revise The Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth strategy to increase the average daily number of video views to 275 percent.

Social Media:As one of interactive’s emerging channels, social media will reach $10 billion in ad spending by 2012. Mainstream adoption will drive spending in social media, mobile marketing, game marketing, widgets, podcasts, and RSS. The social media ad spend alone will reach $6.9 billion (Forrester Research).

Social Media Marketing (SMM) is known to have significant impacts alongside best practice SEO/SEM. AsCondéNetDirector of Marketing Sandor Marik said recently, “SEO best practice just gets you in the game… involvement is needed on all levels. Traditional Web publishers are challenged as target audiences are drawn to blogs and social networking sites. While professional quality content does present unique value, publishers have to employ the tools and practices of the ‘long tail’ to stay visible in the ever-increasing volume of Web content.”

Social media sites also tend to generate a large number of links that vary in quality (in terms of anchor text), while niche blogs tend to provide paid text ads and contextual links with high quality anchor text pointing to specific category and sub-category pages.

The Social Media Marketing best practices being developed today should be on your list for training sessions immediately. The natural link building power we’ve witnessed so far continues to be remarkable.

Mobile:Mobile marketing will reach $2.8 billion by 2012. As consumers become increasingly dependent on personal computing handsets, they’ll start handling more transactions on their mobile devices (Forrester Research).

Currently there are 2.8 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide, and 233 million were documented in the U.S. in 2006. High penetration of devices that receive input anywhere-anytime provide 5 percent CTR, target specific audiences, have the ability to build customer databases, and generate buzz, a few of the many reasons to be prepared for this next wave.

In-house training on executing mobile marketing content sponsorships, location-specific targeting, and opt-in SMS campaigns should be on your list for training sessions now. Mobile is about interaction, trust, pull, targeting, relevancy, opportunity, and integration with media; it has unquestionably rolled out.

In the face of these challenges, your best response is to be proactive with your basic and advanced in-house SEM/SEO training objectives. Get help now or prepare yourself for mediocre results. I don’t mean to alarm; however, one of my core values is to empower clients. I like to provide my expert opinion based on the best information that can help marketers make informed decisions—the power of “the agency recommends.” And there you have it.

Paul J. Bruemmerhas provided search engine marketing expertise and in-house consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing atRed Door Interactive, he is responsible for the strategic implementation of search engine marketing activities within Red Door’s Internet Presence Management (IPM) services. TheIn Housecolumn appears on Wednesdays atSearch Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Originally posted by Paul Bruemmer on http://searchengineland.com/training-the-in-house-seosem-marketers-trump-card-12640

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