Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Why Build a Global Website

In my earlier blog titled "Build a Multilingual Web Site to cater to your Global Customers" (see, I had written the need for localization of web content. Continiuing on the same subject, here is the next argument:

Internet users rely on their native-language version of Web sites to perform most tasks. Just consider: Would you buy a computer from Dell's Japanese site?

Local-language content can help deliver a more culturally relevant experience to your site visitors. It not only optimizes the selling of products and services but also contributes to an organization's bottom line in various ways.

Here are five ways you can generate revenue and reduce costs by having local content:

  1. The global Web is the most affordable, hardest-working sales force you will ever put together.
    "The key difference between commerce and e-commerce is that commerce is selling with people and e-commerce is selling with content," articulates Gerry McGovern in his landmark book Content Critical. An information-rich, well-published global Web site sells your products and service to potential clients around the world in their native language, 24/7.

  2. The global Web helps you save on support costs
    Every Web globalization guru has this golden rule in their advice book: You should be prepared to support the markets that you sell to. Depending on the scale of your business, hiring support workers who speak the languages of your markets may be unavoidable. But how much you can use the Web to reduce support cost will be the differentiator between a profitable business and money-losing one.

  3. The global Web with local content brings you local presence
    Major search engines such as Google or Yahoo gives strong preference to Web sites with local language content. For example, without German content, the chance of your site showing up in is next to nil. Having translated or original local content buys an admission ticket to the local search results. For any company that operates on the Internet or wishes to strengthen brand awareness locally, the admission ticket is worth having.

  4. The global Web facilitates innovation and learning by delivering training to corners of the world that physical classrooms cannot reach .
    Learning is a necessity, not a luxury, in today's competitive environment. As more organizations become increasingly scattered physically, classroom teaching is not always practical. The global Web delivers valuable material to those in need, in a language they can understand, at a time when they are available and willing to learn.

  5. The global Web helps build corporate culture
    The content of your Web site speaks volumes about the diversity of your organization, philosophy and work atmosphere. As North American society becomes much more multicultural, your organization's ability to attract top-notch ethnic talent becomes the "new frontier." How you fare on that frontier depends largely on your ability to understand your new audience and speak their language.

The global Web is the greatest driving force of new business opportunities today. Learn to realize its full impact and learn how to use it, and you will prosper.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Five Guidelines for staying on top of mind of your customer

Here are five guidelines to make sure the above situation does not happen to you.

  1. Assess the potential: Staying top of mind takes time—something we all seem to have too little of. Before you launch into a six-times-or-more-per-year contact plan, make sure you want to keep in touch. Ask yourself: "How much work will this client potentially have over the next 12 months? Over the next two years? Is it worth my time to make sure we are the first ones they think of for new assignments?"

    As much as we can grow to like our clients on a personal level, not all are worth a continuing business relationship. In addition, freeing ourselves from those with limited potential provides us with the time needed to focus our efforts on those with the greatest potential.
  2. Provide value: The fear of bothering or annoying clients keeps many service providers from contacting them. In some cases, that may actually be the truth, especially if your conversations consist of you asking, "So, what have you got for me this week?" If in each contact you make with your clients you provide some sort of value, they will look forward to hearing from you and ultimately remember you because of the extra value you provide.
    You can provide value in the form of new information about trends in their industry, an article you thought would be of interest to them or simply a perspective on a recent news item about the client's company. Depending on how well you have connected with clients, simply calling them or taking them to lunch can be of value. (But don't rely on your own good company as the value proposition every time.)
  3. Expand their knowledge of you: If you call your clients only once a year, do not be surprised when a client says, "I didn't know you did that, too." It is OK to let clients know about new services or other services you provide that they may not have sampled. If they are happy clients, they will certainly be open to hearing about the other work you do.
    They will be even more receptive to hearing about your services if you provide value in the telling—case studies, nonproprietary data from the work, similarities of problems and solutions, etc.
  4. Change the communication texture: We like variety in our lives. Do not let your communication plan get stuck in the world of electronics. Letters, especially because they are so rare these days, stand out and get through. Hand-written cards, newsletters, brochures and phone calls provide a different feel and impression to your clients.
    By mixing up the vehicles, you stand a better chance of your clients' actually seeing and reading what you have sent. In addition, old-fashioned hardcopy materials will stay on the client's desk and become more than just top of mind—but maybe even closest at hand.
  5. Build the relationship: In the end, professional services are all about relationships. True relationships are honest, sincere and valuable to both parties. As you work to stay top of mind, also be true of heart in developing a relationship that is meaningful and desired as much by the client as it is you.

    The client relationship built on a strong foundation of constant, varied and sincere communication has less of a chance of being pushed aside when someone new comes along or happens to be the last one in the door.

Follow these five guidelines, and the chances of your phone ringing the next time your client needs a service will be much greater.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Search Engine Marketing

Search engines have become a boon for tech marketing professionals. For several firms which sell obscure, esoteric, complex technology products - Search engine is their best bet to reach all their potential customers. The concept of search engine marketing emerged in 1999 or so, in 2000 it accounted for less than 1 percent of online advertising spend, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has clearly emerged as one of the most powerful and effective marketing strategies available.

Today, roughly one of every two online purchases is preceded by an online search. Spending in online search advertising has increased a blistering 282 percent per year, surpassing $3.8 billion in 2004 (Source-Internet Advertising Bureau reports, 2000–2004). That is faster than any online advertising medium to date. And the future is expected to be just as hot, with multiple research firms calling for SEM expenditures to reach anywhere from $6–8 billion over the next
several years.

This is not a surprise given the potential for SEM to drive substantial profit with minimal investment—irrespective of your business model. Retail, lead generation, content, and support SEM is invaluable. SEM can positively influence your success across all of these e-business types, touching virtually all stages of the customer lifecycle - from awareness, interest, consideration, and ultimately through to purchase.

SEM works because searchers effectively "pre-qualify" themselves when they enter keywords of interest into Google, Yahoo!, or other popular search engines. Of course, the key here is interest: with every search, the consumer is telling you what they want. Now it’s your turn to deliver a targeted ad that compels the consumer to click. By displaying a relevant ad with persuasive copy, you effectively match consumers with the products and services they want to purchase.

Challenge of SEM

Though it sounds easy, marketing on Internet Search Engines is not easy. The search landscape is incredibly dynamic and marketing managers are faced with a myriad of business and technical challenges:

  1. How to profit from paid and natural search traffic?
  2. How to measure visitor behavior beyond the click?
  3. How to plug leaks in the conversion funnel?
  4. How to adjust for multisession activity, latent response, and keyword stacking?
  5. How to identify possible click fraud? (In case of pay-per-click schemes)

In short, SEM can be incredibly lucrative, but it is not easy. And to maximize success, you must constantly manage SEM to your bottom line.

  • So how do you address these challenges?
  • How do you know if your SEM campaigns are working and when they are not?
  • How do you seamlessly connect clicks with conversions and ROI?

I will answer these questions in the following sections and discuss how to perform effective keyword analysis and optimization using a Web analytics tool to help you get the most out of your SEM buck.

Distinguish between Paid & Natural Search

Let’s first talk about paid and natural search. Google is one of the more popular search
engines today, so we’ll use it as an example.

When you enter a keyword or phrase—for example, "ASIC"—Google displays two sets of results. The "natural" or "organic" results come from Google’s massive index of Web pages located all over the Web. At last count, this totaled over two million pages. These pages are indexed based on google’s unique algorithm.(Explained in my earlier blogs) The pages displayed range from Sea food, Australian Securities & Investments, American Society of Irrigation consultants, and Semiconductors.

Natural search results can span tens or even hundreds of result pages, and the sort order is determined by the search engine’s proprietary algorithms. These proprietary algorithms take into account many factors, such as whether the keyword appears in the Web site URL, how often the keyword appears in the site, how many other sites link to it, the quality of those "off-page" links, and so on. A quick search on the Web will reveal at least 100 different factors that allegedly influence a page’s ranking in natural search.

As a marketer selling Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) - I am dismayed by the fact that our company is not even in the first page of the search result. This is the single biggest disadvantage of the Natural Search.If you’ve optimized your page favorably, it has a good chance of appearing somewhere towards the top natural results. If this occurs, you’ve just received a very low-cost method of advertising and the visibility gained can be tremendously powerful. Multiple studies have highlighted the power of being listed on the first page of search engine results—either in the top ten or even in the top three.

For instance, last year iProspect—a leading SEM agency—published research that highlights 23 percent of searchers try another search after reviewing only the first few results. Another 19 percent try again after the first page, another 26 percent after the second page, and another 15 percent after the third page of results. Given the average results page contains ten entries that would suggest, unless you are in the top thirty natural search results, you are missing a whopping 83 percent of all searchers—you can’t afford to miss out on this visibility.

Fortunately there are multiple agencies offer search engine optimization (SEO) services, which promise to improve your page ranking in natural search listings. Most of these efforts involve multiple months of careful planning, changes, and measurements—which are often quite costly.
The alternate way is to have paid search results - or advertise in Google. Paid search results poses the challenge of how to distinguish the incoming traffic between paid & natural search?
Notice that there is no distinction between paid and natural search. This occurs because the referring URL from a search engine to your Web site is formatted exactly the same, regardless of whether the visitor clicks on a paid or natural listing.

Without having a mechanism to distinguish web paid search page hits from natural search, it is difficult to measure the ROI of marketing dollars. A solution is to use a web analytics tool which modifies the URL on the search results - it adds a unique tagID to each click on the paid search. A web analysis tool can measure the number of the unique tagIDs coming to the site and log in the results. For Example the URL in the paid search can be: In addition you can collect the key words the user used in his search and log them for future analysis. Web analytics tools such as: Ominiture, Intellitracker, Clicktracks etc can be used to track the effectiveness of the paid search.

The unique tagID code is tied to particular campaign, you also know that it is a Google campaign that ran in November.

This strategy for identifying traffic from paid and natural search channels is critical to maximizing SEM success. It is important that you reliably understand what traffic is driven by each channel, and the profit resulting from that traffic. If you work with an agency, this insight can be used as a baseline to model the ROI from your SEO activities. If you manage your SEO efforts in-house, you can leverage this to better understand how many resources can be profitably allocated towards continual SEO efforts. Equally important, you can maximize your profit yield on matching paid and natural search keywords by reducing those paid campaigns that effectively cannibalize your already robust natural search positioning.

Measuring the Paid Click

When using a paid search, it’s critical to buy more than clicks. You need to buy conversion and ultimately profit—whether it’s direct via online sales or indirect via offline means. Every keyword has a break-even point: bidding any higher will drive you into the red. In this sense, to succeed with paid search, you must have an intimate understanding of your break-even point. Yes, it is important to have the right keywords, effective ad copy, and a persuasive and optimized Web site experience, but none of this matters if you do not know how much you should pay for a keyword.

This may sound obvious to many of you, but in June 2005, JupiterResearch reported that a full 75 percent of search executives did NOT bid for clicks based on revenue. Even worse, only 5 percent bid on keywords based on the profit those keywords were generating. While those are frightening numbers, it really underscores the magnitude of the opportunity ahead of us. For those that leverage Web analytics tools to dive deeper and maximize their SEM success, there is a wealth of low-hanging fruit!

Build a conversion funnel

Measuring beyond the click isn’t just about conversion and profit. With average campaign conversion rates anywhere from 2–10 percent, the vast majority of your visitors are simply not converting to customers. Somewhere in the sales process they bail out. It could be as early as the landing page, or as late as the order confirmation page. But if you’re only measuring click-through rates, you have zero ability to identify and plug these leaks in the conversion funnel. This represents a huge untapped opportunity.

Web analytics tools offers the perfect solution to this challenge. Even with the most basic Web analytics tag, you get comprehensive click-stream data that will show the click path of each and every user. Unfortunately, most Web analytics providers will sell you just that—the click stream of a user. Think about this for a second: how are you going to analyze the overall conversion funnel with click-stream data? User paths vary dramatically (even across just a few pages) and if your Web site is like most, your clickstream report will likely show thousands of click streams, each of which is only slightly different than the other.

That’s not to say that click-stream data is worthless—it can be quite valuable for diagnosing very specific, tactical issues like form abandonment, pop-ups, and on-page errors. Rather, search marketers (along with most analytics users) will benefit from a higher level of path analysis called fall-out or conversion funnel reporting. Fall-out reporting allows you to select major checkpoints (or nodes) in a process and analyze how many users progress through each checkpoint. With fall-out reporting, you can quickly identify major leaks in your conversion funnel.

Identifying Click Fraud

Click fraud is emerging as a key concern for many search marketers. Despite numerous industry efforts, it is still unclear how large or extensive this issue may be. Even the definition of click fraud has yet to be standardized. But generally speaking, click fraud occurs when visitors click on your advertising and have no real intention of purchasing. That may be a gross oversimplification, but fundamentally that probably covers about 80 percent of click fraud. And regardless of how you define click fraud, the results are effectively the same—you spend money on clicks or advertising that has zero chance of becoming revenue.

Unfortunately, detecting click fraud isn’t much easier than defining it. But with Web analytics tools, there are some ways you can retake control of click fraud. These tools provides automated alerts that can be configured to look for certain conditions.

For example, you can configure it to check every week for conversion rates that fall below your normal average. You can set it alert you if your click-through rate changes by more than 25 percent each day and you can configure as many alerts as you like.

Web analytics too should provide daily reports on suspicious trends in your SEM activities so that you can take immediate action. It also provides a valuable proxy relative to click-fraud reporting that you may otherwise receive from search engines themselves.Assuming your Web analytics package supports them, here are some suggestions for alerts you may want to set up:

  • Impressions on keywords (possible impression fraud)
  • Impressions per visitor (possible impression and click fraud)
  • Click-through rates for keywords (possible impression fraud and click fraud)
  • Click-through rates for ad groups (possible click fraud)
  • Cost-per-click on keywords and ad groups (possible click fraud)
  • Clicks-per-visitor (possible click fraud)
  • Average Position (possible click or impression fraud)
  • Page views-per-visitors (possible click fraud)

Closing thoughts

As the popularity and complexity of SEM grows, staying ahead of the competition will become even more challenging. If you have a list of ten to twenty keywords to manage, it was fairly easy to analyze the data by hand or with excel or by using the tools provided by the major search engine vendors. But if you’re like most of your search marketing peers, you could have as many as 100,000 keywords or more that must be managed daily. At the same time, bidding costs continue to rise as you face stiffer competition for ad position within a finite space. And with MSN and Ask Jeeves introducing pay-per-click ad networks to the market, you now have to manage those in addition to Google, Yahoo, and any of the other networks you’re using.

Search engine vendors are also competing against each other by adding new SEM features and options. For example, you’ll soon be seeing new levers—such as bid control by gender and age and ad targeting by gender, age, lifestyle category, and income. As these and other new features create new metrics for success, you’ll need sophisticated analysis capabilities to ensure that your SEM campaigns are achieving optimum numbers. Managing this level of complexity is no longer possible by hand. You need powerful automated management tools available to effectively manage, analyze, and optimize your SEM efforts.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Unappointed Brand Ambassadors

Generally brand managers believe they are responsible for directing the development of their brands and the programs to support them. This is mostly true - as they have the final say regarding branding.

But a whole new level of branding people and organizations has emerged recently. A number of these groups operate under the radar of the brand managers. They are the backdoor branding champions, whose branding efforts are not controlled, not directed by the brand managers. They are also reffered to as "back-door branders."

These are employees, consultants and research groups which the firm has hired to do a specific job. But they are capable and will influence the brand strategy of the firm.

Commonly, traditional brand consultants have focused on helping the organization understand its customers, consumers, distributors, and the like. Backdoor branders are groups that use
approaches and methodologies to influence the internal senior management of the branding firm. They influence how and in what ways brands are developed, evaluated, expanded, and managed— and most of all, funded from the inside.

Simply put, back-door branders influence the senior management level and also the consumer level. And they’re having ever more impact on how brands and branding are developed and managed.

Four types of back-door branders have emerged.

  1. Human resources (HR) and organizational development firms.
    These are consulting organizations ranging from major management consulting firms to the more specialized HR groups to public relations agencies. Their premise is that the brand starts inside the organization(i.e., the brand is what the organization is and what the people are).

    These consultants or HR groups have been either ignored or had no contact with the marketing department and/or most marketing & branding people.

    These new "brand consultants" work at the senior management level and marketing people may not even know they are involved until a pronouncement comes from senior management on how and in what way branding programs will be conducted from the inside-out.

  2. Procurement managers

    Internal procurement managers started initially in the advertising and promotion production areas as the firm tried to get a better grip on what seems to be ever-growing costs with limited controls. Then they moved into creative and media. Now procurement officers have discovered brands and branding. And with the multitude of brand consultants, brand management groups, and the like, they’re having a field day. They’ve discovered "brand costs" that can be reduced and expenditures that can be questioned.

    Procurement people, with their focus on reducing "hard costs" in "soft areas," are having a major impact on how brand programs are developed. While they may not get involved in positioning or imagery, they have a major impact on brand investment levels.

  3. Dashboard creators.

    One of the fastest growing areas of marketing management is developing "marketing dashboard" software. These computer programs identify, manage, and hopefully control and measure marketing investments and returns and, at some point, branding programs, too. The objective of a marketing dashboard is to convert all marketing activities into a series of dials and gauges management can quickly review to determine the status of marketing expenditures and effects. By simply "turning on the dashboard," senior management should know the status and the success or failure of various marketing initiatives and programs.

  4. Third party evaluators

    These consulting groups offer services somewhere between management consultants and internal procurement groups. They operate between the client and the agency or brand consultant. They evaluate the firm’s marketing and branding activities both in terms of investments and returns and creative efforts. Most bring substantial branding expertise, but with no commitment to either continuing or changing existing programs. Thus, they are essentially external procurement groups hired for specific projects.

    Third party evaluators are generally brought on board by senior management, trying to get answers to questions such as "How much should we invest?" and "What will we get back or what have we gotten back from our marketing and branding investments?" Their role is to bring expertise and an unbiased view.

While all these third party groups may not focus specifically on brand programs, clearly their evaluations and recommendations have much to do with the current focus and ongoing support the brand receives from senior management. Of course, there are a number of other back-door branding organizations such as market research firms, institutes, and even academicians. All have some impact on the development of brand programs. Most importantly, all work internally. They influence how senior management views, appreciates, and understands brands and branding.

Most back-door branders don’t look at consumers or even distribution channels. Few focus on traditional consumer attitudes and understanding. They often don’t even try to project their work to the external market. Yet they have increasing influence on how brand programs are funded and supported. These groups represent the "other side" of branding—the internal side. The side many marketing people and their agencies have either overlooked or ignored in their quest to become "customer- Focused."


Back-door branding is here to stay and will likely grow. Marketers who continue to ignore the internal side of branding do so at their peril.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Marketing - Position before you communicate

Many marketing programs in large and small firms flounder, marketing plans change directions, go around in circles and often the message is lost before it reaches the customer. This is analogous to the situation in "Alice in Wonderland", where Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which path to take? Cat asks "Where do you want to go?" Alice says "Anywhere, As long as I go somewhere.". Cheshire Cat responds "If you don't care where you're going, it doesn't make a difference which path you take."

The situation is similar to the marketing programs in many firms. Without direction or focus, an organization often goes around in circles - always working hard but going nowhere.

Importance of Positioning

From a management perspective, positioning is the center of an effective marketing plan. A well-crafted positioning statement defines your company's direction. A well defined positioning statement answers seven essential questions:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What business we are in?
  3. Whom do we serve?
  4. What is needed by the market we serve?
  5. Who are the competition? - (In specific who is the number-1 competition)
  6. What is unique in our business model?
  7. What are the unique benefits our customers derive from our products & services?

It is not surprising if one finds members of top management are not in total agreement to the answers to these questions. And that is the first signal of a bad market positioning.

Positioning Defined

A market position (or statement of position) is a cold-hearted, no-nonsense statement of how a company is perceived in the minds of your customers, prospective customers, stakeholders and employees.

Companies cannot declare a marketing position - it must be earned in the minds of the customers, potential customers and stakeholders. Marketing is a means to acheive that market position. When I say marketing, I mean a mix of marketing tools may have to be used to achieve the desired market position.

Getting that market position

The process for developing your company's positioning statement and path is discussed below. The purpose of a market position is to create a clear, consistent and a continious way the organization speaks to its market. This makes all forms of marketing communications less complex and easier to manage. But getting there takes patience, discipline, negotiation and above all an "outside-in" perspective, i.e., take an outsider view of the firm. Hiring an external agency or public relations agency can be of useful in creating a market position.

Step-1: The Right Information

To begin with, one must have the right information i.e., answers to the seven questions that a positioning statement must answer. For one reason or other many companies don't share business or marketing plans with all employees, external PR agency, and/or advertising agency. If the firm does not have the answers to the above questions, then there is lots more work in store.

Step-2: Use the Right People

Get the top managment buy in on the market position. The CEO, CFO, VP's and directors must be in agreement to the market position. Next, Enlist all those employees who are in contact with customers (direct or indirect). It is essential for all employees who interact with customers to be in agreement with the market position the firm wants to take.

Step-3: Train you folks

Work with and train all the employees and top managment to think and act in accordance with the market position. Outline the expected outcome and the benefits that communications consensus will bring and circulate in an e-mail or memo to all those involved. The most understandable benefit is that time and money will be saved in developing communications tactics. The most strategically valuable benefit is more effective communications resulting from consistent, cohesive and differentiated messages building market awareness, thus helping achieve the company's desired position.

Step-4: Generate Ideas

Concentrate on uncovering issues, competitive and internal differences of opinion. Get people talking and discussing the seven key positioning questions in turn. Customer or prospect survey questionnaires can provide the outside-in perspective and realistic answers about the company's present position. Also be sure to examine and be aware of what key competitors are claiming about themselves.

One of the most important aspects of the positioning statement exercise is that all affected managers see and hear each other's ideas. It is only though this face-to-face process that understanding and consensus occurs. Try ensuring that every manager's ideas and thoughts are noted.

Step-5: Challenge their thinking

Remind your people that the goal is uncovering direction by defining what is real as well as firm's ideal vision. This includes company and competitors' strengths, weaknesses, competitive threats, opportunities (SWOT analysis). What is being sought are reasonable and compelling supports (key messages) for a position verses competitors (But do not a position in a vacuum).

The hardest thing for many people to grasp is the concept of narrowing rather than broadening a company's focus. Differentiation is essential. If your people can't determine differences in the company, they need to look harder. Differentiating on price is usually a dead-end.

The desired result is a positioning statement and supporting messages that reflect today's reality and help move the company toward it's sought after, achievable, differentiated position. Remember, claiming to be "the leader" does not make it so.

Step-6: Playing it back

Once the first round of matket positioning is over, provide a summary and positioning statement as pervieved by an external agency. Craft your positioning statements and a set of key supporting statements for consideration during the next round.

The second round of market positioning should focus on refinement and agreement on one positioning statement and a limited set of key messages. If management output has been unfiltered, then the proposed statements and messages should be close to the final statement.

It is essential that during the entire exercise, a mission leader (external agency or marketing manager) should drive the process towards consensus and closure. Make careful note of agreements and modifications to the proposed statements and messages.

Publish the final position statement soon after the exercise ends to prevent an endless loop of iterations, changes, additions and more meetings.

Clear path Ahead

Finally, the firm begins actively applying its new positioning statement to all communications (internal and external) - from marketing collateral to sales material, Web sites to press releases. This means that if communications do not support the sought-after positioning or do not include, reflect, address or amplify the positioning statement and key messages, they are off strategy and are not acceptable.

Step-7: Get The Word Out

This is what's needed to initiate an effective position-driven communications program. Advertising or direct marketing must now follow the positioning statement. Their involvement ensures that they will support and implement the positioning statement and key messages.
Now it's up to the marketing communications, public relations and advertising managers to guide and control the consistent use of the statement and key messages by all those who are communicating. That takes some more work. But the payoff is communications success.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Web Marketing with Google

Having greatly benefited from my relationship with Google in the past several years, I am dedicating this blog to the search engine superstar.

I got to know Google several years back, when it was just a small fish in a big pond. I started to analyze its every move and realized that Google is a fickle, clever and extremely mysterious being. Still, I decided to get more acquainted.

Here are a few things I learned along the way.

Google works on Logic

In other words, avoid participating in anything that may blacklist you from this search engine, including keyword stuffing, link farms and hosting 50 "sister" sites on the same server. Keyword stuffing doesn't refer merely to the content of your site, but also the alt tags, headers, URLs and any additional areas of your web site. Google bots give a lower priority to sites which have excessive key words or have link farms or if there are multiple sites on the same server.

Google likes to stay focused

When optimizing the individual pages of your Web site, try to hone in on one or two relevant keywords per Web page. Analyze each page and identify which keyword would be most suitable.
If you decide to optimize for two keywords per page, make sure that they are similar in context. For example, if you are optimizing for the key phrase "insurance leads," you may also consider optimizing for "insurance sales leads" within the same page.

Google is popular and expects the same from you

The more popular your site is across the Web, the more Google will favor you. Obviously, having several high-quality inbound links to your site is key in achieving higher rankings. When identifying Web sites for inbound links, target the ones that are highly relevant to your site. For example, if you run a jewelry site, look for sites that are purely informational on the topic of jewelry or gemstones. Also, make sure that the sites you decide to partner with have a good PageRank (at least a 5) and online presence.

To save yourself a lot of hassle, conduct a keyword search relevant to your business and target the Web sites that show up on the first and second pages of Google (weeding out the competition, of course); contact the Web masters of those sites and tell them about your company and find useful ways to compensate them for adding your company's information on their site.

If you have an affiliate program, don't be shy to pitch it. If you have an online advertising budget, offer them a pay-per-click deal or monthly advertising fee for promoting your Web site. Note that partnering with these sites or purchasing ads should complement your overall marketing and business development strategy—and not be used merely to get link value.

Google gets bored easily

Regardless of whether your site is informational, e-commerce or just a sophisticated version of a business card, having quality content is crucial. Adding to that factor is how often you update your site's content.

If you run a site that has new content added on a daily basis, then eventually the Google "freshbot" will start visiting your site on a daily basis and indexing your new content into the database. The more content you update, the more Google visits your site and indexes it quicker.

Google loves to travel

It is commonly known that Google loves links, both inbound and outbound. Lots of research has focused on inbound links, but little has focused on the number of links on an actual page. It appears that Google favors sites that have several internal and outbound links over those that don't have links.

If you have any doubts about this theory, simply do a search on any high-volume keyword or phrase within this search engine and analyze the first few sites that come up. Notice how the majority of them have numerous internal links on the main pages of their Web site.

Closing thoughts

Keeping pace with Google is not an easy undertaking. It takes a certain level of knowledge, skill and creativity to truly benefit from this relationship. The rest is up to the stars.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Retaining People in Technical Jobs


Since I work as a engineer in a high tech company, I have learnt a few things of technical recruitment. Having worked in the USA & India and seen a boom to burst to boom cycles, it is interesting to know that that average tech worker remains in a company for about 18 months - this is same in most countries. This raises two interesting questions:
  • Why do tech workers get antsy after a year and a half?
  • Why is it that tech workers remain an average of 18 months in a position.

Given the cost of employee turnover, it is important to know the reasons why employees leave.

Cost of Turnover

Various formulas place the turnover cost of an IT worker from anywhere from 1.5 to 3 times the persons salary. A $50,000 programmer could cost from $75,000 to $150,000 to replace. Why so high? A myriad of direct and indirect costs associated with finding, recruiting, screening, interviewing, hiring, training, and integrating a new employee. Another major hidden cost is lost business or projects left idle.

Why tech workers get antsy after a year and a half?

The reason they get antsy is partly in the nature of technical work itself. Many engineers feel they have finished their work when their project is functioning smoothly. If they cannot find another interesting position internally, or if they want to continue developing software or projects, they have no choice but to look elsewhere.

Recent studies of high-tech employees suggests that three main factors affect IT employee retention:

  • Work environment (e.g. challenging work, atmosphere, physical environment)
  • Educational opportunities
  • Quality of life

Compensation and benefits were mentioned but to a lesser extent. Most of them are aware of the demand for their services and know that all they need to do to get a salary increase of 12-15% is to put themselves on the job market again.

The need for challenging work is often a factor in the allure of the's. Not surprisingly, many companies find it difficult to provide a constant challenge for their high-tech workers. Sometimes the work is of a maintenance nature and not quite as stimulating. Notwithstanding the inability to provide a continuos challenge, companies strive to make the rest of the work environment pleasant in the hope of keeping their staff.

Business Life Cycle

An interesting aspect of the technical recruiting is its involvement with two evolutionary milestones in a high-tech business - its birth and death. When a high-tech startup (including the's) develops its business plan, one of the critical needs is the right technical staff. In a tight labor market this must occur early in the process and a recruiting firm is often employed.

Conversely, when a high-tech business is in financial trouble, the employees that catch wind before the ax falls quickly distribute their resumes through technical employment venues. So from this unique vantage point we learn which businesses are posturing for start and those that are closing their doors. Between those extremes, however, we hear the grumbling of the high-tech employee that are invisible to the employer they are about to leave. In the interest of finding another job they share information with recruiters that they don't share with their family or friends and certainly not with their former employer. And the most pressing question that employers have for them is why are you leaving?

Knowing the cost of hiring, several research studies have been done on employee retention. The results of these studies can be summarized as simple but effective formula for employee retention to be strictly followed:

  • They are selective about whom they hire. At least four people interview each candidate.
  • Hire only what they need. Avoid hiring for project only and then have to terminate later.
    Make them feel wanted and important to the company. They mentor new hires and emphasize a strong personal touch.
  • Office environment, build around the employee versus making them fit a mold. A personal space that is tailored to the individual makes the workspace pleasant

Some companies allow additional flexibility by letting their employees telecommute on a limited basis. Workforce automation tools such as Web-based Knowledge Management Tool allow companies to link their geographically dispersed workforce through a common interface.

Educational opportunities are very important to IT workers. A survey by the web portal revealed the 93% of IT workers surveyed (2296) said educational opportunities were "critical" to their career. Getting the education to keep one's skills current in their work requires the type of flexibility to balance work and education. Learning should be an ongoing part of a company's corporate culture - but again flexibility is important to meet individual learning styles. Some people want formal classroom training while others learn best through books and on-the-job training. Budget training dollars for each employee - some are using this money to pay for degree classes at universities while others stock up on technology books from the bookstore."

Quality-of-life reasons for an employee leaving apply mostly to those relocating to another living environment and not to those making job changes within this region. We discovered many sought this area as an escape from the metropolitan maze of traffic, crime, congestion, smog etc. That area's waters and beaches are a strong attraction for those fed up with the rat race. This lifestyle attraction is key to the strategic vision of attracting IT workers. But it is important to note that those content with the quality of life are less likely to leave the region. However, high-tech employees motivated by primarily by compensation will follow the money wherever it takes them.

In an information technology economy shaped by knowledge-based workers, the financial cost of a technical member leaving is akin to robbery, embezzlement, or litigation. It is as financially horrific as the corporate knowledge that a high-tech employee takes when he unceremoniously walks out the door. And this is not a commercial problem alone. Projects stymied or aborted by lack of technical expertise are equally devastating.


Many companies today are aggressively pursuing measures to redefine the workplace in order to minimize turnover costs and intervene early into situations in which a critical member may be taking flight. In some larger firms an "Office of Retention" has been created to be a focal point for retention matters. This office can easily pay for itself by keeping a key employee. Making the workplace challenging and pleasant has now become bottom-line driven as retention will play key role in the success of the company.