Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Free wifi at Bang Coffee Shop

Last February 13, I find myself hanging out at Bang Coffee Shop, Tomas Morato, Quezon City (in front of Chilis restaurant) after meeting with a public relations firm.

I was quite stressed earlier that day as the reality about a concern found its way to me. Good thing Bang Coffee Shop was such a nice place with good food, a sense of quietness, and free wifi Internet. If you need to plug your computer to a power source, that is the only time you'll pay fifty pesos (P50) an hour.

It was at that place when my trip to Urdaneta City was confirmed to conduct a search engine marketing workshop. Coordinated and invited a blogger friend to tag along with me then.

I visited the place for the 2nd time last February 25 to meet Mel who owns a public relations agency in the Philippines and catch up with SEO pioneer Jojy Azurin.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Creating an events calendar

When coordinating with a lot of people who wants your time, it is tough to maintain a schedule that will accommodate most of them. With a clear goal in mind, resources and schedule must be planned carefully so that life will still be at a balance.

Last week, I decided to embed a Google Calendar in our club blog sidebar. However, I realized that viewing it can be tough and decided to allot this blog post for it and just assign a tiny url that parties can refer to.

For invitation inquiries, send me a note and will reply to you soon! Cheers!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

8 Components of a search engine optimized press release

(click on the mind map image to see a bigger view)

Last February, I shared about a 2-hours briefing for a public relations firm on the importance of making a search engine optimized (SEO) press release. Noticed further that interest on SEO has captured the attention of media outfits where editors are asked to learn about it as well.

Althoug it is easier said than done, press release writers should learn the following to make their work more than just SEO-friendly:
  • Call to action headline
    Oftentimes, headlines are written to inform (for your info style). I believe that it should be more of a call to action. Whether you are encouraging people to join a conference, take a stand, buy products, among others, a headline must be intriguing enough for the reader to take notice. They could either agree or disagree with it and pass it on to others. Or do what you want them to do which can be to register, buy a product, among others.

  • Create variation
    Do not limit yourself to one-canned press release and strike everyone. Ideally, it must have different versions that caters to various media targets. The more segments you can gain exposure, the better.

  • Think international
    Press releases are often written for the local market. But note that if they are written interesting enough, with innovative or novelty aspects cited, it can also gain international exposure that has a benefit all on its own. Especially if your target audience may also reside in other countries.

  • Target news networks
    There are news media or distribution online outlets whose stories also gets picked up by news pages of search engines. They should be tapped because majority of your Internet users today have access to these news sources and also appears prominently on search engine results.

  • Go beyond text
    A press release, ideally, should be accompanies by a logo or photo as readers also want to see the face behind a product or service. However, it will also be of value to include audio and video nowadays as most online news site want their news content to be rich media.

  • Add social networking and bookmark features
    At the minimum, give users the option to share your press release to StumbleUpon, Yahoo Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, among others.

  • Punch line
    Not the comedy one but a powerful quote that will strike a chord with users. Something that pops-out strongly to the user and will prompt them to share it.

  • Keyword-rich
    Create 2 words, 3 words, 4 words anchor text in your press release that links to various pages of a website or parts of a page. Use a keyword research tool to have an idea on popular search queries by Internet users today. This will help a lot in identifying the keywords you desire.
Oftentimes, writing a press release is undertaken within the company or tapping a 3rd party press release services entity.

Regardless which path you will use, I hope the above will be of help.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lessons learned: Using blog contest to promote your site

Makoy recently organized his 2nd BigMak Blog Contest as a way to promote his blogs and get his readers involved.

Makoy announced the winners last March 20 and am glad that he granted this request to share his lessons learned.

Janette: What goals do you want to achieve for the contest?

Makoy: My main intention actually is to promote my four blogs and to improve my Page Rank. Months ago, I have launched my makoyskie.com site and having this contest is one way of promoting it. By the way, my target number of entries is 100. I would want to have many contestants as possible since I have many sponsors. Anyway, I also took this opportunity to meet new friends and to expand my network.

Janette: What did you do to achieve those goals?

Makoy: To achieve my goals for the contest, I have created specific mechanics like dropping quality comments in my four blogs, linking my sponsors, using Digg and Twitter and pasting my very useful contest badge. To achieve more Page Rank for my blogs and to all my sponsors, I used anchor links for my blogs that is SEO and SERP friendly. For the contestants part, I have invited everyone I know from my closest friends, to my Entrecard friends and to contestants to other blog contests.

Janette: Did everything turn out according to plan? If not, what did you do to improvise?

Makoy: This is my second contest and so far I haven't perfected yet the formula. Looking for sponsors is not a tough work but meeting my target contestants is the hardest. Would you believe that I was even hurt that some of those who promised did not even join, and they are even my closest blogger friends. Aside from my quota contestants, I find the course of the contest went well. I even have new blogger friends now that constantly visits my blogs.

Janette: How did you get your sponsors?

Makoy: One month before the contest, I posted an announcement in my blog that I am looking for sponsors. During the one month period, I also visited blogs that held contests. I visited the sponsor's blog and invited them to be a sponsor in my contest. I even dropped messages to EC profiles, which led to the spam warning of Entrecard. Thank God, my account wasn't suspended. And lastly, I posted announcements in forums and in Yahoo! Groups.

Janette: Did you achieve your goals?

Makoy: Based on unique contestant, I failed to meet the 100 quota since I only have 63 contestants. But all in all, I managed to earn 141 links for myself and to my sponsors. I also have earned additional links for the reviews made by my contestants, a joyful 556 links. Based on the figures, I think it is still a win-win scenario. And what's so nice about this contest is that I gained new friends and loyal readers. I have yet to see though if my Page Rank would improve.

Janette: What worked and what didn't? What would you do the same next time? What would you do differently?

Makoy: My contest have its high and lows. During the first week, some of my mechanics were revised. I took out Stumbled Upon since I don't have a way to verify if the contestants really submitted it or not. I even made the mechanics more clear to eliminate cheating and confusion.

In my next contest, I would do the same thing in terms of mechanics but I would focus more on promoting the contest. I would also require the sponsors to post my contest badge and to do some contest promotion. I have learned that having a blogging contest is not about me and the contestants. Sponsors should also do their part to make the contest successful.

Janette: What surprised you about how the contest played out? (positive and/or negative)

Makoy: It surprised me that there are really contestants that are dead serious in winning. In my contest, there are three contestants that are very eager to win. It just boils down on the strategy and understanding well the mechanics to win. What's also surprising is that contestants know me a lot by reading my old and present posts. I even tagged a contestant a stalker since she knows many things about me. She read all my posts from the start I think.

On the darker side, it surprised me that there are really contestants that sour grapes. I know that they worked hard to win but not everybody can win. They even question you on how you count the points. It is very hurtful to read from a participant that I am not fair in counting the points. Well, I cannot please everybody. What's the most shocking of all is that some contestants don't even bother to read or understand the mechanics well. They would even bother me just to ask on how to join.

And lastly, what surprised me is the number of Pinoy bloggers around the world. Through this contest, I met Pinoy bloggers in the US, Netherlands, Holland, UK and of course in the Philippines. Isn't that great?

Hats-off to Makoy

I am one of the sponsors that Makoy tapped and happy on how the contest turned out. It allowed me to discover new blogs and learned a lot on how Makoy handled this contest.

Personally, I'm partly worried as well that bloggers may be experiencing a contest-fatigue of sorts. This puts pressure to be creative when developing contests that bloggers will feel excited to participate. It also made me more conservative when coming up with figures on the number of contestants.

Thank you Makoy and congratulations!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SEO Content Writing for Journalists & Columnists

My column last month at Sun.Star tackled SEO content writing. It was written in response to a request from an editor asking for tips on writing articles with search engine optimization in mind.

(example of keyword results for "leadership" using Wordtracker.)

For columnist and writers, this can mean writing your article first and then analyze what keywords your article contains. From there, do a search on various keyword performance analysis tools to assess their popularity and make the necessary revision. This can also be done the other way around where you research the idea you have in mind first, before actually writing it.

In the end, the purpose of doing this is to ensure that your article will rank high on search engines and be found by readers who need such information.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Money Deposit & Withdrawal - Criteria for Best Online Casino

I have recently undertaken a 2nd research project that is related to casinos. The first one was a start-up planning to break into a specific country in Asia. The most recent one is a payment solution for online casino sites.


This requires me to check out various Casino Directory online. See who they considered to be as top ranking and what factors influence it. In the case of OnlineCasinosDir.com, the sites they have ranked are what they found to provide professional customer service and games - having the same experience and thrills as in real life playing in a casino. The site also has a blog that keeps you posted on other online casinos out there that are being tested by the site owners.

However, I noticed in various forums that there is confusion on how an account can be funded and be able to withdraw.

For instance, in the US, some online casinos allow you to fund and withdraw using one payment means only. Other payment systems allow you to fund your online casino account but the same can't be used to withdraw money as they are not allowed to do business in the U.S.

Some payment systems also get listed and later the player gets frustrated as they can't sign up at all since they can't do business in the U.S. For international players, some experience getting their accounts locked or unable to withdraw until they reach a specific rank. While some payment systems hardly have a working customer service number accessible at all or takes more than a week to get a decent e-mail reply to complaints.

I think various casino directories should also rank payment solutions used in online casinos so that players will pick the best solution that works for them. This includes easy to fund, easy to withdraw, shorter fund transfer time schedule, lower rates & service charges, and incentives.

I think playing in an online casino can only be so much fun if the deposit and withdrawal experience is equally pleasant that will benefit most of its players.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why join an SEO contest?

I recently encouraged a young blogger to join an SEO contest and believe that such will even help her become a better blogger and be more strategic in approach.

Joining an SEO contest has its own benefits that includes:
  1. Learn by trial and observation
    You will be able to put your skill to the test and observe how the top performers do it. Through it, you'll be able to try what they have done in your site and see how it improves your rank.

  2. Launch your SEO career
    It is a way to introduce yourself as an SEO practitioner and use it as part of your portfolio. This is especially true if you end up in page 1 versus those who have joined the contest.

  3. Build connection
    Get to know other players in the field and establish relationship. Most SEO practitioners don't do things on their own especially for big projects and often require help from their peers which may result to projects.
Do it alone or with a team?
Whe i first joined a local SEO contest, I was alone using this blog to build my entry and inter-link it with my other blogs. Got a few linking help from 2-3 other sites and that was it. The experience was most rewarding in terms of content building and recognized my weakness in terms of link building outside of my own set of sites. There were only 3 ituloy angsulong girls who made the final count and it was fun.

The next one I joined was more spontaneous decision on my part. I decided on the spot last year to help Gary Viray compete in the Busby SEO Test global SEO competition. The contest was fierce, furious, stressful, passionate, and ruthless. I learned a lot more about error pages, effective indexing, content pillar development, and link building. It has become my favorite case study whenever I get to talk about search engine marketing & optimization.

To ensure that what was started doesn't go to waste, continuous maintenance are being made as no one really knows when I'll get the urge to join or help someone again.

So if you really think that you are good in SEO, joining a contest is a must investment for professional development. Of course, choose those that are worth your while.