Note: WordPress SEO told me, I have to use the focus phrase more often, start the title with it add synonyms to the title, add it to sub-headers, alt-attributes of the images, etc: Unhyping Online Marketing. So I optimized this text following WordPress (Yoast) SEO. Such it might not be as human readable as you might like it. Or as you may have gotten used to.
I added some of the stuff WordPress SEO wanted in small-print. No worries, no legal implications, just to satisfy WordPress SEO. A good example on how SEO rules may be good for search engines, but are not good for your (my) audience… Unhyping Online Marketing. Yes, another making use of that “focus phrase”. Unhyping Online Marketing. According to WordPress SEO, this is a PERFECT article. Sorry that it’s so hard to read. I promise I won’t write SEO-perfect text any more.
The past month I have worked with a client on the corporate strategy, the client asking to also address their online strategy, expressely the need for and improvements to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). To get up to speed for the subtopic, I signed up for an online college course about the topic of Digital Marketing. Another topic without much sustance needing some unhyping. And to satisfy SEO, I now must add “Unhyping Online Marketing” as the keyphrase to the first paragraph. Done.
Digital Marketing Definition Unhyping Online Marketing – SEO says I have to add this to the subtitles…
In summary from the Wikipedia Article on the topic: ”
… and Reality Unhyping Online Marketing – SEO says I have to add this to the subtitles…
Wooow, say what? Okay. Listening to the technical expert for an expensive multi-week course, I found the topic as expected to be a hype. Heresy! “That ain’t a hype, it is a vital new business area!” Ahem. Is it? Let me summarize the boooring lectures of two weeks, being in summary a “buzzword-bingo”. There is a core of reality to it, but in summary, it is another leech-business. In essence, if you follow some relatively common-sense rules, you cover SEO and SEM “naturally” and spending on self-proclaimed SEO and SEM experts, you just burn money. Remember my business mantra:
All I heard in the course was fancy buzz words. Questioning them, it boiled down to very few reasonable rules, which anyone writing webpages (static or dynamic) should follow. I’ll come to it.
Who’s Your Customer Unhyping Online Marketing – SEO says I have to add this to the subtitles…
In short, Search Engines (not just Google) visit websites and automatically try to interpret them. Though the algorithms get better, those are algorithms, not people. “WordPress SEO” (by Yoast) tells me my posts in this blog can improve on readability, using more keywords, more headlines, etc. But do I write the posts for SEO or for a human audience? While I follow “the rule-book” in this post, I find it harder to read. Short sentences don’t work well on context. Headlines disrupt reading. I usually write more “book style” or compared to magazine articles.
So the main question you need to answer for yourself is: Who do you write for?
Search Engines Algorithms and Sorting Unhyping Online Marketing – SEO says I have to add this to the subtitles…
Google dominating the market, there are more Search Engines out there. They mostly function the same way today. A little computer program, called a “spider” or “robot” reaches out into the Internet. It visits the pages and follows the link to more pages. Each page visited is automatically analyzed using more or less useful algorithms. In order to get the “dumb” computer analyzing the page to understand, short sentences are recommended. Context, as I like to use, is something they don’t grasp well. So in order to do well on the search engines ranking, you’re advised to phrase your pages for the “less smart” peop…ahh … search engines. So I use a lot of short sentences here. Close them more often. Find them less “fluid to read”.
Worse, HTML has not been developed for search engines. Your web-pages hopefully neither. There has been a very good idea in the META-elements. They are also called META-tags. The most important ones providing the search engines “keywords” and a “description”.
meta name="description" and
meta name="keywords. You do find them in most pages in the source code. Usually your browser offers a “view” menu, where you can select “source”. Unfortunately, Google, once pushing it forward, now believes in their algorithms and largely ignores those tags.
meta property="og:description" or
meta name="twitter:description" in my eyes diffuse the situation and are just good for “Search-Engine Experts” to justify their being. Where “Twitter” is rather clear, “OG” stands for the “Open Graph” protocol. Graph? If they are missing, those search engines using those meta-tags do fall back and look for the “classic” description. There is now a myriad of META-tags out there. W3schools is a very good reference, and they only focus on the five most important ones.
Another “very important” topic in the lectures was the “nofollow” tag. In general and part of the basic meta-tags was “robots”:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex" />
noindex makes sense and is interpreted by all common search engines. And likely most uncommon ones too, it is one of the very basic meta tags. It tells robots simply, not to index that page. That makes sense for example on Intranet-pages, login pages etc. There is also the possibility to add
nofollow. Which tells the robots, not to follow any links from that page. Which by experience is largely ignored by the search engines… The Internet lives of Hyperlinks. So why would you disallow to follow one. If you don’t want the page indexed, it should say so on the page not to be indexed, using
To make this even more complex, you can add
rel="nofollow" (or follow) to any link on your page. Give me a break! Say what? Ain’t it enough to specify this for the page? It’s overcomplicating. For the sake of SEO-experts to justify their existence.
Also in the invisible “header” of the website, there is the “title tag”. Which has two major uses for a human visitor.
- It shows the page title in the browser tab.
- It is the default text for a bookmark the user sets in the browser.
Such, it is vital to think about the title. I usually focus in reverse order. I want a good bookmark text, but that implies that I can find it quickly and know what’s behind. On the main page the company name or website name are sufficient. On sub pages, it should allow me to “know” where the bookmark takes me inside the web domain.
But now come the search engines. And they consider the title a primary keyword (see next). So stupid SEO experts now abuse the title to push the SEO ranking, in turn making the title less useful for the human customer visiting your website. Smart?
A classic (rule) on presentations and posts is to consider your “message”. Any discussion, presentation, or short post can transport up to three “memories”. Less is better. Up to three “keywords”, “messages” or “ideas”. Those are the “memories”. All else supports those and in the end is “noise”. But to drive home the point into the memory, that for us people, humans, the “noise” is also very important. It shall support the “key topic” to promote active thinking about it. Then the human brains “indexes” the topic.
Search engines work the same way, though they quite often have trouble getting the keywords right. What are the keywords. That is what
META keywords was supposed to provide and they should be limited to three keywords. Instead, “SEO-experts” use them excessively to trigger searches. It got so bad, that Google now ignores them. Thank you you “SEO-experts”.
(SEO says, I must add a subheading here or the text becomes badly readable)
And aside, according to SEO, I must use the focus key phrase (unhyping online marketing) a lot. So here just a filler line to satisfy SEO optimization…
But it stays valid that search engines search for those keywords. And there are mainly three areas, where they can look for them. There is the title tag. And yes, it is good to think about the title. Most search engines (except for Google) look into the META tags. Experts believe though, that Google still uses the META tags to “look” for the keywords inside the page to improve it’s own interpretation. But Google simply would not “value” them related to the page ranking. Google doesn’t “answer” to this, but it doesn’t hurt to add the main META tags, right?
Interesting, I analysed some of the latest presentations I received. Few summarize. But even more I miss to see the “red line”. What is the story? What is the message? A lot use “techno babble”. If you’re not an expert yourself, you don’t understand them and such, while they listen to themselves, they loose their audience – and often don’t even recognize it. Simplify! Any fool can complicate things. Sim-pli-fy!
Now, however you summarize, the Search Engines, especially Google, do not care. Except that they improve your ranking, if they find the same “keywords” that it finds in the title, are being reflected in the summary. Which is, why for this SEO-optimized post, I intentionally add the summary.
Multimedia + Tags
Now a picture says more than a thousand words, I always spend quite some time looking for the right image. More recently, I make very sure, I preferably use Shutterstock to license pictures. With the new GDPR (EU General Data Protection Rules) this becomes even more important, even for private posts. And even if lawyers loose in court, such court cases are time-consuming, annoying and frustrating.
Did I mention that I got sued for domain name and for accused downloading of a movie I have proven I had on file before? Universal and other movie studios are said to make more money on suing potentially innocent people than they make by selling their movies. Yes, I can believe it. So I license whatever and wherever I can. It’s not worth the hassle not to.
Image ALT vs TITLE tag
But for Search Engines, again they use tags that have not been made for them. There are three tags relevant to images and video, usually associated to be multimedia content. For images, ALT and TITLE tags are important. ALT is for screen readers explaining the content of the image. Keep it short, it does disrupt the text flow in the screen reader.
TITLE tag inside the image tag is used to provide an explanation for the image. It appears if you move your mouse over the image. Very often, it is used for “click for full screen”. While that may be logical, it is also a priority information for the search engine. Where that “click for full screen” does not make much sense, does it? But also adding a full text targeted for the search engines becomes rather annoying for the user moving the mouse over the image. Just keep in mind when adding images to provide a proper ALT-text!
For Videos, it is a tick more complicated. Videos should no longer be implemented using Flash, since HTML the implementation of videos is rather trivial. What many forget is to add the description. For video, the description has been outsourced into a vtt. file linked using the
track tag, an example for a video code:
<video style="max-width:90%;max-heigth:90%;" id="teaser" poster="./resources/img/page_db_screenshot.png" preload controls autoplay onended="videoEnded(this)">
<source src="./resources/vid/video.mp4" type="video/mp4" media="screen">
<source src="./resources/vid/video.webm" type="video/webm" media="screen">
<source src="./resources/vid/video_small.mp4" type="video/mp4" media="screen and (max-width:1300px)">
<source src="./resources/vid/video_small.webm" type="video/webm" media="screen and (max-width:1300px)">
Sorry, your browser does not support HTML5 video. Please klick below to access the classic website.
<track src="subtitles_de.vtt" kind="subtitles" srclang="en" label="English" default>
<track src="description.vtt" kind="descriptions" >
I just checked. None of the “SEO-experts” my recent clients worked with on video followed those rules. They added more video formats than necessary, they omitted the description as well as the subtitles. Experts. Most of them amateurs I’m afraid!
Content is King
So much about search engines algorithm and what to take care for writing web pages. Analyzing common pages on special interest looking at the “Google ranking”, you increasingly find that Google learned and learns to value good content for humans. In turn Google, but also other search engines disqualify “link black holes”, identifies link farms and downgrades sites using those.
To unhype, I find and found it more important to focus on the content. And to consider when you write the “message”. Which then leads to a natural use of the “keywords”. And it helps to use the keywords in the title- and other tags.
The Google Adwords and Social Media Ads Black Hole
I have tested Google Adwords and LinkedIn Ads myself in the past. In my opinion, they represent a black hole, where you can invest big money for little to no gain. In our group, we discussed our experience and most of us identify the word and ignores those ads. Too many ads misdirecting the user.
For the advertiser, the ads are virtually “black holes”. You need to specify a “budget”, but you can hardly qualify what you get for it. So in my opinion, this is another big, bold scam for your SEO-“experts” to make money. While you can and should analyse your keyword value, which keywords to use to attract visitors, if you go too broad, you don’t target your client, you loose a lot of money to no gain. If you go too detailed, you might miss out on potential targets. Those adword campaigns are so “cheap” just in order to hook you. Once on the hook, they do everything to not let you go.
The image is the post-ad-campaign analysis of some free advertisement we used, with active support by a SEA-expert (search engine advertising). While we targeted very specific, paid for clicks, we had a lot of visits, but not a single sale within the duration of the campaign. I’ve done client campaigns for airlines. Had one, where out of invested 150€, they in average had one single ticket. And their SEA-experts kept doing and doing and doing, their marketing experts had not even an idea that this was happening, as the airline had different teams for online and classic marketing. Say waa-hat?
My strong recommendation for Adwords: Try it, low budget. Create a specific landing page! Many fail to do so. Make sure you can truly analyze the incoming “traffic” and compare to what Google or LinkedIn tell you. My experience: Surprising… If it doesn’t work for you, skip it, drop it! When your pages show up within the first results anyway, why using ads? Having no strategy and if you don’t know how these ads perform, you simply burn money. Given that your company is big enough, keep trying, but make sure you monitor the results.
Analysis – or Google, Google and Google? Unhyping Online Marketing – SEO says I have to add this to the subtitles…
Okay. Our tutor-expert told us we must use Google Analytics, it is the market leader, nothing goes without. Nothing? Really? I feel a bit like coming from that little famous Gaulish village… Surrounded by the Google Empire. Because; No. I do not use Google Analytics. Found them easy to use, but why would Google Search know of pages that I have intentionally hidden? That are not linked elsewhere? Trust Google? I use Google Search and YouTube, but only logging in if needed and having a little script delete my cookies right after. No, I do not trust Google.
Then our tutor-expert told us of German tools, also offering tons of possibilities to analyse. Analyse in so much detail, we could spend hours, days and weeks on analysis. I call that “analyse till you die”. Sure you can analyse, but I also learned long ago, that there is no end to the possibilities, but an end to where it makes sense. And then, each and every analysis, I can present you with the “positive” and “biased” results to convince you to spend more and more on “my ideas” (and paying me for it). Not my style. But very, very common in online marketing circles.
And there are alternatives. For years, I use the common web-statistics analysis offered by Apache (the web-server of choice). Using Webalizer, AWstats or any of the other free analysis tools give you quite some anonymous information about visitor behavior, where they come from, what search terms they used, etc., etc. My personal preference has been the old (2006) Mach5 FastStats for offline use on Windows. Else for free life statistics on the (Linux-)Server; Matomo “on premise”, being a strong mix of open source Google Analytics and webserver log file analysis.
Matomo on Premise
So why do I recommend Matomo on Premise over Google Analytics? What are the (main) benefits? And no bedeviling of Google please.
Second of all, as mentioned above, you cannot be sure what Google does with the Analytics information. You are absolutely sure of the security of your information and pages as Matomo on Premise runs on your server.
Other reasons, but those are the main ones. And for the above two reasons, Matomo on Matomo servers is casting out the devil with the Beelzebub… Instead of “anonymous users” on Google Analytics, you have them on Matomo, plus you pay for the service. So it’s “on Premise” or you can use the “free” Google Analytics “paying” with your privacy.
So what are Online-KPIs? Unhyping Online Marketing – SEO says I have to add this to the subtitles…
Most Online managers, SEO, SEM SEA or whatever fancy shortcuts they use, will tell you how important “followers” are. Or “likes”. Or interaction with your website. While that is not completely wrong, in my experience, it does not help to have thousands and hundreds of thousands of followers. You need customers. I follow a lot of aviation companies but for different reasons.
Look to Book Ratio
In my opinion, the only KPI that counts is what we called the “look to book” ratio in the early days of Internet bookings. Where before, travel agents filtered the requests, about 10 “availability requests” (available flights and fares for a given route) led to a booking. Many say the requests were less.
Then came the online booking tools, initially (like GetThere) not focusing on the booking, but simply to show availability and travel agency “crypted” screens on the Interent. At Cytric (which then did not have that name, today being owned by Amadeus), we did the first “real bookings” on Amadeus back in 1996 and rolled out the solution as Siemens Travel Net. Two months before we signed the deal with Siemens, we asked Amadeus to approve a commercial web-based booking tool. The emphatically denied that it would be possible to book flights or hotels through an Internet-link on Amadeus.
SEO tells me, I need a subheading here… And I need to use my keyphrase more often… Unhyping Online Marketing. So just another like that’s only to satisfy SEO but disrupts my text…
A year later in the keynote of the Amadeus Global Conference 1997 in Barcelona, I was quoted with the intention to proof that Amadeus can do Internet. Sure, it was not mentioned all the hardships from internal resistance, that we used screen scraping as the first APIs, standardized data interfaces were not yet available, etc. Marketing… But the look-to-book ratios exploded. to the levels where the Lufthansa host failed, as there was a system rule that prioritized “sales requests” over operational ones. And the most basic and highest prioritized request was “availability”. For it was deemed important for the sales process to be able to make an offer. With an explosion in availability requests, the system became so unusable that Lufthansa disabled the web-requests from one portal that today is still one of the largest ones.
What’s Your Real KPIs?
Long story, KPIs change. But at the end, there is the sale. And without buyers, all activities are moot, what do you do it for? In the end, the bills must be paid. Online marketing managers love to explain the need to have “followers” and “likes” and “shares”. All the “noise”, but no sale. It does not help you to be successful. Having several thousand followers using the RSS-feed for this blog. Having another several hundred returning visitors. Peaks after I published an article or page and “promote” it, by sharing on LinkedIn and Facebook, I know the blog is being read.
And aside, according to SEO, I must use the focus key phrase (unhyping online marketing) a lot. So here just a filler line to satisfy SEO optimization… And by adding all that crap, I now need it a 12th time: Unhyping Online Marketing…
But no, I do not write it for you: I write it to address thoughts I find important. And I simply appreciate you reading it. Now. A few years ago, I added a “like” button to the posts. Simply click if you like what I read. Most of my readers obviously are what is called “leechers” in online marketing. People that don’t interact on such a most basic level. I have the same people addressing me “in hiding” through personal messaging to respond to the one or other blog articles. So I have massive KPIs. Massive. Under consideration of online marketing.
People read my blog, they read what I post on LinkedIn (50-100 “views” of my posts). Did they lead to sales? No. Calling did. Sometimes the called ones refer to my blog. So it opens doors. But no, under commercial considerations that is all nonsense.
A KPI you cannot analyse and qualify is no KPI.
KPIs? Do a special landing page for your post. Set a cookie to track that visitor and count, how many “sales” you did. That’s a KPI. Don’t tell me a “like”, a “follower” or a “share” is a KPI. Does it pay your bills?
Summary Unhyping Online Marketing – SEO says I have to add this to the subtitles…
Summarizing, Online and Search Engine Marketing, Optimization and Analysis are big hypes we have to bring back to earth.
It should be natural to think about the message for which you create a web page, a blog post or other digital media. It’s nothing specific to the Internet.
Choose and use your keywords meaningful. Not for the Search Engines. But use them meaningful for your readers.
Use pictures and animated media (movies, animations, GIFs, etc.) smartly, but make sure you license and you tag them properly.
Food for Thought!