With Good SEO, Everybody Wins

As a nation, we are fixated on deciding winners and losers. This is the season for determining winners and losers. We are in the midst of yet another presidential election of enormous consequence; the MLB pennant race is heating up; and the U.S. Open is concluding just in time for the NFL football season to get cranking.

NFL To Show First-Ever 3D GameAs a nation, we are fixated on deciding winners and losers. This is the season for determining winners and losers. We are in the midst of yet another presidential election of enormous consequence; the MLB pennant race is heating up; and the U.S. Open is concluding just in time for the NFL football season to get cranking.

This language of sports has infiltrated business. Other companies are referred to as competitors, and there are often discussions of level playing fields. There is always the undertone of winners and consequent losers.

It is no wonder that SEO has adopted the language of sports and competition. For many years, SEO has been about competing and winning valuable top rankings. This required beating out the competition.

What gets lost is that a dynamic that focuses on winners and losers is binary. The assumption is that if one party wins, another loses. Can there be multiple winners? Yes! Of course, there can be. I’d like to suggest that the current SEO playing field is moving toward a scenario where there are multiple winners — the search engine, the business and the customer.

The Game

Here is how I see this working. First, we must assume that search is part of a marketing ecosystem that includes customers, products, multiple vendors and other intermediaries including search engines.

Each has a separate focus and drivers.

The customer wants to purchase the best product at the cheapest price. The search engine’s business success is predicated on gleaning lots of search requests and delivering information and directions to goods that make the customer happy and willing to search again.

The business wants to sell its products and grow its revenues.

Now, here is where SEO comes into the picture. By including plenty of accurate content on well-designed product pages, the site owner provides lots of red meat for the customer and will be rewarded with a higher ranking than the businesses that appear to offer less relevant information. High-quality information allows the customer to make a clear decision and walk away from the transaction happy.

This benefits all parties. The customer/searcher will return to the search engine again based on the prior experience, the business enjoys the benefit from the sale and the customer has a satisfactory experience.

Now What?

You might say: “Fine, this is all good, but isn’t the business competing with others who offer the same goods?” When you move beyond a limited transactional approach — goods for cash — and consider the totality of the customer experience as unique, then you destroy the purely goods-to-goods model.

Search, with its continuing focus on delivering what the users want, is begging for this type of rethink.

The job of a good SEO is to act as a matchmaker. As an SEO who works with e-commerce retailers, I am always amazed at the efforts put into creating gorgeous sites that ooze the brand’s personality that are then flawed by horrible SEO.

The practice of SEO today is far more than twiddling a few lines of meta information or creating a technically sound site that indexes easily. These are the table stakes. The ante for even getting in the game.

Now, SEO must play a role in articulating the brand and personality for each product on the site in a way that creates a unique and satisfying experience for all of the parties in the ecosystem.

It is a tall order, but the rewards are huge.

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: How to Enjoy March Madness at Work (Thanks, Web Technology!)

As a die-hard sports fan, not to mention college basketball junkie, March is gluttony at its finest. I’m not alone in my revelry. Round-the-clock action serves as a rite of spring for sports fans across the nation, who are rooting on their alma maters, local universities and, of course, whomever they’ve penciled in to their brackets. But with the “madness” comes a real dilemma: How do you watch the games when they’re being played in the middle of the day during the workweek?

This week we have a guest post in my spot: Joe Keenan, senior editor of All About ROI and eM+C … and sports fan.

As a die-hard sports fan, not to mention college basketball junkie, March is gluttony at its finest. I’m not alone in my revelry. Round-the-clock action serves as a rite of spring for sports fans across the nation, who are rooting on their alma maters, local universities and, of course, whomever they’ve penciled in to their brackets. But with the “madness” comes a real dilemma: How do you watch the games when they’re being played in the middle of the day during the workweek?

Worry no more. CBSSports.com has got you covered — and without the risk of getting caught. (CBS is the official broadcast network of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.) While the site has broadcast live streaming video of NCAA tournament games since 2004, helping stranded office workers like me keep track of the action, the threat of getting caught by the boss was always a deterrent hanging out there.

Enter the “Boss Button,” a tool that when clicked hides the live video action on the screen and silences the audio, replacing it with a “business-like” image. Slacking off at work has never been made so easy.

Designed by cartoonist Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic, the boss button was first rolled out in 2009 to more than 2.77 million clicks. The functionality has been redesigned for this year’s tournament, and sneaky office workers have taken notice: The button was clicked more than 1.7 million times on the tournament’s first day alone, more than 60 percent of the total clicks of the boss button for the entire 2009 tournament.

And there’s an entire contingent of fans out there who are watching the action apparently without repercussions. Consider the following traffic statistics released last week from CBSSports.com:

  • 3.4 million hours of live streaming video and audio were consumed by 3 million unique visitors to the NCAA March Madness on Demand video players on the first day of the tournament last Thursday, a 20 percent growth versus 2009 — both numbers represent the largest single day of traffic for a live sporting event on the internet;
  • 2 p.m. to 2:59 p.m. ET was the most watched hour last Thursday with 533,000 streaming hours (16 percent of the total for the day), peaking at 2:45 p.m. with 147,000 streaming hours; and
  • the most watched game from last Thursday was the double-overtime Florida vs. BYU game with 521,000 hours of streaming video and audio, a 50-plus percent increase over 2009’s most watched game from the first day of the first round (Washington vs. Mississippi State).

“The continuing evolution of NCAA March Madness on Demand gives our fans even more reasons to stay connected to the tournament on a daily basis,” said NCAA Senior Vice President for Basketball and Business Strategies Greg Shaheen in a CBSSports.com press release. “Tremendous first round games, enhanced features in the MMOD player and solid early traffic numbers all point towards an exciting few weeks to come.”

Has your company found success streaming video online? How about implementing a special functionality on your site such as a boss button? Tell us about your experiences by posting a comment below.