About Benjamin Blachère

French Online Marketer previously based in Sydney. Launched a Web Marketing Agency in Paris, SLAP digital where we help our clients to increase their traffic, the size of their membership databases as well as their revenues. Passionate about web marketing, I have previously launched my own website, a community for people in Long Distance Relationships.

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  • SEO


    Search Engine Optimisation tool – A review of Advanced Web Ranking

    Google (and Yahoo, Bing, Baidu…) remains, and has been for a while, the key single factor that will make or break the success of a website. Ranking high for a large number of keywords is key. But how do you keep track of this? Instead of manually, and painfully, searching for your website, there are a lot of SEO tools available to allow you to perform keyword ranking analysis as well as assist you to come up with additional keywords.

    Advanced Web Ranking

    This week, I have spent some time reviewing Advanced Web Ranking, a SEO tool which is described as a “SEO software that helps you effectively track and analyse your site ranking“.

    And guess what, this is exactly what it does.

    Upon downloading the software (I downloaded the Enterprise version – there’s a free 30 days trial), you are then able to create projects for multiple website, adding the relevant keywords and search engines you want to track. This is fairly similar to other SEO tools I trialled in the past. I also recommend that you carefully store your keywords in categories. Otherwise it will quickly become unreadable and difficult to analyse.

    There is no limit on the number of keywords you can monitor. There are multiple tabs for the management of keyword tracking and positioning and the history is shown either as a curve or a position. Advanced Web Ranking allows you to track the rankings evolution over a long period, whether it is about a specific keyword, or to track your competitors’ rankings. It is therefore easy to see if a competitor is working on his SEO and what keywords they are focusing on.

    The first thing that I was pleasantly surprised with was the number of search engines available to be tracked. Not only was there Google France for example, for also Google France (France) for when a searcher specifies only pages from france, or Google (French) for someone searching in French on Google, but not Google.fr. This allows for some in-depth analysis.  Advanced Web Ranking measures the positioning of your websites in about 2200 engines.

    After about 10 minutes, all the data was loaded in my project, and I was then able to perform some analysis on how my website was performing. This will obviously become even more interesting overtime as you are then able to track/monitor the performance of your keywords from week to week, month to month and year to year.

    For the project I set up, I went to double check if the rankings were accurate, as I previously tried some tools that were giving me results that weren’t 100%. And it was accurate. To be this is my number 1 requirement.

    The Visibility tab also provides a real advantage by recognizing the top positions, top 3, top 5, top 10, top 20 and many other options, really interesting over a long period.

    Something, obvious, yet nice to have, is that when you double click on a result, it takes you to the web page. So you if are curious about a website’s rank, double click to have a look at the page, and try to understand what they do well.

    Advanced Web Ranking also includes a tool to audit your web pages in a few clicks. These audits can determine whether or not you have placed the words on which you want to position yourself in the hot zones in your page. Everything is looked at: title, description, content, alt names, domain, URL. Which makes it a really powerful tool for On-Site SEO.

    In addition, Advanced Web Ranking has included many keyword research tools into its software. Among them you will find: SEMRush, Yahoo related keywords, Wordtracker, etc..

    Advanced Link Manager

    The same editor has a second interesting tool called Advanced link manager. It focuses on the off-site aspect of SEO, and more specifically link building. This tool allows you to monitor your incoming and internal links, overall link popularity but also a lot of other things.

    You have access to historical developments and their backlinks. It also allows to see the keywords used in links, link types of disputes: link text Link on picture, the links are nofollow.

    The Linktext function allows you to immediately see what keywords relate to a specific site, handy if you are studying a competitor’s site! You can even see the Page Rank of pages that return links. By sorting the results you get out pages with a PR 4 for example.

    The tab refferers also provides many interesting features, you can sort by domain, IP, by URL and more. You can also see the link popularity. You can also compare dates, see at a glance, the number of links emerging from a page and finally if they are links dofollow or nofollow.

    This tool can also manage your direct link trading through its link manager. It’s a very powerful tool with email tracking and records management.

    And like other tools of this editor, it is cross platform Mac, Windows and Linux.


    These 2 tools are extremely powerful and complimentary. They are supported by a very responsive team. They are very regularly updated, which makes it a pretty safe bet for future usage.

    So overall, It’s been great working with this tool so far, and I will definitely start using it more heavily.
    My only criticism, the logo is too similar to Firefox’s which can be confusing at times!


    The New Google

    Over the last few months Google has been busy introducing new search functions and advertising options all aimed at improving the quality and speed of user searches. This is an interesting time for businesses advertising online now faced with the possibility of rethinking their search marketing strategies. Let’s recap some of the changes and review the impact this could have on your online marketing strategy.

    Changes to Google’s organic search results

    1. Google Instant
    The first change in mid October was the Google Instant update. This new function provides users with the ability to see predictions based around phrases and words being typed into Google Search.

    If you have not seen it in action yet, check out this video showing how Google instant search works.

    Google Instant promises users the following:

    1. Faster searches: Users save 2-5 seconds per search.
    2. Smarter predictions: You can stop typing as soon as you see what you need.
    3. Instant result: Users no longer have to type in a full search term, results appear instantly.

    What impact will Google Instant have on SEO? Google Instant will change the way people search. There will be more broad searches and less focus on the long tail forcing websites to place a strong emphasis on optimising for broader terms. Websites that have high authority and currently rank higher for broader terms will benefit from this change. It might be more difficult for newcomers to climb up the rankings.

    There is also a greater emphasis on the need to be in the top five results, as users will quickly scan the results for “Bob Dylan”, then “Bob Dylan Album” and “Bob Dylan Album on Vinyl”. There are three opportunities there for traffic, though the attention span is going to be very short on each: meaning you need to be at the top of the page.

    Will Google have an impact on PPC ads? Similar to the search results, PPC ads will also be shown for predicted queries. Pay per click accounts may have to introduce some broad terms to their campaigns as users are likely to click on ads before completing their full search query if a result they are interested in is presented to them. Previously users had to hit enter before they could see any ads, allowing advertisers’ to focus on the long tail.

    The impact on CPC is not quite clear, however as advertisers start to include broad keywords in their campaigns, the average CPCs will surely increase.

    2. Google Places Update

    Late October there was an update to Google Places, which now provides users with a image map on the results page showing local locations from the search term.

    Not only is this available from a general search term, Google Places will also be situated on the left side toolbar along with images, videos etc. This allows for users to just search for locations which will provide results anywhere from 30 – 40 on a single page, opposed to the current 8 – 10 found on a general search page.

    In terms of SEO, this new layout has placed stronger focus on businesses to optimise their Google Places listings. The more information a website has on their Places listing (reviews, up to date information, good images, titles and description) will make a big difference to the organic click through rate and their organic rankings for local searches.

    In terms of PPC, websites that do not have high SEO rankings will be forced to bid higher to appear in the top 3 results of the paid listings to avoid appearing below the map. However, because the map pushes the paid search ads to the middle of the right hand side, the CTR of these ads could actually improve (ads that were previously in positions 4-5 did not record very high CTR’s).

    3. Google Instant Preview
    The final search result change came in early November with the introduction of Google Instant Preview. This function provides users ‘with a snapshot preview of websites on the search results page.’

    Although there is likely to be no direct affect on organic rankings, websites will find that they need to place stronger emphasis on website design as traffic and click throughs could be affected by an unattractive preview. For example, any flash on the homepage is currently being displayed as a grey box on the Previews. Many brands will need to rethink their site designs.

    At the moment there is no information on whether this preview function will be rolled out to the paid ads.

    The search giant is changing the way people search and businesses need to keep up. These changes to layouts and search functions are forcing SEO managers to keep up and best utilise these new changes to ensure they maintain their client’s competitive advantage. The main principles of SEO become even more important – high quality, keyword rich content, good site architecture and high volume of good quality links.

    Google’s new advertising Products

    It’s not just Google organic search that’s receiving an overhaul, new advertising products are also being introduced to help increase revenues.

    1. Google’s AD Boost – Automated Adwords for Small Business
    Google is currently implementing their new location-based advertising product known as Google Ad Boost. Currently only in operation in the US, Google Boost doesn’t require constant monitoring and controlling of analytics, maintenance of a bidding system or the need to develop and comprise new keywords. This concept simply requires a “set it and forget it” advertising solution.

    Content of the Boost ad includes:
    1. Name of your business
    2. Address and phone number of your business as specified in your Google Places account
    3. Short description of your business (Google will automatically generate an editable description based on your Google Places listing description)
    4. Snippet from the Place Page detailing the average star rating and the number of reviews
    5. Link to your business’ Place Page

    Google Boost is designed to assist SMBs in targeting their local consumers with relevant marketing. It was designed to simplify local marketing and be inexpensive for SMBs.

    All that’s required in initiating Google Boost is a free Google Places Page, and a monthly ad budget which can be as little as $50. This design only requires you to pay for the ads clicked on, due to the pay-as-you-go fee structure.

    This will ultimately mean one thing: more competition. For all the PPC managers, the quality of your ad copy and regular campaign optimisation will be more important than ever. It seems that many of Google’s recent updates have put more emphasis on localized search results, and Google Boost is where they will capitalise on this.

    2. Google Product Listing Ads

    Google Product Listing Ads is a product that enables businesses to increase the visibility of Adwords by allowing images of certain products to accompany product information. At present this is only available in the US, but with the positive impact it has had so far, it’s likely this will spread worldwide fairly rapidly.

    Writing on the Inside AdWords blog, a company spokesperson says that they’ve “found that people are twice as likely to click on a Product Listing Ad as they are to click on a standard text ad in the same location.”

    With Product Listing Ads, users can see the exact products you offer before they even your site, which leads to more clicks, higher quality leads and higher ROI for your search ads. This is a great marketing opportunity for ecommerce websites to showcase their products.

    This presents SMBs with the opportunity to expose users to specific products that are capable of driving more traffic directly to their website. Any ecommerce website needs to be prepared for the launch of the product ads.

    Ultimately this is going to drastically increase the amount of graphical ads shown in search results, meaning that SMBs have to negotiate and determine the best means in which to effectively market the products / services they provide to end users.

    Google is clearly working hard to continue providing quality search results for all searchers. This is certainly keeping us search professionals busy, excited and ready to see where Google will be taking search next. For advertisers, it presents many opportunities to increase paid search traffic both in volume and in quality.


    How to promote your Mobile Application

    You are ready, you love your mobile application or mobile website, feedback from users is great, however there are not a whole lot of them at the moment and you would like this to change…

    Welcome to a mobile application world which has grown from a few thousands a couple of years back to over 200,000 in the iPhone Appstore and over 70,000 on the Android marketplace.

    So how can you get more people to download your app?

    There are obviously advertising options, however I will focus this post on free, SEO like, tips that will help you not only rank better within the marketplace itself (and for longer) but also create some buzz online about your app.

    On-Marketplace recommendations:
    •    Do an extensive Keywords research and use what you come up with in the App title and description text.
    •    App title optimisation – don’t use any weird characters.
    •    Optimize your description text – an old trick used to stuff it with keywords and include other successful app names but Apple is cracking down on this now, so don’t overdo it.
    •    Regular updates and releases – to make sure your app’s name gets back on top of the marketplace charts.
    •    Encourage reviews – again this is taken into account by each marketplace algorythm, and will help maintain your app as high in the rankings as possible.
    •    Make your icon active – highlight any call to action: “Sale”, “Free” etc
    •    Make the most of your screenshots.
    •    Consider Facebook Connect – as your app is then likely to rank when someone searches for facebook (which would be a LOT of people), but might simply help spread the good word about your ad.

    Off-Marketplace recommendations:
    Some of these tactics are pretty similar to traditional online SEO and Social Media strategies.
    •    Create a website or dedicated page to promote your application.
    •    Let your current customers know about your app: newsletter, links on your site, etc.
    •    Get them to link back to your webpage with keyword rich links, through link baiting competitions for example.
    •    Promote you applications within your other applications (if you have any!).
    •    PR releases.
    •    Add sharing functionalities in your app.
    •    Alert relevant communities – there are plenty of forums and website dedicated to the latest iPhone apps for example.

    All of these combined will help give your app more exposure and longevity. And to really have a winning strategy, you need to ensure that you capture this initial audience and get them to use your app.

    I would be really interested to head about any other suggestions!


    Google (Not so) Secret Search Features

    Just a quick post as I came across this page from Google which lists all the ‘custom search’ you can do right from the search box: http://www.google.com/help/features.html

    Maybe let’s start by explaining the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button to those of you not familiar with how it works. When a user clicks on the button the user will be taken directly to the first search result, bypassing the search engine results page.

    And now in no particular order here is my list of favourites and least favourites:

    The coolest:
    - Check the status of your UPS or Fedex send..
    - Currency conversion – not as advanced as xe.com but very useful when you need a quick conversion this quicly becomes a traveler’s best friend.
    - Unit conversion
    - Earthquake: see information about recent earthquakes in a specific area
    - Movie showtimes

    The most useful:
    - The calculator
    - Google maps
    - Weather
    - Dictionnary
    - Spell Checker
    - Synonym

    The least useful:
    - Search for US patents numbers
    - Earthquakes (yet very cool)
    - All those ones only available in the US, when you are not in the US..

    The ones not mentionned:
    - Do a search for pages referenced by Google for a specific website by doing site:website.com, this quite useful to monitor your SEO efforts and make sure your website is search engine friendly (by allowing all the pages to be easily found).

    Some other ones specific to SEO mentionned in Wikipedia are:
    - allintitle: – Only the page titles are searched (not the remaining text on each webpage).
    - intitle: – Prefix to search in a webpage title, such as “intitle:google search” will list pages with word “google” in title, and word “search” anywhere (no space after “intitle:”).
    - allinurl: – Only the page URL address lines are searched (not the text inside each webpage).
    - inurl: – Prefix for each word to be found in the URL; others words are matched anywhere, such as “inurl:acme search” matches “acme” in a URL, but matches “search” anywhere (no space after “inurl:”).

    The ones I would like to see:
    - Postcode search
    - TV guide: enter city and TV and your guide will appear
    - Recipes: enter some ingredients (whatever is in the fridge) and Google should give you some meal options
    - Search by photo – I am actually really excited about this – upload a photo taken to find out the name of the person/place!
    - Matchmaking: enter your info and who you are looking for and receive a search page of potential matches!

    The usage of these addedd functionalities offered by Google search box will not doubt grow exponantially with the adoption of smartphones being on the rise.


    Google in Sydney

    Most people in Sydney know that Google has an office here, but this is usually a surprise for non-Australians. And best of all, Sydney’s office is one of Google’s most active and has came up with great products such as Google Maps, Traffic, Mapplets.

    The origins
    The Sydney Office of Google is currently what it is mostly thanks to 2 men: the Rasmussen brothers.

    In early 2003 when the dot.com bubble burst, Lars and Jens were simultaneously laid off. The two brothers decided to develop their own web application. Lars credits Jens with coming up with the idea for developing new mapping technology. The Danish-born Rasmussen brothers co-founded a mapping start-up, Where 2 Technologies. It was here that Sydney first came into the picture. Lars had done some work in Sydney for his old employer Digital Fountain before being laid off, and had fallen in love with the city. Or to be more precise, he’d fallen in love with a girl that lived within it – a Cuban girl, who thanks to America’s economic war with Cuba couldn’t gain a visa to work in the US, but could to stay in Australia.

    By the end of 2003, the four engineers had an online mapping prototype in hand. Meetings were set up back in California in an attempt to get some venture capital funding behind their new company. Eventually Where 2 came across a more broad-minded VC who that saw some potential in their technology. But at the last minute, much to Rasmussen’s frustration, they changed their mind. Instead of investing in them, that same group introduced them to Google.

    Brin, who with co-founder Larry Page, launched Google as a company in 1998, admits that when the idea was first presented to him in 2007 it sounded “kind or crazy”. “It was not a very compelling proposal,” Brin recalled, speaking at a post launch press conference and alluding to the day brother Lars and Jens Rasmussen brought the idea to him. “But what did set it apart was that Lars and Jens had previously redefined what mapping was about and … already had a success under their belt. We decided collectively to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

    Google didn’t have any maps technology of its own at the time, but it did license some localised maps from US company MapQuest. Google co-founder Larry Page was impressed, Rasmussen says, by now Where 2 Technologies’ maps were faster, more attractive and more draggable than any other online plays. After patiently waiting out Google’s enormous initial public offering, an acquisition offer came through.

    Rasmussen made it clear to Google management from the outset that he wished to continue developing the technology from Sydney. But up until that stage, Google’s Australian presence was limited to a sales office with skeleton staff.

    Rasmussen was pitching for Google’s Sydney office to become an international engineering branch, focused on mapping. But such an investment would only be made by head office if Google Maps took off in a big way – which came shortly after! With the boost in interest for Google Maps came opportunities for Rasmussen’s team. He was given the go-ahead to start hiring more developers – including many of the hackers that had reverse-engineered the Google Maps code in the first place.

    Google Sydney office
    Google now employs staff in 10 countries for its mapping product. Google’s Sydney office at Darling Park, now granted the status of a regional engineering centre, has grown tenfold.

    Google’s Sydney office now houses Sales, Network Operations, Engineering, Business Development and more. The Engineering centre is a leading R&D hub at the forefront of Internet technology and development. Sydney is also the base for the company’s activities in Australia and New Zealand while also providing support for the entire Asia-Pacific region.

    The development team focuses on 3 key areas:

    • Geospatial products: innovative geospatial web applications such as Google Earth, Google Maps and associated APIs. Complex technological issues such as data representation, geospatial search, data mining, server architecture, computer graphics, Web clients and scalability issues.
    • Collaborative software: Work on and support a range of Google Apps – including Gmail, Calendar, and Docs and Spreadsheets – that our Engineers helped to develop. Also contribute heavily to innovations in cloud computing.
    • Infrastructure: Manage the smooth operation of the global Google network which operates at a massive scale, as well as infrastructure projects like the Google App Engine. In addition, they also provide reliable service to millions of users around the world. Using and developing cutting-edge technologies, they also tackle challenging network configuration, administration and stability issues.

    Under the suprvision of Google’s general manager for Australia and New Zealand, Karim Temsamani, the Google team has now grow to up to 350 employees.

    Up until June2009, they were based at Darling Harbour, but have now moved to their purpose built ‘Googleplex’ in Pyrmont (Not far from Fairfax and accross the road of the Star City Casino).
    It’s a six-star energy rated building and apparently the interior fit out consists of a series of themed areas, including the great barrier reef, the beach-themed café…

    For a tour of their new office check the video below

    What are they developing now in Sydney?
    There is a lot brewing in Sydney, Google recently announced that public transit information for Sydney’s light rail and monorail network and Canberra’s bus network would be added to Google Maps later this month.

    But the big news of the moment is the launch of Google Wave. Lots has been discussed about this new product in the last few weeks, but basically a “wave” is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

    Here’s how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It’s concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use “playback” to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

    I had the opportunity to listen to Lars a month back, at a Fourth Estate Domain event – if you would like to listen to the audio recording of this event click here.

    Google Sydney Office page
    Sydney’s role in Google World view by Digital Media
    Google Wave blog
    Google Wave team
    Fourth Estate Domain chat with Lars Rasmussen


    Google Landing Pages I didn’t know about

    Today, while browsing the web, I saw an ad for Google displayed on the Adconion network.

    I thought that’s interesting, Google advertising for once! The landing page in question was about tips to kickstart your search.

    This is, I believe, a smart strategy to hold the hand of people not currently using Google and Internet in general. It can indeed be a scary place if you are not very tech savvy. So Google is giving them some hints as to what type of keywords they should look for based on the type of search they are doing.

    I was intrigued by this Google landing page and thought I would google to find if there were other landing pages, and there were:

    In a similar vein to this first landing page, I came across a page dedicated to Google’s Internet Bus Project. The Internet Bus Project is “an attempt to educate people about what the Internet is, and how it may be beneficial to their lives, by taking the Internet experience to them through a customised Internet-enabled bus, which will travel to several towns and cities across India.” With videos, sms registrations and a google map, this page is a very smart way of not only promoting Internet and the use of Google, but also building a strong brand image as caring company.

    Staying in India, a page was set up to follow the recent elections. With live election news, MP profiles, constituency statistics, candidate quotes, polling booth locations and more, all personalized based on location this allowed anyone interested to be kept updated about info relevant to them and their candidates.

    Another page I ended up on was one I actually knew off, set up while the Victorian Bushfire were still burning. Google’s engineers set up a live map of the fires, it is now pretty inactive, with some news and a link to donate, but a similar page will undoubtedly be set up for the next bush fires, hopefully not too soon..

    Another one of these pages was for a competition to have your photo displayed on Igoogle. The 36 best photographs were picked and then turned into themes that anyone can add to your own personalised homepage.

    And now my favourite one, Google set up a page dedicated to the wonderful Eurovision contest. And best of all, using the Google “predictor” they tried to guess who was going to win the contest based on their popularity (read number of searches) in Google.

    Staying in Europe, a bit more cultural this time, you can now visit the spanish museum the Prado in Google Earth. Google Earth technology is used to “navigate reproductions of the Prado’s masterpieces, delving even deeper into the Prado’s collection. In Google Earth, you can get close enough to examine a painter’s brushstrokes or the craquelure on the varnish of a painting.”

    Anyway, that was random, I know.


    Using Flicrk to build content and drive traffic to your site

    I came across this great article about Getting Links AND Content From Flickr.
    This is a great read and definitely is something to consider as part of your SEO strategy.

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