This Thursday, those of us in the United States will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. While I am thankful for my family, faith and the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of things I am thankful for related to the world of search. These include tools, resources and even influential people. Search marketing has come a long way since I first entered it in 1997. With its evolution, there are many things I’m thankful for that help me to do my job well on a daily basis.
As a search marketer, I am thankful for the following…
1. Search Engines – Many search marketers have a love/hate relationship with the search engines. They love them when their sites are doing well and hate them when they are not. I have to say that engines have been pretty good to me over the years so I have had a lot more love than hate for them. Without them, I’d have to make my living doing something else. So, thank you Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, those who were before you and those who will come after you.
2. Keyword Discovery – Keyword research is foundational to any search marketing campaign whether that be for organic or paid search. While common sense plays a huge role in choosing which keywords to target for a marketing campaign, it is nice to have tools like Keyword Discovery by Trellian so you can view actual data of what is being searched for. While there are other keyword research tools such as Wordtracker, Google’s Keyword Tool and the like, I think Keyword Discovery includes the best features as well as the most concise data. Their data comes from 180 search engines world wide, containing approximately 32 billion searches over a 12 month period.
3. ClickTracks – What is a good beginning without a good ending? This is where ClickTracks plays a crucial role. It is one thing to have great search visibility in the organic search results or above average CTR within a PPC campaign but what happens once those visitors land on your site? ClickTracks is useful in not only showing where visits originate but what happens once they arrive. I especially love the Keyword Ranking Report feature available in the Optimizer and above versions. Unlike static ranking reports, the report shows you where your site is positioned for search phrases that actually bring you traffic.
4. Title Tags – Title tags are one of the simplest elements of a web site to optimize and yet one of the most important. You would think that everyone would automatically optimize their page titles, even before they consider embarking on a search engine optimization campaign but so many don’t. Their title tags may merely include a company name, a slogan or nothing at all. With sites like these, optimizing the title tags alone can make a huge difference. Not that I stop there of course but I am thankful of the impact that doing something a simple as optimizing a page title can make.
5. Web Forums – I am thankful for web forums for a couple of reasons. I’d have to say the largest of those is the exposure they can bring you… that is if you represent yourself properly of course. Web forums have enabled me to not only keep up with the never-ending changes in our industry, but to opportunity teach others whether that be in the form of providing valuable information or helping with something specific to one’s site or business. This has brought tremendous exposure even though it was not my original intention.
The other thing forums have done is enabled me to be part of a community. I have met many people on forums that have become friends. While a variety of forums exist on the subject of search marketing, I am most active on three – High Rankings where I lost my “forum virginity,” Search Engine Watch and Small Business Ideas.
6. Robert Clough – If you don’t know who Robert Clough (pronounced “cluff” like rough) is then you must be living in a cave. Founder of Search Engine Guide and then Small Business Brief thereafter, Robert is one of the pioneers of providing resources related to search engines and marketing on them. I am initially thankful for Robert because he gave me my first opportunity to be published on the web. That has evolved into being a frequent contributor to Search Engine Guide in the form of articles and guest blogging as well as being an Administrator for Robert’s Small Business Ideas Forum that I mentioned previously.
Now if we could just get Robert to attend one of the industry conferences, I could meet him in person. The only person I know of that has ever meet the elusive Robert Clough face to face is Linda Riley, Robert’s Chief Editor at Small Business Brief, and that is because she lives next door to him. Even Jennifer Laycock, Robert’s Chief Editor at Search Engine Guide, has never met Robert in person. He is like Charlie in the Charlie’s Angel’s show that appeared in the 80′s – we hear his voice but have never seen his face.
7. Danny Sullivan – There is probably not a search marketer on the planet that isn’t thankful for Danny Sullivan. Often referred to as the world’s leading expert on search engines, Danny has been covering the industry of search for over ten years now. He has created two of the greatest resources related to search, Search Engine Watch and the Search Engine Strategies conferences. In learning, writing and just trying to stay on top of this industry, Danny has been a most valuable resource to me with his extensive coverage of the industry of search.
Besides all that, I am thankful for Danny as he most recently provided some valuable tips for getting high scores on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride at Disneyland that I can’t wait to try out during my next trip.
8. Rand Fishkin – Rand is definitely one of the more prominent rising starts in our industry over the last couple of years. The thing that really separates Rand from other search marketers (besides his yellow shoes) is the unique resources he has provided in his writing, research and tools offered through SEOMoz. The Beginner’s Guide to SEO, Web 2.0 Awards and the Page Strength tool are just a few examples of some of the valuable resources Rand and his team have created.
One resource I am especially thankful for is Rand’s list of Recommended SEO, Web Development & Support Firms of which my company SearchRank is honored to be on. This list has sent many leads our way, of which quite a few have become actual clients. In fact on a regular basis, Rand personally sends leads to us because his company is just too busy to handle all the work that comes his way. Thanks, Rand!
9. Bill Slawski – If you have ever attempted to read through one of the many patents search engines file in order to gain more understanding as to how their algorithms work or what they might be incorporating into their search services next, you will quickly find it a daunting task. That is where Bill Slawski comes to the rescue. Bill has created quite a niche for himself as one of the sole individuals who actually tears apart all the various patents search engines file on a regular basis and explains them in a way that us non-legal minds can comprehend. He makes it easy to understand some of the inner workings of search engines as well as what may be coming around the corner.
10. Barry Schwartz - While there are many individuals that deserve props for covering the industry of search, I’d have to say that Barry stands out from all the rest not only for the quantity of subjects he covers but the quality of the coverage as well. In fact, Barry seems is so busy covering search and tech news that I wonder how he finds time to run his successful web development company, RustyBrick. But he does and does so well.
Barry is most busy at Search Engine Roundtable whose purpose is to report on the most interesting threads taking place at search engine marketing forums. He also currently serves as Search Engine Watch’s chief news correspondent where he provides much of the daily content for the blog. He hosts The Pulse at WebmasterRadio.FM, a weekly podcast of search topics receiving the most buzz from within the search community. Finally there is Cartoon Barry, Barry’s personal blog where he posts quite regularly on just about any topic. He is a busy guy but enables a lot of other busy people such as myself, to stay abreast of all that is happening in the world of search.
11. RSS Feed Readers – What would I do without an RSS feed reader? I actually use the Sage plug-in for Firefox which allows me to quickly skim through the 70 feeds I am currently subscribed to. Without this I would have to visit each blog separately which would be very time consuming. Because I typically speed read through things, I am able to discover new posts quickly and then click on headlines for more details of posts I want to read. Sage stays open pretty much all day long in my Firefox browser and I find myself refreshing feeds, searching for new entries at least 3-4 times a day.
12. Webmasterradio.FM – While WebmasterRadio.FM provides a great line-up of shows covering a variety of topics, it is the community they create that I most appreciate. Live audio shows combined with online chat provide for a unique interactive experience. I regularly tune in for The Daily SearchCast with Danny Sullivan but also enjoy SEO Rockstars with Todd Friesen and Greg Boser, The Pulse with Barry Schwartz, Ben Pfeiffer and Chris Boggs and Net Income with Jeremy Schoemaker (ShoeMoney). While forums and blogs provide a sense of community and information, there is just something special about hearing an audible voice. Founders, Daron Babin and Brandy Shapiro Babin are creating a legacy in providing this valuable resource to the Internet community.
13. Conferences – The best thing about conferences like Search Engine Strategies, PubCon and others (besides free drinks) is the opportunity they create to get together with online friends. Through forums, blogs and email, I interact daily with many people I have met online. However there is nothing like getting together at a conference and hanging out in person. I am able to reunite with old friends as well as meet new faces. Besides the fact that these conferences provide a wealth of information, connecting and networking with people in “real life” is priceless.
14. Cat Naps – Many of the tasks involved in marketing sites online can become tedious and quite frankly, boring. In these situations, I am thankful for “cat naps” or as some call them “power naps.” Napping in the office? You bet! So long as there is a comfy couch, a 10-15 nap can restore energy that is otherwise drained with tedious and mundane tasks.
15. Happy Clients – While the money to be made in search marketing is awesome, there is nothing like hearing the praises of happy clients. It is rewarding to see them go from zero visibility to crediting a large portion of their business directly to search. I thoroughly enjoy being involved in the process of not only helping to capture that search audience but seeing their businesses grow in the process. I love to hear their praises but even more rewarding is the fact that I earn their trust and as such enjoy long term business relationships with them.
16. ZeFrank – And finally, in the midst of all my daily routines, the day would not be complete without a bit of humor and The Show by ZeFrank provides just that. I am actually only a recent “sports racer”, the term Ze uses to describe his viewers, so I know little about this popular video blogger. Often Ze presents a humorous take on current events but may cover just about anything that happens to be on his mind.
There you have it, probably not a complete list of all I’m thankful for but some of the most important things I can thing of right now. How about you the reader? What are you thankful for? Feel free to let me and others know in the comments section of this post. Happy Thanksgiving!