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Vol. 4 , No. 6     February 8, 2005


In this Newsletter:

  1. How Does MSN Search Stack Up to Google and Yahoo?
  2. No Pain-No Gain: Five Steps to Gain Respect for Marketing
  3. The Billion-Dollar Question: Web Site Performance and E-Commerce
  4. How to Measure the Value of Your Web Content
  5. Building Your Dream Marketing Team
  6. Changing the Tone of Business Communication
  7. SWOT Team: Reaching the Decision Makers


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Premium Content

Stephan Spencer
How Does MSN Search Stack Up to Google and Yahoo?

With Microsoft throwing its hat into the ring alongside Google and Yahoo!, consumers as well as search marketers have more choices.

Choices and competition are good for the marketplace. But, for search marketers, along with more choices comes potential confusion—about what works and what doesn't work on each engine.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the top three search engines to serve as a quick reference sheet about each engine's strengths, weaknesses, acceptance of search engine optimization best practices, and tolerance levels for SEO worst practices.

Get the full story.

Please note: This article is available to paid subscribers only. Get more information or sign up here.


Old Rules Were Meant to Be Broken
Many email marketing practices no longer work. Silverpop’s white paper explains the new rules of email marketing.
Get your free copy here!

Len Gingerella
No Pain-No Gain: Five Steps to Gain Respect for Marketing

Marketing management is often relegated to communication, advertising and promotion efforts.

It's hard to convince senior management that Marketing can produce moneymaking results. But that's what marketing managers need to do if they want to be recognized.

Get the full story.

Tom Kuegler
The Billion-Dollar Question: Web Site Performance and E-Commerce

Web site performance is a critical and underappreciated component of Web marketing and e-commerce.

In other words: it doesn't matter how well you design and market your site unless it delivers.

Get the full story.


A Note to Readers

Q&A: Stephan Spencer

As most of you know from reading these pages, no one knows search better than Stephan Spencer.

But Stephan's company does more than Web search. He knows his stuff with site development, email marketing, and more. He's been around the Net a long time. (Rumor has it that Stephan was practically an advisor to Al Gore!)

Ann: You started Netconcepts in 1995 with, as you say, "no capital, a family of five to support, and no formal training in management or marketing." Frankly, what were you thinking?!?

Stephan: Heh, pretty crazy, wasn't it? But I'm a risk taker. I saw an opportunity and I jumped at it. It was briefly meeting some of the guys from Netscape in 1994, at the Second International WWW Conference in Chicago, that really got me psyched. Within months I abandoned my studies at the PhD program in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founded a Web agency. It's been an amazing ride.

Ann: How did you grow your business to (9 years later) become Mr. Google?

Stephan: Mr. Google, eh? Well I don't know if anyone but Sergey or Larry deserves that title, but to answer your question, I focused on steady, controlled growth. None of that "flash in the pan" stuff where you overstaff like crazy during the bubble just to end up issuing enough pink slips to earn a spot on F'

I also surrounded myself with brilliant people who really "get it" when it comes to the Web. Our evolution to becoming search engine optimization specialists was through taking a very scientific approach to site development. Because the search engines don't disclose their proprietary ranking algorithms, our expertise had to be hard-won, through experimentation. We constantly test hypotheses to gain for our clients optimal search engine visibility, usability, conversion rates and, ultimately, sales.

Ann: You do much more than SEO. But are most people are looking for search engine help?

Stephan: That's right, although SEO is the cornerstone of what we do, it's a full-service interactive agency doing [a lot of things]. Most people are indeed looking for search engine help, but often it's in a larger context of a Web site redesign or revamp with the aim of greater visibility and higher conversion rates. They recognize the critical importance of search engines as the air supply for their Web sites. Poor visibility in the search engines is akin to having an unlisted phone number.

(continued below)


Last Issue's Top 5

  1. What Web Marketers Must Know About the New MSN Search
  2. Attention, CEOs: It's Time to Blog
  3. Seven Strategies for the New Year
  4. How to Talk to the Media (Even When You Don't Want to)
  5. New Markets for Good Ol' Boys: One Company's Story
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Recent Know-How Exchange Questions/Answers

  1. Help Name an Empowerment Investment Company
  2. Opportunity-management Dot Com
  3. What's Sryan's Domain Name Worth?
  4. Slogan For New Event Design Company
  5. What Are Contents Of an Effective Sales Kit?

Ann: How has Google changed the search landscape?

Stephan: Google's uncompromising attention to the user experience—its devotion to relevancy, the simplicity of the user interface, the clear labeling of paid search results—won the hearts and minds of the user base, spurring a word-of-mouth epidemic and rocketing Google to market dominance. Now, Google's relevancy algorithm is the gold standard that Yahoo!, Microsoft and new upstart search engines like Snap have to live up to.

It's no small feat, and it puts the other search engines on the back foot. For us "white hat" SEOs, Google was a breath of fresh air, as it brought cohesion and stability to a fragmented, unpredictable, easily "gamed"—manipulated—search landscape.

Ann: You live and work in New Zealand. Isn't that a little inconvenient for clients located... well, a scootch more to the west?

Stephan: Not at all. For five years I operated Netconcepts out of Madison, Wisconsin. After the initial rapport building, we found in-person meetings to be unnecessary to get the job done—we actually had very few local clients.

Eventually, after so many people commenting to me, "Oh, you're in the Internet business. You could do that from anywhere, couldn't you?" it finally dawned on me that I actually could. So, after much discussion and several reconnaissance trips to New Zealand, my family and I picked up and moved to New Zealand.

Our Madison office continues to serve as our headquarters. Our Auckland office (a block from the beach), serves as a production office. Between the two offices, our staff (numbering in the dozens) covers 20 hours out of the 24 hour day. What could be more convenient to a client than an agency that doesn't sleep?

* * *

See you next week!

Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer


Gerry McGovern
How to Measure the Value of Your Web Content

We have wonderful tools today that will tell us the value of the physical things in our factories and offices.

Now we need to create wonderful tools and disciplines to measure all our information assets.

Get the full story.

Greg Quigley
Building Your Dream Marketing Team

The Fantasy: Your marketing budget is packed to the brim with money to help build your dream marketing team. You hire nothing short of the best. Life is good.

The Reality: Your staff is overworked, your budget's tight and you complete about half of the projects on your to-do list.

What's a marketing manager to do?

Get the full story.


Powerful Email Marketing

Send newsletters and surveys and track results. Clients include, Kaplan, and Duke University.
See examples and learn more.

Suzan St Maur
Changing the Tone of Business Communication

With our focus on bold, blunt, "write-as-people-speak" prose in business, we no longer have any fancy phrases to lurk behind. We're on our own.

Why has business writing become so much more direct in the comparatively short period of two generations or so?

Get the full story.

Meryl K. Evans and Hank Stroll
SWOT Team: Reaching the Decision Makers

This week, add your two pesos to the dilemma: How can we quickly reach decision-makers?

Also this week, read your answers to: What's the best way to collect and compare data?

Get the full story.


Publisher:Allen Weiss

Content: Ann Handley

Strategy and Development:
Roy Young

Director of Premium Services
Val Frazee

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