• Who are you?

  • What's the problem?

  • What will we do?

  • How will we do it?

  • What does it cost?

What Reputation?

April 07, 2009

Reputation Management is the topic du jour on many company's lips these days.

As it should be.

We're finding even the most upright firms hammered by snarky folks. Some have the right to say what they say. The company did them wrong, and they couldn't get to a solution through traditional channels (note: if you're not empowering your front-line employees to solve problems for your clients, the social mediasphere will welcome you with a barrage of bullets and hand grenades).

Other times there are folks who just want to make noise in order to deflect your success. As unbelievable as this sounds, we've seen it more than once. But negative online press can be overcome if you stay on top of it.

Finally: You. Your online rep. Your LinkedIn profile+FaceBook+PeoplePond+Twitter+YouTube+Flickr = who you are in the interwebs. And in real life.

Flyte New Media founder Rich Brooks recently ended up on a Maine news channel talking about this very subject. His blog also expounds on it in an entertaining, full featured sort of way. Sort of a Joel Spolsky of online rep.

Check it out. I'm rushed today or I'd provide some extremely insightful ways for you to add even more awesome reputation management elements to your portfolio, but...

Oh, alright. Here are a few that quickly come to mind:

1) Don't be an idiot. At least in public. Where friends and strangers with phone cams pwn you.

2) Do invest in helping others in your industry succeed.
Write blog posts about them, and comment on their blogs as well. I expect Rich will be sending a private jet for me shortly. And Joel? I like my steak medium rare and my martini dry as a desert, thanks very much.

3) Whether you like it or not, Google has already established a reputation for you. You'll find it by Googling your name, your brand, or your website. Slightly different versions will also show up on Yahoo! and MSN/LiveSearch. Regardless - it's you and your brand. You are in control if you actively contribute to the blogosphere/twittersphere/YouTubesphere, etc...

BTW: my very favorite big-brained person has recently launched the Uber-Personal branding platform for the 21st century. David McInnis crafted PeoplePond.com to help make your online profile the first thing people see when they Google your name. It's an affordable service no one should be without.

Just do it. Get active and contribute something to the online media space. Tweet, blog, Vlog and participate in everything from Amazon.com book reviews to Yahoo Answers and LinkedIn.

You'll find over about 6 weeks you can actually move the needle in your favor just by being active.

In a future post, I'll cover how to do this without driving yourself nuts. Or working until 3AM to get that LAST critical tweet out to your adoring fans. Which I still do. Daily.

Thanks much.
Mark Alan Effinger

P.S. (and don't tell me you didn't know this was coming...;-) At RichContent, we've nearly completed our online reputation management Find & Fix platform. We believe that you shouldn't just locate all the nastiness that's following you around - you should fix it in the mix (as we used to say in the recording studio).

PeoplePond: Personal SEO

March 04, 2009

He's at it again.

David McInnis, the Father of SEO Optimized Press Releases (via his PRWeb service), is launching a new site called PeoplePond. What PRWeb did for press releases, PeoplePond.com does for Brand Management, taking it to a new (and very optimized) level.

How? Simple.

  1. Through validation of the individual posing as you.
  2. Through connection to your existing online personnas
  3. Through optimization of your profile.

PeoplePond provides multiple levels of optimization. From what I can see, you can elect to go deeper and deeper down the Optimization hole (or is that UP the Optimization pole?) via multiple levels of subscription. Not sure how all of that works yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Here's an example of a profile:

Mark Alan Effinger - PeoplePond Profile What you see are key digital elements that when properly formed, create an intrinsically strong web brand.

More importantly, it's YOUR web brand. The one you want people to find in the top of the search results.

McInnis founded PRWeb in 1996 and was THE pioneer in search engine optimized press releases. PeoplePond is a natural extension of that technology. In fact, the PeoplePond programming team consists of many of the PRWeb team members. (David successfully sold PRWeb in 2006 to Vocus, a Maryland-based public company in the PR management space).

I will provide a more extensive view inside this cool new service as soon as possible. Suffice to say, with David on drums and vocals, and Al Castle on Lead Guitar, I am confident PeoplePond will be THE online personal brand platform for individuals and companies seeking to plug into an SEO platform for personal brand optimization. (Yes, the firm has already developed an API code named ADAM. Look for those details in yet ANOTHER post).

(Oh, and if you're wondering "what the heck this has to do with RichContent": David is both an investor in RichContent and a coach when it comes to the very fine nuances of SEO and SEM. In addition, we're in heated contest with good friend and associate Rich Christiansen's CastleWave SEO firm to see who can drive their PeoplePond profile higher, faster... what FUN!)

Visit this again for more insights: http://www.peoplepond.com/MarkAlanEffinger

7,200,000,000 Online Videos

January 09, 2009

Per Month.
That's a figure I ran across while sitting down with "The Designful Company". I picked the book up at MacWorld (actually David McInnis picked it up, and I immediately stole it from him).

Phenomenal book, really. Marty Neumeier is a new hero when it comes to clear, concide and mind expanding ideas.

So... 7 BILLION. That's quite the number.

I'll expound on how that relates to online images, podcasts, articles, PR and blog posts in a bit.
But first, a word from our sponsor:

Pretty funny. And very true.
Social media is definitely the future (or, ummm, the present). GOOD social media is still few and far between.

Ask yourself: Are you simply creating a bunch of "stuff" on the web?

Or are you creating a sustainable, dynamic, valuable collection of media ASSETS that you can build on?

Let's hope it's the latter. The web has enough crap. You know it the moment you open your email inbox in the morning. Or try to decipher a Google Search Result.

Let's clean up the web, and in the process, create a stronger, more valuable brand presence that reinforces your story, mission and customer affinity.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy, and let's talk about how we can work together to improve the quality, story and reach of your message... and measure what's happening with your media in the blogosphere.best,
Mark Alan Effinger

Google Patent's Universal Search

November 06, 2008

Well folks, it finally happened: Google's Marissa Mayer and friends finally have control of search results with various embedded media:
Invented by Bret Taylor, Marissa Mayer, and Orkut Buyukkokten
Assigned to Google
US Patent 7,447,678
Granted November 4, 2008
Filed: December 31, 2003

Bill Slawski first caught my attention with this on his great blog "SEO by the Sea" (a great SEO resource, BTW). Bill has great content, and a very level head when it comes to online marketing.

He points out that SearchMash.com is a Google beta test site for all things Universal Search. And provides a fewe examples.

Let's see if I can add something to that as well, with a project we did nearly a year ago, that is still performing well in the SERPs.

The search term is Visit Oktoberfest (go ahead, try it yourself: Visit Oktoberfest).
We applied the RichContent PMP formula to producing Universal Search results for our client, a foreign language learning program. We used Video, Images, Articles, PR and Podcasting, along with some Forum and Blog posts, and a smattering of social bookmarking updates. We haven't touched the program since February 1 of 2008 (it's November 6, around noon today. I am in Salt lake helping teach a course on how to write and promote a book to Bestseller Status with Michael Drew, a true industry visionary. And I RARELY ever use that term. But Michael is truly the real thing).

Anyhow, back to Google's Universal Search patent, and our display. Here's an example, today, of Universal Search for "Visit Oktoberfest":


You'll see that Google now takes two of the image thumbnails and puts them side-to-side in the results, as a way of providing more results with less noise. The always thoughtful Goog at work here.

You'll also see there are a handful of Google Adwords on the page. Which elements do you see first? Adwords or Universal Search Results? Think on that.

Next we have SearchMash.com, Google's beta US engine. Same search, but with the One Boxes expanded to show visuals:


As you can see, there is no advertising on the page. You also have to open the AJAX One Boxes on the right to see thumbnails and other content posts. It's better than Google's refresh the page approach, but not as good as their existing Universal search results.

I can see a ton of opportunities for companies to leverage Universal Search and own more front page real estate, with more related Mentions (a key you'll see me addressing more and more over time).

The big questions I have: with Google holding the Universal Search patent, will that mean MSN and Yahoo! will not display Universal Search results? Or is a license in the works?

Let me know your thoughts. Lots more activity, but I need to go help some bestseller's get from blog to book.

Oh, and thanks again for the great writeup, Bill. Your insights are always valuable.

Mark Alan Effinger

Top 10 Tips for SMB PR

May 09, 2008

David Meerman Scott recently did an interview with the John Jantsch, one of the brains behind at Duct Tape Marketing.

David nearly always provides breakthrough material.

But this is different. It's reinforcing what works in the real world of PR and social media for the small business. Here is the short list of David's Top 10 Ways to Get Attention:

2. Don't talk about what your products and services do. Instead talk about how you solve problems for your customers.

6. Comment on blogs, forums and chat rooms (but don't talk about your products and services).

8. Shoot a short video and put it up onto YouTube

10. Don't be egotistical. Nobody cares about you and your products.

For the even numbers and more detail, visit his blog.

Three additional comments:

Vatortv_whats_your_pitch_2008050721 1) A favorite CEO friend of mine came by yesterday to brainstorm of how to get his book and media assets working for him. This guy is laser-sharp and bright as the sun. A a truly cool leader.

He was 20 minutes early, so took a seat and grabbed David Meerman Scott's "The New Rules of PR and Marketing". When he left, he left with the richness of that book engrained on his newly inspired brain.

2) He also pointed me to these guys. I had read about them in Inc magazine, but forgot they were from my very same town:  Dash Consulting (The Elevator Pitch folks)

3) You think a PR pitch has to be refined? Try it in 140 characters: Enter the TwitPitch.

Try this: Refine your pitch (Dash Consulting). Get it to 140 characters (TwitPitch). Then Twitter it, blog it and do a simple video about it (anyone for Vator.tv? That's Bambi Francisco's new startup).

I think David would be proud.

Radiohead Says: Stop the Traffic

May 06, 2008

Here's a beautifully haunting ad, composed by Radiohead and Thom Yorke.

Thom is one of those unique artists who plays in a big sandbox.

The InRainbows album was also one of those wonderfully outside the box examples that has the whole media universe rethinking the model of how to monetize media

Give people choice. Allow them to set the price. Amazing things happen.

David McInnis, founder of PRWeb.com, did exactly the same thing. He called it "Fair Commerce": Pay what you feel is fair TODAY, for your media exposure. That was one of the top 10 genius moments for David and PRWeb.

Back to Radiohead: In an interview with David Byrne, Thom mentioned that "we made more income from In Rainbows than from all of our prior albums combined, until the end of time".

Rethinking business models is so important. Especially when it's so easy to reduce or even eliminate friction from the system.

What can you do, today, to rethink your business model, and look at the world through your customer's eyeballs? What is the risk? What about the potential reward?

The web is uniquely built for just this sort of experimentation. You can set up A/B comparison sites and test which model achieves the greatest returns. You can query your customers in real-time.

Doing so will completely change your business... maybe even for the better.

More on that later. I am about to rant about clients who want TONS of traffic, but won't invest in improving their online sales process.


To rethinking your future... today.
Mark Alan Effinger

P.S. One of the most important things we can do is provide voice to the voiceless. Can you believe this sort of thing is still happening in the "modern world"?

Michael Drew Makes Bestsellers

April 30, 2008

I met Michael Drew through a series of phone calls in 2001.

Michael had set out to help a few authors find their way through the morass that is the publishing industry. For two hours on a Wednesday afternoon he made my head spin. And I never forgot how powerful, fast thinking and committed he was to his mission.

Well, here we are, mid 2008. And Michael has truly turned the publishing industry on its head. In a big way.

Since that time we've become not only close friends, but partners in helping to "modernize" the publishing world for the better.

To help authors get above the noise of their industry, and achieve Rock Star status.

Now almost anyone can be a bestseller. You need a solid, credible and passionate message (see David Meerman Scott, in the last post for more on that). And you need an insider's knowledge of how the system works.

Michael is that insider. What he can do to help an author scale the ranks of the publishing world will make your head spin.

He and his co-authors also share plenty of wisdom from the pages of his new site: BeneathTheCover.com.

In the interim, please look for Michael and friends at Mark Victor Hansen's programs this May 2008. Michael Drew will be both attending and facilitating the attendees to reach greater heights in their publishing efforts.

Then, in June, find Michael, me and a few of our cohorts in Los Angeles at the Book Expo America. We will be working to promote authors live on the floor of the show.

We look forward to seeing you there. In the interim, please visit Michael Drew's sites and give him a call. You could be the next Bestselling Author.

To your continued success,
Mark Alan Effinger

Viral Marketing's New Rules

April 29, 2008

David Meerman Scott makes sense.

He's one of those rare individuals who knows his industry inside out. He also works as a sort of "glue" to help keep it together. (This is my favorite tongue-in-cheek example of how to Keep It Together):

David has a new buzzword that was developed to help clear the air of sploggers, spammers and other truly nasty, hated and just plain bad industry practices. He calls it World Wide Rave. And it's a concept whose time has come.

Worldwideraverichcontent World Wide Rave is about viral marketing done without the awful after effects of spam (and spam is tremendously bad for the online marketing and advertising industry).

What he shares is about how tribes of viewers create viral marketing... not spammish internet marketers who abuse the free range of the interweb.

In David's own words:

"For decades, the only way to spread ideas was to buy expensive advertising or beg the media to write (or broadcast) about our products and services. But now we have a tremendous opportunity to create a World Wide Rave, generate stuff on the Web that people want to consume and that they are eager to share with their friends, family, and colleagues. A World Wide Rave sells an idea or a product by virtue of its educational or entertainment value."

As we launch RichContent to the public, it's vital that we have a filter in place to alleviate potential spam and the spammers behind those efforts.

Currently (and into the foreseeable future) we maintain live editorial control of what gets broadcast and distributed through the RichContent platform. Every digital media asset is reviewed by human eyeballs before being optimized and distributed. It's not us trying to play God. It's spending the last 5 years in the trenches of of the search world helping clients get "above the noise". We are part of the marketing solution, not the noise problem.

If you haven't read David Meerman Scott's books, I HIGHLY recommend them. You can also download the free eBook versions from his site. (But do yourself and David a favor and buy the book. If you're a corporation or group in need of a truly insightful thought leader, I can vouch for his speaking talent as well).

And remember that the best way to generate "viral" marketing is to:

1) Use great, resonant creative in your work.

2) Have a real, valuable, interesting, funny or frightening message.

3) Optimize your message for search.

4) Engage the hearts and minds of your tribe.

5) Quit trying so hard. See #1. (David's book on Viral Marketing will tell you a whole lot more).

And remember to echo Kit Ramsey's message: to Keep It Together

As an online marketer, we've been making up terms for the industry for a decade now. And I certainly meet clients who look at me like I'm speaking Jupiterian or Venusian.

(BTW: if you don't know WHY I emphasize "Keep it Together", then you're missing out on the whole Content Harmony piece of the RichContent platform. I'll share more in some upcoming posts. If you DO know why, send an email to [email protected] and I will give the first know-it-all a free media editing, optimization and broadcast package).

To your viral success,
Mark Alan Effinger

Amy Tan Gets Visible

April 22, 2008

This is a quick musing by a talented author who, given this short video, is also an insightful human being.
I bring this to your attention because it has to do with "search". Finding things.

And doing so outside of normal channels. Being present enough to see the invisible... or what was previously invisible to you.

See, I've been studying the inside story on corporate search. You know, the kind that goes on inside the firewall. The numbers they use to define data are amazing: Terabytes of data that needs sifting and tagging and organizing and indexing... man, there's a lot of work to do INSIDE the firewall.

Let alone OUTSIDE of it.

But one thing I've noticed in the hundreds of companies I've worked with: There is always someone inside the organization, and usually not in the top ranks, but someone critical to the program. They're critical because they can find anything, anywhere. They are the company search engine.

But before I ramble too far, take a gander at Amy's message. It's quite compelling. And more than a little enlightening.

Search Marketing World 2008

April 05, 2008

Li Evans of Search Marketing Gurus compiled an excellent post regarding "the state of online PR in Search marketing" at the recent 2008 Search Marketing World Conference.

Lievanssearch_marketing_world The majority of the post/article reads like the text from a good Powerpoint presentation (or, for those of us who like REAL presentation tools, an Apple Keynote...;-).

The gist of it?

Old line PR is still holding onto their legacy approach of gladhanding/smile and dial to get in the news. Which is great... if we're in Gotham City and Batman is real, and the web didn't adopt social media.

But it did. Well, at least WE did.
You and me.

So the result is there are PR firms currently languishing "inside the firewall". Holding tightly to their media and protecting their turf. They believe that a mention in the NY TImes or WSJ will give them all the horsepower they need to further their client's needs.

Not so.

You need to measure "success" in a number of ways:

1) Number of mentions for your brand. If we're doing our job, the sites on which we promote our client's media assets will show dominantly in the SERPs. The more places visitors can click, the better the chance for recognition... and even sales conversion.

2) Universal Search Results. If you haven't heard me beat that drum (in 9/8 time), just go back a post or two. I assure you this is one of the top 10 areas of focus for our clients. And a key metric you need to understand.

3) Total traffic to your media assets. The higher the flow, the greater your chance of picking-off visitors and gaining recognition. The old-line metric of 'exposures' is still relevant.

4) Media integrity: ensuring your most visible assets in online searchers relate to your brand and products. And does the media help convert visitors in some worthwhile manner?

There are plenty more, but the kids are pulling at my sleeves to get to the movies. Seems media is my life, whether online or in our favorite second-run theater.

Warm regards,
Mark Alan Effinger

Paris Hilton & Universal Search

March 11, 2008

You know, I ought to start doing video posts. This whole typing thing is ridiculous.

OK, so today's discovery is about Google's change in search results when you select View 100 Results vs View 10 Results.

Now, based on Google's "stable" nature, you'd think you would get consistent results.

Uh-huh. Nope. From what we've seen over the last 2 months or so, Google moves a few of the listings (aka Mentions) around when you select to view more results on the page.

Why? Search me. But I'd love your insights.

OK, here are a couple of screen shots from a current client in the language Learning market:


OK, so there are two things I'd like to point out:

1) Using RichContent, our client now OWNS 5-7 of the top 10 mentions on Google for Visit Oktoberfest. That's competing with 326,000 other mentions.

2) If you change the browser setting to show 100 Search Results, watch the immediate change:


Now we're looking at very slightly different results. But interestingly, the new additional mention is the second one down from the top result (BTW: That's Universal Search in action: a video thumbnail in the top spot). Why not down at the bottom of the SERPs?

Ask Marissa Meyer. She's the Google Guru here.

OK, so what did we learn?

1) Universal Search results take up a lot of search real estate. I believe that if I was looking to generate clicks in search, Universal Search is a great place to be (left hand position, with a thumbnail, above the fold).

2) Changing your browser settings from 10 to 100 Search Results gives different results. Now, granted, most people never look at the Top 100 Results. We do. But the reason we do we'll save for another post.

3) We kick Paris Hilton's butt. Nuff said about that.

We have some new material coming your way soon, including two whitepapers that will help you better understand Universal Search and how to leverage both new AND existing content... just about everything you have that is text, image, video, audio or XML is ripe for driving search results and ultimately, client engagement and sales.

Here's to putting your media assets to work.
Mark Alan Effinger

Google Analyzed

February 15, 2008

Now, before I start, this isn't about the typical metrics you expect to see in print.

No graphs. No trend analysis. Not even Page Rank.

This is a reflection on Corporate Culture by a man I believe is one of the finest and most sincere (and brilliant) web analytics people in the world: Avinash Kaushik. Here he is in his own words:

I ran across him late last year as we were establishing baseline metrics for RichContent media distribution. We truly want users to have solid metrics in which to evaluate their Campaigns.

It was a Sunday. The kids were hungry. But there I was, riveted to every word in Avinash's blog.

Now he's in Silicon Valley at Google. Not yet an employee. But a VERY happy subcontractor. (When you rave about the food, something is going right out there in Google Land).

In each company I've had the good fortune to start or be a part of, corporate culture has been a driving force. I would venture to say it is the life force of the organization.

Alan Alley, a VC and one-time head of PixelWorks once shared with me that "a great corporate culture isn't as written as it is spoken and shared, like a good story. I know when our corporate philosophies are working when I listen in on the conversations of our employees, and they make a comment that resonates with our core beliefs".

Web_analyticsan_hour_a_day In my recent trip to Seattle, John Conner (VC and founder of Ignition Partners) said that "in more than one instance they've invested because the cultural beliefs of the founders resonated with his team".

Back to Avinash. Now at Google, he lists 10  Insights From 11 Months at Google.

If you didn't like Google before, maybe this will surprise you. If you did, this will reinforce that the company DOES mean to do good, and to live a people-centered culture.

Yesterday, the RichContent team met to discuss our top 3 critical path issues. One of those was Culture (Mike calls them the "3 C's". Cashflow. Clients. Culture.)

I'm happy to anounce that not only do we have a deeply passionate and smart team, but they "get" our culture. They ARE the culture. These are the folks you want in the fox hole with you.

What's your culture? How does the culture in your business effect performance, overall happiness and innovation within your office (or even home-office) walls?
If you need clarity on what we believe, see a snippet here:
RichContent: Fun, Fame & Fortune.
Here's to a successful culture.
Mark Alan Effinger
Lead Vocals

My Universal Search for Seattle

February 08, 2008

I just returned from a truly "Sleepless in Seattle" gig with our COO, Mike.

The MIT Forum was the first stop Thursday night. I was pleasantly surprised by:
1) Bellevue Washington's rise in the business class. It is truly the beloved stepchild of Seattle and Redmond.

2) Ron Weiner, CEO and founder of Earth Class Mail. I've known Ron for 17 years now, and he is one of Earthclassmail_richcontent the true, diehard serial entrepreneurs. Earth Class Mail is Ron's 5th or 6th startup, and each one is amazing for many reasons. This one looks to be a serious global enterprise, and I am very excited for he and his team. I hadn't seen Ron since my return to Vantucky from Newport Beach, CA in 2004.

3) Seeing Jonathan Conners speak (VC and a founder of Ignition Partners). The guy was a straight as I John_conners_richcontent have ever seen. And funny. And engaging. And smart as hell (a product marketing guy from the word "go"). Funny thing: All of Seattle is seeded with ex-Microsofties. John is no exception. And he spoke very fondly of Macintosh throughout the night (he once ran the Excel product line, and gained some great product insights from a Cupertino Apple Store).

4) See and hear Kelly Smith of CuriousOffice cover some truly inspiring road from the stage. Kelly is another example of "the real thing" Curious_office_kelly_smith in terms of being an entrepreneur who still rolls up his sleeves (he was creating the Powerpoint for the Northwest Entrepreneur's Network presentation until 4AM. I thought I was the only one doing that sort of thing...;-). Thanks to Kelly, all the YouTube wannabe's have a platform to play with.

5) Staying in Mike, Jen, Dan and Ben's "marina view" room after an evening of martini's and great conversation and TiVO explorations (I don't keep a TV in my home, so I'm always like a deer in headlights when I'm near one of those shiny boxes).

Very enlightening 24 hours.

Greatest lesson?

Make SURE you have awesome, grounded, "sane", fun and really smart business partners who are willing to go the extra mile with and for you.

Certainly in this company, I have the delight to be surrounded by phenomenal people:
Mikey P is a standout. We call him our "Adult Supervision". The MBA in the group... but not afraid to ask the "dumb" questions to get the smart answers. And as giving a soul as they come.

Spence is one of those dream partners you never knew existed... and can't live without. Not only a brilliant designer, but a truly passionate and committed business mind. Like Mike, Spence goes the extra mile, and does it without a complaint. And with a killer sense of humor (mandatory around our place).

Kelly Smith said it best this morning: "No Certified Orifices". Companies, especially startups, have no room for "&$%#-holes". Or, as I saw it: No Bandwidth for Buttholes. Oh, how true.

AndyB is another example of one of those "I'll go home when this sucker works... or I ain't leaving" kind of guys. Thanks to Andrew, we have a radically effective broadcast platform that performs amazing feats without even breathing hard. Very fortunate to have his genius on hand.

I'll cover Paul, Dave, Marty and David in another post. All unique, wonderful, cool and wicked smart in their domains.

Suffice to say, I believe we have one of the most diverse, talented groups around. And thank God they all think this is fun and engaging.

BTW: Bellevue is where I first met David McInnis, CEO and Founder of PRWeb. Thanks to David, I got the unique opportunity to evangelize online media, spend time with The Wizard, and experience yet another ExitPath... this one a great win for David and his associates, employees and friends (a $28,000,000 win).

More later. I'm zonked.

Universal "Left Hand" Search

February 06, 2008

It was a small Advertising agency. Tiny, really.

It was built around the fact that I loved great advertising, clever marketing.

And I owned a technology company at the time that NEEDED great advertising. We made and marketed lasers to the entertainment, concert, audiophile and... movie theater industries.

I mention this because one of the first things I learned about newspaper advertising was termed being  "above the fold".

This meant "making sure the advertisement or PR was located above the fold that's halfway down the page".

Above the fold is prime real estate. It's where your eyes begin looking for relevant content (what we call RichContent).

Here's an example for a search for Tom Cruise on Google:


There are two ads on the far right of the page. Those AdWords ads cost money every click (a pretty fair deal, actually. But it can add up. We have one client who spends more than $500,000 per month on those little blue ads).

Better is the news image of Heath Ledger, upper left. That's where your eyes head immediately after the search.

Creating, optimizing and injecting media assets into the web stream so they can provide Universal Search Results (above the fold, to the left) is the holy grail of search marketing at this very moment.

As you familiarize yourself with the RichContent platform, you'll see that you can "point" your media placements in such a way as to drive any given video, image, blog post, article, press release, PDF, etc... into the best position to achieve Universal Search results.

We'll address just how that works in an upcoming post.

View Mark's profile on LinkedIn

To your success, above the fold.
Mark Alan Effinger


Musical Interlude. US Accidents

February 05, 2008

One of the most exciting elements of web search is the constant surprises. Stumble Upon built a thriving business on this process:

Search for a specific item... and 15 minutes later, you're watching a video of a new band.

Don't believe me? Here's the proof (oh, and a new favorite band in the process):

Gotye’s “Hearts a Mess”

Add to My Profile | More Videos

It started with this: A search for Radio Paradise (a favorite Internet Radio Station). I heard a tune, and needed to see the song list. That lead to seeing this interesting name in the list: Gotye. A direct search gave me back this Universal Search Result:


Now, you'll see that Gotye has enough activity on YouTube to garner some excellent Universal Search results. Gotta' love that. That's a lot of left-hand, above the fold real estate to own. The most valuable on the web (if you need a deeper understanding of what that means, just wait for my next post).

So, being a Child of the 60's, and seeing a title like Learnalilgivinanlovin Gotye snared me with this ditty:

Which triggered the Related Videos browse on YouTube, and a killer progressive tune...

Because Gotye is only using 2 video sources (YouTube and MySpace Video), he's missing a massive number of valuable inbound links, mentions and enhanced search results.

But I believe his talent will take him far (he recently returned from a tour in Japan... probably ran across Cheap Trick, which is a scary thought).

In an upcoming post, I will show how to accelerate a single media asset (video, image, press release or podcast) to join your web site in Universal Search.

I hope you enjoy the videos as well. His album is not yet available on iTunes US, but you can find used copies of his CD on Amazon.com.

Here's to your success: Above the fold, left of the page.
Mark Alan Effinger

It's Universal Search Time!

February 04, 2008

I've been managing my Hot Topics through Google Alerts. A very cool service for a number of applications.

Since the initial launch of Universal Search back in March of '07, I've heard my alert come on from 3-5 times per week.

That is, until October of last year. That's when it started popping.

Then Danny Sullivan began making a big deal of it. And Universal Search made the top 10 list for bloggers and search marketers and managers.

The tipping point.

Now my Universal Search alert goes off from 3-14 times PER DAY.


P.S. The Search Results indicated 329,000 in October. Lots happening here.

I've seen this progression before. Starts with a press release. Then a story. Then a decision leader blogs it. Some sneezers spread it. Suddenly it's all the rage.

Years ago I was in the USAF. And I wanted to start a company. I spotted the cover of TIME magazine, and it had an illustration of the first Test Tube baby.


So, as an aspiring marketer, I called my stepdad and asked for some "venture capital" for my idea of making and selling Test Tube Babies. Once he picked himself off the floor, he told me "no"... but asked for my address.

A week later I received a few cases of test tubes (2,000 test tubes in stainless racks) and a note "Dear Mark, here's your startup funding. Good luck! Jack".

I won't cover the rest of the story here, but please ask... it's both hilarious and amazing. (And it ends on a high note).

Back to the story: I am a voracious reader. 30+ magazines a month. 100 newsletters. Over 100 web pages a day.

Back in 1984, print publications were everything. And a trend I noticed is that when a story made TIME, it was about 30 days until the same story migrated to another top-tier periodical. And on and on it went, until it finally made it to The National Enquirer or Star.

From credible to incredible.

Well, it's not on the cover yet. But it's easy to find "inside" (see cover below).

Universal Search-related technologies made 3 spots on the top 25 Trends for 2008.

Universal Search is with us, my friends. And we've been studying how to optimize multiple media types to help users gain online visibility for more than 4 years. We didn't know. But the handful of little links above the search field was sort of a clue.

The next post will get into something very interesting in regards to following threads. And a hint at a new tracking interface we're integrating in Q2-Q3 of this year.

And if you're interested, I'll also post the Test Tube Babies story. Just ask.
To your Universal Search Success,
Mark Alan Effinger
CEO & Lead Vocals

BTW: Tamar Weinberg has written a list of the top 250 Blog Posts for search marketers for 2007. A must read. Thanks Tamar!

The Ultimate Online Press Release

January 01, 2008

Online PR rocks.

In 2003 I started really working online PR using PRWeb's platform. I tried them all. In fact, at RichContent, we broadcast into many different online PR channels. But if I had to use just one, it would still be PRWeb.

(David McInnis sold PRWeb to Vocus for $28 million in August 2006. It was a wild and engaging ride, and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat).

So as a quick primer, this thumbnail view (and the accompanying attachment) are some of the keys to creating an effective online press release. There are a number of additional elements you could add to improve your results (attachments, title tags in links, deep linking, your choice of landing page in the PRWeb iFrame, tying off-page media elements to the press release, etc..). But this will get you going:


(Click the image for more detail, or download the complete PDF below).

Some of the key elements I've addressed here (and in the Perfect_Online_Press_Release Primer PDF) are:

  • Place your keywords early in the Title
  • Pleace keywords front and back of your Summary.
  • Lead with a strong first paragraph. A real grabber if possible.
  • Follow with a 2-part quote from a credible individual.
  • Add high-level but key industry-related info.
  • Follow with another key quote.
  • Detail the product/service/event.
  • Closing comments.
  • Contact information.
  • Signature block (company) and PR Firm (if separate).
  • Any legal disclosures.

As I mentioned, this is far from all inclusive. We have another, much more detailed document on how to optimize every area of a press release. If you'd like it, please send an email and I'll forward it to you.

To see the actual press release, view the ThoughtOffice PR on PRWeb.

OK, the sun is shining (rare here in the Pacific Northwest) so I'm tying my Nike's and headed down the hill.

Have a phenomenal '08, and I look forward to seeing you in the news.

Mark Alan Effinger

Universal Search is People!

December 27, 2007

To quote a favorite scream from the movie Soilent Green.

I was walking through the process of Universal Search with a client last week. She had no concept of what a "GoogleBot" was. Yahoo Slurp? Not even.

It reminded me that the details of how search engines work are very foreign to most people. I maen, you just type in a word, and it spits out links, right? No mystery. No magic.

In reality, there is so much going on behind the scenes to make that simple search happen.

There are pages being indexed (added to the database).

Mathematic algorythms parsing pages to see how many keywords are on a page; how many links from related sites; what word(s) are used in that link. The URL of that link. The number of other sites that are related to the one being examined...

It goes on forever.

In reality, Universal Search is People: The search engines just want to provide a better, more personal and relevant experience for the user.

Since images, video, blog posts, news and podcasts have become a natural part of our daily viewing, it simply makes sense to bring those to the same page you used to get simple web page searches.

Think on this: In another year or two, people won't think in terms of Web Search vs Universal Search. The line will have blurred (and Google+Yahoo!+MSN+ASK will create pretty containers for all that visual information) to the point that it just becomes "Search".

We hope by that time, rather than explaining spiders, slurp and meta, we can just say we work with the search engines to help your clients find you easier, faster, and in more places.

Mark Alan Effinger

Strangers with Candie...

December 12, 2007

Here I sit, in a local McMennimen's, not far from the office.

Nearby is Candie Perkins, Will Marre' s Executive Assistant and all around guru of what needs to happen to make The American Dream Project a reality.

Today's project? Permanent Media Placement (whew! good thing we're here...;-)

So one of the more significant elements of this process we perform has to do with social media indexing and management.

What the heck do I mean by that?

It means how we help escalate social media assets to help you gain the visibility you need.

One component of this is how PRWeb has used Trackbacks to help add your voice to press releases.

So here's what I'll ask you to do: Visit the page uno momento.

Now, scroll to the bottom of the press release.

See this comment?

That's a trackback in action.

Pretty impressive, eh?

In the next post, I'll address how to use trackbacks to create a "media mesh" of traffic that helps escalate your search engine position, or create a Universal Search umbrella.

Until then,
Mark Alan Effinger

Viral Marketing and Sneezers

October 31, 2007

Oh man, Viral Marketing.

The Holy Grail of marketign efforts.

Simply post something funny, intriguing, about 9/11, stupid, dangerous or passionate... and the world beats a path to your door.

At least that's what they told me.

In fact, viral marketing events happen all the time.
I hear about them on NPR.
See them on the TV.
Read them in my email.

Now they find me via Google Alerts (a very cool feature, by the way).

Terryclothjumpsuitsjcpenney Here's a recent post that was originally a viral email. Marc at Emerson Direct  repurposed it as a blog post. And now I'm doing my part as a sneezer (see Seth Godin for that definition).

I stole one image for your edification. Enjoy the rest and get back with me on your favorite Viral media. I know you've got one.

Mark Alan Effinger

P.S. Hey Marc, you forgot to optimize the image for Universal Search. No problem, I handled it...;-)

Spiders vs Eyeballs

October 24, 2007

One of the big questions we receive regularly has to do with the quality of our client media: What works, and what doesn't.

This is a great question. It allows us to talk about spiders vs eyeballs.

You SEO-SEM folks know exactly what I'm talking about. You business and media guys might need a primer. So here we go:

Universal_search_spiders_richcont_3 1) Search engines have quality issues:
    • The quality of your code

    • The quality of your words
    • The quality of your links

They're not too picky about the quality of your media. Marissa Mayer (VP Google Search and Customer Experience) says Google is getting better, but currently doesn't know good from bad. A 30 second video is simply video content. It's the words, tagging and linking that make it special.

2) People care about a different type of quality:
    • The quality of your presentation
    • The quality of your storytelling
    • The surprising revelations you provide
    • The instructional guidance you present
    • Your value proposition and USP

We could go on, but you get the idea. People have quality standards based on their life experience and their needs. Meet those standards, and you might get some eyeball time.

So, Spiders vs Eyeballs.

When we create or edit content, we we want it to perform.
We lean toward quality content that is very searchable, relevant, dynamic, on-message.

You should, too.

Doing so assures you will get search results. And if you go the extra mile and create quality content (which, with todays readily available and affordable tools and outsourced talent, should be no problem), then you get eyeballs as well. And lots of eyeballs, in the form of page and content views, comments, links all lead to improved search results and traffic.

We're creating a Content Standards document for you that will help as you lean into Universal Search, as well as collecting eyeballs. Soon as it's available, we'll post it for you.

Aaron of Prime Advertising & Design reiterated some important elements in his recent post regarding video quality and "repurposing your media assets". Worth the read.

View Mark Alan Effinger's profile on LinkedIn

Content Harmony

This is a core foundation of our approach to Universal Search. It has to do with how content types can work together in harmony to escalate your online visibility.

What do I mean by that? Simple.

Let's break media down into the 4 essential types:
1) Video
2) Images
3) Text, and
4) Audio

Now, everyone is talking about how Google displays YouTube videos in search results (the caveat being if it's optimized correctly). That's cool, and it's an important discovery. A core element of Universal Search.

But the same goes for Images as well. And News. Blog Posts. Even Podcasts.

So we firmly believe that emphasizing only one type of media is leaving big holes in your online visibility strategy.

Take the time to drum-up some images that might work with your video (even screen shots FROM your video). Take the title and description you use for your video placement. Use it as the basis for a press release, an article and a blog post.

Put together a podcast (or just pull the audio from your video, if it communicates) and add that to the mix.

Now we're talkin'!

By combining a handful of media assets into a single event (meaning a broadcast or media placement program), you gain MORE than the results of each individual element. You gain additional network effects. A sort of media mesh, so to speak.

There's more to it than just uploading the content, of course. Dozens of nuances you can use to gain additional traction for your campaign.

But the point is this: By leveraging multiple content elements together, you can gain MUCH more real estate in search results.

If you need to know more, relax. We're completing a thorough guide to optimizing digital content to perform for you.

And if you have questions, please send me an email and we'll get right to it.

Here's to your online visibility,
Mark Alan Effinger

P.S. Aaron of Prime Advertising and Design makes an excellent point about investing in quality video. I'll cover that in the next post.

The Search for Meaning

October 21, 2007

This guy ought to get a movie contract.
His first piece on Social Media was brilliant.

Now he's 'Splainin' Search (online information dissemination). In a great way.

It's Sunday morning here in Portland. You deserve a non sequitur post.

Ponder this. Then share with me how you plan to get above the noise.
P.S. Check out the tunes as well. Great soundtrack to my Jack LaLanne juicer.

Universal Search Beta 1

In the early part of this year, we rolled out our Permanent Media Placement to a handful of select clients. One is seen in the following video. Take a look:

Life Coach Will Marre' On Darwinism
Uploaded by richcontent01

The goal was both to test the platform with some "trusted" clients, and to fine-tune the process.
One client who has become a close friend of the company is Will Marre'.

Now, you may not recognize the name, but Will was the co-founder of Covery Leadership Center, the 7-Habits folks (if you're a coach, corporate trainer or interested in business and life performance, you'll probably know of Covey's 7-Habits as one of the seminal business books of the last 20 years).

Anyhow, it's been 7 months since that media placement, and it's still performing. We've been tracking the long-tail results of it's search ranking in comparison to the other 40+ video sites we've placed this one, and it's interesting to note how each video site ranks over time. I'll cover more about how Google-Bot and other spiders track these media elements. I think you'll be surprised.

It's late, but I'll return tomorrow for some insights on this.

Google's New View

October 17, 2007

Is it me, or did Google recently add an additional navigation bar?
This one reveals itself ONLY if the search results show the respective content?

Here's an example using today's Dalai Lama story:
From what I can tell, the lower navigation bar (upper left, below the Google logo) only shows navigable content within the search results. I tried a different search that showed videos further down the results, and the navigation failed to show-up until I set the Preferences to "Show 100 results". Then the nav returned.

OK, so here's what yo get when you click each respective nav link:
Google Blog search results. (Notice that Video, News and Web are eliminated when each of other nav links are selected).

Google News search results.

Google Video search results.

Now, I wonder if those nav links reorder themselves based on the density or the order of media in the primary Web search? Something we'll experiment with.

Any thoughts? Is this Google's way of keeping a simple orderly search results page while still providing ALL of the media some exposure on the home page?

Is it a way to generate more AdWords showings, quadrupling potential ad exposures... and valuable clicks?

More on this as we investigate.

Mark Alan Effinger

Venrock is Listening...

October 10, 2007


David Beisel (with support from Daphne Kwon) just crafted a very concise and informative blog post at AlwaysOn-Network regarding the mass-migration of search engines to Universal Search (aka Unified Search, 3D Search). It could take reams of copy to cover all the issues. David does it well in one post.

(P.S. If you don't know David's company, it's one of the absolute leading Venture Capital firms in the nation, Venrock, founded by John D. Rockefeller. One of our Advisors is Jacques Nichols, a long-time VC who has worked with Venrock in the past, giving them a thumbs-up).

A couple of quick quotes from David:

Marissa Mayer (of Google) mentions on their blog "(Universal Search is a way) to blend content from Images, Maps, Books, Video, and News into our web results."

But the most powerful part of his overview is this:

Many great businesses were built upon leveraging natural search as a distribution mechanism, and I see the shift towards universal search as opening a door for new players to enter what was a marketplace that previously gave unfair advantage to incumbents on a specific keyword term. Much like the situation for natural text search in the late 90's, there is a new land grab for top search placement for these new media formats (like images, podcast, and video).

David, I couldn't agree more.

We serve all size businesses, and have spent significant time in the emerging business markets with ExitPath and ThoughtOffice. I personally have a big heart for startups.

We concur with David: Startups seem to be behind the curve in adoption of Universal Search as a way to get above the noise.

We're finding companies in the $3-$25 million range really "getting it".

Enterprises ($50 million+) understand the costs of driving online traffic, brand and sales. In our experience, these folks immediately grasp the ROI behind Permanent Media Placement vs One-Time marketing efforts.

INVITATION: If you're a startup trying to make sense of Universal Search or your complete online marketing strategy, contact us. As serial entrepreneurs, we've had plenty of experience in this space, and will gladly share our views, gratis.

To your startup success,
Mark Alan Effinger

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Permanent Media Placement

October 08, 2007

We know.

Sounds like one of those buzzwords you hear bantered about by fluffy marketing folk with no basis in reality.

Well, think again.

Say it aloud: Permanent Media Placement.

Richcontent_optimized_online_media What does that mean?

It means we provide permanent solutions to advertising and marketing online.

That you can use our platform to put your content on hundreds and thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of high-visibility web portals.

Big ones. Ones owned by the largest online firms in the world.

Guilt by association can be a very good thing.

In this case, rest assured it is.

If you've ever felt held hostage by a advertising channel, we've just cut the ropes.
If you've ever wondered "which of the 50% of your advertising is working", wonder no more.

Now you can take your existing content, regardless of what it is, and use it to drive web traffic, visitors and sales.


We have a manifesto which I'll attach here. This might help clarify our beliefs.

There's lot more to uncover about how the world of online advertising and marketing works.


To your media momentum.

Mark Alan Effinger

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Let's Go back In Time...

It happened by accident, I swear.

David McInnis begat PRWeb. PRWeb begat syndicated text-based media as marketing.

I begat the optimization of press releases for best syndication, reads, distribution, results.

And here we are, nearly a decade down the road. Everything has changed. But most of it remains the same.

Media is still media. Words, pictures, sound, video.

But now Marshall McLuhan's message rings more true than ever: The Medium is the Message.
Or more accurately: the MEDIA is the message.

And so here we are: RichContent. Birthed in a verbal dialog with Tim Draper.
An accidental conversation over canapes in Silicon Valley.
Waiting, waiting, waiting for the web to get wired with big, fat pipes.

And now they're here.

You and I have a unique opportunity to use those pipes to do our bidding.
To create a tangled web that mentions your name. Your idea. Your company.

To make those surfers on those pipes land in your lap.

That's what this is all about: Flow.

Directing flow. Managing flow. Increasing flow.

We'll cover the details shortly. A little history, a lot of fresh insights.

Thanks for joining us. More in a bit.

Mark Alan Effinger

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