Posted by: Kathy Dragon | November 20, 2008

Africa Adventure Consultants


STI’s Oct. Newsletter

Responsible Travel News and Sustainable Tourism News

Africa Adventure Consultants

Africa Adventure Consultants, a Denver-based boutique safari operator, launched a comprehensive effort to reduce carbon emissions in early 2008. The company joined forces with Sustainable Travel International on its pioneering TravelGreen program, which helps Africa Adventure Consultants offer carbon neutral safaris. Africa Adventure Consultants was STI’s first African safari operator partner implementing the program, which offers guests the peace of mind that their safari can have a net zero carbon impact. In addition, Africa Adventure Consultants works with their African partner companies to reduce CO2 emissions by implementing solar and wind power schemes, reducing wood burning, protecting land to create carbon sinks, and more.

“We recently gathered data from our clients regarding their understanding of carbon neutral safaris,” said Kent Redding, President of Africa Adventure Consultants. “We learned that while they were not necessarily shopping for a carbon neutral safari, they were 70% more likely to book when they learned about our offsetting policy. This proves that it’s not only the right thing to do from an environmental perspective, but a solid business decision for travel companies to move forward with carbon neutral initiatives.”

Africa Adventure Consultants recently identified their 5 Greenest Trips, based on total carbon emissions; they include:

1. Kilimanjaro Climb
2. Tanzania Adventure Trek
3. Kenya Walking Safari
4. Rwanda Gorilla Trek
5. Zambia and Malawi Adventure

For more information please visit: http://www.adventuresinafrica.com.

Posted by: Kathy Dragon | November 15, 2008

30+ Very Useful Twitter Tools You Must Be Aware Of

Great Article in SEO Optimize!! thanks Alexia

With Twitter the phase of “do we really need it?” is over. The “how do we use it?” phase is right now. There are numerous ways of using Twitter for everything from business to bull**** and even clients come up to me and ask me about Twitter after reading one of those Twitter articles in the main stream media.

So what are the Twitter tools that really make a difference for SEO and overall business users?

We see at least a dozen new Twiter tools every other day. So I selected just 30+ Twitter tools that are most useful right now. Some of these tools have been around for a few months some have sprung up just recently. They have one thing in common: You must be aware of these tools in case you’re serious about Twitter participation.

Twitter Clients

TweetDeck

Sleek Adobe Air desktop client for Twitter offering a good overview with several panes.

twhirl | the social software client

One of the more popular Twitter clients.

Spaz: An Open-Source Twitter Client for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux

Cross platform open source Twitter client.

Hahlo

Web based iPhone (and iPod Touch) optimized Twitter app.

Twinkle – New iPhone Twitter Client Uses Locate Me Features! | Just Another iPhone Blog

Twitter client for the iPhone that allows you to socialize with people near you. Great for conferences it seems.

Twobile: A Twitter client for Windows Mobile – Download Squad

Twitter client for Windows mobile powered mobile phones. Most smartphones other than iPhone, Blackberry and Google Phone use Widows Mobile.

Misc. Twitter Tools

Twellow :: Twitter Search Directory, Twitter Search Engine

Twellow is the “Yellow Pages” of Twitter.

iTweet 2 : Web

This is an alternative web based interface for Twitter and indeed it’s a little more usable than the default one, for instance it offers one click retweets and makes bio links clickable etc.

TwitterCounter: How popular is @photojojo

This is a Twitter followers counter similar to the Feedburner count for blog subscribers.

Magpie: Make Money on Twitter

Magpie is an ad-network for Twitter. It boast that users can make something like 50 to 200$ a month just by tweeting.

About crowdstatus :: Crowdstatus.com

This tool allows you to create address groups of people at Twitter and notify all of them at once.

Twitter WordPress Plugins

Twitter for WordPress – Rick’s HideOut

Very basic but unobtrusive way of including your Tweets in your WordPress blog.

WordPress Twitter Widget

Clean and simple Twitter widget for the WordPress sidebar.

WP to Twitter | Joe Dolson Accessible Web Design

Twitter updater plugin using the Cli.gs short URL service for tweeting your posts.

Adnan`s Crazy Blogging World » Blog Archive » My blog gets twitterized

Basic and quite ugly but very popular Twitter plugin many bloggers use, even TechCrunch.

AJAX Twitter plugin for WordPress

Advanced AJAX powered widget for your blog not only displaying tweets but letting you send updates from your blog.

Twitter Updater » Fireside Media Development Blog

This tool lets you tweet your blog posts automatically.

Firefox Extensions for Twitter

TwitterFox – naan studio

Simple but effective and popular Twitter Firefox add on.

TwitBin – twitter your browser – twitbin.com

Even simpler Twitter add on for Firefox.

TwitKit

Another Twitter Firefox client with more features though.

TwitterBar :: Firefox Add-ons

Let’s you post from the address bar of your browser.

Twitter Social News

Twitturly – Real-time Link Tracking on Twitter

Digg-like interface for the currently hot tweets.

MicroBlogBuzzes of the last 24 hours

Shows you what’s most popular today, this week etc. on Twitter and across the other common microblogging platforms.

Twitturls – Popular Twitter Links Tweeted err Twittered err Twhatever

Shows the latest and most popular links on Twitter.

ReadBurner: What’s Shared on the Web

Lets you monitor the buzz around Twitter elsewhere among many other memes.

POPrl.com / Shrinking popular URLs since 1973 / What’s POPular

Short URL service like TinyURL but better. Offers not only stats but also a Digg-like interface for the most popular URLs shared.

Twitter Analytics

TweetStats :: Graphin’ Your Stats

This statistic tool measures everything from when you tweet (weekdays, time of day) to who your real friends are by counting how often you address people.

Twitstat.com – Twitter Analytics

Both a Twitter search engine and popularity stats at the same time (e.g: showing most active users).

Twitterverse

A Twitter keyword tag cloud for quick overview on what’s going on.

Twist – see trends in twitter

Twist allows you to quickly view and compare popularity trends on Twitter. It’s similar to Google Trends.

FriendOrFollow.com – Who’s not following you back? Who aren’t you following?

This tool compares your list of friends with your followers and shows you who does not follow you back.

Twitter Twerp Scan

Gives you a quick overview about your followers so that you don’t have to click each one.

These 30+ Twitter tools will allow you a seamless integration of Twitter in your daily routine but make sure you know what you doing on Twitter and have some business objectives. There is a new blog by problogger Darren Rowse called Twitip to help you out with that.


November 13, 2008


Google SEO Starter Guide is Great News for Small Businesses

Filed under: google, seoKevin Gibbons @ 8:11 am

submit_url = “http://www.seoptimise.com/blog/2008/11/google-seo-starter-guide-is-great-news-for-small-businesses.html”;

The Google Webmaster Central blog yesterday posted about it’s new SEO Starter Guide, available for free PDF download.

This is excellent news for small business owners, especially during a recession, as many companies will be looking to push their search rankings/traffic forward but without the budget for SEO consulting.

“Our Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide covers around a dozen common areas that webmasters might consider optimizing. We felt that these areas (like improving title and description meta tags, URL structure, site navigation, content creation, anchor text, and more) would apply to webmasters of all experience levels and sites of all sizes and types. Throughout the guide, we also worked in many illustrations, pitfalls to avoid, and links to other resources that help expand our explanation of the topics. We plan on updating the guide at regular intervals with new optimization suggestions and to keep the technical advice current.”

There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there if you’re looking to learn SEO yourself from forums so the guide is great to provide a common-sense approach to understanding on-site search engine optimisation. It’s also good news for the search industry that Google are providing information like this. By educating webmasters about SEO best practices this will hopefully clear-up any false impressions or concerns some may have about the industry as a whole.

For more information there’s a write-up over on Search Engine Land.


November 10, 2008


Google Analytics Tip – How to Find All AdWords Search Queries Triggered from Phrase/Broad Matches

Filed under: google adwords, google analytics, ppc — Tags: Richard Fergie @ 5:41 pm

submit_url = “http://www.seoptimise.com/blog/2008/11/a-google-analytics-trick-everyone-should-know.html”;

It can be very difficult at times to find the actual search terms your PPC traffic arrives from, so this is a Google Analytics trick all advertisers should know. Google’s search query report can be useful but for high-traffic phrase or broad match keywords being told that 8 of your clicks arrived on “85 unique queries” doesn’t really give you the complete picture!

Since the introduction of expanded broad match Google can (and does) match your broad match keywords to just about anything vaguely relevant; knowing these queries is important, either to negative match them or to reduce CPCs by using an exact match. The image below really does highlight this point, notice the extremely irrelevant term “shooting holidays USA” was triggered by a broad match of travel PPC!

This report was setup last week and shows the AdWords keywords (either exact, phrase or broad match) followed by the actual search term which triggered the clickthrough in brackets:

Google AdWords search query report

(Click for full-size image)

Step by step guide on how to setup a Search Query report in Google Analytics

This information can easily be found in Google Analytics but, although the method is simple, it is not obvious; to be able to access this PPC goldmine you have to use filters. Until last week I didn’t even know the filters feature existed and even if I had I wouldn’t have been able to do the regular expressions stuff that our filters will need. For this reason I’d like to thank the Google Analytics Experts and the linklove blog for giving me some simple step by step instructions.

  • In the above case we’ve set up a new profile before messing around, just to ensure that if a mistake was made none of the data is affected. There’s an “Add a Website Profile” option on the Analytics settings page; you want to add a profile for an existing site and then name it.
  • Then you want to write the two filters; click the “Filter Manager” button and then add a filter.
  • This first filter will get the search query and place it in a user defined field. I call it “Get Search Query” but you can name it whatever you want to. Select “Custom Filter” from the filter type drop down menu and select the “Advanced” radio button. You should see some input fields named “Field A -> Extract A” and similar.
  • In the “Field A -> Extract A” drop down menu select “Referral”; this will pull out the SERP’s URL on which the ad was shown. In the box to the left on the drop down menu write “(\?|&)(q|p)=([^&]*)” without the quotation marks. This is a regular expression which extracts the search query from the SERP’s URL.
  • In the “Field B -> Extract B” drop down menu select “Campaign Medium” and write “ppc|cpc” in the box. This filters out all the organic clicks.
  • In the “Output To -> Constructor” drop down choose “Customized Field 1” and enter “$A3” in the box. This just tells Google Analytics where to store the data. Finally you need to click the button to make field B required and the one to turn off case sensitivity. Then apply the filter to your new profile.
  • The 2nd filter includes this new data in the keyword report. Again, you want to set up an advanced custom filter but this time choose “Customized Field 1” from the “Field A -> Extract A” drop down. In the box write “(.*)”
  • For “Field B -> Extract B” select “Campaign Term” to find out which of your keywords the search query matched and enter “(.*)” again in the box.
  • Finally in the “Output To -> Constructor” menu choose “Campaign Term” or wherever you want your data to go and then enter “$B1, $A1” The space after the comma means that you can export your data to a .csv and have a separate field for the actual search term.
  • If you’ve followed the steps as I’ve laid them out then the filters should be applied in the right order; if you want to check the information is there when you click to edit the new profile from the “Analytics Settings” page.

As always, it’ll be a little while before Google Analytics starts to register the new data so don’t be too impatient. Unfortunately the filters can’t be applied retrospectively so you can’t start using them on all your old data but as far as I’m concerned this is the only downside. Set up the filters and start refining your AdWords campaigns!


November 7, 2008


Keyword Research: 7 Keyword Modifiers to Optimise New Websites For

submit_url = “http://www.seoptimise.com/blog/2008/11/keyword-research-7-keyword-modifiers-to-optimise-new-websites-for.html”;

This post is about keyword research, it deals with so called keyword modifiers. Let me tell you a story to explain those and why you need them:

When potential SEO clients approach me my first question always is “how old is your domain?”. Then the second question is “how long has it been indexed?” Most people don’t know how important that is and I prepare them for my answer to their first and second question:

How much does SEO of my site cost and how long does it take to see success?

My answer always is: It depends! Whenever I tell them the truth (it might take a year or longer) they never call me again. Well it’s just the dark part of the truth. Once you know you have a new site and all SEO experts know that Google does not like new domains, we can adapt our keyword research and thus aim for goals that can be reached within a shorter time frame.

The solution to overcome the problem of the so called Google sandbox (Google not allowing new sites to rank for competitive terms) is focusing on modifiers. While a new site will rarely be able to compete in a crowded niche it can immediately fight for keyword phrases and keyword combinations that are neither the most competitive terms nor long tail (very specific or unusual) phrases.

Keyword modifiers to optimise new websites for can be (as I refer to keywords I will write everything in lowercase like search users do):

A city or region

  • seo oxford
  • oxford seo
  • seo company uk

Even with Google Local/Maps getting more popular people will still look for local businesses like in the traditional Google results.

A verb that signifies the searcher’s demand

  • buy iphone

It’s incredible how many people really add verbs like “buy” instead of the noun “shop”. Also “rent” is popular.

A noun that signifies the searcher’s demand

  • iphone price (wants to compare prices)
  • iphone shop (wants to buy iPhone)

An adjective that specifies the demand

  • cheap iphone
  • iphone cheap
  • iphone unlocked
  • affordable seo
  • local seo

A noun that specifies the demand

  • small business seo
  • blog seo

A term that specifies the target audience

  • small business seo
  • business blogging

This can apply also to students, women, seniors or whatever demographic group you want to reach.

Brand or product plus alternative

  • iphone alternative
  • iphone competitor
  • iphone rival
  • better than iphone
  • like iphone

I see a lot of searches like that where people know only one brand but don’t want to stick with it.

Entering the market late means you’re a “mom and pop shop” opening in the vicinity of a huge WalMart or Tesco store so you can’t compete by offering exactly what the huge chain offers. You got specialise and be different.

Choose several of these modifiers, the most apt ones for your business and start optimising for them right away. Using modifiers brings SEO results much quicker. Later on you still can rank for the most competitive terms.


November 6, 2008

The Lazy Bloggers Guide to Quality Content & Social Media Success

Filed under: blogging, copywriting, social mediaKevin Gibbons @ 11:30 pm

submit_url = “http://www.seoptimise.com/blog/2008/11/the-lazy-bloggers-guide-to-quality-content-social-media-success.html”;

I’ve been blogging for the last three years now and one of the most important things I’ve learnt is readers don’t have the time (or attention span) to read through long detailed posts. Concise, attractive looking posts grab the attention of readers and performs far more effectively almost every time.

I figured this out the hard way, spending hours writing up long posts which I perceived as quality content. Unfortunately no-one else agreed! Surprisingly the short and very quick posts which I didn’t think were anywhere near as interesting, seemed to grab the attention of readers, commenter’s and social media audiences.

5 reasons why you should forget about writing the perfect piece of quality content

Blogging for Dummies

Image Credit: Flickr

1) Ditch the long paragraphs – no-one reads them!

Is it worth describing point 1 in detail here? Chances are that readers will skim over the title and skip to point 2! So off to point 2…

2) A diagram paints a thousand words

An informative diagram will be quicker to understand and instantly provide an overview of the post. Additional content can be added to back-up the post for users who are looking for more detail, without the need for reading through everything for those who aren’t so interested.

3) A picture doesn’t even need to paint three words!

Images make the page look attractive and can be the difference between a StumbleUpon thumbs up or a user leaving the site before the browser even loads.

4) Spend your time researching a large number of bullet points instead of copywriting

As interesting as the post might be, if it looks long-winded it will probably get ignored. If you have a bullet-pointed list full of useful information or links, for example, users are likely to scan through each item and bookmark to finish later.

5) A boring headline = no-one reads your post

You might have thousands of website visitors or RSS subscribers, but no matter how good the post is, it’s likely to get skipped if the headline is dull. Put more of your copywriting effort into considering the headline and the reward should be far greater.

So there you have it, it’s simple – blogging’s all about headlines, lists & images! Maybe you should try it yourself, drop the hours of copywriting and watch the social media votes roll in! ;)

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Posted by: Kathy Dragon | November 9, 2008

Twitter Tools for Community and Communications Professionals


For those of us testing out the twitter waters this is a great resource for how to communicated more effectively on twitter.

Twitter Tools for Community and Communications Professionals | TECH cocktail

Twitter is nothing short of a phenomenon. At the very least, it connects people to each other through a rich and active exchange of ideas, thoughts, observations, and vision in one, highly conducive ecosystem (known as the Twitterverse). The social fibers that weave together this unique micromedia network is strengthened by the expertise, respect, trust, admiration, and commonalities. These fabrics bind the people who breathe life and personality into the global community as well as fueling the disparate micro communities that ultimately extend across the Long Tail.

Of all of the social tools and services that are pervasive throughout our digital society, only a select few communities can boast the pseudo fanatical conviction that Twitter’s users unanimously possess.

Twitter is quickly gaining momentum, support and market inertia and is on direct path to mainstream awareness. Compete.com numbers show that roughly 2.5 million people visit Twitter.com each month, growing at about 250,000 – 500,000 users per month and up over 440% since this time last year. Just as a comparison Facebook receives about 41 million unique visitors per month.

Twitter is not only embraced and cherished by the people who rely on it for expression, insight, news, and communication, it is also the darling of the developer community. Almost every single day, a passionate developer, b2b or b2c application company, or tech enthusiast will develop a new tool, service, or solution to make Twitter a more personalized, professional, streamlined, effective, and/or fun experience.

If you live in the world of socialized marketing, communications, relationships, communities, research, service, digital anthropology, fundraising, publicity, product development, publishing, events, online reputation management (ORM) or simply seeking to increase your proficiency and efficiency on Twitter, there is surely no shortage of tools and applications that can help you.

I created this snapshot guide to help you extend the reach and the efficacy of Twitter for your personal brand as well as the brand you represent. This is the first part of a multi-part series. If you’d like me to review and include additional tools and services, please share them in the comments and I’ll integrate into the next rev.

Twubble can help expand your Twitter network. It searches your friend graph and introduces and recommends new people who you may want to follow.

GroupTweet is similar to Yammer, except it’s within Twitter. Workgroups, extended networks, communities, and anyone who wants to broadcast and share private tweets to a specific group can do so for free using this unique and helpful service.

Twitt(url)y is a service for tracking popular URLs people are sharing on Twitter as a way to identify trends, topics, and new and interesting tools and services. It’s basically Techmeme or Google News for Twitter, but for all popular links shared in a given day.

TwitLinks aggregates the latest links from the worlds top tech twitter users.

TweetDeck is a must for any community manager, marketer or researcher tracking important and relevant conversations on Twitter. It’s an Adobe Air desktop application that enables users to split their main feed (All Tweets) into topic or group specific columns allowing the tracking of a broader overview of tweets based on keywords or groups of people.

Gridjit is a social portal that lets you view your web universe in a more visually rich way. It becomes your hub for tracking conversations, interesting people and those they @ frequently, and also provides a central location to post and share.

Tweet Later allows you to schedule tweets for a particular time and day. It also allows you to auto-follow those who follow your account and provides an auto-welcome feature to send a custom message to new followers via DM or in the public timeline.

Twist analyzes and presents trend comparisons and volume between keywords and tags.

Whoshouldifollow.com makes it easy to find relevant, like-minded friends as well as friends of friends based on keyword and validated networks.

Twitter Twerp Scan

Twerp Scan checks the number of followers of everyone on your contact list, the number of people they are following, and the ratio between those. If the person is following more than (n) people (can be customized), and has a Following-to-Followers ratio higher than 1:(m) (can be customized), you’ll be notified by a link. Even if you have no use for that, you might find Twerp Scan a helpfultool for keeping an eye on your growing list of friends and followers.

Before Summize, now the official Twitter Search engine, Twemes and #hashtags provided the ability to index conversations based on keywords, groups, topics or tags also known as #hashtags. These Twitter memes can now be followed outside of the public timeline through a focused and dedicated stream.

Tweet Scan, like Summize (Twitter Search), is a search engine for Twitter. Both services provide the ability to search keywords, company/product/competitors names, users, etc. The services also feature the hottest search trends at that particular moment. I have noticed that in some cases, one or the other, consistently provides results that the other missed. Note, by clicking “Replies” in Twitter, you’re only seeing tweets that start with @yourname. These search engines also track users as well as important and relevant keywords – as they appear.

twInfluence allows you to measure Twitter influencers, not just by followers, but also by reach, velocity, social capital and centralization. It also publicly ranks the top 50 influencers in each category. This is an important tool for identifying the tastemakers that you don’t already know in the Twitterverse.

TwitterGrader measures the relative power and authority of a Twitter user by calculating the number of followers, the power of the network of followers, the pace of updates and the completeness of a user’s profile. Here’s the result for @briansolis

Twittertise allows you to advertise on Twitter and track the success of branded communications with your customers. As a social marketer, you may also enjoy the ability to schedule and measure your communications on Twitter. The platform provides URL tracking technology to measure the effectiveness of your traffic driving ability on the platform.

Twitterrific is an elegant and “lite” software application that lets you read and publish tweets from the desktop, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Recently acquired by Seesmic, Twhirl is a social desktop dashboard that centrally manages activity, messaging, and updating for Twitter, FriendFeed, Identi.ca, and Seesmic.

TwitterWhere provides the ability to update Twitter with your current location.

Tweetbeep is the Google Alerts for Twitter and is a “listener’s” dream service. It allows you to monitor conversations that mention you, your brand, related or competitive products, as well as links to your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL, such as tinyurl.com. You’re alerted as your keywords appear, reducing the need to manualy search for them.

TwitterFeed connects your blog to Twitter and automatically feeds posts into the timeline with each new update.

Even though Twitter features a directory search engine by name and email address, TwitDir always seem to find everyone, even when Twitter misses a contact. I use TwitDir when I’m looking to discover whether a particular contact or someone I’m trying to connect with is using twitter. Alternatively, you can use Google or Yahoo search and type “PERSON NAME” (in quotes) and the word twitter (outside of the quotes) in the search box to find the username. See example.

Ping.fm is a central distribution service for sending updates to multiple social networks, including Twitter, with one click. Supported services include Plurk, Identi.ca, Facebook, Pownce, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Brightkite, Jaiku, hi5, Kwippy, among other. Note of caution, broadcasting updates doesn’t replace the need to participate in each community that you wish to build and maintain valuable individual relationships.

BrightKite is a location-based social network that connects directly to Twitter. You can share your location and also locate friends geographically from the Web or your mobile phone. The service also offers an easy and direct channel for uploading pictures and notes to BrightKite and also Twitter – perfect for those with camera phones!

TwitterLocal is the ideal service for quickly finding active voices within a specific city, state, postal code as well as the vicinity, ranging from 1 mile to 20. Not only can you search those voices, you can instantly produce an RSS feed for each search criteria to monitor localized conversations through your feed reader. Here’s an example of the results for a search within 1 mile of San Francisco.

Twitpic provides a bridge from your camera phone to Twitter. Pictures can either post to the Twitter public timeline from phone via email or through the site.

Follow Cost estimates the potential attention (or annoyance) cost of following a particular individual or account. Here’s the result for @briansolis.
Twitter Mobile Applications

Twittelator is a Twitter client for the iPhone. You can manage multiple user accounts, update your accounts, share pictures, a map of your current location, connect with other Tweeps, read tweets from your contacts, and direct message (DM), and reply all from one app.

Twitterfon is a fast, simple Twitter client for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It is focused on 80% of your tasks in Twitter such as viewing friends/replies/messages in the timeline and also sending/replying tweets.

Twinkle is a location-aware network for the iPhone and iPod Touch that helps you discover, connect, and send messages to the public timeline and also to people nearby. You can share photos and update your Twitter account from the phone.

Twitterberry

Twitterberry is a full-featured Twitter client to read and post updates from BlackBerry phones.
TECH cocktail Community Contributed Knowledge

Brian Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning PR and New Media agency in Silicon Valley. Solis blogs at PR2.0, bub.blicio.us, and regularly contributes PR & tech insight to industry publications

Posted by: Kathy Dragon | October 24, 2008

Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004

WIRED MAGAZINE: 16.11

Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004
By Paul Boutin Email 10.20.08

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.

Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

If you quit now, you’re in good company. Notorious chatterbox Jason Calacanis made millions from his Weblogs network. But he flat-out retired his own blog in July. “Blogging is simply too big, too impersonal, and lacks the intimacy that drew me to it,” he wrote in his final post.

Impersonal is correct: Scroll down Technorati’s list of the top 100 blogs and you’ll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones. Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington Post. Engadget. TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can’t keep up with a team of pro writers cranking out up to 30 posts a day.

When blogging was young, enthusiasts rode high, with posts quickly skyrocketing to the top of Google’s search results for any given topic, fueled by generous links from fellow bloggers. In 2002, a search for “Mark” ranked Web developer Mark Pilgrim above author Mark Twain. That phenomenon was part of what made blogging so exciting. No more. Today, a search for, say, Barack Obama’s latest speech will deliver a Wikipedia page, a Fox News article, and a few entries from professionally run sites like Politico.com. The odds of your clever entry appearing high on the list? Basically zero.

That said, your blog will still draw the Net’s lowest form of life: The insult commenter. Pour your heart out in a post, and some anonymous troll named r0rschach or foohack is sure to scribble beneath it, “Lame. Why don’t you just suck McCain’s ass.” That’s why Calacanis has retreated to a private mailing list. He can talk to his fans directly, without having to suffer idiotic retorts from anonymous Jason-haters.

Further, text-based Web sites aren’t where the buzz is anymore. The reason blogs took off is that they made publishing easy for non-techies. Part of that simplicity was a lack of support for pictures, audio, and videoclips. At the time, multimedia content was too hard to upload, too unlikely to play back, and too hungry for bandwidth.

Social multimedia sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook have since made publishing pics and video as easy as typing text. Easier, if you consider the time most bloggers spend fretting over their words. Take a clue from Robert Scoble, who made his name as Microsoft’s “technical evangelist” blogger from 2003 to 2006. Today, he focuses on posting videos and Twitter updates. “I keep my blog mostly for long-form writing,” he says.

Twitter — which limits each text-only post to 140 characters — is to 2008 what the blogosphere was to 2004. You’ll find Scoble, Calacanis, and most of their buddies from the golden age there. They claim it’s because Twitter operates even faster than the blogosphere. And Twitter posts can be searched instantly, without waiting for Google to index them.

As a writer, though, I’m onto the system’s real appeal: brevity. Bloggers today are expected to write clever, insightful, witty prose to compete with Huffington and The New York Times. Twitter’s character limit puts everyone back on equal footing. It lets amateurs quit agonizing over their writing and cut to the chase. @WiredReader: Kill yr blog. 2004 over. Google won’t find you. Too much cruft from HuffPo, NYT. Commenters are tards. C u on Facebook?

Paul Boutin (paul@valleywag.com) is a correspondent for the Silicon Valley gossip site Valleywag.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Posted by: Kathy Dragon | October 22, 2008

TRAVEL SEARCH INTELLIGENCE: PERFORMANCE AMONG DEMOGRAPHIC SEGMENTS

TravelTrends – Travel search intelligence: performance among demographic segments – Compete, Inc.

TravelTrendsTM Weekly travel insights from Compete

By: Jack Drew
September 28, 2008

This is the fourth search-themed travel newsletter this month, highlighting the capabilities of Compete’s Travel Search Intelligence product. This week we focus on the ability of travel marketers, using Compete Travel Search Intelligence, to assess their performance in attracting specific demographic segments through search.

Each month the major online travel agencies fight for hotel search referrals and bookings. Not all searchers are created equal, however, and many marketers are looking to attract only specific customer segments. To highlight Compete’s capabilities in looking at search activity for specific segments, we analyzed Online Travel Agency search performance within a defined demographic group.

Looking specifically at search-driven hotel bookings of high-income women travelers between the ages of 35-44 shows an increasingly competitive Hotwire gaining ground against a steady Expedia and Priceline, while Hotels.com loses ground. While a year ago Hotwire had captured an average of 10% of the search-driven hotel bookings of this demographic, the past few months have seen the brand rise to up to a 30% share in May 2008.
Chart 1


Women’s OTA hotel conversions deriving from a search engine are the result of organic clicks 68% of the time and sponsored clicks for the remaining 32%. The only competitor to rely more heavily upon paid than natural was Hotels.com at 54%.
Chart 2

As online marketers pursue specific consumer segments – either demographic groups, affinity/lifestyle groups, or others – understanding the search behavior of each can give you a competitive edge. The demographic studied above is evidence of how quickly market share shifts can take place. Contact Compete to see how we can help your marketing team ensure it comes out on top in the battle to reach its target traveler segments.

Posted by: Kathy Dragon | October 21, 2008

Biggest Mistakes Made by Social Media Gurus

Nice article on Mashable…
October 21, 2008 – 9:56 am PDT – by David Spark 18 Comments

Think you know what you’re doing every time you engage in social media? Neither do I, and neither do the social media gurus I spoke to about their biggest social networking blunders. In an effort to learn from others’ mistakes, here’s a list of some all star errors in judgment from some social media all stars. I’ll lead off the order by admitting an error of my own.

Respond to all negative comments – When I, David Spark,
started being seen publically in print, TV, radio, and online I read everyone’s comments, but focused more intently on the negative ones. I wasted a lot of time putting far too much effort into defending myself to these anonymous naysayers than they put into attacking me. I soon understood that some geeks simply can’t help themselves being negative. They’ve got an obnoxious strand of DNA and must constantly try to prove themselves smarter than you.

Participate in flame wars to increase traffic – Similarly, Dana Gardner, blogger for ZDNet, admits he would engage in online arguments just to watch his Web traffic shoot up. But over time Gardner realized that flame wars don’t attract the right kind of audience. “Going to the lowest emotional common denominator to me is an ineffective way of reaching that audience. I’d rather come up with valuable insightful fresh innovative content than appeal to angry white men sitting around computers that don’t have anything else to do,” Gardner said.

Hire a voice talent for $2,000 to read a podcast for you – Paul Dunay, Global Director of Integrated Marketing at BearingPoint and prominent blogger, made a massive blunder when he decided to get into podcasting. His first show was actually a whitepaper read by a voice talent for $2,000. The resulting podcast sounded like a book on tape and he and his colleagues were horrified. That episode was never published, but the voice talent did get paid.

Send a specially selected mass mailing to your friends – Susan Bratton, co-founder and CEO of Personal Life Media, is still having a problem trying to scale individual relationships with social media. Even when she pares down her mailing list of 8,000 to a personally selected mailing of 250, she still gets nasty messages telling her to “take me off this list.”

Assume that social media doesn’t exist until you arrive – Social media strategist Chris Brogan and founder of PodCamp reached out to the New England podcasters’ bulletin board and said he was going to invite all the social media rock stars to come to Boston for Podcamp. Nobody responded to what he thought was a generous offer until he saw a response on the board that said, “There are a lot of rock stars in Boston and it’s kind of offensive you got to import them from other places.” Brogan learned from his mistake. Wherever you go on the Web realize there’s been a history. Don’t assume you know everything and discredit what’s been done before you arrived, Brogan said.

Post a comment on your own Facebook profile wall – David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR and the upcoming book World Wide Rave, needed his teenage daughter to point out his massive social networking faux pas. After setting up his Facebook profile, he showed it to his daughter to which she responded, “You’re not supposed to write on your own wall. You’re such a dork, dad.”

Don’t engage with people who only want to push their own initiative – Ego and personal agendas often take over many online communications, and Ross Mayfield, founder of SocialText, used to ignore these self promoters. He doesn’t anymore realizing that these self promoters are looking to create an association with you and your business. “You really want to engage with every conversation that relates with your brand,” Mayfield advised, “Even if you don’t want to necessarily draw attention to the existence of a competitor.”

Over-architect a site with features and content without talking to your customers – Deb Schultz, social media strategist for P&G, fell into the trap of making too many assumptions about what an audience wanted and just started developing a site loaded with features and functionality. It’s what happens when you work at a big company and you don’t see outside of the four walls of the organization. Schultz admitted she should have spent more time talking with customers instead of adding more content to the site.

Be overly careful about everything you say online – Futurist Thornton May claims he still falls into the trap of self-editorializing when writing online. Even though May understands that what makes social media valuable is that it’s authentic, real, and unfinished, he still is extremely careful about what he says and that takes the edge off his online persona. He blames his age and says people of his generation are not familiar nor necessarily comfortable engaging in online discussions.

Don’t come to your own defense when people bad mouth you online – It’s often a good idea to have others defend you in a public debate. But Peter Hirshberg chairman of Technorati and co-founder of The Conversation Group got into a situation where his silence in a debate about a product release was just seen as rather peculiar and it backfired on him.

Accept friend requests from people you barely know – Robin Wolaner, founder of the 40+ social networking site TBD.com, made the mistake of accepting friend requests from people she barely knew. These non-friends on her network happened to be very prolific posters and she couldn’t turn down their noise. Many social networks don’t offer a setting that allows you to only get information from your close friends and not from people you barely know. The only thing she could do was de-friend them, and as a result some were insulted.

Stalk women on Facebook – Stewart Alsop, partner of Alsop Louie Partners, claims this is not a mistake and he’s extremely proud of it. Of his 1200+ friends on Facebook, Alsop claims he has about 400 attractive women as Facebook friends. In his mid-50s, Alsop reaches out to young attractive women and asks if he can be their friend. Many say yes. Alsop says he’s an old guy and it makes him feel as if he’s got something going on. There’s no downside for Alsop. Some may think it’s weird, but it doesn’t change anything for him.

You haven’t done everything right online, have you? Want to fess up to a massive blunder in social media?

David Spark is a veteran tech journalist and the founder of Spark Media Solutions, a custom editorial production company. Read more of Spark at his blog Spark Minute and to read and hear interviews with many of the aforementioned people, subscribe to Spark’s “Be the Voice” blog and podcast.

Posted by: Kathy Dragon | October 21, 2008

Six Free Tools for Online Reputation Management : MarketingProfs Articles

Six Free Tools for Online Reputation Management
by Dan Schawbel
Published on October 14, 2008

Online reputation management consists of tracking your brand and reacting when necessary.

Though sometimes tedious, brand monitoring can save you from a potential disaster when someone cites your name in an article that misrepresents you. Aside from protection, it can help you proactively join conversations around your topic area, helping to get your brand name out there.

It’s almost 2009… and if you aren’t active online you are missing valuable opportunities to advertise your value to the world—through articles, blog entries, social-network profiles, comments, videos and more.

As both a content producer and consumer, your name is being spread throughout each of these circuits by people you might not even know. In fact, research firm IDC finds that there is more content being created about you than you create yourself.
Article continues below

Part of your brand is in the hands of others, so it’s critical that you monitor it before a flame becomes a forest fire.

Do you know what people are saying about you?

If you want to know how to track your presence and monitor your brand, then you are in luck. Below are the top 6 tools for your online reputation management program. They can be used for product and corporate brands in addition to your personal brand. Use each to search, locate and respond when necessary.

Also, they can be leveraged as part of your marketing strategy, to discover your audience and market to them directly.

1. Google—Google.com/alerts

* Definition: Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your choice of query or topic. You can subscribe to each alert through email and RSS.
* Application: Many people use their RSS readers to view these alerts, and PR agencies use alerts to track their campaigns. You can monitor a news story, keep current with your industry and competitors, and see who is writing about you, all at the same time.
* Marketing strategy: Set a comprehensive alert, notifying you of stories, as they happen, for your name, your topic, and even your company. As your feed reader fills up with articles that match your query, you should start a database of bloggers and journalists so that you can market to them directly and form better relationships.

2. Blog posts—Technorati.com

* Definition: If you have a blog, then you have to be on Technorati, which is the largest blog search engine in the world. When you register with it, Technorati tracks “blog reactions,” or blogs that link to yours.
* Application: Search for your name on Technorati, and subscribe to RSS alerts so that when someone blogs about you, you find out.
* Marketing strategy: Use Technorati to log every blog that is linking to your own. Keep track of these blogs, and when you write your next post link to them. Doing so will give recognition to those who have recognized yours.

3. Blog comments—backtype.com

* Definition: Recently, a new service came out to solve the problem of monitoring blog comments. Think about it, someone can comment on you on a series of blogs, but if you only track posts you’ll really miss out. BackType is a service that lets you find, follow, and share comments from across the Web. Whenever you write a comment with a link to your Web site, BackType attributes it to you.
* Application: Use backtype.com to remind yourself where you commented, discover influencers who are commenting on blogs that you should be reading, and continue conversations that you started previously.
* Marketing strategy: Establish a list of key influencers in your topic area. Then follow their comments from blog to blog and leave your own comment after theirs. This will help build your brand by association.

Article continues below

4. Discussion boards—boardtracker.com

* Definition: Along with blogs and traditional news stories, discussion boards are another channel where people can gather in a community and talk about you. Most people disregard discussion boards until they see other sites commenting on information viewed on them.
* Application: Use boardtracker.com to get instant alerts from threads citing your name.
* Marketing strategy: Find all boards that are related to your subject matter and join the top 2-5, based on the amount of conversations and the volume of registered users. Join the communities by starting threads, while leaving your name and URL at the end of each post.

5. Twitter—search.twitter.com

* Definition: Twitter is a microblogging service, hosting over three million people. Twitter messages (tweets) move at the speed of light, and if you don’t catch them they will spread like a virus.
* Application: Using Twitter search, you can locate any instances of your name and tweet back (or remain silent).
* Marketing strategy: As you see tweets with your name attached to them, you should use the “@” sign and the tweeter’s account name (e.g., @danschawbel) to respond accordingly. As you respond, you start to build brand recognition and your audience feels that you care and are actively listening.

6. FriendFeed—friendfeed.com/search

* Definition: FriendFeed is a social aggregator. You have the ability to take all of your social accounts, such as YouTube, Delicious, Twitter, blog, and Flickr, and pull them together into a single (Friend) feed.
* Application: You can conduct searches on your brand throughout all social networks at once using this search engine. Aside from learning about the latest video or tweet related to your topic, you can analyze comments that people make under them.
* Marketing strategy: Grab a FriendFeed widget (friendfeed.com/embed/widget) and display it on your Web site or blog, so people get a sense of your social media activity. Also, as you search and locate people who are talking about your brand on FriendFeed, respond to them through comments.

All six of these free tools can be used to monitor and market your company’s brand name as well.

If you aren’t taking care of your online reputation, others will. It’s time to find out what people are saying—and do something about it. Marketing to your audience becomes seamless after you’ve done your homework using these tools.

Posted by: Kathy Dragon | October 21, 2008

Where’s the travel industry headed?

From HotelMarketing.com
October 21, 2008

So it was no surprise that the economy dominated much of the discussion at PhoCusWright’s Town Hall Meeting in Palo Alto, CA, on October 8. In a Q&A session moderated by PhoCusWright president and CEO Philip Wolf, the one question on everyone’s mind was: “Will the 2008 economic meltdown be as bad for our industry as September 11, 2001?”

The answers to this question, of course, vary. Certainly, there are key differences between the two events. The terror attacks were a direct assault on the U.S. and aviation industry. The economy was already suffering from the tech stock bubble burst of 2000. Then the September 11, 2001 events virtually froze the travel industry for weeks—if not months—before the eventual thaw. Yet while cutbacks prevailed and some travel companies fell, online travel companies reported surprisingly bright results.

Americans’ fear of flying was tempered somewhat by the low prices available on the Internet, and these low prices helped travelers get back in the air more quickly than anticipated. Representing just 8% of the market at the time, online travel agencies (OTAs) grew at double-digit rates in 2002 as they grabbed market share from traditional travel agencies which did not have access to such low fares and hotel rates.

Most of that market share has since been digested. The online travel industry has grown up and now represents half of all travel sold in the U.S. That means online travel sellers are just as vulnerable to dramatic swings in demand as are offline channels. So if the travel industry slumps, so goes the online travel industry—OTAs and supplier direct sites alike.

And this current crisis is directed more or less at travelers’ pocketbooks. Everyone wants to know, “Just how big will the ripple effect be?” Prices are generally higher and, without confidence in their next paycheck or retirement account, many Americans—corporate and leisure—may simply postpone traveling or only travel when necessary. Such is the fear that grips every travel company today—what if fewer people—a lot fewer—travel next year?

So how did travel industry executives answer the question, “is this worse for the travel industry than September 11?” The answers were yes. And no.

Half of the 36 attendees were pessimistic. One big concern is the effect on investments and innovation. If illiquidity persists, investors may disappoint because once-committed venture/private equity capital is not readily available. Roughly half the attendees at the Silicon Valley breakfast were start-up companies. Attendees also pointed out that this is a global crisis; while the 2001 terror attacks were far-reaching, most of the impact was felt in the U.S. A global crisis could have deeper, more longer-lasting effects.

But others were more optimistic, suggesting money might just flow in a different direction. For example, hoteliers won’t let the genie out of the bottle this time around and flood OTAs with discounted inventory; rather, they’ll put more money in Search Engine Marketing (Google, Yahoo, MSN). Half of the attendees who were intermediaries weren’t even directly reliant on a transactions-based model, making their money on pay-per-click instead. While they’re not immune to a travel fall-off, they’ll reap benefits as travelers diligently search and shop for the best places and deals.

Perhaps the brightest hope for online marketers is that travelers, like in 2002, will flock online in search of lower prices, keeping OTAs, metasearch sites, and even online direct channels humming. After all, as one attendee noted, “the white table cloth dining industry has fallen off a cliff along with the $20 bottle of wine. On the flip side, cheap supermarket wine is experiencing a boom.” So maybe it will once again be chic for online travel to be cheap.

Whatever happens, one remembers Barry Diller’s infamous words at The PhoCusWright Executive Conference in 2002, when asked why IAC paid over US$1 billion for a majority stake in Expedia just months after September 11, 2001. “You know, if there’s no travel, there’s no life,” he emphatically declared.

Let’s hope that’s what travelers say in 2009.

Related Link: PhoCusWright, Inc.

Article location: http://www.hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/wheres_the_travel_industry_headed/

Posted by: Kathy Dragon | October 17, 2008

25 Most Influential Women in Travel

25 Most Influential Women In Travel – Forbes.com

ForbesLife Executive Woman
25 Most Influential Women In Travel
Melissa Biggs Bradley 06.30.08

Women are the prime movers in American travel, driving 70 percent of all leisure travel spending and 80 percent of corporate travel bookings, profoundly impacting where the entire country goes for both business and pleasure. (And don’t forget, women count for some 40 percent of the nation’s business travelers.) Who among these millions of “deciders” have the most clout? To find out, ForbesLife Executive Woman polled top industry executives. The result is our first list of the 25 Most Influential Women in Travel, all of whom have significantly shaped–and will continue to define–the $740 billion U.S. industry that fuels more than 5 percent of America’s GDP. Their predictions for the hottest new destinations and travel trends follow our list.

Produced by Susan Delson

THE NEW SPECIALISTS

Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor in Chief, CruiseCritic .com

After years of covering cruises for the Washington Post (nyse: WPO – news – people ), Brown was a natural to take over CruiseCritic.com. Thanks to the site’s wealth of information, active community, and frank reviews (from both staff and members), it has 5 million annual visitors and more than 110,000 registered members. That may explain why it is listed as the number one cruise-information web-site on Hitwise.

Georgia Kirsner
Vice President, Travel Industry Sales, Ritz-Carlton

If travel agents could have just one wish, it would be that hotels give their clients the star treatment. Kirsner knows that a happy customer is a return customer, which is why she introduced the Ritz-Carlton’s STARS program, reserved exclusively for top trav- el agencies working with the company. Selected agents have access to a password-protected website for booking. In addition to the attentive service accorded Ritz-Carlton guests, STARS clients are monitored by a designated “guardian angel” at each property for even more personalized attention.

Lisa Lindblad
Founder, Lisa Lindblad Travel Design

Lindblad creates personalized journeys for a following of highly exclusive clients–those who don’t blink at her initial con-sulting fee of $2,500 to design an itinerary. Areas of expertise include East Africa and India. Customers can expect a once- in-a-lifetime trip. Says Lindblad: “I make sure to insert magical moments–like being on top of a hill in East Africa when the sun sets.”

Michelle Peluso
CEO and global president, Travelocity; executive vice president, Sabre (also see “The Climb”)

Travelocity, the mother of online travel agencies, took a blow when competitors Expedia (nasdaq: EXPE – news – people ) and Orbitz (nyse: OWW – news – people ) ramped up their oper-ations in 2002. Wharton grad Peluso, Travelocity’s CEO since 2003, helped the company reach profitability by launching an innovative hotel partnership program and spearheading the acquisition of lastmin ute.com and ZUJI.com (another travel-planning website). In 2008 the World Economic Forum named her a Young Global Leader. Despite the size and scope of Travelocity’s business, Peluso maintains a small-business-like approach in her dealings with people: She answers all customer emails that land in her inbox and tries to get back to employee emails within 24 hours.

Lalia Rach
Divisional Dean and HVS International chair, NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management; founder, Rach Enterprises

In any game there is a need for exceptional coaches. Rach has advised many people in the industry and is one of its most sought-after speakers. As an academic and the founder of a business consulting company, she tracks trends in business management as well as in affluent and baby-boomer markets. In part through her embrace of the increasingly digitized way of doing business, she is known for helping to shape the next wave of travel professionals.

Patricia Schultz
Author, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die

Schultz developed a passion for exploration as a child, but it has been as a travel journalist (for such publications as Condé Nast Traveler and Frommer’s) that she began honing the “life list” that blossomed into a number one bestseller in 2004. With 2.8 million copies in print, the compulsively readable tome has introduced millions of people to such gems as Canyon de Chelly and the Hagia Sophia, and has spawned a sequel (on U.S.- and Canadian-specific sites), a Travel Channel show, and even a jet trip around the world with TCS Expeditions.

STANDARD-BEARERS

Lynne Biggar
Senior Vice President and General Manager, American Express (nyse: AXP – news – people ) Consumer Travel Network USA

One of the chief reasons many people get American Express Platinum cards is help in making trip arrangements. The person at AmEx most responsible for keeping them happy is Biggar, who leads the division that provides premium travel services. She oversees more than 3,000 staff members and has grown travel sales by over 20 percent a year since assuming the position in 2005.

Pamela C. Conover
President and CEO, Seabourn Cruise Line

Born in Thailand, educated in England, and now a resident of Key Biscayne, Conover brings international flair to her role as head of Seabourn, Carnival Corporation (nyse: CCL – news – people )’s luxury cruise line, which she took over in 2006. Seabourn’s all-suites ships set the standard for travel at sea, and the line is known for the intimacy of its fleet (ships accommodate 208 to 450 guests). An optional program sends passengers out with personal shoppers and chauffeur service while in port. The line’s bold new flagship, the $250 million, 32,000-ton Odyssey, is set to debut in 2009, and two other ships are in the works.

Marilyn Conroy
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Silversea Cruises

Conroy was one of the first women to hold a senior-level position in the cruise industry. Now, with 30 years of major cruise-line business (including Crystal and Cunard) under her belt, she oversees sales and marketing for Silversea, whose honors have included the number one Small Ship Cruise Line rating in a recent Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice poll.

Bella Goren
Senior Vice President, Customer Relationship Marketing and Reservations, American Airlines (nyse: AMR – news – people )

In her more than 20-year career with American Airlines, Goren, a former chemical engineer, has tackled the complex coordination of aviation-related services and business planning. She oversees the company’s customer service operations and its website, aa.com, telephone reservations, and the airline loyalty program AAdvantage. Earlier this year, customer loyalty was put to the test–as were Goren and her team–when the airline weathered the storm caused by thousands of safety-inspection-related cancellations.

Christie Hicks
Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (nyse: HOT – news – people )

In her current position, Hicks directs more than 250 global senior sales associates and is responsible for $3.2 billion in annual revenue. The hospitality industry has recognized her business acuity: Acknowledgments by her peers have included the Vision Award from NYSAE and the PCMA Professional Achievement Award.

Kathleen “Katie” Taylor
President and COO, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

In her nearly two decades with Four Seasons, Taylor has helped grow the 48-year-old Toronto-based company into one of the finest hotel brands in the world. She oversees all of its global operations, making sure the company’s 76 properties in 32 countries maintain a consistent standard of excellence. Any Four Seasons loyalist can attest that it’s working; despite the wild expansion in the number of luxury properties in the past decade, the brand more than holds its own.

TRENDSETTERS & INNOVATORS

Samantha Brown
Host, Travel Channel

Don’t be fooled by her self-deprecating humor and girl-next-door charm. Brown has skillfully and steadily bolstered the Travel Channel brand. Last year alone, the Emmy winner’s pages on the channel’s website received more than ten million views. Travelers treasure her tips, whether it’s her favorite place to stay at Walt Disney (nyse: DIS – news – people ) World (the Animal Kingdom Lodge) or a terrific spot for sunbathing in Hawaii (Lanikai Beach in Oahu). Next up: Passport to Great Weekends, premiering June 26, and Passport to China, a three-part tie-in to the Beijing Olympics, starting on July 28.

Carolyn Corvi
Vice President/General Manager, Airplane Programs, Boeing (nyse: BA – news – people )

Corvi likes speed, both in her leisure time (auto racing) and on the job. One of Corvi’s chief accomplishments as general manager of Boeing’s 737/757 Programs was streamlining the manufacture of 737s, cutting the final assembly time in half. In recognition of her industry innovations, she received the Women in Aerospace Leadership Award. Today she oversees Boeing’s Airplane Programs division, with more than 30,000 employees.

Kate Hanni
Founder, Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights

Before Hanni became the hero of frustrated travelers across the U.S., she was a real-estate broker with $40 million in sales and an occasional singer in a rock band. But after spending more than nine hours stuck on the tarmac in Austin, Texas, in 2005, she used her business savvy to create a coalition that advocates for passenger rights. The group has grown to 23,000 members and has lobbied Congress to implement a bill of rights for stranded passengers. Not all of the coalition’s demands have been met–yet–but Hanni’s influence keeps growing.

Susan Harmsworth
Founder and CEO, ESPA

It’s hard to remember that in the 1980s, resorts were more likely to have a state-of-the-art exercise room than a high-end spa. The spa boom is thanks in part to Harmsworth, a visionary who founded the British company ESPA in 1993. With its holistic approach to wellness, the multimillion-dollar firm was a pioneer in incorporating such treatments as aromatherapy, and it maintains perhaps the industry’s most rigorous therapist-training programs. Today there are more than 50 ESPA facilities around the world, including spas at top hotels like the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, Gleneagles in Scotland, and the Peninsula Hong Kong.

Christine Petersen
Chief marketing officer, TripAdvisor.com

With more than 15 million traveler reviews of 300,000-plus hotels and attractions and more than 25 million visitors monthly, TripAdvisor is an online leviathan. In her marketing post, Petersen makes sure that the reader flow doesn’t slow down. She heads up all consumer marketing, community support, and product and content development, including a collection of destination guides consisting solely of user reviews.

Michelle White
Director of Environmental Affairs, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

As the children’s song goes, it’s not easy being green–especially if you’re a huge international chain like Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. That hasn’t stopped White from helping the brand take a leadership role in addressing such industrywide challenges as improving water conservation and waste management, as well as increasing the use of alternative energy. The hospitality field will be closely watching the innovative Fairmont Green Partnership program.

ESTABLISHED AUTHORITIES

Priscilla Alexander
Founder and President, Protravel International

Alexander founded Protravel in 1984 and quickly built it into a travel-agency juggernaut. She knew that by focusing on the company’s growth, she could leverage its size and attendant power–about 550 employees, 22 locations, $600 million in annual sales–to nail down discounts for clients without sacrificing such niceties as a 24-hour U.S. toll-free hotline. Today it is the largest independent seller of luxury vacations in the Virtuoso network.

Vivian Deuschl
Corporate Vice President for Public Relations, Ritz-Carlton

Deuschl’s roots are journalistic: She was a reporter in Texas and a newspaper editor in Taipei. As one of the highest-ranking female executives at Ritz-Carlton, where she has worked for the past two decades, Deuschl steers public relations strategy and has helped cement the venerable brand’s reputation as a purveyor of modern luxury. Known for schooling reporters new to the travel beat, Deuschl has been honored three times with the Society of American Travel Writers’ highest award. She served as spokesperson for the Travel Industry Association of America’s 9/11 task force.

Suzanne Fletcher
Director of Travel Management, Concur

In her role as president of the National Business Travel Association, Fletcher oversaw an organization that represented more than 2,700 corporate travel managers and travel-service providers and $170 billion of travel expenditures. Under her leadership, the NBTA testified on Capitol Hill in favor of programs to ease frequent travelers through TSA airport checkpoints. Subsequently, she was named director of travel management at Concur, known as an innovator in streamlining corporate-travel accounting.

Barbara Gallay
President, Linden Travel Bureau

As owner and president of New York–based Linden Travel, Gallay has grown the business from a small, family-owned agency to a multimillion-dollar organization with offices in three cities and an A-list clientele. She is the only travel professional on the 2007 Crain’s New York Business 100 Most Influential Women list, and sits on the advisory board for such companies as Virtuoso, Starwood’s Luxury Collection, and Orient-Express.

Kristi Jones
President, Virtuoso

When Jones recently addressed the Luxury Marketing Council, the crowd packed New York’s Carlyle Hotel. Jones’s popularity is due in no small part to her 20-year role in the creation, development, and marketing of Virtuoso, a name now synonymous with luxury travel agencies. Today the upscale travel network has agencies in 22 countries and controls more than $4.8 billion in annual buying power.

Michelle Morgan
President, Signature Travel Network

Located in Marina del Rey, Cali-fornia, Signature is a 52-year-old co-op of travel agencies. Since taking the reins 15 years ago, Morgan has helped expand the company’s geographic reach, as well as its member marketing programs. Signature now has 325 agency offices, partnerships with over 500 hotels, and upward of $3.8 billion in sales clout.

Valerie Ann Wilson
Founder, Chair, and CEO, Valerie Wilson Travel

After a career in fashion, Wilson took off more than a decade to raise her children before founding her eponymous travel agency in 1981. Today she runs Valerie Wilson Travel with her daughters, Jennifer and Kimberly. It has become one of the top luxury travel agencies in the U.S., with a reputation for superb service. The über-agent’s taste level hasn’t been lost on her peers: Wilson sits on the boards of Ritz-Carlton, the Oberoi Group, and Abercrombie & Kent, among others.

Posted by: Kathy Dragon | October 16, 2008

SEO Blogging

Newspapergrl writes on internet marketing, affiliate marketing, business blogging and social media

SEO Blogging – What it is and What it’s Not

I want to clear up a misconception about blogging. There are purists who only consider blogs as communities and who have certain ideas about what blogs are. For the small business owner, blogs are ideal tools for SEO. In other words, to get higher search engine rankings (and therefore traffic) for keyword phrases that relate to their business.

Choose a Few Specific Phrases that Relate to Your Business to Focus On
Small business owners may think they should go after general words – like “sunglasses” when what they really should do is go after much more specific phrases like “designer sunglasses.” Your chances of getting to the top of results if someone types in sunglasses are pretty remote. However, “designer sunglasses” may be easier because there’s less competition.

Blogs are Easier to Manage than Paid Search
Many times small businesses can’t afford to do a lot of paid search advertising or they simply lack the expertise. If you’re not careful, you could go on vacation and spend $4,000 without meaning to (like discussed in this video by Dr. Ralph Wilson and Catherine Seda). All because you set your budget thinking it was monthly, when it was actually daily.

Paid Search Costs Keep Going Up
As more people run ads on search engines, you pay more per click. Some keywords can cost $6 or more for each click. The price you pay depends on how many competitors there are at a given time and how well your ad is written. MarketingSherpa just released some data based on a survey of top Internet marketers that confirms this. Big brands increase budgets, small business look for ways to manage costs (like go after more specific keywords, write better ads, or simply spend less).
You can Outsource Blog Creation and Writing
My solution is to set up a blog where writers post daily and focus on a few keyword phrases relating to your business. Then you know how many posts you get per month for your budget. They are PERMANENT links, unlike paid ads that go away when you stop paying for the ad to run.

An SEO Blog has a Specific Purpose – to Help your Web Site Rank Higher in Search Engines
The blog is not intended to get comments or draw a lot of visitors to the blog itself. Think of the blog as the motor on your web site. It’s a quick way to add links to your web site. Those links help your web site appear higher in search results. The writing is more like articles than blog posts. The blog is simply a publishing platform to make it easy to get content up quickly.

SEO is a Long Term Investment that Pays Off Over Time
You don’t need to understand any more of that to use this technique. I’ve been helping clients who barely know what a blog is. One thing you must understand about SEO is that it is an INVESTMENT. It’s not overnight success. It builds up over time. You can do things to hopefully speed that up (such as using SEO plugins and optimizing your blog well).

This blog made no money at first and didn’t have much traffic. It took a good year before i saw results (but I wasn’t blogging for traffic or for business, I was simply writing about what I was passionate about – which is different than an SEO strategy). After a few years my blog has made some residual income and built a reputation.

Building Credibility and Trust by its Very Nature Takes Time
Think of it like moving into a new neighborhood where no one knows who you are. It takes time to build relationships, meet the neighbors, make friends, and get acclimated. If you don’t try at all you probably won’t make many friends. You certainly won’t become popular, unless you have a positive reputation already or if someone they know with high trust endorses you.

Each time you add a new link with a keyword phrase you are getting a vote and building credibility in search engines. Blogging is one way to do this. It’s a great strategy if you’re on a budget.

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