Yulbiz 2007 - Best of Montreal's Business Blogosphere
Yulbiz 2007 wrapped up last night at Cafe Melies with the Yulbiz November edition, featuring the release of the new book Pourquoi blogger dans un contexte d'affaires (Reasons to Blog in a Business Setting). After the jump (the read-more link), I've got the news, gossip and best of all - some cool pictures and video of Yulbiz November's participants! Plus, a wrap-up of my Yulbiz 07 experience and the people it's allowed me to meet.
I'm writing this from school and have unfortunately left the cards I was given last night at home. So if I forget to mention you, just drop a comment and I'll be sure to update this post.
After saying hi to my friend, expert internet marketer Michel Leblanc, and new acquaintance Mathieu Bélanger, of K3 Media web agency (more on K3 in a minute) who were standing outside (see picture above) I went in and spotted Eric Kucharsky (left), of TechnoMontreal whom you'll recall I met at an earlier Yulbiz. I took a picture, but he was in a conversation so I didn't want to interrupt too much.
To start things off, I sidled over to the cool camera lady from Canoe.ca. We talked about how she came to be working as a camerawoman and it turns out she studied biology and then journalism, with a view to getting into scientific journalism. That said though, she says she's having a blast at Canoe! I can't find the video on Canoe, she had no business cards and my memory isn't working so great on 5 hours sleep. So, if you want to help me out and comment to tell me her name, that would be great.
I caught up with Bruno Bhutto (please correct me if I'm misspelling that, Bruno), who was a panelist at FacebookCamp, where I also spoke on Facebook advertising. We had a fun chat and he told me about this photoshop community he's been with for a good 5 years, called Worth 1000. As in, "a picture is worth a thousand words."
Particularly cool are these two aggressive looking plants: Bang Bang and Revenge.
Bruno and I shot a video describing the site. He describes the contests on the site, mentions the mainstream media have picked up on it and more.
Stupid Blogger/Blogspot isn't letting me upload, so that'll have to come in a later edit.
Soon afterward, I caught my buddy Sylvain Carle in a shot with Bruno. Sylvain (and Michel) are co-authors of Pourquoi blogger along with some of the other folks. I picked up my copy last night and it's really looking good and enjoyable, though I haven't read it all yet (so maybe it sucks around Sylvain or Michel's chapters ... not! ;) ).
Sylvain also discussed his chapter of the book with me in a video, but that'll obviously have to wait. Speaking of which, how do you rotate video? I shot it with my handheld camera upright...
Pascal Veilleux of NSI and myself discussed what he and the gang are doing with corporate blogs and all, and it sounded quite exciting. Pascal's on my list of experts on corporate bloggers, so if that's your bag, you should go over and give him a shout. Again, I'll post the video later.
Further in, I sat down for a quick talk with my buddy Andres Restrepo, whom I also met at a previous Yulbiz (if you're no good at reading between the lines, the name of the game is consistency and frequency). He's now working for Ressac (smart move, Ressac!) where Julien Raby, who's now heading up Cossette's search marketing arm, used to work (btw, Julien, you guys need to rank for Cossette search marketing! Let me know when Cossette's at least got a specific page in place and I'll modify that link to SEOmoz's Service marketplace).
Passing by at that specific moment was another friend I made through Yulbiz, popular blogger (and videoblogger!) Philippe Martin, who's the go-to-guy for making and http://www.nayezpaspeur.ca">designing blogs! Notice that the link to his site is a deeplink. I used to just link to the homepage, but his design skills placed a tab to that part of the site above the fold and made me notice it! So there you go, he'll help you do better SEO too!
Following this I was fortunate enough to chat with my friend Nicolas Cossette, who blogs on SMO (aka SMM) and works at NVI Solutions. I also met a couple of new people. For the first time, Guillaume Bouchard, NVI's CEO, showed up as did his new hire, Samuel (don't think you told me your last name, I'm afraid). It was great talking to him and I think it's fair to say we both learnt something from each other (I learnt some tips on closing the sale, he learnt my credit card # ;) ). Here are Nicolas, Samuel, Guillaume and I:
See the FacebookCamp shirt I'm wearing (click the pick to enlarge)? That's from speaking at FacebookCamp Montreal, and the shirt and conference were partly sponsored by K3. Thanks a lot for the generosity Mathieu!
Anyways, if you're looking for SEOs who know the French market, besides Michel, you'd be hard pressed to find a better crew (Michel's not a crew, but you get the idea) than Go Referencement. (If you want something in English ... I'm outranking Guillaume and NVI for Montreal SEO ;). Write me: Gab at seoroi dot c o m.)
Next up I had a quick hello with Etienne Denis, CEO of 90 Degres (who's looking for a French editor for his company's content services). Yet another fellow I'd met at a previous Yulbiz! I've got a video with Etienne too.
About that time I caught up with a recent acquaintance and new friend, Claude Malaison. He's been involved with tech stuff since before I was born - literaly. Besides organizing Webcom Montreal and suchlike (he's the French Canadian Danny Sullivan!), he's President of Emergence Web, a boutique agency focused on Web 2.0 strategy. In any case, I pulled Claude into a pic with Nicolas, Philippe and Stephane Waffo (another new acquaintance and a cool dude :) ). I also got those fellows in a shot with Martin Lessard, a terrific blogger whose first chapter in the Pourquoi blogger book I'm really enjoying - check out Zero Seconde for more Web 2.0.
Left to right: Martin Lessard, Stephane Waffo, Philippe Martin and Nicolas Cossette.
Same order: Stephane (slightly cut out, sorry!), Philippe, Claude and Nicolas.
By the way, please don't read anything into the size of the pics. I'm just playing around with formatting and seeing Blogger's capacities (also trying to speed up load time), as I don't often get to do a post with pics.
Here are Jerome, Kim (far right), Stephane and his friend whose name unfortunately escapes me at the moment (Stephane or Stephane's friend, if you read this, please comment to remind me) - but who happens to be a really good communicator. I think I bored his ear off for a half hour and he showed interest throughout!
Finally, I had the opportunity to meet the excellent Tristan Peloquin of Technaute. He's only started blogging since last March's Quebec elections, but as this brilliant fellow can attest, that means nothing. We emailed around the time of the elections on political marketing. Tristan, if you're reading this, Epiar's blog has the Presidential ROI thing I was telling you about. For my other readers, Tristan also wrote a chapter in the book, fyi, and from my previous reading of his writing, I'm sure it'll be great!
Here are some other posts on Yulbiz you might like
Epiar's Curtis Dueck has a very interesting post on the ROI of the Presidential campaigns going on in the US. Curtis proposes to measure ROI in terms of awareness. It's an interesting metric to track and certainly plays a role in political campaigns. The last federal elections here featured, in my riding at least, candidates who were Marxist, Communist (apparently there's a difference there), Christian Democratic (as opposed to the other, undermocratic Christians who were running?) and more.
Their combined total was less than 1% of the vote. I'd say an important part of that is awareness. By contrast, the Green candidate got a few percentage points of the vote - again, awareness at work, imho.
But it's also not the be all, end all metric. Like I wrote back when the Liberals and PQ were off buying AdWords ads, there's a need for political marketing campaigns to define conversions. Some proposals I made were volunteers signed up, donations made and lawn-signs requested/distributed.
Rand at SEOmoz recently offered to answer questions people might put to him about SEO, SEOmoz and so on. As I'm an unabashed fan and will proudly admit I look up to him as something of a role model in the SEO world, I'm going to share my answers to some of the questions I felt Rand didn't answer fully.
What does it take to be a great SEO? What are the personality traits and skills that separate the good SEOs from the great ones?
Rand: Sounds like a good title for a blog post to me :-) I think I'll try to address this will a more complete answer in the future.
My opinion (like it matters): I'm going to discuss two aspects of this: the company perspective and and the individual SEO perspective.
This question made me think of the excellent book "Small Giants," by Bo Burlingham, in which he discusses "Companies that chose to be great, instead of big." One of the things I recall about the companies profiled was that many of them were passionate about what they did, as were their employees.
As a matter of fact, while I can't recall what company it was, both employees and management chose to take pay cuts during an economic downturn to keep the company afloat. They did it because they loved working there and enjoyed what they were doing.
Another aspect of being a great company is that the people who work for you are empowered (excuse the buzzword) to make important decisions. Reell Precision Manufacturing, an engineering company, let its employees resolve whether or not to create a hinge that would be used in a cigarette dispensing machine. The CEOs (there were two) left it up to the employeed, trusting them to make the right choice.
Eventually the internal dispute resolution mechanisms decided not to do the project. The story went into the company newsletter. That shows not only that the employees are empowered, but that the company is proud of how its employees handled the situation. That says a lot, imho.
Regarding being a great SEO, I'd say similar rules apply. You need to be passionate, and love the work. When Rand stays up till the wee hours of the morning blogging - that's passion. While I'm not in the same class as Rand, and nowhere near, I spend 15 - 20 hours reading marketing blogs each week to stay current with the latest techniques and ideas. Why? Because I love it.
Another essential aspect of it is that you're good at building links - human links. Look around the blogosphere or even just your favourite few sites and blogs. The external linking goes in an overwhelming majority to people the author is friends with or at least knows personally. See my posts on Yulbiz, for example.
Another essential element is that you should be willing to test different things, even if they aren't part of your specialty, strictly speaking. Look at Dreamhost's homepage. A few years ago, it was a lot more complicated and made several different offers to you. Now it's almost entirely dedicated to one conversion action and it uses an image to that purpose (stay tuned for a post on that trend).
One last point I'd like to mention is that you should know your limits. When you're starting out, it's easy to try and sell your services to everyone around. You need to bring in money, after all. I've made the mistake myself, so I sympathize. But search marketing is just not appropriate to every form of business or every type of website.
For example, a lot of smaller brochure sites are only informational - there's no defined conversion. For branding sake you might want a lot of search traffic. But it'll be hard to justify - especially if you're working with a small business - because the bottom line ROI won't be there in a measurable way. And chances are that if trying to sell SEO/M to everyone and their brother is an issue for you, you're working mostly with small businesses.
Other sites that probably won't benefit from search marketing are purely informational ones. Similarly, those with few people searching for their products (though if the value of a conversion is big enough - think 5 figures - this may not matter) may not be ideal clients.
Can you tell me the SEO benefit or penalties of domain and subdomain relationships? (I heard bad domains can penalize subdomains but not the other way around?) Since they are treated as individual websites, are there any other benefits - like if you have 1000 links to a subdomain, does it have any effect on the root domain? Can you elaborate on any of this?
Rand: I'm not sure I'd be fully confident that bad subdomains can't hurt you (particularly if you have lots of links from your main domain pointing to it). I'd probably speculate that subdomains and domains can hurt one another if they contain spam and are untrusted or penalized by the search engines.
As for having 1000 links to a subdomain - I suppose it would affect the main domain in that, in the engines' eyes, that subdomain might be treated less like a separate entity and more like a part of the main domain, but we've still seen examples where heavily-linked-to subdomains aren't quite as trusted and fully "part" of the main domain when it comes to search rankings. I'm not sure what you're looking for elaboration on, but my general rule of thumb is that unless there is a truly excellent reason to use a subdomain (reputation management through SERPs domination, for example), stick to just using subfolders.
Yours truly: Check out Blue Hat SEO on using subdomains. His experience is that spammy subs won't hurt the main site - provided they're orphans not linked to from the main site.
Consider this blogspot domain for one. If I cloaked this place and filled it with auto-generated keyword gibberish, I couldn't hurt Blogspot.com or Blogger.com. I can't find the link to the Blue Hatter's post at this point in time, but if somebody does, please post it in the comments.
Is it a good idea to create a page listing sites that link to you, but that search engines haven't found yet? (either on the site, or a different domain)?
Rand: A good idea for tracking or monitoring purposes? Maybe - but your analytics tool should be doing this for you through the referring links/domains sections. If you're asking from an SEO perspective, I can't think of a particularly good reason to create a page with any content that you then hide from search engines. Perhaps I'm not fully grasping your question.
Me: Will Critchlow did a good job answering this in the comments. I'd like to point you to a further source, again at Blue Hat SEO. Eli presents the concept as "Synergy links." Essentially, you get articles posted on third party sites, and then link to those articles from other third party sites. Eli's got the spam approach going on with the third party sites being directories you can automatically get links from, but the technique works for general white-hat purposes too. (Notice that my article on reputation management ranks top 20 at Google?)
Being a local SEO specialist, I'm concerned about being able to submit my sites and clients' sites to the major search engines. Yet each of Google, Yahoo and MSN have serious issues when it comes to Canadian local search inclusion! For starters, and this has been bothering me for a while, neither Yahoo local nor MSN (through InfoUSA...) allow you to submit a Canadian site to their local search engines! Consider these results from Yahoo local in a search for "seo" near "Montreal." They've just been edited to cut the URLs.
* Responsible Marketing s SEM / SEO Code of Ethics View Responsible Marketing Consulting Services Search Engine Marketing (SEM) / Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Code of Conduct.
* Golden-Arrow.com Lake Placid Hotel, Lodging, Resort - Best Western ... Lake Placid Hotel & Lodging - the Best Western Golden Arrow Hotel located in Lake Placid, New York offers deluxe resort accomodations in a perfect
* Eight by Eight - Infinite Web Marketing Solutions 1-888-838-1828 How Do You Rank with the Search Engines? Do your title tags contain your most relevant keywords and phrases? Are those keywords and phrases repeated in your content copy? Does your description tag adequately explain what you do? You are not alone.
* Search Engine Optimization or SEO Web Design Vermont. Vermont Website design, Vermont Website hosting, Vermont Internet marketing. We are located in Burlington, Vermont
* Vermont Multimedia Design Company - Web Design, Search Engine Marketing ... Emjay Technical Studios is a professional, affordable multimedia design company based in Jeffersonville, Vermont. Nestled in the Green Mountains just minutes from Smugglers Notch, Stowe and Burlington, Emjay Technical Studios offers Web Design, ...
They're all American companies in Vermont! Responsible Marketing's description doesn't mention it, but they're in Plattsburgh. None of the others are any better. I'm glad that Yahoo has an idea what state is closest to Montreal, but the results are pretty much irrelevant if I'm looking for a business in Montreal. Maybe it's because you can't submit a Canadian business/site? (I have to admit that their "Indian-style driving directions" - we use the same type of directions here in Canada, but that's besides the point - are a neat feature.)
Just as nearsighted is MSN Live's Local Listing Center. You can't list a Canadian business, let alone any non-US businesses for that matter. Not to mention that there is some branding confusion out in Redmond because MSN local is officially called the Windows Live Local Listing Center. By contrast, MSN's main search offering is MSN Live, not Windows live. Go figure... Perhaps my friend Susan can help MSN get the branding straight?
Finally, Google's Webmaster Central has a new feature to let you associate your site with a geographic area. Yet, for whatever reason, Quebec isn't a valid province there. Weird... At least their local search submission center is in order.