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SEO Outsourcing to India September 24, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : SEO , 2comments

SEO Outsourcing to India – Challenges

Writing on any one of the three subject words would be a big challenge - SEO, Outsourcing, India,  so would it be to write on a combination of any two of these three words. I’ve been living all the three topics for several years, I decided to take up this challenge head-on and added “Challenges and Myths” as the qualifier and boundary definer for this post.

The inspiration for writing this post came from my participation in several conferences, trade shows and expos on the subject of SEO. Spending quality and quantity time in attending and networking at these events exposed me to the title of this post “SEO Outsourcing to India – Challenges and Myths”. Quite a few speakers referred to “SEO outsourcing” as akin  to “outsourcing your sales strategy”  and quite a few attendees made side comments on horrifying experiences of outsourcing SEO work to India.

 Challenges of Outsourcing SEO of your website to India:

  1. Context: Does the company and it’s employees understand your business climate, business conditions, business challenges and business realities. This interesting observation came up when over one of the “Meet and Greet” sessions one gentleman from a reputed Car Rental Company narrated his story of outsourcing SEO work to a company in Mumbai, India. He said, that he had to spend more time in explaining the SEO team and the “so called project manager” how the car rental business works in the US then they had asked for (in number of hours) to the do the SEO work for him. As his company,  like many of the other leading car hire companies, own multiple brands, he was shocked to receive a proposal from the same company to one of his other brands with all training converted promptly to business knowledge (violating the founder of the SEO company’s signed NDA). No wonder he sacked that company and saved his job and as per his own admission he bad mouths SEO outsourcing to India as much as he can and wherever he can. It goes without saying, that I enjoyed his story and made absolutely no effort to challenge him or stand for this SEO company or SEO outsourcing. Here are some of the views which I shared with him, without offending him, I tried to convey to him that maybe these steps could have saved him the bother: A. Weigh total costs vis-a-vis direct costs while doing the outsourcing of SEO work. Unlike call center and BPO tasks SEO tasks may not be of the scale to be outsourced. B. Createan elaborate RFQ document, and go beyond technical analysis of the SEOcompanies capabilities. Challenge them to demonstrate their understanding of your business and on user expectations. Challenge them to explain their specialization and business streams. C. Ask for complete templates, style-sheets, and all documents which would be used on your behalf. Take time and approve each one of them individually.
  2. Training & Changing Algorithms: Who knows the job: the salesman, the founder, the project manager, the project leader or the team members. If everyone in the SEO company knows their job, check if they are organically coming on search terms or they have bought adwords to work for them. Knowing the job and down the line training is a key challenge in any SEO outsourcing company.  One of the keynote speakers made an observation: She asked the audience to check on their “Version of SEO”, she said, she strives to keep hers the same as Google’s last version. She said most of the SEO farms find it very difficult to keep pace with the changing algorithms and the shifting sands. My two cents on this challenge: A. Check what you need, an SEO Farm, a Link Kingdom or a good individual SEO.  B. Ask for video conferencing with actual doers and make sure once approved they work only on your project.  Schedule weekly review meetings at transactional level to ensure you are not being shortchanged, and also explore another project if they have more competent team members (they can schedule video conferencing with). C. Volunteer to attend an internal training session, tell them to put it on WebEx, or some such real time conferencing software.
  3. Measuring the Success: How do you go about measuring what is happening due to the SEO outsourcing companies actions and what is organically happening to your website anyway. Over, yet another lunch an SEO Expert who represented an SEO company based in India narrated this story: An office furniture company had outsourced this contract to a Pune based SEO firm, this firm promised them Moon and delivered it in the first month, yes the first month. The sites Page Rank went up from 4 to 5 and the traffic to the website increased by 30%, but the conversions didn’t move úp at-all, the site improved its Alexa rank and all but it is the business which this company wanted. Presumably what happened was that this SEO company had over hundred websites which they were using for one of their new clients competitors (they had just lost that account). These hundred sites had some traffic and traction in the markets where this furniture company or the previous one had no business. So the page rank went up, the traffic went up but the business didn’t. After three months they realized that they had paid sizable amount, which even directly didn’t get covered by the increase in the business. They had to take a tough call as they knew that the link farm links would go away, maybe page rank would again be impacted, traffic would fall and so would Alexa ranking. They decided to let the contract go and save the money over the “not so tangibles” they were getting. Measurement holds the key, if only the contract would have built in various measurement criteria of SEO performance this loss of money wouldn’t have happened. Some of the tangibles which can be demanded: A. Country/ State/ DMA based traffic growth. B. Define your competitors, and ask for a competitive growth commitment. How would you make me better than my competitor? – I am here, I want to go here approach.  C. Define your key phrases and link it to the organic traffic percentage of your website. For instance this office furniture company could have defined that their 4% traffic comes from the phrase “Office Chairs”, they would like this percentage to go up with increasing traffic to 5% over three months. So when traffic grows in your choice of DMA, in this case, New York, Chicago, San Francisco + Oakland + San Jose etc plus you move up on your competitors matrix and you get more leads for “Office Chairs” you are set. No matter. So measure what you want against what you give.

You may share your challenges and put up a set of questions. I would reply back.

I would also add more challenges to this write-up.

Advertising in Web 2.0 September 18, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Advertising, Live Blogging, Marketing, Marketing Strategies, Online Advertsing, Web 2.0, Web 2.0 Expo, websites , add a comment

David Kidder is talking about Challenges on Advertising 2.0

  1. Automating of advertsing has to be multistage
  2. Analytic Vs. Creative Challenge
  3. Cost Optimization challenge has moved over to simplicity challenge and time optimization holds the key
  4. Decision making speed is rewarding
  5. Semantics hold the key to success
  6. Execution enabled but strategy focused approach is working
  7. Unified accounting measurements is mission critical

Panel Discussion Max Kalehoff, Jim Barnett, Mike Kelly and Tim Hanlon

  1. Forecasting accurately in digital world is a challenge
  2. Last 10 years have made things complex in advertising space, talking about simplicity is it real….
  3. Fundamentally machines just cant solve problems’, it is the quality of human resource which would continue making the difference, complex marketing needs would require complex marketing solutions and complex advertising solutions… so there is no easy way out Brands is a billion dollar issue and is bound to be complex, machines or no machines
  4. Objective of automation is and should be measurement of every single impression, strategic success rests with computing down to each and every impression released in the digital space.
  5. User experience needs to be measured to add value to any campaign
  6. Automation of cource leads to transparency, what is working and what is not, you can’t bull any longer. Transparency is what is creating to complexity and data overload
  7. Inventory is increasing every minute and new options are emerging simultaneously, which is adding to the complexity, at no point you have clue to the whole offering market has to offer
  8. Performance of fresh inventory available is very unpredictable, transparency is fine but what to do about the performance.
  9. Business models need simplicity too, complex advertising options for media buyers can create its own challenge
  10. Driving leads versus driving revenue, driving global traffic versus driving local traffic and linking them together is also a challenge
  11. Marketers dream is to make automation give a great flexibility, to ease moving around geographies and medias, and mediums
  12. Creativity can’t be automated, but at the same time the audience complexity and commonality pushes creative team to try it harder
  13. Advertisers have a choice and they know it, advertising agencies have a challenge in delivering to their expectations
  14. Interactivity and measurement would also strongly influence success
  15. Personal relationships have always driven advertising industry and automation doesn’t change that.
  16. Relationships are not replaceable but restructuring of relationships is bound to happen, better persons and better processes can be the differentiators
  17. Non premium inventory is growing and piling up, that is something which doesn’t require personal relationships that can be handled by automation very well
  18. Most of the automation are aimed at publishers making more money out of what they think is required, which maynot mean much to advertiser and marketer and the advertising company.
  19. There is a big talent gap which has emerged due to the digital challenge, new products in the market need new marketing approach
  20. Feature obsession may not be helpful, being choosy in mastering features for your own use is important
  21. Lot of inventory which has no buyers goes in for house ads, ad networks are not yet working to expectations, it may take some more time for action to happen.

The session concluded with couple of unexciting questions…

Abhinav Bindra Wins Gold August 11, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, India, News, News Reaction, Olympics, Punjabis, Sports , 2comments

Thank you Abhinav Bindra, you’ve broken the national record of India, of not winning an Olympic Gold in individualcategory since inception of Olympics. Abhinav Bindra wins gold is a news worth its weight in gold.

Twenty eight years is more than a generation, may be one and a half generation of going gold less in Olympics, somehow as a nation we have come to terms with the fact that “our focus is somewhere else”. Hockey use to be our only hope which got us all the Gold Medals we won at the Olympics till date. It is ironical that these are the first Olympic Games when India is not participating in Hockey as we failed to qualify for the same. So as a nation Abhinav Bindra has done us a big favor of making it less humiliating and making those of us who are still hooked on to Olympics 2008 see reason for the same.

If Abhinav Bindra can do it so can many others. Last Olympics it was Major Rajyavardhan Singh  Rathore who won silver for us in Shooting in the Athens Olympics in 2004, so from Silver in shooting event to Gold medal we have moved ahead. With one Gold Medal in our kitty we are at-least sure that we would not be making the bottom of the medal tally for Beijing Olympics 2008. If we get one or two more medals we may make it to the Top 50 Sporting Nations. The second most populous nation in the world seeing it as an achievement to be in top 50 Sporting Nations of the world is a realistic statement on India’s Sporting focus. For us, as a nation,  sports begin with cricket and end with cricket, and even in that we’ve not won a world cup for last 25 years.

News read at http://www.headlinesindia.com/olympics-news/beijing/abhinav-wins-indias-first-gold-247.html

More to come…

Is Google Down? August 9, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, News, News Reaction, portals, Search Engines , 6comments

I noticed at 4:40 Pacific that Google.com is not working. GMAIL was also not working but Google.co.in was working and so was Google.ie

It took me about 10 minutes to conclude that Google.com was indeed down, atleast for me.

If Google can go down like this - Oh my God!

There must be a vulnerability, there is so much of technology available. Am I the only person who is not able to use Google.com?

Google.com for me went down after 4:30 Pacific and came back before 5:20 Pacific. I am right now in India and accessing from there.

Maybe Google.com was not down and it was a DNS glitch?

Please inform, if you faced n problems?

Ahmedabad Blasts Update July 27, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, City, India, Is anyone listening, News, News Reaction , 1 comment so far

I avoid writing twice on a news, but this one is disturbing me a lot. It is 3:30 AM in San Jose and the restless me is trying to get hold of the actual number of deaths in the Ahmedabad blasts, 40 to 50 is the range which most of the sites are now talking about.

What are the calculations, the masterminds amongst the terrorists would be doing, 3 per blast is good or bad for them. Numbers matter to all, and more over to those who are in the business of fear. I am sure they would have planned and hoped for 100 per blast, yes hoped. Reading across Guardian, CNN, NDTV, Headlines India, Times of India and BBC one just gets one feeling, media would move on, the Government would move on, the terror merchants and there terror network would move on, even the relatives of those who have died would move on, but these 40 -50 lesser mortals would never move again.

No one is talking about Bangalore blasts today, 48 hours is what it took for everyone to move on, a search on Google for both Bangalore Blasts Suspects and Ahmedabad Blasts Suspects, got an unexpected first result – http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4GGIH_enIN234IN234&q=Ahmedabad+Blast+Suspects - Al Jazeera. Yes Al Jazeera network’s english website. No CNN, no BBC, no Times of India, no NDTV. Ruthlessness of the conspirators is demonstrated amply by the fact that they planted bombs near/ inside the hospitals – objective can be nothing but if you survived so far, die now.

Ahmedabad blasts have something more in them, they bring back unpleasent memories of series of communal violence incidents which have been happening  in Ahmedabad and other areas of Gujarat for about a decade now. Gujarat has suffered, it was coming up very well and would have beome number one on per capita income in India in these last ten years. Every blast takes it  back, demotivates some, cautions others, investment climate does suffer.

India as a nation needs to practice zero tolerance when it comes to such acts, we need political will and quick execution. I am sure our police would know the sympathizers if not the accused very well. Just lock them up and hang couple of them after every incident. On the other hand, work towards economic integration of both the communities, economic ties can sometime be thicker than religion.

Thank Usha for a more balanced update: http://blogs.mapsofindia.com/2008/07/27/ahmedabad-blasts-update/

India Under Attack July 26, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : City, India, Terrorist Attacks , 2comments

What are we waiting for?

How can we allow this?

We are just becoming a testing ground for Terrorist attacks. Are we becoming complacent?

Are we reconciled that our territory and our land is open to abuse at will?

Are we sending the mesage that do whatever with us, we don’t have a spine?

Are we sending the message that “India Under Attack” so what?

or So what’s new?

 How can we allow an attack after an attack and allow those responsible to get away?

The President of India condemns! The Prime Minister of India condemns! The head of UPA – Sonia condemns! The head of the opposition – Advani condemns! The Government of India condemns! But who acts? No one. Never ever.

Isn’t our police capable. Home Ministry says we had informed Gujarat Government. So what did the Home Ministry do after that, did someone call Mr. Modi to follow-up? Did PM offer additional support, NSG and RAF in advance, was CRPF summoned to handle the threat?  

8 bomb blasts in Bangalore, 16 bomb blasts in Ahmedabad are we waiting for 32 in Bhopal? Ahmedabad becomes the third BJP ruled state capital to be under attack in recent past, so what stops say a Bhopal being the fourth one? News is, that New Delhi has been put on high alert, what is the meaning of high alert? Traffic congestion’s because of adhoc police bandobast (arrangements)?

What does an individual “non entity” like yours truly feel in these circumstances – hurt, insecure and agitated. Agitated on the government’s inapt handling, agitated on the “success of occupying the bandwidth of a nation” by a handful of terrorists.

It is high time that “India under attack” should mean now “India would retaliate”, or now “India would attack”.

I just came across another blog by my colleague Usha who runs http://www.mapsofindia.com- Usha’s blog is official blog of Maps of India, hence states a fact, to me who knows Usha – http://blogs.mapsofindia.com/2008/07/27/another-bomb-blast-series-in-india-%e2%80%93-it-is-now-gujarats-business-hub-ahmedabad/ the blog hides what Usha must have been going through while writing it. Usha would have been like me - hurt, insecure and agitated.

My another colleague Anu who runs http://www.headlinesindia.com has better luck of expressing herself, http://www.headlinesindia.com/main.jsp?news_code=79742 her bureaus news says tht the Minister has no comments to make after being told that some group called “Indian Mujhaideens” have claimed responsibility. Usha/ Anu/ Simar are just three of millions of individuals who would have lost there bandwidth to these terrorist attacks.

Honorable Prime Minister of India, please listen to our prayers and act. We’ve enough problems on hand, every Indian is troubled with this inflation and economic issues, our bandwidths are occupied, and peace, security and prosperity challenged. Sir, please act.

When does Rakhi fall in 2008? July 26, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : India, Internet, portals , add a comment

When is Rakhi?

Why am I asking this?

Am I not the one whose company announces every year the date of Rakhi on the Internet? Rakhi is on August 16, 2008 but we are not the one announcing it.

Not any longer. We handed over http://www.virtualrakhi.com which was the first Raksha Bandhan site, to its new owners. So when I asked this question to my cousin, the thought came back to me about my association with Raksha Bandhan through Virtual Rakhi. Why did we choose to call it Virtual Rakhi, why not something else, we had hundreds of names to choose from? We called it Virtual Rakhi to create a platform where Sisters and Brothers can unite on this day. We worked towards it way back in 1999, but it was a little early for the concept. We moved on and started retailing Rakhis and creating provisioning for Return Gifts. The concept worked and we did well. We created Virtual Rakhi as a brand with Mani becoming the “Jag Bhai” and literally delivering Rakhis to brothers for couple of sisters who discovered the festival little too late in the day.

It was hard-work, great fun and an emergence of e-commerce. Beautiful Rakhis, Lovely Messages, Great Packaging and all-round innovation. It was just awesome. Getting Rakhis directly from the manufacturers and selling them all over the world was very exciting.

I am sure the excitement continues but we are no longer part of the same.

Good luck VirtualRakhi.com good luck Raksha Bandhan E-commerce.

Airlines in the USA – My Rating July 12, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Aviation, Review, USA , add a comment

American Airlines, Delta, Continental, Jet Blue, Southwest, Northwest, US Airways and Alaskan are the airlines I had a chance to fly with over the last year and half of active travelling within US. My experience iwth Delta has prompted me to write this post. Of course I would mention the details later, but Delta is the worst airline to travel with, as per my experience.  Here we go:

My reserach for this post led me to this news item http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/26/airlines-performance-faa-biz-logistics-cx_rm_tvr_0927worstairlines.html

Of course I can’t be as objective and elaborate as The Forbes researched document on The America’s Worst Airlines, so I would rather insert a disclaimer – Please see this post as a blog based on personal experience and nothing more.

Simar’s Hall of Fame – Overall Rank
Southwest 1
Jet Blue 2
American Airlines 3
Alaskan Airlines 4
Continental 5
Northwest 6
American Eagle 7
Delta 8

 More to come…

An Indian Blog Writer July 6, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging , add a comment

I would love to trade in my designation of CEO Compare Infobase for the designation of an Indian Blog Writer. Am I joking, your guess could be as good as mine. Over 50 posts and several comments and counter comments later, Simarprit is an Indian Blog Writer as in, an Indian who writes blogs and not a blog writer who writes on India. My posts have no pattern, my blog is more of a potpourri, and there are no boundaries, geographic or otherwise. I just write, what I feel like, when I feel like, how much I feel like. Many a times I come back to add more to the same post, sometime I just don’t read them again, I must confess writing a post relaxes me. My father’s numerous attempts to make me write a daily diary see a partial success in my this blog.

If I trade in my designation: Won’t this become a profession?  Won’t I need something else to relax with? Would I start writing on the basis of search data and statistics? Won’t my posts be profit motivated? Would I become a Commercial Indian Blog Writer? Would I loose my freedom to write? I think my answer to all of these is Yes. An emphatic yes.

I never ever had a hobby which I could pursue for more than few days. Writing posts is becoming my hobby. I would love it to be just that, it should not become a compulsion, a passion or an obsession. I would love to be a free tow write, uncatagorized blogger. Simarprit’s web log should be a place to just read sundry and general posts, posts which just happened were never planned. I started my career as an editor of ISCAP an in-house publication of NIIT. The pleasure of writing a signed editorial became a job after first few issues, ith this post it has not happened like that. I see blogging as an extension of my life. I just can’t call up my friends and colleagues and say hey listen to me? This post has become a medium for me to write and casually let them know that I have some thoughts online. Many go and read and many don’t, it is just fine with me,  I get the pleasure that I have communicated and expressed my point of view. When I use to talk I was never certain whether the other person has listened/ heard or understood what I meant. 

Writing post to me is me, and I would love to do it as often as I can and as freely I can. I can see my posts becoming more casual and candid, I am glad and would like it to remain that way. While reading many other Indian Blog Writers, I has seen a conscious projection of ones own profile, many a times in contrast to what they really are. To me that is not blogging, that is business. I also cover Compare Infobase and its business interests in my posts, I do it due to personal reasons as the content or event behind those posts concerned Simarprit as a person.