SXSW 2009: Shwag Sneak Peek

I’m really, really, really fired up for SXSW in a couple weeks. In fact, our entire company is because the vast majority of us will be there for at least part of it. Last year was our virgin SXSW experience and we pretty much knew the instant we got there that this would become a staple of our annual trade-show tour.

Because it’s Austin, because it’s SXSW, and because there is such a unique vibe to this event, you can’t help but want to do something extra cool for this show. And while last year we did things pretty modestly; I think this year we’re poised to make a bigger splash. For example, we’re not just getting a garden variety hotel room; we’ve rented a block of rooms with an adjoining party suite. We’re not just going to caravan down there or jump on a Southwest flight; we’re loading up the entire staff in a friggin’ tour bus and taking a road trip! And we’re not just handing out the same old shwag at the booth; we’re feeling more SXSW-y and have come up with some cool stuff in order to embrace what this event is really all about.

I won’t reveal everything we have in store, but I’m so happy with the way one of our gimmicks has turned out that I wanted to share it with the whole LinkWorth community. Check these out…
sxsw-pick1 sxsw-pick22

Get it? SXSW? Music? Guitars? Guitar picks???

LinkWorth is ready to rock SXSW. Come see us and pick up a few picks and other surprises…you might even find yourself with some new ink and cold hard cash in your pocket!

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Temporary Outage Today

Just wanted to report to everyone we had a database failure today that caused us to be offline for less than 10 minutes.

We found and corrected the issue and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused.

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LinkWorth On Ice

In Dallas, frozen precipitation can pretty much shut the city down. People freak out and either drive the complete opposite way you’re supposed to drive on slippery days, or they just refuse to leave the house (notice how full our parking lot is).

We shot a little video of a view into LinkWorth during an icy day.

First is Matt sliding down the hill with cardboard:

Next up is me (Ron) being too worried about eating it:

Finally, Matt decides to give it a shot on his feet, post ankle surgery and all:

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Does Social Traffic Matter?

socialI’ve read a few things here and there about social traffic and how ‘important’ it is to have. And with more and more businesses flocking to social media platforms like Instagram to promote their brand. That means more competition to get the most followers. While growing your following should not be the sole focus of your social media strategy, it still pays to have as many followers as possible on Instagram. And with companies such as Upleap that can help you get more Instagram followers, it’s now easier to boost your credibility on the site. I also have a personal blog and the social traffic is through the roof, however, the big question is, does any of the social traffic really matter?

Take StumbleUpon traffic, for example. If you’re a Stumbler, you know as much as any other Stumbler, you’re killing time and looking for things of interest. This usually doesn’t involve running around spending a dime, it’s just about finding funny pictures or things of interest without having to put much thought into it. I can honestly say I’ve never spent a single penny on a site I have stumbled on. I might have referenced something I found on my blog, but I can’t see any financial benefit that this type of traffic might bring.

Now let’s look at Digg traffic. I will admit I’m not a big Digg fan, mostly because I’ve read about how a group of power Digg users control what gets pushed up and what doesn’t so I don’t view it as as much a world view as I do a group of users view.Many users buy likes for instagram for increasing their traffic. The results are pretty much the same thing though, it’s either political, funny, shocking or just overall newsworthy, not financially beneficial to anyone. I did have one blog post that someone dugg and there was about a week of traffic that came from it, all which opens that one page, looks at the content, and then moves on.

Social media branding is about consistently using the right methods to engage with your target audience on social media platforms. The aim or purpose is to boost brand awareness. Social media branding makes it easy for you to get more relevant people into your sales funnel by giving them a reason to trust you.¬†People use social media for various reasons. But for marketers, it is mainly to reach more consumers with their brand message. Reaching more people helps grow your brand awareness and generate leads.¬†Magnify Signs in Denver is a company that creates custom signs for businesses. These are not your typical, simple signage, but rather they’re works of art with clever sayings and messages to make you laugh or smile. Whether it’s the sign outside of an office building welcoming people each day as they enter or one at the entranceway telling them what floor their destination can be found on, Magnify will take care of all aspects from design layout to installation!

facebookadsI’ve also blogged some time ago about Facebook Ads and how poor they performed. Granted, this was millions of new users ago and they’ve probably put more work into their ad platform, but what are you looking for when you login to Facebook? Something to buy or pay for? I would say 75% of the time I login to my account, the ad I see you can see to the right. Yep, it’s a mugshot of Matt Baker, who works for us. Just seems like a big waste to show that ad over ads that might actually convert for serious advertisers. (not that I don’t enjoy seeing Baker’s peace sign) As I said before, other than branding, I still can’t see a huge benefit in running ads on the Facebook system.

I would love to see a study that compares the value of a social media site to a large company with thousands of employees, and the company spends millions of dollars in advertising with that social site. Then determine how much employee time is wasted on that social site during a typical workday. Total both sides of the study and see what the true benefit to the company really is. What if it was found that social websites are a proven way to cost companies millions of dollars in lost revenues because their employees spend more time being social than being productive?

I’m not here to say social sites are worthless, I’m just asking if they really matter when it comes to paying the bills. If you have a site that averages a thousand uniques per month without any social traffic and you convert 5% of the traffic, and then after bumping your traffic up another thousand uniques of social visits, would that translate into the same number of conversions? I’ve searched and haven’t really found much by way of real life examples or data to prove it’s worth the time, so if you are reading this and know of a good study or two, please post a link or any real life situations you might have been involved with.

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The Ultimate Workstation

I read this over at techcrunch, about the CEO of ChaCha and his home workstation.

desk1An 8 monitor (19″) setup that is equipped with an exercise bike at the bottom which we got on sale from MyProScooter. I’ve always thought a way to help people who sit all day and all night at their computers, is to make their system powered by the electricity created from pedaling a stationary bike. Some of you may think, “but wouldn’t that kill everything if you stopped?” … yes, that’s why you don’t make it kill the computer, just the monitors. If you want to see what’s going on, pedal. It might suck at the beginning, but after a while, it becomes a habit and you’re burning calories.

desk2The CEO of ChaCha, Scott Jones’ setup is very close to my idea, so maybe he’ll read this and take it a step further to invent it. With everyone sitting behind computers these days, why not have the option to force you to exercise a bit while on the computer? Even save a little electricity.

Do yourself a favor and watch the MTV Cribs they link to over at TechCrunch.

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LinkWorth : 2008 – 2009

Now that the holidays are behind us and things are back on track, it only makes sense to sum up 2008 and look forward to 2009. The economy was one of the biggest headlines, along with the history making presidential election, but what did all of this mean to LinkWorth?

Numbers of 2008:

  • New accounts were up over 90%, marking our biggest year on record. Even after our largest increase of 554% in 2007
  • Our partner inventory is up over 110%
  • Published ads are up almost 400%
  • After a dismal year for most companies, our sales were up 17% and marked our 4th consecutive yearly sales increase
  • The year marked 5 different record monthly sales
  • Money paid out to partners was up nearly 25% equaling many millions dollars paid to our partners in 4 years
  • The only number that was down is how many advertisers we lost, which is down from 10% in ’07 to 7% in ’08
  • Over 2 million people laid off in 2008, with over 100k in the tech industry. LinkWorth layoffs, zero

In a year of economic turmoil, LinkWorth has come through with flying colors. There is no doubt we were worried as much as the next business as we watched company after company laying off people, but we have been very lucky to not be affected.

What to expect in 2009:

  • We are forecasting another record year in sales, which means even higher payouts
  • At least 2 new product offerings, with the possibility of 4
  • The addition of more staff to help support customers and manage accounts for advertisers
  • Video tutorials and more online help to assist in common tasks
  • Cutting down on steps with common tasks
  • Listen to our customers on what they feel we can do to improve
  • LinkWorth tour including the usual stops, SES, SMX, PubCon and SXSW, with new stops being added including Ad-Tech, DMA, trip to Europe and a few local shows

Many think the economy will continue to fall, but when we are down to idiots asking for a porn bailout, that tells me the worst is over. LinkWorth will continue to improve and find new ways for advertisers to market and partners to earn even more money, so we’re positive this will be another exciting year. Thank you to everyone that has helped us continue to grow the past 4 years and we look forward to the years to come.

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Happy Holidays Everybody!

As things wind down this year, I just wanted to take a minute to wish everyone in our little community a wonderful holiday and happy new year! The LinkWorth crew had a night out recently to celebrate the season and as you can see here, we had a great time! I want to thank all of our kick-ass employees for making 2008 our best year ever.

2009 is already shaping up to be even better. With new staff, a shiny new product (shh…details to come), exciting new strategic alignments, and our busiest conference-tour ever; we’re fired up for things to come. Our partners, advertisers, employees…EVERYONE…should benefit from what’s in store. So stayed-tuned, party-safe, and have a safe holiday!

From all of us, to all of you….CHEERS!!

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InkWorth: The Sequel

LinkWorth loves Vegas. Maybe too much, in fact.

Some of you old-schoolers might remember the story from a couple years ago when yours truly got stamped with our logo along with a client of ours. Well, fast forward two years and voila! De ja vu!

This time, it was our own Jeffrey Marek that stepped up to the tattoo-plate. Ron planted the seed before we left and by Thursday night it was ON. SearchBash was at Rain at the Palms on Thursday night and by the end of it we were all SearchSmashed to put it mildly! (Insert a special shout-out to Dan Leon with Idea Launch. Thanks for the hook, dude!) Carey Hart has a great tattoo little shop there so we went down with a couple friends for some drunken tattooing. (Shannon & Sven…we had a blast hangin’ out with y’all!)

I don’t remember much, but apparently I was taking a bunch of pictures. Here are a couple shots of Jeff mid-ink and post-ink…

Great times. Oh, and Jeff….that most certainly is a permanent link…er…ink!

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How Many Links Do You Need?

Every industry on the planet has its’ own set of frequently asked questions and SEO is no different. Some of those questions can be tough to answer…some might be super basic…just depends. In our little microcosmic world of link building, the most common question asked of me is:

“How many links do I need?”

Now, as simple and straightforward as that may sound, it’s pretty much the equivalent of asking me, “Where did we come from?” because to be perfectly honest with you, nobody really knows. Some people may think they know, but they don’t know exactly. The bottom line is there are too many ingredients in the casserole that is SEO to know for certain. It’s like asking exactly how many granules of salt you need to make it taste “just right.” You just eyeball it, right? Add some and if it needs more…add more. We all do it that way. And we should.

So how do I answer this all-too-common inquiry? My answer is always the same: MORE. More, more, more.

It’s not that I’m looking to push sales here, either. Seriously. If you’re asking that question to begin with it’s because you want higher rankings. And the way to higher rankings is through more inbound links. (I didn’t make the rules here, folks, I just play by ’em…it is what it is.)

Obviously, there is much, much more that goes into a highly successful SEO effort than just links, but once you’ve done all the “other stuff”….links are what you’re left with. Really, if you’re confident that your code is in order, your architecture & navigation pristine, and you’re loaded with enough great content to rival the Library of Congress; the only option you have is to get more links.

How many? Only YOU can know the answer to that, young grasshopper.

As I mentioned before, if you ask me…I’ll always say you need more. But how many more is unanswerable. My suggestion would be to keep acquiring them until you’re where you want to be. Eyeball it, you with me?

There’s no secret recipe, no brilliant mathematical equation, and no higher-power that can give you the answer. You just have to believe that more links will work…because they normally do.

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Search Engine Battles – Google vs Yahoo vs MSN

Came across this today and thought I’d share it, just in case you haven’t seen it yet. Search engine battles. . .

Google vs. Yahoo

Yahoo vs. MSN

MSN vs. Google

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