02.10.2009 Interview Fridays 6 Comments

Interview Fridays – Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, CEO of FlipMedia

I’m very excited in this 2nd part of this episode on Interview Fridays. I have great respects for this next individual.Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, CEO of FlipMedia

He’s the chief of one of the leading digital agencies in the Middle East. He has been a strong figure in the online industry in the region. It was a privilege to have interviewed Mr. Yousef Tuqan of FlipMedia.

It’s an honor to have one of the most important names in region’s online media industry. Please tell us about your success story and your journey with Flip Media?

Thanks for the compliment. Flip’s had a trajectory of success over the past six years – particularly early on – enabling us to become the most successful digital agency in the Middle East. From a team of two, it’s now very well established, with an enviable portfolio of clients and a team comprising over 150 people in 8 countries, throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

I’m pleased to have been a part of this process, having joined Flip as an Account Director back in September 2005, progressing to CEO in July last year. Perhaps what I’ve enjoyed the most is guiding the overall business strategy, in terms of the work we do, the clients we take on and our resulting market position.

I credit the success I’ve enjoyed to a couple of factors: I’m naturally passionate about digital (OK, OK I’m a natural born geek; there, I’ve said it), with communications and marketing as founding skills. My dad worked for IBM, so maybe it’s genetic but I’ll never forget the time when he said he could show me how to build a website in 20 minutes, back in 1996. So we opened up Netscape Composer and the rest is history, really.

How does it feel to be the Chief of the region’s leading interactive agency? What are the challenges?

It’s a tremendous honor for me. Even before I joined Flip, I had always admired what the agency stood for, and the energy Flip brought to the industry. To be entrusted with its continued growth and success is an enormous responsibility, and one that I don’t take lightly.

Luckily for me, Flip has attracted the best people in the industry, and my job is a lot easier when surrounded by people who are truly dedicated to digital marketing, and to Flip’s vision.

Continue Reading Interview Fridays – Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, CEO of FlipMedia

02.10.2009 Interview Fridays 4 Comments

Interview Fridays – Jitendra Jain of TalentJungle.Com & HoteleMarketer.Com

Jitendra Jain of HoteleMarketer

It’s been a while since I’ve fulfilled the responsibility of a religious blogger. Apologies for the delay folks.

As a way to make it up to you guys, today’s Interview Friday episode is a double special featuring two top-flight personalities in the industry.

First stop, this is a guy I’ve looked up to in online marketing. He’s probably one of the most humble experts I know. Boys & Girls please help me welcome Mr. Jitendra Jain of HoteleMarketer & TalentJungle.

J, you’re probably one of the very rare people I know who became really successful in focusing on a niche for an online marketing career. How did you end up being the guru for the digital hospitality industry?

Thanks Dave – firstly, I think in the world of new media marketing and innovation there are no “Gurus” :) We’re all disciples – any other claims would be arrogance. There’s just so much happening in terms of development and changing trends that most of us barely scrape the surface of this goldmine of information, interaction and marketing potential. For me, building a career in digital marketing was more chance than anything else…I’ve always been passionate about technology and the internet, so when I had the opportunity to combine my passion with my academic background in Tourism & Hospitality, I jumped at it!

You’ve had impressive degrees on hotel & restaurant management including an MBA from London Business School. How did these help in establishing your current profession?

I’ve always loved learning – at the end of the day, degrees and paper achievements are just that. Its what you bring to the game and what you can do for your clients and employers that makes a real difference. Each degree, more than the academic content (which was great), offered the opportunity to form new connections and experience different cultures and perspectives – these are things that you won’t find in any book and are crucial to how you go about doing business.

Continue Reading Interview Fridays – Jitendra Jain of TalentJungle.Com & HoteleMarketer.Com

16.08.2009 Search Engine Optimization 9 Comments

A Closer Look on Bing’s Search Engine Results for better SEO

Ever since Bing launched and when they finally closed the deal with Yahoo, I’ve been itching to do this review on Bing’s results and the implications it has on SEO’s.

Now that Binghoo has been in existence, optimizing for Google’s competition is growing significantly. If Binghoo will be capturing 1/3 of the search market it’s definitely worth your efforts of grabbing that pie of your traffic.

Let me give you a brief walk through of a few interesting features that Bing has.

Document/Site Preview – Aside from the ordinary SERP’s you have, Bing helps users by giving them a preview of the page/site. According to the Bing team, “it helps searchers find the content they want faster, without leaving the SERP until they are ready.” As a webmaster, you can also disable the document preview feature for your site in Bing. (By the way I’m not affiliated in anyway with the featured websites on the searches.)

Bing Site Preview

Quick Tabs & Related Searches – Bing gives you a neat list of related topical searches at the left panel of every search. In our keyword “dubai business”, we have related search options of “online businesses”, “dubai business directory”, “business opportunities dubai”, and so on.

Another feature I like on Bing is the Quick Tabs section which gives you filtering options on a broad scope of search. For example, I was interested in finding out for “Nike Shoes”, it gave me options for Catalog, Coupons, and Jobs. The Bing team aims to let the searcher to “fully explore their subject without losing track of their initial query.

Bing Quick Tabs & Related Searches

Best Match – If I remembered it correctly, Microsoft branded Bing as a “decision engine”. The best match feature has made this statement clear enough. Bing highlights huge brands and names in their best match feature. It isolates the search results if you’re looking for official websites and leading brands.

Bing Best Match

You can see that aside from the single listing for the Google site, it also features the site’s search box which you can use directly, a “Similar to this” section which listed other similar results which you might have in mind. And then there’s the usual quick tabs, related searches, and search history.

You can read the rest of Bing’s features on the New Features Relevant to Webmasters PDF they’ve released last June 2009. They’ve also mentioned a little bit on Search Engine Optimization (but I still think Google’s SEO Starter Guide was way way more interesting and informative).

Disclaimer: The two websites that I will be reviewing in a while were picked by the fact that they have ranked number 1 during the time of search on Google.Com and Bing.Com. I’m not in any way promoting any of the sites featured in this review.

Let’s get down to the face-off. I did a search for the term “dubai business” (don’t ask me why and how, it’s a random keyword I thought of) on Google and Bing. For everyone’s information “dubai business” has a search volume of 74,000 for the month of July from Google Keyword Tool (this means the keyword is worthy of traffic).

And let’s go tally the results: Continue Reading A Closer Look on Bing’s Search Engine Results for better SEO

24.07.2009 Interview Fridays 3 Comments

Interview Fridays – Mais AbuSalah, eMarketing Manager of Maktoob.Com

It’s always great to know people within your industry. It’s even more interesting to share experiences with work with people who understand what you’re going through. Last week I’ve met an eMarketing Manager from Maktoob, one of the largest internet portal and Arab online community in the Mimddle East.

Ladies and gentleman, please help me welcome Ms. Mais AbuSalah.

Thank you very much for giving me the privilege for this interview. Please tell us about yourself and your current profession?

My name is Mais AbuSalah; I graduated from the University of Jordan – Computer Science as a major. I am currently the eMarketing Manager in Maktoob.com – Jordan.

How’s the online media industry of Jordan in the last 3 years, particularly that of SEO/SEM?

I believe that the online media (especially SEO/SEM) is still not on the basic checklist for many websites, not only in Jordan, but also in the Arab World.

From time to time, I check local websites (radio stations, newspapers… etc.) and most of them lack the basics of online marketing (especially SEO).

And if we want to talk about websites and forums owned by individuals, we will find that unfortunately most of them use black hat SEO. They also focus more on what brings traffic (series, songs, rumors… etc.) more than what brings value to users and online browsers.

Some people in the industry started as web developers, some as designers, while others like me started as content developers, what was your main background that helped succeed in being an SEO?

I started with Maktoob.com as a junior product/channel officer, then a project coordinator (still handling channels and projects including content deals and content management), then I started with SEO. So I guess being a coordinator among different teams helps understanding what should be done by whom and whether or not it’s doable, and how the flow of work should be especially with large organizations.

You’re a graduate of Search Engine College, a highly regarded institution for SEO/SEM certification. What’s your stand on industry certification? Would you recommend it be mandatory or is the industry not ready for that yet?

I believe SEO/SEM should start to be mandatory and by trusted institutes. You might find many people aware of bits and pieces of SEO, but many of them use black hat ways (especially in the Arab region). Online marketing in general is a rare specialty here. It’s very hard for example to find online marketers in Jordan with hands-on experience. It’s either that they have more than 7 years and very fresh and never had hands-on experience in online marketing.
The certification or training shouldn’t only be theoretical, but should also include actual implementation (and that was the case with Search Engine College).

Continue Reading Interview Fridays – Mais AbuSalah, eMarketing Manager of Maktoob.Com

17.07.2009 Interview Fridays 10 Comments

Interview Fridays – Kevin Gibbons of SEOptimise

I’m proud to announce that today is the official launch of Click-Dubai’s Interview Fridays and we have a very very special guest to kick things off with the program. So let’s forget about Jacko’s conspiracy or Sotomayor’s drama and let’s give our attention to one of the well respective names in the search marketing industry. Ladies and gents, let’s give it up for Mr. Kevin Gibbons of SEOptimise.

For those who are new to the SEO scene, would you be kind enough to introduce SEOptimise and a little background about you and your company?

Hey Dave, thanks for asking me to do this interview.

Well firstly, I’ve been involved in the search marketing industry (SEO in particular) since 2002. During this time I was working for a web design agency whilst still on a placement year from University and I began getting more and more involved in the SEO side of projects.

I then went back to Uni with my free .ac.uk webspace and quickly realised it wasn’t too difficult to dominate for competitive terms in Google! I actually had an assignment to create a website for a made-up driving school and within a few days the site was number one in Google for “Oxford driving school” and I was receiving several daily enquiries to take people out on driving lessons! I even managed to make some cash out of it by putting some AdSense ads up, shame they took the webspace away ?

Anyway, I graduated from Uni, built up a few of my own website’s (which I would thoroughly recommend as a fast-track to learning SEO) and shortly after decided to spend a year in Australia. Rather than getting a job out there, I found that my interest and ability in SEO allowed me to win a few clients and work as a freelance SEO consultant. I decided it would look more professional to set myself up as a company, which is how the early days of SEOptimise were formed.

You’ve been into search engine marketing since 2002, how did the industry evolve over these years? What were the notable changes in history?

In terms of search marketing 2002 seems so far away now it’s unreal. We’re obviously used to seeing the daily algorithm changes or clever new tactics on blogs and Sphinn almost on a daily basis.

Continue Reading Interview Fridays – Kevin Gibbons of SEOptimise

14.07.2009 Interview Fridays 1 Comment

Interview Fridays – Coming Soon…

I think I just committed one of the mortal sins in blogging – being on a “dry spell” for quite a long time. Apologies folks! Client projects have been crazy lately and getting a single post up was just impossible. But don’t worry, I’ve come up with a couple of interesting ideas to keep you updated of the search marketing industry.

Interview

Yup you read it right, I’ll be starting on Interview Fridays. I’ve started inviting SEO/SEM professionals, online marketing gurus, branding experts, and top CEO’s of search marketing companies to give us a piece of their thoughts, experiences, and most importantly success stories.

Although I have asked a couple of people already for the upcoming Interview Fridays, I will be needing more to keep program alive in the next couple of months. So if you would like to recommend someone or would like yourself to be featured, please don’t hesitate to drop me a message on the contact page or send me an email at dave [at] saktoseo [dot] com.

What sort of professionals are we looking for? Well here’s a list of industries that would be relevant to the program: Continue Reading Interview Fridays – Coming Soon…

21.06.2009 Search Engine Optimization 4 Comments

This is My SEO Wishlist… What’s yours?

Last night we went to see Up. It did live up to its expectations. The weird thing is I felt it was more of an adult, rather than a typical 3D kiddie cartoon flick. It was about an old man who promised his wife that they’ll embark on an adventure. And when his wife died, he decided to pursue the adventure and lived the dream of his wife. Pretty simple story but was definitely touching and inspiring.

Although it was quite farfetched, I somehow associated Up’s story with the inspiration I had upon seeing The Secrets. Again, the main thought was simple, positive thoughts and feelings results to positive endings. If you want something so bad, all you got to do is believe in it so hard that you can actually see yourself in it, touch it, and feel it.

So what’s in it for today’s post? I’m getting there. One of the tips that The Secrets has given is that if you have goals/dreams, write them down and each morning remind yourself that someday (you don’t have to worry how) the universe will eventually conspire and make those dreams come true (yeah, cheesy I know but I believe in it).

I still remember the very first job interview I had here in Dubai. Wore my black suit, fixed my tie in the mirror and said to myself, “I’m going to be big here in Dubai”. I don’t know if I was joking or was setting myself on a mission. I bet it was the latter.

In the spirit of lifting my dreams in a house hoisted up in balloons of hopes, here are my SEO wishlist that I’m hoping to achieve in the next 2-3 years of my career: Continue Reading This is My SEO Wishlist… What’s yours?

16.06.2009 Online Marketing No Comments

5 Planning Tips you should know for your Online Strategies

If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin

Online GoalIn my previous years of doing SEO with clients, I was always the #2 guy, the person leading the team of junior SEO’s and implementing the necessary strategies whether it be on my concept or by mandates of clients. I thought I got used to being #2 until last week.

I realized that I’ll be leading a team of SEO’s and will be heading a brand new department for my company for organic optimization in partnership with our established SEM team. WTF am I doing? Although I’ve been thankful for the opportunities, part of me still questions whether I can do this or not.

Before I could further plan for core campaigns, I had to map out my mission and vision for the department, a thing which I have not done before. Thankfully, I’m part of a great team with excellent bosses to look up to.

Here are a few points which I’ve learned and may be helpful to those of you starting out on online marketing and social media strategies in-house or for clients: Continue Reading 5 Planning Tips you should know for your Online Strategies

06.06.2009 Search Engine Optimization 13 Comments

10 Local Optimization Tips for UAE to Obtain Visibility in Google

So Bing and Google rode the waves of trend for last week. People still have some mixed reactions for Microsoft (should they be bothered with But It’s Not Google excitement). Although it’s too early to tell, it’s good to finally have that friendly (or maybe not) competition out there. I loved the part where Matt Cutts was bashing the Bing Team at Twitter.

Anyways, so last week, another interesting article came up on TheNational.Ae – “UAE internet users prefer global Google”. Husni Khuffash, Google’s Business Development Manager in the UAE, has an interesting take on UAE’s online business and end-users.

“It’s a big sign that we need more content over here,” he said.
Mr Khuffash was speaking on the second day of a two-day conference in Dubai aimed at educating advertising agencies about the possibility of search advertising and search engine optimisation to increase business in the region. He said he believed education was the key to breaking the Arab world out of its current pattern of having 5 per cent of the world’s population but only 1 per cent of its online content.

“Companies are not taking the right tools to be online and to show that you are there,” he said. “If you are not there, I cannot help you.” Some UAE companies, particularly in the technology and travel sectors, had been using search advertising in a sophisticated way, he said.

I also met Mohammad Zaher, author of Irrelevant Combinations, and I’ve asked him if I can feature an article of his blog here and he was generous enough to permit me. In his post, Google Survey in UAE, and an Agency Day, he has the following interesting stats:

  • Search engines are the most used source of online research information (81% of respondents). Manufacturer websites (49%), Directories and local listings (27%), retailer websites (26%), and online auction websites (25%) are also very popular.
  • Search engines are used most for research in relation to technology (67%) and travel (48%) products.
  • Google is the preferred search engine in the UAE with (58% preferring google.com and 38% preferring google.ae)
  • While one third of UAE respondents say the current economic crisis has not changed their shopping habits, an almost equal proportion say the recent financial turmoil has led to less of their shopping being done online. This may be related to the fact that many of their online purchases may have fallen more into the ‘non-essential/leisure’ categories (i.e. travel and event tickets) which people choose to cut out during difficult economic times
  • In the UAE, English (76% of respondents) is by far the most popular ‘search’ language (likely to be related to the highly multinational nature of UAE society) vs. 23% preferring to search in Arabic.

So instead of replicating the thought of what I had in the previous post on Dubai needing SEO, I think I should lay down tips on how to increase search engine visibility for businesses online. These are not technical SEO / organic optimization processes but simple you-can-do-it-without-technical-knowledge kind of things. Continue Reading 10 Local Optimization Tips for UAE to Obtain Visibility in Google

01.06.2009 Search Engine News 4 Comments

Best of the Web May 2009

Whew this month was a hell of a ride wasn’t it? I think May is enough to get us all hyped up for the next couple of months. We got an answer engine who looks promising, a “bling” search engine on the way, and a new real-time communication & collaboration product from the Big G!

New Competitors on the Rise

Wolfram Alpha (http://www.wolframalpha.com)

Last May 16th, Wolram Alpha was released. There was so much hype about it becoming the next Google Competitor. It still has some search errors but definitely a promising “answer-engine”. After its release, we’ve seen a mixture of reactions. Before it’s release everybody seemed to have anticipated it to be the next Google contender but unfortunately Wolfram found a niche of its own (or so I think it has). Matt Asay has an interesting say on Wolfram and its architecture of failure. While Rafe Needleman is quite positive that Wolfram Alpha Does What Google Can’t. What’s your take on this people, let me know your judgment.

Twitter Search (http://search.twitter.com/)

Santosh Jayaram, Twitter’s Vice-President, has announced that Twitter Search will soon be able to crawl links posted on the site as well as index the content pages which may result to their own ranking system. So real time search plus ranking system will definitely put Twitter Search on a spot against Google (in some way I think).

Microsoft’s New Bing!!! (http://www.bing.com/)

Windows Live Search initially announced that they will be releasing a new search engine under the brand name, Kumo (which in Japanese means “cloud” or “spider”). Continue Reading Best of the Web May 2009