Blog about Internet marketing strategies - social media, & SEO

Category: internet

Nepali Colleges, Universities and Government Offices Sell Viagra & Sex Drugs!

I hope that the educational institutes such as schools, colleges or universities of Nepal (or anywhere as a matter of fact) are into education rather than selling sex drugs. Similarly government offices do their assigned jobs than selling Viagra. The point I am raising here is how vulnerable the educational, government websites in Nepal are and web security in general.

Let’s do a quick search on Google for Viagra (apparently a sexual wonder drug!) within the educational websites in Nepal, which have the names followed by .edu.np. We can do this using [search term] + the ‘site:’ operator + the URL or domain. For educational sites, this would be https://www.google.com/search?&q=viagra+site%3A.edu.np

The search for Viagra in educational website resulted in over 1700 results! I won’t link such sites direct here but present a screenshot. You can do the search yourself too using the search above.

Educational sites in Nepal Hacked

From Kathmandu University to American Language Center – and several schools, colleges universities websites are infected.

Similarly doing a search for Government sites of Nepal shows plenty of infected websites too.

hacked government sites Nepal

 

Finally doing a search for a .com.np site showed over 178,000 infected web-pages. I would just share screenshot here as well.

hacked business sites Nepal viagra

 

Why do educational websites get exploited so much?

The easy explanation is that weak security in websites (especially quick cheap ones) allow easy access to external attackers. Another reason might also be related to a different reason called SEO (search engine optimization), which is about how Google ranks a website when somebody makes a search for a particular term. It is a common but somewhat mistaken assumption that links from educational or government site provides better ranks in search results. So the practice of inserting codes to ‘bad’ sites in educational or government or any other site with old software is a notorious practice that has been going on for a long time. Some sites may also redirect to potentially bad sites when clicked on search results rather than going to the actual result displayed.

What can be done to prevent such attacks?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as 100% secured and even biggest websites get hacked. If we do a similar search for overall educational or government sites around the world, the situation is no better. I wouldn’t be surprised if my own site gets hacked someday. But having said that it is upto the website owner or team to ensure that the site is safe for its visitors.

In general, it is a good practice to:

  • Keep the content management system (CMS) or software up-to date on the server and on own computers
  • Use antivirus
  • Not use easy to guess passwords
  • Choose a more secured hosting
  • Backup data regularly
  • Check own site on Google using the ‘site:’ operator. For example viagra site:ku.edu.np or viagra site:.gov.np
  • Never open suspicious files attachments or websites
  • Report websites that are infected to the website owner

Here are some additional references on better web security (don’t worry! these are trustworthy sites and open in new window.)

 

Suggestions are welcome!

 

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The Internet Marketing Implementation Cycle

Here is one cycle that can be helpful in implementing new internet marketing strategy or upgrading the existing internet marketing strategy. Of course each business has distinct marketing requirements so might need variations accordingly. Hopefully this gives an idea for practicing online marketers or web agencies, as well as business who are looking to do internet marketing services.

internet marketing strategy implementation cycle

Let’s see bits of details for each process:

Step 1: Keyword Research

Keyword research is the most important stage. If you get this incorrect, your overall strategy or the cycle would spiral aimlessly. Important factors to consider for Keyword Research are: the industry, keyword search volume, resources available (if you have more resources, you can target more or better keywords), keyword difficulty and some common sense. Tools such as Google Keyword Tool should give you a good idea to start. This is a set of keywords that apply to your overall marketing activities. Make sure you get it right early to stop losing money & resources for nothing.

Step 2: Website

Website is the heart of all marketing activities for e-commerce and also for all others that aim to use website as a channel for their business. A website should represent your business. A good website needs to consider its target users as well as search engines – not just the view of the owner! Make sure users can find what they come for as well as be pleased choosing your business.

Step 3: SEO (on page)

For a business, nothing is worse than having a great looking website that nobody knows about. If you have done the keyword research properly, you are in the right track. Else more backward to step 1 first. As most users still use search engines such as Google to find most of the stuffs online, you should know how to make a site that search engines can rank well. Search engines such as Google considers content of website as well as who is liking to them to rank it. As you make the website, make sure you make the adjustments on site to make it SEO friendly.

Step 4: Updates

One way communication is dead. You need to be alive, keep updated content and communicate with users. Blog is a great way to keep users updated. You need to write regularly. Again the guidelines on what to update goes back to keyword research of Step 1. Make sure you get them right. Having a blog that doesn’t update or doesn’t update related content is a turn-off and a resource hog. If you can’t find the resources to blog or keep users updated, blogging may not even for your business. You can integrate your news/blog with social media as well for better user experience.

Step 5: Social Media

Internet is not the one way communication as it used to be. With social sites, growing internet reach and ease of access through mobile devices, each consumer has the power to access & share information to worldwide users in real-time. You can no longer do waiting business. You need to be where your prospects are and communicate to them being yourself. Be creative & authentic so users can like you. There are growing number of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube that are not only great for real-time communication for also  for long term online branding.

Step 6: Email Marketing

Email marketing or permission marketing is another great way to reach to your prospects and consumers. Once you have a content strategy for website and social media, it is a good idea to reach to users using email. Email newsletters can also be a good way to send offers and updates to users directly to their inbox. Be sure you collect your user details through website or direct connection only.

Step 7: SEO (off page)

Search engines rank website based on content of website and recommendations on the Internet. Now that you have covered on-page SEO on Step 3, spend some time for getting good content that others can recommend. Link building can be a tedious and ongoing process that you should do to get visitors to your website through search or other channels. Again it helps if the keyword research has been done well. Make sure you follow genuine techniques to get links and be aware of search algorithm changes such as Google Panda or Penguin. If you are considering affiliate marketing, for example, make sure it follows the search engine guidelines.

Step 8: PPC Advertising

SEO is great but slow. If you need quick results, choose advertising.  On the Internet, PPC or pay per click ads are a great way to do it, Google AdWords and Facebook Ads being the most popular ones. PPC advertising is also a great way to spread words about new brands. Whether you want to overlap PPC campaigns with your SEO keywords depends on your business requirement.

Like other life-cycles, internet marketing is a continuous process and should be integrated with overall marketing strategy of the business. The good thing about Internet marketing is that the results are more measurable than other forms of marketing. However, unlike other cycles, it does not necessarily go through same cycle every time after completion. For example, the on-site SEO or web usability parts will be needed less after the first cycle.

Which Internet marketing strategy do you follow?

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Insights on Internet Marketing Trends

Internet Marketing has become essential for all brands and companies regardless of their size. With over 1/3 of world population on the internet, companies need to know where and how users are using the internet. Here are some great graphs and insights on how people are using the internet.

(Graphs from HubSpot Download: Registration Required)

internet marketing budget increase
More and more business are increasing their internet marketing investment because it has become more effective than traditional marketing methods.

inbound costs vs outbound
Inbound marketing is the form of internet marketing where potential customers are drawn in to the website using content that they value. Some of inbound marketing tactics are SEO, blogs and social media marketing. These are getting more effective than outbound marketing tactics such as trade shows, where companies reach out to potential users by forcing them their information. New ways of reaching to prospects, such as paid search (PPC) are also getting popular.

customer acquisition using social media
Blogging and social media such as Facebook and Twitter have become important tools for all forms of business, be it B2B or B2C business. If you are not using these, you are likely to be losing customers already.

seo more pages better leads
SEO is internet marketing tactics to get website rank higher on search engine results. More content increase likeliness of appearing in search results. That’s why creating regular contents through channels such as blogging become very important.

email marketing rise
Another form or internet marketing is email marketing (or permission marketing). Done right, these are powerful way to reach to the prospects.

Facebook popularity
Facebook is the most popular of social media tools. Since almost everybody is on Facebook, this is a great way for business to reach and communicate with customers.

mobile importance
Worldwide, mobile penetration is ubiquitous. With increase in smartphone, using internet on handheld devices have increased drastically not only in developed countries, but also in emerging nations such as India, China and developing country such as Nepal (in fact Asia has the fastest growing mobile users). Mobile traffic contributes over 10% of total internet traffic globally. With mobile search marketing, more mobile users are likely to perform action than desktop users.

Are you investing on (or considering) Internet Marketing now? Share your thoughts on how it is going.

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World of Social Media (Video)

Here is an interesting video on YouTube that shows the boom in social media in 2011. As we approach 2012, the social media are likely to grow even more rapidly, including the mobile social media.

Some staggering data regarding social media engagement are:

  • Facebook is the most visited website in the world
  • 11% of the world population use Facebook
  • There are more Facebook users than vehicles in the world!
  • 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month
  • There are about 150,000,000 tweets in Twitter each day
  • Average tweet is only 40 characters long
  • 35 hours of videos are uploaded on YouTube every minute
  • 3500 photos uploaded every second on Flickr
  • Every executive of fortune 500 company is listed on LinkedIn
  • 60% admit they are using mobile devices even in bathroom!
  • Women are more active than men on social media
Social media is not an advantage for business. It is a basic necessity.

Start using today.

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Social Media Basics

What about Social Media?

Social Media is the electronic technology that foster interactive communication. Essentially, social media is any internet or mobile applications that allow creation and exchange of user-generated content.
social media
Earlier forms of media were one way only that allowed companies to tell their views or information and wait for users to respond. Now, with what is called as web 2.0, it has become possible for anybody to talk, share information or content such as image or video, or network using the internet. These are the social media tools of the modern age. Some of powerful and popular social media where users can participate in generating ideas and content are Blogs, Forums, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Digg, Flickr, Delicious among others.

While it was possible for companies and brands to get away with having just a website 10 years back, this is not the case now with all users using social media. If you are not there, your competitor will be. So the best is to start using some of the social media basics yourself first.

Blog

Blog is the initial form of social media which allows updating regular information/content where users can participate through comments or feedback. Having a blog is one of the best way online to letting know that your company is alive. There are free blogging platforms available such as www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com to get started with. However customization works best for company blogs. Companies such as Starbucks have used a different approach to user engagement through their blog, whereas companies such as General Electric (GE) or Southwest Airlines have successfully taken the traditional role of brand awareness through their blogs. There isn’t much corporate blogging culture in Nepal, though some organizations post regular updates through blogs. Personal blogs on the other hand have grown substantially in Nepal, including ones like mysansar or others that blog to monetize.

Forums

Forums are good place to allow targeted users to communicate. You can find forums on endless topics ranging from travel to sports or movies to politics to technology. Or very specific forums such as macro photography or ice-cream or Ferrari. While maintaining forums, it is important to foster discussions in the appropriate topics.

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most popular and powerful social media. Whatever your business, Facebook is a great way to reach out to the users. Facebook currently has 800 million users worldwide. To start with Facebook, create a Facebook Page for your brand or company. Once you create a page, complete the basics (such as uploading a profile picture and filling the information) and add contacts. Users can then become a fan of your Facebook page and interact on it. Popular Facebook pages such as that of Coca-Cola have millions of fans interacting everyday in it. Even local Nepali companies such as Ncell or AceTravel have used it to good effect along with Facebook pages for social causes, such as NepalUnites. Facebook advertising on the other hand is a quick way to reach to more uses.

Twitter

Twitter is another social media that allows only 140 characters of public messaging service. Twitter has been used for many purpose such as interacting real-time with customers, feedback system, contests, organizing events or just updating with news. You can reply real-time in twitter privately or publicly. Using hastag(#) is a good way to start discussion in certain topic, such as #elections2011 or #twitter. Companies such as Best Buy have effectively used twitter through @twelpforce for real-time customer service. Even local Nepali organizations have used it well, such as @ibloodnepal and @tfcnepal for social causes.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social media for professional networking. It can be used as a personal resume on the internet or by companies to find employees. This business related social media can be used to foster interaction through LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn Answers or through job openings. It is very powerful in the sense that you get direct leads for your business. Again, advertising is an option to reach to potential users.

YouTube

YouTube is the most powerful social media for videos sharing. It is one of the most viral tools that spreads lot of buzz online as well as offline. Not only is it powerful for musicians or movie makers, this is equally useful for companies of all sizes. Consider the Old Spice Campaigns made totally on YouTube or the wacky Annoying Oranges. In Nepal too users such as lexlimbu have used YouTube to good effect.

These are only few of the popular social media. Each organization or brands have specific requirements and needs to select the social media accordingly. Also there are bookmark tools such as addthis or shrethis that allow users to share contents.

It is also important to understand that it is best to maintain only those social media that one can manage in the long run. Because not managing social media is worse than not having social media. In case your social media strategy backfires, you have to be ready for that too.

Need to know more? Glad to help.

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Twitter Activity Response

Twitter recently introduced the “Twitter Activity” tab and the users are not so excited about it. Most hate it really and I don’t like it either. It looks like the copy of infamous Facebook activity and raises privacy issues. Initial response suggests fewer than 10% users who like the new feature. Few others are neutral to it. Most users just dislike the new Twitter Activity change.

You can see the responses to the new Twitter Activity here.

What do you think of the new Activity feature on Twitter? Do you like it or dislike it?

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New location targeting features on Google AdWords

Google AdWords location targeting tool has undergone some changes to make it more easier to target. Some of the new features added are:

  • Search Suggestions
  • Nearby Locations
  • Reach
  • Improved Location Outlines
  • Location Target Limits per Campaign

Meanwhile some of the old obsolete features have been phased out. You can see the details here too.

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Basic SEO tips for website

Who doesn’t want to rank the highest on search engines such as Google or Yahoo? Follow these basic search engine optimization (SEO) tips to help your website rank better.

  • Do some keyword research first. It helps to know about the important keywords to target.
  • Buy a domain name with keyword if possible. Domain names cannot be changed later.
  • Use keywords throughout the web site. But focus on only one keyword per page.
  • Create a sitemap. Sitemaps help search engines crawl your website better.
  • Avoid using Flash. Flash are not indexed properly by search engines.
  • Go for search friendly website design. Navigation should be easy for visitors as well as search engines.
  • Apply META tags optimization. These are the tags that are indexed by search engines and should be used wisely.
  • Apply ALT tags optimization. Search engines don’t recognize images, so don’t forget to give description of your images.
  • URL structure optimization for dynamic pages. Include keywords in them or use search friendly content management system (CMS) such as WordPress.
  • Control overall page size. Smaller size pages are better for users as well as Google.
  • Use headings. Headings are good place to put your keywords.
  • Optimize anchor text for your links. Links should include keywords for best results.
  • Get links to your website. This can be using link exchange or using social media.
  • Do social media optimization. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to target your keywords.
  • Put fresh content online. Having new useful content always helps in SEO.
  • Do not fool search engines. Bad ethics or bad tactics eventually backfire at your online business too.

Interested in SEO for your website?

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