Is De-indexing (NSEO) a real threat to your business? – Part 1

In recent years, the marketing world has been shaken by a new phenomenon that has become a dirty word: Negative SEO or NSEO. The other words associated with NSEO are “De-ranking” and “de-indexing” or, in more common parlance, the “disappearance” of your link from search engine pages. Many people are wondering how real the threat of NSEO is, and what its concrete impacts on a company’s online business can be. We should start by explaining that SEO is the optimisation of your website’s visibility and by extension its position in the search engine result pages; this is done by discovering and using a number of criteria that are factored into search engine algorithms. The more closely your site matches the criteria used by search engines to determine whether content is relevant, the more other sites will post links to your site, and the higher your website will rank in the search results. This basically amounts to raising your site’s visibility without having to pay for advertising space. When a content marketing projet goes online SEO must be performed quickly to gain a top spot in search engine results in order to secure a large audience and make a quick and lasting marketing impact. This is precisely the time when the site is at risk of an NSEO attack that could cause it to lose its high ranking. But before going on to further describe and analyze NSEO, here is a bit of historical background.

The Birth of the Internet: from a mere gadget to an essential tool

At its inception (1995-2000), the Web was used by individuals and academics solely for the purposes of sharing information and communicating globally. The idea of individuals creating a website, inventing a concept and being able to put it online quickly was novel at the time.

Efforts to implement a high-quality content strategy can be destroyed by one NSEO attack. Hence the importance of being vigilant and protecting your website from such attacks.

From the year 2000 on, as interest in this new communication medium grew, more and more people began to use the Internet, and consumers especially became interested in exchanging information about products and services; it was at this time that price comparison websites appeared. Companies came into direct competition due to this new and unanticipated use of the Internet.

Around 2005, marketing departments started telling management that it was important to be present on the Web, although at that time the commercial side (sales of new products, before and after-sales service, etc.) was not yet part of that presence. With sites like eBay and PriceMinister, exchanges and sales of secondhand goods developed exponentially. Marketing departments quickly realized that it was to their advantage to use Internet too: there were opportunities for product advertising and promotion, for using new marketing tools, maintaining customer databases, tracking customer behavior, etc.

amazon e-commerce site

As the Web and especially the social networks developed, marketing departments kept control over the company website without necessarily working with their IT departments, although they were in charge of DATA and network services. They gradually turned their sites into sophisticated and highly customised marketing machines that became the chief source of data on customers’ online behavior in addition to data from their retail outlets. Social networks also made it possible to communicate directly with customers.

Today, the situation can be described as follows: the company website has become the cornerstone of sales and marketing activity for companies across all sectors. Another interesting fact is that IT departments are often not part of the team when projects are being implemented, although they should be included not only in the technical side (hardware, back and front office software), but also in Web security in order to protect the investment made by the marketing department.

The aim is not to pit company departments against each other, but to show that historically Internet has arrived in businesses from an unexpected direction and responsibility for Internet activity sits between two departments with different cultures and ways of working. Therefore, website security and NSEO attacks were not necessarily on the marketing department’s radar screen, especially when they were under pressure from the sales department which was following its own agenda. This created a kind of no-man’s land between SEO as it was understood from a marketing standpoint and Web security as seen by the IT department.

While this situation still exists today, the website is now critical to the life of a company. In addition, the fact that the Web is global and totally open has resulted in the appearance of techniques designed to thwart the sales and marketing strategies used by marketing departments on the corporate website; these techniques are questionable (if not outright dishonest) and extremely devious, and one of them is NSEO.

What exactly is NSEO and what are its impacts on content marketing?: information or disinformation?

In the keen global competition that companies encounter on the Web, some may be tempted to harm their competitors by using means that verge on the illegal. These damaging tactics are nearly impossible to trace and have a direct impact both on the company’s turnover and share price. Expedia appears to have been the victim of precisely such tactics in the U.S. in January 2014. Read more

Disruption explained in a few hundred words

Whether in Silicon Valley, or basically anywhere else in the world, people talk about ‘disruptive innovation’ or simply ‘disruption’. Do they really know what it means? Or they are just trying to follow that new trend, and fit in the ‘innovation world’? Actually, knowing what disruption means makes you more sophisticated than just randomly using the word. This is why this article is a must-read.

What is disruption?

You should thank Clayton Christensen, of Harvard Business School for this “new” term. He used it in his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, to describe innovations that created new markets by discovering new categories of customers. I believe that these two words are losing their serious aspect, and are becoming more of “buzzwords”, that a lot of people use on social media. Indeed, the word was mentioned more than 2,000 times in articles last year. But a lot of people still get it wrong.

There are two types of “innovators”: those who simply work to improve existing products (this is what we call ‘sustainable innovation’). And those who invent new products, creating new markets. And these are called ‘disruptive innovators’.

Let’s go back in time, when people used to go from one place to another in horse carriages. Back then, “innovators” obviously tried to find ways to make the horses go from point A to point B faster. Until the first automobile was invented. New markets were created. Also, new needs and demands had to be served. So, in other words, new business models had to be put in place. As a matter of fact, disruption is a process, not just a product or a service offering, like a lot of people might believe.

This gives you a clearer picture of what a “disruption” or a “disruptive innovation” is. It is a new way of exploiting old or existing technology, to create something pioneering.

sustainable vs disruptive innovation
There is a fine line between sustainable innovation and disruptive innovation

What is uberization

Uber, the multinational online taxi dispatch company, is the first example that comes to one’s mind when talking about ‘disruption’.

Read more

Corporate Blogging is Dead, Long live Content Marketing! – 2013 survey results

book-new-largeI am not certain that Google will maintain Google alerts for very much longer. It seems, to put it in Forbes’s words, that it is broken. There is another cool innovation from the olden times which is still working though, I mean Google web trends. I still find it very interesting to see how things evolved through the use, or disuse, of certain keywords in the Google search engine. Lately, I went back to Google in order to check what was happening to corporate blogs. The only thing I was able to find out, was a 2005 report on corporate blogging. Does that mean that corporate blogging is over? Not at all! It is now part of a much broader subject, named content marketing. In essence, content marketing is bit different from just corporate blogging and it is a much better term. The replies of the interest for content marketing over the past few months is showing that something is happening in the web world again. Maybe it is a sign that companies are now more interested in what they get from the content which they produce rather than just spend time producing it. Let us review the 2013 content marketing survey report which gives us some interesting insight into the use of content marketing in 2013 (courtesy


Interest for corporate blogs has clearly shifted from blogs to content

content masthead 900x200 2

Key Survey Findings by IMN

  • Content marketing was a medium or high priority for 90%
    of respondents …”  however, one may point out  that comparisons with the 2012 survey my IMN (the first in the series) is showing that the realisation that content marketing is important is fairly recent, even in the US,
  • “31% of respondents have had a content strategy in place for more than a
    year, with 18% stating they put one in place within the last year and 33%
    working on implementing a strategy” … as stated above, all these content marketing programs are still fairly recent and there is still room for improvement,
  • “67% of respondents use a newsletter to distribute content to their
    customers and prospects” …  this is namely true with regard to newsletters for which a great number of users are sending  them once a year therefore showing little or no understanding of how the medium is used,
  • “78% of respondents curate content; 48% having run into permissions /
    attribution issues during the process” … But 15% of respondents are worried that they could use copyrighted content on their own resources,
  • 44% of respondents cited lead generation as the most important goal of
    content marketing programs; an increase from 16% last year.


Awareness is widespread now. Content marketers are no longer regarded as zombies… well… I have a few recent counter examples but they are not American.


Increasing leads is clearly what makes corporations tick. Yet, my personal experience in that area shows that few are able to go beyond buzz words and stick to their guns. Lead generation is a difficult trade, it requires a lot of fine tuning, and stamina. A trial and error mentality must be adopted; typically something that large companies have trouble coping with … long term thinking!


Blogs are still here in that picture but they are not alone and part of an ecosystem. This makes perfect sense. An overarching strategy for marketing content must be adopted vs. piecemeal technical approaches which lead nowhere. Yet, if your blog is lousy, you are bound to go nowhere at all. The fundamentals must be remembered.


Success is shifting away from readership to leads. Well… in the States maybe, in Europe, we still have a long way to go!

Download the 2005 blogger survey

“Social Media is evolving into Social Mass Media” – Hootsuite video

eye-large_thumb.gifA few days ago, I received an e-mail message from Canadian ISV Hootsuite telling me that my video was  online. Then I was swamped with a flurry of tweets and mentions about some of the insights I had delivered in that video. I am very grateful to Hootsuite for shooting such a beautiful testimonial and giving me an opportunity to share my views on social media and how it is evolving. We (Herve Kabla, our publisher and I) are currently working hard on the adaptation of our latest  “Managing Digital Marketing Like A Boss” opus which should be made available for Christmas, if all goes well. Many thanks to Sam Milbraith for writing up such a great story. I have always loved Hootsuite, I think it’s a great product and  I am a great supporter of theirs. Keep up the good work guys!

  Social Insights from European Thought Leader, Yann Gourvennec – HootSuite Social Media Management

Meet Yann Gourvennec.

He is a Paris-based European expert on social business and the rise of the social enterprise. With over 25 years of international experience in marketing, sales and information systems, he has been perfecting and sharing his wealth of insight on the transformations taking place in the industry since the advent of the internet. At Orange telecommunications corporation, Yann managed the corporate website and microsites and built their digital media strategy and social media presence worldwide – from the ground up. He has been a member of since 2008 and co-founded Media Aces, the French Association for enterprises and social media.

INPI-couverture_V3_com_digiAs a “serial intrapreneur,” Yann challenges the status quo of businesses from the inside out. “You find intrapreneurs in large firms or complex organisations where they bring innovation through their change management skills,” says Yann Gourvennec. “To me, being an intrapreneur means a great deal in terms of philosophy, the way I see things, the way I work with colleagues and the way that I drive projects forward and implement innovation from within a business.”

“Managing Digital Marketing Like a Boss”

Yann Gourvennec’s first book “Social Media Taught To My Boss,” became the most influential digital book of 2012 in France. Since then, he and his colleague Hervé Kabla have released its sequel in French in Paris, broadening the scope to tackle digital marketing at large – not just social media (hence the working title, “Managing Digital Marketing Like a Boss”).

“To Hervé Kabla and I, social media is now part of the digital communications mix,” says Yann. “It’s no longer about whether or not to be present on social media. We’ve moved beyond that, with regard to how you make sense of it all, hone your objectives, polish your strategies, develop your presence and structure your governance. The issue of return on investment is no longer an option either. Social media is part of the mix, a broader issue that has to be grasped by each and everyone in the company, not just by the digital team.”

“If there is one takeaway from our books, it is that we are going through a paradox: digital media is ubiquitous, everybody has to and wants to join in. It looks simple, but it isn’t. It is a proper discipline that requires skills and experience. After all, would you follow through with a surgery done by a surgeon reading “surgery for dummies?” So why would you want your organisation’s entire digital strategy owned by a 2-follower Twitter account owner? While there is an urgent need for the widespread inclusion of all employees to be present online, employing seasoned, skilled professionals in digital media and social media strategy is equally as important.”

via Social Insights from European Thought Leader, Yann Gourvennec – HootSuite Social Media Management.

The magic left the building with Jobs

This Is Not What Social Media Was Meant To Be

today’s selection is …

LinkedIn’s Mario Sundar’s piece is, despite its title, not just about Steve Jobs, it’s about the way that PR is done, and the fact that Social Media wasn’t meant to become what it is now. He describes a PR exercise by Zuckerberg and Facebook officials which lacks both the lustre and pizazz of Apple’s classic keynotes. I am not an Apple admirer I must admit, even though I own Apple products and acknowledge that they are beautiful products, but I’m not in synch with the philosophy behind Apple. Yet, Jobs’s keynotes were undoubtedly personal and performed with style. What is most annoying is indeed, as Sundar remarks, all those who try to mimic Jobs’s methods… not always with great success. As pointed out by Herman Mellville: “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

New Innovation Blog Launched

news-largeA few years ago, I used to be a regular contributor to bnet in the UK but the site pulled out of the European market in 2010. Fortunately, a new project has just been launched and I’m very happy to embark on it. It is named innovation generation and it is sponsored by our peers from Alcatel.You can find my first piece on that blog under the following title: Governments Ease Into Cyberspace. Below is the announcement for the new website; stay tuned for more info …

We are living in a truly connected world. That’s something most people might take for granted when they make a phone call or watch TV, but when you consider how a wireless network brings books to your e-reader, an Ethernet network keeps your savings account secure, and a cloud holds most of your online identity, it becomes a pretty powerful proposition.

It is the services that run on these networks that are the lifeblood of society, and the potential for innovation here is limited only by our own creativity.

Enter Innovation Generation. It’s a generation that’s not confined to baby boomers, Gen Xers, or smartphone-toting Millennials, but rather encompasses everyone living in today’s globally connected society. Our goal here is to explore the potential for personalized, interesting, and, of course, innovative new services that can increase the quality of life and work for end users while also increasing the value of the service provider in the process.

How are service providers delivering these new services to businesses and consumers? How can they get more from their infrastructures than they already do? What are the opportunities for business model innovation? How can service providers improve the customer experience?

These are just a few of the questions we’ll strive to answer on Innovation Generation. If you’re a global communications service provider or enterprise IT leader, Innovation Generation is your guide to navigating the challenges and opportunities in creating innovative business opportunities for your company and your customers. Here, we explore innovation at all levels of today’s connected businesses, from software to services to groundbreaking business models – with an eye on what’s practical, what’s clouded by hype, and what’s going to help the bottom line.

These are services that are transforming industries like utilities, transportation, the public sector, healthcare, oil and gas, manufacturing, defense, railways, and even the government. And service providers are at the heart of it.

via Innovation Generation – Named Documents – About Us

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (5/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 5 of 5

Name a few examples as to how social media management has helped Orange get more brand awareness?

In most markets in which it operates in the consumer space, Orange has a very good brand awareness not to say the best. So social media isn’t really used for this at Orange. We tend to use it more for image, co-creation (like with the entry level offer in France), brand and user experience (see or to name but a few recent examples), charity (check the French Orange foundation blog, user relationship (like Orange helpers in the UK: and brand nurturing (like Facebook Romania for instance). These are only a few examples from different countries but there are many more than this.

The only counterexample I can think of is the one I’ve been involved in for 3 years between 2008 and 2011, and it is related to the b2b arm of Orange, that is to say Orange Business Services ( . It is understandable that being in 220 different countries and territories as Orange Business Services is, means that there are vastly different levels of brand awareness in each of those geographies. Social media can come be useful in the areas in which we are not operating in the consumer space in order to boost the knowledge of Orange Business as well as our skills. It has proven very successful in many instances, we have even been able to use the blogs to initiate sales at a later stage (this is ‘pre-commerce’ again).

[1] Check my personal blog for this topic at



[4] Small Office, Home Office, i.e. very small or independent companies

[5] Media Aces is the French association of enterprises involved in social media, of which I am the President. My work on the four different types of brand in social media is available at:

[6] Oscar Wilde quotes at:

[7] Check the ‘worldwide’ tab on the page


[9] Re. Andy Sernocitz ‘Word of Mouth Marketing’ check on Amazon