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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and SEO Industry in Bangladesh

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? A blurry term for many Bangladeshi businesses. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about optimizing a website for Search Engines like Google to make sure that your site shows up when anyone searches for your important keywords. This doesn’t only mean traffic from search engines; you can also convert the traffic to leads, sales, orders or businesses. e.g. If anyone searched for "Garments Exporters from Bangladesh" in Google and found your site, then there is high probability that the visitor will convert to your customer. Moreover, your website becomes your marketing machine and the impact is worldwide.

Even though, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a much unknown word in the local businesses in Bangladesh. Most of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) can't understand what SEO can offer and how SEO can help them in their businesses. They are competing in the direct marketing channels that they got used to. Now, they are not willing to switch to SEO as their internet marketing scheme, unless their competitors do.

In my career in International Businesses, I found a trend that small and medium-sized enterprises/businesses (SMEs/SMBs) in Bangladesh always rely on snatching each other’s customers by employing employees from other competing companies that knows a lot of customers or by going up the supply channel. So, the same customer is bouncing around the country’s suppliers.

However, most companies fail to realize Natural & Organic SEO’s potential and communication cost cutting benefit for business leads (orders), which also can create more customers for the country. Due to unawareness of the potential, the SEO industry didn’t grow in Bangladesh for the local companies, which could have been the opposite, since the SMBs/SMEs have low marketing budget.

Back in 2007, I have started SEO for an offshore outsourcing graphic design company. Natural and Organic SEO earned the company many leads. And after 2 years, the company size grew from 3 image manipulators to 50. When I left the company, the company already reached their break-even. And all that happened through Search Engine Optimization (SEO), good sales approach, and service quality.

All of a sudden, all the other competing businesses started to realize the potential of Natural & Organic SEO. Now, the SEO is a buzz around the image manipulation outsourcing businesses. And they already started to create new positions in their marketing team.

However, back in 2006 when I wanted to outsource some SEO job to a local SEO company that had been around for quite a long time. I had a talk with one of their managers, who told me that they do the SEO by putting all the meta tags in place. It was a time when meta tags, hidden texts, and tiny tests were not in practice anymore. However, after talking to them, I understood that they are never close to the current trend in SEO. They are basically, web design firm, not any SEO Agency. Currently after 3 years, they understood that link building was the key element in getting you ranked in Google. So, now they started creating links with scrapped/copied texts from all over the web, when Google’s Duplicate Content Filter is the buzz around the global SEO industry. Anyway, there were good companies like Quantum Cloud that understood the trends and I wonder if Mr. Kundu (I forgot the name) is still there or gone back to Australia.

The Bangladeshi companies had very little demand for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which didn’t create much demand for the industry to grow. However, some eEntrepreneurs grew in Bangladesh who are now growing traffic for their businesses for themselves.

SEO Industry in India was and is very strong as well as costly. This made many US and European businesses to turn to Bangladesh for their Natural & Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Other Internet Marketing needs. Currently, the SEO Industry is surviving and thriving for the demand of the overseas businesses in the US and Europe. And most of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work in the SEO Industry of Bangladesh is done in-house.

Agency-based Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Company is somewhat non-existent in companies that are Bangladeshi owned. However, there are many US-owned Search Marketing Agencies in Bangladesh with in-house SEO experts like Blueliner IT and Superior Internet Solutions. Therefore, Grameen Solutions took the opportunity to become one of the strongest Natural & Organic SEO Agencies in Bangladesh. I hope by 2011, we will see more Bangladeshi SEO Agency coming up to enrich the SEO Industry in Bangladesh.

Author Profile

Asif Anwar is Search Engine Optimization and Marketing (SEO & SEM) specialist working in the Bangladeshi SEO industry since 2003. Currently working as Associate Manager of Web Marketing Solutions in Grameen Solutions.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's in a name?

There are many companies / brands / products whose names were derived from strange circumstances.

This was actually the financier's daughter's name.

This came from name of the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.

Apple Computers
It was the favorite fruit of founder Steve Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 O'clock.

It is not an acronym as popularly believed. It is short for San Francisco.

This name was formed by using COMp, for computer, and PAQ to denote a small integral object.

The name was derived from the founder's name Dr.Michael Cowpland. It stands for COwpland REsearch Laboratory.

The name started as a joke boasting about the amount of information the search engine would be able to search. It was originally named 'Googol', a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders- Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to 'Google'

Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in 'mail' and finally settled for hotmail as it included the letters "html" - the programming language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective uppercasing.

Hewlett Packard
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.

Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company 'Moore Noyce'but that was already trademarked by a hotel chain so they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated ELectronics.

Lotus (Notes)
Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from 'The Lotus Position' or 'Padmasana'. Kapoor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the '-' was removed later on.

Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company started manufacturing radios for cars. The popular radio company at the time was called Victrola.

Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or something such). The project was designed to help use the newly written SQL code by IBM. The project eventually was terminated but Larry and Bob decided to finish what they started and bring it to the world. They kept the name Oracle and created the RDBMS engine. Later they kept the same name for the company.

It originated from the Latin word 'sonus' meaning sound, and 'sonny' a slang used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster.

Founded by 4 Stanford University buddies, SUN is the acronym for Stanford University Network. Andreas Bechtolsheim built a microcomputer; Vinod Khosla recruited him and Scott McNealy to manufacture computers based on it, and Bill Joy to develop a UNIX-based OS for the computer.

The word was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book 'Gulliver's Travels'. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and action and is barely human. Yahoo! Founders Jerry Yang and David Filo selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos.­­

Contributed by Tanusree Ghosh
1. Do we have an official list of most prominent, popular Bangladeshi brands? If you know, please share the link with us here.
2. We had planned to arrange a 'Bangladesh Corporate Quiz', the idea did not come to light till date. If you see any merit in it, do give it a thought. The plan is to arrange a series of quiz sessions say for a week on leading brands of Bangladesh. Tie it up through SMS answer sending options, promote through popular radio channels etc. The main idea was to ask interested business students, executives trivia questions related to Bangladeshi companies/brands. For example, Who designed the logo of Grameen Phone? Why is PRAN called so? Why our private universities are so fond of direction related namings (North South, South East, East West etc.)? Why our online businesses love to add a 'bd' suffix or prefix in the domain name? Any facts and figures and interesting 'good to know' items about Bangladeshi corporates and the list can go on.
3. One might argue that are our brands strong enough to be deserving such research and limelight, more so on a global ground? The answer is simple, if we don't start 'branding our brands' ourselves, please don't expect foreign gurus and think tanks to do that job for us. They can take us to the water, but what we do then, is solely on us.
I hope you find the origin of the globally renowned brands interesting and funny, I hope we will get to know more interesting facts and trivia about Bangladeshi brands soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bust the Gap in Customer Services

During a romantic date in an August summer in 2008, while relishing a chicken tandoori in a restaurant in Old Airport Dhaka, I discovered a plastic cap of a mineral water bottle inside the chicken. It tasted like….plastic, with a touch of spice and chicken around it. The date was nearly spoilt amidst fear of health concerns and wrong choice of restaurant. I had no clue how to react, I summoned the manager, the waiter responsible, described the case to them, they said ‘sorry’, I said I would complain….I know ‘that person’, I am friends with ‘this person’, a bit of ‘hombi tombi’ you know…that’s pretty much it. The only good thing was, we left without paying, and ofcourse finishing the food, which had a bit of raw plastic in it. Like all other things in the life of a Bangladeshi consumer, I took this incident sportingly. I thought there is no point complaining, as who should I complain to? In a country where I don’t even trust the law enforcers in many occasions, who on earth would protect my consumer rights and why? That was new and news to me.
I have seen many feedback forms in restaurants and service centers of telecom companies, but I have never received any feedback on my feedback, to know if they have at all taken any action to implement my suggestions. I am more of the view that they put up all these feedback forms as a mere formality only, they do not intend to take it seriously, which Bangladeshi company would ever admit that it has taken ‘one’ customer’s feedback seriously and have consequently brought about a change in the way they do business? Never, rather they would claim it to be their own success and innovation.

However, if you think times have changed and its high time that we, as consumers, speak up and make sure our rights are protected and respected, then this article is for you. Check out the website of e-consumer, wonder if something could be initiated in the Bangladeshi context. Also, its worth checking out the website of GapBusters. Among other related service, this company offers ‘Mystery Shopper’ services. I am not sure if companies in Bangladesh, those especially in the services sector, apply Mystery Shopping techniques to evaluate and improve their customer services standards. I believe interested entrepreneurs could very much come up with an idea to set up a company such as this, either you take a franchisee of GapBusters or set up something in the context of Bangladesh purely. Get your business model right and become the ‘voice of Bangladeshi consumers’. Remember Mr. Rokon-Ud-Dowla? Now the time has arrived to give it a more formal shape, from a private sector initiative. So that next time you go for a good time at Pizza Hut and KFC or at a Grameen Phone Service Center, the staff should be on their toes to serve you well, after all….we, the customers, are the king. And I am sure there are scores of people ready to become ‘mystery shoppers’ to give their formal opinion about products/services and earn some quick money in form of a part time job.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What's so special about your district?

Have you come across fellow Bangladeshis who are strong and sensitive about their district roots? Bangladesh is a tiny piece of land in the first place, nevertheless many of us are very keen to boast about our being ‘from Barisal’ or ‘from Syhet’ etc. and how we tend to criticize ‘those people from Comilla’ who have taken up the government jobs and ‘those people from Feni’ who are basically very commercial etc. etc. etc. I wonder how the anthropological, social science data would support all these urban myths and mysteries, but they are very much there especially among those who have come outside from Dhaka to settle there, they find the capital to be an interesting melting pot in their small scope of world, and they love to keep up their ‘ethnicity’ in the busy and bustling megacity.

All this love and loyalty for our own districts would have really been worth it if we had tried to set up some sort of an open air, theme based ‘haat’ highlighting each and every district and its specialities, handicrafts, produce etc. there. We could have called it ‘jela haat’, traders from respective districts could have been leased out spaces to take up stalls, sell their products, food etc. for say a week or so. Each month, a particular district could have been highlighted so that the visitors could have known in detail about that district, its history, the bright and brave sons who belong to that district, the main ‘key’ selling point of that district, economic/cultural activity…whatever that makes that district stand apart from others. I think the Dhaka city corporation surely have a role to play here to set up something permanent in government land in collaboration with Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, who have a game in hand to develop domestic tourism in Bangladesh.

Social entrepreneurs could give it a thought, if we honestly feel so loyal about our own districts and roots, lets brand it well. Lets translate the words to a ‘jela haat’ somewhere in or around Dhaka city. Lets find out what makes Satkhira so special, lets find out what are the hidden tourist locations unforeseen in Netrakona, lets try out the five layer tea of Sylhet right in the heart of Dhaka and many more. Rural traders, manufacturers, designers could have got a much needed but guaranteed exposure in front of the 'capital city' crowd whereby they could have displayed their handicrafts, produce, decoration pieces, clothes whatever takes time to get noticed in our eyes. Also, the cat and mouse game of evicting floating hawkers from this place to that could have been shown a better way to deal with.
Make a list of 10 things that make your district special in your eyes. Let us all know that and celebrate that, after all... what is yours, is mine too, in the spirit of Bangladesh. See you in ‘jela haat’.