Monday, January 23, 2006

Musical Onebox - Google's music box

A few weeks ago I mulled the idea of a Google Lyrics search on Matt's Guitar Hero review. I'm not going to say that that comment inspired Google to do a music search as they've had that since Dec 05. That said, it's nice to see track listings, reviews and other musical stuff in the onebox today. The next step up would be a lyric search or a recipe search where you can restrict your keyword match to your subject matter. A recipe search for "apple", for example, would be very different from a normal search for "apple".

(The onebox is the bit at the top of SERPs where you can find interjections from Google News, Froogle, etc).

Specailised searches, or vertical searches, are ones to watch. There's almost constant speculation as to whether will do a people search - personals or jobs. The trickier verticals to crack are ones like credit cards and loans. Why? These results require the user to enter extra information such as salary or mortgage data and the information providers then need to tailor their dynamic results to those facts. Recipes and lyrics, on the other hand, do not change and do not need this personal input.

There's no way of telling how persistent the sabotage search result is but the original URL is this.

Anti Competitor AdWords Tactics

A little known and therefore not so widely enforced AdWords rule is Google's policy on double serving. You can't double serve on AdWords. This actually means you shouldn't double serve on AdWords although many people do.

What's double serving? Double serving is having two different AdWords creatives listing for the same keyword and for the same site. In fact, double serving has a broader ruling than that insofar as sites owned by the same company which sells the same thing are not allowed to run side-by-side in AdWords. Their AdWords accounts should be linked and only one AdWord should run. This rule is there to stop people simply setting up different sites and effectively owning the right hand-side of Google.

The catch is that it's not very clear that similar sites may be linked. Not every webmaster knows which big brand owns which other - heck, many webmasters would struggle to separate companies from brands.

The key is to stay in the know. If you have a client who, for example, is into loans - a very competitive PPC market - the know the other big loan players. Know which banks have a branded loan company in their umbrella. If you see branded loan offering running alongside the main bank for a loan keyword then that's a breach of Google's double serving policies.

The thing to do is to kick up a fuss. It won't make you popular with any of your campaign managers at Google but its a great way to cut swathes through your clients competition.

Sometimes the arguement comes up that the two sites look different. That's not enough. The sites must have different products and services.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Mobile but not moving

On their official blog Google have announced the launch of a personalised Google "home" for mobile phones.

Sadly, at the time of writing the supplied link for the mobile home page is dud. Nothing there dudes.

Should the home page work - and I'm sure it will in just a few hours - you'll have an interface suited to small screens and one that can tap into Gmail, headlines, weather, stock quotes and Atom or RSS feeds. I imagine we'll be looking only at US stock, weather and maybe even only US headlines too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A year in review: SEMPO and SMA 2005

Back in August 2004 Mike Grehan tore chunks out of the American SEO organisation SEMPO. Grehan, CEO of Smart Interactive, then went on to play a key role in setting up SMA-UK and he is currently the Vice-President.

I did not disagree with many of Mike's observations on SEMPO. They did seem to take your money and then do nothing.

After the SEMPO controversy there was some press releases from the organisation. One of the key points on SEMPO's agenda was to raise awareness of the SEM industry and it seemed hard to believe they were doing much of this without even a press release in their belt.

Looking back on 2005 I find it hard to find any evidence of work from SEMPO or SMA UK (or other SMA franchise either).

One key problem is getting search engine optimisation agencies to talk to one another. This is a secretive industry. I would not want our company associated with a "governing body" who could not govern its own members, who could not enforce ethical SEO, or who did not care about ethical SEO. Right now, I can't see what these organisations do and I can see the disadvantages in joining them. I hope this changes in 2006, either through one of these organisations changing or by a new one appearing on the field.

Monday, January 09, 2006

TradeDoubler duplicate content

TradeDoubler is the big European affiliate site. It's aimed at the high end of the market and does not aggressively recruit affiliates though it certainly goes after merchants.

Today TradeDoubler launched a number of "Free content" initiatives. Webmasters can simply cut'n'paste pre-written text provided by TradeDoubler and the merchant into their own site. This goes beyond adding a banner or a content unit but to actual content. Whereas this is aimed at PPC users - free landing pages, essentially, - it'll not have a good natural SEO effect. It's a good way to get into trouble for duplicate content. If you're paranoid you'll worry about Matt's post about "Math SOS" who put live entirely off topic pages and sold links from them. It's important to note that that's not the same as creating a content page and putting affiliate links off from it. Previously Matt had said that sites which sold links would loose their ability to pass PageRank on, this is clearly something different.

And yes, the sly will notice that I link to TradeDoubler with my own affiliate link. Heh. Scrubbing up an extra £2? Nooo. (I'll claim) Just giving an example of a valid affiliate link.