Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thought of the Day: GreenBorder, Google and expectations

One of the first lessons I learned while working for an agency was... carefully manage people's expectations. If you do something for free for a client once, twice and then three times - the client has every reason to ask "What? Why?" if you try and charge them the fourth time you do the same thing.

Review all the news about Google buying their neighbour GreenBorder.

People are now expecting free software.


Imagine what might happen if Google try and charge for GreenBorder. Imagine the outcry if they increase the price!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Poor Schmoes

I thought I was being paranoid when I wrote that MyBlogLog seemed to call SMOs schmoes. I also thought I'd picked up on something that no one else would.

I was wrong about the latter. Techcrunch noticed. Then Andy Beal noticed - and that caused a ripple effect. (In this case Andy Beal's post seemed to influence the SEM world far more effectively than the Techcrunch post - respect to Marketing Pilgrim for that punching power).

We can see posts on SearchEngineLand (Danny's got a good eye for controversy) and David Wallace's SearchRank.

Back here on ARHG, MyBlogLog did the right thing as I approved a comment from Robyn Tippins within minutes of publishing my post. She said;

I love social media people, shoot I'm a social media junkie myself. Social Media Optimizer was a good way to explain what spammers do when they take social media applications and game them (optimize is a kind word).

No SMO hate here, I promise!

I believe her too. I don't think there was any intent to insult internet marketing consultants nor label them all as spammers. However, that may not have been the intent but that's been the result.

If we skip back to Marketing Pilgrim again and nudge down the comments we can see that Robyn's once again trying to set the record straight.

Here's one of the big debates in "Social Media Optimisation"; Do you get involved in a running argument?

If I was Robyn I would have posted one comment to clarify and then sat on my hands. It's hard for Robyn, I know, as the urge to put things right must be very high.

There's also a comment on SearchEngineLand from Robyn. She says;
There's no industry singled out... Unless you are saying all people who are involved in this space are spammers. I am a social media junkie and I don't attempt to spam other users or write software designed to make my avatar show up on sites I don't visit.

Ah... I think that's a much stronger reply. We're talking about writing software. We're talking about spammy comments.

My gut feeling is that if was the angle the original MyBlogLog blog post had taken then we would not have had this mini-outcry. It's tough on MyBlogLog because this is now old news - even if they change their blog post as Andy Beal suggests then that'll not make the news.

Yahoo themselves seem to focus on SMO as spam too. Yodel says:
MyBlogLog just launched a feature that’s more fun than calling people names. You can now tag MyBlogLog users and their blogs with descriptive tags. Find a spammy blog? Just tag it with “Schmoe” (short for Social Media Optimizer, of course) and the MyBlogLog team will tidy up.

This was published on the 25th and centres on the very paragraph which caused the kickback. The fact that MyBlogLog is tagging isn't given much limelight at all.

I'm not sure I like the phrase Social Media Optimisation. Just what are you optimising? Someone else's blog? That's not right. If you are 'optimising' what a digg.com summary to a news story on your site says (by writing it yourself) then... well, in many ways you are gaming the system and are a schmoe.

There is, however, a "white hat" approach to Social Media where you can let your clients know that in addition to doing a corporate press release (for the journalists) that they should write up an appropriate announcement and host it on their site and perhaps consider adding some social news buttons to it (for digg, etc) rather than letting a review site take the traffic for the news.

Gosh. There's certainly a social media consultancy when you can advise clients on the pros and cons of publicly debating your announcements or products with people on blogs.

I don't think MyBlogLog considers consultants who offer social media advice to be schmoes at all. I just think that they accidentally said that they do!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Does MyBlogLog dislike SMO?

Over at the MyBlogLog blog Robyn Tippins writes:

If you think someone is spamming you, tag it out loud! Internally, we like to call a user who games the system a SchMOe (Social Media Optimizer).

Ouch. When I read that first it sounded that Robyn thought any SMO actions were unwelcome spam. Hence the derogatory nickname.

That would be a shame. An ethical SMO is a consultant who points out community building assets like MyBlogLog to their clients.

In fact, Robyn's post was about tagging. An ethical SMO consultant working for MyBlogLog would have encouraged the startup to consider tags from the very beginning.

... or perhaps I'm just being paranoid. This is a little joke - schmoe is funny. It could well be the case that Robyn didn't mean to suggest that everyone who offers social media consultations is a spammer.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Universal Search - Updated with YouTube PlusBox

The seminal Universal Search example [Darth Vader] has been updated. Well. For my cookie profile, at least.

The images at the top have been moved to the bottom. The big news is that we've live YouTube PlusBox areas. Two, in fact. Ever seen two plusboxes before?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Adwords messing with new Google gui

It looks like the new Google GUI is still prone to having unusual combinations of Adwords create weird colour bleeds. Observe how the yellow background leaks across the top of the site.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eye For Travel

Oh yes - another chance to talk search to a captive audience. Muahaha. *wheeze*.

On the 23rd I'm actually double lucky as I get to talk about affiliates and search (which is where we old boys started). I'll be talking about how to coordinate the two disciplines.

Eye for Travel - Affiliate Track and I'll be there at 2:30 along with Ushma Agrawal from Marriott International, David Stratton from Holiday Extras, Peter Potthast from Nonstop Consulting and Hedwig Wassing from Euro Relais.

Google Analytics - Errors

I've been a fan of Google Analytics.

I'm struggling with the new look. I expect I'll come around - however, I can't pick just one day to review (the system seems to insist on a date range of at least two days). This evening the screen grab above illustrates 98% of my Google Analytic views.

Blogger breaks the new Google GUI

Meh. I'm not liking the new link to Blogger in Google's "more" link in the new GUI.

Looks innocent enough? The problem is that Blogger uses a meta refresh and breaks my Back Button. If I select Blogger by mistake then I cannot click back to Google's home page.

If this was an AdWords link - Google would reject it. Why is it here in their homepage's interface?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

SEM agencies in the UK - A Google Bird's eye view

I'm drinking chili beer. This might be why I've decided to blog a "Google bird's" eye view of Search Marketing agency offices in the United Kingdom.

It's interesting to see who has offices where Google Maps has high resolution / close up images and who is yet to benefit from the close ups! It's also quirky to see just how nearby some agency's offices are!

I also have to say that the green arrow is often in the wrong place. Google gets near (ish) but its common for the wrong building or block to be selected.

The agencies, off the top of my head, are listed in alphabetic order. If you want added to the list then give me a buzz!

Ambergreen - Edinburgh

bigmouthmedia - Edinburgh

bigmouthmedia - London

bigmouthmedia - Manchester

Greenlight - London

I Spy - London

Latitude - London

Latitude - Warrington

Neutralize (*\*) - Cornwall

Propellernet - Brighton

Spannerworks - Brighton

The Search Works - London

The Search Works - Shropshire

Weboptimiser Media - London

Thursday, May 10, 2007

bigmouthmedia is big mouth media

I was emailed today by a journalist who managed to call the digital agency I work for "bigmouthmedia" and "big mouth media" in the same email. Not in the same paragraph though. I've also seen "bigmouth media" used.

This is one of the "quirks" associated with having a slightly quirky brand name. There are additional variants that people search on and which you therefore need to ensure you need to be optimised for. That said, there is no way that a significant high street name would allow the wrong use (with spaces, in our case) of their brand name on their site. I made the controversial decision to test this on our Flickr account though.

Brands can be tricky like this. This is one of the reasons that I'm very pleased Chris Sherman and Danny have set up the Brand Aid column on SearchEngineLand.

I'm very interest to see what will be written about. Too often forum and blog based SEO chat simply could not apply to big brands and their websites.

Here are some (fairly) common pit traps:

  • A corporate font - this used to haunt me back in the 90s when this was common. Brands would spend tens of thousands (or more) in designing a font for themselves. The only way to get this font, in a cross-browser safe way, onto the site was to use images. As a result key messages could not be seen by the search engines. This is one of the reasons why Google themselves use the example of just having a graphic logo rather than the name of your company on the site.
  • Weird spellings - for example 'x' rather than 'ct' in a word (connexions rather than connections) or 'ez' rather than 'easy' (ez-Andrew rather than easy-Andrew).
  • Concept names - for example, 'desktop storage' rather than 'portable hard drive' or 'floating hotel' rather than 'cruise ship'.
  • Commonly misspelled names - for example, from the UK market, I could pick 'Thomson' which often picks up the extra P or 'Ernest Jones' where 'Ernest' is spelt in dozens of different ways!
  • Brands versus Everyday - for example, companies calling themselves 'Monday' or 'Circle' and then struggling to rank for their own name.
Anyone else got some good brand battle examples?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Three Steps to Heaven*

Three Steps to Heaven* (*Greater Online Conversion).

I'm just back from the speaking at the afore mentioned expo. I'm not sure if "expo" is the right word; perhaps "private conference" is better. Webcredible, Omniture and bigmouthmedia treated a collection of each other's clients to a series of short presentations. You guessed it; search engines, usability and web analytics were on the agenda.

It's good to see how people who've got their head around metrics (Omniture's clients) click quickly to SEO or usability. It's good to see how people who've seen the importance of usability are quick to understand the concepts of search marketing and web analytics. All in all, I'd say the synergy there was good!

In other news Doctor Dave Chaffey has posted a short interview with me on his first class e-business site.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why do SEOers hate options?

Why is it that whenever a search engine offers up a control choice to the SEO community that the SEO community turns around to bite the search engine?

We've seen this already with nofollow. This is an optional relational element for links. SEOers hate it. They would rather there was no way to signal "vote" or "no vote" when linking to another site.

I don't understand why. Surely this empowers webmasters and SEOers alike with more control, choice and power?

Actually, that's a lie. I do understand why. One day "nofollow" could happen to them. It's like speed cameras. Even motorists who insist they never speed and support road safety can be strongly against speed cameras (for [reason xxx]).

We're seeing it again. Yahoo's introduced a class (it's not a tag) called "robots-nocontent" which instructs Yahoo! Slurp to ignore that content.

  • You're a finance site, need to put a hefty disclaimer on each page but want to avoid duplicate content - this option is for you
  • You have a multi-lingual site with a brand message in English on every page but don't want to loose the language targeting - this option is for you
  • You've a hefty cross-network navigation bar which has no relevance to your actual site - this option is for you
  • You take in unmoderated user generated content - this option is for you

The response from the 'blogosphere' seems to be "isn't this the job of the search engine to work out". Fair enough. I don't remember anyone saying that when MSN, Yahoo and then Google introduced "NoODP" as a meta tag.

Recently the search engines adding a sitemap XML auto-support option to the Robots Exclusion Protocol. That blows the standard out of the water. Did anyone complain? No.

It seems to be that whenever the search engines seem to be making the art-and-science of SEO more widespread that the tight-nit SEO community objects.

I don't see it like that. I think the more options we have then the more there is need for specialised SEO services to help clients weight up the options.

Go on then, in your own words; why is "robots-nocontent" a bad idea?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Microsoft buys ScreenTonic

ScreenTonic is big in Europe and have sold over a billion page impressions to mobile phones. You can tell they're European because they're not talking about cell phones.

ScreenTonic has significant deals with mobile operators in France (where it's from) and the UK. It does not just sell banner space but copes with text messaging - and has a system to manage and report on those ads.

This is Microsoft on a mobile search/mobile advertising push. It's not a bad move either.

I noticed that Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of the Online Services Group at Microsoft, talked about this deal and talked about Microsoft putting adverts virtually anywhere. We will see advertising through the Xbox and perhaps even direct to PC advertising too (think of those text lines and banners you already have at the bottom of MSN Messenger).

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Well done Google Ireland

When the FT publish their Best Workplaces supplement in the morning - we'll see that Google Ireland rank in the top 100 in Europe.

Well done guys. I suppose Google UK was too busy to enter!