Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Success?

Many years ago a made a New Year's Resolution to stop making New Year's Resolutions because they were naff. Last year, just before New Year, I made the determination to do something with this blog. Last year I posted 42 times. This is the 45th post this month. More in a month than in last year.

  • Eric Marcoullier
  • Graywolf
  • rustybrick
  • cre8pc Kim
  • Dugdale
  • Lisa Barone
  • BHartzer
  • AbleReach
  • Bill Slawski
  • Bradley Horowitz
  • Jill Whalen ... well, nearly.
MyBlogLog lets me chart how successful I've been. One way to do that is go star gazing. The bullet list above namedrops the SEM stars I've been able to screen capture on ARHG.

If you're starting a blog, if you're moving up a gear with your blog or if you want to make changes to your blog then really do consider MyBlogLog!

Next month should be good too. I'll be speaking at eWorld, Technology For Marketing and Search Engine Strategies London. There are a handful of e-Consultancy roundtables lined up too. All-in-all; there will be much to blog about.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

MyBlogLog Battles - MyBlogSlog?

Erk. Two heavy hitters are in the process of duking it out. Over at his blog Jeremy Zawodny takes a pop at Andy Beal for 'spamming' MyBlogLog.


I don't blame Zawodny for making the comment. I can see why Andy is furious though.

Why has Jeremy made this claim? He's a loyal Yahoo and a savvy guy. He's seen another savvy marketer use MyBlogLog's features to broadcast a commercial message. This is likely to be something that Eric Marcoullier and his team may not have intended their system to be used for.

Is it spam? It is an image that doesn't look like Marking Pilgrim. This is true. Is the chance to win a Zune representative of Marking Pilgrim? Gosh. I guess that's for Andy Beal to decide. He's certainly not the only savvy marketer to change their MyBlogLog picture.


SEO by the Sea isn't spamming. Bill Slawski is easily smart enough to know that that beautiful picture is going to attract more attention on MyBlogLog than all the other SEO blogs out there. Bill's still playing by the rules.

As a tangent I have to admit how SEO By the Sea has blasted on to my radar. I found it via Search Engine Land, commented at the time that I didn't read it - now I certainly do. Bill Slawski writes to an audience of intelligent optimisers. Too many SEO blogs write to an audience of rookie webmasters learning about SEM.

What we have here, with Beal and Zawodny, is a clash of netiquette. The manners expected from MyBlogLog users aren't yet clear. We don't yet have the ground rules.

You might say that you don't want to look at a Zune competition graphic on MyBlogLog but - c'mon - I don't want to look at the ugly mugs throughout most of MyBlogLog! My ugly mug included! Haha. On the other hand, imagine if every other community image on MBL was a commercial lure?

The debate (despite Andy's anger and Jeremy's annoyance) is good. We're having the conversation. We're thrashing out the ground rules in a new area. That's always needed.

I have to say that I'm impressed with MyBlogLog. This blog sat in "parked" for over a year. I've been active in the social media scene with this blog for just a month, am making progress and much of this is due to MyBlogLog. MyBlogLog drives a significant chunk of ARHG's traffic right now. Further to this you can see just how quickly and how well Eric and co respond to the blogosphere. Despite Yahoo making them a bit richer I can see that MBL senior management are still here for us. They're still hands on.

Eric will need to be hands on for a while longer. This won't be the only MyBlogSlog we see this year.

(The I support nofollow campaign reaches day 5 with 1 'heroic' supporter.)

Googlers quitting Matt Cutts' team?

Two weeks a go I was sent a press release from an SEM agency claiming to have poached some of Matt Cutts' team. I've watched Google News, the PR hubs and other blogs - no one else has mentioned it.


[company] reinforces its International Search Marketing Division With The Appointment Of Leading Consultants From Google’s SQE team

15th January 2007: Online marketing company [company] has announced a number of strategic appointments to strengthen its search engine optimisation team, with several members of the Matt Cutts search quality Evaluators (SQE) team leaving Google to join the company. The new consultants will drive [company's] international operations, responsible for maximising its search engine optimisation services.

[first name] [surname], CEO of [company] said:

“I am very pleased to announce these appointments. Their expertise in search engine optimisation on an international level will enable [company] to provide highly effective, measurable campaigns on a global scale. We develop solutions for our clients within very short timescales. With their experience in search quality evaluation our new team will ensure that quality controls continue to be a priority for [company].”

This announcement follows [company's ]recent ... [snippy].

[first name] added:

“As multilinguists with hands-on experience in countries across Europe the new team will also provide the cultural knowledge essential for successful International online marketing campaigns.”


The email headers confirm that it was sent by [company]. So, any thoughts? A bluffing PR? Linkbait?


(The I support nofollow campaign reaches day 4 with a mighty 1 supporter.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Is SEO Rocket Science? Kevin Lee brings the diatribe to LinkedIn

Over at LinkedIn Kevin Lee has re-stated his Is SEO Rocket Science? What do you think? [log in needed] debate. That was 11 hours ago - at the time of this posting.

He already has six bullish replies. I'm an idiot for adding fuel to the flames. I'm more interested in his use of the SEMPO brand though-out all of this. I'm not interested in the flamebait. Don't people remember the Usenet days?

He'd made sure SEMPO are mentioned in his LinkedIn badge ID.

Is the debate harming the industry's reputation?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Social Media - taking causalities

I don't need to point out that there's a lot of interest in social media and linkbaiting right now. That's a good thing. However, we're going to see many social media sites close down this year.

There are people who think social media is new. It's not. Over at work our RSS feed has been in place since 2003. It's common to find a blog in its fifth year. Despite all the interest and enthusiasm some of the original social media sites are struggling and some even dying.

The social media field is getting tough. Spam is on the increase and some of the older sites are shutting down. Maple is closing down. Maple has been a bookmark manager since 2005. It was one of the first to integrate with Firefox extensions. Taggle is closing down too. SocialBookmarking.org is a state of disrepair.

It's worth noting that Taggle.de and Maple.nu were multilingual. Social Media is strong at the core right now - but only in English. It's the Asian languages which are vying for second place. Mainland European languages are punching below their weight.

Spam is a problem too. Digg's battles with its algorithm and users are infamous. Spend a minute reviewing the drivel that comes into del.icio.us and you could loose heart. Over at Linkatopia, Robert Giordano is looking for moderators to help Design215 fight the spammers. Linkatopia say they're one of the first to fight back against the spammers. They are. It's a tricky battle though - will they get any moderators? I certainly don't have time to help. What about false positives? Imagine if you social bookmark network started to delete your bookmarks?

Adam Loving at Lookmarks notes the problem too. Lookmarks had a good year. The site made people's lists. As a result Lookmarks is on spammers' lists too. He's left to weed out the trash himself. He's put on a brave face but it must be a soul destroying task.

The social bookmarking sites face a problem that the traditional hierarchical directory sites do not have. Directories like Best of the Web don't need people to work, they need websites and the incentive of PageRank to bring in customers. Social bookmarking sites don't have customers, they have users and will struggle without them. One website can be submitted to many different directories but it is unlikely that one user will submit to very many social bookmarking sites.

Simply put - more and more social bookmarking sites will close. Small directories can continue on forever. Small social bookmarking sites won't.


(The I support nofollow campaign reaches day 2 with a mighty 1 supporter.)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I support nofollow!

I'm just going to come right out and say this: I support nofollow.

I support the optional enhancement to the web. If you don't like it - don't use it. If someone links to you, but nofollows the link - you'll just have to accept that they didn't want to 'vote' for you.

This isn't a popular view among the SEO community right now. Graywolf's diatribe against nofollow [follow allowed - my choice] is proving popular. I'm prepared to be unpopular on this one. :) Do read Graywolf's post if you have time and the comments on it. Matt Cutts' and Jeremy Zawodny's comments, in particular, are worth your time.

I support nofollow

  • Andrew Girdwood

Support nofollow too? Drop me a comment and I'll add your name to the supporters list.

(This blog was kicked out of the long grass less than a month a go. Readership is tiny. A lack of fellow nofollow supporters is as indicative of the low readership as much as it is of lack of nofollow support.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

M Google and W Google

Would Google ever drop the 'www' from their lead URLs?

They might.

We already have m.gmail.com for gmail on the mobile. However, for Google Reader there's www.google.com/reader/m. There's a little inconsistency there. (Google Reader, btw, uses labels rather than tags)

We should see Google moving over the m. sub-domain for mobile. Check out this jobs page from Google UK.



An interesting quirk is the w.google.co.uk/jobs address. On Google UK you can view the same page.



Over at Google US if you try swapping out the .co.uk with .com then you'll trigger a redirect.

Could we see m.google for all mobile content on Google and w.google for web content on Google? Maybe.

By the way, if you are interested in at job at Google UK then you'll be pleased to know that their Belgrave House offices are spacious and comfortable. They're just around the corner from Victoria Station and the tube. If you're keen on mobile search then Belgrave House is the place to be too.

Linkbaiting takes a hit with the fall of the Googlebomb

A certain Matt Cutts (I have a good feeling about him - I sense he'll go far in Google) over at Webmaster Central Blog has inscribed an epitaph to the Googlebomb.

Ryan Moulton and Kendra Carattini (I suspect we'll be seeing their names again) used some of their 20% time time to improve Google's algorithm, making it more robust to Googlebombing.

It seems that we're more likely to see results talking about the googlebomb rather than the googlebomb itself. I can see how this will work on the historic googlebombs but surely this will be trickier on any new attempt? It also looks as if the algorithm looks for related content to the Googlebomb attempt. The editorial opinion patent is coming into play here. This is a patent application which describes how an editorial opinion could influence the SERPs. This tweak looks like a practical use of the idea.

This will effect linkbaiting and widget promotion too. It's pretty easy to make sure that a widget has some search benefit too - just include an HTML element as well as the standard JavaScript. The catch now is that that HTML element will be the same all over the web. A wide number of blogs linking to your target site with the same anchor text due to your clever use of a widget will have a similar footprint as a googlebomb. The main difference in this example is that the Googlebomb links will tend to be contextual whereas the widget won't be.

Linkbaiting often has a similar footprint to a Googlebomb. If I titled a post Lisa Barone is Bruce Clay and published a cunning dossier of photoshopped evidence, if the linkbait works, then a host of search blogs would be linking to me with the Lisa Barone is Bruce Clay shocker anchor text but this new algorithm tweak may thwart me. Blogs writing about my sly linkbait attempt would win, especially if Google saw them as a favoured source.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Spot the difference: Google Video and Yahoo Video

It used to be easy to explain the whopping difference between Google Video and Yahoo Video.

  • Google Video let you search through videos hosted by Google
  • Yahoo Video let you search the web for videos
Google's changed that. A look ahead at Google Video and YouTube and Salar Kamangar has announced that Google's users can now use Google Video to find YouTube videos. The videos remain on YouTube and that's where the user watches them.

The intent is to expand this so that you can use Google Video to search for videos anywhere on the web.

This is what Yahoo Video does already.

Yahoo Video makes use of RSS Enclosures as a way to put across all that extra video information which Yahoo! Slurp can't cope with. It's not Yahoo who sets up the RSS feed with enclosures but the webmaster of the site with the video content.

That tends to be the catch. Most webmasters aren't dab hands at RSS enclosures (though it's pretty easy) and most don't bother.


It's doubtful whether Google will push webmasters towards RSS enclosures in the way Yahoo did but if enough webmasters use them - then so will Google.

Video technology is coming on in leaps and bounds. Podzinger is already capable of looking inside podcasts and videos and turning speech into text. There's even a YouTube tab on Podzinger.

Google will be pushing video this year. They've already made one AdSense announcement for video.

Reddit gets a fashionable baby sister

One of my favourite social news sites Reddit is due to get another fashion conscious sister. Stylefinder.com will be born on the 8th of March. That's the same day as Glamour relaunches. Glamour is the elder sister at the mighty age of 5.

Wondering about those family relations? We have this genealogy because Condé Nast bought Reddit back in October last year. I suspect many techie SEOers will never have heard of Condé Nast. They own a truck load of magazines. They own Wired. I suspect all techie SEOers will have heard of Wired.

I think Reddit have done well. Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian told Michael Arrington that as far back as 2005 they had raised $100k. Condé Nast clearly keeps the web firmly in mind when planning expansions and marketing activity. Nikki Preston from Mad.co.uk noted;

The campaign includes placing advertisements on bus panels servicing Manchester and London, ensuring that the brand is well covered by Google’s and Yahoo!’s search engines, putting advertisements in Glamour, and emailing its existing database of 500,0000 readers.

So Stylefinder.com and Condé Nast are thinking PPC at least and are hopefully in the position to launch an organic search friendly site. Judging by the name (and this is a complete guess) Stylefinder does have that "social search" vibe to it. Find something interesting on the online magazine - and show your friends.

Even if Stylefinder are social search/social media naive Reddit are still safely part of a web savvy family. Digg is still fishing around for concrete support, probably a buyer, while the speculation that their bubble will burst seems to ebb and flow through the world of blogger speculation.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Google's Marketshare compared to Yahoo, MSN and eBay

I like Compete. The traffic gauge shows signs of promise. It just needs more data. Their blog is in my Google Reader and it reminds me of Hitwise's. A good model to follow.

I sometimes look at Netcraft's topsites to see what the market is doing. I remember how gmail caused the https://mail.google.com domain to rocket up through the ranks. Look how much traffic eBay.de gets. Okay. The figures may be a little awkward. This traffic is collected by the Netcraft Toolbar and Netcraft's Toolbar URL appears in the top 50.



This pie chart looks at the top 50. Netcraft records the top 100.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Yahoo's R&D expenditure up by 46%

How much money do you think Yahoo has spent on Panama? Figures from their Full Year figures for 2006 [PDF link] show a 46% increase in the money spent on Product Development.

In 2005 Yahoo! spent $569,527 on Product Development and $833,147 on it in 2006. That's not all Panama but still a dramatic increase.

Surprisingly costs of running the company are up too. The dreaded "General and administrative" costs rose from a "mere" $341,073 to $528,798. Another big rise. It's little wonder that Yahoo! is putting a lot of faith (and need) on the restructure around Susan Decker. They need to get those costs down.

I'm no Wall Street expert but I would say that Yahoo!'s figures are better than expected. Cash flow is down. Net Income is down. Neither is down by as much as some people thought. Revenue is up.

The figures don't really give us a clue to what Yahoo! paid for MyBlogLog. The deal is likely to show in Q1 for 2007. We can see that Yahoo! paid $112 for a land purchase though. Those will be funky offices.

Wikipedia and nofollow - the outcry, why?

I'm not surprised at the number of SEOers who are deeply annoyed at Wikipedia adding "nofollow" to its links. Why would it bother anyone? Lots of SEOers are stating that they're not wiki spammers and they're annoyed. They're not wiki spammers so why are they annoyed?

  1. The principle of thing
  2. They might be affected later
  3. They dislike the "nofollow" concept and oppose its use
I'm reminded of the anti-speed camera popular opinion here in the UK. "I never speed" is a common claim, "But why should the police get money from speed cameras? It's just a way to earn money." Drivers hate speed cameras - even those who don't speed. My pet theory - and it applies to wikipedia - is that even safe drivers subconsciously acknolwedge that sometimes they might speed. They might get caught. That would even more "unfair" as they're generally a safe driver. They can't reason with or explain that to a speed camera and therefore they hate speed cameras.

SEOers who don't spam wikipedia may sometimes benefit from a link in wikipedia. Now they can't. They can't debate or reason with the code. Therefore these SEOers dislike the "nofollow" policy.

I'm indifferent. Wikipedia still has a place in any online marketing campaign. If you work with big names and big brands you need to make sure that their wiki page does not have any inaccuracies in it.

I'm also a cynic (my default nature). Is there a connection between Wikiseek and the nofollow rules. This quick little diagram attempts to see if there is a connecting line.


Wales said that Google's algorithm couldn't out perform human decisions. I wonder if wikipedia's human decision has helped or hindered Google?

Sirrah, I disagree

I'm glad that Brandt Dainow of Think Metrics has published a study of click through data over at iMedia Connection. Most SEO agencies will not, cannot, do this. Think Metrics is analytics rather than SEO.

The data is fun to look at. I don't agree with the conclusion;

"1st Position Isn't Worth It".

It's no secret that 1st position is rarely the best for ROI. That's not news. What about volume? The first position is often best for volume.

Dainow's figures also lead him to conclude;
"There is no relationship between the position of an advertisement in the Google Ad listings and the chance of that ad being clicked on."

I guess this is a study of AdWords which appear on the first page. There's certainly a big difference in clicks between page 1 and page 3. No secret here either. In fact, just to repeat, there can often be a difference in the number of clicks you get at position 1 than you do at, say, 8.

Of course, you don't have to believe me. You can drop your bids to position 8 and see what happens.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Horrendous code errors on Halifax Online

I logged into my main bank account for the weekly chore of bill paying. It broke. It broke through no code reason - they simply got the URLs to the account pages wrong. Badly wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.


See that? It's a rookie HTML error. It's just lazy coding. It's not just the credit card effected but all my accounts with them.

I just don't understand how a bank could make a howler like this. What about testing? They should have tested any changes for days. They would have paid big bucks for the change and for the test. Different departments would have been involved.

I phoned in to report the error. I had to let the woman go through her list of questions even though I could see what the error is. No one else had mentioned it to them - although, as she pointed out, the tip offs could have gone to different operators.

File this one under; What not to do in an online banking operation.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Yahoo Weather Report - following the trend

The helpful Priyank Garg has filed a Weather Report over at YSearchBlog. If you Yahoo Search you'll find 51 Priyank Garg results for YSearchBlog posts.

This update came on Friday. Friday, again? My first impulse was that Yahoo was waiting until Fridays in order to spread the feedback flood over the weekend and to Monday. Then I thought it was simply that Yahoo would work the week to ensure the update was ready to go and announce it on Friday. There's also less searching over the weekend.

But do Yahoo's Weather Reports show a Friday bias? Only very slightly and only if you account the new Slurp announcement (Yahoo did, calling it a weather report).


Google continues to tweak its SERPS too. The Air Force careers page which I pointed out was ranking 7th for [credit card] is... um... up to 5th!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Security alert at Flickr

Yahoo! have the best security of the big three. When was the last time you heard of a Yahoo! security issue?

There's an alert on Flickr right now.



It's a simple phishing scam. It's worth Flickr taking this extra effort because so many of Flickr's users aren't web savvy. They don't need to be web savvy because Flickr is so easy to use.



Microsoft's adCenter Labs are fantastic. It just took me three seconds to dig up some supporting evidence about Flickr's demographics.

How many web sites have that natural alert space built in? My bank has had to adapt their log in page so that it contains a reminder about security. Even then the message is below the log in box and I've no reason to look below the log in box. Flickr's security alert is right where I look.

Yahoo's Security Seal is an absolutely cracking idea too. At a glance you can tell if there's something fishy with the log in page. It's such a simple but effective device.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Buying Yahoo

Would anyone buy Yahoo? There are a lot of good reasons to do so:

  • Great brand
  • Huge traffic
  • A fat pipeline of products
  • Overhauling technology - expected to close the gap with Google
  • Overhauling company structure - expected to produce a quicker, leaner, meaner company
  • Shares low now compared to their all time highs
An Associated Press article on Forbes caught my attention and discussed this very idea.

William Blair analyst Troy Mastin reckons Yahoo is a good target for the cash rich buyout firms (and buyout firms, in the States, are cash rich right now).

There's a catch. Although Yahoo is a good target it is an unlikely target due to its size. Yahoo has a market cap of nearly $40 billion so if you add a mere 20% premium to that then you'd need $48 billion to buy the internet giant. That would be a record breaking buy out.

Mastin also worries that any departure which resulted in the stock incentive to staff being rescinded would trigger a staff exodus. Eh? That's happened already.

I like to float the idea of Microsoft buying Yahoo. It does put a theoretical challenger to Google up for an interesting twist. The truth is that that's very unlikely.

Remember how Yahoo looked when it was young? $48 billion for ...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Will Google's cost per acquisition kill affiliate sites?

I'm watching with great interest AOL bid $900m for Tradedoubler. The update is that TradeDoubler's largest share holder, Alecta, has said the offer is too low. Google News currently has over 100 stories on the bid.

It seems that affiliates have had a bumpy ride of late. Up. Down. Up. Down. Much of this is due to two things:

  1. Google
  2. Merchants not understanding that affiliates need careful management
At times it must look as if Google dislikes affiliates. The search engine doesn't like "duplicate text". In effect, Google doesn't want to match nine of the top ten search results to affiliate sites who then channel users back to the other site in the top then. The Quality Score system does seem to be most harsh on affiliates in Paid Search too (and affiliates have those tiny margins to work with). Again, I don't think this is anything to do with Google disliking the concept. Google is just trying to reduce the quantity of poor quality sites.

When (sorry; if) Google rolls out a cost-per-acquisition model (this is a topic I've not talked to Google about and can therefore safely blog about it - and I must stress that) then that might change.

Would you go to a third party when Google could manage your performance based advertising?

Well. Maybe! AOL and Alecta certainly seems to think so. After all, right now the only way Google has of inserting content on publisher sites is through AdSense and that's limited. The likes of TradeDoubler offer far more sophisticated content options. There are product feeds to enjoy. There are even search engine fronts to put on your site. Further more, with affiliate marketing it is the publisher - who knows his site best - which is responsible for matching the best banner for his content.

The deal has other merits for AOL. AOL bought Advertising.com back in 2004. I've certainly seen Advertising.com appear as a merchant on TradeDoubler in the past. There is interest in tapping into all those page impressions affiliates generate. If AOL owned both companies - and if they worked together - the super affiliates could be converted into media publishers or even visa versa.

Then there's the video battle. Ask Google and Advertising.com who has the largest network of video publishers and you'll get a different answer from each. There's a battle to be fought there. It's certainly possible to distribute video through TradeDoubler's network. Video on a cost per acquisition model would be interesting... but video has a further twist; cost per play. The cost per click or cost per impression model is weak because there's no way of telling if the user really did anything. A cost per play model which defines play as "getting to the end" or "watching at least 50%" of the video would be one where the merchant knew for certain that they had audience engagement. Suddenly TradeDoubler's large network of sites is a worthwhile prize.

The news is not the best for everyone. Deal Group Media's shares, which had begun to rise from their all time low of 2p, seem to have begun to drop again. Deal Group Media's DGM Affiliates has a large network of publishers too. Who knows. If AOL is unsuccessful in their attempts to grab TradeDoubler perhaps DGM/Fuel will be in line next?



JC, over at AnotherJunction, will likely have some thoughts on this too.

World of Search on Flickr (update)

The first World of Search on Flickr did very well. This is thanks to Andy Beal who not only picked the post up, but called it for the sly linkbait it was :) Did the post generate a lot of links? Eh. Well. No. But! It did move this only-recently-kick-started blog up a peg on the awareness ladder.

A number of SEOers have been added to the list. Here's who's new:


Google Analytics, which I like a lot, proves that some SEOrs visited the site. I use the "Network Location" option (In Visitor Segment Performance) to see if any one "big and interesting" visited. I say "big" because you need to be more on the M side of the SME in order to have a network name for yourself. SEO consultants tend not to need a whole network of computers.

I can see that I had a visitor from Bruce Clay LLC. That doesn't necessarily mean it was Lisa Barone but that's not a silly guess. Also - and how cool is this - a visitor from Apple too. Here's the full list:
  • Microsoft Corp

  • Reprise Media LLC

  • Kinetic Results

  • Apple Computer

  • i-level Ltd

  • Bruce Clay LLC

  • Yahoo Europe Operations

The screen shot is added as evidence. How come the Google Analytics list just shows these visitors and no one else? That's because the filter option supports the | or character.

Apple will probably leave "Apple Computer" footprints on the web for a while despite their re-name to "Apple Inc".

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Next Blog »

Since I moved the blog over to Google's Custom Domains I've had to accept Blogger's navbar across the top. I can't complain. Anyone can plainly see that I'm no design guru!

The Next Blog » interests me. It takes people off the site. It's like an old webring button. BlogSpot readers should be able to skip from blog to blog. Well. That's the theory. There's a lot of crap in there.

I decided to count how many Next Blog » clicks it would take me to visit 100 English language blogs. It took 241 clicks.

Here's a break down of a lazy Sunday hour.
There where three types of failure:

  • Taken to a spam or porn blog
  • Redirected off to a non-blog
  • Taken to a blog missing the navbar
Foreign language blogs did not interest me but if Blogger wishes to include them then I don't suppose they strictly count as a failure.



It's certainly possible for Google to check that a blog has the navbar before including it in the Next Blog ». Humble webrings do this. Google Analytics does this.

Of the spam and redirects out of the system there were two culprits who kept on coming up. Of the 32 redirects 15 went to JokesNJunk.com and 16 went to LookUpLive. JokesNJunk can still be found in Google. If you search for LookUpLive on Google there is just a diatribe of complaints about them.

I don't think Blogger should just look at taking out the spam. I think Blogger should enhance the button. I would be happy to fill in a little preferences poll and then enjoy a Next Blog » akin to StumbleUpon. In fact, since I surf with Google's personalised search then shouldn't Google already be able to to direct me to random but interesting blog.

Until that day the Next Blog » is simply incentive for people to spam the system.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

JotSpot getting closer to relaunch?

I'm one of the many people who are now hovering around JotSpot in anticipation that it'll open its doors to the public again. Google bought the wiki-plus company and I'm keen to try it out.

Last night, the JotBlog updated to say that all current JotSpots would be updating to v2.9 automatically in the next two weeks. Sadly, this isn't the Google update. This is the last update before they move over to Google's servers. Once that's done then, I assume, the doors will open.

This was a good acquisition by Google. I think Yahoo Groups is significantly better than Google Groups on all aspects of "community". Google Groups is good enough as a mailing list but I want more. I want a way to store, sort and display information online. The wiki way is exactly what I need.

I've some experience of WetPaint where friends and I keep a wiki for a monthly RPG I play in and I've found that it works well. It's just I don't like the AdSense all over the place. I know the AdSense must make some money for WetPaint because they've just finished a funding round and totted up about $4 million. I do like the update summary emails from WetPaint though.

It's ironic that Google's AdSense on WetPaint puts me off to the point that I'm looking forward to a rival wiki from Google opening up. Google are making money from WetPaint and WetPaint are pushing me towards JotSpot. I suspect JotSpot will be like Blogger. You can have AdSense if you want. You can leave the AdSense if you want.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Google Images - faster than you think

Many people do not realise just how quickly Google's Image search updates. A good test of speed was the iphone. All the mock-ups and leaks on what it could look like turned out to be entirely wrong. If we can find some accurate images of the iphone on Google Images then we know that Google Images grabbed them since Macworld this week.


Not bad, huh? Google's done it. Crawled, indexed and updated in less than a week.

Google News Archives at the bottom of SERPs

This is filed in the "new to me" category. I assume it's not new to the vibrant SEO forum community which I find all to easy to ignore. Oops.



This is triggered when your search query includes a past date. It's interesting to note that Google notes whether a subscription is required or not. That's not something that you tend to see in Google News onebox. Why not? Probably because there are enough subscription free stories for news articles by the time a story is large enough to make the onebox.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Safari for Windows

If Mac released Safari for Windows and it became popular then how many web sites would suddenly need a re-design? How many would need to tweak their CSS and XHTML? More than a few, I would say. Mass re-designs would shake up SERPs.

ZDNet are running a poll on the issue and although it is early days yet (early days favour the Windows masses due to mathematical distribution curves) the idea of Safari for Windows clearly has a lot of support. Mind you, Mac have just announced the iPhone and everyone loves Mac just now. It's the fashion. Mock Mac? No. Not me. You must have been thinking of someone else.

If we do have a three-way field in the browser race; Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari (or a four-way if I'm kind enough to remember Opera (and at least one Organic Search Manager at work is a fan)) then we're likely to see more web sites employ user-agent detection scripts.

User-agent detection is always risky. Google (Yahoo and Live Search) need to be sure that the web site they are seeing is the same web site that everyone else is seeing. If user-agent detection is place than there is doubt. Sometimes some features simply do not work on other browsers and an alternative presentation is necessary. At that point you are showing a different version of the web site to different user-agents.

In fact, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley has dug up some obscure suggestion that Mozilla is expecting Mac to bring Safari to Windows. Could they? Yes. Would they? That's harder to answer.

This is not a problem which the search engines would struggle to serve. Googlebot already visits sites pretending to be Internet Explorer in order to try and catch cloakers out. That's one of the reasons why user-agent cloaking is scoffed at.

If the web was viewed by a competitive range of browsers and user-agent detection became commonplace then the search engines would have to respond by spoofing their own user-agent more often.

All this comes at a time when the SEO community are discussing whether Google is/whether Google could parse CSS. Google is. Google can. It strikes me as madness to suggest that Google could not cope with CSS. Of course Google can cope with mere CSS! Of course! It's just text. It's simply the case that (and we're back to the distribution curves) that CSS checking has not been worth Google's effort. For all the benefits that CSS spidering would bring the cost would be too great. It's a numbers game.

CSS continues to grow in popularity, so hidden or conditionally visible text becomes more and more common, and it is therefore not a surprise to find that Google is taking stock of things. It could well be the case that Google concludes this look at CSS and decides it is still not worth the effort. This would not be unheard of. In 2004 a test Googlebot was seen scooping up .js files. We didn't see this bot back in a hurry.

Google can cope with JavaScript too. For heavens sake, spammers can defeat captchas, of course Google can cope with JavaScript and CSS. Finding a way through captchas is worth the spammer's while. Picking through JavaScript may not be worth Google's while.

... unless, that is, alternative browsers like Safari become more popular and JavaScript based user-agent detection becomes the norm.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ouch! Publicis must be feeling the hurt

Gosh! This must hurt! ASDA, the UK supermarket owned by US giant Wal*Mart has ended their 17 year old marketing deal with French marketing group Publicis and awarded their £44m marketing account to Fallon.

There are a few stings in this tale. Firstly, this was a surprise pitch. Publicis would not have been expecting it. Secondly, this surprise pitch was called by ASDA's new marketing director Rick Bendel. Where did Rick Bendel come from? He came from... Publicis!

Agency SEM workers will know Publicis' Starcom which is a media buying agency which dabbles in PPC.

There's an introduction to this story on Brand Republic but you need a paid subscription to read the full thing.

Intent is Keywords 2.0

I'm surprised at how long it is taking the SEO community to twig to this - search engineers have been talking about it for years. The key is to work out what the searcher wants. If someone types in 'Hoover' are they after the branded vacuum, the dam or the FBI guru? Hoover is the keyword but it is the searcher's intent which is most important.

Let's say you've a client who sells MP3 players from their website. That's all they do. Are you going to go away, do some research and then conclude that keywords include "ipod", "zen", "mp3", etc. Ah! Perhaps you'll talk about the long tail and claim that the keywords are keyphrases that include "black 80gig ipod with free shipping". That's better but that's not good enough.

The intent phrase there is 'free shipping'. What does that tell you? The searcher is rich enough to go for the 80gig but poor enough to care about the shipping. A student, then? We can also be fairly sure that this searcher is ready to buy. If they're thinking about shipping then they're not researching. It would be best to target a "buy" page to this intent phrase. A buy page is unlikely to have an essay of text on it. Many SEOers who try and persuade their client to shoehorn as much keyword laden text on to their 80gig ipod page as possible.

But what about the 80gig ipod? The MP3 client should have some strong and authoritative ipod pages. In this example an authoritative page is one which offers useful information about ipods and actually gives people a reason to link to it. That's a tough call. Could you write a page about ipods that actually stood out well enough to persuade people to link to it? This is where social media (social search) can factor in as we could button this page to encourage users to tag it in search engine friendly social bookmarking sites.

The authoritative pages are the first stage in the search cycle. They target the researchers. They're there for people talking about ipods online and should begin to enjoy natural forum and blog links. The authoritative pages link to the buy pages. Yeah, it would be worth having a different page for "free shipping" than the normal "shelf page" if you can avoid duplicate content issues. Users intend to avoid body content that they've read already.

Ask has 30 million American users and lots of plans

Ask's CEO offers the 'Real Deal' to Donna Bogatin.

The AskX website is a testing ground for what the next generation of Ask.com could be. AskX.com is the sandbox area and slowly but surely will be migrated over to everyday Ask.com users starting at some point in this quarter, but we have a lot of testing to do still. AskX is the potential future interface of Ask.com or potential future experience for Ask.com.

-Jim Lanzone, Ask CEO

One of the reasons I watch Bogatin's blog over on ZDNet so closely is that she uses terrier tactics. She'll bite at heels, snap and shake. Bogatin is no Google fangirl. She'll also cut to the core of the issue.

Barry Diller - Lanzone's boss - opines that Ask is the glue which holds his web site empire together. Lanzone's horizons are wider. To him Ask isn't constrained to just IAC but will make use of other sites. AskCity was built, he says, to cash in on local search. The best way to make a stab at that was to use the best resources they could find.

There's a diplomatic disagreement there. As Barry Diller was collecting his online empire there was criticism that it was too diverse, that it was just a collection of good looking, currently successful but otherwise random sites with no long term plan. Diller used Ask.com to counter those criticisms. Put the concept of "finding stuff online" in the center and then its easy to have "stuff online" and connect the two. If you drew this out you'd have Ask.com in the middle and spokes off to every other IAC site.

Lanzone doesn't (need to) think like that. He wants Ask to be successful and recognised for that success. I doubt he wants to be seen as the site which drives traffic to other IAC sites. He wants Ask to be a successful search engine.

Lanzone isn't Page, though, and Ask isn't Google. Whereas Brin and Page wrote a stern "We'll do it our way and not succumb to short term ROI" letter to investors for the IPO, Lanzone says;
We have to do what is in our short and long term best interests, we have to focus on ROI.

The indications are that Ask will be sticking with Google for paid search results for a little while. Lanzone has said Ask will use what's best for them and not necessarily strictly IAC and he says it's about the ROI. When asked about the paid listing supply, Lanzone also said;
Google has historically paid the most… they can give a better deal to potential partners.

Does Yahoo have the cash to outbid Google? Unlikely. Although Yahoo surprised many by paying a rumoured $10m for MyBlogLog. It may only be Live Search (MSN) with deep enough pockets. MSN typically has very short arms though. They could have had AOL but lost it to Google.

Google benefits from its relationship with Ask too. Google could never be seen to be encouraging people to click on paid ads - they're lambasted whenever they're less pure than virgin pure. However, there are charity search engines which donate a share of their click profits and these engines are often powered by Ask. That is to say, these charity search engines get their paid ads from Google and encourage people to click on them in order to aid charity. A good will click fraud, some might say.

What ever happens it will pay to keep an eye on Ask.com. They are firmly 4th while Yahoo and Live Search battle not to be 3rd. According to Lanzone Ask has 10% of all searches if you add in their distribution network. If either Yahoo or Live Search slip then Ask is likely to be ready to pounce.

Google are right to brag

I didn't think Google would comment - but they have. Their blog, now back after the Blogger 'maintenance', has noted they've won Fortune's Best Company to Work For.

Google are a great company to work for. In fact, Google is a great company to visit. They always take care of you. I had a long chat with someone who Google was headhunting. He had the audacity to lead a team which beat Google into second place in an academic contest on machine translation. He wouldn't move. Despite all the perks he wouldn't give up his position in the University. Google kept on talking to him and in the end they offered him their equivalent of an "academic secondment" and he moved. He's still there. It's not just the perks. It's the culture.

I've seen this with the various Google teams we get to work with. People who show talent or aptitude in an area are quickly recognised and encouraged to bloom in that area.

Are there any downsides to working in Google? Yes. I work with a few people who have left Google (and a few who left Yahoo - we don't have any ex-Microsofters). The comments are all the same. Google is tribal. Don't expect the Google News team to talk to the Google Analytics team. Don't expect the Google Reader team to talk to the Google Webmaster Console team. To be honest, if that's Google's only growing pains then they've done well.

We've won "Best Company to Work For" awards too. Local ones ... but still excuses to have a night out with fellow workers. Always good!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bad Google SERPs

Here's the worst Google organic search result I've seen in a while. One of the search analysts in the office pointed it out to me. When I pointed it out to Google their response was: Good catch. Thanks. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

The search term is [credit card] and it is not a Personalised Search result.



Using Yahoo's SiteExplorer you can see that they have back links from some pretty bad sites. They've links back from good sites too, often due to the page's good organic results.

The worst looking of the sites redirect to a links directory (via a half obscured JavaScript script). Other than the JavaScript there's no content on the site. Clearly there's been content there in the past for Yahoo to have noticed the link though.

One easy hunch is that we're looking at a scraper network that's evolved into the sneaky redirects.

Now, there are sites like this one which are just scraped spam (with the noarchive tag too) and which do link to the mysteryly ranked Afreserve page. However, these scrapers could well have Afreserve content because Afreserve ranks highly for the competitive credit card term.

Blogger and BlogSpot down

The brave techies at Blogger have been poking screwdrivers into the servers - all with the aim of making the service better. Even Google's official blogs displayed Blogger's maintenance message.

When is 9:30?



At the time of this posting the "old" version of blogger (which seems to include Blogger's own Buzz Blog) is still down.

Matt Brittin joins Google from Trinity Mirror

As the Guardian says:

His role will be UK-specific, working alongside Mark Howe, who is the UK director of sales focusing on agencies.

Google UK counts "agencies" as a vertical. When you visit you'll find Account Managers who specialise in the likes of Travel or Finance or... Agencies. Mr Brittin is coming in to oversee relationships with advertisers. I suspect this will be larger firms who come to Google directly.

Matt Brittin has come from Trinity Mirror where he was the the Directory of Strategy and Digital. The funny thing about Trinity Mirror is that I always associate them with the icNetwork because of a fairly aggressive sales call I was once ambushed with. Despite explaining again and again that we didn't buy links because we felt it was neither ethical nor in the best long term interest of clients it was one of those calls that would not finish. I need to have two phone manners; one for clients and one for everyone else.

The links there come from the bottom of icWales's homepage. Some links go to partner sites (also within Trinity Mirror) like AdZooks and other links point to competitor sites for Trinity Mirror properties.

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 will be the year of mobile search

Paul Yiu of Yahoo! Search posted news of oneSearch on Yahoo's YSearchBlog a few hours ago. The beta sample is now full. That's partly a testament to the power of corporate blogging, the interest in mobile search and partly due to Yahoo only offering a small beta group.

oneSearch is an upgraded mobile search offering from Yahoo. The first person to try and coin the phrase Mobile Search 2.0 gets shot. What oneSearch does is optimise search results so that they fit mobile phone screens better, optimise search navigation so that there is less fiddly navigation to do and uses applications designed to work specifically on certain mobile models. My Nokia N80 can run oneSearch.

Let's watch Google for the lead on mobile search though. We have to watch Google for the lead on any search technology in 2007. What might we see? We'll see a big advertising push from Google on mobile search. Here in the UK that's a no brainer. We're a year ahead of the US on mobile usage (at least) and Google banners for mobile have been running already this year. Not only are there more phones in the UK than there are computers - there are more mobile phones in the UK than there are people.

I think we'll see official support for mobile maps and we may even see a mobile map which can track your location.

I look forward to getting access to oneSearch. Let's hope the beta goes better than Yahoo's WebRank display in their toolbar.

Update: Google Mobile deal with Samsung +4 hours after this post.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Blogger Custom Domain and my experiences

Google released a new "custom domain" option for Blogger. It's just a DNS setting which allows you to use your domain with Blog*Spot. You pay for the domain. Google pays for the hosting. I don't need to save the money but as this a kewl new toy from Google - I made the move and then thought about it later. Heh.

This blog used to use the URL www.arhg.net/blog/. It seems Google (the people at Blogger) didn't think about people who published to a folder. I'm sure not everyone FTP publishes to the root of their domain. In fact, I suspect more people publish to a folder or directory than root. The Custom Domain option doesn't cope with this very well.

After the DNS change filtered through my blog moved to www.arhg.net. The links and images in the blog, however, still pointed to www.arhg.net/blog/ and there was no /blog/ folder at Blog*Spot.

Simply put - the change broke the blog.

Here's the fix. I took back control of www.arhg.net and told Google to publish the blog to blog.arhg.net. That happened quickly. The links and requests for images at www.arhg.net/blog/ remained in place.

I used .htaccess to redirect anything in the /blog/ folder which ended in .html or .xml to the new blog.arhg.net. Since the images hadn't moved they weren't included in the redirect rule.

A quick way of applying redirects to just the /blog/ folder is to put the .htaccess in the /blog folder.

Here's my .htaccess rules.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^arhg.net$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^([0-9]*_[0-9]*_[0-9]*)_arhg_archive\.html$ http://blog.arhg.net/$1_archive.html [L,R=301]
RewriteRule ^(.*)\.html$ http://blog.arhg.net/$1.html [R=301]
RewriteRule ^atom\.xml$ http://blog.arhg.net/feeds/posts/default [R=301]


In time I'll move the images over to Google. Just to keep things neat.

In summary - did the custom domain option break your images? Publish to a sub-domain and redirect the .html and .xml files to the new address.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Is the US Department of State watching Andy Beal, webpronews or Flickr?



I was going to include a little run down of who has been checking out the site since World of Search on Flickr. One particular visitor caught my interest.

I've had a visit from the U.S. Department of State. They came to the site through Andy Beal's WebProNews article.

I'm sure it is just a friendly WebTech who happens to be on the Department of State's infrastructure (which is huge) but it did put a smile on my face. Maybe I'll get another visit.

Did I say I really like Google Analytics? I do. Few people realise how much information you can get out from it.

How Google Reader could influence organic search results

Certainly it seems safe to suggest that Google reader could - and perhaps should - influence personalised search.

I think I was one of the first to break the news that Google Reader had been updated. I'll note that because it'll rarely happen. This isn't a "news first" blog. This is my rants and raves blog. I saw the chance to be quick with news and so I took it.

Some time later the brain begins to work. I do this often. Sometimes the penny can be slow to drop. I knew all this already.

What we see on the trends report on Google Reader is that Google isn't just recording which RSS feeds I subscribe to (which is an indication that a human just voted for the quality of the site) but it is recording what percentage of the articles I read.

If I ignore an RSS feed then Google could notice.

If I ignore AdWords what happens? The quality score goes down and the advert begins to slip in position. It wouldn't be impossible for Google to note which RSS feeds got read (implying good content) and which did not.

Anyway... here's an idea. Do you know what would be cool? Being able to integrate your subscribed RSS feeds in reader.google.com to Google News. When I'm searching Google News and I use keywords which have also recently been mentioned in my Google Reader then it could let me know.

Answers.com sells links and still enjoys Google's favour

I don't do link buying. The search engine optimisation agency I work for does not do it either and takes the "white hat" approach of directory submissions, articles, press releases, social media and encouraging the client to have the right sort of quality content instead. It's important to me, to us, to do it right.

Back in September 2005 Matt Cutts wrote:

I wouldn’t be surprised if search engines begin to take stronger action against link buying in the near future.
The quote is from the Text Links and PageRank post.

Answers.com enjoys a special relationship with Google's GUI. If you search for any word or phrase then, in the top right, there is a link to Answers.com page about it. There are somethings to note here.
  • For the most part Answers.com's context is duplicate and taken from elsewhere
  • Google crawls Answers.com
I've never needed to scroll to the bottom of an Answers.com page before. However, I was checking why an Answers.com URL appeared as backlink to a finance site today. The answer? Answers.com seems to sell them.


Yuck. Just yuck.

Dictionary.com must have wept the day that they lost the right-hand spot from Google's GUI. Answers.com must have clapped with joy. The prototype Google GUI, which everyone has seen, with the PageRank-like bars on the left of the page looses this link though. Answers.com may still loose out. Further more, Google has the define search command which it could link in instead or, perhaps one day, use GoogleBase.

In the meantime I hope Google continues to crack down on link buying. A great way to do so would be to scare the heck out of link sellers. If you could harm your site's Google's presence for selling links... would you? No.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Google update Google Reader and Google Trends


Google have updated Google Reader so that it interfaces with Google Trends. It's great!

The new feature allows you to review which of your feeds you find the most popular. It offers a tag cloud (or in Google terminology a label cloud) of your most popular folders.

In the screen grab you can see how I've gone from being aware of Google Reader to being a power user in just a few days (ever since I decided to ramp up the blog, in fact).

It'll be a race between Philipp Lenssen's fine Blogoscope and Ionut Alex over at the equally fine Google Operating System to see who breaks the news to the masses!

Update: Google Operating System wins!

My Google Reader has just updated with Googiflied, another fine news source (the young Haochi Chen), who also seem to have broken the news. Haochi credits Googler Mihai Parparita with the first post on Google Reader's magic. Ah well. We're not at the stage of micro-second blog reporting. Scoop races are just a came for SEO geeks like myself!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Your page is too old for Googlebot

Google's Webmaster Tools offering is great but I only wish they'd give me a snappier URL for it. No. Wait. I only wish they'd give us an MMC like interface for multiple users. I think I'd better stop my Google wish-list here!

I work on a number of significant news sites. The Webmaster Console (The Artist Formally Known as Sitemap XML) has added extras for sites included by Google News. You knew that. Have you seen what the added extras look like? Have you seen the Google News specific errors?

Allow me. One of the Google News specific errors is date too old as Google (currently) only collects news content which is less than 4 days old.



Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Lycos down

Yowzah. Looks like Lycos.com is down and they've taken Tripod with them.

I'm not a networking expert but this smells like a DNS issue (Tripod's now merely a sub-domain of Lycos.com).



The Lycos.co.uk site is up and running.

Update: It's 00:45am GMT and Lycos.com is back up.

Computer World has more details. An outage at Savvis, a hosting provider, described as a cascade of failures was to blame.

The World of Search on Flickr

Let's not beat around the bush. I have a Flickr addiction. It ebbs and flows. Some days I'll struggle to stay off the site. Other days I'll do just fine. Previously I thought I'd only get addicted to three letter acronyms; seo, ppc, rpg, php, etc. Urm. Fkr?

In a moment of shameless abandon I merged my addictions to Search and Flickr into one list and produced a list of search people (and agencies) on Flickr.


Missed anyone out? Got anything wrong? I'm bound to have had. Let me know.

Which is better for SEO? Absolute Unique Visitors, New or Returning Visitors?

Ha. This blog title is a loaded question.

Which is better for SEO? Absolute Unique Visitors, New or Returning Visitors?

Simply put different web sites have different needs and different visitors do different things. A client rang with the "Which is better?" question within minutes of Google posting a useful walk-through on their Analytics Blog. I recommend this Google blog above many others. You will find countless SEO blogs but this is the only analytics blog.

The client in question is the marketing manager for a content site with a subscription model. You get a teaser of an article for free and if you want to read the whole thing then you need to subscribe to the site.

Absolute Unique Visitors are important to them because they represent people finding the site. This is their search traffic as well as links from elsewhere - blog citations, Google Desktop alerts, forum links, social search links or even direct traffic. Each absolute unique visitor is someone who could become a subscriber. If comparison date range is large enough then absolute unique visitors are highly unlikely to already be a subscriber.

That can't be said for New or Returning visits. A New Visitor could well be someone who has discovered the site before. A "New Visit" can come from an "Prior Visitor". The Google Analytics GUI talks about "Visitor Type" (as shown on the right of the screen shot below) but really we're talking about visits rather than visitors.



New and Returning visitors are still important for our content client though. Why? These are the people more likely to link to the teaser/free content on the site. That's easy to imagine how that works in the blogosphere. If you have a reader who returns to your site again and again then your chances of appearing in their blog list is much higher. Someone may be an avid reader of your site via RSS but if they're reading your work from a distance then they're less likely to reference you directly. The RSS reader is passive. Someone on your site is active. If someone is on your site then they're exposed to the "Blog This" button and your other social search lures.

Had I had a financial services client ask me the same question then we would have a slightly different scenario. If you're a bank, for example, then it simply does not matter how often someone applies for a credit card or a mortgage. They'll do it once and you will either approve or reject them. Once rejected it really does not matter how often they come back to your site (unless their financial situation changes). Web users rarely link to finance content. How many people actually blog about Barclays' great personal banking? One person. Me. I did it just now and no one is likely to do it again for a while! (Splogs being the exception). We can't really say that someone returning to a financial service provider again and again are any more likely to link to the site than someone who has just discovered it.

In fact, it could be argued that the people (the absolute unique visitors) who have just discovered a financial service site are the people most likely to link to it via a "Hey, I've just discovered..." post.

If we go back to the credit card example, the rejected returning visitor is not worth much but a brand spanking new visitor is. The absolute unique visitor is the visitor who represents the best chance of a lead and conversion.

We could end it there but I think it is worth while pointing out how brand skews all of this. In terms of search promotion and ROI that returning user may not be important to the bank. In terms of brand strength then that returning user is. A rule of thumb is that is the returning visits which offer the best reflection of brand strength. These are the people who liked what they saw the first time around to come back. That's always good for brand.

Flickr pushes "Search by Camera" harder

I really like Flickr. I do. I can hold my hands up and admit all the blame for my agency's Flickr account. It was that important to me that we had a presence there.

I'm a little wary of Flickr's Search by Camera feature. Right now it spends a lot of time in bed with Nikon. It is an advert. Yahoo says so but in light grey on white.



Yahoo have added a Search by Camera call to action on to their flickr search pages.



Yahoo can do this if they want. It's their site. I think it was a wise choice to do so.

It may be worth reflecting just how much Nikon's D80 has with the site right now. Flickr's own stats don't say anything for the Nikon D80. Canon dominate the most common type of camera, the Point and Shoot. In fact, Nikon aren't even on the radar.



In the overall league, Canon have the run-away lead again and the D80 isn't anywhere.



There you go. The news here is that Yahoo is pushing the Search by Camera feature a little harder not that they're doing adverts in a semi-sly way.

I'm reminded of the onebox verus advert debate which ensured Google ended 2006 with a thump. I think Danny Sullivan had it right when, in his fury post, he said:

I really dislike other companies getting free passes when Google is held up to higher standards.

Phil Bradley described Google's tactic as the search engine admitting that they're failing. I don't think Yahoo are failing here. That's not the news. The news here isn't that Yahoo is taking money for a semi-sly advert. The news here is that Yahoo has added an extra search feature.

So Yahoo can run these semi-sly adverts in a way that Google couldn't. I very much doubt any other blog will post on this. If Google slapped a Nikon D80 up on Picas Web Albums then we'd all hear it. I dare say Blake Ross would walk and the forums would buzz for weeks.

Yahoo should exploit this. Why? They can. That's why. It'll make them money.

I think Google are in the mess because, in the past, they've painted themselves whiter than white. It's impossible to be whiter than white. It's a bit like a football coach asking for %110. Quack, quack, oops! It can't happen. Google have done well to move, slowly, away from the "Do no evil". Yahoo are doing well to team up with Nikon and sell more D80s!

Monday, January 01, 2007

A year in review: SEMPO and SMA 2006

About a year ago I wrote a quick review-blast in A year in review: SEMPO and SMA 2005. I remember how frustrated I felt about the SEO clique / online community at the time, how these organisations had potential and that neither one was achieving it.

It's a year later. I'm slightly less frustrated about the clique / online community (not sure why, I'll have to find time for introspection later) but I still feel that there's a gaping need for a respected industry body. I'm afraid that neither SEMPO nor SMA-UK (or SMA-US) seem to have fulfilled that role.

I think SEMPO have had a better year, though. SMA-UK seems to have had a worse year. Having Search Marketing agency members run these organisations is a challenge. These are the CEOs, MDs, CTOs, etc of very busy and very competitive companies. If I had to decide whether I'd spend time on a client's campaign or some administration for an organisation chaired by a competitor then I know what I would do! Imagine being pushed for time to complete a tough RFP where you're going up against Company X because you're just back from a meeting with people from Company X.

I found an old blog post by Gord Hotchkiss back in October called Thoughts on 18 months with SEMPO helpful. Hotchkiss was one of the people complaining about SEMPO. He joined to make a difference. The blog post suggests he is making progress.

Press coverage, I think, is important. If SEMPO or SMA-UK are to succeed then they should be quoted by the press (or online community) whenever anything happens in the Search world. Did SEMPO comment on AOL's decision to publish search data? Dunno. Did SEMPO wade in on Did It's attack on Organic Search? I dunno. I suspect they wouldn't want to but I think they should have. Isn't that the role of SEMPO? To act as middle ground in the Search landscape?

2006 was a better press coverage year for SEMPO than 2005 was. It was a dreadful year for SMA-NA who are barely on the radar. Thanks to Google News' archives we can actually tally up the total number of references to these organisations.



Look at how low those SMA figures are!

A trip over to SMA-UK's website and blog also suggests an obvious slow down. The blog was started in June and has not had a post since August. That's a start in June 2005 and no post since August 2005. No posts for 16 months.

I don't know Andy Atkins-Krüger (SMA-UK President) in real life but what I've seen him write online has always been good and sometimes impressive. He's clearly smart. He is also the MD of Web Certain. That must keep him incredibly busy! I don't think SMA-UK can expect a few key names to push the organisation on. It's neither a fair nor wise tactic.

SMA-UK and SEMPO both need resources for dedicated staff. Resources come from members. Other than being able to say "We are a member of ..." I just don't see the benefit for being a member yet.

I think both SMA and SEMPO should re-double their efforts to get widespread recognition in main stream media in 2007. This year will be a success for them if the next time Google makes a search announcement that journalists respond by calling them. 2007 will be a success for SMA and SEMPO if they can play a critical role in sorting out one significant industry issue.