Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Scientology, Googlebombs and the Algorithm

There is a discussion as to whether certain Scientology search results are a Googlebomb or not.

Google announced they'd tweaked their algorithm to cope with the Googlebomb not long before SES London last year. We were lucky enough to have Matt Cutts and Vanessa Fox along for that one. During SES London a number of high profile SEO speakers/bloggers called Google liar, claimed there was no such algorithm and that it was all manually done.

It was one of those times I felt like standing up, shouting over to the speaker and getting them to clairfy that this was their personal opinion and not a known fact.

When I spoke to Google about this - pointing out what was said - they were clearly annoyed/upset. I can understand why they don't like being called liars!

I do think the Googlebomb fix is algorithmic and here's one simple way it could work.

  1. The algorithm tends to put media coverage discussing the Googlebomb attempt above the actual Googlebomb when the algorithm is in effect
  2. Media coverage is, I theorise, the key.
  3. The algorithm picks up on the possible Googlebomb once enough trusted news sources call out a search result as a Googlebomb
  4. After all, there are probably thousands of 'invisible' Googlebombs but it only becomes an issue once the results become 'political' or a talking point.
  5. The very same trusted news sources which are used to identify the Googlebomb attempt are then easily upgraded, algorithmically, with a bonus weight appropriate to their own influence and the weight of the Googlebomb target page
  6. The weighting ensures the news sources are ranked appropriately among themselves but out rank the Googlebomb target page

If this is an algorithm and if enough news sources talk about the dangerous cult search then we can expect the Google results to change fairly quickly.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Grr! Misconstrued Comments! :(

I'm a little annoyed by this - even though I know it may be an over reaction.

Over the weekend (I assume) someone set up a blog to publicly out a large UK finance web site for buying an awful lot of links. This is old news to the UK SEO community.

The single page blog was quickly picked up by a member of the UK SEO community and posted to Sphinn. It went hot quickly and currently has over 50 sphinns and 20 comments.

There are loads of comments on the original blog post too. One of the comments comes from "Big mouth".

Either by accident or by design that name "Big mouth" could quite easily be interpreted as coming from bigmouthmedia or someone in bigmouthmedia.

It hasn't. It didn't.

I've emailed around the whole of the UK, the US and much of France and Germany! I've spoken to all sorts of people in our finance vertical and SEO department (heck; even the PPC department) and no current employee made that comment.

That comment would be against our blogs, forums and networking guidelines. We like to encourage people to read and take part in the Search Community but no one is allowed to represent the company without permission. No one gets permission for that sort of comment! In fact, let me repeat the big warning on the side of this blog - this is a personal blog, my comments here don't reflect the views of my employers.

So, what do you think? Am I over reacting? We don't claim to own the concept of "big mouth" - I mean, that's pretty generic. Do you think someone within bigmouthmedia couldn't resist the temptation to get their two pence in? (But why brand it; badly with a space between 'big' and 'mouth'?). Was it a competitor?

Or just I just go a vent some frustration by trying to play Guitar Hero on Medium level again?

Watch What You Do With That Press Release

It is spammy to email press releases around willy nilly.

It can also be stupid.

I've just been sent a press release from a new media agency offering SEO and Social Media to say that they redesigned and launched a new website for [UK Tourist Attraction #56]

Great. Why did you send this Press Release to me? The digital marketing agency I work for happens to have 'media' in its name. The emailer just sent that press release to a generic alias to an email address they assumed was a press media company. Sorry; we've no interest in making a news story out of the activities of a competitor!

As it happens we've no shortage of travel clients. We have clients that sell train, plane or coach tickets to [UK Tourist Attraction #56] and we have clients who have hotels and restaurants near [UK Tourist Attraction #56].

The press release is interesting to me. I have to wonder whether [UK Tourist Attraction #56] might be doing a little extra marketing activity to promote their new website. This is a good time to ensure our travel and leisure campaigns have enough PPC budget or SEO presence related to keywords relating to [UK Tourist Attraction #56] or the city it is in.

In fact, it gets better than this, because I was the web site of [UK Tourist Attraction #56] I found that they have a micro-site to generate hotel bookings for people going to see the attraction and staying in the city. That micro-site looks to be a white label/affiliate offering from one of our client's competitors.

There are a whole load of branded booking engines on a single IP address, as it happens. I didn't just discover one affiliate working for a client's competitor; I found a whole bunch.

So, all because of this badly targeted email press release from [UK Tourist Attraction #56]'s social media and search company... our clients are now prepped to expect a possible surge of interest in the attraction and the city and one particular client (who runs their own affiliate marketing) is mulling over whether it is worth approaching any of those affiliates.

In one word: Ooops

By all means; announce a success and a website redesign warrants a press release. Just think through what's going to happen as a result of the press release, though.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The IAB's Best Practice Search Resource

The Internet Advertising Bureau announced today they are going to offer best practice search advice.

Here's the disclaimer. I'm part of this. In fact, a whole chapter in the IAB's Advanced Search Marketing book was written by me.

It's worth pausing to notice the IAB and their best practice efforts though. Why? The IAB's search council isn't just composed of digital marketing agencies, we have search engines themselves there and 'client side' companies with large search spends too.

At my last IAB Search Council meeting we had Yahoo, MSN and Google all sat together at one end of the table. This means that when the IAB says "this is best practice" it means that the search engines agree. It means that people who spend the money agree. It means agencies responsible for coordinating and maximising it all agree. That's pretty unique.

Very large companies turn to the IAB for advice. It's good to see search marketing getting this level of recognition. Finally.

Busy Busy. Speaky Speaky.

Feburary is looking like it'll be a cracking month for shows, expos and conferences. I'll be speaking at:

In addition there will be the first ever Engage in Search, run, of course, by the IAB.

Who's going to what?

Friday, January 18, 2008 screwing up with EasyJet?

Not what you want to see when you're about to submit your credit card details, is it? The problem seems to be coming from the cross selling from the car hire and hotel images on the right. is owned by AOL.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Search Engine Strategies London 2008

Yep. I'll be at Search Engine Strategies London. I'll be doing a case study on European Search Marketing. Yeah. I know - the case study tracks aren't always the most popular with the search bloggers but it's a great case study and I love coordinating large search campaigns over more than one country.

Okay; some plans! a) Make sure all the digital events which might interest Sphinners are logged in Sphinn, b) set up a bigmouthmedia upcoming account and c) book the travel!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What the F... ormatting?

Here's my only contribution to the Wired Wiki nofollow debate:

Kan we hav sum formatting plz!

Honestly. I gave up trying to read what Ross Mayfield, in the centre of the storm, wrote over on WebProNews.

You'll get a much clearer understanding, and nicer formatting, over at Barry's original article with its comments from Danny.

P.S. You can find the original post, with formatting at Ross' blog.

Long live the return key!

Yahoo Travel keeps Kelkoo as Provider in the UK

We've read about FaceChase being adopted by Yahoo Travel today and kicking Travelocity into touch for now.

That's the American news. Here in the UK Yahoo Travel's search is still routed straight into Kelkoo results. There's still a lot of catching up to do but at least Yahoo is keeping it in the family.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

madKast adding blog analytics

madKast is a widget start up that I've had an 'like - remove - like - remove' relationship with for a while.

I'm currently in a "remove" stage of this relationship and have banished their widget from this blog. They're a very clued up start up so they emailed to ask why. They also let me know about this...

You can get a live view of this old data here

This is a blog analytics offering. Not only can I see my traffic lines (as a their widget is on every page) I can see how often their widget is used to share my blog posts - and that's an insight unique to madKast. It's a clever thing for them to share.

I also like the way they look at the reading trends of my readers. I can see which other blogs people are looking at. In fact, in many ways this looks a lot like MyBlogLog except the analytics are more thorough (we have share data) and prettier (we have graphs).

I certainly might put the madKast widget back on but I removed it last time because it simply stopped working.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kevin Fox moves to FriendFeed

Back on Friday I posted that Kevin Fox was leaving Google. I didn't expect so many other blogs to carry - to shout - the news. This isn't a "me too" news blog.

Kevin didn't expect it either. Kevin did the really cool thing and blogged about this, he noted some of the bigger blogs and what he thought about their posts. In fact, in an ultra cool move he acknowledged what VuNet said about moving to a more open company but then not saying where he was going! He also bent over backwards to stress that Google would be fine without him. I'm sure Google will cope but he's clearly someone that they'll miss.

Kevin has moved to FriendFeed and was introduced by a blog post. What a big deal for FriendFeed, huh? I bet their user base is currently soaring!

This isn't a 'me too' news blog but I bet I'm not the only one to blog about this!

Jim Boykin insults Andy Beal, Aaron Wall, Schoemaker, Stuntdubl, himself and others!

This is a light hearted post. If you want to insult someone here in the UK - you call them a tool.

Andy Beal, Aaron Wall, Bill Slawski, Cameron Olthuis, Christine Churchill, Chuck Price, Jeremy Schoemaker, Jim Boykin, Jim Gilbert, Jill Whalen, Lee Odden, Neil Patel and Todd Malicoat aren't tools. I'm sure they're all very nice people!

I'm being silly, of course. At the most this AdWords creative from Jim Boykin is an illustration of the sort of culture issues a global AdWords campaign can encounter - even if the language, more of less, stays the same.

I initially noticed the AdWord because the author is bidding on SMX as a keyword. That's a compliement to Danny Sullivan, Chris Sherman and his team (they aren't tools either) but if Third Door Media was a client I would encourage them to stop this sort of thing (trademarks and polite 'please stop' emails allowing). You don't want to invest the sort of energy they do in promoting SMX only for a related product, that isn't yours, to come along and ride in your slipstream.

I've not looked at Boykin's Internet Marketing Ninjas videos ($2995 is more than my curisoty budget allows) but - as Andy Beal points out - Jim already has a good reputation in training, and nobody on Jim's ninja list would allow their name to be associated with a poor product. So I'm sure the videos are very good. RustyBrick, who isn't in this set of videos, has also said positive things and Jeff Quip started a popular Sphinn on the news.

My word - a bit of research before posting certainly helps - wikipedia notes that 'tool' isn't just a UK insult as the US army also uses it. The likely first instance of the word being used as a slur may be from 'labor reform resolution drafted by the Female Labor Reform Association in 1845'. Well! We learn something new every day.

Skype Extension and Google Local

People have been noticing that the rather funky Skype extension picks up and converts phone numbers in AdWords and AdSense.

I have to say - thank goodness - Barry Schwartz was around to point to the SEO forum member that this isn't a Google feature! Gosh. I cringe just thinking the question was asked!

I think a great illustration of just how significantly the new Skype feature overlaps with Google is via Google Maps. Check out that map to our brand new (bigger) bigmouthmedia office in New York. Not only is the Skype dropdown on the local list on the left it even sits on the bubble on the AJAX element on the right.

Yeah. I know Yada Yada Marketing seems to be bidding on our brand name. I take it as a compliment.

In fact, I suspect we'll see a mini battleground here. As Map search and Local search heats up and improves there will be a number of companies that'll want to control those phone number clicks. We're also bound to see webmasters, companies and brands who don't want their web pages to be parsed in that way and will be looking for ways to block the effects of the extensions.

P.S. You can get pretty close to the new bigmouthmedia America office via Google Streetview which is also cool!

Television Without Frontiers: Product Placement comes to the UK

About a year ago the European Commission was caught in a heated debate over Audiovisual and Media Policies.

On one hand they were considering pretty tough restrictions. For example, one suggestion included baning all interstitial adverts in children TV programs that lasted less than half and hour. A ban has just come in to place that prevents 'bad food' (sugar, fatty, etc) commercials running in TV programs aimed at the under 16s.

One of the biggest areas of debate was 'placement'. The debate identified two types of placement; Product Placement and Prop Placement.

The latter occurs when a branded item is supplied the program/film maker for the reasons of authenticity. For example, imaging not being able to show business men checking their email on hand held devices because it might be seen as an advert for BlackBerry. The other key aspect to the Prop Placement is that the marketers have (in theory) no control on how the products feature in the program. There's no need to linger on the BlackBerry logo if you do shoot a scene in which a bunch of business men all check their email.

The former, Product Placement, is a marketing strategy. That's then the TV program (or film) producers agree to let a certain product get a certain amount of air time.

TV advertising is not booming - in fact it's struggling to compete against digital (search, affiliate, etc...) and so program makers in the UK are very keen to be able to test and earn with product placement. Ofcom, the body which regulates this sort of thing, has suggested that product placement could be worth as much as £35,000,000 to the UK program makers in as little as 5 years.

It looks as if the European debate is coming to an end and that fairly open product placement is now possible. A number of program types are likely to be excluded though; news, sport and children programs. That makes sense, I really want news to be impartial and if I ever find myself watching a sport (unlikely but possible) then I'd be annoyed if the camera suddenly panned away from the action to focus on a fan slurping his product placed Cola Zero.

If you want to read more on this subject then two starting places are the regulatory framework for AVMSD and the Television Without Frontiers directive.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Spamming with Google Docs

I use Google Docs a lot. I'm rather alarmed by the fact that anyone can pop a Google Doc into my document list. Here's an example where I send a document into an email address I don't have in my Google Contacts list - and email address which, I assume, Google has no idea I can control.

The first step is easy enough. Create the document, share it and then opt for the "skip invitation part".

Then look what happens.

The document turns up in the documents list for the email address I've targeted.

The document itself could contain any message I wanted. This one has a hyperlink but it could also have an image.

Clearly, this isn't a problem right now. Google's fighting to establish Google Docs as a possible replacement/supplement to Office and that's probably why it is so easy to fire around Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations. It seems more than likely that Google will have to crack down on the invitation process at someone point.

I could draw connections between this and Yahoo Groups. In the old days Yahoo Groups moderators would add just any old email address to their mailing list and then use the list to mass mail spam.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Kevin Fox leaves Google

Leaving Google is different than any other job I've left. Joining Google in 2003, it was the first time I took a job without knowing at the outset the reason I'd eventually leave the job (even if my employer didn't), and so it's strange to have found success there and yet feel a need for greater fulfillment sufficient to pull you away from what's generally recognized as the best workplace in America. It's even stranger that Google is the first place I've ever worked where I feel that I'm part of the company as opposed to working for the company.

Thoughtful comments from Kevin on his last day at, as he says, the Big G.

Kevin is a user experience designer behind Gmail, Google Calendar and the redesign that was Google Reader 2.0. These are all fantastic applications and I think the change from Google Reader 1.0 to Google Reader 2.0 is particularly noticeable and illustrates just how good Fox is. He's off to join a small start up like so many other ex-Googlers.

Yup! SMX In London in 2008

Good news people. I fired up Gmail today to find a comment from Danny on my No SMX London in 2008 post. Simply put; there will be a SMX in London 2008. We'll get more news soon.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

No SMX London in 2008

I've an internal meeting next week to sort through which conferences, expos and shows we're most likely to go to. I'm putting together a spreadsheet to try and sort them into 'sales conferences', 'networking conferences', 'geek conferences' etc. I don't have to - I just figure the more organised I seem to be then the more likely I'll be to make sure that it's myself who gets to go!

Anyway, I'm here on the Search Marketing Expo 2008 page and dimly noticed that there doesn't seem to be an SMX London for 2008. We've got SMX Munich (great news for bigmouthmedia Germany! - lucky people) and SMX Sydney instead (ooh, I'll have to plot some clever reason why I have to go).

This will be interesting as we do have a Search Engine Strategies London this year. In fact, it's only a few weeks away.

I'll have to find a big conference towards the end of '08 to look forward too!

Update: Danny commented below to say that there will be an SMX London in '08. Phew.

Chris Di Cesare: YouTube's New Marketing Director

Here's a name all gamers will know - Chris Di Cesare. Well, perhaps gamer marketing geeks anyway.

Chris Di Cesare was the director of creative marketing at Microsoft. Simply put he put much of the ooomph into the hype around Halo 3, the Xbox 360 and even the first Xbox.

He's not at Microsoft any more. He's surfaced at Google and will be YouTube's first director of marketing. Yeah, like YouTube needed any more status with the hipsters of the web? :) - Too Much Effort For Me

Here in the UK, Yahoo have been promoting Yahoo People through some display advertising (I first saw the ads over at Brand Republic last year) and trying to push it towards viral status.

I think it's a nice idea but it's too much effort to get started and that's why it's not viral.

With Yahoo People you create an avatar of yourself. This avatar lives in the virtual Yahoo People world and as you interact with different Yahoo services your Yahoo People avatar learns new abilities. For example, to teach your Yahoo Avatar to break dance then you muck around on Yahoo Music.

So, why is this too much effort for me? I have no art talent and you need to draw your avatar. You upload a headshot of yourself, resize it to fit on a body and then you're supposed to trace around the image to convert your photohead to a sketchhead. That's beyond me. I've tried, tried and tried - just can't do it. I don't have the mouse dexterity!

The products that Yahoo are pushing via Yahoo People are Yahoo Answers, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Music. The search engine optimisation crowd will grin because although Yahoo People is a Flash site Yahoo have remembered to include text links to these pages below the Flash. It's also worth noting (with a grin) that the Yahoo Answers, Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Music links point to the US address - ie, rather than Yahoo Sports points to the European URL of

The banner adverts I've seen for Yahoo People feature different avatars from various participants. What I don't know is whether these Flash banners are static and just chosen at random/with bias for the campaign or whether they're a dynamic element of the Yahoo People viral site itself.

I think it would be much cooler if the system picked the best avatars automatically to appear in the banners. That would then give you a real incentive for your avatars to do well. Just imagine, you could have a dancing Danny Sullivan of Third Door Media capering in the corner of Brand Republic! - that would certainly persuade me to try and draw my own avatar one more time.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Google Docs Used to Detail Flash Security Hole

The Register has the story of a Google security guru, Rich Cannings, helping to discover and report on a serious security hole with Flash. Simply put Flash is vunerable to cross site scripting and so, in theory, hijackers could use the technique to discover your bank log in details. Cannings is suggesting that now is the time for 10,000s of sites to re-do their Flash and use the latest, patched, software.

That's the backdrop. What interested me was that Cannings put his advice on a public Google Docs document. The Register refer to it as a 'post'.

I suspect we'll see more of this in 2008. If you need to put together a 'web document' quickly then Google Docs is far quicker than messing around with HTML. I guess Cannings found Google Docs even easier than Google Page Creator and that's not a vote of confidence for Page Creator.

So, if we do see an increase in useful information being published via Google Docs then there's an extra product I want from Google - a search engine, one that searches through just Google Docs documents.

As a consumer/reader Google Docs has a special attraction to me - you can't put tracking in it. You can't track me. As a publisher you don't know when I'm reading your public Google Doc document. You certainly don't have my IP address, hostname and by no means are you slipping me a cookie.

As a web marketer I'm not so happy if there's a trend from web consumers to ask for information via public Google Docs documents because I can't track or cookie them.

Oh, just as a footnote - Rich Cannings must be very confident that there are no security holes or weaknesses in Google Docs.

Google's Music History is All Messed Up

One of the funky things Google does is let you display your current music tract as part of your status in Google Talk. Google aggregates this data to produce Google Music Trends. If they had launched that feature last month then there would have been a privacy blog post about it.

This "music history" is also stored as part of your Google Web History. It's nice to be reminded of what you where listening too (though a shame it doesn't work with the likes of but a song isn't a web page and Google's Web History isn't very good at coping.

For example, you can try and mark a song as a favourite/bookmark it and two things will happen; 1) all the songs in your history list will be bookmarked and then 2) Google won't remember and will reset the bookmark star back to blank.

While you have songs marked as a bookmark, though, you can start to get really silly. Try changing the name of a song.

However, when you try and save your edit the Google bookmark system does't cope. It throws bad request errors back at you.

Just imagine a Google Music system which let you associate favourite tracks with certain web pages - when you browse onto the page you could have the option of the associated track playing. If that sounds crazy then remember there are iGoogle Gadgets which let you control iTunes. What about a Google Talk that let you associate music with Contacts? You could have a 3 second clip played in response to a talk request or even have an entire track played in the background when you begin a conversation. Heh. That would either drive you insane or drive up your electronic music collection.

Jobs in Search

Heh. One of the best things about being at the start of the year is being able to look forward to all the interesting people you're going to meet. The start of the year also tends to have people looking to new horizons - ie, starting new jobs. I've had a quick peek at our training schedule and I think we've a truck load of new starts coming in this week and next week.

It seems good timing that JobsInSearch published their interview with me today.

{Psst. The bigmouthmedia vacancy page for UK and US is here and there seems to be some sort of running joke about banking going on in the jobs' criteria. I don't know - so don't ask! :) }