The Tribble Ad Agency has made it into Google News. If you want to restrict a news search to just the site then use the command
source:tribble in the news search box.
Rather amusingly Google News marks the blog as satire.
Tribble is in my Google Reader because it's a quality blog, because The Founder is rightly pro-Search and because it provides the latest gossip news from the world of DBAs in America.
In rather less good news, it's been reported that Super Spy is out of work... but I doubt that'll last too long.
Friday, October 31, 2008
The Tribble Ad Agency has made it into Google News. If you want to restrict a news search to just the site then use the command
Last year I suggested that MyBlogLog (Yahoo) should try and buy Feedburner. They didn't. Google got their first. I thought the purchase would have been interesting as it would have given Yahoo access to a backbone module of the blogging community.
I'm not sure Google's doing as well as Google can do with Feedburner. I like RSS ads. I've run some successful campaigns with the old Feedburner system... whereas there have been disucssion as to whether RSS advertising is going backwards currently.
Today I can't even log into Feedburner.
Anyone else getting the 500 lockout?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The following email must be popping up in hundreds of thousands of inboxes across the UK.
On Friday, 10 October, we formally completed the acquisition of Alliance & Leicester. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Santander Group.The summary? The Santander bank has bought a lot of banks and bank assets in the UK. Affiliates should be expecting brand changes and keyword targets shifting as a result.
You are now part of one of the world's most successful banks. Santander is first bank in the Eurozone by market capitalization, and fifth in the world by profits, with over 70 million customers in 40 countries.
We are, fundamentally, a retail bank with over 13,000 branches worldwide - more than any other international bank. Santander has already a strong presence in the UK through its ownership of Abbey and more recently, Bradford & Bingley's savings accounts and branches.
The addition of Alliance & Leicester will further strengthen our UK presence. A&L has strengths in areas where Abbey intended to grow and both banks have built reputations as challengers to the big banks with attractive offers such as high-interest current accounts, strong savings rates and good mortgage and credit card deals.
By becoming part of the Santander Group, Alliance & Leicester has acquired strong backing, which is crucial in these difficult financial times.
I am convinced that Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley, as part of the Santander Group, will be a leading UK bank focused on giving you great service and value-for-money products.
Will they rename Alliance & Leicester or the Abbey? If so then some juicy keywords slide nicely into range. What about
mortgagesas a target?
You'd fancy your chances at taking the 4th position with little effort; wouldn't you?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Google's "Looking for local?" onebox query is beginning to show more often in the UK. It has been a feature of the US search results for a while.
Google is likely to be keen on people filling this out - it lets the search engine provide more accurate local results. Google can also begin to explore the differences in languages and search behaviour exhibited in different locales. Do you think city centre Londoners search in the same way as farmers from the Highlands of Scotland?
I've had a go at Disqus before and could not get the widget to work. Disqus support made some effort to help - an email asking me to post problems on the forum - however we didn't make any progress.
I was recently pondering the fate of Outbrain on this blog. I like feedback... but annoymous star ratings aren't feedback. I'm also writing this blog for myself and not for any reader group.
All being well all new comments will go via Disqus and old comments remain where they are.
Over at the MyBlogLog blog they posted to announce an integration with the Zemanta blogging service. Looks like they posted a little too early as they've just deleted the page.
My Google Reader has all the goodies though. Here's the proposition.
Go ahead, go back and browse through your MyBlogLog communities and check up on your favorite blogs. See a blog post that grabs your eye? Clicking Reblog will capture the post that caught your fancy and set you up use it as the inspiration for your own blog update!
By providing this service MyBlogLog is able to offer some extra incentive for people to join communities (gives them easy access to the Zemanta tech) and it will also encourage bloggers to get MyBlogLog users to join their communities.
Zemanta, of course, get brand exposure, get to say they work with Yahoo and get more users. If they're harvesting this data then the extra users will be valuable rather than just an expense.
The last time MyBlogLog hit the publish post button a little too early the updated widget was just a few hours away so I hope to the Zemanta integration live before the end of the week.
Update: The MyBlogLog post is now live again.
I rushed to make use of the Gmail Labs feature which let me add Google Calendar gadgets to my inbox. Very handy.
Google Calendar gadgets are popping up everywhere now. In fact, I couldn't but help notice one on the Google Webmaster Central blog post about Dynamic and Static URLs (one of the oddest Google posts ever...).
Check out the bottom of the gadget though. Below where it says "Live online chat" and above "Gadgets powered by Google". There's just the hint of the tops of letters in another hyperlink.
The gadget isn't quite the right size. A link (or more) gets chopped. I'm using Firefox to view the page so to say I'm surprised that the gadget doesn't render perfectly is an understatement.
If you do click on the hint of the link then you'll be taken to your Google Calendar and asked whether or not you want to add their public calendar to your list.
Social community host Webjam has extended their 'free, forever' offer on premium services.
This is one of those deals that put me off simply because I associate the wording with sales tactics I dislike. When I first checked out webjam I had until October the 30th to grab their premium services for free. It's now the 29th and the deadline has been extended to November 31st. Should you miss the deadline (if that's possible) then you'll have to pay £12.95 a month for the service.
Webjam is free. It lets you put together a social community. I'm actually using it as a handy place to aggregate RSS feeds and links - its my start page. With the premium services thrown in for free I've been able to map my collection of links and feeds to a domain name I wasn't using.
I can see why they may be interested to let the premium service offer roll and roll. It's all about gaining users to gain traffic (even links, I suppose). Webjam will only be really able to charge £13 a month (more than basic hosting packages) once they reach a critical mass.
Ah cool. I've got the magic cookie for Google's SearchWiki.
This lets me move URLs up the search or delete them entirely (perhaps I could take out all the Aussie sites from British search results?). I can also leave public comments about sites.
Of course, I need to be careful here; as part of the UK's Unfair Trading regulations act if I leave a positive note on a client's site I can't give the impression I'm an average Joe happy customer.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Just in case you don't have a PSP and Sony doesn't have your email; here's the rather pretty email they sent out to announce the launch of the PSP Store.
A PSP Store is such a good idea. One day... maybe... someone will write an application that will get me to use my PSP again.
I'm a gamer.
I'm a traveller.
You'd think I'd make heavy use of my PSP (fat). I don't! Rather than being the best of both words (travel and gaming) it manages to be the worst of both. My original PSP is just too big to be an easy and light weight addition to my travel bag. There have been some fun games but just nothing killer.
Just the other day I grumped about American politics coming to my Smule sonic lighter. I was grumpy and didn't like the loss of the flame lighting functionality.
Really quickly, Jeffrey Smith from Smule popped onto my blog and left a comment. He got it right in one.
This is an excellent article. You raise several valid points. We're taking your input seriously. We're trying to find the right balance regarding personal expression (e.g. affiliations). And so your input and perspective is helpful to our process.
On the topic of the inability for the 1.2 release to ignite other phones, this is a bug (a complex one involving multi-threads). It was never our intent to disable this feature. We've fixed it in a 1.2.1 update which we submitted on Saturday, and hope to have available soon. We disclosed this issue in our update text and apologized to our users. And I agree with you -- this is a significant feature.
True to his word the 1.2.1 update seemed to fix things. In fact, I ended up caving in and playing with the coloured flames. It looked like Obama had a huge lead although the red/blue split is about 50/50 in the US. It's the rest of the world who votes blue.
It's always nice, as a blogger, to get direct communication like this.
If you're a big criminal copyright type of person then you run the risk of equally big criminal proceedings against you and all your ill-gotten gains being taken away by Proceeds of Crime provisions in the English legal system. You could get sued too.
What if you're a careless blogger who just happened to cite rather more text than you should have? Right now the chances are, if you're unlucky and someone picks a fight with you, that you'll end up in a Magistrates' Court. The maximum fine you'll wind up paying is £5,000.
The UK's Intellectual Property Office is thinking of changing this fine from £5,000 to £50,000.
What do you think? Good idea or bad idea? As it happens you can nip over to the UK IPO and let them know what you think. You've only got until the 31st to do so, though.
P.S. This is an English legal thing, Scotland doesn't bother with Magistrate Courts.
To welcome Halloween LiveJournal has temporarily rebranded as UndeadJournal.
LiveJournal is a hellishly popular and influential social community. It just seems to be forgotten about too often for my liking. I fondly recall on successful meme I managed to get spreading through the site which resulted in my hosts ringing me up to say they thought it was a DoS attack!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
As a follow up to my previous post on Smule getting it wrong I must admit to giving in. I simply couldn't put up with the un-updated update.
The Smule application shows that nearly as many people would rather burn a normal flame than vote for McCain. I cast a red flame to vote for the guy who didn't sing; "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran".
I think the application is interesting. In many ways it undercuts the very expensive polling systems in place in many Western Elections. Of course, Smule doesn't give me a way to change my vote nor do I expect it to offer a voting system for UK, Canadian, French, German or any other election.
I don't imagine we're far from a future where mobile operators can sell data to show what a voting turn out was like (a percentage/number of mobile phones in a polling station) or even a way to let parties home in on voters who may not have made it to the booth yet. Can you imagine getting a SMS after lunch that points you you've not voted yet. It could happen.
Whatever the case and despite Smule's attempt to get the balance right... I find the iPhone App marketplace to be a facinating landscape. I think an easy way to sum up the challenges the App marketplace faces is to quicky survey the number of tech blogs that describe AT&T as the sole network provider for the iPhone. They're not.
I'm going to add this to the debate over whether iPhone App developers can cope with an international market.
We've already had people had a US only offer hit a global audience and now Smule are messing with functionality in the name of American polictics. The application in question is the superbly popular Sonic Lighter. The 'upgrade' lets you burn either a blue or red flame to show your support for one of the American candidates. I've no desire to bring American politics to my iPhone. I do have a desire not to have a snagging (1) icon in my App Store icon.
Here's the catch. Even if I just take this 'upgrade' and try and ignore the politics - I'm still going to loose out. The 'upgrade' cancels out the ability of your Sonic Lighter to light another iPhone's Sonic Lighter. That, to me, is the best feature of the lighter.
The timing seems naff. We've got SMX London around the corner and I'm looking forward to the chance to light a few search Sonic Lighters. I'll be very annoyed at Smule and politics if this 'upgrade' downgrades my chances of tapping into an international network of flames.
It might be interesting to see whether the App helps predict the election - I suspect Obama voters are more likely to be iPhone savvy than McCain so the coloured flames may have a bias. I'm not interested enough in order to sacrofice functionality though.
Just a few days I go Smule launched Sonic Boom. I thought they'd got the launch exactly right - aggressive but not too aggressive. They tweaked things so that the Sonic Lighter app asked whether you fancied the Sonic Boom or not... and I think that's an extremely effective way to launch the App.
What do you want from Google this Christmas? I'm still mulling over my wishlist but I'm certain I'll be asking for a way to rename my folders and tags in Google Reader.
I know it's easy enough to create a new folder, delete the old and move the feeds over. It just doesn't feel right. It feels like a dodge that I'd not need to use in a Google product.
I always find the end of the year a good time to find new blogs to read; I reckon you can tell a lot about the way an author thinks by what they predict the next year will hold for search, affiliates or display.
Friday, October 24, 2008
DatingDirect have issued their TradeDoubler affiliates with a social network policy.
It seems designed to stop affiliates pitching the site as rather more adult than DatingDirect would like to be branded as. They don't offer affiliates any tips on when to disclosue there is a commerical interest behind some social networking activities but do encourage affiliates not to break the law.
I found the last line of the DatingDirect fair use of images policy to be a little hard to read. Here's the whole paragraph.
B.Concerning the advertisement's images:
In addition to text, the affiliate may use an image to accompany its advertisement.
This image must comply with the following rules:
- No nude subjects
- No subjects in suggestive poses
- No images subject to copyright
- Do not infringe a DatingDirect.com brand image
- No images of a political, xenophobic, pornographic or violent nature
- The image must include a maximum of two models of different sexes in the case of men seeking women or women seeking men
What do you think they mean by "The image must include a maximum of two models of different sexes in the case of men seeking women or women seeking men"?
At first I read it to mean that you're not allowed to have an image with two women or two men in it. What? That's rather homophobic!
Perhaps it means you can't do a "Man seeking women" ad and have an image which has two women casting flirty glances at one man. However, it seems only to relate to "men seeking women" or "women seeking men" - so does that mean affiliates can have a "woman seeking women" ad which has two women casting flirty glances at a third woman?
Whatever DatingDirect wanted to say; I doubt they wanted to have a social networking policy which left affiliates wondering exactly what the rules are. That said; I think it's progressive of DatingDirect to have a social networking policy for affiliates in the first place - and I know we'll see more brands do the same thing.
I remember how excited I got many years ago when Google first started to suggest; "Did you mean bigmouthmedia?" on brand search miss-spellings.
I think we have another dramatic first today.
At the bottom of page #1 on Google.com there's a blog search injection/Universal Search result for [bigmouthmedia].
This is, no doubt, due to three strong blog posts containing our brand this week - although, really, the Deloitte award, shouldn't (yet) count as a blog post as no one's blogged it.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Recently I've been luck enough to enjoy a kind word or two from Mike Coulter in his post on bigmouthmedia's social media efforts.
As Mike pointed out to me; a little effort to reach out and make the effort to give him the best possible experience (even if it was a simple unsubscribe request) certainly paid off. We may have lost Mike as an email subscriber but we gained him as a Twitter follower. As you might have expected his blog post also brought in a small rush of other Twitter followers.
Neil MacLean of The Travel PR Blog was pleased to see that there was more of a human Twitter presence (me) than just the corporate bigmouthmedia profile.
excellent, a real human twitterer at Big Mouth and not just Big Mouth news updates :-) cheersYou know; that can be a real challenge. I clearly get to go speak at events like SMX or A4U while wearing my bigmouthmedia badge - so people know which company I work for. There are plenty of other bigmouths on Twitter too but most of them are there in their own personal interest/personal communication strategy rather than as brand/social media ambassadors.
That's not to say there are no other bigmouths you can talk shop with on Twitter. From the social media/resources/online PR teams we've also got;
The issue of local advocacy is a thorny one. Most brands will (rightly) want to communicate through their brand identity (andI can use Twhirl to speak 'as' bigmouthmedia on Twitter) rather than pick an employee and spotlight them. However, in stark contrast to that is the genuine desire from the community to be able to communciate to an actual person rather than to a 'channel'.
There are two ways to share items in Google Reader. You can click the share button at the bottom of a post or you can use the share bookmark.
If you do both then you'll end up with two submissions to your shared items feed.
It's a fair question ask; "Why would you share a single item twice?".
It can happen by accident, of course, it's all too possible that you'll end up on an actual blog page (perhaps following a link from Sphinn or Mixx) and decide to share it. Later on, back in your Reader, you rediscover the same post, notice that it hasn't been shared (or doesn't seem to have been shared) and press the Reader share button.
I use my share button a lot; it feeds Facebook, Friendfeed, MyBlogLog and as well as some internal bigmouthmedia news networking. Sometimes I'm keen to get a blog post shared quickly, so rather than waiting for Google Reader to update, I'll use the bookmarklet on the post itself.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Back in August the trade press and I discussed Orange's bold 'I Am' campaign which encouraged people to search for [I am].
Guess who is also running an "I am" campaign... Yep; Microsoft and their "I'm a PC" counter attack on Apple.
The paid search ads are getting interesting. If you search for [I am] + generic then you tend to get adverts from Microsoft battling for the top spot against Orange.
I also think Microsoft should consider using their own AdCenter Analytics. The PPC ads here redirect through Atlas (which Microsoft, at least, owns) and end up in a URL which contains the tracking string
WT.srch=1 - which is how Webtrends starts to seperate SEO and PPC traffic.
Google does not let you run AdWords to promote weapons or firearms. The guideline text says;
Advertising is not permitted for the promotion of certain weapons, such as firearms, firearm components, ammunition, balisongs (switchblades), butterfly knives and brass knuckles.Now, I think it's fair enough that Google's natural search results return the most relevant websites when I search for [ammunition]. As expected; Wikipedia comes first with an article that educates me about ammunition.
Let's look at the (highlighted) Universal Search related suggestion though. It encourages me to search for [ammunition for sale].
This isn't just interesting because Google doesn't want to help people find ammunition for sale this is interesting because the related search is pushing be into a commercial query rather than a navigation or information query.
Posted by Andrew Girdwood at 4:00 pm
On Sunday I suggested that the date field in Google's Desktop news summary gadget had died. We had been taken back to 1970.
It looks the situation is on-going. Shortly after my Sunday post the dates disappeared entirely. The screen shot with this post comes from a different computer but the same account. My web stats show people searching for keywords describing this issue.
Anyone else having problems with dates in their Google Desktop gadgets?
A good SEO debate is 'how many redirects are too many redirects'. I mean; if you chain a 302 to a 301 redirect - is that treated by Google as a 301 or as a 302? If you have a chain of 4 redirects is that too many, 5 redirects or 6?
Heh. This is certainly a question that experience answers. I've worked with many sites and oh-so-many redirect issues. It doesn't take years of experience, however, to spot the killer redirect scenario -- infinite redirects!
Whenever sites start chaining redirects together there is a risk, often a small one, that redirects might start pointing elsewhere in the redirect chain. Search engines really dislike that. It's a very bad experience for the users too. What's more; with the now rapid advance of mobile search these redirects look like a slow mobile download and keep users waiting and frustrated. The iphone copes relatively well with redirect loops but some other smart phones do not.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Google's asked us whether we're haunted by high energy prices.
You get used to American-centric posts from American companies. It's fair enough. The odd news here is that the link "webpage full of tricks" goes to a 404 page and the address
/www.google.com/hauntedhouse08/tips.html. The "energy saving calculator" which points to
www.google.com/hauntedhouse08/index.html does the same thing. 404 death.
This is a known issue. Over at Google Blogoscoped and over 4 hours before Google's blog post Phillip Lenssen pointed out that the Energy Calculator link from the Google homepage was broken.
Not broken for you? You're probably in the US and immune from the geo-direction that seems most likely for this snafu. Or Google's fixed the link.
Update (22nd October): Google have now fixed this issue.
I think I'm fairly good at keeping my Google Reader in shape. I will cut blogs that start to waiver in quality or simply go in a direction that no longer interests me. On the same token I like to find new blogs to follow.
I thought it might be fun to highlight some (not all) of the blogs I've added in the last year. This is a peppershot scattering of interests. If there is a blog you'd like to recommend then please do.
- Fraser Edward's Affiliate Blog
- The OpenX blog
- Mel Carson's blog
- Dan Zarrella's blog (although it be as erratic as mine to update!)
- Kerstin Baker-Ash (who I met in New York but haven't seen in the UK yet. Oddness.)
- Simon Heseltine's Search Engine Tigers
- Zoe's Piggynap
- Adam Parker's Show me numbers
- Ian Jindal's In No Particular Order
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I quite like the Google Desktop news discovery feature. It pops up in the corner of my computers with headlines that, based on my reading, I might like. I wish Google would let me do more with it - enter keywords that the software should focus on or let me focus on blogs and the expense of traditional media, for example.
Today I noticed that the date field was having issues. We're all back in 1970 now.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
As I hope I underlined in my social media, affiliates and the law presentation at A4U Expo yesterday - I'm not a lawyer.
What do you make the highlighted snippet below, though, could this be summarised as 'adCenter Analytics doesn't want spiders on your site'?
Here's my concern. The T&Cs state that the service and the script are one and the same. The T&Cs insist that I do not let bots access the service (ie, access the script).
Now; let's avoid the 'Do bots read JS?' debate. They'll certainly notice the HTML elements of the script though. I know MSN are trying to stop me scraping the reports and reselling the data...
... but my concern is that large brands with anal legal departments will follow the letter of this contract and insist that we disallow bots from accessing any page where the script is present.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This is not something you see every day.
We're looking at a Google News insert to a Telegraph article about search engine optimisation.
Yeah; we could be looking at the annoying was Aussie sites flood UK SERPS or that Google suggests I spell optimisation as optimization. Meh.
Kudos to Distilled and Will Critchlow for making the article. It helps the industry as a whole.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Search quality engineers from Yahoo will be crying today. Look at this awful and successful spam attack on them for the keyphrase [personal injury solicitor]. Ouch.
If it's not clear from the screen shot - the first page of results is dominated by domains in the format of
personal-injury-solicitor-[location].co.uk. In turn these domains get their backlinks from a network of link pages.
I've not seen anything so crude be so successful in a long, long, time...
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The voice of enthusiasm at MyBlogLog, Ian Kennedy is leaving Yahoo. He talks about some of the problems Yahoo faces and makes the interesting point about comScore not counting API calls as pageviews.
I enjoyed working with people who shared my passion to transform Yahoo into to a modern platform. It hasn’t been easy - opening up programmatic access to Yahoo is fraught with many built-in conflicts. Third party content licenses, traffic guarantees, and international legal constraints all make it difficult to let services flow completely free. It’s an industry-wide problem. Much of the way the advertising industry measures the impact of their online campaigns is rooted in the pageview metric which runs counter to providing the best of what you’ve got via an API call. For folks such as ComScore (who help advertisers evaluate rates) an API call doesn’t count as a pageview or roll up into a CPM so it’s a hard to argue letting people get at data without forcing them to come to a pageview to get it.
I like Ian's posts at Everwas so I'm staying subscribed. I wonder though; does anyone have any Yahoo bloggers worth following?
A non digital marketing pal started used Blogger's new Follow feature to follow my blog. I thought I'd give it a go - it was very easy to set up, in particular you could simply import blogs from your Google Reader and easily make them as followed blogs.
Here's my beef with it - despite knowing I'd imported blogs from Google Reader the damn system still re-adds all those blogs as duplicates to my Google Reader.
The feature seems entirely redundant to me.
There's supposed to be a way to turn this off. You can use the Google Reader settings option to disable this.
It simply does not work, though. Despite de-selecting "Show followed blogs from Blogger" Google Reader still shows them.
Worse of all is the impact on Mobile Google Reader where (inconsistently) I'll have to surf through multiple headlines.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
If you pop over to SE Roundtable you'll see that Google's stopped suggesting people submit their site to Yahoo's Directory.
This is fairly big news. What does this mean for directories? It needs some thought but I have some answers. It's the sort of thing that gives me cause to think and then email around the SEO group within the 200+ bigmouthmedia employees.
Nah. I'm not going to bore you with what I suggested to our SEO teams but have you thought about the monopoly side of the story? Google and Yahoo are trying to strike an ad deal right now and they're trying to convince both the EU and the USA regulators that there is no monopoly. No, really.
Now is a bad time for Google to be recommending that webmasters spend advertising dollars at Yahoo.
I'm sure Google had many reasons for removing that particular line from their guidelines... but if you like to consider all angles then keep the proposed ad deal and monopoly concerns in mind.
Should Google recommend Yahoo services if they're supplying the ads?
Posted by Andrew Girdwood at 3:55 pm
Friday, October 03, 2008
I'm sure it's a technical fubar. I have one entry in my Google Calendar for a trip up to St. Andrews tomorrow.
I like that Google sends me a text message/SMS for Google Calendar alerts - they're so much harder to ignore than email alerts. I'm not so keen on my single weekend entry causing a string of a half-dozen SMS messages though.
... at least the alerts seem to have stopped for now.
Did anyone else receive more than necessary Google SMS alerts today?
Google launched a blog meme tracker this week and it was about time.
Sadly, I'm underwhelmed. Where are the RSS feeds? In fact; where's the original content? The screen grab below is marked up with the same American VP debate highlighted in red - it accounts for about 33% of the page. Meh.
I'm not entirely happy with a meme tracker that shows topics that are 19 hours old too. I'd much rather have the breaking topics?
- List topics which a number of blogs have just written about.
- Let us suggest a keyword theme and meme track posts which fit in there.
- Google needs to get to grips with blogs and geography - I'm interested in American politics but not that interested