Friday, November 28, 2008

Troubles with windows on my iphone


I'm having problems getting windows to work on my iphone.

Should it be this hard? I thought the iphone would be able to cope with windows without any bother.

I mean; look at this screen grab. There's no way the window should be in the panda's head rather than in the wall behind.

Heh. :)

P.S. Meet Sparticus the Panda from SuperPoke Friends for the iPhone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zemanta not safe for work


Warning. Zemanta is not always safe for work. I had a surprise today when the otherwise excellent plugin showed me a series of sexual organs as suggestions of pictures I could put in my new blog.

The blog post in question had two significant components - a list of body parts (but nothing explicit; leg, ankle, toe, head) and the word 'itch'.

I've censored the image but the URLs of the two wikipedia pictures are this female one and this male one. Don't click at work or unless you want to inspect close up organs.

I'm sure Zemanta works with Flickr's safe filter but wikipedia may be another matter. An update of a global blacklist may be in order.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Outbrain doing good again

Once again Outbrain show me what a good company should do. I removed their widget - I simply wanted to replace their most popular widget with Disqus' but I wanted to keep their ratings and related option.

I went on holiday without replacing the widget. By the time I got back (but not too quickly) I had an email questionare from them asking what they could do better. I filled it in.

It also reminded to reinstall the widget here and on my new blog. I've done so. That's one blogger install and one wordpress. You get better and more options with wordpress.

I did hit a problem though. The widget couldn't verify my ownership of the site. The log that this produced was %100 transparent and I could easily see what it contained. The fail message suggested I sent it to Outbrain support and provided an email address. I did.

Within 48 hours Kate Heffernan had got back in touch. Problem solved.

What I'd like from Outlook is a way to white/blacklist sites. I want to avoid linking to some sites. In some cases I'd prefer only to link to UK sites.

Did the iPhone and Google Maps cope with Venice?

Driving directions? No, I don't think so.

The iPhone was very handy in the sinking maze which is Venice. It sometimes took a while for the GPS to get granular enough but when combined with a paper map you were always able to find out which side of which canal you had made it too.

Most interesting was that the directions seemed to include common "bus boat" routes. This screen grab shows the recommended way to get from Piazzale Roma to the first stop at Giudecca.


One thing though - it would certainly be unwise to get off the boat where Google/iPhone suggested. You'd end up very wet.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Google's RSS ads should know when to override geographic targeting

I'm in Venice. That's Italy. Google knows I'm in Italy - it redirects my searches and YouTube to italy. It's not that surprising I'm getting Italian ads.

I'm also getting Italian ads via Google Reader. This screen grab shows the ads currently running on TechCrunch.


This is pretty naff though. I mean; Google must know I'm not interested in Italian ads while I'm in Reader. Google knows that all my RSS feeds are English language. I'm logged into Google when I'm on Google Reader and Google knows I'm from the UK.

Sure. There might be privacy concerns (I'm not one of those people who cry privacy foul at the drop of a penny though) but at the very least Google should have enough data to know to run my default geographic option and not base the decision off my current location.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Silver class on o2 iphone - reward or feint?

I've been sent a text from o2 to say that I've in the new silver level of their priorty club.

Cool.

I admit it - I'm a point collector. I'm nearly in the silver level of my airline club, I'm so very nearly gold at Hilton HHonors ... but what do I have to do to move up a level at o2?

In fact, is there a bronze or blue level in o2's priority club below silver? I've poked around the website and can't see any mention of levels.

Priority Clubs are dangerous things. They play on psychology and for every up there's a down. Frankly, if there's a single level called 'silver' or if every iphone user is slapped into silver (notice how the URL in the text contains iphone) then I'll be pretty annoyed. Why? They're treating me the same as everyone else but trying to dress it up as something I've earned to elevate me above other users.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Patrick Altoft kicking it in Italy

If you're following my Twitter Stream then you'll know I'm taking a rare holiday - I'm in Venice (in the Molino Stucky).

When I'm on holiday I like to, well, meddle in SEO, affiliate marketing, PPC, Social Media... oh; just like work really :)

I just *had* to check the local Italian rankings. Check out Patrick Altoft and BlogStorm's Universal Search success.


On the other hand; also notice the sucky double wikipedia listing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

WebJam struggling

The build-your-own social community site WebJam has been experiencing persistent outages over the last few days. I use my own webjam domain as my start page and I'm getting rather used to seeing their server mechanic.

The site co-founded by Yann Motte, Marcus Greenwood and Alberto Barreiro really is, I think, an effective way to get a social community online quickly.

Their rolling premium offer, albeit a dodgy concept, is simply an easy way to empower any spare domains you have lying around. I long since realised that my initial concept for It Begins! was, er, great... but that I was never going to have the time to do it. Now, through WebJam, it is a really handy startpage with a few quick links and a lot of RSS aggregation.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Google's GTB.js


I've been fighting a sluggish Firefox all day today. I've had to use the dread Task Manager a half dozen times to close down my processes and start again. Just now, just at the end of the day, Firefox manages to produce a pop-up alert to warn me.

There is a busy script; chrome://google-toolbar/content.gtb.js:218.

I'm pretty sure that's the bookmarks script (which I've started to use more and more) now that I've lost the bookmark sync with my upgrade from Firefox 2 to 3.

Grr.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google Reader suggestion

Image representing Google Reader as depicted i...Image via CrunchBaseI love Google Reader for a lot of reasons; one of which is how well it works mobile. It reads well mobileand, of course, I don't need to then go sync with desktop/web as its the same source.

That said; there are some utility RSS feeds that I subscribe to as whiz through quickly when I'm sat at a PC but have to pluck out of the mix and mark as read when I'm on mobile.

Wouldn't it be good if we could mark RSS feeds in Reader as 'mobile okay' or not. Feeds that I didn't want to see when I was using my iPhone or Blackberry to access Google Reader simply wouldn't appear when I was mobile.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Does a free Google Analytics encourage you to spend more?

Google wants to know if their free analytics tool encourages or allows you to spend more.

Have you ever been to https://survey.google.com?

As the sub-domain implies this is where Google collects user feedback and most people end up there by being part of a random test audience. I've been there a few times. I suspect it's a fluke! ;)

One of the current surveys is about Google Analytics. They're interested in responses to the new visualisation options and how useful people find it.

There were also a few questions fishing for spending traits. Here's a screen grab of one of the questions:



Monday, November 10, 2008

Predict revenues... and get sued

This is perhaps a cautionary note for any search or digital agency that likes to try and predict or project revenue changes by making adjustments to bids or budgets. In fact, some bid management software offer features where predictions on campaign performance are made by turning a few dials.

An agency in America, Laughlin/Constable, is being sued for 'wrecking' BoomerTowne.com.

What did they do? BoomerTowne asked the agency to work out how much money BoomerTowne.com might make. Laughlin/Constable got it wrong.

Scary, huh?

Hat tip to SuperSpy who asks "Can you believe it?".

Friday, November 07, 2008

Google looses one to Taptu

Social network Itsmy.com has dumped Google as a search provider in favour of Taptu.

Taptu focuses on getting mobile search right; sites that do well in its index are those sites which have been optimised to work well on mobile phones and devices.

I imagine this is a bit of a (small) blow to Google as the mobile search wars heat up and any loss here has PR issues related.

Here's a chunk from their press release;

In addition to core search functionality, Taptu can now offer mobile partners, like itsmy.com, mobile search sponsored links. This provides partners with a new incremental revenue stream, and gives advertisers access to high-value and young audiences in a relevant and efficient way. With worldwide mobile advertising projected to surpass $2.7 billion in 2008*, the opportunity is clear.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

SMX London: Search 3.0: Local Search & Blended Results

Vanessa Fox gets people to settle down by suggesting that today’s panel is about winning the lottery.

Heini Van Bergen; Operations Manager from Tribal Internet Marketing

Heini begins with some comScore data to show that people use search engines an awful lot to discover local information.

Ah yes; the typical illustration of how local search can totally dominate the above the fold page one search engine results.

Now we’re looking at Joe the Plumber. Not sure why. Now we’re looking at a cute butt. Oh; apparently it’s a match for “plumber London” result. Heini’s gone on to show another Google Local result but he should go back to the London plumber.

Escaping Google, Heini hops over to Superpages.com, then a Dutch local search engine and finally White Pages. None have as interesting pictures as the London plumber and they all have maps and text.

Heini runs the audience through the 101 set up for getting into Google Local. Ah... now we’re back to Joe the Plumber. It helps to have your own website as you can link build to it. It’s not necessary though.

Let’s look at some on-page factors:

  • Phone number (with area code)
  • Location, products, services keywords in the URL
  • City / State / Country in the URL and title
Off-page factors:
  • Number of links
  • Location keywords in anchor text
  • Product / Service keywords in anchor text
Local Business Listings (LBL) tips:
  • Product, service, location keywords in:
    • Listings title
    • Listings description
  • Address in city search
  • Proximity in centre of searched locations
  • Put listing in right category
Some things NOT to do:
  • Use multiple LBL with ‘same name / address / phone number’
  • List multiple addresses on website
Heini’s take home points;
  • 30-40% of all searches are local
  • There are 768,00 SMBs in The Netherlands (he suggests it’s a great market for agencies to corner!)
  • Geolocation functionality will improve
  • Local search is still far less competitive

Susan Hallam; Managing Director, Hallam Communications

Susan begins by asking if we’re awake. Someone says no but she wakes the room up by showing a picture of Obama. She’s a permanent alien; an American living in Britain. The room seems to be Obama supporters.

Susan’s going to talk on:
  • Understanding local search behaviour
  • Local search services
  • Converging technologies
  • Local search marketing mix
Susan shows a Hitwise graph showing the rollercoaster growth of the search [b78 3tw] – that’s the postcode for Drayton Manor Park. The peaks match school holidays.
  • 63% of the people searching for this postcode go to Google Mapping .
  • 16% of people ever reach the official Drayton Manor website.
Let’s look at the SERPS for [b78 3tw]. It’s page two and it looks dire for Drayton Manor. Susan pokes fun.

Susan admits that few venues will be searched for by postcode but digs out more Hitwise data to show how many postcode and postcode hybrid searches are actually done. Turns out much of the audience will search by postcode.

Susan piles on the data to prove that there is plenty of local search opportunities and she maintains that SMBs are simply not making the most of it. We’re looking at Google Insights data that shows that the credit crunch is, however, effecting some local searches.

Local Search Convergence

Susan doesn’t want to talk about Google Local as that’s going to be covered elsewhere in this panel (in deed Heini’s already done the 101).

  • Business directories
  • Classified
  • Commerce
  • Reviews
Search marketers should be using all four of these areas.

A few people still use Yell.com – at least one in the audience - Susan suggests some of these business directories are names from the past. We do have new entrants to this market, though, such as Ufindus.com and Local.co.uk. Many of these new sites are using reviews and these are reviews which Google Local uses.

More Hitwise data (Susan got chatting to the Robin Goad from Hitwise yesterday and seems to have done well!). This graph shows search engines driving more traffic to local search sites and directories whereas traffic from other local sites is decreasing.

Classifieds ads in Gumtree will tend to rank well. Useful for SMBs, Susan says.

Oh my gosh; Susan is running through local classified site after local classified site... until the “time out” sounds. A quick bargain with moderator Vanessa Fox earns Susan the time to mention review sites. Qype gets a mention again.

Susan has an example of with an example of map spam. She reported it to Google last night and... wow, Google’s fixed it already!

Jon Myers; Head of Search / Associate Director, MediaVest

Vanessa introduces Jon by saying he’s going to talk about everything else!

Jon warns us that he’s going to use a lot of Google Map shots. He also points out that Google’s GPS doesn’t accurately pin-point the SMX London venue on the map.

Regional IP Targeting – Google PPC Part 1
  • System set up well
  • Lots of different options at various levels
  • Groups of countries
  • Country
  • Area
  • Post Code
  • City
Jon shows the tick box approach to getting set up on Google AdWords. It’s easy.

Regional IP Targeting – Google PPC Part 2
+ Queries governed by:
  • IP address
  • Info in keyword search
+ Can get Local Ad’s showing on Main Google SERP’s if:
  • Working better than main text Ad and
  • User within 30km
Jon’s showing a screen shot of a [Peugeot Manchester] Google Local result. He reckons the phone number is important; put a local number in, one that you can track and not a generic one.

He’s going to skip through the Local Business Center set up as it’s already been covered but pause to mention the bulk upload feed option. It can be painstaking to upload many entries one-by-one. The spreadsheet upload option is much better.

Ah, the terror of going last... Jon’s screen show of Google Map’s has also been covered. However, Jon’s thought about the impact of the Trademark protection removal here in the UK. He’s found lastminute.com bidding on Malmasion in Google Maps.

Google Mobile
  • Local business ads available on mobile
  • Searchers more than likely actively on way to location
  • Tracking phone number gets highlighted to make easier calls.
We’ve now got YouTube clips in Google Maps.

Jon’s next example plugs some of Ciaran Norris’ work. A search for [cafe w1w 7ft] has Ciaran’s result (his profile on Altogether Digital) in the third result. That’s been listed because Ciaran’s noted he once worked in a cafe.

Ha! Jon’s also using the [London plumber] example (sans Heini’s picture (which I can’t find)). So many of the ads for [London plumber] include phone numbers and Jon recommends this.
We’re told to go play with EveryScape.com. It is a monetised upgrade of Google Maps. With sponsorship not only can you find buildings in EveryScape... you can go inside them!

What might be Google be expanding into;
  • More mobile
  • Newspapers
  • TV
All these give you local opportunities.

Jon reckons Yell.com is still the best. He uses them a lot as they get straight to the point and are local.

SMX London: Search 3.0: Video Search & Blended Results

In place in the Edinburgh room again (hmm; power and wi-fi!) for the Search 3.0: Video Search & Blended Results session. We've got Chris Sherman himself as moderator.

Chris Sherman

Predicts the explosion of video online so that knowledge of video optimisation will become paramount for any search professional.

Tom Wilde; CEO, Everyzing

Poor guy is fresh off the red eye flight from the States. I wonder if he knows who won the election.

Tom promises energy. He moves swiftly onto plugging Everyzing’s products:

  • exSEO
  • ezSEARCH
Everyzing was spun out of a company which built some speech technology for the US government.

Tom notes that users now expect multimedia in their search. YouTube is both a challenge and an opportunity for media companies.

Tom has a screen grab that shows more interest for the keyword ‘video’ than the keyword ‘god’.

A Hitwise reports that video discovery from social media is dropping whereas video discovery from search is increasing. Why? Users expect and can find video from search now. Oh; he mentions Barack Obama (3 minutes, 17 seconds into the session).

Tom notes that text still drives discovery online (keywords are text). Text is the online currency.

Ah; Tom’s product does Speech to Text – so it’ll listen to a video and product a text transcript.

Tom suggests that once you have produced lots of transcripts from many appropriate videos you can begin to perform analysis.

This can also be applied to site search. Tom has a slide showing Everyzing beating some competitors. Boston.com is a client.


Brian Marin, Senior Director, Performics

Brian quickly runs through everyone who’s bought Performics in the past – including Google. Hehe.

Some YouTube stats;
  • It’s number #1
  • 100 million+ users
On a search for [snowboarding tricks] there were 5 video results. Three came from YouTube and two from Google Video.

Brian notes that search engines can’t understand videos well enough; they can’t grasp issues like copyright issues just from looking at the video. Yet. Google’s testing GAUDI (Google Audio Indexing) as a way to try and get the spoken word picked up and indexed by the search engines. (Tom’s making faces at this). Brian notes GAUDI isn’t perfect yet.

Brian moves onto talk about images...

100 billion images captured every year and made available over the internet. Google expects over 1 trillion images online soon.

Some tips:
  • File name
  • Surrounding text (often in the same div tag)
  • Alt vs Title attribute (Brian notes they are often confused and explains why... oh, it’s Internet Explorer’s fault)
  • Page title
  • Inbound link
Search engines aim to serve up unique images. They rely on the following to detect dupes
  • File name
  • Image file size
  • Image dimensions
  • Image file type
Brian shows an image search for [Salvador Dali] and the same image is returned 4 times. Why? The file size, dimensions, etc, are slightly different.

You can opt into Enhanced Image Search via Google Webmaster Tools. This gets your images submitted to Google Image Labeller.

What’s next for image search?
  • Image recognition or “Visual Search”
  • Geo tagging
Brian notes that you sometimes find a watch face in Google’s “faces” filter and wonders if they’re still using keywords to help build that index.

Three good reasons to optimise for image search:
  • It’s relatively easy – so get it into your best practise
  • Your efforts can help your regular web rankings
  • 1 conversion from a million visitors is better than zero
Ciaran Norris: SEO & Social Media Director, Altogether Digital

He begins by thanking all the Americans in the room for not electing Sarah Palin.

Here’s his on-topic agenda:
  • Why YouTube?
  • Is It Right for You(Tube)
  • Optimising for YouTube
  • Conclusions
Ciaran runs through typical YouTube stats. It’s big.

He returns to the Forrester POST approach that he highlighted so well in my session yesterday. The point here is that YouTube may not be the right place for you.

Some points for YouTube

More views = more ratings = more comments = more views

How’s this done? Get it onto a category page. One approach to get this to happen is an “exclusive secret leaked footage you would not believe” – terminology like that tends to bait people. In fact in all the videos uploaded last week - over 5,000 videos had the word ‘exclusive’ in the title.

Ciaran encourages us to think about the thumbnail used in the video. Pick one that’ll grab the users’ attention. YouTube often takes this thumbnail comes from the middle of the video.

He reckons that people tend to laugh when keyword tags are mentioned in an SEO conference. However; for video, they are relevant. In fact he goes onto touch on the thorny issue of comma separation.

The number of comments and ratings are crucial in getting lots of view. Yes; there’s a risk that people will say negative things – in fact, the sort of commentary you tend to get YouTube are often hateful and annoying. So make sure you’re prepared to be in the space before you go there.

Unfortunately spam still works as a way to promote video search, Ciaran concedes. Techniques like creating multiple accounts from different IP addresses.

One tactic is to promote sites/pages which are driving traffic to your video. Find out who’s ripped off your video, who’s linked to the rip off and try and get them to use your original instead.

Who’s getting video search wrong? Ciaran shows the yucky videos that appear for a KFC search – we’ve got rats in the kitchen and then unpleasant conditions in the chicken farm.

So, to promote your video – decide if YouTube is right for you, do SEO, allow the conversation (so don’t turn off the comments) and don’t spam.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

SMX London: European Search Marketing Challenges

I'm at SMX London for the whole event this year! Gasp. I've been busy on day with my own speaking slots but did manage to write up the European Search Marketing Challenges sesh.

First up...

Lisa Ditlefsen

Lisa is Scandinavian and part of SEO Chicks. Hey; they’re doing well on this session.

Lisa dispels the myth that search traffic is simple one search to conversion process. In reality people will make many searches and visit many sites before converting.

Search should target each stage of the conversion funnel; awareness, consideration, decision as well as purchase.

Lisa uses comScore data to point out that the Fins will search 149 times whereas a Norwegian only 79. Lisa points out there a less SEOs operating in some parts of Europe. In Norway for example, although bigmouthmedia are present (thanks for the plug Lisa), there are few agencies. Search results are of a lower quality than there are in the United Kingdom which is one of the reasons why Norwegians are more likely to use yellow page products and alternatives.

Lisa points out some must-dos;

  • Always host in the target country
  • Must have the TLD too
  • The Google Webmaster Console geographic targeting panel
Highly tipped is;
  • Exact Keyword Tracking from ROI Revolution
  • Educate your translators on all aspects of SEO
  • Get links from sites with the same geographic target as you
  • Switch from link building to baiting
  • Dynamically generating keyword rich URLs with matching titles and h1s

Judith Lewis

Search Director at i-Level and also an SEO Chick! She’s not a lawyer.

She’s talking about legal issues in search. Some companies used social media to push bad results down. Other companies used social media to own more of the search space, gain links or expand their audience.

Judith points out that many of the old school social media techniques would probably now be in breach of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations of 2008. It is now not legal (probably; Judith isn’t a lawyer) to engage in social media which tricks to dupes a reader into thinking a consumer or member of the public as made a recommendation.

The statutory maximum fine for this is £5k and a two year jail sentence.

If you don't mind the plug; a good prequel to Judith's preso might be mine from A4U Expo earlier this year.

Finlay Clark

Fin’s talking about the corporate side of European search marketing. He's a retail strategist at bigmouthmedia. Here’s his agenda (or some of it; didn't write fast enough!)
  • The domain question
  • Branding considerations
  • Challenges
What if you can’t afford to have a TLD and host your European sites in each country? After all; it costs a lot of money, even for large companies with complex IT infrastructure. There is the Google Webmaster Console, which does allow you to use sub-domains or directories, on a generic domain and geo-target. It will work on Google but it may not be as good.

What if the brand contains a dot-com? For example, Hotels.com is branded as Hotels.com but the website actually used for the United Kingdom is Hotels.co.uk.

Fin points out that directories may rank more quickly than a sub-domain but a sub-domain may also benefit from being that little bit further removed from the main domain. The sub-domain has its own home page, for example.

Link building in Europe can be tricky. Italy doesn’t have many PR Hubs so the tactical use of press releases online in Italy is more limited in that is in the UK.

Fin points out the Google Webmaster Central Blog post that demystifies the duplicate content penalty. In truth it is possible to run multiple sites if each site has different geographic targets.

There are some legal considerations in getting domain names. Some countries require you to have a local business address (or more) before you can register the top level domain. Finlay also encourages the audience to look at their trademarks across Europe.

Fin walks through a real life scenario
  • UK Retailer, based on an dot-com domain
  • Can deliver to mainland Europe
  • Want to start pushing European delivery
  • Unable to have separate localised sites
  • Want to test if there is a way to grow on existing setup

What to do.
  • Aim to raise awareness
  • Use tools to find out if you are getting traffic already
  • Run targeted PPC on brand terms
  • Tie in with display campaign
  • Affiliates could be another bet to test slowly
  • Monitor, track and review sales
Final thought: Put work into it and it should work out for you. He ends with a sly plug for his Retail Right Now blog :P

Susan Hallam

Susan’s here to talk about the small business approach. She’s a permanent alien.

She’s a case study for optimising for ‘hydraulic wrench’... on Google.fr. The second ranking website on the ‘the web’ result for ‘hydraulic wrench’ is in English. It’s an American site.

Susan points out the French searcher may not be willing to order a hydraulic wrench all the way from the States. The searcher then switches to only pages in French. Huh-oh; she’s getting Flemish and French Canadian sites.

Finally the searcher selects “only pages from France” (Susan notes that Hitwise records less than 50% of French searchers both with accents on their search any more). Now we’re limited to pages that are valid for the French searcher.

Susan’s five steps to success
  • Foreign language essential SEO signals
  • Foreign language content generally
  • Country specific domain names
  • Country specific hosting
  • Country specific link building
Susan notes that a recent piece of research shows that Europeans react differently to different web designs. The Scandivians, for example, prefer plainer sites to the British.

Susan recommends Google Global Search from Firefly. Wordpress also gets a plug or two.