Friday, February 27, 2009

Yahoo's Facebook poke search breaks a finger in Europe

Here's what you see at the bottom of the Yahoo SERPs if you search for me on the dot.com.

Some people might wonder why Yahoo have added the Facebook strip. Certainly the picture works. I've already heard it argued that this will encourage people to use Yahoo search not just to find people on Facebook but to access those key features quickly. If that turns out to be the case then this is a good move from Yahoo. More searches means more market share. This means a happier bunch of share holders.

Okay, so let's see the same search again in the UK. You know the UK - we speak English, we use Facebook and we spend a higher percentage of our marketing budgets online than American companies.


Yahoo! WTF?

If you like the Facebook search strip so much where is it now? Why wasn't this rolled out to the UK as well? Can it really be that hard?

Google UK is such a big slice of Google's profits that Google's earning statements include UK specific data.

One of Yahoo's significant miss-steps was not treating Europe well enough. Let's hope they don't do it again.

Oh... if you happen to be in Ireland the story is even worse. If you attempt this search from Ireland then Yahoo first brings you to uk.search.yahoo.com. Yahoo tries to call the site "UK and Ireland" but doens't do very well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yahoo kill their web 1.0 cloud service

Yahoo are killing Yahoo Briefcase - even refunding those people who paid for the service.


Yahoo Briefcase allowed users to store stuff in their briefcase and then access it later from a different computer. I guess it's an example of when Yahoo was ahead of the curve but still failed to take full advantage.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Here's what Gmail looks like if you manage to connect


Gmail's been down for a few hours today. Twitter is going nuts - the keyword 'Gfail' has been coined. We've had the heavy weight blogs weigh in.

Adverts in Firefox Themes - Anthem


Hmm. Bother.

One of my favourite Firefox themes updated this morning. This brings Anthem up to v1.5.

I like Anthem because it's a dark and a compact theme in which it is still possible to read text. If anyone has any similar recommendations then now's the time.

While Firefox is the active window I now have an advert for Jboss in the top right corncer of my screen. Sadly, that puts me off the theme.

Anthem is developped by Wesley Hales . I thank him for all the effort he has put in the theme - of course, I've not paid him a penny.

Jboss? This isn't an advert Hales as sold out to. No. Hales is the lead JBoss Portal UI Engineer at JBoss (which is a division of Red Hat). In effect, Hales is simply giving his job a plug.

That makes it tough for me to be critical about adding the advert. I do suspect that I won't be the only one to leave the theme behind, though. I do know that Firefox community members won't be used to adverts either. Lastly, this is a laptop, it and the Firefox on it travels with me and I don't see myself doing a presentation while running an advert in the corner.

I will admit to a quirk. I'm writing this post just after the Anthem 'upgrade'. It is apparent then the advert vanishes from view when Firefox isn't the active window. I hope this suggests the advert will go in time. I'm not going to wait for it though.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thoughts inspired by Search Engine Strategies

SES London 2009Image by momentimedia via Flickr


We didn’t bring an expo stand to Search Engine Strategies London this year, didn’t do it last year and the same goes for SMX. Why not? No point. Who would we be selling ourselves to?

I think we made the right decision but I do think there were more client side people were there this year than last.

One of the reasons there were more client side people at SES London was, I’m sure, driven by the credit crunch and a curiosity about taking SEO in-house. The audience was far more interactive. The SEO experts at the conference asked good questions. The new client side people asked questions like; “How do I work out what links my site has got?”

This suggests to me that whereas we’ve got some very good in-house SEO teams in the UK that we also have very many companies who simply don’t have the resource or the knowledge yet. I’m confident that the need for agencies remains high.

Two of the common bits of gossip I picked up at the event;

  1. Too many American speakers and not enough European speakers
  2. SES had cracked down on the number of free passes

The first point is a tricky one. Some American speakers certainly add weight and glamour to the event. On the other hand; there are more than enough accomplished speakers in the UK (that’s not even Europe) to fully populate the speaker roster.

I don’t think we had more American speakers than usual. I do think the sensitivity around American speakers was higher. Why? That’s probably left for another post.

I think the second point is good. SES should hand out fewer free passes. They need to make money. There’s no point in having a panel of speakers talking to a room full of fellow speakers.

I think there must be long term questions around how search conferences make money.

I barely notice Search Engine Land now that they’ve moved to partial RSS feeds!

I do appreciate that they’ve got to make money, though. Search Engine Land isn’t a hobby.

I’ve popped over to Search Engine Watch after a few Google Alerts grabbed my attention this month but hadn’t been there for a while. In fact, I think I stopped checking after the news updates their (back before the current team) as the news updates had become nothing more than product placement. Product placement, of course, is another way to make money.

This year we didn’t pitch to speak at SES. We weren’t invited either. I think we should make the point of trying to speak in the future. Why? It’s a prestige thing. It’s a prestige thing.

Okay; so SES and SMX offer prestige. How can the organisers make money from that?

First they have to keep the event prestigious – this means not dropping the price and giving away free tickets. Matt McGowan did well this year through tactical use of discount offers.

Live blogging is interesting too. There was less of it this year. Partly this was because more of us (like me) restricted ourselves to Twitter but also because there was less blogs linking to the live blogging coverage.

My gut feeling that Twitter coverage may increase the desire to be at an event in away that live blogging doesn’t.

I think one way SES and SMX can maximise their value to search professionals who are attending (who may not learn very much) might be to let them take part in guest posts, featured tweets or even video interviews.

ANYWAY! Long rambling post – this is just a collection of random thoughts moved from my mind to the blog. Should free up some more mental space for something more useful!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gmail's tasks reminder is a pain.


Google. I don't mind seeing this reminder once or twice. I've seen it dozens of times now. I've clicked OK. I've clicked learn more.

It won't go away. Please; someone in Gmail's usability and anti-annoyance team step in and sort this out. You'll instantly become the most popular Googler on the whole team.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Matt Cutts: Android is a Google OS for mobiles "at first"

Matt Cutts has come up with a good idea; a video to shadow every conference presentation he's doing. This means if you live in Scotland and can't justify going to pubCon because it's primarily a drinking fest then you can still see some of the keynotes.

Just a few minutes into the video - around the 2:10 mark - we encounter Android. He teases us and announces that Google's launched an OS. However, then goes on to say that Android is primarily intended for mobile phones. Quickly after that he appends 'at first' while discussing the role as a mobile phone OS.



I don't think this will surprise anyone - however, this seems like rather unusual unofficial official confirmation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PRWeb UK launches during SES London

Search Engine Strategies was a good event to launch at. PRWeb now have a UK offering.

You'll now start to see the uk sub-domain out there in the wild.

The URL pictured is the first press release down the new system. There you'll find what PRWeb offers; anchor text hyperlinks, an embedded YouTube clip and a distrubtion channel to UK journalists. Like RealWire, PRWeb UK works with the Press Association.

Here's the PRWeb UK pitch as lifted directly from their own press release.

- Distribute their news directly to more than 450 publications through the Press Association as well as top local, regional and national media outlets
- Increase rankings on UK-based search engines - such as Google UK and Yahoo! UK through a search optimised UK platform
- Track and measure success with distribution analytics
- Include YouTube videos and other multimedia components to create a more vivid experience for readers
- Incorporate social messaging technology to communicate to an even larger audience

PRWeb news releases are distributed through search engines, RSS feeds and directly to tens of thousands of journalists and editors through e-mail.


I'll leave it to you to decide whether a UK specific sub-domain and links from it will help with Google UK ranking issues.

It's not easy being a new PR hub and PRWeb UK have a lot of work to do.

This screen shot shows emediawire ranking #1 on Google for PRWeb's own announcement.

In fact, PRWeb UK need to earn their place in Google News.

The launch of the UK site does interesting things to their 'main' site. Previously PRWeb has been an international English language PR hub. I would send news there if I wanted a UK audience to see it, an American audience or an international audience.

What do I do now there are two sites; the UK site and the International English minus UK site. Do I need to issue two releases where previously I did only did one?

The truth is out there. Much will depend on what PRWeb UK decide to do with their new sub-domain.

The trick will be to adopt your press release strategy to meet the new landscape. I'm one of the many people who dislike the push button, poor quality releases that are beginning to wreck the noise:signal ratio in the press release world. I would welcome a more precise and fragmented press release landscape. Let's get more tactical!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Social media gurus don’t call themselves social media gurus

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

I'm clearly coming down with something as I'm feeling rotten enough to spend this morning going through a fair whack of the people I'm following on Twitter. A small percentage of these people describe themselves as social media gurus (or experts). If you do a general search on Twitter then you'll find many more people calling themselves social media gurus.

I dislike the phrase. I've disliked it ever since people started to talk about ‘search marketing gurus'. Last week I was able to put a compilation of blog posts from around the web together for our Marcoms team in order to ‘prove' to them that we should ban the word ‘guru' from any of our marketing-communications. Yay. They agreed.

Here's what I discovered this morning; those people on Twitter calling themselves social media gurus spend less time talking about social media than either PR professionals or people working for digital or traditional agencies but who refrain from describing themselves as an expert.

Here are my stats:

Profiles studied this morning: 250 (about half of those I'm following)
  • Claiming to be social media gurus or experts: 17
  • PR Professional: 9
  • In a digital or traditional agency: 56

Disclaimer: The numbers of PR peeps and agency types in this 250 count may be higher but I'm just working off what it says in the profile bio at twitter. If the agency type claims to be a social media guru then they are moved to the social media guru bucket. Twitter profiles of actual agencies weren't counted.

Next:

I looked at the 21 tweets on a profile's front page and added up how many talked about social media this morning. I worked out the percentages from the overall totals.

Disclaimer: This study, therefore, is a snapshot of time.
  • Social media guru tweets about social media: 18%
  • PR Professional tweets about social media: 83%
  • Agency type tweets about social media: 36%

Wider Picture
:

The people I'm following might be an odd selection so I went through 500 random profiles (recent tweets). Sure enough the numbers of 'social media gurus' and agency types are a lot lower.

  • Social media gurus: 7
  • PR professionals: 3
  • Agency people: 12

Disclaimer: Some of the 500 in this random sample overlap with the 250 from the people I'm following but the methodology allows for that.
  • Social media guru tweets about social media: 12%
  • PR Professional tweets about social media: 63%
  • Agency type tweets about social media: 35%


Conclusion:

Calling yourself a ‘social media guru' seems to suggest two things; 1) you're unaware of how socially unpopular the phrase has become (you're accused of trying to corrupt or spam the natural flow of conversation) and 2) you seem to include social media in your conversations less than other professionals do!

It also seems to me that traditional PR people are currently rather focused on social media!

Update:

I think it's important to say that I'm not suggesting quantity is a sign of quality. This was a snapshot survey to see what seemed to be on people's minds/in their conversations.

I will say that signal versus noise is a key element of a social media strategy. If you are a guru then I would like to assume that you pay attention to your own signal/noise ratio too.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Does the Valentine's Day logo expose the geographic divides in Google?

There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason to which international version of Google has a Valentine's Day logo on display today. Sweden does. Norway does not.

With the logo:

Google UK, Google SE, Google IT, Google DE, Google FI, Google NL, Google DK, Google RU, Google IN, Google FR, Google GR, Google TR, Google ES, Google PT, Google CH, Google ZA...

Without the logo:

Google.com, Google NO, Google JP, Google CN, Google KR, Google IL, Google AU, Google NZ, Google MX, Google BR, Google CK, Google BE, Google LU, ...

Who was different and did their very own Valentine's Day logo:

Google CA



Disclaimer: This might be a timezone issue but there's still no pattern.

Update: Michael Gray points out that from inside the US you can see the 'Canadian' version. A cache refresh here in the UK/this laptop still doesn't reveal that to me but Joost de Valk reminds us that this link reveals all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

#edtwestival beats London to the twitter trends chart

Congratulations Edinburgh, #edtwestival and Jim Wolffman. Scotland's capital city has pushed its Twestival into Twitter's global trends. The night was a roaring success, drinks and a few camera crews.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Google does not deploy GPS cloaking shields of death

I visited Google London today and left Google Latitude running on my BlackBerry. Visitors are not allowed to take pictures but Google Latitude doesn't break any rules.

While I was there theweirdone kindly took a screen grab of my location. As you can plainly see rumours that a skull and cross bones appear on screen before blowing up your computer if you try and use Latitude inside a Google building are entirely false!

Sadly, I've not been able to prove that Google are not hiding space alien pirates in their London HQ. I will continue that investigation.

Matt Cutts, Google Japan and a PageRank penality?

Google SEO specialist, Matt CuttsImage via Wikipedia

Google Japan issued an apology over the reviews it paid bloggers to write for a newly released widget this week.

This wasn't quite the end of the matter, though. Matt Cutts, Google's search spam team leader, twittered to say;
Google.co.jp PageRank is now ~5 instead of ~9. I expect that to remain for a while.

Someone in Japan will be cringing tonight. It's very embarrassing for Google and perhaps illustrates all too clearly that not everyone is aware of the rules-cum-guidelines the search engine issues.

This will continue to be a hot issue for 2009. There is still plenty of frustration that too many people buy links, knowing that they shouldn't, and get away with it. There will also be those times when people buy links, not knowing they shouldn't, and fall foul of the systems.

When I spoke at e-marketing Paris this year I was asked to talk about 'how to link safely' - the demand and uncertainty was there.

I'm waiting with a degree of concern over how the SEO community will react to this. I don't want to see more the "let's buy links" bridage try and milk this.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Twitter to charge search agencies and other brands

Biz StoneImage by niallkennedy via Flickr

Marketing Magazine has the story of Twitter charging brands for accounts.

Looks like Fiona Ramsay, journalist, has done well here. First we've got the Biz Stone quote.
We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts.

Then the magazine tweeted to see whether brands would be happy to pay. They wouldn't - not even Dell who suggested they'd go elsewhere. The most positive was LoveFilm who (my summary) said it would depend.

Here's another fair use chunk of the story;
Robin Grant, managing director of social media agency We Are Social, said Twitter could charge for display ads or to access customer information for marketing.

I think I've done this myself - trying to express one thing to a journalist but winding up saying something else.

We Are Social do very well out of the Marketing Magazine story as their twitter profile features as the main picture. However, I really doubt Twitter will go the banner route and they're certainly not going to start selling personal data!

How do you think Twitter should or will go about making money?

Google Latitude round 2


Google Latitude is a stripped down version of Dodgeball. This gives us an indication of what we might see next from the service - a better way to get in touch with friends we've added. This, in turn, gives us more reason to add friends.

The screen grab you can see here is what the iGoogle gadget currently looks like via Google.co.uk. This is a load of phish. Google Latitude works fine in the UK.

Why am I given such a poor interface? Probably because I signed up via dot.com as many UKers do.

It's certainly worth noting that google Latitude launched as mobile software and as an iGoogle Gadget. There was no standalone website for the product. Imagine how different Orkut would have been if it launched after iGoogle and as an iGoogle gadget?

This is an easy prediction; we'll see more services without a full website and only via gadget form.

As a result the worth of everyone's iGoogle gadgets go up. I'm visiting my IG page a lot more now I've Latitude on it. The incentive I have as a marketer to get my clients IG gadget on your IG page is also now much higher.

In the future Google Latitude has some hi-tech aspirations. It could be used to target people with whispering window ads or even the much rumoured Google billboard. Billboards actually make a lot of sense for Google a there (should be) are a lot of maths behind traffic flow, destinations and advert placement.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Duh. Google. iPhone Fail.

I use my iPhone to check my work email. It kills the battery but I've the BlackBerry as backup.

I'd love to be able to sync my calendars better. I use TripIt to update a Google Calendar with flight details. It would be ace to have that Calendar sync with my work one.

So, in theory you can now do this. Google walks us through the process here.

However, in all practical terms this is useless. You are only allowed one Microsoft Exchange account on the iPhone.

You can't use the same Microsoft Exchange account to sync your email and calendar.

In order to sync my calendar in this way I'd have to sacrifice having my work email on my iPhone. That's simply not going to happen.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Print displays its weakness

Actually, all I'm doing here is testing blogger's email to post
abilities.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Taking Google Latitude to Copenhagen for Search Marketing Strategies 2009

The few friends I've added to Google Latitude will be able to see that I'm currently in Denmark.

We've already had fun and games with GPS tracking being slightly off the mark. The first email response I got from a Google Latitude invite read;

"OH MAI GOD YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FRICKEN SEA"

I was, in fact, in a taxi driving along a coast road on the way to the airport. I'd noticed Google thought I was in the sea too.

Google often (or so it seems!) likes to release new toys whenever I'm away from the office or home (or internet connection). Today I was pleased they released a GPS tracking tool just in time for me to give it a really good test.

We can see the results already - dodgy GPS tracking can be funny. According to Google Latitude I never actually made it into Edinburgh Airport. I got near, then vanished and then turned up in Denmark about 2 hours later. At least, though, it tracked me to Denmark.

I'm looking forward to Search Marketing Strategies here. I have a keynote speach in the morning. Then I must remember to turn Google Latitude into privacy mode or turn my BlackBerry off before I go on to see one of large international clients based here in Denmark.

I do see Google Latitude causing some fights - especially among search markters. Why? Very often we're nice and friendly to one another but very often we suspect we're going to the same pitches. Careless use of Google Latitude will confirm that!

After my talk at SMS (I'm going to bang on about the importance of de-duplication, exposure to conversion reports and how to increase basket values through PPC and SEO synergy - what a way to open, huh) I'm going to be followed by Jason Calacanis. I think he's talking about all the noise and polution that's currently cluttering up the web in the form of HTML.

1234567890 - Predicting the Google Super Digg


1234567890 - nope, it's not the new magic number from Lost.

1234567890 is, in fact, a timestamp we're fast approaching on the Unix clock. Unix has been counting seconds ever since it first came to life back in January 1, 1970 at midnight UTC. Well, okay, that's not the exact date when Unix was born but you get the idea. This is the count up from the start.

We'll reach the 1234567890 second mark on Friday the 13th at 11:31:30pm UTC.

I yoinked the phrase 'Super Digg' from Ryan Durk when he took advantage of Google commemorating Jan 1 TCP/IP day. You can read an excellent write up of that here at SEO Book. Simply put; Google changed their logo to mark the day, clicking on the logo was a click through to a non-competitive search set.

Durk grabbed a blogpost sub-domain, rode the wave and made 300k hits in 24 hours. The post is worth reading for a lot of reasons. He talks about better ways to make money from the 'Super Digg'.

Do you think Google is likely to celebrate the 1234567890 timestamp in the same way? I think it's more likely than unlikely.

The search 01234567890, if Google chooses to mark the day, will be a little harder. The search results for this quirky keyword are already fairly complex.


There are also some serious players in the 1234567890 space. I kid you not.

Firstly there's the rather cool Epoch Countdown(countup). You watch - people will tweet about this one.

Secondly there's even a 1234567890 Swiss website that claims to be the ultimate source for everything 1234567890.

Update: Google came good. That's where the 1234567890 day logo in the top right of this post comes from. The logo didn't last the entire Friday the 13th, though.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Google UK sullies the White House brand

The alternative title of this blog post is Google UK sullies the Playboy brand.

Although it's more common to search for [white house] rather than [whitehouse] it may be more entertaining to search for the latter.

Google UK suspects that people searching for the White House might also be interested in playboy. Perhaps the White House is a men only institute?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Google News appearing in Google web search results


Saturday was a busy Google news story day. I grabbed this screen capture then but saved it (on auto-post) to today to post. Check out the second result.

Google's web search includes Google News. I'm sure that sort of circular search isn't something Google intends.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Adobe snubs iPhone


I was in the pub and trying to answer the question; "Just how much does Photoshop cost?".

This is normally the sort of question that the iPhone can handle - especially in pubs with wi-fi!

The iPhone's lack of Flash is well known and perhaps that's related to the lack of iPhone on Adobe's Photoshop.com.

I was simply amazed to have a mobile beta version of the site (which I can now see is a Flashfest) that offered me a long list of mobile phone options but which failed to provide an iPhone interface.

The Web 2.0 craze has been kind to Adobe. It's saved Flash. The way Google and other search engines have struggled with Flash (it's not so much the reading of the .swf; it's the working out what to do with non-linear content or timeline keywords) pushed Flash firmly towards the 'Uurgh' side of the scale by 2005/2006.

Now web designers are able to offer 'interact' and 'dynamic' sites that encourage 'coversation' and 'connectivity'. Yeah. You could use Ajax for this... but also Flash! We've seen the resurgence.

This is just a fashion, though. Mobile friendly sites are almost as equally as fashionable and whereas we're already seen marketing magazines list 'Web 2.0' as the phrase they least want to hear again - mobile remains popular.

The iPhone needs to support Flash. Adobe needs to buckle down and offer better iPhone, iPod Touch and mobile support.

It might look as if a long list of mobile user-agents/devices is an example of Adobe making the effort - but it isn't.

You simply would not get away with a web page that asked you to select whether you're on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari before it let you into the content. It is even more frustrating to have to jump through that hoop when you are on a mobile device.