Monday, November 30, 2009

Bigmouthmedia's Online Travel Report for 2009

I think this is pretty funky. It's an example of when a digital marketing agency says; "Wouldn't it be useful if we had something like [x]" and then decides, "Let's do [x]!".

In this case [x] was a digital marketing intelligence report on what's going on in the travel sector. What are the challenges? Where are the budgets going? What's going to strong next year? Lots of juicy stuff like that.

Bigmouthmedia Online Travel Report

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Google kidnapping - Thailand and back

The importance of location aware services are here today, they'll continue to grow and in the near future we'll worry about the accuracy of such when it comes to tagging our campaigns and analyzing their results.

Today it's a curio that Google can kidnap me (as I sat on a train crawling through Fife, Scotland) and drag me to Thailand. Tomorrow advertisers will be worried that people can seem to teleport across the globe in the space of minutes.


Friday, November 27, 2009

The Really Useful Guide to Social Media

If, somehow, you failed to take part in the Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia Social Media Survey you don't get it for free. You can download it here for less than £200. It's probably the most important social media business benchmark in the UK to date.

If you're not an Econsultancy member or can't talk your bean counters into splashing the cash needed for the insight - then you can check out bigmouthmedia's Really Useful Guide to Social Media. To be honest; if you're reading this blog then you're not likely to be in the intended audience for the guide but it does contain a small sample of the survey stats!

The Really Useful Guide to Social Media

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Foursquare comes to Edinburgh, Scotland

Yay. Foursquare has launched in my city - Edinburgh; in out of the way Scotland.

Here's my experience so far.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tens of thousands of new links for Xbox.com but it's about the branding

This is a good reality check for any SEO. Are you obsessed with links?

Today Xbox Live integrates with Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm. This means you can make use of all three of those web based services from your Xbox console. A lot of the focus has been on the Facebook and Twitter integration but the one I'm liking the most so far is Last.fm.

It's easy to stream music from Last.fm, through my better-than-the-laptop speakers on my TV and watch while album art floats by.

On the web side of things thousands of Last.fm profile pages, tens of thousands, will now start to show when someone is listening to music in the new Last.fm/Xbox way. Yes; these are 'follow' links.


It's really not abou the SEO value from this links at all. It's all about the branding boost it'll give Xbox Live. What a way to target a key audience. What a great way to help position the console as more than just a games console but as an entertainment device.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Is Google pulling Social Search experiment after just a few weeks?

In the last hour I - and others - have been seen messages from Google stating that the Social Search experiment/Google Labs option is no longer available.

This is a search for [bigmouthmedia bjornis] which clearly shows the removal notice. The text says; "The experiment you're trying to access is no longer available. Go to experiments overview"



Google launched Social Search on the 26th of October, that's less than a month ago.

It seems most likely that this isn't a planned reduction of the social search test. It may well just be the sort of hiccup you should expect when you take part in a Google Labs experiment.

It is possible, though, that for whatever reason Google now has enough data (perhaps loads more people in the experiment than usual) and is now needing to wind it down.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Google, the end of the world and Olympics in London

The Olympics are coming to London in 2012. Not surprisingly this is known as "London 2012". The city is building places to house althetics, to facilitate the sports and is putting in a load of transport links.

What does Google make of this?

Google's increasingly rolling out onebox results here in the UK. To support it's recently enhanced movie listings service we're seeing movie onebox results more often too.

It's not always the result we want.


In this case we're getting London cinema times for the end of the world movie - 2012.

A News Corp exclusive deal with Bing makes no sense

Rupert MurdochImage via Wikipedia

As a curio I posted asking whether you've been Mocking Murdoch and it provoked rather more comments than this little blog normally gets.

My point was that News Corp was having a good share price day. I certainly don't think The City or Nasdaq watchers, etc, are digital natives capable of seeing some clever Murdoch search move that we couldn't see. I did it to suggest that some people think the move might work.

One of the suggested success tactics behind dropping News Corp content from Google that I don't think will work is an exclusive deal with Bing. Mr Michael Arrington has written about this in a way which seems to suggest he feels there's some merit to the idea.

In a nutshell; News Corp pulls its papers out of Google, sells exclusive indexing rights to Bing (wanting to beat Google, Bing agrees to this) and then, they argue, people have a reason to use Bing instead of Google.

Except, no. It's not going to work like that. If someone wants to search in general then they'll use a general search engine. If they think Google is the best general search engine then they'll use Google. If they want to search a specific newspaper then they go to that newspaper and use the search functionality there. Most people don't use the site: or source: commands.

If you wanted to search the New York Times and couldn't do it with Google wouldn't you just to straight to the New York Times' site and search there?

I'm not even sure why people would want to search the New York Times. Are they looking for a specific story by a specific journalist? If you're interested in a news story, breaking news or an old reference piece, then wouldn't you just search by subject?

Once the News Corp content is out of Google we'll find many news blogs and others like Mahalo writing about stories they'd never written about before because they know they'll now get the Google traffic related to them.

Search has never been the problem for News Corp. They're wrong to think that it is. The problem has always been Surface. Google News helps surface news stories. News Corp shouldn't worry about the index. They should worry about the discovery.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Head to Head: A Bing UK versus Google UK comparison

SHU WrestlingImage by NewEndProductions via Flickr

This is a straight forward head to head. For some time now Google UK has struggled with geo-targeting. Searches for common and garden UK terms have more frequently resulted in websites better suited to American, New Zealand and Australian audiences more frequently in the last half of the year than the first.

Now Microsoft has managed to shrug off rumours that Bing UK would be delayed and have whisked the beta tag off the search engine.

I took a random sample of 10 keywords and compared both engines to see which one did the best with geo-targeting. I’ve not selected the “from UK” radio button. In the past, on Google, you didn’t need to.

KeywordGoogleBing
[pizza in kent]3/102/10
[trampoline hire]10/108/10
[sports news]9/108/10
[blue Christmas dress]5/108/10
[coping with debt]9/1010/10
[beard trimmer]10/105/10
[city breaks]10/1010/10
[health and safety regulations]10/109/10
[birmingham car hire]10/1010/10
[buy guitar pedals]7/107/10

This makes Google UK the winner with a score of 83/100. Bing UK gets 77. It’s a close thing and, although defeated, Bing UK makes a strong debut.

The beard trimmer result, in particular, let Bing down. What happened here was that Bing’s intelligence kicked in and started to provide blended results for beard trimmer reviews and shopping options. Turns out there are far fewer UK sites reviewing beard trimmers and in Bing’s trusted reviewer database. The latter point is likely to be improved on by Bing over time.

Both engines clearly struggled with Kent – it’s in the US and in the UK. They did better with Birmingham. Search volume and user behaviour are likely to be the main reasons behind this; despite any protests from Google.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is there far too much hype about Caffeine?

Let's begin with a key quote, from Google, about Caffeine.

A pile of coffee beans: Trader Joe's Organic F...Image via Wikipedia



“The new infrastructure sits "under the hood" of Google's search engine, which means that most users won't notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we're opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback.”

Let's also note that Matt has kindly reassured us all that we wont' see Caffeine on more than one data center before Christmas.

Nevertheless I can see a number of national newspapers running today with "Caffeine is nearly here!" stories.

The Daily Mirror says Google Caffeine ready to bring real-time search and the Telegraph says Google Caffeine ready for roll out.

It isn't just in the UK. Good web brands are in on the act too. CNET says; Google: Caffeine search is ready to go and PC Mag say Google's 'Caffeine' Super Search Is Almost Here.

No wonder people are asking; "What does this mean for search" and "How will this impact my SEO campaign?"

For the best answer to those sort of questions, good Search professionals should be pointing back to the initial description for Caffeine. It's been announced as an under the hood change. Google said; "most users won't notice a difference in search results" - so if there is a staggering difference in search results then Google will have been caught out, they'll have publicly shown they couldn't correctly predict the result of a backend change.

It's also important to note that Caffeine may well be one small hop from bigger changes. Google's going to use the resources that Caffeine brings. Google's going to use the data that Caffeine leads to. Those changes may change the SERPs in significant ways.

In the mean time, while we wait, let's hope some of the hype begins to simmer a way and people stop making outrageous predictions based on a fancy about Caffeine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Google supports new web advertising watchdog; digital UK gets a shake up

One of many Google signsImage by Extra Ketchup via Flickr

Here's a surprise; rather than resisting attempts regulate how it runs ads on the web – Google is backing the expanded ASA with money.

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has, until now, limited to looking after offline advertising. It has two sets of rules; CAP for non-broadcast and CAP for broadcast. Simply put; if a brand runs a TV ad which is misleading, wrong or rude then it's the ASA that steps in to sort things out.

People can complain to the ASA if they see an ad they don't like.

Now, Google's always rejected the need to work with a body like this. Google regulates Google.

It's been announced today that the ASA has had its remit extended and extra funds to support web governance. IN other words it'll begin to regulate the ads that appear on websites. If ASA doesn't like an ad shown through AdSense or DoubleClick Exchange then it'll step in, have teeth and sort Google out.

I'm amazed Google is supporting this imitative rather than distancing itself. That's what it has been trying to do for years. News today, though, shows that Google will actually help fund the expanded ASA and tow the line for two years.

This just doesn't impact on search. I suspect search is in the headlines simply because Google is being mentioned.

This impacts affiliate marketing – affiliate networks may now find themselves being poked by ASA if the regulators don't like the banners shown on the network.

What this means for affiliates who customise their own banners and use them alongside the tracking technology providedby the affiliate networks isn't clear.

Display, of course, will be effected hugely. Networks and exchanges will have to keep a closer eye on the banners they're being used to display.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Has Google bought email spammers?

gizmo5-logoImage by Pat2001 via Flickr

Google's gone and bought Gizmo5. I know them back a few years under the name www.gizmoproject.com.

The connection is LiveJournal and Brad Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, a coding god, started LiveJournal but left after the Six Apart deal to join Google.

I've blogged about Gizmo before - when I had a surprising email from them.

The problem was I had used my LiveJournal account to access the (at the time) beta LiveJournal messaging system - one powered by Gimzo5. LiveJournal was supposed not to pass that email address on, an address I created and used exclusively with LiveJournal but nevertheless I started to get email marketing from Gizmo.

That shouldn't have happened.

I'm not saying Gizmo5 are email spammers. I did, however, take that email as spam. It could have been a mistake from LiveJournal and they may have passed my email address on and given them the impression they could contact me.

Once I kicked up enough of a fuss the emails stopped - at least none of them made it past spam filters and to my inbox.

Google's not in the business of buying email spammers Michael Arrington sagely points out the Google Talk integration and how Gizmo5 does PSTN very well. At the back of my mind I'm thinking about whether the Gizmo5 deal is about getting Google Talk better integrated with social communities - will, for example, LiveJournal users now find themselves using Google tech for their chats?

Mocking Murdoch? Look at the share price

Lots of people are weighing in today on Rupert Murdoch' apparent suggestion that he'll pull News Corp newspapers out of Google. Of course; this may well be a bluff or an over simplification but it's been enough for thought leading bloggers to use headlines like Epic Win. I was actually over at Boing Boing for the first time in a million years to read up on the news.

Do you think he's crazy to say "Thanks but no thanks!" to all that traffic? Think he'll make more money from a much reduced impression count for his ads (perhaps trying to push premium inventory only sales) and subscription models than he'd otherwise?

Shares on News Corp are rising sharply today. Looks like investors, wheelers and dealers don't have the same view on news and content discovery as we not-so-humble digital fellows do.



Update:
How did the share price fair over the full day? It was a bit of a bumpy ride but the overall direction was - up.




Google's robots.txt lets Googlebot into mobile movies

John Campbell noticed a m.google.com result in a standard Google web search. Eagle eyes make for good SEO.


It's just a quick check to confirm that John's right and to narrow down where Googlebot has started to pick these mobile search results from. There's a way into Google's mobile movie results. The big deal, by the way, is that Google tries very hard not to include search results in search results.

It's also easy enough to spot the hole that Googlebot has crawled through. It looks like the robots.txt file on m.google.com is set up to block /movies?. Perhaps these results where on that URL structure at the past but the robots.txt doesn't block the current pattern.



Thursday, November 05, 2009

I'm in Hell?

I flew from Sweden to Norway tody as part of a mini tour of some of bigmouthmedia's offices up in the Nordics. It's been mainly training and, of course, as a business trip there's been no sightseeing whatsoever - however, just by moving from A to B you can't but help notice the view. Stockholm is very nice; in some ways it reminds me of Edinburgh but just with bigger, newer, buildings.

Tonight I'm in Trondheim. Not had much chance to see it yet - I think I touched down around 4pm and it was already dusk.

I've noticed that I'm in - or very close to - Hell, though. Tomorrow I'll be taking the train through Hell and to our office and Bjornis.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Microsoft breaking Google's rules for Windows 7 push

Over at TheNextWeb Alex Wilhelm noticed Apple bidding on [windows 7] keywords. It was a good blog post but actually this is just fairly common digital marketing tactics. Kudus to Apple for the attempt. You're not allowed a negative AdWords ad - so they can't slag Microsoft off - but they can encourage a positive view on their own product.



I can't re-create this exactly. I don't think Apple are running this ad in the UK (given that we get our own remakes of Mac vs PC TV ads I suspect we have a different Apple marketing department).

I do, however, get this on a [windows 7 download] search.


What the two searches have in common is that they both show "microsoft.com" and "microsoftstore.com" domain. A quick check on the WHOIS shows me that it really is Microsoft behind "microsoftstore.com" and not a squatter.

So what's the big deal?

Google has rules for what's an acceptable PPC/AdWords campaign... and this breaks it. Google bans "double serving". That's the same advertiser, using different sites but with a similar purpose, bidding on the same keywords and showing at the same time.

Double serving isn't always black and white. For example, a company which owns a bunch of dating sites could advertise the same sites for the same keywords if the first site was a subscription model targeted towards professionals and the second site was a free to access, targetted to 20-sometimes, with a regional flare and which made heavy use of SMS. Why? They might both be dating sites but the user experience is clearly different.

Microsoft.com and Microsoftstore.com might be different sites but the user experience here is pretty much the same experience. The student offer link (microsoft.com here in the UK) takes me through some targeting options and after telling the site that I'm not a student I end up at a page which looks like this:



The Microsoftstore.com page looks like this:



I'm not saying Microsoft are doing anything ethically wrong here. In fact, they and whoever their digital marketing agency are may be unaware of Google's double serving policy (which may cause them problems when/if they have to pick one ad or the other).

This is, however, another example of how awkward the double serving policy is and how Google don't always catch it straight away.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blogger updates the blogger bar

Unlike many of the blogs you read - this one is Google Blogger.com blog. Heh. :) This means I have to have the Blogger bar at the top. Google builds in a search box, a next blog button and a spam report function.

Here's a sample of the old styles

Google's given the bar a much needed refresh. The Blogger brand has been dropped a notch (does the end game involve merging Blogger with Google Sites?) and the "Follow" option has been added.




I've not found "Follow" helpful at all. In fact it tends to double load Google Reader in a most unhelpful way.

I hope this is just part one of the Blogger bar refresh. If only Google would build Google Friend Connect into it and then I'd actually quite like it.

Google demotes the Google News filters

I remember when Google added the news filter options to the top right of Google News. That happened in April 2007 and I've got screen grabs of before/after there.

Here's what we get today.



Google's prone to testing this sort of thing so it's always best to do a Google News search yourself and double check you're also seeing this - but, if you are, what do you think of this?

The good news is that we've not lost the ability to sort by date or by relevance. Those options have been moved to the left strip.



This is good news because I use the filter options all the time. When I'm really checking up on a story I want to know who broke the news first - and the date filter is vital for that.

If you're wearing your search engine optimisation hat then you'll also find it incredibly useful to see how relevant Google finds a relatively small sample set of well optimised sites chasing after a wide berth of keywords. The caveat, of course, is that Google News algorithmic SEO is very different from Google Web algorithmic SEO.

So, why did Google make the change? My hunch is that they're trying to standardise the concept of 'now filter your results' across their search engines. The "show options" link now available in Google Web and this presents web filter options on the left.

I'm not so sure when Google News did this. I think it's pretty darn new as I use Google News an awful lot but perhaps not so much in the last week or so due to being happily busy with a lot of work projects; none of which are Google News marketing related.