Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Real-Time SEO: Newspapers come to SES London (#seslondon)

newspapers (Tehrān)Image by birdfarm via Flickr

This session as moderated expertly by Greg Jarboe. It featured three newspapers; the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Chicago Tribune.

Paul Roach, Technical Lead for SEO,

On a presentation entitled "Pushing the Crawlers Around" Paul asks by checking if the "woman from Google" is in the room. No? Good, he says, we'll get the full story!

We begin by looking at the Guardian's CMS. This was designed for users but also for search. The CMS makes use of "keyword pages". These aren't pages of automated content. These are automatically built pages from editorial content. How do the fair in Google's crawling; these pages are crawled every 30m by Google and this compares to 3m crawls of the Section pages.

Articles ping Google immediately on publication. These keyword pages help build links to these pages; in fact, hot topic pages, network front pages, section pages and a lot more all point back to article pages.

The goal isn't just to get the article pages indexed but to create intended pages.

During the Mumbai Terror attacks the Guardian created a keyword page and they rose to the top of the onebox and were outranking the BBC and Wikipedia for related search terms. Once created these keyword pages need to more human intervention.

Paul suggest the Huffington Post is another example of a publisher who does uses this technique.

A tip for publishers: establish your crawl rate, create tagging between these pages and then automate this process.

Julian Sambles, Head of Audience Development, Telegraph

When it comes to the Telegraph's priorities: number one is the core content, number two is the staff and number three is adaptability.

Preaching SEO as "hygiene" factor the Telegraph have made the effort to teach their technical staff and journalists about search, social and real-time. The core message is that online is very different from offline. There's a finite amount of space and a controlled flow in a printed newspaper. That's not the case online. The web is infinite and the points of entry different.

People are driven to search by other channels. This could be a TV program, breaking news or an advert. The Telegraph understand this. It means that entry to the website isn't always by the "front door".

The Telegraph have invested in making their stories stand out. "Up Yours Delors" "Gotcha" make for great offline headlines. This isn't the case for online. An important rule for the Telegraph is to avoid keyword stuffing. They won't, for example, mix Kate Winslet keywords with a stock market story. The journalists are trained on SEO and then they're in charge. It's the journalists, not the online marketing team, that get to headline the stories.

The best way to deal with real-time search is to train the newspaper's staff. This means they don't need to ask for help; they can just get on with publishing the story.

Brent Payne, SEO Director, Tribube

The Tribune optimises for Google, Google and Google. Perhaps a little bit of Bing. The rest are not worth it.

There are now more content ways to get into Google; images, music, maps, etc.

There are lots of specialised Googlebots, says Brent, these bots pick up small changes on the page. There's one, for example, to pick up title changes.

There are factors other than PageRank and links that help determine ranking. If you're a local site you may rank better for local stories, for example, or a link-free citation may also boost your position.

He discusses some of the recent Google News changes; re-visiting pages, coping with new URLs for updates, working out the originator of the story and expecting stories to be updated. Are Google actually living up to these changes, though? Brent's research shows that between 35% and 45% of Tribune content is re-crawled. Hot topics, based on searches, are more likely to be re-crawled by Google.

Google has slowed down how quickly a 301 redirect will pass the relevance from a changed news URL. Brent suspects this is to combat Google Trends spamming. This hinders the ability to publish stories and then 301 to an updated story later on.

The Tribune has also seen poor performance in Google's ability to find the original source of a story. Across the Tribune's newspapers, when they mention the paper that published the story first, they rarely see Google acting on this.

Publishers without a Google News Sitemaps are at a huge disadvantage. It's all about speed; getting Google News to detect the new story. The Tribune spends time watching Google Trends in order to see what people are searching for.

For any Celebrity news Microsoft's xRank is recommended.

Social and search are moving closer together. Brent suggests Google's found a crazy amount of secondary connections for social relevance. This raises privacy concerns but it is the future.

Is SEO dead? SES London takes a look (#seslondon)

Maile Ohye from GoogleImage by magerleagues via Flickr

The intro to this Search Engine Strategies panel asks whether SEO might be dead. Some experts think it might be. Others call this BS. The lunch time keynote panel discusses this. It should be lively. We've got Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer at Google, Dan Cohen Global SEO Lead MSN at Microsoft, Julian Sambles, Head of Audience Development at the Telegraph and Lisa Myers the CEO of Verve to discuss this. Dixon Jones of Majestic SEO has the honour of trying to moderate.

The session began with an interesting and important disclaimer; Dan Cohen, the SEO guru from MSN (Microsoft) points out that he and his team has no special insight/unfair advantage on how the Bing algorithm works.

Dixon kicks off by asking the panel what aspects of SEO will be important in 2010. Dan talks about the issues around content freshness and the challenge MSN faces by importing content in from third parties. Content is still king, he says, it will always be the most important thing.

The Telegraph has no such problem; Julian explains that the Telegraph stands for quality content and that they've started to train their journalists to work with social media and search. He talks about Norman Tebbit's new blog on their site and that it's the quality of writing that helps to generate the content.

CEO of Verve, Lisa Myers, says that gaining quality links has become so much harder. Looking ahead to 2010 Lisa notes how important Local and Maps has become.

Maile Ohye encourages the SEOs in the room to dig deep in 2010; it's about all your content and even smartphone apps. She talks about the importance of social media in search for 2010 and a tip-like-question; does your CEO tweet?

The importance of social and search union is not lost of MSN either. Dan explains that MSN actually is starting to look at the keywords in referring URL so their page can be updated with recommendations of related content from Bing. It's about showing the user information relevant to their needs and improving the journey. There are challenges with this approach though; does the keyword "David Beckham" belong to sport or entertainment, for example?

Perhaps sparked by the football mention, Julian talks about the importance of planning for events you know are coming - like the World Cup. This is easier than having to be reactive all of the time.

The Telegraph also look at what people read when they visit the site, so the content can be personalised and the user journey improved.

But could this be a problem for Google? Maile says that is very important that sites show Googlebot the very same content that the 'generic' user would see. Personalisation, done wrongly, could be a problem - Google doesn't say that; that's the implication.

Dixon asks Maile, "Does Google like SEOs?" As you can imagine this generates some titters from the audience. "No sponsorship of SES from Google. Has the money stopped?" he asks.

Maile responds, "SEO is a partnership with Google. SEO are part of the communication with site owners." The Google rep, rather put on the spot by Dixon's question, gives the example of how feedback from SEOs and webmasters was the reason why Google Webmaster Console includes site speed stats.

Julian says, as a publisher, they have good relationships with the search engines. No special attention but a good relationship. The Telegraph delivers good content, SEO'd content that helps drive traffic. This is a symbiotic relationship with Google.

Microsoft's Dan says Google has not been evil with Google News. MSN news content appears in Google News. He's pleased with that but also notes MSN followed the Google News guidelines.

Turning to SEO 101, Dixon asks whether basic concepts like h1 tags are an example of dead SEO.

Dan, MSN's SEO, points out that relevancy is still important. This needs to be verified with a trust factor later; but relevancy still matters.

Lisa thinks these core concepts are still part of but reminds us Google doesn't pay as much attention to h1 tags as they did a few years ago. She gets angry at SEOs who still push outdated concepts like keyword density.

Julian agrees. These tags might be less important but they still have some weight and relevancy still needs to be considered.

Google's Maile chimes in; the barrier to entry on these SEO 101 factors has dropped. You can achieve it with WordPress plugins, for example. That's why SEOs need to try harder to add value these days and why Google is keen to continue to communicate with website owners.

Maile, like MSN's Cohen before her, finds the time to discuss Twitter while talking about the continued importance of Relevancy for SEO. In fact, unlike panels earlier in the day, %100 of the speakers have their own Twitter accounts.

How have things changed? Maile discusses how a lot of Googlers view the web. A few years ago you'd double click on an icon on your desktop to start an application or access the web. These days you can access applications from the web. This creates a big playground of apps. It's not just about mobile apps; it's about web apps. THs is why Google has a huge stake in HTML5. Google are betting on the web. That's why SEOs are part of Google's communication plan. SEOs can help site owners navigate this playground of apps.

"How does Microsoft feel about Google using AP content to create pages?" Dan is asked. Dan points out that Google have also recently appointed a director of ecommerce before passing the question on to the Telegraph's Julian Sambles. Julian describes this as a new challenge but very much part of the nature of the web. Things change and digital marketers have their jobs because of this; they provide the solution to these new challenges.

Another question from the audience talks about the challenges of keeping up with all the changes Google makes to their algorithms - believed to be over 400 a year. The answer, the panel suggests, is to discuss with other SEOs. Many of the panelists use "social media" type techniques to stay abreast of the news. A much harder issue, identified by Dan Cohen, is how to prioritise changes sites should make due to SEO reasons. It's not possible to tell how much money a canonical link resolution, for example, will make - so even MSN struggle to make the business case.

When the audience tries to lure Google onto the subject of paid links Maile Ohye successfully teases back before going on to note that many paid links are easy to spot. Once Google finds one paid link they can often use that point to find more and signals that suggest even more. Google can decide to discount a link if it doesn't look right. They can be fairly atomic with their precision and take action against links or pages before targeting a whole site.

So, is SEO dead?

Google insists; having a strong website is very important.

... and we're out of time!

Reflections on Bryan Eisenberg's keynote at Search Engine Strategies, London, 2010 (#seslondon)

SES Keynote Day 2 - Bryan Eisenberg,Image by LexnGer via Flickr

Day #2 of SES London kicked off with industry expert Bryan Eisenberg sharing more than 20 tips to help improve website conversion. The 9am session was standing room only. This year SES feels far busier than it did last year.

This was actually Bryan's second presentation at SES this year. On day #1 he gave a talk to introduce the audience to the concept of conversion optimisation. There were some common themes across both presentations.

There's clearly growing frustration at client-side IT departments. Bryan calls them BPUs - Business Prevention Units. He's not the only speaker to express annoyance with how hard it can be to move from recommending best practise to clients to actually getting that practise implemented.

Thankfully his presentation included a number of stats/mini-case studies which we might be able to use to help build a business case. Here's just a few:

  • Amazon had re-jigged their MP3 homepage within 2 hours of Michael Jackson's death. Fast execution is important. (I couldn't agree more)
  • Amazon may be running up to 200 conversion tests on their site at any one time. They've got the traffic to do this.
  • A lead looses its effectiveness by up to a factor of 6 within the first hour.
  • Figleaves improved their conversion rate by more than 35% by adding reviews to their website
  • Eisenberg suggests that $25m in sales can be attributed to a change in graphic at
  • Overstock doubles conversions when they drop their shipping fee (which is never more than $2)
  • VitaCost manages to maintain a >15% conversion rate

Eisenberg has a set of powerful case studies he tends to use in most of his presentations. There's how carefully Amazon test their buy now button; something he's been tracking for years. Right now they're making the "Buy" button for used books more prominent and that's no surprise as they make more money from selling used books.

Another common favourite is a banner for US insurance provider Geico. It starts well. The banner has a good call to action, an easy point of entry and cute little lizard critter - Eisenberg is keen to remind the audience that the marketing department designed this. Things go from good to bad when the user hits the mess of the data entry form. This was designed by the BPU. Not only have Geico lost the cute lizard but the previously consistent message - or the scent as Eisenberg calls it -has vanished.

A similar example is Victoria's Secret. Eisenberg is highly complentary of their marketing department; they do well. One ad in particular appeals well to a user segement - Eisenberg recommends to the audience that conversion optimisation is done with visitor segmentation in mind - and he ad mentions a $20 deal. Things go wrong later on, perhaps when we're back under BPU control, when the website itself now talks about the $29 deal.

Many of the tips Eisenberg shares with the audience are practical ones. It's easier to double your conversion rate than your traffic, right? He argues that advertisers need to find a budget for improving the user experience - even if this comes from some of the traffic generating budget.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How did Google Buzz cope with Search Engine Strategies London - day 1

I thought it would be interesting to see how well Google Buzz has kept up with the buzz around SES London.

Twitter is being used a lot (despite weaker than ideal wifi) and there's a lovely widget showing correctly tagged tweets being projected on the wall.

Turns out Google Buzz's search option isn't the best way to see what's been said. The caveat I need to rollout here is that I've not had much chance to poke Buzz's search functionality. I've not attempted to peer into the algorithm yet.

The first thing to note is that Google Buzz's search does not do in-word phrase matches. Searching for #ses does not bring back buzzes for #ses1.

As it turns out (and as many people will say 'told you so') Google Buzz is a great way to find the lifestreams of people at the same event as you (ie; stalk).

Here's #ses1

and #ses2

finally; #ses3

As it happens a new Google Buzz search engine called Buzzzy made the spot light today. It doesn't do very well here - and doesn't even find any of my flood of tweets. It is new, though.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Windows Phone: 7 series video

Microsoft isn't going to bow out of mobile. It's going to fight for the space. Well.. what else would you expect? Today at Mobile World Congress 2010, in Barcelona, they've launched Windows Phone: 7 series.

Check out the vid.

Bing's video maps - very impressive

I picked this talk up after someone tweeted "Google maps is so dead". I remember thinking; "Yeah right" but I clicked on the link anyway but left the tab untouched for hours. Sorry; I don't recall who tweeted the comment.

Rather than weigh up whether Google Maps really are in trouble or whether Google's also well on the way to having technology like this. I'm just going to post the video.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Putting David Szetela of Clix Marketing to the Q&A

I’ll be at Search Engine Strategies in February this year. I’m not speaking or moderating but I’ve managed to wrangle myself a press pass.

Woo-hoo! Now; one of the reasons I was able to secure such a prestigious pass is that I’ve covered SES in the past. In order to be a good press pass holder this year I want to do some typical bloggy things this year. For example, I’ve pestered the folks over at SES to let me do some Q&A style interviews before the event itself. I put David Szetela, CEO of Paid Search specialists Clix Marketing, in my targets for this mission and to my great fortune he stepped forward.

Q: We’re connected via TripIT and I see just how much travel you do. Does this mean the human touch and face to face meetings are still needed in today’s digital world? Is that a reflection on PPC automation?

Absolutely. It’s very difficult to establish and build good, tight relationships without at least occasional face-to-face contact. And there is an associated PPC automation metaphor. Personally I think the term is oxymoronic; all PPC automation software I’ve seen requires an experienced, skilled hand to operate it.

Q: You’re making the trip all the way to London for Search Engine Strategies and even if you were to depart from your New York office that’s quite some distance to travel. What value does a city like London hold when it comes to search marketing?

In addition to being one of the greatest city on earth, filled with wonderful, talented people and a rich history, it’s obviously an important business hub and a bridge between Western and Non-Western societies. Though I’ve visited here many times, I can’t claim to know the “PPC scene” here intimately – that’s one of the goals of my trip.

Q: Do you see any differences in Paid Search marketing when it comes to the UK and US? What about between the east and west sides of the States?

There are differences between any two locations of any size, and those differences can be leveraged to the benefit of knowledgeable PPC advertisers. I love those differences; I’m chuffed to be able to analyise the local colour. (Sorry; couldn’t resist.)

Q: You’re a speaker in the Advanced Paid Search Techniques session on Day Three. In fact, you’re the only speaker granted time in that session who is not also on the SES Advisory Board so it’s quite clear you’re an extremely heavy hitter in all-things Paid Search. What do you plan to address in your session?

I’ll be talking about the new Google ad formats – especially SiteLinks, product Extensions and Product Listings. My agency is getting great results from these for our clients, and I think they’re among the most exciting and impactful developments for PPC advertisers from the past year.

Q: What would be a good question for someone in the Search Engine Strategies audience to ask you?

Did you really wear Neil Young’s tie while giving a presentation several years ago?

Q: It’s not a sexy topic but the use of tokens for Google’s API and bid management can make or break paid search technology and strategies. Did Google do the right thing in rolling out a token based system? Do you see any pressure on the price of tokens?

I think the token system will eventually go away – and good riddance. It was put into place to govern the number of API calls a developer could make, and it’s an anachronism from days when bandwidth and hard disk space were tight. Once the limits are removed, I think we’ll see even more exciting features and functionality from third-party tool vendors.

Q: Have you dabbled at all in alternative paid search offerings? OneRiot’s real time search or Pheedo RSS ads, for example. What’s your view? A distraction or a competitive advantage?


Q: Where do you see the future of Paid Search going? More mobile, click to call, greater use of rich media such as video?

Yes, yes and yes. Audience members will hear more about the future of non-text advertising during my SES London presentation; I also have a string of webcasts and presentations through the summer that will talk mainly about the short-term and mid-term future of advertising in general. In a nutshell, advertising will get more tightly targeted to people, places and times, and that will be good news for consumers and advertisers.

Q: There are certainly far fewer PPC focused blogs than there are SEO focused blogs. Which three PPC blogs, perhaps those not most commonly found in people’s RSS readers, would you recommend as worth following?

There are several very good ones, and we’ve listed them on the blogroll of my company’s blog, My top favorites are PPC Hero from my friends at Hannapin Marketing, from the erudite and well-coiffed Andrew Goodman, and he RKG blog from the Rimm Kaufmann Group.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Over 10,000 Google Buzz pages in the search index

We've had a few days of Google Buzz. It seems to be dividing people and although I'm hardly on any extreme I'm leaning more being pro-Buzz than anti-buzz.

One of the main points of Buzz is that it ramps up Google's content play. Imagine real-time search streams appearing for Google Search because people are Buzzing about something. People search Google and are driven back to Google. It's a Google win.

Just how many pages of Google Buzz could be found in the search results if you went looking today? More than 10,000.

Bing only has 32 pages indexed. What's interesting, though, is the names associated with the top ranks. The top ranked Buzzes in Bing, with no search term assigned, are;

  1. Robert Scoble
  2. Pete Cashmore
  3. Bad Fitzpatrick
  4. Danny Sullivan
  5. Weirdchina
  6. Paul Buchheit
Now, Bing's very sensitive to traffic as a quality signal and that might explain these results.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google to widen the range of SEO services offered to webmasters

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

In the Norwegian version of Google's "Inside AdWords" blog the search giant has said it'll start to review, on request, websites for search reviews.

The blog post cites the success of Google Spain's efforts in running webmaster clinics.

Googlers Anu, Fredrik and Jonas write;

If you own a website, and have registered with Google Webmaster Tools, we encourage you to submit your site for participation by filling out this form with your website, contact person, phone number and e-mail address (this information will be used only in connection with this project and contact information will not be published in the article).

As it happens, Google's "Webmaster Clinics" are common in the UK. They're often found at big trade shows where Google has a large speaker area to itself. All too often the helpful advice is "Do more with PPC" (or comments to that effect) ... and I am aware that this news comes from an AdWords blog. There's very little SEO advice to be had from these Webmaster Clinics.

Nevertheless, it'll be interesting to see just how insightful the Nordic clinics are and whether Google starts to share anything juicy.

(Hat tip to Agnete for the news)

Twitter Grader Hack - confirmed

If you're one of the hundreds/thousands of Twitter users who have changed their password/reviewed their Oauth access then there's an update for you.

It turns out Grader was the source of the hacked tweet. They have been quick enough to tweet this;

Working on major issue causing some unauthorized user to tweet on behalf of Twitter Grader users. Sorry folks. We're on it.

HubSpot have also been quick with some outreach (outbound communication?). My initial post was commented on by Pamela Seiple, PR Manager, HubSpot. Pamela says;

We're so sorry for the problem you and others experienced caused by some unauthorized user to tweet on behalf of Twitter Grader users today, but we can assure you were working hard (even as we speak) to understand and fix the issue. We'll keep you posted from the @Grader account.

My guess is that there was no connection between the password reset of two weeks ago and today. That's good.

Grader is back on my list of connected services (or I missed it on my first whirlwind check) but is marked as suspended.

HubSpot's Twitter Grader being used to push Twitter spam?

After a surprising tweet - from myself - I'm wondering whether I've made a mistake in using Twitter Grader to research Twitter users.

About ten days ago I was one of the bloggers who reported a force Twitter password reset. It sparked suggestions that Twitter was under attack. This could be a new hack? Has Grader been hacked? Or is there a connection?

Twitter's official response was one that suggested people shouldn't be using the same password and email combination across the net and problems with Torrent sites and that bad habit was the reason for the reset. That didn't sit right with me because a) I don't torrent and b) I had a unique password/email combination. The hugely respected Tamar Weinberg also questioned the response.

One of the odd twists of the password reset saga was that my account was never used for a tweet or a direct message that I didn't write.

Until today. Today a Grader client was used to promote an attempted viral video.

I am certain I didn't tweet this:

The big green arrow points to the client I don't use. It's also worth noting that HubSpot founder and Grader code guru Dharmesh Shah tweeted the exact same thing.

So; what's going on? I did change my password when Twitter forced me to and I didn't use the same one as last time.

I recall I did log into Twitter Grader and, hmmm, this may have been before oauth. It's possible it was one of the early sites I trusted with my password. That might explain why I seem to bet tweeting for them.

I did change my password, though.

Please note that I did tweet Dash to ask if he might have pressed the wrong button and perhaps tweeted for everyone instead of himself. He's had no time to write a response. I can see how a mistake like that could happen. It does go show the power that sites like Twitter Grader could bring to bare if they wanted too.

I can also see the site being hacked - and its database being used to push spam. Again, though, I'm struggling to understand how a site without OAuth access (unless it OAuths under a different name) could tweet for me after a password change.

It may also worth keeping in mind that although my account wasn't used for any odd tweets - I was following @THXc - when I'm sure I didn't take that decision.

I do want to say that I don't know the people from HubSpot, have recommended their video broadcast and do respect what they've done with inbound marketing. I'd like to be on good terms with them.

So; is there a connection between HubSpot's Twitter Grader and the forced password reset? Or are the two events unrelated?

What's certain is that I've just tweeted something, via Grader, that I shouldn't have.

I'm not the only one. A quick search shows that hundreds of other sites have tweeted the same thing; all via Grader.

The tweet in question reads;

Biz Stone Promoting Twitter in 2006 @ #funny #crazy #twitter #1337

Update: Grader confirmed as hacked.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is the Google Buzz rollout corrupting some Gmail accounts?

I was playing with Google Buzz last night. It wasn't available via my Gmail account directly but it worked on my iPod Touch.

Opening my Gmail this moring comes as quite a surprise. Rather than my mobile dabbling encouraging Buzz to appear... it looks as if key Gmail options - such as the ability to Compose emails - have been removed. There's a link called "More" but clicking on it does nothing.

This issue isn't related to just one browser. It's occurs in Chrome and two different versions of Firefox.

Is anyone else suffering?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Cock up: Google personalises my personsalised search with de-personalisation

What do you say when you get a result like this on

No. I mean. Perhaps don't actually say it - I'm sure the profanity filter on my comment system isn't robust enough. Just think it.

A good idea from SEMPO!

If for some crazy reason you've been reading this blog for a while - you'll know that I'm still looking for a reason why I should join SEMPO. Is there one?

I think the situation is worse in the UK where we never ever hear from SEMPO and certainly don't see them moving to promote the SEM industry as a whole. To be honest, any PR successes, etc that SEMPO US/Global might score don't reach my radar either.

That said, I think SEMPO have done the right thing by getting the New York/London based Econsultancy to manage the State of Search Marketing survey. It's worth nearly $250 and you get a copy for free by filling it out. I've worked with Econsultancy before for the Social Media and Online PR report (something of a world first) and I know how thorough they will be.

This year it looks like we may dodge annoying questions like average salaries (always inflated by idiots claiming to make millions with their one man band) and instead focus on the interaction with clients. One question asks about percentage of spend as a management fee; hopefully there will only be a few idiots who claim they only take a tiny amount (if you're entirely CPA then there's an alternative answer for you).

Friday, February 05, 2010

Desktop clients threaten social discovery sites

Jargon watch! When I talk about a "social discovery" site I'm talking about the likes of Digg and Reddit (the old school) as well as sites like Tweetmeme (the new boys).

I'm a great fan of Tweetmeme, whom I follow on Twitter, because the (free) service helps me notice content I would otherwise not have found.

The Xbox example;

Here's a chain of screen grabs from this morning. First off Tweetmeme brings me some interesting gaming news.

No more Xbox Live for original Xbox users. Ouch. Poor things. Tweetmeme lets me see that it was Major Nelson himself who started the discovery thread.

I click... and wind up on Tweetmeme. Tweetmeme needs to make money. They point these links at their site where they'll surface other content for me but also show me an add or too.

So, I need to click again. Oh! Great! Another summary of the news. Now I'm at

You can see how pointless this is. If this was a perfect world, where no one needed to make money, the Tweetmeme link that appeared in my (free to use) Seesmic Desktop would have taken me straight to the blog post about Microsoft dropping Xbox Live support on the original Xbox.

It's worth noting now that if you go back to Twitter and click on Major Nelson's tweet you don't end up at Digg. You end up in a Digg framed blog post.

There's a few things that might explain this;

  1. Major Nelson linked to the Digg summary by accident and has now corrected it (but this example still illustrates the point and the threat I'll describe next)
  2. This is Digg-ish behaviour where the summary page is shown to traffic not coming via Twitter and/or blank referrer header
The threat to discovery sites;

All the sites and services I've mentioned so far are free. The service I'd be happy to pay for is Seesmic Desktop (if you run multiple accounts it crushes Tweetdeck into the ground).

Here's a paid-for service that Seesmic could offer and which I'd pay for - take me straight to the surfaced content.

Seesmic could, for example, extract the URLs from Digg and page so the "offending" link could be updated in the desktop client. Clicking on a link to in Seesmic Desktop (or a rival) could bypass and take me to the original link.

I do this already for some sites with Yahoo Pipes. It's easy enough to grapple with the HTML, extract the URL you want from the page and then modify their RSS feed by swapping in the "original" sites. However, this does break when the site updates its HTML and I fail to find the time to update the Pipes code.

In short - Twitter and social media clients could threaten discovery sites simply by offering users a way to bypass them.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Nexus One ad is called "Converge"

Just in case you've not worked out how much of big deal convergence is to Google and how much the Nexus One embodies the concept... they've called the Nexus One ad "Converge".

Here it is:

Andrew Huang of Moo Studios/Anonymous Content gets the director's credit here.

Twitter changed my password - not sure I agree with the official response

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

My post yesterday about Twitter changing my password was used as a reference by some blogging powering houses like Mashable and TechCrunch. Woot!

Twitter's now said more about the reasons behind the change;
“It appears that for a number of years, a person has been creating torrent sites that require a login and password as well as creating forums set up for torrent site usage and then selling these purportedly well-crafted sites and forums to other people innocently looking to start a download site of their very own. However, these sites came with a little extra — security exploits and backdoors throughout the system. This person then waited for the forums and sites to get popular and then used those exploits to get access to the username, email address, and password of every person who had signed up. Additional exploits to gain admin root on forums that weren’t created by this person also appear to have been utilized; in some instances, the exploit involved redirecting attempts to access the forums to another site that would request log-in information. This information was then used to attempt to gain access to third party sites like Twitter. We haven’t identified all of the forums involved (nor is it likely that we’ll be able to, since we don’t have any connection with them), but as a general rule, if you’ve signed up for a torrent forum or torrent site built by a third party, you should probably change your password there.”

Over at Mashable, Stan Schroeder notes, "Well, folks, I guess it all boils down to the same old advice: never use the same email/password combination on multiple sites."

He's right. As I said in my original post - I'm a cautious chap. My email/password combination to Twitter was unique. I don't even use torrent sites.

So why was my password changed?

It might well be the case that my account was a false positive. Twitter thought "better safe than sorry" and made the switch. However, I was following @THXc - and I don't remember doing that. I'm not saying I didn't do it. I don't remember doing so and I'd surprise myself for following @THXc, not the sort of account I'd follow.

I still think there's a little digging to do here.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

What the deuce? Twitter changes my password

I'm often a cautious chap. I don't tend to click links in emails - at all.

This morning I had an email that really looked like it was from Twitter. It suggested that my password had been changed due to "phishing attack that took place off-Twitter". I found myself thinking, "Sly, but not sly enough," followed by "hey, that really does look like Twitter; there's no hidden URL in the password reset".

I checked Twitter. I couldn't log in. My password really had changed.

So I copied the link to plain text, poked it some more and decided to follow it. I had to change my password. A quick check of my account shows no extra followers or people followed. It shows no extra tweets or DMs.

So why did Twitter change my password? Did anyone else get an email like this? Have they been hacked and wanted to encourage people to change passwords?

I think there are some significant drawbacks with this approach. Twitter should not be getting its users used to emails providing a password changing link. This is surely the sort of email that phishers will love to clone.

Update: The Next Web have a post suggesting a combination of the Twitter account @THCx and NutshellMail may be to blame here.

I was following @THXc and I don't think that was my decision. I don't use NutshellMail, though, so I'm still not clear how I was phished - or if I was.

I still sense there's a password leak here somewhere.

Update 2: It's unlikely NutshellMail was at fault here - as I said; I don't use it (though it does look interesting now it's on my radar). It's also worth noting that Amy, who took the screen grab, didn't talk to The Next Web about it and doesn't think it was NutshellMail either. She seems pretty annoyed by its use/misuse.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Charles Xavier for SEO, Dr House for analytics and other recruitment challenges

San Diego Comic Con 2008 276Image by Foenix via Flickr

I found myself tweaking job summaries on the other day. It was for a Facebook recruitment campaign and I wanted to drive all the traffic to our jobs page, one that plugs the benefits of working for us and then points to specific roles.

My challenge was with the very short summaries for the job roles. The CMS only allowed a few characters. I knew that each year, for example, Universities produce high level Math grads but I doubted many of them would know there was a possible career in digital marketing data analytics.

I wanted a way to describe the role by using really high level terms. Given the the lack of space I had I took to giving examples of the sort of famous person who might be good the role.

Here's what I did - what do you think? A few people I've spoken too started to ask questions like; "Who's Charles Xavier?" and "Who's Adam Smith?". Not sure what I think about that!

Search Analyst - Edinburgh
"This role mixes web skills with spreadsheet skills. Analysts may examine web traffic, assigning vistors or pages value in cold hard cash. Sherlock Homes and Doctor Gregory House would have made great search analysts."

Affiliate Manager - Edinburgh or London
"Affiliate Managers are internet savvy folks who are good at building relationships with people, offering helpful advice and distilling useful insights from facts and figures. Richard Branson and Warren Buffet would be great affiliate managers."

SEO Account Managers - London
"Help big brands cope not just with search engines but how the web sees their site, integrate search campaigns with social media, usability, TV campaigns, etc and work with a market leader. Charles Xavier and Barack Obama would be great SEO Managers. "

PPC Campaign Manager – Manchester/London
"Our PPC team gets involved in ad placement at Facebook, widget networks, RSS ads, beta tests, etc as well as impressive Google, Bing, et al auctions. Adam Smith and Jeff Bezos would be strong PPC Managers."

Which famous people would you suggest as good examples of each role?