Saturday, September 17, 2011

Best ad placement: Autoglass versus gulls

I was directed to check out a video showing a good way to troll annoying seagulls - it comes with the caveat that they give the chips to the gulls in the end, just in case you think it's mean.

It's a simple prank. They toss chips into the back of the car, under the windscreen and the gulls peck at the glass trying to get to the grub. What happens? I get an add for Autoglass. Fantastic placement! There's even a reference to chips.

Here's the vid for to watch for yourself. Get any well placed ads?

Disclaimer: Autoglass is a client.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The huge differences between old and new local results

The difference between Google's old/current Local Search integration and the new model is staggering. In the old model local results were grouped together in an onebox style integration. They took up a lot of the eye space in the results and it was important to be there.

The new system, however, simply blows that a way - you need to scroll down for a while before you encounter any natural web results. I also feel that the new integration places greater emphasis on the Google Review links. 

Old/Current Local Integration

New Local Integration

How do you take a screen shot with your HTC Sensation

My phone is an HTC Sensation on Android 2.3.4, HTC Sense 3.0 and Software version 1.45.401.2. That a software update that came out in late August and early September. It's possible to take a screen shot without rooting your phone. It's just a little tricky; press power and menu home at the same time.

HTC, themselves, say this is possible and this makes it rare.

I think Android's lack of a screen shot mode harms it. If people wish to blog about apps then they'll likely need a screen shot. Why Android harm themselves when it comes to this by not providing easy access to screen shots is a mystery.

Here's the thing - this is so fiddly that I struggle to re-create it. I've managed to re-create it but don't ask me to do it on demand. I'll fail. Sometimes the phone goes into a mode when just pressing the home key takes a screen shot (which you deactivate by pressing power) but I've no idea how to get it into that mode. I think HTC could make some friends by being a little clearer here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Are Google reps encouraging webmasters to break the +1 rules?

Yesterday, writing for Search Engine Watch Dave Davies shared some insight on whether +1 votes will improve rankings.

I've been trying to leave a comment there for an hour now and the servers seem to be having a problem so I'm resorting to a blog post here.

The post contains potentially harmful advice. I'm not calling Davies out over this - from his post it seems to be the case that he's repeating advice passed on to him from a Google Rep. I'm worried about what the Rep is suggesting.

In summary, the suggestion is that's ethical to offer an incentive on +1 presses. It's not. It's against the +1 button policy you agree too when you start to use the button.

The key bit of text says;

Publishers should not promote prizes, monies, or monetary equivalents in exchange for +1 Button clicks. For the avoidance of doubt, Publishers can direct users to the +1 Button to enable content and functionality for users and their social connections. When Publishers direct users to the +1 Button, the +1 action must be related to the Publishers’ content and the content or functionality must be available for both the visitor and their social connections.

I had the chance to speak to Google directly about this. It was suggested to me that the spam form could be used to report breaches of the rules and Google would be keeping an eye on things. Whether they can keep up is up for debate but as SEOs gain confidence that +1 votes are worthwhile Google will have a bigger spam issue on their hands. I don't imagine Reps who may not be fully aware of the rules and regulations will help very much should it come to that.

In case you missed the Freddie Mercury Doodle

Across most of the globe Google run an impressive Freddie Mercury Doodle on the 5th. As it was a holiday in the States the doodle appeared a day late - but, frankly, it was worth waiting for. The song is Don't Stop Me Now by Queen. The video is awesome. Google picked the right track; Don't Stop Me Now was recently voted a fan favourite.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Matt Cutts problem on Google+

I rather like Google+. I like that it can be one place for me to share content with friends, digital marketing industry folks (helllo) and my geeky gamer friends without having to cross the streams and bother people with off topic twaddle. I also like the people search functionality. I know it's new and a proper search for Google+ is needed but I've found that where I might have previously gone to LinkedIn to try and find someone I've started to go to Google+. This morning I wanted some insight on whether I should describe Matt Cutts as Google's "Head of Spam" or "Head of Web Spam" and hit up Google+.

He's not the number #1 Matt Cutts in Google+. You would have thought that with all the early adopters currently in the system he'd be the most popular, influential and connected Matt Cutts. Maybe he is. The actual #1 Matt Cutts is a chap from London who's profile already seems to be on the defensive.

This is just a snapshot illustration of a beta product but it does indicate that 'people ranking' is going to be an interesting challenge. Connections and closeness is are two of the more obvious quality signals that Google might look at here - as might be recent activity. I can also see Google looking at who authored content someone's recently read and using that as a factor into working out who someone might be searching for.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

What Empire Avenue might teach us about SEO and Google’s Algorithm

Empire State Building from 5th AvenueImage via WikipediaYou might have heard the name Empire Avenue in a conversation that also mentioned Klout and Peer Index. All three sites are interested in measuring your reputation.

Empire Avenue has a twist; it’s also a game. I quite like this twist because people try and game their Klout scores (in fact, does Klout encourage this by tying rewards to high Klout?) anyway so why not build that gaming into the system and work with it rather than against it. It also means Empire Avenue is having a much easier time monetising.

As it is a game, Empire Avenue needs to explain the rules. They don’t reveal the secrets to their influence algorithms – their systems for working out how much authority you have – but they share the flavour.

For example, today Foursquare has come online has a network that impacts your influence. Here’s what Empire Avenue said in their blog post;

Since Empire Avenue is about social interaction, the elements of Foursquare which we measure primarily involve your social interaction with others on the Foursquare network. Checkins on Foursquare will count as activity, but (like Foursquare) we will not reward excessive or repetitive checkins, or checkins to frivolous locations. The beauty of Foursquare, and the activity we wish to encourage, is checkins and mayorships of popular locations, and interaction with others by the creation of and completion of tips.

As a result of this – I understand that I add value by adding tips and taking part. There’s no point in trying to become the mayor of a rival digital agency who’s HQ I’ve never actually visited.

Previous posts, I think, have shed light on how content and influence might influence rankings (or share value in Empire). Empire Avenue ask people to peer verify content in blog posts. In other words, before this blog was of any value to me in the Empire Avenue system some five other players had to put their personal endorsement of my content into the system. You would think this would be a pretty good way to defeat spam. But it’s not.

Unfortunately, the most abused of the connections has been blogs. Due to continued abuse we will be further reducing the value placed on RSS-based blog feeds and their effects on Share Prices, Dividends and Earnings. Expect further changes to the blog system, and how blogs are connected to Empire Avenue in the near future, such that decreased relevance of RSS Blog Feeds will have little impact on scores and share price.

Instead, Empire are turning to social signals as the truer way of judging whether a player has significance.

As part of that, we are expanding the scope of what we have previously defined as activity, and will even include bonus earnings for users who create significant engagement (such as being retweeted).

Google, of course, is able to look at a much wider picture than Empire Avenue and looks at very many signals. However, I think it’s telling that a company using algorithms to judge content and create a ranking order is telling us that even peer verified content is a poor signal and that it is far better to measure the worth of an asset by how well it does in terms of social signals.