Thursday, December 29, 2005

Opera Browser Chooses Google for Search

According to Reuters, the Norweigan software company Opera will use the Google search engine in its mobile browser applications as well as at its home page.
Got to love the quiet moves Google makes... much less noise than AOL move.

Men are from Google, Women are from Yahoo!

Jason Lee Miller does it again with some insights into the gender usages of our two popular search engines.

Obviously we have to take this figures at face value but they make for interesting reading and gets one thinking about this. There has to be some gender preferences.

"While both sexes equally appreciate the efficiency and convenience of email, women are more likely than men to value the medium for its positive effects on improving relationships, expanding networks, and encouraging teamwork at the office."


He gathered his numbers from a report by PEW Internet and was written by Deborah Fallows, a senior research fellow - sounds impressive.

The 54-page report can be seen here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Charlie Rose Discusses Technology

Doing the usual channel surfing tonight I came across an interesting Charlie Rose with the founder of NetFlicks, David McInnis, and the technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Walter S. Mossberg.

Forces of Freedom and Forces of Control were the 2 elements McInnis saw the world developing under. The web is part of the Freedom Force - chaotic and rapid innovation - mentioning the changes developing for his business and the internet and the communication companies. Cheap access through lower cost laptops and increased bandwidth is part of Web 2.0 while when access reaches 10 mgs plus there will be Web 3.0 starting in other countries and then coming to the US. He sees his business having a longer shelf life with the addition of High Definition DVDs - which will not roll out across all cable and broadcast television. Though the forces of control such as cable networks and broadcast tel;evision do not move fast and are slow adapting innovation.

MsInnis worked for Public education as California School Board Director from 2001-2003, and has worked since 1997 to date helping with public school reform.

In five years he sees high definition developing to a higher level and DVD releases getting closer to theater releases though going to cable and other television later as this represents a lower part of the income movie companies derive their revenues from.

Mossberg saw the AOL and Google partnership as a possible false step for Google if the introduction of banners associated with the search engine results will change the dynamic and branding Google is known for. He also saw the valuation of AOL as not being accurate from a straight business value. To Google the value was higher as it was a significant portion of Google's ad revenues, thus the 5 percent equals a billion dollars means the whole company is worth $20 billion is not accurate - which I tend to support.

He also saw the adaption of Intel processors in Apple computers to be something worth tracking. Mossberg also saw the wireless industry as needing to lower it rates while improving its reach to help with its growth.
Covering all the search bases, Mossberg praised Yahoo! for its email and search, as he considered the evolution of Microsoft into the search industry as a major move by the most successful innovator of the internet age.

The show was insightful and gave me some new angles to view our industry.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yahoo! Makes Keyword Insert Mandatory Sometimes

I started a thread about this at Search Engine Watch. I wanted to make sure this was not just me... and to start a discussion on the impact of this.

So if you are reading this here add some comments at either place.

Basically I submitted a bulk list and had a bunch of my keywords turned down because the keyword was not inserted in the creatives. I know it improves CTR but sometimes you are trying a different approach - guess you no longer have control of that yourself... Yahoo! determines which are allowed to not have the insert.

What is an Ookle?

Jason Lee Miller over at WebProNews got my attention about Ookles.com.

Scott JOhnson's blog shows his talent as a writer. His work has shown his skills with technology. This marketing approach (though used very successfully before for companies like the IT - independent transport - later known as the segue) shows a sense of style.

Hope this is something really fun and interesting. I could use a new plaything next year!!!

Good Luck Scott and Mike... though with an Aussie involved you should be okay!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Estara Discusses Click To Call Marketing

Joe Siegrist, head of technology at Estara, the online communications specialists, shared his insights into the Click to Call or Pay Per Call market online.

From the time the company started playing with VOIP in 1999, Estara has been pushing the envelop of online telephony and basic online communications. People like Siegrist have become advocates for this next turn in the internet marketing methodology.

Estara was working with computer microsphones when MSN started touting "Talk to Your Computer" and the crosssover to developing a Pay Per Call solution for search or any internet marketing was a natural progression. "We developed the first PC to phone e-commerce application," Siegrist said.

ROI is always part of the equation in online marketing and Estara found that phone contacts converted better. "You don't get the same closure rates with chat that you can with phones," Siegrist noted.

JupiterResearch did a study that found phones converted 73% better than text chat. Siegrist sees the technology being mainstream by 2009. Right now Estara has Verizon SuperPages, A9, the Amazon engine, Yahoo! UK and Ireland and also Sensis - the Australian search engine, are using their technology. Verizon has been using it since 2003.

They integrate the technology seamlessly. "We add a few steps into the initial sign up (for advertisers) and we use category pricing, listings via geolocation. Estara takes over and assigns the numbers and sets up the contact," Siegrist explained.

Costs start at $2 per call.

Estara sees their "Click to Call" marketing being a great tool for local advertisers on the web. The technology allows for much more sophisicated modeling and techniques, Siegrist said. "You will start seeing it come into focus (as a more used method) when local businesses are more active online," he said. It is being forecast as a $4 billion market in 2009.

Estara combines the technology with leading ROI technology with easy proof of value. Right now they can assign local numbers in the United States, UK, France and Australia, Siegrist said.

Apart from pizza makers and taxis, Siegrist sees Click to Call as being a central feature that will promote local marketing for many small businesses.

The local plumber will be able to have the calls directed straight to his cellphone with contact information being backed up at Estara. Estara is looking to make sure all paths to the potential customer are covered, Siegrist stated.

"It scales great for small local businesses that don't have people sitting by the computer." As more and more people use the web over Yellow Pages this technology will become more popular as well.

Google Talk and AIM Connect

Seems Google is getting serious about AOL. They are now set up to have AIM and Google Talk interoperable according to a report from BigBlueBall.com.

Let the marriage be consumated.

SERPs Show News Sites Perspective on What is News

I was looking at the Google search results for the NYC transit strike in comparison to the SERPs for the Saddam Hussein trial.

The comparison shows what the news sites consider more important as well as how the engines change how they list an event the older it gets.

For the strike you have MSNBC, Yahoo! news, the governemnt, CNN, CBS, the MTA and USA Today - high end sites for an event that is all of two days old... five if you start from Friday when the first risk of strike started.

Now Saddam Hussein is old news.... he was hunted, caught and now is on trial - but it has been running for quite some time and the immediacy of the news sites coverage has been replaced by more broadbased sites... Human Rights Watch tops the list.... a couple of edu blogs and CNN is there, along with the Washington Post and the BBC.

When a story first breaks it seems the news portals grab the front of the SERPs, but as the story is pushed into the archives other sites take the front.
This would suggest that the engines read news sites a little differently. Timely gets to the top but once archived the spot is dropped.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Yahoo! Rolling Out New Look Jan. 18th

I received this email as I am sure many others did today:

A new look is coming to the Yahoo! search results pages that will translate into more clicks for your listings. On January 18th, 2006 Yahoo! will debut a streamlined design that will make the search results displayed on Yahoo! even easier for consumers to read. Our research has shown that by improving the search experience in this way, advertisers can generally expect to see an increase in clicks, while maintaining their conversion rates.



How this change impacts your listings:



• Yahoo! will display shorter descriptions for Sponsored Search listings
• You don’t have to make any changes to your listings; they’ll be automatically shortened for you when displayed on Yahoo!
• If you’d like to optimize your listings for Yahoo!, begin your description with one short sentence that includes your keyword and focuses on your most important information in the first 70 characters
• Over time, we will fine tune the exact character count that we believe works best for advertisers and search users
• Most of our partners, including MSN, CNN, ESPN and Infospace, will still display longer descriptions for your Sponsored Search listings, though the exact length may vary from partner to partner



Yahoo! is taking this step to improve the search experience for its users. By continuously focusing on delivering highly relevant search results in a user-friendly format, Yahoo! also gives you the best possible platform for reaching customers interested in what your business provides.


Should create some interesting results in the New Year. New things to test are always fun.... thanks for the Christmas present Yahoo!

Monday, December 19, 2005

John Battelle's Interesting AOL-Google Insights

John Battelle's SearchBlog, Battellemedia.com, captures many of the interesting elements of the AOL, Google and newly pushed aside MSN situation.

He discxusses the actual worth of the transaction at current numbers, as well as some of the implications of various statements being made in the past couple of weeks.

If you need to catch up on this media event it is a must read.

Though I did notice you do not have ThreadWatch or for that matter my blog in your Search Resources.....

Friday, December 16, 2005

EZanga Buying Searches For Yahoo!

I came across this interesting method for getting searchers over at EZanga.
This publishing partner of Yahoo!'s has to be very close to breaking the T&Cs for publisher partners. Guess Yahoo! is too busy to find these - they are becoming more prevalent every day. Some are boldly advertising on Google and passing you to their search listings for a more expensive term.... Yahoo! better get them in line before the advertisers start cutting back.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Yahoo! PPC Changing Look

A new look is coming to the Yahoo! search results pages that
will translate into more clicks for your listings. On January
18th, Yahoo! will debut a streamlined design that will make
the search results displayed on Yahoo! even easier for
consumers to read. Our research has shown that by improving
the search experience in this way, advertisers can generally
expect to see an increase in clicks, while maintaining their
conversion rates.

How this change impacts your listings:

* Yahoo! will display shorter descriptions for Sponsored
Search listings
* You don't have to make any changes to your listings; they'll
be automatically shortened for you when displayed on Yahoo!
* If you'd like to optimize your listings for Yahoo!, begin
your description with one short sentence that includes your
keyword and focuses on your most important information in
the first 70 characters
* Over time, we will fine tune the exact character count that
we believe works best for advertisers and search users
* Most of our partners, including MSN, CNN, ESPN and Infospace,
will still display longer descriptions for your Sponsored
Search listings, though the exact length may vary from
partner to partner

Yahoo! is taking this step to improve the search experience
for its users. By continuously focusing on delivering highly
relevant search results in a user-friendly format, Yahoo!
also gives you the best possible platform for reaching customers
interested in what your business provides.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Google Content Ads Change Font Sizes

Interesting that Google is playing with font sizes to improve conversions and CTRs.

As mentioned on the Google site: "the biggest influence on CTR was the similarity between the AdSense type (size and font), and the main body text of the page. The more similar the type, the higher the CTR."

Seems a lot of play is going on right now between PPC and AdSense. Google is constantly testing to see where they can improve their bottomline.... and in most cases it also benefits the advertisers too.....

Friday, December 9, 2005

Google Using Landing Pages to Determine CPC

You have got to be kidding me right!

Google is going beyond the realm of reason here. Why not just say "hey we are going to charge you whatever we want and you will never have the ability to work out how much you pay."

Who is the arbitrator of High Quality or Low Quality... what happens if my page is seen by someone having a bad day?

Come on Larry and Sergey if you need more money just let us know and we will pass the hat. That would be far better than the robbery you are performing with this roll out!

Thursday, December 8, 2005

MSN Paid Search Beta Seeking Grades

MSN has sent out a survey to its beta testers to see how they are doing.

I really enjoy the quality of the traffic but hate the interface.

Hope that helps.

MSN Trying to Get AOL Away From Google

It's funny how you hear there are 4 major search engines and exactly who they are differs depending on who writes about this. The four are either Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask Jeeves (this one I question) and the other is Google, Yahoo!, MSN and AOL (which I agree with except AOL now serves Google results).

Obviously the first four are unique search engines and the second is the top four for traffic to those sites.

Now it seems MSN is looking to create a major shift beyond the drop it will eventually create for Yahoo! paid listings when it breaks away completely by Spring 2006. They are courting AOL according to the Wall Street Journal.

New Media Report quotes WSJ in today's article about this.

You have to give it to Bill and crew, they are definitely being aggressive. Google has been taking them seriously for quite some time and are not about to let this go without a fight.

Funny how AOL has become the Queen of search - with suitors lining up to court her. The people at AOL have met the challenge of lost subscribers by providing an open platform to most of their content and generating income from the new revenue model - search. Their bottomline is going to be numbers and I look forward to the battle that will continue through the next few months. Maybe by SES NYC something will have been worked out and it will be a big topic of conversation.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Madison Ave Fears Google?

A recent BizReport article suggests that the advertising industry is eyeing Google as a danger following their venture into print media.
I have also heard whispers about TV and radio but the knock was Google was having a hard time working a way to tie that to search.
Well print is independent and the push for pay-per-call may add up to a legitimate concern.
Afetrall Google maybe a search engine but it is fast becoming a global media company.

Everyone is Dashboard Crazy

You would think dashboards are the new IPods or something.

It is amazing the announcements, like the recent one by Zedo Ad Hosting, that tout the addition of new dashboards.

Hey guys, these things are not new. Hell I was getting paid in the early 90s to install Quick Menus for novice users - and I would have thought with the better informed and educated user of today the mesmerizing effect of shiny glass would have worn off.

Guess I give too much credit to the average user - and for that matter the average PR guy!!!

Monday, December 5, 2005

Yahoo! Sharing Too Much Info

I remember talking with Tom Hachstatter, another senior Yahoo! executive, about this maybe 8-9 months ago and thinking that advertisers would be giving away a lot about their sites if they allowed this. Now it seems they are reverse engineering it.... but it still has to be tied to the publishers and advertisers as well as the viewers... and that is where the sharing of the information gets touchy. I spend a lot of money developing the right mix and then Yahoo plans on sharing it with my competitors (who are part of anyone who can get access to this stuff).

Guess everyone will be letting other people do the research and spending and just wait around for Yahoo! to point them where to profit from it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

SEOBook Goes Down and Up

Hey on any other day it would have been slightly inconvenient and things would move on.... today I hear about the ThreadWatch transfer and both sites are down. I call Aaron to poke a little fun and he tells me I should have had kidmercury posting while I was out of the country on a much needed break. Nice turn around mate!

Skaffe Articles Launches

I have seen a couple of blog posts and then received this email:

As most of us that edit on Skaffe.com have websites of our own, we no doubt have all experienced problems of getting good quality content for our own sites for free, unless we write it ourself. You also may have faced issues of reaching audiences specifically targeted for your services, or your site’s, via advertising and the like.



With those types of issues in mind, Team Skaffe is proud to announce a new addition to the family of Skaffe Services - Skaffe Articles. Skaffe Articles may be found at the address: http://www.skaffearticles.com .



Skaffe Articles is a free article distribution and publication directory. Authors may submit their articles and brief bio’s for other users to add to their sites and publications.

Both the publication of the content and the use of the content is free. The service is designed to allow webmasters to obtain quality content from experts in their fields while allowing those experts to advertise their services through their bio’s that are attached to the articles.



Team Skaffe is looking forward to promoting the services and articles contributed through the service. As editors, Team Skaffe wanted to make the service available to you first. At present, Skaffe Articles is in need of content. If you have an article you would like to submit, please consider adding it to Skaffe Articles. This is an excellent way of getting your services advertised. In contrast, if you see article content you think would be beneficial to your site, please feel free to use it. You may also wish to add a RSS feed to your site. We will have more of these added soon.



We appreciate your support in making this free service work for all our users and members of the Skaffe Community.


I think this could be benefitial to alot of people and while needed editorial control will offer some interesting stuff moving forward.

Nick W Sells Industry Standard ThreadWatch

This marks a major shift in the SEM world though the transfer of the helm was done to a fitting webmaster. Nick you will be missed - but no doubt we will see you lurking around or walking the exhibit lanes at SES conferences etc.

Aaron you have the sarcasm to continue the tradition.

The site has some great regulars and no doubt will sail forward with a change in flag only!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Awesome Google Parody Article

Jack Shafer over at Slate.com has written a witty and scathing article about Google's rapid growth and where it will all end.

Good to see the Australian as the hero.....

I would never have thought that Rupert would be seen as a champion... the guy has killed many other small businesses himself!

Join Here: Google Unrolls New Advertiser SignUp

New Media Report has two interesting news items today:

Google's new Onsite Advertiser Sign-up allows advertisers sign up to advertise on a particular web site directly from that site, without having to go through the AdWords webpage. An "Advertise on this site" link takes potential revenue generators to a customizable page where they can open a new AdWords account and target a site for their ads right then and there. Advertisers will bid for PPI inventory, and compete with the rest of the ads relevant to the site in question.

Google Analytics, the company's free analytics service that debuted only last week, has been swamped by so many signups that new account seekers are now being turned away at the door. Those seeking to create a new account have the option of entering their email and waiting for Google to send them a message once they've finished getting all their data in a row. According to the Analytics signup page, "Google Analytics has experienced extremely strong demand, and as a result, we have temporarily limited the number of new signups as we increase capacity." With over 200,000 new accounts to analyze so far, looks like it'll be a while. Oh, the woes of popularity.



Seems Google Analytics signed up more people in under a week than Urchin had done while in business for itself.... so name recognition is everything.
The point on that one is Google may be the reason Analytics is more fully used in our industry finally... the results may take 6 months or so but it should all be interesting to watch develop.

The Sign Up Here Option is another really smart move by Google. It helps the affiliates make a few new dollars and like other good impulse buys it should be quick and painless.

Friday, November 18, 2005

MSN Tops Yahoo Who Beats Google in CPA

We use WebSideStory to measure our conversion and other analytics. They spent a lot of time working with us to customise a method to integrate offline conversions with online marketing.

The results we see now are showing that Yahoo! is outpacing Google in CPA. Granted we do have a larger keyword base at Google - but you would think things would be tighter at Google.... we continue to test.

The other interesting thing is MSN PPC. It is doing really well and given that it represents 25-30% of our Yahoo traffic - they could be the top dog from a CPA stance.

Google has the volume and since we are making money on them all - we will take the traffic. But if we had a limited budget the pecking order would be MSN, Yahoo and then Google.

When Will Google Do An Amazon

I just noticed this and have not seen other people commenting about it so maybe it is new; but Google is now hawking books by the looks of it.
This search and others now push Google Book Search. The initial link is at the bottom of the search results and takes you to the beta Google Book Search - each of those links take you to more specific details about the listed book and the term being searched for.

On the left there are purchase options: how long before Google buys a provider to cash in the traffic?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Google's Free Urchin will Create Many Urchins As Competition Struggles

Google is walking a thin line on this issue... well thin if you don't want to be called the Evil Empire. Small tracking and analytic companies will be having a tough Christmas thanks to the Grinch That Stole Analytics....

They will get the small guy who really does not have anything in place....
They may get the naive companies - agencies and inhouse alike - who do not know what they are giving up...
They will get the people who do not value their privacy...
They will get ALOT...

Why not give them access to all your information beyond what you do at Google...
Why not let them see where you have successful traffic from publishers...
Why not allow them to develop online activity information on your industry...

THE FIRST BATTLE WILL BEGIN OVER PRIVACY

I have spoken to a lawyer and her reading of the privacy statement and the T&Cs does not restrict Google from using the information you and they are gathering... and as they are hosting the results... possession is 9/10ths of the law....


What is to stop them from using the information about those solid little publishers you have developed... making them offers for a higher return on placing Google Ads.

What is to stop them from using the information to provide your competitors with industry (though obviously not your individually) specific data that ultimately takes the edge off of all that groundbreaking work you have done.

This is one area Google really should have stayed out of... offer a little free bid management and some simple ROI program - Okay it is not too roboust and the vast majority will not use it - it is a curtesy. But to figure here is another area to conquer... knock out the competition and create another huge industry lead... one way of not having to deal with click fraud...

The claim of Church and State I guess only applies to PPC and organic search - not any of the other aspects of the industry.

What is next? Free SEO seminars - hey who better - people would come out of the woodwork to see Matt Cutts give pointers on optimizing hoping to get a glimpse behind the curtain.

Seems Google always has some big surprises around the holiday season.

Blogger is Broken

I hope it is just me... but I have been having a lot of problems with Blogger lately... guess my critique of Google has me blacklisted... nah... but the program does seem to be a little broke...

Anyone else seeing these problems? Is that why everyone is jumping to other blogging software?????

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Yahoo! Ad Reps Beat Google Response Time

Hey it is only fair considering the flack I have dished out to Yahoo! for the slow response times... the eternal waits for editorial reviews... entire bulk uploads halted over a single declined term needing some verification...

This time Yahoo! blew the doors off Google.

We need the tracking code on our account changed.... 2000 plus keywords wrapped in a dozen campaigns and 30 odd AdGroups in Google... but as we know 200 plus individual destination urls in Yahoo! had to be changed.

We expected Yahoo! to take two days or so - not the longer periods that can happen when waiting on editorial as these were mere changes to tracking codes. Google usually gets this done in an hour or so.

Well I guess things are getting busy over at Google - that rapid growth and last quarter jump in income of 96% has them swamped and the response time seems to be effected by it. We are into the second day and still no changes over at Google.... hell we can't even reach a rep - and I have numerous phone numbers.

I know they had their Google Halloween party/parade yesterday.... so maybe things were a bit distracted... pity that excuse does not fly with our customers otherwise I would be holding all sorts of parades.....

Congrats Yahoo! and let's hope this was not just a fluke!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

MSN PPC Launch, MSN adCenter Review

Okay it is official and it has gone live with bugs - so the Microsoft way continues (I was losing faith).

They have given a bunch of links to explain things so here goes:

Getting Started lays things out simply.

Targeting offers the promised demographic options - well actually this combines location choice, dayparting options of days to run and times to run and also the gender/age selector.

Analytics gives some decent overviews and was written by someone that understood analytics.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

MSN Sends Screenshot I Cannot Duplicate

I got an email from Microsoft about my PPC campaign going live. They sent me an attached screenshot of it... and the info that it was now live but access to the interface would not be emailled me until tomorrow - now that is strange.

And for the life of me I cannot duplicate it....

Frapper Shows A Cool Use of Google Maps

Rising Concepts has given us a very cool tool that is starting to get recognised.
Frapper as it is called allows people to create groups and have them mapped to location on Google Maps... scroll over a pin and you get that person's entry.

All in all a great new widget.

India and Others Complain About Google Maps

Guess the idea of everyone having access to satellites is a little too open source for countries and their security. Though I understand the complaints these countries have - hell even Australia is on that list - I really think the upside outweighs the bad. Get a couple of secure places recognised and blocked but leave people access to your country.

I don't think Google is blocking views of their own facilities worldwide and they would be just as prime target as any other.

Freedom of information has drawbacks but should not be curtailled just for the sake of it. Give them security but give them maps!

MSN PPC Misses Launch Date

Even though they still have a little time left today, I have been given indications that they will not be starting today. Apparently there are a couple of bugs that still need fixing.

I am rather disappointed. You try and allocate some time to be there when it is launching and the date slips...

Microsoft is starting to do that quite a bit lately in all departments. What about the good old days when they would just launch... or even allow early versions to be leaked so the old zero day warez people would work as a beta and QA tester for free.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Don't Forget To Renew Domains

I have been working too hard lately and ignoring a bunch of the little things that I now tend to deal with at the last minute.
Hey what can I say.... when do I pay my cell bill?.... when it is turned off obviously.
Same with cable...

I should open all those silly letters I get but never do... and that action has crossed over into my email processes - well up until recently... I stupidly trashed the letter from my hosting company telling me to renew my domain... hey they send all sorts of emails and after the 100th I just stopped looking.

I know set up a spreadsheet etc... I have that now and had to some extent before but was never overly organized for myself. It is one thing to be on top of everyone else's stuff... that's what you are paid to do... your own always rides by in last place.

So I had the domain fall into the "now up for grabs" bin... and it took me a little time to sort out... sorry to all (well the handful of stalwart readers I disappointed) - though I know the search engines read my stuff as I heard from them all about the site being down... funny really.

So I am back and will make a true effort to post more to make up for my vacation.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Google API Update Causes Problems

I was lucky to discover this one early on Tuesday for both one of our English accounts and our Japanese accounts.
Here the glitch must have been with the integration of the Google house tools and their new API - as these bulk uploads were done by our ad rep team.
I was fixing the English when we discovered the Japanese problems.

Apparently the API also dealt major problems with bid management tools according to the Google Blog. So all those ROI tracking and bid management companies better be checking to see the status of their clients Google ads...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Google Wins Another Round Against TypoSquatters

Like a recent descision given in Australia, Google has claimed another victory in a California court regarding domain names with misspelled versions of their company name.

This 'TypoSquatting' - a name I love - is getting out of control. People run in front of popular companies and grab anything they can for the extra traffic such sites make from people who misspell the URL.

Another annoying habit is to grab variations like abcdfrench.com etc. for language versions of comapnies websites. As more studies of how people get to websites are published there are always people running in front grabbing domains for ransom or misguided traffic.

Either way these practices really need to cease. I mean try something original like a McDonner burger....

SEOBook launches another tool: Meta Search Engine

Aaron is at it again. This time he has rolled out a handy meta search tool for anyone that is constantly comparing results among the big four.

MyriadSearch provides results for Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask Jeeves.

You can also weight the responses in the All category that mixes the results through the percentage of position a given site has through all four engines - this way you can assess how those engines impact in the mix.

It is another tool I will spend a lot of time using. Thanks mate!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google Launches Blog Search

Google tries to give us something new every other week.

This time it is Blog Search.


I like the position this blog gets so far. Though it still has a few bugs like listing the same blog for say 6-7 of the listings from individual dated entries.

Once they get the bugs out this will be handy.

Microsoft Buying Into AOL

According to an article in today's NY Post Microsoft is in "advanced discussions" with Time Warner to buy about half of its interests in AOL. This deal could take about two months to conclude but offers all types of possibilities.

Apparently, Time Warner has spoken with Yahoo! and Google about this too.

Google is currently providing AOL with both its organic and PPC search results. A partnership with AOL by Microsoft could be seen as a big win by MSN. Yahoo! had already relinquished their spot at AOL by allowing Google to grab up all the foreign PPC and slowly strengthen their position.

The sucess of the AOL portal and the new policy of allowing people to keep their email accounts without having an actual paid account has been a major shift in the AOL business model. If Microsoft gets the AOL portal as a significant publisher they will make a giant stride in the search industry.

Considering they have yet to launch the PPC product in the US - beta is set to start October 18th - MSN has shown it is skillful in the business arena.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Forget ROI, It's All About the SERPs

According to the latest Jupiter Research and IProspect study, upper management judges search marketing performance on where the company web site is positioned in the search results or overall web traffic before much more relevant ROI numbers.

Guess it is time to educate upper management, or improve rankings for terms that are very industry specific but get no real convertible traffic.

Realistically the numbers show an improving understanding of the industry. 51% look at web traffic, 49% look at search positions but 43% are looking at ROI.

Two years ago the concept of ROI measurement in most cases did not go beyond numbers landing at the homepage.

Interesting New Search Technologies

Search for podcasts and search for TV and radio broadcasts are getting hot. I know these technologies have been in development for some time, but they are starting to get some solid publicity lately.

Google has been playing with ways to monetize TV and Radio search, so no doubt they have some variation of this software lying in a room at the compound.

I have been waiting for a solid 15 minute news podcast that I can download every morning to listen to on the way to work... maybe this search engine will help me find it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Yahoo Accused of Helping to Jail Journalist in China

Yahoo! is being accused of helping the Chinese government convict a journalist charged with stealing state secrets. Reporters without Borders first broke this story and it is now getting major coverage.

BBC News site gives a good summary as well as explores the implications of developing the market in China.

Obviously there are implications of trading in a restrictive country. Also Yahoo! does not guarantee absolute privacy. If the US government needed information about terrorism we would be up in arms if Yahoo! denied it. The access question is going to get some press... the issue however will not be resolved... but hopefully some people will learn that a multinational corporation needs to be aware of varying politics and not be swayed by any one set of rules.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Yahoo! Buys Desktop Tool co. Konfabulator and It's Impact

There seems to be some serious moves over at Yahoo! of late. They are revamping the PPC system, and as Mike Ewan over at Developer's Shed pointed out in a recent article they have bought Flikr (a photosharing software co.), OddBall (a email co.), VOIP co. DialPad and now desktop widget Konfabulator.
These moves seem to paralell all the recent moves of Google - though a with a lot less noise.
So when is Yahoo! releasing their version of Talk IM - well considering they already have a full fledged video messaging system do they need to?
The recent letter by Ted Meisel (or Dean Capobianco if you received it in Australia) shows a little more than what people are talking about in response to it.
While it mentions the problems the new system upgrade and that any minor difficulties will be addressed quickly and hopefully be finished soon - it was an earlier comment that I think as more telling:
twice this is mentioned: "help us meet the needs of our growing customer base" and "to meet the increasing level of demand".
While growth at Google seems to be a given the recent numbers support these statements. Yahoo! has improved its position in relation to Google for basic search - if searchers' actions are the same then PPC is getting similiar increased numbers.
They will definitely take a broad hit when MSN spins off - but they have definitely created a solid safety net to help pick up the missing income.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Google's Recipe for SPAM Quiche

Got to love the sense of whimsy Google brings to itself. They are now giving a recipe for Spam Quiche at the top of the GMail account Spam folder.

May have to try this recipe just to say I have.

Though if we are to believe real men don't eat quiche, I am wondering if this is never intended to be made... merely laughed at by the numerous "real men" in this industry!

The recent diatribe by Doug over at I help You forum against the evil spammers and the pervasiveness of the conspirators who use or accept others doing it. Have a piece of quiche there Doug and calm down a little.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Skype Opens IM Network

The New Media Report seems to share my view of the Google/Skype ties with their report today:

VoIP pioneer Skype Technology has decided to open up its IM network to allow other programs to take advantage of and expand their user base. The company's text-based instant messaging service can now be integrated into web sites and internet applications. "Skype's mission is to make communicating through the Internet natural and easy to do, so in addition to voice communications we offer the power of both instant messaging and presence," said CEO Niklas Zennström in a recent statement. From online gaming to e-commerce, Skype IM integration will allow users to build a community almost anywhere, adding more warm bodies to a network 51 million users strong. The new SkypeNet and SkypeWeb API's will give software developers access to the company's IM protocols, allowing easy integration into other programs, including rival instant messenger clients. SkypeWeb will even let you post your Skype online status on your web site or blog with a few lines of HTML. Taking cues from Google much?


51 million users....

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Will Google Buy Skype?

The speculation on the soon to happen announcement at Google is getting interesting. The mention of possibly buying Skype is one I think is a strong possibility of happening.

May have to look at what Skype is trading for tomorrow morning.

I'm Live Goes International

ImLive has rolled out international language versions of ImLive.com - the web's leading site for live videochat with experts.

After 6 months of work by a team of languages experts, this sizeable expansion makes ImLive the first VideoChat site to ever provide services for users in multiple different languages.

These new sites will enable people to enjoy the ImLive experience in Italian, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese along with English. More languages are soon to follow.

These sites are more than just translated versions of ImLive.com - they feature only Hosts who speak the sites' language to provide the user with a more localized and personal experience, and each site is tailored to the mentality of its users' nationality. As opposed to the current domain of ImLive.com, these 5 new sites will be located at ImLive.net.

The new languages sites will expand ImLive's user base by millions of non-English speakers from all over the world, an augmentation that everyone can gain from. Host and Agent sign-up have already begun and Guests will be able to sign up starting September 5th.

If you have websites in any of these languages contact Assaf the ImLive affiliate program representative, at ace@imlive.com, for more details on this exciting new undertaking. In addition, ImLive.net is hiring!

Though largely a rewrite of their press release I really think this site will be around for a long time to come and are offering something that has a lot of merit. Definitely worth checking out and seeing if there is anything there you can make some money with.

Google to Launch Jabber-based Voice IM tomorrow

Since Google is in a second round of investment, it seems the "quiet time" rule is in effect. So speculation about the possible product rumored to be made public tomorrow is getting some attention at the search forums.

From what I have gathered the product will be Google Instant Messaging - using the Jabber-based platform which offers a wide scope of uses.

Apparently, Google has also been involved with VOIP so the messages may be going audio... instant voice messaging, add the Hello software they offer and you pretty much have an upclose and personal experience.

How long before people start using this technology to make a large portion of their phone conversations?

Google has a great working relationship with AOL - providing the PPC and organic results when everyone else is striking out on their own - if these two get together on the IM level then AOL goes vocal at the same time.... now that is a user base.

How long will it be before your computer starts saying "You've Got Voice Mail"?

The LA Times has a story on this today.

Reuters have done a follow up.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Free Back Link Analyser from SEOBook

While the battle for Search Engine dominance rages between the Titans Google, Yahoo! and MSN... another skirmish is brewing in the industry.

Aaron Wall, SEOBook author and counterculture search authority, has started to develop and distribute an impressive array of free tools for the search community.

His latest addition is the back link analyser, which seems to offer many of the features of tools like SEO Elite - but does not come with the sticker price.

This tool is FREE!

A couple of weeks ago he gave us a free hub analyser.... guess his goal is to be the philantropist of search.....

Keep them coming Aaron!!!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Yahoo! Offering Improved Affiliate Programs

Guess the push to attract more advertisers is getting more emphasis these days. I remember when Overture refused to have referrals - except in Europe (which started its own problems).

Now apparently it is becoming more important.

They are going to copy the Google Qualified Professional approach (even charging the soon to be industry standard $50) and give incentives for the new customer signups - though they will offer $80 referrals for new high-end advertisers sent to them (as was already being done through Commission Junction).

They have also announced an enhanced program for smaller agencies.

Google New Share Offering Inside Joke

It seems the decision to release 14.159265 million Class A shares has a little numeric whimsy to it.

It is the decimal rounding of Pi 3.14159265....

Boys we are getting really geeky!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Guess Larry and Sergey Are Planning A Party

Google needs a little more cash. They have applied to be able to sell over 14 million more Class A common stock. Putting another $4 billion plus in the company coffers.

Didn't think the bar tab for the Google party was that high....

Or maybe they are filling the war chest so they can make a cash offer for Baidu stock!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Google Starts New PPC State Roll Out

Though it will not be full implemented for a few days, today marks the beginning, or should I say end of disabled terms in your AdWords accounts.
They will allow you to pay a little more but stay alive for thos e pesky terms that were for poor CTR for negatives you could not work out or interpretations of the keywords you had not thought of.... but now that is all gone.

A new era in Google terms has begun and it should be interesting to revisit this change in say 6 months.

Ask Jeeves Unveils PPC interface and starts selling

Okay step right up, get your red hot PPC here now.

Do I sound like a shill?

It is amazing how many people are pushing this product and how Ask Jeeves was swept to top tier status at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference.

Yes they have a well branded product and some traffic numbers, but to equate them as having equal footing with Google, Yahoo! and MSN is questionable at best.

Good luck with the new product roll out AJ. I would say persevere and you will soon be in the top company - but you have already got there!!!

Rupert Murdoch Buying Web Properties

News Corp. and its Fox Interactive Media unit has been grabbing up web companies in true Murdoch fashion. With MySpace, Scout Media and Intermix already in the fold, the company is in the process of acquiring video search provider, Blinkx, according to a recent New Media report.

The interesting part is Fox it seems is the only broadcast affiliated media company that is aggressively buying these days.

ABC is jettisioning employees (prefering the popular outsource mode). CBS sold off the well known and branded MarketWatch. While NBC never really got involved in the web in any big way.

Guess Rupert's less top-heavy corporate approach can run and gun a lot easier.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Google Wins and Loses against Geico

Though the court did not find in favor of Geico as using their trademarked name as a keyword (which is the current rule at Google), they did find against Google when it came to the ads previously run contaning their name.

The ruling, handed down August 8th, made a point of noting that previous ads did break the trademark laws and as such found in favor of Geico.

This ruling may have consequences if other companies try and seek redress for ads Google ran of competitors that use the company's name in any ad without permission.

AOL Hot Search Lives Up To Its Name

This is from personal observation. We have received some of this traffic over the last 3 weeks and then lost it and the spike that pushed traffic off the charts to one of our sites.
The funny thing was it was converting well, and we were paying so much but this traffic was helping to bring our averages down plenty.

China, China, China

Okay so Baidu went public and is trading at great numbers... though it has dropped considerably from its high of over $150.
Yahoo just bought a 40% stake in Alibaba - the largest ecommerce site in China (part of which is an auction area similiar to EBay).
Sina and Sohu - the two other big search engines are doing well...
This recent MarketWatch article gives a good overview.

Friday, August 5, 2005

SEOBook Rolls Out Another Great Tool

I don't know where he finds the time. But Aaron Wall is always coming up with something. This time it's a hub finder.
Basically you can list yourself and a bunch of your competitors for a term and it finds the sites that have common links for. Play with it for a few minutes and you will be hooked.
On top of that he cornered me for an interview and had the time to write that up too.
I really think he is cloned.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Study Finds Lack of Common Search Results Across Engines

Digital Moses posted an interesting article about the differences in the various engines' search results. Though this is something everyone is aware of to some degree, the actual study conducted by two universities shows just how different the results are.
A white paper of these results gives great details and interesting insights.
Add that to the fact that findings show the average searcher is not too loyal and the potential for swings to any engine seem larger than many may think.
So if a new engine emerges it always has the chance of taking over the space. Well that I think is a bit of a stretch but an amusing thought!

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Interesting Global Usage Study

This study conducted in Chile, shows some interesting insights into the global internet usage.

More such studies are needed.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Is Google Dropping SPAM Directories

There are a bunch of conversations about this at various blogs and forums.

Guess people are not search as much. Maybe the summer humidity drained people and forced them away from keybaords.

Best of Luck.

Guess Someone Graffitti'd Blogger

It was bound to happen. All the ghood ones become targets. So Blogger has finally been christened. Their site was jacked and interesting activities occurred which are available here.

Ask Jeeves to Start PPC

I must commend Ask Jeeves for its perseverence and the new PPC search engine. But my experience with Ask Jeevs so far have been very rough.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

AOL Enters Mobile Search

Guess Google, Yahoo and MSN will have some competition for the cell phone search arena.
Aol annouced today that it is rolling out mobile search.
Seems a natural fit to AIM et al.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Yahoo! Customer Service Comes Through

This is a personal experience post.

I had one of my strategic PPC terms disallowed by Yahoo's Global Quality Control - seems they are an independent force inside Yahoo - and was having a hard time getting things brought back to status quo.

Enter the new and improved Yahoo Customer Service people. My Diamond ad rep was on vacation, as were, it seemed, everyone who could possibly help me. So somewhat frustrated but resigned I left a couple of messages about the situation and figured I would be waiting a couple of days before things started to move.

Well I was wrong. I actually received a call from my guy from his vacation and he tapped a couple of people in the company to make sure I was helped. Ultimately the term was reinstated in under 12 hours.

Now I am impressed. Keep up the great work!

Test Driving Domain Names

I thought I could see all the angles but this one slipped under my radar. It seems a lot of people are registering domain names for five days and then returning them.

This article about this new game is intriguing. I would not have thought the saving of $8 was worth so much effort.

Google Goes To The Moon

Seems Google has a far-reaching plan of attack. They rolled out Google Moon yesterday on the anniversary of the first moon walk.

They have also been seen to be grabbing as many domains as they can with galaxtic implications. Though I have not seen www.googleforce.com yet, how long before we get the link that scrolls across the page:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ...



came two bold men filled by The Force...

Monday, July 18, 2005

New Active and Inactive States at Google AdWords

It has been a hectic Monday, so this is the first chance I had to log in to my MCC at Google and found this at the start of the first account I was looking at:

Coming soon: Simplified keyword states and quality-based minimum bids
In the coming weeks, your keywords will no longer be evaluated as normal, in trial, on hold, or disabled. Instead, your keywords will either be active or inactive, depending on their quality and maximum CPC. Each keyword will be assigned a minimum bid based on its quality. As long as its maximum CPC meets this quality-based minimum bid, your keyword will remain active and trigger ads.
Learn more.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Gator's Got A Search Engine

Claria, formerly Gator, the leader in behavioural pop-ups and other intrusive advertising, has announced that it is rolling out their own search engine.

Dubbed VistaLabs Search (obviously a beta name), the engine should start searching for a replacement of a buyer since Microsoft dropped out after too much bad press.

I wonder if they will put this online and tell about it in a pop-up - the bane of search engines.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Ask Jeeves Looking To Add More Languages

I came across and ad at Craigslist where Ask Jeeves was looking for people with knowledge of Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, and/or Italian.

Guess they will be pushing hard into the foreign market soon.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

PPC Ripple Effect: Chaos Theory

Thought this was an interesting little insight. We who are deep in the trenches see this every day. One company drops out and another enters briefly, only to then become a major presence.

Putting it in theoretical terms is an interesting approach.

Gator Has Come A Long Way

The original annoying pop-up purveyor, Gator, has come a long way from the days when everyone hated them and the nuisance adware/spyware installs that seemed to plague everyone.

That little smiling Gator icon used to be everywhere on your computer. I guess the firewall and anti-spyware companies loved them - as they may have been a big contributor to the huge growth of that industry.

A name change and a new direction has the now Claria company looking credible and knowledgebale enough for Microsoft to take an interest. This recent article shows just how far they have come.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

PPC on PodCasts

The New Media Report from Ad Bumb had this interesting item today:

ADS FOR POD PEOPLE
Now podcasting has everything radio and the internet have—including ads. Podcasting advertising provider, PodcastSPOTS, celebrated this July 4th by introducing the first ever pay-per-click podcast advertisement on its own cast, the Ads On Pods Report. PodcastSPOTS' service equips podcast producers with both ads and content to help them generate revenue and increase their number of listeners. "We built a site that lets podcasters insert audio ads and podsafe music into their podcasts, and get paid on a per-click basis, per-insert basis, or a variety of other methods, and we made it super simple to use," PodcastSPOTS' co-founder, Mark Kanter, said in a recent statement. Speaking exclusively with ADBUMb, Kanter added: "As a podcaster, you could say ‘I want to have five spots on my show today.' You can make them five unique ads or you can make them all the same ads. And as an advertiser, you could say ‘Hey, I'll pay a little extra to be the only ad in your show.' So there are all kinds of ways to go about it and we put it all in there." This new ability to generate revenue from podcasts will no doubt help the infant industry grow, and we predict that advertisers and podcasters alike will be hearing music before long. (How could we resist?)


Guess it's time to look into this a little deeper and see what type of CPA this new advertising venue has to offer.

Monday, July 4, 2005

I'm Live Starting Live Video Lessons

I came across this in the myriad of offers that are constantly sent my way. Seems I'M Live is developing an interesting offering of live video feeds from people to help you with all sorts of skill sets.

No longer are they the live adult video feeds, well no longer just that. The conversations can now be had in all areas and through clever free and paid memberships they are trying to build their base into a universal platform for interactive learning and conversations about any and all topics.


Online Video Classes in every subject available at ImLive.com! Free Sign-up!

Friday, July 1, 2005

Will There Be Arrests For Click Fraud?

At some point this problem may move out of the civil court and in to the criminal courts. Obviously the people who are committing the acts directly can be, and have in a few cases, been charged. But what about the people at the search engines that knowlyingly pass along the bills.

Hey if newspaper people can be arrested why not the people over at the search engines who know that click fraud is a problem and are willing to keep collecting the fraudlent fees?

I have noticed that my refunds have been getting larger of late. Is that so the companies can say they were doing their due diligence?

This problem is not going away any time soon, and the complaints are just getting started from what I am reading on the forums in the past couple of days.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blogs: Better Listings On Google

SEOBook and a bunch of people are discussing this today and the new acronymn for blog is not a shortened way of saying web log but "Better Listings On Google".

This is a discussion that should grab a bunch of comments throughout the industry over the next few days.

PPC Spending Exceeding Expectations

Google's first quarter net revenue was $1.3 billion - or if the numbers hold through without continued growth would be $5.2 billion for 2005. At the start of the year forecasts for the industry as a whole were around that number and people thought them about right.

Merrill Lynch saw the numbers for the industry at between $5.1 and $5.6 billion.

Forrester Research saw the numbers at about $5.7 billion.

Gary Stein, a senior analyst at JupiterResearch,said "paid search will continue to grow faster than any other sector of online advertising, increasing from $2.6 billion in 2004 to $5.5 billion in 2009." So I guess we will see no more growth for the next 4 years.

Early this year I questioned these numbers and the whole forecasting approach in general. Obviously like us PPC marketers the industry needs numbers and the ability to do some predictions. I would think in an industry that lives by numbers we would be a little more accurate.

Guess the numbers were taking into account the refunds that will be coming once all this click fraud is worked out!!!!

Google Sued For Click Fraud

The aptly named Click Defense Inc. has filed suited against Google for $5 million, according to a Reuters new article. The problem much in the minds of advertisers and searchers recently is going to get some definition if this suit is allowed to go to court, which suggests a settlement will be reached.
The problem is as soon as one case goes to trial and definitions and precedents are created the entire search industry will be headed for a massive change. One that I hope happens and the industry uses the opportunity to get itself to the next level, where advertisers and PPC providers work together to clean up the frauds and create a solid platform to invest in.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Government Wants Yahoo and Google to Filter Adult Content Better

Interesting article at Xbiz tells how the government is expecting Google and Yahoo! to improve the filtering of adult content from the search results.
Stating children are using the search engines to access adult content, government officials, are looking to the top engines to lead the way in improving adult content filters.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Yahoo Starting Search Subscriptions

I missed this when it was first posted 10 days ago, and am surprised it has not gotten much play on other sites. But Yahoo plans on offering a subsciption search service.

Essentially people will be able to sign up for various info that is behind subscription walls at various major places such as LexusNexus and the Wall Street Journal.

Guess it is a glorified affiliate program for subscriptions that will be placed in search results. I am curious as to the whole method and will be talking with the Yahoo poeple I know tomorrow and try and get more info.

Mentalist Gets Google Employees to Comply

The recent Google Sales Conference in Arizona apparently had a mentalist there to entertain the employees. Bet there will not be one attending the Engineers Conference, they would not risk exposing the alogorithm to anyone.

The evening's entertainment was a mixture of magic, hypnosis and mind reading. The guy had people from the audience up on stage and was able to get them to do various things... now doesn't that open itself up for all sorts of interpretation.

"When you get back to your office you will give my account a million dollar click fraud credit...."

Tell A Lie and Yahoo Will Ban A Competitor

Seems the DMCA regulations scare Yahoo. Enough to have them take sites down erroneously and without fact checking. Thanks to Nick W. at www.threadwatch.org for bringing this story to light.

I am now wondering how many people will be running around trying this and creating another search nightmare. Only time will tell.... now which of the competition do I want to remove.....

Friday, June 24, 2005

Measuring Branding Through Bad Comments

MindComent has a free tool that they use to find pages that contain bad comments about the company's website etc. Guess they are firm believers that there is no such thing as bad press, since they use this as a means to gauge branding on the internet.

This one actually can be used to find who is writing against your site or services and use it to repair bad will.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ready For My Close-Up Mr Warner

AOL PUBLIC ACCESS PORTAL LAUNCHES

Though it looks alot like Yahoo!, the new AOL free access portal may be an interesting step in the development of web.

The new AOL.com is a full-fledged web portal. The search results are a rework of Google listings... though they grab the most profitable stem of any term in the PPC side as far as I have been able to test.

You can access your AOL mail, play those AOL games and access most of the areas that were previously just available to paying members.

It is this familiarity that may move them into an interesting position in the industry.

If they deceide they want to create their own search engine and sell their own PPC listings, I am not predicting a long life. They are better off making the right partnerships and concentrating on the content and products side.
Too many people have faltered and failed attempting to climb the search mountain when a well-negotiated partnership takes all the backend and slaes work out of the equation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Seems the changes are around the corner and the combination of the recent human editors and the possible implementation of TrustRank and Good Seed has people speculating about a new methodology being used or about to be initiated at Google. Search Engine Watch forum discussion and blogs from various search industry members suggest this will be the next big exploration of the algorythm.
Should be fun. And I am sure the Google engineers are laughing about it as they battle each other on the ping pong tables!!!

MSN Local

I like this... though you have to find it in the dropdown menu the search result page is better laid out and simplier to use.
If this continues maybe MSN will backdoor their way into challenging Google.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Democracy is Banned by Microsoft in China

The Reporters Without Borders came out strongly against the actions of Microsoft which adopted the Chinese censorship policies and flagged the word 'democracy' and other terms on its blog.

Apparently "when a Chinese blogger (at MSN) attempts to post a message containing terms such as "democracy", "Dalai Lama", "Falungong", "4 June" (the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre), "China + corruption", or "human rights", a warning displays saying, "This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression."

The argument has to be 'get inside the system and then work for change' and one that all the major players (Google, Yahoo and now MSN) seem to be adopting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Tracking Codes Knocking Organic Results Out

I have been having problems recently with our websites getting dropped out of the SERPs because the spiders are seeing banner links or text links as the index page instead of our actual sites.

I have had one site dropped from Google and now three from Yahoo each engine attaching to different sources.

In essence, they see www.domainname.com/?engine=advertiser&keyword=link, as the canonical domain... but the real domain is the one with all the inbound links and it gets pushed out as dupliacte content.

I have the two tracking/analytic companies we use see what can be done with this, but a straight 301 redirect strips the tracking code so I lose that...

Anyone else experiencing this???

Saturday, June 11, 2005

AOL choosing Search over TV ads

Seems AOL is showing some faith in its own medium.

According to a New York Times article yesterday, they have decided to put the bulk of their $50 million advertising budget for the push of their new open-access portal into web advertising.

Interestingly they are using Google and Yahoo for PPCD and have actually earmarked some of the money for developing optimized pages and improving the ones that exist right now.

Guess the SEO world is smiling right now... I know I am!

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

The Many Faces of Internet Moves in China

Funny I followed Danny Sullivan's link to an article about the big internet players moving into the Chinese market to keep on top of what was happening in the Asian search market. Business Week no less covering search moves into China... impressive.

But later in the day I come across a nugget at Yahoo about websites and blogs having to be registered in China. Guess the multinationals are registered and can overlook the curtailling of freedoms in pursuit of profits.

What they have to consider, however, is that sooner or later the censors will limit them as well. Seems Google has forgotten they had their news in China censored not to long ago.

Newspaper Sites Looking to Grab Local Search

According to a report in the NY Post yesterday, "a handful of U.S. newspapers are trying to break the grip Google and Yahoo! have on the lucrative online advertising business by launching their own services."

New York newspaper, Newsday now offers its own PPC program with the option of picking the sections of their online edition the ads appears. The choices and spaces can be seen here.

Since newspapers are some of the largest traffic providers on the web right now, as Melinda Gipson of the Newspaper Association of America stated, it could be an interesting way for local search to finally take shape.

Hey Google, Yahoo! and MSN have the global stage, if they want to really grab the local one they may have to go back to basics and become paparboys!!!

Sensis: Australian Search Marketing National Pride

I use www.sensis.com.au and thus received their latest PR release touting national pride. "View the World Wide Web through Australian eyes" is a catchy slogan to pull at the nationalistic pride of Australians have.

The other thing I like is the way the search results are presented. Two columns, left are Aussie pages, right are global results. Moving forward this would be a great tool for global engines to use... pick a country and compare it with global results.

I check the sites I work on through them regularly and I must say they have solid relevant results, both locally and globally.

Monday, June 6, 2005

FindWhat and ESpotting Take A Married Name

They have been living together for over a year now, but the happy couple will be making it official for the world to know they are now legally one.

They have decided to take a completely new name so neither party could feel the upper hand in the relationship. Smart move in my opinion.

More importantly, what about paying bills! Well they have not determined whether they will have a joint checking account or continue to hold separate ones like they do now... this is at least the information I got when I called FindWhat today... the official announcement of what they will do moving forward will be announced at the ceremony...

Here's hoping they allow us to send gifts in one currency.

The new name is Miva (pronouced Me Va).

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Google Site Map Maker and Submitter

Hats off to Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Watch for breaking this info. The link to his article is in the title.

Google will be working to get a better reach into web sites and using all the tricks and algorithms they have at their command I imagine it will eventually help improve the overall quality of the listings in their database.

A byproduct of this move is a cool new tool: SiteMap Generator!

I will be following this one thoroughly and will post more as the story unfolds. But have to admit they have been busy over there at G-ville. Guess the increased stock price has everyone there whistling a happy tune as they work!

Tracking Google Content Publishers

Apogee Web Consulting has given us a very handy tool for tracking who exactly is sending us traffic on the content side and with that we can also uncover who is sending the traffic that converts.

My hat is off to you guys - quite the impressive little widget.

DMOZ Corruption

The Corrupt DMOZ Editor is a great insight into what could happen at Google. And a great read for those that have been frustrated by the DMOZ process.

It is time to get out the broom or drop the facade and become another Paid Inclusion site!!!

Human Input On Google Search Results

This seems to have been broken by a Dutch Journalist, Henk van Ess, at his blog, www.searchbistro.com - a great entry into the search blog field. It has been quickly grabbed by SlashDot and then Digital Point and SEW Forums started discussing it.... now it is a great example of viral marketing.

The PowerPoint presentation explaining how it works (for employees) is here.

The speculation will fly about its impact, the possibility of bribes and misuse like DMOZ is experiencing, the questionable ability of those chosen to know the niched areas and the criteria for placement, and the convergence and development of TrustRank will get a lot of attention in the coming weeks.

Hey if it clears a lot of the crap out, stops the spammers, and eliminates the errors (or blatant Google allianced-influenced sites) I think it is something good.

If it gets abused then I really think Google will drop it.

Guess the leak works as a trial ballon and the rest we will have to wait and see about.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Yahoo Australia Getting Greedy

The link in the title is to a search result that shows you the type of greed I am talking about.

It is almost non-Australian! Come on Yahoo AU play cricket!

I have started to notice a large number of ads by Yahoo Australia in the PPC ads. They are buying their own traffic at low numbers and sending it where they can make more through impressions and other agreements they may have in place.

Hell the link that I use in the title of this article has Yahoo in 2 positions (have seen them be 3 of 5 results!), but also has the "also try" links to recycle more impressions, the two links to Inside Yahoo before the PPC ads begin, and then decided they may as well grab a bunch of the free search spots as well: Numbers 1, 2, 4, 9 and 16 of the 20 listed.

Each of these pages sell more space - be it Directory Listing costs, Banner CPMs etc - there should be a law against it....

This is not playing fair, I would give them Yahoo Finance as the first organic result, even Google does so it is popular. MSN AU (ninemsn.com.au) has Yahoo in the top 3 spots, though anyone can spam MSN right now.

Yahoo you have enough why try and grab the areas where you know you can make more from the traffic?

Pretty soon Yahoo will be its own best advertiser and eventually its own advertiser as people decide to go to a level playing field...

PR withdrawals

Funny the amount of time that was spent speculating on the drop of the little Green Bar in the Google toolbar. There were Chicken Little's warning the sky was falling, there was a ground swell of people liking the idea of it being gone so they could not be pressured by it from people who did not really understand it but wanted it as long as it could get. Green Bar Envy could have been an entry in psych books.

Well after the long weekend, up its back.... now I am sure the speculation will begin as to whether it was returned by the impact of the posts about it....

What did we every do before the Green Monster was around?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Is Yahoo Contextual Joking?

I guess they are relying on a bunch of people not thinking their web traffic is worth anything. Google's AdSense at least pays you something. You would think Yahoo would offer a share of the paid listing revenue.

Come on Yahoo how much more are you going to treat web users like fools? With each of your recent steps you show little regard for the development of community. Novel widgets may get you those mesmerized by shiny things, but will not improve your credence.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Anoox Challenges Google and Yahoo

Great publicity gimmick, and not too likely to happen, but you have to give it to Anoox for pushing this challenge out there.
As their press release describes the engine:
AnooX, the revolutionary Search Engine that delivers the most accurate search results due to our innovative mechanism for search generation that 1st machine generates the results and then continuously re-generates them based on the majority Vote of the People - invites Google and Yahoo to a contest to see who actually delivers the more accurate search results


Unfortunately this is like having the Democrat and Republican presidential candidates having the Greenpeace party candidate join them in the debates.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Everyone Should Have Their Own Satellite

Okay everyone is ohhhhing and ahhhhing about MSN's Virtual Earth, their version of Google's Keyhole aka drill down section of Google Maps.
And Google is renaming Google Maps to Google Earth.

The use of Earth will be handy when we start occupying Mars and other planets so there can be Google Mars and MSN Jupiter.

Guess we all need our own satellite.

The really interesting part of this is how long will it take before it gets pulled down - or more likely - how long before Homeland Security gets all user information when people log in to use these services.

I have heard the argument that secured areas are able to be zoomed in on - let's hope there is actually a program that blocks all pixel rendering of the various coordinates that countries want to be blocked. Otherwise the people who misuse this info could run the broad selections through their own zoom program.

Now I am a huge proponent of free speech and civil freedoms in general, but this technology really has no individual worth apart from the vanity aspects of it.

Drop this stuff and move on.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Suing Over ClickFraud: David and Goliath???

I came across a few references to this effort over the weekend. Aaron of SEOBook and Nick W at ThreadWatch posted info about www.lostclicks.com and their attempt to fight click fraud through the legal system.

If this is a legitimate effort, I really think these guys deserve our help. Aaron's suggestion of a forum or blog is a step in the right direction. I was planning on offering my help to run the blog if they need it, but the fact that the site is run by two lawyers gets me thinking someone else is working the angles.

The fine print seems a little odd:
LostClicks.com is provided by the Law Offices of Joel M. Fineberg, P.C. and by the Law Office of Stephen F. Malouf, P.C. Both law firms are located in Dallas, Texas
Not Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization


Also with all the 10s of thousands - 150,000 plus according to Google's number of advertiser -) isn't it weird that Lane's Gifts & Collectibles LLC, a Texarkana, Ark., retailer is the David facing the Goliath.

Maybe that town is soft for plaintiffs, a town that prefers underdogs over large companies... once a judgement is in place the floodgates of the bigger advertising companies will pin back the ears of all PPC search engines.

It is all very interesting and will be watching this with keen eyes.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Google Portal Closing In

Okay when are they just going to tell us they are offering a portal.
Google Portal?

I feel like I just got a lap dance.

While I can see this building out with ties to Friendster, etc. but if they walk down this road they will eventually run into trouble.

Stick to what you do best. Why risk coming in second to Yahoo. This is not email, if it does not weigh in with all the bells and whistles and a bunch of new things too, Google loses the edge.

We will just have to wait and see. Meanwhile can someone lend me another $20 I want another lap dance.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Some Tracking Companies Stealing Links

In my explorations to keep up with tracking solutions and ROI technology I came across Stats Counter and figured I would check out what they offered and how they worked.
Google shows they have 455,000 inbound links - impressive feat.

Curious as to the origin of who was giving them praise with a link I went to look and see how the links were set up.

I randomly tried the UCSD Registrar's page - an edu extension that is always hot to Google.

Unfortunately I could not see any mention of Stat Counter on the page!
So going to the video tape, I pulled the source code and did another search, only to find the following code:

{!-- Start of StatCounter Code --}
{script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"}
var sc_project=426260;
var sc_partition=2;
var sc_invisible=1;
{/script}

{script type="text/javascript" language="javascript" src="http://www.statcounter.com/counter/counter.js"}{/script}{noscript}{a href="http://www.statcounter.com/" #target="_blank"}{img src="http://c3.statcounter.com/counter.php?sc_project=426260&java=0&invisible=1" alt="free hit counter" border="0"}{/a}
{/noscript}
{!-- End of StatCounter Code --}

Now if you pull the image, even that is not shown on the page. It is hidden in the no script section and on the server side the invisible instruction to the serverside php decoder sends back an invisible response....

Anyway you cut this, Stats Counter has found a great way of spamming the search engines - and if that was it I would say okay you have every right to work any way you want - BUT the fact that it is counted as part of the outbound links for a given site (455,000 of them to date) is another issue. I do not see anywhere in their info where they ask for this link.

I am off to see what other web analytic companies are using this approach.

I did call over to Stats Counter and they said you can remove the offending reference if you have the upgraded service - but it is not publically announced and is not referenced on the website. Interesting approach!

Google Readies for War

Recent hires over at Google would suggest they are readying themselves for war. Guess MSN and Yahoo really are seen as enemies by Larry and Sergey.
Either that or they figure hiring DC bigwigs will help them with legisative concerns down the road. Whatever the motivation, the recent hire of Dan Senor as vice president of global communications and strategies, is an interesting choice. As chief spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and senior adviser to U.S. Ambassador Paul Bremer, Senor would have good global political knowledge.

This type of hire also shows that Google sees their position in the world as more than just internet based.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Simple Way to Notice Click Fraud

We constantly analyse our traffic. It's how we discover where visitors are coming from and what campaigns are having the best results.
It also is a basic way to catch greedy and stupid click frauders.
Looking at your top referring domains. You may want to see the top 50-100 but depending on the amount of your traffic you want to look at the domains in relationship to other well known referrers.
We recently uncovered a bunch of second-hand search engines that use Yahoo, Enhance and FindWhat for 1,000s of clicks. Tough to belive when some of our best referrers are getting beaten by these unheard of sites.
There is also a player who uses parked domains and domains for sale (so when people type in the domain they are presented with a page with 2 sentences about the domain and then 20+ search results.
There is no way we received 521 visitors from people who type in a domain that these guys were selling!!!
I am contacting the various engines and will post when each replies... tick, tick - let's see who has the best response time and answer.

Yahoo Mail goes to 1 gig

Just noticed last night that my Yahoo email account now has 1 gig capacity.
Guess the pressure of Gmail is telling.
As recent articles have mentioned Yahoo gets 40% of its traffic from the email client.
With Gmail having a big splash the waves must have started swamping the boat.

Monday, May 9, 2005

The Google Black Hat Arrives

Sorry no controversy in this one. Just glad I finally received my collectible Google hat (well actually a cap). This is given to the first 100 people to qualify as Google Advertising Professionals.
It's an impressive crew and the hat is the symbol.

Friday, May 6, 2005

Finally Content Advertising Filters at Google

It is about time. Small engines like Bowsearch have had this for over a year. But Google maintained that it would create havoc, some advertisers would never get any traffic and the big ones would be fought over by the big advertisers and the little guys would get pushed out.

Welcome to the real world of business.... and I guess the IPO and a solid period of growth moved Larry and Sergi into the right clubs and at the right dinner tables where through the smoke (allowed or not allowed - these guys do it anyway) of cigars the conversations of business methods and how real wealth is maintained slowly made them aware that the illusion of high standards are fine for organic search. But if you are going to maintain the lofty ideals there has to be a sweat shop somewhere behind the curtain.

This is business. The big guys always get better service - unless the sellers have deep pockets and want to build on the short supply methods. Google seems to be adapting well to the real world of modern business... keep it up and the portal is right around the corner.

Hell, I would almost be willing to bet that if Google has 3 bad quarters of decreasing stock prices that they would start selling ads on the homepage!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2005

SEOBook launches New Link Measuring Tool

Aaron is keeping himself at the front of the pack and investing some money and time to give the community a bunch of handy free tools. If he keeps this up I may have to see if they can add a philanthropist of the year award to the SEW awards.

This nifty little tool checks backlinks from Yahoo by domain... listing each referring domain once and counting the number of total links through various pages that link to your domain.

You can then filter by these duplicates and grow out the numbers.

It becomes a handy tool to see if you are getting too many links from a given site. You could see who links to your competitors or also what sites have links for both you and your competitors.

It is a hosted solution and offers a CVS download of the information. Something every SEO/SEM company should be using to provide insights to your customers.

Go try it out at Link Harvester

PPC and Rogue Affiliates

We have a number of affiliates that market our products using PPC. In most cases it does not represent a problem as we have deeper pockets and after a while the affiliates realize they are better off looking to go into niched or alternative keywords and areas to buy terms.

There are a few, however, that have become rogue affiliates. They took the lessons I passed along and added some of their own ideas and now hassle me with higher bids and bid gapping problems. This afternoon I am about to school another of these fast lane aspiring web marketers - he has gotten aggressive and has bid gapped me on some higher end terms - the $7-15/click range.

So now I have to show him a few tricks I did not pass along.

He will chase me for a decent number of these terms as he has seen good conversion. Well come on and follow, I will lure him up and then let him keep the number one spot. Sitting one penny below him but $6 or more from the company below me means he will be paying top money for any of his terms.

I know his creatives are stale and I will work and constantly change ours. Keep the copy fresh, timely and geared towards the real customers. I will keep you informed on how he is doing.

Testing Search Relevancy

The well-known RustyBrick or Barry Schwartz has created a comparative search engine that tests the relevancy of results.

I hope everyone goes over and plays with it so Barry can get better resarch results and help us all better understand the relevancy issues that have been getting a lot of bytes typed about it lately.

Obviously relevancy is subjective. I had a friend who wanted to develop a relevant search engine 3 years ago - basically using the same principles of personalization and categorizing terms to provide as many possible alternatives as possible and then have the option to drill down within that area.

The example we used was Albert Einstein. A search back then was dominated by the scientist and sites heavily weighted for the keywords on the page (the old days).
But what if you were interested in Albert Einstein the tailor or account?
What if you were looking for interesting biographical information or specific scientific articles?
The reality of relevancy is that at best it is subjective.
But from what I have seen with www.rustysearch.com there maybe a way to narrow and develop levels of relevancy. Keep up the great work RB!

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

The Link Police Are Coming for You

Interesting thread over at Search Engine Watch forums.... seems Google is getting a little out there... or is it that they are just trying to improve the quality of the results and we as people working in the industry take affront to any changes.
This thread is developing into an interesting exploration of perception of the different sides of the "battle" for truth, justice and the Big Money way!!!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Fishing Where the Fish Are.......

Funny that it has taken this long for behavioral marketing to reach mainstream interest. We have been using it for well over a year to great success.
True, there must be people who are turned off of a company because of it, but they are well outweighed by the ones who convert that never heard of the company. Now that the masses are gearing into the space it is time to roll on to the next new thing.
Psychosocial seems popular.... you can get a lot more granular and over time a lot more accurate.
IM contacting is becoming more used - hey with telemarketing shut down and the Can Spam laws that are now in effect, it's not surprising.
Link purchases are hitting a wall (called Google).

Google Moves into Mainland China

The recent announcement that Google has been approved to open offices in mainland China has all types of implications for the global search industry. With a presence in the country and the chance to develop personal ties with the government officials that oversee the internet presence in China, Google may become part of the democratization of mainland China the last bastion of Communism.

Remember that Google News was being filtered and banned not so long ago in China.

Remember that search engine topics and advertising was being carefully monitored by the governing bodies that filtered/censored the media's presence in the country.

The internet is a great equalizer. But even though the access speeds and availablity of wireless networks seems impressive, it is generally an upscale population that has use, or for that matter desires access.

Hopefully the admission of Google will be remembered as a time when another isolationist , restrictive country began a more open policy.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Adobe buys Macromedia

Missed this until I read the current issue of Information Week. Adobe is buying Macromedia for $3.4 Billion in stock.... nice another merger that shrinks the companies pushing out technology. No doubt we will hear of some products being eliminated as there are a few that overlap a bit. This shake out should be of interest in the coming months.

Google's Changes: The AdSense Perspective

Just got this in my email from my AdSense account, so now we have the spin from the other side.

Hello,

We've made many recent improvements to Google AdSense. Read on to find out more.

Increasing monetization through new forms of advertising

As part of our goal to improve the monetization of your sites, Google has introduced a number of new features for advertisers, which will directly impact you as an AdSense publisher.

We anticipate that these features will introduce new advertising dollars into the content network by giving advertisers additional ways to reach their objectives.

We're currently testing these new features with a select group of advertisers, and expect to make the features more widely available in the near future.

Site targeting: focusing on the audience

The keyword-targeted ads that you're used to seeing on your pages will now be joined by a new type of site-targeted advertisement. Site-targeted ads allow advertisers to select the specific sites they feel are most appropriate to their campaign, and to run their ads only on those sites.

We believe that advertisers will leverage both our traditional keyword-targeted advertising which runs across the entire AdSense network, and our new site-targeted advertising, bringing more ad dollars to publishers.

CPM bidding: a new way to generate revenue

With site-targeted advertising, advertisers set a maximum CPM bid - that is, the price they are willing to pay for every thousand impressions – and pay on a per-impression basis. This means that, unlike pay-per-click ads, you'll earn revenue each time a CPM ad is displayed on your site.

For every eligible impression, both pay-per-impression ads and pay-per-click ads compete in the same auction. Our technology will automatically display the highest performing ads on your pages.

Expanded text ads: testing new formats

We are also running a test with text ads that expand to fill the entire ad unit, so that only a single ad will appear in that unit. At this time, this test will only apply to text ads in a site-targeted campaign and to ad formats banner-sized or larger. The expanded pay-per-impression text ad will have to beat out all of the competing ads before it can appear, so publishers can be assured that any expanded text ad is a highly competitive ad. These ads will be served to any text-enabled ad unit and will abide by your text ad color settings.

More image ads

Because of these new features available for advertisers, the number of image ads in the Google advertising network will grow. To take advantage of these ads, and the increased earnings potential that they offer, we encourage you to review your image ads preference in your AdSense Account Settings page.

You can also choose your image ads preference on a format-by-format basis when generating your ad code. For publishers who want to fully leverage image ads, we now provide an image ads only selection.

Your image ad inventory will also include a small number of Flash ads from a test group of advertisers. These new ads will adhere to the 50KB size limit for image ads, and will be reviewed according to our content guidelines.

Finally, we've added the wide skyscraper (160x600) format to make a total of 5 ad formats supporting image ads. If you're opted in to image ads, be sure to use one of these formats so that we can send image ads to your pages.

Google Broadens Scope for Advertisers

Though the new Site Target CPM advertising will not roll out until later in May, the potential is getting discussed fervently on many of the forums - and this with full details yet to be disclosed.

The annoucement came today at AdTech and the race to find out more has been quick.

Google has a bunch of pages already on their site and this one:
http://services.google.com/ads_inquiry/sitetarget?hl=en

seems to show the direction it is going to take.

Basically as I see it they will allow advertising that is not directly relevant to the topic or content of a site but that has a crossover to the demographics of the users of the site. For example, teen info sites about one set of information may also find ads from other sites that are of interest to them in general placed there.

This will allow advertisers to begin using demographics - something that so far has not been a real criteria in search marketing. Though not on target for absolute relevancy the successful advertisers ,who will be able to rise above the disabling process, will be those that do know how to reach across various content and provide users with alternative information, products and services that is of interest to the people who visit these sites.

By allowing the advertiser to use image ads as well as PPC ads the scope of Google's content advertising has moved to a new and potentially prosperous place for all concerned.

Advertisers will love the freedom, content providers will relish the new income sources and Google gets to make money all around. A win/win situation for all including the users who will ultimately have the power to determine what type of ads are seen on their favorite sites by making the CTR the determining factor and providing further marketing info to all concerned.

Watch how successful it is by the duplication of it by other engines....