Thursday, February 23, 2006

RPA Wins First Yahoo! Search Light Award

The Yahoo! Summit Series Event, “Search: Thinking Outside the Funnel”, was held yesterday and the first Yahoo! Search Light Award was given to RPA for their campaign for Honda Element.

The competition for this inaugural award was tight. was nominated for the work they did on the "Miller Beer Run" campaign, that included an entertaining Flash game developed by SkyWorks.
Avenue A/RazorFish was there for their "Love the Double" campaign for Chase Bank. They used an interesting method of nonsearch marketing to drive traffic to search for the campaign (and obviously to ther site directly). Basically they found a spike in searches for various terms when they were used in other media.
The Bob Lutz blog launched by GM Planworks, the inhouse advertsing efforts of General Motors detailled using specific events - like the Detroit annual AutoShow to launch a product and how these events and some direct marketing also leads to extra searching.

The keynote address was given by David Verklin, CEO of Carat Americas, who asked the audience "What would you like to see in your 'future of search'?" - his involved an interpretation of John Battelle's view of search integration with other media such as TV and Cable. "It is hard to overstate the position of search in online media advertising and advertising to the interested," he said.
Verklin also mentioned SMS advertising. "Ads on cellphones is a future growth industry". He told the gathering of SEM agency heads and other high end search spenders that Cara Mobile had been tracking this and that in Asia 39% of cellphone users have received an text message ad and 34% in Europe, while the US trails the space with only around 8%.
His numbers of 92% of people who search for electronics buy offline seemed high, but he called on the audience who had brick and mortar locations to spend a week asking people if they had searched online before buying. To try and just measure online conversion is many cases may be foolish given those types of numbers, he said.
David Karstedt, Senior VP and GM of Yahoo! Direct Business, introduced the event and apart from some minor glitches with the lighting, Ron Bellanger another Yahoo! Senior Director kept the event moving.

Interestingly the award was made by the guys who "Pimp My Ride" - West Coast Customs - who combined a spotlight with some Yahoo! purple. It looked good standing there at the cocktail reception.

Google Catch and Release Program

The title of this post came from shor - a regular poster over at Search Engine Watch forums - great phrase!

With all the recent posts about Big Mouth Media, and Matt Cutts blog entry about Traffic Power there is definitely the need to get a better grasp on penalties and database glitches where sites are temporaily dropped from the SERPs but return in a very short period (hours to a few days).

Big Mouth Media is a great example of wildfire gossip. The site drops from the SERPs and their competitors are all over the forums dropping comments - some even anonomously. They blast about hidden text and cloaking as the cause - funny this was not discovered before the "alledged ban" ... maybe the competitors were too busy playing catch up and only had the chance when BMM fell from the rankings ... though the extra clients should have kept all these people busy...
BMM were out for just under four days... and the only people that know if Google dropped them and then put them back is Google and BMM...
The speculation though was scary... if it had been 200 years ago in Salem, Mass they would have been burned as witches without any proof.... on the otherhand was banned briefly - but they revamped their site and dropped the offending actions and Google respidered them and back they came in under 5 days... they got back because they followed what was needed to be fixed and Google saw they may have done this by poor judgement in people handling their SEO efforts.
Did they use their influence to get back quicker than most - well that one is to be determined - would you have someone look at your site again and see if they can have it spidered if you had the ability (if you answer no you are lying or someone I would not hire).

Traffic Power is an example of a company that should have let their bad press die. The recent lawsuits are just making sure they never get to walk away from the bad image. Making changes are generally not enough and though they have distanced themselves with renaming etc. - they forgot that stirring the pot at the old name just makes others point to where you are hiding...

If Google is using the penalties to bring attention to what they do not want in the organic listings then the Catch and Release program is a success - though I would suggest the instances of obvious witch hunting because of minor temporary tweaks in the datacenters should be indentified just as Traffic Power was identified by Matt Cutts as a penalised site.

The fear of a Google penalty is a big stick. Terri Wells over at SEO Chat has written a detailled article Beware the Google Death Penalty that is well worth the read.

But before we all start looking like peasants with torches storming the "evil castle" - trial by media is an ugly sight - we need to carefully examine motives and actual knowledge. Traffic Power is suing over things published on blogs - allowing anonymous posts to accuse people is a slippery slope and one that may be indefensible if taken to court.

MSN PPC Impressing Many

With the rollout of MSN PPC looming in the not too distant future, more people are starting to notice the solid CPA it is offering. An Internet Retailler Report has found that MSN's PPC is a solid fit for many e-retaillers.

I blogged about the success of MSN PPC in November last year and those numbers have not changed. Yahoo as an aggregate is still second but not by much as Google has improved its conversion numbers (guess they have dropped some of the poor publisher partners).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Yahoo! Directory Submission Not Working

I have tried four times today to submit one of our sites to Yahoo! directory... guess they don't want the money.

The following errors were found in your submission:
We were unable to access your web page. Please double-check your URL.
Please correct and resubmit your information below.

Not impressed.... will try later from another computer on another IP and see if that makes a difference. If not I think it is broken and will get in touch with one of their resellers to do the job for me.

Monday, February 20, 2006

MSN Pushes Ahead With New Interface

MSN is getting serious. The changes they are making to their User Interface are impressive for a program that is still not out of beta.

They have listened to the complaints on the forums and are adding a much easier way to change and get to things. Some of the little widgets they have that Google and Yahoo are not up to speed yet include day parting, sex demographic, and age demographics.

You can choose not to advertise to people of certain ages or sex - though this is limited to the people they know the info on and act as a restricter as opposed to choosing the others as the ones to run ads on.

You can also choose what percentage of these various segments you want ads served to - which comes in handy also.

They have also made some evaluation tools that provide feedback on the keywords by groups that they know of...

If MSN keeps this up they will have the best mousetrap when they roll this out of beta in the next couple of months.

Network Solutions Touts Google Top Positions

I went to buy a couple of domain names today and was looking for info on international domains - so I pick Network Solutions as a decent starting point. Well they did not have what I wanted so I went to leave and try something else...

What do I get but a pop under or exit console trying to sell be top positions in Google search.... NICE...

Curious I click the link and they send me to an AdWords signup page.... Come guys this is bush league... but I guess if it works they do not care about the bad PR it gives for other visitors...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

US Senate Grills Search Big 3

Okay this meeting should be over by now but I am curious as to what happened.

And why exactly does the US Senate have the right to tell a company what to do when dealing with foreign companies so long as no laws are broken????

Oh that's right Human Rights.

Now we did't do that for companies that worked with governments that supported Apartheid, or South American non-Communist dictators that tortured people...

So is the government getting involved to make this aimed at just situations that support our national interests or more to the point their interests?

This is a slippery slope that our country has gone down before. Who plays the McCarthy character this time?

There are always multiple sides to most situations and we need to be careful that the rhetoric of one is not allowed a bigger voice because they carry a bigger stick!

Google Adds Pay Per Call

So Seth Grodin noticed it first - at least of the publications I try and read every day - Google is beta testing Pay Per Call.

And as has been noted it is not working.... though I am sure they will be counting the number of telephone numbers each ad and position generated for the days it is down.

Just another optimization process that will now be needed. What type of keywords work best - action words, branded terms, etc... is position a factor as well as the actual copy... I needed another project to add to my schedule...

Interesting that when FindWhat added this it was not a major factor... also Sensis in Australia has it...

I blogged about a discussion I had with one of the tech companies in this space - Estara - not long ago. The technology is really going to change local search I think.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

MSN Search and Lose

It did not take long for someone to start exploiting the MSN Search and Win campaign.

A poster over at details his hack of the competition, while another posted the list of keywords.

And we wonder why the search engines are ever vigil of us hacking their algorithms and creating clever cheats to improve SERP ranking.....

Not So Funny Valentine For Google

Protesters around the world took aim at Google today and using the Valentine's Day theme displayed broken hearts and ripped cards to display their objections to Google's support of the restrictive Chinese government through censorship of the search results.

In New York only 15-20 protesters came out two days after the big blizzard and were well behaved according to spectators' reports.

Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, the Manhattan-based group that organized the demonstration said Google's approach to the China situation was wrong and that over 3600 people had committed to stop using Google for a day.

In the overall scheme of things the protest was a minor event and the loss of a few thousand searches for a day is nothing to Google. But you have to applaud the effort.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Google To Have Another Bad Week

Okay so over the last few week the stock price has dropped almost 25%. People are annoyed at the Google stance in China. The US governemnt wants to force the comapny into giving up user information in the name of national security. The list is ongoing - users moan about the expanded match option as well as click fraud... analytics companies cry about the purchase of Urchin and the setting up of free Google Analytics... while more people suggest it will use the pixels it needs to track all user info to their advantage... GBuy looks to compete against PayPal it is rumored....

Now these are just the surface of the bitching at the "Do No Evil" firm.

But this week seems to be heading to even more problems... people are trying to organise a widespread global boycott of Google tomorrow on Valentine's Day - to show the lost love and warm feelings the world once had for Larry and Sergei's company.

And Barron's is suggesting that the stock prices could fall as far as $185 - and when major monetary/investment publications have been know to have an adverse effect on stock prices....

Even the WSJ has been complaining... but hey they were on the cover of Time recently too.....

Friday, February 10, 2006

Yahoo! Search Is Changing Look and Feel

Okay while we have been aware of this move for quite some time, Yahoo/Overture has to make sure and send out a late email. Granted this was from the Australian service so maybe it took some time for it to get there.

The letter was:
Dear Advertiser,

A new look is coming to the Yahoo! search results pages that will translate into more clicks for your listings. On March 9th, 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 optimise 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 ninemsn, Ansearch and AltaVista 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.


Your Partners at Yahoo! Search Marketing

Now I know there will be a lot of people leaving that to Yahoo but it should be amusing to watch them screw up people's ads in the beginning... should be some laughs coming soon!

I Am Not a Pickpocket

Seems people think if you cookie your site you are as bad as pickpockets!

A Media Post article covers comments by Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg
comparing cookie users with pickpockets. He was speaking at the Anti-Spyware Coalition so it received a popular response. It also shows the ignorance of the group to allow him to make that comparison and also get away with say he has been online every day since 1983.... while he may have been able to use email, FTP and ICQ the web where one is "online" started in 1992...

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

SEO Pimps

So I came across this post on Craigslist.
Seems some parents have no problems pimping their underage children to the SEO world. Now isn't there an age limit on when children can work?

Hell if that's the case, I will put my 13 year-old up against this kid any day. She has been playing with computers since she was 2 and 1/2 - I used to take the cords out of the one at home and she would put them back and be sitting there with a smile on her face when I got home.

I wouldn't want to ruin her amateur status - she has a promising college soccer career ahead.

The post is a classic because it goes straight for the "I will submit you to 206 engines and directories for $250".... I guess the thinking here is that people would have no problems giving the money to a kid - whereas the dad's reputation that is referenced is a bit suspect if he allowed the ad to go out with that type of claim.

I can forgive the child.

Dad wake up and make some legitimate money as an SEO instead of pimping your kid!

Google Aged Me a Couple of Years Today

Our sites were briefly dropped from the organic listings today - about 2-3 hours at the most. But the panic that sets in definitely added some grey hairs and stole a year or two from my life expectancy.

It is interesting how the vagaries of your search listings can impact your world. One minute you are doing the regular day-to-day work, the next you are madly calling everyone who may be able to help.

Talk to the IT department to see if they had done anything.
Call your hosted security people to see if the firewall was changed or if they had adopted some type of redirect.
Talk to your media buyer and see if he has a new publisher that may be doing something wrong.
Check all your inbound links to see if they are changed in some way.
Go to the other major engines and see if you can see anything there.

You know that the loss of organic results if sustained will mean 100s of thousands of dollars in lost revenue...

Turns out Google was just doing some data center updates and some sites were dropped and then reset - according to Google.

Hey can't get rid of the new grey hairs but at least we are back in the warm embrace of Google organic!

Monday, February 6, 2006

Search, TV News Now! Is Adwords, Cable Getting Closer?

Gary Price writes about new search engines that are using voice recogition to search news broadcasts (TVEyes and BlinkX which even has personal video channels), Podcast search via Poscope with its Googlesque front page.

All are the precusor to what John Battelle describes as the merger of "intent based and content based" advertising in his recent book "The Search". The founder of "Wired" magazine explains how the growth of digital TV recorders using web-based search and recording histories will lead to the development of ad serving methods that envorporate an AdWords system of access to very targeted viewers.

Though this is projected as being over five years away, recent purchases by Google of dMarc radio ad servers and the suggestions that Google is looking to develop something similar for television while acquiring a share in AOL which also ties to TimeWarner.

TW's moves to break up its corporate peices may leave some valuable future properties in the marketplace. The players that make moves on some of them may be investing in the future of this developing technology - definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Internet Providers May Charge Web Sites

An article in today's NY Post - quoting Times Of London - discussed the possibility of internet access providers charging the web sites (starting with the deepest pockets - Google, Yahoo and MSN) for using their networks to get to the web users.

If this one has any legs it could start another dotcom bubble burst - and since the economy is not ready for that I think the government steps in this time.

Vacation Is Over

I took some time... went to the Dominican Republic... hung out with the kids... and basically recharged the batteries... it was needed.

But I am back and am loaded with all sorts of goodies to discuss.