Thursday, November 30, 2006

Google Search Appliance Has Phishing Holes

Seems the phishing is good in Google holes, according to a news.com article. Though the article states they were notifying customers about the problem, we have yet to get an email or other communication from them. Guess we have one of the older ones that is not open these threats.
No doubt I will be making a call to them tomorrow for an update.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Day Yahoo Morphs Into Google

Okay it is getting very close THE DAY YAHOO MORPHS INTO GOOGLE.
I got an email - see below - telling about coming changes as early as December (had thought this was slated for the end of Q1)... the nightmare begins.

Guess bid gaping goes into the historical references about paid search now!!!

As you will soon notice when you log into your Sponsored Search
account, we are making some important changes to your Manage Bids
page.

In early December 2006, some of the information on the Manage Bids
page will no longer be available. We will be removing the "Top 5 Max
Bids," "Position" and "Your Cost" columns from the current account
interface. The View Bids tool will also be removed.

These columns will be replaced with two new columns of data:

Estimated Average Position
This displays an estimate of the average position your listing may
achieve, based on your bid and the current bids of other advertisers.

Bid Range for Top Positions
This displays the current range of bids other advertisers are willing
to pay for the positions at the top of the search results page.

To learn why we've made these changes and more, please see our FAQs.

Economist Talks Click Fraud

Funny how those staid financial publications seem to lag on internet stories but are perfect at forecasting 'brick and mortar' actions.

The Economist just got around to writing about click fraud.

Talking about the $30 clicks gets attention but this is something they are very late on.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jim Cramer Sees Good In Google Buying YouTube

If you have ever watched Mad Money you have to love Jim Cramer. I send out a big BooYah for his recent statements about the Google pruchase of YouTube.

Most analysts seem to think it is the start of the demise of Google, but Cramer and I agree (I have two kids 10 and 14 who both use YouTube, MySpace and Google) that you need only look at what kids are doing to see the potential here.

Nothing like buying your future spenders' favorite toys and branding Google into their subconscious. This group represents a huge portion of online spending whether directly or by the influence of their endless pleas of "Please MOM'.

I have always enjoyed Cramer's TV show - now I am going to have to go buy his book. Wonder what he thought of Baidu a year ago when I was telling my friends to grab it at $28... it broke $108 today!!!

Korea Bans Trading Gaming Currencies

Seems the Koreans do not like people making money from selling online gaming currencies to other gamers.

An IT Week article details this and says that as much as $900 million is being spent on this in Korea. That is one hell of a market! Makes one want to start playing pong again.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Continuing Adventures of Danny Sullivan in Search Engine Land

Okay Danny I signed up. This should be another great venture. I like the idea of the newspaper of record for search. You are going to have to chase down a lot of leads - both real and imaginary.

But with your initial team of Barrry Schwartz and Chris Sherman you start with two excellent journalists - in the true sense of the term.

Search Engine Land should be very well received and I am figuring you have 25,000 or more sign ups before it even launches. That should be a story in and of itself.

I will pass along anything I hear to you guys to run down!

Jerry Maguire Works At Yahoo!

Seems the job-destroying memo (sorry mission statement) is not restricted to the movies. In a move reminiscent of "Jerry McGuire" a senior Yahoo employee wrote a memo basically stating the company need to be rejuvenated.

The leaking of it and the response has been very interesting. The best critiques so far have been over at John Battelle's blog.

Anyone looking for solid experienced employees should be waiting outside the Yahoo offices - they could be flooding the employment market very soon!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Google Webmaster Tools

I had not been to the Google Webmaster help section in awhile and found the new tools they are offering to be very helpful.

You can check if your site is indexed and once you have added a metatag to the site so Google knows you have access to the server for the site they will let you know what erros exist and help you improve how the spiders go through your pages.

I had done this quite some time ago but was impressed by how much they have improved the diagnostics. Well worth stopping by here.

http://www.google.com/webmasters/

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quality Scores, Minimum Bids and Google Inactivating Keywords

The other conversation I had with Google this week was regarding inactivating keyowrds in our PPC account. Seems this is another bones of contention of late and I am fast seeing it become the Google Grinch for this holiday season.

Like everything Google makes decisions on in AdWords the numbers are taken from Google search only.

Our site had not been penalized by the Quality Score update recently - not surprised as each keyword for this account has its own landing page with definition and other appropriate content. True there are a couple of ads - but all publishers need income - and we were not arbitraging so much as increasing the quality of the traffic for our advertisers. (Doesn't that sound positive).

According to the Google person I spoke with exact and phrase match numbers have more impact - so I guess they are breaking these numbers out in the background similar to the bucket of broad keywords that include some that used to get permanently pulled from what words were given traffic.

Say I am advertising for car parts and my numbers tanked for Ford car parts and Mercedes car parts but did well for Chevy and BMW - in the past the bad performers would be pulled from the impression rotation even without your knowledge.

Now broad match is not separated and thus there can be words in the mix that should be negatived out that are impacting what terms are forced to raise bids.

They are not arbitrarily making changes to minimum bids, I was told, but this is based on the impact of disabled terms etc.

I will be delving into this a little deeper and keep you informed.

Google Supplemental Is Next Major Database Upgrade

I ahd a conversation with one of the senior guys at Google about one of our sites finding its way prominently into the Supplemental listings. In the old days this was usually the start of your site exiting the Google database all together.

Not so anymore, according to this Google employee. The push to grow a secondary database that can hold 100 billion documents will be needed for the new infrastructure of the burgeoning new web - yeah that Web 2.0 everyone is discussing these days - obviously a little more to it than the 'mumbo jumbo' I had thought a lot of the talk was.

Yeah I know the web is evolving. Yeah I know new rich media and other changes are part of this new 'web'. That Google was doing something in the background to adapt to these moves is logical - and now partially mentioned in public.

Eventually all sites will be migrated over to this database - so expect to see sites slipping more to the Supplemental listings.

Somehow those sites will be able to appear for search terms - hey Google can do anything right.

I really enjoyed the conversation and actually learned or let's say saw in another light a bunch of things I had long stored in the brain's attic.

Title tags do not have weighting for your PR and thus where you appear in the organic results - I was told! I liked that because though it is correct they impact what keywords you can be listed for - they do not impact the position. Links are the major factor on your PR and Google's PR impacts where you end up on the organic rankings.

If you follow this out then the anchor text and title tags will contribute to the words your site has in its database entry but the PR of the links and I imagine (was not told this directly) the actual anchor text used will create scales of PR for words on any page.

This is going to be something I will test and try and learn more on now.

Panama Gets Quotable Praise From Two Andys

I got the Yahoo email today about Panama and was surprised to see endorsements from Andrew Goodman and Andy Beal.... they could have added Andy Hagans, Andy Atkins-Kr├╝ger, Andy Mindel, Andy Bourland... the list could have been extensive but that the two who did get quoted are prominent search personalities...

Hey, I too think Panama is a great improvement and has the scope to push the Yahoo interface to the top of the pile.

They really are trying to make this the best PPC interface out there. The help sections are easy to read and follow, the ability to upload third party bulk upload sheets and have them converted to the Yahoo format is huge.

Congrats Yahoo! you have finally killed 'the blob'.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Microsoft adCenter Presents Search Master Steve

Guess they are branding this guy as the face of adCenter help and tips. He has that geeky look and age is middle ground so young and old will like him. He actually looks a little like the guy that does those "can you hear me now" commercials.

In their latest direct mail piece Steve is launched and gives "three tips for getting more sales".

Trees were killed fore this... 2 pages color printed both sides and then folded and stapled to make it an 8 page leaflet.
Tip 1 - Choose your keywords wisely...
Tip 2 - Write a search ad that sells....
Tip 3 - Put your ad where the buyers are...

Wow I think I finally understand PPC advertising....

Quigo Provides PPC Ads For Another Major Newspaper

Once again Adotas gives me the latest news. I either have to get out more or find out how they seem to be so thorough.
Anyway, Q@uigo is slowly grabbing up a lot of partners in the newspaper industry. As the article states the New York Daily News has becomee another Quigo partner.
Keep up the good work. I love the little engines that could!!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Afternic Sets a Self Censorship

I just received this email about the changes at Afternic... I agree there is a need to not allow certain activities and it is good to see companies embracing this attitude.

Gambling ban is adhering to the law and a smart move.


Dear Members, Domainers and Friends:

We want to share with you a recent decision that we believe will put Afternic in an even better position to serve the small business, SOHO community and greater domain industry.

After extensive consideration, we have decided to no longer accept domain names that promote hate, sex, obscenity or self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse, violence and gambling. The sole rationale behind our decision is to make Afternic a more comfortable site for mainstream domain name shoppers, especially small business owners. We recognize that taking a leadership role on this issue may have a negative financial impact on our business in the near term. Nonetheless, we believe strongly that it's the right thing long-term decision for our industry and Afternic.

In the next few days, we will de-list these kinds of domain names currently posted on our site. Members who own such names will receive a letter from us informing them which names will no longer be listed. We hope that they, and others, will understand that we have no interest in censorship and that we fully support First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression. And, there is certainly no lack of other Internet sites where such names are welcomed.

The Internet, much like the early days of television, is still a new frontier. We believe it is up to the industry leaders-and we include Afternic here-to step up and determine what constitutes professional standards and practices. We take this action in the interest of socially responsible corporate behavior and hope that it leads to further healthy industry dialog and discussion on the topic.

Review Me Joins Paid Blog Posts

Okay here is a new blog review site where bloggers can make money reviewing various products - including this one (I am getting paid to write this - more than my usual posts make me!!!).

The site allows advertisers to buy reviews - with prices set by traffic and page rank. An advertiser comes in an offers X dollars and then lists which blogs they would like to review them - obviously a sliding scale and people agreeing or denying to review impacts how many people get the chance to make money from any offer.

Since these become permanent links it seems a reasonable exchange of cash for impact.

I spoke with one of the guys involved and it seems like they are going to make a real go of this business model...

I will tell you how it works out when I get my first payment. Hey read up guys I really want to give them their $20 worth... which should be up to the 200 words minimum.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Live Search Has Major Hack

Seems you can dump your competitors out of the MSN search results. According to this blog entry.

Hopefully someone gets this fixed soon... I don't have the time or the desire but I am sure there are a load of people trying this out right now.

Microsoft Playing Viral Games With Search

Ms Dewey - the fun, viral experiment Microsoft is playing with its search engine is proving to have some legs - even if you don't see the ones of the woman fronting this Flash driven interface.

She has generated 2.8 million search queries in 9 days, over 300,000 a day and has been linked to by over 2,700 blogs - add another here!

What is interesting about this test is there was no push of the info through the people at Microsoft - the people I work with there heard about it from me. This was a completely viral test and one I think has been sucessful.

Though I was asked by a few women where was Mr Dewey!!!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

The Villagers Are Coming For The Search Monsters

I really get annoyed by certain action groups who profess to be watching out for us - but in reality are forcing through their own agendas. An article from Adotas gives the details of two such groups trying to regulate online advertising.

The FTC is being asked by "consumer action groups" - CDD, the Center for Digital Democracy (I love how many controling groups use democracy in their name) and US PIRG, the US Public Interest Research Group - to monitor and control online advertising.

While I tyhink we may need some general standards I don't think we have to be too concerned about privacy issues as most people can see who the 'pretenders' are and while a handful of unsavy users may be drawn in - the companies do not last long when they cannot deliver any substantial audience.

The market place can police itself and has done so for quite some time. Making laws is a scary way of doing business.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Great Color Grading For SEO From Yahoo

Great find by the guys over at ThreadWatch.org, Yahoo!'s Tim Converse using a little comedy to color grade the various SEO activities.

The blog post uses the SNL parady of Homeland Security color codes and gives new meaning to Black Hat and White Hat.

I am posting it in full on the off chance Tim is made to pull his down... if theree is a problem just let me know and I will drop it. His can be found here.

Here's my attempt to give SEO's more than just two or three colors.

Background: A naive (non-SEO) webmaster or content producer simply makes a site, without a thought or a care to the world of search engines. Or if there's a thought it's a thought of hopeful trust: if I make a useful interesting site on topic X, then the search engine will figure that out and deliver users who care about X to my site. SEOs and SEO-aware content creators construct sites instead with an eye to how search engines work, and make content that is designed to be retrieved. The white-hat/black-hat continuum is about the extent to which SEOs are working with search engines or against them. Black-hat SEOs are also known as search-engine spammers.

Dark inky black: The SEO's (or in this case the spammer's) interests are totally divergent from both the engines and the users - the SEO wants to trick the search engine into handing over users who are ripe to be tricked themselves into a situation of malicious harm. For example, the SEO might name his domain just one typo-character away from a famous domain name, then install spyware on the computer of any user careless enough to visit, or attempt to impersonate a major portal's login page to collect logins and passwords.

Charcoal: The SEO tries to trick the engine into showing the user something totally unrelated to the query, and possibly offensive, but doesn't actually commit any illegal or fraudulent acts within five seconds of the first user click. Example: a (heinous) pornspammer who stuffs the page with irrelevant non-porn keywords targeting innocent queries, maybe via invisible text. 99.9% of searchers will be searching for something else and will be put off; 0.1% will be searching for something else, but will, um, flexibly and opportunistically reorient their interests.

Dark gray: The SEO collects (aka steals) random text from other sites, and uses it to create thousands (or millions) of pages targeting particular queries. The pages have nothing original of value, but do have ads.

Slate gray: The SEO creates thousands (or millions of pages), all of which point (by linkage, or framing, or redirection) to the same content, which might actually be interesting to the searcher.

Gray: The SEO reads the guidelines of search engines, and tries to juice up their sites just enough to fly under the radar on all dimensions - artificial linkfarms that remain small, automatic content duplication that is arguably not too abusive, etc. The goal is to get enough referral traffic as possible, without too much reference to whether it is interested traffic.

Light gray: The SEO creates "original" content in bulk the old-fashioned way, thinking first of all of search engine rules, secondly of duplicate detection algorithms, and lastly of whether the text makes sense to human beings and is something anyone would ever want to read. Then the SEO experiments with all the parameters (keyword density, internal linkage) trying to move up for the queries of interest.

Off-white: The SEO ensures crawlability of the site, restructures it if necessary for size of pages and internal linkage, and then injects terms to specifically target the important keywords and queries. He doesn't create linkfarms, but friends and allies are importuned to link with specific text and phrases.

White: The SEO starts (if lucky) with a site full of content you can't find anywhere else, and that answers a need that searchers actually have. Then the SEO makes sure the site is crawlable, and that titles and internal links make sense and are descriptive. Then the SEO thinks hard about the queries that really should pull up this content, and tries to discover if the right terms are present. Then (the hard, artful part), he or she rewrites content with a dual consciousness of the infovorous human reader and the termnivorous spider, making sure that the most important terms and phrases for the spider are present (in all their forms) and forefronted for the spider, without degrading the quality for the reader.

Luminescent pearly white: This would be a case where the SEO designs a site to show up for relevant queries and not to show up for irrelevant queries. Do luminescent SEOs exist? Well, Jon Udell is one anyway.

MSN Analytics Coming Soon

It has been in the works for a while now but it seems they are getting closer. Here is some recent info:

Microsoft recently acquired DeepMetrix to provide site traffic measurement and analysis to adCenter customers.
Planning integration into adCenter during the second ½ of FY07.
DeepMetrix is not currently accepting new accounts at this time.
Reporting to include page views, referrals, conversions, paid search ROI, advanced charts, site overlays, path reporting and more.
Plan is to offer an analytics product to all adCenter customers at no additional cost.

And another from yesterday:
First, the adCenter Blog has moved to Microsoft Live Spaces, so please update your favorites and blogrolls. The new URL is http://adcenterblog.spaces.live.com/.

Live Spaces has more flexibility, nicer layouts, and we think it’s just, well, better! What do you think? Tell us at blogadcr@microsoft.com.

Secondly, the Microsoft adCenter Labs team is launching some new and updated demos:

Search Funnel 1.5: This demo will be updated with over 4 million keywords added to the database.

Keyword Forecast: This new demo will display a search term’s impression count forecast and demographic predictions in any format: flash, picture or text.

Check out these demos (they’ll be live tomorrow afternoon!) as well as others, including Forecasting Search Volume Seasonality and Keyword Mutation Detection, on the demo page.

Finally, today we launched two new forums on Microsoft Communities: one for adCenter discussion and one for adCenter Labs discussion. These forums will provide you the opportunity to ask questions directly of the adCenter and adCenter Labs teams and get answers right from the source. You’ll also be able to discuss adCenter and adCenter labs with other customers and learn more about new and existing features.

We know it’s a lot to digest (especially if you already have a belly full of candy!) so please feel free to ask any questions/share feedback with us at blogadcr@microsoft.com.