Queryless Recommendations at Google, Stumbleupon, and eBay

1.      Queryless Recommendations at Google, Stumbleupon, and eBay - 2007-04-26 00:45:45-04
Last week, Google announced a Web page recommendation service that works with the Google toolbar and Google Web History to allow people to do some Searching without a query While searching around the US Patent Applications database, looking at user recommendations programs tied to toolbars, I happened across a patent application that describes some of the [...]

2.      Banner Blindness Extends Beyond the Banner - 2007-04-26 03:51:08-04
If you want to make your marketing successful leverage techniques that are not perceived as being overused and abused to members of your target market. Rather than formatting your ads like ads turn them into content that is formatted like other content people trust and get people talking about it.

3.      Are Google's Search Results Algorithmic or Editorial? - 2007-04-26 04:04:01-04
The easiest way for Google to be perceived as relevant is to make it easy for other authorities to want to talk about Google as being innovative and relevant. If Google is willing to send significant traffic to trusted sources how could those sources do anything but trust Google?

4.      What Social Media Did for USA Today - 2007-04-26 04:10:30-04

When USA Today first embraced and integrated social media functionality into the online news site, not everyone was sure it would work. Well, Jupiter Research points out today that all the naysayers have been emphatically been proven wrong.

Among the new features that the site added, with the help of the social media services of Pluck Corp., were the ability to:

• Scan other news sources directly on USATODAY.com;
• See how readers are reacting to stories;
• Recommend stories and comments to other readers;
• Comment directly on stories;
• Participate in discussion forums;
• Write reviews (of movies, music and more);
• Contribute photos;
• Better communicate with USA TODAY staff.

As a direct result of these community-focused changes, the site has seen a staggering 380% increase in new user registrations, in addition to a 21% increase in unique visitors, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Not only have the registrations and visitors increased, but there has also been exponential growth in user-interaction with the site. For example, for the month of March, users posted almost 40,000 comments on the site.

Not only does this show the strength of social media and its ability to create community and engender user-engagement, but it also shows the versatility of the medium and its adaptability to any space, no matter how old or truly novel.

5.      Bye for a Few Days - 2007-04-26 05:42:56-04
I am going to Coachella today. So I should not be around for a few days. I will be around sometime Monday or Tuesday. Or maybe a few days later. My girlfriend loves golf and they have lots of it...

6.      Identifying & Calling out Web Spam on Search Engine Blogs - 2007-04-26 06:50:08-04

Posted by randfish

Search engines reps have been calling out web spam individually on their sites for some time. Tim Converse used to do it. Matt Cutts has done it plenty of times, Brian White's done it now, too. I believe there are several inherent goals here:

1.      Show the web-savvy and blog savvy thought leaders in the sphere (who pay close attention to every search engine rep's blog) that you're smart enought to catch it.

2.      Create fear of spamming by illustrating the reprisals you'll take against those who do it.

3.      Talk about it because, hey, that's what you do for a living and you want to share.

I think most webmasters place a lot more weight on the first two motivations than the third, but if you were reading a carpenter's blog, you might fully expect that he'd show you a crappy hammer vs. a great one and probably tell you which brands they were. Do we judge SE reps unfairly? Maybe a bit, but that's OK - they get paid (a pretty solid amount) to take the guff, and I think when you talk to them in person, you'll find that they might even take a bit of pleasure in the drama that's created.

Ever since I've joined the SEO industry, there's been a long-held code that you don't out spam. That code existed as solidly for pure white hats as it did for inky dark black hats, and it's an interesting one. I think the reasoning is that we should all stick together because it's an us vs. them kinda world in SEO. Whether that philosophy (and the underlying code) still holds up today is doubtful. I think there are a lot of folks who report spam, both those who are deep inside the webmaster industry and plenty who simply found spam while browsing the search results and want it gone.

At SEOmoz, we don't report 99% of the spam we see, for a variety of reasons:

4.      We could spend all day doing it. Once you know the SERPs to look in or the advanced searches to run ("texas hold 'em site:edu" anyone?), it's way too obvious.

5.      You'll have a far greater return on your productivity time optimizing your site, building content, getting links and conducting press & marketing than you will reporting your competitors for what looks like a paid link.

6.      It's been done before. From talking with reps and reading in the search world online, you get the distinct impression that the search engines know about spam - at least the great majority of obvious spam. They aren't trying to manually throw out sites one by one; they're trying to develop algorithms to find patterns that will elminate spam on a large scale.

7.      That 1% of spam that we do report is because we blog about it. When something's really interesting in the manipulation space, we want to share it with everyone - not just because the search engine reps will catch it, but because it often gives insight into techniques we can use in-house and strategies our readers can employ, legitimately, to rank better.

As fascinated as I am by the spam world, I've never wanted to make the quick bucks with it. Some of this can be attributed to fear of the unknown or to my lack of expertise in the arena, but philosophically, I'm not into it. This isn't because I see spam as evil or morally wrong - it's like taking advantage of loopholes in the tax code to keep as much of your money as possible and has about that level of "evil" associated with it from my morality POV. What really keeps me from spam is that it's a short-term solution to the issue of earning money, reputation, building a business, etc.

For those who remember my spam debate with Earl Grey (oh, how I wish he still commented here!), it was all about the long-term vs. short-term. I'm young - 27 years old - and I have the next 3-5 years to build a business that will be sustainable and valuable for the rest of my life. If I were in my 40's and looking to cover my kids' college tuition and pay off my house and buy a place for my mother-in-law, my outlook would be very different. As someone who has 10-12 hours a day to give to my job and loves what he does passionately, I'm seeking something that will build a brand, build a company, build something bigger than a revenue-generation system, but instead something that reaches and helps millions of people.

I'm not saying SEOmoz is entirely altruistic. One of my big goals with the company is certainly to earn money. But, I'd rather have a 10% chance of making $50 million dollars 5-10 years from now with a great idea and great execution and a long-term model than a 90% chance of making $25,000 a month from spamming now, with diminishing returns in the future.

OK - Got a little off-topic there, so back to my original points.

The search engine reps, in my opinion, would do well to call out even more of the spam they find. I think that showing off all the devious networks and telling webmasters that particular paid links or link brokers or spam rings or hijacked pages have been shut down is a good thing. Not only do you get to accomplish your goals of creating fear of spamming (since you're so good at finding it, webmasters would be wise to spend their efforts elsewhere), it also gives legitimate marketers examples of the intelligence and operations of the engines - which isn't a bad thing. I'm of the mind that Matt Cutts could come right out and reveal a rough take on the Google algo and really, he'd be helping Google's index quality, helping legitimate webmasters and sites to optimize and probably not helping spammers at all (or, at least no more than he's helping all the other sites on the web). Of course, he might be helping Yahoo! & MSN & Ask a bit, too :)

What do you think?

Technorati Tags

matt cutts, tim converse, tim mayer, brian white, google, yahoo, spam, spam reporting, paid links, search engine blogs


7.      Screen Captures of the New Google News Results in Action - 2007-04-26 07:49:53-04
Chris Sherman broke the news last week that Google To Integrate News With Web Search Results. In fact, yesterday, Chris Sherman saw it with his own eyes and email Danny a screen shot to be placed on Danny's Google News...

8.      Since Yahoo! Launched Panama Volume & Traffic Is Down? - 2007-04-26 08:11:57-04
I have received a couple emails asking me about what Yahoo! Search Marketing advertisers are noticing since the change from Overture to Panama. Don't get me wrong, we covered it a lot at Search Engine Land but there has not...

9.      Andrea Learned: What Saks Knows - 2007-04-26 08:22:47-04

Two keys to transparent marketing (which is the main concept in my book, Don't Think Pink) are narrowing your focus and getting to know your customer community intimately. I tend to assume that this is a lot easier for smaller/closer-to-the-customer businesses to follow through on than it might be for larger companies.

So, it was a bit unexpected to read a Wall Street Journal article by Vanessa O'Connell about what Saks Fifth Avenue is up to.

According to O'Connell's piece, they have seen the light in identifying and tending to the differences in each market, from Park Avenue to Indianapolis and Portland, OR, etc. Saks' chief executive, Steve Sandove, says they have been using a 9-box grid to chart the best mix of apparel and accessories for the core customer at each store.

It may be no surprise that the mix is different from New York to Indianapolis, in general, but this caught me making some wrong assumptions: Birmingham, AL customers skew younger than New York's flagship store, but still seem willing to pay for the high-end designer names. It may also be of interest, for instance, that even closely situated Saks stores, like Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut, attract a very different customer.

Of course, this makes it difficult to present a unified national brand personality, so the store is still working on how to create more localized advertising that fits with the long-established overall brand.

Though I did read recently that department store retailers are doing better these days than they have been, it still seems that consumers have been focusing a bit more on buying local and patronizing their closer community-based boutiques for their apparel needs. So, as much as stores like Saks can know and understand their core customers, and continue fine tuning their products for their very specific local markets, that may well keep them on the radar of today's relevance-seeking woman.


10.  Lewis Green: Have You Hugged Your Chamber Today? - 2007-04-26 08:28:25-04

There are several ways to read that question. To clarify, I speak of your local Chamber of Commerce. I know. They don't seem huggable. But think of a virtual action that says, "I like you, and I want to thank you for all you do."

So what would that look like?

It begins with membership in one or more chambers that meet your needs, especially your networking and marketing needs. Then it calls for you to become active on a committee. And then it looks like you assisting those committees to help both your chamber's growth and their community good works. That's the sound of you hugging them and them hugging you back.

This is the time of the year when chambers host their annual meetings. I have three scheduled, and two I can't make. I sit on two committees, belong to a leads group and attend several After Hours events as well as a.m. networking meetings. And at the end of the day, I get lots more from membership than I give.

For those of you who aren't members of a chamber, here's solid business reasons for belonging based on my experiences:

1. About 60 percent of my work comes from fellow chamber members.

2. About 90 percent of my referrals and leads come from other chamber members.

3. Most of my peers and professional acquaintances are members of one or another of the chambers to which I belong.

4. Networking, a primary marketing tool, is made easy through chamber events.
5. The events are fun and the food is good.

Another reason I belong to five chambers is to support business lobbying done by the chambers, designed to reduce regulations and business taxes. That said, no one should ever join a chamber or a networking group, if they aren't going to be active members. Inactivity almost guarantees that we will never receive ROI on our investment in membership.

But for my marketing purposes as well as the marketing research I get by listening and asking questions of fellow members, most of them potential clients, the ROI is incredible. And there is no learning curve to excel at membership. Just be yourself.


11.  Ask.com Gets Contexual With ASL Contextual Advertising - 2007-04-26 08:29:40-04
I was prepped two days ago for a Search Engine Land post that announced Ask.com To Launch Contextual Advertising Product. In short, Ask.com's Search Listings division is launching a contextual product to compete with Google AdSense, Yahoo! Publisher Network and...

12.  Google Local Business Center Updates Google Maps Business Listings; Kinda - 2007-04-26 08:55:19-04
Back on March 8, 2007, I reported at Search Engine Land how Google Local Business Center Adds Photos, Attributes, Maps Corrections & Stats. I went through how I added photos and updated some attributes. But since then I have been...

13.  Pubcon Las Vegas and SES Chicago - 2007-04-26 10:00:23-04
During SES New York I heard that this year’s Pubcon Conference will be held the same week as the Chicago Search Engine Strategies conference. This wasn’t by choice, as neither conference will benefit from happening at the same time. I believe it had to do with how the Las Vegas Convention Center situation worked with [...]

14.  Google AdWords Vouchers Cannot Be Resold - 2007-04-26 10:18:12-04
On a Search Engine Watch forums post, a member says that he has many Google AdWords vouchers and wants to resell them. The only problem is that they aren't for resale. AdWordsRep, Google's Customer Associate, writes in and tells the...

15.  Is Ask a Better Search Engine than Google? - 2007-04-26 11:17:54-04
Google might have the highest market share, the most visitors, and is the most powerful brand of 2007, but the other search engines happen to exist for a reason: they satisfy the needs of users. A WebmasterWorld member actually finds...

16.  Very Personalized Google Ads Spotted: Is this New? - 2007-04-26 11:40:39-04
Is Google watching your surfing habits all the more closely to target ads that would serve your personal needs? Perhaps you haven't taken note, but a member on WebmasterWorld did. I'm currently working on my personal site and I just...

17.  Are Professional Networking Sites Worthwhile? - 2007-04-26 11:46:42-04

Posted by JaneCopland

I'm having a tough time deciding whether or not online professional networking sites are absolutely brilliant or a waste of time, especially in SEO. We're talking the LinkedIn / Spoke / Xing brigade; you fill out information about yourself but you aren't required to provide a list of your favourite movies or whether your body time is "athletic" or has "more to love." Instead, your information is all about your education, work experience and various fields of expertise.

It all sounds fantastic. What better way to market yourself? The sites in question are generally very tidy, clean, professional  affairs. They're what corporate offices' waiting rooms would be like if they were web pages.

From my short time in search, I've determined that being well educated, passionate and intelligent is only part of the deal. Your personality is equally important, and it's hard to get charisma or flair across on LinkedIn. Although I'm well aware that this industry is probably more personality-driven than some others, I do wonder whether these sites are as useful as they seem.

For starters, it's hard to build an online relationship. Through various other online means, I "met" quite a few SEOs before actually coming face to face with them. However, I did not communicate with them on professional networking sites and I'm convinced that, had we all been using a more formal site, we'd not have been networking and forming relationships in quite the way that we were. As it were, we used sites and messaging services that better allow users to flaunt their personalities.

There is the question of potential clients reaching you or your company through these sites, but we've found that the companies and people who we end up working with virtually never find us through a professional networking sites. Did I say "virtually"? I meant just plain "never."

Granted, there are professional fields where anything personal or informal is not acceptable. If you wish to have an online presence in these worlds, you'll find the sites I'm questioning to be of great use. For me, though, I don't have the drive to keep a quality, up-to-date LinkedIn profile, as I've found the most rewarding and profitable SEO relationships don't require such a formal platform. What do you guy think? Is it worth maintaining what amounts to an online resum
é in our industry? Or is the "well, it can't hurt" argument just not enough to make it worthwhile?

UPDATE: For those who are interested, here's a really sweet guide on SEO'ing your LinkedIn profile. Still might not help you find drinking buddies, though :)

Technorati Tags

linkedin, professional networking


18.  Google Sponsored Listings Hide Surprises and Malware - 2007-04-26 12:25:23-04
A DigitalPoint Forums post refers to a PC World article about recent malware being disguised by a Google Sponsored Link. Roger Thompson of Exploit Security Labs posted today about finding poisoned Google sponsored links that surreptitiously direct searchers through malicious...

19.  Tell a Tantalizing Story to Kick Off Your Blog Post - 2007-04-26 14:47:29-04
Want to hear a story? Most people do, and that’s why kicking off a blog post with one is a great way to capture and hold attention. Back when we discussed opening strategies for bloggers, telling an anecdote or quick story was one method. We’ve talked a lot about the power of stories to connect, captivate [...]

20.  Some Networking Power Tools - 2007-04-26 16:08:48-04

Networking at events attended by your target market can be a good way to make some nice introductions and start gently spreading the word about your products and services. There is a bit of art to this and plenty of bad examples evoking the worst used car stereotypes imaginable.

Keep these simple rules in mind and you will be fine
1) Think, what am I here to give
2) Speak only to educate - don't sell anything

Scott Ginsberg, also known as the name tag guy, has some great tools on his website for making the art of relationship building a little more fun, particularly for those that aren't naturally comfortable with it.

His free ebook - 55 Questions to Ask Someone You Just Met is a real winner, and quite frankly, possesses some gems to ask people you already know - like your existing clients.

Another tool Scott uses is something he calls My Card. When he meets someone who has forgotten to carry their business card he whips out a blank My Card and records their information, then he gives them some to use as well. Good stuff, lighten up and go meet someone.