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Mark Messier Greatest Leader in the History of Sports
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Five words. "I guarantee we'll win tonight." And then what did the greatest captain of any sport, of any time period, do? He only goes out and scores a hat trick on Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals in 1994. Later this evening, my all time favorite hockey player, Mark Messier, will have his jersey retired by the Edmonton Oilers as they face Wayne Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes. For those of you who are not hockey fans and may not know who Mark Messier is, he is most known for his glaring stare and unmatched leadership skills. I recently posted about the fact that Yahoo may be seeking new leadership, maybe they should look to Messier for inspiration.

He won five Stanley Cups in Edmonton and carried the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years when they won hockey's greatest prize in 1994. The Rangers retired Messier's jersey last year. This guy lead on the ice and he lead in the dressing room. The stories are endless. From the playoffs in 1981 when the Oilers upset the favored Montreal Canadiens where a 20 year old Messier fought Canadien great Larry Robinson... to the '94 playoffs where Messier guaranteed the victory, this man carried teams on his back. In his 25 year career, Mark Messier played 1,756 games scoring 694 goals adding 1,193 assists for a total of 1,887 points. Not only could he score, but when required he took the law into his own hands compiling 1,910 minutes in penalties (that's equivalent to spending 31.83 full games in the penalty box). He is the second all time leader in points in the NHL.

You want to learn about leadership, take a look at Mr. Messier. In any business, you need leadership. Mark Messier personified leadership. For my money he was the greatest overall hockey player of all time. You can take Gordie Howe, you can take Bobby Orr, or Paul Coffey, or you can take Wayne Gretzky... I will take Mark Messier. Congratulations to Mark Messier and his family. Enjoy the day. The "Moose" as he was known as, will always be Edmonton's favorite son.

Mark Messier Resources

Mark Messier at Wikipedia
Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers Heritage - Mark Messier
New York Rangers
Mark Messier on Amazon

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 27, 2007   0 comments
Yahoo Calling for New Chairman and CEO?
Monday, February 26, 2007
Uh-oh just when you though it was safe to go back into the "search water", Yahoo Finance is reporting a SeekingAlpha article that includes the following statement:

Long after Panama has been rolled out, the company needs a strategic shift in
direction and some important structural changes in its leadership and
governance to put it on the right path to compete with Google...
Listing current Chairman and CEO of Yahoo, Terry Semel, as being a major contributing factor towards Yahoo's lack of progress in recent years. The article goes on to state that Mr. Semel had the opportunity to purchase Google for $3 billion dollars in 2002 (not sure if I'm entirely sold on that). Other reasons calling for a new CEO include failing to purchase YouTube and failing to purchase MySpace. Hmm sounds as if Yahoo needs to buy their way to the top instead of innovating their own solutions and strategies to compete in the industry of search.
The article goes on to state that "...Of the 10 directors, we believe 7 should resign or Yahoo! shareholders should withhold votes for them at Yahoo!’s 2007 annual meeting of shareholders."
It's an intersting read to an interesting story. Regardless big things are in the works for Yahoo in 2007.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, February 26, 2007   0 comments
SEMPO Announces the Board of Directors for 2007
Earlier today the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) announced their Board of Directors for 2007. I'm pleased to see some familar faces will be returning. Returnees for 2007 include:
  • Dana Todd - Co-Founder/Principal, SiteLab
  • Gord Hotchkiss - CEO/President, Enquiro Search Solutions, Inc.
  • Kevin Lee - Executive Chairman/Co-Founder, Did-it.com, LLC

For a complete list, check out Lee Odden's post over at Top Rank Blog.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, February 26, 2007   0 comments
What If There Was No Google?
Sunday, February 25, 2007
The other day I was thinking about how life would be different if there was no Google. For those of you who have read Marvel Comics you may remember a series they had in the 1970's entitled "What If?". Basically each issue would provide a storyline with an alternate ending asking What If??? For example What If Spiderman joined the Fantastic Four? or What if the Hulk went berserk? It was an interesting idea for creating unique storylines as the creators of the characters could experiment with alternate realities.

I have often wondered about What If Google never took off? What If Google was an also-ran? Can you imagine how different the world would be sans Google? Here's my thoughts on What If Google did not exist?

What If Google Did Not Exist?

  • SEO's wouldn't care about link building
  • There would be no PageRank as we know it
  • Yahoo would be the number one search engine in North America
  • 10,674 full-time employees (as of Dec. 2006) would be out of work
  • Somebody else would be trying to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful..."
  • When someone said, "I just googled Britney Spears.." you would look at them with a funny look repsonding with ".. you did what?"
  • there would be no Adwords... and online advertising models would be slightly different than they are now
  • North American advertisers would not have spent $9.4 billion on search engine marketing in 2006
  • Bill Gates would not be making comments such as "...Which Google products are you talking about? Seriously? Other than search, which are you talking about? Google Talk? Wow. A total “me too” product. Even Gmail – what is the unique thing?"
  • the Florida Update would be a crop report about oranges not a date to remember in search engine history
  • search engine marketing would not be a very fun job
  • the search industry would not be as "booming" as it is
  • ASK would still be my favorite search engine
  • Hotmail would still be offering less than 250 MB for email use as there would be no such thing as Gmail.
  • you wouldn't be reading this blog or any other blogger-based blogs
  • many search results would be irrelevant and search would not be as successful with users
  • Search's "Golden Triangle" would not exist
  • Search Engine Strategies would consist of two day seminars not four
  • no one would know who Matts Cutts is
  • online advertising wouldn't be as commercialized as it is today
  • search engine optimization wouldn't be as important and required as it is now
  • Rankdex may have possibly taken off
  • Yahoo Search Marketing would be the dominant force in online advertising
  • Yahoo wouldn't have collected 2.7 millions shares of Class A stock from Google
  • Chad and Steve, the guys from You Tube, would still be living in their parents basement
  • web designers would be building flash based sites with ugly dynamic URL structures
  • Sergey Brin and Larry Page would not be worth $28 billion according to Forbes
  • holidays on the search engines would be boring. (See Google Logos)
  • a number of companies would have been acquired by someone else other than Google
  • the Internet would not be the same

So to answer the question, What if there was no Google? The answer is, that the Internet and Search industry would be a much quieter place.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, February 25, 2007   0 comments
SEO-Space - Top 7 Search Happenings February 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
February has been an extremely busy month in the world of search. There have been a number of interesting developments during the past month. Need a recap of last month's top search engine industry stories, check out our Top 7 Search Happenings of January 2007.
Here's what's been going on in the world of search during the month of February 2007.
#7. SES London - Search Engine Strategies London which featured a keynote presentation from Google's Matt Cutts.
#6. Yahoo Releases Yahoo Pipes. Yahoo Pipes is an interactive feed aggregator and manipulator where users can use this application by drag and dropping feeds, user input or other pipes as input.
#5. Google opens Gmail up to everyone to use.
#4. SEMPO releases results of their Third Annual State of Search survey. Could search become a $25 billion/year industry?
#3. Google Adds Link Feature to Webmaster Tools - Google offers an improvement for users looking to check their internal and external linking inventories in Google via Webmaster Tools.
#2. Google Pushes Towards Personalization of Search Results - SEOs begin to fear as the focus shifts from a universal search results page to the reality of a unique search engine results pages for each and every user.
#1. Viacom Tells Google's YouTube To Remove Videos and later forms alliance with Joost to offer TV shows and movies online.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 22, 2007   1 comments
B2B Marketing - Brand Monitoring Through Online Avenues
We've all heard stories about organizations who have had dissatisified customers go online and post to their blogs about the lack of service or lack of benefit received. It's no secret that with the ease of creating consumer generated content can come backlash and negative publicity. We've seen how it has affected the B2C space, but can this affect B2B marketers as well? The answer of course is yes, but to what degree is the question.

B2B marketing involves a much more complex selling process where prior to making a final purchase decision, the potential consumer has to conduct an extensive amount of research at each stage of the process. Quite often the potential prospect will need to conduct so much research and collect so much information that they become almost integrated with the B2B organization itself. How you establish and build that relationship with your potential consumer is critical to their decision process. Due the fact that this process in itself can take weeks, months or even years to complete, B2B marketers need to have a system in place for monitoring their brand image that the potential consumer may have of their company and/or solution.

So where does blogging fit in with all of this? Well not unlike the B2C environment, consumers of B2B products and solutions are active in the blogosphere. They read industry related blogs, they participate in forums and are well advised in the options that they have to choose from. The major difference between B2C and B2B in this case is that in B2C the final purchase decision is made by one, whereas with B2B it is often made by a committee or group. However, one thing that both type of consumers have in common is perception. According to a recent Forrester study, the following factors influence perception of a brand. (% represents number of respondents in the study)
  • Your own experiences - 72%
  • Friends / family - 56%
  • A review (ie. consumer reviews) - 47%
  • Seeing other people use that brand - 41%

For those in need of a B2B solution, their initial experience or knowledge of a potential vendor may be limited. However, the fact that the consumer has a dilemma and that the potential vendor has a solution that may satisfy their needs can and will be affected by the consumer's perception of the vendor's brand.

So what can search engine marketers and B2B marketers do to be successful in brand monitoring through online avenues? Here are four items to remember with online brand monitoring.

  1. Data Collection - gathering data and resources from online sources
  2. Info Processing - de-spamming and sifting through the data. Filtering spam sites and blogs is critical for an accurate assessment of your brand.
  3. Data Analysis - extracting meaning of what people are saying about your brand
  4. Insight Delivery - communicating findings so that your organization understands what is being said about your brand in the online arena and taking this knowledge to be proactive with any negativity and improving positive brand experiences.

Brand monitoring through online avenues is an important aspect for you to consider as part of your reputation management strategy. Through online avenues such as blogs, news alerts, tools such as Google Archive Search, Yahoo Alerts and Technorati you can monitor what the world is saying about your brand in the online space.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 22, 2007   1 comments
Viacom - Joost #1 Contender for You Tube's Online Video Title
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Viacom Inc., owner of MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures, said Tuesday that it planned to deliver free films and television shows through Joost, a rival to YouTube run by pioneers and early creators of Internet calling and music sharing services.

You may have heard that recently Viacom demanded that YouTube, the video-sharing site which is owned by Google, remove 100,000 clips from its TV networks that were posted without permission.

Initially Joost will offer shows from MTV, VH1, and movies from Paramount. The Joost technology is similar to what was used with Skype calling technology and the Kazaa music sharing service. Joost will provide Internet users with lists of videos for viewing at their convenience. Unlike You Tube, content creators and viewers of Joost must download free software, which limits sharing.

You Tube has been criticized for the amount of "infringed material" that has been accessed through the video sharing site.

Joost was founded by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, and is still in testing. The Joost website is slated to be released in the next month or so.

More Resources on Joost:

MSN Money on Joost
Zdnet
Reuters
TechNews World

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 20, 2007   0 comments
Yahoo Search Widget for Vista
A while back we discussed the increasing popularity of widget marketing and whether B2B marketers can benefit from using widget marketing. Yahoo appears to be on board with the whole widget marketing thing as earlier today, Yahoo announced the release of their new Yahoo Search Gadget for Windows Vista. Yahoo states that the widget to allow you conduct your favorite searches with ease via a compact sidebar and expanded desktop mode for users of Vista.

For users of Windows Vista, the Yahoo Search Gadget can be a great way for personalizing your search experience. Newsweek claims that 2007 will be the year of the widget. They might be right.

Looking for more widgets? Check out Yahoo Widget Engine today! For a nice synopisis of widgets, visit Yahoo's Widget Blog.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 20, 2007   0 comments
B2B Marketing in 2007 – Evangelizing Your Consumers
Monday, February 19, 2007
Given the understanding that most B2B organizations offer high end products or services, we know that the time that it takes to qualify a lead, nurture the relationship and convert the lead into a sale can take months or even years. The thing is, there is one more step involved in this marketing process for B2B marketers to consider and that is to make your customer an evangelist for your organization.

If you have done your job and provided a service/product that your consumer truly appreciates, and the consumer is sincerely pleased about the entire experience, the chance of making this consumer an evangelist for your company is great. On the other hand, if the consumer’s experience is successful but they are not entirely sold that the experience was all that they anticipated, then turning your customer into an evangelist for your company becomes more difficult if at all possible. Consumer evangelism is simply the process of taking a customer who is thrilled about your product/service and their experience and getting them to become outspoken "evangelists" or glorified promoters for your company. These “greatly satisfied” consumers can become a powerful tool for marketing and growing your business in addition to other leads that you have.

Whether traditional B2B marketers like it or not, power has shifted to the consumer. In essence, it’s always been there. It is the consumer that seeks a solution to a dilemma. It is the consumer that initiates the research into vendor selection. It is the consumer that ultimately decides which potential vendors will become a “rung on the ladder” as part of the selection process. It is the consumer that conducts more research and finally it is the consumer that decides on the perfect solution for their needs. If you are lucky enough to be the “Chosen One” then why not have your consumer evangelize you? Understand that the consumer has selected you on criteria that would not only satisfy their needs, but give them a competitive advantage over their competition. The fact that they selected your organization means that they understand how your solution works and that it will work for them. They will have researched, tried demos, and integrated your solution as a part of theirs. So who better to promote your organization? Provide a solution and experience where the consumer will want to become an evangelist for your company. Keep in mind that your solution has to provide an extraordinary experience for this to happen. Your solution needs to have been perceived (by the consumer) that it has elements that other solutions do not, that the experience that your consumer has been a part of is unlike any other… your solution has created the basis for a lifelong relationship.

Having loyal customers is one thing, converting them into influential and enthusiastic evangelists for your organization is another. Loyal customer are not necessarily promoting you to others, consumer evangelists do. Consumer evangelism should be practiced by any B2B organizations that want to grow their company and make a real difference in their industry. It’s been reported that “organizations that focus on building word of mouth into full-fledged evangelism grow faster, are more profitable and have big-picture ideas that somehow change the world.” If this sounds too good to be true, it’s not. There are a number of successful companies in various industries that are using consumer evangelism to grow their business and improve their position in the marketplace. I recommend reading Testify! How Remarkable Organization are Creating Customer Evangelists. This study is by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba authors of Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force. The study provides examples of companies who have successfully turned loyal customers into consumer evangelists for their organizations. The study mentioned some key factors in defining consumer evangelists:

· Consumer Evangelists purchase and believe in your product or service
· Consumer Evangelists passionately recommend you to friends, family and colleagues
· Consumer Evangelists provide unsolicited feedback or praise
· Consumer Evangelists forgive dips in service and quality
· Consumer Evangelists are not bought they “extol” your virtues freely
· Consumer Evangelists feel part of something bigger than themselves

Effective B2B marketers understand that traditional marketing principles are not as effective as they once were, they are being replaced by customer-driven demand and referrals. For B2B organizations to experience ongoing success, they must make evangelists out of their customers. If your organization has a mandate to generate more qualified leads, then why not use your satisfied consumers to bring in additional leads. Consumer evangelists will do this, what you have to do is make evangelists out of your consumers.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, February 19, 2007   0 comments
Technology Evangelism - Marketing Buzzword or The Newest Marketing Trend?
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Over the past few weeks and months I have heard more about evangelists and evangelism than I have in my entire life. From Technology evangelists to Enthusiast evangelists to Consumer evangelists, everyone seems to be promoting evangelists lately. So what's the deal with evangelism? Depending on your religious beliefs you may feel that there are really only four true evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you look up the Wiktionary definition for "evangelist" you will see a number of definitions including the following:

a person marked by extreme enthusiasm for or support of any cause.
Well I guess that solves it then. A marketing evangelist would be considered as a person who is extremely passionate about a set marketing cause. Technology evangelism is the leading edge of technology education and marketing in the IT industry. So whether or not you think evangelism is an over-used marketing buzzword (which I am inclined to believe at this time) or the latest trend in business, marketing and technology, there has been a lot of discussion about evangelism as of late. If you don't believe me, here is a small sample of recent evangelism stories pertaining to technology and marketing.
Top 5 Technology/Marketing Evangelism Resources
  1. Growth Resource Inc. release Technology Evangelists: A Leadership Survey - this is a very informative survey of 29 technology evangelists released in late 2006. The purpose of the study was to determine what it takes to be a technology evangelist and how to utilize these "evangelists" within their respective organizations with focus on their leadership skills.
  2. Microsoft Hires Jupiter Research Analyst Michael Gartenberg as Enthusiast Evangelist - Hiring social media power users to evangelize for your company’s product is becoming an increasingly common practice. Techcrunch has the full story on Microsoft's decision to hire Gartenberg to help act as the bridge between Microsoft and end users.
  3. Guy Kawasaki's The 120 Wonder - How to Evangelize a Blog - Guy's take on marketing blogs (after only blogging for 120 days.)
  4. Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force - book by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba outline six steps to creating customer evangelists. (Here are the 6 steps:)
    1. Customer plus-delta (Continuously gather customer feedback)
    2. Napsterize knowledge (Freely share your knowledge)
    3. Build the buzz (Create intelligent word-of-mouth networks)
    4. Create community (Encourage communities of customers to meet and share)
    5. Make bite-size chunks (Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite)
    6. Create a cause (Focus on making the world, or your industry, better)
  5. Global Network of Technology Evangelists - a professional peer organization connecting Technology Evangelists from around the world, with each other. Their goal being to build awareness and acceptance of Technology Evangelism

Technology evangelism may not just be a marketing buzzword. It's something that has been around for a few years. The use of evangelism in relation to marketing or technology just doesn't seem right though. Then again I'm not big on titles or labels, but in the marketing industry titles such as evangelism seem to be all the rave.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 15, 2007   0 comments
ASK X – Prelude to Personalized Search?
When ASK debuted ASK X in December, I liked what I saw. To me ASK has been the leader in transforming what a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will look like in the future. Does anyone else find the traditional SERPs boring? ASK is taking the SERPs in a new direction. ASK X is an AJAX powered three-pane result page that looks similar to ASK City.

With Ask X, you're not just getting back a list of links (as you would on a traditional SERP), but you are getting a pretty slick, new three-panel interface, combining great time-saving features including:
Left: A search control panel that stays with you, complete with Zoom Related Search and Search Suggestions that update as you type.
Middle: Conspicuous results front and center to provide clutter-free information without having to scroll down the page, and the ASK Binoculars to preview results. (For those of you not familiar, Binoculars Site Preview presents a "sneak preview" of a web page when you mouse over a Binoculars icon next to a search result.)
Right: A preview of other types of search results, including video, news, images, blogs, shopping, encyclopedia and more.

However depending on the query that you perform, you may not always get all three panels. The following screenshot depicts a search that I did for "b2b search marketing".

ASK X Search for B2B Search Engine Marketing

The right pane is not present (but there was in fact an images section on the right when I performed the query a second time) - In order to search for more items you can click on the "More" link from the left pane (Items such as the top blogs and top feeds on "B2B search marketing" will be available.)

ASK X is refreshing and it has the opportunity to improve relevancy through incorporating personalized search results. Depending on a user's query, ASK X could serve up personal results combined with "static results" to offer the ultimate user experience. The personalized results would be based on the user's previous search activity and behavior. The static results would consist of items such as:

  • definition of the queried phrase (if applicable)
  • image(s) of the queried phrase
  • most recent news stories pertaining to the query
  • related video or podcasts
  • most relevant/recent blog posts pertaining to the query

ASK X already does a good job of providing these "static items". For example, if you are looking for images in ASK X, there are several pull-down menus at the top of the page that allow you to narrow and focus your results. Pull-Down One allows you to limit by size (All Sizes, Buddy Icon, Small, Medium, Large). Pull-Down Two offers limits by file type (GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG) and Pull-Down Three limits your results to any color, color, or black and white.

Think how relevant the results will be. Personalized results combined with the Ask X display of search term suggestions. The user would never have to go much further in their search. (By the way displaying search term suggestions as ASK X does is based on some cool technology that goes back a few years.)

The ASK X SERP represents where search is going... and that is towards personalized results, away from a universal results page that is the same to all users. ASK X, a prelude to personalized search results.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 15, 2007   0 comments
Google Gmail Now Open to Everyone... but why now?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Google announced today that Gmail is now open to everyone. No more invites required. Gmail out of beta? Well not just yet... Invitations will no longer be required to join the nearly 3-year-old "Gmail" service in the United States, Canada, Mexico and a number of Asian and South American countries where the Mountain View-based company previously limited the number of users. After all of this time. The question is why now? It wasn't because it was Valentine's Day or as Google stated:

But seriously folks, good relationships are built on good communication. There's no reason you should struggle to reach the ones you love, and Gmail helps you communicate fast and easily.

There is something more to it. Here's something to consider. Google is now the third largest provider of free email service (behind Yahoo and Microsoft) (according to comScore Inc). Google has recently stepped up their focus on personalized search. Many Gmail users often remain logged into Google's Web site while they conduct online searches, by gathering this data, Google's engineers can learn more about individual preferences. This knowledge can be used to help deliver more relevant search results and foster more loyalty with users. Personalized search means going away from the traditional universal search engine results page and providing a somewhat unique results page for users.

Google has made Gmail available to eveyone simply because they need to collect search habits and practices of their users? Why? Well because they strive to provide the best results to the user. The way to do this is through personalized search results.

More on Google's Gmail announcement.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, February 14, 2007   0 comments
Google's Fingerprint on You
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Over at Marketing Pilgrim, Andy Beal posted an interesting video on Google's Master Plan. It suggests that Google is acquiring a staggering amount of user data and that they may in fact be sharing this data with the CIA.

While Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil", the fact that they are acquiring this massive amount of data about us is not necessarily a good thing? They will be able to provide us more relevant results through personalized search however, but does that make up for the amount of user data that is being collected by Google?

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 13, 2007   0 comments
Google Supplemental Results Got You Down Before Valentine's Day?
Monday, February 12, 2007
Over the past few weeks, I've noticed that there has been an increase in the number of pages for some of my client's sites that are appearing in Google's Supplemental Index. It's appears to be a common theme on many of the forums and blogs out there.

If you are noticing the same thing, don't fret it's not that bad of a thing to have your pages fall into the supplemental index. Matt Cutts of Google recently stated that "...Having urls in the supplemental results doesn’t mean that you have some sort of penalty at all....".

The main reason you are seeing more supplemental results for your pages is because in the end of January, Google completed a Page Rank Update. Combine this with the fact that the main determinant of whether a url is Google's main index or in the supplemental index is PageRank.

Here are some points to remember with Supplemental Results:

1. Google is looking for the most relevant results out there. Pages that are old or are "past expiration" should be updated to ensure they remain in the main index.
Pages that are buried within your website may be considered as less useful and therefore less authoratative so Google will most likely remove them from the main index and place them in the supplemental index... thereby making way for the most relvant content for their main index.

2. Google (and the other search engines) are always looking for fresh and relevant content. So are your users for that matter. Give the people what they want. Sick of hearing the analogy that "Content is King"? You shouldn't be, as this is what the engines need to fuel their machines.

3. Interlink your site well. Help internal pages inherit Page Rank by linking to them.

4. Avoid Duplicate Content on your site - a site that has too much similar text on each page could land you in the supplemental index. Try to have unique data on each page with unique meta data, title tags and keywords.

5. It is possible that Supplemental Results are not trusted (or considered as authoratative) and may rarely rank as they are not crawled as often.

Search Engine Watch recently reported the fact that site owner's are seeing more results fall in Google's Supplemental Index. If you are concerned, just remember to interlink your deeper site pages and make sure that they use unique content. Remember that relevancy and usefulness is the key. Dont' spend this Valentines' day worrying about the Supplemental Index. Focus on your love for the engines and they will return the love back.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, February 12, 2007   0 comments
Acquiring Personnel from Your Competition to Gain a Competitive Advantage
Sunday, February 11, 2007
As the 89th NHL season approaches the two-third mark and with the trade deadline less than three weeks away all thirty of the NHL’s teams jockey for position. The competition is fierce.There are age-old rivalries that keep getting more and more bitter. I happen to be a fan of the Edmonton Oilers. For those who are not hockey fans, I’ll remind you that the Oilers lost in the seventh game to the Carolina Hurricanes in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. What’s worse is that a week later they lost their marquee player Chris Pronger after he bolted from the city after only fulfilling one year of his five year contract. The Oilers have not yet recovered from losing the all star defenseman Pronger. It just shows you how much a business that sports has become.

So how does this tie in with online marketing? Well it reflects the competitive nature of business. Take for example the following. All season the Oilers have been trying to land a puck moving defenseman to replace Pronger, and all season the most coveted defenseman available was Boston’s Brad Stuart. As the Oilers struggled through the first half of the season, they were considered to be the leader to obtain Stuart from the Boston Bruins… that was until yesterday when the Oilers arch rival the Calgary Flames from out of nowhere pulled the trigger on a deal for Stuart. The move was not necessarily made to bolster their lineup as the Flames have a solid core of defensemen, the move was made to prevent their competition (ie the Oilers and other division rivals) from the possibility of landing Brad Stuart. They were keeping the talent of Stuart away from the competition.

This happens all the time in business. Through signing bonuses and lucrative benefit packages, organizations continue to lure away the talent from their competition.Last April for example, Microsoft lured Steve Berkowitz, then CEO of ASK, to run Microsoft’s online services. Really this is a great strategy for organizations to pursue, here’s why:

1. The 4 Point Factor – when you lure away talent from a competitor, not only do you potentially weaken your competitor, but also you strengthen your team. Just as in the NHL when a team gets a win over a division rival, the two point win now becomes a four point win as the winning team prevents the losing team from getting two points (so in essence by preventing them from obtaining two points and by the winning team having obtained two points, you end up with a 4 point win.)
2. The PR Factor – a lot of times when an organization can acquire a key industry player from a competitor they receive the fanfare and publicity that goes along with it. People, whether it be potential consumers, other competitors or existing clientele will take note and chances are your organization will achieve top of mind awareness status.

3. Makes You the Best that You Can Be – when you acquire talent from your competition, you are bolstering your team. Just as the Flames did in acquiring Stuart, they became a better team by adding a top defenseman that will help their powerplay and goal scoring production.

4. Motivates Existing Staff – acquiring a key player can help improve the camaraderie and work ethic of your team.

Business is competitive, hockey is competitive, all of sport is competitive. How can you make it less competitive? Well one of the easiest methods is to acquire key personnel from your competition and assemble a team that will be stronger and will continue to perform at a level that is higher than your competition.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, February 11, 2007   0 comments
Gord Hotchkiss on Personalized Search
Thursday, February 08, 2007
While Gord has been on vacation in Hawaii, I've been keeping up with his blog posts on personalized search. If you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to read his most recent post on Personalized Search Brouhaha. His initial post The Personalized Results are Coming, The Personalized Results are Coming! seemed to elicit quite a response. Personalized search is becoming a hot topic and it's bound to get even hotter as we see the engines experiement with methods for improving search results.

Gord's initial post mentions that there are two major implications to personlaized search... what it means for search marketers, especially organic optimizers, and what it means to users. A large part of my job is helping my clients with strategies for optimizing their sites for the search engines. The impact of personalized search is going to have a dramatic effect on some of the basic SEO practices that organic search engine marketers employ. I'm not shaking in my boots though. I think that personalized search is great. To me it means more relevant results. For my clients it means that they better provide relevant content for the user. If they are going to be an authority on a topic, they better be able to back it up. For our B2B clients this means that they need to believe in their solutions and ensure that their websites contain the proper messaging to communicate their authoritativeness. The onsite experience is just as important (actually more important) than simply driving traffic from the search engines to the site. Just a little secret for some of you SEO's out there. It's all about the user. The sooner you learn this the easier your life will become.

As Gord mentioned, the days of the universal results page are numbered. Which means that the days of the reverse engineering approach to SEO are equally numbered. Things are starting to heat up. Frankly I cannot wait. Search is getting personal.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 08, 2007   0 comments
Search: A $25 Billion per Year Industry?

In November, we reported on SEMPO's Third Annual State of the Market Survey. Well the results are in and are quite interesting.

Here's some of the key findings. North American advertisers spent $9.4 billion on search engine marketing (SEM) in 2006, up 63 percent over the $5.75 billion spent on search during the prior year of 2005. This surpassed last year's estimate of $7.2 billion. Further, spending is projected to grow to $18.6 billion by 2011 in North America, driven by strong advertiser demand, rising keyword pricing and cost per click, a second wave of small-to-midsized businesses discovering the effectiveness of search and better search technology. I would suggest that this number could grow to as high as $25 billion by the end of 2011. That's a significant increase from last year's projection of $11.1 billion in 2010.

Here's where it gets really interesting. Out of the total 2006 spend, $8 billion, or 86 percent of that going to paid search, and $1.1 billion, or 12 percent of overall spending to search engine optimization (SEO). Only 12% for organic??? That stat amazes me. This number proves that SEO or organic search is still a tough sell to most organizations. A few months back I wrote a series of articles on Organic Search and What's in it for you.

Organic Search: What's In it For You Part I
Organic Search: What's In it For You Part II
Organic Search: What's In it For You Part III

The key points being that organic search can have longer lasting effects and is much more cost effective than paid search. (Of course a well rounded search marketing campaign should have a combination of both paid and organic search elements.)

The SEMPO report also went on to state that spending on SEM technologies, including leasing, agency solutions and in-house development, accounts for 1.3 percent of overall spending, or $122 million; and paid inclusion accounted for 1.0 percent of spending, or $94 million. While most companies are committed to engaging in SEO at some level, the fact that spend on SEO only accounts for 12% is a bit of a concern. In the study, it was communicated that more than 76 percent of respondents take part in organic SEO activities, and 71 percent do paid search. Participation in paid inclusion is waning, with less than 20 percent of respondents taking part, compared to 40 percent in 2005.

Why is it that companies tend to spend decidedly less on their SEO efforts? Why do you choose to allocate less funding towards organic SEO? Is it because you are already ranking well in the organic results of the SERPs? Or is it because usability and the on-site experience is not that much of a factor to you?

Search Stealing Market Share from Traditional Media?

There is some promising news for search ooverall when it comes to budgeting and resources. More than a third of advertisers (36 percent) report their funding for paid placement programs and organic SEO came from newly created budgets in 2006.

The good news for search marketers is that search marketing is now mooching budget from offline marketing media alternatives, instead of fighting for a share of the much smaller online budgets. Hardest hit was print magazine advertising, with 20 percent of respondents reporting a shift; followed by direct mail at 16 percent; TV advertising at 13 percent; and print newspaper advertising at 13 percent.

While search is still new when compared to the traditional media, offline marketers are starting to take notice. 2.6 million for a 30 second Superbowl spot vs. a $200,000 online search marketing campaign for an entire year. Where would you rather put your money?

For more information in the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization please visit the SEMPO site.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 08, 2007   2 comments
Google Changes Webmaster Guidelines
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Just a quick note on something that I came across and thought was interesting... Search Engine Journal reports that Google Changes Webmaster Guidelines and Penalized sites.
Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped has picked up on a slight adjustment to Google Webmaster Guidelines in terms of penalizing sites.

More on Google Penalties

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, February 07, 2007   0 comments
Google Adds Links Tab to Google Webmaster Tools
Monday, February 05, 2007
Finally, Google has improved the reporting of external links by adding a links tab to Google Webmaster stats. This is in repsonse to Yahoo's update to their site authentication process as we reported last week.

The fact that Google has added a links tab to Google Webmaster's Tools means that they are listening to their audience as many have requested this for quite some time. While you have to have submitted a sitemap and verified your sitemap to view the stats, the links tab is great for checking your external link inventory to various pages of your site. In all likelihood Google still only displays a potion of your entire link inventory, but the new addition is a much welcomed improvement and provides a more detailed snapshot of your external link inventory. You can view the links to your site by selecting a verified site in your webmaster tools account and clicking on the new Links tab at the top. To find links to a specific page on your site, you first need to find that specific page in the summary view.


On the links tab you can check both your external and internal links to your various site pages. Similar to Yahoo's Site Explorer you can check links to the home page or to any of your internal pages that are indexed in Google. To view internal links to pages on your site, click on the Internal Links tab on the left side bar in the view.
For a more complete review of the new links option, visit the Google Webmaster Tools blog.
All I can say is, it's about time!

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posted by Jody @ Monday, February 05, 2007   0 comments
Personalized Search and the Personalized Results Page (PRP)
Sunday, February 04, 2007

Search is undergoing a major transformation. As a result search engine marketers will need to roll with the change. You see, personalization in search is coming. This means being number one (as we know it today) in Google or any of the search engines may not get you where you need to be. Being number one for what your target market is searching for is where you need to be. You shouldn’t focus on simply just getting traffic to your site. You should be focusing on getting the right traffic to your site and providing your site visitors with the right site experience.

Due to the personalization of search, search engine optimization tactics and “manipulation” of results is simply not going to get you to where you need to be. Think about how personalized search will work. When a user types in a query they will receive a set of results. When a different user types in the same query they will receive a different set of results. There are a number of factors that will contribute to these “personalized” results. Items such as your past search history, your Geo location, the time (of day) of your search, the day you search, the time of year or season, the number of times that you perform the same search query, etc… all of these factors will determine the results that are returned for you. Not to mention the look of the Search Engine Results Pages will be changing as well. ASK has been trying some new things with ASK X and more recently Google’s SERPs have been modified to include related items and left side tabs.

The PRPs (Personalized Results Pages) will not just be a list of links consisting of a title and a description. They are going to consist of videos, audio clips, Wikipedia links, images, definitions, and feeds all based on items that are of relevance to your query. Remember that the purpose of personalized search is to provide the most relevant result to that particular searcher… not the best result for the masses. What I expect to see and want to see is not necessarily the same thing that you are expecting and wanting to see.

Let’s say that I perform a search for “Ibanez guitars”. Here’s what I envision my Personalized Results Page looking like

- Sound clips for tuning an Ibanez guitar
- A brief synopsis of the history of Ibanez guitars
- Testimonials of guitarists who play Ibanez guitars
- A map of the closest Ibanez guitar dealership
- Images of various Ibanez guitars
- Product reviews of Ibanzez guitars
- Maybe even a video clip featuring close-up pictures of an Ibanez guitar

You see it won’t be just a list of 10 text links with sites about Ibanez guitars. It will be a combination of an audio, visual and textual experience. If there are sponsored ads the ads on the Personalized Results Page will be for trusted sites that sell Ibanez guitars. My Personalized Results Page may not have any sponsored ads… after all based on my search experience, the engines should know that I rarely click on sponsored ads. Uh oh does that mean personalized search is the end of PPC? Well no, it just means that the user may be in control of the type of ads (if any) he/she would like to see displayed.

Search engines like ASK and Google understand that as individuals, we are the only ones who actually know what we're really looking for. Google’s personalized search offering continues to try and provide the most relevant results possible. It’s a nice start, but still has a ways to go.

And of course there are those who refuse to shift their paradigm and continue to try and apply tactics in an attempt to affect rankings and will try to manipulate personalized search results. The thing is you can’t. You have no idea about what my semantic map consists of when I perform a query. You can try and guess, but you’ll never be able to replicate it exactly. Ideally, Personalized Results Pages will change everytime the same query is made by the same user. Based on my previous search for “Ibanez guitars” the next time I conduct a search for “Ibanez guitars” my personalized results will have changed based on the information and previous search pattern that I participated in the first time.

Relevancy baby relevancy.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, February 04, 2007   1 comments
Review of Sphere - Blog Search Engine
Friday, February 02, 2007
Review of Sphere

http://www.sphere.com/

Who: For blog users looking for relevant content
What: Blog Search Engine
Where: San Francisco based
When: New release January 31, 2007
Why: To find blog content that is interesting and relevant to user’s needs

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on widget marketing. One of the widgets that received an honorable mention was sphere.com. Sphere is a blog search engine that aids in the discovery of high-quality, relevant, and timely blog posts. The benefit to sphere is that publishers can integrate contextually relevant blog posts alongside their articles. Found something that you like? Then “Sphere It” with the Sphere It Widget which pops up a window to show you articles and other blog posts related to what you're reading.

Sphere is targeted toward three main groups of users:

1. People interested in timely topics, who are new to blogging
2. Those who already use blog search engines, and are sick of disappointing results and spam. They desire a faster, more intuitive, and feature-rich experience.
3. Publishers who might like to include some really good blog content in their websites and articles. Those who seek relevance.

Sphere boasts that their competitive advantage is that they help users get to the high-quality, relevant content on a timely basis. What makes sphere different than other blog search engines? According to Sphere.com with Sphere you get:

· An easy-to-use, intuitive search engine.
· Great search results, with posts ordered by relevance or time.
· Related mainstream media, books, photos and podcasts right next to the results for a complete picture of the conversation.
· Recommended blogs by topic.
· Sphere's award winning Contextual Widget integrates results into several popular websites such as Time.com, Dow jones Market Watch, ZDNet, Techcrunch and GigaOM.


It sounds pretty good doesn’t it? I’ve signed up for an account and will be testing Sphere over the next little while. It has a lot of potential and if it can return relevant results as they say they can, then users will be lining up to use this blog search engine. From what I’ve seen and read about Sphere, the relevancy factor is not an issue. Sphere has it covered. There’s been a lot of hype about Sphere. (You’re bound to hear a lot more in upcoming weeks.) The cool thing about Sphere is that it is not just for geeks. Users new to the world of blogging will definitely find Sphere useful.

Sphere is based in San Francisco but have team members located in Seattle; Denver; Vancouver; New York; Phoenix as well as the Bay Area.

Additional Resources:

Sphere.com
Sphere Blog
Sphere Tools
posted by Jody @ Friday, February 02, 2007   1 comments
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