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Wolfram|Alpha: Computational Knowledge Search Engine
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Some of you may have recently heard about Stephen Wolfram's ambitious project to create a comprehensive "computational knowledge engine". The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University hosted a sneak preview of the WolframAlpha system, and a discussion of its underlying technology and implications. Basically the goal of the project is to take any information that can be computed and combine and package it so that people can access this knowledge from a single source or search. As Stephen Wolfram points out,
Like interacting with an expert it will understand what you are talking about, do the computation and present to you results.”
Here's the presentation (which lacked professional filming) that is available on via YouTube.



To see the Wolfram|Alpha engine in action, check out this clip:



Wolfram Alpha appears to be all about compiling various data sources and making it easy for people to search information on these types of data sources, complete with charts and graphs. Interestingly enough at the same time, Google announced the launch a new search feature that makes it easy to find and compare public data. Last week Danny Sullivan shared his thoughts on Wolfram Alpha and whether it can live up to the hype. In his post, Sullivan makes a number of interesting points with regards to the Wolfram Alpha project:
But they will get compared to Google, and if they want to avoid looking like a failure if six months down the road they’ve failed to gain Google-like traffic (much less Microsoft-like traffic), then they need to do a better job of positioning what this service is and who it is for.
Hmm I'd have to agree with a number of Sullivan's point although I do think that he is a little bitter about not getting the "scoop" on the project. However, you have to think that if you were the next big "Search Engine" that you would want Danny Sullivan to be in the know simply for the viral opportunity. It will be interesting to see where this goes. We've seen hype like this before only to quickly fizzle into oblivion.

More News on Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram/Alpha's demo: Search results meet analytics - ZDNet
Wolfram|Alpha: Our First Impressions - Read Write Web
Web tool 'as important as Google' - BBC News
Wolfram Alpha Blog
The Quest for Computable Knowledge - A Short Timeline

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 30, 2009   0 comments
Mapping the BuyerSphere Webinar from Enquiro
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Earlier today Enquiro hosted our latest webinar entitled "Mapping the BuyerSphere" presenting some of our latest research findings. We wanted to get back to the idea of really understanding your target market and understanding what makes that market unique and understanding their buying decisions and why they do what they do.


We found that it all comes down to risk. Risk is important because risk leads to fear. As a result there is a longer purchase cycle with more people being involved, requiring more research with more touchpoints and more risk control mechanisms being required. The higher the risk, the higher the fear. If the risk goes up the vendor needs to counteract that in some manner.

We identified three types of purchases:
  • Repeat - This is the lowest risk category. These are the things you buy all the time that seldom change. Supplies and raw materials fall into this category.
  • Repeat Modified - These are purchases that are made repeatedly over time, but due to the changing nature of the product or service, requires periodic evaluations to make sure the preferred alternative is still best matched to the need. Computers, software, phone systems and other technology purchases are examples.
  • Blank Slate - These are riskiest purchase scenarios. This is purchasing something where you have no prior experience in the product or service category. Brand new technologies, major capital
    expenditures (buildings or equipment) are examples.
More risk means more resources. As a vendor, you'll want to allocate your resources to the prospects that present the least risk to get the highest odds for success.

The BuyerSphere has three dimensions:
  1. Product - elements include price, differentiation, disruption, is the product critical or non critical. All of these factors have an impact on the amount of risk involved.
  2. Market - the amount of risk is impacted by brand domination through market share and thought leadership. Face to Face and physical presence (critical mass and established relationships), value position (differentiated value and product value reputation) are all huge influencing factors that vendors need to be considerate of.
  3. Buyer - understanding who you are talking to includes items such as number of people involved, size of the organization, nature of the organization, how do they deal with risk internally, risk control mechanisms and how aligned are the risk definitions within the organization. Do the users have different risks than the buyers?
Gord described a couple of examples to illustrate the differerent types of purchases and how to establish a map to "map the buyersphere". Mapping Resources include prospects and conducting interviews, competitive analysis, product placement, value position and evaluate your value proposition.

The remainder of the panelists discussed some tools and tips that can help vendors map their buyerspheres. Panelists included Mark McMaster Senior Planner, B2B Markets from Google. He discussed Google tools such as Google Insights (google.com/insights/search), Google Analytics (google.com/analytics) and Google Ad Planner (google.com/adplanner) that are all free tools that can help you acquire information to help you map the buyersphere.

Matthias Blume Chief Analytics officer from Covario was up next. Matthias discussed the importance of identifying and monitoring metrics to track satisfaction of "doers" and "buyers".

Ben Hanna from Business.com was up next and he discussed the fact that when trying to map the buyersphere, it will take a big effort and it is critical that you start with your target audience and your primary responsibility. Mapping your buyersphere gives you the appreciation of understanding your audiences and their risks.

Jon Miller of Marketo then discussed the importance of tracking online behavior and identifying risky vs. non-risky buying situations.. You can identify and establish risk profiles and target nuturing content on these risk profiles.

Chris Golec from Demandbase finished up by mentioning that in today's business world, providing value is a requirement.

For more information on "Mapping the BuyerSphere" please see:
http://www.b2bexpertseries.com/mapping-the-buyersphere

For more information on Enquiro Whitepapers please visit:
www.enquiroresearch.com/whitepapers

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 28, 2009   0 comments
ASK Talks Domain Navigation
Monday, April 27, 2009
Wow, is it just me or have we heard more news out of the ASK camp in the past couple of weeks than we have in the past six months? For the most part, it's all been some cool stuff. Like last week when we heard about ASK reviving their Jeeves character for users in the UK. I thought that was pretty cool as it gives users something to identify with. In addition, the search engine has also reverted to its original name askjeeves.com, which was dropped two years ago, along with the Jeeves butler, in favour of a cleaner interface. It's a nice touch I think.

Then last week we discussed how ASK has been testing a new SERP layout by placing the sponsored results below a single organic listings, following it up with some additional organic and sponsored results. This may have interesting ramifications for advertisers and searchers alike.

Now ASK is talking domain navigation aka their version of site links. They have been beta testing their domain navigation product since December of last year as a manner of enhancing the Search experience on ASK.com.

What are Site Links?

Site links, or domain navigation, as ASK calls it are basically the links that often appear below the top organic result. In ASK there are eight of these links. The purpose is to provide more relevant results so that they can be one-click closer to their intended destination. According to ASK, "Navigational links lend themselves to terse descriptions and are easily grasped by users when displayed in a tabular format. Furthermore they are filtered down to the most popular or most useful links on a particular site. This is very handy for cluttered sites that are difficult to navigate. " Sounds good to me as a searcher. With ASK showing potentially nine additional links a site with great content to offer can have a definite advantage over others on the SERP.

ASK understands that when there is high confidence in the result (i.e. the top organic result), it is useful to show additional pages from that domain. Whether it's a B2B search of a person searching for a bank, domain navigation works to help the user get to the information that they are looking for. ASK also points out the importance of serving up trusted pages and how search engines can help prevent users from clicking on "dangerous content". Again this is pretty cool. I'm all for a safer and more relevant Search experience.

While this may not be new territory, the fact that ASK is working on improving their Search experience is ok by me. Continued efforts to do so, may just slowly help the Engine increase their user base.

Navigating the Web better on ASK

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 27, 2009   0 comments
ASK.com Testing New SERP Layout?
Friday, April 24, 2009
A couple of us in the office noticed that ASK.com has been trying something a little different with their search engine results page (SERP). If you perform a search for say "car insurance" in ASK, we are seeing a SERP that looks like this:


What's the difference you ask? Well they are placing one organic result for the query above their "top" sponsored results, followed by the typical organic listings and then additional sponsored listings at the bottom of the page. This is a very interesting test on so many levels.

The impact of this little SERP modification will have a direct impact on which results are clicked on. We know from our own Enquiro Research (as well as other industry data) that traditionally users click organic listings 80% of the time with 20% of the time users click on sponsored listings. In the past couple of years this has shifted slightly to where it is probably more of a 75-25 or 70-30 split between organic and sponsored. Has ASK taken this to heart and is now placing a relevant organic result in the prime real estate of their SERP? Have they done this to appease the 70-80% who click organic listings? Or conversely have they done this to set a new barrier on a search results page and somewhat force the user's eyes to now be more aware of the sponsored listings by placing them immediately after the top organic listing?

How will this affect the clicks? We would expect that top organic listing to receive even more clicks, but will this de-value the organic positions two, three, four, five etc? Will users be more enticed to click on these sponsored results that directly follow the organic result? You'd have to think that ASK is "banking" on that fact from a revenue perspective in that they are hoping that more searchers click on the sponsored ads as that will in turn generate more revenue for ASK. But will they? Placing the sponsored ads below one organic result may in fact reduce the number of the clicks that those "top" sponsored results receive. As mentioned above, this may also have a negative impact on the remaining organiclistings on the page as well.

We tried a number of branded and non-branded queries in ASK and found examples of this new SERP layout with both. I cannot help to wonder if this is ASK's why of trying to improve the relevancy of their search results? I mean they still feature upwards of 10 sponsored links on their SERP, but hey if I see 20 results on a SERP (which is what you get with ASK - 10 organic and 10 sponsored) and the majority of the results are relevantto my query, there is a good chance that I will come back and use ASK again.

We'll definitely have to monitor this to see how long ASK continues to roll out this new SERP layout. This could have a huge impact on the experience for the searcher.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, April 24, 2009   0 comments
Twitter Acquisition Rumours
Thursday, April 23, 2009
For the past couple of months you have no doubt heard about the various rumors that Google is going to purchase Twitter or that Facebook is going to acquire Twitter. Yes with success and popularity comes benefit, but there also comes rumors. Twitter love it or hate it, is the latest Internet darling and as a result people are becoming engaged with the microblogging service. We had previously posted some twitter demographics to illustrate the growth and usage of Twitter.

Early adopters are in a panic as Oprah and Ashton Kutcher attempt to bring Twitter mainstream. Recent adopters are still trying to determine the value of Twitter and Guy Kawasaki continues to use Twitter as a marketing channel for his business. So what about all of these acquisition rumors?

Nanette Marcus posted an intersting article about "5 companies that should buy Twitter". The post includes insight from a few folks as to why Google, Microsoft, Facebook, MySpace and shoul purchase Twitter. Some of the ideas presented include:
  • Microsoft could enable Twitter to partner seamlessly with big and small companies alike
  • If Facebook bought the company, imagine if users were able to tweet from the FB pages they visited
  • Google could rank websites with an algorithm based on the number of people that have tweeted about that site
  • MySpace could allow Twitterers to include a link to a song they were listening to at that moment
Reid Carr talks about the thought of Microsoft buying Twitter. Evan Gerber discusses why Facebook may try yet again to acquire Twitter. Rodney Rumford examines the fact that "Google is so yesterday" and should look at acquiring Twitter for a number of reason. Larry Weintraub declares that if anyone should have Twitter, it should be MySpace. Finally Denise Zimmerman discusses the opportunities should Yahoo purchase Twitter. Yahoo could use to Twitter to help with personal and poratable search experiences. Hmm not a bad idea actually. Zimmerman goes on to suggest the the price tag for Twitter may not be in the same ballpark as what Yahoo can offer. As she states, Yahoo "can't afford to pay to be "cool".

Five interesting takes fueling the rumors that Twitter may soon become property of another. Normally I would suggest not to hold your breath, but it appears that everything (or everyone) has a price. Is Twitter simply the flavor of the week? Well if you ask the folks from Oprah's camp, they might not admit to it, but they are drinking the Twitter Kool-Aid. As one suggested via a comment:
Celebrities are flocking to twitter because they see it as a place to market themselves to a captive audience. They don't get the social part, but they do understand "media."
Our thoughts exactly.

You can find us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/marketing_jive

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 23, 2009   0 comments
How to Demonstrate the Value of Social Media to Your Boss - Liveblogging a Hubspot Webinar
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
HubSpot hosted a webinar called "How to Demonstrate the Value of Social Media to Your Boss". It's hosted by Mike Volpe (@mvolpe) of Hubspot and Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) of New Marketing Labs. Here's my (@w_chris_davies) running train of thought. 

Mike thinks that Chris Brogan is the rockstar in Social Media. I'll have to check out the #hubspot hashtag and see if everyone else agrees. I think that he's done some pretty good work in the past, but I don't always agree with him.

Hubspot is running through their standard inbound/outbound marketing speal. As a marketer, are you doing the right things to make sure you get found when people look for you.

Chris's title for the presentation is 'convincing the boss: don't you have something better to do?' His goal is to help people understand the 'now what' of social media. Lots of us are measured by old-fashioned ideas, like how long we're sitting in our desk. There are different metrics and work is done in a different way and it's much more fleeting. Apparently it's like juggling on a skateboard.

Chris calls himself a typist, because it's central to what he does. He helps companies understand the web, and re-humanize the web. He's doing a (very transparent) pitch for the Inbound Marketing Summit, and if you use the code HUBCHRIS you can get a discount (inboundmarketingsummit.com).

How we'll procede:
the landscape of possibilities
how to argue effectivley
specific starter strategies for each
lots of q&a

Blogs
  • They're great for search, easy to manage, just plain swell.
  • A solid, simple CMS and publishing system
Chris uses WordPress for his blog, just like 90% of the rest of the world. (He has a lot of good conversion buttons on the top side.) He mentions that 50% or so of his readers get it by email and there's a corresponding email signup box.

He's using the example of digital nomads, which is a Dell website which publishes good stuff and keeps it very useful. Great helpful articles do lead to conversions.

CafeMom is a 'digital content source' where you can thread in marketing information. Momslikeme.com is a blog and content aggregator. They're good examples

Twitter (or what seems to be the stupidest idea ever.
Great way to build business relationships and provide content care. To sell it to the bosses,use an application, show them groups, and his favorite way to share is to show people searches. Marcel Lebrun calls it 'listening at the point of need'. It shows them how to find people when they need you and the power of it.

Community Platforms
The most used platform in the space is Dell's IdeaStorm where you can suggest improvements and ideas. One suggestion he's discussing the thread on "Option to Buy Computers without Windows". Dell also has a healthcare vertical IdeaStorm, which is a great example for a B2B situation.

Social Networks: Outposts
Build outposts on places where people are already gathering. The obvious example is Facebook, and Chris still isn't sold on Facebook. If it's just about your dumb product, no one wants to talk about your company. They want to talk about stuff that helps them and empowers their users. Also, don't count out facebook ads, they can be very targeted and relevant. According Zuckerberg facebook is adding 700,000 people per day and most are 35-60.

LinkedIn hasn't had a lot of big success stories, but they're bringing their game up. It's a easier sell to the bosses because it looks more professional than facebook.

Video, by which we mean YouTube
People still use YouTube all the time. Use TubeMogul to hit the other engines, but don't ignore YouTube. Views don't sell Crap. BlendTec apparently grew their online sales by 500%, so there can be a way to grow it.

Mobile (finally)
Selling things like iPhone apps to the boss can be hard, but the returns can be substancial. Amazon and eBay apps are good, and Nine Inch Nails has a great integrated web presence including an app. BrightKite is a location based app with huge potenial for marketing.

Arguments
Chris has ben collecting case studies at http://delicious.com/chrisbrogan/casestudy - apparently he's got B2B case studies.

Strategy Alignment (Things we need to be driving)
- sales leads
- branding and awareness
- organic SEO (blogs)
- customer service
- product marketing

He things that the book Groundswell is worthless, except for the chapter on alternate forms of ROI. That's an area of frequent push back from marketing.

HR considerations
- which departments
- headcount (how many hours, can you spread out time across other roles?)

Implementation
- bridges and islands (start things out as an island, and be ready to put the bridges out when it works....how it moves backwards into the main organization)
- measurements (tricky, but you have to show bosses some metrics)
- small victories (things that are cool, better, new and interesting)

What to do with listening?
Social listening is useful for PR, marketing, product research, customer service
It's a good source for unstructured data, and gathering information without resorting to traditional studies.

Free listening tools:
http://search.twitter.com
http://blogsearch.google.com
http://technorati.com
http://alltop.com
http://google.com/reader

www.chrisbrogan.com/grow-bigger-ears-in-10-minutes

There are ~6 topics we're working through and ways to encourage people to participate. The topics are fairly self-explanitory, but several of them probably merit a full post of their own.

Chris has addressed the concern that social media is a multi-role activity. There's a need for marketing and pr, sales and internal use for HR/training activites. It's not just a marketing function and has much more potential.

New Measurements: The ROI of Trust
If your website is a store, more people in your store just means more people in the store. You measure the sales, conversions and interactions. He dosen't like pageviews and comments. His list of better measurements:


Where the numbers go: (who you should tell about your results)
Inform marketing, sales, finance and customer service. There's lots of stakeholders you need to convince to get budget and resources.

The New Presence
"all these tools and what they mean"
The two schools of thought from the US Presidential Election are (a) he who spends most wins and (b) Obama was better at reaching people where they are.

Creating a home base.
Chris likes a blog as the home base, which doesn't work for everyone. For the B2B space I'd suggest that most of the time your blog is another outpost and not a replacement for your traditional site.


Some useful passports
Sites where you jsut want a presence, i.e. just to reserve your name incase you want to participate. (Here are just a few Brogan mentioned)

wordpress.com
flickr.com
gmail.com
yahoo.com
discus.com
delicious.com
twitter.com
facebook.com
openid.com

Which departments own the social media platforms? Where does the buck stop?
Brogan thinks it different for different companies, and I agree. The lines need to be clear, and this can be reflected in budgets. He thinks that without ownership and/or buyin from Senior Team you'll risk running aground.

Outreach and Community
You need to bring value and share. He calls this 'bringing wine to the picnic' which is a pretty good metaphor.

Most important points for social participation:
  • be here
  • listen
  • connect
  • be human
  • measure meaningfully (Maybe listen to @kdpaine)
What comes next?
Markeitng is becoming business conversations, and seeing more storytelling instead of ads. He's a big fan of the Ford Fiesta project is more interesting and represents the story paradigm more clearly. Mass customization is the way forward.

Q&A
Twitter can be a time-suck. How do you manage your time and prove that you're contributing value? It's the flip-side to the email question. Is there value in shuffling email around? It does need measurement, it does need value. You need to find conversion points and have a strategy.

What's a fad and what's going to stick around? Social media does seem to ahve hit a nerve with our psyche. No, it's not a fad, but Brogan thinks Twitter isn't the 'end game'.

B2B vs B2C...how do you create leads?
The hubspot guy mentions how effective it's been for him at Hubspot. B2B is more likely to spend on new media that B2C according to some research from the AMA. At the end of the day, you're still interacting at the end of the day. One caveat that HubSpot doesn't cover is big business, where there are multiple stakeholders and decision makers. For more on the whole B2B buying process check out Enquiro's Buyersphere webinar series.


How does a PR/Agency convince their customer to do it and/or should they teach vs. do it for them.
Chris agency opinion is that agencies should teach/empower their customers and approach it from the educational side. To convince them to do it you just show them a competitor doing it. It works frequently for him.

The Classic Question: We're concerned about losing control....how do you answer the question?
The Classic Answer: You never had control. It you're concerned about the publication of content, it's already a problem because you have email. You can have a person send an email that goes public just as easily. The same policy for Email can apply for Twitter.

Business vs. Personal -
There needs to be a divide between them, but it's a very blury line. Chris mentions that the work policies are allowing more social info into the work enviroment (cell phones and personal email). Its in part because we're measuring people on results, not just on time.

How much time/involvement does it take?
Look for low hanging fruit, and a small project. Take baby steps.

What's the metric to show ROI for Social Media
For hubspot, there's a marketing team who does inbound marketing. He can track the leads that come from those channels, allowing for a cost-per-lead measurement. This lets you get to a ROI. Inbound has a much lower cost per lead. Brogan is measuring with dollars: does the cost per lead change, do sales go up or down?

Mike mentioned that #hubspot is the second most popular topic on twitter search behind #eathday and that we're the 'second most important topic on twitter'. Don't make the mistake of equating buzz with importance.
posted by Chris Davies @ Wednesday, April 22, 2009   0 comments
Sports Illustrated: Top 11 Favorite Galleries
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
They say that somewhere in the world, everyone has a twin. My wife sent me a link that I thought was pretty amusing. Sports Illustrated has compiled a list of NHL players and their twins. Sheesh the Henrik Zetterberg /Jared Leto comparison is a little freaky. Check it out, some of the comparisons are pretty amusing. The Ovechkin one kills me...

http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/gallery/featured/GAL1154532/1/32/index.htm

Here is a look at my top ten favorite Galleries from Sports Illustrated

Top Ten Favorite Galleries from Sports Illustrated
  1. The Most Revered Streaks in Sports- There are some pretty amazing feats here
  2. Memorable Comebacks -everyone likes a comeback
  3. Notable Conn Smythe Winners - ah the MVP of the NHL Playoffs, the world's toughest tournament.
  4. The NHL's Tough Players - think football players are tough? Think again. Hockey players play a long grinding schedule in a very physical environment.
  5. Rating the NHL's New Third Jerseys - I love this stuff
  6. Fighting Teammates - can't we all just get along?
  7. NFL's Divisional Playoff Cheerleaders - this is just fun.
  8. Hockey's All-time Classic Lines - this would have ranked hire had they featured a better lin combo from the Edmonton Oilers other than this one...
  9. Top 10 Super Bowl Halftime Shows - no wardrobe malfunction at the top of this list (although it does make an appearance.. no pun intended)
  10. Famous First-Round Upsets - ah the Oilers are involved in a couple of these as well
  11. Kobe Bryant Through the Years - I love the shot of Kobe vs. Jordan

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 21, 2009   0 comments
ABC Search to Re-Branded as Advertise.com
On Tuesday April 21st, ABCSearch.com will be announcing their re-brand to Advertise.com at the Ad:Tech digital marketing event in San Francisco!

Advertise.com will become the exclusive platform provider for the ABCSearch Advertiser Network and will continue to provide you with the high level of service and marketing solutions you've come to expect from us.

Advertise.com will be exhibiting for the first time under their new brand at AdTech this week. If you are attending the show, check out their Advertise.com booth #1566!

Please also join us for our kickoff party we will be hosting on the first night of the show 21st at Ruby Skye.

Stay tuned for updates from Advertise.com for more innovative services to enhance your e-business.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 21, 2009   0 comments
Thinking of Using Facebook for Business Purposes? Here are Some Stats to Consider
Monday, April 20, 2009
A while back we featured a post on the business benefits of using Facebook. Facebook, like social networking, appears to have a love/hate relationship with many. Quite often when discussing social media strategies with clients, Facebook comes up and businesses seem to be hesitant to use Facebook as a tool to promote their brand.

Well if you are having an issue promoting the benefits of Facebook, here are some stats that the folks over at Facebook have released. Included are some growth data as well as international usage information.

Facebook Stats
Facebook Factsheet
Facebook Timeline

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 20, 2009   0 comments
Some Notable SEO Articles from the Past Week
Sunday, April 19, 2009
With so much information out there, it's difficult to keep up on everything in the world of SEO. We spent some time going through our wide list of feeds and came up with a few articles from the past week that we thought our readers would find beneficial
  • A Deeper Look At Robots.txt - Stephan Spencer over at Search Engine Land looks at the robots.txt file and how Webmasters can use this file to communicate important information to the search engine spiders. Information that can prevent crawlers from accessing non-public parts of your website or information to help the spiders prevent the indexation of duplicate content on a website, such as “print” versions of html pages. Great little article if only for a recap of the robots.txt file.
  • 2 Tools to Aggregate Comments Across Social Media and Blogs - an interesting little piece from Ann Smarty over at Search Engine Journal as she introduces us to ConvoTrack and YackTrack.
  • Video SEO: Host Internally or on YouTube? - the team over at Search Engine Roundtable had a great article on whether one should host videos on their own server or host them on YouTube. The short answer, do both. There are pro's and cons to either, but depending on your resources (i.e. time) you may simply want to upload and optimize your videos on YouTube as YouTube videos tend to rank well in blended search.

  • 100 Terrific Web Design Cheat Sheets that Will Save you Time, Money and Mistakes - ok well not really an SEO post, but there are some tremendous tips and tools here. We came across this post this week. From color charts to HTML and CSS pointers, there are 100 reousrces that web designers can use when preparing for a site redesign.

  • Superpages.com, Citysearch partner on local search - over at BtoB Online, we learned that Internet Yellow Pages site Superpages.com is partnering with online local guide Citysearch to enhance and better monetize online local search traffic.

  • SEO & Social Media Roadmap - Lee Odden over at Top Rank Marketing had an intersting post on leveraging SEO and Social Media as part of your online marketing strategy. I especially liked his flow chart where he laid out how it should work from identifying the business objectives, down to developing the strategy and determining the proper mix of tactics to deploy as part of your online marketing strategy. We have reproduced Lee's flowchart here:
This is one of the best flowcharts that we have come across that illustrates in a simple manner, how an online campaign should take shape. Well done Lee.

As you can see, there were some really great SEO posts that came out this week. Judging by the diverse subject matter and with so many interesting discussions taking place it can be extremely difficult to stay up on the latest tips and tricks.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, April 19, 2009   2 comments
More About Carol Bartz CEO of Yahoo
Friday, April 17, 2009
When I first started using Search I primarily used ASK Jeeves and Yahoo. I always thought that Yahoo was a pretty cool portal that served my needs. Then this "Google-thing" came along and over the next few years went on to dominate Search. The once number one Search Engine in the World was now the proverbial runner up in Search. A few years later, things got worse for Yahoo with massive layoffs and discussions about a Microsoft takeover.

During this time I had become an active Google user as ASK had gotten rid of Jeeves and MSN just did not provide the results that I was looking for from a search engine. In the background was Yahoo. While I thought that Google had a superior Search product, Yahoo was continuing to try and be innovative, and as a result still captured my attention. When I began my career in the Search industry I continued to visit the Yahoo portal pretty much on a daily basis. I applauded Jerry Yang by sticking to his guns and not caving into the offers and demands from Microsoft. Many analysts suggested that this was a huge mistake by Yang. I disagree. While Yahoo is still not out of the woods and although they still might one day be acquired by another, I still carry hope that Yahoo will emerge re-energized and focused on providing a top notch search alternative to Google. Enter Carol Bartz.

The new taskmaster of Yahoo, appears to be a great choice to help turn the purple Yahoo Ship around. Yahoo hired Carol Bartz as CEO in January to help steer the company into calmer waters. Jon Fortt over at Fortune Magazine featured a great piece on Carol Bartz and where Yahoo may be heading. Read " Yahoo's taskmaster". As Fortt described Bartz,
She is likable yet hard-charging, given to salty language, and always brutally candid. (In March she told a questioner at a Morgan Stanley conference that she uses Google's online maps because they're better than Yahoo's.) Bartz is also a known quantity in Silicon Valley circles: a seasoned executive who understands technology, is skeptical of the kinds of juvenile-sounding job titles that proliferate at Yahoo (Yang remains Chief Yahoo, for example), and thrives under pressure.
Carol Bartz may just be what the doctor ordered for Yahoo. Hmmph, sounds like Microsoft missed the boat on her too. Regardless it is a good move by Yahoo. It will be interesting to see where Mrs. Bartz takes the company in 2009 and beyond.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, April 17, 2009   0 comments
Upcoming Enquiro Webinar: Mapping the BuyerSphere
The next installment of Enquiro's B2B Webinar series is slated for Tuesday, April 28 at 11:00 am PST. Entitled, "Mapping the BuyerSphere", in this opening webinar of our five-part series, we uncover the variables that affect purchasing decisions and introduce the BuyerSphere, a mapping approach to help marketers better understand the business buyer. Viewers will see two B2B companies as examples and watch as we map their product, market realities, and buyer characteristics.

Speaking as part of this panel are:

Gord Hotchkiss (presenter) - President and CEO, Enquiro
Mark McMaster - Senior Planner of B2B and Technology Markets, Google
Ben Hanna - VP Marketing, Business.com
Matthias Blume - Chief Analytics Officer, Covario
Chris Golec - Founder and CEO, Demandbase
Jon Miller - VP Marketing, Marketo
Moderated by Bill Barnes, EVP Business Development at Enquiro

New Research on B2B Buying
With project partners Google, Business.com, Marketo, Demandbase and Covario, Enquiro's new primary research takes a fresh look at B2B lead acquisition and management strategy.

Business buying decisions are notoriously complex. Knowing why people do what they do has become an area of specialty for Enquiro. Multiplying the complexity of that question many times by making it an organizational buying decision including several people and corporate objectives, the entire process becomes extraordinarily convoluted and challenging.

Building on the past research presented by Enquiro on B2B buying behavior, this project takes a joint qualitative/quantitative approach to studying business buying. Through a series of webinars and whitepapers, marketers will get a new perspective on how to more effectively market to B2B purchasers. The findings point to actionable strategies and tactics as they apply to search marketing, marketing automation, online advertising, and the sales process itself.


We recommend this webinar to:

C-level executives (CMO, CEO), VPs of Online Marketing, etc., as well as online marketing practitioners (in-house) and agencies.

Register now for the April 28th webinar-->

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posted by Jody @ Friday, April 17, 2009   0 comments
11 Ways to Leverage Blended Search in 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Over the past couple of months, we have noticed some significant changes in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) of the major search engines. In particular in Google. We have seen
Google place more value on brands in the results, we have also seen them bump up more local listings and at time shopping results in their results. Over recent months we have seen Google incorporate more social sites in the results as well. Perform a search for "Barack Obama" and take note of the social media sites that appear in the results; Twitter, MySpace, Facebook etc. That's something that you would not have seen in Google results as recent as 12-18 months ago. The point is that the SERPs they are a changing. A lot of the changes are due to blended search or as Google calls it "Universal Search".

It is interesting to hear many proclaim that rankings are dead... yet everybody still looks at rankings. After all, how do you tell if your SEO efforts are working? You need to monitor your visibility in the results to see how you are progressing. You need to evaluate trends in your rankings to determine if you are gaining online visibility or not. In the past four or five years the Internet has become a busy place. Keywords have become big business. Keyword competitiveness has soared to new levels. How does one, especially a new website compete for these keywords? In some case they cannot, but blended search is allowing everyone to compete for these ketwords and gain visibility for keywords that traditionally was reserved for larger sites and large brannds. Well with some great optimization practices and fresh content, any site can gain visibility in the major search engines.

What is Blended Search?

Blended Search Results refers to non-traditional results that we see in the search engines, that is results that are not a traditional blue link Web result. The first blended results started to appear in Spring of 2007 (in May and June) when Google and ASK began to display things like images and video results within their normal index of results. Blended Search is simply the merging of various types of results with traditional Web results.

11 Ways to Leverage Blended Search in 2009

Why is Blended Search so important in 2009? Well the fact is that at the heart of Blended Search is content. As you should know by now, Content is what makes the Web go 'round.

Fact: To gain visibility in the major search engines you need fresh and informative content.

Blended Search provides the opportunity to do just that... push out new and useful content to your audience. The cool thing about Blended Search is that there are so many different types of blended search results that you can leverage. Here are 11 ways that one can leverage blended search. Of course not all of these options work for all site or businessess, but there should be a little something for everyone here.
  1. Optimize for Local Search - if you are a retailer or national brand that has various locations across the country, be sure that your website is optimized for local search. Ideally you may want to consider have a localized page with unique content (including local address) for each of your branch or store locations. If you optimize your local content properly, you just might see your site appear in Google or the other major engines for "coffee shop in Seattle" or related local searches pertaining to your business.

  2. Have a Product? Submit Products to Google Base - Google Base is a free Google service that helps you publish virtually any kind of information. You can list products, automobiles and even real estate through Google Base. Check it out for yourself. Maybe you are a mom searching for a "baby stroller". A search in Google will include blended results with prices for a few options of baby strollers.

  3. Get Social - Generate brand awareness with things such as a Facebook group, a Twitter account or a MySpace page. When someone performs a search for your brand, they will be sure to be served up with results that include social site results which provides your company with another interception point. This can be great for online reputation management purposes as well.

  4. Create "How To" or Demo Videos - this is a great way to find yourself within the blended results of the search engines. People are always looking for "how to" information. Creating a short 3-4 minute video on how to use a piece of software or how to install something can be a goldmine to someone looking for this information. Optimize and tag your video for important keywords and upload to popular aggregator sites such as YouTube or Yahoo video.

  5. Optimize Published Material - written a book or have an e-book available? You might want to leverage Google Book Search by visiting their information for authors and publishers to see how you can submit your published work.

  6. Images Can be Better Optimized - every site features a wide variety of images, yet many site owners are not optimizing their images for blended search. Bare minimum try to incorporate keyword rich alt text that is descriptive of the image. In addition try to include keywords in image filenames and surround your images with relevant content. When a user performs a related query in Google or Live Search or whatever their engine of choice is, you'll have a better chance of being found as an Image Result having simply optimized your image for relevancy.

  7. Share your Slide Decks - have an interesting presentation or demo that you can share? If so use tools such as slideshare to share your slide decks with the world. Both Google and Yahoo have included slideshare results in their main index.

  8. Create a Useful Widget - while we have not yet seen "widget results" in the major engines, you can bet that it is only a matter of time. Of course there is Google Gadgets, where you can create a widget-like item that people using Google Gadgets may be interested in.

  9. Tell the World your News - yup, optimizing your press releases is still a great way to get listed in blended results. Google, Yahoo and other vertical engines show news results within their main results, and due to the timeliness of news stories, quite often news results will show up above the natural or organic listings on a SERP.

  10. Participate in the Blogosphere - in this day and age, blog content is a trusted source by many when seeking information. So if you are not currently blogging, you might want to consider starting soon. You see blog results also show up in Google's main results as they do with Yahoo, ASK, Windows Live etc. Actively participating in the blog and generating useful content in this manner is a great way to leverage blended search and be found in the search results for yet another type of result.

  11. Optimize for Organic - ok, technically this could be considered a traditional blue-link search result, but organic results are still where most people click. Over 70% of all clicks on a searcgh engine results page are on organic or natural search listings. So before you pour all of your budget into sponsored ads, remember that nearly 8 out 10 people will click on a natural listing before they click on a paid one.
Blended search results for the time being are "organic" results meaning that you do not have to pay to be listed there. Did you get that? You do not have to pay for blended results. They are free. So why not optimize your site for blended search? You will gain greater visibility and be able to provide a better experience for the searcher that is looking for your information.

Looking for blended search optimization?

More about blended search:
  • Google Revamps Search Results Landscape with Universal Search
  • Ask.com Relaunches in 3D with Ask X Interface
  • Yahoo Launches Search Assist and Blended Results
  • Microsoft Launches New Search Index & Algorithms

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 13, 2009   0 comments
SEMPO Releases State of Search Market 2008 Survey Results
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, has released the results of their annual State of the Market Survey. There are some interesting findings:
  • 40% of advertiser respondents reported that they are actively promoting their brand on social media
  • of this 40%, 4 out of 5 advertisers use Facebook to promote their brand
  • Total Advertiser SEM spend in 2008 was $13.5 billion
  • SEM spending is predicted to hit $26.1 billion in 2013
  • Local Search on the rise? 34% of respondents had tried locally targeted search stating that "it works ok". Hmm did Google have an inside track on this as they have recently announced that they are getting more local.
  • The popularity of Organic SEO has risen significantly, from 80% in 2005 and 76% in 2006, nine out of ten advertisers using it in the past couple of years. This backs up a post that we did in December on SEO in 2009. Yet paid search continues to receive the majority of the Search budget.
  • Traditional forms of advertising media (print, TV, Yellow Pages etc) are experiencing shifts in budget over to Search. It was interesting to see that budget is also shifting from Website development. Perhaps organizations are holding off on those site redesigns that were in the works for the past few months?
  • only 14% of advertisers claim that they plan on spending less in 2009 than in 2008 (just over 50% stated that they were going to increase their spend in 2009. This is down from about 66% from 2007.)
  • Among the advertisers polled, brand awareness is the top objective of Paid Placement (sales was a close second)
  • The most popular metrics to track success of SEM programs were site traffic, converison rate, click-thru rate, and ROI followed by cost per click, CPA and total number of online sales. It was interesting to see that as brand awareness is the top objective of paid placement, yet brand impact was one lowest ranked metrics that was being tracked to gauge the success of SEM programs


Something that was pointed out was that 75% of advertisers are willing to pay more for behavioral targeting while only 51% were willing to pay more for demographic targeting. I understand the need to use this data to push targeted ads based on the information you gather, but with the consumers being more educated and savvy about their options, I question how this "push" model helps to build trust and a long-term relationship with potential consumers?

As mentioned there were some interesting findings in the report. With the dynamic nature of the online space, it will be intersting to see how much this changes in 2009.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 08, 2009   0 comments
ASK Experimenting with Ads on Homepage
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Has anyone else seen this? I went to ask.com today and noticed that there was a Geico ad (complete with the Geico Gecko) in the top left corner of the homepage. I've never seen that before... I didn't know that you could purchase that space.

Has anyone else seen this? I mean on the homepage as opposed to a search results page?


You have to think that Geico paid a premium fee to be placed there. Could this be the latest version of the million dollar homepage? With ad placement like this, you just have to wonder.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 07, 2009   0 comments
7 Ways to Analyze Natural Search Web Analytics Data
Monday, April 06, 2009
Each month, search marketers and website owners spend hours looking at their analytics data. Yet as we have all seen numbers can mean different things to different people. Numbers can be interpreted in a different manner and as a result, a lot of time can be wasted trying to gain insight into the performance of your online marketing campaigns.

I often wonder how much time is spent each month by companies analyzing data from a natural search perspective? I mean after all, it is difficult enough just trying to identify key performance indicators or the metrics that matter let alone analyze their impact on your organic search efforts. (Just a reminder that organic and natural search are one in the same.) With all of the data being presented, one can easily become overwhelmed with numbers and lose sight of what you should be tracking and measuring. The fact is, while numbers can quickly becoming complex, analyzing the web analytics data doesn't have to. There are a number of simple ways to filter through the numbers each month when you are measuring the success of your natural search campaigns.

7 Ways to Analyze Natural Search Web Analytics Data
  1. Compare Your Current Month to the Previous Month - want a quick snapshot as to how your site is doing from an organic search perspective? Simply compare this months data to last months. Of course if your business is seasonal you'll want to look at a longer time segment.

  2. Examine Data from the Past Quarter - the majority of businesses will look at revenue and other metrics on a quarterly basis. Do the same for your search metrics as this can provide greater insight from the normal month to month comparisons that you should also be evaluating.

  3. Compare Monthly YOY Data - seems so simple doesn't it? Comparing April 2009 data to April 2008 data can illustrate some emerging trends (good or bad) that your site is experiencing. From here you can see how external factors such as the economy or a recent negative story about your business can impact various metrics including traffic and conversions from organic search efforts.

  4. Review Year-To-Date (YTD) data - to identify interesting and meaningful trends that are more recent. If your fiscal business year is from October to October, perhaps in April, you will want to have a look at the YTD data inclusive to see how close you are to reaching your organic search goals as well as your reenue projections that you have set out for your natural search efforts.

  5. Compare YOY Data - similar to item number three except that you compare an entire years worth of data. this is great for impact measurement. For example measuring the impact of a new product or solution in terms of the result that it has had on your organic search traffic and activity.

  6. Look for Discrepancy in Trends - an easy way to monitor your natural search campaign is to look for discrepancies in trended data. This can provide some quick insight into items such as organic traffic to your site, or search engine activity after an algorithm update. Identifying a weird spike or unlikely dip can help you adjust your online efforts if you so choose to do so.

  7. Pick a Favorite Metric and Do Spot Checks - this is something that I like to do as it allows me to keep on top of metrics that are important from a Search perspective but are metrics that clients may not be tracking religiously. I like to take a look at bounce rates for key pages or the number of pages indexed in Google after a recent website redesign and identify progress that is being made.
Analyzing your Web analytics data can be time consuming and at times frustrating. However identifying key methodologies and avenues to monitor your metrics that matter can provide a more rewarding experience. Take the time to understand what you are looking at and set up your dashboards to communicate this efficiently and clearly.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 06, 2009   1 comments
Google Page Rank Update 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Well it's about time, there has been a Google Toolbar Page Rank update. While you should not worry about this, you may want to check your site's PR to see how Google is valuing the pages of your site. It's probably best to wait a couple of days to see where the Page Rank settles as Google may be testing this across their various data centers.

The last PR update was at the stat of the year. As a reminder, Google Toolbar PageRank is a visual indicator that has no direct impact on ranking well at Google. (The Toolbar PageRank is often weeks or months outdated.) It does provide a relative indicator as to the authority of a site's pages as compared to each other. We have noticed some sites that have dropped for 7 to 4 or a 5, but again this is not a true indication of the rank or value of one's page.

Expect to see more posts about this shortly.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 02, 2009   2 comments
Microsoft to Buy Search Market Share from Google and Yahoo?
There are various reports that Microsoft is looking to spend between $80 and $100 million to try and gain market share in the search arena from Google and Yahoo. My initial thoughts were is this not a similar (albeit larger) attempt to gain market share like IAC (ASK.com tries to do with their infamous ASK TV commercials) a while back?

What else can Microsoft do?
  • they have failed to make a mark with their Search product
  • they failed to acquire Yahoo's Search service
  • they have failed to brand and re-brand their Search product (which we have mentioned on numerous occasions) MSN --> Windows Live --> Live Search --> Microsoft Search --> Kumo etc.
We know that they have been working on improving their Search product for a long time, so we may just be in for a fantastic new product providing that there is some innovation there. As Danny Sullivan pointed out, Microsoft is testing new search ideas with its own employees. However are we not missing one thing here? Yeah what about the user? Regardless, one could say this is a waste of money for Microsoft, but if their new campaign, which will cost close to a $100 million and will consist of ads online, TV, print and radio, can do what they envision, Microsoft hopes to obtain market share from Google and Yahoo. Personally I would be surprised if this happens, but then again stranger things have happened in the online world over the past ten years.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 02, 2009   0 comments
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