Monthly Archives: August 2010

Anybody can use Google maps now !

Just testing a new plugin, which allows fair weather codes to now use Google maps and Google Maps-Streetview This Streetview shows Trafalgar Square, London. UK.

I do like the fact that you can still interact, move around. But the sweet thing is that it overlays pictures from its other service. Just think if you run any site that could need a map or colourful supplementary information then now its in all of our reaches!

[googlemap lat=”51.507612″ lng=”-0.127605″ yaw=”332.97″ pitch=”-2.07″ zoom=”0″ width=”630px” height=”440px” align=”center” type=”STREETVIEW”]Trafalgar Square, London, UK[/googlemap]

If you need to find this on a map look here.

[googlemap lat=”51.50783″ lng=”-0.128819″ align=”undefined” width=”630px” height=”440px” zoom=”15″ type=”G_NORMAL_MAP”]London, UK[/googlemap]

HTML5 – w3c compliant post – hoorah!

I was very pleased to see that my posts are actually HTML5 compliant.

The validation is specifically for my “How to make a simple Waterfall chart” post.

W3C validation

Whoop - most posts W3C validate

I genuinely believe that in the future that code segmentation/html5/microformats are going to be really important. Especially for e-commerce large sites. If there is only so much PageRank to go around, and this means the depth and aggressiveness of crawl, you need to make it as easy as possible. That way they can prioritize and understand what you have available.

In terms of the validation. I think I have to give all of the credit to the theme team. But at least I haven’t broken it. And I only had to turn off one plugin that wasn’t compliant (and my edits broke it) to get there!

How to make a simple positive “Waterfall chart”

If you ever need to produce “blue sky” ideas or have to explain causality then a waterfall chart can be a great way to show that graphically. Especially in the less slides in a deck is good world.

I had to do one of these the other day. I was given a cryptic old workbook from finance, which would take longer to cut & paste/decipher than to actually teach myself how to do it. Plus, it was too complicated for what I needed anyway.

I had to make a simple, “if I had to reach a target” visual representation. So, I searched around on the inter-web and came across some mathematician level answers for complicated graphs or utter rubbish. Based on this and the bits I could understand I found my own way.

I am sure there are other ways from people smarter than me. But, I thought I would share my simple waterfall how to guide.

Step by step to make your simple positive “Waterfall chart”

  • Have your starting point, e.g. current run-rate in row 2, column 3 (see figure 1)
  • List out all your activities you intend to do, to move towards the target with incremental value. So activities in column 1 and values e.g. incremental orders in column 3
  • Put your target Row 8, column 3
  • In row7, column 3 work out the difference/gap if applicable to your story
  • Column 2 is now for the “height buffer”, which will be formatted out later on. This should just be the cumulative total to effectively suspend your real data (column 3). Will make sense in a minute
  • Plot your stacked bar graph. (See figure 2)

Waterfall data sample data

Figure 1. Sample data

Waterfall chart - almost there

Figure 2. Half way there

Now you need to remove the column 2 buffer data from VIEW

  • Highlight and delete the legend
  • Right click and format the target column to make a different colour
  • Right click on the ‘buffer’ series and “format data series” to “No Fill” and “No line colour”
  • Optional extras may include the colour of any difference (if any), data labels or lines to aid digesting

Your graph should now look a bit like this. (See figure 3)

Sample waterfall chart

Figure 3. Ta-dah - Waterfall chart ready for your formatting

From now on you can customise it any way you want. Add any kind of title etc and generally put it into your house style.

But I think you will agree, it is a very simple way to represent data in a single chart. And it will make you look like a pro. That is how I make a simple, positive waterfall style graph. Hope it works for you too.

Bing & Yahoo search alliance – migration has started for PPC

Bing bong

Bing bong

If you are running any search campaigns in the USA or Canada you should be aware that this week that Bing is starting to take over the natural search on “Yahoo search” results.

Once this has taken place, in their own words

“Bing will power 5.2 billion monthly searches, which is 31.6 percent of the search market share in the United States and 8.6 percent share in Canada”.

If you are running US or Canadian Paid Search on Yahoo they also inform us that there is a transition tool available to help you migrate your account over to the Bing interface. You will be invited over the next few weeks if you are an existing advertiser.

If you wish to have a sneak preview of their beta tool, you can see it here –>The Microsoft transition tool

Book Review: 50 Ways To Make Google Love Your Website

google book small image

A must read says Land

The book: “50 Ways To Make Google Love Your Website” by Steve Johnston and Liam McGee, is pretty good.

As a cover testimonial, I thought I would re-read it now that I have a physical copy, and I have to say I still like it.

It focuses on Google, but the principles apply easily to all regular search engines. It is an easy to read explanation of the key aspects of ethical, long term SEO best practices in words even a layman can understand.

They go on to explain the concepts from webots, duplicate content through to the importance of links in the Google ecosystem. There are few bits that on this time reading I have learnt. For example I never previously knew what a “hypernym” was ! There are many SEO books on the market and in my time I have read a number. This is definitely one of the best and that is why I was happy to put my name on the back cover. I would recommend this for beginner and advanced practitioner alike.

my quote

My quote on the back cover

Here is the full back cover:

The back cover of the book

Click to enlarge

If you fancy reading it yourself you can do via the link on the Search Johnston site.

My NMA article on “Beyond the buzz”

My article on "Beyond the buzz" on NMA

My article on "Beyond the buzz" on NMA

I was asked via work to write 250 words on “Beyond the buzz” for NMA. I dutifully wrote up this piece and submitted it. I hope to see my name in print again. Been a while since I have been in a mainstream print mag. Here back in 2002 in the then Revolution magazine, and here commenting on web analytics. I will try to find the front cover and centre-fold images. My only centrefold I promise! I am returning to fame!

Here goes, the article:

With the latest changes in Google, real-time search really came to the masses. QDF theory (Query Deserves Freshness) means that if someone is searching for current information, then the search engine should return the most relevant real-time information. In terms of Google this is currently mostly Twitter and its news services.

At this stage real-time search is most applicable to informational searches. In the pre-and-post purchase arena you need to be aware of what users want to know and are searching for. If there are travel issues e.g. volcanoes or plane delays you should consider communicating officially with the answer. This means that customer service, blogs and news feeds suddenly become a hot internal topic. There is a significant risk of brand and reputation if you are not there.

Social media marketing is the route to being in the “one-box”. A key learning is that you can’t measure this like a normal marketing channel as it won’t be efficient. It should be judged as a communications channel and weighed-up as an opportunity cost of not being there.

This will be scary or unfamiliar for most large companies. There will be a perception of loss of control. If your objective is to ensure your presence in the SERPs, you should consider all techniques as there will be a continuing trend for real-time and mobile search.

When this goes to press I am sure I will screen grab it and put it here.

Google changing its EU and UK trademark policy again

Google adwords on Trademark policy changes again

Google adwords on Trademark policy changes again

The big G announced on the 4th of August 2010 via a press conference and their blog.

Last year in the US, advertisers were allowed to use trademarks in their adverts even though they were not the trademark owner. This helped resellers, wholesalers, value add products and competitors. This is now being standardised globally.

So, as of September 14th 2010, in Canada, UK and Ireland advertisers will be able to do this too. Now, this is helpful if you are selling a case for a iPad etc.

The fact that is appended to this announcement is that at the same time, they will be able to use trademarks as keywords. For more specifics, they have some more information on the Google Adwords blog.

What are the likely impacts?

  • If you are a big brand with affiliates, resellers etc, your cost per click may rise, with increased levels of keyword competition
  • If there are alternative better ads, your click through rate may suffer
  • If you were not buying your brand and relying on SEO, then you may need to consider a change to your plan

How could you control this?

  • If it is your resellers or affiliates, check your terms and conditions of business as you may have that clause in a real contract
  • Ensure your set-up is really efficient, your CTR is high, quality score is high etc to leverage your history and position

If I was cynical, then I would suggest Google are just wanting more money. Or, its just freeing up, free-markets!

Online reputation management

Does your reputation need a life-line?

Does your reputation need a life-line?

How to make your companies reputation management plan – online version.

Now some of this will depend on your industry and I don’t claim to be an expert in everything, well almost everything ! This post is meant to be a generic plan, a list of ideas or activities that you could consider in making your plan ready, sharing with all that need to be aware of it.

Why you might need a reputation plan?

The scenario you are likely to be in if you need an online reputation plan is normally not a good one. This may be your making (and you may deserve it?) or it may be through no fault of your own. But you should be ready with a plan that you or a number of people can turn on very quickly.

What might you be able to control?

The idea of this plan is to take control of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This will allow you or your company to try and control what people fine who are looking for you. This is definitely not a fall-proof plan by any means. And depending on the topic you may actually want to stay quiet. But if you are informed and have a plan, then you have a choice to act or not to act.

A couple of simple current examples could the recent ash cloud from Iceland that has messed around with people travel and holidays. Through to natural disaster or pandemics e.g. earthquakes and swine flu.

Generic objectives

  • To provide emergency information
  • To surpress bad or damaging online content

The planning

You should take stock of all the digital assets and resources you could have in your arsenal.

These could commonly be:

  • Press Releases ready, with a hungry PR team/agency
  • PPC creatives – maybe to swithc from sales to customer service/advice
  • SEO page(s) with the appropriate key messages
  • Digital assets of images, video and the like

How to flood the SERPs and “own the page”?.

First of all check out the search demand in KW research tools, the autosuggest in Google and trending topics – to see if you the need to do anything. It might be a storm in your own office !! But if people and journalists are going to be searching for you or your company by name/brand you can try to flood the results.

In the modern Google world, with the latest QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) the blended results could contain a variety of media.

Leverage existing assets

  • TV ads online e.g. in YouTube or Vimeo. This could also be interview or TV appearance clips

Social media marketing

  • Facebook page – make updates and spark conversation
  • LinkedIn groups – as above
  • Twitter – get your own accounts working, support your other initiatives and spark others to RT or talk about you. If you trend, these will appear in the one box
  • Wikipedia – always shows on Information searches
  • Forum answering, Q&A – if appropriate, get involved
  • Guest post, get your big guns and names out

Sales and marketing channels

  • Get a lot of mentions on pages and social by releasing coupons and amazing deals

Normal comms and PR

  • If comments are out there – answer them and provide your side of the story (if you are right)
  • Use your PR teams to get you everywhere legitimately
  • Send our old, but ‘evergreen’ PRs, through all levels of distribution services, even through article and SEO ‘pr’ hubs
  • Bait journalists with more juicy stories / “distract them”

Paid activities

  • PPC/SEM with as many ‘sitelinks’ as you can buy to push the results down the page
  • Buy business directories

Leveraging your size & network

  • Get your name on your sister site companies, suppliers and friends. Make them also rank for your company name
  • Get your employees who blog to write

The outcome

The aim is to push the bad press down. This will only work if the opposition don’t go on a big hunt as they may be very motivated and may play nasty.

If you are trying to diseeminate information to help people this too can effective as sometimes if you don’t act, your reputation may suffer too.

If you know your position and you judge you can win, then you can make an informed choice.