Tag Archives: General Comment

My disappointment with Twitter spam

I am currently seeing more and more, and getting disappointed how another internet service is getting abused. In one of my social media monitoring searches I saw the same user post @Someone for a whole (big) screen full.

I looked at the tweets and the profile and there are pretty wet at best. You will see a user with very little value, no followers, following only a few, and only tweets that are a reply / approach to someone.

You will get redirected to a site that tries very hard to look official and authoritative and tries to sign up people who can then tweet links to sites to earn money. So, this, what I, IMHO call “tweet spam” is exactly that to recruit people to become tweet spammers. Nice.

And if you were wondering on how it actually works, so that you can earn 400 to 500 pounds a day, it’s as simple as …

I guess the next frontier on web spam will be things like this. I guess this kind of activity will take place in person, by phone and online in some medium as long as there are ways to make free money. Its a tide I personally don’t like.

Rant over

While I was away on holiday!

I took a (well deserved) week off and went to Turkey for a all-inclusive holiday with the family. And while I was gone Google decided to launch a new product. So, back in the office there are a barrage of questions from marketers, management and analytics folks about Google Instant and the impact it might have on our search marketing.

First of all here is a photo across my pool to the sea. I can also say that my internet usage was minimal (was hard, think I am an online addict). Oh and we learn’t to sail.

The view over the pool to infinity and beyond!

The view over the pool to infinity and beyond!

OK, back to Google instant. I think the jury is still out to start with. This is essentially a autosuggest front runner as another layer to personalisation. It may kill the long tail and it may force up PPC bidding to hit the head terms for the users that stop when they get some answer rather than the longer more precise answer. It also might change the order SEO’s optimise pages to hit the exact matches of the type in. Or even make some short-termist to change the optimisation of pages to game their sequential load order. Or it could be just another ‘flash-in-the-pan’ product that doesn’t get full rolled-out. We will see and then make any alterations to our long term strategies.

And in-case you wish to find your way to that hotel/resort, here is a map.
[googlemap lat="36.98649427898108" lng="27.552316188812256" align="undefined" width="630px" height="440px" zoom="16" type="G_HYBRID_MAP"]Turkey[/googlemap]

A typing monkey can produce content

The future of content (as of July 2010)

A typing monkey can produce content

A typing monkey can produce content. Thanks scienceblogs.com for borrowing your monkey

I have read a number of SEO & mainstream publisher articles about the future of content. As someone who has commissioned will known publishers, someone who has paid <£10 a page and written a few bits and pieces myself, I feel I am allowed an opinion on content.

Most people in the traditional publishing believe that Google and friends want quality. And quality will always win. I don’t believe that to be true. I think that they favour Relevancy, more Quality. Quality is an abstract notion anyway. They can be the same thing, but commonly not.

Journalists and professional writers do a great job of writing well constructed arguments. Web content producers do a great job of meeting their brief. So, depending on what you want as a temporary commissioning editor you can brief that way.

Let’s think about online publishing and the internet specifically. So, if English (my preferred language) is used by many, many millions of people. For many it wont be their first language and they also want access to content, access to information and access to answers. Then relevant content is far more important than a abstract notion of Quality.

As a digital marketer and a SEO working in businesses whose objectives are about getting many visitors and conversion, choosing the appropriate level of content is what you need to do.

Maybe journalists could learn from SEO’s and digital marketers as we only produce content that is being demanded. And maybe we could learn from trying to ensure accuracy and minimum standards/consistency etc.

There are more people and with the democratisation of the web there is a progressive demand for all kinds of content.

A few articles have made me aware of the “Internet Content Syndication Council” and their own ambitions for content web standards for the net. They are likely to only read by like minded individuals If you wish to see their site, you’ll understand if I don’t make this a link
www.internetsyndication.org. But, if it does catch on, then if you are commissioning content and you want a minimum standard, someone who can demonstrate the levels of skills demanded is no bad thing.

The future is about companies, journos, writers who embrace the distribution model. Where is your audience? How do they want to read the content? How will you promote it and get it in front of them? As you are a competing with other content publishers. You competed with another daily newspaper, or another publishing house. You have probably been competing with online reading of your content versus the print form.

New services such as Demand Media, Associated Content and many more are satisfying a new demand. For How-to’s, Video and easily accessible volume content. There will be a place for ‘proper’ articles, but it will be in Sunday papers, books (still relevant in 2010, who knows when/if you read this?!).

I think we need them all.
Some related articles that sparked me into life writing these thoughts:

16th June 2010 the Financial Times
6th July 2010 on AdWeek
7th July 2010 on CNet News

Day 2 of SMX advanced London 2010

SMX Advanced London 2010

After my rant after day 1, day 2 followed as you would expect and on the whole I thought was much better.

I do really think that the word Advanced should not be used and the level of effort in organizing the event was a bit ‘credit crunch’ worthy. Next year will have to decide whether to attend, at least in the UK.

Day 2 was a day of social media and analytics.

The first session was titled “Proving Social Media’s Value”. The panel were from econsultancy, Freshnetworks, MSN adcenter & Bazaarvoice.

Linus from econsultancy cited some statistics, that 64% of companies can’t prove the ROI of social media, and that 65% in their survey were going to be doing more in 2010, than 2009! That is definitely my experience too. The resounding corporate favourite is Twitter, raising from 2008 of 3%, 2009 was 49% and now in 2010’s respondents want 81%. IMHO, mainly as it is easy and straightforward? There were comments on how corporates are trying to measure including just going for sales and clicks as these are standard web metrics that most can understand. But few people cite branding etc, but don’t measure brand recall like they would if they invested in a TV campaign!

The suggestion was not to measure the quantity of followers or FB friends. But you should measure the number of re-tweets, referrals and how influential these people are. You should treat the measurement more like display or offline media in terms of recall and attitude change. But the issue here is that people think SMM is like SEO is free ! Oh, how naive.

Charlie Osmonds analogy was to describe the situation the most corporates treat SMM as “a series of one night stands”, whereas “[you] should focus on long term relationships to existing customer and not new people”.

I then de-fluffed myself and moved over to the analytics track for “Bullseye! Reaching and Closing Your Ultimate Customer”. This was a session. The panel was from Google, Comscore and Facebook. Despite the title, it was not an analytics panel, it was about how to reach your potential customer.

There were some fascinating Comscore stats such as the total searches across Europe were up 27% YoY. But the standout was Spain, that is 56% up YoY. And the average number of searches per month is 122. But the UK is 144, Germany is only 101. And the American are only 108!

They also showed a map showing the volume of searches and western Europe which is so dominated by Google with 75% to 90% of all searches. And the final stat is that 28% of Europeans are already watching online videos.

Staying with the analytic theme I sat and listened to “Top Ten Customised Search Analytics Reports”. It was a pragmatic start highlighting the daily challenge of having too much data and the best thing to do is to “minimise the gap between data to knowledge”.

Things to take back to the office. Add in Pacing lines on progress reports. To check bounce rate by keywords

After recharging on caffeine, and with my attention focused at the front the session was “Social Media, Search & Reputation Management”.
The opening fact was that 98% of modern journalists go online daily. I think this was my favourite session of the day and could the potential for a future elaborated post.

Real time search is potentially a reputation management nightmare. It seems that the QDF and Caffeine updates in Google, seem to allow trending topics to appear in the 1 box and bypass the classic hard SEO work and history of that page/URL combo!

More to come on this topic in separate posts, once I can collect my thoughts and add some value. Plus, somewhere for me to keep these notes if/when I need to use them!

The final session of SMX Advanced London was “Social media: give it up”. This half inspiring and half aimed to keep your feet on the ground. Melissa Campbell on behalf of Distilled reinforced the legal aspects of social media. A similar comment to earlier really about back to basics when we learned to be marketers before we concentrated online. At last being a bit more ‘mature’ works in your favour!

Chris Bennet from 97th Floor shared some of his favourite techniques. The take-away for me is the idea of using infographics. And this could work alone side some other great material we have access to already. It is all about leveraging the assets you already have.

Overall, it was far better than day 1. But it has taken this long til posting as having to catch up with work and actually enjoy the mini-heatwave that swept through London.

Product listing ads

Following on from my rant about never having to leave Google.  Where I commented on on the recent changes in PPC where you can Compare products such as Loans.   Now you can see prices and pictures for commodities/every day shopping items.  On the Google blog they give a screen grab and examples for stand alone as below and inline on the right hand side.  As this is on a PPC basis it will make sure that all serious competitors are spending as much as possible in this One-up-man-ship-advert-arms-race. And my only concern is about my beloved SEO.  Why would you click on the boring SERPs when the information is available like this to the side.  Mixed with the movement of the adwords from absolute right to right aligned to SERPs – the classic Pareto rule of PPC Versus SEO Click from SERPs is moving to more in favour of the paid stuff.  Well, they are a media company with targets of growth like the rest of us!

Product Ads on Google

Product Ads on Google

Its another move into supply chain integration and control demand!

When Google starts to have its own warehouse and fulfilment team. You really won’t need to leave Google!

Still love them and hate them in equal measures. Or is this just jealousy that I didn’t think of it first?

Types of searches – Navigational, Informational and Transactional

Here are some definitions of the 3 main kinds of searches that a user might do. They are important as they hold the intent of the users and if you believe this, might influence the response and what is relevant results from a search engine!.

Navigational Search
A navigational search is a specified search and is successful if your product is a specific brand name. Searches like ‘Tesco’ or ‘Diesel Jeans’ means that that those websites optimising for that brand would appear above all the others so for smaller companies it is not necessarily the best way to optimise your site as it is highly competitive against other more commercial companies.

If you are selling or are the owner of a brand, people are effectively looking for you, but may end up on a site that is optimised for your product. Affiliates and domain squatters can do very well here. This can also apply to events, generics, news items or popular culture.

Informational Search
This is a better way for small businesses to optimise their site. They can aim to rank highly for a simple phrase and make it more plausible. A couple of words creating a generic phrase are far more successful than depending on brand names to get traffic to a site. Phrases such as “tyres Chiswick” can be far more effective for businesses rather than a brand of tyres. The risk of using a brand is that it is likely to be supplied by big chain stores nationwide that already have a good amount of traffic to their site.

This could be a bit of a leveler on the internet.  The internet was meant to allow small businesses to compete with anyone, anywhere.  In practice this is not the case, but especially on local search or map searches smaller players can win and from my hunt for new car tyres yesterday, small businesses who register for local business on Google appeared on a map in the no1 slot and did very well in the map channel.

Transactional Search
These searches are far more specific and contain a lot of words that identify what a consumer wants in finer detail. For example “cheap tyres Hammersmith London (& maybe brand).” All of the sites that contain these words will come up in the search engine results and your company may be there but the amount of people using this method of searching are fewer than the others.

Fewer in quantity, but fairly precise.  The longest keyword phrase I have seen that has come to a site I have worked on was 18 words in length.  Funnily enough, 100% conversion rate to transaction.  Now the quantity of unique long tail terms can be big, but may only happen once or twice per year.  But you might be lucky and if you are in the right business the total volume might be huge!

To conclude
Keywords definitely vary by industry and country.  And depending on your industry, and your type of product, the age/demographics or sophistication levels of your customers and potential customers will depend on your keyword usage.

You will need to understand your customers (marketing 101 don’t forget all that you know from the old world order) and enough you optimise your business and your site to make sure you are found ahead of the competition.

Look at your keyword reports, ask you customers virtually or face-to-face if you can how they found you, how they want to find your service or product.

This is part science, part human skills and a bit of luck.  If you kind of understand your customer you have a chance to satisfy their needs.

Good luck.

Nanobreaks – new travel trends

Hotels.com Nanobreaks new trend

Hotels.com Nanobreaks new trend

Did you know the new thing in travel if you don’t have time for a weekend break? Try a  “Nanobreak”.

In a recent press release from Hotels.com they explain from their extensive data that people are not cancelling their holidays, but instead are changing where they go, and for how long for.  In the Nanobreaks release they talk about a 29% Year on Year increase in people looking for a single night stay. Previously people would go Friday and come back on a Sunday.  Now people are going early Saturday til late on Sunday to squeeze the most out of their trip.

From a UK perspective, the winners are cities like Bournemouth, Brighton, Edingburgh and London.  But also people are taking advantage of some great airfares and travelling to Marrekesch, Venice, Rome, Copenhagen and Nice.

So much so, Hotels.com are currently running a social media campaign around “Nanobreaks” and their onsite page explains it here.

Nanobreaks – the Nanolog campaign from Hotels.com >>

It seems that people are resilent and wont give up on holidays, but will just change where and when they go.

SMX London conference May 2009

SMX Conf logo

SMX Conf logo

I only went to day 2 of the conference this year.  And I was pleasantly surprised at some of the great discussions.

4 out of the 5 sessions I went to were useful and the ‘Give it up session’ was fun to close the day.

Over the coming days, and after my holiday I iwll try to be inspired from the talks, apply my own opinions and experience and make some more notes for this site.

Interesting reading 2009-05-01

Books image on adrianland.co.ukOn a new in my reader is Thats SEO.  Today this post about the role of your IP address in your SEO efforts.  It defines the usual why you need to know where you site is going to reside e.g. “bad neighbourhood” etc etc.  But continues with some explanations of what this actually means.  Too many posts these days, including mine are too brief and dont lay out the context!!  A good read, thank you Raghaven. Oh, and if you want to check to see if your IP is blocked on a number of bad site lists check out what  is my IP address.

If you are ever considering going solo, then reading 10 lessions from a failed start up would be negligent.

On SEOMoz there is some detail, although a pseudo sales pitch, but some interesting facts about what they have seen with their crawl of the web.  Some highlight numbers.  That 2.7% of links are NoFollowed, 73% of these were internal, so site scultping is popular.  I do it.  And 16million pages have the new canonical tag. 

On black hat seo, link to a digest page on recent popular articles, such as “why spam works” ; “How to break captchas”, and more. All in very simple to read articles with a ‘can-do’ attitude.

We all like a good list.  On SEO Optimise they have a non-Google focused list of resources for social meda. Worth checking out.

And as mine are all broken (work ones), its good to look at sitemaps. SEL have published a casestudy. See it here.

Interesting articles 2009-03-17

Books image on adrianland.co.ukTrying to keep on top of the rss reader is near on impossible.  I have articles bookmarked and I will get to them.  I hope they are not out of date before I get to them !!

A slightly different tack from my normal straight SEO, but believe it or not I know a fair bit about PPC too.  Jennifer Slegg is showing how to stop your competitor from seeing (for competition reasons) or them burning your budget.  See her post called “How to prevent competitors from seeing your Adword ads“.

Once again the MSN Live people have another quality post.  This time they are talking about considerations international sites. The articles lays out some of the issues people have when doing international. They actually very helpfully spell out their criteria for deciding the intended audience of your site.  They list these in this order.  1) ccTLDs 2) Hosting, server location especially for .com .org etc. 3) the language of the body text on the page, 4) the locale of pages that link to the page.  This fits observations made in Google recently.  Thank you MSN.

On SEO theory is an article about duplicate content, causes and the new canonical url tag.  It lays out some things that I haven spouting for a while and is nice to read.  How duplicate content can dilute inbound link benefit, can ruin onsite search and if you are very unlucky a penalty.  But as we know it is more likely to be ignored.

Yahoo have another article about this canonical URL. Ysearch blog.

There were a couple of posts from Matt Cutts that caught my eye this week.  The first is about paid or sponsored links.  And he lays it out quite clearly that they are bad ! And the 2nd is about the number of links on a page.  There is a brief history lesson of why, when processors stopped around 100kb ! And how the rule-of-thumb should be for usability reasons as too many links are hard for users.  It acknowledges that it may follow more than a hundred (which we know from monitoring spiders onsite) but may not! and you will dilute page rank.

There have been in recent weeks many article about how social media is creeping into every day life and can be form an Twitdiction (trying to coin a phrase) and Business Week’s angle is about time management and how sites such as Twitter can actually help productivity.  Today, I posted a tech question and got an answer before I could leave the site !

We all love a classic what not to do to you site.  Here is one one Marketing Pilgram that is fairly good.  Take a look and enjoy.