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September 30, 2006

Slow Posting

By Li Evans

Posting is going to be slow for the next few days.  I had a family emergency yesterday and I'll be taking care of those types of things all weekend.  Hoping to be back up to speed by Monday and posting what I planned to post on Friday then.

Till then, have a great weekend! :)

September 28, 2006

Who Really is Matt Cutts' Evil Twin

By Li Evans

Mattcuttsevilcartoon_1 So, someone created the Matt Cutts Evil Twin blog.  I had a good chuckle whe I looked it up after hearing Danny Sullivan speak about it on the Daily Searchcast.  Then, my curiousity got the better of me.

I went searching on who owns evilmattcutts.com.  Whois at NetSol is a great little thing. :-)

Apparently someone who's name is Beth Marion from North Carolina owns the registration to the domain, it looks like it was registered back in June of last year - but of course, that's only using the "data as of" entry.  Again, curiosity got the better of me..... I searched on "Beth Marion North Carolina" on Google.  Here's a screen cap of what was returned.

Bethmarion

Hmmmmm........ interesting isn't it?

digg | searchmob | sniff it

Yahoo! Broadens It's Social Networking with Jumpcut Acquisition

By Li Evans

Yahoojumpcut_1 Jumpcut, a video creating, uploading and sharing community started in June of 2005 announced that it had been acquired by Yahoo! yesterday.

In a time where everyone is wondering who is going to buy YouTube - a similar type of video service - this acquisition is a much better deal for Yahoo!  Strategically speaking, this just makes a whole lot more sense in Yahoo's ever expanding Social Media kingdom.  But, one might wonder "Why not go after YouTube?"

YouTube is on the lips of everyone right now, it has tons of recognition and that could give Yahoo! the added boost it needs - but honestly, there are a lot of things inherently wrong with only thinking about the "instant" boost, here's the two most prevelant. 

  • YouTube's fast growth.  Although amazing by any standards, this type of growth came too soon before anyone could figure out how to monetize it.  If anyone tries to monetize this service now, it's going to spell death for the service - users would drop off the moment their "free" service isn't so "free" anymore.
  • It is only a "sharing" service, so its appeal can be quite limiting.

Jumpcut is a better deal for Yahoo! because, not only can you share videos, but users can create them too.  While all the emphasis and craziness has gone to YouTube - not to mention skyrocketing costs (bandwidth, server storage) because of all the attention, Jumpcut has been quietly building its base of core, dedicated users (customer evangelists), on which Yahoo! can build.

Yahoo!'s also getting an extremely well educated team to help propel this video search/create/share networking service into the main stream.  This service could quite possibly give YouTube some serious competition in this area of social media networking, with the right marketing, message and backing - something Yahoo's bound to infuse into the team.

Yahoo's just planted another stake in the ground of the social media space, it is going to be interesting to watch what happens in the next year.

sniff it

September 27, 2006

Getting Off the BlogMad Crack

By Li Evans

Lessons Learned in Blog Promotion

After doing the series of articles on Blog Promotion(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), I started experimenting with a blog promotion service called BlogMad.  The basic principal behind the service is "you surf our blogs, we'll send other surfers to yours."  All fine and dandy - and I found myself hooked as I was stumbling across some really funny blogs.

I also found myself becoming more competitive, with their system, they have different levels - the more you surf, the higher your level.  At one point I'd even amassed some 1,200+ credits in my account.  Traffic was coming into this blog at a nice steady rate.  Then BlogMad got bought by Kinetiq (I tried to located the blog post that announced it but it's been removed).

Within a week of the transition and launch of "new features" I found my amassed chunk of credits gone - pilfered down to less than 100.  The system allowed you to purchase credits now, and in my "worry" of not getting enough blogs surfed.  The credits were disappearing now faster than I was surfing - even though I hadn't changed any of my habit, and I just remembered thinking how odd this was and was it happening to anyone else.  I looked into their "shout box" on my user control panel, and sure enough two other surfers were discussing the same thing.

After a bit of thought, I contacted BlogMad through their form, told my two fellow surfers and went merrily of to the gym.  I came back an hour later and to my surprise there was an email from a BlogMad rep.  Fast and quick response - basically "hold on for a few more weeks" and things will improve.

Later on in the evening I got another email from BlogMad - this time it was to me and the others surfers in the shoutbox who had our conversation.  Although I credit the staff for reaching out to its users and recognizing complaints - I took offense to the tone of the email.  It was rather scolding - basically telling us that "we're not getting it".  I don't know how the others took it, but I was rather taken aback and thinking about the goodwill the person had made in the prior email was gone (not the way to gain customer evangelists).

That's when I really started to dig down into what BlogMad was bringing me traffic wise.  This service is great for those everyday humor, advice or controversy stirring blogs.  But for blogs like Search Marketing Gurus who's aim is to serve a niche market - the service brings in so much unqualified traffic and in my opinion just not the right fit.  Everyone just surfs on for their next credit, no one sticks around to read about search industry news.

I wrote a rather long email back to the gentleman who emailed me from BlogMad and explained, that if myself and the other two had this type of experience, there surely had to be others who weren't so vocal and would just stop using the service.  The next day there was "double credits" assigned for surfing the system - but in reality that hadn't changed what ever is wrong with the system.

So now - I'm off the BlogMad crack - traffic might be down, but I'm finding its not down as much as I thought it would be, and the average visitor stay is way up.  Lessoned learned - some Web 2.0 services, widgets, etc. do not always work for all things - especially if you are serving a niche.

September 26, 2006

What if Matt Cutts Left Google?

By Li Evans

That caught your attention, didn't it?  ;-)Matt Cutts Cartoon

No no.... that's not going to happen anytime soon, but it is one of the questions John Batelle posed to Matt in a really great interview  on his Searchblog.  Although, it isn't anything new our eyes haven't read before, it's a nice take on what Matt does at Google and how he's leading Google's web spam team.

Take a gander, it's some  nice reading.

Want Out of Google News? All You Have To Do is Ask!

By Li Evans

Just a small tidbit of news, since I made note of it in my last entry.  Since it couldn't comment on the main .be page, Google's commenting on its Official Blog about the ruling from the Belgian Court in which they had to post the ruling on their .be domain page.

I'm wondering if these newspapers are seeing a drop in their traffic yet?

Internet Marketing - The Good & The Bad - Who Gets It & Who Doesn't

By Li Evans

After researching and writing about Hewlett Packard (HP)'s lack of knowledge around Internet Marketing, I decided to compile a list of what other companies that just don't get how to use the Internet as a marketing tool and how that affects their name, brand, products,etc.

Rather than be a downer, I wanted to point out good things too.  I also compiled a list of companies who do get how to use the Internet for marketing purposes and do it successfully.  I put together a list of ten (I won't call it top ten as everyone is sick of top ten lists) - 5 good examples and 5 bad examples, not ranked in any order.

The Bad - Those Who Just Don't Understand the Affect the Internet Has On Their Company
Kryptonitebikelocks Kryptonite Bike Locks -
Although this story took place close to 2 years ago, it is still a prime example of companies not monitoring what's going on in the Internet space, reaching out to their customers and engaging them to head off major issues that could potentially threaten the lifeblood of a company. Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion has a detailed account of the Kryptonite Bike Locks implosion.   Wikipedia has a detailed entry about the company, including the debacle in 2004 that ranks #3 for "kryptonite bike locks" on Google.  The Kryptonite Bike Lock website, really leaves me wondering "will they ever 'get it'?"

Belgian Newspapers - On the heels of "winning" their first lawsuit against Google in Belgium, most in the search industry are just sitting back and shaking their heads.  Here's just another blatant example of companies (this time a group of publishers), just not "Getting it".  Danny Sullivan's got a great article on the Search Engine Watch blog about this story, and how the to these people robots.txt is just not good enough.

Trump - A few weeks Threadwatch.org discovered this little snafu in the description of Trump.com's listing on Google.  I blogged about it further here on Search Marketing Gurus.  Again, another case of how not having a search marketing team can affect your presence, your brand, your name and your company's products and services.  I'm sure someone's going to start ranking for "Trump" with terms like "small penis", "levitra", "cialis" and "viagra" that has screen shots of what happened to Trump.com.  That will live on much longer than the few days the meta description appeared in Google.

Technoratihp_mentions Hewlett Packard (HP) - Sure this company has a nice website.  I've gone to it a few times and found drivers I needed.  Their products are decent and up until 3 weeks ago, HPQ was pretty golden on the stock market.  Then this really bad stench came out of Silicon Valley from the HP board room.  I won't rehash what I wrote about HP's Reputation Management again, lets just give them the 2006 "I don't get the Internet" award now.

Coca-Cola - There's something to be said about how a company identifies its brand, and how customers identify WITH a brand.  Coke, in light of recent -FREE- buzz with the Mentos/Diet Coke experiments, just "doesn't get it."  Even their website is bland and sterile looking.  With the decline in soft drink sales, you would think that a company would be jumping at appealing to the masses - but not Coke.  "It doesn't fit our brand personality," remarked the Coke spokeswoman.  Jackie Huba at the Church of the Customer blog, has a great recap.

The Good - Those that Embrace the Internet and Utilize It to Their Advantage
Mentos Mentos - Since I just mentioned how Coca-Cola didn't embrace those really cool experiments with Mentos, let me point out how Mentos did.  The image provided is their home page.  Not only are they embracing this phenomena and incorporating it with their image, they are encouraging more of it by sponsoring a "Geyser" contest.  Traffic to the Mentos site is up, as is sales - and they didn't have to spend a dime on promotion.  Again, check out Jackie Huba's entry at Church of the Customer.

Stonyfieldblogs_1 Stonyfield- Yogurt might not be quite as exciting as soda and candy geysers, but to many parents of newborns and toddlers, the information Stoneyfield is providing is just as much of a draw.  Stonyfield's blogs promote their company in two ways, with two distinctly different voices, aimed at two distinctly different audiences.  Parents and Organic Food Buyers can find great information with both of their blogs and although the blog doesn't lead to instantaneous sales, it does help to promote the brand so that next time you're in the grocery store you'll pick up Yo Baby! yogurt or the Stonyfield brand yogurt.

Raiderswebsite Oakland Raiders - Yes - a Football team actually understands the Internet and uses it to its advantage!  How?  The Oakland Raiders website is available in German, Spanish, and Chinese.  There is also a version just for kids.  Talk about talking specifically to your audience, engaging them and promoting involvement, the Oakland Raiders have tapped into an area where a lot of other websites should be going.  Now, not only will they rank in the English speaking engines but 2 additional engines as well.

General Motors (GM) - When GM's CEO wanted to get "unfiltered" feedback straight from the customer, he found it from the Internet in the form of their Fast Lane blog started in the beginning of 2005.  Not only does Mr. Lutz post about upcoming things with GM, but they are also using to promote how GM cars (Chevies and Pontiacs) are doing in NASCAR.  Recent news of the Google - Saturn deal also shows GM's savvy when it comes to Search Marketing.  Moving beyond the Paid Search (PPC) of contextual ads, Google's bundled together its services in Google Earth and Google Video to help create buzz around its aging Saturn line of automobiles.

Southwestluvstory Southwest Airlines - When was the last time you were able to track back any sales at all on-line back to a press release?  Southwest has, and does to the tune of $3 million (Greg's last presentation at SES gave this figure) and counting, according to Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR. But Southwest doesn't stop there - they engage their visitors.  Recently they ran a contest for visitors and customers to vote on their favorite Luv Story, with over 100,00 votes cast engaging their visitors seems to be what Southwest does best.  Lastly, probably their strongest use of Internet Marketing yet - "DING!".  I'm sure everyone knows about ding now - you might know it as that familiar sound you hear when you press the button to call an airline steward for assistance.  Southwest uses it to promote its "widget" that announces new airline deals to the destinations on special, not only has it permeated to the desktop of hundreds of thousands of users - a series of commercials - very cleverly designed ones too - help to reinforce "Ding!", talk about a company being Web Savvy, Southwest can teach its own course.

digg | searchmob | sniff it

September 23, 2006

Why Hewlett-Packard's (HP) Reputation Management Sucks

By Li Evans

The headline got your attention?  Good, because Hewlett-Packard (HP or HPQ) is the best example going of a huge corporation not understanding Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WoMM), Reputation Management or the Search Industry.

I'm not going to go into the ethics of what's gone on with the Scandal at HP, the Hewlett Packard board, Patricia Dunn and Mark Hurd - for that I highly recommend checking out Robert Scoble's Blog for his take on Patricia Dun's departure. What I want to point out is the lousy job HP's PR department is doing in handling the matter.

In a world where the populations is every increasingly moving to the Internet to get the news and information, HP's PR team is failing when it comes to grasping the understanding of reputation management and how it relates to news and search on the Internet.  In all my research, between news, blogs, search engines and other sites, I found only a small inkling that HP was trying to combat all this negativity and that they were trying to get "their spin" on the story out there.

So lets start at search - since that's where just about everyone starts when they want to find information on something.  I'll post a few thumbnails here so you can see the different searches and items I've got highlighted in them to draw your attention.
Hewlettpackard_searchYahoohewlett_packard

Now with some curiosity I move over to news searches:
Hewlettpackard_news_searchYahoonews_hewlett_packard

See that red arrow there - take note, it is Yahoo!'s news search now suggesting I might want to dig deeper into "hewlett packard scandal".  Naturally of course I wanted to see what would come back, but not in news search - in regular search.  I took a look at Google, MS Live and Yahoo.  What I found was the New York times buying ads to direct people to their site for articles about the scandal (kudos to them!) and the occasional HP ad that had "Get the Facts".
Google patricia_dunn_scandalGoogle hp_scandal
Yahoo patricia_dunn_scandalYahoo hp_scandal

Msl mark_hurd_scandal

I tried a lot of different versions in these searches and HP is so "willy nilly" with their choice of keywords and phrases for their campaigns in Google and Yahoo! (I couldn't find ads for them on Microsoft Live), it blatantly shows their lack of knowledge in the search industry.  Now you're probably wondering just where the ads HP has about this scandal and "Getting the Facts" leads to the HP Press Release center, in-particularly to the latest press release about Mark V. Hurd becoming taking Patricia Dunn's place at HP.

I found it a little odd that they'd lead to a specific press release and not to their news room, or even perhaps to a senior staff member's blog, who's been authorized to speak on the situation.  In the way of blogs from senior staff here's a list of who I found.
Hp blogs_list_1
I highlighted Eric Kintz blog, thinking that maybe since he was "Marketing" we just might see some reference to what's going at HP, out on his blog - Marketing Excellence.  Although I found two great entries (The Dynamics of Viral Marketing, Dissociative Identity Marketing), I didn't find "the facts" about HP's side of the story here either.

I went out to Technocrati to do some digging as well.  What you see below looks like it was tracked up until last week - and this many number of mentions isn't likely customers raving about HP products.
Technorati hp_mentions_1
Technorati uses the Yahoo! network to display ads, so some of my searches on Technorati were displaying HP's "Get the Facts" ads, but again, the appearance of the ads were so scattered on keywords it had no consistancy of when it would appear.

At reputation management and PR on the Web, HP's failing horribly, and with accusations now flying about that the new Chairman, Mark Hurd, "Knew About The Deception Campaign," and "The Plan is Egggcellent," it doesn't look like this scandal is going to end any time soon.  Maybe its time that someone over there get their Public Relations people up to speed on the "Search Marketing" because it is blatantly obvious that they really haven't got a clue how to manage their reputation on the web.  I really wonder though, who'd be up for that many headaches?

digg | searchmob | sniff it

September 22, 2006

Can A Yahoo! - Facebook Deal Really Happen?

By Li Evans

The past two days there's been a lot of news flying around the industry about Yahoo! courting Facebook - but I question - "Can it really happen?".  On so many levels this makes total sense - Yahoo!'s push into the social networking arena being the foremost reason.  It just make logical sense if this is where Yahoo! wants to become the "king" - like Google is currently to search.

Yahoo! can do this well too, as they have with Flickr, De.liciol.us, Yahoo! Answers and their Yahoo! Groups.  This can definitely round out their social networking push.  They bought GeoCities years ago - which could be seen as a predecessor to MySpace and Facebook - but it never really flourished.  The excitement around the communities and social networks within these types of sites by its users is unparalleled to what Yahoo! currently has.

Of course everyone on both sides is keeping pretty much mum on this.  The Wall Street Journal has a great article on the speculation swirling about this round of courting to Facebook.  The article among other things, makes me wonder if this deal could really happen. 

The CEO and found of Facebook is only 22, and apparently doesn't like to come into the office before 10:30 a.m. EST.  He's also brushed off talks before from both Yahoo! and Microsoft.  There's also the speculation that Facebook doesn't want to be acquired - modeling themselves after Search Engine giant Google - making it on their own, despite the calls for and the lure of a big money acquisition.

Then there's Yahoo!.  Wasn't it just yesterday or the day before that they announced that the ad space online is slowing down?  Wasn't it that announcement that tanked their stock by the end of the day?  So can Yahoo! really AFFORD to purchase Facebook.  Granted, they have billions of dollars in revenue, but in reality, could they afford it - Facebook is NOT Myspace.  It doesn't have near the reach, and doesn't have near the ad potential.  Granted the $100 million is nothing to sneeze at, but MySpace was bought for "only" $650 million - this $1 billion figure just seems out of whack, and is just bringing memories of the "internet bubble" back.

Lastly - what about Microsoft?  Didn't they just sign that advertising deal with Facebook?

So many questions, so many "ifs" that have to happen to put this into play.  If it does happen, I think it'd be great for Yahoo!  But it'll start setting off alarms around the industry about over priced acquisition reminiscent to 2001.  So can it happen?  I guess that really depends on whether Facebook can meet for a 10 a.m. meeting.

Others talking about the possibilities of a Yahoo! Facebook merger:

searchmob | sniff it

September 20, 2006

Social Media Marketing - Where's the Value?

By Li Evans

There's been a lot of hype over the last couple of months about all of these new social networking sites and their "Web 2.0 features".  Search industry professionals are even coining phrases to categorize this new area of the Search Marketing Industry.  Terms like "Social Media Optimization" (SMO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) are being offered up to describe the actions of optimizing and marketing websites and blogs through the social networks like MySpace, Facebook, social news sites like Digg and Reddit and also social book-marking sites like De.licio.us, Furl, Bluedot and Diigo.

There's been a lot of discussion about the value of optimizing for these new areas of the web, some are even questioning if they belong lumped into search at all.  Then there is the whole discussion of the value of these networks and services, and how do you measure their worth?

Unlike paid search (PPC), with social networking, most of the time, there isn't a direct correlation with a visit to purchase ratio.  PPC is more of the instantaneous type of marketing - I put up the ad, and within an hour or two I can start to see results.  Social networking doesn't have that advantage, as you have to wait for others within the network to find it and "pass it along".

Social networking works more like natural search optimization - although, there can be an initial short lived "bang" from some of the sites, for example something picked up by Digg or Reddit.  But where I see the benefits of these sites is the long-tail.  At first I was rather skeptical of Social Bookmarking, but as an experiment I started bookmarking entries on Search Marketing Gurus just to test out the services and see how they perform. 

On a consistent basis, I'm seeing older posts get hits from the book-marking services through the searches, in a sense it is like the users of the book-marking services are utilizing it more as a 2nd tier type of search engine, relying more on what other people have found "worthy" or "relevant" to bookmark and finding articles, websites and information that more fit their searches.

Along with the older blog entries getting more traffic, there has been two other things I noticed.  Visitors coming through the social book-marking services have a longer stay time on the blog.  The visitors also traverse more of Search Marketing Gurus, than searchers coming through regular search engines.  Granted, this is just in the beginning stages, but its enough to make it stand out through the analytics and the other item to note is that this is a blog - not a commerce site.

So what's the value of social media marketing?  Perhaps there is more value to websites that have a lot of consumer generated content - like blogs, or commerce sites with blogs attached, than just the static website that hardly changes.  Return on Blog (ROB) investment is a little more difficult to track compared to the ROI on a PPC campaign.  Generally there's not a purchase attached to a visit - it's more about branding and engaging your customers and the value comes from the long-tail.

digg | searchmob | sniff it

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