Thursday, December 30, 2010

SEO & Social Media Marketing Guide

Tactics and strategies for creating a compelling, search engine-friendly site using Advanced SEO and a traffic generating network of social media sites. No hype, just facts and details showing 'how to' execute from a 15yr. marketing professional.


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Got SEO Stats?

The Fastest And Easiest Way To Monitor All Your SEO Stats In One Place! Keyword Rankings, Backlinks, Pages Indexed, Traffic, Spiders, and Page Rank. Plus email alerts and custom PDF reports. Automatically updated every 24hrs.


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Comparing SEO & Social Media as Marketing Channels

You may have seen the recent string of posts about SEO vs. Social Media, starting with this effective, but poorly argued controversy-bait, which was excoriated by Elysia Brooker and Hugo Guzman, then followed up with a more nuanced view by Darren Rowse. While I'm not particularly interested (nor do I think there's much value) in re-hashing or arguing these points, I did think the topic warranted attention, as it brings up some excellent points marketers should carefully consider as they invest in their craft.

The search for information and answers has been essential to humans since time immemorial. And there's no sign that our latest iteration, web search, is losing any steam:

Growth in Search Query Volume 2006-2010

Even as we've reached a maturity point with broadband adoption and online population, searches are rising. We're not searching less every month; we're searching more.

Search is an intent driven activity. We don't search casually (much), we search to find answers, information, goods and services to consume. The power of search marketing - whether paid or organic - is simple: Be in front of the consumer at the time of consumption. There's no more effective time to be present and no more effective way of knowing what is desired. All the social graph analysis in the world won't tell you that Sunday evening, I got fed up with my current selection of footwear and, after some searching, spent a few hundred dollars on Zappos. But being front and center when I queried mens puma shoes brought them some nice business.

Social media - whether it's Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Reddit, StumbleUpon or something else - is about connections, interaction, discovery and distraction. We hardly ever use these portals as a way to find answers, though they certainly may provide plenty to unasked questions.

Social media marketing advocates often make the case that social is how we find out about new products on the web, but, at least so far, the data doesn't back up this assertion:

ATG Study on Where Users Discover Products
-
ATG Study on How Users Discover Products via SearchEngineLand

However, I am strongly inclined to believe the claim that social media is how we find out about new content on the web, particularly when we're not seeking something in particular (as with a search). Blogs, pictures, video, research and the like are surely seeing an increased share of their visits from social, and that branding exposure is definitely valuable.

Some recent GroupM Research helped to shed the light of data on this supposition, noting that:

The click-through rate in organic search results for users who have been exposed to a brand's social marketing campaign are 2.4X higher than those that haven't; for paid search, it showed a jump from 4.5% to 11.8% (in both cases, this is for branded queries)Consumers using social media are 1.7x more likely to search with the intention of making a list of brands or products to consider purchasing compared to those who do not use social media

Ben Yoskovitz talked about this value in his recent analysis:

Based on the information in this report, it’s reasonable to argue that social media marketing can increase the quality of leads (and not just the volume). It’s possible to hone in on, and understand intent through search and how social media exposure affects that intent. And as people are exposed (and I would say involved with – since exposure sounds like you’re just broadcasting stuff at people, which isn’t what social media is about) to social media their intent is more focused and driven towards lead conversion

That's the kind of social media marketing value I can get behind. Get exposed to potential customers through social so that when they build their consideration set, search and purchase, you'll have a leg up on the competition.

It pays to understand the bias of this flare-up's instigator, and I've got plenty of compelling data myself to see his perspective. Last weekend, I started publishing content on a personal blog - no domain authority, no links and little chance of performing well in search. But the results from social media - Twitter, Facebook and Hacker News in particular - are fairly remarkable:

Traffic Data

The search traffic demand, all 78 visits, was generated from the articles that went popular on Twitter & HN. The site itself still doesn't rank for its own name. Yet, social media sent 22,000 visits over 9 days. No wonder bloggers, in particular those that monetize through advertising, sponsorships and other traffic-driven systems, have a proclivity for investing in social traffic. Perhaps it's not so crazy to suggest on Problogger.net, a site about growing blog traffic and improving monetization, that social can be "better" than SEO.

I'd still argue that overall, referring traffic of all kinds sent from social, particularly from the largest network (Facebook), is only a fraction of the visits Google sends out each day (unless you're in the business of appealing to the Facebook audience biases - I was a bit frustrated with how the data was clearly manipulated in the reference piece to fit the story). But, social does eliminate some of the inherent biases that search engines carry and let content that appeals to social users flourish no matter the site's ability to grow its link profile, make content accessible to spiders or effectively target keywords.

Now let's look at an example on the opposite end of the spectrum - conversions for a B2B product.

SEOmoz's PRO membership may not be a good investment unless you're a marketer actively engaged with SEO, but given that both the search and social traffic our site attracts likely fall into this intent group (interested in SEO and likely to be in web marketing), a comparison seems fair.

First, I did some prep work in our Google Analytics account by creating an advanced segment called "social traffic" that contains any referral source with "twitter," "facebook," "stumbleupon," "linkedin," "flickr," and "ycombinator" - these represent the vast majority of our social media sources. Next, I compared this traffic quantitatively with our search referrals over the past two weeks:

Social Traffic - 26,599 visits from 30 sourcesOrganic Search Traffic - 102,349 from 20 sources

I then compared the percent of these reaching our landing or purchase pages for PRO membership. Here's organic search:

Organic Search Traffic

And here's social traffic:

Social Traffic

Here's what I see:

4.5% of organic search visitors considered a purchase1.3% of social traffic considered a purchaseWhile I can't disclose full numbers, I can see that a fair number of search visits converted vs. zero for social.

In fact, looking at the entire year to date traffic to SEOmoz from social sources, it appears not 1 visit has ever converted for us. Social may be a great way to drive traffic, build branding and make a purchase more likely in the future, but from a direct conversion standpoint, it doesn't hold a candle to search. To be fair, I'm not looking at full life cycle or even first-touch attribution, which makes this analysis less comprehensive, though likely still directionally informative.

Given the research and data here and in the posts/content referenced, I think we can say a few things about search and social as marketing channels:

There shouldn't be a VS.: This isn't about pitting web marketers against each other (or perhaps, more accurately, themselves, since our industry survey data suggests many of us are responsible for both). There's obvious value in both channels and to suggest otherwise is ideological nonsense and worse, self-defeating.Search Converts: $20 Billion+ isn't being wasted on Google's search ads - that sucker send intent-driven, focused, conversion-ready visits like nobody else on the web.Social Has Value: Those exposed to a social campaign are better customers and prospects; making social not only a branding and traffic channel, but an opportunity for conversion rate optimization.SEO Is Hard in the Early Stages: Without a strong link profile, even great content may not perform particularly well in search results.Segmenting Search and Social is Key: Unless you separate, analyze and iterate, you're doomed to miss opportunities and falsely attribute value. I'm particularly worried about those marketers who invest heavily in social to the detriment of SEO because the immediacy of the rewards is so much more tangible and emotionally compelling (He's following me on Twitter! We have 200 Facebook fans!) - make sure appropriate effort goes where it can earn ROI; it's our job.

For another interesting (and more social-media biased) perspective, check out Search vs. Social from Bradford Cross.

I'd love to hear more from you on this topic, too. 


View the original article here

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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Google TV Ads Coming To Verizon FiOS TV Customers

Nov 18, 2010 at 11:51am ET by Barry Schwartz

Google has announced a partnership with Verizon to have Google TV Ads power some of the ads on the Verizon FiOS TV network.

The ads should begin showing in “early 2011? and be seen by about “35 million households, or almost one-third of all US cable and satellite homes.” To learn more about Google TV Ads, see google.com/adwords/tvads.

Mark Piesanen, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Google TV Ads said, “Like Google, Verizon cares deeply about the evolution and future of TV advertising. Together we’re thrilled to establish this partnership to offer great inventory and access to your audience via the Google TV Ads platform.”

Share, Bookmark & Discuss This Article

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See more stories like this in the Members Library! Check out the Google: AdWords,Google: Partnerships,Google: TV sections of the Members Library where this story is filed. Members also get access to exclusive video content, a members-only weekly & monthly newsletter, plus more. Check out all the benefits!

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Sandra Niehaus said " Hi renanpoa, Not sure what the issue might be, but I'm seeing the images OK, and haven't heard any o"mauricewalshe said " Its very similar in look to Net A Porter and ASOS. And Vanessas right even a small size'd company su"Chris Liversidge said " Hi @waseemni, Simply: write unique content for each page! There's no quick answers or 'tricks' to ge"

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Monday, December 27, 2010

42 Internet Marketing PLR Products

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Getting Your Company Onboard with LPO

I don't like the word "optimization." It has surpassed the level of buzz word and has officially been overused in every which way. While the word itself annoys me, the process of improving what you have to get more from it still rings true. I think we can all get onboard with the concept, but what about the process behind it? I am constantly surprised by the number of people that tell me their boss or client simply doesn't want to spend time on landing page optimization.

I've put together a little something I think explains the norm pretty well:

LPO conversation
(Origional photos courtesy of Shutterstock).

Instead they would rather work on increasing traffic to ugly unoptimized pages. While you would think selling LPO in-house would be an easy task, you would be surprised. Often I hear objections centered around lack of resources, inability to project return, and my personal favorite--"We simple don't have time to revisit pages that are already built."

Uhmmmm. Okayyyy.

So you, myself, and the rest of the cool kids know that optimizing your landing pages can be a huge win for your company, but how do you make the case for it in-house? It just so happens I have a few ideas for you on this. Below you'll find seven ways I've been able to convince clients and bosses to take a break from building up, and rework the foundation. Hopefully, you can use some of these the next time you are faced with what I call, "The Anti-Optimizers."

1. Evangelize the cause prior to starting.
You know that old saying, "make the case before you need the win?" Yeah me neither, I just made it up, but it stands true in this case. For most things you want to push through in-house, you will see less resistance if you start talking it up prior to the pitch. For LPO in particular, I suggest sending out emails with links to good case studies that show the value of LPO, or possibly dropping stats in meetings about how simple tweaks can result in "X." Doing all of this before asking them to allocate resources can set a great base for future conversations.

2. Pull the numbers to make a case in-house.
Call me a pessimist at heart but I love looking up crappy data. Yup it's true. The good news is we all have some of it to find. Your client, your company, whoever you are hoping to convince has data sitting in their analytics to help make the case for LPO efforts. The hard part is not necessarily finding the data, but relaying it in a positive light. You need to show all of the low hanging fruit around you.

Examples include things like showing industry standards for metrics like bounce rates or time on site, and then highlighting your own and the..uhmmm...discrepancies. Another idea is pulling your best converting pages, and showing what % of your site fails to perform at that standard or anywhere near it really. Those simple data pulls can go a long way.

3. Show potential successes.
Okay for you optimistic, rainbow-loving, happy data people...this one is for you. Do the number crunching. Take the time to show what an increase in performance could mean to your bottom-line. The best way to do this is to show ranges. Show them what a 10% increase in X would mean, a 5% increase in X would mean, and what something as small as a 2% increase in X would mean (don't forget to stress "something as small" and pause for dramatic affect...it works). By highlighting the potential successes, you turn that negative conversation into an opportunity for growth.

4. Know the costs & resources involved.
This is all about doing your homework. Just like any other time you try to convince someone to spend time or money on something, you should be prepared to give estimations. Whether you use a free tool like GWO, or another option that costs a monthly price, have those numbers on hand.

Also know how much design and dev time you will require for these changes and tests to get up on your site. You will be prepared for the questions, and hopefully put to rest any concerns about LPO wasting your company's money and resources.

5. Show competitors and their efforts.
This one is another favorite of mine. Nothing lights a fire like showing people where they are losing ground. If you want to make a case for your company doing LPO, what better way than to show your competitor testing out homepages, landing pages, different buttons, colors, etc. It may take a while to snag the screenshots, but it is sooo worth it. Trust me.

6. Run a small test behind closed doors & preach results.
This one is a bit of a gamble, mainly because it could totally backfire...but hey who doesn't love a little risk? Exactly. So get testing. Take one of your medium trafficked pages, and set up a quick A/B test. Change something drastic though--like the intention of the call to action, page layout and nav, or possibly the entire color scheme.

You may be thinking wouldn't this be more like a multivariate test, doesn't this get complicated? Well yeah, but you aren't really testing in hopes of finding out something revolutionary. Hear me out. This is what we call --down and dirty testing. Show two vary drastic alternatives for one page. Show Page A to 50% and Page B to 50% of your traffic , your results may not be the key to your company's success, but it will prove that different landing page experiences evoke very different actions by users. It's intuitive to us marketers, but sometimes people truly believe all pages are equal. Scary, I know.

7. Take ownership, start the ball rolling.
This is my last and final idea for you...it's sort of like a virtual high five. When it comes to making the case for anything in-house, I find the most effective way to convince people something is worth doing...is by doing it. So go get started, get the specs written, or the test versions mocked up. Then pitch the four to six steps left, explain how the hard work is done, and it's time to push it live. Your drive for the project will be appreciated, and hopefully the ambition will be contagious.

Well there you go. Hopefully you can use some of this the next time you run into a wall. LPO is no longer a side project we run when we "think something is wrong," it should be an ongoing process at every company. If you spend time driving traffic to your pages, you should spend time improving those pages.

Do you have a favorite tool or tactic for awesome LPO? I'd love if you left them in the comments below! We can all start sharing the LPO love together, group hug anyone?

About JoannaLord — Director of Customer Acquisition & Engagement at SEOmoz.

View the original article here

SearchCap: The Day In Search, November 17, 2010

Nov 17, 2010 at 5:08pm ET by Barry Schwartz

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

Google Makes Deal To Scan Some French Books

While a US court is still deciding the fate of the Google book scanning settlement, the company has announced a deal with the biggest publisher in France that gives Google the go-ahead to scan some French books. But the key word there is “some.” As The New York Times reports, publishing company Hachette Livre will [...]

Twitter Selling Tweets For Analysis, Not Display

Twitter’s business plan has taken another step today: Twitter and Gnip, a social data provider, have partnered to offer up to half of the Twitter “firehose” of tweets for sale with a couple conditions: Companies buying the tweets can’t display them, nor can they resell them; they’re for analysis only. According to Gnip’s announcement, the [...]

Google Instant, Meet Yahoo Instant – Er, Yahoo Rich Search Assist

Yahoo is following Google by rolling out its own version of Google Instant, with a twist. Called “Rich Search Assist,” the feature automatically shows results as you type, though only in the top half of the page. Meet Rich Search Assist The screenshot below shows an example of this: As you type, Yahoo suggests search [...]

Hulu Plus Rides To The Rescue Of Google TV?

Hulu Plus, the ad-reduced subscription service from Hulu, just dropped its price to $7.99 from $9.99. It just launched on the Roku box as well. It’s also on the iPad and a range of TVs. The company plans to push distribution to a wide range of devices, reportedly including Google TV. That would circumvent some [...]

Finding The Right Calls-To-Action For Your B2B Website

Marketers continue to search for ways to convert more website visitors into actual leads. Using the power of website analytics can help make that search a little easier. By understanding the type of information your prospects are looking for, you can create unique Calls-To-Action specific to their needs. Let’s walk through an example of using [...]

Report: Online Ad Revenues Hit $6.4 Billion, Search Dominant

The IAB reported today that US online ad revenues were $6.4 billion in the third quarter of 2010. That compared with $6.2 billion in Q2 of 2010 and represented 17% growth over the same period a year ago. Through three quarters US online ad revenues totaled $18.1 billion. That would put online ad spending on [...]

Google Maps Improves Directions Interface & Adds Navigation To Australia

Google Maps has improved the directions user interface and added Google Maps Navigation to Australia. The new user interface for directions is aimed at making it easier to understand requesting those directions and then following them. They me take you through some of the user interface changes. Besides for the new icons, you also now [...]

Boutiques.com: A Very Different Shopping Site For Women, From Google

Earlier this week Google launched offline product inventory for Google Shopping/Product Search. And this morning the company is going live with the decidedly un-Googly Boutiques.com. On the surface Boutiques may resemble other “social shopping” sites such as Polyvore or Stylehive, among others. But the underlying technology, I’m told, is much more sophisticated than comparable female-centric [...]

CPG & Paid Search: 4 Tips to Build Deeper, More Cost-Effective Bonds With Consumers

Paid search at its core is a dynamic, competitive, ever-changing auction space where retailers and brands alike are competing to get in front of the same consumer. But with so many different calls to actions, different price points, and different sources of information appearing within every search, how do you set your brand apart and create a loyal consumer in an efficient and affordable way?

Your Secret Conversion Lab, Part 2

A conversion lab equipped with powerful content marketing and analytics tools, free of organizational obstacles and site politics will give marketers and business owners a quick way to begin experimenting.

Too Late For Thanksgiving & Too Early For Diwali

So global search marketers, should you be studying major religious festivals to understand their impact on your peaks and troughs — after all they may explain why your seasonal patterns globally don’t match what you’re used to. Making notes of the major festivals which will take place during your campaign year in the markets you are targeting can help.

Google & Facebook: If You’re So Smart, Work It Out!

Last week, things boiled over between Google and Facebook over data sharing. This week, the CEOs from both companies took the stage at Web 2.0 Summit. Despite the obvious conflict, neither CEO would just clearly say what they wanted from the other. It’s a pity two innovative, groundbreaking companies can’t show any innovation when it [...]

Yahoo’s Local Focus: Offers, Sketch-A-Search & Restaurant Search Upgrades Coming Soon

In conjunction with an appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit today, Yahoo made several announcements of new products with a local focus. Here’s a look at what Yahoo is rolling out now and planning to introduce down the road. Yahoo Local Offers Deals and coupons are a pretty hot item these days in the local [...]

From Web Analytics & SEM To Business Intelligence

The roles of people involved in both web analytics and PPC management is changing. Both are becoming more important and mainstream within many organizations. And the skills needed to master them are becoming more complex. Here’s a look at the how things have changed, and what to expect going forward. The Evolution Of Web Analytics [...]

Live Blogging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg At Web 2.0 Summit

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be speaking today at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’m here and will be live blogging his remarks, when the session begins. Zuckerberg was set to speak at 4:50 Pacific Time, but it’s looking more likely he’ll be on around 5:10. He’ll be interviewed on stage by John [...]

Clicker CEO Jim Lanzone, Busting Internet TV Myths

Is the future of “internet TV” those little boxes that are appearing everywhere? No, says Clicker CEO Jim Lanzone, who also busted a number of other net-to-TV myths, from his perspective. Lanzone gave a short address at the Web 2.0 Summit today. He oversees Clicker, which is a guide to television, movie and select other [...]

Live Blogging Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz At Web 2.0 Summit

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz will be speaking today at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’m here and will be live blogging her remarks, when the session begins. Bartz is set to speak at 2pm Pacific, and she’ll be interviewed on stage by John Battelle. Live blogging to start shortly. There’s also a live [...]

Search News From Around The Web:

Applications & Portal Features

Business Issues

Local, Maps & Mobile

Paid Search & Contextual

Searching

SEO & SEM

How to spam the hell out of Google’s new source attribution meta elements, sebastians-pamphlets.com#PubCon 2010 Cliff Notes, yoyoseo.com5 Important Tips For Choosing Your SEO Agency, Search Engine Watch7 Deadly Sins of Search Marketing: Part 3 – Sloth, Vertical Leap Blog8 Ways to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign, Search Engine JournalBeyond Good and Evil in SEO, SEOmozBing-Hoo: Off to a Rocky Start, Rimm KaufmanGetting serious about ad continuity on the landing page, PPC HeroGetting Your Company Onboard with LPO, SEOmozUsing Yahoo! Clues to target your headlines by demographic, Online Journalism BlogWhat’s the next shoe to drop from Google?, Search Engine Guide

Social Media

Recent Hot Items From Sphinn, Our Social News Sharing Site:

Article Spinning – Spin like a pro – To avoid duplicate content links, everyone is spinning their articles these days.  Yes, even spammers.  Learn how to spin like a pro, so you won't be mistaken by the search engines for a spammer.DOTW: What's the Best Piece of SEO-related Advice You've Ever Received? – We all give and get advice: on our blogs, at conferences, on the phone with co-workers and peers, etc. But what's THE BEST piece of SEO advice anyone's ever given you? That's the subject of our "Discussion of the Week" this week.Recent Insights Into Search User Behavior – David Harry at Search News Central provides a really nice roundup and summary of data gathered by a Performics study on user behavior with search engines. Data includes SE usage, preference, loyalty as well as query refinement behavior, vertical usage, interaction with organic vs. paid, and more.Now All Blogger Outreach Campaigns Will Be Considered Spam Too :) – Aaron Wall: It helps to create things in entirely unique formats. The gamers exploiting stuff burn out one opportunity after another, but most of their new & creative slants are simply extensions of things that worked for others. Getting out in front of the scammers on a new trend & format is far more profitable than following in their footsteps.Spam the hell out of Google’s new source attribution meta elements? – The moment you’ve read Google’s announcement and Matt’s question “What about spam?” you concluded “spamming source attribution tags is a breeze”, right? You’re not alone. Before we discuss how to abuse it, it might be a good idea to analyze Google's new toy within its context. Maybe it's not that spammable …Yahoo Clues: New Fun Search Keyword Tool – Is it just me, or does this look like a pretty cool keyword research tool? And it's from Yahoo?! Who'da thunk it?Changing Site Structures with Care – If you must change a web site's structure, this offers an overview of what to consider before and after flipping the switch.Youtube SEO Experiment & Useful Tips – Interesting post from Distilled with a step-by-step walkthrough a YouTube experiment that began with a new account and ended with good visibility.The Blekko SEO Guide You've Been Waiting To Read – This guide explains how to use Blekko for checking links and other common SEO tasks.Why You Should Stop Using CAPTCHAs – Oskar Smith explains why CAPTCHAs create a horrible user experience, can even cost sales / leads / whatever,  and discusses alternatives.Share, Bookmark & Discuss This Article

See more articles by Barry Schwartz >

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See more stories like this in the Members Library! Check out the SearchCap sections of the Members Library where this story is filed. Members also get access to exclusive video content, a members-only weekly & monthly newsletter, plus more. Check out all the benefits!

RECENT COMMENTS

Sandra Niehaus said " Hi renanpoa, Not sure what the issue might be, but I'm seeing the images OK, and haven't heard any o"mauricewalshe said " Its very similar in look to Net A Porter and ASOS. And Vanessas right even a small size'd company su"Chris Liversidge said " Hi @waseemni, Simply: write unique content for each page! There's no quick answers or 'tricks' to ge"

See All »


View the original article here

SEO SoftX

SEO programs that can help webmasters to increase their websites ranking on the search engines.


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Internet Marketing Ebook Resource

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

SearchCap: The Day In Search, November 17, 2010

Nov 17, 2010 at 5:08pm ET by Barry Schwartz

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

Google Makes Deal To Scan Some French Books

While a US court is still deciding the fate of the Google book scanning settlement, the company has announced a deal with the biggest publisher in France that gives Google the go-ahead to scan some French books. But the key word there is “some.” As The New York Times reports, publishing company Hachette Livre will [...]

Twitter Selling Tweets For Analysis, Not Display

Twitter’s business plan has taken another step today: Twitter and Gnip, a social data provider, have partnered to offer up to half of the Twitter “firehose” of tweets for sale with a couple conditions: Companies buying the tweets can’t display them, nor can they resell them; they’re for analysis only. According to Gnip’s announcement, the [...]

Google Instant, Meet Yahoo Instant – Er, Yahoo Rich Search Assist

Yahoo is following Google by rolling out its own version of Google Instant, with a twist. Called “Rich Search Assist,” the feature automatically shows results as you type, though only in the top half of the page. Meet Rich Search Assist The screenshot below shows an example of this: As you type, Yahoo suggests search [...]

Hulu Plus Rides To The Rescue Of Google TV?

Hulu Plus, the ad-reduced subscription service from Hulu, just dropped its price to $7.99 from $9.99. It just launched on the Roku box as well. It’s also on the iPad and a range of TVs. The company plans to push distribution to a wide range of devices, reportedly including Google TV. That would circumvent some [...]

Finding The Right Calls-To-Action For Your B2B Website

Marketers continue to search for ways to convert more website visitors into actual leads. Using the power of website analytics can help make that search a little easier. By understanding the type of information your prospects are looking for, you can create unique Calls-To-Action specific to their needs. Let’s walk through an example of using [...]

Report: Online Ad Revenues Hit $6.4 Billion, Search Dominant

The IAB reported today that US online ad revenues were $6.4 billion in the third quarter of 2010. That compared with $6.2 billion in Q2 of 2010 and represented 17% growth over the same period a year ago. Through three quarters US online ad revenues totaled $18.1 billion. That would put online ad spending on [...]

Google Maps Improves Directions Interface & Adds Navigation To Australia

Google Maps has improved the directions user interface and added Google Maps Navigation to Australia. The new user interface for directions is aimed at making it easier to understand requesting those directions and then following them. They me take you through some of the user interface changes. Besides for the new icons, you also now [...]

Boutiques.com: A Very Different Shopping Site For Women, From Google

Earlier this week Google launched offline product inventory for Google Shopping/Product Search. And this morning the company is going live with the decidedly un-Googly Boutiques.com. On the surface Boutiques may resemble other “social shopping” sites such as Polyvore or Stylehive, among others. But the underlying technology, I’m told, is much more sophisticated than comparable female-centric [...]

CPG & Paid Search: 4 Tips to Build Deeper, More Cost-Effective Bonds With Consumers

Paid search at its core is a dynamic, competitive, ever-changing auction space where retailers and brands alike are competing to get in front of the same consumer. But with so many different calls to actions, different price points, and different sources of information appearing within every search, how do you set your brand apart and create a loyal consumer in an efficient and affordable way?

Your Secret Conversion Lab, Part 2

A conversion lab equipped with powerful content marketing and analytics tools, free of organizational obstacles and site politics will give marketers and business owners a quick way to begin experimenting.

Too Late For Thanksgiving & Too Early For Diwali

So global search marketers, should you be studying major religious festivals to understand their impact on your peaks and troughs — after all they may explain why your seasonal patterns globally don’t match what you’re used to. Making notes of the major festivals which will take place during your campaign year in the markets you are targeting can help.

Google & Facebook: If You’re So Smart, Work It Out!

Last week, things boiled over between Google and Facebook over data sharing. This week, the CEOs from both companies took the stage at Web 2.0 Summit. Despite the obvious conflict, neither CEO would just clearly say what they wanted from the other. It’s a pity two innovative, groundbreaking companies can’t show any innovation when it [...]

Yahoo’s Local Focus: Offers, Sketch-A-Search & Restaurant Search Upgrades Coming Soon

In conjunction with an appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit today, Yahoo made several announcements of new products with a local focus. Here’s a look at what Yahoo is rolling out now and planning to introduce down the road. Yahoo Local Offers Deals and coupons are a pretty hot item these days in the local [...]

From Web Analytics & SEM To Business Intelligence

The roles of people involved in both web analytics and PPC management is changing. Both are becoming more important and mainstream within many organizations. And the skills needed to master them are becoming more complex. Here’s a look at the how things have changed, and what to expect going forward. The Evolution Of Web Analytics [...]

Live Blogging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg At Web 2.0 Summit

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be speaking today at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’m here and will be live blogging his remarks, when the session begins. Zuckerberg was set to speak at 4:50 Pacific Time, but it’s looking more likely he’ll be on around 5:10. He’ll be interviewed on stage by John [...]

Clicker CEO Jim Lanzone, Busting Internet TV Myths

Is the future of “internet TV” those little boxes that are appearing everywhere? No, says Clicker CEO Jim Lanzone, who also busted a number of other net-to-TV myths, from his perspective. Lanzone gave a short address at the Web 2.0 Summit today. He oversees Clicker, which is a guide to television, movie and select other [...]

Live Blogging Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz At Web 2.0 Summit

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz will be speaking today at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’m here and will be live blogging her remarks, when the session begins. Bartz is set to speak at 2pm Pacific, and she’ll be interviewed on stage by John Battelle. Live blogging to start shortly. There’s also a live [...]

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How to spam the hell out of Google’s new source attribution meta elements, sebastians-pamphlets.com#PubCon 2010 Cliff Notes, yoyoseo.com5 Important Tips For Choosing Your SEO Agency, Search Engine Watch7 Deadly Sins of Search Marketing: Part 3 – Sloth, Vertical Leap Blog8 Ways to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign, Search Engine JournalBeyond Good and Evil in SEO, SEOmozBing-Hoo: Off to a Rocky Start, Rimm KaufmanGetting serious about ad continuity on the landing page, PPC HeroGetting Your Company Onboard with LPO, SEOmozUsing Yahoo! Clues to target your headlines by demographic, Online Journalism BlogWhat’s the next shoe to drop from Google?, Search Engine Guide

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Article Spinning – Spin like a pro – To avoid duplicate content links, everyone is spinning their articles these days.  Yes, even spammers.  Learn how to spin like a pro, so you won't be mistaken by the search engines for a spammer.DOTW: What's the Best Piece of SEO-related Advice You've Ever Received? – We all give and get advice: on our blogs, at conferences, on the phone with co-workers and peers, etc. But what's THE BEST piece of SEO advice anyone's ever given you? That's the subject of our "Discussion of the Week" this week.Recent Insights Into Search User Behavior – David Harry at Search News Central provides a really nice roundup and summary of data gathered by a Performics study on user behavior with search engines. Data includes SE usage, preference, loyalty as well as query refinement behavior, vertical usage, interaction with organic vs. paid, and more.Now All Blogger Outreach Campaigns Will Be Considered Spam Too :) – Aaron Wall: It helps to create things in entirely unique formats. The gamers exploiting stuff burn out one opportunity after another, but most of their new & creative slants are simply extensions of things that worked for others. Getting out in front of the scammers on a new trend & format is far more profitable than following in their footsteps.Spam the hell out of Google’s new source attribution meta elements? – The moment you’ve read Google’s announcement and Matt’s question “What about spam?” you concluded “spamming source attribution tags is a breeze”, right? You’re not alone. Before we discuss how to abuse it, it might be a good idea to analyze Google's new toy within its context. Maybe it's not that spammable …Yahoo Clues: New Fun Search Keyword Tool – Is it just me, or does this look like a pretty cool keyword research tool? And it's from Yahoo?! Who'da thunk it?Changing Site Structures with Care – If you must change a web site's structure, this offers an overview of what to consider before and after flipping the switch.Youtube SEO Experiment & Useful Tips – Interesting post from Distilled with a step-by-step walkthrough a YouTube experiment that began with a new account and ended with good visibility.The Blekko SEO Guide You've Been Waiting To Read – This guide explains how to use Blekko for checking links and other common SEO tasks.Why You Should Stop Using CAPTCHAs – Oskar Smith explains why CAPTCHAs create a horrible user experience, can even cost sales / leads / whatever,  and discusses alternatives.Share, Bookmark & Discuss This Article

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An SEO FAQ For Paid Search Marketers

Earlier in January in this column’s introductory post, Welcome To PPC Academy, A One-Year Paid Search Course, I said that this would be a column strictly about PPC. Well, if you’ve been reading this year, you know that I lied. The scope expanded to include some of the fringe disciplines including analytics, contextual targeting, placement targeting, etc. Before this column ends, however, it’s important that I also expose you to some of the other pieces of the puzzle so that you are a well-rounded online marketer.

One of these other competencies is in search engine optimization (or SEO as it is more commonly called).

Although many search engine marketing agencies and in-house brand teams perform both the SEA (Search Engine Advertising) and SEO functions for their clients/companies, the two sides of the SEM coin are usually performed by different teams or specialists. For all of those of you who are out there doing both, I tip my hat to you. It’s not easy to really be good at both. They’re both moving at similar light speeds along with the entire digital industry which is maturing before our very eyes. Although there is some overlap, for the most part, paid and organic search have their own best practices, pricing models, tools, bloggers/thought leaders, etc. In fact, sometimes they are downright fighting each other to achieve their goals.

For those of you largely engaged in just paid search, here are a handful of frequently asked questions about SEO that will give you a better perspective of the search industry overall. It would take literally weeks of posts to truly dive into what SEO is and how it is done, so these are top level answers from a paid search specialist perspective.

What do search engine optimizers (also called SEOs) do? Search engine optimizers work to get the best exposure in search engines for their web content. One thing to note here is that SEO is not limited to web pages; it also extends to videos, microblogs, PDFs, audio content, games or any other kind of content that could appear in any kind of search engine.

How much does SEO cost? Just because there’s no cost to appear in search engines and appearing in organic results is often considered free traffic, a company’s SEO budget can sometimes be bigger than its paid search one. SEOs usually charge on an actual per hour basis in a project plan model and can show you their per hour rate by specialist and task. Also know that most SEO firms require a multi-monthly or yearly commitment to a project. SEO is not a quick fix: it can take time and a multi-tiered approach to have a successful SEO program.

How is web content collected by search engines? Basically, search engines continuously crawl the internet looking for new content to index. Yup, little virtual robots going through every link they find and they’re allowed to access.

Why would a site be ranked higher or lower than another? Search engines have software algorithms that analyze literally hundreds of data factors to determine which content should appear in organic (also called natural) results. Some of the ranking factors include on-site elements such as which keywords appear on the pages, how the internal linking is constructed, etc. Off-page factors like inbound links from other relevant and important sites can also be weighed into rankings.

What’s the best way to get to the top of the rankings? That’s the million dollar question! On one hand, engines don’t want spammers to understand their process enough to fool the system, but on the other hand, they do release tidbits of info so that the right folks can get their relevant content to rise to the surface. A lot of SEO best practices are developed by practitioners who constantly experiment to see what recipes of tactics increase rankings and campaign performance. Ultimately, the phrase content is king rules. If you have great content that the internet community wants to share and link to, there’s a great chance that you will achieve the high rankings you desire.

What can hurt my rankings? This is a very important question. In paid search, you basically can’t do anything wrong because the system won’t allow it. However, with organic SEO doing the wrong things can negatively impact your own success and rankings. Thus, doing it poorly doesn’t just have poor affects, it can actually hurt you and the need for deep expertise and competency is very important.

What tools do SEOs use? SEOs use similar tools that paid search folks use, especially when it comes to competitive and keyword research. However, they do have proprietary tools relevant to their discipline such as in-bound link reporters, submission software, and web-ranking systems.

Where can I learn more about SEO? Well, you’re already here at SearchEngineLand.com so you know about the great resources here. Some of the other top rated educational sites include SEOMoz, SEOBook and Google’s own Matt Cutts’ blog. There’s a lot of great content on the web that you can find through just those sources.

PPC Academy is a comprehensive, one-year search advertising course from beginning to end. Starting with the basics, PPC Academy progressively explores all of the varied facets of paid search, and the tactics needed to succeed and become an advanced paid search marketer.


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Report: FBI Talks To Google, Facebook About Wiretapping

Nov 17, 2010 at 7:01pm ET by Matt McGee

The New York Times is reporting that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller met this week with executives from several tech firms — including Google and Facebook — to talk about a plan to make Internet wiretapping easier.

The Times says the US government is looking to expand a 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, to include online communications. The law currently requires network access providers, like phone and cable companies, to be able to respond immediately to court-ordered wiretapping.

Law enforcement officials want the 1994 law to also cover Internet companies because people increasingly communicate online. An interagency task force of Obama administration officials is trying to develop legislation for the plan, and submit it to Congress early next year.

Facebook confirmed Mueller’s visit, but Google declined to comment to the Times.

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Sandra Niehaus said " Hi renanpoa, Not sure what the issue might be, but I'm seeing the images OK, and haven't heard any o"mauricewalshe said " Its very similar in look to Net A Porter and ASOS. And Vanessas right even a small size'd company su"Chris Liversidge said " Hi @waseemni, Simply: write unique content for each page! There's no quick answers or 'tricks' to ge"

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Friday, December 24, 2010

TweepRank? TwitRank? Twitter Has A Reputation Score For Every User

Nov 17, 2010 at 8:39pm ET by Matt McGee

If you’re a Twitter user, you have a TweepRank. Or perhaps a TwitRank. Or maybe an AtRank. Whatever it’s called, it’s a personal reputation score that Twitter has given you based on your Twitter activity. And Twitter isn’t about to reveal it in the form of a little blue bar on your home page.

Twitter co-founder Ev Williams revealed the reputation score moments ago during an interview with John Battelle at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. It came during a conversation about how Twitter decides which users to display in the “Who to follow” module on the new Twitter.com.

Williams explained that the company has “scientists and math people who do that,” and said the algorithm is “way beyond” what he can understand. But, he revealed, part of it is a reputation score that’s hidden in Twitter’s system:

EW: We look at a whole bunch of signals. We have, actually, a reputation score for every user, based on –

JB: You ever gonna make that public?

EW: We’ve struggled with that. I think it would be really cool to make it public; the problem is then, like making PageRank public –

JB: It would get gamed.

EW: Yeah, it would get gamed.

JB: But PageRank started as a public paper.

EW: Fair enough.

JB: But now there are thousands of signals beyond PageRank.

EW: Right. So, we might, but it needs to evolve quite a bit more. That’s one of many signals we look at, as well as who different people follow. But we found at first, when we did that, that we recommended, sort of, unexciting or uninteresting — like, people you knew about and probably weren’t following for a reason, because they’re the most popular people; of course you’re going to run into them. So we had to introduce more surprise and randomness.

Williams also spoke in general terms about the company’s future roadmap. He didn’t share any specifics, but promised that “relevance is a big theme for us. Our goal is to give people the most valuable information for them, wherever they are.”

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Sandra Niehaus said " Hi renanpoa, Not sure what the issue might be, but I'm seeing the images OK, and haven't heard any o"mauricewalshe said " Its very similar in look to Net A Porter and ASOS. And Vanessas right even a small size'd company su"Chris Liversidge said " Hi @waseemni, Simply: write unique content for each page! There's no quick answers or 'tricks' to ge"

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Internet Marketing Companion

Everything You Need To Start And Grow Your Own Internet Business %50 Commission.


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What would you do if you were CEO of Google?

Every so often I like to play a game I call “CEO of Google.” The idea of the game is that through some combination of weird circumstances, you are now the CEO of Google. Don’t worry about how you became CEO–maybe you won a contest to be CEO for a day. I’d like to know: what products would you launch? What ideas would you fund?

I’m specifically interested in Big Ideas. Things like data liberation or self-driving cars. Or what’s the one huge feature missing from a Google product? In essence, what are the big products, features, or ideas that you would like to see Google work on?

I’m specifically interested in ideas that would improve the world, the web, or Google itself. What would you like to see Google do in 2011 or beyond?


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Open Kinect Contest: $2000 in prizes

I’m starting a contest for people that do cool things with a Kinect. See the details below.

Open Kinect Logo

Before I joined Google, I was a grad student interested in topics like computer vision, motion self-tracking, laser scanners–basically any neat or unusual sensing device. That’s why I was so excited to hear about the Kinect, which is a low-cost ($150) peripheral for the Xbox. The output from a Kinect includes:
- a 640×480 color video stream.
- a 320×240 depth stream. Depth is recovered by projecting invisible infrared (IR) dots into a room. You should watch this cool video to see how the Kinect projects IR dots across a room. Here’s a single frame from the video:
IR Projection
but you should really watch the whole video to get a feel for what the Kinect is doing.
- the Kinect has a 3-axis accelerometer.
- the Kinect also has a controllable motor to tilt up and down plus four microphones.

What’s even better is that people have figured out how to access data from the Kinect without requiring an Xbox to go with it. In fact, open drivers for the Kinect have now been released. The always-cool Adafruit Industries, which offers all sorts of excellent do-it-yourself electronics kits, sponsored a contest to produce open-source drivers for the Kinect:

First person / group to get RGB out with distance values being used wins, you’re smart – you know what would be useful for the community out there. All the code needs to be open source and/or public domain.

Sure enough, within a few days, the contest was won by Héctor Martín Cantero, who is actually rolling his reward into tools and devices for fellow white-hat hackers and reverse engineers that he works with, which is a great gesture. Okay, so where are we now? If I were still in grad school, I’d be incredibly excited–there’s now a $150 off-the-shelf device that provides depth + stereo and a lot more.

It’s time for a new contest

I want to kickstart neat projects, so I’m starting my own contest with $2000 in prizes. There are two $1000 prizes. The first $1000 prize goes to the person or team that writes the coolest open-source app, demo, or program using the Kinect. The second prize goes to the person or team that does the most to make it easy to write programs that use the Kinect on Linux.

Enter the contests by leaving a comment on this blog post with a link to your project, along with a very-short description of what your project does or your contribution to Kinect hacking. The contest runs until the end of the year: that’s Dec. 31st, 2010 at midnight Pacific time. I may ask for outside input on who should be the winner, but I’ll make the final call on who wins.

To get your ideas flowing, I’ll offer a few suggestions. Let’s start with the second contest: making the Kinect more accessible. In my ideal world, would-be hackers would type a single command-line, e.g. “sudo apt-get install openkinect” and after that command finishes, several tools for the Kinect would be installed. Maybe a “Kinect snapshot” program that dumps a picture, a depth map, and the accelerometer values to a few files. Probably some sort of openkinect library plus header files so that people can write their own Kinect programs. I would *love* some bindings to a high-level language like Python so that would-be hobbyists can write 3-4 lines of python (“import openkinect”) and start trying ideas with minimal fuss. To win the second contest, you could write any of these libraries, utilities, bindings or simplify installing them on recent versions of Linux/Ubuntu (let’s say 10.04 or greater).

Okay, how about some ideas for cool things to do with a Kinect? I’ll throw out a few to get you thinking.

Idea 1: A Minority Report-style user interface where you can open, move, and close windows with your movements.

Idea 2: What if you move the Kinect around or mount it to something that moves? The Kinect has an accelerometer plus depth sensing plus video. That might be enough to reconstruct the position and pose of the Kinect as you move it around. As a side benefit, you might end up reconstructing a 3D model of your surroundings as a byproduct. The folks at UNC-Chapel Hill where I went to grad school built a wide-area self-tracker that relied on a Kalman filter to estimate a person’s position and pose. See this PDF paper for example.

Idea 3: Augmented reality. Given a video stream plus depth, look for discontinuities in depth to get a sort of 2.5 dimensional representation of a scene with layers. Then add new features into the video stream, e.g. a bouncing ball that goes between you and the couch, or behind the couch. The pictures at the end of this PDF paper should get you thinking.

Idea 4: Space carver. Like the previous idea, but instead of learning the 2.5D layers of a scene from a singe depth map, use the depth map over time. For example, think about a person walking behind a couch. When you can see the whole person, you can estimate how big they are. When they walk behind the couch, they’re still just as big, so you can guess that the couch is occluding that person and therefore the couch is in front of the person. Over time, you could build up much more accurate discontinuities and layers for a scene by watching who walks behind or in front of what.

Idea 5: A 3D Hough transform. A vanilla Hough transform takes a 2D image, looks for edges in the image, and then runs some computation to determine lines in the image. A 3D Hough transform finds planes in range data. I’ve done this with laser rangefinder data and it works. So you could take a depth data from a Kinect and reconstruct planes for the ground or walls in a room.

Idea 6: What if you had two or more Kinects? You’d have depth or range data from the viewpoint of each Kinect and you could combine or intersect that data. If you put two Kinects at right angles (or three or four Kinects around a room, all pointing into the room), could you reconstruct a true 3D scene or 3D object from intersecting the range data from each Kinect?

I hope a few of these ideas get you thinking about all the fun things you could do with a Kinect. I’m looking forward to seeing what cool ideas, applications, and projects people come up with!


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Get out there and vote!

If you’re a U.S. citizen, have you voted yet? You can find your polling place by searching on Google for [where do I vote] or [polling place] or [where to vote]. We’ll even give you a map:

Example map

If you’re at all worried that the polling place doesn’t sound right, Google also gives a link to your state voting place locator on the left-hand side of the screen.

I’d like all my U.S citizen readers to be voting today. The election in 2000 came down to a few hundred votes in Florida, so your vote can absolutely make a difference. You’ll feel good today, and if you want to complain over the next couple years, you’ll be able to start with “Hey, I voted in the last election and I think…” :)


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30 day challenge: meditation

I just finished up a 30 day challenge of spending 15 minutes a day meditating. I tried everything from traditional posture to sitting outside to lying on the ground. I experimented with keeping my eyes open vs. shut, breathing, counting and listening. My favorite was cat meditation, which is when you meditate with a cat lying on you, kind of like this:

Emmy and me

There’s something about a relaxed cat that really helps me relax too. Cats are zen masters.

Meditating was harder than I thought, in a few ways. First, it was difficult (impossible?) to turn my brain off. I’m accustomed to using my brain all the time, every day. I don’t like to turn my brain off. I definitely struggled with that all month. Someone recommended counting, for example counting leaves on a tree, as a way to help. That worked very well, but it also felt like counting was keeping my mind busy rather than clearing it out.

Also, it was surprisingly hard to carve out the time to do it. I ended up missing about six days altogether, partly because of some travel during the month. I think the fact that it wasn’t my favorite activity also played a role.

But I learned a few things, too. I became much more aware this month of how little irritations can snag your attention and pull you down. A few deep breaths would often help me get some distance from the irritation.

Am I glad that I meditated this month? Absolutely. But for now, I don’t plan to maintain this habit going forward, or at least not every day.


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Goo.gl url shortener is now open to everyone!

I love this: the goo.gl url shortener is now open to everyone! I know the folks that worked on this, so let me answer a few quick questions.

Q: Why are you doing this?
A: Google needed a url shortener for its own products where we knew the shortener wouldn’t go away. We also wanted a shortener that we knew would do things the right way (e.g. 301/permanent redirects), and that would be fast, stable, and secure.

Q: Why open it up to the public?
A: Initially we launched it only for Google to use on things like the Google Toolbar and FeedBurner. It only took about week before someone dug into the toolbar to see how the shortening code worked. One popular Chrome extension showed up within a few days and now has almost 70,000 installs. Clearly, a lot of people wanted to use goo.gl themselves. :)

Q: Fair enough. Any cool new features?
A: The main feature is that you can use goo.gl just by going to the web page. But if you go to http://goo.gl and login with your Google account, you’ll get analytics and history features for the urls you’ve shortened. Here’s what the analytics page looks like for a recent link I tweeted, for example:

Goo.gl analytics

Q: Is goo.gl an “X killer”?
A: No, goo.gl isn’t an effort to kill anything. I think the whole “product X will kill product Y” meme is getting a little threadbare. We needed a url shortener for Google itself. And then lots of people asked for this, so we’re opening our own url shortener to the world. Different url shorteners have different philosophies; I view the goo.gl philosophy as running a tight, fast service without piling on a ton of features.

My favorite Chrome extension to shorten urls is right here, but see the official blog post for other good extensions that use goo.gl. Danny Sullivan is also writing a screenshot-by-screenshot article over on Search Engine Land.

I hope you like the service. I’m biased, because I know the people that work on it, but why not give it a try yourself?


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Friday, November 19, 2010

My 2010 Halloween Costume: Ninja!!

I got the inspiration for this year’s Halloween costume from a parade in Modesto, California. I’ve dressed up as some silly stuff in previous years, so I wanted something cool this year. And there’s not much cooler than a ninja! Here I am showing off my ninja costume:

Me in my ninja costume

(Click to see a full-size image.)

I tried to be authentic. Check out the details of my costume and shuriken:

Me in my ninja costume

(Click to see a full-size image.)

The best part about this costume is that when kids ring our doorbell, I’ll go into stealth mode. They’ll never even notice as I silently drop to the ground behind them, pad up on split-toe tabi boots to drop candy in their bags, then fade into the shadows. I’m looking forward to trick-or-treaters this year. And I can even use the costume after Halloween to slip up behind spammers.

Thanks to the ninja parade for inspiring my ninja costume this year!


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New 30 day challenges: Get my finances in order. Write a novel.

Alright, I’ve decided my next two 30 day challenges. In October, I’m going to get my finances in order. Follow along with me to talk about money, hatch plans, and carry them out–it should be fun!

Then in November, I’m going to write a novel. Yup, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. There’s all kinds of reasons not to do this:
- I have good reason to believe I’ll write a sucky novel. My high school English teacher gently recommended that I stick to technical writing instead of creative writing.
- Also, I have no training/experience with creative writing.
- And I have no idea what I’m going to write.

But who cares? I’m doing it regardless. The thirty days will pass either way, so I might as well get a novel out of it. Or more likely, a novella. The NaNoWriMo folks shoot for 50,000 words, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t write that much.

I don’t know whether I’ll make the novel public or private. I’m leaning toward private. 50,000 words is ~175 pages in 30 days. That’s going to mean a lot of dialog on stilts and campy plot. The goal for me is to do something creative, but I see no particular reason to heap embarrassment on top of that. While you’re learning about NaNoWriMo, you can join in the fun if you want! November will fly by either way–why not try something new for a month?

And yes, I will be using Google Docs to write my novel. It has two things I need: auto-saving, and a word count function. Okay, three things, because you can do comments and formatting and weird fonts and colors and pictures and hyperlinks and stuff. And who knows, maybe I’ll need that? Who says a novel has to be just *words*?

If you want to join me and write a novel too, sign up at http://www.nanowrimo.org/ . Go do it right now, before you forget.


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Say hello at PubCon 2010

I’ll be at PubCon in Las Vegas next week. I’ll speaking on the search engine super session on Wednesday, November 10th.

If you see me at PubCon, please say hello to me!


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Thursday, November 18, 2010

30 day challenge: write a novel?!?

(My 30 day challenge for October was to get my finances in order. They’re in pretty good shape at this point, although I still have 6-7 things I want to do. If I get free time, I’ll blog about finances more. But in the mean time, it’s time for a new challenge!)

For November, I’ll be participating in National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo.” The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Does it sound like too much to do? Well, ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen? The worst is that you write a little bit and then don’t finish. That’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s better than not writing anything.

Okay, maybe that’s not the worst thing that could happen. The worst would be if you spent time writing, then you enjoyed it so much that you got really into it. You were so into it that you started thinking about your novel all the time, even when driving, and suddenly WHAM you weren’t paying attention and you ran someone over. But not just anyone–you happened to run over a beautiful Nobel prize-winning physicist, the only person in the world who could figure a way to stop the meteor hurtling toward the Earth from outside our solar system. A month later, BOOM: meteor meets world, and all intelligent life in the solar system is extinguished. That’s probably the worst that could happen. But that’s not very likely, so I wouldn’t let that keep you from trying to write a novel.

Why not try to write a novel yourself? As I’ve been saying about these experiments: the 30 days will pass either way. So why not try something new and different, so that you remember the month instead of it just flying by?


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Report on 30 day challenge: A picture a day

In August 2010, my 30 day challenge was to take at least a picture a day. It was a good challenge, because that month I traveled with friends to Tanzania and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. I finally got around to making a picture-a-day public photo gallery with the pictures I selected. Here’s one of my favorite photos of the rain forest near the base of Kilimanjaro, for example:

Rain forest at the base of Kilimanjaro

It took a while to pick the photos, upload them, and add captions, so I hope you enjoy the photos!


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