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March 22, 2007

Can Google Change the Entire PPC & Affiliate Market Space?

By Li Evans

Scoble Robert Scoble's got a scoop, and it's a good one.  In fact it's one that everyone in online marketing should be paying attention too.  It's also one that's going to affect many online marketing budgets in a huge way, if it comes to fruition.  This is one bit of news, that if it's true can change the whole landscape of both PPC and Affiliate Marketing as we know it, and if anyone has the clout to do it, it's Google.

So, my question now is, if Google does move into this territory, what happens to all those other advertisers that use to be in positions 4 on out to 100 (or however high they go)?  Scoble gives the example of San Francisco Sushi.  Lets look at "coffee online", there's a lot more advertisers here.  So what happens if Google does implement this idea further?  See how this could change PPC?

Coffeadvertisers Keywords are going to go through the roof, especially in very competitive areas, and both Google's Pay Per Action program and personalization efforts are going to take a much more prominent place.  This type of change, if it is actually going to happen, would be huge.  Advertisers would need to really keep a handle on their budgets and justify advertising on the keywords they are, to an deeper degree.

Now, tie this little tidbit into the fact that Google's launching Pay Per Action.  If Google does start going the way of limiting the advertisers in Adwords, and it does become expensive to bid on these key words what's a company to do?  Enter two things:  1) Google's Pay Per Action program and 2) Personalization.

Moneyweb Pay per action (a.k.a. Google's version of an affiliate marketing), offers the alternative to the advertiser if Google goes to this "limiting route." It maintains that they're only going to pay for whatever action is completed.  It would no longer be about branding and being there.  On the flip side, affiliate marketers, would only be wanting top converting sites.  Google would turn itself into the premiere place to be for both advertisers and affiliates, and could conceivably shrink both CJ's and Linkshare's control on the market space.

Personalization would help if you are only targeting certain segments of the public where competitors might not be thinking about.  It could help lower the costs for the keyword bids, but again, if it's a hugely competitive market, I really doubt personalization is going to help out.

Now I go back to my post the other day about Linkshare and CJ having something to worry about?  When you tie this information that Scoble's presenting into the entire overall picture - Linkshare and CJ might have some big trouble on their hands.  This is no longer a case of another competitor entering the market space.... this is the entire market space starting to change.

We in for another changing/morphing of our industry, hang on, I think it's going to be a bumpy ride!

2008's Rogue Element - The Candidate Evangelist

By Li Evans

Right off the heels of my review of the Republican Front Runners' websites, news of a video launched on YouTube that spoofs the famous Apple commercial appeared to be the hot topic on the campaign trail in the last two days.  The video's intent is to portray Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton as "big brother" and at the end, there's a mocked up apple logo - turned into the shape of an "O", with www.barackobama.com underneath it.

Of course Barack Obama's camp got the blame for creating this online guerrilla marketing piece, and of course the Obama camp denied involvement (they of course did not deny laughing about it).  Turns out, they really didn't have anything to do with it.  It was just a supporter, ironically, armed with ... of all things, a Mac and its powerful video editing software.

Phildevellishuggintonpost So who is this guerrilla political marketer that created the "Vote Different" video?  Well the Huffington Post got the scoop on that.  His name is Phillip de Vellis, and he contends that he's proud of what he did.  He was employed by Blue State Media that does provide services to the Obama camp, but he resigned from that company.  Blue State Media, however, contends that he was fired.

This campaign is beginning to shake out to be one where these candidates are going to have to become more technically savvy about monitoring their reputation online, or make sure their online marketing staff is that savvy.  What's probably the most telling about all of this, was the fact that it was someone, who wasn't paid for their efforts, they were just a staunch supporter of one candidate.

Soapbox With technology making it quite easy for "the common folk" to get their voice heard as well as social media giving anyone the easiest platform to speak up, these candidates NEED to become mindful of that.  Not only does social media give these candidates a great platform that's a lot cheaper than TV and a great way to reach a segment of the population that they probably couldn't reach before and start a conversation with them, there's something else these candidates are forgetting.  Social media also gives supporters of their opponents a place to start a conversation - one they cannot control and one that could potentially become much louder than theirs.

Do you think that this "1984" Hilary spoof on the Apple commercial is the last we'll see?  I highly doubt it, I think de Vellis exposed a very serious problem for these candidates, the element of the supporters' passion and willingness to express it.  The new "online marketing guerrillas" aren't these overpaid political consultants the candidates hire.  These new marketers are a rogue elements, they are passionate supporters of candidates who don't receive a dime for their creations - and that folks is going to be a major unknown element in the 2008 campaign.  These "Candidate Evangelists" (new term coined here!) are going to be a force and a factor that these candidates need to deal with up until November 2008.

March 21, 2007

Women of Internet Marketing Wednesday Part 14

By Li Evans

Womenofinternetmarketing Guess what?  Its Wednesday, you know what that means?  Well yes, that it's Wing Night at the local pub, but before going there, I've got some interesting women for you to read about.   So if you must, crack open that beer, pour your glass of wine and read this before going out for those wings!

Tonight I've taken a bit deeper interview of one woman, and have come back around to re-interview another because when I first interviewed her, you all knew her as another persona.  One of these women, I've actually looked to as a true leader, someone I aspire to in work ethic, and drive for understanding technology.  The other woman, she's become a really great friend to me over the past couple of months, in fact, if I could I'd have her working on my team at Commerce360, but, alas those French pastries keep calling her!  So tonight let me introduce you to Amanda G. Watlington, Ph. D. and Ylayn Meredith Ousley.

Amanda Watlington
Amanda Amanda Watlington has always been an inspiration to me. She's a woman who I look up to in this industry, as she always is right on the edge of technology figuring out how to effectively use it for marketing purposes. There's very few people who know the ins and outs of podcasting, blogging and multimedia for online marketing, like Amanda does, and even fewer so willing to share their knowledge, like Amanda.

I've been going to SES for quite a while, and Amanda's been one of the speakers I always learn something from. I always try to make at least one of her sessions she speaks at, because she is so willing to share her knowledge with the audience. If you are a first timer to SES, make sure you go to at least one of Amanda's session, trust me you will walk away with ideas already formulating in your head before you are out the door. Amanda's also the co-author of Business Blogs: A Practical Guide, this book is a must read for any business considering starting a blog. Amanda's got a wealth of knowledge she shares in the book.

Amanda blogs a lot too, between writing for Search Engine Watch's blog, and her own blog "Blogs & Feeds", she also participates in a weekly podcast on Partner Maker - wow, she really keeps busy! So now lets learn a little more about Amanda

Searchingforprofitlogo_2 Q: Thanks for letting me interview you Amanda! Can you explain to the audience what is your area of specialty in this industry?
  A: Searching for Profit is a search marketing firm. Our focus is strategic and the tag line “Remember, it only counts if they find you” gives a window on our approach. We make content able to be found. It doesn't matter if it is a product page on a commerce site, a blog post or the audio in a podcast or a video. As clients have turned to adding new media to their marketing mix, we have turned with them. When all is said and done, we work with them as they use search to make a profit. Most of my clients are the new type of search marketing client – very knowledgeable, yet looking for strategic and tactical advice.

Q: How long have you been in the Industry?
A: I blogged back in December  that I had been billing for SEO work since 1995. So, if my math is right, that means I've been in the industry for 12 years.

My first technology job was in 1978 when I was managing data contracts in the hospital industry. The company that I worked for gathered data from member hospitals, and my job was to facilitate reporting on Medicare and Medicaid hospital discharges. I managed contracts, developed tape layouts and made sure that the big fat data tapes were sent out on time. It was deep water for me, but I paddled hard and found that I like swimming in the deep end of technology. After a stint in publishing, I stayed in technology marketing. I loved the speed and the constant change. That is what I like the best about search. It is constantly moving, yet the goal is still a marketing goal. The tactics and the opportunities are in motion. I will continue to chase new technologies in search. They are like shiny objects to me.

Q: There's been a lot of different stories about how people have gotten into Search Marketing, can you tell me what brought you into the industry?
A: Like most people in the Web, I came to the Web and search by accident. I was teaching marketing full-time at a college and working during my vacations and free time at a public relations agency. One day we were discussing doing a fax newsletter for a client, and I suggested that we build a web site instead. I wound up creating the site – two generations of it – and doing the online promotions which were tactically search marketing. It was a perfect match. I'd found my place.

Q: What do you consider your most successful industry accomplishment?
A: It probably hasn't happened yet, but looking over the stern I am proudest of being able to continue to work on the cutting-edge of a cutting-edge industry for more than a decade. Being able to stay on the crest of any wave is a challenge, but to stay in it for so long is an achievement.

Q: What aggravates you most about this industry?
  A:  I can't say any one thing aggravates me, but I have grown weary of some things. For example, I've grown tired of the “black hat” vs. “white hat” discourse. I know for some it is just poking fun, but our industry had a smarmy edge to it in the early days. I still meet people who don't believe that there are ethical search marketers and consider us all spammers. I don't like being painted with a coat of paint that does not suit me. As an industry we now sit at the big folks table so why are we still indulging in name calling like we belong at the kid's table. Shouldn't we be crowing more about how much we are responsible for the growth in online sales and marketing? So the sooner we dispense with the “black hat” vs. “white hat” discussion will not be soon enough for me.

Businessblogs Q: You've been in this market for quite a while now, what are some of the major changes you've seen take place?
A: I've been on the bus for the full tour so I've watched lots of changes happen. The scenery outside the bus is very different today than it was twelve years ago. Way back when we all algo chased, and there was no paid search. There were very few tools and the methodologies were evolving. Given how much change there has been already, I can hardly wait to see what the next 12 years will bring.

Q: You're really involved with using podcasting, blogging and video optimization, do you feel that companies are really missing out on a great opportunity to market their companies with these mediums?
A: I was at a conference, BarCamp Boston 2, over the weekend and said during my session that any digital asset – web page, blog, podcast, video – takes time to create. Time is our most valuable personal resource. If we take the time and resources to develop any digital asset, we are wasting our resources if we do not optimize their exposure. In short, I see two opportunities missed. The first is a missed marketing opportunity for those not using these media. The second is a squandering of the resources spent creating them. Optimizing any digital asset should be ingrained in the creation process. I know this is a hard edge approach, but given the results that search optimization can bring, it is not flawed thinking.

Q: You've been involved with SES for quite a while as a speaker, how have you seen this conference change over the years?
I really look forward to each SES with great enthusiasm. I have watched the conference grow and grow in many ways. The sessions have changed and grown with the industry. The content has really changed and grown more sophisticated and more marketing focused. Older shows used to have sessions on directory submissions and doorway pages, and some of the sessions were literally roundtables, much like the birds of a feather lunch tables. Even though I have been attending the shows regularly for years, I still find myself coming away from every conference with some new insights. I really cherish the opportunity the conferences give to interact with other searchies.

Q: What advice would you give for other women starting out in this industry, based on your own experience?
A:Learn everything that you can. Don't be scared of the technical side of this business. Search requires left and right brain integrated thinking, and women are really good at that type of thinking. We also need to highlight our achievements – not hide our light under a basket.

Q: What's a typical day like for you at Searching for Profit?
A: There is no typical day at Searching for Profit. I never have slept a lot, so days and nights are of the same cloth. My days begin early (normal business hours) and end late. We joke that we keep East and West coast hours. I often work all night when I am interested in something. When I lived in the country I used to have a rule of thumb that if I could hear the birds outside chirping, it was time to get horizontal for a few hours. My husband and business partner is also a consultant – not in search – so he is in tune with the time demands. When he is in town, we will sometimes go out to lunch and actually leave the office, a stunning thought. We try not to work weekends, trying to use the time for real recreation – fishing and boating (for both of us), and golf (for me) in the good weather. We are also both crew referees so our weekends are largely spoken for by non-work activities,

My actual tasks depend on what I am working on – talking to a client, meeting a prospect, writing a client report, plunging through data looking at results, solving a problem, developing a strategy, producing a presentation, writing. I am for the most part a heads-down worker. I don't use IM, but the phone is often an easy distraction. I have several people who work with me, but we are virtual for the most part so we live on email and phone.

Q: Greg Jarboe or Andy Beal?
A:  Can't choose! both are nice guys.

Q: Who's the got the greatest SES conference "identifier"? Rand with his yellow shoes, Mikkel with his crazy suits, or is it Danny Sullivan with his Lederhosen? (ok, Danny only had to wear those once since he lost the bet to Thomas, but still!)
A: I was told as a child to look for outstanding people, not just those who stand out, so to the greatest conference identifiers are the sparkling intellects of the outstanding people that I've learned from – that is not to say that they too may stand out in some other way too.

Q: Who throws the best conference parties?
  A:  I've had a lot of fun at the big parties, but some of my best memories are from some of the smaller parties with friends like the dinner I had in London in June of 2006 with Mike Grehan and a twenty other folks.

I couldn't agree more Amanda, I've found the best part of the conferences are the small dinners and the great convos at the bar!

Now, lets talk again with Ylayn.  Ylayn?  Yes, you've met her before!

Ylayn Meredith Ousley
Ylayn_meredith_ousley Ylayn's become a great friend over the past months.  Even before I met her, and just knew her as SEO Fan Girl, I had a feeling she'd be a great person, and I was right.  She burst onto the scene with naming Rand her August SEO Sexy Man of the Month, and from there, it caught on.  With great anticipation the community waited on baited breath to see who'd be next, or even better - who'd be the next comparison!

Ylayn's an American living in Paris, who's constantly in search of fat French people, which she always says is not as easy as it seems.  She's working with clients in France and the U.S., through her own internet marketing company, and even gets to go to London to assist her clients with their search marketing projects. 

When I first interviewed Ylayn, I didn't know exactly who she was, I only knew her as SEO Fan Girl when I first sent out the questions.  So the interview was conducted from that perspective.  Tonight I've come back around and wanted you to get to know the woman behind this legend.

Q:  So Ylayn, you go by Y.M. Ousley in the business world, why is that?
A:  Y.M. (Ylayn Meredith) Ousley - it's not being pretentious, in the US no one gets my first name right, in France no one can get the th sound in my middle name. I figure I can't go wrong with initials. And one day I do hope to make enough from search and internet marketing to be pretentious.

Menofseo Q:  Tell us a little about you, and what you do – beyond the whole SEO Fan Girl persona.
I eat crepes every day and await the upload of America's Next Top Model on bit torrent with baited breath (and then I take a long breath,and bait it again to wait for the recap on FourFour). To pay for this lifestyle, I'm currently working with a few clients in Paris and one in the US. I tend to focus on several aspects of internet marketing and business development because while France has a lot of smart developers, there's still very few of them focusing on marketing, usability, tracking and other things that are just as important as the script running the site. I'm also currently at work on a PowerPoint for a website I hope to get funding for. The first slide offers my first born, so I think I'm off to a good start.

I was recently talked into skiing by SS (Special Someone, since the name Mystery Guest is reserved) and have reaffirmed my commitment to being non-athletic. I also spend time trying to find French people who do get fat (I'm up to 4 since the New Year) and a healthy amount of time with a great group of expat girls on the same mission. To put this in perspective, one of my friends is a US size 6. She goes rock climbing on weekends, works out regularly, etc. She went into a clothing store and a saleswoman excitedly told her they had plus sizes. Maybe the sales pitch was lost in translation.

Q:  Were you really snickering to yourself when you saw people asking Lisa Barone or Rebecca Kelley if they were SEO Fan Girl, in Chicago?
A:  Well, I was slightly offended that no one wanted to be Fangirl. After I got past that I thought it was pretty funny that people had it narrowed down to Lisa and Rebecca. I met both of them and they had a good sense of humor about it. Which means that they'd obviously already accepted bribes to place guys in the position of Sexy SEO of the month.

Sesgoersonthetrain1 Q:  Tell us, who wears the cheese the best – Ken Jurina, Ward Tongen, David Temple, Aussie Webmaster, Rob Kerry, David Wallace or Rand Fishkin?
A:  Decisions, decisions! Well, Rand had some coordination going on. The yellow cheese highlighted his yellow shoes. Come to think of it, who was the first person to notice the cheese?...

Q:  If Greg Jarboe, Joe Morin, Andy Beal, & Jarrod Hunt all had to rank for “I’m the sexiest SEO on the planet”, who’d win?
A:  Jason Calacanis (haha, gotcha!) Well, Greg would obviously get the best PR and dominate the news onebox, Joe would start turning up in YouTube videos and take video search, Andy would win with the big brands and graband Jarrod would probably rule the college campuses (or at least their links). So in various markets, I think they'd all win. Greg in the news onebox, Joe in video search, Andy probably turning up in  a financial or company link, and Jarrod in the general results. And then Jason Calacanis would blog about how being sexy isn't rocket science and dominate the nofollowed links.

Q:  Who’s got the best “gimmick” – Rand with his shoes, Mikkel with his suits or is there someone else you think has the best “identifier” in the industry?
A:  I love Rand's shoes (everyone knows that's the way to a girl's heart), and Mikkel suits are eye catching, but my money's on Dave Naylor. Will he give you a hickey? Lick you? He's fookin' unpredictable and frankly I find that type of behavior in an SEO pretty hard to resist. Though I have to say, Ken Jurina's been pretty darn snazzy lately. If he keeps it up there'll be an SQ cover in his future I'm sure.

Thanks Ylayn, for taking the time for yet another interview, this time it was nice to introduce "you" to the audience!

Can you believe it, we'll be moving into our 15th week next week!  So stop back next Wednesday, but until then, as always, visit our Women of Internet Marketing category to read all about the prior features we've had here at SMG!

Does The NFL Not Understand the DMCA?

By Li Evans

Nfl_2 Chalk this one up to "I should have read the fine print all the way through."  Once and a while, I find something on Digg that piques my interest and this morning it seems, the NFL just doesn't understand how to use the DMCA properly when sending out take down notices.  Apparently it also doesn't understand the full and broad reaching meaning of "fair use."  Enter law professor Wendy Seltzer.

Wendy, who started the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse website, was also a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation at one point in time.  Ms. Seltzer decided what better way to demonstrate to her class that the copyright statement the NFL airs before the Superbowl (and for any other football game for that matter) does not make exception for common fair use, than to demonstrate it on YouTube.

Superbowllogo "This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience, and any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions or accounts of the game without the NFL's consent is prohibited"

Her demonstration included putting a clip up on YouTube which did include the copyright notice (stated above).  Within a few days, YouTube sent her a copy of the NFL's DMCA order, which YouTube abides by (see Viacom, they do take things down).  The story doesn't end there though, Seltzer, a very well versed lawyer in DMCA law, sent a counter-notification using the "fair use" clause of the DMCA.  Again, YouTube abides the DMCA and replaces it.

Wendyseltzer_2 Here's where things get interesting.  For all the "legal-eze" Ms. Seltzer has an explanation on her blog, but in a nutshell, since the NFL sent yet another DMCA request, they are now in violation of the DMCA.  Why?  Seltzer explains that because the NFL did not acknowledge the clip as fair use and sent another take down notice, they are now in violation of  the DMCA section 512(f)(1).  That section of the law states that sending another take-down notice over the same content is considered a knowing misrepresentation that the clip is infringing.  Yes, confusing for us non-lawyer types.  Maybe Kevin O'Keefe (my favorite blogging lawyer) over at LexBlog could chime in?

So what's next?  That I'm not sure of, but I'm going to keep an eye on Wendy's blog and keep you appraised of the situation.  This should prove very interesting, and I bet Viacom is going to be watching this closely, too, since Google/YouTube stance on the Viacom suit is "fair use."

March 20, 2007

Republican Presidential Front Runner Websites Leave A Lot On The Table

By Li Evans

Whitehouse We're still well over a year away from "Decision '08", but that hasn't stopped aspiring presidents from announcing their candidacies on platforms like YouTube.  Online political marketing for 2008 presidential campaigns got their kick start when John Edwards was first out of the gate with his announcement to seek the democratic nomination for president airing on YouTube. By in large, the democratic candidates have become quite savvy internet marketers, and yes, Barack Obama now knows what a widget is (or at least his internet team does!).

What about the republicans?  John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney - officially those are the ones we know about, how are they using internet marketing, social media and search?  Compared to their democrat counterparts, they are leaving a lot on the table.  I took a look at these three front runners and came away thinking, they really need some serious help when stacked up to Edwards, Clinton and Obama.

Below is a quick synopsis on how these three front runners stack up:

John McCain's Presidential Campaign Website:  www.JohnMcCain.com
Johnmccainsplash Natural Search:  There's a reason why when you type in "John McCain" into Google, this website doesn't come up, it's first page, on first visit is entirely in Flash.  However, a 2nd visit back to the site, you no longer get the splash page because a cookie tacked on in the first visit tells the site to present the "real" home page.  Title Tags for the website are all the same.  Content is really lacking, meaning actual "text" a spider could read (if it could get to the pages in the first place).    Rating: D
PPC:  Campaign seems to be limited to his name.  Obviously since the site doesn't rank naturally for "John McCain" they have to get visitors to the site who are searching for him.   Rating: C
Social Media: This is the site's and campaign's strongest feature.  They have a deep social networking program being run here.  From creating your own blog and "JohnMcCainSpace" on the site, to a YouTube and Veoh channel, they've definitely got a handle on the social media mix. Rating: A

Rudy Giuliani's Presidential Exploratory Committee Website:  www.JoinRudy2008.com
Joinrudy2008site Natural Search: Rudy Giuliani's exploratory committee's website fairs a lot better than McCain's when it comes to ranking for "Rudy Giuliani".  The site is a mixture of content and images, however heavier to the image side.  Places where they could capitalize on utilizing keywords, those words are embedded in images.  Where they could break out content and capitalize on focusing around special key words, they combine all the information, thus making pages with no real key word focus, that makes the inner pages tough to rank for much of anything beyond "Rudy Guliani."  Rating C+
PPC:  Like McCain, the campaign is limited to his spending for ads to appear when Rudy's name is searched on.  Rating C
Social Media: If one would qualify RSS feeds in with Social Media, then they have one element.  However, other than the RSS feeds, there's no elements of social media on the site at all.  Rating D

Mitt Romney's Presidential Campaign Website: www.MittRomney.com
Mittromneyforpresidentsite Natural Search: Of the three candidates, Romney's site has the best natural search optimization.  That being said, it's still leaves a lot to be desired.  There is definitely room for improvement and keyword research & implementation for this site could catapult it to the next level.  There's a nice mix/balance of images and content - it just needs to be more focused.  Rating B+
PPC:  No difference than the other two, ppc campaign just focuses on "Mitt Romney" (not even just Mitt - Rudy does just "Rudy).  Rating C
Social Media:  Mitt's site promotes his Facebook and his own YouTube channel, but that's the extent of use of social media.  There is a section called "Mitt TV" but, that's totally interactive media, nothing social about it.  Rating B-

Overall these sites are leaving so much behind.  Whether it's not capitalizing on simple searches like "republicans for president" or even misspellings of their name in natural and paid search, they should start beefing up their sites and PPC campaigns.

Social Media wise, McCain by far is ahead of this particular pack.  However, not one of these candidates have their own blog.  All of their democratic counterparts have them and they are all rather popular.  John McCain has a "Blog" link on his site, but it leads you to the social media part where you, yourself, could create your own blog on John McCain's site.

Presidential_seal When it comes to online marketing, the republicans have a long way to go.  Lucky for them November 2008 is well over a year away and they have some time to beef up their sites and implement new online strategies that could counter what the democrats are doing.  If the race for president were held today, I'm pretty certain more people on the web are aware of the democrats and their websites, than the republicans - who do you think that would fair better for?

Do Linkshare & Commission Junction Need to Worry About Google?

By Li Evans

Googleadsensereferrals Google announced through two of its blogs today(Inside Adwords, Inside Adsense), that its launching its own CPA (Cost Per Action) network in beta.  Although they didn't come out and call the beta test "Affiliate Marketing", that is exactly what it is.  Google may put its own tweaks and spins on its service offerings for both the marketer and the advertiser, but in essence, Google's beta testing its own type of affiliate network similar in nature to LinkShare or Commission Junction.

Cjlogo Do CJ and LinkShare need to worry?  Is this the death to Affiliate Marketing as we know it?  Is Google's type of service offerings a huge threat to the big players in this market?  I'd like to point to a still surviving and now thriving Yahoo! (once Overture/GoTo) that's still in the PPC market long after Google entered. 

Linksharelogo That's to say I highly doubt this is going to "do in" the major players in this market space.  The sky isn't falling in affiliate marketing at all.  It's just another competitor.  Granted it's one with a huge brand name, but CJ and LinkShare have a lot behind them, they just need to have a plan to keep their affiliates and advertisers happy and not jumping ship to go to Google.

Overall this is great news for the market, at least from my perspective.  It can only make the major players in this space step up to the plate and provide more valuable services.  Competition, as we know, is great for the market place, not the death knell.  So back to my question - Do CJ & Linkshare need to worry?  Nawh, they just need to deal with more competition now.

Google Maps' Traffic vs. Traffic.com

By Li Evans

Since the beginning of March I've been running an experiment of my own between Google Maps' Traffic feature and Traffic.com.  I wanted to see how well Google's traffic information compared to Traffic.com for the Philadelphia area.  George, left a comment yesterday asking about the comparison, so after two weeks of using each side by side, here's my review.

I live in Limerick, PA which is north west of the heart of downtown Philly and I drive about 25 miles to Plymouth Meeting, PA.  I take Rt. 422 east to the Schuylkill (Skoo-kull) Expressway (I-76) east to the Blue Route (I-476) north.  Most days it takes me about 35-40 minutes to get to work.  There are alternate ways to get to the office, but I only use them when Rt. 422 is really backed up, since the alternate way consists of two lane roads and a lot of stop lights (it is about 4 miles less in distance though).

Googlemapforwork

If I had relied solely on Google Maps' Traffic, I'd be cursing every time Rt. 422 backs up.  Google Maps' Traffic fails miserably where Traffic.com tells me exactly where its backing up, jammed or slowed.  The map above shows the route via Google Maps.  I highlighted my route in blue, and an alternate in purple, and then pointed out where it normally backs up in red, where Google consistently fails to point out.

Trafficcommap

Traffic.com however, shows both "Backed Up" and "Slowed" traffic areas, and updates that information consistently.  The great thing about Traffic.com, is that you can get reports emailed to you for your drives (I've got them set for both going to and coming from work), and additionally, if your route experiences a "jammed factor" beyond a certain threshold, you can be emailed as well.  Traffic.com also marks off where there's accidents, issues or construction - Google doesn't do that at all.

Mytraffic

I don't know where Google gets its information from for its traffic reporting.  Where ever they do, at least for the Philly area, leaves a lot to be desired.  Traffic.com, hands down is the superior service here.  Of course Traffic.com has a very extensive network built up here, complete with digital drive information -- and you even seen their own vehicles on occasion, driving through the traffic during your drives.

Google Maps Traffic might be good for the occasional traveler to the "City of Brotherly Love", but its sorely lacking for the every day commutes in area.  For now at least, I'm sticking with Traffic.com - it keeps my blood pressure down!

March 19, 2007

Using Blogger? Check Your Template's Meta Tags!

By Li Evans

Webanalyticsworldlogo If you are a blogger and you're using Blogger as your platform, you might want to check your templates meta tags.  It seems that in the recent months since upgrading, the templates had a mostly unwelcome edition which wasn't exactly widely known - the noindex/nofollow was added.

Noindexrecovery


If you are experiencing the same thing, and are scratching your head as to why, check your template's meta tags , that could be the culprit to your issues! 

Hattip Manoj for sharing his experience!

March 18, 2007

Bloglines to Google Reader

By Li Evans

Lately, I've been finding myself quite frustrated with Bloglines.  It all started with wanting to change my "weather" location from West Chester, PA to Limerick, PA.  You'd think that'd be an easy thing, right?  No matter how many times I'd subscribe, then unsubscribe, then resubscribe (thinking something was wrong),  the weather subscription would show it was new (by being bolded) but every time I clicked it would show that there was nothing new.

Googlereader Similarly, any new searches I subscribed too, would do the same thing.  It was getting quite frustrating, and having briefly tried Google Reader a while ago and becoming frustrated, I really wasn't too happy with my options.  But after reading some reviews and knowing what some other friends in the industry have said about Google Reader, I decided to give Google Reader a true trial for a week.

Yesterday I cleared out the old Google Reader stuff I had set up, and then imported the OPML file that contained my Bloglines subscriptions.  My only complaint - it didn't carry over my searches, I had to go through and add them all again.

So after a day and half of using Google Reader (forcing myself to learn it and its quirks), I'm impressed.  It's a lot better than I remember, and I really like how much easier it is to share links.  I think I'll be adding links to the blog posts I find and like to share in with all the changes I'm working on for SMG.

I was a Bloglines die hard user (probably for about 2 years now), but enough is enough.  I'm going to give Google Reader the "good ol' college try."

I hope this goes better than my experiment with Google Maps' Traffic feature (BTW, for Philly it sucks, traffic reports leave a lot to be desired and Traffic.com does a 10 times better job).

March 17, 2007

Search Engines & Social Media Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

By Li Evans

St. Patrick Day Doodles Galore!

"Good Luck Ta Ya, Laddy", will probably be heard more than once today.  There will be an over abundance of green worn as well, and plenty of green beer and Irish food on hand for celebrations across Ireland, the UK and the US today.  St. Patrick's day is one of those holidays that just tends to pull you in for the fun, even if you aren't Irish.

The search engines and social media sites have decided to join in the fun as well, offering their own form of celebration by incoroporating St. Patrick's Day themes into their logos again this year.  The only search engine that doesn't is Live Search/MSN Search and Reddit seems to be the only social media site getting into the spirit of the day.

Google Doodle:

Stpatricksday_google

Yahoo Doodle:

Stpatricksday_yahoo

Ask Doodle:

Stpatricksday_ask

DogPile Doodle (my personal favorite this year!):

Stpatricksday_dogpile

Excite Doodle:

Stpatricksday_excite

Reddit Doodle:

Stpatricksday_reddit

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