Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Security Alert from Google Website Optimizer

A potential security risk has been addressed by Google, and they caution that there is an ability for a hacker to execute malicious code on your site using XSS (cross site scripting) within the Website Optimizer Script. The attack's are a low probability, but Google does advise that you take necessary precautions to protect your website.

The bug itself has been fixed, therefore they will not affect any new experiments. However, experiments that are currently running need to be updated. If you have any Website Optimizer scripts paused or stopped that were created before December 3, 2010, you need to update that code or remove it.

Updating the Code:

(Choose One of two ways)

1. Stop current experiments, remove old scripts, and create a new experiment.
2. Update the code on your site directly.

Creating a new experiment is essentially the easier option. More information can be found at this blog as far as specific html coding to update.

via Google Website Optimizer Team

Friday, December 3, 2010

Consumers Geared to Spend More This Season

According to a Gallup Poll from November, consumers anticipate spending around $714 this holiday season. That's up $75 from last year's $638. While this is not at the higher end of the usual spending habits of Americans, it is a step in the right direction following the economy struggles we've seen in recent years.
To put it in perspective, 2000, 2006 and 2007 were all at averages above $800, with 2007 at the peak with $866. Immediately after, in 2008, it dropped off to $616. Regardless, this is good news not only for the consumers who feel confident spending more, but also for businesses who have struggled lately.
Also, methods of shopping were polled--and a whopping 53% plans to utilize the internet to compare deals, and 37% intend to shop on Free Shipping Day (Dec. 17). This statistic adds to the finding that 63% of online shoppers would be most encouraged to buy with Free Shipping offers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recap: PubCon Las Vegas 2010

Last week, Tandem's own Joe Laratro flew out to Vegas for PubCon, a three-day event considered by many to be the top conference for Search Engine Marketing. Basically, it covers every aspect of Online Marketing. PubCon is hosted by Webmaster World and its founder, Brett Tabke. Joe goes out to Vegas to act as a moderator for the conference and also as a speaker, offering up information from his SEO Diet.

Several attendees have already blogged about this year's event, and there is a comprehensive recap of the conference available on Search Engine Land. As you'll see in this breakdown of links from the event, PubCon covers everything from e-commerce to Wordpress, social media to mobile marketing, and much more.

The next PubCon will be held in Austin, March 8-9, 2011. More information is available on the official PubCon blog.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Google Places Gets a Makeover

Recently, Google launched "Place Search," which is designed to be a type of local search that combines Google's standard search with Google Local. The change has local search results looking something like the regular Google engine search results, but with a map on the right side that scrolls down the page as you do too. This is in part because Google has increased the amount of information that is displayed with each listing.
Now, rather than just listing the business name and phone number, Place Search listings will have the business description, customer reviews, and a picture of the building--as well as links to other review sites.
The plus side of the Google Places makeover is that ideally, you should get more traffic since these results rank in search. People can find you without ever visiting your website. Businesses with acutal physical addresses will fare better, just as they would in Google Places (which requires an address for mapping purposes). The best practice would be to monitor your data and how this change is affecting your search results, and see if anything needs to be changed in your current search/PPC campaign.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Google AdWords Call Metrics

In May of last year, Google canceled their call tracking feature intended for Google Audio Ads. But now, Google's bringing it back under the name of AdWords Call Metrics, a combination of Google Voice and AdWords.
Google's goal in this is to show advertisers that AdWords is more valuable than they realize, including driving offline traffic. The feature is available on PCs and high-functioning smartphones with full internet browsers.
For now, the Google AdWords Call Metrics will be a free service, but perhaps down the road a fee will be associated in a "pay-per-call" way. AdWords Call Metrics routes calls from the VoIP tracking number to a designated business number that Google is able to monitor. The metrics will capture the time and length of the call.
While access is currently limited, more and more people will be invited to see what its all about in the near future.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blekko Seeks to Improve Search Results

The new search engine Blekko has launched, so now seems like a good of a time as any to delve into the site and see what it's all about. Blekko was designed around the goal of eliminating spam results in internet search, via "slashtag technology" that narrows down the web into a select group of results. Specifically, the seven slashtag groups are: health, colleges, auto, personal finance, lyrics, recipes, and hotels. These are of course only the initial categories, with plans of expansion in the near future.
Blekko seeks to stand out against search big shots like Google and Bing, and here's an example of how: when a searcher types "health" into one of those engines, the results are a lot of low-quality content farms and spam. On the contrary, Blekko's results are only from high quality sites.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tandem Interactive's Joe Larato on Women's Radio

Tandem's owner, Joe Laratro, was interviewed last week for the national Women's Radio station and shared his thoughts about search, the future of SEO, and getting the most out of internet marketing. The interview will be available from November 2-November 8th, and you can listen to it here:
Past November 8th, the link will take you to the archives, where the interview will still be available for your listening pleasure.

Google Boosts Local Advertising

Google has launched Google Boost, a platform for Google Places that acts as sponsored search in local results. Currently, it has been released in San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago; with more cities slated to join soon.
The Boost ads will provide the phone number and address of the location, which is located by a combination of the vertical keyword and the location keyword (such as movie theater, vertical, and Houston, location). Additionally, customer reviews will be accessible via the ad as well as a maps marker and star rating.
Google's ad placement in correlation with local search is predicted to be successful, especially because the results will be highly relevant to the searchers need and area. This is poised to be a much higher success rate than, say, Facebook Places, where users aren't necessarily searching for things to purchase or local businesses to visit. One caveat to Boost search, though, is that the traffic can't be successfully tracked, since it arrives as a result of other search queries as opposed to a direct URL. Time will tell if this will be tweaked in the future or if Boost and AdWords ads will continue to share the same Internet real estate.
Currently, Tandem Interactive has initiated the Boost in our Houston area businesses, and will provide the same updates for our other client cities as the capabilities roll out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Only 1/3 of Small Businesses Utilize Social Media

According to a new study from RatePoint, only 36% of small business owners utilize social media to reach out to their customers--a significantly low percentage considering 72% of big businesses already use social media, and the remaining 28% have a plan ready to be initiated before the year's end.
The logic behind the low small business figure? Because apparently, 20% of small business owners don't think that their customers spend time on sites like Facebook or Twitter, and 27% said they weren't sure. Sadly, they are mistaken. 62% of the United States adult population is on Facebook, and according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, social network use among Internet users ages 50+ increased from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010, while the proportion of Americans ages 70-75 who were online in general increased from 26% in 2005 to 45% in 2009. So literally, social media touches almost every age demographic.
Of the small business owners that do utilize social media, a big selling point is that it is inexpensive and has great capabilities.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Standing Out From Your Competitors: Take a Cue From Jet Blue

JetBlue's advertising was recently taken over by Interpublic's Mullen, who have created a smart new campaign for the airline that serves to point out the negatives associated with other airlines, therefore highlighting JetBlue's strengths. What's important to realize is that JetBlue never name-drops or calls out a specific airline.

What's also unique about the ads is that the messages are all passed on in everyday scenarios by everyday people--there's no spokesperson or personality on behalf of the company. Here's an example: a cab driver picks up some New York City passengers, then informs them that there is a $25 baggage check fee to store bags in the trunk. This, of course, is only one example of several ads, each just as clever and stating a message at the end relating to the ad and JetBlue's policies.

It's refreshing to see an ad campaign showing that a company is better than its competitors without having a cheesy face literally tell you that word for word. JetBlue's campaign is smart, doesn't really point any fingers, and leaves them looking like winners. In keeping with the undeniable effect of viral video, the ads are all blasted on YouTube, Vevo, and Hulu. A job well done!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Billion Dollar Industry of 2011? Mobile Advertising

Thanks to innovations like PDAs and the iPad, the internet has formed an enormous relationship with the searcher-on-the-go. It's no longer necessary to search for recipes, directions, store locations, or anything else prior to hitting the open road, and many internet users today are taking full advantage of having a world of information instantly accessible at their fingertips.
While mobile advertising is set to close out 2010 at around $743 million, expect that number to hit $1 billion sometime in 2011 (2009 was substantially less "mobile", at $416 million.
We have Apple's iAd and Google's AdMob to thank for the spike in revenue. Also in correspondence with the mobile frenzy, it now seems that sometime next year, there will be more web-enabled smart phones than basic feature phones. Because of the huge popularity of mobile search, it is truly in a company's best interest to have their site available in a mobile friendly version.
You can read more about the future of mobile here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Privacy Goes Out the Window with "Just Spotted"

Constantly dodging the paparazzi and savoring any moment of privacy--oh, the life of a celebrity. As if it weren't already tough enough for celebs to catch a break, Justspotted.com has made things significantly more invasive.
JustSpotted works like this: based on a celeb's single tweet, and the help of Google Maps, JustSpotted is able to pinpoint the exact location of a celebrity and show them to a searcher in real-time. Kinda creepy right?
Users are also able to fan celebrities, so anytime an update occurs surrounding the celeb they will receive an e-mail of the latest news surrounding them, sort of like a constantly updated map with popups of celebrity whereabouts. CEO AJ Asver says "we don't give you enough information fast enough for anyone to run to location and stalk the person. We really care about fans following celebrities they love," he adds. "We're trying to bring people closer."
Ok, Asver, if you say so.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Facebook and Microsoft Join Forces

Microsoft's search engine, Bing, has teamed up with Facebook to provide users with search results based on their Facebook profile (such as their interests, likes, and friends), to create a product simply called "Liked Results." Mediaweek explains it like this: If you search for a movie, you will get results back that will include which of your Facebook friends either liked or disliked the film, in addition to Bing's regular search results.
Of course, Bing will give you the option to disable the integration of your Facebook profile. Mark Zuckerberg, who needs no introduction, also went on record at the press conference to say that they will only be using information that Facebook users have made public. So, anything you specify as private stays that way. There is the question however, that even though people make things public on Facebook, are they willing to let it appear in search engines? Facebook is no stranger to ciriticism, and with over 500 million users, someone is bound to be upset.
Additionally, there will be a Facebook Profile Search Tool on Bing's page that helps you find old friends and reconnect, either by friend request or message. Search results will also utilize your friend circle to determine who you might be looking for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

AOL Brings Back "City's Best"

Today, AOL re-released it's guide to cities, City's Best, which is basically a resurrection of the 1990s feature they had called Digital Cities. This time around, City's Best will focus on 25 cities pertinent to the AOL market like Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, and New York City, among others.
It's an interesting time for AOL to bring a city guide out onto the market, considering big competitors like Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and Citysearch, and hundreds of smaller sites and blogs dedicated to bringing the newest and best information to target audiences.
AOL has hired five regional editors to oversee five markets each, to ensure content is both original and linked to the community. Each market will depend highly upon user activity, and will have applications for the Android and the iPhone.
City's Best has goals to expand the 25 city market to 40 cities eventually, as well as dreams of taking the site international.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Surprise! Internet is Popular Worldwide

A new global survey reveals that the Internet is the most used medium among countries that have Internet access, beating out television, radio, and newspaper. Globally, 61% of internet users go online everyday, compared to 54% for television, 36% for radio, and 32% for newspaper.
Another trend is that developing countries who have acquired Internet recently use it more than the developed world.
Then there's blogging. 88% of Chinese users say they have posted a blog or responded on a forum, compared to Brazil's 51%.
Social networks are popular around the world, with Malaysians as the heaviest users and highest amount of "friends."
You can see more statistics here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Search Tidbits

An article was posted following the Search Marketing Expo (which took place in NYC a few days ago), and the author regurgitated some interesting information regarding the current state of search.
First, Google announced at the conference that the Google Adwords Keyword Tool will now only provide keywords that Google finds to be profitable. As far as other Google highlights, their browser makes up for a whopping 97% of mobile search, and Google Instant (love it or hate it) has had a strong effect on video views, increasing clicks by 28%.
Second, real-time search is on fire--including one example of a blogger who's post was indexed within one minute of publishing. And Twitter is processing 12,000 queries/second, which rounds out to about 1 billion queries per day. A little more on search--55% of search queries are 3 words and up, and 20% of those are brand new queries.
And remember MySpace? After reducing page load times (which always seemed to take forever), they have seen page indexing undergo a quadrupled increase.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Yahoo! Increases Depth of Search Results

Now on Yahoo!, users that search for famous people, movies, and other topics, will get an "intelligent shortcut" feature among their search results that delivers the latest tweets, images, event listings, articles, and videos on the topic in question, according to a recent article. Additionally, if your location is turned on, Yahoo! will locate close movie listings and concert dates pertaining to your area.
In keeping with Google and Bing, Yahoo! has also enhanced its search results to show a more image rich return on search queries, most notably in the form of photographic slide shows relevant to the search topic.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Videos Must Instantly Grab Viewers

Does your company have a YouTube site? Are videos loaded onto your web site? Then you want to hear about this!
According to a new study (one that consisted of 40 million clips that added up to over 7 billion views), 20% of the video-viewing audience stops watching around the first 10 seconds.
For those viewers who stick past 10 seconds, a third of the audience is gone when the video hits 30 seconds, and 44% is gone around the 1-minute mark. Also, length of video doesn't have much of an impact, whether there are 30 seconds left or 3 minutes, viewers will simply click elsewhere if they are not interested in what they are watching.
So, essentially, you have about ten seconds to catch the attention of your viewers. Considering 1 out of 5 viewers bounces before that is a powerful statistic, and definitely something to keep in mind when creating your next video.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Google Instant vs. Regular Google

Do searchers like being interrupted by the new "instant" results, or prefer to finish their query in peace?
Google says not only is Google Instant the future of search, it also is a search prediction tool--meaning they know what you want to find before you even finish asking. Ideally, this is supposed to save you (the searcher) countless hours of finding what you are looking for. Some people really like this, claiming Google is like a crystal ball, knowing what they want and taking them straight to it rather than scrolling through pages of possibly unrelated sites.
However, some people actually have openly tweeted their hate for the feature, due to the fact that is a distraction from what you really want to find. As an example, I went to Google and typed in "blue." My number one result? Blue Martini. As in the lounge. Maybe I wanted to look at blue couches? You see, now I could be distracted into viewing a menu rather than furniture.
The anti-Instant crowd seems to be the minority though, according to this survey that Mashable conducted a few weeks ago.
What do you prefer? Google Instant or searching the good, old-fashioned way?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Into the Minds of Web Searchers

According to a research brief from the Center for Media Research, people searching on the Internet will modify and re-word their searches until they get what they really want. It basically breaks down like this: 89% modify their searches if the first go-round doesn't produce the results they had in mind, 79% will leave the search engine all together and try elsewhere, and about 50% will click on a result if it has a picture or the brand appears multiple times on the results page.
As no surprise, Google comes in as primary engine for 75% of users. Additionally, it seems people first embarking on the road of search choose to use Yahoo.
Some more highlights:
-1 of every 5 users is more likely to click a sponsored advertisement
-Google users are more faithful to their engine than users of Yahoo and Bing
-More than 75% of searchers use it to learn more about a product after seeing it first somewhere else
Read the full article and see the statistic breakdown here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Foursquare Proves Its Power

April 16, 2010 was a pretty monumental day for McDonald's, the famous fast food giant. For that single day, the company rolled out a marketing incentive that managed to increase foot traffic to its locations by 33%. How, you ask? With the location-based social network known as Foursquare.

The contest was set up extremely user-friendly: as a member of Foursquare's online community (which is free to join), customers were asked to "check-in" at any McDonald's location. The budget for the marketing campaign was set at $1,000, which was divvied up into 100 gift cards which were offered to participants. This ingenious plan was great for profits because remember, the marketing platform that they utilized, Foursquare, is free.

McDonald's little social experiment back in April garnered positive results that exceed that day's financial gain. McDonald's also earned 50 blog/articles written about the event, an additional 600,000 fans and followers, and 99% positive feedback.

For a day's effort, those are some pretty impressive numbers.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Realtor's Should Not Care About SEO Anymore?

Whenever I read an article about SEO being dead or even dying, I think - Awesome! A few more competitors should drop out and leave that much desired natural search space open for the rest of us. This time, there was a very interesting article about EdgeRank. The gist is that Facebook may be more important than Search for Realtors, so it is time to brush up on the tactics. Read more about EdgeRank here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

SES NY Recap - SEO In House

I spent two days at SES NY this year. It was my first Search Engine Strategies conference since Danny Sullivan left. I was very impressed with how well the conference is run, the quality of the speakers, topics, expo hall, and attendees.

Most of my time was spent at the Pubcon booth and the University of San Francisco booth where they were playing some of video lectures (did I mention I am humble and it made me a little uneasy seeing myself on the screens?).

SES from my point of view had more of a marketing executive crowd of attendees versus the more hands on technical attendees that attend Pubcon. I think mixing the groups and cross marketing will be valuable to both shows.

I sat in on two sessions. Avanish's Keynote - great insights on Search, using Analytics for Search, and the challenges of keyword assists / conversion attribution models. I also sat in on Jim Boykin's sponsored session on organic link building - this is a full time job, can be successful with quality content and serious strategies.

Lastly, I spoke on SEO In House. Building SEO Departments was a focus of Tandem Interactive's four years ago. It seems this is a really hot topic right now. You can check out the SEO In House Presentation at Slideshare. I will be posting more on this topic in the near future. I see some core mistakes when building these departments that are easily preventable. I did like how the panel supported third party audits and advisory services working with the in house SEO departments.

Google Content Network University - March 2010

Tandem Interactive was invited to Google's Content Network University in their NY offices. At first I thought I knew everything there was to know about the content network and did not really need to be there. But then I figured it was worth my and Chris's time to head up there for the day to see what Google was teaching about.

I do not know anywhere near what I thought I knew about the content network. Google did a really nice job with the training. There was time spent on targeting clients, new functionality, display ads, placement targeting, search retargeting, video, Youtube advertising and more!

There were some of my key take-aways:
  • On average, Adwords advertisers get 20% of their conversions from the Content Network
  • Display advertising online is on the verge of a revolution
  • Content can equate to Brand Lift
  • Ad Planner has been expanded to research the Adsense Network and the Doubleclick Network (http://www.google.com/adplanner)
  • Check out what Google thinks you like: http://www.google.com/ads/preferences
  • "Point in Time Products" typically do not perform well in content
  • Opt out of Mobile targeting if your site does not look well on mobile devices
  • Use the "Google Wonderwheel" for Keyword Themes
  • Split Text vs. Display Ads in content targeting
  • Use ALL Display Ad sizes
  • Video can create a marketplace
  • Amazing Youtube / Video Ad targeting tool http://www.google.com/videotargeting
  • Let Auto Optimization do the work for you with Conversion Optimizer
  • Search Retargeting (Search Remarketing) is the NEXT BIG THING!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How Do You Combine SEO and Easter / Passover?

David Berkowitz of 360i has the answer... The Ten Plagues of Social Media. I was a little grossed out as I started reading the article, but then I realized it was genious! Very impressive creative writing there David.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

SEO Wins and SEO Sins

I was interviewed about SEO by Search Engine Journal. They asked me about common SEO mistakes and other Search Marketing topics. Check out Joe Laratro's Interview.