Google “God in Houston” and you won’t find a church

In the process of explaining SEO (search engine optimization) over the years I frequently demonstrate that if you Google “God in Houston” the top results are not churches. Now I’m not talking about the local results that show the churches, but the actual search results below that that lists KSBJ as the top result for “God in Houston” when searched on Google. And the only paid search result is for “Houston Gold” – like the shiny stuff you make jewelry out of. Here is a screen shot:

From a technical perspective, this makes perfect sense. Because the largest churches in Houston do not mention the word “God” on their web sites. Yes really. Using a search engine keyword analyzer, a test of second.org shows the following.

Note the title is “Second Baptist Church, Houston, TX.” Thus they will likely rank for “Churches in Houston” but not for “God in Houston.” A simple fix would be to update the title to “Second Baptist Church, Serving God in Houston TX”.

I mention this because exactness of speech matters. It means that some of our largest churches have zero (0) possibility of being returned if a downtrodden person googles for them in the middle of the night. It means missed connections when a bible study group at a particular church might be the perfect connection for a fellow Houstonian. But we will never know because of a failure of exactness of speech.

On the flip side, a tip of the hat to Braeswood Assembly of God church which comes up for both the physical location and second natural ranking after KSBJ in the search results. And all because they mention the word “God” in their title.

So be specific. Be exact. And I’ll leave it to you to search for the ministers’ names – they rank a bit higher than God.

Viral Marketing Described as Link-Bait

While a few of our team attended Search Engine Strategies in San Jose this week, I did not. But I have been reading the newsletters that come out on the sessions.

On session that is worth review is from SEOmoz blog on a formula for creating compelling content by Randfish. Content so compelling that others link to it and therefore help your search engine rank. It is told from the perspective of the web yet it should work off line just as well from a PR perspective.

Here is the link-bait presentation with a summary below (go visit the presentation for the REAL content):

  1. Researching a Sector’s Link-Worthiness
  2. Discovery of ‘Big’ Players in Your Field – Technorati and Google Trends with your keywords
  3. Targeting YDDS (Yahoo!, Digg, Del.icio.us, Slashdot.org) (maybe also netscape.com)
  4. Targeting Offline Media – hire PR expert
  5. Selecting a Content Focus
  6. Melding Branding and Viral Elements
  7. Targeting Keywords/Search Traffic
  8. Look at Examples of ‘Brilliant Ideas’
  9. The Value of a ‘Web 2.0′ Look & Feel – "The  right "look and feel" will earn links"
  10. Elements that Encourage Linking
  11. Pre-Launch Public Relations
  12. Managing Launch Traffic – do not respond negatively
  13. Continuing to Get Value from Linkbait – "Update the content with timely information."

Squidoo and SEO Spam- please no

From this long tail post on Seth’s blog, it looks like SEO black hat bait to post lenses on squidoo. Please tell me it isn’t so? I have some friends headed to SES San Jose so I’ll post what I learn when they get back. Sigh.

For the non-serious geeks, squidoo lets people build a list of sites to be searched as a group, by topic. So you can add 10 sites related to ferrets and search like google, but only within your select sites. And of course you can share it. Seth’s blog post is pointing out that the lens itself is scoring well in other search engines, which creates an incentive for folks to cheat in the search engines using custom lenses. Just something to watch out for as I am sure google is already doing.

Perhaps there is a strategy application for this within public relations for the enlightened? But that is another post.

Microsoft AdCenter Gender Predictions for Demographic Marketing

Microsoftadcentergenderpredictions The demos of demographic profiling of search on adlab site of adcenter search technology. The image to the left demonstrates the end result; you get gender approximations based on search term. These are estimated from the behavior of the user I am guessing from total search patterns.

So, hypothetically if a searcher is obsessed with someone perhaps this indicates a male behavior. That profile data is tied back to search terms and presented to the marketing team as such. Interesting.

All kidding aside, I do see real value in demographic data when formulating strategy for clients. This does matter. Note that Google only released google trends after it was obvious that technorati and blogpulse visual reporting was skyrocketing in use. Perhaps this will lead to a similar disclosure from adwords or overture in the future?

Privacy? That is another matter.

Cost-Per-Action Advertising for Survey Promotion?

Nutritiononsalemuscleman
I am reading a book on conducting surveys, so surveys are on the brain. Talking to Susan Saurage at the AAF conference last week may have contributed to my current mind set. So when I saw this post:

Google Launches ValueClick Killer
The Google AdSense team would like to invite you to test a feature that provides you with a new way to earn revenue from your website by hosting ads that are compensated based on a Cost-Per-Action [CPA] basis.

My first thought was – sure you could use that for affiliate marketing, but Cost-Per-Action would also be a great low cost way to drive completed surveys. I like the microwork concept from mturk but that is such a small subset of people. PPC for surveys is problematic because most people do NOT want to take a survey when seeking something. They want to find something at that point.
But I believe an image marketing type ad soliciting survey completion without any direct compensation to the respondent might produce a balanced result. File this under "to be tested."

The picture? That has nothing to do with this post. It is just the most ridiculous advertising I have seen lately. And a terrible brand name; how can you differentiate "nutrition on sale"? Uuuugh. Maybe they need some cost per action advertising. <grin>

HitTail – Web Analytics from a PR Firm?

Via Marketing Shift a PR agency has created an SEO “long tail” optimization tool. From the Marketing Shift post:

A free program organizes “long tail” data about how people found your
site through natural search and suggests keywords to use for search
engine optimization.

and

PR Firm Connors Communications, which wrote the MyLongTail software (now located at HitTail.com),
is also touting the merits of blogging and public relations to create
content that is effective in garnering natural search instead of over
paying for paid search.

The HitTail site has an 8 minute demo (sorry, 8 minutes is a LOOOONG TIME!). From viewing the demo, it looks like Google Analytics with a clear visualization of more than your top 25 inbound search words.

UPDATE: Please see the comments section on the latest from HitTail!

Continue reading “HitTail – Web Analytics from a PR Firm?”

Voter Fatigue Skews Search Engine Results for the Aristrocracy

Voter fatigue, in political science parlance, refers to people literally getting tired of voting. Of if they vote, perhaps they vote the major ticket but block vote the rest because who the heck knows there the 2nd District Court is anyway, right?

David Berkowitz in today’s SearchInsider argues this phenomenon is coming to search. From the MediaInsider article "The Aristrocracy of Relevance" (reg required unfortunately)

the search engines and their hundreds of
millions of users will soon find themselves subjugating to a new ruling
class: the Aristocracy of Relevance. The whole search engine marketing
business was much easier when the search engines were the arbiters of
relevance.

and it continues

Now, we have tagging. With the engines’ new services, anyone can label
a search result as he or she sees fit, and the search engine recognizes
the categorization (within reason). The old model might be viewed as a
benevolent dictatorship or even as enlightened absolutism; the new
model is a democracy–power to the people. Yet most people won’t take
advantage of this power.

Continue reading “Voter Fatigue Skews Search Engine Results for the Aristrocracy”

Google and Accoona for “Perception of Public Relations” – Accoona no match!

Googleacunaperceptionofpublicrelationsco_1
I received an email that made me curious about the difference between Accoona (which I had not
heard of) and Google (ya, someone told me about google once) on understanding the context of a search. From the Accoona site:

Accoona Artificial Intelligence is a Search Technology that understands
the meaning of search queries beyond the conventional method of
matching keywords.

and

Accoona’s Artificial Intelligence uses the meaning of words to get you better searches.

The email was from a PR agency so of course I searched on "perception of public relations" in both search engines.

Everyone loves an underdog, particularly an underdog victory. But alas, such is not the case with Accoona. Google pretty much trounced them in my very unscientific comparison. This is one search, one test, yada yada and I look forward to checking back with Accoona.

One thing Accoona can do immediately to improve results is kill all of the advertising at the top. Obviously the ad engine is not as advanced as the search engine part. As a user advertising at the top IS search results. Right hand ads are extra stuff to me. But note that even without the top 3 ad served results, google still produced more of what I was specifically looking for.

Perhaps pay some turkers to evaluate a larger quantity of results, hopefully in a double blind test? But I don’t think PR alone, perception or not, is going to raise Accoona above Google in my perception any time soon.

Houston Interactive Marketing Group Kickoff Event

HimaeventHouston has launched the Houston Interactive Marketing Group.  The organization has been primarily coordinated by Steve Latham of Spur Digital.  The HiMA kickoff event is coming up this Thursday the 26th and we will have several people attending from our team.

<snip from the site>Please join us for our New Year Kick-Off event, January 26, from 7:30 to 9:30 am at the Houston Technology Center. Geoffrey Ramsey, founder and CEO of eMarketer will be the keynote speaker.</snip>

The following are the founding members of the Houston Interactive Marketing Association (HiMA). BMC Software Fogarty Klein Monroe Gulf Publishing Halliburton Houston Chronicle Houston Technology Center Human Kind Inc.

Idea Integration InfoVine Interactive Lopez Negrete Money Management International One Real World PennWell Publishing Pierpont Communications Questia Media, Inc. Schipul – The Web Marketing Company Sam Houston Area Council Six Foot Studios Spur Digital Texas Children’s Hospital Zephyr Salvo Studios

AdSense Blogs Needed Response – at least that is what my Vanity Searches Suggest

Jay_jacobson_fractal_dragonVanity searches, before we called them vanity searches they were more "competitive intelligence" and "monitoring your position on the Internet".  Now they produce random results.  The faster our clients syndicate with RSS the faster our name shows up in some …er… unsavory places.

Example: http://www.technorati.com/search/schipul

Some legit.  Some not.  I’d like to think that google can filter the rank value of inbound links to our properties and not have it affect us negatively in our rankings.  And perhaps the sucking sound of RSS feeds from our client sites into splogs may seem harmless, but I for one am glad to see Google taking action.

A new addition to the Quality Score

In August, we introduced the Quality Score along with the launch of quality-based minimum bids, letting you know that we evaluate many factors, such as your ad text and clickthrough rate (CTR) to determine the minimum bid for your keyword. Today, we started incorporating a new factor into the Quality Score — the landing page — which will look at the content and layout of the pages linked from your ads.

Why are we doing this? Simply stated, we always aim to improve our users’ experience so that these users (your potential customers) will continue to trust and value AdWords ads. Have you ever searched on a keyword, found an ad that seemed to be exactly what you wanted, and then clicked on it only to find a site that had little to do with what you were searching for? It’s not a great experience.

Note – awesome fractal image from http://www.fractalism.com

Short Links Matter, but Please Don’t Break the Linking Paradigm

LinkbatonShort links matter.  People like short links that, heaven forbid, you can actually direct someone to over the phone.  We can’t always make them that simple in the age of ecommerce, but at least making links on web pages short *should* be a design goal. 

An example of this, well intentioned but a search engine disaster, is linkbaton.  With this service you can create link aliases so you can collect your affiliate revenue (guessing here) while also providing short links to your users.  Some text from the linkbaton webmaster’s guide.

Borders.com book link for "On Food and Cooking"
http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=aIke1kk50bs&offerid=6424&type=2&subid=0& url=http%3A//search.borders.com/fcgi-bin/db2www/search/search.d2w/ Details%253Fcode%253D0020346212%2526mediaType%253DBook%2526searchType%253DISBNUPC%2526 prodID%253D
LinkBaton book link for "On Food and Cooking" (follow the link and buy- it’s a great book!)
http://my.linkbaton.com/isbn/0020346212?for=charity

I know I paste in a lot of book links from Amazon and they are truly ridiculously long.  So long that I don’t even take out any variables to simplify the link as I typically do with google links (all you need is the "q=" part.)

The challenge here is that linkbaton fixes this by directing all of your links to their site and then back out.  Google and Yahoo will then stop seeing links as valid.  Intelliseek will not longer be able to confirm the two readers of this blog.  Dogs and cats, living together.  Links will be irrelevant for the search engines.  That would be bad despite the spammers so while I applaud linkbaton for trying to fix the problem, I don’t agree with it.

On a programming side-note, this whole antiquated thing about making sites work without cookies is just a bad idea, so quit munging the address bar with ssids please.

GROK Newsletter on Conversion Rates – PR without Conversion

GroknewsletterFuture Now out of NYC, who I know through Bryan Eisenberg who is our client with The Web Analytics Association, has a great newsletter on conversion rates.  You can sign up on their site at http://www.grokdotcom.com/ and the latest conversion rate newsletter was just released.

You may also want to check out the Eisenberg’s book A Call to Action which is also about web marketing conversion rates.

My main point is that driving traffice to your site through PPC or regular search engine marketing doesn’t add a ton of value if you don’t CONVERT that traffic.  While at a high level the web marketing fundamentals article definitely stands, at an incremental improvement level you can’t beat the detailed analysis of a conversion rate specialist (or become one!).

Google has begun testing a new click-to-call service

From the Entireweb Newsletter and everyone else, Google is testing click-to-call with their adwords advertising.  This makes sense as a logical next step.  But the local telcos can’t be excited about google offering free telephone connections in lieu of 1-800 toll-to-the-advertiser calls.

Google has begun testing a new click-to-call service that lets people speak with advertisers on its search results page without having to pick up the phone and dial.

A Web surfer can click a phone icon adjacent to an ad, enter his or her own phone number and then click a "connect for free" button. Google’s service calls the advertiser’s phone number and when the Web surfer picks up the receiver on his phone, he or she hears ringing as the call to the advertiser is connected, according to a Google Click-to-Call frequently-asked-questions page..

and the competition?

In August, Microsoft said it had purchased Teleo, an Internet calling company with the potential to allow MSN to offer click-to-call capabilities.

From a public relations perspective, can we run google advertisements that generate phone calls to OTHER people?  How do you feel about x-y-z issue?  Call your congressman today. or similar?  Perhaps the prank phone call from the days of our youth is back?  Of course there is an entire generation that never had the joy of calling bowling alleys with questions about 10 pound balls …. nevermind.

Googlemanu On a more exciting note, search engine journal is reporting that Google or Yahoo may be Manchester United’s New Sponsor!  Now that would be cool and would certainly help introduce "football" to the US even more than it already is.  Google Video is apparently already a pretty big fan of Manchester.

Visualization of Search – Sphere Explorer

SphereVisualization ideas Via this post on Sphere on digg about Sphere software for visualization of search.  While this is a different problem from visualization of social software or public relations campaigns, it is tangential and may help.

Visit the Sphere Explorer site here and be sure to check out the 3-d Screen shots of search results.

Still definitely not as cool as vizster visualization for social software, but on a different axis this is very interesting.

And on an unrelated but related note, be sure to check out the web20workgroup site for the latest hype on Web 2.0.  There just might be some truth in there.

Analytics Biz Challenged by Google

Bad Challenging news in the web analytics industry.  Happy Thanksgiving guys!

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2005/11/yahoo-msn-may-offer-web-analytics-like.html

Web Stats Analysis companies like WebSideStory, Omniture, WebTends and Coremetrics Inc. charge customers thousands of dollars for their analysis tools that tell Web marketers how well visitors like their site design, products, promotions and advertisements.

But the future is not so bright for these Web site traffic analytics companies with the entry of Google. They may soon find themselves under pressure to slash their fees if they can’t demonstrate that they offer premium tracking services that are far superior to what Google offers.

Google wants ALL of your data, not just the recent stuff

http://www.scripting.com/

… when Google tries to host my content, how much you want to bet they’ll also change what I say by adding links to things they like (for example ads) and removing unnecssary (sic) links (for example, the ones I put there). … Or, perhaps my site won’t be included at all, by some mysterious algorithm (like Google News) not deemed worthy of inclusion.

(link added by me) and http://www.darwinianweb.com/archive/2005/1118.html

Haven’t sites been publishing RSS feeds for years? Yes, but those feeds only included recent items. Google wants ALL of our data.

Google will probably come to their senses, but if ever anyone believed trust wasn’t a big part of branding, google may, or may not, be proving a point in the next year.

Google Base Bulk Uploads

This was like the first question one of our web marketing clients asked me about Google base.  Google also posted a very helpful google base faq here.

Bulk uploads

A Bulk upload is a method of uploading multiple items all at once to Google Base. You can submit various types of content – like business locations, movie reviews or other products. Submit content to Google, Froogle and Google Local using Google Base Bulk uploads.

You may upload your content in any of the following formats:

• Tab-delimited file
• XML file in RSS 2.0 format
• XML file in RSS 1.0 format
• XML files in ATOM format