What Would D-Mac Do


Monday, November 22, 2010

Google TV Fail?

Well if this isn't encouraging

I agree with Andy's premise that essentially, this is old media defending it's territory, but I disagree that this all boils down to some petty arrogant big-kid-on-the-block bullshit.

Rather, this appears to be consistent with how Rurpert Murdoch approached Google (fat lot of good that did him really). Ultimately these two parties WILL play nice, but the fact is, the old media simply doesn't move at the pace companies like Google would like them to.

In the end, Google TV is still in geek-only land. That is, I don't see this as something the mainstream will embrace until the prices are competitive. There's already Apple TV, which while not entirely the same product, certainly warrants enough similar features to be an attractive alternative for those looking to get all webby and two point oh-y about our their television.

Prediction: Viacom networks stay off Google TV until the product pricing and model availability is so widespread that they are forced to play nice. I think until these companies can guarantee their shareholders that users streaming their content won't affect profitability, they'll stay off the whole cloud-tv thing (if that's not a term, I'm coining it). Between now and whenever that is, I suspect those profit-ability plans are being developed. It's not that it WON'T happen...they just aren't ready yet.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Basic SEO

A post I wrote for FindResolution.com is live on how an XML sitemap implementation had a fair dose of traffic increase.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ask exits search

Looks like Ask is finally going the way of the dodo.

I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise. Their marketshare hasn't really gained any traction (even with some of the mass offline campaigns they've undertaken).

The whole Q&A space seems like it really could be a source of untapped business. There's something about the whole "Ask the cloud a question and get a legit response" format that feels in step with our times. I'm not convinced the current crop of Yahoo Answers and Answers.com crowd has discovered the right model yet.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mod_pagespeed - Google Makes You Fast

Yesterday Google unveiled a new Apache Filter set. It's a logical extension of Google's Firefox/Firebug PageSpeed Plugin. Rather than simply pointing out all the ways your site sucks up load-times, mod_pagespeed automatically takes care of issues, thus eliminating the leg-work of going in and doing it yourself. The fundamental purpose of this tool is to make your websites pages load quicker (50% quicker if the company's findings are to be believed). This is particularly of importance to large catalog sites commanding lots of scripts, database calls, CSS and images that wreak havoc on a less-than-stellar connection's ability to render something on your screen. It's been no secret that Google is now factoring in load-time into the algorithm.

How it works:

Mod_Pagespeed is for Apache 2.2 (no previous versions are currently supported). In order to use this tool, you'll need root access to your server so shared hosting accounts are out of luck (however, GoDaddy is poised to launch the mod on their entire network of sites so their customers have that to look forward to).

The mod_pagespeed is installed and tweaked through the pagespeed.conf file. From the onset, the HTML editor's primary purpose appears to be to clean up messy HTML often rendered by sites that aggregate things from multiple sources (combing multiple Head sections into one source, adding the Head where it doesn't exist etc). In addition, a CSS and Javascript Mod comb through scripts and CSS to send large blocks out to separate files to be cached by the browser (I'm curious as to how this balances between excessive scripting on a page and calling excessive files to load). Beyond that, there's some general bone-headed functionality such as a mod that scrubs out white-space in HTML and removes HTML comments (there are still misguided SEO's who attempt to keyword stuff with html comments. I know because I've met them and listened to their "get rich quick on the internet" sermons). I don't mean that as if these aren't valuable components though. In many instances, these sorts of minor issues build up across a site to the point that they become a legitimate threat to a solid user experience. A single resource to scrub these issues out is invaluable to a site that's been around for 10-15 years with loads of legacy lurking in the code. Beyond that, there's a suite of various speed enhancement tools with the built-in mods which you can tweak at will to your liking which you can find here (you can even set it to remove any and all scripts on your pages if you are that sort of glutton for punishment).

Why This Is Good:

This truly is a case of "What's Good for Google is Good For You". By reducing the noise-to-signal for spiders to access content (by eliminating scripts and CSS from the crawl) Google is also making a smoother ride for search engine spiders. This appears to be a logical place for Google to go, given the Caffeine update and the overall interest in maintaining as fresh of an index as possible. The easier it is for spiders to access content, the faster and more frequent they'll be able to do so. The upshot for users is that these tactics actually WILL help pages load quicker. With all the ways of accessing web content (DSL, 3G, 4G, Dial-Up, Ethernet ad nauseum) accessibility cannot be ignored. Based on where mod_pagespeed is carving out server-load, this tool will be particularly popular with catalog and aggregator sites (I suspect they constitute the majority of the 50% load reduction crowd). Not only will this tool produce efficient pages, but it does it on the fly, eliminating the burden of an IT team to go fishing for efficiencies (obviously each install still needs to be tailored to its users' needs).

So this is truly a win/win situation. Users get a more efficient experience, and spiders can index content faster.

Since this is an open source project, patches will likely come in droves in the next few months. Maybe an enterprising soul could even create a .Net/ASP version of mod_pagespeed :-)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Resolution Media Event

My company is hosting their first ever (well to my knowledge at least) open-to-the-public summit on digital marketing. Some pretty good names talking (people who would know from whence they speak, no song-'n-dance monkeys here). Here's the event notice:

“Think you’re maximizing your digital marketing? Resolution Media is betting you an iPad you’re not!

On Thursday 7/22 from 6-8pm, Resolution Media will be hosting an evening of free food, drinks and engaging discussion at the Foundation Room in the Chicago House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL).

Come hear Matt Spiegel (CEO of Omnicom Media Group Digital), David Gould (President of Resolution Media) and Dave Tan (VP of Product Development & Innovation at Resolution Media) discuss specific ways to maximize your digital marketing efforts across this ever-changing landscape.

Resolution Media will also be giving away a new iPad to one luck guest.

If you’re interested, please email your name, company, title, email address and phone number to Kiley Peters at KPeters@ResolutionMedia.com to receive an invitation. Please note there is limited availability.“

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Article on iMedia

My article on screwing up SEO is published on iMedia. Turned out rather well. It's my first time writing for that particular site and they were pretty cool about it. Definitely have ideas for the future.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Open Graph is a Paradigm Shift, not a Google Killer

The Open Graph has everyone in a tizzy. I won't belabor that point because every blog with a digital bent has been wall-to-wall Facebook Open Graph since Thursday. I was actually meaning to post about this earlier and then a discussion interally about Open Graph replacing links got me to thinking about how the very nature of how people interact with the web is evolving, and THAT may in fact be something search marketers (or just like, marketers in general) need to be aware of.

The internet has been all about communication and sharing since its inception half a billion years ago. However, the way people experience the web (and subsequent webpages) has predominately been a solitary exercise. That is, it has been incumbant on you, the user to go out and seek something. Search engines have proven to be exeptionally efficient at serving users in this paradigm. What I'm suggesting is that perhaps we are arriving at a point where it will no longer be incumbent on the user to do something. PERHAPS the future of ones' web experience is in the web knowing what to serve up without you fumbling about in an interface (we'll say "google web search" for the sake of argument) to get it. Then Skynet will become self aware and take over the world. Sounds far fetched? Well consider a convergence of a few things (note-these are not in sequential order):

First, there's Open Graph. We all know about this right? Blah blah blah you post like buttons on your site...blah blah blah people like things and tell their friends, blah blah blah Facebook is going to raid your credit info, rig elections and stamp out the Tea Party (or whatever the latest tin foil hat theory is on privacy on FB). None of this is particularly new or groundbreaking as Digg, Reddit, Stumbledupon and their ilk have been doing this for years. In fact, this was a primary function of the USEnet crowd way back in the day. What DOES set this apart is that social networks like Facebook are a boon for demographic info. You're motivated by virtue of the function to talk about yourself. Their targeted ads (tragic as they may be in many cases) are an example of how they've used this data. Well, based on HOW you're connected to people (friends, co-workers, family) and what you have in common (age, hair color, single/married, liberal/conservative) Facebook can start to make assumptions about what you may be interested in. And by the way, isn't this insanely powerful? I mean, can you imagine trying to describe this concept to somebody in 1985? Let alone, this guy? Anyway, the premise is that Facebook purports to deliver you better and more targeted content based on your social 'graph' than otherwise possible. Needless to say, there's a great debate about whether or not this is going to kill Google because people will just "like" things rather than link. In a sense it does sort of bypass the need for link pop if things are socially connected. But in another, as Rand Fishkin pointed out today, even a mass amount of websites participating in this would realistically amount to maybe 15-20% of the web. Google's ability to find things goes way beyond that. I'll get back to Rand's ideas later so you have that to look forward to.

Consider an interview with John Batelle where he makes (IMHO) a VERY astute observation about how the mobile web has become such a powerful presence and a vastly different user experience than the desktop. The gist of John's idea is that where Google has gotten very good at gathering data from many different sources and organizing it into a search result, the mobile web is becoming more app based creating "middleware" which is a fancy way of saying 'specialized search apps that aren't good at a lot of things, but rather very very good at searching for one particular thing'. In other words, in the mobile world, rather than be all things to all people, things are app based so search functionality can specialize in one particular vertical. Furthermore, his discussion about the iphone platform is right on IMHO (and no I'm not an Apple Fanboi, nor do I think the iphone is the end-all-be-all of phones). The medium is not the point..it's the concept that works. Factor out the fact we're talking about Apple here and just consider what happened...they launched a platform that enables third party developers to freely develop on open source platforms for a closed environment. That premise spawned 140,000 apps before the damn thing even launched. John then hones it back into Apple, but I think Apple has tapped into a larger cultural movement. You see, what they did was ENABLE (and monetize) 3rd party developers to specialize apps. Rather than big fat apps that require loads and loads of support, a developer has a built-in audience of millions of Apple fanbois. What occurs is small apps that are meant to do one or two specific things, and they do it way better than the big bloated programs of the desktop computing world. And since the support for them is so much more minimal because Apple has strict guidelines to get an app in the store, they can price them to move. The net result is that everything is insanely affordable (or free in many cases). It's no wonder it's the biggest app platform in the world after only 3 years in play.

Which leads me to my next point.
Steve Jobs more or less brought the hammer down on Adobe Flash this week (in a fantastic-only-Steve-Jobs-could-put-you-in-your-place-like-that way). Seriously..I could listen to that guy PWNZ the hell out of companies all day long. He goes into a few of the many reasons Flash is complete failcakes but he also has a phrase in there that pretty much sums up a much larger point (and helps shed some light on why the iPad really is a game changer even though it's really just a big iPod Touch). The following has much larger implications than just Flash not being on your iPhone:

"Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short."

The PC era? Yeah the PC era...we've named it now (and by we, I mean Steve Jobs, but in all fairness, part of what makes Apple the second biggest company on the S&P 500 is their ability to move entire industries in a certain direction). If you think about it, he's right. The mobile web will overtake the PC web. Why? Because its faster, more efficient, and the apps and development standards are better (well that and the fact you can play Farmville on Facebook while sitting on the beach via mobile). The app store success (and the scrambling by Google with the Android platform) is all the more testament I need for that.

What's the point?

The point I'm getting at is all of these things are serving to fundamentally change how we experience the web. Social engagement, app based web experience and the paradigm the mobile web brings with touch interfaces presents entirely new ways of delivering and receiving information.

Why is that bad for Google?

Google is very good at serving users in the PC era. So far, it's not particularly all that good at it in the mobile web. They most definitely didn't bring their A game to the Android or the Nexus One...they haven't REALLY embraced social (Orkut anyone?) and their attempts with their own brand of like buttons in SERPs usually are DOA. So when Rand Fishkin says "Well hey! Google thinks social is important too! See how they cut a deal with Twitter?! Facebook LOSE!" ...he's right...but that doesn't necessarily mean Google has it in the bag. I think the problem is that we're reaching a point where a search result page is reaching the end of its life-cycle (yeah I said it). While Google has spent all this time dissecting query intent, gathering data...perhaps the whole idea of driving it back to a search result is not really what the mobile age is all about? Do we really think that paradigm is the end-all-be-all for the ages? That there isn't a way to do it better than a Search Engine Result Page? That's why I would suggest unless Google is able to entirely re-dress the way they present data to the user, then I would suspect eventually Google will fall out of favor with the crowd that doesn't want to see a list of blue links, a map here, a video there and a mess of ads up along the side. THAT crowd would rather just cut to the chase when they are hungry by clicking on their food app that already knows where they are, what restaurants are near and what their friends think is good.
I reserve the right to be wrong...and I realize I'm just pondering out loud...but I sense these things are indicative of a larger (and more fundamental) change in how information is served up. Somehow, I sense this whole notion of Google thinking brands are where its at will have some kind of impact. They may be right, but like William Gibson said, "The Street Finds Its Own Uses For Things"

Do I think there's still going to be a place for SEO? Sure...we were around before Google, and we'll be around long after :-)

EDIT: after re-reading this and listening to some input, I've begun to think it's important to define the key differences between the PC-Era and the Mobile Era (at least as I see it):

PC Era -Software ignores the device because the device does not inform the experience. Experiences are uniform in that users interact with information by pointing, clicking and typing. The ability to best anticipate what exactly a user is looking for when they set about looking for something determines what the best search engine is, and that's why Google leads the pack

Mobile Era -The device absolutely informs the software design and experiences vary based on the device type. Users aren't limited to just pointing and clicking on shit anymore; rather touch-screens, tilt-functionality and single-function apps define the user experience. It appears to ability to provide the user with the best experience based on their demographic and geographic information determines what the best engine is, and by no means is Google the worst at this, they certainly aren't the best. As of right now, the leader in search in the mobile era is still anyone's game.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mobile Failcakes

So AT&T is making some inroads with other tablet developers...safe bet right?

I didn't really pay attention to this OpenPeak thing when it debuted, but it looks like it came right on the heels of the iPad announcement, which is fair play. The dirt here has some bad vibes though.

While I'm all for not introducing new languages and user paradigms that developers have to figure out, why on earth is this thing being based around Adobe Flash? Especially when there's something like html5 floating about? We're already seeing the design idiosyncrasies that Flash brought to the table start to peter off in overall web development with the ways our clients are developing sites (save for a few agencies who still think that ambiguous navigation and little spinning things and websites that look like big Pixar productions are what users want).

See, I think this tablet thing that the iPad is bringing to the general public sphere of awareness goes a lot deeper than Apple dropping a big ipod touch on the public. The whole user-paradigm could change. It'll take competitors of the thing to really make it happen. When Dell launches their tablet and people like Openpeak. But they need to take steps forward, and not build the whole framework around a dying technology. Well that and price it competitively...lest the OpenPeak goes the way of the TurboGraphix 16.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Sorry it's been a couple weeks since I updated. Nothing really newsworthy other than Facebook outpacing Google...which is somehow a shock to people who otherwise shouldn't be surprised by obvious trends like this. I have nothing to add to that particular conversation other than some pithy "no shit Sherlock" sentiment.

That said, my friend/colleague Matt Ballek posted his presentation from SMX West on video optimization. This is a great primer if you're thinking about rankings as they pertain to video...as well as some food for thought for folks for vets as well.

Friday, February 26, 2010

ZOMG! This is sweet!

Remember Madlibs? Apparently they convert.

Needless to say, this goes right in the "Boy I wish I thought of that 10 years ago" file. Simple yet insanely effective way to optimize content on a contact form.

Google's Secret Plan?

This article in the Motley Fool came down the pike on Wednesday. Go ahead and read it, but the gist is basically that the author thinks Google's endeavors in energy and its license to be an energy vendor is actually laying the groundwork for it to be a content provider in your living room (aka, they want to control the TV). The author suggests that one day, you might have a wee Google box wherein all your content is funneled through like your Direct TV one. He cites Nexus One as proof that Google isn't afraid to jump into the hardware world anymore.

That's a valid line of thinking to be certain. Not sure I'd buy the idea that Google is going to make the leap from the content organization realm to the content publishing realm though. I see this being more of a partnership with OnDemand, DirectTV or some distributer of that ilk.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Facebook in Real Time Now

From the "Probably should have had this in order before you rolled out the technology" file, comes the announcement that Google is going to be displaying Facebook Status updates in the Real Time box. Well at least Andy Beal mentioned it this morning.

This is really good for agency search marketers. One of the most prevalent challenges we face is convincing our clients that their social media shouldn't be treated as some sort of silo independent of their SEO efforts. Generally, there's a PR firm in the mix that is territorial by nature and some SEO shop who comes along going "Hey! We can handle your social media too!" is not looked kindly upon. I can speak for myself when I say my intention is never to take PR duties away from a PR firm, since that's like, what they do and all. I DO however want to make sure the search behavior we see coupled with volume and activity on the website is properly communicated and proportionally responded to through social media. The two most definitely influence each other.

With this news comes an even more direct influencing effect. I've said it before, as have a few talking heads out there, but Real Time Search seems like it was launched a little too early. Basically authority and trust is given to whoever said something most recently. However, the fact Facebook status is included means it's one more place our clients can control their brand.

What I propose to do with this: Use Facebook and Twitter status with a liberal use of keywords in a game of leapfrog and double my chances of ranking in real time search. This is all the more reason the PR folks need to be aware of what we're seeing in search volume.

What do I expect to happen? For SOME of my clients, I think some people are going to search for their brand, and when a Facebook feed for their official FB page comes up, they'll go "Wow, so (insert big ubiquitous yet entirely impersonal brand) has a Facebook fanpage? Interesting..." and some of those branded queries will siphon off to the Facebook page and some of THOSE will become fans. I also expect this to be a blocking tactic for queries where we aren't getting any traction. Since I already know real time search doesn't have anything to do with links, retweets or any other measure of popularity (at least I think I know that), we can get in front of the SERPs here. The net result of which is that at least for brief pockets, we'll be able to pull in clicks to the Facebook or Twitter page and hopefully drive traffic into our own funnel (or whatever the goal of the site happens to be).

Now the crux of a project like this is that you have to be on top of where the buzz is. If you are pushing messages in Facebook and Twitter based on keywords that have seasonality to them, you better be doing so when that seasonality is at its peak. Don't talk about the wonders of Valentines Day in October in other words. Everything must be as topical as possible. We could get creative here too. Who says everything has to be based on whatever it is the client's brand sells? Why keep the brand in a bubble? I say the sky is the limit in branding.

Potential Topical Theme tie-ins (I'm thinking out loud here...so be prepared for some mass stupidity in this list):

-RIP for celebrities
-Birthdays for celebrities or people of note
-Weather phenomena (hello New York)
-Legislation / Political news (with care though since talking politics is a road fraught with peril)
-Sports (am thinking about how Gatorade could discuss Winter Olympics on their FB updates in real time and tie the brand in via Real Time Search Results)
-Space Shuttle launch/landings
-Awards show results (Grammies, Emmies etc)
-News of the Weird type stuff

My point is that the dual nature of social media, where the communication in the walled garden can now be indexed and shown in a SERP has some great possibilities for search marketers. I'm fine with this. Unfortunately, it's only a matter of time until Real Time Search is refined to the point where Google can parse which Tweets and status updates are important verses which are just background noise.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bing doesn't index 302 redirects

This post on SEOrountable pulled up a post from the Bing Community thread wherein they just out and said 302 redirects are not indexed.

Well this definitely explains a few things for some of my clients. I don't understand the logic behind this on Bing's part. I would guess this is more of a technology thing than somebody over at Bing saying "hey, we don't like those temporary things, howzabout we just throw the whole lot out?".

Ultimately, I can't see how this will be the law of the land for Bing going forward. There's so many CMS's and tools out there that temporarily redirect things without the user even really intending for it to be so. I mean, not associating history to a temporarily redirected link is one thing. Throwing it entirely out of the index is entirely something else.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Senior Marketers Not Getting it

Couldn't have said it better myself (in regards to that study).

I think this is more a symptom of those senior marketing people being too involved in the next big thing (tm) and not being involved in the 'what always is the big thing'

Monday, February 1, 2010

SEOmoz to be a fulltime software provider

Or at least that's what Rand's latest post says.

I'm not surprised by this move, even though I don't know that I agree with it. SEOmoz's premium membership services have long been the primary source of revenue for the company. Ever since that round of VC they took on, those services have increasingly become the focus of the company.

Ultimately, they know what side their bread is buttered on...the post above goes into all the detail and reasonings therein. I do use their crawling tools here and there, although to be fair, they aren't what anyone who would know such things call "Enterprise". So perhaps the Distilled partnership and refocus will be what helps them go "to the next level".

My previous agency decided they'd straddle the balance of a consultant and a software provider. It failed miserably for a multitude of reasons (the least of which was not that the entire company was afloat because of VC and the Devil wanted his Due...like now). While I don't think SEOmoz will fail or fall into that VC pitfall, I do think this will need to be a delicate balance between offering tools the engines provide and, well NOT putting yourself in head to head competition with competitors. Not that I think SEOmoz envisions developing an analytics platform (which is precisely what my old agency sought to do), but they COULD put themselves in the line of fire of Ad Planner or webmaster tools. Not that that's a bad thing persay, but I do believe Google takes a "you're with us or you're against us" position when it comes to what software you offer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nexus One gets stomped by iPhone (Gasp)

In news that should come as a surprise to nobody, it appears the iPhone has outsold the Nexus One 80 to 1 (at least according to this ReadWriteWeb article). Obviously it's too early to really draw any conclusions about the success/failure of the phone. But that won't stop me from doing it anyway. A few thoughts in a freeflowing fashion because I'm into that sort of thing:

-Google's mystique and lack of advertising worked for search, but it won't work for the hardware market. They need to engage retailers. They need signage. As Frank Reed points out, they seem to have captured the fancy of the techie/geek crowd, but those people don't just run out and plunk down 500 bucks everytime something cool comes out. People can play with iphones at the Apple Store, Best Buy or AT&T stores. They could play with the Droid and the palm. Granted word of mouth and that guy at the party who bought a Nexus One letting his friends poke around on it could very well be all the physical presence Google needs, but from the initial impressions of the phone, that's a pretty far fetched assumption. Google can't ignore the point of purchase experience...as much as they'd like to think otherwise. Prediction: You'll see the Nexus One (or Two or whatever the parlance ends up being) in T-Mobile stores and possibly big box retailers like Best Buy within the first 6 months of 2010.

-Google's ability to provide real customer service (and those of us in the search industry know that they really have no clue in this realm) are about to go through baptism of fire. There's already rumblings about problems with the phone. Don't get me wrong, Apple isn't the darling of customer service either. Fact is however, they DO have service outlets with AT&T (T-Mobile can't help you with Nexus problems). Best Buy sold me some sort of extended warranty on my iphone. Google has none of these outlets available. Prediction: Google either outsources customer service to T-Mobile/retailers or enters the POS themselves (envision a Google Kiosk at Best Buys everywhere).

-Even though 500 and change is a fair price for similar smart phones, I think Google has spent so much time giving things away that they almost have to be price competitive here. I could be totally wrong, and time will definitely tell, but if Google truly wants to win over this market, it needs to treat the phone like it treats everything else: Give (or in this case, drastically reduce the price) the product to the consumer and supplement the cost on the backend with advertising. Prediction: The unlocked price of the Nexus One will come down...a lot

I realize I'm just postulating and shouting at the clouds here...but at least so far, these are my initial thoughts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Covario Acquires Net Concepts

Well this sort of caught me off guard, but ultimately I'm not all that surprised. The full press release can be found here. We have some clients using Gravity Stream right now and so far, I've been pretty impressed. Its workflow management is excellent. It's especially useful when an organization has an IT department with a lot of requests and you need to avoid battling amongst other priorities. It's also helpful in getting deep pages of large sites indexed. I'm assuming this merger will only serve to strengthen the functionality of GS...so good on them!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Real Time Search still needs an original source

Matt Cutts had a post on Thursday talking about the efficiency of Google's real time search in reporting and reacting to events of the Bay Area earthquake. Within 2 minutes of the earthquake, Google's real time search box was triggered and reporting events right away.

This is all well and good, and certainly a testament to the effectiveness of whatever triggers are used by Google to show real-time activity.

The one thing that struck me here was thus: If it's such hot shit that Google can show real-time activity within 2 minutes, what does that say about the origin of the query? What I mean is that when we're talking about delivering late breaking news, Google is still only able to enter the information game at the point of query. In other words, somebody has to be actively searching on Bay Area earthquake or a variation thereof in order for this functionality to be useful. Don't get me wrong that's not a bad thing, but I feel like the information and capability Google has is restrained because it's dependent on a query in order to be activated.

The challenge I see now for Google is to find a way to deliver pertinent real time activity (notice I'm not using the phrase 'search result') to their users BEFORE the point of query. In other words, they should be able to be telling people who would want to know (and let's be honest, Google knows enough about its users to know who would want to know) about this event before they hear about it somewhere else and go trolling Google to find news about it. If you can track a trend that quickly, why then should your ability to disseminate information be dependent on people already having some inkling of what's going on and hitting up Google to learn more?

Potential opportunities: Forced News Alerts (this could be viewed as interruptive, and as thus, a hard sell), Geo/demo-specific real-time results that scroll on the Google Homepage independent of a query (may be a hard sell cos Google loves the whitespace). Perhaps an entirely new product for real time search is in order. Google's ability to deliver ads based around real time events could force advertisers to stay on their toes more, but without a doubt, Google could drive a huge revenue stream from driving ads to people about news before they even think to go performing queries about it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Near Me Now

This doesn't really add any new functionality, but it organizes information way better. Google has added a "Near Me Now" button (I guess it came out yesterday) on their mobile homepage. Essentially, as long as it knows your location, it categorizes local search results for your area. Since I'm sitting at the Resolution Media offices at the moment, I pretty much know exactly what's around here so it isn't mindblowing, but this could be a very useful tool in new areas. I am, however, amused by the fact that Google thinks my neighborhood is "Little Hell Illinois" (personally, I'd reserve that distinctive name for Rogers Park but that's just me). For example, cycling up to Zion or Geneva has always somewhat bittersweet because while I LOVE those locations, the ride through Glencoe, Forest Park and North Chicago is a nightmare because those areas are so drab and boring (I'm long over the notion of "looking at the big houses"...if you live there, my condolences). So this is a good way to at least scout out some bars and ATMs within reach.

This just goes to re-emphasize the need for optimizing local search (especially for banks. I note Bank of America doesn't even have all its ATM locations for the area in here...for shame!).

All in all, I'm glad to see Google looking for ways to make their information more obvious for the average user to access. Local search has always been available, and Google has been able to triangulate a position of a phone for a few years now, but using these features has (in my oh so humble opinion) been beyond the grasp of a novice user..not because it's hard, but because they bury those services in subsequent tabs or require you to download an app to use them. Ultimately, this information is a good thing for both users and businesses so the more apparent they can make it the better.

That said, may a pox be dropped on the house of whatever jackass Googler decided to use that music in the tutorial video.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Caffiene is live?

Seems to. There's some barking on the forums about it. There's a post on SEORoundtable with a list of Datacenters that seem to be using it.

I haven't really put on paper what my true thoughts on Caffeine are (aka will it totally change the game? No). I'll get around to that post sometime. Right now, we're all about revamping our reporting and tracking rankings to accommodate personalized search. The notion of going out and getting a ranking and calling that a baseline seems like a bullshit figure at this stage in the game. but needs must when the devil drives I suppose.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Google offering Click to Call

Welp...it looks like Google is entering the click to call forray. Should be interesting and perhaps helpful for the Nexus since I suspect that $529 pricetag for an unlocked version is going to be a bit steep at first (at least to compete with an AT&T tethered iphone). Perhaps these click to call ads could help alleviate the cost.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Social Brands

Jordan McCollum posted a great POV on the top social brands on Marketing Pilgrim today.

I agree whole heartedly that just because a brand is mentioned a lot doesn't necessarily mean that brand is "social". A colleague of mine is preparing a POV specifically on Twitter. Basically, just because you have lots of followers doesn't necessarily translate to followers that like, give a shit about what you're tweeting. I'll post a link when it's ready. But ultimately, a brand being "social" definitely should entail more than them just being mentioned in a passive manner.