Making the Perfect Geek Curry

Ok, so a little Friday FOO is in order :-)

Im going shopping for Curry tomorrow, and wanted to pick the collective brains of the Threadwatch boys and girls over general curry making. For my contribution, i give you... Follow the title link for the full post...

Effective Offline Marketing

I'm interested to hear what methods of offline marketing people have found effective in promoting their websites. A lot of people who have become successful through SEM and have a bit of cash in their pocket are now realising that 'branding' and building real sites and real businesses is the way to go (as well as doing a little bit of blackhat on the side to keep the funds coming in obviously!)

It would be interesting to hear about the more unusual and non-mainstream methods of marketing that people might not be aware of. For instance, I read a book recently that discussed 'Undercover Marketing'. This medium involves using actors to stage situations whereby people overhear another group of people praising a particular company or product. For instance, a group of hikers are out walking, another group of hikers approach from the opposite direction. They are talking animatedly about this great new brand of walking shoes that are the best they've ever had. Obviously, things we overhear like that are more likely to sway our decision making process than obvious advertising directed at us. Another example of this is the story that Amazon paid lots of concierges in apartment complexes to leave Amazon boxes in the hallway in the morning. The supposition of the tenants passing these every morning is that this company must be good because lots of people in my apartment block are buying from them.

I quite liked these two examples and I thought they could work well to promote websites. Interested to hear from other people what forms of offline marketing they find effective.

How to Handle Mistakes

Thread Title: Defending the Mistake Thread Url: http://blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com/2005/02/defending-mistake.html Thread Description:

When a company makes a mistake, there is almost always one option that is taken: The wrong option.

Defending the mistake, despite everybody knowing a mistake was made is bad news. It breeds mistrust, and creates a serious "them and us" feeling amongst those that have to live with the consequences of the mistake.

The worst part of the defending the error problem is everyone knows that a mistake was made. Well, everyone but the decision maker, who refuses to acknowledge the problem at all.

Since the decision maker is often the business owner, there is little the other people affected by the bad choice can do, to help with the problem. They can try to offer suggestions, advice, and cost effective alternatives, but those ideas are often flatly rejected in many cases.

Personally i've nothing but respect for any company i deal with when, inevitably they make a mistake but, deal with it swiftly, professionally and apologise for it. It just goes to prove that not only are they human, but also that in a crisis, i can depend on them to sort it out.

Dealing with Mistakes Publically

Why not turn a mistake into an opportunity? There really is no need for a mistake (barring loss of life etc..) to be a total disaster - especially online. If you're seen to act upon the problem quickly, professionally and to the injured parties satisfaction publically then IMO it can only do your business good. Some thoughts on ways to do this:

Enable comments on product sections - and monitor them! Intall a forum for customer support - and man it! Issue a public notice on the website about the mistake, and again, enable comments and answer them..

Why don't people get this? To err is human, to admit error and handle it correctly and publically is a marketing & PR opportunity

original post found via Seth

WebmasterWorld Register Threadwatch.net - The Saga so far...

Thread Title: www.threadwatch.net Thread Url: http://www.threadwatch.net Thread Description:

This post has now been altered to reflect subsequent developments.

On Friday, I discovered that Brett Tabke, the owner of WebmasterWord had registered the domain Threadwatch.net

Brett has since posted in the comments of this post as NeoSeo stating that he only registered the domain to pass it along to me:

Were did you want that domain name xfered too Nick?

It was mentioned on wmw that it was not owned - so I imedicatly grabbed it to save for you.

fyi: I've done the same for: searchengineforums.org/net/info/biz searchenginewatch/org/net/biz/co.uk/ wired.au/ and about 50 other top domains names. I've never made a penny off any of them - lost alot of money doing it.

Someone did the same for me about 5 years back and I vowed that if I saw expired domain names come up, I would save them if I knew the person and give them to them. All I ask is that you pass along the idea to someone else.

I also recieved an email to the same affect: Asking me to make a transfer request so that Brett could authorize it. I've attempted to do this twice but the domain is locked.

At present, the whois information reads as follows:

Registrant: WebmasterWorld Inc (THREADWATCH-NET-DOM) 3801 cap tx hwy e240-181 Austin, TX 78746 usa [removed some phone numbers etc]

Domain Name: THREADWATCH.NET Status: PROTECTED

Awaiting the outcome

Although the intention has been said to be simply to pass the domain on to me, this has not happened yet. It shouldn't mean there is anything funny going on, as im sure Brett has other things to do during the weekend than mess around with domain names - which does beg the question, why register it at all however - So, for the moment im waiting for one of several possible outcomes:

January Search Patents for Google Yahoo M$ and More

This months most interesting Search related patents compiled by JasonD for Threadwatch - Google, Yahoo, MSN, IBM and Apple all make an appearance and it makes for interesting reading for sure - Thanks Jason... Follow the title link for the full post.

Jeeves to Increase Public Presense in Search Community

Thread Title: JeevesGuy Exposed! Thread Url: http://blog.ask.com/2005/02/jeevesguy_expos.html Thread Description:

Kaushal Kurapati has posted on the Jeeves blog the companies intention to increase their presense in the Search forums - and better yet, to drop the stupid nicknames - Yaay!

I know we have at least one or two of the ASK people registered here so you better come out now and damn well post something useful! heh...

Google and Latent Semantic Indexing

Thread Title: Google Latent Semantic Indexing Technology Thread Url: http://www.seobook.com/archives/000657.shtml Thread Description:

Aaron Wall takes a look at Googles Latent Semantic Indexing technology in light of recent shake ups in the main index. He says that Google have increased the weight of the LSI part of the overall algorithm and that does seem likely as many around the web concur.

A brief definition:

Latent semantic indexing adds an important step to the document indexing process. In addition to recording which keywords a document contains, the method examines the document collection as a whole, to see which other documents contain some of those same words. LSI considers documents that have many words in common to be semantically close, and ones with few words in common to be semantically distant. This simple method correlates surprisingly well with how a human being, looking at content, might classify a document collection. Although the LSI algorithm doesn't understand anything about what the words mean, the patterns it notices can make it seem astonishingly intelligent.

I've also been told that Using Semantic Analysis to Classify Search Engine Spam - an older stanford document is well worth considering when looking at recent changes...

So, questions for the technically inclined as my eyes start to glass over with this stuff :-)

Is this what is going on at Google? What's the best way of handling it?

Go ahead and thrash out your theories, it's all speculation but it certainly seems likely so getting to grips with it is a must...

Getting MSN Results in RSS

Thread Title: MSN Search's RSS Feeds Thread Url: http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050203-180553 Thread Description:

As Danny has just pointed out, you can now get your MSN results in RSS in a much simpler manner - just key in whatever it is you want to monitor and check for the orange RSS button at the bottom of the page.

Here's a really dull feed to plug in and try :)

Unfortunately you can't jig the RSS to show results from out of the country you're in like you can with the normal SERPS - they say they're working on that.

Shell get Screwed by Incompetent SEO Firm

Shell have found themselves in some rather unfortunate circumstances in the Danish Google results - it appears that an SEO firm called Aizee.dk have been somewhat incompetent with their efforts to promote the Danish arm of Shell.

It looks as though they've been doing doorways for Shell by promoting Shell.dk and having it redirect to the real Shell DK page - unfortunately they've somehow managed to META refresh wrongly and now we have this mess:

A [url=http://216.239.39.104/search?hl=da&q=shell ]search for Shell[/url] now brings up the SEO firm as No.1 A search for Search engine optimization now brings up Shell as No.9

Not good news for Shell or the company involved in thier marketing - i debated about even publishing it but it's a major, global company so fair game i reckon...

Looks like a classic case of Google Hijacking gone horribly wrong...

Guardian Newspaper offers RSS Reader with Overture Ads

Thread Title: Guardian Offers RSS Newsreader for Download Thread Url: http://www.paidcontent.org/pc/arch/2005_02_03.shtml#012132 Thread Description:

There's been a lot of speculation and talk of the printed press' future online in recent months, even including this wonderful movie on the future of media in general but little seems to come out of all of this talk. Particularly from the newspapers themselves.

However, whereas im sure this isn't the killer app newspapers need, it's heartening to read that the Guardian will be pushing an RSS reader as download to help users keep abreast of content. The app is currently being offered to a limited number of users for trial.

The reader itself is called Newspoint and was produced by Cosenda. It comes prefilled with a whole bunch of feeds from the newspaper making it ready to go without fuss or thought.

Overture Providing Ads in the Feeds and Newsreader

Overture will be providing the ads both in the app itself and the feeds, with some room for the newspapers that partner with Cosenda to also provide dedicated ad feeds to the system. Cosenda are also working with the LA Times and courting a whole bunch more media companies as part of their strategy.

Seems like a fine idea to me.

More Conspiracy Speculation on Google as Registrar

Thread Title: 10 Things Google Could Do as a Domain Name Registrar Thread Url: http://www.circleid.com/article/930_0_1_0_C/ Thread Description:

I love a good conspiracy theory, they're just so much fun... This piece threadlinked above gives, as the title suggests, 10 things Google could do with it's new status of Domain Registar - some of them are rather good, i'll list the main points but check the article for more details:

Organize a Mega Whois database - with G technology, think what they might be able to do with all that data. Blog Hosting - think Blogger Mining link networks (love this one..) no.4 is lame Just so that people don't discover what the next Google product will be? Simply to have more control over thier domains Use with Google Adsense for new domains My personal favorite: To start an ID service - buy a domain from Google and get an ID, they then track your sites via your ID and other registrars would have to interface with it so that you could get into Google - heheh... Sell you the domain, host your site, give you advertising and cut out the SEO's er.. no.10 is pretty much the same - Geocities on steriods...

Ok, the Threadwatch small plastic trumpet award for this week goes to anyone that can top that little lot for "tin foil hattedness" :-)

Added: Ooops, where are my manners? via Andy Beal

Click Fraud Going Mainstream

Thread Title: The click, the fraud and the ugly side of search Thread Url: http://www.netimperative.com/2005/02/01/click_fraud Thread Description:

Mike Grehan has a great article posted over at NetImperitive linked above - it's an interesting read for sure but what interests me more at the moment is the fact that it seems that at least once a week you see something about click fruad.

This was not the case even a year ago as far as i recall, it's always been a problem, but one usually discussed in the seo forums rather than major newspapers right?

Even investors are looking at it as a reason not to buy Google stock. (i posted this elsewhere but i think it bears repeating..)

Google grew earnings via AdSense which is now close to half of its revenues. AdSense has the highest click fraud rate of any CPC product. In fact, many marketers refuse to use contextual advertising because of publishers clicking on their own ads which leads to low ROI

from always-on Funny how the success of Search and the mainstreaming of Search Marketing suddenly makes all the problems search marketers have been facing for years so much more in yer face...

How Secure are UK Government Sites?

Thread Title: Help me fix a UK Government website please. Thread Url: http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?p=32918 Thread Description:

Dylan, a poster at SEW asks

Hi Guys,

Please help me!

I am helping out on a webiste www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk and have been told that the homepage contains 124k worth of .NET Viewstate which I am told is effecting the amount of time it takes for the website to upload.

Please could someone take a look at the website and have a look at the viewstate .net Scripting because I am no the best in this area.

Thanks Guys

Dylan

Now if he isn't pulling our legs can you believe a UK government website asking for help in changing their code via a web based forum? Knowing how coders communicate and ask questions and request help via Instant messengers, email etc. then I can believe this.

What makes it worse is the website is for the Information Commissioner in the UK.

We oversee and enforce compliance with both the Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom Of Information Act 2000.

Anyone, could go along, advice on the problem and drop a link script, a touch of cloaking or worse in the guise of helping.

As a Brit, and if true, I am concerned!

The £100M Google Atom Bomb

Thread Title: Is this a Google atom bomb? Thread Url: http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2005/02/is_this_a_googl.php Thread Description:

For several months now I’ve been troubled by a nagging and unpleasant thought that there is a potentially large vulnerability in Google’s Adwords business model. I mentioned it for the first time the other day to a couple of friends and they urged me that I should publish it and not sit on it because it is better to get it out earlier than later.

If there is a problem with the business model then it can be dealt with while there are still mostly insiders holding the stock rather than Joe Public.

Okay, this is it:

A billionaire has arranged to give $100m to the first person that clicks on a special link that looks like a Google text ad.

In my opinion, you dont need to give $100m away, it could be $1m every couple weeks. Some company could make a game of this. "Find the lucky ad and win $1m".

Make the contest random. Once the pattern is random, the value of ads gets distorted and keywords lose value.

There would be two conflicts here then. How do I know that the user really clicked on the ad AND how do I know the value of the keywords werent distorted based on this "game".

There is a way where brands can direct traffic by paying a set fee.

Major Changes in Adwords, Adsense and Sandbox

Thread Title: Dear AdWords [referer spoofing req'd] Thread Url: http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum81/4529.htm Thread Description:

I'm getting reports that something major maybe happening with Adwords - the thread above by BakedJake suggests large and irratic jumps in usually calm, predictable stats for larger advertisers.

It may be that a major shift in the Adwords algorithm is taking place, and then it could have something to do with shifts in datacenters that also appear to be happening right now.

And let's not discount the introduction of the Adwords API as if there wasn't already enough to be paranoid about heh...

So, any Adwords guys want to add fuel to the fire or douse it?

Cookies get a Reprieve in Spy Act

Thread Title: Lawmakers To Rewrite 'Spy Act' To Exempt All Cookies Thread Url: http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=26914 Thread Description:

There has been a lot of worry amongst advertisers in recent months over the "Spy Act", the anti-spyware bill H.R. 29, notably services that track visitors across multiple sites for ad delivery and behavioural targeting.

This is apparently to change. Mediapost report that the contraversial bill is being rewritten to exempt all cookies - so affiliates should be rather pleased aswell.

An early indication that efforts were paying off came last week when Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.)--chair of a House subcommittee on commerce, trade, and consumer protection--testified at a Congressional hearing that it might be a mistake to mandate consumer permission for third-party cookies. "Another challenge that we face as legislators is ensuring that our responses to the growing spyware problem don't penalize legitimate uses of similar information technology designed to monitor and prevent unauthorized activity," said Stearns. "Among some of the concerns expressed regarding H.R. 29 that will be examined as we continue to work on the bill are: Examining the need for an exception for cookies and the issues raised by third-party cookies, since the bill is intended to apply only to software," he stated.

Yet Another Google BETA - Google Local Goes Live(ish)

Thread Title: Google Local Moves To Home Page But Stays In Beta Thread Url: http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050203-071603 Thread Description:

I know it's not just me becuase i've just read the nice post Danny S made linked above about Googles "BETA Problem" - local.google.com has just gone live on the homepage, as yet another BETA.

What is it that makes google either unable, or afraid to finish a project?

Ask Jeeves Launch Blog

Thread Title: Will the butler be hijacking you? Thread Url: http://blog.ask.com/ Thread Description:

The venerable butler powered search engine has joined the blogging masses and launched a blog.

Now as AJ haven't joined the rel=nofollow camp, as they have allowed comments and that they are using Typepad's JavaScript redirect on any URLs you drop in the comments will be suffering from Ask Jeeves hijacking?

MSN TV ads

Thread Title: MSN to run TV ad campaign Thread Url: http://www.netimperative.com/2005/02/02/MSN_TV Thread Description:

For the first time in four years, MSN ads will appear on television, complimented by a large online campaign reaching 21 million users, accounting for more than 30% of the overall spend.

The supporting TV advertising campaign will be aired on a broad range of channels, including Channel 4 and ITV... The adverts are positioned to run during television and web coverage of several high-profile events over the up and coming weeks, including The Brit Awards and the film premiere of Oceans 12. TV ads will run in global markets including the UK, Canada (in English and French), Australia and Brazil.

YQ - Yahoo's New Contextual Search Tool

Thread Title: Y!Q: Adding Context to Search Thread Url: http://www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000074.html Thread Description:

Yahoo! have launched a new contextual search technology called Y!Q, a play on 'IQ' (ho ho ho), that allows users to search for results in the context of what they are actually reading.

The idea, spawned by Y! Search chief Jeff Wiener's search for information on Gary Jules wonderful remake of Tears for Fears Mad World, is that you can make queries based on the whole page you are viewing or just passages of selected text. YQ will take that text or page and take out what it perceives as the key terms and search for pages in a similar context and theme.

Trying it out

There are several ways you can use Y!Q - firstly, try the Yahoo! News test page. Then when your appetite is whetted have a go with one of the Demo Bars available for Explorer or Firefox. Firefox users also have seveal other options including using conquery in the way described by Chris Sherman

Once you've installed the toolbar you can highlight any piece of text on a page and click "related search" or just right click and choose the same from the context menu.

Refining Your Results

One of the great things about Y!Q is the ability, with the help of a little DHTML magic, to refine your search once you have the basic results set in front of you. Once you have selected either a whole page or part of one to search, and you have your initial results you'll see a yellow highlighted box at the top of the result set that marks out the key terms that Y!Q thinks relates to your query - for the test i tried, there were about 8. Next to each term is a checkbox and by unchecking a term, you can get refined results and see those results very quickly as the page updates as soon as you uncheck (or re-check) the box - Furthermore, on each of the results you'll see the "more like this" link - clicking that will add that pages terms to your query in an attempt to further refine your search. Nice...