May 20, 2013
SEO is a hot topic as it is necessary for any marketing and PR plan to take shape. Unfortunately, Search Engine Watch reports that many are taken advantage of by SEO companies. Their recent post, “Moving Forward With a Broken Compass: A Plea to SEOs,” goes as far to say that what these companies deliver is borderline criminal.
The writer of this particular post establishes his ethos at the other end of the spectrum of quality of work delivered. The author describes a time where he went to attend a regular meeting at his client’s conference room but mentions that he never saw past that front conference room.
However, one day was different:
“I was surprised when the client offered to take us for a tour of their entire facility to have us meet the people we had been actually been working for. The client took my co-workers and I around their office complex and warehouses. They introduced us to people we had never before met, stating things like ‘This is Bob from Company X. They didn’t have a job before the work you’ve done for us. We built Bob’s office and the warehouse for his company off the back of what you’ve been doing.’”
Whether SEO delivers what it promises or not, this is beside the point. If you want traffic, buy AdWords.
Megan Feil, May 20, 2013
May 13, 2013
I my Google monographs, now out of print, I covered some of the early systems and methods Google developed to rank and identify “good” content. Now keep in mind that “good” is not the Manhattan Smith grad type of selectivity. Google’s “quality” processes involve mostly numerical recipes, data about who wants to advertise and for how much, and some “configuration” functions which give the algorithms some spunk.
I read “Google Launches Content Recommendation Engine for Mobile Sites, Powered by Google Plus”. The write up hooks the systems and methods to Google Plus, which is what makes sense. Google wants to make Google Plus a go-to social network, either crushing or buying such outfits as Facebook, LinkedIn or others. Google Plus is also working overtime to remain hip, timely, and relevant.
Information which is ready to heat and consume. No time consuming reading, analyzing, and evaluation. Image source: http://goo.gl/Tyy8a
What better way to achieve this that making Google Plus into the 21st century identify of what’s important and (more importantly) what’s not important. I think that those who think their content is important may have an opportunity to purchase some traffic, which is definitely supported by the Google infrastructure. Google is about revenue, not about objective search in my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
Here’s the passage in the write up I highlighted:
As Seth Sternberg, Google’s product manager for the Google+ platform told me last week, the team set out to create an “awesomely seamless experience to find more content” on the mobile web. On mobile sites, he argues, publishers often see high bounce rates because users have a hard time finding interesting additional content to read on a site once they have finished reading an article.
I like the use of “awesome” and I circled the “high bounce rates”. Yes, definitely an opportunity to deliver a better solution to mobile users. Those tiny devices just don’t delivery content and user access the way my three wide screen monitors and old-school, clicky Rosewill keyboard deliver the content bacon.
First, the application of Google recommendation technology to mobile is indeed a very significant step for the Google. No one expects humans to keep pace with the new content flooding the tubes of the Internet. The simplicity and appeal of “let Google do it” may make life tough for some folks.
Second, due to Google’s significant footprint in mobile, wherever Google goes has a significant impact. The mobile aspirations of outfits with fewer resources than Google are going to have to work overtime to make their business models hum. Online has a charming quick. Online services tend to form monopolies, squeezing out secondary and tertiary services the way weeds choke the trees next to the Harrod’s Creek post office, which still is open on Saturday.
Third, developers may just find it easier to embrace the Google. Yahoo is allegedly suffering a mild form of eczema from the Microsoft search deal. As Yahoo valiantly tries to deliver on the former Googler’s business strategy, Yahoo may just find it better, faster, and cheaper to open the door to Google’s walled garden.
Fourth, users who are now struggling to read above the 8th grade level may just take what the giant services deliver. Who wants to think about a query and then read a list of results. Once that’s done, the user bristles at the thought of opening documents, ingesting them, and then analyzing the content for the needed information.
Nope, just nuke that information burrito in the Google microwave. Recommended content is ready to consume. Very modern and very, very appealing to advertisers and those who will pay to be included.
Stephen E Arnold, May 13, 2013
Sponsored by Augmentext, the original flash frozen information burrito.
May 6, 2013
A recent report from AdGooRoo highlights the ongoing Bing-Google faceoff, revealing some surprises alongside results we could have anticipated. Search Engine Journal informs us, “AddGooRoo Report Pits Bing Ads Against Google AdWords in Six U.S. Verticals.” The study compared 2012-third-quarter results of Google‘s AdWords with those of Bing Ads offered by the hybrid Yahoo-Bing network, and shows Google’s competition gaining ground. The article tells us:
“It is a given in 21st century America that web surfers are going to use Google’s high powered, ever present search engine to look for something on the internet. Web surfers at home and SEO professionals in the workplace know this fact, and the statistics prove it. Google handles two-thirds of search queries in the U.S. each year, but there is competition that could be growing.
“A recent report from AdGooRoo sought to gauge the success of the Yahoo! Bing network in gaining market share against Google. Few web users even realize that the Yahoo! Bing network accounts for nearly one-third of the search queries in the U.S., representing the next largest share of the market behind Google.”
AdGooRoo compared the performance of paid search in six areas (aka verticals): retail, financial services, travel, education, computer/internet, and business to business. In the realm of ad impressions (how often an ad is displayed), BingAds actually outperformed AdWords in the financial-services vertical. Analysts suspect the popularity of that topic at Yahoo‘s and MSDN‘s sites, both of which redirect to Bing, boosted the numbers. It is no surprise that Google still leads handily in retail, but BingAds came close in the remaining verticals.
The picture changes when we consider the all-important click-through rate, however. AdWords still crushes the competition there in every column. Writer Federico Einhorn says analysts attribute the lead to a superior ad-serving system, but notes it could also have to do with Google’s enhanced customization controls, implemented earlier this year. Whatever the case, this is an exercise in “you get what you pay for;” the study found that advertisers pay more per click with AdWords than with Bing Ads. Not surprisingly, many advertisers subscribe to both systems. That is probably a good call.
Cynthia Murrell, May 06, 2013
April 8, 2013
Mondays usually start in a predictable way. I walk the dogs. I eat a cardiologist-approved breakfast. I find out what my wife has on her list for me to do. But this morning I flipped through the New York Times, environmentally unfriendly version, and burst out laughing.
My wife asked, “What’s so funny?”
I replied, “The New York Times describes pay to play with more crazy synonyms than I thought possible.”
She asked, “And that’s humorous?”
To me it was. Navigate to these two articles. The first is on the front page of Harrod’s Creek edition and Google-crafted this way: “Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too).” The story appears in the April 8, 2013, edition which you will find in the dead tree version. My link points to a short lived version of the file on another newspaper. After a rousing quote “the dark side of open access” the story jumps to section B, page 8.
The second story appears in the business section of the same issue. Its title is “Sponsoring Articles, Not Just Ads. Branded Content on the Web Mingles with Regular Coverage.” The story features a creative graphic showing pencils held in a roll of money. (You remember. Printed money just like the early newspaper moguls collected by the horse drawn cart in the good old days of publishing.)
The point of both articles is that there are people who will pay to get their content published in a form which has some respectability. Academics pay to play in the academic journals. Companies pay to get their ideas published in a wide range of channels. The New York Times mentions Mashable, but there are many other outfits who charge money to run content. My Augmentext operation is in this business too. I suppose I could trot out the names of big publishers who offer college guides with inflated “inclusions” describing the wonders of certain college campuses. The write ups are compelling and once produced money for those who operated these quasi-reference services.
What words does the New York Times use to describe these pay to play operations? Here’s a list of some of the terms from the write up:
- Branded content
- Corporate propaganda
- Native advertising
- Pure editorial
- Sponsored content
Here in Harrod’s Creek, we call content someone wants published for money:
- An inclusion
- A “pay to play” story
- POP or Plain old propaganda as defined by Jacques Ellul. If the name does not ring a bell, you can find the information in his decades old study in Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes.
The professional publishing sector has been charging academics for page proofs and other services for many years. Now the practice has diffused to conferences. In my view, the use of “pay to play” methods is now part of the atmosphere and has been for decades.
I find it fascinating that the topics are now front page news from the New York Times. Perhaps “real” journalists are learning more about how the information world works.
What troubles me is that none of these questions is addressed:
- Do modern systems identify pay to play content?
- Are automated content processing systems giving equal weight to shaped content and objective content?
- Are the outputs from analytics systems manipulable?
In my proprietary report on this subject, the surprising answer is, “We just process data.”
In short, despite the huff and puff of next generation content processing system cheerleaders, the systems have what William James called “a certain blindness.” In the quest for revenues, many organizations are unwittingly conspiring to deliver information which at best is semantically swizzled and at worst weaponized. Oh, the phrase “weaponized information” does not appear in the New York Times’ stories nor in the gigabytes of words explaining the wonders of next generation analytics. Like the New York Times, the present is too much with us.
Stephen E Arnold, April 8, 2013
October 2, 2012
It is well known that numerous big newspaper corporations have gone bust in the past decade. However, according to an article from Business Insider, “And Now Let Us Gasp In Astonishment At What Just Happened To The Newspaper Business,” the related decline in newspaper advertising over the same time period makes it surprising that all newspaper organizations have not flopped as well.
The article tells us:
Thanks to the precipitous decline in the last ~7 years, the industry is now back to where we it was in 1950. And it’s only slightly better off when you factor in online revenue.
Journalism professor Jay Rosen of NYU observes that the peak year was the one in which blogging software first appeared.”
The chart, which we have included, shows a very obvious and quick drop in the last decade.
This shocking decline in newspaper revenue is concerning for the print industry and shows the switch to blogging and other online sources of news and information. Advertisers and journalists would be wise to learn how to monetize this area before all newspapers are extinct.
Andrea Hayden, October 02, 2012
September 19, 2012
A controversial blog post has been debated heavily online this month concerning the organic search results provided by Google in comparison to its emphasis on advertising. Alex Yumashev of Jitbit posted that truly relevant results only take up about 18.5% of a Google search results page. In “Debate: Google’s Search Pages Prioritize Ads and Services Over Results” on TechSpot, we hear from Matt Cutts, Google’s Webspam team head. Cutts states that Yumashev’s analysis has numerous flaws, such as the search box being included as non-search as well as the left-hand column which allows users to refine results.
Cutts expands on his counterargument in the article:
“We actually think our ads can be as helpful as the search results in some cases. And no, that’s not a new attitude. Of course there are tons of searches where we don’t show ads. A lot of people like to take a query that shows ads and say ‘Aha!’ but they’re forgetting all the queries that don’t show ads. Not to mention that our ads aren’t just a straight auction.”
We are not sure we buy into that argument. We wonder: would Google emphasize revenue and its own interests over objective search results such as the type of hits returned from Lexis Nexis?
Andrea Hayden, September 19, 2012
September 18, 2012
We came across a fascinating interview with Joe Pullizzi, a content marketing expert and one of the kingpins of the Content Marketing Institute. Content marketing is an important method for building a brand and enhancing a company’s public relations program. He said about the rapid changes now taking place in marketing:
It comes down to a fundamental change, in my opinion. Consumers are in complete control. They manage the entire buying process themselves. They have all the information they need at their disposal. Interruption strategies still work to get their attention, but it takes a lot of money. Content marketing is the ultimate David versus Goliath opportunity. Today, any company with a great story can be found, and their content will be shared. Some of the fastest growing companies in the world are leveraging content marketing strategies. And it’s only just begun.
In my opinion, there will be a need for long-form content. However, shorter form content is the searcher’s delight. Just as the Web has not replaced TV or radio, Apps will not replace any other channel out there. It’s just another channel where we can communicate with customers, which involves a whole different set of processes.
Stephen E Arnold, September 18, 2012
Sponsored by ArnoldIT
September 13, 2012
I received a heads up from a reader about a company founded in 2010. The firm is cXense, which can be pronounced in several ways. My source called the company “sea sense”. The spelling of the company’s name is wisely tuned to the findability challenges which less distinctive company names fall victim; for example, Expert System and Sinequa, to cite two company names which can introduce ambiguity to a user’s query.
The firm is under the able management of John Lervik, who was one of the founders of Fast Search & Transfer. I have written extensively about Fast Search, so I won’t go back over well-trodden ground.
cXense delivers to its customers: more control, improved relevance, and more revenue. For companies struggling to generate more income from their online activities, cXense appears to be just what the doctor ordered.
cXense provides several services. These include cX::Ad, cX::Analytics, cX::Recs, and cX::Search. Each of these “promises” to online businesses real time information, complete audience analysis, and a search engine. The search engine is described as “the first contextual search engine.” The assertion about the first caught my attention. I recall that a number of other companies have developed search systems which could figure out the context of content; for example, the DR LINK developed in the late 1990s by a venture firm, consultants, and engineers from Syracuse University.
The cXense search system is described this way:
Imagine a search solution that quickly and easily allows you to implement a customized, state-of-the-art search feature with all the fancy matching and navigation features your visitors expect, but without the costs and hassles of having to invest in, deploy and operate a complex on-premises enterprise search engine. Now, stop imagining and take a look at cX::search: A simple-to-use search solution securely hosted in the cloud. Search on a website shouldn’t be static. It needs to be highly dynamic and continuously adaptable to work well. Searchable documents and their popularity change, but also what people search for and what they consider to be relevant changes over time. In addition, people searching your site move from place to place and often use different devices to interact with your web content. When you think about it, managing all this continuous change in content, content relevance, access locations, time and user devices really boils down to being able to properly understand and manage the context of any user interaction. Source: http://www.cxense.com/cXsearch.html
cXense is offering an alternative to hosted site search which is available from Blossom Software, Google, and a number of other companies.
If you are looking for hosted solution which offers site search, recommendations, analytics, and customizable ad modules, cXense warrants a close look.
Stephen E Arnold, September 13, 2012
Sponsored by Augmentext
September 12, 2012
I prefer to examine the plumbing of search and content processing systems. What is becoming increasingly obvious to me is that many of the “new” business intelligence and eDiscovery vendors are licensing technology and putting a different user interface on what is a collection of components.
Slap on visualization and some game-like controls and you have “big data analytics.” Swizzle around the decades-old technology from Oracle, and you still find the Oracle database system. Probe the Hadoop vendors, and you find fancy dancing away from the batch orientation of the NoSQL data management framework. Check out the indexing subsystems and you find third parties which a handful of customers who license their technology to a “wrapper company.”
The phrase “wrapper company” and the product approach of “wrapper bundles” is now described in some clever marketing lingo. The notion of federation, real time, and distributed data are woven into systems which predict, permit discovery, and allow users to find answers to questions the user did not know to ask.
Everything sounds so “beyond search.” I think many of the licensees and prospects react to the visualizations in the demos and the promise that a business professional can use these systems without knowing about the underlying data, programming, or statistical methods is what sells. Who wants to pay for a person to babysit a system and write custom reports? Chop that headcount because the modern systems are “smart.”
Next generation analytics systems are, like enterprise search, comprised of many moving parts. For most professionals, the “moving parts” are of little interest and even less frequently scrutinized. Users want answers or information without having to do much more than glance at a visual display. The ideal system says, “Hello, Dave, here’s what you need to know right now.”
The IBM Ad
I noted an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, on September 10, 2012 on page A20. The advertiser was IBM. The full page ad featured the headline, “We Used to Schedule Repairs.” The idea is that smart software monitors complex systems and proactively find, repairs, and notifies before a system fails.
The ad asserts:
Fixing what will break next, first. Managing [the client’s] infrastructure proactively rather than reactively has helped the utility reduce its customer calls by 36 percent.”
The argument concludes:
Replacing intuition with analytics. No one knows your organization’s millions of moving parts better than you. But now with IBM predictive maintenance, you can spend less time and fewer resources repairing things either too early to too late, and more time focusing your attention on what happens next.”
The ad points me to this IBM page:
Snappy visualizations, the phrase “smarter analytics,” and a video round out the supplemental information.
- IBM has the resources to launch a major promotion of its predictive analytics capabilities. The footprint of IBM in this concept space may boost interest in analytics. However, smaller firms will have to be able to differentiate themselves and offer the type of benefits and customer references IBM employs.
- The approach of the copy in the ad is to make predictive analytics synonymous with smart management and cost effective systems. Many of the analytics companies struggle to articulate a clear value proposition like this.
- The notion of making a smarter information technology department fits into IBM’s broader message of a smarter planet, city, government, etc. Big ideas like this are certainly easier to grasp than the nitty gritty, weaknesses, and costs of computationally canned methods.
For smaller analytics vendors, it is game on.
Stephen E Arnold, September 12, 2012
Sponsored by Augmentext
August 7, 2012
There is a new twist in free classified ads, and this one may cause a few posters’ to pull a muscle. Baligu’s article “Craigslist Now Asks for Exclusive License When Posting” advises us to take a look at the small print when posting on Craigslist in the future.
The popular post up anything site has changed the way users submit content and it looks like they took lessons from some unlikely sources.
In order to complete the process one clicks on the ‘continue’, but now that simple gesture confirms that craigslist is the exclusive licensee of your content. You have officially given them the exclusive right to enforce copyrights against anyone copying, republishing, distributing or preparing derivative works without Craigslist’s consent.
Sound familiar? For comparison, here is Yelp, Facebook and Google’s language, in that order:
“As such, you hereby irrevocably grant us world-wide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub licensable, transferable rights to use Your Content for any purpose.”
“You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.”
“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”
See the similarities? Once you click that button, your content is no longer ‘your’ content. One could almost say the sites we utilize, actually utilize us more. Ya gotta love that community spirit of the internet. For some reason…I am not cheering.
Jennifer Shockley, August 7, 2012