Tag Archives: Google

Facebook Takes a Swing at the Massive Piñata That is Search

Facebook Logo


Facebook recently announced changes in their search offerings which have been seen by some as them declaring war on the mighty Google with their Facebook’s search strategy and their recent statement that “all Open Graph-enabled web pages will show up in search when a user likes them”.

I thought I’d just try it out …. I was in Vegas so I thought I’d check out the hotel I saw a show at. A search for Rio Hotel Las Vegas on Facebook yielded two results neither of which were the actual hotel, but both were masquerading as such. I then searched for ‘Pen and Teller’ and got a bunch of likes from various people, but not until I searched for ‘Penn and Teller Rio Las Vegas’ did I get any results which might have helped me go see their show at the Rio…and they were provided by Bing.

Needless to say, any of those queries done on Google yielded just about perfect results for both the hotel and the show. Facebook  is following (in part) the premise that a “like” on Facebook is similar to a “link” as counted by Google. It’s an interesting idea, but at first glance I would have thought that’s an approach which is highly prone to spam…in the same way that Digg seems to be….but they are the guys with the war chest of cash so what would I know?

I’m a fan of both Facebook and Google (no pun intended). Google has tried some interesting social media stuff of late, to very mixed reviews, and it makes sense that Facebook would want to take a swing at the massive piñata that is Search. This is obviously early days and if I were Google I’d be concerned that someone with as much traffic as Facebook came after my cookie jar. I’m probably a bit on the old side to really use Facebook, I tend to watch on the sidelines at the fascinating lives led by people I know, but I use search all day, every day and I like to think I know enough about it to be dangerous.

In terms of getting our customers new business through Social Media we’ll continue to integrate as much social content as we can with our products. The opinion of others is enormously important when it comes to choosing a product or a service, but when it comes to getting found through search then Facebook has a very long way to go if it intends to compete with the mighty G.

Meantime….if you happen to be in Vegas and want to see an  amazing show those magical funsters Penn and Teller at the Rio are worth every penny.

~Tim Judd
President and CEO of eLocal Listing, the nation’s leading provider of internet marketing.

Buzz Off


As I never tire or stating…I’m a huge Google fan…given my job I pretty much have to be. Cut me crosswise and I have Google written in concentric circles….I’m currently reading a book about those awfly clever people. So I was a bit taken aback earlier this week when I opened up my Gmail to find an invitation to join ad new social network platform called Buzz. OK ‘cool’ I thought…just what I need…another social network to be annoyed by use for two weeks then ignore. When I checked it out I was more than slightly weirded out to note that they had taken the precaution of jump starting my network by hooking up a bunch of more or less random folk from my Gmail distribution lists. The people involved had been neatly selected to be my followers and I was selected to follow a bunch of others.

I know Google is pretty munch omniscient…but even I thought this was a little high handed of them to suggest which of my diverse bunch of correspondents might like each other. I’m guessing they looked for emails where I had included multiple folk in the CCs and figured since I knew them they would probably know each other…a fair assumption but a little rude and potentially disastrous…a couple of scenarios ran through my mind and I got goose flesh just thinking about them.

As it turned out my mild surprise was as nothing to the rain of pain that descended on the Googleplex with everyone from the Canadian government down sharing their concerns/paranoia over this over enthusiastic feature. Google is much more than a day late and a dollar short to the whole social media thing.They have a ton of loyal Gmail users (like me) but those 100 million or so users barely compare to the 400 million Facebook users and I can see how it would be attractive to launch with a built in user base and Shazam! instant social media giant.

In fairness Google took the criticism well and have responded by changing the way the product works and has retreated behind “we were just trying it out and looking for feedback” defense..the last refuge of the scoundrel, but it does rather neatly make the point as my old grandma used to be fond of saying… just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Something Wiki This Way Comes…

As guys go I think I’m reasonably calm, doing my job it’s pretty much essential. I have been known to yell on occasion but I’m in severe danger of blowing my stack about the cool new feature from our good friends at Google called SideWiki. It’s almost entirely brand new but I imagine it has already set off alarm bells all over the world. Just in case this hasn’t crossed your metaphorical desk yet let me fill you in on the details.

If you download the new Google tool bar (or update your existing one) you will acquire the new Google SideWiki tool. It lets you go to pretty much any page on the web and leave your comments on that page in a side pane on the left. You can see other peoples comments and they can see yours. The site owner has no control over what people have written and they can’t remove it. Short of hate speech and obscenity anything goes…anything. If I knew your Face Book page I could zip over there and leave public remarks about anything I feel about you and you can do nothing about it…Nothing.

Here’s a neat scenario. How about I hack into a bank and steal a bunch of credit card numbers and post them on CNN. It’s not legal and no doubt they would be taken down, but not until CNN had discovered the problem and protested, and who should they call at Google?)

Online reputation management has developed into a significant industry. There are many online review sites where you can say all sorts of things about anyone including businesses. Most of these are mediated in some way and you have to know where to go to find the content. Of course some of them are designed to perform very well in search results but it’s been a manageable problem. This tool opens up a whole new world of pain for websites of all shapes and sizes. On the Internet famously nobody can tell you are a dog, all that is needed is a Google account (it takes about 15 seconds to get one and it can be effectively anonymous)  and you are all set to defame and abuse anyone you think worthy of it.

You can also spam to your hearts content. I just checked BBC.co.uk and did you know that

“yootravel is a good travel budget site Go www.yootravel.co.uk and check for everyday possible holiday voucher codes”

You didn’t…well you should do because it’s on the second page of the SideWiki on the BBCs web site…one of the most powerful and authoritative sites in the world. Is it just me or is this complete madness? There is a vote up and vote down button and you can report abuse. So far nobody seems to know what determines which Wiki ranks where in the side pane and it’s also unclear what impact (if any) this will have on the way pages rank over all in the search results, it’s too early to tell.
Lord knows I love Google, I had a meeting with some of them only this week. They are smarter than God and have more money than him so no doubt much greater minds than mine have deemed this a great and cool thing. The problem with the web is that apart from being a huge force for good it’s also a huge force for evil where the weird, spiteful, criminal and plain crazy are continuously on the look out for new ways to make like more difficult…and in my humble opinion Google has handed it to them wrapped up in a bow. To quote David Letterman to Hugh Grant  “What where you thinking?”

Local Search Summit Wrap Up

Recently eLocal Listing was a sponsor at the Local Search Summit conference during SES San Jose. Local Search Summit was one of the first conferences with it’s main focus being local search. Some of the highlighted speakers were Jason Calcanis (Mahalo), Steve Stukenborg (Google), Jeremy Stoppleman (Yelp), Jennifer Chin (Google), Sarah Smith (Facebook), and plenty of others.

Since Local Search Summit was only one day each panel was jammed packed with today’s thought leaders on local search, social media, and mobile technology.  Steve Espinosa moderated quite a few panels, and eLocal’s Todd Johnson made an appearance on the panel about “What kind of products do small businesses really need” and shared his sales experience and knowledge with the crowd. I personally was honored to share a panel with Will Scott of Search Influence, and Sarah Smith of Facebook where we discussed social media’s impact on the ability to drive and convert leads for small businesses. You can see my presentation here, and Sarah’s presentation here. (make sure to turn up your volume, as the audio is a bit low).

Overall I enjoyed every session and was able to take away something valuable from each one. eLocal’s Own Steve Espinosa headed up the conference and was well applauded for a great event that ended up being the talk of SES San Jose.

Here are some links to other blogs that covered the events and their feedback/wrap up’s.

SES San Jose YouTube Chanel

Local Search News Wrap Up

Aaron Irizarry Social Media Session and Q&A

Expand 2 Web by Don Campbell Summit Wrap up

Despite Perceived Rift with Google, Newspapers Promote Search Ads

Found a great read about the ongoing battle between Google, and the newspaper industry.

Reports out of the Newspaper Association of America’s annual convention this week focused on the perceived drama between newspaper publishers and Google. Observers have been fixed on the rifts between the search firm and newspaper publishers, which some say suffer because of search engine-facilitated distribution of their content. However, the NAA itself at the San Diego event promoted search engine marketing as a potential revenue stream for its member publishers.

During a presentation Monday, the NAA’s SVP Business Development Randy Bennett, along with VP Advertising Mort Goldstrom, suggested a variety of ways newspaper firms can enhance their digital ad offerings. Among their recommendations: search engine marketing services.

Read the complete article here

Mobile Internet, TV And Video Gaining Ground

According to comScore, Inc., among the audience of 63.2 million people who accessed news and information on their mobile devices in January 2009, 22.4 million (35%) did so daily, more than double the size of the audience last year.

In January, 22.3 million people accessed news and information via a downloaded application. Maps are the most popular downloaded application with 8.2 million users, while search was the overwhelmingly favored use for SMS-based news and information access, with 14.1 million users. Overall, 32.4 million people used SMS to access news and information in January.

Mark Donovan, senior vice president, mobile, comScore, says “…use of mobile Internet (has) evolved from an occasional activity to being a daily part of people’s lives… This underscores the growing importance of the mobile medium… to access time-sensitive and utilitarian information.”

Young males are the most avid users of mobile news and information, says the report, with half of 18 to 34-year-old males engaging in the activity. The mobile Internet is also popular among females in the 18 to 24-year-old demographic, with 40 percent accessing it at least once in January.
Donovan concludes, “…much of the growth in news and information usage is driven by the increased popularity of downloaded applications and by text-based searches… smartphones and high-end feature phones… comprise the Top 10 devices used for news and information access… 70% of those accessing mobile Internet content are using feature phones.”

Concurrently, QuickPlay Media revealed the results of its 2009 independent Market Tools survey focused on mobile TV and video consumption in the US. showing that consumers are confident in the uptake of mobile TV and video, with 78% expecting an increase in usage by 2010. Perceived cost represents the biggest barrier to adoption, with 58% indicating that it is the number one reason they have not viewed TV and video on their mobile phone.

  • 55% of respondents stated they are interested in mobile TV and video.
  • 46% of respondents are aware that their carrier offers a mobile TV and/or video service,  vs. the 35% percent seen in the 2008
  • 49% of respondents have a monthly voice and data plan through their wireless carrier versus 38% who currently use a monthly voice-only plan
  • 51% said that they would be willing to accept advertising in return for free TV and video content versus 54% in 2008

Consumers show a preference for snacking on content instead of setting aside dedicated viewing times, says the QuickPlay report. Specific findings include:

  • 25% respondents view content in between daily activities, 16% while in transit (i.e. on the bus, etc.) and 11% while waiting in line.
  • 66% said they would consider the ability to pause and resume content a deciding factor in whether or not they would watch longer forms of content, such as a full length movie. This number represents an increase from the 57% figure reported in the 2008 survey.
  • Of those watching mobile TV and video, 45% have spent 11 to 30 minutes watching a TV show or movie on their mobile phone with 30 % having spent 31 minutes or longer doing so. Additionally, 21% are using mobile TV and video services more than once a week.

For more information from comScore, please visit here, or from QuickPlay Media, go here.

Local Thoughts from Google

The Kelsey Group gathering has just finished in LA and our team there had what sounds like all together too much fun hanging out with the great and the good at the show. It was apparently well attended and given how hot the whole local online space is nowadays that’s hardy surprising.

There were many sessions of note but I though this post about the local session given by Chris LaSala from Google was particularly interesting. The ideas he addresses are fascinating and exciting. He outline a world where you will be able to search for local information and not only find basic information like addresses and phone numbers, but local content even down to information about availability of inventory in your local shops. It’s a great idea and one that has been tried by several companies in recent years. The problem that those folks ran into and Google discusses here is that small business don’t have the time in there day to get this stuff done and do the million other things they have to do. The information that Google wants is out there but it’s not online and getting it online is going to take time.

This is a problem that we have been working with for a couple of years now. We make sure that as much information about our customers as we can manage get put in the right places online and we work to ensure that information gets found by people searching for the goods and services offered by our customers. We don’t as yet have a way to publish what the current stock levels but we are looking at adding more and more of this kind of information.

The ideal world Google is discussing in this article isn’t here quite yet…but we are helping to build it one local business at a time

Google Cozies Up To SMBs For Digital Content

by Laurie Sullivan,

Imagine searching on Google for rare coins or Topps baseball cards. Aside from listing the brick-and-mortar address, directions and phone number, the search query might return the suggested retail price and the quantity in stock at each local store.

That’s the picture Chris LaSala painted this week at The Kelsey Group conference in Los Angeles. The Google director of local marketers and strategic partner development said the biggest problem the search engine faces in reaching that goal is the lack of digital content serving local markets. “There’s a vast array of content specific to local markets, but the majority isn’t available in digital form, so getting access to it isn’t easy,” he said.

Small and medium businesses (SMB) have been reluctant to give Google access to digital content that is specific to local markets. Basically, it’s because they don’t have the time to turn hard copies into bits and bytes. “Getting the SMB to give us access is something we need to get better at,” he said. “We aren’t even close to where we need to be.”

LaSala estimates that Google has indexed about 10% of the available digital content geared toward local markets. “If you look at Main Street USA–the barber, the church, the synagogue and the sports shop–you might get the hours of service and address,” he said. “But wouldn’t it be great if you find out if you could get an Alex Rodriguez rookie card? If you knew it was in the shop and the costs, you could go down to the store and buy it. This is just an example of where we are today.”

LaSala admits that Google hasn’t done as good a job in serving the SMB market as it would like. Many of Google’s products don’t meet their needs. Citing a Webvisibility study, he said 40% of SMBs go to the Internet first when they look for local data, yet less than half spend less than 10% for online ads.

Aside from getting SMBs to provide more content in digital format, the biggest challenge has been to support them as advertisers. He suspects that while the features in AdWords drive success, they also hinder success, too.

While the AdWords’ platform lets businesses choose a host of advertising options, SMBs don’t have time to pick keywords, design ads, decide on budgets for cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns, and pick sites they want to advertise on. “It’s all these things the SMB doesn’t have time to do,” LaSala said.

LaSala admits there’s a gap between the design of the platform and the ability for them to carry out the campaign. Improving the gap might mean making Google Maps more intuitive or offering bundled services.

There are plans to roll out new bundled services and APIs for SMBs that should align better with the philosophies of smaller companies, LaSala said. The sales force has seen a makeover, too, because Google has learned that selling into the SMB requires specific talents to understand the market.

“We’ve retrenched with a smaller group of partners,” LaSala said. “Google’s not immune to pressures of effectively using the resources on our team, so we narrowed the scope to the partners that we think log the highest opportunities.”


The Case for a Web Profile and Website Versus a Print Listing.

So when was the last time you used the yellow pages or any kind of phone book?  We all have them, from the Talking Phone book or the Verizon monster yellow page door-stop.  To be sure, there are times when it can be convenient — if you know exactly what you are looking for by category… a yellow page book can be handy indeed.  If you can find it when you need it, the YP generally offers a response across thousands of categories.  For us old fogies though, especially when your reading glasses are not nearby, finding both the right listing in 6 point type and the yellow page book may be a challenge simultaneously.

Given the ubiquity of a desktop computer these days, we generally know where we have parked them and head there first.  And with the ease of internet search, particularly when you start with a Google and Yahoo search bar, it just seems so much easier and immediate in finding the right local retailer or service provider you may need.  With the power of local search, consumers are increasingly relying on a search engine to navigate them to the right listing, or business web site.  And as broadband goes mainstream, fewer people are simply NOT using printed books when searching for products, and services anymore; the immediacy of search and ease of use, increasingly dictate an online search first before we hunt for the YP.

So as a small business why not put your efforts and marketing dollars where consumers are actually searching?  On the web and in the main two or three search engines!

Whether the American economy is good or bad, small business drives our overall macro economy and hiring opportunities.  As we navigate through a treacherous 2009 business climate, we still find in our call center that many small businesses either do not have a good website, or worse still they have no website at all!  We know that small business owners are among the busiest people, and adding search marketing and web site development to their list of  post 5’oclock chores just is not going to happen.   Some claim they do not have the time, finances, technical wherewithal, or marketing smarts to
develop a good website. In a tough economic climate like 09, small business owners simply cannot afford to take up the challenge of find more potential customers.  Local consumers are continually searching the internet looking for products and services and a small business owner needs to know about that intent and business opportunity. And rightly or wrongly, they often judge whether or not to do business with your company on the basis of your website or search presence.

So how does the harried, small business owner get that web site or search presence?   One of the least expensive ways, is to simply create through a service like eLocal Listing,  a one page website that is great fodder for the search engines. We call these one pager business descriptions, a Profile, or a micro site. The search engines love them and in just a matter of minutes, we can usually get a small business owner fully fleshed out for the search engines for something under a hundred dollars a month.  It does not have to cost thousands to develop a website, but you do indeed need a presence to be found in today’s online world.  A fully developed Profile with the right keywords pushed to the right search engines is one way that a local business can compete with mature websites and larger companies on an equal footing.

A Profile when done right is more than a simple website, it’s your online Listing.  An eLocal Profile is more than a simple ‘brochure’ website.  It has the right keywords, basic business description, hours, credit cards, service areas, and details about the company that would be helpful to a consumer searching for goods and services.  And since the web is such an interactive visual, we will often include a video with the company’s name and phone number featured in it.  Our Profile is engaging and entertaining and pushed to several video destination sites, like YouTube.  By getting the Profiles featured in the search engines and destination sites, we build a great presence for a business in its proper business category and locality.  By engaging site visitors and driving the phone or foot traffic to the local business, we give the owner a real chance at converting the searching consumer into a real business opportunity. In this business climate, driving traffic to your business phone, doorway or website makes good sense, especially when you can do it for less than a hundred dollars a month.

So while the print listing may not yet be dead;  in a tough economic cycle, an inexpensive eLocal Profile, or perhaps a more detailed web site is the right choice to make to get your shot at the local business opportunities that come by way of search.

How much dust is on your Yellow Page book?  Got your specs handy?

Google Launches “Interest-Based Advertising” Beta

Search Engine Land has another great article by Barry Schwartz taking a look at Google’s new “Interest-Based Advertising” beta.  This looks to provide a big advantage for both consumers and advertisers. (Read below)

Google today is launching a form of behavioral targeting advertising named Interest-Based Advertising. Interest-Based Advertising allows advertisers to deliver ads based on hundreds of interest categories and previous interactions with those users. The beta is opening to select advertisers at first but will be expanded in the upcoming months.

Brad Bender, Google’s Product Manager in display offerings on Google Content Network, explained that Google is looking to make ads “more interesting” to users and more effective for advertisers. Interest-Based Advertising allows Google to do that by giving users control over their interest categories and advertisers the ability to target based on those categories and user’s previous actions.

Interest based categories are based on the type of web site a browser visits. For example, if a user visits ESPN often, Google will know that user is interested in sports. Bender told me Google currently has 30 top line categories and about 600 detailed categories. In addition, users have control over these categories and can add or remove categories in the user ad preferences section at google.com/ads/preferences.

Previous interaction is the second area of Interest Based advertising where Google is able to show ads to users based on their browsers previous interaction with that advertiser. For example, if a user had a product in their shopping cart and did not check out, the advertiser can display ads on other sites, within the Google network, that promote that product or that product line. This is Google leveraging their DoubleClick technology from the acquisition in April 2007.

To read the complete article (which I highly recommend) Click Here