Category Archives: internet news

How to get More Value from Your SEO Consultant

One of our SEO clients is getting more than his money’s worth. In fact, I should be charging him loads more money than I am, but he is getting a whole lot extra work for free.

How does he do it? Am I a sucker? Maybe I am, but there is a method to his madness, even if he does not know it.

You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.

A company might pay anywhere form $1500 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.

In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client. This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.

My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite. He eagerly seeks out information and I swear he passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.

It makes his project exciting and, yes, he gets more out of me than he is paying for.

You know that old adage ”You get out of life what you put in”? It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.

So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website? Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?

2009 Internet Marketing Trends

What trends should internet marketers look for in 2009? I’ve decided to list some of my thoughts on changes in the industry for the coming year, what to expect and emerging marketing opportunities.

Social Media Tools – Just as social media marketing has become more popular over the last few years, so has the need for tools to help marketers manage this space. I expect more analytical and management tools for marketers to help make business sense of social media.

Closed Networks – Google will continue to be the major player in search, but do not underestimate closed networks (LinkedIn) and smaller players that fit a niche. Closed networks will continue to grow and may offer more opportunity to reach your target audience.

Internet TV – I have been hyping online TV services like Joost and Hulu for the past year. This will be the year for internet TV in my opinion. Services have jumped through some technical hurdles and now offer respectable performance over a broadband connection. Entertainment is becoming more personalized, so it only makes sense to watch what you want when you want.

Mobile Marketing – Now that we have more advanced mobile networks and devices (iPhone 3G and G2), companies are beginning to invest in mobile applications that compliment their online experience. Many of these applications will enable real time interaction with product and services. What was cocktail conversation a couple years ago will now become a reality for many mobile consumers.

What trends do you think will be the big movers in 2009?

Sean Hecking

Obama's online backers key to pushing his agenda

President-elect Barack Obama’s top asset in pushing his agenda will not be his Cabinet secretaries or aides, but rather his online network. Obama’s political e-mail list tops 13 million names, a digital force that the incoming White House can tap to push for his legislation, tamp down critics or bolster popular support. It’s also a way for Obama to reach into every state, every city, and every neighborhood.

A study released Tuesday found that a quarter of Obama voters said they would continue to work online to support the new administration. The nonpartisan Pew Internet and American Life Project also found 62 percent of Obama’s voters say they would ask others to support Obama’s policies.

Welcome to the Democrats’ new permanent campaign, one planned online and executed on Main Street.

British housewives lead the way on the internet

British housewives lead the way on the internet as they spend half their free time on the web.

The High Street may be taking a battering, but the recession is not stopping the army of British housewives from spending money as they splash the cash on the internet.
And they don’t just use it for shopping. From socialising to sharing information, the UK’s homemakers spend nearly half their free time surfing the web.

The study by analyst TNS, which examined 27,500 people across 16 countries, found British housewives spend an average of 47 per cent of their 5.8 hours a day of spare time online. This was longer than their counterparts in any other country as well as students, workers and even the unemployed.

In comparison American housewives spend 38 per cent of their free time online.
Four out of five housewives in Britain ranked the internet as ‘very important’, with most of them using it for shopping.

People in Britain are now spending over a billion pounds a month on the internet, according to market research company Mintel.

In the past month 68 per cent of Brits shopped online, just second in the global survey behind Germany, where 73 per cent of the country bought goods on the web. The global average is 57 per cent.

Google battles with Baidu.com in China

Search engine giant Google is focusing its energies on developing free music downloads in China, as well as struggling to maintain the online advertising industry in the west.

Google is battling with Microsoft over its potential takeover of Yahoo!, which the search engine market leader claims would unfairly affect competition.

But in China, Google is also trying to secure a deal which would allow it to offer free music downloads from some of the world’s leading music companies.

The move is part of a strategic battle with Baidu.com, the online search engine which is currently dominating the Chinese market and causing some concern for Google.

Baidu.com gets a lot of its traffic from users searching for illegal music downloads and Google is hoping a legal, free service, would be able to prise some of the huge amounts of traffic onto its own sites.

The Chinese-based engine currently holds a 60 per cent share of the search market in China, compared to Google’s 26 per cent.

Google sites top online video web properties

Internet users in the US watched a massive ten billion videos online in December, according to new figures from comScore.

The figures bode well for Internet Advertising companies, which are keen to develop this potentially lucrative market.

As expected, Google sites (including YouTube) received the most hits, with a total of 3.3 billion videos watched, representing 32.6 per cent of the total. Google was followed by Fox Interactive Media (with a 3.5 per cent share), Yahoo sites (3.4 per cent), Viacom Digital (2.3 per cent) and Microsoft (1.8 per cent).

Google’s dominance also partly explains why Microsoft is so keen to buy Yahoo, as together they would arguably be better-placed to take on Google.

“December represented a considerably strong month for online video viewing,” said comScore’s Erin Hunter.

“With the writer’s strike keeping new TV episodes from reaching the airwaves, viewers have been seeking alternatives for fresh content. It appears that online video is stepping in to help fill that void.”

On YouTube, 77.6 million US viewers watched 3.2 billion videos in December. Google is investigating various ways of implementing online advertising on the popular video sharing website.

Microsoft – Yahoo Search and Destroy

Does putting two losers together make a winner, or just one big loser?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has declared that combining his company with Yahoo would make the internet marketplace more competitive by establishing a strong number two in search and search advertising.

Then again it, maybe it will just make a weak number two. Microsoft and Yahoo have both been leaders in their own fields but in search, they suck. Put them together and they will still suck, in a bigger way.

These days it’s search that matters and the customers are discerning about it. The key to success is not brand or scale but the quality of the algorithm, and Google’s is the best.

Maybe Microsoft and Yahoo together can invent a better search algorithm than Google, but it’s doubtful. They haven’t done it separately and anyway Google is now making so much money it is attracting the best programmers who are constantly refining the algorithm that Sergey Brin and Larry Page invented in 1995.

It was then called ‘BackRub’, named for the way the algorithm analysed the “back links” that point to a website. Now it’s called PageRank, after Larry Page, and although the algorithm has been refined and added to over the past ten years, at its heart the system still computes a recursive score for web pages based on the weighted sum of the other websites that link to them.

That was the insight of Brin and Page: that the number of links to a website that are generated by other human beings is a good way to measure relevance based on human concepts of importance.

The other advantage of Google was that it focused on search. That meant it has a beautifully simple website, with nothing but a good brand, a search field and – for the first few years at least – the number of web pages being indexed. That number passed a billion pages in April 2000, which made the Google search offering astounding and compelling.

In February 1994, a year before Brin and Page started creating their search algorithm, Yahoo’s founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, working in a trailer at Stanford University California, started organising their own web surfing into links that they saved as bookmarks. As the list of links got longer, they put them into categories and then sub-categories.

It was a pretty useful bunch of links, so they created a web page to make them easier to use and available to others. It was called ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web’. That soon became too long so they used an acronym: Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle – that is, Yahoo

Word spread fast around the internet and Yahoo had its first million hit day in the autumn of 1994, which translated to 100,000 unique users. In April 1995 Yang and Filo got $2 million from Sequoia Capital, which had seed-funded Apple Computers, Oracle and Cisco Systems, and they were away.

So Yahoo is a directory site that added search later, when the company bought the Inktomi search engine in 2002.

Inktomi was developed in 1995 by Eric Brewer, at the University of Berkeley, and put more emphasis on keyword density than external links. It was a sort of wholesale search, designed to power the search engines of other websites, including AOL. In 2003 Yahoo also bought Overture, another wholesale search business.

Microsoft, meanwhile, was sound asleep, lying on the soft bed of the cash it was making from its Windows operating system monopoly. It eventually used the Inktomi/Yahoo search engine in msn.com, but basically Microsoft was caught out by Google’s advance in the same way IBM was caught out by Paul Allen’s and Bill Gates’ PC revolution during the 1980s.

The only other major search engine that survived the shake-out that followed the tech wreck is Ask Jeeves, later renamed ask.com, developed by Garrett Greuner and David Warthen. They had the idea of users being able to search using plain English questions; it was pretty cool, but never really took off, although Ask is still one of the top four search engines.

So there are four major search engines, but it’s Google, daylight, and then the other three.

The reason Google dominates is that its algorithm is still the most efficient – it most quickly searches the most pages and sorts them better than the others. It’s true that its brand is powerful and the advertising model produces so much cash that the company is a juggernaut, but those things derive from the quality of the search engine.

Google now is the market. Search engine optimisation (SEO) means manipulating or subverting Google to get a better ranking, and Google spends a fortune trying to maintain the integrity of its results. For example, there’s a ‘sandbox’ that you sit in for a few months while Google’s web crawlers inspect your website to make sure it’s kosher.

Brin, Page, Yang and Filo have themselves proved that on the internet scale does not matter – they succeeded when their businesses were small.

One day someone will challenge Google, but it’s unlikely to be Steve Ballmer.

Google to take on Wikipedia

US Search engine giant Google is to launch its own version of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia in a bid to increase its stranglehold over online advertising revenue

Google is building its own version of communally-constructed online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, which consistently ranks among the most visited websites in the world.

The internet search powerhouse is inviting chosen people to test a free service dubbed “knol” to indicate a unit of knowledge, vice president of engineering Udi Manber said yesterday in a posting at Google’s website.

“Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it,” Mr Manber wrote. “There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it.”

While Wikipedia lets visitors make changes to its online pages, trusting that people with accurate information will correct errors and misleading entries, Google is inviting folks to author their own articles.

Google's fastest rising overall search terms of 2007

Technology queries dominated the list of fastest rising overall search terms of 2007.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook topped the list in a year when the social-networking site gained critical mass and snowballing membership. It was followed by video-sharing site YouTube, and competing social networks Bebo and MySpace. Interestingly, a number of child-orientated websites also ranked high on the search list: Club Penguin, in which youngsters adopt a penguin cartoon character and interact with other members through the snowy virtual world, was number five on the list; and StarDoll, a website that allows you dress cleverly sketched pictures of celebrities in the latest fashions, made an appearance at number seven.

Wikipedia, Gumtree and eBay made up the remainder of this category, and arguably demonstrate that people perhaps do not know how to use search engines properly – most of these websites simply need a “.com” added to the end of their name in a web browser to take you straight through to the site, and yet people persist in circuitously accessing these pages via Google rather than by going straight there.

Google reveals top searches in 2007

Gadgets, celebrities and strange diets top Google’s list,for the first time, the internet search giant has produced a city-by-city list of the most Googled words across the UK.

Google by area: Farnborough inhabitants are looking for love while London seeks shopping info

People in Gateshead searched most often for “Gordon Brown”, while those in Oxford Googled “David Cameron”. The inhabitants of Swindon are either suffering from a crimewave or are closet Sting fans – the most searched-for term there was “Police”. Bristolians searched for “takeaway” most often, while it was “love” in Farnborough, “shopping” in London, “holidays” in Bletchley, and “weather” in St Albans. “Beer” dominated online search habits in Cambridge, while in Sheffield it was “baby”.

Fun-loving residents in Nottingham searched for “party” most often in 2007, while the ever-optimistic folk of Leeds searched for “sport”. In Edinburgh, “Xmas” was the most searched-for term of 2007, rather suggesting that no-one used the internet in that city before November.