Online Marketing Blog Roundup
Online Marketing Blog Roundup featuring a weekly collection of the best online marketing news and information.
Clearly, Google’s latest foray into social was the big search news of the week. But we’ve already covered what Google +1 is and how +1 will affect your campaigns. So rather than forcing yet more +1 down your throats, I’m wrapping our usual round-up of the month’s best blog posts in with my recommended reading for the week.
You voted with your clicks and eyeballs, and here they are, our top 10 slammingest posts from the month of March:Five Great "Hidden" Link Building Resources: Tom identified a handful of sources for reliably great information on link building, outside of the 100% link-building-focused blogs like Ontolo.PPC Ad Writing Tips from the Experts: An Interview with BoostCTR: I talked with BoostCTR’s Jeff Sexton and Ryan Healy about what goes into a kick-ass pay-per-click... > Read more
There was a really interesting article in Fast Company this week: “How Carrots Became the New Junk Food,” by Douglas McGray. (Hat tip to Mark Bittman – this is why it’s good to leave your filter bubble!) It tells the story of the rise of baby carrots in the hearts of America – not actual young carrots, but the little mechanically rounded, ready-to-eat nubbins of carrot you can buy in a bag in the produce section.
Real baby carrots look like the image to the right. "Baby carrots" are more like ponies – they don't grow up to be real horses. Baby carrots were conceived as a way to reduce costly food waste: Supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape, and color. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing o... > Read more
If you’ve been following the WordStream blog for a while, you know we’re longtime fans of Aaron Wall at SEO Book. (You should have seen the glow around Tom Demers when Aaron agreed to do an interview with him.) In addition to being a great tactical resource on both SEO and PPC, Aaron is a must-follow blogger for his regular rants and essayistic analysis on the industry at large.
He has also taken a watchdogging stance toward Google, and his thoughts about the company’s direction are always enlightening, even if you’re inclined to give GOOG the benefit of the doubt. Twice this week Aaron reminded me of the power of a single image in a blog post – not a fancy infographic or even a beautiful photograph, just a basic screenshot – and how much an image can co... > Read more
Since I got all the complaining out of my system yesterday, today I'm giving you nothing but links. Here are some of the most helpful and interesting blog posts I read this week: DIYSEO offers 101 "easy, low-cost" SEO tips for time- and budget-strapped SMB marketers. This is a quick read and good overview of all the little basic things that small businesses should be doing on their websites and blogs.
Gareth Davies delivers 35 killer tips from SES London, including tips from Lee Odden on content marketing, Dave Naylor on SEO, Patrick Altolft on link building and Jim Boykin on SEO tools. On Search Engine Watch, Kristi Hines says that Google's "Panda Update" means we should kiss low-quality link building goodbye. She recommends content marketing as an alter... > Read more
How many of you out there have always wanted to start your own SEO company, but were intimidated by all the work, experience and investment it would require? Obviously, you never bothered to Google "how to start an seo business," because if you had, you would have found this eHow article which explains just how easy it is to do! In fact, according to eHow, you can start your own SEO business in three stupidly simple steps: 1.
"Create your own website." This is crucial because if you don't even have a website, how are you going to convince people that you know anything about the Internet? Don't get too caught up in this part though – just include your email address and phone number so people can reach you. That should about do it. (Oh, also: Add a blog and blog a l... > Read more
Andy Beal wrote a great post this week called "How to Be a Twitter Guru," which is not actually (thank god) a guide to being a "Twitter guru." Instead Andy recounts a flip-out he had on Twitter (which, sadly, I missed) (start from the bottom): Possibly without meaning to, Andy has put Twitter through the filter of signaling theory.
If you're not familiar with signaling, it refers to behavior whose primary purpose is to "signal" or convey something about ourselves to others – whether or not it's true. Generally, what we're trying to signal is status. Some people, such as economist Robin Hanson, believe signaling is responsible for a great deal, even most of what humans do. (You can hear him talk about it in this podcast.) Here are some examples of behavi... > Read more
On the off chance that you’re not right sick of hearing about the JC Penney SEO scandal – or that you had better things to do this week and missed it entirely – let’s go over some of the many responses to the incident. The quick recap: The New York Times alerted Google spam man Matt Cutts to JC Penney’s highly questionable, probably full-on black-hat SEO tactics that had it ranking in the top five for many highly competitive head terms (via a slew of paid links).
The Google slap was administered, and JC Penney’s rankings have plummeted, but naturally, this raised all sorts of questions, like how did such a high-profile company get away with such a large-scale violation of Google’s guidelines? I’m also wondering: Why is JC Penney’... > Read more
“A merger of visions”? "An equation of 1+1=11"? “An unlikely pairing of two online media giants”? “A great American success story”? "The equivalent of a fourth-quarter Hail Mary pass"? "A slow-motion train wreck and will end in disaster”? These are some of the ways people have been talking about AOL’s “game-changing” acquisition of the Huffington Post for $315 million earlier this week.
The positive descriptions, it should be noted, come directly from Arianna Huffington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong themselves. The rest of the world isn’t so sure. I had to laugh when I saw this headline in the Hollywood Reporter: “Advertising Execs Worry Huffington Post Will Taint AOL's Brand.” Because, reall... > Read more
Matt “Google Spam” Cutts himself pointed out “an interesting essay on search neutrality” this week. If you initially read this as “net neutrality,” so did I – in fact “search neutrality” is a pseudo-buzzword concept that is built on the principles of net neutrality, as James Grimmelmann notes in the essay, titled “Some Skepticism About Search Neutrality.
” Search neutrality targets search engines like Google rather than Internet service providers (ISPs), and its proponents argue that search engines shouldn’t be able to discriminate among websites, biasing results toward some sites rather than others. But wait, a skeptic like Grimmelmann might say – don’t search engines exist to discriminate among sites? If they didn’t, how could there be rankings at all? Grimme... > Read more
Who here feels useful and necessary? Ah ah – not so fast there, humans! While cruising the blogosphere this week I ran across two stories that suggest we’re falling behind a bit in our ongoing race for supremacy with the machines. (I probably would have found more if my reading speed and comprehension weren’t limited by inherent human weakness.
) You’ve all heard it from copywriters and SEOs alike: Don’t write for search engines, write for people! It’s become an SEO cliché, up there with “Don’t link for the sake of linking” and “No keyword stuffing.” But A.J. Kohn of Blind Five Year Old has turned the cliché on its head. Screw that, he says: “Stop writing for people. Start writing for search engines.&rdquo... > Read more
Proving that its record-breaking financing round hasn't made it too self-important – or that it's run by power-giddy, Zuckerbergesque children with no sense of when to get serious, not sure which – Groupon this week published a very cheeky press released titled "Groupon Raises, Like, A Billion Dollars.
" Pretty spot on – it raised $950 million, which might as well be a billion. The press release also contained this line: "In the last year, Groupon has been called 'the fastest growing company ever' by Forbes Magazine and 'America's best website' by one of Groupon's television commercials." I'd be totally charmed if I didn't irrationally hate Groupon. You know how you just hate certain celebrities for little to no reason? That's how I feel about Groupon.... > Read more
Just in case the world isn’t going to end in 2012, let’s do some futurecasting! A new year means a new opportunity for making outlandish predictions (and/or predictions so safe they can’t not come true), not to mention resolutions and recommendations for changing times. We’ve seen a lot of that around the blogosphere this week – let’s take a look, shall we? Erik Qualman of Socialnomics made 21 social media predictions for 2011, including that Facebook will go public, the FTC will adopt privacy rules that will stifle innovation, Twitter will be acquired by a media company like CNN, and “Google becomes the next Microsoft and Facebook becomes the next Google.
” 2010 was a year of big changes for both Google and Facebook, especially in terms of their public perception. I ex... > Read more
Time flies by in such a blurry fashion these days, I can no longer remember without assistance what happened in the past year and not, say, three years ago—it all feels roughly equidistant somehow. But luckily, thanks to our blog archives, I have a handy reference of everything major that went down in 2010.
Looking back through roughly 50 weeks’ worth of Friday roundups, here’s what stood out in terms of big news and milestones in the online marketing space this year. Facebook f*cks around with our privacy Facebook changed its default privacy settings so users would be required to opt out of sharing everything with the whole world; Zuckerberg defended the decision by claiming that society was moving toward more openness and people want less privacy. Many didn’t buy ... > Read more
The rumors began to fly last week that Facebook was planning to announce a "Gmail killer"—an email service that would obviate the need for ever leaving Facebook. At Monday's press conference, however, we learned that the new service, dubbed Facebook Messages (or maybe sometimes Facebook Messaging—the branding is sort of inconclusive), "is not email.
" This isn't just semantics—it's really not email, because it lacks a lot of the functionality of email. For example, it's one-to-one, with no CC or BCC, and no subject lines. (Also, you send a message by hitting "Enter"—which I guess means you can't have line breaks in a Facebook message. To me, this is not a feature.) I can't see anyone who currently uses email dropping it in favor of this;... > Read more
Slate Labs has been developing a tool called Plain English that "translates" legalese, technical jargon or other lingo-heavy English into just plain English. NPR used the tool to translate the Federal Reserve's $600 billion stimulus plan. When you click on a yellow phrase, it toggles over to a gray translation in plain speech, like so: Note that you can't use it to automatically generate translations; it's just a way of presenting two versions of a text.
(I find Slate's disclaimer at the top of the page funny: This product is still in development. Contact us if you have an idea for how to use it. Aren't you supposed to come up with a reason for its being before you develop it?) Anyway, this got me thinking about all the corporate lingo that I used to disparage and have pret... > Read more
Halloween this year brought, along with the usual candy hangover, the launch of a much anticipated (by some, anyway) new search engine called Blekko, which has been in the works for several years. To compete with market leader Google and even Bing, any new search engine really needs to stand out, and Blekko sports a new concept: slashtag searching.
The idea is that you can follow any search with a slashtag that acts as a filter to narrow the scope of your results. For example, say you want to search for information about stars—as in the astronomical bodies, not the shape or famous people. You could restrict your results by searching for "stars /science"—that's the theory anyway. Nicely, when you type in "stars /" you get autocomplete suggestions for potentially related slashtags: The ... > Read more
As I went through the blog rounds this week collecting interesting links, I noticed a pattern: everything was turning up Google. Not exactly shocking in the search industry, I know. But for some reason this week seemed especially Googley. Here are some of the many Google stories I read this week. First up, Google has made a significant change to its local search results pages called "Place Search.
" According to Google, "We've clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go." As Patrick Altoft puts it, Google is phasing out organic search results for local queries, giving local results all the prime real estate: "The impact of this change is that in the long term any site that doesn’t have a p... > Read more
There's been a lot of speculation this week, everywhere from The Atlantic to Hipster Runoff, that Apple is planning to buy Facebook. I'm pretty skeptical about this possibility, but nonetheless, it frightens me. No two companies I can think of have inspired so much cultish devotion among millennials, who rank brand loyalty up there with religion and ethnicity in terms of personal identification.
If Facebook and Apple joined forces, world domination couldn't be far behind. And that would be a scary world, a world with only rounded corners and far too many email notifications. Speculation began on Monday when Steve Jobs made intimations during an earnings call that Apple was poised to spend some of its $51 billion in cash on acquisitions. Or, as he put it, they have "a unique opportunit... > Read more
On Wednesday, Bing and Facebook announced a partnership to make search more social by integrating Facebook "likes" into search results. According to the Facebook blog: When you search for something on Bing or in web results on Facebook (powered by Bing), you'll be able to see your friends' faces next to web pages they've liked.
So, you can lean on friends to figure out the best websites for your search. In theory, if you search for "The Social Network" in Bing, you might see links to reviews or stories about the movie that your Facebook friends have given the thumbs-up. Or if you're searching for a hotel in Santa Monica, you might see that a friend liked a certain hotel's Facebook page. In addition, people in your FB network will be more likely to show up in searches for names. M... > Read more
Another week, another Friday, and Google is doing what Google does best – giving the search marketing community something to whine about. Google has taken the "new" keyword tool out of beta and retired the previous versions, the new tool now being the only tool there is. Google claims the new version offers more flexible search options and easier keyword refinement; in addition, users can now view statistics for mobile search.
If search volumes look different to you, that's because the old tool shows stats for search partners, and the new tool only shows stats for searches conducted on Google.com. However, a lot of advertisers had been ignoring the existence of the new tool, preferring to stick with the old UI. Robbed of that option, many aren't too happy about it. Patrick... > Read more
AOL (or is it Aol now?) is back on the map lately. A couple of people I know recently started working for them in some capacity, so I figured they were making a hiring push in preparation for a comeback. That comeback plan must involve acquisitions, because this week brought news of AOL's purchasing TechCrunch.
Yes, the ultimate symbol of all that is dated and lame about the Internet has purchased the tech blog that everyone loves to hate for its sketchy ethics and what Michael Gray calls "page view journalism." This, supposedly, will further AOL's strategy of becoming "the global leader in sourcing, creating, producing and delivering high-quality, trusted, original content to consumers." Hey, you gotta have goals. This was actually just one of several acquisitions anno... > Read more
It's Friday, and it's been an unusually long week (something about the tilt of the Earth, no doubt), so let's keep this roundup fun, shall we? What did you do while Facebook was down? Wednesday, due to a vaguely defined third-party networking issue, Facebook was down for a number of users across the country, and the site has continued to experience uptime issues.
This happened at roughly the same time that our own site experienced some downtime due to a Nettica problem (Nettica is our DNS provider), so I imagine this was the root cause of Facebook's downtime as well. Since you Facebook users all seem like a bunch of slavering addicts to me, I wondered what you did to bide the downtime. You turned to Twitter, of course! (Or other social networks, as the case may be.) Mostly, you spent the... > Read more
It's Brand Week at WordStream! OK, so I just made that up. We haven't been calling it Brand Week, but I just christened it—branded it, if you will—myself. We've been making some improvements to our office space, including the fancy new sign and display in our lobby, as you can see in the video below, with the intention of strengthening our branding for visitors to the office (board members, job candidates, consultants, paparazzi, and so on) as well as our office culture.
(By the way, if you're curious about the display in the video, it's the work of LocaModa, a location-based social media company.) Coincidentally, I've been seeing a lot of talk about branding this week. Could it be that fall is coming, and everyone wants to turn over a new leaf? (These puns don't even make ... > Read more
This weekend at home, I was surprised to find Google was giving me way more than ten results per page—more like twenty, though I confess I didn't bother to count. (It seems Google no longer does the counting for you.) I quickly sent an email to Tom and Ken about it, but it appeared it was "just me," or rather an experiment that was only affecting some users (as reported by Andy Beard and Barry Schwartz).
I was still thinking about this experiment on Wednesday, contemplating a post called "No More 'Ten Blue Links'" when Google unveiled a much bigger change—big enough to warrant a live press conference, big enough to get everyone on Twitter talking, and not just the "tweeple" in my web marketing column. This big change is Google Instant. It sounds a ... > Read more
Bloggers love a controversy, and that includes me. The big controversy this week was over a new "tax"—more accurately, a business license—being imposed on bloggers in Philadelphia. Last week, Philly's City Paper reported that owners of small, low-traffic blogs were receiving letters from the city "demanding" they pay $300 for a business privilege license.
This license applies to all businesses in the city, not just blogs, but only recently, it seems, has the city attempted to enforce it with blogs. There does seem to be an inherent difference between a blog and a brick-and-mortar business—the latter is probably benefiting from services that the city provides, but a blog run by someone who happens to live in Philadelphia wouldn't seem to. But the licen... > Read more
The Internet is obsessed with death. Number of Google results, in millions, for "is alive" and "is dead." The following is a partial list of entities that the Internet (as reported by Google) has declared dead in the past year: Love Microsoft Kin Google Wave "Authentic" The Avant-Garde Print The Book The Page Blogs Flash HP Slate Open Office Email The Phone Call Jazz Chivalry And the latest: the Web.
Yes, the Internet has declared the Web dead. Is that an oxymoron? No, not really—there's a subtle difference between the Internet and the Web, according to Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, in a Wired article published on Tuesday: Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to sem... > Read more
Is Anyone Being Evil Here? Google-Verizon Compromise Proposal Draws Criticism from Net Neutrality Advocates
Last week, the New York Times and other media outlets reported that Google and Verizon were in talks to form a deal that would fly in the face of net neutrality, suggesting that Google planned to pay Verizon to speed up delivery of YouTube videos. Both companies denied the reports. On Monday, Google and Verizon held a press conference to discuss the actual content of their proposal.
As outlined on Google's Public Policy Blog, it has seven key elements: Openness of wireline broadband Internet should be enforceable by the FCC. Any discriminatory practices against lawful content, applications or services, as well as prioritization of traffic, should be enforceably prohibited. Broadband providers should be transparent. The FCC should address complaints on a case-by-case basis and impose pena... > Read more
Slate this week featured an interview with Google's research director, Peter Norvig, as part of its series The Wrong Stuff—interviews with people about "the role of error in their lives and their fields." This approach feels particularly apropos this week, since Google announced plans to stop development on Wave as a standalone product.
Kathryn Schulz's opening gambit: I'm interested in the way that attitudes about error vary across professional cultures—doctors typically think about error very differently than pilots and politicians and so forth—as well as across the cultures of different companies, even within the same field. How would you characterize the overall attitude toward error at Google? Norvig, we learn, along with the other executives and engineers... > Read more
It's not often that I bookmark something just because it's awesome—most of my bookmarks here at the office are applications and login pages that I need for work. Dull, I know. But this week I found a resource that has nothing to do with work and that I know I'll want to return to again and again: a list of "The Best Magazine Articles Ever.
" It's a long list of articles that date back as far as the '40s, so naturally it's full of things I haven't read. But I was happy to see a few of my favorites on the list—like "Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars Over Usage" by David Foster Wallace, an article about the politics of dictionary-making. I read this in college and, as a budding linguist, just loved it to death—I still have that copy of Harper... > Read more
The worlds of Internet marketing and romance don't usually have much overlap, but two articles on 21st century dating caught my eye this week—I guess love is in the air (the stifling, sticky summer air). First up, via Mashable: An enterprising young romantic named Brian has decided to crowdsource his love life.
Having recently gotten out of an LTR (long-term relationship) and moved to singles-crazy New York, he plans to go on 30 dates in 30 days, taking advice via Twitter and Facebook on how he should proceed all the while. On the "Dating Brian" site, you can fill out a form if you want to date Brian yourself or "play matchmaker" and set him up with someone you know. Will this work? Well, first of all, it's as much a marketing scheme as it is a genuine at... > Read more