Online Marketing Blog Roundup
Online Marketing Blog Roundup featuring a weekly collection of the best online marketing news and information.
Aaaand we're back! After Monday's holiday, we had an enforced second day off when our whole office building lost power for most of the workday on Wednesday. So it's been a little hard to get back up to speed. While scanning Twitter in bed that day (the bedroom being the only room in our apartment with AC), I saw a link to a post called "Are Facebook and Twitter bad for your information diet?" You may have noticed that Facebook and Twitter (especially their failings) are kind of my beat around here, so of course this caught my eye.
Clay Johnson, who runs a blog called InfoVegan about "information obesity, information diets, and civic accountability," wrote the post in response to a video of Eli Pariser's talk at Personal Democracy Forum in June: Pariser's talk addres... > Read more
Constant connectivity and pervasive social media often feel like a massive distraction, vacuuming brain power and attention away from more tedious but necessary work and killing productivity. Easy access to Google, especially via mobile devices, can make us reluctant to think or flip through our own memory files, favoring the fast, easy answer.
Low barriers to publishing content online mean we're frequently writing dumbass things we'll live to regret. Has the always-on Internet made us collectively stupider? (Thanks a pantload, Al Gore.) A number of "pundits" and "luminaries"—I'm reluctant to use those terms without irony—think just the opposite, that the Internet is making us smarter! (Thanks, Al Gore!) Echoing some of the ideas in Steven Johnson's 2005 bes... > Read more
There was an interesting post on Kenny Hyder's blog this week about the difference between descriptive and prescriptive marketing. He's borrowing a concept from grammar and linguistics, topics close to my heart! Descriptive grammar aims to describe the way people use language without making a judgment on what's right or wrong.
For example, it might describe in what contexts and in what regions the construction "noun + be + -ing verb" (as in "You be trippin'") is used. Prescriptive grammar, on the other hand, aims to systematize language use with rules; a prescriptive grammarian would categorize the above usage as incorrect English, the correct version being "You are tripping" (or, in some interpretations, "You tend to trip," "You are freque... > Read more
Thank god somebody is talking about "icing" from a marketing perspective, because I really wanted to write about this and just wasn't sure how. And by "this," I mean the bizarre game/meme known as icing, as documented by the site Bros Icing Bros. And by "somebody," I mean the New York Times.
Earlier this week the NYT's J. David Goodman asked, in the form of an embarrassingly lame headline, "Popular New Drinking Game Raises Question, Who’s ‘Icing’ Whom?" (At least they didn't misuse the phrase "begs the question.") If you're not a frat boy and you've somehow missed this cultural phenomenon, it consists of one "bro" presenting another "bro" with a Smirnoff Ice, frequently lukewarm, as a kind of dare. To m... > Read more
On her blog, The Link Spiel, the always smart and interesting Debra Mastaler asks, "Can You Handle On-Page Links?" The post is a response to Nicholas Carr's post "Experiments in Delinkification" on Rough Type, as well as a post by Marshall Kirkpatrick called "The Case Against Links" (also responding to Carr).
Carr writes that he is beginning to come around to his friend Steve Gillmor's way of thinking about hyperlinks—that is, that inline links are a needless distraction and should be done away with or moved to the end of an article. His reasoning goes: The link is, in a way, a technologically advanced form of a footnote. It's also, distraction-wise, a more violent form of a footnote. Where a footnote gives your brain a gentle nudge, the link gives it a ... > Read more
Last week I brought you the epic Facebook link roundup … this week, the epic Twitter roundup? Well, maybe not epic, exactly. But there’s definitely been some noise about Twitter, probably because people are sick to death of talking about Facebook. First, there’s @BPGlobalPR, which is basically the new @ShitMyDadSays.
If you somehow missed it (which seems impossible, if you’re on Twitter at all; there’s a 100% chance that someone you follow retweeted @BPGlobalPR this week), some folks set up this satirical account to highlight just how much “BP cares,” sending out a stream of tweets along the lines of: As you can imagine, this has caused quite a stir – but not at BP. According to AdAge: The use of the [logo] and of the @BPGlobalPR handle isn't something BP seems particularl... > Read more
On Wednesday, Jill Whalen (@jillwhalen) shared a link to a "stupid" article in the New York Times by someone who "has no clue what SEO is." The NYT isn't the opposite of hard-hitting journalism with integrity (that's the Huffington Post) but it's often surprisingly crappy. So I was quick to click and see just how stupid the piece was.
The verdict? Fairly stupid. It's all about headline writing for SEO, but it's hard to tell if the author (David Carr) really doesn't understand SEO and keyword optimization or just thinks he's being funny. The headline on the article is "Taylor Momsen Did Not Write this Headline." Why this headline, on a piece that has nothing to do with Taylor Momsen? Here's why: Don’t know who Taylor Momsen is? Neither do I, beyond that she is the mean one on “Gossip G... > Read more
Friends, I wasn’t planning to write about Facebook again this week, I swear. But every other post in my feed reader, every other link I saw on Twitter was about Facebook. Clearly, the world wants to talk about Facebook. You want it, you got it: I bring you the epic Facebook link roundup. The first Facebook story I read this week was a Wired piece called “Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative,” Ryan Singel argues that the company is “drunk on founder Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams of world domination.
” He lodges a series of complaints about Facebook’s steady decrease in privacy: Facebook thinks that your notions of privacy — meaning your ability to control information about yourself — are just plain ol... > Read more
Confirming rumors, Google this week rolled out a fresh new design. As of late in the day Wednesday, I’m seeing The New Google in my searches across all browsers. Let’s see what people think of it, shall we? Many observers find the new design strikingly similar to the Bing search interface.
According to USA Today, the makeover “signals the start of what promises to be a period of intensified competition with rival Microsoft Bing”: Google touched up its logo, adopted a new color scheme and has begun to insert images more liberally amid search results. The biggest change: a Bing-like navigable column appears down the left side of search results pages. It is designed to help readers fine tune their searches. They aren’t the only ones who notic... > Read more
Apple and Facebook have lately been taking actions that really separate the fanboys from the haters. Earlier this week, police seized Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home computers and servers as part of an investigation into their recent reporting on a new iPhone 4G prototype, which someone "found" in a bar and then sold to Gizmodo.
It now appears that the phone was actually stolen. It is unclear what role precisely Apple plays in this criminal investigation. But according to Yahoo News: The raid that San Mateo area cops conducted last week on the house of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen came at the behest of a special multi-agency task force that was commissioned to work with the computer industry to tackle high-tech crimes. And Apple Inc. sits on the task force's steering committe... > Read more
I know this is an Internet marketing blog and I'm supposed to be talking about search industry news, but the biggest news this week in any industry, truly, was the launch of the new Double Down sandwich from KFC. It seemed to be all anyone was talking/blogging about. But I'm here to show you why there's nothing noteworthy about this news—it's just shameless, attention-grabbing linkbait.
If They Weren't Calling It a Sandwich, It Would Be No Big Deal First of all, as pointed out on the food blog Serious Eats, the Double Down is basically chicken cordon bleu. Chicken cordon bleu is breaded chicken stuffed with cheese and ham; the Double Down is fried (or "grilled") chicken stuffed with cheese and bacon. The main differences are the fact that the chicken doesn't completely env... > Read more
It's been a while since there's been a big shake-up in the online marketing industry*. Google hasn't launched a massive failure of a product recently. No one declared SEO dead this week, nor did anyone save the industry. Things have been pretty ho-hum, all told. So let's rewind a bit and see what happened in search marketing this week … in 2005!!!!!11($%^&*) (Bonus Tip! To search news archives for a specific date range, enter your query, hit enter, show options, click "Sorted by date," then "Archives.
" I could only get this to work in Internet Explorer. Note to Google: This should not be that hard.) There were some big acquisitions in March 2005: InterActiveCorp bought Ask Jeeves for $1.85 billion: Awww, how cute. Remember when it was called "Ask Jeeves&... > Read more
Mashable does a series of polls called "Web Faceoff" that pit similar Internet phenomena against one another, e.g. GTalk vs. AIM, Foursquare vs. Yelp, Nexus One vs. iPhone 3GS, and so on. This week, the Web Faceoff was "Chatroulette vs. Hot or Not." My first thought was, "…Huh?" I read on to see why these two, to my mind, very different sites were matched up in the pen.
Chatroulette, which was launched in late 2009, is a webcam-based chat site that matches you up with a random stranger. Hot or Not, launched almost a decade earlier, shows viewers user-submitted photos and allows them to rate the photos on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being smoking hot, naturally). What's the connection? According to Mashable, they both share a "philosophy of randomness.&q... > Read more
In a post called "What's Up, Internet," writer Amelia Gray answers some of the questions that Googlers have found her blog by asking: how long does it take to get a warrant I think you can get one in an afternoon, if you are a police officer and you can find a judge to give you one. (It will take more time if you’re just some guy.
) what sort of rocks are there? All kinds. Some rocks are very hard and others are so soft you can scratch them with your fingernail. Sometimes rocks float. Once I had a dream I was explaining a quartz rock to my child. Amelia may be doing this for laughs, but she still got a good post out of it, right? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Your keywords are content idea generators. If you're already ranking for questions like "What's ... > Read more
I'm sure many of you saw this much-shared gem: a Newsweek article from 1995 called "The Internet? Bah!" (subtitled "Why cyberspace isn't, and will never be, nirvana"), in which author Clifford Stoll argues that the Internet is overrated and will never be as pervasive as the pundits claim (emphases mine): I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community.
Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will repla... > Read more
A lot of people linked to a Wired article earlier this week titled "How Google's Algorithm Rules the Web," by Steven Levy, calling it a must-read. If you're a search geek (and if you're reading this, your probably are), the article probably doesn't communicate much that you don't already know.
The most interesting thing about the piece, actually, is an example contained within the article, meant to illustrate how Google outperforms Bing on a pretty basic query. But the example doesn't work anymore—not how the author intended it to—only illustrating how little the average person (even the average tech journalist?) understands search engine algorithms. “The algorithm is extremely important in search, but it’s not the only thing,” says Brian MacDonald, ... > Read more
Nielsen reported this week that Facebook is now officially the web's biggest time suck (or time sink, if you prefer), with the average American user clocking in at over seven hours of Facebook use per month – which doesn't sound all that shocking compared to how much TV the average American watches: 153 hours per month, and that's just at home, not counting sports bars, the Internet and so on.
Holy crap, people, turn off the TV – you're probably missing something on Facebook! Nonetheless, it's a lot compared to other online activities – seven hours per month is more time than we spend on Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Amazon and Wikipedia combined. (Holy crap, people, turn off Facebook, you might be missing something on YouTube!) Occasionally we all make bad choices when it comes to h... > Read more
Google this week took another stab at social with the release of the unoriginally named Google Buzz, which was rolled out to Gmail users soon after Tuesday's announcement. As Matt McGee points out in a post on Search Engine Land, Google Buzz – basically a stream of status updates and shared items – is intended to compete with Twitter, Facebook, and even Foursquare, given its mobile features.
There's been a lot less hype surrounding Buzz (ironically?) than there was for Google Wave, which may mean that Google was wary of more buzz backlash. Hype or no hype, among non-tech-geeks I know, the initial "buzz" was very similar to the reaction to Google Wave: What is this? What is it for? So is Buzz really a threat? According to Marshall Kirkpatrick, yes – it's disrupti... > Read more
My friend Jessica, who has been blogging since at least 2006, warned me the other day that as my blog gets more popular, the comments will get progressively more annoying, truculent and even abusive. Though she is young and lovely, she said this with the tone of a knobby old seer. I chuckled nervously and tried to dismiss her prediction—I love my blog commenters—but I wasn't sure how to respond.
So my ears pricked up, or my eyes, or something, when shortly after this, Danny Sullivan tweeted that Engadget is turning off comments for a bit. In the announcement post, Joshua Topolsky wrote: Hey guys, we know you like to have your fun, voice your opinions, and argue over your favorite gear, but over the past few days the tone in comments has really gotten out of hand. What is norma... > Read more
I didn't want to write about the iPad this week, but now I want to write about the iPad this week. Though I am not a gadget person, it was difficult to ignore the onslaught of buzz and anti-buzz that swarmed Twitter on Wednesday before, during and after the unveiling of the iPad. Maybe I gravitate toward snarky (wise) people, but the sentiment from my view was overwhelmingly negative, especially if you count "wings" jokes as negative.
The reactions were largely along these lines: "So it's just a big iPhone that doesn't work as a phone? Really?" This got me thinking about the path that personal devices seem to be taking—that is, getting larger, not smaller. The iPhone is already significantly larger than the Razor, which all the cool kids were carrying before ... > Read more
If you're interested in the semantics of search, Google's announcement this week that it is now bolding synonyms in search results probably turned your head. (In fact, you might have noticed this happening before the official announcement.) In a post titled "Helping Computers Understand Language" on the Official Google Blog, Google engineer Steven Baker writes: An irony of computer science is that tasks humans struggle with can be performed easily by computer programs, but tasks humans can perform effortlessly remain difficult for computers.
I don't know if I'd call this an irony. Humans are better at some things, computers are better at others. You can say the same thing about bees, buzz saws, and evolution. But identifying misuses of the word "irony" is so 1996, so le... > Read more
In an interview with Michael Arrington last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told the world that Facebook is changing to keep up with it—and what the world wants, apparently, is less privacy. Naturally, this caused a big hubbub (at least in the online marketing corner of the world), with many claiming Facebook is acting against its users' best interests, trying to trick them into doing what will increase Facebook revenue—or, rather, into not doing what won't help its revenue.
By not changing the now-default settings, users will (perhaps unintentionally) make their data more public and searchable. Others leapt to Facebook's defense. This is the way society is moving, they said; get over it. Falling in the former camp, Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote a two-part think piece of s... > Read more
As I flâneured around the blogosphere this week (permit me to verb a French noun derived from a verb), I was overcome by a gadget-induced ennui. Nexus One. The iTablet/iSlate. Blah blah blah. I have nothing to say about these developments. "Will 2010 be the year of the smartphone?" Who cares? Sorry, gadgetheads—not me so much.
I am, however, interested in other directions the industry may take in 2010. (And while we're on the topic, you are on board with saying "twenty-ten," foregoing the cumbersome "two-thousand" prefix, are you not? Excellent. Glad we're on the same page.) And luckily, bloggers are still churning out resolutions and predictions for the year ahead. I especially liked Debra Mastaler's Link Building Trends For 2010. After providing an overview of 2009, Debra, Julie Joyce... > Read more
Well well well, if it isn't Friday once again. Since next Friday is Christmas, and the following is New Year's Day, this is my last Friday roundup of the year (and decade!). And I'd like to use it to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped us spread the word about our new free tools, the Keyword Niche Finder and the Free Keyword Grouper.
Here's a roundup of all the coverage around the Web: On Search Engine People, Terry Van Horne talks about getting back to the "roots of SEO" with keyword research, calling the Keyword Niche Finder "simply one of the best tools I've seen for quite some time." Ann Smarty reviewed the tools on Search Engine Journal: "WordStream, a must-have keyword management tool for PPC marketers we reviewed earlier, has just launched two really nice... > Read more
It was another big week at the Googleplex. (This opener is starting to feel like the Friday roundup equivalent of "Once upon a time.") The "search giant" made about a jillion announcements—I think Google has decided to mimic Bing's ever-changing homepage image by adding a new feature every day. (Ooh, fade-in buttons! But why!) Some of these announcements had real implications for search marketers—particularly integration of real-time search and the launch of "universal personalized search," which means, in effect, there's no "real" ranking, no official SERP; like Google's homepage of late, it's always different.
(Of course, one could argue that with geo and time data incorporated it was always different anyway …) The search community is divided on the significance of personalized sea... > Read more
It's something you hear over and over again from SEOs: Anchor text matters. Chris Brogan relayed this familiar advice this week in a post on decisions we make as bloggers: By the way, HOW you link to something matters. If you link to chrisbrogan.com by calling it Chris’s blog, then you’re telling Google that people searching for “Chris’s blog” might want chrisbrogan.
com. If you link to chrisbrogan.com by calling it social media resources or social media strategy or whatever (frankly, I’ve never known what to bother ranking for in search results), then you are telling Google that people searching for social media whatever might want to find my blog. So in choosing the words for the link text, you’re also making decisions. Aside: It took me FOREVER to find where I'd read this a... > Read more
It's finally Friday, folks, and this week's roundup is all about IMAGE SWIRL! Just kidding. Who cares about Image Swirl? This week's roundup is all about the retweet. Twitter has completed the rollout of its new formalized retweet feature. I want to say that I haven't seen so many people tweeting about the same thing since Michael Jackson died, but the trending topics indicate otherwise.
I guess it's just my dweeby search marketing list. As Ruud Hein pointed out, it's kind of funny to watch the search results for "retweet." (As long as we're complaining about Twitter, can I just add that this is irritating: because the link in Ruud's tweet was broken in TweetDeck, I arrived at the search page for people instead, then had to navigate back to my home page, where it took me upwards of five s... > Read more
This week, another chapter in the slow-motion car crash that is the decline of the news industry (excuse me while I mix my metaphors; I’m working on reduced brain cells today): Rupert Murdoch announced that News Corp. will consider moving its websites to a paid subscription model and voluntarily delisting them from Google—equating search engine listings to plagiarism.
In an interview with Sky News (video clip below), he also claimed that “fair use is illegal,” a move Cory Doctorow called the “loonie cherry atop a banana split with extra crazy sauce.” Murdoch claims that “search people” (anyone who finds a story on one of the News Corp. sites via search) aren’t a worthwhile audience. They click on an item in the Google results, take ... > Read more
I'm sort of surprised that I've never linked to Chris Brogan's blog in a Friday roundup before, since I'm a regular reader. Maybe because his posts tend to be short, to the point and difficult to disagree with, and finding something to disagree with is one of my top ways of brainstorming new blog posts.
It's also one of Chris Brogan's! His "How to Think of Blog Posts" post features the good-old-fashioned rant at #8 (see roundups of Fridays past in which I disagree with Seth Godin, David Powazek and Robert Scoble). I guess I'm feeling agreeable this week because I have no beef with Chris's post; I simply want to add a few more ideas to the list: 1. Expand on a tweet: The next time you start to respond to something or someone on Twitter, hold that thought and see if you can't expan... > Read more
I hope you're not feeling antisocial out there, because today's roundup is all about social search. There were several big announcements this week in the world of social and real-time search. Microsoft and Google both announced agreements with Twitter. Bing's Twitter search is live, but it doesn't seem to work all that well – when I searched for my username, instead of getting a string of my tweets and @replies, I got this: Um, OK, but why? Why doesn't it just search for my username and return all the results? I can see why the "top links shared in tweets about" thing would be interesting/useful, but why is that the default search behavior? What if that's not what you're looking for? For its part, Google soft-launched social search in labs.
Danny Sullivan goes into some de... > Read more