Blogger Adds Video And News Modules

Score one for Google Blogger! Blogger now allows Blogger bloggers to add a "videobar" or "newsreel" to the sidebar or footer of a Blogger blog.
Users of Blogger (new) simply click "Add A Page Element" under "Customize", and the new options will be obvious. You can name your search bar or video strip and instruct Google which news or video keywords to display results for.

Big Blog Directory caught it too and posts this graphic;


Yahoo! Simple Website Solutions

Yahoo! Small Business hits a clean triple through the gap with the introduction of a simple and inexpensive webhosting and site building feature.
It's a definite improvement on the free website offering that is nothing more than an information page.

This product plays into the hands of smaller businesses unwilling or unable to employ full service website design firms. Over a decade into the world of website building it is still a minefield for small businesses looking for an trustworthy site designer that does not charge an arm and a leg. I have heard enough horror stories lately to represent that overpriced designers are still laying in wait for the uninitiated.

I intend to introduce this solution to my clients looking for easy and inexpensive website options. SuperPages has a similar offering with monthly charges in the $15.00 range. I have not studied the program but the templates look clean and the price is right.

I also noticed this interesting item on the new Yahoo! site building page, a submission option to Yahoo! and Google. Yahoo! has no direct submission option. Their site submission is normally $299.00 and that does not guarantee inclusion.


Google + Box For Business And Stocks

Small business will be happy to know if your address is correct and listed on Google you may soon see a "Plus Box" asociated with your listing.

Google Blog explains;

"Whenever you see the plus box icon - - click on it to see the additional rich data expand below the original search result. With Plus Box, you'll get a visual snapshot of related information, so it is faster and easier to find exactly what you're looking for.

"You won't see this feature yet for all businesses, but we're working hard to increase its availability. If you're a business owner and would like to see something like this associated with your website, here's how to get your information to us."

Google points to this page and how the plus box looks attached to a restaurant listing.

Are you listed on Google Maps, their local search engine?

Spam Gets A Pass, Honest Postings Get Limbo!

I noticed the mention of Boorah by Greg Sterling today on Search Engine Land and sort of congratulated myself for being a few days out front on Boorah with a passing mention the other day. I like to keep up on news and plug myself and my clients into every possible opportunity early. You never know which new business model will become a hit and gain link favor on Google.

I decided to take a look at "Boorah" related blog posts and could not find my page anywhere. That's OK since this blog is not intended for popular consumption but I am a bit irritated that this SPLOG piece of garbage is near the top for the keyword.

I really don't mind that 3/4 of the posts here go straight to supplemental on G, the blog is indexed well enough on Yahoo!, enough that it satiates what vanity or ego I have attached to this page. What is amazing is honest efforts put forward get passed over in favor of splogs.

Oh and Google, please remove the word verification, this IS NOT a splog and whatever I post here ends up benefiting you. I am about attaching clients to you!
End rant!


Clickfraud Killer, Pay-Per-Action From Google

Google introduces a Pay-Per-Action program in beta. I'm anxious!

Here are the highlights;

  1. First, create an ad and define the action that you want a user to perform when they visit your site.
  2. Then set the amount that you're willing to pay when this action is completed.
  3. Finally, install conversion tracking code on your website so that we (Google) can verify when an action has been completed.

Beta sign-up page.


Physician Report Cards On Local.com

It looks like Local.com teamed up with Healthgrades.com, a physician profile website. Healthgrades looks like it has a very comprehensive database. On a search for "dr" "95123" (San Jose), the search returned results for over 15,900 doctors. Physicians should be doing some searching on the site to see what is being said about them and then tasking their office staff to fill out a profile page.

The Power Of Digg

Loren Baker digs Digg. His Search Engine Journal article about Gmail storage made the front page of Digg.com. The front page ranking attracted more than 24,000 unique visits and over two dozen comments on SEJ.
Digg is fickle, you never know what will catch or what Diggers like. Digg's front page or "most popular" stuff is generally from pop culture, bizarre news or interesting images. Loren enjoyed the benefits of an article that was really "dug".

Disney Using ASK As Part Of Web Revamp

Disney's new interactive vertical Family.com is part of the entertainment giant's online makeover. The web search is powered by ASK while the 1,000 links to Disney-recommended community sites is put together through a Eurekster Swicki.

ASK/IAC also got the local search contract as Citysearch returns local search queries.

Yahoo! still delivers search results for home base Go.com but you have to wonder if ASK will take over all search duty for Disney as the interactive roll outs continue.

It might be time to take a more serious look at ASK Sponsored Listings. If they continue to gain big wins it will pay to be in their system.


Fantastic List On "Link Attracting"

CornwallSEO produced a comprehensive list for those looking for info on "linkbaiting" or "link baiting".

I prefer to call it Link Attracting. Simply, it's having your site linked on or embedded on another site. Within the links on the list above are many hints and clues about how to attract or invite more links to your site.
In the area of local search there are more sites accepting links than ever before. There seems to be a hunger for business links by some of the hyper-local/city/community oriented websites.


Sizing Up Hyper-Local CitySquares

CitySquares joins the growing list of hyper-local focused websites. The site focuses on Boston neighborhoods for now. CitySquares is cut from the same mold as "super-local" or hyper-local Outside.in and Backfence.
I spent some time on the three sites and compared their differences. I chose neighborhoods in cities where I have lived in or near for my "test drive".

The Outside.in neighborhood I looked at was South 6th, a South Tucson neighborhood known widely for authentic Mexican food restaurants. Chosing "restaurants" from the drop down menu brought no restaurants from the South 6th neighborhood or even that section of town. What a disappointment. Their salespeople could not sell a Mexican restaurant spot in a neighborhood only know for Mexican food? For my purposes the Outside.in "South 6th" site is somewhat useless.

Backfence.com is less neighborhood centric and more small city oriented for now so I chose their Palo Alto site. The front page has a search box nicely placed with relevant classified ads for houses for rent. "Top-Business" links are below the fold in favor of a "special sections" offerings above. I think this is should be reversed. If I live in Palo Alto or plan to visit the town I want to see restaurants, read reviews and news on points of interest, not articles about how to chose granite for my kitchen.

The CitySquares neighborhood I looked at is Brookline Village. I've never been there and know nothing about the neighborhood. The site is clean with inviting colors but the main column content is spaced too far apart. There are only 16 restaurants listed for the Brookline Village neighborhood. I'm not familiar enough to know if that represents all the restaurants in Brookline. It would have been nice to read a synopsis of the neighborhood on the front page. I should not have to visit Wikipedia to get basic neighborhood or city info.
Here is a partial list of Brookline Village restaurants from Google Maps and the same search on Local.com. Understanding these ultra local sites are not local search engines as such but there should at least be ready links to outside local search sites.

For my tastes I like the true neighborhood approach adopted by CitySquares. The choices for neighborhoods stares right at you as you enter the main site. I like it. As they grow and expand I hope they don't lose that feel.

I am excited about the potential for super, ultra or hyper-local platforms. Both CitySquares and Outside.in offer inexpensive opportunities for local businesses. Local business should pay to get in early and encourage reviews and establish a site presence before category competition wakes up and starts rushing the doors. This space will grow.


Google's Schmidt On Targeted Advertising

Google CEO Eric Schmidt speaking to investors in San Diego said "We are just at the beginning of targeted advertising".

" Schmidt said about 90 to 95 percent of TV viewers are exposed to random ads. "It's a constant barrage of ads that aren't relevant; pet food for people without pets, baby products for families with out kids. Even a small improvement [in relevancy] would have a very large impact."
He said Google is exploring ways to better target TV advertising and leverage the fact that an increasing number of consumers have IP addressable set top boxes."

I've felt for awhile the (not too distant) future of TV advertising includes personalized super-local "AdSense" type spots delivered to my demographic for my personal tastes and needs. They will know from my search and spending habits I haven't been to Costco for awhile and maybe Sam's Club will bid to hit me up with an enticing offer to pull me from Costco. Abertsons grocery figures I feed a large family and that like most in my neighborhood I shop at SaveMart. Albertsons might bid up big to get onto my TV screen. If ads are local and relevant to me I might not Tivo through ads like I do now.

Think of the possibilities for local merchants.

Schmidt is telling us where they are going, I'm listening.

Update:Danny Sullivan reports Google is delivering ads to Concord California cable subscribers! That was fast Eric.


Kelsey Group's Five Year Forecast

"Forecast Calls for Flat Print Growth"

The Kelsey Group's Global Print Yellow Pages, Internet Yellow Pages and Local Search Forecast was made public today.

Some bullet points;
  • "Global print revenues will be relatively flat for the period (CAGR 0.9 percent) — US$26.5 billion in 2006 compared with US$27.8 billion in 2011."
  • "Online revenues, by contrast, will grow a brisk 22.3 percent (CAGR) to US$11.1 billion in 2011. "

My read;
  1. Print Yellow Pages will milk the categories they can while readership stalls.
  2. As current Y.P. customers become aware of online options they will be flocking to Internet.

Natpal, "Serving Local Merchants"

Greg Sterling wrote about Natpal recently. I took a look and found some positives and negatives.

From Natpal;

"Natpal.com was originally incubated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, and is now headquartered in New York City. Natpal.com has developed an integrated approach to signing up and serving local merchants who are transitioning their marketing budgets online...."
"...Natpal, by 2009, will have a diversified product enabling businesses to effectively interact with customers via the web. Natpal's flagship product, adStation, will be offered globally as a web-based application, allowing businesses to automate and enhance their pay for performance advertising."

I like their before and afters customer website profiles. They do pretty decent makeovers. I followed some of their client testimonials and can't really see anything special local placement service provided. One client, Philadelphia restaurant is not optimized well for local at all. It's not profiled on any of the local search sites, local directories or IYP's.

Another profiled client, a small charter fishing company is not found on any variation of a Google Maps search. You really can't say you serve local business unless you cover the basics like Google Maps/Local.

I get the impression they are really gunning for the introduction of their "adStation" application. Maybe this product will distinguish them.

Local search marketing is a distinct specialty. Properly done it requires hands-on personal representation. The local landscape is too fragmented, too detailed with too many options for an automated service to cover.
Natpal will need a crew of trained search specialists to do the necessary work of customer relations and data input to become serious local search marketing providers. A look at their careers page shows they know this. Within one of the job descriptions we see some insight to their thinking.

"Industry Description:

Local Search is considered the new frontier in paid search marketing, the fastest growing area of both technology and advertising and the key driver of Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Over $100 billion is spent on local advertising in the U.S alone; to date, very little has transitioned online. A significant opening exists to devise, build, and monetize this opportunity within the next 2-4 years.

I agree the next 2 to 4 years is the time to build a local search platform. Once the herd starts moving it will turn to a stampede. Natpal should be ready!


Embarq Pushing BestRedYP.com

Who is Embarq?

"Corporate Profile; Embarq Corporation (NYSE: EQ) provides a suite of communications services to customers in its serving areas. Embarq, which is expected to rank among the Fortune 500, brings common-sense ideas, reliable service and a renewed commitment to the communities it serves. Embarq focuses on offering its customers practical, innovative products and competitive pricing. The company has 20,000 employees and operates in 18 states offering local and long distance voice, data, high speed internet, wireless, and entertainment services."

UMmmm, I don't understand. Corporate speak is not my specialty so I went to the common man's place to find all answers under the sun Wikipedia!

"Embarq Corporation, or EMBARQ, was formerly the local telephone division (LTD) of Sprint Nextel. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol EQ.
The company is the fourth largest local exchange carrier in the United States (below the Baby Bells) and the largest independent local provider, serving customers in 18 states and providing local, long distance and high-speed data services to residential and business customers. The Las Vegas, Nevada metropolitan area is its largest market. [1] The company consists of approximately 20,000 employees.
Telephone directories for EMBARQ customers are published by R.H. Donnelley.
Approximately $3 billion in debt incurred from the Sprint Nextel merger was transferred to the new company. The company is estimated to have approximately $6 billion in revenues.
EMBARQ trademarks are the property of a subsidiary named Embarq Holdings Company LLC, commonly mistaken as the actual name of the publicly traded holding company, Embarq Corporation. It began trading on the NYSE on May 18, 2006."

Ahhhh that's better and now I understand the connection to R.H. Donnelley. Embarq owns BestRedYP.com and the online Yellow Pages site is published by R.H. Donnelley who last year bought LocalLaunch and are clearly moving into local search in earnest.

Why this ridiculous lead up? Well today I saw a Google AdSense ad on another blog advertising Embarq's BestRedYP.com. It seems odd Embarq is pushing their directory this way. Maybe they are taking the tact Local.com took when they jump started their local search engine in 2005. The company spent a ton buying traffic via AdWords and according to the company the marketing plan was successful. I can't imagine BestRedYP can catch the same wind as Local.com. The name is not catchy and the interface is old school, not intuitive and a bit clunky. I'm not saying it's not a good directory but I am suggesting it's not going to get bookmarked by too many.
Embarq is well capitalized so they can afford to test away. I can't see any benefit in placing clients there yet but I will keep an eye on the site and how it is being marketed.


"Juiced" About Joost

Today Joost opened to beta testers. I signed up awhile back and now I'm glad I did. After downloading and installing the program I was treated to a view into the future of TV. I did not see any real bugs. Site navigation is well designed and the full screen option I tried offered acceptable resolution . I viewed an older National Geographic show and experienced a little lag but not much and I blame that on my computer not the Joost servers.

I have no idea what opportunities will open up for local or small business marketing but I have to believe there will be ways to get a local message in somewhere, maybe in sponsorship form or short (video) introductions?

From Joost to the beta testers;

"We need you to help us make Joost™ great. As a beta tester, you already know about our mission to build a television platform combining the best of the net and the best of conventional TV - and we need your help to get there. Get involved with Joost™ and help create the future of TV!"

If you can't sign up for the beta directly from the site I can send invitations.
Just hit me up with an email (mikemora at gmail).



Wikia, the profit oriented project of Wikipedia founder Jim Wales is one to watch. Alexa rankings for the last six months show a move from below 6,000 to around 1,500 world rank today. In the U.S. it is close to breaking into the top 1,000. CNN profiled Wales' Wikia project and the money funding it. The article points out;

" More than 30,000 people have created nearly 500,000 Wikia articles in 45 languages. Collectively, the sites are attracting about 2.5 million pageviews a day, slightly more traffic than the website of the Los Angeles Times. Wikia's growth in pageviews, in fact, is a bit better than Wikipedia's was at the same stage of its development.

"So far, the traction looks great," Levine says. "
Wikia can be three to five times bigger at the end of the year and then do it again. When you do that over a few years, you get to be pretty big."

So what will this new search engine offer marketers, specifically small business marketers? Wikia.com is in wiki form and therefore is made up of information provided by users. This allows small businesses to list their own business where they can enjoy reviews as well as being part of their local Wikia community. I searched for my area and found no listings of any businesses or links of any kind. Here is the page for my zip code. Since Wikia is so new it's likely most zip codes or neighborhoods are blank. Being first in may be an advantage if wikia lives up to its potential.
Take a look at the difference between Wikia's Tokyo page and Wikipedia's Tokyo page. Wikipedia's pages look stark compared to Wikia and you see ads attached to the Wikia pages, something I see as opportunity as time goes on.
Google loves Wikipedia and is showing some big time love to Wikia already.

I'll add that my kids use Wikipedia and their friends do as well. Most of the kids (teens) in their group prefer Wikipedia to Google or Answers.com. Google is too much and not enough and Answers is too polished, go figure!