SEO crew. Prepare for warp speed.

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Executing intelligent SEO work that plays nicely in the sandbox with search engines would be easy-peasy if only the Googles and the Yahoos would stand still. The point here is that the web is an ever-changing environment that expands exponentially and dynamically changes on the fly. In my opinion, that’s why a good SEO person needs to keep up to speed on a daily basis. Now, to make things potentially even more complicated, Google is hinting on moving even faster. According to an article on telegraph.co.uk, Larry Page, Google’s co-founder admitted they (Google) had so far “done a relatively poor job of creating things that work on a per second basis”. Larry Page then went on suggest that Google would improve at implementing real-time search moving forward, especially now it had examples like micro-blogging phenomenon Twitter to compare itself to. Google comparing itself to Twitter? Or more likely Google hinting that it might gobble up Twitter and use the learnings of that company to move at warp-speed. I’m out of breath just thinking about it.

Enzo F. Cesario

Clicks up, paid clicks not so much.

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According to a blog post at comScore, the rate at which search queries are growing is not as favorable as the rate of paid clicks; 68% versus an 18% increase. Why is this? There are a couple of reasons, but one major factor is that people are searching smarter with longer syntactic strings. I rarely do a search with one word. Most of my searches are a string of words that help me target what I’m looking for so that I don’t have to wade through a mountain of results that just aren’t relevant. I think another big reason is that people, me included, are just bypassing the sponsored search links and even may go as far as skipping the first three entries knowing that those are probably there because they paid to be listed there. Regardless, the number of quieries continues to grow at a faster clip than the number of people who click on paid search results because people are changing the way they search. But just when you think you’ve got it all figured out as a master searcher, the bright minds at Yahoo and Google will figure out a way to make money and make people who search happy. And if they don’t, you can bet someone at some other company will be waiting in the wings to do just that.

Enzo F. Cesario

I’m a Mac. I’m a PC. I’m a good ad.

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Normally I immediately block out banner ads when I peruse the interwebs, just like everyone else. But today, I was reading the front page of the digital edition of the New York Times and I came across one of those, “I”™m a Mac, I”™m a PC” ads. Firstly, the ad prompts you to opt-into the ad by clicking on the sound icon in the upper right hand corner, which I did mostly out of curiosity because I wanted to know what the Mac and PC guys were bantering about this time. I click and I hear the Mac guy pointing out the results to the latest Forrester research results that is prominently displayed above their heads in a graph just under the NY Times masthead. The PC guy says,  “Surprise, surprise, Apple ranks highest in customer experience among PC manufacturers. Well It’s just one survey. I’ll hear some more opinions before I decide.” Then, suddenly on the left hand side of the page we see an ad for Hair Growth Academy come to life.

We hear the man in the “Before” box say,  “I love how Macs are so incredibly easy to use.” Then the coiffed man in the “After” box says, “And I love when I have a question, I can just talk to a Mac genius.”  The ad finishes up with the PC guy saying, “OK, OK, before guy, that’s enough out of you. Looking good, after guy.”
Not only was this banner ad funny, it got me to pay attention to a graph, which I try to avoid as much as possible. What apple is doing here is great advertising that engages the jaded user while leaving them with a tidbit of information and a smile. This is what we attempt to do in our brandcasting service. We give the viewer something that will delight them, whether it be entertaining or just informative or both.

Enzo F. Cesario

KUMO, WOO and WTF

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Launching something on the web with a three or four letter word can be a great idea if you have the chutzpah and marketing muscle to explain it to the world AND it catches on like wildfire. But the latter is hard to control. Case in point, Yahoo announced WOO to world last week with mixed response. WOO, Yahoo explains, stands for Web Of Objects. WOO has been under the radar for two years is Yahoo’s attempt at making search less about searching for words or pages and more about searching for meaning. In a press release Prabhakar Ragahavan, who oversees Yahoo’s search strategy said, “We need to move away from a Web of pages to a Web of objects.”   A lot of people disagree with this and think that Google does a fine job with search and the only way to improve it is for Yahoo to partner with Microsoft and give Google some competition. In a  recent CNN article, Nicholas Carlson, editor at Silicone Alley Insider, states that “holding an event and telling reporters the future is “WOO” and spitting our jargon-y white board stuff like “Web of objects” isn’t going to move the needle for Yahoo or its shareholders. Merging its search advertisers with Microsoft’s and driving up prices in cost-per-click keyword auctions, however, might do the trick.” Ouch. Also check out Kumo, Microsoft’s under-the-radar overhaul of their Live search, codenamed Kumo. OK, at least it’s still a code name and not really intended for the public to see (or was it). You can learn more about this top-secret Microsoft leak right here. Enjoy, and keep on kumo-wooing.

Enzo F. Cesario

Show me the Facebook and Twitter money.

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It’s common knowledge that Facebook and Twitter are both attracting the attention and are being closely watched as the next big Google-like companies. But one thing remains unclear; do either of the two business models have the potential of generating the kind of greenbacks that even come close to the that of Google? That’s the big question Reuters attempts to answer in a recent article. The cool thing about Google when they first came on the scene was the sponsored search model they utilized to fuel their engine. While the originator of this model is credited to Idealab’s Bill Gross, Google went on to take the technology to unimaginable heights, and the rest is history. Nobody really knows how to successfully monetize social media. And in the mad rush to monetize, many have tried and many have failed. The potential is great, because both Facebook and Twitter have loyal vistitors using their services and they keep coming back for more. Reuters reports that, “in April, Twitter’s website attracted 17 million unique visitors in the United States, up sharply from 9.3 million the month before. Facebook grew to 200 million active users in April, less than a year after hitting 100 million users.” They’ve shown a lot of potential. Now all they need to do is show the world the money.

Enzo F. Cesario

To twine is sublime.

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Getting and storing information that you find on the web can be a juggling act. Learning how to search for what I want on Google and Yahoo has become part art and part science. But recently I have come across a bookmarking service called twine (www.twine.com) that is what fast company is calling “Red Hot”. Twine is a new-tracking tool that learns what you’re interests are the more you use it. It’s a mix between syntactic search (words) and semantic search (the meaning of the word being searched) to create a richer, more human experience. According to the Twine website, “Twine is a new way to collect content and connect with people who share your interests. Use Twine to track, find, and share what interests you. Twine ties it all together by topic, so you can have it in one place.”

Some are calling this the way of web 3.0 (I can barely keep up. I’m still stumbling through web 2.0.) in which tools like search engines and news-bookmarking services work on search word level and search meaning level. Web 3.0 will make searching for what you want a little bit easier. You gotta love that.

Enzo F. Cesario

The yellow shine of PPC.

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yellowpageslogoThere’s a lot of discussion out there on the difference and effectiveness of PPC versus good SEM strategies that rely more on organic tactics. For a decent explanation on the differences between the two, read this article. When companies plop down the greenbacks to rank higher on Google or Yahoo, you can bet they’re expecting more click-through traffic as well as buy-through traffic. There’s lots of data out there that points to the effectiveness of PPC and having a good PPC strategy is smart. But in my opinion, it’s just another tool in the marketing toolbox and should not be used willy-nilly. What I wonder about is the effect on a brand image when relying too heavily on PPC for a long period of time. Does it harm a brand? Does it look too much like a hard sell? Does it turn would-be brand evangelists off? I haven’t been able to find any data on this, but my gut instinct tells me it can deteriorate a brand image if PPC is used with a heavy hand.

Gather around children, grandpappy wants to tell you a little story. In my younger days working in the advertising industry, I remember freelancing at one very large ad agency where an entire floor was devoted to media planning and buying for telephone book directories. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe they employed all those people for yellow page advertising. A gentle-mannered ad exec explained to me that yellow page advertising was highly effective and clients got a great return on their investment. The exec went on to explain that yellow page ads didn’t cost much to produce and they were highly targeted.

As you can imagine, that same floor today is now filled with young segway riding e-marketers who are supplying their clients with the latest and greatest digital offerings; and not a yellow page in sight. Later that day I walked around on the other floors and I noticed a flurry of activity not devoted to phone books. In fact, there were a bunch of other floors in the building devoted to many other facets of getting the word out for their clients.  There were people working on television commercials, print ads, radio commercials, P.R., product placement and even a think-tank like group helping the client engineer and design new product offerings. The point here is that the telephone directory advertising was just one (very profitable) facet of reaching their audience. Just like how PPC should only be a facet, not the whole kit and kaboodle, of an online strategy. Right now PPC is in its heyday and remains a bright and shiny object for online marketers. Which is all good and well. I just hope they don’t let the shine blind them.

Enzo F. Cesario

Do you Hulu?

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Have you seen Hulu? If you haven’t yet, you will. The first time I saw it was when it was in beta stage and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not because of the content, but because of the crystal clear picture.  Before Hulu, I was accustomed to watching badly produced YouTube videos on a tiny screen. Enter Hulu, with eye-popping resolution, a wide format and a growing library of movies and TV shows. In fact, according to eMarketer, Hulu is picking up speed and recently ranked in the top three for most watched videos among US internet users. OK, but just to keep it all in perspective, they were a distant third with Google videos being watched by whopping 5.9 billion viewers versus Hulu’s 437 million. And when you check out the content available on Hulu, you can see why their numbers are growing. My favorite thing to do seconds after watching a funny SNL digital short is to crack open my Mactop, hop on over to Hulu and watch that motherlover until my eyes secrete tears of joy. Again, content is king; it’s the draw.  When you have great content and your production is pro, you can expect to attract more and more eyeballs. While YouTube is great for watching people being stupid, Hulu takes it to another level by giving you a better entertainment experience with slicker content and much higher production values. If you haven’t seen Hulu yet, may I suggest you venture out from under your rock and see what Hulu (www.hulu.com) has to offer.