Location Location Location

There are a few things that really annoy me when done incorrectly. The first is email addresses that don’t match the domain of the website. There’s just no excuse for that. If you own example.com then your email better damn well be you@example.com. Anything less is unprofessional and does not inspire trust. It makes you look small online when you should be using everything at your disposal to create a bigger than life picture of your company online.

The second thing that drives me around the bend, and gets more to the point of this post, is the location of your web properties. I think an example will best illustrate my pain:

Do you see it? 3 great digg properties spread out across the web. What does that mean? It means that the vast vast number of links that point at digg are split up. Consolidating all these links into one domain creates a situation where the result is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

My advice to Kevin Rose (not that he asked for it but I get a chance to meet him and he’s nice guy so I assume it will be well received) is ‘Location Location Location”. Consolidate your web real estate:

I had a bunch more examples of well known sites that don’t consolidate urls but I spent the long weekend painting my deck and watching Barney and Thomas the Train with my kids and my brain can’t stand the onslaught of purple dinosaurs very well. It’s suprising really that I remembered I even wanted to blog about this.

Can you find anymore examples of this? Post them here and let’s so how big the list really is.


One Trillion Words!!

Party on Wayne!! [oilman air guitars around the office]

sshhhh….here that? Every autogen script on the planet just got revved up.

ngrams@google.com – drop them a note and tell them how badly you’re gonna abuse their goodwill – muaahahahaha

That’s 1,146,580,664 five-word sequences – dayum!

Web U: Your Site Under Reconstruction

How to finesse a redesign without losing traffic or rankings

Planning to redesign or restructure your Web site? Any major overhaul is a great opportunity for implementing new search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. By including SEO considerations early in the process, you can save both time and money. Site redesign is also a time of great risk to existing search engine rankings and current inbound search traffic levels, so care needs to be taken to avoid losing traffic and rankings as content and pages shift.

Top Traffic Pages. First, do a detailed analysis of top entry pages and top traffic pages. There’s no such thing as having too much data in this case. I recommend looking at a full year’s worth of data, taking into account seasonal trends and specials. You can’t afford to overlook pages that may be due for an upsurge in traffic around a holiday or special event simply because you’ve only bothered to check three or six months of previous site activity.

When examining Web data, the goal is to determine the highest-performing pages in terms of both entry pages and strict page views. These pages are particularly important, and traffic to them must be conserved and appropriately directed from the old URL to the new URL to ensure that revenue and conversions remain stable after the switch to the new site.

Incoming Links. Links are an important part of SEO, not only because they affect search engine rankings, but also because many links will help bring highly targeted buyers to your site. You need to identify and manage these links in much the same way you do your top traffic pages. Make sure that after the redesign, visitors who access the site via the links will still be landing on a page that contains the data they’re looking for. There is no faster way to make a potential buyer hit the back button than to serve them a 404 error page or bounce them to the home page because a URL has changed.

In the past, SEO companies spent hours contacting the Webmasters of various sites that linked to our clients’ sites, asking them to update their links to specific pages. Thankfully, search engines have since evolved to where they’re finally able, more or less, to handle redirection codes correctly.

Deleted Pages. A custom 404 page is a safety net, a backup, and possibly your last chance to save a sale. Even if a user calls for a page that doesn’t exist, they’ll still end up on your site, instead of seeing the ugly, and nearly useless, default 404 page. A well-crafted 404 page can be responsible for saving a sale when a potential customer might otherwise have abandoned the site.

These pages can be dynamic and specific to each visitor. One creative option for a 404 page is to read the referral string if your visitor is coming from a search engine. This string contains the word or phrase that the visitor used to find your site. Take those words and insert them into an error message: “We’re sorry you couldn’t find our pages on [keyword phrase]. Please browse our directory or click here to search for [keyword phrase].” If you have an internal site search, it’s a small matter to populate the search box or give the user a pre-formed search query link to take them directly to the search results.

The goal of all this work is, at the very least, to preserve your current search engine rankings, traffic, and revenue during a site move or redesign. This is truly a case in which forethought and planning can go a long way to protecting the bottom line and making you look like a star to the person who signs your paycheck.

This article was published in OMMA Magazine’s June 2006 issue.

Web U: Working Out the Local Search Bugs

It seems like everyone and his brother has jumped on the local search bandwagon: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask Jeeves, all the usual suspects. Local search results have become an integral part of popular applications like Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, and Mapquest. Bonus local listings now appear above the natural listings on many regular search engine results pages. The big search engines’ local offerings vary in quality and usability. Clearly, they remain a work in progress for all of the players. Yahoo! Local Search appears to draw on users’ search histories to gauge their interests when serving results, while MSN has made much of its geographical and demographic targeting capabilities. But a recent search for “bars” in my hometown produced some curious results — like ice cream parlors (maybe the tool knows I have small children?).

Google’s local product combines information from a variety of online sources, and Google Adwords now offers advertisers the option of targeting regions, cities, or even parts of cities, based on the zipcode of the area you want to reach. Google claims it can even custom-target an area that an advertiser defines. The geo-targeted ads are then served to searchers who include a location in their query, or to those who search from an Internet address within the targeted area. (But what happens if the user is accessing their service through a geographically separate portal like AOL? Google isn’t saying.)

To have a presence on local search engines, as well as the local versions of Google, Yahoo!, and msn, you need bricks and mortar, and a presence in the city where you want to be listed. Simply adding place names to the search terms for a purely online offer won’t work if it has no other connection to the geographic location. In the early days of local search, you might see results from as far as 50 miles away. That’s no longer the case, as the search engines get more sophisticated and precise in their targeting.

And when planning your local search campaign, it’s wise to keep in mind the relevance of your search terms. Are you bidding on the terms that users within your target area are likely to search for?

There are other ways to play in the local search space. Ever notice that online Yellow Pages like Verizon SuperPages often show up in the results for searches that are city-specific? For example, if you’re a chiropractor in Boston, you might not rank at all in natural results for the term “boston chiropractor,” but you can be the featured advertiser in places like SuperPages for relatively little cost. And the basic Yellow Pages listings — which can include contact information, hours of operation, payment options, Web links, and descriptions of products and services — are free.

What’s the next step for local search? How about a marriage between local search and social networking? Advertising to local markets through location-based online social networks makes a lot of sense. By their nature, these networks provide marketers with a wealth of useful detail: We know who the people in the networks are, what they like to eat and drink, where they hang out, and what music they listen to because they disclose this information voluntarily through their user profiles. Perhaps it’s time to start earmarking part of the search engine marketing budget to focus on the clusters of Internet users that you know are in your target demographic.

Finally, when targeting local search, be sure to come up with a metric that will account for offline conversions. And make sure you get credit for your efforts.

This article was published in OMMA Magazine’s February 2006 issue.

Saw Her Eyes Across A Crowded Airport

Ever see that perferct girl or guy across a crowded room or, in this case, airport? Of course, before you can get over there they’ve vanished into the night or San Francisco traffic. Now what do you do? Open and AdWords account of course.

I good friend of mine spotted this adgroup on a local search for Marriott Hotels in San Francisco:

The bottom ad leads here. No reason to cost the dude more clicks – he’s in love – let’s be kind ;)

MSN AdCenter Cut and Paste – FINALLY

It’s damn refreshing to see MSN actually listening to feedback from AdCenter users and implementing the changes in a timely fashion. What’s this world coming to? ;)

I got this email today and I’m very excited about the first new change coming….

Dear Todd:

We have listened to your feedback during the MSN® adCenter pilot, and we are excited to announce an upcoming update of the tool, with some new features that will offer you a better, easier, and more productive customer experience.

With these new features, you will be able to:
- Add multiple keywords when creating campaigns, rather than manually typing each keyword.
- Sign up for MSN adMail with the new Communication Preferences checklist.
- Print billing statements through our updated Billing tab.
- Estimate bids to help reach position one ad ranking through our improved price estimation tool.
- Insert text dynamically into an ad title or ad text (formerly known as parameters).

Please note that MSN adCenter will be down briefly while it’s being updated on the afternoon of April 18. This should have no effect on your existing data or campaigns, which will remain live during this time. However, you will not be able to access your account or its features while we update adCenter, so we encourage you to make any needed immediate changes to your account beforehand.

To get more information about MSN Search, or to review frequently asked questions about MSN adCenter, check out our FAQ and Troubleshooting sections in the MSN adCenter Learning Center.


The MSN adCenter team

I just verified with a source at MSN that “Add multiple keywords when creating campaigns, rather than manually typing each keyword” does indeed mean big ass open text window to cut and past keyword lists into. YeeHaw!!

Google Customer Relations

So I was chatting with a buddy (Legion: a WebmasterRadio.FM irc regular) on IM today and as is quite common the converstion turned to Google and the vague non-answers they give to support questions and the complete lack of notice on many upcoming changes. He laid it out perfectly for me:

It seems that Google has hired so many bright people (geeks) that as a company they lack the social skills to relate to their advertisers in a graceful way.

Link Bait Of The Year

I’ll even help out :)

lasik surgery

I love this site. Incredibly well done and everybody I showed it to says “No way! Oh wait…it’s a joke…right?”

Where’s My Spam?


Want an MSN AdCenter Account?

UPDATE: All invites have been handed out. Sorry to those that didn’t get one.

MSN is giving away AdCenter accounts. Well, actually current account holders are giving away AdCenter invites. We got this email today:

Dear Todd,

We’re excited to recognize your participation and feedback that have helped us shape the pilot of MSN® adCenter. To thank you for using adCenter to promote your business, we’d like to offer you an exclusive opportunity to refer friends and colleagues to apply for the pilot.

In addition to an invitation into the pilot, your nominees will receive a special offer to join our complimentary campaign set-up service called QuickLaunch. This service offers the assistance of a Media Specialist, making it easier to set up campaigns, migrate and optimize current P4P campaigns, and learn how to best manage campaign performance in adCenter.

So, share the benefits of adCenter today and access your exclusive invitations.

We look forward to welcoming your friends and colleagues to MSN adCenter.


The MSN adCenter team

So feel free to post here and I’ll be happy to hand them out. Those offering money, of course, will move to the top of the list ;) My paypal address is…..