Google search quiz - How did they do that?

A Google search on the term "cluetrain" yields results shown in the screenshot below. The interesting part of Google results are the many Cluetrain site sub-divisions: The book, Table of contents, etc.

But, take a look at the www.cluetrain.com web site.  What did Cluetrain.com do, or what did Google do, to produce the detailed search result listing?

Screenshot of Google search results for term: cluetrain. 550px

August 15th — Answer found hereGoogle search quiz answer - sitelinks

Top 10 jargon and hype for July

A few things this past month that struck me funny or struck me as absurd.  Either way, I got struck and I'm passing it along.
  1. Seven days to complete search engine domination.
  2. A deep understanding of consumer behavior and drives. The flawless execution of campaign dynamics including online-offline attribution, SEO-SEM integration and geo-seasonal strategy to maximize ROI.
  3. No hype, just bottom line.  First week your learn.  Second week you earn.
  4. Learn how to build a dominant web presence and a social network empire.
  5. $1290 in value, $347 special limited time price.
  6. Double your sales with one easy process.
  7. P.S. By the way, the lesson on this video is based on success with hundreds of different businesses. In other words, it's proven in the trenches, where it really counts.
  8. There is very little dispute that _______ is the Rolls Royce of PPC traffic generating systems.
  9. Have you ever thought about what strategy you can use to build mass amounts of traffic to your website without paying much if anything?
  10. The program will be sold instantly once it is made available to the public . . . and you can buy the product today, before it is official.

"Markets are conversations. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice . . . the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived."
—: from the Cluetrain Manifesto, 95 Thesis

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter

Optimization architect

More is not necessarily better.  The idea of optimization does not revolve around the idea of 'more,' per se.  The process of optimization is focused on the right amount of everything necessary to produce a specific result given the existing environmental constraints.  And, since the process of optimization itself has a cost, it is possible to pursue optimization to excess.  It is a question of balance.

In a business web environment optimization pays for itself, by definition. Otherwise, it's not optimal. Major challenges arise from accurately measuring costs and benefits for optimization efforts.  Web traffic is easy to measure, so professional optimizers may be tempted to focus upon increasing web traffic, regardless of whether any business benefit results from the increase.

A local coffee shop has a website.  The site's only business purpose is to promote walk-in business to the shop's physical retail storefront. If effort goes into increasing the number of visitors to the web site, but doing that does not increase the number of visitors to the coffee shop, then the effort is wasted.

It's as simple as that.  Search engine optimization (SEO) is a segment of internet marketing, with the emphasis on the marketing. Search engine marketing frequently is very technical to implement.  The web technicians know the tools and techniques of search optimization, but they may not be well suited to specify the purpose of optimization, design the architecture of optimization, or evaluate the results of optimization.

How, for example, would the coffee shop's web master know if the actual number of shop customers increased, or why?

Business web optimization must be designed and measured by a business intelligence.  The web technicians are for implementation.  The distinction is the same as between an architect and a construction contractor.  The architect specifies the design, and the contractor makes it happen.

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter


B2B social network Xing free for freelancers

Xing, an international B2B social network for businesses similar to LinkedIn, has now made it possible for freelancers, such as myself, to have a company profile for free.  See Xing.com, or my own Xing profile.

I can't say as yet what good may come from it, but I'm just fishing.

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter

The future of search is the future

Wired magazine reports that Google and the CIA have both recently invested in the web technology company Recorded Future. "The world's first Temporal Analytics Engine . . . that allows you to visualize the future, past or present."

Recorded Future examines public web pages, blogs, and social networking sites and extracts the people, places and the activities they mention.
  • Who is involved - identity analysis..
  • The type of event - activity analysis.
  • Location of the event - spatial analysis.
  • The time of the event, past or future - temporal analysis.
  • Attitude toward the event - sentiment analysis.
Recorded Future then seeks to discover the connections between the players, the locations, and the event.  When the even is oriented in future time, the process is predictive. Recorded Future also has a blog.

For Google, any significant progress toward perfecting this collection of analytical techniques could go a long way toward accurately classifying the large amounts of unstructured data on the web, and produce more relevant and timely search results.

Unlike many ventures invested in by the C.I.A., Recorded Future is not a big secret totally hidden from view. Recorded Future is live on the web, offering its analytical services for a monthly fee, or a striped down version for free.  The free version (my choice) offers daily or weekly alerts to the following topics:
  • Financial markets
  • Geopolitical
  • Industry analysis
  • Public figures
  • Technology sector
  • Myself or my company
Tracking and predicting the movement of public figures will be a boon to the paparazzi, no doubt, but tracking myself on the web through Recorded Future is almost irresistible.  That's the one I'm signing up for, even though I know the information I willingly provide will be used by Recorded Future to build its identity database.  As an internet marketer I'm fairly committed to being known, identifiable, and findable.

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter


Establishing an internet identity - your original brand

The word 'brand' is much overused in marketing discussions.  I think that a brand is a means of claiming ownership of a particular product or service, and the modern expansive use of the word 'brand' actually means a symbol of public identity.  I have ranted about this before. Branding is what you do to cattle – part 1 & part 2.

In internet marketing, more so than in most other types of marketing, a clearly established personal or business identity is of prime importance.  The various types of legally recognized identities are well established, whereas a brand identity can be all sorts of made-up fluff disconnected from anything accountable.  The question, Who are you? cannot be easily answered in the online world for the reason that deception and misrepresentation are so easy to accomplish and so difficult to detect sometimes.

A firmly established identity should be sufficiently detailed to answer these questions: 1) Who do I sue and where do I serve the lawsuit if things go south?, and 2) Where do I send the police if my credit card number is stolen?   Membership with the Better Business Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce is not too much.  Any little scrap of additional credibility helps, in this justifiably mistrustful age.

One frequently overlook opportunity for establishing a solid online identity is the simple matter of a domain name registration.  A domain name registration is public information and it can be found and looked at online through any number of different services.  All too often, however, I have encountered business domain names registered through anonymous proxy services where the actual domain owner is hidden from view.

But, so far I have never encountered a real good reason to justify the added expense of  an anonymous proxy domain name registration.

An anonymous proxy domain name registration is a means of hiding identity.  Much of internet marketing can be said to focus on clearly establishing identity.  It seems crazy to me to try to promote your identity and hide it at the same time.

Identity is difficult to change, but brand names are extremely portable.
A box of Pillsbury brand cake mix has nothing to do with the Pillsbury Company, which no longer exists, and it is not very easy (at least for me) to discover by whom or exactly where the stuff is manufactured. If you have a hankering to start an airline, you want instant name recognition, and the name Pan American World Airways strikes your fancy, cut a deal with the Tomlinson Corporation of Honolulu, Hawaii. According to the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, Tomlinson is the current owner of that trademark. It is using the brand to print on t-shirts for sale to tourists.
- Branding is what you do to cattle – part 3

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter


Google data inconsistency - Keywords and Insights for search

FreeTrafficSystem.com pointed out an interesting inconsistency between the search volume data provided by Google's keyword tool (part of Google Adwords) and Google's Insight for Search, for the same keywords.  During the last hour or so I've vaguely sensed an explanation of the different search volume data, but I couldn't write a description that was rational and coherent.  I'm stumped, except to say that Google does what it does,

I refer you to the original post linked above for all the details, plus comments.

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter


SEO - Optimization to an isolated peak

The successful act of optimization involves distinguishing up from down, and then moving in the direction of up.  Sometimes the peak of whatever you are optimizing is obvious.  Sometimes a peak is recognized by the fact that a move in any direction is a move downward.  All too often, gaining the vantage point of a peak merely allows you to see higher mountains and taller peaks across the valley.

Maybe the final victory step in surmounting an optimization mountaintop and the step that springs the trap of being stuck on an isolated peak are one and the same step.  When the higher ground can be achieved only by abandoning lesser goals, many dither.

"Instability and disequilibrium are the norms; optimization won't last long. Sooner, rather than later, a product will be eclipsed at its prime. Indeed, an innovation at its prime increases its chances of being eclipsed. In Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation, a study of innovation in the automobile industry, Utterback concludes that "an unhappy byproduct of success in one generation of technology is a narrowing of focus and vulnerability to competitors championing the next technological generation." The product may be perfect, but for an increasingly smaller range of uses or customers.
"While one product is perfecting its peak, an outsider can move the entire mountain by changing the rules."
Kevin Kelly - New Rules

See: Seth Godin - Getting unstuck: solving the perfect problem

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter


Yet another publishing platform - Tumblr.com

I didn't know about Tumblr.com until today when I read about downtime problems they were having this weekend.  I signed up. Tom Fox - Ephemerality. It's quick.  It's easy.  It's stylish.

But, I don't have anything better to say there that I can't say here.  It is hot new social media in development, and I have to check it out.  One important consideration is whether Google will index the content I add to my Tumblr blogs.

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter

SEO - The value of optimization

15% changes everything, says Seth Godin. A fifteen percent drop in sales can put a profitable business into the red, while a 15% increase in sales can double profits. The magic is not in the number 15, it is in the concept of a multiplier effect. A relatively small change at one stage of the process can have a magnified effect at a later stage.

Where in your online business conversion process . . . the process of converting a stranger into a client . . . would a 15% improvement have a disproportional impact?  Optimizing to increase organic search engine traffic to your web site is only the front end of the process, and possibly not the most significant.  But, before any of these questions can be answered, the different stage of conversion must be identified and measured.  The goal is to locate bottlenecks and weak links in the chain.

If the business goal of a website is to get new customers, a frequently overlooked magnifier is to look at the lifetime value of a new customer. Don't forget that, if you know what it is.

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter

SEO experiments - Google index of Google Bookmark comments

So far there is no indication that Google indexes and serves the comments attached to Google Bookmarks links. This doesn't mean that Google ignores those links or comments entirely, but how they are used by Google remains unknown to me.  It is a matter for speculative inquiry, patience, and more SEO experiments..

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter

SEO experiments - Google index of exact quotes

In these three preceding posts I demonstrated to my own satisfaction at least that Google indexes the ALT text contained within HTML IMG tags, but that Microsoft Bing does not.  Yahoo! search results are unavailable for the simple reason that Yahoo! has not indexed any of the posts on this blog more recent than a year ago.
  1. Site Optimization - using img alt tags
  2. Site optimization - additional test of img alt tag text
  3. SEO - img ALT text on Bing and Yahoo! search
The unexpected discovery is the way Google returns a search using the unique ALT text phrase in quotation marks.

I used two unique phrase descriptions in the ALT text portion of the IMG tag for two different screenshots contained within two different posts.  I then included these exact text phrases in subsequent postings to this blog.

I will not repeat those two text phrases here in this post for fear of screwing things up even more.

Today when I do a Google search on those two phrases I still find confirmation that Google does indeed index ALT text, it also uses ALT text to return on an exact quote search.

The first search item returned in the second test example resulted from an index hit on the ALT text contained with an IMG tag.

The second SEO test example also shows how an RSS feed of this blog on another site can produce odd and unpredictable results with Google.  Why Google does what it does the way it does it is a continuing puzzle.  The only thing I'm sure of is when I repeat these two search experiments again tomorrow, the results will be different from today..

SEO experiment - Example 1
SEO experiments example 1
SEO experiment - Example 2
SEO experiments example 2

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter

Email marketing - newsletter archives

The internal debate about email newsletter archives revolves around the following possibilities:
  1. Archived email newsletters are not available online.  The theory, if there is one, is to inspire thoughts of exclusivity and immediacy for the subscriber.  The only way to receive the priceless information contained within the newsletter is to subscribe, and if there is undue delay an opportunity will be lost forever. Exclusivity and immediacy.  But, since creating an online newsletter archive involves extra planning and commitment, the default position may be to have no past issue archive at all.
  2. Past issues are available online for subscribers only.  The element of exclusivity is maintained, but the sense of immediacy is eliminated.  If a new issue of a newsletter is published before a visitor decides to subscribe, there is no risk of loss.  The missed newsletter will not be received by email, but it will be available online once the subscription is completed.  If there is a significant collection of past issues available in the archive, access would be an added value enticement for subscription, and it ought to be touted.
  3. General public may read online newsletter archive.  This kills both exclusivity and immediacy as sources of motivation for the act of subscribing, but it may provide additional original content for the search engines to index and rank.  Since the search engines are getting harder to fool, the usefulness of this option depends almost entirely upon actually providing unique content worth reading. There are two variations:

    • Same-domain newsletter archive hosting.
    • Cross-domain past issue hosting.

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Twitter


SEO - img ALT text on Bing and Yahoo! search

In my post about Search engines for beginners - Submitting your site to major search engines, I indicated my success in registering ownership of this MicroEnterprise Blog with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Toolbox, but not with Yahoo! Site Explorer.

Perhaps for that reason these MicroEnterprise blog poss are indexed on Google Search and Bing Search, but not on Yahoo! Search.

Because my post SEO - Google page rank - Understanding Google Page Rank has been indexed by both Google and Bing, it has been possible to determine that the <img alt="TEXT"> part of the images in that post were indexed by Google, but not indexed by Bing.  So far with Yahoo! Search the answer remains unknown.  In this, Yahoo! and Bing return different results.  Yahoo! does not return anything at all.

Related posts:

  • SEO experiments - Google index of exact quotes

  • Site Optimization - using img alt tags

  • Site optimization - additional test of img alt tag text

  • Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter

    Site optimization - additional test of img alt tag text

    Copy and paste

    "Screenshot of W3C Accessibility Guidelines page July 23, 2010 - 600px"

    (including the quotation marks)

    . . . into Google search and see if the previous post is indexed. Of course, this post may also be indexed by Google for that specific phrase too. alt="Screenshot of W3C Accessibility Guidelines page July 23, 2010 - 600px" was included in the <img> tag for the screenshot in the last post.

    Related posts:
  • SEO experiments - Google index of exact quotes

  • Site Optimization - using img alt tags

  • SEO - img ALT text on Bing and Yahoo! search

  • Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter

    Site Optimization - using img alt tags

    It is a fundamental feature of HTML that images, graphics, and photographs, can be displayed on web pages.  The basic HTML tag for inserting an image is <img src="Tom_Fox_photo.jpg" />.  This code tells a web browser there is an image to display and where to find it. Additionally, to comply with best practice and accessibility standards, the "alt" parameter for the <img> tag is required.

    A properly formatted <img> tag is as follows:

    <img alt="Photo of Tom Fox" src="Tom_Fox_photo.jpg" />

    The "Photo of Tom Fox" part is the alternate text for the image, and it is useful for the visually impaired who use text to voice rendition software. The use of img alt tags is part of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

    Of more immediate interest to web masters and internet marketing optimizers, the text contained with the <img> alt tag is indexed by Google along with the more obvious parts of a web page.

    Proof of concept:

    Question: Does Google index img alt tags?

    Answer: Yes, when it wants to.

    Test: Plug the following . . .

    "Screenshot of Google Toolbar showing a Page Rank of 7/10"
    (including quotation marks)

    . . .into Google search and see what comes up . . .  besides this post.

    The following screenshot image of the W3C web page was formatted with ALT tag text that will be used in an additional SEO test, in the next post.Edit HTML

    Related posts:

  • SEO experiments - Google index of exact quotes

  • Site optimization - additional test of img alt tag text

  • SEO - img ALT text on Bing and Yahoo! search

  • Screenshot 1 - 20100724-01
    Screenshot of W3C Accessibility Guidelines page July 23, 2010 - 600px

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    SEO - Google's keyword tool

    I have to assume that nobody knows search engine optimization better than Google. Google has its standard of excellence for web pages hinged to Google's purpose of giving people what they are looking for. It's a simple matter that when Google says web masters ought to do this, that, and another thing, then the smart thing to do is this, that, and whatever else Google says.

    It is especially easy since Google has gone to such great detail to explain what they look for, and it has made the information easily available. Plus, Google has also provided an assortment of well designed, useful, and free tools with which to work. By steadily adding to its collection of web master tools over the years, Google has not only provided a valuable web toolbox, it has also put a number of SEO enterprises out of business. What was previously available only for a price is now available for free, and the information is more authoritatively reliable.

    One such example is the Keyword Tool contained within Google's Adwords program. By using this tool for the keyword "SEO," the suggestions shown in the screenshot below were quickly provided. The list shown is a small part of the whole, and it is sorted by "local monthly searches." In this instance, "local" means the United States.

    Screenshot 1 - 20100723-01
    Screenshot of Google Analytics keyword tool

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter

    Analytics - Blogger statistics

    A new analytics feature was announced for Google's Blogger.com earlier this month in Blogger in Draft. Although this new component to Blogger is a quick and easy way to view a summary of blog activity, it is no substitute for the power and flexibility of Google Analytics.  The Blogger stats package is comparable to the stats feature of Wordpress blogging software.

    For a full-featured analytical view of Blogger blogs, including conversion tracking, I'm sticking to Google Analytics for the big picture. There is much more detailed information available.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    SEO - The cost of optimization

    In 2006, Ralph Wilson stated on Wilsonweb.com that a typical web optimization service first stage implementation could cost $1500 to $2000, with a continuing monthly cost of several hundred dollars.

    Dr. Wilson does not mention any way to gauge whether the cost of optimization is worth it or not.  Whether it is worth it is a prime consideration of the Bootstrapper's manifesto, in part: "I will measure what I do."

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter

    Social media marketing - Google bookmarks

    Social media is a large concept, and it includes much more than Facebook and MySpace. Technology has provided us with an ever growing abundance of tools with which to share opinions, photos, links, and bad jokes. Using social media tools for marketing is a statement of purpose, without dictating any specific tactic or tool.

    The social bookmarking services online, and there are several, are clearly a form social media technology.  They provide a means of sharing links and comments with a cohort of friends, and with the world.  The sharing itself is a form of organic viral marketing at its best.  Internet marketers do what they can to encourage this type of link sharing as a means of increasing web site traffic.

    However, the assumption I stated recently about social media data extraction is that the social bookmarking services use the linking data collected as a means of refining the relevancy and importance of a web page (the link) for search engine purposes.  In short, I assume that Google examines the link data and bookmark comments collected by Google Bookmarks in a way that influences search results.

    This is an untested hypothesis, and even if true there is a possibility the influence could be negative.

    As an exercise I used Google Bookmarks' fairly new list feature to create a cross-domain site map for this blog. on small business internet marketing. The Google Bookmark feature that allows this is capability to divide the bookmark link list into titles sections.  These are the sections I created:

    • Search optimization
    • Webmaster tools
    • Internet marketing legal issues
    • Site optimization
    • SEO resources
    • Social media marketing
    • Structured data

    All of the links in the Google Bookmark list are to a single sub-domain (micro-enterprise.blogspot.com), which is not one of Google's favorite things.  Yet, the comments I have begun to add to the bookmarks on the list are original and laced with mostly relevant keywords that don't over do it, or so it is hoped.

    The linked to this Google Bookmark list uses the text "small business internet marketing."  The list itself is set to 'public,' so anyone should be able to access it including the various search engines.

    The first unanswered question that must await unfolding in time is whether Google Search will index the bookmark link list and comments.

    Other resources on Google Bookmarks are:

    Official Google - requires account login
    Wikipedia on Google Bookmarks
    Unofficial FAQ dated March 3, 2007

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    SEO - Google page rank

    Understanding Google Page Rank

    Google Page Rank is an extremely important part of how Google views the relative significance of various competing web pages.  For Google, 'relevance' and 'importance' are nearly the same, and are closely linked.   PageRank® Technology is crucial to understanding how Google operates and how web pages are prioritized by it.  It is a complicated, patented, and trademarked process of Google that is partially known to the public through the details of the patent application, but partly unknown.

    Google's patented PageRank® Technology is reflected in the Page Rank number Google assigns to each indexed page.  This number does not show by any ordinary means, but it is knowable.
    "PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results." 
    Google corporate 2010-07-21
    WebWorkshop - Google's Page Rank explained

    Determining Google Page Rank

    Knowing the specific Page Rank of an individual page is much easier, with the use of the Google Toolbar that is available for Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers.

    Screenshot 1 - 20100721-01
    Screenshot of Google Toolbar showing a Page Rank of 7/10

    With the Google Toolbar installed on MS Internet Explorer 8, the green bar graph shown above indicated the general Page Rank of the current page online.  When the cursor is hovered-over the graph, a text box pops up indicating the specific numeric Page Rank.  In this case the Page Rank is 7 out of 10.

    Screenshot 2 - 20100721-02
    Screenshot of Google Toolbar showing a Page Rank drop menu

    With a left click of the mouse, a pop-up menu shows the following options:

    • Cached snapshot of page
    • Similar pages
    • Backwards links

    The Google Toolbar is the quickest and easiest method I know to check a page's Page Rank.

    If the Google Toolbar is not your cup of tea, you can also check the page rank of a page by pasting its url in the text box below.

    Check Page Rank of your Web site pages instantly:
    This page rank checking tool is powered by Page Rank Checker service
    Google page rank - zero is better than nothing

    When the Google Toolbar page rank graph is empty grey, it means that Google has not yet assigned a page rank to the current page, as shown here.

    Screenshot 3 - 20100721-03
    Screenshot of Google Toolbar showing a Page Rank of none

    When the Google Toolbar page rank graph is empty white, it means that Google views the importance of the current page as zero. It is better than nothing since it means Google knows the existence of the page.

    Screenshot 4 - 20100721-04
    Screenshot of Google Toolbar showing a Page Rank of 0/10

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Search optimization - structured data

    Search optimization
    structured data

    Structured data is a phrase that covers the general idea of using HTML tag capabilities to mark certain common data types with standardized methods. In recent years, Google has adopted the use of three different structured data type standards for embedding seven common data items:
    1. Recipes
    2. Reviews
    3. Review ratings
    4. People
    5. Events
    6. Businesses and organizations
    7. Products
    The three structuring standards supported by Google are, RDFa, HTML 5 microdata, and microformats. These differing methods may be used interchangeably.

    Example — Business listing using microdata format

    <div itemscope itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Organization"> 
       <span itemprop="name">Carmen-Thomas Designs</span> <br />
       <span itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Address"> 
       <span itemprop="street-address">1218 S. Second Street</span> <br /> 
          <span itemprop="locality">Louisville</span>
          <span itemprop="region">Kentucky</span> <br />
        Phone: <span itemprop="tel">502-230-1613</span>.
        <a href="http://carmen-thomas-designs.blogspot.com/" itemprop="url">http://carmen-thomas-designs.blogspot.com/</a>.

    The above listed code will display as follows:

    Carmen-Thomas Designs
    1218 S. Second Street
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Phone: 502-230-16134.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    MarketingExperiments Research Journal

    Recommended reading
    Marketing Experiments Research Journal, vol 1, no 2, Second Quarter 2010
    "Many people will likely bounce from [a page] when they don’t immediately find what drove them there in the first place."
    Marketing Experiments Research Journal
    MarketingExperiments.com is a research group with a simple mission statement: To discover what really works in optimization. They focus all of their experiments on optimizing marketing communications. They test every conceivable approach and we publish the results in the MarketingExperiments Journal.

    This issue is a downloadable PDF file with 132 pages of articles in four broad categories:
    • Marketing optimization - 11 articles

      1. Integrate Your Marketing: How one company combined offline and online marketing to increase subscriptions by 124%
      2. Ask the Scientist: MarketingExperiments Optimization Sequence
      3. Evidence-based Marketing: Why you need more than just numbers to truly drive ROI
      4. Tricks vs. Testing: The Battle for Internet Supremacy
      5. Flash Banner vs. Headline, Lead Quantity vs. Lead Quality: The fight for online marketing ROI continues
      6. Online Marketing Tricks vs. Testing: The Thrilla on Mozilla
      7. 100 Tips for Trade Show Lead Generation
      8. Ask the Scientist: Price testing methods and practices
      9. Multivariate Testing: Can you radically improve marketing ROI by increasing variables you test?
      10. Cost of Delay: How to win approval for your test and test schedule
      11. The Business Case for Testing: How one marketer convinced her business leaders to start testing and drove a 201% gain in the process
    • Social media marketing - 6 articles

      1. Facebook Case Study: From 517 to 33,000 fans in two weeks (plus media coverage)
      2. Social Media Case Study: Facebook plus integrated marketing helps raise $950,000
      3. Connecting Social Networks Pays Off
      4. Holistic Marketing Optimization: What’s more likely to show up on Twitter?
      5. Social Media Marketing Human Factor: Finding the right person for the job
      6. Social Media for the COO: How to become the Michael Phelps of implementing social media in your organization
    • Search optimization - 2 articles

      1. Search Marketing: Tips on mastering the latest innovations in this mature category
      2. Google Caffeine: Use social media and quality content to get a jolt for your site
    • Site optimization - 8 articles

      1. 1:1 Marketing at Four Levels: Strategic ways every marketer can enter into an online conversation with customers
      2. One-to-One Marketing: The true promise of Dynamic Offer-Content Customization
      3. Web Team Roles, Web Designer: Are you trying to buy bread from the butcher?
      4. Web Team Roles, Web Developer: What exactly does a developer “develop,” anyway?
      5. What Else Can I Test… On My E-commerce Or Lead Generation Website?
      6. Marketing Optimization Technology: Be careful of shooting yourself (and your test) in the foot
      7. Google Analytics: New browser-based, data-privacy opt out important, but what consumers really need is education
      8. Technology Blind Spots: How human insight revealed a hidden (and almost missed) 31% gain
    "It is crucial to understand the connection between offline and online marketing. To get maximum ROI from your marketing spend, you must integrate all of your activities and make the connection between your traditional marketing and web conversions.
    — Marketing Experiments Research Journal
    Authors and contributors
    • Daniel Burstein
    • Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch
    • Adam Davis, Director of Technology
    • Jimmy Ellis
    • Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Director of MECLABS Group
    • Boris Grinkot, Senior Manager, Research and Strategy
    • Scott Howard, Director of Operations
    • Bob Kemper, Director of Sciences, MECLABS Group
    • Pamela Markey
    • Austin McCraw
    • Andy Mott
    • Jon Powell, Research Analyst
    • Arturo Silva
    • Adam T. Sutton, Reporter at MarketingSherpa
    • Nathan Thompson, Research Analyst
    • Gina Townsend
    • Corey Trent, Research Analyst
    The MarketingExperiments Quarterly Research Journal, Q2 2010

    Also: The Marketing Experiments Research Journal, vol 1, no 1, First Quarter 2010

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Internet marketing - privacy regulations

    Internet marketing legal issues
    Privacy regulations

    Bob Kemper discusses several important factors to be considered by high-end internet based marketing startups, including the continuing stream of Federal and state legislative and regulatory activity.  My concern and focus has little in common with any startup internet business that involves debt or other overhead, which is Kemper's target audience.  But even a base-zero bootstrap internet business has to comply with many, if not all, of the same laws and regulations that apply to the big dogs.

    Especially important among those laws that any internet business must observe are the regulatory requirements for preserving confidentiality of personal identifying information.

    The best place to start learning the cyber law issues that internet entrepreneurs must face, whether start-up or established, are the major statutory provisions that have come into being over the last ten years.  Reading statutes is rarely regarded as either fun or easy, but it at least has the virtue of being authoritative.

    Those primary legal sources are these:
    The various states have also been busy enacting an assortment of general privacy and specifically cyber-related legislation, and more legislation is undoubtedly on the way. That's what legislators do. The significance of any particular law or regulation depends largely upon the nature of the internet business. Privacy concerns ought to be at the top of any list that involves the collection of customer data.

    Also: Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Search optimization - the semantic web

    Humans are capable of using the Web to carry out tasks such as finding the closest pizza place open after midnight, selecting and ordering a book on Amazon, and searching for a low price for a digital camera. However, a computer cannot accomplish all of these tasks without human direction, because web pages are designed to be read by people, not machines. The semantic web is a vision of information that is understandable by computers. The goal is for computers to perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.

     In 1999 Tim Berners-Lee first stated a vision of the semantic web like this:
    I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.
    The Semantic Web is a vision for the future of the Web in which information is given explicit meaning, making it easier for machines to automatically process and integrate information available on the Web. Web Ontology Language

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Search optimization - concept maps

    Search optimization
    Concept maps

    A concept map is a way of representing relations between ideas which are signified by words and phrases. Each word or phrase in a concept map is connected to another and linked back to the original idea, word or phrase. When used as a teaching tool, concept maps are a way to develop logical thinking and study skills. By visually showing connections, students can more easily see how individual ideas form a larger whole.

    The field of software engineering has developed a formalized set of graphic notation techniques to create visual models of software-intensive systems, known as the Unified Modeling Language (UML). Nothing quite that rigorous is needed for webmasters and search engine optimization (SEO) experts to benefit from the use of concept mapping as a tool for more accurately communicating web page or web site contents to artificial intelligence visitors.

    These artificial intelligence visitors to a web site are the search engine robot explorers. It is a serious oversight to think of these search robots as being just like human internet visitors, since they are not. But, a search engine indexing system such as Google's is not a simple or rigidly mechanical process at the other extreme either. It is adaptive, self-corrective, subject to constant revision, and sometimes it can be volatile. From the outside, it is always unpredictable.

    Search engines are designed by humans to reflect the state of human activity on the web, and are intended to be used by humans. As a general principle, it would be fair to say that search engines function more effectively as they more closely mirror human conceptual thinking. One might reasonably assume that the designers of search engine algorithms and heuristics are actively seeking ways to more closely approximate intuitive human conceptual mapping.

    A more focused and intentional use of conceptual mapping and semantic design, in conjunction with technical means of communicating this structure to the search engines can further the goal of search engine optimization.

    Given the continuing march of technology implementation, it may be time to move past thinking about keyword matching. Search optimization can be integrated into the very fabric of both design and content. Another related model is contained within the phrase the semantic web.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Social network marketing - data portability

    Social network marketing
    Data portability
    Watch list item to follow

    You have probably seen data portability in action.  For example, if a web application asks to have access to your Facebook account data or seeks you to share your Yahoo! email address list.  Or, if you have a Google account, you know that a single user name and login works across all of Google's many web based services and features.  That's data portability in action.

    There is a grassroots organization online devoted to the idea of data portability at Dataportability.org.
    "With cross-system data access, interoperability, and portability, people can bring their identities, friends, conversations, files, and histories with them to your service, cutting down on the need for form-filling which can drive people away. With minimal effort on the part of new customers, you can tailor services to suit them. When your customers browse networked services and accumulate experiences, this information can update on your service, if people permit it. Your relationship remains up-to-date and you can adapt your services in response, even when they don't visit. With mutual control and mutual benefit, your relationships remain relevant, encouraging continued usage."
    It's an advanced topic for small business web site owners, and the useful application of the features of data portability in a social networking context are extremely specialized and custom, at the moment.  Impractical to pursue for most of us, but good to be aware of.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter

    Google webmaster tools - Search queries

    Below is a screen-shot of today's available data for this microenterprise blog on Google Webmaster Tools, Search Queries page. The red numbers one through seven have been added by me for ease of understanding. This page on Google Webmaster Tools provides search data for one day only, July 9, 2010.

    The reason for this limited amount of data is the newness of the site registration with Google Webmaster Tools on July 6th. See prior post. Since there is only one day of data available, the date range pointed to by number 1 is fixed in this example.

    Presumably, once more data is available, the date range can be user selected. The most important parts of this data set are:
    1. Date range
    2. Total number of search strings that Google considered relevant enough to return, during the date range.
    3. Total number of times the blog appeared in Google search results, during the date range. This is called "impressions" because the Google user would have actually had the opportunity to see the site's title and blurb whether or not the site link was clicked and visited.
    4. Total number of times the site link was clicked and visited from Google search results page.
    5. The specific search string(s) that Google responded to.  In this example, there was only one, "visitor management."
    6. The high-low search position range that Google served as a result for this blog.  Number one is the highest search position, appearing at the top of the list on a Google search results page.  The are generally never more than ten organic search results (not including paid search results) per page with Google, and sometimes less.
    7. The specific page that was considered relevant enough to serve up as a search result.
    Google served this blog page, /2010/07/website-configuration-management.html on the first-page results at least twice, but certainly less than ten times, on July 9, 2010. But it was delivered in response to the search query "visitor management," which is fairly irrelevant in the page itself. Google adaptive and self-correcting heuristics will soon eliminate this page for that search inquiry entirely. Indeed, less than four days later, as of today, the blog page is nowhere in sight when that search is repeated.

    Screenshot 1 - 20100715-01

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Google webmaster tools - data time lag

    I went through the process of verifying ownership of this microenterprise blog of mine with Google Webmaster Tools late evening on July 6, 2010. The first date was returned by Google overnight to be available first thing Monday July 12, 2010. There was one day of data available, and that was for July 9, 2010. It seems, therefore:
    1. There is a 24 to 48 hour delay after registering a new website with Google Webmaster Tools before data begins to be collected.
    2. Once data collection starts, it is prospective only, and accumulates with the passage of time. Historical data prior to the start of data collection is simply not available.
    3. It takes a while before a significant amount of data is collected, for most low-traffic sites. Delaying the set-up is not an advantage here.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

    Nearly two years old now, Google's SEO guide for beginners is a useful free resource in the form of a 22 page printable PDF currently online here. It's a useful overview of technical points that should be understandable to a novice, with a bit of additional web research. A basic understanding of HTML is very useful.

    Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide from Google

    The topics include:
    • Create unique, accurate page titles
    • Good practices for page title tags
    • Make use of the "description" meta tag
    • Good practices for description meta tags
    • Improve the structure of your URLs
    • Good practices for URL structure
    • Make your site easier to navigate
    • Good practices for site navigation
    • Offer quality content and services
    • Good practices for content
    • Write better anchor text
    • Good practices for anchor text
    • Use heading tags appropriately
    • Good practices for heading tags
    • Optimize your use of images
    • Good practices for images
    • Make effective use of robots.txt
    • Good practices for robots.txt
    • Be aware of rel="nofollow" for links
    • Promote your website in the right ways
    • Good practices for promoting your website
    • Make use of free webmaster tools
    • Take advantage of web analytics services
    • Helpful resources for webmasters

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Webmaster tools - Robots.txt protocol

    Webmaster tools
    Robots.txt protocol

    When a search engine looks at a web site, it checks for a root directory file named 'robots.txt'. A Standard for Robot Exclusion was established in 1994 which the major search engines observe.  It is a method for excluding certain parts of web sites from being scanned and indexed.   The robots.txt protocol is recommended by Google for use by web masters.  The method is not secure and it does not guarantee privacy.

    Google Webmaster Central: Block or remove pages using robots.txt file

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Webmaster tools - Lynx web browser

    Webmaster tools
    Lynx web browser

    All commonplace web browsers in use today provide graphical display. That's the modern way. The automated web content explorers, called searchbots or web spiders, used by search engines to map the web are much simpler. The search engines really don't "see" web pages the same way people do, and it is sometimes difficult to appreciate the difference. Yet, when designing a web page with the search engines in mind, understanding the difference can make an important difference.

     The Lynx web browser is a hold-over from a prior computer age when text-only displays were the norm.  Lynx is a text-only web browser that allows you to see a web page much more like how a search engine sees the page.  Lynx is free software that can be downloaded here, but as mentioned, it is a piece of software that operated by a different set of rules, and it may take some effort to understand how it works.

    Google specifically recommends the use of Lynx by web masters to understand best design practices better.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Search engines for beginners - Submitting your site

    Search engines for beginners
    Submitting your site to major search engines

    The market data for June 2010 recently released by Hitwise shows Google still in the North American lead with 71.5% of total searches. Yahoo search and Bing follow with 14.4% and 10% of the total, respectively. Since Yahoo! web search is outsourced to Microsoft's Bing search engine, the two combined amount to a nearly 25% slice of the search engine pie. Ask and ALO search follow in distant fourth and fifth places.

    The first step before any search engine can recommend your web site in a search result is for that search engine to know your site exists. The best bet is for you to simply tell the search engine about your site/. The first step is to submit your site, preferably along with a sitemap, to the big three: Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.

    The submission process for each is simple, although creating a properly formatted sitemap may take some work.  Here are the links for each:

    Each of these search engine submission processes require the creation of a free account and site ownership verification by inserting a specific html <meta> tag, or by uploading a specific html file to the root directory of your hosted web server.

    Note for Blogger.com users:  Blogger sites can be verified with Google and Bing web master tools by using <meta> tag inserts, but the code generated by Yahoo! is re-written by Blogger in a way that Yahoo! refuses to read. This blog - microenterprise - was successfully claimed by me through Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Toolbox, but not through Yahoo! Site Explorer.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Social media data extraction

    Social media data extraction
    You are expressing an opinion always
    . . . and people are watching

    Scores and scores of social bookmarking, link shortening, free email, discussion group services and thought patrols are being continuously scanned for links. The data is aggregated, analyzed, bought and sold by the search engineers in quest to connect individual shoppers with the favored sellers.  Your online behavior is being observed and recorded.  Count on it, you are counted.

    Those in the know, know.  Seth Godin is known for being in the know. Payola.

    Everyone else needs to become aware.

    Being watched is nothing to fear. Internet marketing sorta demands attention-seeking behavior. The insider use of data from social media and free internet services is just a fact of modern life. The idea is to be aware of it and use it for your own purposes if possible.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Tom Fox on Twitter


    Website configuration management - setting the baseline

    Website configuration management
    Setting the baseline for natural search optimization

    Search engines such as Google work to provide access to information or resources that individual users are seeking.  A major consideration is relevancy, and the matching mechanism used by Google depends upon key words and phrases.  The quest for useful search results involves much more than returning an undifferentiated list of topical relevancy.  It involves many other considerations such as timeliness, importance, and popularity, to name a few.  Google indicates that it employs more than two hundred factors in creating its search index.

    Many of the factors considered by Google to determine the appropriateness and ranking of a particular web page in its search results are wholly within the control and discretion of the individual web master in charge and those who may contribute to the site's content.  More than a few of the factors relate to good web design practices that contribute to a satisfactory user experience.

    Google provides a comprehensive and evolving set of design guidelines, best practices, and tools for crafting a web site that rates high on Google's own standard of quality.  Totally apart from a web site's content, its rank in Google's search results can be affected for better or worse based upon wholly technical considerations, and every reasonable effort should be made to conform to Google's quality guidelines.  As happens in judging figure skating competitions, a significant part of a final score consists of "technical merit."

    Summary: Configuration management has the focus of establishing rational controls for significant changes to existing systems, whether they be software systems or business systems.  Since a typical small business website is a fairly static event, setting the baseline performance for the site  using Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics is a simple and inexpensive matter.  The idea is to capture actual search engine and web visitor behavior data before any changes are made to the website configuration, so that the effects of subsequent changes can be observed. This can be thought of as website configuration management by results.

    If the purpose is to improve the business performance of a website by boosting its relevance to Google search, or natural search optimization, then to establish an existing baseline for the search results already being generated seems to be a reasonable priority.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky


    Ten years of Open Office

    OpenOffice.org is both a product and an open-source project. Each have been in existence since 2000.  The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free and open alternative.

    The Open Office software suite includes enterprise quality word processing, spreadsheet, database, slide presentation, and drawing applications comparable to Microsoft Office software, but it is free and it is Open Source.  Apart from the very reasonable price for Open Office software (free), the quality of Open Office and the social implications of Open Source software offer compelling justifications to consider the package. In my opinion, Open Office software is first choice for general purpose office use.

    For those on a limited budget, there isn't much choice.  Businesses which can well afford to buy Microsoft products ought think about giving financial support of OpenOffice.org instead.

    Download Open Office software from this page.

    Tom Fox
    Louisville, Kentucky