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San Francisco Giants SEO

September 29 2009 // Humor + SEO // 2 Comments

The other day I was walking to lunch with a long-time client and we passed one of the main entrances to Pac Bell, SBC AT&T Park. He noted that this particular entrance seemed overly obvious.

San Francisco Giants SEO

This image, from Google Street View, shows the ‘Giants Building’ sign with a SF logo underneath and a ‘Home Of The Giants’ as a type of sub-header.

My response was simple. That’s good SEO.

This brought me a round of good-natured chiding from my client about being a bit too SEO focused. But really, this was a great example of Blind Five Year Old SEO. The sign was simple and instructive. (Perhaps also a reaction to the frequent name changes that Park has undergone.)

Could the San Francisco Giants be SEO savvy?

Let’s say I’m a tourist from … Sweden. What name tells me more: AT&T Park or Giants Building? That’s a no-brainer, right! Better yet, I’ve got that nice SF logo there for some context. And if I’m still confused I’m even told that this is the home of the Giants. Without a doubt I know the building in front of me is the home of the Giants.

Whether or not they’d know that the Giants are a baseball team is another thing entirely.

So am I too SEO focused or is this just a good real world case of providing easy, instructive signage?

Bling Search Engine

June 04 2009 // Humor + SEM + SEO // 1 Comment

Bling Search Engine

Since the launch of Microsoft’s Bing I’ve received traffic from ‘bling’ keywords: bling search engine, bling paid search, bling search real time.

Search is funny that way. A small misspelling by the user is matched to a variant of my blog name. The one letter difference between blind and bling seems big to a person but doesn’t amount to much for a search engine. It’s yet another example of my blind five year old theory on search engines.

Bling Search Engine

I don’t know, maybe they should have named it Bling.

Bling is catchy and has an established vernacular. They could have used all sorts of celebrity endorsements about needing to find their bling. I can see the tag line.

“Search for your Bling!”

Google is the 6th Ranked Search Engine

June 01 2009 // Humor + SEO // 3 Comments

Don’t believe me? Try a search for ‘search engine’ on … Google.

Google is the 6th Ranked Search Engine

That’s right, it returns Google as the 7th result and the 6th search engine. And look at the snippet! Would it kill Google to craft a decent meta description?

In some ways it’s nice to see that Google isn’t optimizing and hasn’t manually altered the results in their favor. Yet, ‘search engine’ seems like a valuable term.

Search Engine Search Volume

That’s over 4 million global monthly searches! Even on exact match you get nearly 400,000.

Yahoo seems to get it, putting themselves at the top of a ‘search engine’ query on Yahoo. I’m guessing that’s a non-algorithmic result. Sure it seems like a blatant promotion but I understand the reasoning.

Nevermind the oddity of searching for a search engine with a search engine. Search is Google’s business and, as such, it should want to be the top result for the term.

Even from a search quality perspective, are those the best results for the term ‘search engine’?

How To Deal With Email Mistakes

May 24 2009 // eCommerce + Humor + Marketing // Comment

I am subscribed to a lot of email newsletters. It’s one of the better ways to keep current with email marketing, allowing me to track send frequency, timing and other trends.

The other day I received an email from Smith & Hawken advertising their Memorial Day Deals. Four hours later I got another Smith & Hawken email with a subject line that read ‘Oops, we goofed: Memorial Day Deals for Reals’

Deals for Reals Email

Deals for Reals?

The phrase didn’t match my image of Smith & Hawken. Sure, reals wasn’t spelled with a ‘z’ but it still seemed off-brand. A quick peek at Quantcast confirmed my suspicion – Smith & Hawken customers are older, affluent, highly educated women.

Know your audience

I’m guessing most recipients thought it was a typo. To make matters worse, Smith & Hawken figured out (too late I suppose) that they could have changed the image served in the email to reflect the correct price. In fact, the once erroneous price is now displayed correctly in both email versions.

Smith & Hawken goofed three times. Once with an incorrect price in the email, again with sending an off-brand message and lastly for doing so hastily, before implementing a better solution.

Email Mistakes Happen

Run an email marketing program for any amount of time and you’re bound to make a mistake at some point. You’ll get that frantic call coupled with an avalanche of forwarded emails from colleagues. The price is wrong! The product is out of stock! There’s a typo! It doesn’t work in IE6! Trust me, I’ve been there.

Don’t Panic

Your first reaction might be to immediately fix the error and resend the email as quickly as possible. Once that train leaves the station it can be hard to stop. Unfortunately, the focus on speed often results in further errors and limits your ability to think more broadly.

Instead, come to terms with the mistake. Own up to it and move on. Don’t carry the burden of the mistake around like a scarlet letter. It taints your judgment.

How many?

How many people are really going to see this mistake? How big is your list? What’s the average open rate? Is the error on only one item out of many? Do the math and you might find out that it’s not as big a deal as you first thought.

However, if the mistake is egregious enough (major pricing error or humorous typo) you may have to account for additional views through viral and social mediums.

How big?

Will the mistake result in a loss? How big was the pricing error? Are you bound to honor that price? Is the typo going to damage your brand? In all cases the answer is usually no.

You could choose to honor a pricing error and reduce your margin, or simply build in some extra customer service cost in dealing with pricing complaints. Throw in a retention coupon for good measure and you might actually build brand equity instead of fritter it away.

Typos are annoying but probably aren’t going to damage your brand in the long run unless they become routine. I’ve been critical of typos from Abebooks because I saw a pattern of errors. That, and subject line errors are the easiest ones to catch. Yet, in retrospect, the typos probably don’t amount to much.

How to respond

In this case, I’d opt to do an image replacement and not resend the entire email. Odds are that customers aren’t going to zero in on the one mispriced item.

Those that click through before the image replacement is complete will see the pricing discrepancy but only a few are likely to contact customer service or make it a federal case. Others may mutter under their breath and grumble about the discrepancy but it probably won’t change their behavior.

To safeguard against the latter I’d create a list of those who clicked through on the mispriced item and send a mea culpa email with a coupon for their trouble. (If you don’t have this type of email template ready to go – you should.)

By doing so, I’m only speaking to those who saw the email, reducing my cost and not broadcasting an error to those who weren’t even aware of it in the first place.

Stop Email Mistakes

Don’t let my attitude make you think I’m okay with email errors. I’m not! You should do everything you can to ensure they don’t happen. Have a good process in place. Follow proper QA guidelines. Ensure others are looking at the email before it goes live. Proofread text by reading it backwards. Be paranoid!

When mistakes do happen, take a deep breath, resolve the problem and learn from the experience.

For reals!

The Capital of the Internet is San Francisco

April 14 2009 // Humor + Rant + Technology // Comment

Is there any argument that the capital of the Internet is San Francisco?

Sure, there are other areas of activity. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Austin and a smattering of international destinations all have enclaves of Internet related activity. But the heart of the Internet remains in San Francisco. Or the Bay Area to be more precise.

Just think of the companies based in the Bay Area. Google. Yahoo. Facebook. Twitter. Yelp. Craigslist. eBay. YouTube. FriendFeed. Wikipedia (relocated from Florida). WordPress. Mozilla. Photobucket. Apple. Netflix. CNET. Adobe. Ask. LinkedIn. Snapfish. Digg. ZEDO. Pandora. CafePress. Salesforce.

I’m not even scratching the surface of all the start-ups and other sites, nor am I straying into traditional technology which would be another long list.

The Language of the Internet

Nowhere else is the language of the Internet spoken so fluently. Talk of browsers, social media, search engines, eCommerce, digital media, programming and more are par for the course. You’re bound to hear it if you sit down in a Starbucks and eavesdrop on conversations.

In New York it’s Wall Street. In Los Angeles it’s Hollywood. In Chicago it’s advertising. In Austin it’s music. In Seattle it’s … coffee and the weather. In Boston it’s … the Red Sox. In San Francisco, it’s the Internet.

Under this assumption, the White House is Google. I admit that I haven’t figured out who or where the Capitol is located. (Nominations anyone?)

The Google White House

The other cities mentioned above serve as Internet embassies. These embassies are important, but make no mistake, you’re in a foreign land. The locals don’t speak the language.

Finding the Internet Capital

I know a little more about this topic since I lived in Washington, D.C. for a little over 6 years. Washington D.C. is, without question, the capital of politics. Again, that’s not to say you can’t be a political animal in your own state or city, but D.C. is where it all comes together.

Even in college I couldn’t help but talk about politics and legislation as I drank yards of beer with friends. I knew it was time to leave when the bathroom graffiti was about NAFTA.

I moved from San Diego (yeah, I’ve hop scotched here and there) to San Francisco because I wanted to get into Internet marketing.

Why not do it in San Diego? Well, back in 1999 there was really only one San Diego based option – And the number of applications to openings was staggering. (So was their eventual implosion.)

On a lark (and to my wife’s shock) I sent three resumes to San Francisco based companies. I got three interviews and eventually landed one of those jobs.

San Francisco Detractors

Some simply don’t get it. They view the Bay Area, or Silicon Valley (the latter term seemingly used as a pejorative), as too focused and too caught up with itself. It’s expensive they moan. You live in a bubble and don’t see what’s really going on they shout.

Mind you, the same type of arguments can be applied to Washington, D.C, government and politics. But there are checks and balances.

Internal factions remind us of the outside world. We have our fair share of contrarians. Bubbles pop. And yes, from time to time ambassadors from Internet embassies remind us that there’s life beyond our corner of the world. And there is great work happening beyond the Bay Area.

But at the end of the day …

The capital of the Internet is San Francisco.

The End of Rick Rolling?

January 25 2009 // Humor + Technology // Comment

The Google team has quietly announced changes to the thumbnail selections for videos that might spell the end of the Rick Roll.

End of Rick Rolling

In December YouTube announced changes in a post titled ‘A YouTube for All of Us‘. Outside of the strange capitalization the post contained the following statements.

Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata.

Recently, the Google Research Blog explained a bit more about Smart Thumbnails on YouTube.

… our previous system of choosing thumbnails from the 25, 50 and 75% marks in the video, which often led to arbitrary, uninformative or sometimes even misleading images, is now a thing of the past. ¬†When a new video comes to YouTube, we now analyze it with an algorithm whose aim is to pick a set of images that are visually representative of the content of the video.

Clearly Rick Rolling would be Exhibit A and any engineer working on a video algorithm would use Rick Rolls as a use case for development.

Is this the end of Rick Rolling? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s a continuing chess game as Rick Rollers figure out ways to beat the new thumbnail algorithm.

Never gonna give you up … never gonna …

Google Search Query Word Length

December 31 2008 // Humor + Technology // Comment

How many words does it take to get to the end of a Google search query?

Tootsie Pop Owl








Okay, I’ll spare you the tedium. The answer is 32 words!

Google Search Query Limit is 32 Words

I’m guessing this isn’t new but it just happened to catch my attention. It would have been far more interesting if they’d stopped at 42.

How Not To Use Twitter

December 07 2008 // Humor + Rant + Social Media + Technology // Comment

I’m still trying to find how to get the most out of Twitter. (I get far more from FriendFeed.) But here’s an easy example of how not to use Twitter.

The level of noise on Twitter seems high. Ditto the number who feel it’s an obligation to follow back. Or perhaps this is just what increased usage gets you?

Forgive Me StumbleUpon For I Have Sinned

December 04 2008 // Advertising + Humor + Marketing + Technology // 1 Comment

StumbleUpon No EntryThe other day I updated my StumbleUpon toolbar (well, I was essentially forced to) and immediately couldn’t Stumble posts from this blog or my Used Books Blog. Each time I tried my Stumble just would not go through, stalling at a blank white box where the review and tagging takes place. I tried numerous times on a couple different browsers. Nothing worked.

I assumed that something had gone awry with the new toolbar. I even posted a message on FriendFeed calling eBay lame. But you know the old saying about assuming, right?

I sent feedback to StumbleUpon about my problem and got a prompt reply as follows.


Thanks for writing in.

After reviewing your account history, it appears
that you’ve repeatedly submitted content from one
or more sites in particular.

Our site software detects behavior like this to
prevent the unauthorized use of StumbleUpon to
promote a specific Web site, product or service.

This limit will likely remain in place until you
use the StumbleUpon Toolbar more frequently to
rate, review and discover Web sites that can
shared with other members.

If you’re interested in using StumbleUpon to
advertise a Web site, please look into our
Advertising program:

If you have any other questions, please review our
Terms of Service and Community Rules:

Thanks for your feedback,

Oops. I admit, I’ve only been Stumbling my own sites lately. However, I think they’re pretty good so I don’t see anything too wrong with that. Also, I’m pretty transparent. I don’t have a Stumble army nor do I have multiple profiles so I can distribute my Stumbles across accounts and dodge the software.

But I get it and I’m not really complaining. It’s not what StumbleUpon is really supposed to be about. And I respect them for protecting the product and StumbleUpon business model. It also got me to Stumble again and I discovered some interesting sites and images. So … thanks for that.

My one nit would be that I had to contact support to get this information. Instead of presenting the white box of frustration I suggest that StumbleUpon simply insert the text I received into that area. Not only would I have immediately understood what was going on and not throw invective into the htmlosphere but StumbleUpon would have saved a bit of money on customer support.

Forgive me StumbleUpon for I have sinned. My penance? Stumble.

Does Google Have Pac-Man Fever?

December 02 2008 // Humor + SEM + SEO + Technology // 2 Comments

Google’s share of US searches continues to rise according to a recent comScore press release. In October 2008 Google led with 63.1% of all searches conducted. The resulting pie chart shows that Google is closing in on a Pac-Man like position in the search market.

It hasn’t been this way for that long though. Following is the historic comScore data I’ve cobbled together showing Google’s share of the search market.

October 2004: 34.8%
October 2005: 39.0%
October 2006: 45.4%
October 2007: 58.5%
October 2008: 63.1%

So, in five years the search market went from a dog fight to a laugher. If Google continues on this path the pie chart will take on true Pac-Man dimensions.

Now, I’m not sure who’s Inky, Blinky, Pinky or Clyde but Google certainly has the other search players on the run.

None of them seems to have the right medicine to reduce the Google fever that has swept the country. Acetaminophen (AOL), ibuprofen (Yahoo!), naproxen (Ask) and aspirin (MSN) have all failed to bring the temperature down. And upstart homeopathic remedies (Powerset, Cuil etc.) haven’t made a dent either.

Would mixing some of these medicines together help? Some Yahoo! and MSN with a dash of Powerset? Not likely. And in some cases mixing medicines can prove lethal.