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search engine strategies Archive
Last week was all about Bing and Wave – both products the respective companies believe will change something about what we do online. Master search engine journalist Danny Sullivan has an indepth review of Bing which is worth reading (along with his partners comparison review).
In the ”coming soon” video, Microsoft classifies Bing as a “decision engine”. The video makes it seem like a search engine.
Whether you classify Bing as a decision engine or a search engine, whether you compare Bing to Google or any other engine, I have one question for Microsoft….
WHY NOT USE LIVE.COM?
Something tells me that Microsoft hired an expensive agency which eventually (after large payments) came up with the name Bing. I’ve sat through hundreds of these type of presentations over my career and have found it funny how many times the agency misses what’s right in front of them. Now maybe the Bing name was developed in-house. Frankly it really doesn’t matter where Bing came from (note, when I hear bing, I think of the bing-bong chime on the subway when the doors close).
Live is nearly a perfect name. All of the social media techies are in love with “real-time” and Google and other engines have talked about wanting to add more real-time activities into their results. Microsoft could have worked towards branding Live as THE real-time results/decision/search engine. Real-time = Live. Everything inside of Bing could have been included along with the real-time results.
Will Bing be the next Google or the next Cuil? Who knows at this point but what I do know is that had they used the Live name for the brand, they would have been further down the better path.
Perhaps in future ads and videos we will learn what the Bing name actually means and why it was chosen for this new brand.
Last week I attended the Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference in NYC. As I walked through the three-floors of the expo hall, I realized that my walk could have been in 2008, 2007, 2006 or 2005. In fact, I attended each of those years in NYC along with Chicago in 2006. What I noticed left me wondering when we might see innovation in the search engine space?
There are a large number of great minds in the space including Andy, Michael, Dosh, Kim, Muhammad, Loren, Danny’s Team, Jim, Aaron, etc. The conversations on these blogs can keep one occupied 24 hours a day with interesting discussions about organic optimization and link building. Each one of these experts along with the thousands of others in the space push the envelope each day.
Clearly the innovation is limited to what the search engines can provide. Until Google, Yahoo, Ask or a new engine allow for more, then more can’t be created. It’s like trying a code on Ms. Pac Man that isn’t programmed into the machine. Currently, we can only find better ways around the maze to save time and gain more points.
In the expo hall, some 200+ companies show off their goods. Each notices my press badge and wants to tell me about their latest service offering. Time after time, it’s the same pitch as it was last year. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft show off their products, but don’t seem to talk much about the actual search engine. Here are some thoughts using photos (view the entire set):
Microsoft pushes their advertising options, not their search products.
NY-based Hakia appeared to be the only other search engine that is relatively new and trying something innovative in the search space.
Ask had an opporunity to explain why their search is better but instead went with selling sponsored advertising.
PPC Marketing – "A New Era" – explains that never before have we been able to connect with customers for a few cents. Sure, if never before includes 2000-2007.
The most popular areas of the expo were: Google, Microsoft and Media Whiz. Media Whiz (a CN sponsor) had a huge amount of people both times I stopped by even though they were located in the farthest corner of the expo hall.
Will 2008 be the year that we see actual innovation in the search space? Not one step forward but a giant leap in how we search and the companies who innovate the new search innovations. It is quite boring to walk the SES expo halls year after year and see the same thing and hear the same pitches.
Next week in NYC is the Search Engine Strategies conference. One of the sessions will discuss local marketing and geotargeting campaigns. I had a chance to speak with moderator Ian White and the transcript of our discussion is below.
Allen: Can you begin with a brief bio about yourself and your company Urban Mapping?
Ian White: I’m CEO of Urban Mapping, a company I started in 2003. At that time I had developed a printed map based on a unique printing technique that allows users to see multiple layers of imagery on a static polymer substrate. The NYC map gained tremendous notoriety for its design and function (http://urbanmapping.com/panamap/index.html for more info). At the time I called it a "poor man’s GIS" as it allowed users to see subways, streets and neighborhoods. The technology is patented and it should be returning to a store near you soon…
Over the past two years I’ve been more focused on digital media–UMI offers a series of data products designed to be used by interactive publishers and application providers. Our database of informal space, or neighborhoods, is most widely known and used. All major portals and IYPs are customers. In the context of local search, knowing your location is invaluable, and often times a postal code is woefully inadequate, but it’s the most granular one can get. Enter our neighborhood database product. Over 30,000 neighborhoods across the US, Canada and Europe (and growing).
We also offer a database of normalized mass transit systems. This is unique in that the product caters to the needs of end-users, ie, riders. We know locations of actual station exits and if they are handicap accessible, hours of operation, amenities, etc…Station, line, schedule and routing data are also part of this. More info on this coming very soon.
My background in brief: I have 15 years experience in marketing strategy and product development. I have been published in academic journals and the business press and is a frequent speaker on local search and ‘context-dependent media.’
Prior to founding Urban Mapping in 2003, I worked as a business consultant at and held various roles in business development and marketing. I also served as Adjunct Professor of Design and Management at Parsons School of Design in New York.
Allen: What will you be speaking about at SES and why is SES an exciting conference to you?
Ian: I’m moderating panel on local this time. Pleased to say SES ripped off my proposed abstract word for word ;)
Glad to be moderating this time around as I can shape the discussion, not just participate. My vantage point affords a unique perspective to how engines, publishers and others conceive of and use local data. SES attracts a huge number of SEM pros, many of whom are first timers. It’s nice to be able to share learnings with them so they don’t hit the same pitfalls many of us have already experienced.
Allen: What’s a geotargeted campaign?
Ian: At the risk of being tautological, a geotargeted campaign means targeting a campaign to a specific territory. For interactive marketing, this has become synonomous with IP-based geotargeting. In the SEM world, geotargeting is relevant as it provides a menas of serving something (advertising/content) to a geographically-focused area. Problem is, there’s a lot of fiction built around what geotargeting does. It’s not a panacea and doesn’t provide the granularity anywhere near what people think. Load balancers, proxy servers and dynamic IPs all serve to obsfucate a user’s true location. Remember all AOL dial-up subscribers having their address appear as somewhere in Northern Virginia? This is still very common.
There are other ways to geotarget using different location-aware techniques. Urban Mapping offers its GeoMods solution (http://urbanmapping.com/geomods/index.html) which is predicated on the intent of the user. Other techniques include GPS, cellID and wifi triangulation.
Allen: Why is geotargeting important for marketers?
Ian: Local represents about 40% of all searches–even if you don’t type ‘plumber,’ it’s inherently local. Much of the economy is driven by ‘research online, buy offline,’ so this is a critical piece of a campaign. Many large advertisers haven’t gotten to anything more granular than country or region, so this leaves a lot of room for smaller (non brand) advertisers to run campaigns that tap into the intent of a user’s query.
Allen: What resources do you suggest that a marketer check out with regards to local and geotargeting?
Ian: In the humblest of ways, I suggest a few postings I’ve written (with links to good resources):
I have attended the Search Engine Strategies conference many times in multiple cities over the past few years. I have enjoyed attending and think the team at the SES put on a good show. Unlike Jason "I don't reply to emails except to be rude" Calacnis, I don't think search engine optimization is dead (nor do I think it will die anytime soon), but I think it's needing a jolt of new life to revive and move it ahead.
Walking around the expo hall is the same every time. Half of the companies are pushing the same things today that they pushed a year ago, and some even two years ago (and more!). A good percentage of the companies are doing the same thing and many are using other company APIs for their business models. Lastly, most of the presentations and panels are the same. How many times can we listen to a discussion on linkbaiting that does not include anything new? And how disappointing is it to hear about gaming Digg. Eventually customers will wise up to firms that are using social media sites incorrectly to get traffic.
With Google buying DoubleClick this week for $3.1 billion, does this mean that their basic search product is no longer the most important piece in their portfolio? I have heard and reported on many new pieces of technology that Google has produced over the last year. Besides their addition of Google Checkout images, have their been any changes to the search tool?
Is the gaming of the social sites something that SEO firms are advocating because there is no more room left for regular search movement? I have seen many posts on other blogs and SEO sites that really make me wonder. Side note… I do find it interesting and amazing how many take the panel speakers as if they are doing everything legit just because they are on a panel.
So will we see Search Engine Strategies conferences in say 2009 (I am guessing 2008 is already booked). If so, what will they look like? Will the social media sites be the main attractions moving forward? What happens when these no longer generate the traffic they do today because of the seo gaming?
I do a fair bit of organic optimization for my clients and they have seen lots of success but it is becoming more and more difficult as everyone becomes optimized. I look forward to the next generation of search… whether it is from Google or another new player. I also look forward to learning the new techniques that will be needed to get my sites (and my client's sites) to the top.
Alright, Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2006 has come to a close and it was damn good. Danny Sullivan and his team setup a flawless conference. Now that he is stepping down, I hope next year’s will be as good.
First a question… why not switch SES San Jose and SES Chicago? I like it cold, but it has been freezing here this week and I assume the weather must be much nicer this past week in San Jose. So why not switch the two weeks and give everyone an easier transport.
Overall, I thought the sessions were good. While most of this knowledge I already have, watching others learn, and ask questions means it was a good session. And in general discussions, most felt like they received a fair value for their dollar.
I tested JenSense’s tip of making an ad block with only Google image ads, and let me just tell you, this was worthless. At least on my sites it was. The image ads were ugly, crappy, and paid nothing. So they are gone. Maybe you will have a different experience.
Danny did a good job with his keynote presentation on the year in search. Covered all the main topics, threw in some humor and didn’t read his slides verbatim. Well done!
Jason Calacanis on the other hand got a lot of flack for saying “SEO is Shit” – he tried to back out of it on his blog, but I heard a collective “WTF” when he said that in the ballroom. I mean, you are paid to come speak to 2,000 or so industry professionals, and you tell them that their industry is shit? While he started saying that he was from Brooklyn, I think he thinks that is a good excuse. Well, I am from Brooklyn as well, and would never say something like that. He also really had no answer for my question about Alexa and his gaming the system (btw, there is no post on his site with his results).
The expo was neat and orderly and seemed calm. A nice change from the ad:tech expo last month. Disappointed that the Payperpost founder never called me for an interview.
The food (lunch) was quite good, and the pretzels were tasty as well. I appreciated the fact that bottled water was one of the drink options.
Last but not least, it was great meeting everyone. When you see me at a conference, come up and talk to me! At a minimum you will get some CN swag :)
We will be covering many conferences, workshops and meetups in 2007. Contact us if there is anything specific you would like us to cover.
Now that the Search Engine Strategies Chicago conference has come to an end, I thought I would post some of the pictures I took during the week. My wrap-up post will be along on Sunday, the mailman is late it appears.
You can check out all of my SES pictures on flickr.
Ever wonder how to optimize your blog and feed for the search engines? One of the better sessions at Search Engine Strategies takes a look at how to get the most out of your feed. Topics include: monetization, optimization, analyze and reporting, and other topics.
The speakers were:
- Amanda Watlington (download audio on rapidshare)
- Stephan Spencer (download audio on rapidshare)
- Rick Klau (download audio on rapidshare)
I will say that I disagree with the panel on the teaser vs. full text feed issue. The panel believes you should offer full feeds. As a marketer and someone who wants to be able to monetize their site, I disagree. I think offer full text feeds are fine, but should be paid. So offer full text feeds for $10 a year or something similar with no ads, or teasers with ads for free.