All posts by Searchology

BP Oil spill and the Search Results – Good PR or good for nothing?

Try a few searches on Google for “bp oil spill” or even better…try “oil spill response” and you will find some very interesting results. The first of which is British Petroleum buying keywords to “manipulate the search results” as Kieth Olbermann pointed out this evening on MSNBC.  ABC may have broken the new first with their take on BP Buys Search Engine Phrases. This would be a good first step in online reputation management and may backfire as the disaster is certainly going to cost BP, America, The Gulf Coast, and our planet more than just a few pennies per click.

While on the surface of things, it may seem like a great way to start changing hearts and minds of America it will not. And it is way to little way to late. The current situation in the BP has created could have been avoided in the first place. While I don’t care to go into all of the details of who, how, and why [as I am not an expert in this area]; the BP oil spill should serve as a major warning to those companies who are facing a nasty online reputation management situation.

If you care about your brand and company…act accordingly in the first place. None of us as individuals or companies have the ability or service level to execute and deliver without a flaw. This should be expected as nothing goes without a bump or hiccup. The point is; once you have soiled your reputation, the damage done may be more than you could have imagined. No matter how much money you spend on Google Ad Words or Yahoo! Search Marketing or search engine optimization or FaceBook…it simply will be too late for any type of damage control.

What makes matters worse for BP is the “oil spill response” number one result. It is Oilspillresponse.com. It is a collaborate effort from major oil companies extolling their collective ability to respond to oil spills. Obviously this is complete and utter B.S. I’ve yet to hear any other oil company coming to the aid of America or British Petroleum. BP and other companies can drill in deep waters very well…but they cannot fix a catastrophe if there is one. In fact, oil response technology has not change very much in the past 30 years. Drill baby drill indeed.

BP stock is down, they may face criminal charges, potential costs of $4,500 per barrel spilled, and have caused the worst environmental disaster ever. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of companies who take ownership of their brands, products, and services. However, BP has proven it only takes on mistake with one client can cause the biggest reputation management problem without a solution.

Let them spend millions on keywords and SEO experts. No matter what they do, BP will be permanently destroyed because of gross negligence and praying to the dollar almighty. The time has returned for being 100% responsible for what you do, say, and produce. It is not okay too ask too much and return too little. It is not okay to act first and ask questions later. It is not okay to risk things that are not yours to risk. It is not okay to jeopardize ANYTHING with out real deep risk assessment. It is not okay to walk away without taking responsibility and fixing what has been broken. Time to pay the piper and time for 100% accountability.

At one time Enron was one of the biggest accounting firms in the world. No they are not and their CEO is in jail along with a few Enron executives. If you think BP is too big to fail…you are wrong. If you think your online reputation can survive any storm…you are wrong. In the end, nothing will save BP and nothing will bring back our coast lines. Buy baby buy…but it won’t help you now.

The big take away here is this; things happen, life happens, mistakes happen. Consumers and customers can forgive…and forget. But some mistakes are simply too much, too big, and too costly. My grandfather always said, “Plan your work and work your plan.” I suggest doing likewise. One thing is for certain…BP was totally unprepared for something like this. Welcome to day 49 of the BP oil spill disaster.

 

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There Is No Guarantee in SEO

I’ve been asked many times over, “Do you offer a guarantee for your SEO services?” The answer is no. I never have and I never will. My automatic response is my lack of ability to control the Google algorithms. Trying to reign in or directly control Google’s magnum opus is like trying to rebuild the pyramids of Egypt in my back yard. It just isn’t going to happen. All a professional SEO consultant or SEO firm can do is provide the best practices and do their best to deliver good content, links, and articles, etc.

In a recent post, SEO Guarantees Should Not Exist , by Nick Stamoulis backs me up on this issue. Not only with his own take on the SEO guarantee but with a post directly from the Google Webmaster Blog. I refer you to a Q&A session in which the following was asked [as linked in Nick’s post];

Question: Should I believe SEO agencies that promise to make my site rank
first in Google in a few months and with a precise number of links?

Google’s Answer: No
one can make that promise; therefore the short answer is no, you should
not…

Now it should be officially settled. No one can guarantee top ranking for any keyword for any website. Google maintains about 70% of the overall search volume in the U.S. and everyone wants to be on top. This is totally understandable. However, not everyone can be on top. Keep this in mind; the number one goal of SEO is to increase your website performance for your visitors. In doing so, you should increase your website ranking for keywords. Your quality of content should be your number one goal and your site will be rewarded for it. Why? Google says so in the Webmaster Guidelines….”Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

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Did Social Media Just Get Mean Or More Honest?

This morning in the Chicago Red Eye, I read a very brief segment about Unvarnished, the new social website which allows users to rate their coworkers, bosses, business partners, and more. Certainly this raises a lot of questions about what is going to happen with social media. What if you have a coworker who constantly shows up drunk? What if your boss monitors a site like this? Could your reviews of your peers act as the new Big Brother? What will be the impact on your future career?

Those of us that are in ‘the know’ or have figured out that your privacy is no longer really yours…know that what you put online can come back to haunt you. Last night on Fox News Chicago, they ran a spot about a young teenage girl who was coaxed by her then boyfriend to create a video starring her in flagrante delicto. The resulting video was sent around the world and is illegal to own and publish in most countries because it is child pornography. The problem is this video has traveled the world and the poor child’s life is in tatters because of the viral nature of the Internet [of which is, in part, propelled by social media].

Consider this your fair warning. Post [online] only what you would share with your future boss or grandmother. All else is fair game and will be used against you in the public court of opinion. I guarantee you, for those who choose to ignore the power of billions online…you will surly parish from the masses willing to hunt down the scandals and trash we post about ourselves.  

Tear down your beer photos and college pics…and any comment [left, right, or middle] which may offend the your neighbor. Rest assured our future online holds more transparency than we really want to share. It is the nature of social media to share, rate, discuss, and socialize. Think back to your high school days or college days which for many of us was prior to the social media explosion.

Some rumors and unscrupulous events could be hidden or waved away. Now, once it’s online it may take the end of humanity before it comes off billions of prying eyes. The good news, and there is good news, some of us really don’t care about our privacy and what we post online. If you don’t mind airing your dirty laundry, emotions, drunk photos, and still believe in freedom of expression…I say let it rip and roll.

 

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Freedom Of Information & The Internet …Not In Texas

I have a lot of opinions about the Internet, online advertising, politics, etc. I usually don’t discuss or write about the intersection of Internet and politics. It is a little off topic for me to discuss politics and the Internet. It seems as if Barack Obama solidified how important the Internet can be when it comes to politics and, more importantly the real influence it can wield. Most of my material should stay in the realm of searchology. However,  this was a little to big of a story for me to pass up.

There is no doubt, the Internet is a powerful tool and may become even more powerful than books. You remember books right? Kind of like vinyl, old school and out of style but still cool. I’m sure your asking yourself, how this could be so? The Internet becoming more important than books. The answer is one word. TEXAS. Well really it’s the Texas State Board of Education.

You see, the Texas Sate Board of Education, or as I like to call it Texas State Board of Stupification, is in the process of redefining textbooks which will be widely distributed and read in a classroom near you very soon. Because Texas contains around 7% of the American population and one of the biggest text book buyers. Because of the Texan buying power and the amount of books that will be printed, it is certain that more books will be printed for more than just Texans.

While I would normally say, bulk book buying is a good idea…it’s not. It’s not a good idea when books (purchased and circulated in bulk) are used to teach history, to our future leaders, side on the conserviative left, don’t seperate church and state, and push Christian values. Hey, I’m all about Christian values, and Muslim values, and Hindu values…you get the point. All are create equal.

Future generations of young Texans and school children around the U.S. will need to use the Internet to get the truth about history. Real history, not contrived, and biased history. Sure, history is biased as it is written by the winners. It did seem for a while we were getting closer to a more universal truth including OUR HISTORY as opposed to the winners history.

As long as we can keep the information we find on the Internet free…that should provided the opportunity for young Texas children and kids of the New Texas History of The U.S. 1st Edition, a way to find some truth. Simply put, no one body should be in charge of our text books. It should be a panel or a collective of several cultures, perspectives, and historical facts…not A PANEL FROM TEXAS!

The Internet may provide the type of freedom needed to break free from dis-information, lies, major conservatisim, radical right nut jobs, So, let’s all hope the grand ole’ party dosen’t get a hold of our free-information-internet-freedom…or we may all be in really big trouble.

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So, what is your domain name worth?

Recently the Huffington Post posted an article on The 11 Most Expensive Domain Names purchased thus far in our very short world wide web history. I do not find it all that out of whack when you consider the search volumes for terms like;

  • Vodka.com (sold for $3 million) – estimated Google global search volume for “vodka” – 5 million last month
  • Business.com (sold for $7.9 million in 1999) – estimated Google global search volume for “business” – 151 million
  • Toys.com (sold for $5.1 million in 2009) – estimated Google global search volume for “toys” – 124 million
  • Beer.com (sold for $7 million in 2004) – estimated Google global search volume for “beer” – 24.9 million
  • Casino.com (sold for $5.5 million in 2003) – estimated Google global search volume for “casino” – 24 million

While these number are astounding, it is all about the potential traffic and relavancy of the keywords located within the URL. A good domain name can go a long when when trying to reach potential website visitors. When picking a domain name consider critical keywords which you would like to rank well for and see if those domain names are available. Try different variations of your desired domain name and you may get lucky.

My guess is most domain names that have potentially high traffic potential are gone. Domain buying is, I believe, a pretty cool business but an evil business. Domain name buyers hold out on good domain names to make a profit. Pure and simple. Much like waving the golden carrot in front of a potential business owner. If you are willing to pay, you can get the domain name you want [unless it’s not being used].

If you have a domain name you want there are a few tools which can give you an estimation of what it’s worth. Check out EstiBot.com or Valuate.com to find your own domain worth. Who knows, you may sell it one day for ONE BILLION DOLLARS.

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Google Is Brining The Hammer Down on QA

I’ve had some new business join my growing client roster recently. This of course is a good thing…however the one of the primary complaints is ads not showing up in Ad Words for poor quality scores. I have a simple formula I’d like to share…and if you have read the Google Ad Words guidelines you will find that what I recommend is not much different than what Google already recommends.

Here is my formula for higher quality scores with Google Ad Words.

Keywords + ad copy + landing page = higher quality score

Sure its simple and pretty straight forward. However, if you have too many products or services and are trying to push too many paid search keywords through the same page without marketing some type of lading page adjustments your quality score will suffer. Here are some other pointers for higher quality scores.

  • Build a unique landing page for each major ad group or each major PPC campaign
  • If possible try and buy a URL which is relevant to the ad group, keywords, and ad copy
  • Make forms easy to fill out for newsletters, sign ups, etc.
  • Make sure to use some of your primary keywords in your page copy, H tags, and title tags
  • Use keyword insertion option in your ad copy

These should be some good steps to get you headed in the right direction. These tips will help you in Yahoo search marketing as well. Until the BIG Yahoo and BING merge. I do hope that Microsoft takes all of the great work Yahoo has done over the years and keeps the people and the kick butt technology. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, these tips will help on Yahoo Search Marketing. Thanks for reading.

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