Sphinn.com is dropping its voting (ala Digg) system for a new editor controlled model. Sounds like there has been lower engagement than in past years, likely leaving a larger percentage of the activity to spammers and voting mobs. It will be interesting to see if the full-on editor model will be better than the group voting model. I wouldn’t think it would be, but then again…
> Others complain that someone else seems to “win” all the time.
Although I don’t think I ever typed those words on the web, I have to agree. It’s why I bailed a year ago. I loved the idea that marketers would decide what is the most valuable content in our industry, but after seeing what constantly got voted up (opposed to routinely greater stuff that didn’t get any votes – yes, I was one of the people who went deeper into the site), I just stopped believing that it had the same value for me that I originally thought it had.
Note… I said, “for me.” This is totally my opinion. But in the end, it just felt like anything a Sphinn rock star would submit would sky rocket. Even if there were dupe submissions. I’m all for the authority of a rock star Sphinner, but there’s no way the dupe submissions weren’t getting any traction if they were equally as good. It just meant too many readers stuck to a tiny slipstream of submissions and embrace the whole site.
Readers will still be able to submit articles. But editors (who actually always had the ability to control things anyway despite the votes – hey, sounds like American Idol!) will play a bigger role. Sounds a lot like YouMoz, come to think of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very sad the “people” thing didn’t work. I haven’t given up on social communities though… just maybe that one. But I’m definitely interested in giving Sphinn another look when its “under new management” so to speak.
The deed is done – after many, many months, Bing is finally powering Yahoo’s natural search. The results between the two engines are the same. Take a look – click above.
You know the Old Spice social media campaign that exploded in the end of July? Lots of online views, and low ROI (well, according to the preliminary reports from outside of the Old Spice camp). I’ve read enough articles calling this a failure for the low impact to revenue. Whether true or not***, all I know is that Old Spice, which I always considered (for whatever reason) a low quality, old fashioned product, is now on my radar. This is momentum, and this is a rare gem today. A lot of marketing fails to gain any attention at all. When you succeed, and cut through some noise, consider that a success. Now, in 2010, you need to ‘level up’ on that success, or you might as well have not even tried. Some success isn’t enough success.
SEO is marketing and branding, too. Getting routine rankings for similar queries helps the searcher buy into your brand. Your customers spend a lot of time in Google. Typically more unique visitors come to your site from a Google search than any other medium. Maybe you’re not getting the sales you’re hoping for from natural search, but you may be building your mindshare just by appearing frequently in the search engine result pages. A lot of searchers trust Google. If Google constantly shows your webpage to the same searcher, the perception may be that Google knows something you don’t know. A lot of people actually think that Google ranks based on traffic and popularity. Whatever the reason, that semi-conscious thought goes a long way in online marketing. It could even influence offline foot traffic or sales through your other online marketing channels. With good rankings comes good brand visibility.
My goal isn’t to convince you to ignore ROI in SEO (or any online marketing), but I do want to help you think about it differently if you’re one of the people who say, “my campaign failed because it didn’t turn a profit.” I want you to remember that marketing is more than just immediate sales. Sales is an important piece dependent on the components of your strategy. Brands that concentrate on branding do so because they know the value. Just because we’re online with amazing abilities to cookie and track, doesn’t mean we should forget the original definition of marketing and branding.
As a postscript, and as far as Old Spice goes, I was walking through the grocery store last week. I did stop and pause at the deodorant. I didn’t need any. But I was semi-consciously influenced, and I this time I caught it. If Old Spice keeps up their momentum, I might stop next and buy when I am in the market for deodorant. If they don’t keep it up, that stop may have been it for me.
***Update – Per the beginning of this article, it looks like the reports I was reading of low ROI for the Old Spice campaign have been, well, wrong. Hard stats are in. According to BrandWeek, Old Spice’s sales increased 107% over last month and 55% over the course of the past 3 months. Nice.
Today I was asked to look at a site and explain why it’s not ranking. The answer… the site was whispering.
If you don’t have content, Google won’t know what your site is about. But I don’t mean any old content. I mean HTML text.
Oh… you say you have HTML content? Let’s see if Google can hear it.
1. Perform a search in Google to get your page to show up.
2. Click the ‘cached’ link.
3. Click the ‘text-only version’ link.
4. Find a sixth grader and ask them to explain what this page is about.
I once heard that Google has a reading comprehension of a sixth grader. If that’s true, then you need to speak to Google like a sixth grader. Give simple context, but be specific. Speak up! Promote your message, hammer it home. Don’t mumble (and spam your pages with junk content).
Granted there are a several ways you can add contextual relevance to a site, it doesn’t need to just be in the body. Tags and links still play a big part, sure. But why be shy in the body of your website? Is it that “text is ugly?” Is it that “people don’t read online?” All untrue. You read this post, and frankly, I think it looks rather beautiful.
Form vs. function, my friends. Form vs. function.
I often see new features, or hear rumors about other experiments going on in the sidebar (including some social or real time things coming – shhh…), but I really wonder why Google wants to use this property. This long block is where Google makes a good chunk of change. Will new features bring more eyeballs to it, or dilute their click throughs?
I understand maybe using it when there are no ads to place – which they do – but why give other clickable options that take away ad share? Maybe Google’s last redesign was still too traditional after all? Maybe they just don’t have enough space in this format to try everything they want.
Take a look at this search for Technorati. See? No ad – but there was one! I just didn’t get a screen grab, and now can’t recreate it. I hate that. So even if they were only testing something, I don’t understand the logic on this one. I know as an AdWords advertiser, it makes me a little grumpy to have to compete with more noise in this column.
Keep your eyes open. Maybe they’ll go the Ask.com route after all?
Note: The title is not How To Trick Google. I am not a spammer – not in the slightest. It’s just not the side of the fence I reside in. But, as someone who breathes SEO, I do get curious about understanding blackhat techniques from time to time.
With all the technology that makes up webpages, and incredibly smart techies working as SEOs, it’s interesting to see what clever things SEOs still come up with. Obviously Google engineers eventually learn all these new tactics, but are they really able to defend against them? They provide guidelines on their Google site, but these guidelines are usually written loosely. They often raise more questions then they answer. And per the tactic above, I’m pretty sure that’s why – loosely, Google is able to take the stance against this tactic, without addressing (or even knowing about) this tactic.
As a whitehat SEO, I talk to link building tactics that “are against Google’s guidelines”, or CSS tricks that “are against Google’s guidelines.” Not because I think that Google is definitely able to catch them automatically, but because there’s a possibility. There are humans behind Google’s rankings – they might hear about it. A competitor might report you. Google’s toolbar, that’s on one of your visitor’s browser, may report back a different experience than the Google spiders report back.
Even though I fall for the loose guidelines, it does sounds like a big if though. If Googlet wants to thwart spammers, maybe it’s time to get more clear. Spend the time specifying the guidelines. Is it fear that specified guidelines will act as blueprints to spam techniques? Maybe – but it also might thwart SEOs from walking in the gray.
It has begun.
If you didn’t hear, Bing and Yahoo have merged to a degree. Bing search will begin powering Yahoo.com’s search function. This merge also includes paid search (which is the real monetary motivator for this merger). The transition timelines are now out there.
Apparently it should be done between August and September.
Read more at Search Engine Roundtable.