Archive for April, 2010

Making Businesses of Negativity

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I decided a long time ago to avoid pursuing business/career options which involved more negative ways of making money. The philosophy first came to me in college when I observed how lucrative — and vile — the local businesses were which operated towing services for our campus. (My university openly and purposefully sold far fewer parking permits than there were students who needed to use them, and then received a percentage of funds back from the towing companies which charged huge towing fines.)

Complaints - A Bully Horn

In the internet world I work in, I try to help companies in ranking well in search engines when people search for their keywords, and I also try to help those companies when they have reputation management problems. One type of problem that I feel is increasingly targeting companies and individuals are sites which are set up to specifically encourage people to complain about companies or even make false accusations against them.

I’m not talking about all sites which enable people to write ratings and reviews. I love sites like Zagat, and TripAdvisor, which can be really helpful in finding good restaurants and hotels. I was pleased to find ratings of doctors (see RateMDs, Vitals.com & HealthGrades) and dentists (see DR.Oogle) when I was seeking an oral surgeon recently on a business trip, and I see attorney ratings, too (Avvo).

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StumbleUpon Offers URL Shortener, Su.pr

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

StumbleUpon's Su.pr URL ShortenerI was really delighted when I noticed that StumbleUpon had set up a URL shortener named Su.pr! I imagined being able to use it to submit content to StumbleUpon users simultaneously with Twitter and maybe even Facebook, perhaps with some sort of combined analytics to show clickthroughs and such after the fact.

Further, I really like the domain name, “Su.pr”, since it looks like “Super”! (Why didn’t SuperMedia and Superpages.com snap that one up?)

But, from a search marketer’s viewpoint, Su.pr has a major defect that makes it unsuitable for me or my clients to use as a URL shortener. (more…)

Texas Stadium Implosion – Huge Demolition Event

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

I got up excruciatingly early today (4:30 am) in order to drive down and document the demolition of the gigantic Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, about 5 mile south of where I live. Texas Stadium was the home field to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys football team, and had hosted many other events as well ever since it was built in 1971.

It took me relatively little time to get up and get ready. I went prepared, taking my camera, leftover danishes to breakfast upon, milk, tea, bottled water, jacket, dust mask, goggles, a folding-chair, and my Nikon Coolpix camera. (more…)

Top In-House SEOs Reprised

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Top SEOs - Top In-House Search Engine Optimization ExpertsThe recent kerfluffle surrounding “TOP SEOs” rating service reminded me that I actually did a sort of rating directory of in-house SEO professionals myself a few years ago. Today, I revisited that listing of professionals in: Top In-House SEOs: Where Are They Now?

I never claimed to have used some consistent/formalized approach in producing that original list of people – as it fell out, it ended up being people who worked for highly-recognizable brands as SEOs and disclosed that fact through LinkedIn, blogging, and speaking at conferences. Nothing very scientific.

However, the experience of just publishing that informal list made me realize immediately how difficult it is to really rate people fairly. If you do ratings, you need to be very open about the criteria you’re using, and it should be real criteria as opposed to doing it merely based on being paid. Recent uproars over Yelp ratings and TopSEOs.com highlight how sensitive such an exercise can be. (more…)

My Interview At Nifty Marketing

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Mike Ramsey interviewed me over at Nifty Marketing: “Local Search Talk Series Part 4: Chris Silver Smith Interview“.

Previous interviews in the series include Matt McGee, Dev Basu, and Miriam Ellis.

I’m not at all sure that our group should be spilling all the local search ranking secrets to Mike in this way! Way, way, way too openly!

For myself, I cite the excuse that I was high on dental anesthetics at the time, which are the equivalent of being given truth serum. I was drugged, dammit! ;-)

Local SEO 101: Step One, Claim Your Listing In Google Maps

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

I posted an ultra-basic Local SEO tip over at SEM Clubhouse today, “How To Rank Well In Google Maps – One Easy Tip“. This one is so basic that it nearly goes without saying!

Google Local Business Center

However, I think many people may not have realized that CLAIMING your business actually is a major ranking signal for Google Maps, and automatically gives a listing a leg up over many unclaimed listings in the same category/area combination. Google employees have actually publicly verified that this is a ranking factor! There are very few instances where they’ll say that some factor is influential on rankings, so this is not to be ignored.

Stay tuned for more “Local SEO 101″ tutorials.

When Google Maps Fails

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

This photo from Failblog illustrates a common experience for many online map users. In it, someone has posted a couple of signs stating “Dead End – Google error – Road Not Passable With Car – Google is in error…”, followed by detour instructions:

Google Maps Fail

The picture is funny, but the experience of driving somewhere wrong is not. (more…)

AT&T’s Yellowpages.com Rebranding To YP.com

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Greg Sterling called attention to AT&T Yellowpages.com’s apparent rebranding project which will use “YP.com” as their dominant online site/brand going forward.

YP.com the new Yellowpages.com

While I’ve been openly critical of some of AT&T directories’ decisions in the past, I think this is definitely a smart move. I think there’s sufficient indication that the concept and recognition of the “Yellow Pages” brand is becoming obsolete. It would appear that AT&T agrees with me, since this amounts to a major tectonic shift in their branding. (more…)

SepiaTown: Cool New Google Maps Mashup

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

SepiaTown - From Here To ThenSepiaTown (tagline: “From Here To Then”) is a cool Google Maps mashup that I recently ran across.

The service takes historical photos and maps them to their locations on a Google Map.

SepiaTown Example - Downtown San Francisco

The example screengrab above is from the historic Chinese Tung Food Company in downtown San Francisco, California.

The service is set up with a simple, “clean” feel, making it very easy to use.

I think that increasingly there will be instances of people taking various kinds of historical data like these vintage photograph images, and making more available through search engines and through Google Maps.

Imagine that it might be possible at some future point to click to slide some sort of tool in Google Maps which would move along a timeline, allowing one to only choose content from a particular, past timeframe.