Archive for June, 2010

Print Categories Can Be Optimized, Too

Monday, June 21st, 2010

My piece on how tweaking category names could double your traffic published today on Search Engine Land, and it seems nearly too easy to be possible, doesn’t it? Yet, miscategorized and under-categorized businesses abound online.

I sometimes forget that there are also optimizations possible for print directory advertisers, and an article from about a week ago in the Chicago Sun-Times reminds me how bad categorization has also been a problem for businesses in phonebooks as well. Neil Steinberg has done a biannual review of yellow pages since the nineties, and in this installation, “Marshall Field’s open in Yellow Pages“, he documents how yellow pages books are shrinking, advertisers are reducing their spend, and how some business listings appear in the wrong category — often to amusing effect.

Yellow Pages Categories

In the article, he recounts how a few businesses are listed in the wrong categories, some of them for years.

He further recounts anecdotal assessments from a few businesses that print phone book usage has decreased. I know that a lot of business owners have become dismissive of the value of yellow pages, but there is still some percentage of usage in the medium. So, just as I recounted for internet marketing purposes, fixing miscategorization/undercategorization in print directories could increase your business.

So, check your phone books to make sure you’re appearing where you should. Are there other categories where you could/should appear? Are you getting weird phone calls or visits from people seeking some other type of business? You should be listed within your most-popular business category, and if you get weird visits/calls — ask the people doing it where they saw your business listed so you can get it fixed.

There’s another compelling reason for fixing your categorization, aside from getting more referral business from YP books. The data from YP books is one of the sources of info that feeds into online directories and local search engines. So, fixing your print listing can improve your presence everywhere else.

Have Google Logos Jumped The Shark? Father’s Day Logo Illegible

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Google’s special logos (“Doodles“) commemorating holidays and historical events have been successful at conveying a playful nature for the ever-growing corporation. As time has gone by, the special logo treatments have begun veering off from playful quirkiness and have perhaps actually crossed the line of legibility. The Father’s Day Google logo deployed today is perhaps the worst example of all:

Google Father's Day Logo

The neckties, intended to whimsically reference the letters spelling out “Google”, have become so abstracted that I think their resemblance to the letters in the name have utterly disappeared.

Graphic artists can certainly recognize and appreciate the rough symbolic shaping, but this sort of symbolic reference is really too vague for most of the public.

I’ve enjoyed watching Google play with their logo for years while dancing all over traditional corporate intellectual property law for how trademarks should be treated. I’ve long felt that Google was thumbing their nose at frustratingly conservative IP lawyers who anally force major corporate employees to follow logo use style guides mindlessly. After all, the name itself can be a trademark, regardless of graphic treatment, and trademark law certainly is flexible enough to allow some degree of logo variations. Google’s logo treatments have shown that temporary logo variations and nonstandard logo treatments can be effected without incurring risk of “losing control of the mark”.

The problem I see with today’s Father’s Day logo is that the humorous treatment has become way too subtle for its own good — the logo is illegible, and devoid of the website most reasonable individuals would be unable to see the company’s name in the treatment.

Have Google logos finally jumped the shark with this treatment? Has the joke worn thin?

The challenge for the Google logo artists has been continuing the thematic treatments without becoming a cliche. Recently, Google has experimented with enabling individuals to display custom background images on the homepage, and their “doodle” advertising the capability was so roundly criticized that they removed the feature. The background image treatment was so derivative of Bing’s changing homepage background images (which aped’s earlier treatment) that many thought Google was trying to immitate the feature.

I think the takeway from this is that Google should stick with what is working for them and avoid straying too far from successful formulas. Today’s doodle logo lost the “Googleness” that made the concept so charming to begin with.

I expect they’ll continue displaying special logos, but they need to make them resemble the standard logo more closely or else the charm will be lost permanently.

Thoughts On Local Search Ranking Factors

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

David Mihm’s once again posted his fantastic yearly survey of local search ranking factors for 2010, scored by surveying a lot of us who do online local marketing professionally. What’s particularly cool about the survey is that he also posts a calculation indicating how much we’re in agreement along with how positive/negative we consider any given factor.

The Local Search Ranking Factors

It may be mildly confusing for newbies who want to know what they should do in order to improve local business listing rankings within Google, and I’d say that small differences the weighting of the various scores are nearly immaterial. (more…)

Is Facebook Planning To Steal Wikipedia Marketshare?

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

This afternoon, I saw a link on the lower right of my Facebook page, inviting me to become a Facebook beta-tester. Interested, I clicked it, and this is what I saw:

Facebook Beta Tester Application

As you can see, the application consists of having the applicant submit some writing which they’ll assumably assess for quality.

It would appear that Facebook may be planning to launch topical articles, similar to a Yahoo! Answers or Wikipedia.

If a large knowledge library on a variety of topics becomes available through Facebook, then the platform becomes even stickier, retaining their users for even longer. One hypothetical question occurs to me:

“How might Facebook take marketshare from Wikipedia, now that the service already is competing strongly against Google?”

I think we’ve found that particular answer.