Archive for October, 2010

Dear TechCrunch: Cybersquatting Is Wrong

Friday, October 29th, 2010

This week, TechCrunch reported on how Google has demanded that stop using their “YouTube” trademark and hand over their domain name. The writer, Alexia Tsotsis, goes on to remark that since YouTubeSocial has attracted over 50K of unique visitors and is in acquisition talks, “…they are doing something right.”

No they aren’t. They’re doing cybersquatting.


Alexia is suggesting that Google is going after them over trademark infringement of the YouTube brand name because Google must think YouTubeSocial is some big threat to them. Really? 50K of uniques is a threat to YouTube already?

That’s actually a bit disingenuous, because TechCrunch knows very well (more…)

Sea Change: Google’s New Place Search Introduces New Disruption

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

So, today Google began launching their new “Place Search” feature, as reported by Greg Sterling. For those of us keeping a finger on the pulse of local search marketing, the change was not a huge surprise, since we’ve been watching the testing for quite a while and could predict in advance that it might impact some online directories and small-to-medium businesses negatively.

Place Search is Google’s name for the new interface and layout of local search listings within their regular keyword search results page. If you haven’t seen this yet, here’s a screengrab for “florists, los angeles, ca”:

Google Place Search - new local search layout

As you can see, the change involves the map moving into the right sidebar. The top local business listings which accompany the map are no longer to the right of the map, but are now integrated into the search results page and occupy roughly the same amount of room as the other listings. Those business listings which coordinate with the map have a lettered pink pushpin icon and some have thumbnail icons which come from their Place Page information. The big impact of the change is that these listings are now (more…)

Google Tags: No Website For You!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Google’s phasing out site link option from Tag Ads – just nine months after introducing the Tag ads for Maps and local search, Google has apparently decided to do away with the option to link your Tag directly to your website. One of my contacts sent this screengrab to me showing within Google Places they are now being asked to switch to a different ad type:

Google Tags Phases Out Website Option

If you currently have a Tag Ad linked to your site, I’d guess that you have until the end of whatever time you’ve contracted before you’ll be forced to switch to a different option.

The folks who sent this to me supposed that this was being done in sync with the recent announcement of a new ad type, Google Boost. However, that doesn’t entirely explain why the rapid switcharoo.

Here’s my guess – I think there were two main reasons the website option is being phased out. (more…)

Phone Call Tracking Companies: Your Product Is Poison!

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

It was obvious to me as I covered the BIA/Kelsey DMS 2010 Conference this September that phone call tracking is getting even more buzz now than it was getting four years ago. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, it’s simple: for ads that appear in different places (such as in phone books, online directories and even search engines, companies will use different phone numbers in order to understand which ads resulted in phone calls in order to assess how effective their advertising campaigns are. To differentiate, your phone number used in your yellow pages book has to be different from what appears in Citysearch or Superpages or wherever. It sounds great, but what most call tracking companies don’t realize is that those of us who are more versed in online marketing will nearly vehemenently recommend against the practice!

In search engine optimization terms, using multiple different phone numbers around the net is much like using all different URLs for the same webpage, without having the URLs redirect properly. This results in a higher likelihood of diluting your ranking factors instead of focusing them, and could make one’s webpage rank poorly in search results. (For more details, see David Mihm’s writeup, “Be Wary Of Call Tracking Numbers In Local Search“.)

Today, Mike Blumenthal proposes another possible solution to the phone call tracking number dilemma in a post about using a new hCard protocol to clearly alert bots about the type of phone number. As Mike mentions, I’d also proposed a similar possibility which I’d called a “Canonical Phone Number Tag” which also was based on hCard Microformat.

Canonical Phone Tag for SEO and Phone Call Tracking Numbers

There are quite a few companies which do call tracking. They include: Marchex, Mongoose Metrics, TeleCapture, CallSource, AT&T Interactive, AdLocality, and probably quite a few more I’m missing.

Let me be clear — all of us local search marketers like improved analytics such as what call tracking provides! However, there’s a very big disconnect between the analytics and the SEO involved. If I have to choose between improving a business’s performance versus getting more detailed analytics of ads, I’m going to choose performance first.

All of us would like to see this clearly resolved in some way. One option would be to generate some new semantic protocol such as via Microformats. Another might be if each and every call-tracking company published mappings of primary business numbers matched to their tracking numbers, and allowed most bots to harvest this info.

Yellow Pages Opt-Out Not Working in Canada?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

On the “Yellow Pages – Opt Out requirement must end!” Facebook group, a number of members have reported that the opt-out hasn’t worked.

Yellow Pages Delivery Opt-Out Abolishment Group on Facebook

Canadian Yellow Pages Delivery Opt-Out Abolishment Group on Facebook

Frederic Bohbot’s group was primarily targeted to Montreal, aimed particularly at the Yellow Pages Group company in Canada, a.k.a. Groupe Pages Jaunes.

As you can see from one of the above entries, some of the rules surrounding opting out of yellow pages can be poorly-understood by those involved, adding to friction surrounding the issue. An apartment landlord opted-out, but was surprised to still receive deliveries, and a YPG representative explains that “due to privacy laws”, people cannot opt-out on behalf of others. Yet, it sounds as if his tenants aren’t picking up the books, so they likely end up remaining in the building’s common area, where the landlord is left with the duty of dealing with them. (more…)

Night Hotel: My Stay In A New York City Goth Theme Hotel

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Night Hotel, New York, NYSo, this week I stayed at the Night Hotel in Manhattan while I attended the SMX East Conference. I’d registered too late to stay in one of the conference’s negotiated-price hotels (the Sheraton Towers), and I found the Night Hotel had similar pricing. (Besides, the Sheraton had a negative report in the Bedbug Registry, while the Night Hotel was gloriously free of such demerits!) I love all things Goth, so I looked forward to this opportunity!

The Night Hotel is one of Vikram Chatwal‘s luxury hotels, and it’s billed as having a Film Noire / Goth theme — very appropriate for “Gotham City”! I could easily see this being off-putting to many potential guests as potentially too disturbing or scary to be restful, while simultaneously being intriguing to many others such as myself. Also, it could easily be concerning, since a theme hotel could be high on concept and low on customer service. So, here’s my review of the place, along with pics!

The hotel is located at 132 West 45th Street, just off Times Square in Midtown, NYC. The exterior of the hotel is cool, with blackened windows and a giant gothic “N” logo banner that has slowly flashing backlighting.

Night Hotel Sign

I arrived, checked-in and went straight up to my room. I’m somewhat impressed by the room’s swipe card right off the bat, since it has a mini-map imprinted on the reverse side: (more…)