LinkedIn Ad Casts Me As Google Employee

December 2nd, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

LinkedIn’s ads which autopopulate people’s profile information into the ad can be jarring. Here’s one which gave me a shudder — it portrays me as a Googler!

Personalized Ad on LinkedIn

I don’t see myself as an employee of a huge, publicly-traded company since I was with Verizon years ago, so the ad was pretty disturbing to me! I just wasn’t ready to see that! It’s possible that Read the rest of this entry »

Google Local Is Now A Train Wreck

November 30th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Mike Blumenthal posted earlier this week that Google Local is now a veritable train wreck, and I don’t think his statement is hyperbole.

Google Plus Local Page Business Problems

For some time now, Google Local (originally just referred to as “Google Maps”, then called “Google Local”, then called “Google Places”) has had some problems in how it handles how local businesses can manage their own data. All local data providers struggle with the process of how to verify whether someone has the right to change a business’s information — and Google’s phone call / post card verification process is no exception. So, it’s had that problem from the beginning, although it doesn’t seem to’ve gotten any smoother in the meantime.

Then there’s the changing nomenclature — they just don’t keep consistently using the same brandnames and terminology to refer to the data display, versus the interfaces that businesses use to manage their own data. Google Local Business Center became Google Places — where you could login to manage your Google Place Pages (your business profile pages that would appear in Google).

Now, along comes Google+ (aka “Google Plus”). Which has personal profiles for people to use in interacting socially, and then they allowed companies to set up profile pages for businesses — “Brand Pages”. Then the real sh*t hit the fan when they then smashed Google Places into Google Plus, and started referring to THOSE as “Google Plus Local” or “Google+ Local” pages.

But, what of those companies that had set up “Brand Pages” already?!?  The advent of Google+ Local pages essentially Read the rest of this entry »

Google’s Dracula Logo

November 8th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

I can’t resist mentioning Google’s Dracula themed logo today celebrating the 165th birthday of Bram Stoker!

Google Dracula Vampires Logo

Google Logo - Bram Stoker Customized Search Results Page

Sponsored search results associated with Google's Bram Stoker logo. (Click to enlarge.)

The logo presents scenes from Stoker’s Dracula uber-famous vampire book, done up in a woodcut-illustration style very reminiscent of the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, from the same time period. Dracula was published in 1897.

What may be more significant for search marketers, however, is the special search results page the logo is linked-to, which features Bram Stoker-related books, the Sponsored “shop for” sidebar box and the Wikipedia entry highlights box, along with the usual Universal Search items peppered through the search results listings: news search, author-tagged posts, video and image search results.

This logo and associated search results treatment seems to be specifically designed to help propel featured sponsor ad clicks, as well as to promote Google’s robust search results features.

It calls to question — will Google continue to specifically try to monetize their future Google Doodle logos in a similar fashion?

Double Bankruptcy Required for Dex One / SuperMedia Yellow Pages Merger?!?

October 25th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

In nothing short of earth-shattering news, it was reported that the Dex One – SuperMedia yellow pages companies merger is apparently on the rocks due to the companies’ creditors being unwilling to accept financial terms. Worse yet, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission filing states that the companies might have to restructure under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to make the merger deal work!

Quoted from the Form 8-K filed by Dex One:

In light of the current negotiations, however, Dex One recognizes that the parties may not be able to obtain sufficient approval from the senior secured lenders to any proposed amendments to the parties’ respective credit agreements. Therefore, possible alternatives to the current transaction structure to effect the Merger are under consideration, including a “prepackaged” restructuring of the parties’ senior secured indebtedness through proceedings instituted under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code to implement possible amendments that may garner sufficient, though not unanimous, support from the parties’ respective lenders, while otherwise maintaining the basic economic terms of the Merger Agreement.  However, there can be no assurance that Dex One and SuperMedia can effect a transaction through an alternative structure, that the necessary consents will be obtained, or that the Merger will be consummated.

SuperDex! Dex One - SuperMedia MergerIf you haven’t kept up with recent years’ history, the surreal part of this is that both companies already emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring not that long ago. In June of 2009, R. H. Donnelley Company filed for bankruptcy, and Dex One rose from its ashes in February of 2010. Idearc Media, earlier known as Verizon Information Services, had been spun off from Verizon with an irresponsibly high debt load, and as a result filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March of 2009, later to emerge from the rubble as SuperMedia in December of 2009.

The Triangle Business Journal headline reports that bankruptcy is a possibility for Dex One, perhaps because the filing states that “Dex One recognizes…”. However, the wording is such that it clearly states that possible Read the rest of this entry »

Bain Capital & Mitt Romney’s Involvement with Italy’s Yellow Pages Debacle

August 6th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Bain Capital, Mitt Romney, and Seat Pagine Gialle - Italy Yellow PagesMy attention was drawn to this Bloomberg article today, “Romney Persona Non Grata in Italy for Bain’s Deal Skirting Taxes“, brought to my attention by a Tweet from Greg Sterling.

Let me note upfront that I’m politically a moderate and a non-partisan, so my interest in this article is primarily from the perspective of the business and historical aspects involving the Yellow Pages industry, which I’ve written about from time-to-time.

The article outlines a possible reason why Romney’s trip through Europe didn’t include a stop in Italy, one of the G8 countries: some years back, Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s company, purchased a major stake in Italy’s Yellow Pages, Seat Pagine Gialle, and then they later resold their portion during the height of the Internet bubble for a very hefty profit, in the process circumventing taxes that could have benefited Italy. Subsequent to the Internet bubble, though, the Italian Yellow Pages declined very sharply in value at the expense of company shareholders (many of whom were possibly Italians) and the devaluation probably negatively impacted the service provided in Italy which could be said to affect virtually all Italians, one way or another. Read the rest of this entry »

Google+ Local Pages Delurk At Last

May 30th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Well, just as previously rumored and predicted by many of us, Google+ has finally incorporated special treatment pages for local businesses.

Check out Google’s main page about the service. Google’s VP of Product Management, Marissa Mayer, helped promote the new features by going on CBS This Morning, where they referred to it as “a location-based social media search engine available on desktops and mobile devices”, which sounds borderline hyped, if accurate.

Here’s the video:

One interesting element which we couldn’t foresee was how Google would launch this with such a heavy tie-in with ratings from Zagats which they bought not long ago. As the official Google Blog post relates, one of the main aspects of the tie-in with Google Plus is how they’re intending this to push more “recommendations and reviews from people you know and trust”. Read the rest of this entry »

Locating the Site of H. H. Holmes’s “Murder Castle” in Fort Worth, Texas

May 7th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Fort Worth Map of Downtown, Circa 1885If you’ve ever tried to piece together the location of where some historical events occurred, you often will find that it’s very, very hard to do. I find myself doing this every so often, and each time I’ve thought that there is likely a large niche for a site which could attach timeline information to locations. There are often times when it would be useful (or interesting) to know what past events happened at a particular place, or to find the more precise locations for some notable historical event. Since there isn’t any central site for this sort of thing, people end up trudging around trying to find often-vague historical documents which mention the historical event, then try to match the historical locations up with current maps.

I found myself in this situation just this past week. I was half-watching Whitechapel, a crime mystery show set in England on BBCA, and the detectives had been in the home of a batty old woman who suffered from obsessive hoarding. Another character in the show was a sort of consultant for the police about historical crimes, and he’d mentioned a serial killer in America in the late 1800s, H. H. Holmes, who’d murdered potentially considerable quantities of people he’d lured into the hotel he operated, and the rooms were set up in some maze-like arrangement. Since Holmes was entirely unfamiliar to me, and since the whole story sounded so over-the-top, I figured it was fictional. But, not so! When I Googled this on my Android cellphone, I quickly discovered that there was indeed such a killer! Read the rest of this entry »

Mention in the Seattle Times

May 7th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

I was quoted in the Seattle Times over the weekend in reference to a piece they did on upgrades Costco plans to perform on their online site.

While it might seem I was picking on Costco in the article, there wasn’t room in it for the reporter to really include all the information I provided. Costco really isn’t alone in performing less-than-optimal optimization for search engines — a great many online retail catalog sites are in the same boat.

I go into this in more detail over on Argent Media’s blog: Costco.com SEO Lacking, But They’re One Of Many.

New Google Offices Open in Frisco, North Dallas Area

April 11th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
Playroom at Google offices in Dallas area, 2007

Playroom at Google offices in Dallas area, 2007

The Dallas Business Journal reports that Google opened a new office in Frisco for around 50 employees in March.

The DBJ writer states that this is Google’s “first office in North Texas”, which is unfortunately incorrect. Google Audio, their radio ads project, had earlier opened offices back in 2007 next to the facility I worked at in Coppell, as I reported on Natural Search Blog, and as Search Engine Land mentioned.

Google also previously had an office in Dallas, as Bill Hartzer has mentioned, and I recall that they had previously had an office in Irving which was devoted to PPC ad optimization specialists.

In fact, Google has opened and closed offices with such frequency here in the DFW Area over the past handful of years that one now can’t help but wonder if they’re really serious, or is this to be an extenuation of the schizophrenic office-opening exercises they seem intent upon doing?

Here’s the office location:


View Google's Dallas Area Offices in a larger map

Read the rest of this entry »

AT&T Lets The Walking Fingers Take a Walk – Selling Stake in Yellow Pages

April 11th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

AT&T has decided to sell a 53% stake in its Yellow Pages unit to Cerberus Capital Management for $950 million.

Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst with Wells Fargo, referred to the valuation as “sensible” at roughly 2.1 times an estimate for EBITDA, “given that the directory business is declining fairly quickly.”

Beyond “sensible”, AT&T may have well decided that they would incur undue risk of intervention from state and federal regulation authorities if they had pushed for a much higher valuation. I had earlier suggested it would be grossly irresponsible if AT&T overvalued their Yellow Pages, and, after Verizon’s divestment of Idearc/SuperMedia, I’m not sure another company could get away with an unreasonably high price tag. Read the rest of this entry »