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 Since there isn’t any central site for this sort of thing, people end up trudging around trying to find often-vague historical documents which mention the historical event, then try to match the historical locations up with current maps.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 »

RHD Suit Settled for $25 Million – Yellow Pages Obsolescence Claimed

February 27th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

A class-action lawsuit brought by stockholders against the former R.H. Donnelley Yellow Pages company and some of its executives was settled earlier this month for $25 Million.

The stockholders in the suit (“Local 731 I.B. of T. Excavators and Pavers Pension Trust Fund et al. v. Swanson et al“) had said that executives had made false claims during the period, stating that print Yellow Pages were not becoming obsolete, among other things, and that they had made false assurances about the financial condition of the business.

RHD had filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in 2009, and later emerged from bankruptcy under the new name, Dex One Corporation, in 2010.

Aside from the claims around the company’s finances, the issue of whether print Yellow Pages are becoming obsolete or not has been a controversial one in the past. Read the rest of this entry »

AT&T Selling Off Yellow Pages Unit?

February 24th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

AT&T (NYSE: T) appears to’ve obliquely referred to their YP unit as a “low-performing” “non-strategic asset”, and signaled that they might sell it off.

If this sequence of events sounds familiar, it is — because Verizon did this when they spun off their Yellow Pages to form Idearc.

It’s a little disappointing to see AT&T likely planning to divest itself of Yellowpages.com and their print directories, because only in January of last year it had seemed possible that they might have toyed with the idea Read the rest of this entry »

Argent Media

February 14th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

I have just launched my own agency, Argent Media, a search marketing firm focused on SEO, Local SEO, Online Reputation Management, and Social Media.

Argent Media - Local SEO Agency in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas.

It’s just me for now, although I have friends and contractors I’ve partnered with to collaborate on some projects.

Read the formal press release announcement at: Local SEO Industry Expert Founds Argent Media Search Marketing Agency in Dallas.

Interviewed at Train SEM

February 11th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Chris Silver Smith InterviewI was interviewed over at Train SEM by the esteemed Ash Nallawalla, arguably the top local SEO and IYP SEO expert of the Asia-Pacific region.

Read it at Train SEM: Interview:
Chris Silver Smith.

The Bruce Clay, Local Paid Inclusion & UBL Kerfuffle

February 2nd, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Along with many others, I’ve been following the “Local Paid Inclusion” kerfuffle involving Bruce Clay with some interest, and I’ve finally decided to post this comment about the story. Disclosure: I’m on the current Board of Advisors for a company that’s been frequently mentioned along with the story — Universal Business Listing (a.k.a. “UBL”), so I do have a direct interest in these events. While I obviously wouldn’t speak out about UBL without the company’s permission, the thoughts in this blog post are my own opinions and conclusions about the matter, based on my knowledge about the company and people involved. So, read on: Read the rest of this entry »

Email Marketers Wake Up To Ideograms

January 24th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

I was noticing in my email this morning that a few different pieces of spam had much more eye-catching, decorative subject lines:

Special Characters in Subject Lines for Email Marketing

As you can see above, one email note for “magicJack Plus” included a little telephone symbol, while another one for printer ink included a little fountain pen nib symbol at the begining of its subject line.

It appears that spammers have woken up to the same concept that I wrote about in “Special Characters Are Lucky Charms for Twitter“. In a list of text titles or status updates, adding a little icon-like picture to just a few lines is very eye-catching.

Of course, if this becomes too common, the notes won’t stand out at all, and they’ll risk Read the rest of this entry »