Keynote Presentation: Digital Convergence of Public Relations & Marketing

Today I’m giving a keynote at the sold-out Communicator’s Conference in Portland, Oregon to 270 or so PR and Communications professionals.

The colliding or collaborating (depending on your situation) worlds of digital marketing and PR have left a lot of ambiguity about roles, goals and responsibilities between these 2 very important groups.

In this presentation I outline why PR should care about marketing, 3 big trends to watch for and 3 of the most common questions brand PR and corporate communicators have (I polled my LinkedIn network) about integrating PR and marketing. I finish things off with a plan for how PR and communications can tap into digital marketing expertise and contribute messaging and storytelling for more meaningful and impactful marketing / PR performance.

Here’s the full deck on Slideshare, which is featured on their home page.

I’d love to hear what your biggest concerns or observations are about the convergence of digital marketing and public relations roles.

Update: Portland’s NewsChannel 8 covered the conference and included me in their broadcast. Big thanks to Joe Smith for doing the interview and also to Barbara Kerr for setting it up:

Link Building Tips for News SEO

For those readers just joining us, this is post #8 in a series of 10 on the intersection of search engine optimization and public relations, “Top Ten SEO Tips for PR Professionals“.

Besides content optimization and making sure a site’s news pages and digital assets can be found and indexed, attracting relevant inbound links is the next most important tactic for improving search engine performance of Public Relations related content.

There are literally hundreds of ways to acquire good links. There are even more ways to acquire bad links, so knowing the difference can be important. Read more about that below. But first, we’ll describe some general guidelines for news content link building.

Whenever PR professionals execute digital communications, there should be links included in those messages. The best content in the world is unlikely to rank well in search engines if there are no links pointing in. It is essential that link sources (whoever you’re pitching stories to) are informed about the content so they know to link to it. Don’t just broadcast links either, give a reason why there should be a link and make it easy to do so.

�News content creation, optimization and ongoing promotion are all critical for successful SEO efforts. �Promoting optimized content makes potential link sources aware and increases the likelhood of link acquisition for news content. � Where should you include links? �Start with emails pitches, press releases, newsrooms and any other news content being published to the web.

Including full URL links in press releases can often result in an added bonus for link bulding efforts because some content management systems that copy press releases as content from newswire feeds will convert full URLs to a hyper link, but ignore or strip out anchor text links. Making it easy for readers of news content on blogs, newsrooms or elsewhere on the company web site to save, bookmark and share can also add to the link building effort.�

General linking guidelines for news content:

Earn links with great contentPromote optimized news content on social networks, vial email, RSS and within past media coverageLink up with marketing and business partnersInclude links in pitches and other news content promotionCross link internallyEmbed anchor text and full URL links in news releasesSocial bookmark pickups

Many online mainstream news publications do not link out, but some do and blogs associated with online publications tend to be a little more liberal about outbound links. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of knowing to ask. When a media relations effort results in confirmation that a company, product or spokesperson will be included in a story, be sure to ask if the journalist would link to a helpful resource on the company site. Don’t just ask for the link, but provide something useful to link to. Many times a simple request and having a useful resource can result in the highest quality links you could ask for.

When promoting news content on social media sites (we’ll be covering SEO, PR and Social Media in our next post) it’s important that you’re sharing news content and that it offers unique and/or distinct value. Submitting press releases to social news sites for example, is rarely going to be productive as a way to attract positive attention within the social community. Social communities tend to distrust formal marketing communications. They do respond well to creative, clever and useful ways to communicate information and ideas that are not formal or overtly trying to “sell” something.

For an abundance of ideas on link building for traffic and SEO benefit, see these link building resources.

Have you found useful ways of attracting links to news content such as press releases, newsrooms and corporate communications?�

We’re in the home stretch of our series on Public Relations and SEO. Next up is post #9 of 10: “SEO and Social Media Promotions with News Content“.

SlideShare Best Practices: Content Marketing Tips from Top SlideShare Marketers

At TopRank Online Marketing, we�ve been singing SlideShare�s praises for years. With over 50 pieces of content shared through the platform, some closing in on 100,000 views, we�re well aware of its power and potential.

Forbes calls SlideShare the �Quiet Giant of Content Marketing� with good reason; with 60 million monthly visitors, it�s one of the top 200 most visited sites in the world. Yet Joe Pulizzi says Slideshare is the �most underutilized content distribution tool� in content marketing today and he�s right. How can marketers make best use of this incredible resource?

Take a page from these SlideShare marketers, who have put out some of the most popular and useful pieces of content in their niche on the platform. Along with each example, you’ll find out just what it was they did to get it so very right; use these tips to improve your own SlideShare content marketing strategy. As a bonus, these are helpful resources in and of themselves, as each offers tips and advice on marketing.

10 Ways to be a Marketing Genius Like Lady Gaga

10 Ways to be a Marketing Genius Like Lady Gaga from Jesse Desjardins – @jessedee

This genius SlideShare is from Jesse Desjardins, Head of Social for Tourism Australia.

Love or hate her music, Lady Gaga is a powerful new age marketer, whose prowess in integrating event marketing with social and other web efforts is legendary. Desjardins was able to capitalize on both Gaga’s popularity and her marketing skills in his SlideShare, which has been viewed 144,000 times and embedded on other properties close to 400 times.

How to SlideShare Like @JesseDee

Follow Desjardins’ SlideShare marketing lead by:

Starting out with an interesting topic. If it seems dry or boring before you even begin, you need a new angle.Capitalizing on the popularity or fame of others by featuring them in your content.Teaching or otherwise offering something your target audience will find useful.

If you want a free lesson in presentations that don’t suck, check out Desjardin’s entire SlideShare portfolio, especially the amazing�You Suck at PowerPoint!

B2B Marketing Innovation eBook from MarketingProfs & TopRank Online Marketing

B2B Marketing Innovation eBook – MarketingProfs B2B Forum from TopRank Online Marketing

This eBook, developed in partnership with MarketingProfs and the speakers of the B2B Forum conference, features innovative tips from some of the brightest minds in digital marketing today.�We polled some of the top B2B brands including IBM, Cisco, Salesforce, Silverpop and Eloqua as well as industry influencers Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, CC Chapman, Amber Naslund, Amanda Maksymiw and many others for their best tips on how to bring innovation into the B2B marketing mix.

In the six months since it launched, this SlideShare has been viewed over 60,000 times and was also the subject of a blog post and much social content.

How to SlideShare Like MarketingProfs & TopRank Online Marketing

Take a page from our marketing book by:

Getting maximum mileage out of your SlideShare by making it the basis for other content, such as images, blog posts, social content, etc.Tying your presentation to an event or partnering with another organization to increase your reach.Keeping a consistent theme throughout the SlideShare in order to deliver exactly what was promised in promotional material and the description.

Check out another innovative SlideShare idea from MarketingProfs, who combined their best articles from 2012 into an original presentation that earned them thousands more views.

2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update SlideShare

2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers released their annual year-end update in December and already, it’s been viewed 1,183,000 times. Why? Simply because it’s a fabulous resource for marketers, media and other businesspeople in need of original research and analysis. KPCB became the news; releasing their report on SlideShare in this format made it simple for others to embed their presentation (1300 people or companies did) and share the news socially. All told, the SlideShare itself had over 15,000 social shares or endorsements.

This is a great example of a SlideShare that doesn’t play on humor, thought leaders or a sleek design, but offers valuable, original information for a wide business audience.

How to SlideShare Like KPCB

The average company probably can’t commit the time and resources to produce an 80+ page SlideShare packed with original research. However, you can:

Use the data at your disposal to uncover trends or insights others may find valuable.Explore a topic relevant to your industry in a way it hasn’t yet been covered and summarize your findings.Create a series of pieces to build audience anticipation.Honorable Mentions for SlideShare Content Marketing Greatness

Check out these other popular marketing SlideShares for more tips and tricks to help you improve your own.

HubSpot�s 101 Awesome Marketing Quotes SlideShare

HubSpot got it right on with this marketing SlideShare, which has earned more than a quarter of a million views and been marked a favorite by over 1,300 people. This is a fantastic example of the type of evergreen, quality content that can live on for years – here we are, discussing it almost two years after it was released.

As a curated piece consisting of quotes, HubSpot’s SlideShare is a prime example of two clever content marketing tactics. Keep costs and time investment lower by framing existing information in a new and interesting way. Then, bake social promotion into your content plan by featuring industry heavyweights and thought leaders in your content. Learn from HubSpot’s example and:

Use high quality images, either original or with attribution, and keep text to a minimum.Choose one theme and stay true to it throughout the piece.Consider how your slides can be repurposed; each on its own can become a standalone image for use in social channels or elsewhere. These images with short quotes are perfect for repurposing.

HubSpot has also shown marketers can be provocative on SlideShare, but it works so long as you keep it classy. See their October 2012 SlideShare�Social Media is a Lot Like Sex�as an example; it has already been viewed over 125,000 times.

2013 Social Media Predictions eBook by Dell

In the two weeks (give or take) since its release, Dell’s�Social Media Predictions for 2013�has closed in on nearly 90,000 views and was featured on the SlideShare homepage just after it launched. This resource featured predictions, advice and quotes from industry leading marketers and thought leaders including TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden. At just 18 pages, this piece proves SlideShares needn’t be lengthy to succeed.

Unlike our other examples, this SlideShare is heavy on written content and flies in the face of traditional advice that presentations must only be highly visual to meet the needs of their audience. Follow best practices like Dell for high quality, effective SlideShares:

Invest in good design and ensure consistency throughout the SlideShare.When using text, ensure sufficient white space and use bold or colored subheadings to break up blocks of text.Explain up front, in the first few slides, what its pages contain and why people should read on for more. It’s not a guessing game.

Again, this SlideShare was socially relevant and had promotion worked into its design, by including thought leaders from across the social web as their cast of experts.

I hope you’ve been inspired to get started on SlideShare, or further develop your content marketing strategy using this incredible tool. Are you using SlideShare as a marketing tool? Share your tips, tricks or questions in the comments!

Embattled Yahoo CEO Leaves With $7 Million After 5 Months

After just five months, Yahoo has replaced CEO Scott Thompson, who was forced to step down under intense pressure from investors. At issue: a computer science degree listed in his resume and in official filings that didn’t seem to exist anywhere else. Reports of Thompson’s diagnosis with thyroid cancer surfaced alongside the news of his resignation.

Following so closely on the heels of a restructuring under Thompson and the eighth monthly search engine market share decline, what does this mean for Yahoo search? If interim CEO Ross Levinsohn has his way, it could mean the revitalization of the struggling company’s revenue through their online advertising business.

AllThingsD has covered pretty much every inch of the highly politicized situation as it began to unravel, including the official announcement of CEO changes and the proxy settlement, details on the $7 million “Make-Whole” cash bonus Thompson walks away with, and even a leaked email from interim CEO Ross Levinsohn on his plans for the ailing former giant.

Yahoo’s Recent Restructuring Under Thompson - Search Almost Chopped

In April, when Yahoo announced thousands of layoffs amidst a massive restructuring, there was much speculation they planned to end the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal and look to Google, instead.

As the dust settled, however, Thompson’s vision became clear and still included their search business. It now falls under the “Connections” department, led by senior VP Shashi Seth.

Yahoo’s Ongoing CEO Struggles

Remember when Microsoft wanted to buy Yahoo for $31 a share back in 2008? By last year, they were offering up only half that.

Carol Bartz had failed to turn the company around by the time she was fired over the phone and famously referred to the Yahoo board as “doofuses” who had “f***ed her over.” Since then, the door to the CEO’s office has been a revolving one.

Tim Morse took over for Bartz in the interim, Thompson was hired to fill the position, and now Levinsohn will almost certainly vie for the permanent position. In fact, he’s the fifth to hold the company’s top spot in as many years.

Bartz was still steering the ship when Yahoo entered into an agreement with Microsoft and AOL to band together to sell off Class 2 display ad inventory. Google had overtaken Yahoo as the display ad leader in Q1 2011. The deal had yet to come to fruition with Thompson calling the shots; neither Bartz nor Levinsohn were known for their prowess in advertising, online or off.

Interim CEO a “Veteran of the Ad World”

Levinsohn, however, was leading U.S. operations when that deal was made. He controlled operations when, shortly after, Yahoo cut out retargeters in an effort to increase Yahoo’s yield on second-tier ads. He was at the helm in the U.S. when Yahoo insiders were rumored to have pressured Bartz to scoop up premium video service Hulu.

The WSJ describes Levinsohn as “a veteran of the ad world, having forged strong alliances with executives at Madison Avenue agencies that represent the biggest ad spenders.”

Yahoo released a statement from Fred Amoroso, chairman of Yahoo's board of directors, Monday naming Levinsohn interim CEO and explaining the agreement with Third Point. It read, in part:

"The Board is pleased to announce these changes and the settlement with Third Point, and is confident that they will serve the best interests of our shareholders and further accelerate the substantial advances the Company has made operationally and organizationally since last August. The Board believes in the strength of the Company's business and assets, and in the opportunities before us, and I am honored to work closely with my fellow directors and Ross [Levinsohn] to continue to drive Yahoo forward."

Yahoo’s stock got a bump in the wake of the news of Thompson’s departure, rising 3.1 percent in Monday trading. The deal under which he left gives Yahoo’s largest investor, Third Point, three additional seats on the board. One of the seats goes to Daniel Loeb, who led the outcry over Thompson’s dubious degree on his resume and hand-picked the other two board members from his organization.

4 Reasons Your Search Team Should Manage DSP Campaigns

If you’ve been around digital marketing long enough you have probably witnessed the “display versus search” argument multiple times. The display team likes to call out search’s focus on brand terms, while the search team likes to bring up “post-impression” as the savior to all things display.

Moving forward into the 2010’s, we now know these two tactics work best in tandem, and we have done much to make sure the two teams work together on planning, strategy and execution (although there is still work to be done – even a lot of work in some cases).

From a strategic perspective, planning both tactics together works best. However, from an executional stand-point, we tend to have the SEM manager execute the search campaign and the media manager executes the display campaigns. Why?

Each tactic has their own unique steps and processes required to ensure a successful campaign. Also, the two tactics have usually had unique optimization methods which require unique skills, and as such two unique roles were born.

With the recent explosion of demand-side platforms (DSP) and real-time bidding, the display arena is beginning to look very much like the paid search landscape. With this evolution, we need to consider which role is best suited for managing the DSP relationship.

Should DSPs be managed by the search team, or the display team? Every client or agency will answer this differently to fit their needs.

What is evident are the similarities between DSPs and SEM which create an ideal bridge to display marketing for the SEM professional. There are four key similarities which can be leveraged across the tactics in order to successfully manage both SEM and DSP campaigns.

Real-Time Bidding

Real-time bidding is arguably the biggest similarity between the channels. Campaigns are optimized based on the eCPM per impression, and bids are based on what a marketer is willing to pay, based on the expected rate of conversion on the back-end. That sure sounds like a keyword in the PPC landscape.

Having a built-in understanding of how, when and why to manipulate your bids provides the SEM manager baseline of knowledge to use in managing the DSP campaign.

Multi-Campaign Management

Just as a search budget is managed through multiple campaigns (by which to shift and optimize budget allocations) so are DSP campaigns. Normally, within the DSP, multiple campaigns are established based on audience type, such as re-targeting, “active shoppers” or demographic targeting (moms 35 and up).

By understanding the fluid nature of budget optimization inherent to the SEM landscape, the SEM manager can leverage these insights into optimization of the DSP campaign.

Placements as Keywords

As SEM is managed at the keyword level, DSP campaigns are managed at the placement level. While optimizing within a campaign, search managers optimize the keyword placement based on back-end performance. The same is true with DSP management, except instead of keywords, campaigns are optimized to the placement level.

The publisher/ad unit combo works just as a keyword does in SEM and campaigns are optimized according to performance results. The stronger a placement performs, the higher the allowable bid. The higher the bid, the more impressions available.

Self-Service Model

While not all DSPs have a self-service model, many platforms allow for a self-service model that allows the manager to actively manage the account themselves. Just like with AdWords or adCenter, the manager is responsible for bidding and optimization of the account. There is no reliance on the media property to optimize for you.

By having, and utilizing the self-service model, DSP campaigns can be managed in the same manner as search campaigns. Having that tactical experience in moving individual levers for optimal performance is what separates the search manager from the display manger, and leveraging this skill-set in the DSP landscape enhances performance.


It's often said that DSPs bring the search marketplace to the display media landscape. If DSPs look, feel and act like a search campaign, it just makes sense to leverage your search team’s unique skills to manage your DSP campaigns in order to maximize performance.

New Google Local Listings Carousel Showcases 7 Results Above the Fold

Google seems to be doing a limited beta test of a new style of displaying local search results, such as restaurants, in a unique carousel style that allows a user to scroll sideways through the results. This interesting format is clearly targeting mobile and tablet users who can easily go between results by swiping.

Justin Howley (@JustinKHowley) spotted the above results while doing a Google search for [best tacos in dallas].

And Pete Meyers on Google+ spotted the above slightly different search results (with the map beneath the carousel) for [new orleans restaurants].

The results also appeared on a map to the right side of the carousel, which can be enlarged and shows the pins for the locations of the restaurants in the carousel. It also includes links to maps, Google+ page and lists the number of reviews each restaurant has.

For local business owners, this gives the potential for many more local listings to appear above the fold in the search results, since Google often only lists one or two local listings from Google+. In this case, seven results are shown in the carousel. If your local business has been languishing further down the results page, this could be a very positive move for many.

It also highlights the importance of having a good business image on Google+. Some of the thumbnails chosen could be a lot more appealing for visitors looking for the best taco place in Dallas.

Does Taco Joint really want a handmade sign saying “Coldest table in the place” written in Sharpie? Or Torchy’s Tacos with a stack of their soft drink cups?

While it is great customers can upload photos, it makes much more sense for the local businesses to upload some of their own more professional looking shots of their business or their food.

This could be a beta test for Google search but it could also be a test for the new Google Maps interface reported earlier this week by Google Operating System that is rumored to be launching soon:

The screenshots show what appears to be a similar style imagery at the bottom which could easily be changed to local listings instead of the screenshots showing local attractions and places of interest.

New Google Local Listings Carousel Showcases 7 Results Above the Fold

Google seems to be doing a limited beta test of a new style of displaying local search results, such as restaurants, in a unique carousel style that allows a user to scroll sideways through the results. This interesting format is clearly targeting mobile and tablet users who can easily go between results by swiping.

Justin Howley (@JustinKHowley) spotted the above results while doing a Google search for [best tacos in dallas].

And Pete Meyers on Google+ spotted the above slightly different search results (with the map beneath the carousel) for [new orleans restaurants].

The results also appeared on a map to the right side of the carousel, which can be enlarged and shows the pins for the locations of the restaurants in the carousel. It also includes links to maps, Google+ page and lists the number of reviews each restaurant has.

For local business owners, this gives the potential for many more local listings to appear above the fold in the search results, since Google often only lists one or two local listings from Google+. In this case, seven results are shown in the carousel. If your local business has been languishing further down the results page, this could be a very positive move for many.

It also highlights the importance of having a good business image on Google+. Some of the thumbnails chosen could be a lot more appealing for visitors looking for the best taco place in Dallas.

Does Taco Joint really want a handmade sign saying “Coldest table in the place” written in Sharpie? Or Torchy’s Tacos with a stack of their soft drink cups?

While it is great customers can upload photos, it makes much more sense for the local businesses to upload some of their own more professional looking shots of their business or their food.

This could be a beta test for Google search but it could also be a test for the new Google Maps interface reported earlier this week by Google Operating System that is rumored to be launching soon:

The screenshots show what appears to be a similar style imagery at the bottom which could easily be changed to local listings instead of the screenshots showing local attractions and places of interest.

Report: Google Controls 44 Percent Of Global Online Advertising

ZenithOptimedia has issued a report that contains both good news and bad news for Google. The good news is: Google controls 44 percent of global online ad revenues. The bad news is: Google controls 44 percent of global online ad revenues.

At a time when Google is defending against antitrust investigations on two continents this news is most unwelcome. The shares of all the other major US internet companies are tiny by comparison, though together with Google they control 61 percent of the world’s digital ad spending.

Overall the internet represents only 16 percent of global ad revenue according to ZenithOptimedia. TV, by comparison, is�40.2 percent of all ad expenditures. Hence Google’s interest in building YouTube into a bona fide TV/cable alternative.

ZenithOptimedia says that globally paid search will represent about 49 percent of all online advertising this year.

Microsoft Shows Off Coming Improvements To Bing App’s Voice Search

Microsoft has shared video of what was a confidential, employee-only demonstration of new voice search capabilities in its Bing app for Windows Phones.

The demo, reported by MSFTKitchen, shows a substantially faster and more accurate voice search experience that also performs better in noisy situations.

In the demo, Bing’s new voice search system appears to respond about twice as fast as the existing system. The speed improvement gives Bing the ability to show search results while the user is still saying the search query.

The Microsoft employee giving the demo says that the new system uses a faster backend that’s already being deployed for existing users, so some may already be saying better response times in voice search.

The video doesn’t make it clear if these improvements will extend to Bing app users on Android and iOS devices, or just on Windows phones.

Bing’s May Search Updates: Domain Cleanup, Recourse Links, Related Searches

Back in March, Bing began sharing regular updates about changes that it’s made to search quality and the user search experience, much like Google has been doing since late last year.

The latest Bing update was published earlier today and, rather than sharing surface-level information about dozens of changes like Google does, Bing has chosen to go fairly in-depth on three changes.

Bing’s post doesn’t specifically refer to these changes as happening in May but, for the sake of future consistency, I’m calling these “May updates” in the headline. Here’s a look at what Bing shared.

Improved URL Handling

Bing says it’s improved how it handles spelling errors and typos when searchers type a domain name/URL into the search box. In one example, searchers that misspell Facebook’s domain name as (and other similar errors) are now getting the correct top result — Facebook’s home page.

In another example, Bing says it analyzed search patterns to be able to connect user errors such as typing when the searcher is actually looking for Southwest Airlines’ website at

Removing Superfluous Recourse Links

Recourse links are included in the alerts that Bing places on a search results page when it’s changed the user’s query, like Including results for (such-and-such)….

Bing had been showing these links in some off-topic and superfluous occasions — times when the recourse link wasn’t necessary — but says it’s now doing a better job of only showing such links when they improve the user experience.

Improved Related Searches

Bing says it’s query expansion system sometimes would lead to off-topic related searches, and shares the example of a search for “AMD L3 Cache,” where some of the related searches were medically-oriented.

Bing says it’s improved its relevance scoring for related searches to keep them on-topic. Users can also expect less duplication and a much cleaner set of suggestions — adult-oriented related searches won’t appear if the searcher is using moderate or safe search settings.

Selling SEO to the C-Suite

“Search sits at the core of online behavior. People spend more time on the Internet than watching TV. What customers put in the search bar is the expression of intent”, said Seth Besmertnik, CEO of Conductor, and presenter at the SEO in the Boardroom: Tangible Search Metrics session at SES New York. The session emphasized the importance of executive buy-in when it comes to investing in organic search, and a wealth of tips on how to go about winning it.

A Compelling Case for Investment in Organic Search

“SEO is about optimizing content so people can find it. Many people play a role in various stages of creating content, yet SEO often has no functional ownership of this process. It is imperative to get the C-suite engaged”, said Besmertnik. Before traveling down the path of strategy and implementation, you must first sell the C-Suite on making the investment in SEO.

Organic search is the indisputable leader in driving traffic that will convert to a website. Yet, it remains among of the lowest funding priorities when it comes to the website or marketing budget. Search marketing often attracts more of the budget, despite the fact that organic search delivers a higher rate of lead to close conversion than paid search, referral, social media, or outbound marketing.

Despite the facts, “organic search remains the most under-funded activity in web marketing”, said Besmertnik. He referenced data provided by Forrester and comScore indicating that allocation of search engine budgets is upside down.

While a mere 8 percent of search engine clicks come from paid search, 89 percent of the search budget is invested in search engine marketing. Conversely, while 92 percent of search engine clicks are organic in origin, a mere 11 percent of the search engine budget is invested in organic search.

Besmertnik shared that when his organization inquired, organizations would reveal how little they invest in organic search. He used an example of a $100,000 per month budget where 10 percent spend on organic would be considered high, a mere 1 percent of the budget allocated to organic SEO is more the norm.

This could be discouraging to those championing SEO to the leadership team within their own organization, or that of a client. Fortunately, the facts are in the favor of SEO as a qualified investment. It is just a matter of communicating them to the right people, in a way they will understand and can respond to.

Speak Their Language

Besmertnik explained, “most technical SEO professionals fail to communicate effectively with CEOs. They dive into details about link profiles, canonical URLs, missing alt tags, etc.” A technical discussion creates a technical barrier. Resist the temptation to dazzle them with terms you may use as a technician of your craft and focus instead on terms management is familiar with and understands.

One of the easiest ways to sell anything to the CEO, CFO, CMO, CTO, CIO or any other C-level executive, is to communicate with data. At the executive level, hype and industry trends mean very little until they directly impact the competitive edge and profitability of an organization.

Use Data to Demonstrate SEO Performance

To appeal to bottom-line focused executives, performance and ROI of any investment will be more heavily scrutinized than anywhere else in the organization. Which works to your advantage, when you are prepared to sell SEO.

A million people die, it’s a statistic, one person dies and its tragic. The same applies to keywords. CEOs actually care about keywords, perhaps even including the CEO’s name. Provide granular data that enables them to identify goals and view performance.

And, never forget there is a lot of ego and emotion invested in succeeding. Besmertnik reminds us that leadership, across the board, does not want to be beat by their competition or out-performed.

SEO is on the Rise

SEO as a skillset is on the rise. The number of SEO jobs increasing over the past year or two. And, Besmertnik shared that Conductor tracks the number of people on LinkedIn with SEO in their title or description - that number has jumped from 250,000 professionals in 2011, to 500,000 professionals in 2012.

In fact, some CEOs and executives from the C-Suite may consider themselves to be the SEO. For executives and other professionals who believe they know more than then they really do, satiate their desire to be engaged with frequent sharing of information, the way they want to see it. Or, educate them on focus of big picture for results, not just granular performance of one specific keyword.

Moderator Simon Heseltine, Director of SEO at AOL, suggested, “when the CEO or other executives show interest in being more hands-on, offer them two options to participate, based on how to be involved if they wish to be.”

ROI and Revenue

Once you’ve sold the C-Suite on SEO, it will command budgetary investment as long as it delivers. Demonstrating ROI is an imperative when it comes to organic search.

As Besmertnik explains, even if you removed every hint of organic search traffic, you’d still get some level of search traffic. So, measuring performance can be as easy as subtracting the revenue generated by doing “nothing” from the revenue generated to determine ROI of SEO.

He presented the following equation to illustrate:

SEO Revenue
- Revenue You’d Get From Doing Nothing
= ROI from SEO Investment

The following grid was presented by Besmertnik to gauge ROI of SEO.

The top right if the chart represents the highest ROI. The bottom left represents the lowest ROI.

To be even more accurate, calculate costs of SEO that impact other roles and outcomes (cost of talent, crossover of data utilized for Paid search, programming, design, etc.) which expand the perceived value of investments made in natural search to the organization.

KPIs and Milestones

Search ranking data may not be enough to demonstrate SEO performance. To increase understanding, Besmertnik suggests referencing specific KPIs and milestones, such as how many keywords appear on page one of SERPs, rank, URLs appearing in search, competitive comparison an positioning, as well as notations of events that impact search performance (server upgrades, impact of Panda, Penguin, etc.).

Engage the C-Suite

The session could have stopped there, but there was much more ground to cover. Chuck Price, CEO of Measurable SEO, jumped right into SEO in the Boardroom. He began his presentation by emphasizing that success in SEO no longer merely means being at the top of Page 1. Although SERPs are still a good indicator of success, you cannot judge overall success by these metrics alone.

Synchronize Business and SEO

“Business and SEO must be in sync. No buy-in, no sale,” Price said. “If you cannot achieve buy-in from C-Suite, you will not attract the budget to execute your awesome marketing plan.”

He began the discussion asking “Remember when it was easy to demonstrate SEO value?” It used to be Page 1 Ranking = Success. Today, rankings and traffic need to yield measurable improvement in revenues and profits. Price used several key topics to illustrate exactly how SEO can positively impact the bottom line.

SEO is Multi-Faceted

Price credited Eric Schmidt of Google, author of "The New Digital Age", due to be released on April 23, 2013 with the quote “Authorship is the next big thing”. Price explained that essentially authorship = rankings, lack of authorship = anonymity.

Price emphasizes ranking on the long tail, not just head phrases. He also mentioned the value of other assets, explaining an optimized photo can now get more clicks than a page when properly optimized.

He encourages SEO professionals to tap into visibility metrics to identify top content in order to replicate and expand it, and identify the weakest content to be eliminated or revamped. In the context of referrals, Price recommends identifying “most linked to” content and marketing it to attract organic referrals.

Price also offered a stream of valuable tips.

How to Promote Consensus Around SEOFind a Cheerleader: Leverage social media, relationships to create an internal champion for your cause.Objections are inevitable: Be prepared to show ROI with Plan A, have a back-up Plan B and C if budget is an issue.Neutralize Naysayers: People don't like change. Seek someone that person trusts to help you win them over.Offer Metrics-Based Engagement: No performance, no payment.Show you have their best interest in mind: Develop a track-record of generous contributions, and be prepared to remind them of your contribution and attention.Timing is Everything: Getting it right means asking lots of questions and offering the right solution at the right time.Don’t Abandon Good Ideas: If your ideas don’t get buy-in the first time, it doesn’t mean they were bad ideas. Be prepared to try later, or adapt to circumstances.Make Proposal Simple and Clear: Present proposals on a single page, perhaps with a link to the details. This increases understanding of the offer.Co-Create the Solution with the C-Suite: Sometimes you need to approach the project as a team, be prepared to collaborate your way to a solution.Best Outcomes from Relationships and Team Collaboration: All parties are more likely to be on board with the plan, and make sure it happens.What’s in it For Me: Articulate how they will benefit from the proposed solution.Manage What You Measure: Invest in what will directly impact how you will measure success (rank, keywords, landing pages, organic traffic, etc.)

Price stated that he believes that achieving the top of Page 1 may require deviation from Webmaster guidelines and the risk of a penalty by Google. I would add that the comfort level with this approach may vary by organization.

3 Tools for Measuring SEO

There were three tools mentioned by Price that SEO pros may find useful:

SEO ROI and Cost of Customer Acquisition Calculator

SEO ROI Calculator

Custom Reports – SEO Dashboard via Jill Whalen

Yandex Launches Experimental “Wonder” Voice Social Search App For The US

Yandex, the company behind the leading search engine in Russia with a presence in Turkey, has taken a radically different direction to its search activities by launching a voice social search app called “Wonder” on� Apple’s iOS platform for the US market.

Described by the company as “experimental,” the app responds to users’ spoken queries and displays results from that user’s social connections in a horizontal format which Yandex believes may be the best way to display social search for the future.

One key aspect of the app is the historical nature of the data queried. “Wonder” is not looking at what someone is saying now about a restaurant you’re thinking of visiting, but what they have said in the past. This enables much richer information to be displayed to users from a limited data set than would be the case with traditional search engines.

How The Yandex “Wonder” App Is Structured. Source: Yandex

The supported social network platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare and other tools connected through Facebook such as Spotify.

Developed by Palo Alto-based Yandex Labs, the app is limited to the US for now, but a spokesman for the company said, “It’s an experimental app which uses many existing Yandex technologies and tests some that are new. We aim to learn about users preferences, such as the horizontal results display and may then roll it out to other regions.”

A typical search query might be, ” I wonder what my friends are listening to?” or “what sushi restaurants do my friends go to in New York?” A key aspect that the technology tries to achieve is to recognise the many different ways that a particular restaurant or venue, might be described by different friends in different networks — a new form of “duplicate removal” similar to duplication removal in traditional search engines.

In addition to the fact that its development came out of the US, the company says it chose the limited iOS platform in the US because it is a single market speaking predominantly one language, more social data is available, and US users share more on average than those in other parts of the world.

“Wonder” Has Horizontal Scroll To Display Its Social Search Results. Source: Yandex

The spokesman noted that, “We may use what we learn on voice search from this experiment in connection with our main Yandex search engine.”

Inevitably, the app will be compared to Facebook’s new Graph Search concept and has many similarities, except the addition of natural language voice search. The app is available to download for free.

Other than “,” which is an English-language search tool from Yandex, the company has never made forays into the US in its own name — but has invested in US search engines such as Blekko. This is the first direct search investment in the US.

Postscript by Matt McGee: TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook has blocked Yandex’s access to its data, and the two companies are discussing next steps.

Postscript #2 by Matt McGee, January 25: Yandex has shared this official statement on the situation:

Wonder app has been blocked by Facebook. We are in touch with Facebook to enquire about the reasons for this and what can be done to solve this problem. As of now any new users trying to sign up to Wonder with their Facebook account receive a notification by Facebook: “An error occurred. Please try again later”. Those users who have already signed up can still ask questions, but the Facebook data will not be updated. Instagram, Foursquare and Twitter data are updated as normal.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Matt Cutts: Google Penguin 2.0 Coming in 'Next Few Weeks'

There has been much speculation this week about some kind of major Google update. Google Penguin 2.0 was not the blame if you've lost search traffic. But you can expect the next Penguin update in the next few weeks, Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts has confirmed.

"Nope, no new Penguin update this week," Cutts wrote on Twitter, later adding "…we do expect to roll out Penguin 2.0 (next generation of Penguin) sometime in the next few weeks though."

The "next generation" of Penguin has been the source of much speculation since Cutts mentioned it in March. He said it would be significant and one of the most talked about Google algorithm updates this year.

Google's Penguin update launched in April 2012, and was followed by two refreshes last year – in May and October.

Sites that were hardest hit had too much exact match anchor text and link profiles that appeared unnatural to Google – and Google has increasingly applied a "stricter standard" on manipulative link profiles, according to a study by Internet marketing agency Portent.

Need some tips on how to get ready and what websites might be in danger of getting impacted by the next Penguin update? Check out the posts below.

 Google Penguin UpdateGoogle Penguin, the Second (Major) Coming: How to PreparePenguin 2.0 Forewarning: The Google Perspective on LinksRacing Penguin: How to Attack Unnatural Links Before Penguin Hits [Case Study]

Online Marketing News: RipOff Report Expands, Paid YouTube Channels Launch & Mobile Local on the Rise

Your customers want more personalized messaging and content. In fact, 64% believe it’s more important that companies represent them with relevant offers, compared to 36% who don’t want their activity tracked. Given the tools available to block ads, tactics to stop tracking, opt-in nature of communications and social participation, it’s clear that customers who do choose to interact with brands expect a more personalized experience as a result.

The Mass Marketing vs. Personalization infographic from Monetate shares a number of other interesting recommendations and finds, including:

94% of companies agree that online personalization is critical to business performance.Two of every three companies believe personalizing their website will improve the customer experience and overall success of their business.64% of companies will – or plan to within the year – deliver a more personalized experience to visitors on mobile devices.

See the infographic for tips on better personalization.

Online Marketing News Briefs

Mobile Increasingly Used for Local Search

More people are using mobile for search, especially for local information, according to a�new Local Mobile Search Report based on comScore data from Q4 2012. PC traffic has remained static, researchers said, while mobile continues to grow as a percentage of overall traffic to websites. See more at SearchEngineLand.

Klout Aims to Let Consumer Be More Influential with “Experts”

Klout previewed their new “Experts” feature Wednesday. explains how it works: “If you�ve garnered sufficient credibility on a certain topic based on your Klout score � say, gardening or hair styling or whatever � you should be qualified to answer questions on the area. Moreover, you�re likely�more�credible than some result in a Q&A thread on a site like Yahoo Answers or perhaps a Quora.” Klout shared questions to some of its users, whose answers will show up in Bing search results (Klout�s official search partner) and possibly Google.

Mobile Shoppers Spend More in Store: Google

Seventy-nine percent of smartphone owners are also smartphone shoppers and 84% of them use their devices in-store to help them make buying decisions, according to�Google’s Mobile In-Store Research�report. On average, smartphone shoppers spend 15 minutes on their device while shopping in-store.

Affluent Consumers are Active in Social Media: LinkedIn

Of the 90% of consumers with investable assets between $100,000 and $1 million active in social media, 44% engage with financial institutions via social. According to LinkedIn, 36% of this group use social for discovery and consideration. See more at�SearchEngineWatch.

RipOff Report Expanding: Businesses Can Opt In to Pay $90/Month Fee to Review Complaints

Not that companies should be pleased, but Ed Magedson of RipOff Report has devised another way to help companies on the receiving end of customer complaints (real, imagined or invented) part with their money. His new�RipOff Report Verified�program will�give businesses 14 days to resolve complaints before a critical review is posted. See more at�Forbes.

Sesame Street and Young Turks Among First Paid YouTube Channels

The first paid YouTube channels launched yesterday, with 30 YouTube partners making the move to a revenue model alternative to advertising.�The initiative�will become self-serve for YouTube’s 1 million+ content partners, who will be able to charge a fee starting at 99 cents a month for access, according to�AdAge.

This Week in the @TopRank Community

This week, TopRank CEO Lee Odden gave the keynote presentation at #PDXCC13 just a day after sharing�An Integrated Approach to Digital Marketing & PRwith Public Relations Society of America members and webinar guests. Check out our favorite tweets and interactions from members of the @toprank community:

Stay tuned to the @TopRank Twitter channel and #trnews feed this week for the latest online marketing, social and content headlines!

He Calls Google A Vampire, But Mark Cuban’s Mahalo Is Doing The Sucking

Yesterday, Mark Cuban warned media owners in a keynote speech that Google is a vampire trying to suck them dry, giving them nothing back and daring owners to block it. This is the same Mark Cuban who is an investor in Mahalo, which touts to advertisers how it taps into Google to generate page views. Is Google a vampire except when it works in Cuban’s favor? It’s compare and contrast time.

Cuban’s speech at the OnMedia conference was reported by several publications. I’ll quote from AdWeek:

“Google is a vampire, and you run scared,” he said. “There is no reason to be indexed in Google.”


He said readers who find headlines via Google rarely convert to traffic, and publishers have a hard time monetizing that traffic.

“You haven’t gotten anything back except that you’ve turned into zombies,” Cuban said.

I’ve bolded the key parts that I’ll contrast against Cuban’s backing of Mahalo, which is supposed to be a human-powered search engine. Both Mike Arrington at TechCrunch and Mathew Ingram at GigaOM have counterpoints to Cuban’s speech you may also wish to read.

Mahalo: A Mark Cuban Investment

From the Mahalo press kit, which you can find via the Mahalo advertising page, we learn that Cuban is an investor in Mahalo:

Mahalo: It Loves Google, Even If Cuban Doesn’t

The press kit also teaches us other interesting things. We discover that Mahalo provides “high SEO value,” as you see stated here:

For those new to the acronym, SEO stands for search engine optimization, the practice of generating traffic from the free listings that search engines provide. As Google is the biggest of the search engines, anyone doing SEO is largely tapping into Google.

This means that Cuban is an investor in a company that does NOT see Google as a vampire. Quite the contrary. Mahalo sees Google as a valuable traffic resource. Indeed, another slide from the press kit has Mahalo bragging about how it ranks at the top of an actual Google search results page (as it still does when I looked today). We’re told how Mahalo pages “rank highly in search queries” as part of the slide:

Rather than inform advertisers that Google is a vampire to be blocked — Cuban’s advice, remember? — Mahalo touts the opposite, how it can “help our partners increase their search engine rankings,” as you see in this slide:

Indeed, Mahalo bills itself as quite the SEO shop, able to do keyword research and organic linking for clients — I mean advertisers:

So let’s go back to those parts I bolded from Cuban’s speech. No reason to be indexed in Google? You don’t get anything back? Mahalo — a Cuban investment — clearly believes the opposite.

Yes, Mahalo Does News

Ah, but Cuban was talking about news content! Those headline readers, they don’t convert for news sites. Things might be different for a non-news site like Mahalo.

Actually, Mahalo does quite a bit of news targeting. Let’s look at the current Mahalo home page:

I see news about the Oscar nominations, news about Justin Mentell’s death, Super Bowl 2010 news, news about the Grammy Awards. Lots of news. Mahalo — it’s a news site, among other things.

Look here, at the home page of the Wall Street Journal today, unquestionably a news site. I’ve pointed at four different news topics on it: Obama’s 2010 budget, the Toyota recall, the Haiti earthquake and the Apple iPad:

Mahalo has pages on all these topics:

Maybe Mahalo’s run by a bunch of idiots who are wasting their time going after these news topics to get traffic from Google. If so, Cuban — as a wise investor — should advise that Mahalo focus on things more likely to convert. Alternatively, Mahalo’s making money off these efforts and potentially, so might news sites with original content.

If Cuban Can’t Police His Own Aggregators…

Did I say original content? See, that’s another irony. This is also from Cuban’s speech:

Cuban dared newspapers to stop linking their stories to Google and to police other aggregators….

“Show some balls,” he said. “If you turn your neck to a vampire, they are [going to] bite. But at some point the vampires run out of people’s blood to suck.”

If that word “aggregator” is leaping out at you but doesn’t really mean much, check out my How Search Engines, Aggregators & Blogs Use News Content article. It explains what they are and how everything works. In short, an aggregator is a site that summarize content that lives on other sites.

Now let’s take a closer look at the Mahalo page about Justin Mentell’s death:

There’s a whole lot of aggregation going on there. If Cuban’s urging that aggregators be policed, perhaps he could start with his own investment – Mahalo. Add Icerocket to the list, too. That’s another Cuban-backed service which offers news search like Google does. Here’s Icerocket aggregating news headlines about Cuban’s own speech against search engines aggregating news content.

To really visualize how much Mahalo is aggregating, look at this illustration:

See that arrow? It’s pointing at the original content. It’s hard to find it on the page versus all the aggregated/scraped content that comes from other sources. The illustration, used with permission, comes from Aaron Wall’s excellent piece published last week, Mahalo SEO Spam Case Study. Be sure to read that article for a deeper look at some issues with Mahalo.

My, Mahalo, How You’ve Changed

Of course, not all Mahalo pages will be like the one above. Some of the news pages I mentioned earlier have short summaries about news along with some aggregated — but at least hand-selected — links.

Still, Mahalo seems a far cry from the human-crafted results it launched with. Consider this page about fires in Malibu, as it looked in 2008:

Today, it looks like this:

Most of of the curated links are gone. You get some fast facts, then a ton of the automated aggregation.

Conspiracy Time!

Now let’s put on our tin foil hats. Mahalo makes money tapping into breaking news topics. Cuban makes money off of Mahalo. Cuban advises media owners with original news content that they should drop out of Google, especially since those Google visitors are worthless. If they do drop out, who benefits from the spots that open up in Google? Potentially, Mahalo. Potentially, Cuban.

Nice advice.

Similarly, who else do we see as a Mahalo investor? Let’s go back to the Mahalo slides:

News Corporation. And what’s News Corp been saying about Google?

News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has questioned Google’s use of news content many times, saying it, along with other search engines and aggregators, just steal his content and engage in theft.

News Corp owns the Wall Street Journal, whose publisher Les Hinton called Google a vampire seven months ago, before Cuban seemingly borrowed that metaphor.

News Corp chief digital officer Jonathan Miller said last November that visitors from Google are the “least valuable” to him — another theme added to Cuban’s speech.

How Might News Corporation Gain?

Who benefits if media owners take News Corp’s advice and pull out of Google? Mahalo, potentially — which News Corp has a stake in. Mahalo, by the way, which was founded by Jason Calacanis who used to work for Miller, counts him as a mentor and perhaps was used to float a trial balloon about the Wall Street Journal considering an exclusive deal with Bing.

Alternatively, as I covered in Garlic For The Google Vampire last year, News Corp benefits if media owners bail out of Google because it, unlike most other publications, probably has “must carry” status. As I wrote:

The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press carry enough weight � are arguably “must carry” publications � that they�ll probably land some Google cash, in the end. And Google won�t call it pay off money, when it happens. We�ll get a euphemism about the deals being done for “new” or “different” uses rather than the “right” to list links.

Other papers and organizations, which struggle much more than the WSJ or the AP, won�t get anything. That�s why I don�t think Google should do such deals secretly. More on that in my Open Letter To Google & The AP: Reveal The Licensing Terms article.

Back To Reality

Now take off the tin foil hat. I’ve painted a possible conspiracy theory. I don’t believe it. I don’t think News Corp has taken the stance it has in hopes of driving out all other media outlets. I actually think News Corp, like many news organizations, has some serious concerns about how news can thrive in a time when fair use means “anything goes” to some. I also think the company, like many other media organizations, reacts badly to legitimate fair use out there because it has yet to learn how to thrive in the digital world.

As for Cuban, I don’t think he made his speech as part of an uber-plan to help his Mahalo investment. I think he probably has some heartfelt views that content owners are somehow being ripped off. From November, my If Newspapers Were Stores, Would Visitors Be “Worthless” Then? post covers more about that, including comments back and forth between Cuban and I on the topic.

Enough Hypocrisy & Rhetoric

What I don’t like is the hypocrisy both News Corp and Cuban have shown on this issue. A Look At All The Sites Owned By Rupert Murdoch That ‘Steal’ Content from last November at Techdirt covers some of the aggregators that News Corp runs, despite its anti-aggregator stance. My article today illustrates Cuban’s backing of aggregation at Mahalo plus touches it at Icerocket.

The lines people want to draw on both sides of the fair use and aggregation debate aren’t that black and white. Nor does the rhetoric bring anyone closer to solutions.

Postscript: Mark Cuban has posted a response to my article here that I’d encourage people to read. A few comments from me about it.

The other day in New York I gave a speech at the AlwaysOn Conference …. when I speak to a group like this, rather than just shilling a product, service or position as many …. I try to put myself in the business shoes of the audience. Then I discuss what I would do if I owned, ran or invested in their business, and the approach I would take to some of the strategic issues of the day.

The concept of directing comments to a vertical segment of a market is nothing new. I have been doing it for more than 20 years. Yet for some reason, based on comments from a few folks over the past couple days, there are some relatively high profile people in the internet business that have a tough time grasping that concept.

I have no problem grasping that concept. There were parts of the speech where Mark made suggestions about what he would do that fit right into this. But he also made declarations about the value of search traffic that just frankly seemed wrong. That’s why he’s getting the reaction.

Look, let’s say Mark were speaking in front of an audience that didn’t believe in vaccinations as a way to prevent illness. If he then started declaring that vaccinations were unsafe, just to put himself in the shoes of those in the audience, plenty would have spoken out against it.

It’s one thing to speak to an audience’s concerns. It’s another thing to position yourself in believing and backing some of those same concerns. To date, Mark’s given every indication that he believes Google is a vampire that sucks publishers dry. He’s done that in some of his writings where he’s not speaking in front of any particular audience but, I assume, just speaking his mind to voice what he believes in a topic generally.

Further on, Mark writes:

I think he Danny likes to banter to create traffic, smart on his part. But I also think he doesn�t fully understand all the business elements on some of the topics he has challenged me on.

Sure, I love traffic as much as the next person. But the most important thing to me is that important issues are covered, and that there is some balance where it needs to be.

I wrote my piece in response to Mark between midnight and 5am the day it was written. I simply couldn’t sleep after pondering his statements and having seen the Mahalo press kit recently. I wasn’t kept up because I thought “Oh, goody, I’ll get a lot of traffic out of this.” I was kept up because I love journalism, I know search, and I deeply hate when people spout off stuff that I find massively incorrect to media owners who desperately need better advice.

I don’t understand the business elements I’ve challenged Mark on? Well, for one thing, I came from a newspaper background. Five years working for daily newspapers. Not on the business side, nope. But that’s about five more years of newspaper experience than I believe Mark has.

I left papers because while I wasn’t on the business side, I could see clearly that they were going to fail when it came to the web. I watched my own paper at the time, the Orange County Register, struggle to decide if it should do AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe or something else. I jumped out in 1995 to do web development with a friend, instead, knowing it would be the web. Side note: the fact the OC Register has its domain name right now was due to our web development company. We registered it for them helped drag them a little bit online.

The web development company didn’t take off, so I struck out on my own as journalist. From literally nothing (and I do mean nothing, there was a time when I debated if I could by a London Underground transport card for an extra zone because of the extra $1 expense), I built a web site entirely around search. One that offered both free content and material behind a paywall, which helped it survive the dotcom downturn. A giant conference series along the way.

That all came from me seeing that search was a story, and that it was a story that deserved more than a once-a-year article about it that was commonplace for the magazines that I freelanced for in 1995. I thought we needed our own CNN of search news. So I started that businesss, a business that any media publisher could have easily have. And in 2006, the entire thing got sold for $43 million. From nothing. That’s not the $6 billion that Mark got from his sale. But it was a fair chunk of change for editorial content that literally came out of nothing.

At the time of that sale, I no longer owned the original properties, so I personally didn’t come away with those millions. Darn! And I couldn’t work out a deal with the new owners, so I left and started over. Everything rebooted, from scratch. Enter new site here at Search Engine Land. Entire new conference series, Search Marketing Expo. Our Sphinn news sharing site, as well as our Search Marketing Now webinar series. All through my own Third Door Media company.

All this was done without needing VC money. No various rounds because we actually generate revenue to pay our own way. Last year, in the worst economic downturn in the United States since WW II, we generated a small profit. All from editorial content. News content and information. From visitors we gain through social media marketing, email marketing and search marketing. Google — you know, that vampire.

So yes, I think I understand some of the business elements of running a news operations in the days of the internet. I also know many news SEOs in the newspaper industry who understand the traffic they bring in. I understand how fundamentally screwed up the newspaper industry is when those same SEOs can’t get their technical departments to implement a friggin 301 redirect without debates and justifications. As I joked on Twitter last year:

for want of a 301, a newspaper was lost. or a website. tech folks, give your SEOs the 301 redirects they want.

I’ve also seen newspaper executives — the people who are supposed to save the industry — say things that make me desperately afraid they really don’t understand how search engines work. And if they don’t understand these things, it’s hard for them to make the right business decisions. That’s one reason I invested a huge amount of time on a three part series with Google last year about how it deals with news content. It was important information to get out. It was good information to get out. And I can only hope some of the actual business people paid attention to it.

As for Mark’s hypocrisy telling media owners that Google’s a vampire when he has investments in similar vampires, he wrote:

Danny Sullivan thought he had caught in some hypocritical act because I am an investor in Mahalo, a human powered search engine that leverages SEO techniques to increase traffic and revenue. First of all, I invested in Mahalo in 2006 . Not yesterday as Danny would seem to imply

I didn’t imply that it was yesterday. And I don’t care when he invested in it. He’s still an investor. He seems to disagree with how news aggregators and search engines list media content. Rather than speaking generally to what he thinks media owners should do about the vampire problem, he could use his influence to prevent it within his own investments. And if he’s not listened to, get out of them or speak publicly against them.

Further, he writes:

In the case of Mahalo, unlike newspapers, they are making good money from Google traffic. No reason to stop doing that. On the flipside however, its fair to point out that Mahalo does use some newspapers content to support their content. If a newspaper would ask me if they should block Mahalo, the fair answer would be that there is no reason not to.

Unfortunately, those newspapers can’t block Mahalo if they wanted to. Some of those links are added by human editors. Is Mark suggesting that newspapers should constantly be monitoring Mahalo to see when new links are added, then asking to have them removed? Or has Mahalo gained some type of universal “never link to this site” to advise editors, that I’m not aware of.

As for the automatic links, they come from tapping into other search engines such as Google, YouTube and likely some other places that I can’t quite figure out yet. To block Mahalo, you have to block those places. Mahalo, unlike a real search engine, has no spider that can be blocked automatically using a robots.txt file.

Search Market Share: Google Up, Bing Flat, Yahoo Hits New Low

The financial analysts are starting to expose search market share data for May, ahead of the official release of those numbers by comScore tomorrow. If they’re accurate the data we saw reflect another monthly decline for Yahoo and AOL. Bing was flat while Google gained.

Here are the numbers:

Google: 66.7 percent in May (vs. 66.5 percent in April)Bing: 15.4 percent (vs. 15.4 percent in April and 14.1 percent a year ago)Yahoo: 13.4 percent (vs. 13.5 percent in April; and 15.9 percent a year ago)Ask: 3 percent (vs. 3 percent in April)AOL: 1.5 percent (vs. 1.6 percent in April)

These figures don’t reflect mobile search queries or market share. In mobile Google enjoys a roughly 95 percent share in the US market.

The numbers above represent the 9th consecutive monthly decline for Yahoo’s search market share and a new low.

Below is a graphical representation of US search market share comparing May 2012 vs May 2011.

Postscript: The official numbers, confirming the above, have just been released by comScore.

Source: comScore, May 2012

Google Pays Apple About $1 Billion to Remain Default Search Engine

Google will pay Apple $1 billion in 2014 to be the default Internet search provider on iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad, according Scott Devitt, an analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Google pays certain companies to be their default search provider, most notably Mozilla with its Firefox web browser.

Thirty-one percent of Google's traffic acquisition costs will go toward Apple in 2014, according to Devitt's calculations. However, Mozilla will also see the amount it receives from Google grow.

Devitt forecast that Mozilla will pick up $400 million in 2014 from Google, a 33 percent increase from this year, while Google will spend a total of about $3.5 billion to make its search engine the default in third party software products.

Although Google's expenditure might seem high, Google controls 95 percent of the mobile search market. This deal shuts out rival search vendors such as Bing from the default search position on most smartphones and provides Google with valuable data when mobile device users access its search engine.

And Apple? It gets $1 billion at no cost to it, simply for having popular devices.

Devitt predicted that by the end of this decade Google will pay close to $6.8 billion a year for traffic acquisition.

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

New Targeting & Tools for Small Advertisers on Twitter

Twitter is unwrapping new targeting features, a revamped interface, and more detailed analytics on its self-served ad platform.

While the company positions for broader interest in its paid media products, it is expanding the tools and services it offers marketers to encourage more small- to mid-sized brands to increase engagement on the platform.

Twitter doesn't provide exact numbers, but says "thousands of business" are using the platform today.

Although a year has passed since Twitter made room for more paid content in users' timelines, the service is still only available by invitation in the United States.

It is unclear whether Twitter prefers to hide growth patterns, tamper expectations, or maintain control over which brands or marketers gain access to its burgeoning ad platform, but it's likely a combination of those factors and others.

For Doug Schumacher, co-founder of Zuum, it was "just an option, a click, and we were in," he says, adding that the process may have been streamlined because he had an existing campaign running on Twitter at the time.

"Twitter is making its native advertising portfolio approachable to small- to mid-sized businesses because it needs to," says Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group. Having studied the promoted and sponsored space for quite some time, it's clear that businesses of all sizes can not solely rely on earned or owned media in social channels."

As for the new features now available to self-serve advertisers, Schumacher tells ClickZ that targeting by device type is the most exciting and potentially rewarding for marketers.

"That's a pretty big step for self-service advertising, and for the right businesses - like mobile app developers - it could give them some great efficiencies in connecting with the right target," he said. His interest wanes from there, however.

"Beyond targeting by device, I don't think there's that much that will surprise people. Self-service platforms like Google and Facebook have a lot of great features, so the bar is high," adds Schumacher. "But for the right brand, with the right audience, being able to target effectively on Twitter will be tight-enough targeting. Twitter has a distinct platform and audience, so by delivering targeting and campaign management tools that are comparable to other platforms, they can still give an advertiser a distinct capability."

In addition to targeting by device or platform, brands can direct their promoted tweets to users based on gender, interests they share with others (similar to Facebook's lookalike audience targeting), or 350 specific interest categories.

While Twitter has made improvements to its interface and began offering deeper analytics, reporting and real-time campaign controls, Schumacher tells ClickZ that the analytics are not a high point. "I don't find them very intuitive, and they seem to be missing some obvious ways that marketers would want to view their creatives. Categorizing creative messages into groups seems like an obvious omission," he adds.

"Paid media allows every business to expand their reach, but it takes more than money," adds Solis of Altimeter Group. "It takes a unique understanding of the culture of the network and the ability to engage users in something more interesting than a tweet or post, but instead a story or experience. Twitter's self-serve platform is making promoted products something for almost everyone to evaluate easier and with greater access and metrics."

This article was originally published on ClickZ.

YouTube Launches Paid Channels, Subscription Fees Start at $0.99 Per Month

The YouTube team has finally launched a pilot program for a small group of partners that will offer paid channels on YouTube – a move that had been expected since January.

YouTube has been building a partner program since 2007 that enables content creators to earn revenue for their creativity. And these content creators have built a broad spectrum of channels that have made YouTube into a news, education, and entertainment destination that 1 billion people around the world visit monthly.

According to YouTube, there are more than 1 million channels generating revenue today, and one of the most frequent requests that the creators behind them make to YouTube is for more flexibility in monetizing and distributing content.

In response, YouTube is launching a pilot program for a small group of partners that will offer paid channels on YouTube with subscription fees starting at $0.99 per month. Every channel has a 14-day free trial, and many offer discounted yearly rates.

For example, UFC fans can see classic fights, like a full version of their first event from UFC's new Select channel. And Jim Henson Family TV will be offering ad-free, exclusive content for a special introductory price of only $2.99/month, or $24.99/year.

Click on paid channels for a list of the pilot channels in the program. Users who subscribe will be able to watch paid channels on a computer, phone, tablet, and TV. And YouTube hints that subscribers will soon be able to subscribe to channels from "more devices."

"This is just the beginning. We'll be rolling paid channels out more broadly in the coming weeks as a self-service feature for qualifying partners," according to the Official YouTube Blog. "And as new channels appear, we'll be making sure you can discover them, just as we've been helping you find and subscribe to all the channels you love across YouTube.

"Just as the partner program empowered creators to take their channels to the next level, we look forward to seeing how this great community of creators moves ahead with a new way to reach the fan communities that made their channels a hit. You'll be hearing more from us, and them, as we get creator and user feedback and build out this exciting offering.

Content creators who are interested in building their own paid channel can fill out a sign up form.

While there are 53 channels in the Paid Channels pilot program, that's still an incredibly small percentage of the more than a million creators from over 30 countries around the world earning money from their YouTube videos. So, the vast majority of YouTube Partners are likely to continue monetizing their content with advertising.

That's why YouTube recently announced that the video-sharing website had hit the incredible milestone of 1 billion unique monthly visitors. The company also announced that more than 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month.

And that's why YouTube made this announcement at their Brandcast event for advertisers in New York. The amount of money to be made from advertising dwarfs the amount to be made from subscriptions. That event included a tribute to "Our YouTube Community."

Nevertheless, one-size does not fit all. So, in addition to its efforts to boost advertising from brands like T-Mobile, Samsung, Dove and Pepsi, YouTube is also offering more flexibility in monetizing and distributing content.

The cable TV industry offers a similar mix of paid and basic channels. And its worth noting that Nielsen says that YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network.

Google & Time Inc. Launch Timelapse: See How Any Part Of The World Has Changed Over Time

The new Timelapse site, created by Time Inc. and Google, is a pretty amazing way to see how any part of the world has changed since 1984 through 2012. The site offers amazing animations such as the growth of Las Vegas and the shrinking of the Columbia Glacier, and you can point it at any part of the world you want.

Google explains more about how it has collected the images with the US Geological Survey since 2009 and sifted through to find those with good quality, and without cloud cover, over every part of the world.

Here are some examples of what you can see. Deforestation in the Amazon:

The growth of Las Vegas:

The growth in Dubai:

The Columbia Glacier shrinking:

The site itself explains more about these locations plus makes it easy to jump to them and some other dramatic examples through the editors’ picks you’ll see over the Timelapse map:

Note the last box, with the arrow I’ve inserted pointing at it. That allows you to search for any place in the world. I found it interesting to zoom to UC Irvine, my college, and see how much the campus has grown, since I left. I could also see how parts of Orange County, where I live, has had farmland and hillsides replaced by homes.

Unfortunately, you can’t bookmark and share locations, nor can you create animated GIFs of particular areas using the tool. Both features would have helped with the clear mission of the site, to spread the word about our impact on the planet.

Overall, it’s a great tool, either for exploring the dramatic and sometimes scary changes happening in the world or just to see how much a place you know may have changed or not.

AdWords Ad Group Mobile Bid Adjustments Are Here

Google AdWords announced that they have begun the rollout of their new ad group level mobile adjustments for AdWords accounts.

Only a limited number of accounts went active immediately, but like their rolling releases, if you don’t see it now, keep checking back daily to see if your account has been activated.

If you have account rep, you can also contact your rep to see if you can get an earlier activation in your account, particularly if you have a lot of mobile targeted campaigns.

Because mobile searchers have different intents than desktop computer searchers, this will enable you to use the same campaigns but value their CPC differently based on your own conversion tracking.

The other change is that you can now set bulk bid adjustments for locations, dayparts and devices, a definite improvement of the old style of having to update each location individually. This should also users much more flexibility in being able to quickly change and test these metrics across campaigns without having to spend a huge amount of time changing then changing back.

These new changes are also active through AdWords Editor, for those AdWords customers using the editor to create, edit and manage their AdWords ads.

These changes are being made in hopes that greater flexibility will increase CPC values when AdWords customers can easily increase bids on segments that are performing well for them. That said, be sure you are aware of your conversion data before jumping in and making a mass amount of changes when enhanced campaigns migrate to your account.

Do note that Google will behind upgrading enhanced campaigns on all AdWords campaigns starting July 22.

Tips for Brand Social Media Marketing Success with Agencies & Consultants

Planning and executing a successful social media marketing strategy sometimes requires that brands look outside their own companies for assistance. Businesses may partner with consultants or agencies to tap into the expertise, skills and resources they can offer, to help with strategy and tactical execution of the plan.

However, things can go wrong in social and when they do, the fallout can be massive and instantaneous. I wrote about a few examples of epic social fails recently and sometimes, brands find themselves having to defend their image over the damaging actions of an external resource. Tsk, tsk, people say. They should have handled their social media in-house and this never would have happened. This was certainly the case with Celeb Boutique, who publicly laid the blame for their insensitive #Aurora tweet at the feet of their PR agency.

Not so fast, though. Social media fails originate in-house and from external partners alike. Internal processes and failures can cripple your social strategy as surely as external resources.

Working with an agency, consultant or other resource can help your brand execute a successful social media strategy�while still reducing the risk of a slip up. In fact, a solid resource will help you scale your social efforts, tap into new markets, perfect your messaging and take your social strategy places you hadn’t even expected. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Before I jump into tips to ensure your agency or consultant relationship works to your maximum benefit, let’s look at a couple of reasons social may fail when working with an external partner:

Slow response times. Social fans – especially those on Twitter and Facebook – expect a quick response, especially when they’re voicing a complaint. In fact, 42% expect a brand response in 60 minutes or less. The need for approval of messaging can slow down response times substantially and hamper conversation.Inaccurate or uninformed responses to questions/comments. The people creating your social content need to know your business and understand your audience inside and out.Inconsistent or infrequent community management. If your content is being broadcast but interactions are not monitored often, you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect and may be doing more to harm relationships than build them.Inappropriate messaging. This may range from irrelevant to entirely inappropriate, but if the message is off, your company isn’t being well represented on the social stage.Lack of consistency in situation management, brand voice or content. Regardless of who is involved in your social strategy, to your customers, your online presence should be unified and consistent.

Understanding your own social pain points and where things may break down across your social strategy enables you to plan accordingly. The first step is finding an external resource with the skills, experience and knowledge to help you elevate your company’s social presence. With PR agencies, SEOs, social specialists, digital marketers and more, what are you looking for in an agency?

Ask the following questions (at the very minimum) to help discern whether the agency is a good fit for your social needs:

How will you collaborate with our internal team (and any other external resources) to make sure our efforts are coordinated across SEO, print, paid search and other marketing/advertising activities?Do you understand our business goals and what tools/processes will you use to help us achieve them?Can you share examples of successful social campaigns you’ve managed for other clients?How will we communicate throughout the relationship and which types of situations will be brought to our attention immediately?Which members of your team will be involved in each facet of our social strategy?

That’s an incredibly basic overview, but you need to make sure the external partner understands what makes your business unique and that they will be able to convey that through social media, in tandem with your other marketing efforts. Once you’ve chosen an agency:

Establish their role… and yours.

How will information flow between the agency and your company? It is critical to understand how this will work for both parties. Weekly meetings and reporting are great, but what happens when a customer needs an answer to a question after hours? How should the agency ask for information they need to complete content and social amplification tasks in a way that best enables you to respond quickly with what they need? Is the agency expected to provide customer service, or should they refer certain types of inquiries in-house?

Brands and agencies work together in different ways; your agreement may have them acting in a consultative role only. Or, they may assist in content creation, amplification and measurement. They may even handle your entire social strategy, start to finish. Establish who is responsible for which area to prevent misunderstandings or lost opportunities.

Tips for Working with a Social Media Marketing Agency:

You’ve hired an agency, you’ve established roles and you have a social content plan in place that aligns with your business goals. Now, make the most of your agency relationship by:

Setting clear goals and expectations.Getting any budget concerns out of the way. Deliverables, timeline, responsibilities and obligations must be clear to prevent issues down the road.Being available when they have questions or need information.Providing training as to your brand voice, core messaging, and existing resources.Keeping your agency in the loop as products or services change, other types of campaigns launch, etc. They can’t answer questions or hold your brand’s end of an intelligent social conversation if they don’t know what’s happening inside the company.Being open to change driven by logic and substantiated by research. This may mean increasing/decreasing a social ad budget, focusing more resources on one social network than another, or any other of the myriad of situations that can crop up in the constantly evolving social space.Establishing a social protocol that establishes messages your external partner can share and which situations require in-house approval or involvement before proceeding.Staying involved throughout the working relationship. Would you give someone your television budget and let them run with it? Social media is incredibly public and you absolutely need to stay involved in how your brand’s presence is managed.

Careful planning and diligent management are key to the success of your social media marketing efforts when partnering with an agency or consultant. Can you think of other tips to help brands work more effectively with external resources? Please share yours in the comments!

Will Google's Proposed Search Fixes End EU Antitrust Case?

Google has submitted proposals to address European Union (EU) concerns that the company, which owns a dominating 90 percent of the search market in Europe, is guilty of discriminating against rivals, Bloomberg reported.

The search giant hopes the concessions will put an end to the EU's two-year long antitrust probe. By committing to a group of fixes, Google aims to avoid paying out a massive EU fine and facing greater legal action.

Google's concessions will now reportedly be adopted into a "market test" where Google competitors can offer feedback on the fixes. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia didn't offer a detailed account of what sort of concessions Google has agreed to.

The antitrust case goes back to late 2010. Google competitors have repeatedly accused the firm of owning a vertical search monopoly. Competitors say that Google manipulates its results by heavily featuring its own products and services.

Companies known to have complained to the EU include Microsoft. The firm remains one of Google's main search competitors. Microsoft's search engine Bing has owned a small margin of the search market.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission closed its 19-month search antitrust probe earlier this year after deciding that Google's demotion of competing websites was justifiable.

Google has been barraged with legal complaints over the years. Most recently, the EU has questioned whether Googles's unified privacy policy is legal, and was sued by Foundem, which has been working with Microsoft and the FairSearch players, for anti-competitive conduct.

This article was originally published on V3.

Stat Rant: Does Facebook Trump Google For News & Can’t We Measure Twitter Correctly?

Earlier this week, Hitwise put out stats suggesting that Facebook is beating Google and Twitter when it comes to driving traffic to news sites. I dug a little deeper, and I beg to differ. Along the way, some pokes at the need to more digging into stats in general.

The Hitwise blog post reported that Twitter accounted for only 0.14% of “upstream” visits to the “News & Media” sites category last week, far beyond similar stats for Facebook and Google. Here are all of them compared, based on that blog post:

Facebook: 3.64%, the 3rd biggest source of visits to News & Media sitesGoogle News: 1.27%, the 11th biggest source of visitsTwitter: 0.14%, the 39th source of visits

Google News Versus Google

My first issue with these stats is that Google News — only one small slice of Google — is being compared to all of Facebook. That doesn’t seem a fair comparison. Unless Facebook has a Facebook News area (it doesn’t), it seems like you need to compare “whole” Facebook to “whole” Google when discussing who drives traffic.

As it turns out, traffic from “whole” Google leaves Facebook in the dust, as a driver of traffic to news sites. So doYahoo and MSN. If you count traffic from any Google domain (or any Yahoo domain or MSN domain), the stats work out like this:

Google sites, 20.16%Yahoo sites, 18.92%MSN sites: 8.76Facebook: 3.64%

Specifically, Hitwise looked at the top 100 sites sending traffic to News & Media sites last week, then added up all those that were run by Google or Yahoo or MSN to give the “whole” figures shown above. Each of the first three was listed as “Google properties” or “Yahoo properties” or “MSN properties” but Facebook was not listed that way. However, as Facebook run virtually everything I know of within, my assumption is that the Facebook figure is for “whole” Facebook as well. It’s not clear if MSN includes all Mircrosoft properties such as Bing or not.

Hitwise also sent figures — and rankings — based on the main domain of each company. These were:, 16.50%, ranked, 9.40%, ranked 3.64%, ranked 3rd

NOTE: Earlier I had stats of 11.03% and 10.98% for Google and Yahoo respectively. These weren’t for the traffic that Google and Yahoo sent to news sites — which is what I had asked for — but instead either the amount of visits Google and Yahoo themselves receive from all sites or that they send to all sites. That caused me to changed the headline of this article from “Stat Rant: Google Actually Trumps Facebook For News & Can�t We Measure Twitter Correctly?” to “Stat Rant: Does Facebook Trump Google For News & Can’t We Measure Twitter Correctly?” until I could get better clarity from Hitwise. Now that they’ve sent me the correct numbers, Google indeed trumps Facebook even more than I originally thought, as a news driver.

Google News Isn’t Google Reader

If the earlier stats got you thinking that Facebook was the new killer news “app” versus Google, there’s more of that today with another post from Hitwise. This one talks about how Facebook users are more “loyal” to news sites than those coming from Google News. We’re told:

78% of Facebook users were returning visitors to the top 5 print media sites for the week ending March 667% of Google News users were returning visitors77% of Facebook users were returning visitors to the top 5 broadcast media sites64% of Google News users were

The headline — “Facebook Visitors Come Back Again And Again” — is meant to follow up on what author Heather Hopkins encountered in feedback when she posted a few weeks ago about Facebook as potentially being the web’s biggest feed reader (and this despite Facebook actually making it kind of hard to use it as a feed reader). Some said “big deal” if Facebook drives traffic. You want loyal readers, people who will come again and again.

So see — Facebook does have loyal visitors! But then again, you kind of expect that from Facebook versus Google News. In Facebook, you can be a fan of a news organization, effectively subscribing to it for updates. That’s all designed to keep you coming back. Google News has over 20,000 sources, and you can’t subscribe to any of them. If you want to be a subscriber through Google, you have to use Google Reader. So what’s the loyalty rate for that?

No idea. That’s probably because the last time Heather looked, when doing her post about Facebook as a feedreader, Google Reader drove only a tiny amount of visits to News & Media sites: 0.1%. Google News sends more traffic, so it has becomes the comparison choice, even if it’s the wrong one, in my opinion.

Heather did cite in today’s report how Google overall is, in terms of loyalty:

I’ve been encouraged by some readers to include in this series. In most cases, is the #1 source of traffic to these sites. Interestingly, visitors from Google are less likely to be returning visitors than average for either Google News or Facebook.

No specific figure, but that’s not surprising. As with Google News, people can’t “subscribe” to a source in regular Google. They discover sources that way. And often when discovering them, they have little need to go back to Google.

Revisiting The Search Gap

This phenomenon is something I called the “search gap” back in 2001. Pick your survey, and you’ll discover that searching is among the top internet activity out there. And yet, look at web site stats, and search engine traffic often is not the top traffic driver. Why is there a big gap between what people do and the traffic search engines send? Because once you’ve found a trusted site (including a news site), you may not need to search for it again. As I wrote:

Let’s say you want to buy a particular book. You do a search at your favorite search engine and find a page from Amazon about the book. You visit the Amazon site, like the price and information you are shown, so purchase the book from them. Thanks to search engines, Amazon has gained a customer.

A month later, you need another book. Remembering your positive experience at Amazon, you go directly to the web site rather than using a search engine to find it. Thus, your second visit isn’t credited to search engines. However, it would have never occurred if you hadn’t found Amazon via search engines the first time AND had a favorable impression of the site.

So, once people find trusted sites, they return to them directly for particular needs …. However, because our needs are wide-ranging, we are constantly searching for new things — which accounts for the overall high usage of search engines that other studies find.

It would be a mistake to interpret the search gap as meaning that search engines are not important. They remain a top way users will locate web sites initially and so cannot be ignored. Instead, the real lesson of the search gap is the age-old adage that first impressions count. Make a good impression when people first come to your site via search engines, and they may come back directly to you in the future.

So the Facebook versus Google loyalty stats? They’re interesting, but they’re not necessarily comparable, given that users in both places may be doing radically different things.

Twitter Is Not

Another big issue I had with the traffic to news sites post was that it tried to compare Twitter as a traffic driver by using stats that measure only That’s a big flaw to me, because so much Twitter activity happens off the site itself. People interact with Twitter through third party applications, or by seeing tweets in things like Google Real Time result or posted on individual blogs.

If you don’t measure these things, you aren’t properly measuring the Twitter ecosystem as a traffic driver — perhaps grossly undercounting it. The posts below go into more depth about this:

How Twitter Might Send Far More Traffic Than You ThinkIs Twitter Sending You 500% To 1600% More Traffic Than You Might Think?

I asked Hitwise about this and got back:

We are definitely looking into expanding our data and measuring traffic from apps/mobile.

That’s good, but it doesn’t help a company like Twitter now, which gets painted as some type of weak player compared to Facebook. If the stats don’t allow a fair comparison, then don’t make a comparison. Say that you can’t measure the two.

Note that Hitwise isn’t the only one with this issue. I’ve seen plenty of stats from various places that suggest that Twitter isn’t being measured correctly. It’s not a Hitwise-only problem.

As a sidenote, Chitika has new data out that doesn’t have traffic figures but does try to measure the intent of what people from various social networks are after, from when they leave those networks. News is tops to those from Twitter, though exactly what “Twitter” is and how this is measured isn’t said. Nor is it clear whether something like “Tech” might include tech news:

Twitter: 47% head to news sitesFacebook: 28% head to newsDigg: 18% head to newsMySpace: News not in top five categories

Referrer Vs Upstream Traffic

One proxy might be to look at the amount of traffic that sends to News & Media sites. is the default URL shortener for tweeted URLs. Regardless of where you encounter a link in the Twitter ecosystem — on itself, in a third party app and so on — many of these will route you through That means measuring as a driver to News & Media sites might give you a better idea of how Twitter is doing.

I asked for those stats, but I didn’t get the right ones from Hitwise. Instead, they sent me a chart showing how many people go to after Twitter. I’ll try again on this. But that also brings up a key difference to how Hitwise measures what drives traffic and what analytics tools do.

NOTE: Since I wrote this, I’ve received the stats. In Feb. 2010, sent 0.0043% of traffic to News & Media sites. I suspect that means it’s not a very good proxy for Twitter’s traffic overall.

Most browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome and so on) are configured to tell a web server the last page they viewed before they arrived at a web site. This is called the “referrer,” though often it’s called the referral source as well. Referrer information allows site owners to know the search terms used to reach their web sites. They allow them to tell if Facebook is a big traffic driver, or Google or other sites with a good degree of accuracy in many cases.

Hitwise isn’t reporting referrer information. It doesn’t have this. Instead, it depends primarily on data through deals it has with internet service providers. It can see from this data what people do before and after they go to a particular web site. The before is called “upstream” traffic and the after is called “downstream.”

This isn’t as precise as referrer data. Consider this. You have a browser window that opens automatically to Facebook, when you start. You scan your Facebook feed, don’t click on anything, then decide to do a search for the iPad. You type in Google into your browser’s address bar, do a search from the Google home page when it loads, see a link to Apple and click on that.

Hitwise records things this way:

Facebook –> Google –> Apple

In reality, here’s what happened:


Google –> Apple

Facebook drove no traffic to Google. But in Hitwise’s system, since it was the last site someone saw before Google, it would be counted as an “upstream” driver.

By the way, if you want to play with this more yourself, try this site. If you click on that link, you should see that the “referer” box will get filled with the URL of this article you’re reading. If you then copy and past the URL and go to it directly, you’ll get no “referer” shown.

Looking Beyond The Stats

In general, I’ve felt there’s been an increasing push from various places — not just with Hitwise — to punch out stats. These get quickly reported often without much analysis. From this, we end up with facts that often aren’t really true.

For example, we all know from stats earlier this year that 44% of Google News readers simply scan headlines without going to sites, right? Right?

That’s not actually true, as my 44% Of Google News Readers Only Scan Headlines? Maybe Not! article gets into. But despite this, I keep hearing that stat repeated over and over again.

Meanwhile, Facebook is once again reported to be the most visited US web site, beating Google. But then again, that’s not measuring all of Google, such as Gmail — so is Facebook really bigger? (See Hitwise: Facebook (Sort Of) More Visited Than Google On Christmas for more on this).

In addition, Facebook auto-refreshes its pages. If I leave a Facebook page up, I’m probably generating “visits” all day long even though I’m not always looking at that page. Does that skew comparing to sites that don’t auto-refresh?

There’s no easy solution to much of this. Stats have been glossed over, twisted or had comparison issues as long as we’ve had stats. I can be as guilty as anyone of pushing a stat quickly without delving into it more. Maybe the trend is no better or worse than ever. But I’ll be trying to dig even more doing forward, and I hope others will do the same.

For related discussion, see here on Mediagazer.