The “Scam” Is Back

File this next topic under subjects that people don’t care too much about until it actually happens to them. But I’ll continue to say that online reputation management should be a company’s #1 priority when it comes to internet marketing. Offline reputation seems pretty important to people, and i would venture to say that online reputations are more important because they’re out there for everyone to see.

Now, that being said, here’s what i mean by the headline. Google, recently in the last year or so, has put out something called Google Suggest. You type in a keyword into Google and then there will be a drop down box with suggestions on how to finish your search.  It’s a feature that’s been received fairly well, but there’s also some unfortunate side effects. As you may or may not know, there are people out on the internet (unhappy customers, competitors, losers with no life) who will write negative stuff about some companies. For instance, calling an innocent small business a “scam”.

Sometimes these people write lots of negative stuff calling a small business a “scam”. Now, when  Google sees a lot of content on the internet calling a business a “scam”, the word “scam” will actually pop up in Google Suggest.

Thankfully a few weeks ago Google declared that the word “scam” has been blacklisted for the Google Suggest, but a few days ago i saw a story from Andrew Goodman reporting that a couple of his clients are suffering from the problem again. Hopefully Google is able to completely fix the problem.

One last thing to be on the look out for is a continuation of the old problem. Google might be taking care of the word “scam”, but what if there’s a whole bunch of negative content referring to your small business as “rude” or “con-artist” or worse.

I think the main solution is to always be on top of your online reputation. To be aware of any negative content that’s about your company name or website address. That way, you can do something about it.

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Google Tags = Epic Fail

Google has done some great things. It’s probably not even debatable that their search engine is the traffic source with the highest conversion. We, Customwave, use Google as the primary traffic source for our clients. …..And it’s about that time when you’re feeling a “but” coming around the corner.

BUT, Google Tags has to be in the top 5 of colossal failures for the Mountain View, CA based juggernaut. I have flaws and make mistakes, but this is a massive “I told you so” for me. To me, this thing had “loser” stamped all over it.

Now that I’m done boosting my ego, I’ll offer some context for those not familiar with Google Tags.

Tags was basically an add-on for Google’s pay per click product, Adwords. The idea was that if you put a small yellow “tag” next to the website link with some promotion, or slogan, it’d boost the amount of clicks and possibly conversions of the campaign. The cost was a flat $25 a month. Not that bad of an idea right?

Well, here’s the two monumental flaws in the idea. #1, the mainstream, average small business owner thought Google Tags would get their website on the 1st page of Google. I don’t think Google intentionally marketed the “tags” to give people that idea, but tons of client I’ve talked to and heard about came to this conclusion. And no, the “tags” had absolutely no effect on rankings. Needless to say, the “tags” customers were none too happy the results they were hoping for didn’t pan out.

The second main problem is that the “tags” didn’t do what small businesses and Google was hoping for. Boosting clicks and conversion. The general consensus is that the “tags” were neutral. They didn’t help, nor hurt. Clearly not the type of value people are willing to pay money for.

The whole, people thinking “tags” would get them ranked on the first page, problem is what i foresaw. But if it did boost clicks and conversion, people would pay the money regardless. But when the #’s came in and didn’t change over the course of close to a year, Google rightfully decided to put an end to the product.

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While I’ve Been Gone

Soooooooo….this is my first blog post in awhile mostly because i was pretty sick in March and then was busy playing catch up. But sadly, the world doesn’t stop turning. There have been a ton of things going on in the internet marketing world and i’d like to touch on the most important stories with a quick take.

  • E-Marketer says that mobile spending in 2011 will reach $1.1 Billion: In case you’ve been living under a rock, people are using these devices called iphones and androids. And it’d probably be a good idea to tailor ads specific for these mobile contraptions.
  • I’ve been seeing a few people blog about how there’s no longer a use for having a website because having a presence on Facebook is better. Now, I’m not opposed to Facebook, I think it’s a great thing to utilize. But saying there’s no longer a point for a small business to have a website is like saying there’s no point for a small business to have an office because working from home is now acceptable. If you’re running a business that’s been around for 10 years and doing well and have multiple employees and then tell someone that you don’t have an office, people are going to be weirded out by it. In this day and age, same thing with a website. Pew Research Center put out a report last September that says that 58% of Americans will do online research of your company before doing business with you. PLUS, how do you expect to generate leads online without a website??? Do you really thing people online will call your small business when your ad redirects them to your Facebook page?? Having a website has never been more essential.
  • Steve Jobs of Apple says with the new iPad 2, the PC era is done….OK. Sure it is. I really see business people all across the country in their offices working with their iPad 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 4.3’s & 12’s on their desks. Me thinks Mr. Jobs is just trying to get people excited about his product, that it’s a must have, and if you don’t buy it, you’re lame. Typical Apple marketing strategy : )
  • Mobile users seem to be frustrated by the overall online mobile experience as of now. This report says it’s mostly due to lack of size and speed. Calm children. These mobile devices you cry out for will be in hand soon. The cell phone contraption manufacturers hear you. This will happen in due time.
  • I’m amazed at how many small business owners create a Facebook page and think that’s what you need to get more calls off Facebook. Like, here’s my phone # Facebook user, now call me! I’m going to a do an entire post on this topic in the next week or two. But I wanted to mention Matt McGee’s story on the absolute worst case scenario in social media marketing. Facebook and Twitter users abandoning you! : O  It’s a good reminder that people are people and they usually do things for specific reasons. If someone is paying attention to you on Facebook or Twitter, they’re not going to do it forever if you’re not putting out consistent, new, interesting content. Seems obvious, but people miss the point too often.
  • In San Franciso, there are sometimes unusual things that transpire there. Recently, the city decided to have a new procedure with the yellow pages. You know, that big giant yellow phone book that hardly anyone looks at anymore. Anyway, because so many people throw it away now and don’t use it, San Fran thinks the phone book kills too many trees and leaves too much waste, so they voted on the Yellow Pages needing an individuals permission to send them a phone book. In other words, if you live in SF and want a book, you need to contact the Yellow Pages and ask for it. Well, some small business owners and the phone book companies in the Bay Area are outraged by this and are protesting. But i have no clue why. People might continue to pay for their ads in the phone book, but how many actual leads come from it these days?? In my humble opinion it sucks that government is intruding on these people’s lives, but ultimately there could be some good that comes from it, like finally looking elsewhere for generating leads. Like the internet! : )
  • Lots of people are reporting that CTR (click-through rate) is a heck of a lot higher on mobile ads than PC ads. I belive it. It’s most likely due to lack of competition on mobile ads. How there’s 1 or 2 ads on a mobile site versus 20 or even 30 that can be on PC webpages. This will probably drop a little as mobile sites try and figure out a way to add more ads, but i think it’s a size issue. Less ads, higher CTR rate.
  • Here’s some evidence on why Groupon is in trouble and why I think they made a gigantic mistake in not taking Google’s $6 billion. According to Matt Sterling, Facebook is very serious about getting in the “deals” arena. Me? I think I’d much rather spread the word of deals on Facebook since I’m already on there. We’ll see.
  • Check this out! For companies or people who just can’t get those nasty, slanderous websites removed from Google’s first page, there’s a new solution. Just get a court order and fill out Google’s removal form! It’s called “Submit a Court Order!” Brilliant!
  • Recently, Congress was asking one of Google’s executives “Why do so many searches go to websites with pirated content?” The Google executive’s short answer was that the search engine’s results are automated based on what people want and are looking for. To that, the congressmen were flummoxed. Note to everyone: The brightest and most intelligent geniuses reside in Washington DC. Remember that!
  • Fast food stores are now trying out an innovative idea that gives customers the ability to place an order for their food online before they come by. And it’s increasing sales! Your food will be ready to pick up when you arrive! That’s not fast food. It’s 30 second food!
  • Youtube is changing their strategy a bit in investing $100 million in original content. Apparently they’ve been having a hard time monetizing the website with random funny videos, so now Google thinks the best way to use YouTube is to make it like a TV Channel. I like where they’re going with this. Soon, within the next couple of years, watching internet video through your TV will be mainstream and that’s exactly why YouTube/Google is doing it. Bravo.
  • (Deep breath…pause) Finally, E-marketer has some data on successful ways to get customers and potential customers to engage with you on your Facebook page. It’s a good read about how to keep people paying attention to your Facebook posts. Again, I’ll have more on the topic in the not too distant future.


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The Future Of iPads And Other Tablets In Mobile Marketing

Emarketer has some interesting info on how tablets are starting to effect the internet marketing landscape. I think the most important survey in the article is the satisfaction in tablets for internet, email, and social media use versus satisfaction in smartphones.

On the surface, it might appear that the future of mobile internet is in tablets. The tablets do have an online experience almost exactly the same as a pc or laptop. But i think these results have more to do with companies not having websites optimized for smartphones. It’s impossible for me to believe that if the online experience was equal, people would rather lug around a tablet than just use the smartphone already in their pocket.

Another factor is the day when most people have 4G smartphones. The 4G will make a gigantic difference in playing video and downloading large files. The only difference between the tablet and the smartphone will be just the size in the screen.

Tablets are definitely here to stay, but i don’t see them in being as prominent and generating the traffic smartphones will.

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New York Times Says Blogging is Dying. Oh, OK.

So, the New York Times put out a story saying blogging is waning because the youth of America is turning to Facebook and Twitter.

The idea of blogs going the way of the dinosaurs is just as ridiculous as the newspapers starting to make a profit again off print. Sorry, couldn’t resist ; ) In another textbook example of why newspaper companies are losing money, among others,  is because there’s too many times they report on subjects they know nothing about.

If people at the New York Times were really as smart as people think they are, the story should have been titled “Email Wanes as the Young Drift to Facebook.” First of all, Facebook dwarfs Twitter in traffic. Twitter shouldn’t even be part of the discussion next to Facebook. Facebook has close to 150 million users who use the site at least once a month in the US. Twitter has close to 16 million.

The 2nd main part the NY Times is missing is that the youth are using Facebook over email. Not blogging. Teenagers and college age people are not using email as much to communicate because they are on Facebook way more. Not true for people over age 30, but for the under 30’s, yes. The Under 30’s were never using blogs to communicate.  Blogs are for people who want content. Knowledge. Facebook and Twitter can give you a headline or a link but that’s about it. It’s not that complicated to understand.

Facebook and Twitter are used for communication. People go to Facebook to see how their friends are doing. But if they want information on how to do something like get on the 1st page of Google, you’re not going to be able to articulate it in 240-140 characters.

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52% of People Stop Using Twitter Because It’s “Pointless”

According to ExactTarget, 52% of people who’ve left Twitter and no longer use it, said they stopped “because it was pointless.” That’s a pretty strong rebuke. Primarily, the problem Twitter has is that everybody is on Facebook and only some people are on Twitter.

Twitter has close to 16 million people in the US who use it at least once a month. Facebook has close to 150 million. Twitter and Facbook are mostly tools to communicate and socialize. If the people who you want to communicate and socialize with aren’t using Twitter, there’s no reason for you to either.

The reason why people started using email is because after a few years, everyone gradually got on it and used it. That’s what makes email important. The number of people who use it.

Twitter will not be universally relevant until their user base increases dramatically.

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Bing Says 50% of Restaurant Searches Come From Mobile

Bing says 50% of restaurant searches are from mobile devices. If there’s any restaurant that doesn’t have a mobile-version of their website, they are seriously missing out. Like missing 50% of potential website traffic-missing out.

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Netflix Has A Real Big Problem With Amazon

Amazon is starting to get into Netflix’s business of offering online streaming of select TV shows and movies. No big deal, right? Only a matter of time before Netflix would have some serious competition. But actually, Netflix does have a really big problem on it’s hands.

Paid Content is reporting that Netflix outsources a huge portion of its operations to a division of Amazon called Amazon Web Services. AWS became a Netflix vendor in 2009, and has taken on an increasingly larger role in managing the “majority of our computing,” according to the 10-K SEC filing Netflix submitted.

The filing also states, “Given this, along with the fact that we cannot easily switch our AWS operations to another cloud provider, any disruption of or interference with our use of AWS would impact our operations and our business would be adversely impacted.” Doesn’t sound good on Netflix’s end.

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68.2% of U.S. Internet Users Watch Video Online

68.2% or 158.1 million people in the United States will watch online video at least once a month according to Emarketer. It’s another sign that online video is something small business needs to start taking a close look at.

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It’s Too Easy To Damage Reputations Online

It’s getting too easy to damage someone’s reputation online. For an example of what i’m talking about, check out this story of a woman scorned serving a cold dish of revenge to her ex.

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