Microsoft Bing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:02:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Is Bing A Thing? The Answer: It Depends http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/11/is-bing-a-thing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/11/is-bing-a-thing/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2016 11:30:17 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21475 It’s no surprise that Google is the most popular search engine in the world. In fact, according to NetMarketShare, it owns over 75% of the desktop search engine market share and over 94% of mobile/tablet search engine market share.   And it’s stats like these that have SEO and digital marketing professionals everywhere focusing solely [...]

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It’s no surprise that Google is the most popular search engine in the world. In fact, according to NetMarketShare, it owns over 75% of the desktop search engine market share and over 94% of mobile/tablet search engine market share.

Desktop Search Engine Market Share - October 2016

Desktop Search Engine Market Share – October 2016

 

Mobile/Tablet Search Engine Market Share - October 2016

Mobile/Tablet Search Engine Market Share – October 2016

And it’s stats like these that have SEO and digital marketing professionals everywhere focusing solely on Google, when looking to improve organic search visibility. Why focus on optimizing for Bing, or Yahoo, or AOL, when they take up such a small piece of our search pie?

So when we’re asked the question, “Is Bing a Thing?” we’re quick to dismiss the need for optimization focused on Bing’s ranking algorithm; but the truth is, the answer should be “It depends.”

Understanding Bing’s Role in Your Audience’s Search World

The first place to start is your website analytics.

Just yesterday, we saw our client’s Bing traffic hit an all-time high – now accounting for over 5% of the traffic to their site and over 10% of their revenue. What does this tell us? That visitors that find their site through a Bing search are more likely to convert than those on other sources of traffic. In this case, we may want to consider optimizing the website for Bing, where applicable.

What differences in search algorithms do Bing and Google have? According articles from HubSpot and Ignite Visibility, here are a few:

  • Bing favors factually relevant results over socially relevant sites
  • Bing places more weight on only websites with official domain names like .gov or .edu
  • Bing places more emphasis on social media signals
  • Bing still considers keywords used in page title, meta tags, and meta keyword field

What’s important to realize is that every site’s audience is different, and their search preferences are different too. Take a look at your website’s organic search traffic sources over the past 12 months. If you’re seeing that month-over-month, Bing’s piece of the search pie is increasing, then it’s time to consider taking steps to optimize your site to meet Bing’s ranking factors as well as Google’s.

The Future of Bing

In the first quarter of 2016, the comScore released news of Bing’s growing market share. The data showed that as Bing gained a few points of market share, Google lost a few. Sources like SEOChat and SearchEngineJournal theorized on the possible continued growth of Bing this year, with new contracts and acquisitions in the works to improve capabilities and accessibility.

So, as 2016 comes to a close, do these theories hold up? Comment below to let us know if you’ve experienced a notable change in search engine market share in your own analytics.

 

 


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Interview: Mel Carson of Microsoft Advertising on Social Media http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/09/interview-mel-carson-of-microsoft-advertising/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/09/interview-mel-carson-of-microsoft-advertising/#comments Mon, 06 Sep 2010 11:12:17 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=11495 Spotlight on Search Interview: Mel Carson of Microsoft Advertising on How Microsoft Does Social Media and the Yahoo Bing Search Alliance If you attend Search Marketing industry conferences, you’ve no doubt run into the ever optimistic and charming Mel Carson from Microsoft.  When I was last in London, Mel connected me with an excellent Fish [...]

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Spotlight on Search Interview: Mel Carson of Microsoft Advertising on How Microsoft Does Social Media and the Yahoo Bing Search Alliance

mel carson microsoft advertisingIf you attend Search Marketing industry conferences, you’ve no doubt run into the ever optimistic and charming Mel Carson from Microsoft.  When I was last in London, Mel connected me with an excellent Fish n Chips that the pubs around Trafalgar Square couldn’t get close to.  Mel is active as an advocate of Microsoft Advertising , especially via social media channels and at conferences to the Webmaster and search marketing community. His work is global and very interesting. With the Bing and Yahoo convergence, I thought it was time we did an interview – and he agreed.

Mel has accomplished amazing things with Microsoft’s use of social media and other large companies could learn a lot from this interview where he talks about Microsoft’s use of social media and what impact the Yahoo Bing Search Alliance will have on search and search advertising.

Welcome Mel, it’s exciting times as usual in the search engine world. Please tell us, what has changed about your job at Microsoft since you were last here?

My role at Microsoft Advertising evolved about 18 months ago as a result of the work our team had been doing in social media for adCenter. We had been building up an engaged audience on the adCenter Blog and forums for 3 years and started the adCenter Twitter account and Facebook page.  Our engagement with our customers was such a success, it made sense for someone to start using social to tell marketers about all our other digital assets. So I started the Microsoft Advertising Blog which brings our readers news and insight in what we’re up to in display, mobile, games advertising and research.

I also head up our events calendar. Last year we covered nearly 40 digital conferences all over the world, and it’s my job to ensure we have people trained to blog and tweet from @MSAdvertising at those events and really bring them alive.

Sometimes we go the full monty and come armed with a film crew and interview folks. Perhaps my highlight was Twitter founder Biz Stone at Cannes 2009 , but this year was awesome as we got backstage access to the TED@Cannes conference we’d partnered with them and the Starcom Mediavest Group on.

We featured Microsoft Advertising in a post about B2B Social Media Winners, earlier this year and I’m wondering if you can share how your group developed their approach to the social web?

White PaperIn February this year we published a white paper (pdf) which outlined our story and approach. We’ve been listening to our customers since the start of 2006, way before Twitter and Facebook hit the mainstream. We got involved because it made perfect sense to use the web to communicate in a two-way dialogue with adCenter customers who were expecting best practices, tips, tricks and news to be at their fingertips.

We started slowly with a blog and forum, and built the strategy through common sense and by reacting swiftly to the needs of our advertisers. Social media isn’t the proverbial “rocket science”. It’s an awesome extension of traditional marketing and research methods which enable you to glean feedback in real-time, and help people in ways that never existed before.

What guides your social media strategy and participation?

Microsoft Advertising is an intensely customer-centric organization. It’s our advertisers, and potential advertisers, that guide us through where they go for news and information and what they tell us they need in order to be better marketers.

By investing in a team to monitor and engage with our paying customers, we hope we’re demonstrating that we’re open to feedback, want to build the best products and services we can, and are excited to provide insight through research and case studies that resonate with marketers all around the world.

What are your social media goals and how do you measure them? Or is it more accurate to say, what are your business goals that involve social media and how do you measure them?

Bit of both really. We look at growth as an indicator. Be it number of followers or fans, visitors to the site, number of answers to forum questions by other forum members, links from other blogs and news sites. The more reach we have, the more people we can tell our story to and let folks know we’re here and willing to help.

The other big ROI metric is how far we help lower support costs. It’s not cheap to have a call center, so if we can answer questions online through a carefully crafted blog post or tweeted link to the best information, we’re not incurring costs and we’re reaching more people with that information. A happy and informed advertiser is likely to spend more, so the two together increase the bottom line.

Return on In-action is another. What would people think if we weren’t operating in the social space? What would be the business implications of not having an early warning system in place?

How do you structure and manage listening and engagement?

We cover about 16 hours a day as I’m based in London and we have a team in Seattle. I’ll look after things from 9am GMT until about 6pm when it’s 10am PST and the US team takes over. We have various alerts set up on Twitter clients and monitoring tools and pretty much know within minutes if we have a problem or someone needs help.

We have rules of engagement which are pretty straightforward. We ask for actionable insight if an advertiser has an issue and have escalation paths internally to get things fixed.

Again, it’s common sense. You need a plan, you need outcomes and you need a team that can be flexible and personable.

A virtual smile goes a long way in this industry!

What listening or social media management tools do you recommend?

We recommend using lots. We trial, test and use a number of platforms, widgets and gizmos that all do different things with varying degrees of accuracy and success. The important thing is to find tools that are enablers and build a picture from the data they expose.

What challenges have you had gaining buy-in to social media projects and how did you overcome them?

To be honest, we’ve not had too much difficulty getting buy-in because we’ve always kept a step ahead by demonstrating the value of what we’re doing. I think many businesses dive into social media marketing with no plan around measurements of success.

Because we set out with the commitment to measure everything and tell compelling stories as we went, the business knows and relies on our data and successes now to be successful in itself.

Microsoft was called out recently as being one of the most, if not THE most social brands out there.  We get it and will continue to invest because it works well for us.

What is one great example of a social media success that like to share the most? It can be Microsoft or anyone else.

My favorite story that I’ve used in countless presentations is about how my old headmaster, who is a Benedictine monk, called me up many years ago to advise him on a search campaign to promote his website through which he wanted to recruit monks.

We set it up and 3 years later he actually did sign up one chap who found his site while searching for inspiration on the web. You can read the full story here.

Just goes to show how search and social are intertwined.

A story more close to home is obviously the Windows 7 Launch where Marty Collins and her team managed to garner 221 million impression of earned media running up to and post launch of the biggest selling piece of software ever. Check out the case study here.

If you were to give advice to a friend starting a small business on how they should get involved with social media, what would that checklist look like? What would the essentials be?

Figure out some goals and work back. Don’t think “social media” as in the tools. Think “social media marketing” as in the discipline. Research your market, find out who’s using what platform and build your value exchange around it. Make sure there are social elements in all your marketing endeavors. Have everything built for discovery and sharing. Measure as much as you can and use the data to inform decisions in other part of the business.

Oh….and don’t ever stop. Getting off the social train is not an option now it’s gathered so much pace under so much steam.

Yahoo Bing search allianceEnough of this social media, let’s talk about Microsoft and Yahoo. I know there’s the Search Alliance website and this clever little video, but can you sum up a few things for our readers who might not read Search Marketing publications?  Without any corporatePRspeak, what does the integration of Microsoft and Yahoo search mean to marketers?

It’s all on the www.searchalliance.com website. More volume with less effort. Now you’re optimizing for two marketplaces instead of three so you should see a return on time investment. More volume means we can make quicker decisions on which innovations will work best for marketers in the future.

What will it mean to consumers?

Having scale will mean speedier innovating of search results, which means those decisions consumers are looking to make get made quicker. More satisfied customers means a more loyal fan base, and as a result, we could increase share making our advertisers happy too!

What innovations in search technology (from a user perspective) are you excited about?

Bing Maps without a doubt – check out this Ted Talk with Blaise on some of the incredible innovation going on in his team.

How important is social media to the future of traditional search?

What’s traditional search these days? Ten blue links? It’s all moving so quickly but there’s no doubt that social media marketing is having an effect on search results. When you have algos associated with consumers liking content – YouTube, Facebook and others – when they’re added into the traditional mix, it makes for interesting times with optimization.

If you just take a look at what Bing has released lately in terms of social it’s obvious we feel it’ll be an integral part of how we all interact and make decisions going forward.

How do you stay current with search and social media and all the marketing, technology and communication channels that follow?

I subscribe to loads of newsletters, watch my Twitter feed and travel to many conferences around the world. We have a great ecosystem of learning and notifying here at Microsoft as well, so I pick up a lot of knowledge here internally.

Thanks Mel!

hugh grant  mel carson

Post Script: Both Mel and I will be speaking at a new Search Engine Strategies conference being held in Hong Kong next week. Mel will be on a keynote panel, “Keynote Panel: Increasing ROI through B2B Lead Generation” and I will be on a panel about “The Business Value of Social Media”.  Here’s a video on this new event from Matt McGowan and Mike Grehan of Incisive Media.


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10 Easy Local SEO & Online Marketing Tips http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/05/local-search-tips/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/05/local-search-tips/#comments Thu, 20 May 2010 11:45:46 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=10150 There are currently 29.6 million small businesses in the U.S. (SCORE). 63% of consumers and small business owners use the Internet to find information about local companies and 82% use search engines (Webvisible & Nielsen).  That means there’s a lot of opportunity for local SEO. Recently I attended GetListed.org’s Local University in Minneapolis which focused [...]

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Google Places Pin There are currently 29.6 million small businesses in the U.S. (SCORE). 63% of consumers and small business owners use the Internet to find information about local companies and 82% use search engines (Webvisible & Nielsen).  That means there’s a lot of opportunity for local SEO.

Recently I attended GetListed.org’s Local University in Minneapolis which focused on how to optimize web sites for local search.  Out of all the good information that came out of the event, here are 10 easy things you can do today to optimize sites and content to attract local customers.

1. Claim your profile.
It’s as simple as logging into Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local and walking through the verification steps which include a phone call or post card to verify your address.

2. Upload Pictures.
The local sites listing services like to provide their users with pictures of your business. To help ensure that they see some good pictures, upload your own. They don’t have to be professional photos, but they will represent your business so make sure they are decent.

3. Control information across the internet.
A big part of local search optimization and marketing involves obtaining information from other sites. Local listing aggregation services search the internet far and wide to find pictures, reviews and any information they can on your company. Submit your info to services like LocalezeinfoUSA.

The downside here is that if something is incorrect on another site, it could find its way back into your local listing. If that happens, you have to go back to the source and ask them to fix the issue and then wait while the fix makes its way into local sites.

4. Ask for reviews.
Most local sites, except for Yelp, are fine with you telling your customers to review you. So do it. On your contact form thank you page, on invoices, on email communications, make a point to say “Hey we’d love it if you gave our business a review on Google/Bing/Yahoo Local.” These reviews, good or bad, make your business more creditable to future customers.

5. Bad reviews are good.
No company is perfect, so when users see all positive reviews, something looks wrong and they may actually choose a different company. Bad reviews are a part of any business and a few bad reviews can make the good reviews that much better. Obviously, you don’t want to encourage bad reviews.

6. Add local phone number.
On your website, be sure to publish your local phone number in text vs within an image or not at all. 800 numbers may be nice, but on their own they don’t give any kind of location indication.

7. Have a full physical mailing address on all pages of your website.
Your address is important and it should be on all pages of your website to re-enforce your geographic location.

8. Think like the searcher/customer.
What would your customers put in a search box to find you and buy your products?

Lets say you own an outdoor sporting good store; like hunting, camping, hiking and fishing. If a searcher puts put ‘shoes’ into a search box, they probably aren’t a good match as it’s such a generic term. If they put ‘running shoes’ you’re still not a match as your sporting goods store doesn’t focuses on running. If they put in ‘hiking shoes’ then you want to target them.

Business owners often get caught up in popular keywords or keywords that will drive a lot of traffic and forget to focus on less popular keywords that have a higher probability of making sales.

Remember to think like the customer.

9. Multiple locations need multiple landing pages.
Local sites don’t like a business having more than one local listing, but if the business has two locations, than that’s OK. However, you should ensure that each location links back to a page on your website that is all about that location and what it has to offer. Sending both local listings back to the same page, or homepage, isn’t ideal.

10. Treat Customers ‘Righter’
Everyone knows that they need to treat the customer right, but with social media, review sites and the ability for good, or bad, news to spread like wildfire, you need to treat your customers really good or “righter”. This includes online and offline customer service.

Local search takes into account information business owners put in their local profile, information it finds on other sites and information on the business’ website. Even what happens offline can be taken into consideration as customers may bring back those experiences in the form of online reviews.

Local search is it’s own unique entity as no one can control everything that appears on their local listing, but business owners can take steps to ensure that what gets listed is a good representation of the company. For more information, here is a list of local SEO blogs that we’ve reviewed in the past for TopRank’s BIGLIST with many, many more tips.


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Google is Skynet. Search Suggest Opinions http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/04/search-suggest-opinions/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/04/search-suggest-opinions/#comments Wed, 21 Apr 2010 11:45:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=9701 To know what the world is searching for must be amazing. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are in that position but they’re not exactly sharing those insights. Well, except if you do a little guess work and leverage their keyword research or keyword suggest tools. For example, the suggest-as-you-type features that all the [...]

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To know what the world is searching for must be amazing. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are in that position but they’re not exactly sharing those insights. Well, except if you do a little guess work and leverage their keyword research or keyword suggest tools. For example, the suggest-as-you-type features that all the major search engines now offer can provide some interesting insight “on the fly” into what people are searching for.

For quick keyword research, Aaron Wall has a Google Suggest tool for keyword suggestions that adds more options and insight.

There’s some entertainment value to this as well. Start typing in “my girlfriend” or “my boyfriend” and you’ll see what I mean. Along those lines, let’s see some examples for each major search engine using the syntax, “Google is “:

Google is ...

And what about Yahoo?

Yahoo is ...

Or Bing?

Bing is ...

So, we have “Google is Skynet”, “Yahoo is better than Google” and “Bing is not Google”.   It’s amusing and insightful at the same time. As the clear market dominator, Google queries offer a peek into searchers’ perception of Google as a powerful force that can incite polarizing opinions.  Yahoo as a long standing second in the market brings about more functional phrases and just one indication of passion for the brand. While Bing shows some negativity, the good news is that they are inciting reactions from people. Better to make friends and enemies than for no one to notice you at all.

By the way, Google recently announced the addition of localized search suggest and spelling correction to the suggest features that searchers might find handy.


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Search Engines Bringing Back Variables In URLs – At Your Expense http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/01/search-engines-url-variables/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/01/search-engines-url-variables/#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2010 20:21:49 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=8387 Did you realize that search engines have gone full circle on URLs in variables? It used to be considered something to avoid, now search engines are saying variables in URLs are good, as long as you use the canonical meta tag. Google is pushing them with FeedBurner and if webmasters aren’t careful, they could fall [...]

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Duplicate ContentDid you realize that search engines have gone full circle on URLs in variables? It used to be considered something to avoid, now search engines are saying variables in URLs are good, as long as you use the canonical meta tag. Google is pushing them with FeedBurner and if webmasters aren’t careful, they could fall victim to a new onslaught of duplicate content issues.

One of the biggest issues with SEO is duplicate content. If search engines can’t tell which version of a document is the original or canonical version, then there can be consequences involving less than ideal search visibility. For example, the following URLs might all point to the same web page, creating the illusion that they are copies of the same thing. But in reality, it’s just one web page.

www.domainname.com
domainname.com
www.domainname.com/index.html
www.domainname.com/index.html?referid=somesitethatyouareadvertisingon

Content management systems, e-commerce stores, and dynamic sites in general, used to be big on adding variables to URLs as a way to construct search queries on content or to track visitors. Then along came advice from the search engines that said they see each URL as a unique if it has different variables. That little improvement caused a duplicate content mess.

So over the past few years, web site owners and marketers have been hard at work cleaning up their URLs, removing variables and trying to make duplicate content a thing of the past.

Then Google came out with a canonical meta tag that could be used to help fix duplicate content issues. The advice was to simply add a canonical meta tag to any page and every version of that page will be considered one. No longer will there be duplicate versions and no longer will variables be a problem in creating the illusion of different copies of the same page.

The good news here is that Yahoo, Bing, and Ask also jumped on board to support the canonical meta tag.

What we didn’t realize was Google had a hidden agenda. (In my opinion) For a few months after the canonical meta tag came out, Google FeedBurner started populating every feed that runs though their service with additional variables in the URL. These variables are then used to better track FeedBurner clicks in Google Analytics.

So now, Google is pushing out URLs with multiple variables creating duplicate content issues for anyone who isn’t using the canonical meta tag. Additionally, if you use TwitterFeed to auto post content from FeedBurner to Twitter, or even copy the URL from a feed and share it, you’re also spreading the problem.

Google then came out with a URL builder tool that allowed you to track custom campaigns in Google Analytics by customizing your URLs with additional tracking variables. This extends the potential duplicate content issue even further.

So what doess this all mean for web site owners and marketers? It means that if you’re not paying attention, duplicate content could be causing you problems with increasing frequency. Do you know if your site has canonical meta tags? It should. Do you know if your FeedBurner feed is going out with additional tracking variables? It probably is.

A Solution: What needs to happen is the canonical meta tag should become a standard meta tag in web development. It should be added to all web pages as a safety measure. It doesn’t harm anything, unless implemented improperly, so ask your developers to code it into all pages.

As for variables in the URL, they’re still not good when it comes to SEO and avoiding duplicate content issues. Short and sweet is the best way to create URLs, but on that off chance that you need to track affiliates, want to track visits to a page from a specific online or offline campaign, or for whatever reason can’t avoid variables in the URL, then they are OK as long as you use the canonical meta tag.

Like it or not, the canonical meta tag is the only way to ensure that your site doesn’t fall victim to duplicate content issues. If you stop and think about it, it is an easy solution to a big problem. And once a site has canonical meta tags on their site, using the URL builder or variables in general to track URLs can be pretty handy. Webmasters just need to remember that a variable or two may be ok for some campaigns, but we don’t want to go back to long and ugly URLs because the longer the URL, the more difficult they’ll be for search engines, and users, to interact with.


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It’s a Deal: Q&A from Microsoft Yahoo! Call http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/07/qa-microsoft-yahoo-deal/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/07/qa-microsoft-yahoo-deal/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2009 13:53:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=5920 Amid all the speculation this week, it’s official that Microsoft and Yahoo! have made a deal:  “Microsoft will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.” Microsoft-Yahoo Deal History on Dipity. The Search Marketing Industry news sites have covered this completely and a [...]

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microsoft yahoo

Amid all the speculation this week, it’s official that Microsoft and Yahoo! have made a deal:  “Microsoft will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.”

The Search Marketing Industry news sites have covered this completely and a joint web site has been setup my Microsoft Yahoo. I also took a little time to listen in on the investor relations conference call with Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Carol Bartz of Yahoo! and live tweeted some of the Q and A:

MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: Why no display ad component to the deal? Bartz: To keep the deal straightforward as possible

MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: Why no up-front fee to Yahoo? Bartz: Big cash payment up front doesn’t help Yahoo ongoing operating costs

MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: What impact on jobs? Bartz: Many Yahoos w/be asked to work @ Microsoft, work elsewhere @ Yahoo, some redundancy

MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: How much does deal affect areas where MSFT & YHOO compete? Ballmer: Innovate & need privacy disclosures

MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: What does it mean for MSFT to license Yahoo search? Why not all Bing? Ballmer: We can benefit from Yahoo search tech

MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: Examples of innovation from deal? Ballmer: UI, algos for search relevance, scale provides feedback loop to innovate

MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: Why is this deal better than last year’s? Bartz: Current deal is longer term, more of a partnership, skin in game

MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: Why is this deal better than last year’s? Ballmer: This deal is not better, it’s different.

Last MSFT YAHOO conf call Q from @dannysullivan: What happens to Yahoo news, directory, paid inclusion, Delicious? Bartz: Decide on paid inclusion later. Ballmer: Yahoo has full flexibility & how that pans out is up to Yahoo

Danny Sullivan live blogged the call with a lot more detail.

Other coverage of the Microsoft Yahoo deal:


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SMX West Expo Hall Sneak Peak http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/02/smx-west-expo-hall/ Wed, 27 Feb 2008 20:49:01 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/02/smx-west-expo-hall/ The Expo Hall at SMX West opened today. Take a peak. Strolling the floor Folks chatting with Google Folks chatting with Live More SMXers Check out all of the photos at TopRank’s SMX West Flickr set. Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to theTopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter. © Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2008. | [...]

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The Expo Hall at SMX West opened today. Take a peak.

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Strolling the floor

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Folks chatting with Google

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Folks chatting with Live

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More SMXers

Check out all of the photos at TopRank’s SMX West Flickr set.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2008. | SMX West Expo Hall Sneak Peak | http://www.toprankblog.com

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SIS Session: Microsoft New Keyword Services Platform http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/12/sis-session-microsoft-new-keyword-services-platform/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/12/sis-session-microsoft-new-keyword-services-platform/#comments Fri, 14 Dec 2007 21:27:03 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/12/sis-session-microsoft-new-keyword-services-platform/ The sponsored lunch today at Search Insider Summit comes from Microsoft adCenter which included a demo of their new Keyword Services Platform and add-in to Excel 2007. Stacy Harris: Feedback from marketers is that traffic is good, but they want more of it. Marketers also want AdCenter to be easier to use. Natala Menezes is [...]

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Microsoft adCenter

The sponsored lunch today at Search Insider Summit comes from Microsoft adCenter which included a demo of their new Keyword Services Platform and add-in to Excel 2007.

Stacy Harris from Microsoft adCenter

Stacy Harris:
Feedback from marketers is that traffic is good, but they want more of it. Marketers also want AdCenter to be easier to use.

Natala Menezes Microsoft adCenter

Natala Menezes is up next and promptly announces Stacy was engaged last night!

Key points for current and future development of adCenter: Quality, Transparency and Simplicity.

What does this mean to keyword research, optimization and analysis? Access to real data, not just graphs including demographic and geographic information. It also means easy to use tools including keyword libraries and an adCenter add-in for Excel 2007 which focuses Keyword research, forecasting and monetization data.

Microsoft Engineer/Product Manager

Next up is Zhaohui Tang.

Keyword research is the most important aspect of any search optimization or analytics effort affecting: expansion, monetization, commercial intention, seasonality, synonyms, categories, translation, demographics and others.

Microsoft adCenter Keyword Services Platform: Algorithms to extrapolate new terms from a set and categorical relationships. Server platform offering keyword related services for adCenter but also for 3rd party developers to create new advertising applications.

Keyword Services Platform

Demo of KSP. I was sitting at a very bad angle as you can see, so I didn’t get any good photos. While the tool will not be released until early 2008, hopefully the adCenter team can give me access soon to do my own demo and review. Hint hint. 🙂

The demo shows Excel 2007 with numerous tabs on top showing a variety of keyword applications that go to the web and bring back the data directly into excel. Keyword extraction, suggestion, search buzz, monthly traffic, keyword categorization, geographic info, demographic info, monetization info (clicks, impressions, avg positions, CTR, CPC). There are also advanced algorithm settings.

The app is cool enough that there are whistles from the audience after the search volume tool is run resulting in big smiles from Stacy and Natala:

Big Smiles from Stacy Harris and Natala Menezes from Microsoft

Audience: Will there be backward compatibility for Excel 2003?
Natala: Microsoft is working on a web version and the MSFT engineer fellow said there will be a backward compatible version for Excel 2003

Audience: (Gord Hotchkiss) are all the features you showed only for your “head” phrases? How many terms will be returned?
Engineer: Only keywords where at least 10 queries per month. There is also a “generous” quota of query volume.
Natala: It’s also a live database being added to and will grow as time goes on.

Audience: How is the confidence score determined?
Engineer: Long answer, but basically algorithms that give an indication of probability.


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Working at Microsoft – An adCenter Story from Europe http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/11/working-at-microsoft-%e2%80%93-an-adcenter-story-from-europe/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/11/working-at-microsoft-%e2%80%93-an-adcenter-story-from-europe/#comments Mon, 12 Nov 2007 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/11/working-at-microsoft-%e2%80%93-an-adcenter-story-from-europe/ Editor’s note: On occasion we reach out to people in the search marketing industry we’ve come to know and respect with a request to contribute. Today’s contribution comes from Microsoft’s adCenter Community Manager – Europe, Mel Carson. Mel’s job is to support, educate & evangelize through the adCenter Blog, industry forums, and to speak about [...]

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Editor’s note: On occasion we reach out to people in the search marketing industry we’ve come to know and respect with a request to contribute. Today’s contribution comes from Microsoft’s adCenter Community Manager – Europe, Mel Carson. Mel’s job is to support, educate & evangelize through the adCenter Blog, industry forums, and to speak about adCenter at conferences such as SMX, SES, Pubcon and others. Mel writes his own blog at DigiTales & Other Stories.

mel-carson.jpg

This post tells a personal tale of getting involved with Microsoft at the beginning of adCenter’s deployment to the paid search marketing world along with some good examples of unique adCenter features and why Mel thinks it’s great working for Microsoft.

My first day at Microsoft began at 4am on 11th July 2005 as I got up in St Margaret’s, South West London, in order to get the Eurostar to Paris to witness the launch of the adCenter Pilot in France.

As the train trundled through the Paris countryside, I pondered what the next few months would hold. Had I made a mistake by jacking in my account director role at 24/7 Real Media? What would it be like working in one of the most well known companies in the world? Were all the interviews I went through going to be worth it?

When I logged into adCenter for the very first time later that afternoon I was, shall we say, distinctly underwhelmed. I thought to myself, “What have they been doing?”, and more importantly “what on earth am I doing here?!”

That evening our team was given a pep talk from our head of service operations:

“The next few months is not going to be easy. As we work both internally, and with our customers, to scale the product and onboard all our advertisers, have the courage to make difficult decisions, even if you make some mistakes. People rarely get anything right 1st time, and you never learn unless you go back over what you’ve done, and see if you could have done it any better.”

Those words settled me a great deal, and I realised it was game on!

We all had a challenge on our hands, to grow adCenter from its bare bones in partnership with both the development team in Redmond, and our advertisers dotted around the globe.

Every time we took on a new person in London in preparation for the UK launch in August 2006, they would utter after their first few days – “But I just thought you’d be a bit further along by now!”

That was the point! The paid search team was, to all intents and purposes, a start up, a brand new business for Microsoft. As with all new businesses, there’s always a period of learning, growth and, more often than not, growing pain! Once every one of my new colleagues got that, they knew they had an opportunity to shape the business using whatever skill or competency they’d been hired for.

The guys I work with, the adCenter Community Team, have a great role. Our mission is support advertisers, large or small, through the adCenter Blog and education programs, like the soon to be released adExcellence Program.

The reason why the team was set up was, when we came to market, one of the top two asks from advertisers was “great service please!” So we’re all over the search marketing forums, answering questions, providing tips, pointing people in the right direction and gathering feedback, feedback on adCenter that goes right back to the dev team who then act on it.

You’ll also find us at all the major conferences too, SMX, SES and PubCon among others, talking to delegates, chatting to the speakers, recruiting for betas, listening to ideas and problems, because you know what? It’s not about us or this Evil Empire I keep hearing about, it’s about you – The Advertisers, advertisers, advertisers!

The second big request from our customers was for more insight. Who is clicking on my ad? Who is searching for my brand term? Can you give me better targeting options? Microsoft adCenter’s demographic tools answered those questions and so did our adCenter Labs team.

These tools use Passport, or Windows Live ID data, to assess a searchers age and gender when they type in a keyword into Live Search. Within adCenter you can, for any given Ad Group, up-weight your bids by between 10% and 100% for your target demographic and so serve an ad that is likely to be more relevant to that user.

For example if you sell financial services products to people about to retire, what’s the point in wasting expensive clicks on users under 50 years-old? By up-weighting your bids by say 50% for searchers aged 50-plus, you’re more likely to rank higher for customers more likely to convert.

meladcenter1.gif

It doesn’t mean you exclude the other demographics though. This is just a great way of getting a better ranking for those customers you know will be more likely to convert, and advertisers that have utilized this functionality have seen dramatic reductions in cost per acquisition of up to 76%.

Microsoft adCenter Labs is the quickest place to see all this awesome innovation in action. Check out the demos for tools to help with Paid Search, Contextual Advertising, Audience Intelligence and Emerging Media.

meladcenter2.gif

So not content with simply building a product that would do what others did before; the product team took the opportunity to push the boundaries, using existing Microsoft properties and research to give advertisers that extra edge and better ROI.

For me, those are the three things that I love about working at Microsoft:

  1. We get encouraged to make decisions, learn from any mistakes, and grow into our roles.
  2. We’re encouraged to get out there and meet our customers, find out their needs, work with them to help them get the best out of their campaigns, or do the best for their clients and not live in a bubble too far removed from reality.
  3. And we get to innovate, working with some of the coolest gadgets, gizmos and widgets. Cross-pollinating technologies to build the beginnings of a great eco-system for advertisers to tap into our rich and diverse audience around the world.

The last couple of releases of adCenter have shown we’ve been listening, that we are agile and that we put the needs of our advertisers first, and in turn we’ve received great feedback from them.

If, for one second, I thought that we didn’t have our customer’s interests central to everything we do, I probably wouldn’t stick around.

But I know that’s not going to happen..


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Small Business Guide to Optimizing Universal Search http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/10/optimizing-universal-search/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/10/optimizing-universal-search/#comments Thu, 11 Oct 2007 11:00:25 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/10/optimizing-universal-search/ The buzz in the search marketing media and increasingly, the business press, on the importance of unified or universal search is gaining momentum and is unavoidable. Small and medium sized business web site owners and webmasters are now presented with the challenge of making sense out of the recent rash of search engine interface and [...]

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SMB Universal Search Engine Optimization
The buzz in the search marketing media and increasingly, the business press, on the importance of unified or universal search is gaining momentum and is unavoidable. Small and medium sized business web site owners and webmasters are now presented with the challenge of making sense out of the recent rash of search engine interface and functional improvements and how to adjust their online marketing efforts accordingly. Many are not sure what to do. Hopefully this short guide will shed light on the fundamentals and give some basic direction on next steps.

Early this summer Google rolled out one of the most significant changes to its search engine ever called Universal search. This update was followed a week or so later by Ask.com announcing Ask 3D. After a leak and then a more official announcement late September, Microsoft Live officially announced the 2.0 version of it’s search engine to include universal search features and Now Yahoo and has followed suit with their version of Unified search, being called the “new Yahoo! search“. What does all this mean for most businesses marketing online?

What is Universal Search?
First, I should explain what Google Universal, Ask 3D, Live Search and the new Yahoo! Search are, and how they’re different from the way search engines have traditionally retrieved and displayed search results. As an overview, the latest and greatest versions of the popular search engines include more than the text based web pages in the search results that we’ve all been used to the past 10+ years.

These “upgraded” search features from the major search engines now also find and bring back results in varying media formats including: images, news, local listings, video, blog posts, products and more depending on the particular search engine. But let’s break it down a bit further.

Ask and You Shall Receive
Ask 3D means bringing in three dimensions of search into one set of search results, i.e. the three columns in the search results page. For example, if you search for “Shrek 3“, on the left are additional suggested search terms and related searches to other movies. In the middle are paid listings with regular text based results below. On the right are search results from images, video, Wikipedia and other sources depending on the query.

Ask.com 3D
click for large view

One of the big challenges in making search a positive experience for users is to deliver the right answers according to the searcher’s intent. Searching more content sources than just web pages allows the search engine to deliver extra sets of relevant content that people may be looking for rather than making them sort through the typical web page results to find the content they’re looking for or worse, have to perform yet another search on another specific type of search engine.

Ask 3D is unique compared to Google Universal, Live Search and the new Yahoo! search because it most distinctly separates the different data sources on the page.

Google’s New Universe
Google Universal blends Images, Maps, Books, Video, and News into the standard search results page. If we use the “Shrek 3” query again as an example, you’ll see listings from YouTube mixed in with the web pages including a preview image and the option to watch the movie trailer right within the search results. Normally, you’d have to click and visit another web page to do that.

Google Universal
click for large view

So rather than having to perform unique queries on Google, Google News, Google Images, etc individually, Google Universal searches all of those databases and returns the best matches in one set of search results. Findings reported in a recent study by Enquiro show that searchers are more engaged with content throughout the unified search results page rather than just the top 3 listings.

That makes sense because if you search for something and see a video thumbnail in the middle of the search results page, it will draw your attention – provided the title and description text are relevant of course.

Microsoft Search is A-Live!
The new Live Search promises better relevance, speed and look/feel enhancements as well as enhanced search results for queries related to “high interest” categories like: Health, Entertainment, Shopping, Celeberaties, Local, and Video. When a search is performed, like our favorite “shrek 3“, you’ll see video thumbnails displayed near the top of the standard search results with related searches suggested on the right. One neat, and surprising to me, was that the video clips play when you put your cursor over them. No clicking necessary.

Microsoft Live Search
click for large view

It’s A New Yahoo
With the new Yahoo! search, the same unified search characteristics apply. Yahoo searches it’s various databases or indexes of content and brings them back into one set of search results as you can see in this “shrek 3” example search. One interesting feature is that when you search for something location/event oriented, you get a set of results at the top of the page sorted by category, date and most popular. That information comes from Yahoo site, Upcoming.org. The other more notable feature of Yahoo’s new search is the “search assist” feature that suggest phrases as you type.

Yahoo Search
click for large view

While each version of “unified search” is slightly different, they all share the same characteristics of bringing back content from multiple data sources with the intention of providing a better user experience.

Why do these changes with the search engines matter to search marketers and web site owners?

First, it creates an online marketing challenge. A web site might have enjoyed certain positions on key terms within a search engine only now to find that their ranked web pages have been pushed down by video, image or local search results.

To address the situation, web site owners are faced with the proposition of making the effort to optimize their video, image, blog, local, news and product content. That’s easier said than done, because in most cases, small businesses have but a smattering of those content types at their disposal. If you don’t have the content format, you certainly can’t optimize for it. Even if you did, optimizing video for example, is a different thing than optimizing for news search.

The business of optimizing content for search engines just got a lot more complex.

With Challenges Come Opportunities
Many businesses won’t even notice why their search visibility has changed until it’s far into the game. Some will resort to beefing up their paid search campaigns, which you’d think might be an objective for the search engines, and some will roll up their sleeves and tackle the opportunity head on. With unified search results, there exist additional, high profile exposure opportunities where none of that type previously existed. The way for smart marketers to approach these opportunities is with a holistic perspective.

Optimizing holistically starts with an inventory of a company’s digital assets. Text, images, audio and video are all considered along with the incorporation of keyword messaging across company communications. Matching digital assets with channels of distribution provides marketers with even more opportunity to reach customers since each channel (blogging, email, media relations, social networking, forums, etc) can drive traffic independently as well as improve standard search visibility.

If a small business is not in the habit of creating content in multiple formats, then it will mean change. In fact, substantial changes may be necessary with content creation, approval and publishing processes along with the need for ongoing education. The key is to identify those content creation processes that are already occurring that could be altered or leveraged for the purpose of publishing more media content online. Process changes will still be necessary, but if a business can use some of what they’re already doing with other marketing promotions to improve their search visibility in a world of universal search, it will save effort, money and enable results more quickly.

Optimizing for Universal Search in Action
An example might be a situation where a new product is being released. In such a situation, many small businesses will post a new product page with a photo on the web site and email their list of industry publications and local reporters the announcement. They might even post a press release.

To take advantage of such a situation where unified search results can be leveraged might include the same process of updating the company web site with the product content. Such an effort would also include creating content in additional media formats, such as shooting a short video with an engineer or product manager explaining some of the features/benefits of the product. Just about all digital cameras can take a few minutes of video. The video can be edited with free video editing software like Windows Movie Maker to add credits or even add background music.

Promoting a Good Image
To leverage image search, the image file names could use keywords relevant to the product. Alt text used in the coding of the web page describing the image could do the same as well as a short text caption beneath the image. The image(s) can be submitted to image sharing web sites like Flickr.com with relevant keywords in the image category, title, description and tags. The description of the product on the image sharing site can include a link back to the product web page on the company web site.

Associating relevant keywords with the image will help media or image search engines understand what the image is, and subsequently categorize and rank it. The link from the image description on the image sharing site can send both visitors and search engines to the product page.

Video is the New Rock Star of Search
The product page on the company web site can also include the short video to give visitors another way in which to learn about the product. Embedding the video in the product web page also gives search engines another media format to index and display in unified search results. Submitting the product video to video sharing web sites such as YouTube.com with a relevant, keyword-rich description will make it even easier for the video to appear in video search and unified search results.

To take it a step further, you could upload screen captures of the video to image sharing sites and link back to the video from the description. The image and video could also be packaged with the press release to provide the media more interesting and engaging ways to learn about the new product. Submitting the press release via wire services can also leverage new search visibility. There are many more steps possible in promoting such content ranging from social bookmarking to blogger relations to the creation of viral linking campaigns, but this is a start, a foundation.

Making Universal Search Easier is Hard Work
The overall idea is to create, optimize and promote the kinds of media formats (text, images and video in this example) that both customers and search engines will respond to. Making it easy for search engines to find your text, images and video means it will be easier for those representations of your product to show up in unified search results.

It may sound like a lot of work but this is the reality of the new search. Optimizing relevant media formats to meet the information channel and format consumption preferences of customers is what will allow small businesses to continue competing against the “big guys” on the web.

The upside is that a substantial increase in media types being indexed by the new search engines all linking to a company web site will provide the kind of advantage standard search engine optimization no longer offers. In other words, optimizing for the different media types provides a competitive advantage.

The Work Will Never End But the Benefits Are Long Term
As long as there are search engines, there will be some kind of optimization for improving search engine visibility. What small business marketers need to consider are all the digital assets they have to work with and enable content creation, optimization and promotion processes to give both search engines and customers the information they’re looking for in the formats they’ll respond to.


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Windows Live Webmaster Portal Beta http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/09/windows-live-webmaster-portal-beta/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/09/windows-live-webmaster-portal-beta/#comments Tue, 11 Sep 2007 01:41:27 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/09/windows-live-webmaster-portal-beta/ Earlier this year I participated in an online focus group where questions were asked about various webmaster and SEO tools. The session was run by a third party and I was able to get them to admit it was for Microsoft. Tonight, like many others that showed interest, I received an invite to register from [...]

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windowslive-webmaster-portal.gif

Earlier this year I participated in an online focus group where questions were asked about various webmaster and SEO tools. The session was run by a third party and I was able to get them to admit it was for Microsoft. Tonight, like many others that showed interest, I received an invite to register from Nathan Buggia, Sr. Product Manager of the Live Search Webmaster Tools Team.

Similar to Google’s Webmaster Tools (Vanessa Fox interview here) and Yahoo’s Site Explorer tools (Tim Mayer interview here), the services included in this Beta of Microsoft’s Windows Live Webmaster Portal appear to be split up into three categories:

Troubleshooting

  • Site crawling
  • Site Indexing
  • Robots.txt
  • Sitemaps

Sitemaps

  • Creation
  • Submission (upload, autodiscovery)
  • Ping

Stats

  • Top search terms for your domain
  • Top search terms for other domains
  • Top keywords on your site
  • Inbound links to your site
  • Inbound links to other sites
  • Outbound links from your site
  • Outbound links from other sites
  • Perceived site quality score
  • Number of pages indexed

Search Engine Land has a blog post with more info as does the Live Search Weblog from Aug 22.

At the end of the registration form, there’s an interesting question:

“Are you willing to do public relations tasks to promote your Technology Adoption Program, such as press releases, press conversations, launch events, public website case studies and videos?”

I don’t know if everyone sees that or just the initial beta testers.

Based on how well the tools work, they might be a useful alternative or redundancy. However, if they don’t work so great, I doubt too many webmasters will use them since Google and Yahoo tools have been out there and tested for a while.

Since I was registering with Firefox, there were issues after I hit submit so I’ll try again later with MSIE.


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Search Bash 2007 http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/08/search-bash-2007/ Thu, 23 Aug 2007 15:26:14 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/08/search-bash-2007/ WebmasterRadio.FM and their sponsors did not disappoint with the right of passage for new SES San Jose attendees known as “Search Bash“. Hula hoops, Jersey Girls, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Sumo wrestling, go go girls and an open bar all night. Tell me that’s not a formula for an evening you’ll likely not [...]

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Live Band at Search Bash

WebmasterRadio.FM and their sponsors did not disappoint with the right of passage for new SES San Jose attendees known as “Search Bash“. Hula hoops, Jersey Girls, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Sumo wrestling, go go girls and an open bar all night. Tell me that’s not a formula for an evening you’ll likely not remember but really wish you could!

And now for a few photos:

Brandy and Daron Babin
Brandy and Daron Babin

Vivid Nightclub in San Jose
Vivid Nightclub

Pretty SEO
Chris and Danielle Winfield

Yeah, that guy right there.
Ken Jurina and Mike McDonald

Can't wait to share these photos with my boss!
Sumo Search Bash Style

Dave and Dave
Dave Naylor and David Brown

Dax and Tim Mayer Watch Sumo Fun
Tim Mayer from Yahoo laughing about the ass he’s about to kick

One Two Three: Sumo!
Daron Babin instigating more sumo fun

Microsoft warms to TopRank
Mel Carson (Microsoft) Lee and Natala Menezes (Microsoft)

Danny Sullivan spotted in public
Danny Sullivan and Greg Boser

It's like Hollywood except in San Jose
Melanie Mitchell (AOL), Dave Roth (Yahoo), Laura Lippay (Yahoo) and Lee Odden (TopRank)


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Search Engines Support Sitemaps Autodiscovery http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/04/search-engines-support-sitemaps-autodiscovery/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/04/search-engines-support-sitemaps-autodiscovery/#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2007 15:38:47 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/04/search-engines-support-sitemaps-autodiscovery/ The good people at Ask.com pinged me this morning that Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft Live Search and Ask.com announced support of autodiscovery for Sitemaps today. WebProNews published an announcement about the search engines Google and Yahoo agreeing to work on a common sitemaps standard and the launch of sitemaps.org at the WebmasterWorld Pubcon conference in Las [...]

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The good people at Ask.com pinged me this morning that Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft Live Search and Ask.com announced support of autodiscovery for Sitemaps today.

WebProNews published an announcement about the search engines Google and Yahoo agreeing to work on a common sitemaps standard and the launch of sitemaps.org at the WebmasterWorld Pubcon conference in Las Vegas last year.

The new open-format autodiscovery allows webmasters to specify the location of their sitemaps within their robots.txt file, eliminating the need to submit sitemaps to each search engine separately. The updated Sitemap protocol has benefits for site publishers, the search engines as well as searchers. Ask.com is also supporting manual submissions of sitemaps via a ping url.

Find more coverage on this over at Search Engine Land, “Search Engines Unite on Sitemaps“.


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Microsoft Webmaster Tools http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/04/microsoft-webmaster-tools/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/04/microsoft-webmaster-tools/#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2007 21:25:03 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/04/microsoft-webmaster-tools/ Last week I agreed with Barry’s speculation in the comments at Search Engine Land that Microsoft is developing their own set of webmaster tools. After a conversation today, I have an even stronger reason to believe this is so. I cannot disclose the source, but it is credible. While there are an array of AdCenter [...]

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Last week I agreed with Barry’s speculation in the comments at Search Engine Land that Microsoft is developing their own set of webmaster tools. After a conversation today, I have an even stronger reason to believe this is so. I cannot disclose the source, but it is credible.

While there are an array of AdCenter tools, Microsoft is also working on additional software to be of assistance to webmasters for use with natural search results ala Google Webmaster Central and/or Yahoo Site Explorer. Unfortunately I do not have a time frame or a specific description of what the tools will be, but I do know Microsoft is putting quite a bit of effort into their development.

Personally, I say the more the merrier. If the tools are useful for general site optimization, troubleshooting, etc, then I would have no reason not to use them.

Has anyone else heard specifics on Microsoft Webmaster Tools?


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New Google, Yahoo, MSN Eye Tracking Report http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/11/new-google-yahoo-msn-eye-tracking-report/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/11/new-google-yahoo-msn-eye-tracking-report/#comments Wed, 08 Nov 2006 19:38:28 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/11/new-google-yahoo-msn-eye-tracking-report/ Manoj over at Web Analytics World blog has announced the release of a new eyetracking study by Enquiro that takes an in-depth look at interactions with Google, Yahoo! and MSN using eye tracking methodology. Many search marketers are familiar with Enquiro’s original eye tracking report on Google. (pdf) The new Google/Yahoo/MSN whitepaper covers: How We [...]

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Manoj over at Web Analytics World blog has announced the release of a new eyetracking study by Enquiro that takes an in-depth look at interactions with Google, Yahoo! and MSN using eye tracking methodology. Many search marketers are familiar with Enquiro’s original eye tracking report on Google. (pdf)

The new Google/Yahoo/MSN whitepaper covers:

  • How We Scan a Listing
  • Semantic Mapping
  • Information Scent
  • Thin Slicing
  • Banner Blindness
  • Growth of Navigational Search
  • Impact of Bolded Search Queries and Icons
  • Perceived Relevancy
  • Golden Section Theory
  • Portal Entry Success
  • Interactions with Top Sponsored
  • Interactions with Side Sponsored
  • Interactions with Top Organic
  • Interactions with Bottom Organic
  • Interactions with Vertical Results

To wet your appetite further for this invaluable data, here’s a sample of the white paper (pdf) by Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro.

According to the report, “The big finding in the study was the difference in interactions between the 3 engines.”. I think this section of the report will be very interesting as it deals with the different perceptions users have of search results and what design elements for each of the search engines influences those perceptions.

Another section marketers will be interested in is “Marketer‚Äôs Insights”

“Finally, we take all the data and boil it down into some strategies for the marketer. How you can apply these findings to boost the performance of your campaigns. We look at doing a SWOT analysis on a search results page to gain your unfair share of click throughs, look at the impact of position on potential conversions, explore how banner blindness can occur on a search page, show how to use information scent to your advantage in the various sections of the page and quantitatively determine what is the best position to bid for on the page.”

You can learn more and purchase the report here.


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SES San Jose Exhibit Hall Photos http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/08/ses-san-jose-exhibit-hall-photos/ Tue, 08 Aug 2006 20:20:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/08/ses-san-jose-exhibit-hall-photos/ I have to say, when I walked into the exhibit hall this am for a quick look, I was impressed! Lots of space and lots of exhibitors. Incisive Media has done a bang up job. Here are a few candids: Google Booth Yahoo Booth Microsoft adCenter Booth Ask.com Booth Daron Babin and Greg Hartnet SEMPO [...]

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I have to say, when I walked into the exhibit hall this am for a quick look, I was impressed! Lots of space and lots of exhibitors. Incisive Media has done a bang up job. Here are a few candids:

SES San Jose
Google Booth

SES San Jose
Yahoo Booth

SES San Jose
Microsoft adCenter Booth

SES San Jose
Ask.com Booth

SES San Jose
Daron Babin and Greg Hartnet

SES San Jose
SEMPO Booth

SES San Jose
Mick Jolly and David McInnis of PRWeb

SES San Jose
Fionn Downhill and a co-worker from Elixr Systems

SES San Jose
Giving away a car?

SES San Jose
An animated Rand Fishkin


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Search Engine Relevancy http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/06/search-engine-relevancy/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/06/search-engine-relevancy/#comments Wed, 14 Jun 2006 04:39:47 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/06/search-engine-relevancy/ Aaron Wall has posted an excellent article on search engine relevancy over at SEOBook.com explaining his perception of the different relevancy criteria used by Google, Yahoo and MSN. Aaron offers both a short version and long version. Yahoo is great, but can still be manipulated. Google is best at determining relevancy. MSN is still new [...]

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Aaron Wall has posted an excellent article on search engine relevancy over at SEOBook.com explaining his perception of the different relevancy criteria used by Google, Yahoo and MSN. Aaron offers both a short version and long version. Yahoo is great, but can still be manipulated. Google is best at determining relevancy. MSN is still new and currently easiest to manipulate. Ask is good, but their small market share does not necessarily warrant specific attention from a SEO perspective.

This is a great resource offering some very useful tips and insights for those that are grappling with understanding how search engines determine what’s relevant. This article is not just for newbies though. Aaron pays attention to concepts like the importance of site age, editorial and social factors that you don’t see in other articles of this sort and that are increasingly important.

The long version includes information for each search engine including: On page content, crawling, query processing, link reputation, page vs site, site age, paid search, editorial, social aspects, SEO tools, business perspectives, search marketing perspective, additional engine specific resources and employee blog links. Aaron also touches briefly on Vertical search.

Does this mean you should optimize for each search engine separately?  It depends on what your business model is. As Aaron suggests, you might use more aggressive tactics with short term or disposable projects focusing on Yahoo and MSN and emphasize long term tactics for sites that you want to do well in Google.

For me and our clients, Google refers the vast majority of traffic, so that leaves only one option: long term and quality SEO.

I thought Aaron did a great job on this. Well done!


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Paid Search Can Be A Bitch http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/06/paid-search-can-be-a-bitch/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/06/paid-search-can-be-a-bitch/#comments Thu, 08 Jun 2006 16:20:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/06/paid-search-can-be-a-bitch/ Yes dear friends, I’ve said it. Paid search can be a pain in the rear. But no worries, search engine marketing guru Andrew Goodman of Traffick and Page Zero Media promises to shed some light on the subject in conjunction with a Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) seminar next week. Goodman’s presentation, “IT’S NOT JUST [...]

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Yes dear friends, I’ve said it. Paid search can be a pain in the rear. But no worries, search engine marketing guru Andrew Goodman of Traffick and Page Zero Media promises to shed some light on the subject in conjunction with a Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) seminar next week.

Goodman’s presentation, “IT’S NOT JUST YOU: PAY-PER-CLICK CAN BE A REAL BEAST” will cover examples of Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing challenges, SEM relations, click fraud, CPOs vs. market share growth, data privacy, auctions and more.

“Paid search listings now make up about 50% of all online advertising. Many companies are being lulled into running haphazard, ineffective campaigns because of the ‘self-serve’ ad placement models touted by Google and Yahoo,” warns Goodman.
“The reality is, Google’s AdWords platform is more complex than ever, introducing barriers to novice advertisers by way of ‘ad quality scores’ that take into account a range of factors, including content and quality cues Google’s spider analyzes on your website. MSN adCenter has introduced an exciting new product, and Yahoo will begin phasing in its completely overhauled ‘Panama’ search marketing platform this fall. Novices will find it tough going.”
“It now seems that experienced agencies and larger advertisers are learning how to leverage relationships with the major search vendors,” adds Goodman. “Now more than ever, only the strong and savvy will survive in search marketing. Consistent campaign optimization and measurement of ROI is part of that effort, but you also need access to resources and knowledge, and ongoing industry relationships.”

Goodman is the author of “Winning Results with Google AdWords“, which has been reviewed and endorsed by Google’s Matt Cutts as well as many other top search marketers. I did an interview with Andrew Goodman earlier this year as part of the Spotlight on Search series if you want to get the skinny on his background and sense of humor.

The MIMA event will be held at the Calhoun Beach Club near Uptown in Minneapolis next Wednesday, June 14, 2006. Registration and drinks are at 5:15 and the presentation goes from 6-7pm. As always, food, networking and more drinks follow the presentation. Cost is $20 for Members and $40 for Non-Members. Free parking tokens will be provided. You can also get all the event details from the MIMA site.

Everyone is welcome to attend, no MIMA membership is required. You can register online if you have a MIMA profile or you can just register at the door.

Hey Ed, will we see you there?


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Search News for Thursday http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/06/search-news-for-thursday/ Thu, 01 Jun 2006 18:28:39 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/06/search-news-for-thursday/ ClickTracks offering a $1000 credit towards ClickTracks Pro, JDC or Agency edition for Google Class Action Lawsuit Members MSN AdCenter tools – excellent rundown by Aaron Wall A new and improved Yahoo Video launches WebAward competition entry deadline is extended ClickZ.com Hosts First ClickZ Online Video Advertising Forum 3rd Annual Web Analytics Forum, June 26-28, [...]

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ClickTracks offering a $1000 credit towards ClickTracks Pro, JDC or Agency edition for Google Class Action Lawsuit Members

MSN AdCenter tools – excellent rundown by Aaron Wall

A new and improved Yahoo Video launches

WebAward competition entry deadline is extended

ClickZ.com Hosts First ClickZ Online Video Advertising Forum

3rd Annual Web Analytics Forum, June 26-28, 2006 – Register


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Windows Live Search to Replace MSN Search http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/03/windows-live-search-to-replace-msn-search/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/03/windows-live-search-to-replace-msn-search/#comments Wed, 08 Mar 2006 16:43:21 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/03/windows-live-search-to-replace-msn-search/ Microsoft’s Live.com is getting major upgrades (very slow right now) via Scobelizer and more details including RSS feed search over at Read/Write Web. According to seattlepi.com: “Although still in test form, Windows Live Search signals the future direction of the company‚Äôs efforts in the market. It‚Äôs slated to eventually replace the MSN Search service that [...]

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Microsoft’s Live.com is getting major upgrades (very slow right now) via Scobelizer and more details including RSS feed search over at Read/Write Web.

According to seattlepi.com:

“Although still in test form, Windows Live Search signals the future direction of the company‚Äôs efforts in the market. It‚Äôs slated to eventually replace the MSN Search service that debuted last year, when Microsoft set out on its own in a bid to make up ground in the search business.”

CNET News.com had an interview with Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of MSN information services who says Microsoft has closed the gap with Yahoo and is “within a couple of points of Google.” That’s a pretty bold claim which reminds me of an old adage, “Don’t tell me, show me.”

Microsoft also announced their acquisition of Onfolio, which has been integrated with the Windows Live Toolbar.

“The new Onfolio Add-in for the Windows Live Toolbar beta will give people convenient ways to collect information online and organize it on their PCs. People can harness this information by saving it onto their computer so that it can be easily accessed for use in documents, e-mail messages and blog postings.”

I’m all for making search better and it’s great to see Microsoft making this kind of effort. Whether it advances Microsoft Search to the level of Yahoo or Google, remains to be seen.


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