Archives for October 2005

Sphere Beta, a True Blog Search Engine

I received my login to the beta version of the new blog search engine Sphere this morning. Founded by Tony Conrad, Martin Remy, and Steve Nieker, Sphere is a true blog search engine and not a RSS feed search engine, like Google Blog Search.

From the invite email:

“The primary focus of our product is relevance. We want to make sure the most relevant blog posts make it to the top of our results. We’re also working hard to ensure that our results are as fresh and comprehensive as possible.”

Search results look pretty good with post title, blog title, snippet, and how long ago the post was made. Each result also has a link to a “profile” which may be something blog owners can “claim” ala Technorati in the future.

ePrecis an impressive search tool

There’s a pretty innovative search tool that I mentioned on the online marketing links blog earlier this week called ePr?�cis. Ward Johnson of ePr?�cis who has been working with the development of the tool the past few years with a group of linguists at the University of Minnesota called me last week to talk about it. ePr?�cis is not a search engine that crawls the web collecting it’s own data per se, rather it is an application that overlays existing search results data and creates abstracts. Johnson mentioned it works best with more technical queries such as medical, scientific, legal, etc, but compares very much to Google results on just about any search.

Here’s a more specific explanation of ePrecis from the white paper:

MIMA Summit Wrap Up

I just returned from the 4th Annual MIMA Summit and it was another record breaking crowd, almost 200% more than last year. Fantastic venue at the U of M Alumni Center, which has really amazing architecture.

The keynote speaker was Shar VanBoskirk from Forrester which was excellent. Her presentation on what integrated marketing is and really should be, especially the notion of creating personas was enlightening.

Ward Tongen of Findlaw, Scott Ekman of Rockler and myself presented on Search Marketing with Nina Hale from Capella as moderator. That session seemed to go quite well. I was fortunate to speak with many great companies shortly after and look forward to following up later this week. Susan, Karen, Thomas, Jolina and David from our company were able to come which was very much appreciated. Alas, I did not get to do my pigeon rank bit. Maybe next time.

Lowdown on Press Release Optimization

Working with client PR firms to optimize press releases often generates some interesting discussion and education about writing style and keyword usage. A lot of press releases seem to be written by budding poets or ex-ad copywriters trying to be clever with the reader. This does not always bode well for keyword based ranking in algorithmic news and search engines.

On the other hand, press release spam is on the rise and many releases are being distributed with a bare minimum, if at all, editorial review. Both gimmicky and keyword stuffed press releases reduce the credibility of the wire service and the chances of your news being taken seriously.

Google’s Blogs Are Showing

I happened upon the new Google Reader blog via Biz Stone and noticed this nice list of official Google Blogs:

Also, here’s a list of Google employee blogs (that I know of)

  • Matt Cutts – Good things about search.
  • Ah, heck. It’s Friday evening, I’m tired and I think I’ll just post a link to this nice list from PR Weaver.


WordPress is now offering an invite only, free blog hosting service. I received my “golden ticket” email from this morning. I tried it out and works great for the most part. Am not sure when they plan to make it available overall.

What you can do now though, is download the new Firefox based Flock web browser and WordPress is built in.

I did an experiment by importing the posts from this blogger blog into, which worked well, except it did not import any posts after August 31 of this year. WordPress also replaced my blogger template source code with a very annoying index of posts and a solicitation to use Luckily, I had a recent backup copy of my blogger template source code and restored it in a few seconds.

Bye Bye

Thomas has put together a nice plan for the move from Blogger to WordPress and I can’t wait. I’ve been making noise about moving for months now. Along with a new blog CMS, there will be an updated design for Online Marketing Blog, plus a new URL which I will announce as soon as I confirm.

We plan on transferring everything next week and hopefully it will go well.

This blog started out at the end of 2003 pretty much as a bookmarking tool of resources and news more than anything. I’ve reserved to continue doing that, just not here. The links blog is at Online Marketing Resources.

Google Updates AdWords Keyword Tool

Google has updated the AdWords Keyword tool. The features look very interesting:

Keyword Variations works much the same way except now you can sort the results by popularity, performance history, cost and predicted ad position.

A new Site-Related Keywords feature offers the ability to generate a keyword list based on a specific URL and can also include other pages linked to from that URL. Keyword lists can also be downloaded in .csv format

There are other features as well and worth checking out. Could also be very useful for organic keyword research.

Tags: google, google keyword tool, google adwords

MIMA Summit – Speaking Event on Search Marketing

In less than a week the MIMA Summit will be here in Minneapolis. MIMA – as in Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association. I have been asked to speak on a panel regarding search marketing.

The MIMA Annual Summit Event Information:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005
McNamara Alumni Center, U of M Campus
7:45 am – 7 pm

The search marketing session is at 11:30 and will be moderated by Nina Hale from Capella. The panel includes:

  • Ward Tongen, previously with FindLaw now Senior Online Marketing Analyst with Medtronic (congrats!)
  • Scott Ekman, Director of Internet Marketing from Rockler
  • Lee Odden, Managing Partner of TopRank Online Marketing

It will be a great mixture of insight into how different companies (and a SEO firm) use search marketing, some practical examples, lots of valuable nuggets of information and insight into the future of search.

Yahoo on RSS: White Paper

Yahoo has issued a new White paper on RSS. You can download the PDF but here are some key findings:

  • 12% of users are aware of RSS, and 4% have knowingly used RSS.
  • 27% of Internet users consume RSS syndicated content on personalized start pages without knowing it’s RSS
  • 28% of Internet users are aware of podcasting, but only 2% currently subscribe to podcasts.
  • Even tech-savvy ?ǬìAware RSS Users?Ǭî prefer to access RSS feeds via user-friendly, browser-based experiences (e.g., My Yahoo!, Firefox, My MSN).

World news and national news are currently the RSS content of choice, at 52%. More specialized content such as blogs (23%) and podcasting (11%) are gaining quickly, but are still less prevalent. Mainstream media rather than niche content accounts for the majority of RSS use.

New Corporate Survey on SEO & Online Marketing

There’s a very interesting Benchmark Survey on SEO run by MarketingProfs with some help from OneUpWeb on now how corporate marketers and marketing consultants value and are using search engine optimization in their marketing mix.

There were about 1700 respondents and survey questions are split between the following categories:

  • Perception of SEO
  • Your Organization and SEO
  • Your Organization and Return on Investment
  • Respondent Demographic Information

I am not sure when Marketing Profs will be coming out with a formal report on the survey results, but here are some insights:

  • Most respondents rated themselves as average or below average in their knowledge of SEO.
  • The problems most respondents felt SEO could solve dealt with establishing metrics, measuring results and planning marketing.

Online PR Research Using Tags

Here’s an excellent screencast by a prominent tech journalist John Udell on how he uses tag powered to research a topic he might do a story on. Read: If you want to get in front of important journalists, consider writing niche articles and bookmark them with tags in along with articles and resources from other relevant sources.

This factors in to good online public relations research as well as online marketing/promotion for clients as “tagging” becomes more popular.

Chris Pirillo offers a search tool entirely reliant on sources that organize their content with tags, called

On a similar note, Information Today highlights how Yahoo’s recent offering of podcast search and displaying blogs in news search results can be useful in mining expert information as an alternative to traditional means.