April 28, 2006

Friday Notes for April 28, 2006

Well, it’s been a while. I’ve been pretty busy with various things lately so I have decided to roll up all my updates and summarize them in one post:

  • Congrats to Brian Pike for making CTO of Ticketmaster
  • Google is providing Sketchup for free (with a paid pro version). It will allow you to create 3D models to integrate with Google Earth. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with this. Here are some ideas
  • Ask’s presentation on MySQL is available for download. It includes lots of the stuff we learned over the years but I told him I don’t like binary data like images in the DB (store the paths to them instead) ;-)
  • Renkoo is in a closed beta. It, like Skobee, is another Evite clone that plans on doing it better. (more on skobee)
  • Yahoo launched what appears to be a fixed placement ad product. source…note that this is a posting by Matt Booth. FYI, Citysearch utilized that business model before Matt pushed for the CPC route for CS (a good idea he should get credit for).
  • TrueLocal is offering a local traffic estimator tool to advertisers. I’ll try to get around to trying it out and seeing if it provides any real value and post results here. a user can type in shoes in 60612 and the local traffic estimator determines the three most popular categories for this search and the five nearest zip codes to 60612. This allows businesses to accurately asses which categories and zip for which they should bid.…Might be useful to use this tool for all your local marketing campaigns (assuming they get enough traffic for your area where you get a good, representative sample size).
  • Microsoft is gearing up for an attack against its search engine rivals….but regular readers here already know that ;-)
  • I just came across the first mainstream news source article on the v7ndotcom elursrebmem SEO contest. I first came across this one when my blog started getting continually referer and comment spammed with “v7ndotcom elursrebmem.” I didn’t understand why they were trying to optimize those words by spamming me but googling it turned up the reason (hard to find the reason now since everyone is optimizing for those words in the contest):

    Searching on “v7ndotcom elursrebmem” on Google yesterday yielded more than 6 million matching pages. My favorite is the site ranked No. 2, which purports to be the official site for “The Grand V7ndotcom Elursrebmem Hotel,” a nonexistent hotel in London, complete with photos and a virtual tour.

  • I wonder if the CIA is reading this blog
  • We’re sellingWe’re not selling. We cater to students, we cater to business people…either way, possibly good for local advertising. Perhaps this is a way to increase their potential audience to get more subscriptions and to capture an audience that isn’t quite so fickle so they don’t become the next Friendster but, instead, tap into revenue from businesses and business networking that hangs around (and may even increase when times get rough as they may be searching for business leads).
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April 20, 2006

Google’s Latest Test Could Mean Fewer ClickThroughs to Your Site

Google is testing a new feature according to YellowPipe News.

The feature puts search results in an expandable/collapsible format. When you expand a result, you get more information from the site right on the search results page. It is possible that if enough information appears there, users will be prone to clicking out to other sites a lot less since they could find more of what it is they are looking for right within Google. However, it is also possible that seeing more information may indicate more relevance o the user and they would also be more prone to click on the link for a site with good, unique content.

google expandable/collapsible search results

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Overview of Video Sharing Sites

Marketwatch notes that video verticals are cropping up everywhere and will beat out the major search engines’ video search.

To find out about these services and how they compare, check out DV Guru’s evaluation of 10 video services.

As a side note, the Marketwatch article mentions such sites as GrindTV and StupidVideos…these sites are run by PureVideo. For you ex-Citysearchers, check out who works there.

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April 19, 2006

Local Search SEO

I’ve had a number of people recently ask me about how to optimize their small business sites for local search engines.

I’ve seen many people post many different links, some correct and some obviously incorrect in their assumptions.

You optimize your site to increase traffic to your site with the intention of converting (i.e. clicks, sales, etc). For small businesses, the conversions are most often sales or products or services.

With the ultimate goal defined above in mind, your first optimization technique has little to do with changing things on your site.

What you need to do is go directly to the data providers. You see, most search engines start with a base data provider…a company that creates this data, may have some checks to clean up the data, and resells it. Some iYPs will actually buy this data as well but others have access to the data from their offline counterparts and can use this information to build out local search data instead (but will usually supplement it since most of these listings will have minimal metadata associated with each business such as an address, category and phone number only). To see an (incomplete or generalized) overview of base data providers and local search engines, take a look at Bruce Clay’s Local Search Engine Relationship Chart.

So, step 1 is to go to the base data providers and make sure they have your business listed, with the correct address and phone number. Additionally, many of them will collect whatever additional information you may be willing to provide (i.e. a URL).

Here is a list of the top few data providers:

Be warned, though. Entering this information may mean you will not only end up in the data directories they license to others, but it also means your information (including contact information you submit such as email, contact name, and phone) will end up on their marketing lead list.

Additionally, although all of this information may end up in their database, most sites pay a price for this data based on a certain collection of fields which may not include, for example, your business URL. So if you hire an SEO, make sure you attribute these additional offline leads (i.e. walk-ins or phone calls) as well (though you would be hard-pressed to find out a tracking mechanism short of asking each user where they found you and researching the data source).

What if you correct or add your business listing in a site that uses their data? Some of these data providers are providing APIs for their licensees to submit corrected information. However, very few, if any, of these large sites will submit this updated information to the base data providers. They know that they would be strengthening their competitor’s site by doing this as well as losing ownership of this updated information (most sites set up terms of service so they own the data submitted by users). The data existing on their site only becomes a market differentiators as well as a sort of intellectual property…so once you submit your data to the base data providers, you can go to the larger sites (i.e. Google, Yahoo, Yellowpages.com, Superpages, and Citysearch) and update or add additional info that is missing such as website urls, etc.

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Bubble 2.0

I’ve been in discussions about Web 2.0 and its origins…I don’t like the term but it seems to be going mainstream.

Anyway, check out this impressive list of web 2.0 companies. Just take a look at the enormous list then search online for some of them to find out how much some of them have received in VC funding.

I’m inclined to agree with others on their viability.

I don’t think that we’re in an Internet Bubble (as the title implies) but money seems to be flowing a bit more freely since the bubble burst.

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April 17, 2006

Comparing Mapping sites for Consumers and Developers

TechCrunch has an entry comparing mainstream maps sites from a consumer’s perspective. They argue Yahoo Maps is the best.

Schuyler put together a post evaluating the available APIs.

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April 14, 2006

What does $200,000 buy you in Southern California’s Real Estate Market

Alan sent me a link showing what $200k buys you in Southern California’s realestate market.

Read it and check out the comments.

Basically, you get a 299 squarefoot free-standing studio.

From the comment:

What’s with the outdoor curtains?

The Realtor writeup includes the words, “Detached Garage.” At 300sqft, I wonder, does this mean it IS a detached garage, or does it have a detached garage?

If it HAS a garage, the house just doubled in size! :-)

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Zixxo Provides Local Coupon Search

Zixxo is a site providing small, local businesses with a way to offer coupon creation, management, and distribution.

The cost for the first year is free but a “nominal fee” will be charged after the first year, no doubt a way to increase adoption and, hopefully for them, a way to establish the value of their tools and distribution network to merchants.

I am unaware of any major distribution channels they have but they offer an affiliate program which allows members to use their API to put coupons on their sites. This gives Zixxo distribution and their affiliates a value-add for consumers to come back and visit their sites (no monetary compensation…at least not yet).

Users can search for coupons by geography (zipcode) and find merchants that are offering coupons/discounts in their area.

Think of this is an early stage of Shop Local but you search for coupons rather than sale items and you search for small merchants rather than large chains. They seem to be supplementing with some larger merchants as well (i.e. WalMart and Staples. I don’t know if these large merchants are entering their data directly into the Zixxo system or if this data was collected using an editorial staff or automated method.

Michael has more details.

The site is an interesting concept and should be useful to merchants and consumers alike (although they won’t be the first to offer local coupons but they are the first to offer a site dedicated to it and offering notification tools for them). My only complaint is the site doesn’t appear ready, some of the navigation is not intuitive (and tries to force registration), some links aren’t working, the search results don’t show things in my area, and they asked me to register (and provide a tax ID) using non-secure forms. :-(

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April 13, 2006

Google Calendar Finally Released

Well, we already saw the super-secret screenshots while they were testing…but they have finally released Google Calendar. Google added an entry in their blog, appropriately name It’s about time :-)

In addition to all the same features as other calendars, they also offer a way for you to search for and include public calendars in your calendar. It appears as if they are including those items that appear to be in ical (or other open standard) formats.

Taking a page from sites such as InterActiveCorp’s Evite, Google also built invitation management into Google Calendar. Users can create event invitations to be sent to anyone with an e-mail account. They can also send event reminders via e-mail or cell phone text message, and keep track of RSVPs from within the program. People can see their schedules by day, week, month and four-day views, highlight any period from a monthly calendar for a customized view and display only certain events at a time on their calendar view.

the company is opening up the application programming interface so that outside developers can use it to build third-party programs that will work with Google Calendar data, Sjogreen said.

“I’m intrigued,” Gartner analyst Allen Weiner said. “If it becomes successful, then it can also be the place to schedule a lot of content delivery. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to go to your calendar and say 10 a.m. every morning, ‘I would like to listen to a podcast’…and you listen to it through your calendar.”

Microsoft is planning a major calendar upgrade for its Outlook 12 release later this year.

“The obvious competition (for Google Calendar) is Microsoft Outlook,” Sherman said.

So what do you think about this now?

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April 12, 2006

Yahoo Maps adds Satellite Imagery

Yahoo Maps Beta has added satellite imagery to their maps.

Google Yahoo
google maps satellite imagery yahoo maps satellite imagery

The images appear to be of the same resolution as Google’s (which means lower resolution than MSN’s) but the images appear to be anti-aliased.

In addition to getting all the data we can, we’re processing the satellite imagery to make the visuals more aesthetically pleasing for users. We’re blending away seam lines and normalizing the color pallet to create a continuous plane of imagery.

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