Blog

Twingine – Comparing Yahoo! and Google Search Engines

John Battelle picks up on a post by Russell Beattie regarding Twingine, a Google/Yahoo! comparison search engine. Simply type in your search terms and Twingine will display your Google and Yahoo! results side-by-side within your browser.

It's quite interesting to see what he actually has to say about Yahoo! results:

I should be eating our own corporate dogfood more at work and doing my web searches at Yahoo! Search
instead of Google but old habits die hard. Yahoo! Search is easily as
good, but for some reason I've always got this nagging doubt in my mind
of whether I'm seeing the absolute best search results or not. So I end
up using Google a lot to ease my suspicions.

I have actually been thinking the same about the results that Yahoo! throws up. Recently, I have ended up down dead alleys with Google, whilst Yahoo! has offered me far better results. Why not try out Twingine and see what you think?


Tailored Destination Page

On carrying out a search for "Movable Type Tutorial" I got taken to this weblog by Rick Klau, which welcomed me with the following message:

movable_type

Talk of tailoring web pages to mirror search engine search words!!


Spyware Daily Blog

 

Spyware_daily_1

I have been helping a Canadian Anti-Spyware company, called Pareto Logic, develop a corporate blog over the past couple of months. The blog, Spyware Daily, aims to "tackle issues relating to Spyware, Adware, Internet Threats and Other Important Technology Issues". It has certainly been an interesting project and we are almost at the point where we feel confident that we can spin it out to the Internet community.

However, before the PR engine is cranked up and we start letting people know about this anti-spyware blog, I thought I'd invite visitors to take a look at Spyware Daily and let me know what they think. I'm interested in all comments, from the banner header and navigation style to the content and side bar modules. I would appreciate all comments (but don't make them too nasty!!). Please feel free to email me at alun@marketingtom.com with your thoughts.

(more…)


Google Heat Maps & Other Adsense Optimization Tips

Google Adsense, the tool for Google Publishers, has  a really neat tool which gives people advice on the best locations to place Google Adwords on their own sites. The Google "Heat Map" displays areas on a sample page layout, with strong orange colours depicting the best performance areas and weaker orange colours poorer areas. Here is what Google has to say:

"All other things being equal, ad placements above the fold tend to perform better than those below the fold. Ads placed near rich content and navigational aids usually do well because users are focused on those areas of a page."

Other Optimization Tips for Google Adsense are that wider ad formats outperform taller ones as they allow people to read ads more comfortably.

"The formats we've found to be the most effective are the 336x280 large rectangle , the 300x250 inline rectangle , and the 160x600 wide skyscraper."

Google reckons that colours that stand out without overshadowing your content are better than those that blend in with the site. Google says that whatever you do, the colour scheme should complement your site and here's an interesting tip:

"Also, rotating color palettes is a simple way to add variety and freshness to your ads. All you need to do is hold down the Control key and select up to four color palettes when generating your ad code in the Ad layout code page of your account."

Articles on Marketing Tom
Google Archives
Google Adsense/Adwords Archives

Related Article
How People Read Google Search Results
What's a Google Web Page heat map?
Google Eye Tracking Report


Corporate Blogging Tips from Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Robert Scoble, of Scobleizer and Microsoft fame, is currently working on a book with Shel Israel, a PR consultant. The book will be published by Wiley, is due out in January, and will focus on business blogging. Much of their thoughts on the book's content and direction is actually being shared with visitors online, through their Red Couch blog - hell!, you can actually help contribute to it  by adding  your own comments on the site. For companies looking to develop their own blog presence, the corporate blogging tips may be of some interest:

Corporate Blog Tip #1 (improving the title tag) - features some neat thoughts on how to come up with a title for your blog. Spend time doing this as, in essence, you will be creating your own Blog Brand.
Corporate Blog Tip #2 (read a bunch of blogs before you start) - the blog search engines are a good start for searching for something specific. For random blogs just go to Typepad and take a look at their featured weblogs or Recently Updated weblogs.

Corporate Blog Tip #3 (write in a granular style) - try to keep to one idea per posting.
Corporate Blog Tip #4 and #5 (demonstrate your passion and authority) - Robert Scoble actually says in his own corporate blog manifesto: "You should know more about your product than anyone else alive, if you're writing a
weblog about it. If there's someone alive who knows more, you damn well better have
links to them (and you should send some goodies to them to thank them for being
such great advocates.)"

Corporate Blog Tip #6 (add comments) - I would just like to add to this - you should always aim to add value to the author's article by leaving thoughtful comments. Don't spam!

Corporate Blog Tip #7 (make yourself accessible) - I just love Robert Scoble's thoughts on leaving his cell phone number on his site so that anyone can call him!

Add this blog to your RSS feed list to find out the latest news and tips from Red Couch.

Related Article
Robert Scoble and Shel Israel's Blogging Book - A Case of Open Source Book Writing?



Blogging Goes Mainstream: Is Your Company Ready?

Business_development_instituteOn May 3rd, the Business Development Institute in New York will be holding probably one of the biggest business blogging events ever held in New York - Blogging Goes Mainstream: Is Your Company Ready? The event is aimed at bringing together Fortune 500 executives and "forward thinking" sales, marketing and PR professionals. Here's how their sales promotion puts it:

This special executive event will examine the business implications of blogging and the impact this burgeoning communication medium is having on the business landscape. We will examine how leading organisations across a wide range of industries are tapping into the power of blogs to expand their reach into new or existing markets, drive real-time market intelligence, extend their brand and create transformational dialogues with customers, partners and employees.

[We will gather professionals] to explore the nuts and bolts of a building a corporate blogging strategy and how businesses of all types can leverage this new medium to drive new revenues, increase market share and gain critical brand exposure while influencing public opinion on their products and services.

RobertscobleThe keynote speaker is Robert Scoble (Scobleizer), the most prolific blogger on the web and Technical Evangelist for Microsoft. The advisory board includes some of the key players in the blogging arena like Charlene Li of Forrester Research, Stowe Boyd of Corante, Steve Rubel of Cooperkatz and Steve Hall of Adrants.


Tiger Woods Putt goes Open Source

If you loved THAT Tiger Woods golf putt at the Masters, then you´ll surely love the video clip that Joseph Jaff has put together on his site. Though many claim that he only made some simple edits - "Just Do It" - he did get out there before the rest of the field and now everyone is trackbacking him. I wonder how long before the Nike Golf team start using this or whether they'll develop their own. Open Source Marketing? Viral Marketing? Co-Creation?

Just Enjoy It!

Related Links

Tiger Woods Putt and the Long Tail (2008)
Tiger Woods Official Website
Woods Captures Fourth Masters
PGA Tour
Callaway Golf
Nike Golf


Interview with John Zagula of Marketing Playbook (Part 2)

Here is the second (and final) part of an interview that I held with John Zagula of Marketing Playbook. As mentioned in the first part, John Zagula is a highly successful businessman who, with his business partner Richard Tong, has written a book on marketing, called the Marketing Playbook and set up a great business blog with the same name.  Like the first part the questions focus on the importance of the blog to building both awarenesss of their book and blog.

I'm sure that you have developed a whole new network of friends and colleagues – are there any stories you can share?
This really is true.  There are a lot of examples of folks I feel I really know because of blog interactions.  So I'll just highlight a few. As mentioned it has been great to get to know Hugh MacLeod.  What a great attitude.  Also, Ignition invests in consumer and media technology stuff amongst other things so having blogs (Geek Fishing , Tong Family , The Ludwigs) as a firm has been great for finding and vetting stuff of interest.  Mark Ramsey is a very cool guy who knows volumes about radio and what is happening in the wild, wooly world of digital music.  We did an interview with him  I think even before the book came out and then he reciprocated.  A lot of fun.  Also, even though we used to work in the same company it was great to finally meet Robert Scoble at our book launch party.  Great guy doing great things for Microsoft's image with his blog - [see Economist article].


Has the blog taking you down any new paths which you may otherwise not have envisaged?

My first girlfriend from college recently found me on my blog.  Really nice to hear from her.  There may be some others I would rather not hear from though.

How different is the blog today to when you first started?

Quite different actually and much the same. A lot less about the book I guess, we have already outlined a lot of the core concepts and
promoted the book a lot.  Now it's mostly about interesting stuff we see happening or folks writing about.

How have your traditional PR activities rated alongside the blog?

Really well actually.  We got some terrific traditional reviews.  And I have to admit, as much as I like the whole new realm of virtual relationships, I actually like being around real people.  So speaking and workshops have been great.

Any negatives associated with the blog?
Sure, the biggest is time.  Hard enough writing a book when you have a full time job, a spouse and kids, but add blogging to that and, well. Blogging is highly addictive.  I have got to believe there are a lot of blogging widows/widowers and orphans out there.

Also, don't do it if you are private or brittle person.  People are incredibly vocal.  And you are totally exposed to whatever they think – about you, your book, what you say on your site and what you do. And they can be sensitive too.  I learned a lot early on about blogging etiquette.

What would you say are the key elements in writing articles for blogs?
Boy it seems like there are all different kinds of blogs that all have different characterstics and points of interest.  It depends on what you are writing it for.  But whether for business purposes, for journaling, or whatever, it seems to me that the best blogs have a real voice of their own.  They reflect the real perspective and personality of the author.  They are different and fun and have a unique perspective.

But if you are trying to reach people and persuade them or market to them in your blog I guess I would stick the core concepts in the playbook.  Look at the playing field.  What are the gaps, in the market, in what is covered already, and in what people like and don't. Then try to target someone and be distinctive.  Do your XYZs (the only X that does/has Y in Z unique way).  Be something, fit in a category X.  Know your audience Y.  And have content that matters to them and is diffentiated Z.  Don't be overbearing though.  If a blog is just one big ad it gets boring pretty fast.

Finally, keep it going and read lots of other blogs.

How do you see blogs evolving?

It is already happening, further and further encroachment on traditional media.

Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of podcasting.  Now anyone can become a DJ, announcer nationally and internationally.

Any advice to would-be bloggers?

Be yourself.  Have fun.  Be open.  Go for it.  Don't worry too much about the critics.  But keep your life in balance.

Read Part 1 of the Marketing Playbook Interview


Interview with John Zagula of Marketing Playbook

The Marketing Playbook is one blog that I keep coming back to - probably since its launch last year. It offers a good mixture of interesting, marketing-related articles but there's more to the blog as the Marketing Playbook is also a widely read marketing book – both are written by two very successful and very readable, marketing guys: John Zagula and Richard Tong. Here is an overview of the book (in their words):

"Every company needs to figure out the best way to beat the competition. What do you do if the other guy is already dominating the market?
Should you challenge them head on or lie low for a while? Should you offer your customers high-end features or a low-end price? Or both?

During their years at Microsoft, John Zagula and Rich Tong answered such questions so effectively that they helped Microsoft Office and Windows grow from a 10 percent market share to 90 percent market share. As venture capitalists, Zagula and Tong have continued to test and perfect their system with hundreds of companies of all sizes and at all stages"

Their blog is a great example of how blogs can evolve: initially, it was used as a brilliant PR tool – giving people details on the book, John and Richard’s signings, interviews and even information on the book’s ranking on Amazon; whereas now it discusses a multitude of business issues.

I was so interested to see how the closely linked the blog and the book were, that last month I emailed John Zagula and invited him to take part in a question-and-answer session for Marketing Tom. John kindly agreed and I think that people will find his answers very illuminating and educative. Let me know what you think.

How did you get the idea of building a blog?
From people much smarter than me.

Being a blogger started before we wrote the book.  I was turned on to blogging by my colleague and co-author Rich Tong and colleague John Ludwig.  They both have very cool blogs in their own rights The Ludwigs and Tong Family

They also created a blog called Geek Fishing .  This is an informal site for the people in our company, Ignition Partners,to share interesting technical things they are finding out about.  The name of that blog came about because another colleague Adrian Smith built his own wireless web camera to check his crab pots from the shore.

My first blog was actually just an ongoing pile of stuff that interests me www.zagula.com

It was only after we discovered not only that we were getting addicted to blogs as sources for our info but also that all of a sudden we had become recognized web authorities on topics like bike sprockets and the obscure German designers that we thought maybe we ought to use a blog in concert with our upcoming book.

Did you start a blog basically to promote the book or was there some other reason? Marketingplaybook.com was definitely started in concert with our book of the same title.  We started it though even before we had finished editing the book.  It was a great way to put down an outline of our basic concepts – the 5 plays, the ABCs of the playing field, and the XYZs of positioning, etc - and then to start tracking how current events related to these.

One of the most fun things to do was to watch the plays that companies in all kinds of industries were running now and how they were running them.

Since then the thing has taken on a life of its own. Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void had a great way of describing this whole process – that the book itself was just the beginning. That all products are conversations. And this was of course true with the book.  One of our fundamental goals is that the whole idea of a marketing playbook is that it is YOURS and that you use the basic principles to build your own playbook for your own playing field. Well, Hugh saw this as:

"a marketing book whose main message is transmitted through the actual marketing of itself… It's not just that the medium becomes the message, it's that the message also becomes the medium… the book project was conceived not
primarily as a commercial enterprise, but a way to "spread pollen" and start conversations with all sorts of people. No different than blogging."

How powerful a tool has the blog been in helping to spread word of
the book?

Terrifically helpful. It is really cool to see blog entries from places like Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, and China talking about the book
and its concepts.  Clearly it is a super simple way to give folks a summary of the ideas in the book and keep them up to date on what we are doing, thinking about, and what folks are saying about the book. And it has been great to see all the interesting marketing blogs out there share their opinions. Oh yeah, and it doesn't hurt that having a blog helps lift your rank in search engines either.

I will offer another of instalments of John's answers in the next few days.

Read Part 2 of the Interview with John Zagula