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Bing vs. Google

I doubt I’m the only person that has noticed the advertising campaign that Bing has going.  They have commercials all over the TV, the Internet and even the radio.  They have extended a challenge to all Google users to try out Bing. They set up a blind test on their website.  You search for something and a split screen comes up with two separate search engine results.  You choose which side of the page gave you the best results.  Then it tells you if it was Bing or Google. As a writer I use the Internet constantly for resources, research, quotes, news, etc.  I need a search engine that is reliable and one that gives me the best results for my articles. Well, like most internet users out there, I’ve always used Google.  It’s comfortable, it’s familiar and it’s the page my computer automatically pulls up.  But, I am a curious person.  So, I decided I would give Bing a shot to impress me.  But, I’m also a skeptic.  So I decided to do the test on my own and not on the Bing website. I pulled up a page for Google and a page for Bing.  Then I searched for the same topic or word on each search engine.  I did it well over ten times.  To my surprise, I preferred Bing’s results over Google’s each and every time.  I was shocked.  I’ve always liked Google.  When Bing first came out I tried to use it once and it drove me nuts.  The format was so different from what I had grown used to. I decided that since I liked […]

FTC Investigates Google

On June 24, Google confirmed their business was being investigated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Allegedly, the FTC is trying to gather information on Google’s search algorithms, updates, how they work, etc. This investigation isn’t the result of a particular crime or the opening of an official case, but has been encouraged by other organizations who are claiming foul play by the search giant. Among the many accusations of Google are two claims I’d like to address: one is the claim that Google is a monopoly and is violating antitrust laws, and two is the claim that they give their own properties preferential treatment in search results. As to the first point, I’m no lawyer but it seems that the purpose of antitrust laws is to protect the individual. If you live in an area with only one cable provider, then you know exactly how this feels. But Google isn’t dominating the search world because it’s bought out all it’s competition and/or staked out a geographical claim no one can tough; it’s dominating the search world because it’s been giving individuals what they’re looking for. As to the second point, I don’t see any problem with Google giving itself preferential treatment in search results. Google is a business, not a public service. And not only that, Google is a biased business. Macy’s may have been telling people to go to Gimbels, but not just because they wanted to do something nice for their customers; they were trying to build their own business. Google doesn’t have any legal – or moral, for that matter – obligation to […]

Google Tries Social Networking, Again

Google has a long history of failed social media attempts – perhaps most prominent are Google Wave and Google Buzz. Google recently announced +1, but it’s too soon to tell how that is going to work out. They were late to the social networking party, mostly because they were concerned about other ventures (like creating the world’s largest search engine) but also because of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who admitted that he messed up when it came to Google’s social networking strategy. From a business perspective, they have missed out on a lot of potential opportunity – but it’s not like the company is hurting all that much because of it. I mean, I use Google to search and many of its tools, and I used Facebook and Twitter for social networking. I need Google to create a social network as much as I need Facebook to create a search engine. And even though Google just launched +1, it doesn’t mean they’re not still exploring additional options. Google recently acquired PostRank, which is an analytic tool for social media. It tracks the kind of online discussion a link is getting, and it’s likely Google will start implementing some of that data into their overall search results (similar to what Bing has already been doing with Facebook). Schmidt has also invested into a tool called Backplane, which is a platform geared toward specific interests like sports and music. (Lady Gaga has also invested in the project.) Google will likely be using these tools to create a more personalized search experience and more tailored results. And with all the money, resources, […]

Facebook Claims High Ground, Relatively Speaking

Last week, The Daily Beast broke the story about Facebook hiring a PR firm to smear Google. Meant to be a secret, Facebook worked with Burson-Marsteller to generate this negative buzz about Google. When the plot was discovered, a Facebook spokesman cited two reasons for the scheme: first, believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns This reason would be hilarious if it weren’t so ridiculous. The idea that Facebook is going to present itself as a company that cares about privacy – especially while they concurrently fight a proposed California bill that would require online business to offer an opt-out option when it comes to tracking information – is mind-numbing. That’s not the real issue. The real issue is: second, and perhaps more important, Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service. In other words, Facebook is mad that Google has been using Facebook’s data – the data they’ve carefully and shamelessly gathered over the past seven years. It’s their own data that they’ve procured through somewhat-deceitful measures, and they’re not about to let some other online giant use that information. Facebook doesn’t care about privacy concerns or connecting people or promoting the principles of social networking. While there are employees of the social media giant who likely feel this way, Facebook is a business and is more concerned about protecting their assets. And the biggest asset Facebook has is its users’ information. I can’t necessarily fault Facebook for that. With a business based on user data, allowing other companies to take and use that data for their own purposes […]
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    Apple overprices their products; becomes world’s most valuable brand

Apple overprices their products; becomes world’s most valuable brand

I’ve written before about Apple’s marketing strategy (which boils down to selling an overpriced, slightly-above-average product, only to belittle it as a shoddy and sub-par product when they release the marginally better version a year later). It seems their business model has led to them pass Google and become the world’s most valuable brand. There’s something to be said for increasing prices of products. To take a bit from the article: “Apple is breaking the rules in terms of its pricing model,” told Reuters by telephone. “It’s doing what luxury brands do, where the higher price the brand is, the more it seems to underpin and reinforce the desire.” Simply put, if this new gadget costs me $1000, not only does that prove how awesome and valuable the product is, but it puts me in a class above all those “poories” who don’t have an extra G note sitting around to waste on something frivolous. The quality of the product and its ability to serve a specific function in my life are secondary; the most important thing is that I’ve got something no one else has and it cost me a fortune. This isn’t a new idea; companies have been slapping exorbitant price tags on products forever – calling them “name brand” or “designer” or some other nonsense. Those $500 jeans aren’t made out of special fabric; and while they likely fit you better, what you’re really paying for is the brand recognition that comes from having that label on your denim. Which is exactly why Apple is now the world’s most valuable […]

J.C. Penney Gets Caught Breaking Google’s Rules

Google, if you’re reading this, know that I love you and need you and I want to remain friends. J.C. Penney, if you’re also reading this, know that’s I’m on your side and am a very big fan of cuff links. That being said, J.C. Penney was recently busted by Google for gaming the system in order to get better organic search results. Let’s be clear; J.C. Penney’s did nothing illegal or immoral or unethical. They simply displeased the gods at Google by not following Google’s rules. One factor which contributes to a websites ranking is how many incoming links it has – that is, how many other sites are linking to your site. While one link from a big website – like the New York Times or the White House – will help your results, so will hundreds of links from smaller websites. Allegedly, J.C. Penney (through the SEO firm they hired) either paid hundreds of these websites to link to their site or created websites for the express purpose of linking to J.C. Penney (or both). Google says these tactics skew what would otherwise be more accurate and helpful search results, and therefore have punished J.C. Penney. The retail company claims they had no idea these “black hat” (as they are called) tactics were being used and are in the process of remedying the situation. So what does it all mean? As I mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with what J.C. Penney allegedly did other than it’s against Google’s rules. And while I support Google’s vision to create perfect search results and while J.C. Penney was (knowingly or not) gaming the system , I say good for J.C. Penney. J.C. Penney is by no means a small business, but […]

Telling Google Which Sites to Block

The geniuses at Google have come up with a cutting-edge algorithm, taking user-specific inputs and generating better search results. That algorithm? They’ve started asking people what sites they don’t want to see. A new chrome extension will allow users to add sites they don’t want listed in their search results. This is in direct response to Google’s initiative to target content farms in their results. The idea is that if enough people begin listing similar sites – especially the kinds that generate thousands of SEO-rich articles every day – Google may consider dinging them a bit in the search results. After all, real people are the ones using these search engines, so you might as well give them what they want. While this a great feature and I’m excited for it’s potential results, I don’t think I’ll be using it to block content farms. Oddly enough, I don’t really remember encountering them all that often. I think content farms are more of a nuisance for people who are trying to rank better for certain terms – online businesses, e-commerce, niche websites, etc. The average user is just trying to find good content, regardless of where it’s from. I think a more useful purpose for this extension is to block all those sites I know have nothing worth reading. I, for instance, could not care less about celebrity news. I don’t care about who’s in rehab or who wore it best or the latest gossip. So my blocked list will consist of TMZ.com and People.com and other journalistic atrocities. And maybe this will be the beginning of a revolution. Maybe enough people will block those websites that add no real value to society that they’ll go out […]

Treating Customers Poorly for Better SEO

Here’s the short version: A man running an online business (allegedly) intentionally harassed and aggravated customers with the hope they would go online and complain. When these upset customers complained, they would not only include the name of his company (DecorMyEyes) but also keywords and phrases related to his industry. So even though the content was negative – railing on the business and his deception – when people searched for eyewear-related terms, his site would show up near the top. If you want the very lengthy, although incredibly interesting, version, The New York Times has the scoop. There are several points to take away from this whole story. If you want to learn about the SEO implications, visit TechCrunch. But perhaps the least obvious is that consumer complaints websites don’t work; in fact, they may actually help these sketchy Internet companies make money. Negative statements about a company can ruin its reputation, but only if people actually read and internalize that information. Otherwise, when search engines scan through these various websites, the robots notice the correlation among various search terms – apart from any actual context – and will rank that website higher in search results. In this recent instance reported by The New York Times, all the various involved companies – Citibank, eBay, Amazon, PayPal, MasterCard, and even Google – have each been contacted and each have stated they are taking proper action. Appropriate law enforcement officers were also contacted. The man involved has since been arrested and is facing criminal charges. The resolution of this issue is not coming through passively commenting on the Internet or contributing to complaints boards. While the Internet makes many things easier and more effective, resolving consumer issues simply […]

How Google Instant Affects Advertising

Last week, Google unveiled its new Google Instant which produces search results as you type. Their reason for the service was, at least in part, to save people time. The average search, from typing in the search to selecting a link takes 25 seconds, which is obviously way too long. To the average user, this simply means more distractions. When searching for “Professional Marketing International,” typing “P” brings up Pandora (listening to new music = distraction #1), while “Pr” shows Priceline.com (planning holiday vacation = distraction #2). “Prof” brings up ProFlowers.com (reminder to get that loved one a gift = distraction #3). It’s not until typing “Professional M” that the desired result comes up, with countless distractions in between. Although for the less-ADD of you out there, this isn’t a problem. However, some people have expressed concerns about how Google Instant will affect advertising revenue and prices. Perhaps the biggest question mark relates to “impressions.” Impressions are when an ad – either at the top or in the side bar – shows up in a search result. Some advertisers pay per impressions (meaning they pay an amount each time their ad shows up) with other advertisers pay per click (paying only when someone clicks on their ad). Before Google Instant, a user could visit Google.com – or use a browser add-on – to type in their query, which they could adjust if they needed to, and had access to Google Auto-Complete (which would automatically display 10 or so search terms and phrases based on what was input into the search bar). Someone could choose the Auto-Complete suggestion, retype their search, or search for something else altogether without one ad ever being displayed. As soon […]

Lessons Learned from This Guy’s Mistake

Ryan Abood sells gift baskets online. His business has done very well thanks, at least in part, to his high ranking on Google’s search engine. GourmetGiftBaskets.com ranks in the top one or two for most of his industry’s keywords. However, something happened a few years ago that changed his business forever. In late 2008, everything was going well for Abood and his business until one day his site wasn’t showing up at all on Google. Out of nowhere, Google had removed the site from its listings. As Abood tried to figure out what was going on, he discovered that one of the companies he had hired to manage the site’s SEO had been buying links. Lesson #1: Don’t Buy Links Google – and other search engines – will not be happy if they find out you’re paying someone for links. Their organic search results are intended to be organic, and paying for links is more akin to Digg.com’s new, unpopular business model – where the bigger companies automatically get more prominence. Well, Abood admitted the mistake and apologized to Google (for which there’s actually an official form to fill out). This didn’t mean they’d automatically be re-ranked where they were before, so they had to expand their strategy. They began increasing their pay per click, maximized their affiliate programs, and – for the first time – implemented a social media presence utilizing Facebook, Twitter, etc. They also began closely watching and incoming links and removed them if they could be construed as paid. Lesson #2: Expand Your Marketing Strategies According to Abood, Google penalizing their site cost them about $4 million. Now, any penalty is going to cost, but it’s likely it wouldn’t have burned so […]