Daily Life Geek Stuff

Saturday, it’s a Saturday

Even though it’s the crazy holiday season it’s been a good day of rest. I got some work done this morning including the first cut of my Web 3.0 video that I sent off to the master of the lost art of audio story telling. I watched “The Sandlot” with my neice today and saw “The Holiday” with the lovely Carin last night (good date flick, a lot of fun).

I’ve also been messing around with Brain Age on my Nintendo DS, the UI for Sudoku is surprisingly good, exceptionally simple. The DS continues to astound me, I have no doubt there will be a Wii in my future.

I’m getting ready for a Christmas party tonight. Bonus points and a shoutout for anybody that knows the song that the title of this post came from. Have a good weekend, tomorrow’s The M Show!

Brain Buster Lead Generation SEO and Paid Search The Marketeer

Google AdWords Quality Score

I had already been dealing with the changes in AdWords for the past couple of months, and then I had a chance to learn the latest and greatest in Chicago this week. For anybody new that might ask “What is Google AdWords” – it’s paying Google so that your ads will show up on the right side of their search results page, or if your ad is really relevant, in the blue space above the normal results.

In the past it used to be that if you had a high enough bid, you made it to the top. As the story has it, one day someone from Google Googled “Google” and found that the ads had gone from PPC (pay per click) to PPC (pills, porn, casinos). As fruit of their anger the quality score was born.

The bottom line is if your ad doesn’t get .5% click through and have a decent landing page you will ultimately pay more for your ad, and as a result not show as high on the page. Like everything else in this domain, we don’t know exactly how google does it, but there’s some statements from google and tests by marketeers that have created some best practices.

Your ad copy is important, you need to test to make sure you stay above the .5% click through. You need to decide when to walk away from a keyword if you can’t get the click through high enough (maybe modify with negative keywords, or use the exact match). You need a good landing page (preferably with the keyword on it).

The down side is if you’ve been doing this shotgun style your minimum bids will rise fast (I’ve seen keywords go from 50 cents to $10 in a week), and you will have a hard time getting a good position on the page. On the other hand, if you work hard at creating relative content you will bid and pay less than those whose ads aren’t as good, and if you do well enough you can make it over to the one box where you will perform better than on the right side.

I’ll be presenting some data and other observations on this next week at the Case Camp Second Life – now if I can figure out how to get my avatar to stop dancing…

Daily Life The Marketeer

Jason Calacanis goes to Sequoia Capital

He’s announced that he’s going to be the “Entrepreneur in Action” at Sequoia Capital and saved the announcement for this morning at Search Engine Strategies in Chicago.

Brain Buster Productivity Booster SEO and Paid Search The Marketeer

What is Scraping and how to stop it?

I’m at the Search Engine Strategies conference and we just had lunch with a team from Google who showed off some of the new webmaster tools (and I managed to get in a vote for a crawl error referral report to Vanessa Fox, but that’s another post). The topic of scraping was raised and Danny Sullivan mentioned that there will be a full session on it later in the week. My general rule is not to blog during business hours but since we’ve been fighting this battle at work it’s relevant (and remember that AccuRev has the Ultimate Source Control Tool).

In our Web 2.0 world you can make money just by generating traffic and putting up Google AdSense ads. For the Ronin Marketeer, you post quality content, get the traffic and are regarded as a hero by all. Another approach for those of more flexible business ethics is to copy someone else’s content and show it as your own. This is happening more and more in the blogosphere, is already an issue for corporate sites.

The practice of grabbing content from another website and posting it as your own is called scraping. I’ve never played with scripting this myself but there are varying degrees of automating this process. Most people come across it when they are googling themselves or their company and they get some results that are outside of their own domains (often blogs using a default template) that copies their content verbatim. More recently these pages often include copy from multiple websites.

So, what to do about the theives in our midst? Adam Lasnik of Google discussed this during the panel today, and here’s a summary of the answer as I heard it:

  1. Overall, “Don’t Panic”. It’s fairly easy for Google to verify this, your site published it first and your domain has been established with Google. The scraper is not established, their URL is newer and probably registered for a year or less.
  2. You can file a DCMA Takedown request with them
  3. The takedown request is good but Adam referred to it as “swatting flies”, your time is better spent staying the course – make sure you are the source for your content by continuing to crank it out and remain the source.

Keep in mind that in the grand scheme the majority of scraping is garbage and clutter, and anyone providing search results will continue to screen it. But then again, it’s yet another cat and mouse game for us to follow.

I’m learning some good stuff, more to follow.

Daily Life The Marketeer

It’s Sunday – that means there’s an M Show


Nothing better than drinking Mulled Wine on public property at the German Christmas Market. Back to business tomorrow!

Check out your Monday M Show

Daily Life Podcasting

Why Radio Sucks

Not long ago I was travelling for business with a rental car and I had no way to get my iPod output into the stereo. After 15 minutes I was actually considering the risk of driving with headphones (and decided against it for my personal safety, I already felt at risk in my ultra-sub-mini-compact vehicle).

Reason #1 – Ads. There’s tons of them. This is the golden age of podcasting, there are very few there.

Reason #2 – Finite number of stations, finite choices. When’s the last time you heard a show about the best way to raise pigs or knit? Radio: every town in America has, the morning zoo, talk from the left and right, country, rap, classic rock, current rock, oldies and that’s it. No matter what your hobby, you can find something that you really want to learn about. And even though I am 100% podcast there’s lots of hollywood quality stuff through Audible (John Federico, thank me later).

Reason #3 – 60 GB, 9000 songs, my choice.

Reason #4 – If you are stuck waiting somewhere you can watch video on your iPod, kind of cool coming through 6 car speakers.

Bonus Reason: You may say “But John, in your simple-minded rant you forgot one thing – variety”, and you I say “See #3 and add Smart Playlist – Random” and check out my channels on gigadial – it’s great, subscribe to the feed and I’ll throw you random new podcasts to check out. The CAPOW channel covers marketing and business stuff, New England Podcasters is everything else for the general public, and the John Wall channel has everything that’s too nerdy, radical, edgy, or adult for the (somewhat) family friendly NE Casters channel.

My channel has some All-Star geek recordings right now that include Apple Founder Steve Wozniak, Joel from Joel on Software, and Business Gurus Clayton Christensen (the Innovator’s Dilemma) and Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point and Blink).
If you want just music then check out some folks doing some great stuff: Rock from Accident Hash, Hip-Hop from Julien, Chill with Anji Bee, and get your pirate Barry White style groove on with Suzy Chase.

By the way, anyone can add to those channels so if you have anything you’d like to share please add it.

Holy web bluntman, that’s a lot of links. Have a good weekend, The M Show will be out Sunday Night with some special guests…

Brain Buster Geek Stuff

Web 3.0

I mentioned yesterday that I had a chance to speak with Mike Kowalchik of Grazr and that started me thinking about the changing face of the web. This goes right along with a post of Steve Rubel’s regarding Yahoo no longer putting feeds on major pages. RSS is a way to get through content faster – it removes some of the friction in an already nearly frictionless environment.

The only problem is that we are now drowning in information – the web is being crushed under its own weight. A tool like Grazr allows readers to skip unchanged page views that would normally bear advertising messages. Once you are hooked on RSS feeds your surfing time decreases. This is a disruptive force.

I’m beginning to think that the missing link is an RSS killer app. With a program that folks on the far side of the chasm would adopt (something beyond a propellor-head newsreader), a program that makes RSS completely seamless, we will see something completely new. While Grazr may look like a widget on the surface, I think it may be the first look at something completely different.

Daily Life The Marketeer

Joel Digs AccuRev

A great surprise for me this morning forwarded by Chicago Mike : AccuRev has made the homepage of Joel on Software. This should be an interesting day as far as web traffic.

Brain Buster Geek Stuff

What a 21st Century Record Label Looks Like

I attended the WebInno event tonight over at the Royal Sonesta just across the river from Boston in Cambridge. Besides getting a chance to catch up with Andrew Bourland and Christopher Carleton, I got to see some interesting new web apps. I geeked out on RSS and OPML with Mike Kowalchik of Grazr, but that stretched my brain too far and now I have to process that for a day or two before talking about it.

The other main course was Calabash Music which was demoed by Brad Powell. They focus on World Music, and the interesting thing was that they have a mini player that bands can host on their own site which has both a playlist and integrated purchasing mechanism. You can listen to the tunes, and click to purchase the track. He mentioned that they already have a deal going with National Geographic (who hosts their podcasts with LibSyn). Very cool stuff, sort of a CD Baby without the CDs. Is this the record label of tomorrow?

Daily Life Geek Stuff

Where to check out new Web Stuff in Boston

I found out about the Web Innovators Group through Brian Owen of Masthead Venture Partners at the Nantucket Conference back in the spring. The latest meeting is tonight so I’ll fill you in on anything cool. If you are in the Boston area just go over to their Wiki and sign up.

I may even grab some audio for The M Show.