Category Archives: Special

Der Berliner Mauer, 1961 – 1989. Good riddance.

As the western world looks at the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I though I’d make my own modest contribution. I had the fortune to study in East Berlin in 1987-88, just before the wall fell. Sure there were tensions (communist darling Rosa Luxemburg’s

Freiheit ist immer die Freiheit des anders Denkenden

was provocatively thrown at the regime) but I don’t think anyone really thought at the time that the wall would fall any time soon.

On a personal level, the experience in East Berlin taught me a lot about critical thinking – such as how to read between the lines and why that is so important. I also learned to speak my first foreign language (full immersion works) and met my future soul-mate – not too bad for a year’s work.

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Microsoft finally concedes search engine battle to Google

It was bound to happen. In an economic climate of belt tightening, Microsoft has finally done the unthinkable. First there were those 5,000 layoffs. Then there was the abandonment of adCenter Analytics, Microsoft’s web analytics solution. Yesterday Microsoft announced it was discontinuing Encarta, tacit acknowledgment that it has been trumped by Wikipedia.

So perhaps I should have seen the writing on the wall. Yet today’s announcement that Microsoft is abandoning it’s Live Search took me by surprise. Is Yahoo! next? Will we soon be looking at a Google only world?


The human dimension of Search Marketing

I love the web. Despite being somewhere in Italy, I’m able to follow many professional conferences like SMX West through session write-ups posted online. After all, it isn’t always possible to attend conferences in person. Yet even when the post quality is high, there’s something missing, something that can’t be replicated virtually. Above all, its the human dimension, the networking experience. If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend professional conferences (or you’re a bit shy!), you might think, “what’s he on about?“.

As I reflect on the various breakfast, lunch and cocktail chats I had at SMX West, I think about the breadth of interesting people I met.

There’s excitement in being around so many bright and curious people– digital novices to seasoned veterans, those who practice search marketing to those who know that understanding search is a key to their company’s (and their own) future.


15 questions, 5 weeks, 5 free books: the SEO quiz is here

Note to the reader: this article was originally posted on our Italian blog on October 28th. The quiz targeted an Italian audience; we’ve published this translation in order to allow a wider audience to follow search marketing developments in Italy.

It seems that the summer fun is now over, but not so fast: it’s time to check, just for fun, your SEO knowledge! We’ve prepared 15 multiple choice questions on topics which appear frequently in SEO projects.

Only for a limited time

The quiz will be available for just 5 weeks, from 28 October to 1 December 2008. Once the quiz is over, the correct answers and the overall results will be published here. Participants will receive an e-mail with their results and a certificate of participation.

Five lucky participants will receive a free copy of Internet PR

Where there’s a quiz, there’s training. Marco Massarotto has lent us a hand, kindly offering 5 copies of his excellent book Internet PR.

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SEO for a Blog – All roads lead to RomeCamp 2008

One of the things that I really like about the Internet is that anyone who has a minimum of familiarity with a computer can communicate their ideas to a wide audience. Once upon a time the platform of choice was a personal site at geocities, clarence city or the like. In the meantime the blog format has emerged, a format that facilitates not only self publication but a broad exchange of ideas through visitor comments.

Embraced as well by politicians and companies, there is little doubt regarding the success of a blog as a means of modern communication. Yet there is a common misconception that I often hear:

“WordPress (the blog platform) is already optimized for search engines.”

If only!

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Search engine detection in Microsoft adCenter Analytics

Microsoft is the other main player, after Google Analytics, in the area of free Web Analytics tools for the analysis of browser centric web data. Microsoft’s adCenter Analytics is the successor to the former LiveSTATS thanks to Microsoft’s acquisition of DeepMetrix in April 20061.

Why search engines offer Web Analytics

Certainly the name Microsoft choose for its Web Analytics tool says a lot: with adCenter Analytics you know the priority is on advertising. Google has taken a softer approach with Google Analytics; sure there is and will be strong integration with AdWords, yet everyone is welcome to take advantage of Google Analytics even if they aren’t (yet) an AdWords client. The official line is that having experienced the power of measuring business results derived from a company’s web presence, marketing professionals will be more inclined to become AdWords clients. One presumes as well that the data collected by Google Analytics is used inside Google to measure the overall state of traffic on the web (including Google’s competitor’s market share – the benchmarking with other sites feature gives an idea of the possibilities). I hope that Microsoft will adopt a more enlightened Internet strategy and aggressively promote adCenter Analytics usage among non-adCenter clients. Google is a great company but could use some competition.


BLVD Status Analytics in free public beta test

I found an interesting announcement over at of a new Web Analytics tool, BLVD Status.

Two significant impediments have historically hindered the uptake of Web Analytics by businesses. The first has been cost. Professional Web Analytics systems have been fairly expensive, both in server and hosted forms. The second issue has been the great quantity and complexity of available reports in commercial systems, sufficiently intimidating many business professionals away from Web Analytics.

Google’s Google Analytics

Google, with their release of Google Analytics in November 2005, removed the first obstacle, cost, by releasing the first free “full featured” Web Analytics system. Previous free tools, such as AWStats, lack robust visitor recognition and click stream analysis, among other things. Yet a significant obstacle still remained to general Web Analytics usage: how to find the “important” data, without getting lost in a sea of confusing and often redundant reports? In May 2007 Google released an updated Google Analytics with a significant focus on the user interface, specifically as a response to this need.


People, Internet and Enterprise Business, all without mentioning Google.

Last Wednesday I had the fortune to attend a world class conference on social behavior and technology applied to medium and large sized businesses. Not in San Francisco. Not in Boston, where I worked for 4 years. Not in Milan, even. In Varese. Right, Varese, once known more for shoe production. The conference, the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0, was held at L’Università dell’Insubria as part of their 10th anniversary celebration.

As a search marketing consultant, I was very interested in how the social web is being applied to business environments. The very intertwined nature of the web means that no web marketing project should be seen in isolation. <rant>Thanks to the kind folks at Trenitalia, who canceled my train from Tuscany at the last minute, I almost didn’t make it. Not that you’d find any news about this on their website.</rant>


Are you an accomplished woman vying for a place in President Obama’s Cabinet?

As Barack Obama prepares his challenge against John McBush, one of his many challenges is to engage and motivate the many constituencies which supported the Hillary Clinton candidacy.

It is unlikely that the white racist contingent will rally around Obama’s message of hope any time soon; American is not yet Dante’s paradiso on earth, despite what many of my Italian friends would like to think. However women voters who were charged by the thought of a President Hillary Clinton represent an important voting block for Barack.

Choosing Hillary as his vice president would certainly be a significant move to attract and consolidate this block, yet as many have noted, this carries other risks. A credible commitment to actively recruit women to fill cabinet and other high level posts in the Obama administration would probably be a good tatic (and good policy), assuming Barack is able to do so without handing the rabid right a “quota bone” to masticate.


Astra2Connect and Tooway close the Internet digital divide with satellite to home service, maybe.

Regular readers of this blog be warned – this article is about the internet infrastructure needed to insure Internet users are online in the first place. We can perform all of the search engine optimization (SEO) we want, but if our target audience isn’t online due to lack of access, our results are going to disappoint. Marketing professionals are thus warned: what follows is a look at a potential technical solution to the digital divide.

In the early 1980’s I discovered the net. As a university student in Maine, I kept in touch via e-mail with a friend at Cornell University in New York state. It seemed like magic – 80 character monochromatic video terminals allowed us to exchange messages in minutes. The net in question was Bitnet, an early type of Internet connecting educational institutions. Later, in the early nineties, I used today’s internet to exchange email and files with clients. A great improvement over sending pizza sized magnetic tapes across town or across country. In Trieste in the mid-nineties I was able to browse the latest New York Times with Mosaic. By the late nineties, I had an ISDN connection in my home office (thank you, Peter Friedenbach). Of course ISDN gave way to ADSL… or did it?