Tag Archives: Web Marketing

Microsoft / Yahoo Search Alliance: a closer look at Bing Webmaster Tools & a free data export tool

Now on its third significant iteration, Bing’s Webmaster Tools merits a closer look in light of Yahoo’s continuing transition to Bing search technology as part of the Microsoft/Yahoo Search Alliance. During the summer lull in the northern hemisphere, Bing and Yahoo each made a series of important announcements regarding the Alliance. On July 22nd Yahoo stated that a further 6 countries are now powered by Bing organic search results; Yahoo added another 6 countries to this list on August 4th, bringing the total to 17. On August 16th Bing noted the integration of Yahoo traffic data into Bing Webmaster Tools.
Bing Webmaster Tools Traffic Performance Report
Figure 1: Yahoo logo in Bing Webmaster Tools to show combined traffic sources

Why SEO practitioners should care

The Bing / Yahoo consolidation won’t immediately challenge Google’s effective monopoly in most markets, with the US being as an important exception, it does put Bing in a better position to give Google a run for its money – important for anyone working in international SEO.

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The new email marketing metrics

Email Experience Council LogoEmail is still one of the most widely used Internet tools and, as such, a great marketing tool not to overlook. Like other web marketing tools, email marketing has an advantage in that it is also highly measurable.  That said, there remains much confusion among professionals on how to measure email marketing and what metrics are reliable.  Recently the industry group the Email Experience Council finally defined standards for email marketing measurement, as the Web Analytics Association did in 2007 for websites.

The historical email marketing metrics

Before considering the new metrics definitions, its worth understanding what metrics have historically been used in order to better understand the rationale underlying the EEC standards.

MetricDefinitionConsiderations
Sent
The number of messages we sent from our server.An accurate metric
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Facebook EdgeRank and 3 steps to optimize visibility in the Facebook News Feed (NFO)

The Facebook News Feed contains a selection of highlights from Facebook friends, pages to which a person is connected on Facebook and, to a limited degree, groups. The news feed receives significant visibility in Facebook due to its prime location in the central column of a Facebook user’s home page and its ongoing updates. The News Feed content consists of news and posts from friends and pages, friend requests, tagged photos & notes, responses to event invitations and notifications of group memberships.

The News feed is actually divided into two streams: Top News and Most Recent. The Top News stream, the default, contains selected highlights deemed by Facebook to be the most interesting and relevant, while the most recent stream, visible by clicking on a link, contains almost all of the current activity of friends and pages. It seems that about half of Facebook users click to view the most recent news.  The Most Recent updates are limited to activity from 250 pages and friends but you can remove this constraint by choosing the Edit option at the bottom of the page.

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Web Analytics and the Missing Right Clicks Conundrum

A web marketing professional naturally thinks a lot about the incredible diversity of a site’s visitor demographics. Old and young, male and female, well educated and not, affluent and not… but how much thought has been given to the right-clickers? No, not the right-handed, the right-clickers. Right-clickers are those who right-click on a link to open a page in a new tab, to save a file in a specific location or to copy the link.

Sure, right-clickers are probably more technically advanced users representing a minority of a site’s web visitors, yet still, tracking right-clickers has been gnawing at me for a while. The summer “break” was just what I needed to bring focus to an issue potentially impacting many Web Analytics data collection scripts. These are scripts are used by JavaScript based systems like Google Analytics to track website activities not already included in basic page tracking, such as file downloads and outgoing link clicks.

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Google Trends for Websites, now with less data

So who isn’t in love with Google’s competitive data tools for web marketing? Of all the sources of public web analytics, Google is potentially the most accurate. Why? No one else has the breadth of web data that Google has. Not comScore nor Nielsen. Not Hitwise. Not quantcast, compete nor Alexa. Forget their admittedly impressive press releases. They just don’t collect anywhere near the about of data Google collects. Consider:

  • Google tracks many sites directly with Google Analytics
  • Google samples many sites through web users who navigate with a Page Rank enabled Google Toolbar which “calls home” to Google in order to display the Page Rank
  • Google knows how much traffic websites receive from the world’s number one search engine
  • Google knows how much traffic websites send to sites using Google Analytics
  • Google provides a DNS service
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Yahoo Search Marketing Tools: What’s at Risk & How to Avoid Surprises

When Yahoo and Microsoft announced their Search Alliance in July 2009, only the high level agreement details were available:

  • Microsoft will provide the development and management of search engine results technology (bing)
  • Microsoft will provide the search and content network ad platform (adCenter)
  • Microsoft will manage the relationship with self-service advertisers
  • Yahoo will manage the relationship with large accounts
  • Yahoo will provide their own user interface on top of the Bing results which will appear on Yahoo properties

Microsoft - Yahoo Search AllianceNow that US and EU regulators have approved the deal, search marketers need to assess which Yahoo tools they rely on – and need to be prepared with alternatives should these tools be discontinued.

During the SMX West 2010 session Microsoft + Yahoo: What’s It All Mean?, I looked at the agreement’s implications for three Yahoo tools search marketing professionals have come to know and love:

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Yahoo Web Analytics (ex IndexTools) soon in no man’s land?

When Yahoo announced their effective exit from the search engine business last July, the main points seemed clear:

  • Microsoft will provide the development and management of search engine results technology
  • Microsoft will provide the search and content network ad platform
  • Microsoft will manage the relationship with all but an elite group of advertisers
  • Yahoo will provide their own user interface on top of Microsoft’s Bing data

The Bing-Yahoo agreement, should it receive the necessary anti-trust approvals, may have a wider impact on web marketers (as a side note, I believe the agreement is a bad thing as it reduces competition in this strategic market). Consider the uncertainty surrounding just two of the web marketing tools currently provided by Yahoo:

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Eying Search Engine Market Share in the era of Bing

At the end of May Microsoft announced its new search engine, Bing. As data from Bing’s first full month becomes available, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at the current market share enjoyed by the major search engines in the US and a “typical” European market, Italy. The real test of Bing’s success will to be to check back in a few months to see if Bing has picked up traction with users or not. As the folks from Cuil can attest, a burst of publicity doesn’t necessary translate into loyal search users.

Search Engine statistics, USA vs. Italy

Most web intelligence services are currently US centric with very little worldwide reach. Unless stated otherwise, the data which follows is for the US market. Where available, I’ve also provided data for the Italian market, which for search engine usage is rather typical of most west European markets.

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Why SEO & Usability are like two peas in a pod

Good user experience is fundamental for the success of a website:

On the Internet, it’s survival of the easiest: If customers can’t find a product, they can’t buy it. Give users a good experience and they’re apt to turn into frequent and loyal customers. But the Web also offers low switching costs … Only if a site is extremely easy to use will anybody bother staying around. – Usability guru Jakob Nielsen1

While Nielsen probably had site design and information architecture in mind, his point also encompasses search engine visibility. Without search engine visibility a website is hidden away on a dead-end street instead of being front and center on main street2, where the people are.

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7 sources of link intelligence data and key link analysis considerations

It may seem like a cliché but on the web no website is an island. Any site worth its salt will have accumulated inbound links and will most certainly contain outbound links to other resources on the web. Indeed, one can easily say that without links to interconnect websites, there wouldn’t be a worldwide web.

For search engines, such as Google, incoming links provide a strong signal as to the authority of a website. If multiple websites link to a specific website for a given topic, there is a good chance the website cited by others is deemed to be highly relevant for a good reason. Google and other search engines identify the theme of a website page by analyzing a page’s content and the text of the incoming links – the underlined text you click on to arrive at a page. Links, especially inbound links, are thus one of the most significant in the over 200 factors Google considers in its ranking algorithms. Inbound links from related sites in a business’ sector are also an excellent source of highly qualified direct traffic.

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