Natural Search Blog


Reach Local Scam Artists & Thwack ‘Em!

Have you ever been taken advantage of by a business, and wanted to get your due justice?  In most cases we may encounter generally bad service or unacceptable products from small businesses. But, in the worst cases, we actually get victimized by our friendly, local scam artists. It’s not just a matter of unsatisfactory service, but they willfully intended to dupe or cheat your or treat you badly!

Reach Local ScamWith merely a bad service or product, we might push for a discount or refund, and write some negative reviews about a company at various ratings sites like Yelp. But, when it’s an actual scam artist, it becomes a question of how to reach them in the first place, and then how to do anything that they’d even feel.

In the local search marketing world, many of us have noticed a spate of bad actors who are setting up fraudulent business listings (perhaps even operating under bogus names), and once they’ve lured people into doing business with them, they abscond with fees in return for shoddy service or no service/product whatsoever. So, there are some basic issues around how they are operating with impunity, promoting themselves online (sometimes out-ranking bona fide established local businesses), and then taking consumers’ money with zero accountability.

So, here are some tips we’ve made to help you REACH LOCAL SCAM ARTISTS and even thwack ‘em!  You may not be able to get your lost time and money back, but you may get a little justice or you might be able to declaw these bad guys just a bit so they can’t prey on other consumers as easily.

Tips To Reach Local Scam Artists & Thwack ‘Em: (more…)

Top In-House SEOs – Where Are They Now?

There’s been a lot of buzz lately criticizing TopSEOs, a business which purports to rate Search Engine Optimization experts, though ratings are influenced by payments. Both Aaron Wall and Edward Lewis skewered the service with pretty convincing points.

The rating service and talk about it reminded me that I actually did a sort of rating via a blog post here back in 2007 entitled “Some Top In-House SEOs“. In that post I sought to list out the cream-of-the-crop of search engine optimization experts working within major companies.

Top SEOs - On Top Of The Heap

The main difficulty of attempting to rate SEOs is that it’s quite hard to know precisely what they’ve recommended or done to optimize a company’s websites. For instance, you could be an absolute genius at SEO, but if the company is lethargic or incompetent programmers oversee their sites, none of the SEO expert’s talent might be reflected in the actual site. That’s an extreme example, and in most cases some degree of the expert’s recommendations will be properly implemented. But the point is that site configuration may not really be used to reflect an expert’s actual ability, particularly if compared with other colleagues.

Back when I wrote “Some Top In-House SEOs”, I wasn’t really prepared for the large amount of attention it received. I was immediately pressured by a lot of people who wanted to be added to the list, but didn’t meet the criteria I was using. Quite a few people asked me to update the list over time as well, and I quickly saw that it would be necessary if this was done ongoing to be open about the rating criteria I was using — else people would question why so-and-so was listed while so-and-so was not.

The criteria I used back then was very basic. I wanted to list only people who were employees of top companies that performed organic search optimization of one sort or another for those company’s websites. I wanted companies which were readily-identifiable by a majority of people in the U.S., so they had to be MAJOR brand names: top-50 websites, Fortune 500 companies, and Internet Retailer 500 companies. Finally, I had to be able to find/identify the SEOs who worked for those companies, which usually meant that they’d have to self-disclose what they did (many SEOs operated somewhat anonymously behind corporate walls). So, the SEO needed to blog or speak at conferences, and disclose who they worked for. In one or two cases, I discovered individual’s names through news interviews or press releases. I also mined the list of top-linked SEOs from LinkedIn (apparently no longer in operation? formerly: http://www.linkedseo.com/).

I made a number of mistakes, of course. I didn’t feel I had time to write to and receive confirmation from each person. In some cases I just “outed” people from behind the corporate curtain for the first time!

For the most part, people loved the attention and recognition! I felt a bit stressed from those who clamored to get in, and I pretty much stated that I wouldn’t add any until I updated a year down the road. In quite a lot of cases, I think that headhunters mined the list in order to lure people away to other companies, so many benefited from the exposure.

Here it is, about three years after the fact, and I thought it’d be interesting to see where are they all now? So, here’s the list once again, with individual’s former companies listed from back then, and who they work for now. Nothing scientific – I merely base this on what their LinkedIn resume or website states. It’s been neat for me to revisit this list! So many of these folks became friends and close acquaintances since I wrote this up! It’s also fascinating to see how many of them have moved on to advanced titles and to owning their own companies. (more…)

The Long Tail A Myth? Study Calls It Into Question

A Wall Street Journal Article today cites a study by Anita Elberse, a marketing professor at Harvard’s business school, entitled, “Should You Invest in the Long Tail?“, which finds evidence that in the online world, consumers gravitate towards the most-popular items just as in the offline world.

The Long Tail, if you don’t already know, refers to a theory promoted by a book by Chris Anderson titled “The Long Tail”, which describes a sort of niche strategy of business, such as employed by Amazon.com or Netflix, that sell a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities. The idea is that while you can obviously sell large numbers of a few popular items (the “head”), the cumulative, smaller number of sales of all your many less-popular items (the “tail”) might easily add up to a far greater total amount.

The Long Tail
“Head” items shown in red, “Tail” items shown in blue

Here at Netconcepts, we’ve been promoting the Long Tail concept in relation to natural search marketing for quite some time, since we’ve witnessed how its application can directly improve a business’s overall sales numbers. Indeed, businesses often get the most sales per item for their most popular products, but those products are also often the most competed on the internet, and sometimes the hardest to promote as a result. Even in the cases of top online retailers, we’ve seen that greater bulks of traffic and associated sales may often come from the bulk of less-popular Tail products. (more…)

New Columnist for Search Engine Land

Locals OnlyI just became a new contributor for Search Engine Land with the publication of my first article today:
Google Builds Local Map Content in 3D“. As you may recall, Danny Sullivan launched SearchEngineLand.com back in December of last year after stepping down as editor-in-chief for SearchEngineWatch.com which he’d originally founded. I’m contributing work under the Locals Only column that was earlier launched with their correspondent, Greg Sterling. As you may know, Greg Sterling was a former member of the Kelsey Group, and is widely respected as a top authority/commentator/analyst on marketing/business in the local search space.

I was really surprised and flattered to’ve been invited to contribute – I’ve long been a fan and devoted reader of the folx who worked upon SearchEngineWatch.com and now SearchEngineLand.com. I’ve also been a longtime reader of articles by Sterling, along with many others in my company, Idearc Media. I think I’m in really august company, and I know it’s going to challenge me to try to put forward work that’s worthy of appearing under their masthead along with others in the same space.

(more…)

Book Review: Getting The Most From Your Yellow Pages Advertising

Last year, I criticised a press release promoting a book by Barry Maher titled “Getting the Most from Your Yellow Pages Advertising, saying the press release was self-serving and irresponsible. I disparaged Maher, referring to him as a “so-called expert” and calling the press release “self-serving”. Maher’s press release touted advertising in print yellow pages and questioned the value of advertising online in comparison, so I was highly critical of it since I believe there’s significant value in advertising online. At the time, I thought I was justified in my criticism, since I felt he was promoting his book at the expense of bad advice to small businesses.

However, others pointed out some irony in my criticism — after all, self-promotion is by nature supposed to be beneficial to one’s self, and it’s not at all unusual to emphasize a bit of controversy to make press releases more interesting to readers. Further, Maher’s responses and comments to my blog posting were well-written, wonderfully mild, and professional — leaving me to wonder if I’d been unreasonable in my attack of the press release.

Getting the Most from Your Yellow Pages AdvertisingSo, I bought the book before Christmas from Amazon and have now finished reading it. I find that I agree with Maher’s book far more often than not, and I feel I should now apologize for my attack. While I believe in the value of online advertising and still will defend its viability, Maher’s book doesn’t attack it in an unqualified manner, and my attack on the man versus his ideas or statements was unjustified and just low. I prefer debating ideas in a logical manner, and I can’t understand why I also stooped to attacking the person in my post. I’m sorry about that, Barry!

As for the book itself, I found it to be very valuable for small businesses, particularly newbies who’ve never done yellow pages advertising before. Even the business owner who thinks they already know it all ought to read this and check some of their assumptions. Read on for a further review of the book.

(more…)

New Domain Names for Brands – Very Limited

I saw this blog by Dennis Forbes which could be interesting for any of you who are planning to create a new brand name with associated domain name: The Search For A Domain Name.

If you’ve done any whois queries in hopes of setting up a new domain name, you’ll already know the frustration of being denied the names you’d like to have most. It leads one to wonder how many common names are already snapped up. Dennis has done a bit of interesting research presented in his article on some common name permutations, and what percentages are already registered or parked until someone pays fees to the companies which have speculated by snapping them up.

I’m betting that if he took a database of common dictionary names and ran similar analysis, he’d also find 100% of those already taken by the same speculators. Interesting reading, though.

Continue reading »

Bloody hell, that’s a lot of information

My feeling of technogeek euphoria that I got last month when Google doubled the size of their index has quickly evaporated as I perused Berkeley’s “How Much Information” study. Here’s some stats that will blow you away:

What I found even more amazing (and depressing) is the degree to which we consume this data. We are a society of
information junkies. Witness this from the same report:

Published studies on media use say that the average American adult uses the telephone 16.17 hours a month, listens to radio 90 hours a month, and watches TV 131 hours a month. About 53% of the U.S. population uses the Internet, averaging 25 hours and 25 minutes a month at home, and 74 hours and 26 minutes a month at work — about 13% of the time.

I can’t imagine sitting in front of the ‘idiot box’ for 131 hours a month. What a terrible waste of one’s life. For an average person, that’s something like 7 years of your life — gone.

Dave of the excellent PassingNotes.com blog looks at it this way:

IF you were all of those things, then of the 720 average hours in a given month, of which you should be sleeping circa 200 (give or take a few hundred), then you’d basically be occupied by media (in some form) for over 330 hours per month – and since we spend about one-third of our lives ‘waiting for something to happen’ (bus, phone etc) and about another 20-40 hours per month in a bathroom (much higher for ted kennedy), then discount sleep, and you’ve got about 80ish hours to be a genuine, sentient human being…sad, sad world…

MarketingProfs webcast on SEO

Well, I presented at another MarketingProfs webcast (webinar) today. This one was on Search Engine Optimization: Maximizing Your Natural Search Channel. Wow did we get deluged with questions at the end! Much more so than the one I did 2 months ago, on unlocking the power of Google as a research tool. I’ll try to respond to the raft of attendee questions and compile them all into a Q&A document for everyone’s enjoyment.

How to Become a Google Power Searcher

The first part of my MarketingProfs.com article series called “Unlocking Google’s Hidden Potential” is now available for MarketingProfs premium subscribers. The article provides tools to improving your Google search skills, including: word order, wildcards, Boolean logic, stemming, synonym searches, and much more.

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