Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Are Yahoo's top rankings being hijacked?

I was gauging the effect of the Yahoo! update on some sites I have a special interest in. I saw some very interesting shifts where these sites were now ranking #1 over state government agencies that police this industry and .edu sites.

What makes this even more interesting is that the #1 spots that the sites are occupying appear normal with the right title tag, copy snippet and green URL. However, once you click the Yahoo! SERP link you're taken to Business.com and then forwarded to the actual site with a bizcom tracking code.

Of interesting note is that the owner of these sites advertises through Business.com listings and through their PPC program. So it may be possible he is paying for all of these clicks. They did tell me that Business.com traffic was up significantly.

I've provided some information below on what's happening:

Case 1
A Yahoo! search for [texas real estate license]:

Click to Enlarge

The #1 natural spot embedded link is:

The embedded link is:

Clicking on the #1 natural spot listed as "www.texasrealestatelicenseonline.com" takes you through several 302 redirects one of which redirects to Business.com.

See the whole request process with headers here.
As a comparison here is the #2 spot headers here.

You eventually wind up at:


Case 2
A Yahoo! search for [illinois real estate license]:

Click to Enlarge

The #1 natural spot embedded link is:

Clicking on the #1 natural spot listed as "www.illinoisrealestatelicenseonline.com" takes you through several 302 redirects one of which redirects to Business.com.

See the whole request process with headers here.
As a comparison here is the #3 spot headers here.

You eventually wind up at:


Case 3

A Yahoo! search for [property management and construction software]:

Click to Enlarge

The #2 natural spot embedded link is:

Clicking on the #2 natural spot listed as "www.spectraesolutions.com" takes you through several 302 redirects one of which redirects to Business.com.

See the whole request process with headers here.
As a comparison here is the #1 spot headers here.

You eventually wind up at:


Friday, September 23, 2005

Bye-Bye Butler!

Ask Jeeves or should I say Ask is 86'ing the Butler icon.

IMO...I don't see the value in doing away with an icon that is synonymous with this engine from it's inception. I like Jeeves (fat or thin Jeeves...no preference here). Could it be that Ask "bit" on a rebranding pitch from
the agencies - TBWA/Chiat/Day or Hanft Unlimited????

Here is an idea...take the money that you have budgeted to spend on your new branding initiative and put that money into improving your search technology!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Google: Click Fraud is THE Issue for our Clients

In case you hadn't heard Google is trying to directly court Fortune 1,000 companies. Sure it’s only a 1,000 companies; on the other hand it’s THE top 1,000 companies. Less meat for us agencies, but I digress.

I had the opportunity to listen to and meet David Dietze, who handles all travel and technology commerce clients throughout the Southeast and Southwest, and Brian Devill (David called him the 'muscle') at a local DFWSEM meeting.

Into the Q&A the subject of click fraud was brought up...I was beat to it...and I asked David point blank if Google was open to working with third part click fraud data providers/aggregators. He said that Google was open to working with them and wanted to know anytime an advertiser or their click fraud auditing service provider suspected click fraud. Good to know.

The big question I wanted to ask was how big of an issue is click fraud to Google's own advertising clients in the pre and post sales process. Brian answered "Click fraud is THE issue." Nice to know that Google themselves are running into some of the problems that agencies are. I think agencies may have the upper hand here though...it’s in our best interest to detect click fraud for our clients and obtain refunds, such as Zunch's Click Fraud Detective does. The same can't be said for Google.

Google and the Thickening Browser Plot

The long time commercial browser Opera is now free of charge and free of ads, giving users yet another option in the expanding browser market. Although Opera's market share is small, the browser is widely regarded as a very mature and intuitive product. The big news in my mind, however, is what makes it free...

Opera software, following the path of Mozilla's Firefox, has levereged deals with internet giants like Google, eBay and Amazon to receive kickbacks from users who purchase using the built-in search bar.

So after years and years of rumors regarding gBrowser, Google is apparently satisfied to strike deals with current browser makers. Ofcourse we all know of one company who will not be signing papers with Google. To that end, check out this screenshot:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Google Wi-Fi?

While I think this would be so COOL if it actually works (imagine a national Wi-Fi system that works like the cell system) I can't help but think - Google, are you getting away from what you do well?

In the past in this blog I've speculated that Google is getting too far away from it's main focus. I think some people are starting to agree with me.

So, Google, create this neat tool for me - but be careful. The world is full of companies that start off great, lose focus, and then become mediocre.

Google Secure Access: Frequently Asked Questions

Monday, September 19, 2005

Can AJAX and SEO coexist? They must.

If you haven't heard about AJAX yet, you at least have used it. In just a year or two, AJAX has become the talk of the town thanks to snazzy new web implementations by folks like Google, Oddpost and Microsoft. For the non-techies among us, AJAX is a method of displaying dynamic content on-the-fly, that is, without a page refresh.

Obviously the emergence of this type of technology has huge implications for search engine marketers everywhere. So far, AJAX is mainly limited to specialty applications (mapping and email, most notably), which do not present a problem. As this technology continues to inspire and grow popular, though, how long until Mike's Electronics website wants an AJAXed navigation? While we would like to offer users an interface that is more "desktop" like, the thought of not having content crawled an indexed just doesn't fly.

This brings me to my point. With Google, Microsoft and others playing a large role in the escalation of this technology, shouldn't we expect them to support it from a search standpoint? I'm looking for one of these companies to step up and pioneer a method for new technologies like AJAX to be search compatible. I don't know if that's a new markup tag with special instructions for spiders, a new document similar to the sitemap.xml file, or something completely different.

With the contiguous maturation of the Internet and Search, I think it would be a shame if either one was held back unnecessarily. I see that happening with AJAX...but I hope I'm wrong.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Google: Wireless VoIP Provider

You know, I have to be pretty wound up to be blogging on a Saturday morning...

What’s got me wound up is the moves that Google has and is making in regards to wireless communications. Google buys up large amounts of dark fiber left over from the Internet bubble burst and launches Google Talk (cell # required).

So what if G creates a major wireless network (Verizon has already launched one) and partners with a tech gadget company like LG and markets VoIP "cell" phones. The phones are embedded with Google applications and these phones maintain on "always on" Internet connection. The phone, of course, has the abilities to make calls (VoIP), search the web (local would be huge as would a social network), IM, read Gmail, check your Adwords/Adsense accounts, get RSS feeds, check your eBay bids and auctions, etc.

And another possible spin: Since G would own the network and the calls are over the Internet, the costs could be MUCH cheaper than they are now. Maybe if you elected to receive Adwords ads on your phone your service would be free.
The big cell companies better be concerned; with a brand like Google behind it, VoIP "cell" phones could become mainstream.

Source Article: http://www.webproworld.com/viewtopic.php?p=247655

Friday, September 16, 2005

More MSN/AOL Rumors

So, AOL may dump Google results for MSN results. This would make sense if, in the near future, AOL will be part of MSN. I wonder if MSN will make use of Advertising.com's platform? That would be pretty cool as I think that's a great tool for advertisers.

However, note to MSN - you guys need to get your customer service off the ground better. I know it's early, but I thought Google customer service was the worst, but lately you guys are giving them a run for their money. Just our agency experience, take it for what it's worth. Fix the problems and I'll be the first one to say it publicly. Let's avoid the mistakes of the past.

But go get AOL - and have great customer service - and we will give you a lot of money.

Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide

Yahoo! Debuts Instant Searching

Yahoo! 'Instant' Search (beta version)

Another utility to make searching the web more efficient (or make us more lazy)

Will I use it on a regular basis...probably not. I don't use Google's 'Im Feeling Lucky' button which is basically what Yahoo! Instant Search is. Only major difference between the two...Yahoo! Instant Search pops up a bubble with the most popular related search term in Yahoo!'s data base (in relation to the search query entered)

I like my search engine like I like my coffee...without cream and sugar. You get my point?! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Federal Judge to PPC Networks: Hit the Road Jack

As most of you may know the PPC networks under suit (Google, Yahoo!, Overture, AOL, Ask Jeeves, etc.) tried to have the previous federal courts decision, that decided the lawsuit should be sent back to Arkansas, reversed. The federal court system apparently favors big companies, especially after a bill was signed into law earlier this year. Apparently the appeals court judge felt the same way as the previous judge, so back to Arkansas.

Basically in a state court both parties have little recourse when there is a court order that they don't want to comply with. That's puts the PPC networks in a tight spot considering that no one, NO ONE, gets access to their data. A court order could put that information on display for the plaintiffs counsel and their consultants. Having served as a consultant for the plaintiff's counsel, I can tell you that the data could be very damaging to the defense and that the plaintiff's counsel will be asking for it.

Truveo Launches Video Search Engine

Truveo to battle with the big boys (Google and Yahoo!) in the video search arena!

Very clean format and easy to use. Another new "search toy" to add to my favorites.

What do you guys think of it?

Truveo Launches Video Search Engine

Time Warner eyes AOL stake sale to Microsoft: NY Post - Internet Services - Internet - M&A


Basically, if MSN buys AOL they could use the subscriber base as a launching pad for a new Web-based operating system – which is the holy grail for Google. If MSN can beat them to the punch and get a large market share it would be much harder for Google to enter the market.

It’s all based upon search. Search is the catalyst that will drive computing for the foreseeable future. The company that controls the most search will control the interactive medium. Soon search will be integrated into EVERYTHING and you’ll get tired of reading a book because you can’t search for exactly what you are looking for. And with Broadband set to be distributed through power lines, any device that has a plug will be online. So, your toaster could help you find the optimal bagel for it’s specifications, order it for you with some cream cheese and have it delivered to your house before breakfast.

We’re giddy over here at Zunch. Right now, Google has somewhat of a monopoly on search dollars and somewhat lacking customer service. I’d like to at least be able to legitimately threaten to pull them off of a buy. So come on MSN, let’s get it started!

Time Warner eyes AOL stake sale to Microsoft: NY Post - Internet Services - Internet - M&A

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Google Blog Search - Watch out Icerocket and Technorati?

Google's new Blog Search debuted today. So far, it isn't nearly as comprehensive as either Technorati or IceRocket, but I would expect big things soon. We'll be watching closely.

Google Blog Search

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Come to our Webinar

We're putting on a Webinar that I think alot of people will be interested in. The Webinar is will be lead by the ever-popular Kevin Ryan, Zunch Chief Strategy Officer and iMedia Connection columnist extrodinaire. Kevin will help companies with strategies on how to best spend their holiday marketing dollars.

Christmas in September. I love it.

Register for the Webinar at http://www.zunch.com/webinar.cfm

Online Holiday Spending to Exceed $26 Billion in 2005; Zunch Communications, Inc. Presents Webinar on Seasonal Search Engine Marketing:

Meteorologist Cutts to give weather reports

Joining in on what Mayer at Yahoo has been doing for a while, Matt Cutts has agreed to give Google weather reports when a major update is blowing through.

Current Conditions: Just a PR / Backlink update.

Oh yeah...happy birthday Google. You're the largest seven year-old I know (but still crawling ;-).

Friday, September 02, 2005

DMNews.com | News | Article me

The article in the link below was forwarded to me - and after reading it all I could think of was what an arrogant, self-serving piece of drivel it was masquerading as actual advice to direct marketers. I don't know the authors personally, but I can say that from what I see here, I don't have much respect for them.

Basically, the gist of the article is that web marketers should only concentrate on paid placements because naturalized placements are only for those in the "information gathering" stages.

Sure, I'm a little biased. At Zunch, we are very good at naturalized optimization. But, for the record, it's much more lucrative for me monetarily, to recommend our paid services. But I would never say that SEO is only targeting people doing research. Our own client's experience show this is not the case.

What really irks me is that this article seems to be mere speculation stated as fact. Where did the authors glean this information? What studies can you point out?

As the person who sent me this article said - this is B.S.

DMNews.com | News | Article

Wow...busy day, let's get STARTed

Man there's some good topics out this morning...another day to be thankful to work in a dynamic industry that's always fresh (sorry to Jeese and his fellow accounting friends).

Microsoft unveiled the new start.com page today, and I've just spent about 30 minutes playing with it. Very cool...I'm giving it 3 stars. I only have one major complaint, and I've already seen others say the same: Make the article title a link so I don't have to find the tiny "more >>" link at the end.

Check it out for yourself.