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Archive for December, 2009

Economist fans social network boost

December 29, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

The Economist plans to add 500,000 fans on Facebook and 750,000 followers on Twitter within six months, in another sign that traditional publishers are looking to social media as a substantial source of new web traffic and readers.

Readers of The Economist’s website will soon be able to log in and make comments using their Facebook identity, through Facebook Connect. The will also take on features similar to social networks itself, allowing readers to create profile pages and earn a reputation through other users’ recommendations of their comments on the site.

Ben Edwards, publisher of, hopes that Facebook will help his site acquire new readers and develop a “deeper level of engagement” with existing ones.

“We have a mission online of being the foremost destination for global discussion and debate, which is a social proposition,” Mr Edwards told the Financial Times. Making more social is “the core of our strategy”, he said.

Broadcasters such as Sky and ITV, as well as publishers such as Guardian and the New York Times, are finding that mingling with the huge audiences gathering on Twitter and Facebook can be a source of traffic to rival that of search engines. The Economist, in which the Financial Times owns a 50 per cent stake, currently has more than 90,000 Twitter followers.

About 180,000 people have joined its official “fan page” on Facebook. A marketing budget of “tens of thousands of pounds” will be allocated to help boost those figures to meet its ­targets.

Both sites publish links to, which has 4m monthly unique visitors, 3m of whom have registered their details with the site. Mr Edwards said the number of paying subscribers was “fairly small, but growing healthily”.

Profile pages for registered users will be expanded to include additional details such as where they have studied and worked.

But more people are expected to use their Facebook profile details than registering with directly. Although advertisers might find that data valuable if shared with The Economist rather than Facebook, Mr Edwards is betting that using Facebook Connect will ultimately bring more comment makers to

Reader comments on The Economist’s Facebook page are shorter than the lengthy notes on its own site. So a new reputation system will make sure the most popular comments more prominent, whether from Facebookers or long-time readers.

The Economist will also be “a lot more active” on Twitter, which will be a “full-time job”, Mr Edwards said. “That shows the importance we place on it as a source of traffic,” he said.

The changes are expected to be introduced within three to four months, alongside improvements to its subscriber-only features.

But The Economist’s discussion forums will remain free.

“People aren’t accustomed to being charged for conversation,” Mr Edwards said.

Dr Search notes that the future for 2010 is social networking. Are you making the most of your opprotunities?

Google’s tips to avoid duplicate content issues

December 24, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Google have shared some insights into duplicate content and how the search engine deals with it.

Google Search Quality Engineer, Greg Grothaus, presents the video as part of the Webmaster Outreach program.

Greg clears up one of the most common myths in SEM: the duplicate content penalty.
Here’s how Greg explains it:

    I’ve seen evidence of people kind of get worried about this and thinking that [being omitted from the search results] is a penalty Google are applying on their site. What’s actually happening is that we’re looking at the query the users doing and we’re saying we want diversity in the results we’re going to show a user.

    So if someone searched for “fluffy bunnies” we want to show, as maybe page one, the wikipedia article on fluffy bunnies but we don’t want to show as page 2 the print version of the same article with the exact same text. So what we’re doing for that specific query, we’re omitting the print article.

How can you combat this? Here are some suggestions:

    * Don’t attempt to manipulate search engine rankings by deliberately duplicating content. If the content is changed in some way or additional value is added, then this is ok. But don’t just copy another website word for word, Google see this as a big no no
    * Don’t dilute your linking by backlinking to several URL versions with the same content.
    * Make sure your URLs are user friendly in the search results. URLs with useless parameters may offset branding efforts and decrease usability.
    * Make it easy for Google to crawl you site. More time spent crawling the same content means less time to discover the important content. So make sure that you have a sitemap- and update it regularly.
    * Pick one “canonical’ URL for each page and ensure you link consistently within your site.

Dr Search has posted Greg’s video here, so you can check it out yourself. It’s about 15 minutes in length, so you might need to grab yourself a drink and settle into a comfy chair.

Dr Search– the Principle Consultant at the Search Clinic wishes you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Nielson’s top five advertising trends for 2010

December 23, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Whilst the overall advertising environment in 2009 was fairly gloomy with revised strategies to address the credit crunch new trends developed. 
The online marketing industry evolved, and the lessons learned will likely pay off in the year ahead. For example, advertisers started to look at the need for accountability metrics beyond the simple “click-through” and on to campaign-specific performance. 
They also started to embrace burgeoning social networks and consumer generated media to bring consumers closer to a product or brand.

Top Advertising Trends for 2010

   1. Optimizing media convergence is a top priority. A better understanding of media convergence will manifest in order to deliver a better return on investment. The ability to accurately measure activity and link online ads to offline purchasing behavior will be critical.
   2. New models emerge to take advantage of smartphones. Accurate mobile measurement will be required to stay head of the snowballing growth of that media platform.
   3. More cross media ad campaigns surface. The massive growth of online video games played and shared online leads the way for more successful interactive and cross-media advertising campaigns to appear. Growth in the adoption of this innovative advertising across screens and activities will increase.
   4. Commercialization of social networking hubs increase. Social media will provide a new sales channel for establishing product awareness and commercializing brands to better support traditional advertising or text-based ads.
   5. More interesting and interactive online ads appear. Increased use of more creative advertising and content models online such as video, attention-seeking page takeover ads and mechanisms for greater interactivity will drive the next era of Web development.


Google pays no tax on £1.6bn sales in Britain

December 22, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Google was accused of “ducking its social responsibility” whose informal corporate motto is “don’t be evil”, as it emerged that it did not pay any tax on its £1.6 billion advertising revenues in Britain last year.

The firm, which has a substantial presence in London, diverted all its advertising earnings from customers in Britain to its Irish subsidiary.

The arrangement allowed Google legally to avoid paying more than £450m in corporation tax to HM Revenue & Customs in 2008.

The disclosure prompted politicians to criticise Google, widely lauded as a pioneer of the internet age, for “ducking its social responsibility” and for “tax avoiding”.

Accounts filed with Companies House in the past week show Google’s 2008 UK corporation tax bill amounted to just £141,519 — and that was tax on the interest generated by its cash pile in UK bank deposits.

Vince Cable, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, urged the search firm to “pay its fair share” of tax.

“Avoidance like this is hard to stomach at the best of times,” said Cable. “But when the country is in recession and everyone is feeling the pain, it really sticks in the throat — it means higher taxes for the rest of us.

“Google’s reputation will be severely damaged if it continues to behave in this way. It is ducking its social responsibility.”

Google says its structure complies fully with UK tax rules and that the company makes a “substantial” contribution to tax receipts wherever it operates.

About 13% of Google’s global revenues now come from the UK, and 770 staff are based at its London offices.

Accountants said that if the firm’s £1.6 billion UK earnings were paid directly into Google UK Limited, the London operation, it would have been liable for UK corporation tax of between 28% and 30%.

This could have raised about £450m for the public finances— enough tax to fund three NHS hospitals, buy at least eight Chinook helicopters or pay the annual salaries of about 15,000 policemen.

Any British individual or company who places an advertisement with the search engine pays a fee to Google’s European headquarters in Ireland, where corporation tax is levied at between 10% and 25%.

The Dublin operation’s latest accounts show that only €7.5m (£6.7m) of Irish tax was paid in 2008, even though the bulk of Google’s €6.7 billion (£5.9 billion) European earnings flowed into Ireland.

Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby, who campaigns against tax avoidance, said: “Google isn’t just sucking money out of local newspapers and other people who rely on advertising for a living — it’s also draining money out of the public finances.

“The search engine is a marvellous service, but the company is run by tax avoiders. If they are going to make so much money here they need to give more back to society.”

As well as paying little tax, Google UK Limited’s latest accounts disclose that it made modest charitable donations of just £5,662 during the year.

The document also reveals that Google’s highest-paid UK director earned nearly £1.1m — an 80% rise on the previous year.

The average British based Google worker earned more than £90,000 last year, with the company paying National Insurance and other social security contributions of £10m.

From the Sunday Times article at

Google fined over French copyright infringements

December 21, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

A Paris court has found Google guilty of copyright infringement in a ruling which could have ramifications for its plans to digitise the world’s books.

The search giant must pay £266,000 in damages and interest to French publisher La Martiniere. Google was also ordered to pay £9,000 a day until it removes extracts of the books from its database.

It was one of many to take Google to court for digitising its books without explicit permission.

Google expressed disappointment at the ruling.

“French readers now face the threat of losing access to a significant body of knowledge and falling behind the rest of internet users,” said a spokesman for the firm.

Google wants to scan millions of books to make them available online.

This court case will be seen as a victory for critics of the plan who fear Google is creating a monopoly over information.

Publisher Herve de La Martiniere launched his court case three years ago but Google continued to scan books during this period.

La Martiniere, the French Publishers’ Association and authors’ group SGDL who started the court battle initially demanded that Google be fined £13.2m.

The book publishers claimed that scanning books was an act of reproduction and, as such, was something that should be paid for.

Google’s plans to establish a digital library have hit several road blocks. It agreed to a settlement with US authors and publishers but is renegotiating after the US Justice Department concluded that the deal violates anti trust law.

Quick tips to boost your holiday sales

December 17, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

With Christmas fast approaching, here are some quick tips which can help you to maximise your sales during this peak time of year.

1. Increase Your Campaign Budgets
Throughout December there will be a big spike in the number of people looking for gifts online. If you are promoting your business through a pay per click program like Google AdWords, make sure to increase your campaign budgets to take advantage of the extra search activity.

2. Don’t Stop on December 25th
Even though the big day has come and gone, keep your holiday campaigns running into the New Year. Boxing day can be the busiest day of the year for online retailers, with many people looking for retailers trying to clear excess stock. 

But make sure that you are your staff keep checking your online order emails! We know of one business that kept their pay per click running over the holiday period- but no one checked until Jan 2nd. So they had much lost money and dissatisfied customers.

3. Clarify Your Shipping Dates
A large majority of your customers will want to receive their goods on or before the 24th December, so make your shipping policy clear. On your home and product pages, list the final order dates for guaranteed delivery before xmas.

4. Consider a Holiday ‘Sale’

Give yourself an edge over competitors by running a special offer or discount during the holiday period. Some examples may include:
    * Free Shipping
    * Shop wide discounts- like a £10 off your next sale voucher code
    * Buy One Get One Free Offers
    * Free Order Bonuses- like a T shirt

5. Prompt Customer Service
Frantic, last minute shoppers will be looking for quick answers to their questions. By speeding your response times you’re more likely to keep their business away from competitors.

Good Luck- Dr Search hopes that you’ve found these tips a useful addition to your holiday marketing!

Google and Facebook launch URL link shorteners

December 16, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Google and Facebook have launched their own URL link shorteners, tools that transform a long internet address in to a much shorter string of characters. 
Google’s new URL shortener,, will be available through Google’s Toolbar and its Feedburner RSS feed, but is not yet available as a stand-alone service for “broader consumer use”. Facebook’s shortener, fb. me, is predominantly designed for use on mobile device, and it’s unclear whether fb. me will be rolled out across the whole platform.

URL shorteners have grown in popularity over the last 18 months, with an increasing number of web users using services such as TinyURL and to condense links so that they can be shared more easily on social networking sites such as Twitter, which imposes a limit on the number of characters that can be contained within a single message.

Google and Facebook’s foray in to link shortening could be a disaster for rival service, which has rapidly become the de facto URL-condensing tool. It is the URL shortener of choice for many third party Twitter clients, and short links currently account for around 75 per cent of all shortened URLs circulated on the microblogging platform. Last month, shortened more than two billion links, up from just 11.8 million the previous year.

Much of’s popularity stems from the metrics that can be gathered from every clicked link, enabling website owners to see where their traffic comes from. At present, neither Google nor Facebook has announced any plans to add analytics to their URL shortening services, but some industry experts believe Google could leverage its existing web trends and analytics tools and apply them to its service if the tool is made generally available to businesses and consumers.

Within hours of Google’s and Facebook’s announcements, Betaworks Studios, which helped to develop, said that the company was launching a new service that would allow websites to create their own custom URLs built on the platform.

Some industry experts have warned that the sheer volume of short links that could be generated by Facebook’s and Google’s URL shorteners could “overwhelm” the number of links circulating on the internet.

4 predictions for online marketing in 2010

December 15, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Dr Search senses a cautious sense of hope with everyone I’ve spoken with that the prospects for next year are stronger for local search providers and our advertisers. 
Looking to next year, I’d like to share some predictions on market trends that will impact those small businesses looking to harness local search in order to play a part of our national economic recovery. If local search providers and advertisers keep these trends in mind, I think they will ultimately come out ahead in the local search race.

Prediction 1: Mobile will drive local search growth

BIA/Kelsey predicts that mobile local search ad revenues will grow to $130 million by 2013, and that mobile local searches will increase to 35 percent of all searches by 2013. Amid this growth, we’re seeing significant innovation on the mobile front, from new Yellow Pages iPhone apps to mapping technologies that deliver relevant local information to users on the go.

In 2010, advertisers will be faced with a growing set of options, and many will have limited knowledge of how to break through. The providers that will do well will be the ones who can make sense of this quickly changing platform and deliver programs that offer quality sales leads to advertisers.

Prediction 2: Local search providers will vie for social media

The truth is that no one owns social local search yet, but all the major players have an eye on getting there. Here’s why: Neilsen reported that ad spending at top social media sites increased 119 percent over the last year, and the share of social media ad spending to total online spending doubled to 15 percent in 2009.

Advertisers know that significant trust exists within online social communities and that social networks have become a crucial way in which we relate with others. The question in 2010 will center on how we can authentically tap into those networks to serve local business information to consumers looking for it.

AT&T; has said it will launch its answer to this question in 2010, and SuperPages has a Twitter search tool available right now. Praized Media launched this fall as a beta program and is hoping to expand it additional regions. I can only imagine where we’ll be a year from now.

Prediction 3: Local print advertising will continue to decline but won’t disappear

Dr Search has been predicting the death of print media for quite some time. I don’t believe that print media will disappear anytime soon, but certainly usage is changing. Media fragmentation is causing a gradual decline in the quantity of print Yellow Pages references, for example, although the quality of those references is still very high. Quite frankly, the perception of the usage decline in the printed Yellow Pages far exceeds the reality of what is actually happening.

For advertisers, this means taking a close look at advertising spend and evaluating their print investment. Those who are too quick to abandon it may see a reduction in qualified sales leads, while those who aren’t open to some of the newer platforms available might be missing a big opportunity.

Prediction 4: A hybrid marketing approach will win

My colleagues spent a good part of this year talking about the hybrid model that they’ve deployed in their sales teams. Yellow Pages sales representatives, for example, are now armed with portfolios of options ranging from owned products to partner products. And in this way, have essentially become advertising consultants to small businesses.

Advertisers should think about taking advantage of these kinds of information resources by devoting an hour or two to thinking through the options out there and devising a strategy that spans the appropriate media for the business. 

It’s more important than ever to consider a multi channel approach because today’s consumers get information for a multitude of places before making a purchasing situation. And that fragmentation will only continue to grow as we head into 2010.

Now it’s Google’s turn to blow your personal data

December 14, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Aftre Facebook did a major overhaul of its privacy settings to open your data to all members, there was an immediate outcry from some quarters as the site was a bit aggressive in setting users’ defaults to “everyone.”

In addition, Yahoo got called out for trying to suppress its surveillance menu for law enforcement. And Asa Dotzler of Firefox railed against Google and urged users to switch to Bing in response to comments from Google CEO Eric Schmidt that made the latter seem indifferent to consumer privacy.

So what exactly did Schmidt say about privacy?

He told CNBC Anchor Maria Bartiromo, on the cable network’s recent special “Inside the Mind of Google,” that people who have something to hide shouldn’t be doing things online that might potentially expose them if law enforcement seeks access to their search histories.

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” said Schmidt.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and others have decried that position, especially as others within Google, such as Google VP Marissa Mayer, seek to assure consumers that their privacy is “protected” at Google.

In fairness to Schmidt he was saying that Google (and others) are subject to US law (the “patriot act”) and that law enforcement and government authorities can, as a practical matter, get access to search records because they’re retained “for some time.”

That then — the period of data retention — becomes the practical privacy battleground. 

Google’s new personalized approach to search results generally seeks to retain user data indefinitely, in cases where users don’t actively delete their histories. Danny explains how it works:

    In Signed-Out Web History, Google knows that it has seen someone using a particular browser before. Behind the scenes, it has tracked all the searches that have been done by that browser. It also logs all the things people have clicked on from Google’s search results, when using that browser. 

   There’s no way to see this information, but it is used to customize the results that are shown. It only remembers things for 180 days. Information older than that is forgotten. Google doesn’t know your name. If you use a different browser, Google doesn’t know your past history. In fact, you can’t even see your past history.

    In Signed-In Web History, Google knows that a particular Google user is using Google. Behind the scenes, it has kept a record of all the things that person has done when signed-in, regardless of what computer or browser they’ve used. If they’re using the Google Toolbar with the page tracking feature enabled, then it has also kept a record of all the pages they’ve viewed over time. This information can be viewed by the user at any time, and the user can selectively delete info. They can also delete everything, if they want. If they don’t, then Google forgets nothing.

For those not signed in data is retained for 180 days and is associated with a particular browser. For those with a Google account who are signed in, data and web search history are, as mentioned, retained indefinitely until actively deleted.

The Google Chrome browser has a private “incognito” mode where no web history is captured. (Microsoft’s IE8 offers comparable functionality, called inPrivate browsing.) However if you’re signed in to a Google account while in incognito mode Google will still capture your search history:

    if you sign into your Google Account while in incognito mode, your subsequent web searches are recorded in your Google Web History. In this case, to prevent your searches from being stored in your Google Account, you’ll need to pause your Google Web History tracking.

All this is not unlike the Facebook default “everyone” settings. Google will capture your search history and behavior unless you take affirmative action to prevent or block it. 

You too can opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google Opt Out ad and content network privacy policy and click on the OPT OUT button.
Save your opt-out preference permanently- With this browser plugin you can permanently opt out of the DoubleClick

Facebook destroys you personal privacy

December 11, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Privacy groups are lambasting Facebook after the world’s largest social networking website made changes to its privacy settings this week.

The changes allow users to apply more specific privacy settings to the content they post on the site. But many of the default settings mean that, unless users follow a prompt to go in and change their settings, they end up sharing most of their information with everyone on the internet.

“Under the banner of simplification, Facebook has pushed users to downgrade their privacy,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a US advocacy group.

Dr Search warns that Facbook has altered the default for ALL settings from closed to open which means that your date of birth, religious and political views as well as your home address and phone numbers are open to EVERYONE! If you have facebook account we strongly recommend that you urgently login and change your account settings NOW.

Facebook first announced the changes in July. Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive, reiterated them in an open letter to users last week when he also announced the site had 350m users.

As Facebook has grown, privacy advocates have grown increasingly concerned that users are ceding control of their most intimate – and valuable – information.

“These new ‘privacy’ changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information,” said Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a US digital rights group. “Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.”

Facebook maintains that it is not trying to trick users into sharing more data. The latest settings offer more control of what information users share and with whom, it has said.

However, the company acknowledged that the introduction of the settings could lead users to make more of their information publicly available.

“As a result of providing more control, there will be more sharing,” said Elliot Schrage, vice-president of public policy for Facebook, on a conference call on Wednesday.

Along with other internet companies, Facebook has been working on the delicate balance between storing personal data and using that information to enhance services and gain a business edge. The issue of privacy has dogged Facebook since its inception in 2005.

Because of Facebook’s sizeable social footprint, Mr Rotenberg said it was unlikely users would abandon it for a newer social network. But he expects a push for better regulation.

“I think you’re going to see a political maturing of the Facebook community,” he said. “These are issues that require legislation and some regulation.”