SF Photowalk Promotion for Google Glass

Google is aggressively promoting Google Glass and the Google+ photography communities and its features these days. And rightly so, as a lot of people still claim Google+ is a ghost town, there actually are a number of very lively communities on Google+. These communities show there is interest in the new platform. Examples of communities active on Google+:

  • SEO's. With the potential of Google+ having a positive effect on a site rankings, and hence it's ability to get more free search traffic, it's almost a must have in every SEO toolbox.
  • Photographers. With the beautiful picture layout, unlimited amounts of pictures you can upload for free, large size display, and auto upload from your smart phone, this seems like the new favorite photographer platform.

During Google I/O last week, a special Photowalk was organized with Thomas Hawk (thomashawk.com) and Trey Ratcliff (stuckincustoms.com), two photographers famous for their pictures online, and early adopters of Google+. From all the announcements, the products placements and the free goodies which were given away, the focus of the Google team organizing the SF Photowalk (event link on Google+) was on the photographers community to introduce them to Google+ and Google Glass.

A large focus for the photowalk was also the product placement of Google Glass. All the Google people walking with us were wearing the new gadgets, and both Thomas & Trey had just received a pair of Google Glass to promote taking pictures with the camera in Glass. One lucky Photowalker would walk away with a fresh pair of Google Glass. Unfortunately it wasn't me...

Google Glass making its appearance at the SF Photowalk
Thomas Hawk & Trey Ratcliff posing with Google Glass at the SF Photowalk
Bystanders gladly trying out Google Glass
Bystanders were all very interested in what was happening. Imagine you see a group of around 250 people walking through the streets, all equipped with camera's and taking pictures of everything they see around them.

There were around 200-250 photographers and photography enthusiasts at the photowalk. The picture below was made by Peter Adams, and published here with permission. The original can be found here.
SF Photowalk group photo by Peter Adams

The San Francisco Photowalk was a lot of fun. Some people had taken props to take pictures of, like in the picture below here.
Fun with Props at the San Francisco Photowalk
I think I took around 200 images, which I will not all publish here. I have uploaded 172 pictures to a Google+ album, which can be found here.

Google Local Reviews

So this is how Google is trying to get more people familiar with their local business reviews product, and compete with Yelp; at popular events for the San Francisco Hipsters you might see a team hired by Google trying to convince people to try out the product. They actually expect you to review a couple of local businesses right there on one of the laptops. Just to make you familiar with the product. And what do you get for all the data you just entered and the time you spent, right.. a T-shirt.

 

 Google local reviews, trade a tshirt in exchange for your time and local knowledge

Google local reviews, trade a t-shirt in exchange for your time and local knowledge, write some reviews on local businesses and learn how the system works

The Great Gatsby at Airbnb

One of the great things at Airbnb, is that once every months, there is a formal Friday, which means the majority of the employees dress up in their best suits to make a smashing appearance. Flip Flops & Fleece will be thrown under the bed for one day. And once every quarter, a special theme is giving all those working at Airbnb the opportunity to put their best in impressing their colleagues. Today, with the launch of the new movie from Leonardo Di Caprio, after the book The Great Gatsby, the Formal Friday theme at Airbnb was: The Great Gatsby.

Usually, a theme Formal Friday also means all three founders of Airbnb are in San Francisco, and are dressing up like anybody else in the office. Airbnb is not such a formal company where the founders hide themselves in a private office. No, Brian Chesky, Joe Gabbia and Nathan Blecharczyk can be found in between all the other employees everyday. A perfect opportunity to shoot some pictures with them for the Formal Friday; The Great Gatsby...

Nathan Blecharczyk and Dennis Goedegebuure at Airbnb HQ

Nathan Blecharczyk and Dennis Goedegebuure at Airbnb HQ

Brian Chesky and Joe Zadeh (Joebot) at Airbnb HQ at The Great Gatsby Formal Friday

The Great Gatsby Formal Friday at Airbnb HQ with Brian Chesky and Joe Zadeh (Joebot).

Joe Gebbia Airbnb

Not only for The Great Gatsby formal Friday will Joe Gebbia; CPO for Airbnb, wear a bow tie. Many days on the week, not only on Fridays, Joe can be spotted with a bow tie dressed up!

Penguin Updates, Bring IT ON

With a lot of chatter on Twitter, it's probably safe to say that we are on track to see a large update hitting the search results just in time for the annual SMX Advanced in Seattle (from the chatter, it's most likely going to be a Penguin update). Like clockwork, Google gives the SEO's something to talk about, and since this is the advanced version of the SEO/SEM conference, it's a big update. Apart from all the discussions on the version number, it's incredible to see how SEO's stumble over each other to write "the news" what Matt Cutts have said online, and what you could expect from the next update.

Matt Cutts fro Google Tweets about Penguin 2.0

 

SEO's across the world are loosing their heads, and take the words of Matt Cutts all as a mantra. They shiver in fear on how the wrath of The Google might come down on their site, causing all kinds of trouble. But as my buddy Ryan ranted already:

We need to stop analyzing every word @mattcutts says like it’s some lost scripture and start paying attention to the meaning of what he says....

...

Remember when Matt said that Page Speed was a “all else being equal we’ll return the faster site” type of factor? That fits perfectly with the tree and dynamic weights I just talked about.

Instead of looking at the big picture, the meaning, and the reasoning behind what Matt says, we get too caught up on the literal definitions. It’s the equivalent of thinking David and Goliath is a story about how there are giants in the world rather than a story about how man’s use of technology helps him overcome challenges and sets him apart from beasts. We keep taking the wrong message because we’re too literal.

 

But I think some website owners should be afraid of what's coming down the pipeline, because if your site back-link profile looks like this, it might still works at the moment, but for how long...?


Does this look like a Penguin back link profile?

 

The funny thing is, the linking this site has done, still works like crazy. Check the sites visibility in search using the tool from Search Metrics. As you can see, the X-axes are not corresponding on the same timeframe, however, you can clearly see the search visibility of this site increased with the large jump in back-links in January of this year.

searchvisibility-spam

The next Penguin update will be larger than the previous ones. Next Penguin update will be a larger one than just a data refresh

Next Penguin update will be a larger one than just a data refresh

 

So, if you are already getting a ton of link removal requests, expect your inbox to show a flooding of new link removal requests rather sooner than later! Will you comply with the request, or have the requestor take more aggressive steps, like legal threads and stuff. I've heard of some very aggressive take down requests, even with authoritative domains. So far, I've received only one take down request, but have not taken the link down, since it was purely editorial. If the webmaster has screwed up their own link profile by being way to aggressive, that would be their problem. So I stand by Kim here, No I Will NOT respond to your disavow link paranoia. Bug off! 

So bring it on.. I'm ready for another Penguin update!

Black & White Penguin with a red bow tie

 

Planning a Content Marketing with In-Page Analytics?

With the launch of a new city in the Neighborhood projectLos AngelesAirbnb just launched the largest number of city Neighborhoods so far, 61. I really enjoyed day dreaming with the great pictures of Neighborhoods like MalibuSanta MonicaVenice or Hollywood. Maybe one day we will have the chance to move and live in Los Angeles, which has always been a secret dream for me. But then again, San Francisco is also not too shabby! I love walking around in the Richmond District, and get a sense of the Asian, Russian mixture of the Neighborhood and make great street pictures.

Another dream home town for me has been New York. Maybe a little bid too much out of our league, as living in a Neighborhood like TribecaSoHo or West Village with 3 kids is just very difficult. Let alone we would ever be able to afford a Townhouse at the Upper West Side! Brooklyn seems to become the new hot spot in New York, especially as the New York Times just published an article on how Hispters are taking over Neighborhoods like Williamsburg, or how they call it Will.I.Amsburg. But enough for the dreams I might have when winning the lottery, what I thought would be interesting to talk about what to search for or to look at for you as a marketeer to plan a content calendar for the pages you have on your site. To conduct this research, I'm using the following tool:

  • Google Analytics; with the in-page analytics reporting

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How To Use In-Page Analytics To Direct Your Content Marketing

In page analytics are an often overlooked tool for conducting user research, and a great way to get new topics to write more on. And the best thing is, your users already told you those topics are the ones they are interested in! From the Google help document (underline and red mine)

In-Page Analytics is available under the Content section on the Standard Reporting tab. It lets you make a visual assessment of how users interact with your web pages

So looking at which Neighborhoods  in New York we would need to write more about, I pulled up the In-Page analytics on the New York Neighborhood page, and used the Color bubbles to showcase popular Neighborhoods based on what the users have clicked on.

Neighborhood heatmap

Where the colors give the scale of popularity relative to each other. This means, the warmer the color, the more clicks the link got in the time period I checked (data was for the month of April).

What stands out, is that there is one Neighborhood in particular popular, and the only one which gets a red color: Upper East Side. Some Neighborhoods didn't even got a color, so it's safe to say, these are the least well known, or not so popular neighborhoods in New York; these are:

Honestly, I never heard of these either, except for the name civic center, which we have here Civic Center in San Francisco as well.

Popular New York Neighborhoods Stacked Up

So pulling all the New York Neighborhoods in a spreadsheet, and making a bar chart of the results, it shows how all the Neighborhoods stack up on popularity:

Popular New York City Neighborhoods stacked up

 

Now it's only a matter of creating a massage map per Neighborhood and research the topics before the editor can start writing.

Tweet this post:

 

You can access the report in Google Analytics in two ways:

  • In Standard Reporting > Content, click In-Page Analytics.
    This option opens the report on the page you identified in your profile settings.
  • In the Pages report (Standard Reporting > Content > Site Content > Pages), when you drill in to a specific page, click the In-Page tab.
    This option opens the report for that page.

Airbnb Blog Running on WordPress, Genesis & Websynthesis

With Posterous closing, a race started a couple of weeks ago to move the Airbnb blogs from Posterous to WordPress. Lucky me, I have a number of years experience with WordPress, and more lucky me, I know people who even have more experience with WordPress and WordPress hosting. The Airbnb blogs are now running on the following stack:

teach them young So yesterday evening, I was busy checking all the migrations with my little man with me. Teach them young they say..

Just in time for our major Trust announcement this morning. Now, all we need to do, is create a new child theme, so that we can style the blogs completely according to Airbnb standards... So much opportunity to expand right now, having full control! Love it!

Other blog we migrated is the Nerds at Airbnb! Worth it to check out if you are into coding

#TornadoWeek Hashtag Pushing

Check out this creative way of getting people to engage with your brand on Twitter.
The Weather channel is having their Tornado week.
And now you can make the interns suffer from high winds.
The only thing you would need to do, is tweet with the hashtag #tornadoweek in your tweet
I can't wait for Shark week... But then again, that would entail the interns of Animal Channel
Check out the site on the Weather channel. Can we call this: Tornado Week Intern Blow Out
Tornado Week Intern Blow Out
From the site:
Our Weather Channel interns got so excited about Tornado Week they wanted to recreate a Twitter powered Tornado in our office - so we did, and sat them right in the middle of it! Now you are in control of the winds. Every public mention of#TornadoWeek on Twitter raises the scale and boosts the winds. You can even Tweet at the interns using the @TornadoWeekhandle. Hit 1,000,000 mentions and we will turn up the wind for a full blown EF-5 tornado inside the Weather Channel offices!

Always Be Linking, Especially with Students

Always be LinkingOne thing I'm trying to learn fast, as this is a big black spot in my SEO skillset; Link Building. First rule of Link Building: ABL

Always Be Linking ABL

Tweet this quote:

Take up every opportunity to gain a true endorsement in the form of a link. And what better opportunity to get a new backlink than when a group of MBA students from Berkeley get a tour in your office, and you just happen to have your DSLR, with an awesome lens on it with you! Snap a couple of grou pictures and start chatting...

Me: "So, did you like the tour..?"

Group lead: "We sure did, we are a bunch of MBA students from the Haas Business School in Berkeley"

Me: "Is that right..?"

Group lead: "Hey, any chance we can get a hold of those pictures you just took of us?"

Me: "Yeah, sure where would you post it"

Group: "We have a Facebook page..."

Me: "Don't you have some sort of journal on the Berkeley.edu website"

Group lead: "Sure, we can add it to our newsletter, which is published online"

Me: Bingo..!! "Great, I will send you the file, would you mind giving me a credit link in it"

Group lead: "Sure, no problem man..!"

Me: "Thank you, and I hope you guys had fun here in the office..."

So, here you can download a large version of the picture. Now I hope they will follow through...

Ever Seen The Northern Light

My buddy Marcel, a colleague here at Airbnb went to Alaska to take pictures of the Northern Light. Apparently the Aurora is extremely beautiful this and next year due to the 11 year cycle of the Sun storms. Check out his write up, awesome pictures..
Best Kept Secrets to photograph the Northern Lights in Alaska- Aurora

 

Now that sounds like an adventure I would be looking at for the year 2014, I wonder if Marcel would like to accompany and teach me his tricks of the trade!

eBay’s Paid Search Study Alternatives Motives for Publishing Ineffectiveness

I couldn't hide from all the chatter around the white paper about eBay's paid search campaigns today. All kinds of people with little knowledge on internal optimization within eBay are jumping on this story to give their perspective. The overall message they are so loudly shouting into the world is how bad eBay really is in PPC advertising, trying to win a little bit more authority on the subject themselves in the hope to win new clients.

I won't go into the details of the article, as I've never worked on eBay's paid search campaigns. Reading the research white paper eBay published is interesting though, and I know that some of it holds up, other parts not so much.

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Skeptical on the eBay Report

I'm somewhat skeptical on the actual outcomes of the research in the eBay report.

First of all, every site is different. So what would work for eBay, might not work for anybody else!

Second, you could use Paid Search campaigns in so many other ways, cross channel objectives, which has not been taken into account in this study.

Third, although the study looks at conversion to sales ratio's of the campaigns, the real ROI is hardly discussed.

Fourth,You should look at the fully loaded ROI to understand the complete impact on eBay's eco-system. This does not only incorporates the eBay fees, but should also include the Paypal fees when an item is being paid through Paypal and advertising revenue. And with Paypal penetration rates at a high double number, and advertising on almost every pageview, the campaigns ROI is highly influenced by multiple revenue streams.

Fifth, if the research holds true, can somebody explain me what happened end of Q3, beginning of Q4 last year, where SEO traffic for eBay tanked, and suddenly Paid grew out of the normal trend:

eBay SEO visibility tanking end of Oct 2012

Where Paid Search Campaigns for eBay are ramping up immediately

These graphs are made with Searchmetrics

Sixth; conducting a test on non-branded keywords, like Cell-Phone might be giving interesting outcomes, if you keep the way Google looks at sites from a SEO perspective into account. Keyword Cell-Phone is a head term for electronics, where eBay is not represented well in SEO. From the human rater documents which leaked from Google, there might be more obvious reasons why eBay is not ranking well:

How to rate eBay landing pages?

Alternative Motives for eBay to Publish Paid Search effectiveness Study

What most people commenting fail to take notice off, what are the real motives of eBay to publish such research? You really think a large, for profit company would make their direct competition smarter just to get some feathers stuck somewhere..? Below here I describe possible motives for eBay to publish this paper. These are all hypothetical, and not based on what really happened as I don;t have the internal information what has happened. Read these more as thin foil hypothesis for my enjoyment, and for you to think further than just the optimization of Paid Search campaigns.

Large Companies F*** each other over

eBay has had a long history of working with Google on a Frenemies status of their relationship. eBay gets a tremendous amount of traffic through SEO, and have worked with Google on several fronts to make the Internet a better place. However, there are well documented instances which shows the underlying relationship, which is one of stiff competition.

  • Google Dark; Back in 007, eBay shut down all Paid Search at Google to run a test. The black out period gave some interesting insights in the effectiveness of Paid Search at Google.
  • eBay sued Google over the launch of Google Wallet and trade secrets

For obvious reasons, I can hardly go into too much detail here, but imagine the drop in eBay spend over 2012, while Google is ramping up their efforts in the payments industry AND making Google Shopping pay-for-play, after killing off the shopping comparison vertical completely!

Internal Politics Kill Real optimization

In a company like eBay, there is a power struggle at the top on a continuous basis. The one with the bigger budgets control their own destiny, and can become very successful empire builders. With a change in C-suit players, the power struggle can become more aggressive, where studies to proof ineffectiveness of campaigns could destroy the power base of the existing rulers.

You've got Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics...

It has happened that one group proofed with analytic proof, that the advertising on eBay was cannibalizing the  conversion rate of items on the site, and had an impact on site speed. 4 months later, the VP of the group moved to the business side, became responsible for the P&L, and with 3 weeks into the quarter and a $20 million hole in the budget, made the executive decision to move the ads back on the site. Just make a check on the eBay site, it's full with ads right now, even on the View Item page which had always been a sacred page for sellers!

This Paid Search campaign effectiveness study could very well be a power play from inside groups to take control of the advertising budgets. Objective: proofing incompetence to replace and take control

False Information for Competitors

What happens to the overall marketplace if the research is adopted by more large advertisers? Right, less demand for the impressions out there will bring CPC's down in the marketplace.

By spreading this information, under the umbrella of statistical research, could very well have an effect on the ROI of existing eBay campaigns.

Be Careful What You Wish For

So when I read an article like this, where the writer is challenging the CEO of eBay to give him a chance to proof what he could do for eBay with Paid Search, I cannot help myself to think: "Be careful what you wish for" as the truth of the matter might not be as cookie cutter clear as you think, and you might find yourself in a situation you are not set up to succeed in the first place, even if you are the best Paid Search consultant in the world, there might be forces out there which want you to fail at it! (furthermore I don't think the writer did himself a service to build his arguments on 6 year old screenshots...)

The people who have managed the eBay paid search campaigns are good friends of mine, which is why I won't go deep into the criticism if the campaigns have been working for eBay or not, just to stay objective here. What I can say, is that the majority of the people commenting on the quality of the creatives, the supposedly fail to optimize these campaigns on a ROI positive manner, might not be so right at all. They probably have never managed a budget of the size of the eBay Paid Search budget, while optimizing for 170 million keywords, while landing the budget within 1% of the amount, each and every quarter and showing incremental ROI improvements time and time again. The teams who manage these campaigns are very smart and creative in doing new tests, which you can hardly judge upon as an outsider!

Disclaimer: I worked for eBay for 9.5 years in different positions, last 6 years of my tenure focused on Global SEO for all eBay sites cross the world. I cannot disclose all information I have, and do not claim to be an expert in Paid Search! These view do not represent the views of my current employer, nor eBay's!