GMail Advertising Targeting

Wow, I just spotted a scary relevant advertising at the top of my inbox in Gmail. For a couple of years, I've completely ignored these ads, as the targeting was so bad. You would see totally un-related advertising on this position. Probably because of the large amount of spam which would weasel its way into my inbox. But it is kind of scary the following ad was served to me today, just 2 weeks before the due date of our baby...

Gmail advertising targeting

It has been made well known by Google that Gmail would be free, but that Ads would be targeted based on the content of your emails. You know it, if it's free, you're probably the product being sold. Even with a limited number of emails about our new little bundle of joy, you see how the Ads are targeted at Baby & Kids clothing...
I guess the targeting has only improved with the consolidation of all the data Google is collecting about me, across Gmail, Search, Browser history and mobile check ins. Talking about an advertisers wet dream...!!!
What do you think? Time for a new email provider..?

Gaming Author Rank, Buy Yourself to #1 in SEO by Paying for G+ Circles

Friday night, wanted to kick it back with the busy times coming. However, this one I cannot let go..! Dan from DejanSEO published a post just now, where he exposes Google+ Ads to gain more followers. Read it here: Google+ Pushes Ads for Pages. So here is a thought...

Buy Your Way to the Top of the SERP's?

What if rankings are influenced by your authority on Google+, through the number of people who have you in their circles and their authority on the web, and you can now pump up your authority by buying ads to make people follow you. That is simply genius, as you can go out buy a bunch of followers, and dominate the search results!

Then, when you are spamming too much, Google can just dial down the visibility of your Google+ profile, while you are still paying for more followers to get the same rankings. Get out your checkbook people..!

It even gets better... What if you can target really influential people on Google+ with your ads, and pay a premium to get their attention? At that moment, Google has a money printing machine on Google+! Listen to this...

Influential people would like to stay influential, so they set up their Google+ profile to get the benefits from Author Rank. Brands would like to pay for the influential people to follow them, so they will pay more for the visibility of their ads. Now do the influencers receive any of the advertising revenue...NO! Google pockets all the advertising revenue.

Nice.. Well Played Google...!!!

Unfortunately, there is only a handful of people in the world who would understand what is actually happening here, and what implication this will have for Google Search results, the Internet and online reputation in the long run. If you have a thought, feel free to drop it in the comments below here...

Feel free to tweet this if you like it!

Google+ advertisement source by DejanSEO

Source image: Dejanseo

About Author Rank

Proclaimed as the next best thing after sliced bread, Author Rank has made its way into the jargon of the SEO consultants; now you can actually proclaim real authority in the Google SERP's by showing a little image next to your ranking article, which would build more trust with the searcher as they might recognize you as the editor and a trusted source of information.

Especially SEO's have proclaimed Author Rank as the next big thing in SEO. If you have visited conferences in the past year, you have seen an increasing number of slides dedicated to getting your picture showing up in the SERP's through the implementation of Rel=Author on your site. (see here how to set up Rel=Author on your site) Heck, I even presented about creative ways to use the real estate next to your result to increase the click through rate on Search Marketing Expo West last year. Here is a post I wrote about it.

Here are a couple more from colleagues of mine:
Google Confirms Hidden Benefit Of Authorship: Bonus Links After A Back-Button Click
More emphasis on Author Rank by Google: More Author results
Author Rank: A Step-by-Step Guide to Dominating Search with Content Marketing
AuthorRank could be more disruptive than all of the Panda updates combined

And more mainstream:
How Google Author Rank could change content marketing… and journalism
Google Author Rank: The Next Big Thing In SEO

Fool SEO's for Fun & Profit

So once again, The Google has all the SEO's working for their enjoyment, fun and most of it, profit..! SEO's at agencies have been telling their clients not to miss the train on authorship, and build up their Google+ profiles to take advantage of the land grab in the SERP's. Now they can start telling their clients they will have to start paying for that authority in the forms of increased circles.. which does not even happen on their own site.. something they don't control..

Genius...!!!

Google Adwords ExpressImage source: Dejanseo

 

Genius Marketing: This is How You Launch A Book Successfully

Two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at SMX Sydney. I happily accepted as I had never been in Australia. On my trip to Down Under, I had the opportunity to get to know some of the other international speakers more closely. I already had met Marty Weintraub before, and had seen him speak multiple times, which is always a treat. But on the trip to Sydney Australia, Marty and I exchanged some of the most interesting conversations and grew closer. Now fast forward to today, I welcome any opportunity to catch up with Marty over breakfast to discuss the latest ideas we have on Online Marketing.

While reading Marty's first book: Killer Facebook Ads: Master Cutting-Edge Facebook Advertising Techniques (Amazon Link), I added another dimension to my experience. You see, I've seen Marty speak at multiple occasions, which helped me simulate his way of presenting the whole book in my head while I read it. I finished the book in no time, at Weintraub speed.

For his second book; The Complete Social Media Community Manager's Guide: Essential Tools and Tactics for Business Success (Amazon link), Marty partnered with the talented and awesome Lauren Litwinka. I was completely blown away by the fact I was mentioned in their list of 72 Must-Follow Online Marketeers in the book. Wow, look at the people on this list, what great company to be in with. For easy following of these folks on Twitter, I created a public list which you can find here. (I've added Lauren and Marty as well to this list, as they more than deserve to be on their own list of Geniuses, follow them both @Aimclear & @Beebow)

Did you find your name on this list, retweet here:

72 Must Follow Online Marketing Geniuses by Marty Weintraub & Lauren Litwinka

Instantly you see the advantage of having a long name. I'm stretching over two lines in the list. Apart from being a great honor to be mentioned here, I also see the value of the list as a marketing tool. To drive awareness and sales for a book at the launch must be quite a challenge. But what if you have a list of people who are happy to promote your book for you? Now that will make a difference...

I'm not saying you should write a book and include a list of people just to put them to work and help you creating buzz for your book. I'm sure Marty and Lauren have learned a great deal from all of the people on this list, I know I have!

The Complete Social Media Community Manager's Guide

A little over a year ago, Laura interviewed me just before I was speaking at SMX West.

Please share on Twitter:

 

Community managers are the linchpins of today's social media marketing campaigns, and The Complete Social Media Community Manager's Guide is your ultimate guide on how to do the job effectively, efficiently, and profitably. This detailed, step-by-step road map shows you how to cultivate, convert, and manage all of your social media communities and gives you a running start with downloadable, ready-to-use tools and templates.
Published by: Sybex
Date Published: 01/22/2013
Edition: 1 edition
ISBN: 1118466853
Available in: Paperback

Sleeping in a Treehouse

Feel free to Tweet this experience:

Since I joined Airbnb a couple of weeks ago, I have been steadily checking the boxes on my on boarding process. The final on boarding action I need to check off my list, is to actually book and stay with an Airbnb host in their property. So I made a plan...

Build Lasting Memories

When I was young, I went on summer holidays with my family. I can still remember flashes of these, stopping at French wine houses to buy wine, on which European citizens still needed to pay duty when crossing the borders, Spending countless hours playing on the beach in the water with my brother or finally getting my own tent when camping. Those memories last a lifetime!

Having small children myself now, I want to spend sufficient time with them, so that I'm able to build similar lasting memories. However, that is not always easy, busy life, not a lot of long vacations and a new baby on its way.

So what better opportunity to spend time with the kids while staying in an awesome place. Airbnb is not only good to find your vacation rental for a longer stay, there are plenty of great listings in which you can just stay for a night, or two.

Pajama Party in the Treehouse

As our CEO Brian Chesky just recently mentioned in a TV show about Airbnb;

"We want to provide incredibly local and personal experience when you travel. people love homes and that's why you live in them. What if you can feel at home anywhere in the world?"

So for my daughters 6th birthday, I arranged the ultimate birthday party adventure. What better adventure is there than staying in this Treehouse close to San Francisco...! It was magical and resulted in a family plan to pick a treehouse to stay at every year. Now my son of 4 can't stop talking about how much he would like to stay in a treehouse for a night together with Daddy!

A Treehouse for Every Year

So to keep this tradition going, Jools and I made the plan to go visit a different treehouse every year, and try to sleep a night in the Treehouse. Luckily for Dad, there are a great number of Treehouses around the world, with a good selection of tree houses available here in California!
Feel free to Tweet this experience:

Treehouse at the Sunset time.

Evening Pajama party in a treehouse, Bo-Jools

Airbnb Treehouse near San Francisco at Dawn. Sunrise above the Bay

Morning sunrise at Airbnb Treehouse Burlingame

Two Mushrooms at sunrise

Mushroom in the morning sunlight

My Review

For my daughters 6th Birthday, we rented Doug & Linda's treehouse. It was an unbelievable experience, and probably will stick with her for the rest of her life as a fond memory of her childhood. Although it was raining really hard upon arrival, the treehouse is built solid and can stand the wind and rain. The host, Doug, was very friendly, and had the treehouse ready for checkin an hour earlier than normal.

We had cake and hot chocolate while lounging in the treehouse with the rain falling on the roof, making that cozy noise. Pajama Party For The Win! Waking up, the sky had cleared, and we experienced a beautiful sunrise above the Bay of San Francisco. We enjoyed the breakfast supplied by our hosts, and spend more time in the garden on the swing, finding mushrooms and enjoying the nature.

The Treehouse is an absolute recommended experience for anybody who ever wanted to sleep a night in a Treehouse, or just as an adventurous overnight stay while on a trip through California. It's just a great vacation rental for anybody on a holiday in the Bay Area!

Feel free to Tweet this experience:

Carte Blanche – YouTube Auto Generated Pages #FTW

(Updated Jan-3-2013; since I started writing this post, a lot has changed. I initially began to write about the Auto-generated pages by YouTube back in Oct 2012. Only being able to finalize the post after the FTC closed the negotiations with Google on their behavior)

For an SEO workshop at First Round Capital, I collected a number of new screenshots of changes in the way Google is displaying results in Search. I stumbled on a YouTube page, which is, after re-reading the guidelines, is in clear violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. More and more you see Google taking an aggressive stands towards implementing their own domains into the results, either as Universal search boxes, or as normal results. But who cares, not the FTC: see here! After all, it's Google's index, Google's website and Google's Audience, right..?

Auto-Generated Pages by YouTube

In Google Webmaster Guidelines you can find the following Technical Guideline:

Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don't add much value for users coming from search engines.

For years, Google has been advocating the prevention of crawling of search results for any website. How many in-house SEO teams have been scrambling lately with the removal of Search-in-Search. I know one large eCommerce company was hit really hard late October this year. How convenient, with Google Shopping Pay-for-Play and Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner.

If you are large, and spend sufficient Adwords budgets, you might get an answer like:

"We believe the changes are best for our users, where we optimize for the user experience. We cannot disclose the details of the changes made to our algorithms and the way we rank websites. Google publishes Webmaster Guidelines recommend you go through these. Are you familiar with our webmaster Guidelines?  

(Not an official quote, more my best recollection of what was the answer to our questions)

And with that, the discussion is closed. Even the biggest budgets don't give you access to what is happening in the Googleplex with regards to the rankings. Trust me, I've been on the receiving side of that message!

But do you expect action will be taken against YouTube...? See this Auto-Generated YouTube page, filled with Michael Jackson video's...

YouTube auto-generated pages ranking great in Google Search results

Search Bias

As you can read from the final decision (or negotiation, it's however you would like to look at it), the FTC does not see any 'Search Bias' in Goolge results.

First you read:

Under the same commitment, Google also has promised to provide all websites the option to keep their content out of Google’s vertical search offerings, while still having them appear in Google’s general, or “organic,” web search results. The FTC investigated allegations that Google misappropriated content, such as user reviews and star ratings, from competing websites in order to improve its own vertical offerings, such as Google Local and Google Shopping. Some FTC Commissioners were concerned that this conduct might chill firms’ incentives to innovate on the Internet.

But then...(emphasize mine)

The FTC conducted an extensive investigation into allegations that Google had manipulated its search algorithms to harm vertical websites and unfairly promote its own competing vertical properties, a practice commonly known as “search bias.” In particular, the FTC evaluated Google’s introduction of “Universal Search” – a product that prominently displays targeted Google properties in response to specific categories of searches, such as shopping and local – to determine whether Google used that product to reduce or eliminate a nascent competitive threat. Similarly, the investigation focused on the allegation that Google altered its search algorithms to demote certain vertical websites in an effort to reduce or eliminate a nascent competitive threat. According to the Commission statement, however, the FTC concluded that the introduction of Universal Search, as well as additional changes made to Google’s search algorithms – even those that may have had the effect of harming individual competitors – could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google’s product and the experience of its users. It therefore has chosen to close the investigation.

Now, I came to the auto-generated page on YouTube by doing a simple search on Google for the query: Michael Jackson. Check the screenshot, where all Google properties are in the red boxes, with the knowledge graph content in the green box (also linking to other Google pages)

Google SERP for Michael Jackson. How many Organic results do you count..?

 

The big blue arrow is pointing to the page on YouTube which does not have an embedded video in the SERP. This initially caught my attention, as normally, YouTube video's are integrated through a Universal Search One Box.

Now, the questions is, how many 'real' organic results can you count..? Right; 6! It's what we call a 7-SERP, as there are only 7 results organically ranking for the query. But with the Auto-Generated page from YouTube at #3, you can bet Google is raking up the pageviews on their own site.

Expect the worse is yet to come

With the News on the FTC arrangement with Google today, they have carte blanche from one of the only government institutions which could have stopped more integrations in the search results.

Maybe 2013 will become the year SEO dies...SEO is Dead, Long Live PPC (and Google Revenue growth!).

 

Disclosure: because I expected the outcome  due to what I believe could be called a lack of understanding of the government officials, I went long in Google back in December. It has paid off so far... :-)

Postscript: Don't get me wrong, I live of the fruits of the changes made by the search engines. SEO is constantly evolving, and there is a growing need in corporations to understand the direction and best practices. I wrote the post for my entertainment, and to be able to get my thoughts in order of where it's all heading.

The Fast Food of Technology News – Headline Journalism

I won't deny it, I'm a Techmeme junky. Every morning, and during the day, I check what are the latest headlines in the world of Tech News. And although I stopped reading Techcrunch by going to the Techcrunch homepage and picking a story, I end up a lot of times on an article on Techcrunch, TheNextWeb or The Verge through Techmeme. So when Gabe Rivera published a post around the biggest (i.e. tallest) stories of 2012, my first expection was to see the sites which make up the top of the Techmeme Leaderboard to take credit for breaking the biggest techstories of 2012. To my surprise, hardly any of the top tech stories on Gabe's list of Tall Tech Stories were from the websites which sit at the top of the Techmeme Leaderboard.

Techcrunch in the Lead - Techmeme Leaderboard

Techmeme Leaderboard March 3For years, Techcrunch have been holding the #1 position on this leaderboard. It has been a close call one day in March this year, where The Verge almost took the top spot. With just 0.04% difference, Techcrunch held the top spot of the Leaderboard (click the screenshot on the right for large image of the LB from March 3). This screenshot of the small difference between #1 & #2 was made on March 3 2012, which was the period Techcrunch lost a number of main contributors, editors and executives.

Only 0.04% difference, however, Techcrunch got their act together, and started to increase the lead again, where the AOL site ended the year with a comfortable lead, and % of top headlines well above the 10%. Meanwhile, The Next Web, a technology website started a little over 5 years ago, have shown a gain in coverage, and have been on #2 for the last couple of weeks. (disclosure, The Next Web was started by two of my Dutch Internet Friends, Patrick & Boris, and I've helped the editorial team here and there in stories, like here, here and here, and even got a guestpost published back in 2010)

How do get these technology websites featured on Techmeme Leaderboard? According to the explanation of Techmeme about it's rankings:

Sources are ranked by Presence, the percentage of Techmeme headline space a source occupies over the 30-day period. "More" links are not taken in to consideration here — only full headlines are counted. For more information, see our original announcement from long ago.

The Tallest Tech Story

Techmeme Tallest stories in Tech for 2012In his blog post, Gabe already points out how the Techmeme Leaderboard websites have not been well represented as the leading headline for the tallest tech stories.

It's important to understand that each headline shown here is just the one that happened to be the leading headline when its cluster reached the maximal size. So these headlines don't always indicate the most representative story of the bunch, the best summary, or the most cited story...

...The stories dominating this list are mainly announcements, often product introductions, from the industry's largest firms, often Apple...

So when the tallest Tech Stories are announcements from the larger Tech companies, mainly Apple, where do the % of headline visibility for Techcrunch, The Next Web and others come from? Yes, covering these announcements.

At the latest Apple announcement, I believe it was the iPhone5 announcement, I counted the number of articles written by Techcrunch. I believe the editors published more than 15 articles on the announcement.  A couple of years ago, when I enjoyed reading the full website from Techcrunch, all these announcements were published into one single article. Now you will have to flip through multiple articles to get all the details you would like to see.

Headline Journalism

We are living in a world where more and more Internet Journalists are becoming accountable for the number of pageviews they generate. Having worked at a Tech Media company, where the number of pageviews is directly linked to the revenue the company makes through advertising, I know the pressure of pumping pageviews. Mo Pageviews, Mo Money.

So the company can either pursue Pageview Journalism, like Mashable & Business Insider are pumping Slideshows, where the top 20 lists are spread over multiple pages, or the company can pursue what I call Headline Journalism, spread the actual news over as many articles all with a catchy headline. Push these on the social media streams to grab the attention of the news consumer with the headline, when they click on the link in their Twitter stream or Facebook Newsfeed, Voila, you just printed another Pageview!

I stopped reading Mashable for their abuse of the Pageview Journalism techniques. I can't look at any more slideshows with a top 10 list. I don't want to waste 5 minutes of my time to flip through a number of pages just to find out who is at the top of another lame list. That is 5 minutes I will never get back.

The Headline- & Pageview Journalism as I described here, can be called the Fast Food of Technology News. You consume it fast, it's cheap to make, and you're not getting a whole lot smarter from it, as you might get hungry again in a couple of minutes...

Quality over Quantity

As people get overloaded with news, too many signals from the social streams and the need to flip pageviews to get the real, full story, I expect more readers to turn away from this kind of journalism, and will start searching for, and sharing more in depth, high quality writing, where the research and time invested in writing the article is worth their time.

So writers of the Technology websites featured on the Techmeme Leaderboard, Please write something that is worth my time. You are getting 5 minutes of my life, think about that!

The problem is, who will pay for all these writers who spend more time writing good Sh*t? Because time on site has not paid any of the bills...yet!

Happy New Year 2013

And with that...it is 2013. Happy New Year to everybody, and all best wishes.

Moet & Chandon Champagne, White Star Label

Pied a Terre Shoe Ads

While doing some research for KW/Page rankings for Airbnb, I came across an un-related paid search advertisement by my former employer, eBay. It's kind of funny that I used to know how keywords would flow into the paid search systems for those targeted ads, and sometimes completely unrelated ads could have massive Return on Investment. Here, I was looking at the keyword Pied a Terre, where a lovely room in Philly ranks just on the second page for me. Rittenhouse Squared Pied a Terre, $80 per night!

According to the all knowing Wikipedia, a Pied a Terre is

The term pied-à-terre implies usage as a temporary second residence, either for part of the year or part of the work week, by a person of some means.

It looks like the Ad generated by the eBay Paid Search system is based on the French word Pied, which means Feet.

Pied a Terre eBay Ads
In the past, there have been plenty of strange eBay paid search ads shared. Over the years, the systems used to optimize those ads had become much better to filter out the obvious wrong keywords to bid on. I heard eBay is moving away from their internally build system to an outsourced solution, where we probably can expect a learning curve again around what keywords are relevant, which creative needs to be served for those keywords, and how to optimize for conversion and ROI. What a waste...

Boris & Patrick Visit Airbnb

Almost 7 years ago, I moved to San Francisco while working at eBay. The first summer living in the US, I hosted a BBQ for a group of Dutch Internet entrepreneurs at my house who were visiting the Valley. Part of that group Dutch Internet entrepreneurs were Boris Veldhuijzen Van Zanten & Patrick de Laive. At the time they were looking for funding for one of their startups, Fleck. Boris & Patrick were always in for some fun which could generate the attention from the right people. Eventually they didn't got the funding for Fleck, and sold the assets. Maybe better, as they continued to work on other great concepts, one of these the technology news website and conference: The Next Web.

Over the years The Next Web has been growing in audience, exposure and breaking stories. It will just be a matter of time for the team of The Next Web to become the #1 Technology blog on the Techmeme leaderboard. A position taken for years by Techcrunch. So with that in mind, it's always nice to see how Boris and Patrick has been able to keep their feet on the ground, and make the time at the last moment to catch up over beers at the Airbnb office today. It's always great to keep good relationships alive and kicking!

Boris & Patrick - The Next Web visiting the Airbnb office

What’s for Dinner; Job Interview

The way Airbnb is taking care of its employees is amazing. What is even more fun, is that I just participated in the best interviewing of a candidate ever. How about you're being asked to be part of the last round of interviews of a candidate for the position of Sous Chef at Airbnb, and the interview round consist of eating a specially prepared dinner by the candidate. Obviously, the interviewee would like to be hired, so will be pulling all the best tricks out of his/her book. This just happened to me today, where you can see what I just had for dinner below here. The names of the candidate have been changed to protect the innocent.

So tonight I had a California/Asian Dinner with:

  • Arugula Salad, with Shaved Carrot, Pine Nut, Candied Coconut with Miso Dressing
  • Korean Style BBQ Beef; Beef, Garlic, Tamari, Sugar, Sesame oil and Green Onion
  • Curried Quinoa; Sauteed Onion, Black Bean and Butternut Squash
  • Sauteed Nappa Cabbage; with Rainbow Carrot & Ginger Sauce

Airbnb dinner - interviewing a candidate for Sous chef position

Doesn't it look wonderful? It tasted delicious. I immediately volunteered to be on the interview panel for the next candidates. I was feeling like a judge of the TV-Show Top-Chef.

But even the Popcorn at Airbnb is great!This is Popcorn Airbnb style!

Popcorn Airbnb Style

I explained before that we take our food program really serious! Today we had Truffle and Nutritional Yeast Popcorn, and Chili and Lime Popcorn.YUM!