Measuring Success in a 2.0 World

Avinash Kaushik from Google and Market Motive: Get on the train or get run over. Relevant metrics are changing dramatically and are an essential part of your online strategy. RSS as the key blog metric, because this is the ultimate permission marketing environment where you push content out to your readers.

Jim Sterne: Web and search metrics are changing the game from reporting to analysis to promotions to “hearts and minds” marketing.

Mathew Baily had the most entertaining yet relevant presentation I’ve seen in some time – probably not as helpful as case studies but brilliant! Analytics and Star Trek: 1.0 analytics endless cycle of mundane reporting. This runs you down. You want 2.0 analytics! Star trek death conversion rate? = 14% mortality, mostly among red shirted actors. Need more context which is where story-driven analytics comes in to answer the detailed questions. Ask questions – best human tool.

Marshall Sponder of

Measuring Success in a 2.0 World
How do you know if you’ve been successful with search engines and your website in general? You can check your “rank” at search engines for particular keywords, analyze log files to see the actual terms people used to reach your website, or make the ultimate jump and “close the loop” by measuring sales conversions and ROI. This panel explores both classic and cutting-edge techniques to measure success, what statistics you should really care about, ways to be more strategically focused, and how to drive increased revenue for your business.


SES San Jose Exhibit Hall Opens

SES San Jose Exhibit Hall Opens

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

The SES San Jose search conference hosts dozens of providers of internet business services who exhibit on two of the conferences four days. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft are all here as are many search optimization firm, search analytics appications, and even some consumer focused websites.

SES San Jose Search Conference

SES San Jose Search Conference

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

With 6000 attendees, Search Engine Strategies in San Jose California remains the world’s largest search marketing conference, bringing search marketing experts and marketing teams from all over the globe.

I’m finding out the breakdown of attendance tomorrrow, as some of the 6000 are only here with exhibit hall passes which do admit to the keynotes but not the regular sessions.

This picture is from this morning’s session on the Asian and South American search markets.

SES San Jose – Lee Siegel Keynote

Lee Siegel is about to speak here at SES San Jose. He’s the author of “Against the Machine” and a senior editor at The New Republic, and a noted critic of the new media, primarily because he feels anonymity is a threat to intelligent, enlightened conversation.

Although I’m sympathetic to Lee’s points about how abusive the online world can be, and how foolish it is to consider as sacred the hate speech and the junk banter that passes as conversation, he’s missing two key features of the new conversational media that effectively sweep away much of the significance of his legitimate concerns.

First, the high tolerance for abusive and threatening language has become something of a new standard, especially for younger commenters. I don’t like it either, but for many writers this does not reflect the type of threat it would under other circumstances. It is not appropriate to apply old interpretations of this language to the modern usage.

Second is that focusing on the defects of blogging and new media distracts us from the profound and positive changes in communication – changes that represent the early stages of truly democratic and massively participatory conversations.

I don’t think Siegel is so much *wrong* as he is making fairly insignificant points about the new media. I’d certainly agree that there is a danger whenever people are stifled. For me the outrageous online treatment of Kathy Sierra, a noted blogger,is the exception that proves the rule. These cases are very few, and in a broad sense are eclipsed by the thousands of new voices coming online *every day*.

So, is there value in paying attention to these problems? Sure. Should this drive our understanding and appreciation of the most profound transformation in human communication history?


SES San Jose Blog Coverage

Although it’s fun to attend conferences like SES you can learn an enormous amount reading the many folks who are live blogging the sessions here in San Jose. If you read this and I haven’t added your blog please do so in the comment section.

Search Engine Watch (official blog for SES)

Top Rank Blog


SEO Roundtable


Aim Clear – Charlene

SEM News

Tech Macro News

Applied SEO

David Dalka

Natural Search

Google Dance at the GooglePlex. Search Engine Strategies Event

Google Dance at the GooglePlex

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Last year they had “Candy Bars” where you could fill a bag with all sorts of great candy. I brought one home for my daughter who now dreams of going to a Google party.

The Google Dance has been going on for several years as part of the SES Conference series. Held at the Googleplex the party features a huge buffet, food, wine, and beer stations all over the Google commons. For those who can’t separate work from leisure (which would be most tech folks), there are demonstrations of new technologies from Google and a “meet the engineers” face to face talk that is always very enjoyable.

SES San Jose Countdown

In terms of internet search the really big and influential conference is – without a doubt – SES San Jose.

WebmasterWorld Pubcon and the new SMX Conference series by Danny Sullivan (who more than anybody was the architect of the SES empire) offer similar content, SES remains the key conference venue for search marketing professionals.

I’ll be live blogging the conference and I’ll even try to get a few real time pix out from Tuesday night’s Google Party hosted at the GooglePlex.   In many ways the “Google Dance” is the highlight of the search year, when Google hosts conference attendees (including folks who just sign up for free exhibit passes), as well as tons of Google employees.    The food is great and it’s hard to beat free beer, ice cream, sno cones, and candy but the real highlight is chatting with Google search engineers who with a few exceptions like the amazing Matt Cutts, … don’t seem to get out much.

Digital Hollywood at CES

I thought I’d repost part of this note from the Digital Hollywood folks at CES 2009.   They run several of the sessions that deal with the convergence of the online world with TV, Film, and more.

For me one of the most powerful technology themes is the fact that TV remains the big kahuna of advertising even as awareness grows that online advertising is far more effective – at least in its common pay per click form.    It remains to be seen if video clip advertising, such as what Google is experimenting with at YouTube, will ever take off as a major revenue source for publishers.    It certainly has been underwhelming so far, I think in part simply because it is performing as poorly as almost  *all forms of offline advertising*.    The difference is that online metrics allow us to monitor performance in ways we have not been able to do before, and perhaps more importantly the online metrics help disconnect the analyst from the marketeer.

In travel it is very commonplace for the same group running the ads to do the analysis of their effectiveness.   This is a preposterous state of affairs, yet it persists.    There are now some sneaky variations on the theme which include specialized “travel marketing” agencies that appear to have methods that inflate effectiveness.    Why?    This prevents them from biting the hands that feed their research.

—————— DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD CES 2009 —————————

The agendaand call for speakers – for the CES conferences- January 7-10, 2009 in Las Vegas – Reinventing Advertising, Mobile Entertainment, Game Power & Digital Hollywood at CES, Las Vegas Convention Center, see
is now posted.

Speakers are being booked now. Your submissions are welcome.

We are proud to be organizing the most significant conferences at the most significant and largest trade show in America. CES has over 140,000 attendees, over 4500 press, over 1000 financial analysts and over 2700 exhibitors.

We are organizing four tracks at CES:
Digital Hollywood Events at CES
Session Keys:
– Reinventing Advertising
Mobile Entertainment
Game Power
Digital Hollywood

Yahoo Shareholder non-meeting

Today Yahoo Shareholders are meeting in San Jose.   Or maybe we should say non-meeting since there are apparentely mostly empty chairs and uneaten pastry in a venue that was to hold 1000.

With shares now trading about $19 you’d think shareholders would be out in force with torches and pitchforks, but Yahoo management – at enormous cost to shareholders and the company – has kept the corporate raiders and Microsoft at bay partly by granting a newly sheepish Carl Icahn a seat on the board and two more seats.     Icahn noted last week that enough large shareholders were sticking with the current board, making it impossible for him to take over the company.     His plan was fairly simple – buy a lot of Yahoo and then sell the company to Microsoft at a huge profit.    As a shareholder I remain  *totally* confused as to why large shareholders were unwilling to support this move – the obvious choice in terms of maximizing shareholder value with minimum risk.

However with challenges come opportunities.  Yahoo at $19 is looking pretty ripe right now given that Microsoft offered $31 just months ago when Yahoo’s prospects were not significantly different than they are right now.    Either MS is horribly miscalculating Yahoo’s value, or the Market is underestimating that value.     Clearly the current board is convinced there is a lot more value, and in this at least I would agree with them.

It’ll be interesting to see how the rank and file Yahoo folks are feeling at SES San Jose in a few weeks.   SES is the biggest search conference of the year in the heart of Silicon Valley, and hundreds of Yahoo folks will be there.  It will be interesting to get a feel for the current morale challenges at the company.

Disclosure:   Long on YHOO.  Considering buying more.

Google Ranking Needs a Spanking

Over at the Google blog today Amit Singhal has post 1 of 2 that promises an introduction to Google ranking.  As usual I’m disappointed in the way Google maintains what to me is a pretense of transparency while using some very ruthless and mysterious tactics to downrank sites they claim don’t meet quality guidelines.   Google (correctly) sees themselves as warring with spammers for control of the web but (incorrectly) thinks transparency is the wrong approach in this fight.

There were some rumblings last year of contacting webmasters directly about site problems but my understanding is that this would represent only a tiny fraction of total sites under penalty.    Of course, due to so little transparency in this area we can’t know the real numbers.

I’ll hope Amit’s second post is a LOT more specific, because I think he’s already practicing the kind oblique speak that is becoming commonplace when many from Google talk about ranking:

No discussion of Google’s ranking would be complete without asking the common – but misguided! 🙂 – question: “Does Google manually edit its results?” Let me just answer that with our third philosophy: no manual intervention.

That statement is false, and he should not say it.   He does try to clarify later in the post:

I should add, however, that there are clear written policies for websites recommended by Google, and we do take action on sites that are in violation of our policies or for a small number of other reasons (e.g. legal requirements, child porn, viruses/malware, etc).

Action?  Yes, of course he means the *manual intervention* he said above does not happen.  Google has a right to pull sites out of the rankings, though it is annoying how much they talk about NOT manually intervening when they do it.    Because of no transparency nobody outside of Google knows how often they manually intervene.    Amit makes  it sound like it’s only for horrors like child porn or malware, but note that the use of inappropriate “SEO” tactics such as “hidden text” can get you removed and even banned from the Google index.   Unfortunately for small sites – e.g. “Aunt Sally’s House of Knitting website”  Aunt Sally may have no idea her webmaster is using these tactics.   How often does this happen?    My guess is that hundreds of thousands of legitimate sites are ranked very improperly due to technical penalties, but due to no transparency (and probably no measure of this at Google) nobody knows.

The big Google problem is that the policies for algorithmic downranking are not *clear enough*.  Many SEO companies prey on this lack of transparency, ironically often using Google’s mystique to lure unsuspecting businesses into expensive “optimization” schemes that don’t work or can get them seriously penalized.

Part of Google’s search algorithm philosphy is that they don’t share details because spammers would exploit them before honest people.   Although a weak case can be made for this idea, a better one is that in  non-transparent systems dishonest folks will do *better* because they invest more energy into finding the loopholes.    For example inbound linking, a very hot SEO topic last year at SES San Jose, has complex rules nobody understands outside of Google.    For example linking between sites in an information network can be advantageous or it can be penalized depending on whether Google (rather than the community or webmaster) sees the practice as manipulative of the algorithm or user-friendly and thus allowable.

Amit – a clear policy is one where the webmaster will know, rather than guess, what they are doing to annoy the Google algorithm or the manual intervention folks.

There is a pretty good source for information about how to approach site architecture for optimal ranking and it is to read Matt Cutts’ SEO related posts here.

Although Matt won’t give out much about the algorithmic penalties that create much of the Google confusion and frustration for established websites, if you follow Google’s guidelines and Matt’s posts on SEO you are unlikely to have serious problems with ranking.     Of course unless you work to optimize a new website you will have the *standard problems* with ranking since your competition is probably doing basic SEO on their site.   I’d argue (along with many SEO folks) that the best way to enter things this late in the game and hope for good ranks is with a topical *blog* to support your website.   Start with several posts about your general area of business, using a lot of the terminology people would use to find your website, and add posts regularly.

I’ll be covering the SES San Jose Search Conference and expect to hear a lot more debate about the issue of transparency, blogging, and SEO.