Wired 16.01: The Data Wars

OK, I know this article came out over a month ago so I apologize for commenting on somewhat old news. Anyway, my comment here is brief:

It's a good piece however like before, it's interesting to see Wired put out a well-rounded article on a subject yet while maintaining apparent ignorance of SEO respectively (no mention was made of it whatsoever, even though some parts of SEO very much involve scraping... Sometimes tons of it).

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Google Analytics + Salesforce

The Washington Post reports that Google Analytics and Salesforce are now talking partnership.

This makes sense. Both tools are lightweight and with a low cost barrier. Also, Salesforce was among the first to hype up the idea of software-as-service... in their case "eCRM" or, per their creative "No Software" image which cleverly makes software look about as politically correct as smoking. Benioff may ruffle some feathers and/or frighten people from time to time, but as a technologist his foresight there was right on target. BTW Marc if you ever read this, next time you have (now Governator) Arnie over for a holiday party, have him arm wrestle people!

...Sorry, I just had to indulge and pretend there's a CEO of something reading my blog. My "SEO the CEO" gospel is taking longer to catch on than what would be ideal, and I verified this morning that, as expected the folks at Wired were too smart to (re)print any of that post (it was partly in response to their their "Get Naked" story from a couple issues back). 🙄

Anyway, what will be interesting will be to see if this partnership - if it firms up - ends up an exclusive one or not. If not, then perhaps we'll still see them pair up with other analytics vendors like Omniture someday after all.

If I were Salesforce I'd be looking to potentially establish a partnership with every major side-side analytics player, if possible... including WebTrends for that matter (even though Microsoft is among their current users... and hey wow, their homepage is one solid line of code without a single carriage return; pretty intense). As the grandfather vendor of the space, WebTrends is hardly bed-ridden and still commands considerable respect and pull.

But then of course, I'm not Salesforce. I just work and sometimes live around the corner; they're more buttoned-down and also, like most, can hold their liquor more than yours truly (part of why I mostly stick to wine).

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Ref. Wired 15.04: The See-Through CEO

Some who've worked with me over the past year will find this mantra a familiar chant. There's nothing quite like an executive post when it's done artfully.

CEOs 2.0 should forget the bit about "Fire the Publicist," though. In the new transparency, the smartest of the executive blogging class will be those who keep their Publicists to their right and their SEOs to their left, and both of them close. The equation:

[CEO*(PR+SEO)] = (Reputation/Traffic) = Power

...and that isn't part of any Google algorithm, yo! It's up to the companies putting their figureheads out there to do this math for themselves. Those who approach it casually get ignored for irrelevant narciblogging, and those who approach it hastily and haphazardly court PR disasters. Those who are calculated but still as open as possible though, can reap major rewards.

Perhaps the best bits in the article are

It's not secrets that are dying, as one reader named gjudd noted, but lies.


Jason Goldberg, CEO of the job-finding site Jobster, discovered this the hard way. In December, rumors began swirling that he was planning layoffs. On his blog, Goldberg stoutly denied everything: "Everybody's all a-speculating. A lot of falsehoods are being bandied about." But he was also dropping coy and ominous clues. He posted a list of songs he was listening to, including "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" and "Dirty Laundry," and he reminded staff to use up their vacation days.

A week later, he announced that Jobster was - whoops - laying off 40 percent of its staff. Goldberg had to have known all along. Critics savaged him as a hypocrite, and mocking blog entries piled up.

Excellent points. Lies and hypocrisy are no less uncouth and intolerable than they've ever been... and these are not the same things as intelligent hoax and steath campaigns that, when done properly, audiences won't ultimately backlash against. Not at all.

If you're a C-level blogger it's critical not look C-list. In the wake of both some really good and some really bad blogging from bigshots, here's a nutshell crack at what seem to be the worst practices to avoid:

  • Be cautious with what to say or not, but don't get paranoid.
  • Don't play coy unless it's about something superficial and/or incidental. Sometimes cowardice is to the wolf as cleverness is to the sheep's clothing. Playfully seeding a little gossip has its place, but messing with people's livelihoods is seriously uncool.
  • Don't play marketer too much here, especially if you're the CMO. Once you've sent them your drafts and/or given them a heads up that you're going to blog on a certain subject, let your Publicist and SEO hash out those details, for the most part. Let them work with you on what keywords, wording and links you should be using where, but follow their lead on such finer production points like that (which you mostly don't have time for anyway).
  • Don't start flame wars unless you've carefully planned out their lifecycles in advance - thinking two steps ahead of who you'll be calling out. If someone's flaming you, resist firing back without getting a second opinion, and then a third, about how to interpret and respond to it (or not). Avoid blogging while emotional; keep cool.
  • It's all about the editing. Great posts can sometimes take days or even weeks to craft. Never publish anything that hasn't been written carefully.
  • Keep as accessible as possible and keep it real, but be smart about it. Do take chances to tactfully stir things up a bit per your messaging plan when they become evident, but don't mistake these as invitations to be an asshole.

Not all Chiefs need blog, and not all should.

To the rest: Godspeed!

- and everyone trembles before search engine rankings.

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Wired 15.03: Herding the Mob

This is a pretty good article that gives an overview of a lot of things SEOs need to keep an eye on, and in ways appropriate to doing business, be active in. It casts the idea of online social engineering in a pretty negative light overall, but despite being biased like that it helps illuminate some of what we SEOs need to teach both ourselves and our clients how to play in.

Nowhere in it is the phrase "Black Hat SEO" used verbatim but it does make of some forms of it, and they roll those in with a larger meme, of their own origination I think: "Crowdhacking," a larger idea that encompasses various black ops including all-out fraud on sites like eBay etc.

Also interesting is how in their "Four Ways" table, their inclusion of "Geek Baiting" which we could just call clever spam because of the irrelevancy and misrepresentation components. The idea here very similar to link baiting, just that what's being sought are Diggs which like links count toward natural ranking as "votes." I point this detail out because

  • The principle can actually apply to just about any [demand / content] niche. They focused in on geekery here as Digg is originally rooted therein, and it's a leading hotspot for viral marketing and SEO. Whenever one of those is identified, people will try something nasty. Nasty stuff is always attempted wherever there's an audience, actually. It's good to keep in mind as crowd-made sites continue to evolve, and considerations like which ones lead, how and why continue to be topics of some debate along the way.
  • Whether it's fair game vs. spam comes down to matters of relevancy, readability, originality, authority, authenticity, and logical representation. If a content item lacks all of those, it's spam. If it lacks most, then it still might be.
  • They also neglected to mention one other big one, the fourth and final of the leading set, in their list of which social bookmarking / tagging sites hold the action: Netscape.

The bottom line:

Great link bait via blog posts = great vote bait on social networks. In terms of influence on organic search positioning, social bookmarks, tags, diggs and trackbacks are all valuable just like standard hyperlinks, and all work similarly in that it's all about quantity (the more the better) and quality (who's linking to / voting for the content). Provided they play by their rules therefore, marketers should absolutely be publishing content with the aim of submitting to and hopefully getting traction in them (a.k.a. "blog and ping").

P.S. - Apologies for having been away from the blog for a while.

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Khipu-pooing Mainstream Media

It would hardly be fair and balanced for me to keep touting the virtues of reading Wired without also pointing out occasional errors as I see them:

In "Untangling the Mystery of the Inca" they say...

Type 'baseball' into Google and its spiders will race over the Internet, look at links, and spit back that yankees.com is the 11th most useful site for you and seattlemariners.com is the 22nd.


This makes it sound like search engines are on-demand botnets or something, and it's wrong. Search engines are constantly updating their caches of sites, i.e. taking an ongoing snapshot of the Web. Their crawlers are a critical part of this, and they can be attracted to sites by actions taken by Webmasters in some ways, but they work by their own clocks as far as users are concerned. Their behaviors are proactive, and they check on sites at depths and intervals in accordance with sites' content change frequency, inbound link popularity and other factors. Users are served information based on what search engine indexes (made of caches) determine to be relevant returns, but engine spiders are not reactive dogs who fetch the live Web whenever users query their masters for information (bonus points to anyone who remembers Lycos perpetuating this by implication back in the day).

This is why we have tactical options like cloaking, which is about getting something into the search engines' caches that differs from what human visitors are shown.

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Based out of Northern California, bl.asphemo.us is a bl.og dedicated to the advocacy and study of high-impact, data driven marketing disciplines and related concerns: Analytics and Data Mining, Marketing Automation, Integrated Advertising (targeting, retargeting), Demand Generation and Lead Nurturing, Social Media / Social Engineering (Crowd-hacking) and the new PR, Privacy, Security, CRM, SEO / SEM, CRO, ROI... more TLAs (three letter acronyms) than any sane person's daily lexicon should include.

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