A buddy of mine just got an iPhone 4 about 3 days ago. So he went out, had a drink pulled out his phone to show his friend, phone slipped and BANG!
Apparently he didn’t drop the phone hard, it just kind of…. slipped out of his hand.
This design flaw where the phone will self destruct if its dropped, is serious.
I got wood!
All it means is that you cannot use the iPhone 4 without a case. And that is going to mess up the Apple iPhone brand, because instead of an object of beauty, it becomes ‘the case you use on the phone‘.
So let this be a warning tale to you iPhone 4 users without cases.
My show and tell of the iPhone 4 cracked screen.
BEWARE!!!! if you are the sensitive type DO NOT WATCH THIS 😉
iPhone 4 being dropped and screen shattered in a random drop test. It’s a painful watch.
It’s such a bad problem, there is even a teardown video showing you how to replace your screen!
My image gallery. These thumbnails go to a hi res image (about 1.3mb) giving you some really nice detail on how the screen has been cracked and how it even carried on working.
(by the way, these pics were taken using an android nexus one – my personal phone)
SEO is changing and its now moving away from gaming the flaws of the search algo and moving towards creating a ‘social’ footprint to sugggest the importance of a site. This doesn’t mean banging out a succession of twitter posts, but it does mean being in the places which are prominent in search engines and where users care most about a given subject.
So with that in mind I’ve thought up a very rough reputation management framework that can double up as a process for getting ranked on the terms that bring in the money.
Its more than an SEO trick
The broad model here is to get
Feedback on what a business is doing to make iterative changes to the products or services from the feedback cycle
Manage reputation, both positive and negative
Use the online ‘ecosystem’ to spread the good word about a product or service.
Keep clear of trouble from regulatory authorities who can affect you
Agree messaging for Professional / trade / consumer
Define online hotspots of interest and commercial intent:
What keywords should the product or service be found on
What kind of site / blogger / thought leader should be associated with this and how can their positive comments be given prominence around
Most relevant searched phrases
Brand terms for the client
Create the right environmental conditions to ignite consumer demand.
Be seen as transparent, honest, serving the user/customer as best as possible on value and service standards.
Monitor sentiment towards the brand online using online monitoring tools like Google alerts and http://www.trackur.com/
If there is prominent negative sentiment:
Respond to it immediately and be transparent and honest
If its something where the brand has done wrong and can’t / won’t rectify, then abondon the client! or bury it by up-ranking other content above it (the resource calibrated by the reputation damage caused)
If there is positive sentiment towards the brand, but the content is not prominent, then use SEO to get it up-ranked for critical phrases like brand phrases and get it referenced in other big conversation hotspots
Reach out to thought leaders who can evangelise the service or product
As with Offline, if you can make it easy for these people, they will find it easier to write about you. Give them the ingredients from which they can make up their own minds about the product or service.
In online there is a massive long tail of writers and thought leaders. In accumulation they are very valuable. Have online press packs and all the ingredients from which they can write up their own informed views
Give your tribe the resources to feel included and tools they need to talk about you
Have a contributing presence wherever there is an important and prominent conversation about you or where there could be an important conversation i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Forums, Chat Groups, Linked in
Your comment / feedback points on your site or 3rd party sites
Give prominence to the positive feedback on the product or service
Have these reviews rank on search engines on keywords users would naturally search for when thinking of the product/service
If possible, gather reviews and testimonials from users and re-publicise them.
Structure feedback into:
Reviews with ‘useful? yes/no’ and ask for ratings. Ratings out of 5 stars (standard rating formula online) so you can get a positive rating for the company / service that you can disseminate to 3rd party sites
If its a product then encourage existing customers to write about your products on 3rd party sites i.e. reviewcentre.com Amazon.com
Have a comprehensive help section online
Online Press pack (giving evangelists the information they need to propagate the service)
Forum with knowledgeable staff at hand to answer specific questions
A staffer out online engaging with users who are asking questions. This person would also engage in important conversations that ‘can be found easily’
As I was saying earlier, this is only an outline, but hopefully it will give you a sense of the scope of activities that can be undertaken.
(FYI as of July 2009 the overall results were: Google: 41%, Bing: 31%, Yahoo: 28%)
The main difference between Google and everybody else is that they pad out their brand so we become too inert to move somewhere else for our search results. There is a high chance you use one or more of these services (wikipedia/popout) and every time you do, you probably love Google a little more for giving you some great service for free.
But if you are tired of the slow erosion of the search results with real time search, video search, news search, then maybe like me you might try a simpler easy engine like Bing.
And it seems I’m not the only one. According to Hitwise who published some interesting stats recently, it’ s all go for Bing!.
Microsoft relaunched their search engine Bing on June 1, 2009, just over a year ago.
On June 1, 2009 Bing’s market share, according to Hitwise was 5.25%. A year later, according to Hitwise it is 9.85% share. If you do the math, that is about 88% growth year-over-year, not too far under double growth!
Here are some of the latest stats from Hitwise:
Of course, growing share from 5% to 10% is nice, but it still shadows Google’s share. In June 2009, Google had a share of 74.04%, June 2010 Google’s share is 71.65, so that is a 3% decline.
A friend of mine who manages a BIG PPC account with Google told me the other day (over a beer) that when he sends an enquiry to Google about some random account management issue, if he telephones, there will be a 30% chance they will actually pick up the phone. It takes on average 5 different conversations to resolve the problem.
So thats about 15 ‘no contact’ calls to fix an issue.
If he emails, he gets a response between 3 and 12 days. These responses are generally generic, so he usually has to email back and query Google’s response between 2 and 4 times, which takes another 3 to 12 days to get a reply on per query.
So thats at least 15 days for a useful answer.
BUT… if Google have an outstanding invoice with my buddy, they chase every day and often twice a day. When he responds to the Googler chasing the money, 4 out of 5 times he doesn’t get a reply from his contact. So the other month, he was put on final reminder!
Conslusion: Google have really bad customer service. But we know that of course. 😉
BTW – Bing do care and believe it or not they do have attentive and helpful customer service staff, I just hope they win more market share!
I’ve been working on a code of practice when it comes to marketing and technology. It’s just a personal thing that ive been thinking about for a while, so I thought it would be helpful (to me at least) to write this out.
The idea is to have a simple charter, so when suppliers offer marketing technology services, the purchaser has a core set of principals to work by.
For instance, if you want to reduce the cost of your IT marketing spend, a good way would be to :
– never be dependent on a any supplier,
– use open source code so you don’t get tied into expensive licensing agreements
– reuse code to reduce the security and cost overhead.
My personal charter for technology in outgoing marketing.
– Low coss
– Easy for end users to use
Supplier / vendor
– Non dependence on any supplier
– Never be taken advantage over, through licence cost escalation
– Own the source code / have the right to use the code in perpetuity
Characteristics of Software
– 100% open to code level inspection i.e. open source code
– Commonly used
– Understood by the business
– Inexpensive to implement
Technical development infrastructure
– Version controlled where possible
– Reusable i.e. build a library of code
– Standardised i.e. work to a set of agreed coding standards
– Interoperable code where possible i.e. coded in a modular way, so chunks of code can be reused
– Working to brand guidelines
– Fulfils usability guidelines
– Multi streaming of projects i.e. High / Med / Low : Security Risk, Complexity, Degree of Integration
The clever part is building up a standard framework, so as the diverse parts of a company do their thing, each new piece of technology can then be potentially reused on some other part within marketing.
In practice, this means separating the content management system from the dynamic elements of a site. Making those dynamic parts modular and easily reusable on any part of the content management system so you get the benefit of accumulated libraries of code. The other thing (for most marketing) is that the content management system should not be the expensive bit. Open source CMS’s are getting better and better and cheaper to roll out.
I was riding home tonight on my motorbike thinking of the reality that has struck home. Yes, the era of SEO’ers gaming the system wholesale might just start getting a lot tougher. And today I saw a the most visible sign yet of harder times for this species of online marketeer.
To preface what I am about to explain, its worth understanding a little about how Google think. If you have ever read complexity theory, you will know that within eco systems, there are depths of complexity we will never know about. A good example of a ‘micro eco system’ is a flock of birds flying in an apparently random way, but somehow working cohesively as a ‘mega mind’. It looks impossible, but in fact its all held together by a few simple rules:
– speed of a birds reaction
– external forces in play (wind)
– distance from the next bird
– desire to follow the bird in front
Change any of these variables and the whole character of the flock will change.
Have a look at this video and it will make sense to you:
And so with Google, they think ecosystems. They understand that great complexity is ruled by relatively simple forces.
Now you are thinking in a certain way, let me carry on…
Google have announced they are now beta testing this:
Whats relevant? – it’s the ‘s’, as in Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connections . They justify the test by saying this:
“A few notes to remember: Google will still maintain search data to improve your search quality and to provide better service. Searching over SSL doesn’t reduce the data sent to Google — it only hides that data from third parties who seek it. And clicking on any of the web results, including Google universal search results for unsupported services like Google Images, could take you out of SSL mode. Our hope is that more websites and services will add support for SSL to help create a better and more consistent experience for you.
We think users will appreciate this new option for searching. It’s a helpful addition to users’ online privacy and security, and we’ll continue to add encryption support for more search offerings.”
That’s good, sort of if you’re a consumer. For marketeers of course is just more stuff to deal with when trying to accurately target customers. (I won’t go there right now)
Google now tell us that we can surf privately. We can avoid being snooped on, so its got to be good for you. In thory – yes, in practice NO. When did you last hear about a user suing because of surfing habits being revealed?
But what this does do, is make google a ton of extra $$$$$$$$$
By switching over to https surfing, off the privacy card, Google will block all referrer data and IMHO they will also block this data in Google analytics. This referrer information will no longer contain keywords users came to the site on and also what they converted on.
If you are a professional SEO’er, you are gaming Google to get your site in places where ‘the money lives’. Every time a user clicks and converts on your SEO driven result, that is money Google could have made from AdWords.
To accurately game Google, you need to know what phrases convert, so you can spend money on linkbuilding for that phrase. Of course you can run an AdWords campaign and it will give you very good keyword intelligence. Now imagine you have this data and you run your expensive SEO programme but you cant track anything from Google natural search. You are getting conversions, but where from? How can you manage spend when you have little idea on what actually converts?
Now you are driving with a fogged up windshield. You will know what your rankings are (probably) But you won’t know be able to attribute ROI to phrases.
>> less resource and accuracy within SEO
>> which in turn means more intensity within AdWords auctions
>> which makes Google loads more $$$$$$$$$
And all because they use a simple lever: imposing secure search.
There are other things going on that will affect their positive revenue uplift:
– More blended search / News search / Real time search / wikipedia pages, pushing out commercial natural results
– Reduction of the long tail. Webmasters are already seeing a drop of between 5% and 15% in long tail search volume, therefore concentrating users around fewer keywords and so making it easier for advertisers to advertise on these results.
– Category wide downward revision of quality score which I have seen recently with brand phrases.
– Bigger emphasis on ranking brand sites, knowing how bad they generally are with converting uses on anything other than dedicated landing pages.
– Attacking any sector where search is a factor: Product search, travel, mortgages
My guess is that this intensifying of AdWords auctions will uplift their revenues by 15% – 20% overall within 12 months.
So what am I doing about this?
Well, I’m going to restructure my sites, so I an run unique ‘join now’ buttons per page and then use tools like SEM rush to work out what pages rank for what and then match this all up to give me a reasonable idea which pages produce the best results and rank for the biggest terms.
It’s all a hack workaround, but its better than no accurate data.
They are not evil as individuals. But as a collective they are great at misdirection, deception and silence. They are moulding the shape of the Internet in a way that makes them more money and sell us the idea that its good for us.
You can say Micro$oft are evil, but I see them as a heavy thug barging smaller people out of its way. At least you know that’s what they are about. Google on the other hand are feeding us with happy pills (gmail / docs / youtube / tricks in the SERPS) and getting us to love them whilst sucking the financial lifeblood out of us until we can pay no more and our ROI goes negative.
I know this sort of behaviour has gone on for generations, and its just what happens when business goes greedy. I only hope Bing comes good and takes Google on.
About: I work within a global online marketing team as an SEO manager for Betfair, a large online betting business based in London UK. Any opinions given are my personal views and not those of Betfair (my employer)