Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

What is the Next Step for Yahoo?

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Yahoo logoRecent executive turmoil has landed Yahoo in the spotlight many times. This isn’t the kind of PR and publicity that any company wishes for. Obviously, changes and transition are in store for this Internet giant over the next year. But where should the focus be placed? How will short term strategy decisions affect long term goals? To be honest, I really have no idea at this point. I think we need to delve further into the strengths and weaknesses of the company to determine where emphasis needs to placed and where losses need to be cut…

Yahoo started out as a directory, then blossomed into a search engine. Today, most people would still consider Yahoo a search engine by all accounts. I do not believe this to be the case, although search obviously does play a big role in the success or demise of the company. In my mind, Yahoo is a services company. Unlike Google, which derives the majority of its revenue from search and advertising, Yahoo provides a vast array of services which diversify its revenue stream. We do know that Yahoo Search Marketing (i.e. the new Overture) does bring in large revenues. Having said that however, we also know that many other services drive huge revenues that Google (among others) fail to acknowledge. Examples of this include:

All of these areas drive revenues that are NOT advertising-based. This presents a significant opportunity, as well as the possibility cross-marketing and promotion. Evidence is apparent by the willingness of Yahoo users to spend money on services they find value in. Once this trust threshold can be reached, the sale of further services is quite possible. I guess what I’m trying to say is:

“Yahoo is NOT a search company. Search simply provides an entry way into Yahoo’s world of services.”

This does bring up an interesting point however. If Yahoo places less emphasis on search and continues to fall behind, then they are failing to provide that initial entry way or door. Yahoo must continue to allocate a reasonable amount of resources toward search to *at least* remain on par with the rest of the second-tier players (i.e. MSN, Ask, AOL). Failure to do so will not only affect the prospect of future users, but also the loyalty of current ones.

Many may argue that Yahoo should push the limits and throw huge amounts of resources into search in an attempt to thwart Google and create the next-generation search engine. My thought for those people is this: Yahoo has already established an image in the minds of consumer. The company has not positioned itself to be the best search engine, providing cutting-edge, relevant results. Their search technology is ‘good enough’ - it is the status quo. The company and brand would have to re-invent themselves to do so, and spend a ridiculous sum of money in the process. Even then, I still don’t think Yahoo could compete at a higher level. Google, on the other hand, is known as the leader is search. The company is globally recognized for its PageRank algorithm and relevant results. Positioning of the brand has already been established. Lastly, further evidence against the re-invention of Yahoo: the recent attempt at re-invention by Ask.

Whether Yahoo continues to focus on search or put more resources into other services is yet to be known. One thing is for certain - a strong action plan is need, and it is needed soon. The fate of the company will be strongly influenced by decisions to be made in the next year. Good luck to whatever management is left.

Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

An execellent way to drive free, qualified traffic to your blog is via search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) has become known as one of the most effective, economical ways to generate prospective traffic. As a blog owner, I undertook an endeavour to optimize my blog for search engines to reap the benefits listed above. After some careful research and due diligence, I came up with a all-encompassing SEO strategy.

Having said that, I have to give many props to Neil Patel and his crew at Pronet Advertising. His post on blog optimization is second-to-none. I am simply hoping to add on a few bits and provide an analysis in my own words.

Title - For simplicity sake, ensure that the title of your homepage is the same as your blog name. This works well for branding purposes. A tagline or catch-phrase can be used, but I would argue against doing so, as it decreases the prominence and importance of the blog name.

With respect to post title, I would completely eliminate branding and focus on the content at hand. Unless you are a big gun in the blogosphere, no-one knows who you are or cares for that matter. Focus on the content. In other words, the post title should be the same as the page title, thus ensuring consistent keyword theming throughout the page.

Neil has posted both Wordpress and Movable Type hacks for this in the article above.

URL - Make certain that individual posts follow a specific format:


By default, many blog platform number individual posts or provide IDs. These options can be changed in options section, at least for Wordpress. Another tip is to provide a descriptive “post slug” if the post title does not contain any keywords relating to the article or provides a poor description of the material. Post slug customization is easy in Wordpress, but I am not unfamiliar of the process with respect to other platforms.

As a side note, it is recommended to use dashes in the URL to separate keywords, rather than underscores.

META Tags - META keywords are lame. No-one cares. Leave them alone.

META descriptions, on the other hand, are very important. By default, Wordpress simply grabs the homepage META description and inserts it into every given post. This does not provide a very good description of the content. Furthermore, search engines index each post as having the same META description, which shouldn’t be the case.

Once again, Neil has provided hacks for Wordpress and Movable Type to ensure that each individual post has its own META description. These hacks pull the first 25 words of the given post and automatically generate a META description via this content. Very useful and much more effective.

Headings - Post titles are very important, on-page aspects of SEO. The content should in theory be tailored to the material contained within the post. In addition, the use of H1 tags, as well as h2, h3, etc… is highly recommended to put it mildly.

Categories or “Tags” - As is the case with most blog platform, one is able to categorize a post or “tag” it. These descriptive markers not only make your content easier for readers to find (if necessary), but also provide a much needed internal linking structure to ensure that all posts get crawled and indexed by the search engines.

ALT and Title tags - In this case, ‘title’ tag refers to the description given to a link. An ALT provides a description of a photo or image. These are both essential to any basic SEO strategy.

General Rules and Guidelines

  • Ensure that keywords and content themes remain consistent through a post (i.e. in the page title, URL, META description, heading, paragraph content, ALT tags, etc…)
  • External linking is a huge part of SEO. Network with other bloggers and trade blogroll links. These external links not only provide valuable SEO juice, but also direct traffic.
  • A blog will get crawled more often if content is dynamic (i.e. the fresher the content, the more often the blog gets crawled). So, post often if possible.

Follow these tips and do your own research. Let’s hope that we can all increase our search engine traffic and provide quality content to those looking for it. Let me know how your conquest goes and if, indeed, you are able to climb the search engine ranks. 

As you can see, I am very biased to Wordpress as it is my blog platform of choice. I apologize for any confusion or ambiguity created for anyone using Movable Type, TypePad, or any other blogging platform.

Growth of 9rules?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

9Rules logoI will be the first to admit that I’m proud to be a part of the 9rules network. It is a great group of people. In addition, the quality of the content is second-to-none. In other words, I believe it to be the most prestigious blog network on the Internet - but I’m rather biased.

Having said that, I was perusing some Alexa stats and ranks the other day and noticed that the 9rules site has remained somewhat stagnant over the past year. It has remained consistently within the 5,000 - 10,000 range, swaying up and down from time to time. Now, don’t get me wrong… I know that Alexa stats are skewed to say the least, but I am surprised that network traffic hasn’t trended upward more so over the past year. Obviously, I don’t have actual site data or stats, but I’d be curious to see if the Alexa info is relatively correlated to the actual stats or completely out in left field.

This brought me to another point that I know Scrivs (9rules co-founder) has brought up in the past: there are advantages and disadvantages to growing a network, especially in the case of 9rules. This network in particular has prided itself on providing the utmost quality content. Having said that, some might argue that by adding more and more blogs to the network, the overall quality decreases by default. This may not necessarily be the case, but an argument can definitely be made for a smaller, more selectively chosen group of blogs.

From the other side, others will argue that more blogs not only increase the variety and diversity of content, but also build upon current traffic levels to provide more exposure to existing member blogs.

Finally, another interesting point gets raised with respect to current 9rules members. I am not of this mentality, but I believe that some of the older and more core members may be: as the network grows, the ‘club’ becomes less exclusive as more members are able to enter. I have heard this mentioned a couple times, but is it truly the case? I think that every member has their own opinion and coming to one conclusion is naive and unjustifiable.

Let me reiterate that I love the network and I’m proud to be a part of it. Future growth will be interesting to observe. Even more interesting will be the development and synthesis of the community - and whether growth hampers the evolution process.



Hottest Web 2.0 Start-Ups So Far in 2007

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Here is MY list of the hottest web 2.0 start-ups we’ve seen so far in 2007. Keep in mind that this is my opinion only. Factors that were taken into account include user base growth, buzz and hype generated, as well as awareness within the blogosphere and tech community.

Though a start-up may have launched prior to 2007, widespread brand awareness and growth must have come since the start of this year. Having said that, let’s see the list…

10. Clicky - This gem is web analytics 2.0 at its best. Clicky combines a clean interface and a user-friendly experience to revolutionize web analytics. These guys are not re-inventing the wheel, but rather filling a void. Growth of the service has been phenomenal thus far, with many high profile sites implementing the tool.

9. Spock - Dubbed the ‘people search engine’, Spock promises to change the way we search for people in the future. Search result pages are specifically designed to provide personal information and details. Much buzz was generated around this darling when it landed an abnormally large ‘A’ round of financing.

8. Mahalo - “Thank you” in Hawaiian or Jason Calcanis’ human-powered search engine. Mahalo only launched in the past couple weeks, but the human-edited search results are accumulating. Many questions the use of a non-algorithm-based engine. In any case, J-Cal and Sequoia always attract a crowd regardless of the endeavour.

7. Jaxtr - Call me from my social network profile. This is the basis for Jaxtr. The company has combined buzz words, such as VOIP, widget, and social media, with a stellar executive team to form a potentially ground-breaking product. The idea is interesting. We will have to wait and see whether it goes mainstream. 

6. Babelgum - This Joost competitor is very new to the scene. Babelgum’s ranking is based mostly on the hype and buzz to date. Lots of people are talking about the company. But will they be able to compete with Joost?

5. Virb - Hype, hype, hype… I’ve been hearing about this project for quite some time. I’m not sure what’s so ingenious or revolutionary about it. Virb provides a place to put all your stuff (i.e. photos, videos, blogs) in one place. Sounds like a spin on a social network. Maybe I’m missing something. The interface is cool though. In any case, it has grown quickly and I’ve heard nothing but good things.

4. iLike - This social music discovery network has grown in leaps and bounds. A majority of iLike’s success must be attributed to the opening of the Facebook platform. It reminds me of Pandora, but with a social network aspect latched on. The company has experienced explosive growth very recently.

3. MyBlogLog - This little widget helped pave the way for one of the quickest exit strategies I have ever seen. Quickly snapped up by Yahoo, MyBlogLog (or the blog social network, as it has come to be known) continues to grow by way of its viral nature. I think the founders should thank TechCrunch (most notably) for prominently displaying the widget, therefore inducing a viral spread. Everybody copies the trend-setter.

2. Joost - Not much needs to be said about Joost. The KaZaa/Skype boys are back at it, in yet another attempt to disrupt the communication industry with an online medium. The first two wild successes have fueled huge amounts of buzz and press for this third offering, and so far it hasn’t disappointed.

1. Twitter - Twitter is HOT. Hell, Twitter is the definition of hot. Everyone and their dog seems to be “twittering” nowadays. The concept is so simple, but more importantly, the execution was flawless. Now everyone is either trying to integrate or copy the company. Congratulations to those Twits. Because of them, I now know what EVERYBODY is doing right now.


  • Powerset - natural-language search engine (yet to launch).
  • - real-time site stat reporting.

Older NOTABLE web 2.0 contenders who have made a real run in 2007:

Remember… the list is only my opinion. I encourage you to add your thoughts and companies below. If you feel my list is completely out of whack, blog your own top 10 list.

Directories - What the Web Should Be

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Directory structureI know I rant about certain topics to no end, but there are certain things I feel passionate about. The semantic web is one of them. I glorify links and a static web. I’m boring and lame. Call me Mr. Web 1.0. Having said that, I focus on simplicity and a stream-lined user experience. Practicality and logic are two ideals that I admire when perusing a site.

Directories are a great business model. They have a built-in:

  • revenue model (i.e. premium listing)
  • marketing mechanism (i.e. SEO)

The hierarchical nature of the system makes it easy for users to find what they are looking for. Furthermore, this set-up also facilitates search engine crawling, ensuring that all pages are indexed.

Directories fulfill all the requirements of a site well-optimized for search engines. Page titles, URLs (in many cases), META tags, headers, page content, and anchor text are all well-described by default.

Directories are also ideal for anything ‘local’. Regional sites have proven the model. The YellowPages and online classified ad sites, like Craigslist, function much in the same way. They are useful to the non-techie and provide offline value.

I find directories to be similar to forums and discussion boards from a user-participation stand-point. They both rely highly on social media and “crowd-sourcing” to aggregate content and data. Users and site visitors are submitting info to add value to the site or discussion, or to provide exposure for a given cause. In any case, the directory ’system’ takes care of the work, leaving little human labour to deal with site functionality. This allows the site to scale with very little additional manpower or resources needed. It is automatic.

So next time you’re conjuring up an idea for a web business, forget the ’sexy’ social networks and web 2.0 hype. Think simple, think straight-forward, think directories.