Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pay For Answers Model - Human Powered Search

I have recently noticed search results including pay for answer landing pages from human powered search. You pay $10 to ask a question and see what the answer is for similar questions. Although many people want to pay for answers to their technical questions, do these listings make good organic search results?

Excel Formulas for $10

I recently searched in Google for an Excel formula and typed in a "How to" search query. The first search result looked promising, so I thought I should click on this. It stated in the top left-hand corner that I could pay $10 and see the answer to similar questions and ask my own question on this topic. The only way I would pay $10 for this is if I was on deadline and needed it right away. But I ask you, is this the best "organic" search listing for a Google search query?

Many of these landing pages should be part of paid search results. I almost expect that I will have to pay for something, if I click on a paid search result. Maybe Google needs to change the algorithm to identify these pay for answer search queries in organic search results. I don't however have a problem with services including JustAnswer because they offer an archive of answers with the ability to ask follow up questions for a fee. At least you get to see older answers for free.

Something for Google to think about in the next search algorithm update.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Google Search, 3 out of 4 Doctors Approve

As my primary care physician walked into the exam room, I saw something out of place. Remember the Highlights we enjoyed as a kid, they asked "What is wrong with this picture?" I saw my doctor tapping this high tech machine, I squinted (not the optometrist office mind you) and saw that my doctor was using a computer to keep track of my vitals and make notes in my file. Hopefully they don't put Iron Mountain out of business.

Search Engine Optimization that Saves Lives

74% of doctors say they used a search engine to find prescription drug information monthly (or more often). 77% of doctors find clinical information monthly (or more often). The shocking thing is that only 37% of doctors plan to use specialized health search engines more often during the coming year.

If doctors find the best results on Google, this further validates the accuracy of Google search results. It is fair to assume that our doctors are searching Google and clicking on one of the many health related verticals that prominently rank in the search results.

Health Care Brand Advocates

So if you are a drug company or pharmaceutical distributor traditional search engine optimization may be more important than ever. To get your product in front of the health care industries' brand advocates it is a good idea to supplement the in-person efforts of pharmaceutical sales with a savvy SEM strategy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Image Search Rankings Revealed

With billions of images indexed in Google and other image search engines, how does Google choose images for search results? Many of the basics still apply.

Image ALT Attributes

When you hover over an image you see the image attributes, these attributes are used when a visually impaired person searches the Internet and need audio explanation about a picture. SEO professionals recommend that images offer a full description for the visually impaired and include keywords that help explain how the image should rank in search results.

Photo Description

Of course standard SEO best practices apply. Make sure the title and description of the image are optimized and follow SEO best practices. Save the image with a file name that includes the keywords that you want to rank on, and use underscores between words. Underscores will assist the search spider in separating words in the file name and the use of underscores will allow the file to resolve on both PC and Mac computers.

Image Quality and Resolution

Many times the higher the image quality the better a photo will rank. People that are looking for images want a picture that looks good.

Visual Facial Recognition

Google is beginning to look into facial recognition to choose the best image out of the many images indexed on the Internet. Search engineers agree that profile photos and pictures of individuals are much easier to sort through and find the most accurate image. Also easy to identify is well-known art including the Mona Lisa.

How will image search engines choose an image to rank prominently in image search that is not a profile photo or image of a famous painting? Similar to facial recognition and finger-print software, images will be broken into unique sections and compared to thousands of other similar images that have similar title, descriptions and ALT attributes. The image search engine will choose the image with the most unique attributes based on the similarities to other images with similar visual attributes.

This is of course a theory put forth by Google search engineers. You can expect that this type of image attribute recognition is going to be implemented into image search results, if not already.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Full Participation Social Network Advertising

With the top social networks saturated with advertising it might be time to advertise on a social network in your niche.

Whether you are a real estate agent working with ActiveRain, a business professional writing articles on or an online flower retailer working with CafeMom (the #1 parenting social network on the Internet) it takes more than a display ad to create a buzz around a product or service.

Many marketers make the mistake of just posting one ad on every social network and spend all of their ad dollars getting impressions instead of conversions. The best way to capture conversions on social networks is to focus on a few specific networks and fully participate, advertise with rich media, and saturate the ad modules with interesting, engaging, and interactive ads.

Full Participation in Social Networks

Creating a branded group or landing page can be good but having real employees start profiles will put a human face on the brand. The employees can participate in the network, answer questions, join groups, and make contacts; all with a link back to the corporate website.

The employee profiles in conjunction with full participation advertising will launch the consumer past the introduction and research stage, directly to the conversion stage. Serving up qualified traffic to your website, ready to buy. Try to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a goldfish in the ocean.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Word of Mouth - Online Marketing

How many times have you been ready to purchase a product or use a service and you asked a friend or family member for shopping advice? According to a January 2007 Forrester study, Consumers look to friends and family 83% of the time to learn about products or services.

Social Networking Online

Many people will ask friends and family for a referral for a doctor, lawyer, financial advisor, insurance agent or other business professional. The more contacts and connections a business professional makes in a social network, the more validated their service and expertise.

If a friend or family member links to a professional in their social network, this can be seen as a recommendation. Connect with your customers and clients, get referrals, and offer advice to social networkers. It will do wonders for your online reputation and increase the amount of qualified leads you receive.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

When Subject Experts Speak Community Members Listen

63% of people trust the recommendation or review by a known expert (Forrester: Leveraging User-Generated Content, January 2007).

When Subject Experts Speak Community Members Listen

Traditional online advertising is a push tactic and a monologue, pushing advertising on users. What if there was a way to get consumers to listen and ask for your advertisement? Participating in Yahoo! Answers is one way to answer questions and become the subject expert on a topic. Many people don't have time to browse through a hundred thousand answers to find what they are looking for.

Target Niche Networks

If you are a physician or health care professional participate in online networks that focus on health and wellness ( and Sermo). Are you a financial advisor? Participate in Linkedin and some niche financial networks. As a business professional you are the subject expert in your industry. People are actively looking for information and recommendations when they visit social networks. Take advantage of this active participation and satisfy the consumers wants and needs. Who knows, they may tell a friend or family member about you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Alan Rothstein - Photobucket Album

The world of widgets is best when viral in nature. Photobucket and many other photo sharing websites allow users to post their photo album on other social networking profiles. Click on the photo and you are taken directly to the user's Photobucket profile page. What a great way to market your website with word-of-mouth on the Internet.

The Internet community is also more likely to trust a friend or "person like them" when choosing services and products on the Internet. This is a great way to do just that, advertise a photo sharing website advertised by people just like you.

Photobucket Album
alan rothstein,alan, rothstein

Social Networking: Practice What You Preach

A Web 2.0 way to promote a social networking and advertising conference, a widget. It seems like common knowledge but even some Search firms don't optimize their own websites. However the company (TAOW) promoting Lisa 08 (Lessons in Social Advertising) understands that you have to practice what you preach.

Add LiSA08 to your page

LISA 08, a conference covering Social Advertising Lessons kicks off in San Francisco on June 18th. The LISA event will try to answer many questions on the minds of marketers including:

* What is social advertising?
* Why are social networks important to consumer brands?
* Does conventional advertising work in social networks?
* What are successful methods for deeply engaging consumers online?
* How is the role of content changing in advertising?
* Are user-generated content campaigns here to stay or a passing fad?
* How do you measure ROI with social advertising?
* How should social advertising efforts coordinate with other parts of a media mix?

I have not yet attended a Lisa O8 event but it looks promising. Let me know what you think about this event and whether it is worth the time and money to attend. Maybe we will attend Lisa 09 if we get some good feedback.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The SEO Bible: Most Recommended By Amazon

If you are looking for a Search Engine Optimization book on Amazon, what additional SEO books will Amazon make a personal recommendation for? Use TouchGraph's Amazon Browser, it reveals the intricate network structure within purchase pattern recommendations at Amazon.

The Center of Amazon's SEO Book Universe

The book that has the highest ranking on Amazon considering the purchase pattern recommendations, for books related to the search query SEO, is the SEO Bible. Is it the best book on the shelf about SEO? Have you purchased the SEO Bible? Many Amazon shoppers have and the advanced technology of the TouchGraph offers insight into purchase patterns for books on Amazon. And it makes recommendations on the most popular books to boot.

History in the Making

Up until now the TouchGraph technology was visually appealing however not too advance because you can see the same information with Google's related search operator. This tool was more of a show and tell for TouchGraph's product line. However, now with the Amazon book search and the Facebook picture feature you can actually get some hard to find information. The Facebook TouchGraph tool lets you see how your friends are connected, and who has the most photos together.

TouchGraph, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are taking research to a more visible level and offering some interesting insight into book purchases, photo sharing, and related websites. Hopefully we will see more of this kind of technology available to the public from TouchGraph.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Is the .mobi domain obsolete?

With the influx of mobile phones with larger screens that support full-size websites, do we still need .mobi? Even though many mobile phones can browse any website, a more concise and straight-forward website is easier to navigate on the mobile web. Does that mean we keep the .mobi extension? That remains to be seen.

Take eBay for instance, their mobile website is hosted at As the internet evolves mobile websites will adapt to the .com world not the other way around. Although we should see a marriage between the two.

So what are we all going to do with our .mobi domains? Is Google giving special treatment for .mobi domains in mobile search? I suspect we will see a change in the next couple of months with the partnerships between Google and Nokia (and recently Yahoo! and HP).

So are .mobi domains obsolete? Maybe you can sell your .mobi domain to the singer moby? Or, maybe not.

Widgets Help You Go Viral

If you can think of a unique widget that actually adds functionality, makes something easier, or is really interesting than you got something good.

If you want people to use the widget you have to do more than add an RSS feed to it (unless you are very well known that is). Try to make something fun and different. People will share it and your brand advocates will advertise your product and service for you.

If you Build it, They will Pass it on

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Welcome to Alan Rothstein's Blog

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to Alan Rothstein's blog. I will be sharing with you some insights, business pundits, interesting companies, random thoughts, and interesting tidbits of information.

This blog is not endorsed or a reflection of my current or past employers. This is my own thoughts, insights, and interests in the business world. If you have any comments or questions I welcome them.