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GMail’s SPAM filters don’t trust Google

In a wonderfully humorous bit of irony, GMail is now sending Google Alerts to the Spam folder! Do their servers not speak the same language? Is there a family spat we should know about? Do they need a hug?

Gmail - Spam (8) - Google Alerts

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Use social bookmarking to gain deeper customer insights

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As part of my presentation at Search Engine Strategies NY this week, I talked about how social bookmarking services can help company’s gain a deeper understanding of how their customers (or prospects) view and interact with their brand. Social bookmarking isn’t incredibly sexy, but it is a powerful component of the social media mix.

Part of the beauty of social bookmarking is how individual, yet universal it is due to its non-hierarchical folksonomy. When people save pages to their delicious account for example, they are using tags that are not only universal (and part of the common lexicon), but can also choose words and phrases that are relevant to themselves as individuals. As an example, someone tagging the page www.bluefly.com would use keywords like “shopping” and “clothing”, but as is shown in the screenshot below in the “recent history” section, someone also thinks of the BlueFly site as providing “design inspiration”. Drilling into the types of tags people are using for not only your company or brand, but also for your competitors, can yield valuable, and sometimes surprising results that can help inform other aspects of your marketing and communication efforts, including SEM and SEO.

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Another valuable use of social bookmarking is to gain insight into how your brand is perceived by the users saving and tagging your (or your competitors) website or content. Using Dell as an example and digging into the “user notes” section you see not only references you’d expect, such as:

Create a custom computer configuration and then purchase it online. Includes and extensive download library of utilities and drivers for each Dell.

But also not so favourable comments, that even though they are negative provides valuable customer, product, customer service, and brand insight.

Fast fading as leading PC host. Due to bad quality of products and reluctance of tech support to actually support…

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Exploring and using social bookmarking is relatively easy, and along with many other terrific uses that I’ll explore in subsequent posts, can provide another window into perceptions and sentiments about your brand.

[photo credit: One on Flickr]

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Traditional SEO and Meatball Sundae’s

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Just back from a rewarding trip to SES Chicago – thanks to Kevin Ryan and crew for a fantastic conference once again – and although I had a truly great speaking session and audience Q&A with Jennifer, Todd, Steven and Adam, the main benefit for me personally, was the consolidation of my thinking that happened from Seth Godin and the folks on my panel: Actionable Social Media (along with many others, but these two relate directly to this topic).

What started it off for me was reading the Q&A with Seth in the conference magazine on Monday, where in answer to the question:

Most search marketers don’t think of you as a search marketing guru. Some mistakenly think you’re anti-SEO. Yet through Squidoo, you’ve helped people understand search engine traffic, its value to marketers, the Google Dance, and how to succeed in search marketing.

Seth said:

… search traffic is vital to just about everyone building something on the web. So the question becomes, how do you get more out of it?

Many organizations, addicted to control, and addicted to spending money instead of time and talent, have resorted to hiring SEO people….

As a tactic, it’s not bad. But as a strategy, it’s a problem. It’s a problem because of competition, and it’s a problem because the search engines could change their rules at any moment. So, my proposal is to skip most of that and realize that you have a clear strategy. Not easy, but effective: make stuff people want to see, talk about, and link to! That’s what the search engines are looking for, and if you build it…

In my mind (and I believe to those on my panel) this is bang on and where social media, online public relations, and content creation come into play. It’s no longer enough to just "do" SEO. Sure, file and url structure, keyword rich content, title, image, description, etc. tags are all important (and will remain so), but what’s more important is a long term strategy for content creation and direct engagement that is beneficial to your audience. Stuff that people want to talk about, that they find useful, that helps add value. Which is where social media and interactive strategies come into play; reputation building, community engagement, expertise sharing, the gamut – but only those that are appropriate to your site or brand. Otherwise it’s just whipcream piled on top of meatballs.

Unfortunately, developing compelling content and sticking to a long term strategic vision takes time, effort, and authenticity, and with too many folks promising oodles of traffic via Digg or saying you ‘must be on Facebook’ too many brands try to take the easy way out and end up wasting valuable time and money on the quick fix without the lasting benefits. There is no immediate direct ROI, and that’s not a bad thing. The long tail / term benefits will far outweigh the quick fix in the long run.

[photo credit: 2-Dog-Farm via Flickr]

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Countdown to SES Chicago 2007

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In less than a week thousands of marketers will gather in the Windy City for what should be a fantastic week of search, social media and marketing tips. Following up on his keynote from SES Toronto, Seth Godin will open Day 2 of the event. Along with hearing the maestro speak, I look forward to getting my hands on an advance copy of Meatball Sundae!

Yours truly, will also be on hand speaking at the "Actionable Social Media" session, along with Todd Parsons from BuzzLogic, Adam Lavalle from iCrossing, Jennifer Laycock with Search Engine Guide, and Steve Marder from Eurekster. The session will be moderated by Anne Kennedy from Beyond Ink. I’m truly looking forward to participating and the insights from the stellar group of folks on the panel.

The session abstract:

Community-built web sites, the popular Wikipedia and new sites allowing content being shared through "tagging" can be a great way to tap into links and search-driven traffic. This session looks at some social media services and strategies to tap into them in an appropriate manner.

If any readers of (3i) are planning to attend, drop me a line and let me know!

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Google Maps as Wiki

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Google Maps now allows users to edit and move the marker location of their home or business with a registered account. There are a few restrictions (you can’t move a government building, hospital, or claimed business within the Local Business Center), but for the most part, if your house is listed on the wrong side of the street or the wrong corner within Google Maps, you, the user, can change it. The change also pertains to Street View.

In my view, this is another great example of Google trying to make their results as relevant as possible and "organize the world’s information". It’s been a long road with all map services over the years and anything that can be turned over to the people with the most amount of knowledge about the issue is a great thing in my opinion.

Google, being Google, have put safeguards in place to prevent abuse, such as adding a "show original location" link and sending any change of over 200 meters to human review. It may not be the perfect solution, but it’s a good start.

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[photo credit: WhirlingPhoenix via Flickr]

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