So Where Have I Been?

I think that’s 31 days between posts, what can I say, I’ve been busy! Busy building. Building relationship, building products, building teams, and building strategies which will hopefully lead to the building of an empire!

Oh, and I have been out and about speaking a little too. Once again for the Fresh Business Thinking guys and their excellent Hit Me Summit. Below is the presentation I gave on Holistic Search: How to Combine PPC and SEO Effectively, it made a lot more sense with the commentary but might be of use for those who were there.

I Just Cant Stop Searching You

It seems like Michael Jackson and more importantly his reach and fan base, is actually bigger than the Internet can handle.  The king of pop’s demise brought the Internet to a standstill this week as Google interpreted the spike in searches for his name as a malware attack and users querying it received an error message for a period of around 25 mins.  Microblogging tool twitter crashed through the sheer volume of users logging on to the service and performance issues were reported on usually reliable services such as AOL, Yahoo and CNN.

It takes some sort of surge to bring down Google and it is difficult to think of any other occurrence other than some sort of natural disaster which would have had the same sort of effect on the Internet in a 24 hour period.  It is surely also making the affected services question their ability to handle large volumes of traffic in a short period of time, it would appear that in exceptional circumstances, their infrastructure simply isn’t up to the task.

Surge in Michael Jackson Searchs Brought Down Google

Surge in Michael Jackson Searchs Brought Down Google

This instance also shows a changing shift in how people are turning to the Internet for up to date information.  As SERPs speed up their indexing, and twitter continues to be the go to location for breaking news, when people hear of a news story in passing, their immediate response is to head to the nearest Internet service, be that mobile or computer based, and use the web to find out the details of said story.  In times gone by the answer would have been to turn on the TV, or wait for the next scheduled news bulletin, but in a time of immediacy this is no longer quick enough.  if you want an answer now, you turn to twitter or the SERPs.

Undoubtedly the question will come in future years, “where were you when you heard about jacko?” And for many people it appears the answer will be “I was at my computer when somebody twittered it”.

It is an ironic fact, that after his unfortunate demise last week at the age of 50.  Michael Jackson will sell enough records in the next few weeks, and earn enough radio airtime to erase the debt problems caused by years of frivolity and legal bills from fighting off child abuse accusations.  You cant turn on the radio it seems at the moment without hearing a Michael Jackson song, he has no fewer than 14 singles in the itunes top 20, 9 albums in the itunes top 10, and music stores such as HMV have big displays of his work around shops.

michael jackson itunes top 20

Jacko will go down in history as one of the greats, and will hopefully be remembered for his musical brilliance rather than his car crash personal life, but he may also go down as the man who brought the Internet to its knees.

What did I miss?

Oh dear, a whole month without posting. Don’t worry; I haven’t shut up shop, just been a bit busy on the work front. As always, a lot has gone on in the last month so it seems best to start with a recap of the month gone by to get us back up to speed:

MIVA closes down operations – as suggested may happen by The Digital Lookout back in Sep 2008 MIVA has finally closed down operations. Once a reasonable addition to any search marketing campaign MIVA has failed to keep up with the pace of change in search engine marketing and has been on a downward spiral for the last 3 or 4 years and has finally packed up its SERPs and gone home.

Ask Brings back Jeeves – in a bid to regain some of its character Ask has brought back Jeeves as the face of its search activity. The former front man for the Ask search engine has had a facelift and returned as Ask continues its bid for a foothold in the search marketplace.

Adwords Launches New Interface – Adwords has launched into testing a new interface, and the initial reactions haven’t been good! It appears the “revert to old interface” button has become the most used button in Google’s system! Of course there will come a point when it is forced upon us and we will be force to use it. No doubt in a couple of months we will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

Microsoft and Yahoo Continue to Court – without any seeming progress being made Microsoft and Yahoo have continued to court each other over potential mergers and partnerships in the battle to compete with Google. No solid progress appears to have been made but the feeling within the industry is that Microsoft will be powering Yahoo search by this time next year.

Everyone Still Loves Twitter – Twitter is still the darling of the social media world and its user numbers continue to grow every month. Question marks still remain as to what its long term revenue model will be with some suggesting it will be apps, not ads, which will be the focus of their efforts to make money.

Google Adds Further Functionality to Their SERPs – Google released details of a number of new features to enhance the SERPs including:
• Rich Snippets and microformats
• Date based searches
• Chameleon
• Spellmeleon
• Wonder Wheel

Read about what this means at the Latitude Group Search Marketing News Section

Google Changes its US Trademark Policy – a year on from opening up trademarked keywords to Adwords bidders Google has further expanded this policy and from June is going to be allowing non brand owners to use the company name in their ad text, increasing the cost of brand clicks and making the brand SERPs a very confusing place!

Succeeding in Turbulent Times

There has been more evidence of the dreaded R word hitting the digital world in the past few days as previously untouchable companies face the harsh reality of a less profitable future. The irony is that these companies are seeing the pinch in the way of less than huge profits, where as smaller businesses are seeing the impact come in the form of zero profit and the prospect of going out of business. It goes to show however, that the difficult economic times are hitting companies in every sector, including Internet marketing, and of every size.

Google Feeling the Pinch?

Today, Google is set to post its Q1 figures and experts are predicting a sequential drop in revenue for the first time in Google’s history as a public company. And with 3 rounds of redundancies already in the first quarter of 2009, some cracks are starting to show in Google’s bullet proof exterior. The reality of the situation is that Google will still post huge profits and huge revenue and its biggest concern is appeasing investors and maintaining share price, there isn’t much danger of them going out of business any time soon. It does show however the severity of the situation however that it is hitting even the biggest and most profitable of Internet companies.

Ebay Going Back to its Core

Another Internet giant, Ebay, has announced measures this week which suggest they too, are conscious more difficult times may be ahead and they need to focus on their core business. After selling social content discovery website Stumble Upon back to its founders they have also announced they are planning to take Skype public in 2010 due to a realisation of its “limited synergies with Ebay and Paypal”. Ebay bought Stumble Upon just 2 years ago and Skype in 2008, and despite both posting impressive growth Ebay has since decided neither is a close enough fit to their core business. Both these purchases are evidence of a more frivolous time when large Internet companies had deeper pockets and could make $75M purchases (the price paid for Stumble Upon) without worrying too much about how it would fit in with their business. Now the honeymoon period is over, companies are looking harder at their businesses and spotting the need to streamline and maintain a focus on core activities.

Time to Rip up the Script

With Internet giants such as these cutting back, what chance is there for the smaller business? How does the small website owner survive in difficult times? I think it has been proven in the past that those with a solid business model who react to the changing market quickly, will survive. Sure things will become more difficult and margins will be squeezed, but those who remain agile should be able to ride the storm. Companies need to rip up the playbook of 2007-2008 and make sure their strategy for 2009 is in fitting with what the market demands. Make sure you are meeting a market demand and providing something more, or significantly better than, your competition. Be prepared to change in line with the market, stay agile, and keep in touch with customer demands. Hopefully then, you should be able to survive the difficult times and possibly even come out the other side in a stronger position. There will be casualties, no doubt about it, but for the companies which can stay strong and adapt, there could also be huge opportunities.

The Future of Digital Communications

Slightly off theme for the Digital Lookout but this is pretty amazing.  Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry present their version of the future of digital technology and communication tools.  Forget the space taking, power sapping, Microsoft Surface, you dont need it when you can have all the same functionality on any flat wall.  Minority Report here we come!