My URL Shortener

Do you you know who controls the URL shortening service you use when on Twitter or elsewhere?

Why’s it important to know this? Well here’s 8 reasons:

1.The link you set up could later may be redirected to a porn site, which would look like you recommended it. Embarrassing if your mother thinks it links to your Linked In profile.

2. The link may drop dozens of affiliate cookies before redirecting the user.

3. The link can be changed from 301 to 302 to iframe or to anything else, depending on the desire of the owner.

4. The link may send YOU to the site you set up the redirect for, based on your IP number, but send everyone else to your competitor.

5. The link may send all humans to the site you set up, but send Googlebot to somewhere else.

6. The domain may disappear overnight, in which case you lose all your links.

7. The shorturl owner can see all your click data from your links.

8. The shorturl owner might sell the Domain to a competitor who can also do all of the above.

So… Feel free to use my URL shortener but only because you trust me more than the other guy! What terms of use would you like on such a service?

Dixon.

Bill Hunt leaving Ogilvy

I found out from my friend Bill Hunt this morning that he is leaving Ogilvy. I am sure he will be a great loss to the agency. Bill Hunt literally has written the book on Search Marketing, and he is a giant in the industry. A bit of digging found that his departure is quietly listed in the NY Times. Probably something a company that large needs to do when an instrumental figure stands down.

I spoke to Bill and he’s enjoying his weekend and developing some new plans. I think that Ogilvy could and should have held on to him though. He probably doesn’t need to be in any rush to get a “real” job!

Microsoft Concealing True Market Share Potential?

At a recent conference (indeed every conference) that I go to, part of the debate revolves around the question… what does Microsoft need to do to be able to move the dial in terms of its share of the search market. Globally, Hitwise and Marketshare are suggesting that Microsoft accounts for less about 3% or search traffic (http://marketshare.hitslink.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4). In the US alone, the share is about double, at 6% according to Comscore (http://www.accuracast.com/search-daily-news/seo-7471/us-search-engine-market-share-data-jan-2009/).Now both sources are very reputable, but I question what’s under the bonnet at Microsoft. What might they still be able to do to dramatically move that dial?

Can MS change the market share just by a uniformity of message?

When we talk about the search engines, we say “Google, Microsoft and Yahoo”; Not “Google, Live and Yahoo” or “Google, MSN and Yahoo”. Indeed – Microsoft’s Adlab tool confirms the clear relative strengths of the three brand names that I associate with Microsoft’s search product:clip_image002(Source: http://adlab.microsoft.com/Keyword-Forecast/Default.aspx)Now it seems to me that there really shouldn’t be much debate here. Couldn’t Microsoft dramatically increase its profile in search if they simply accepted that they were called “MSN” or “Microsoft” instead of trying to create new brand messages?There is confusion amongst the search community as to where to find Microsoft’s organic search technology. A few years ago, Microsoft had to ask Webmasterworld to change a forum name from “MSN search” to something more appropriate because the product wasn’t “MSN”. They eventually settled on “Microsoft Search Live” to make sure nobody was confused. I am not sure that this isn’t more a case of covering the bases as much as promoting a clear brand message.

Can MS change the market share by changing the paradigm?

Over the last year or so, agencies tracking these things have decided to expand “search” to include social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. In doing this, they should rightly bring in Instant Messenger and other MSN products. If they do this, then we should really start to see a different model of the search landscape.image(Source: Compete.com)So if Microsoft starts to really mine properties like Microsoft.com and MSN.com, we quite clearly start to see a very different picture of Market Share. Compete suggests that adding MSN usage and Microsoft usage together we en up with similar unique visitors to Google… and we haven’t even included Live.com or other Microsoft owned properties. Of course – the traffic is qualitatively different… people are not at Microsoft.com just for search purposes – but at the moment, all the metrics seem to be judging Microsoft on its core search platforms in terms of market share. If Microsoft can educate the monitoring companies to include much of their other web properties in the calculation, then they start to look like a much more serious contender.About the Author:Dixon Jones is the managing director of Receptional, a UK based Internet Marketing Consultancy. He also runs a personal blog at http://dixonjones.com and can be found on Twitter.

SMX London becomes SMX Advanced?

It looks like SMX has some their research and found that their best way to differentiate themselves as a conference is to go to the advanced end of the market. SMX London is one of the premier search marketing conferences and is in the New Connaught Rooms in just a couple of weeks – the 18th-19th of May.

The show’s agenda has been revamped considerably, concentrating on the more advanced elements of search and social media, dropping sessions like “the Fundamentals of Search Advertising” and “Link building Fundamentals” altogether.

There is no doubt that the show comes from a great pedigree – being born out of the two founders of the original SES – Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman. In the USA, SMX Advanced has worked towards the “top end” of the market – and by this I do not mean top end in money terms, but in knowledge terms. It looks like London is set to try to also make this distinction.

Clearly, changing the agenda this close to the event will not have been a decision taken lightly.  I am looking forward to moderating Mike Grehan for a change, on the “Industrial Strength SEO” section, with other notables: Andy Atkins-kruger,  Gary Beal and Richard Baxter.

I am also encouraged by the number of British speakers. SMX still has brought in the great heavyweight speakers from Stateside, like Shari Thurow and Christine Churchill and Rand Fishkin to name three, but there is also great representation from the new darlings of search – the Critchlow Brothers, Ayima and one of my favourite speakers/moderators – Ciaran Norris.

There’s also speakers from Google and Microsoft, so hopefully see you there?

The dates: Monday and Tuesday 18th/18th May 2009
The Venue: New Connaught Rooms in the heart of London
The Agenda: http://searchmarketingexpo.com/london/2009/agenda
The place to register: http://searchmarketingexpo.com/london/2009/register

Dixon.