Posts Tagged google

Wolfram Alpha Search Engine Unveiled

There’s been a ton of media coverage over the past week around Wolfram Alpha, a new “Computational Knowledge Engine” developed by mathematician, scientist and entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram.  Wolfram demonstrated this soon-to-be-launched Web service (something of a cross between a graphing calculator, repositories of scientific data and a system to interpret questions posed in human terms, according to CNET) during a talk at Harvard Law School.  Some interesting screenshots and videos of the search engine, which is being hailed as “an invention that could change the Internet forever,” a “Google killer” and a “Web 3.0 pioneer,” have been posted on ReadWriteWeb and ZDNet.

With all of the focus on Wolfram Alpha, there hasn’t seemed to be many discussions around its impact on search engine optimization (SEO).  Will it even be possible to employ SEO tactics (especially for PR-based efforts) with this new technology?  Will it complement Google rather than compete against it?  I look forward to testing it out upon the official launch.

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Spam

According to today’s New York Times article by Brad Stone, Spam Back to 94% of All E-mail, spam is on the rise again after the McColo Corp crisis back in November.  Stone reports that just “this year, average spam volumes have increased about 1.2% each day.”

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Yikes!  So what are people doing to combat this problem?

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One solution I recently found was from an email I received indicating that my intended recipient’s inbox was protected by ChoiceMail One, a DigiPortal Software product.  Since my email address was not on their list of “approved senders,” it needed verification.  It asked me to verify that I did in fact send the email by entering my name, my reason for sending the email, and then a verification code to ensure I am a real live person and not a spamming virus.  And the good news is, the ChoiceMail One email didn’t look like spam!

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This was the first email I had received like that, but I’m sure as spam levels continue to increase, there will be more and more anti-spam software on the market.  For now, at least, my Gmail account does a pretty good job of filtering out spam through Postini, an anti-spam company and division of Google, which just release some interesting data from their Spam data and trends: Q1 2009 piece posted today.

Here’s hoping spam predictions will soon be on the decline, but in the mean time, happy anti-spamming!

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A Seat At The Big Kids’ Table

If you’ve been left debating whether online social networks and blogs are really here to stay or not, debate no longer and have a gander at Nielsen Online’s latest report: social networks and blogs are now more popular than email.

No more vinyl placemats and sippie-cups for this crowd – bring on the linen and fine china.

According to the “Global Faces and Networked Places” report, online social networking now accounts for 1 out of every 11 minutes spent online globally, and ranks fourth in time spent online behind search, portals and PC software. And it is, indeed, quite the global phenomenon.  Brazil boasted the highest market penetration for use of online social networking sites (80%), Germany saw the greatest relative  increase in penetration of site use (39%), and the number of people in the US who access social networking sites via their mobile handsets increased by a wacky 156% over the previous year.

But perhaps the most important statistic is that the biggest increase in visitors to these sites globally during 2008 was from 35-49 year olds.  That’s right, it’s not just college students and twenty-somethings anymore; the big kids have joined the party, too.

We’ve certainly seen the uptick (more of tidal wave, really) in interest:  LinkedIn’s questions and answer section has more and more technology professionals posing and responding to questions,  creating new PR opportunities and furthering relationships.  Twitter has become a favorite tool around the office, and now rumors are circulating that Google may buy them (another small step toward world domination). Many companies are embarking on full-scale social media PR campaigns, with a large focus put on actively participating in online communities, blogs and forums where they can offer insightful, expert opinion or advice.

If you’re now done debating their validity and feel like joining the social networking party (yes, cake will be served), though, it’s important to remember  that social networks and blogs are inherently active and personal things.  They reward participation and genuine interest in the themes of the particular community.  

Perhaps it is telling, then, that while the Nielsen report also included recommendations for how advertisers can best engage audiences through social networking, the word ‘false’ was the most commonly associated term with advertising in social networking circles online.

Just as social networks and blogs have come of age, so must the way companies approach and participate in these communities.  Passive forms of involvement, like advertising, have obvious shortfalls, but showing a genuine interest – answering and asking questions, posting ideas, responding to issues – will produce positive results.

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Do you KNOW the media…?

How important is it that your agency knows your target media?

This is a question that comes up time and time again with prospects as they evaluate whether an agency is the right fit or not.

But honestly, should this really be the gauge of whether an agency is going to get you the results you need?

I think not.

You don’t necessarily need to know the media personally in order to successfully place editorial.

What you do need is an understanding of what that media is trying to achieve and how that fits with your client’s story and objectives. Obviously, the more you know a journalist the more informed you will be on what they are interested in writing about, and indeed upcoming opportunities. But we all know that most PR people overstate their relationships with the press.

In this day and age, there are many ways of finding out what journalists are interested in and looking for, and many ways of researching what they have written about before and are therefore interested in.

Twitter, HARO, Google, Vocus, ProfNet – these are just a few of the many many resources out there helping PR people ‘know’ the media.

We’ve shown time and again that we can get top coverage for clients in sectors we have never worked before.

So it’s really not who you know, it’s about making sure you understand the media and what it is trying to achieve with its audience.

All this… “I can place any story for you Mr. Client because I have your target media in my back pocket” is quite frankly….PR Nonsense.

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Googled yourself lately?

From Seth Godin this week: Personal Branding in the Age of Google.

It surprises me a bit to see Godin writing about such a well-trodden subject. Hasn’t it been the “age of Google” for almost a decade now? While his post is about all of the well-known ways Google search results can hurt you in the professional sphere, there’s been far less attention paid to how the relative permanence and authority ranking by Google can help your branding – as an organization or as an individual.

A quick Googling of my own name turned up about fourteen pages of results filled with (in order of appearance):

I’d say this is a pretty accurate and fair representation of who I am, what I’ve done, and where my professional and personal expertise lies. And for a person with a relatively uncommon last name, I have a fairly long Google record. This is unsurprising; I live a lot of my life on the Internet, and don’t expend too much effort trying to keep things from showing up in Google results… as Godin advises, “The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”

I am predicting, however, that the matter of maintaining one’s own Google presence will become both more urgent and more complicated in the future. Employers, prospects, and customers will start being as concerned about what isn’t discoverable about you on Google as what is. Claim to be an expert on a subject, but Google can’t find any articles you’ve written on it? Advertise that your company has top tier customer service, but it has no presence on social networking sites, and no visible responses to conversations about your product? While there may have been perfectly valid excuses for these scenarios five years ago, this is not the case today.

It’s tough (and in some cases impossible) to erase the online record of things you wish you’d never done or said. But it’s never too late to start doing the opposite – leaving a long-term trail of realistic, flattering, and credible evidence to support the values of your brand.

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