Archive | August, 2011

Google +1 To ReRank SERPS

30 Aug

From Wired:

Google is making plans to turn its +1 button into a crowdsourcing tool that
helps it re-order search results and fight web spam.

While not surprising, the move would bring Google’s search
engine into the social networking era, while simultaneously creating a new
avenue for blackhats to manipulate search results and potentially incurring the
wrath of trust-busting authorities.

Google confirmed its plans in an e-mail to

“Google will study the clicks on +1 buttons as a signal that
influences the ranking and appearance of websites in search results,” a
spokesman wrote. “The purpose of any ranking signal is to improve overall search
quality. For +1’s and other social ranking signals, as with any new ranking
signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals are related
to quality.”

Google prefaced its admission of the +1 search integration project to
with a statement downplaying its potential significance: “There are more than
200 signals that we use to determine the rank of a website, and last year we
made more than 500 improvements to the algorithm.”

Introduced in March, the +1 sharing button debuted with
little incentive for web surfers to click on it. If you +1-ed a story on a
website that embedded the button, your profile picture would display next to the
URL when a friend of yours ran a search with results that included that URL.

But last week, the button entered adolescence, and can now
be used to post stories to friends and followers on Google+, much as the Like
button functions for Facebook.

So the next step of using what people are liking, sharing
and buzzing about online to rearrange search results is obvious enough.

Google dipped its toe into these waters with Twitter by
licensing its stream of Tweets, but that agreement ended before Google got so
far as to figure out how to do more with the fire hose of real-time information
than just decorate pre-computed search results with Tweeters’ profile pictures.

And as for Facebook? Google would love to get at its data —
the way that Bing is already — but the two companies go together like toothpaste
and orange juice. Facebook will likely never let Google anywhere near its data
stream, which meant that Google had to build in its own social network.

But therein lies the rub. If Google’s search results become
heavily dependent on social signals from Google+, then there’s going to be heavy
pressure on the net’s websites to embed the Google+ button.

And depending on where you work — say, Facebook or the
Justice Department — that could look like Google is unfairly using its search
engine might to boost its Facebook alternative.

That might explain why Forbes killed a story by Kashmir Hill
entitled “Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic
” which was seemingly based on information from a meeting with Google
ad representatives. On August 18, Hill wrote, “the message in this meeting was
clear: “Put a Plus One button on your pages or your search traffic will

Hill followed up with Google’s press team. which gave Hill
the same carefully couched answer it gave Wired.

But the story quickly disappeared from Forbes’ website and
from the Google cache, though it was noticed and saved by the Raven Tools SEO blog.

One guesses the tone of the post — and its headline —
rankled someone somewhere.

Forbes, Hill and Google all declined to talk on the record
about the post that disappeared into the memory hole.

That silence says as much as you need to know about the
touchiness involved in integrating a Google +1 button with Google’s search

But Google’s biggest weakness is the possibility that
someone will figure out how to build a better search engine — and there’s many
who bet the way to do that is to make search involve more of a human touch and
less of a machine’s.

indeed, Google’s interest in incorporating +1s into its
search ranking algorithm might also explain Google’s hard line position in the
so-called Nym wars. Google is being adamant that users of its new social
networking tool use their real names. In its zeal to root out fakers and people
using pseudonyms, Google has deleted legitimate profiles and raised the ire of
those who defend the need for pseudonyms on the internet’s identity

But if Google’s going to start using those +1 votes, the
company is virtually inviting the world’s spammers and blackhat SEO magicians to
flood its social networking system with fake profiles and fake votes —
potentially ruining it and possibly making the problem of search spam even


Online Retailers Who Don’t Make Customers Use a Phone Tree

25 Aug

According to Stella Service; “only 21 of the Internet’s top 100 retailers connect shoppers directly to a live agent. That list expands to 22 if we also include 1-800 CONTACTS, which falls just outside the top 100 at #101 (We’re especially impressed that a business that bears its customer service phone number as its name, which leads to even higher call volume, steers clear of an IVR to ensure the best possible experience for shoppers).”


Here is StellaService’s list of online retailers that connect you directly to a human being:
Neiman Marcus
Urban Outfitters
1-800 Contacts

And those retailers that force customers into automated phone menus or IVRs (Interactive Voice Response)?  Shoppers are kept on hold for an average of 1 minute and 51 seconds, a 117 percent increase over the average hold time (51 seconds) for retailers that do not use automated phone menus.

I doubt this will change any retailers customer service policies…but it should.

My Random Post of the Week: Recipe for Placenta (not a typo)

22 Aug

From NY Magazine

Good god no.

Google + Begins Verifying

22 Aug

Google’s Wen-Ai Yu announced Friday evening in a Google+ post and accompanying video that Google is beginning to verify accounts of public figures, celebrities and people who have been “added to a large number of circles”.

Google: When you visit the profile of a celebrity or public figure, you’ll see a verification badge next to their profile name. This will help you easily determine which profiles are owned by real, verified people.

Let the ego stoking begin!

Free Pass to Annual Summit

18 Aug

Thanks to the good folks at (and my employer) Mercent I am giving away a free pass* to’s Annual Summit in Boston Sept 12-14. Yes …yes…I was just in Boston 2 weeks ago at Etail east…it was good seeing a bunch of you!

 All you have to do to be eligible is to leave a comment and a way to get in touch with you if you win. Good luck and I hope to see you then!

*for qualified retailers

Google iCatalogs…err Just Catalogs

18 Aug

Google debuts an iPad app, Google Catalogs, for customers to shop 50 catalogs from retailers including Crate & Barrel, L.L. Bean, Patagonia and Williams-Sonoma. Retailers can, for now, add their catalogs for free.

Shoppers can flip through the pages with the swipe of a finger on the tablet screen. Small price tags appear on product images; touching a price tag opens up a window with products details. On the details screen are two buttons: Buy on Website and Find Nearby.

Touching Buy opens up the product page on the e-commerce site of the retailer without leaving the app and customers can buy the product. For now, Google does not charge retailers to be included in the app, nor does it take a cut of sales generated by the app. There is also a “Find Nearby” ability which will  displays a map with a listing of the retailer’s nearby stores based on the tablet’s GPS capability.

 “For years, shoppers have enjoyed flipping through glossy print catalogs to be inspired, discover new trends and find great products,” writes Kinnari Jhaveri, strategic partner development manager for the Google commerce team, in a Google blog post. “Today, mobile technologies can make catalog shopping more engaging, social and creative. Google Catalogs enables you to browse all of your favorite catalogs and interact with new layers of rich-media content.”

Google created the popular Android mobile operating system for smartphones and tablets yet opted to launch Google Catalogs for competitor Apple Inc.’s iOS mobile operating system, which runs the iPad, along with the iPhone and iPod Touch.

“We develop mobile applications for a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Nokia,” the spokeswoman says. “As with all of our mobile products, we try to make them available on as many devices as possible. Development of the Google Catalogs app for Android is already in the works and will be available in the coming months.”

Shop.Org Dinner

17 Aug

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