Advertisements

Archive for September, 2007

Web Design ethics

I have been talking about ethics when it comes to whether a site designer should or shouldn’t put a hyperlink back to their site at the footer of anew sites pages that they have just built. Here is more on the subject from SEO Roundtable

Advertisements

Facebook Vs. Myspace

Here is a great article comparing the monoliths of the social networking universe. ReadWrite does a great job of breaking it down. What do you think?

Web Sites Worth Sharing

It’s Friday and I really don’t wanna get too deep about technology or internet marketing, instead lets look at some fun websites or websites that might be of interest. In ivillage there is one site I’m sure some of us will want to forward to uh.. our friends. It’s called the perfect position selector. I will let you use your imagination as to what it might be in reference to.

This interactive company HiFade, in Pittsburgh, PA has a killer website and a friend of mine did the design work on it, check out the portfolio  Brilliant stuff. Pittsburgh by the way, is this country’s hidden little secret.

Have you ever been curious as to what people are into search wize from day to day and week to week? Well the Yahoo Buzz Index, willl give you a glimpse into that. My take is there is way too much testosterone flowing in today’s young males. Jessica Alba, can you hear me? Can you say Brazillian Models?

Speaking of Brazil, Has anyone seen the fallout stemming from The US Women’s Soccer Team loss to Brazil? If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, type in Hope Solo  in a search or just click her name since she may be venting more, soon.

Lastly..

Quantcast is an internet ratings service. Advertisers can find reports on the audiences of millions of web sites. Publishers can ensure their sites are represented accurately by tagging them for direct measurement. The service is free to everyone. It’s pretty cool.

Ok having said, it’s pretty cool, reminded me of this site that everone might enjoy playing around with, it’s called The Wayback Machine, and what it does,  is it will show you archived versions of websites from years gone by, just type in the URL and check it out, it’s pretty accurate.

That’s all I got Mr. Peabody! Thanks Sherman.

Have any sites that are cool? Let me know.

SEO Forums. It’s like a Jungle Out there…

It’s like a jungle out there it makes me wonder, how I keep from going under …

So in the search results I found pages and pages of results for seo forums. Places where I can go and share and learn SEO/SEM information. In a fit of,”what was I thinking”, I decided to step out of the comfy confines of my home base. The site where I feel most at ease. (time for the shameless  plug V7N)

I went into another forum which will go nameless, where it seemed to be rich with information and content and contributors. I started to post a few comments to impress the readers with my knowledge and began to notice something. Unlike the group/forum that I was accustomed to, the sharing and aknowledging of information in this forum was somewhat different.

It was less about the topic and more about bashing the poster for their ignorance. More about attacking and shaming. One person in particular who had posted over 6,000 comments was particularly bad. In my mind, all I could think of was the drunk stepfather, who was passed out, and the rest of the family tip-toed around in fear of awaking him. For if he awoke, he’d get his belt and beat anything that moved for no reason. I felt I had been virtually beaten with a belt by Mister 6,000 Posts because I dared question his authority. Guess I was letting my freak flag fly…

This is how I felt when I had crossed the evil poster. I quickly developed a complex and had immediately felt the need to lash out. To fight back. To tell him where he can stick it. This never works in these situations because, it’s a computer people. If you have a problem, just exit, just walk away, turn it off, and walk away. Never go back. But I wanted to kick his ass.  See—>Me (in my mind) beating someone up and saving the world from the evil computer genius with the large ears…and droopy eyelids

Easier said than done. I tried to think of something to fire back at him but figured, what’s the point, he’ll just say something even more hurtful, and then what have I accomplished? Nothing.  The best I might be able to say is, “I know you are, but what am I”?

In the end I realized there is a reason that some people are called lurkers and there is a reason that some people hide behind computers. Both for different but similar reasons. The former because they got abused by the latter and the latter because they have some serious socialization issues that they choose not to deal with. The rest of us? We are in the middle.

If that’s the way it has to be, then I’m just going to head back to the people that I know. No matter  how messed up my group is, my forum works for me, it’s my niche. I think we all just need our niche, where we feel comfortable. When we go check out the other sites, other groups etc., where we venture where we’ve never been, it’s foreign and there are certain ways to do certain things. You better be prepared for how they operate and how things “work”. Because the warm and fuzzy greeting and the open arm invitation is not what you will get. Or maybe just a matter of identifying who the a@!#’s are and thats it, you avoid them.

Digital Narcissism and The “Me-Brand”,

One of the more facinating aspects of Web 2.0 these days, is the emergence of self made online stars, and social media experts. Or for that matter, self-created personas.  Not that it’s something that has appeard overnight, but it is something that seems to be growing at  an exponential rate.

Let me explain. Part of the reason that YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, to name a few, have become so popular is the freedom to express oneself in creative ways. The tools that these sites provide empower the user. 7 years ago we wanted to package these tools and sell them as “content managment solutions”. Someone beat everyone to the point and said, why don’t we just release these tools as a  free web service that users can use to communicate and share and interact with others.

What this has fostered though, is the desire for people to show the world or their web audience what they’re all about.  In some cases, with all it’s flaws, cracks, and boorish moments. It’s their way of creating their own star vehicles without the assistance of PR companies, 8×10 glossies and breakout movie roles. All it takes is for someone to virally pass the message, the image, the  words or whatever of that person on to another, and it spreads faster than dead grass burning in the summer. It will appeal to someone. In some cases, it will appeal to a lot of people.

If that happens, some web savvy individuals take that to the next level and parlay their instant web street cred stardom in dollars.

It’s perpetuated though by the users, the audience and the readers who for whatever reason have this voyeuristic thirst for this type of content. Amateur content if you will, thrives online because it’s real. Why do you think Americas funniest videos was able to thrive? Because, we were seeing people as they really were. In their worst and best moments. That same premise exists today currently with the social networking sites, and historically with online chat. The package isn’t packaged, it’s not watered down, it’s real. Real to the extent, that who we are watching or what we are reading is who they really are. Or what they want us to think.

Lets not forget that the Net has a way of distorting things, even when it comes to social networking. We can create a version of who we are, and we can step into that skin and be that person, even to the extent that that person can go on a webcam and be someone that they are not. Why? Digital narcissim. A desire to be something that we are not. To enjoy the exposure of our nameless and faceless peers to the extent that we are willing to go farther online then we would ever go in our real world lives.

It’s almost as if the 20 minutes of fame can be extended online indefinitely. Because the lights never go off online, there is always an audience somewhere for your brand. Even communication has taken on a new meaning online. A new universal language is spoken online. TTYL, BBL, OMG. Your brand, as niche-like as it can possibly be, has an audience somewhere. Because of the diverse nature and universal appeal of everything digital, you can feed the habit, grow your brand and extend it as far as you can, merely by finding your clan. Your pack. Your tribe.

Once you find it, you can be whoever you want to be and market and package yourself, whatever way you want to be perceived; and people, Your people, have no choice but to buy what you are selling, because you have found each other. You’re the brand they were looking for. My only other question would be, How cannibalistic are these tribes?  Do they eat their own? My guess is that there are unspoken and unwritten rules that are played out time and time again. If the rules are violated, regardless of your brand. You can flame out pretty quickly. So my guess is yes, the web does eat its own.

Web Sites with Bad Design

Web Sites with a bad UI. They are not hard to find. But what I find hard to fathom, is large companies and organizations which green light projects that produce such fodder? Where is the disconnect? I once worked for an interactive web design company, and we would sit in these meetings and this is what happens: 10 people providing input into what “they” would like to see on the “new” website. No central voice, except that all were allowed to participate and contribute.

What happens is the website loses all workflow and navigation sensibility. Why? Because you have decisions made by committee. By people who have no background in web design and UI design. This seems to be more prevalent the larger the organization, but can also happen on a smaller scale, when decision makers fancy themselves and the masses for that matter, as intuitive web designers.

One of the areas where you would think that creativity would reign supreme but does not, is on college campuses. Why? In a lot of  academic settings, each department may be autonomous of each other and thus have an idea how their departments “look and feel” should be articulated online. Trust me it, it doesn’t work. What you get is 20 departments with 20 different looks. All sites should flow, they should have the same layout so that students and parents and prospective students know exactly where to look for critical information.

Which leads me to the bigger picture. At all large corporations and small as well. You need to have a plan. But the plan needs to work in the context of a) does it meet and serve the needs of the visitor and b) does it meet and server the needs of the search engines and c) is it visually effective.

Unfortunately, form over function sometimes wins out and thus what you get is, sites that are not so hot.

Let’s critique a few really quick, shall we?

Harvard I’m a little shocked by the lack of interest this landing page conveys. It’s almost arrogant in nature. The thought being, “We’re Harvard, so having a cool website is not a priority. So Much for PR.

Oxford  Not bad.  At least it’s a little more inviting to visitors than Harvards. It still has a stuffy academic “We are Oxford” feel to it.

Coke Might have been cool but the load was slow, but interactive and engaging, maybe a little too busy, but then again it’s a brand that really has to speak to a lot of different demographics, so it’s understandable. But still slow and confusing.

Pepsi  Absolutely love this. Very fast load (because its PHP?) The UI is broken into segments immediately, it’s hip and engaging and Clearly they understand who is hitting their site. Mad props to the folks at Pepsi. they get it. They understand their brand and their users and how to get them where they need to go.

McDonalds I’m surprised at the corporate nature of this. given the amount of urban advertising and the tremendous push for fresh and new, I’m not feeling this from the landing page.  They have one little drop down called,”havin fun”… NOT!

Burger King Not Bad, but the initial landing page is a map and you have to choose your country. I get that for an internationaly branded product but.. After selecting the proper country there are some nifty flash pages but overall I would think it needs to play up current themes versus current specials??? Who’s your audience?

Los Angeles  The city of Los Angeles, I know, whenever you venture into the public sector, especially government sites, expect the worst. so I wasn’t surprised by what I saw.  As citizens, you expect to muddle your way through any type of state or local government site. I wish they(the sites) were better, but they are because they are.

NYC I actually liked the NYC site. It was laid out a bit better than the LA site; and it also has a feel for who might be hitting the site. The LA site was like their freeways. Confusing. The NYC site actually understands it’s sites visitors better and what they need and want. Kudos to the Big Apple.

I’m curious as to what others might feel about this and would not mind seeing some examples of good and bad sites. I know some orgs. know they have a bad site and others are just clueless, maybe we can help them? Let me know.

Cheers

Emerson Direct and Smoke Away and the art of Typosquatting

Recently I was doing some searches on one of the products that Emerson Direct owns and markets,  Smoke Away. I was intrigued to find that I could do a search on some variations of the term “smoke away” i.e. “smok away” “smokesaway” and was able to come up with a) quite a few companies/competitors that use mispellings of that search term in the hopes that they can lure folks in to a completely different site via ppc and organci rankings and b) people who bought variations of the url www.smokeaway.com in the hopes of luring folks into a site that sells a completely different type of smoking cessation product. One of the worst examples of this is a company that ranks #2 and #1 organically in some of the SE’s for the term “Smoke Away” but doesn’t even have a product remotely similar with Smoke Away and…the term isn’t even in their URL! An underhanded but great job of SEO. But that’s a topic for another day. 

The above mentioned examples of URL hijacking are called Typosquatting. I’m sure you have read recently about some companies that were forced to give up the URL’s that they purchased because of rights violations in regard to the usage of these bad URL’s for profit. 

Typosquatting  is a form of cybersquatting which relies on mistakes such as typographical errors made by users when typing in the address into the browser. We have all done it. You think you have typed in an address properly, and something completely different pops up. What appears is generally a page full of  Google ad sense ads or some faux directory that looks like a directory but in reality are again, ad links and bogus content.

Generally, the victim site of typosquatting will be a frequently visited website.  An example of this would be typing in Goggle.com instead of Google. Try it right now and see for yourself.  The variations of this range from a common mispelling to adding a different extension onto the domain. i.e. adding .org when it should have been .com

Once on the typosquatter’s site, the user may also be tricked into thinking that they are in fact on the real site; through the use of copied or similar logos, website layouts or content. Sometimes competitors of the victim site will do this. I would be even more concerned about a site that resorts to this because this is a border line example of phishing.

Sometimes, the typosquatters will use the domains to distribute viruses, adware, spyware or other malware.  But generally these bottom feeders are either selling advertising to firms based on keywords similar to the misspelled word in the domain or are using it to run Google adsense.

The line between typosquatting and registering a brandable variant of a generic domain name blurs dependent on the circumstance of each situation but as I tell children, if you think it is wrong, then chances are, it is. A brandable variant of a branded term would seem to me like starting a company called Fored Cars or Fordcars when it so closely resemble the Ford Motor Company.

I suppose that’s what lawyers are there for, to sort through all of this. What  you really need to be made aware of though is, who is using your name and for what purpose, and are they making money off of it? As a marketer and a brand owner, you need to protect your brand all the time.


Advertisements

The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

Feeds

social media conference

Latest tweet

TwitterCounter for @marc_meyer
Alltop, all the top stories
Add to Technorati Favorites
View Marc Meyer's profile on LinkedIn
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The social me

September 2007
M T W T F S S
« Aug   Oct »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Mad Props

My site was nominated for Best Business Blog!
qrcode

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 98,267 other followers


%d bloggers like this: