Google EVIL Panda Algorithm Update: Even Greater Urgency For Us Little Guys

UberGizmo recently posted an awesome article about the terrible Google Panda Algorithm Update (thanks to Brinked.com site owner, Will H, for sharing). To say the least, this article was not a good birthday present for me. April 19th 2011 could very well mark a turning point for all of the Internet.
 
The news about Google’s search engine changes comes with some revelations I’ve gathered over the past few years, especially recently. Several sources indicate that around 70 to 99% of (search engine) traffic goes to 1 to 5% of the web sites out there. Whatever the actual numbers are, the lesson remains the same: us little guys are in a real hard place. The minds behind Triberr, a service which helps like-minded people promote their Internet “things”, say that this is a shame because some of the best content can be found outside of “the top”, which I agree with wholeheartedly!

The problem here is that the Google (EVIL) Panda Algorithm Update essentially rewards technically-savvy web sites that lack creativity, heart, and innovation. As UberGizmo so effectively illustrated, someone can take original content, not even crediting the source, and out-rank the originator. WTF?

Google EVIL Panda

Is Google the big bad bear now?

 

I already had plans to ramp-up my creative efforts and create greater urgency for my fellow writers, marketers, and entrepreneurs but now we REALLY have to motivate! With these new rules in play, what can small businesses, bloggers, and innovators do? I have a few ideas… Continue reading

To Niche Or Not To Niche? The Urgency In Focusing On The Few, NOT The Masses

Today, I caught a tweet (one that was actually useful) leading me back to the Make Money Blogging article by BlogBuildingServices.com – GREAT read!  It got me thinking: do you REALLY need to have a “niche” to be successful as a blogger (or heck, even a writer)?  The short answer is NO..  But it certainly makes life easier.

If I compare my two main blogs, Yogizilla’s Blankity Blank-Blank (An NoF Portal) and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Pass Online (DPO), DPO is certainly the winner in terms of performance and visibility.  On a slow day, DPO gets 80-100 visitors and that’s regardless of whether or not there have been recent updates.  Yu-Gi-Oh! is the main focus of the site but I discuss anime, manga, and video games on DPO too!  Certainly, those topics are all things that have avid fans.  Anime, manga, and Yu-Gi-Oh! are certainly niches too.

It would seem that having a more diversified blog is not worth the trouble, right?  Not at all.  When I get hits on this blog, they are more quality hits.  Less spam, more real visitors, more returning traffic..  This is great for SMO purposes..  SEO, not so much.

Really, that’s where the magic happens with blogs: optimizing for social media and search engines (SMO and SEO, respectively).  Razor-sharp focus on a single niche can help but, if your focus is TOO small, you can over-optimize your content.  What I like about having two different blogs is that I get to use different writing styles; better yet, my Yogizilla-branded primary blog allows me to go off on tangents and somehow connect everything with often-subtle underlying themes. Continue reading

Business Analysis: AT&T Offers 1000 Free Rollover Minutes To Loyal Customers

I know the main question many of you fellow AT&T customers have is probably this: is the Free 1000 Rollover Minutes legit or a scam?  The simple answer is: yes, AT&T *IS* giving away 1000 free rollover minutes..  To select loyal customers, that is.  Initially, the belief was that this offer was only being extended to AT&T iPhone customers yet I’ve found reports that Blackberry, Inspire, and other smartphone users have gotten it as well.  I decided to see what a AT&T Customer Service Representative (his name was Solomon, in case you were curious) had to say about it.  Here’s what he told me (or at least what the script told him to say):

Currently, we are only offering the free rollover minutes to loyal AT&T customers.  If you did not receive a text message with the offer, requests will be processed on a case by case basis.

He then went on to add that, if I got the confirmation stating that I would receive my free 1000 rollover minutes in 4-6 weeks, then I qualified.  There seems to be a few discrepancies here, especially since he said it may take 6-8 weeks.  I imagine the demand is rising rapidly, especially since this offer only popped up on the interwebz around Saturday, February 12th 2011.

AT&T Security Guard

Hey, every business needs a gatekeeper.. Why NOT a big, bald guy?

I suppose that is the sort of beat-around-the-bush response you can expect from any CSR (Customer Service Rep in vanilla speak).  You can see the value in having AT&T limit how many people go on to tell their friends.  Quite frankly, I was surprised there was no mention of the free rollover minutes loyalty offer on their web site, prerecorded messages, or even the official AT&T Facebook page.  That said, I have a feeling that they’re going to approve everyone automatically but they’re going to position the offer as a perk for “loyal customers”.  At this point, they’re probably trying to control call volume while not creating any more buzz about this whole thing than there needs to be.

Why is AT&T offering this now?  Why do the loyal customers matter at this point?  For jaded AT&T customers, the Verizon iPhone news, as announced on the magical date of 1/11/11, presents a way out but there’s more to it…

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Gaming Shop Talk: Microsoft’s Majestic Marketing – Halo 3 Zero Hour

Today is the day that many geeks and overly-competitive gosu gamers have been waiting for: the Halo 3 launch. For me, it is business as usual. I played the beta and wasn’t particularly impressed and I am not a huge fan of Halo to begin with (you’ll have to forgive me for that) but, whatever way you chop it up, this is a historic day. This is the story of a somewhat obscure developer that hit it big by allying with one of the biggest brands out there – Microsoft! It is also the story of how online multiplayer games really got put on the map. Halo brought a gleam of hope to those that wanted something different…

Halo 3 - a ray of light for a different type of gamer!

For many years, the online gaming community has thrived in great numbers on the PC front but it was mostly underground, cult-like, not very organic or viral. Some home consoles tried to capture the magic of PC gaming but failed, mainly because they treated multiplayer modes as an after-thought. Along comes Halo to change everything. Halo is, without a doubt, the killer app of the XBox, comparable to Final Fantasy and Super Mario, easily. It is all a matter of brilliant marketing. The XBox cultivated a huge gaming space that was, for the most part, a vacuum waiting to be filled by a big idea. Bungie was a quiet developer that gave Mac users what they rarely got: fun games that weren’t family-oriented or overly-nerdy. Marathon arguably started it all yet few people even heard of the game. In this case, it is clear that the Bungie brand made little difference as crossing over to the “dark side” (Mac users tend to dislike anything Microsoft) would have lost the long-time followers. Surely, the amplifier of the Halo franchise was something outside of the developers and branding, surely the market was ready and waiting for something to come along. Halo certainly filled void by meeting the needs of those that wanted hardcore competition in a not-so-nerdy package. Finally, an FPS that was fast-paced, revolved around multiplayer (both coop and versus), and didn’t have a complex control scheme!

Had Halo been released on the PC like Microsoft originally intended to, it would not have been as popular; instead, they attacked the console market and used college dorms as marketing hives, the gaming bees buzzing about about their latest gaming addiction. Why do I say this? Well, the game is a rehash of what has been done before but, since it was new to those that only knew console gaming, it was easy to spread.

The brilliance of Halo was never it’s unique storyline or break-through architecture. The technical aspects are all commonplace in a marketplace where ideas are just repackaged and regurgitated. The marketing is where the real money was made and where the Halo franchise became rock-solid. The console market was in dire need of a fast-paced online multiplayer game. Something that was easy to find (accessible), easy to talk to others about (smooth), and simple to play (inviting). The major gripe for people that dabbled in other First Person Shooter (FPS) games is that keyboard-and-mouse control schemes were too complex. Halo opened up the FPS genre to the masses and targeted the most aggressive, competitive gamers as well as everyday, casual gamers that needed something simple to enjoy with friends. These two segments spawned many fans spreading the message: here’s something UNREAL! Continue reading

Finding the Perfect Toothbrush: A Lesson in Marketing

A few articles back, I talked about Oreo and how their message is simply this: we are America’s favorite cookie. These are the sorts of messages that can backfire but, executed properly, you really boost the perceived value tenfold. The brilliance in Oreo’s current strategy lies in their use of contests and celebrity lick races, promotions that people talk about with others. These are ideas that spread in a viral manner or, as Seth Godin puts it, ideaviruses. The key to this strategy is creating simple, consistent messages that anyone can spread onward; of course, you have to get people excited.

In this article, I’d like to discuss a marketing strategy that is a little less buzz and hype-driven yet still viral in nature. Let’s look at a simple thing that everyone uses (well, mostly everyone): a toothbrush. Traditional marketing and old money business people will tell you that the better toothbrush will sell more but what does “better” actually mean? It depends what your target customers are. For kids, both big and small (some of us are still kids at heart), cartoon-stickered and music-generating toothbrushes are the epitome of oral hygiene devices.

Does this cow do anything for you?

For the rest of the world, style still matters but effectiveness, practical use, becomes a greater distinction. Think about the last time you purchased a toothbrush and how often you make this decision. What affected your decision? Did you go for the toothbrushes in the front or did you look further back on the shelve? Was it an impulse buy, perhaps triggered by a clever end-cap display or cashier counter arrangement? Did you even notice how hard or soft the bristles are? Was the type of grip and general structure of the toothbrush a big focus for you? What was the final tie breaker (assuming you were initially indecisive)? The chances are that, if you were put in a group of 50 people, your decision-making process would be quite distinct. Once we recognize that not all consumers think the same way is a humbling experience for all business people…

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StumbleUpon, Digg, Web 2.0/3.0, Social Media – Why Should YOU Care?

Let’s play a game. I will toss some buzzwords at you and you stop me when you come across something that interests you. Here we go… De.licio.us, Technorati, Digg, StumbleUpon, Web 2.0, social media… Anything yet? Chances are nothing in that sentence really grabbed you. If it did, you may be amongst the 5% that actually cares about the ubiquitous Web 2.0 format and the push for social media. For everyone else in the world, why should YOU care? Let’s explore that now…

If none of the aforementioned buzzwords spoke to you, you may not be excited about the boom in social networking (the above diagram explains it all – well, not really); that is, all the sites like MySpace, Facebook, CherryTap, Hi5, LinkedIn, and the like that are out there. These sites are all part of a great movement called “Web 2.0” by some, or immersive user-driven web design by others. The terminology changes around depending on whom you speak with. Those on the technical side will use more tech-speak while those more on the business or “soft side” of things will use more seller talk and marketing terms. In the end, Web 2.0, or whatever you call it, is about making the web useful to the average user again.

If you used the Internet before the dawn of the World Wide Web, you may recall Bulletin Board Systems (arguably the precursor to modern-day forums software such as YaBB, SMF, and PHPBB), Gopher, Usenet, Telnet, and other fun services that are now all but obsoleted. In these modern times where instant gratification is demanded by virtually everyone, people want things fast and their way. The savvy information seekers of the Digital Age know to use the Web to avoid what can otherwise be more noisy, crowded information channels (i.e. television and other well-established mediums). Web 2.0 comes along, as nothing more but a general idea, and says “the web is the vehicle for those adventurous, insiquisitive seekers – give them the keys to that vehicle.”

Social Network Craziness Somewhat Simplified

Original Source: Relenet Social Network Services

 

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Oreo Double Stuf Race – You Guys Win!!!

I just wanted to share a few thoughts on the recent CWTV Oreo Double Stuf Race promotion. First and foremost, thanks to all of you that actively voted and told your friends to do the same. I saw some exponential growth in the traffic going from my pages on MySpace and WordPress. In the final hour, many of you put in hundreds of clicks which really kept my brother in the race.

According to the last vote refresh I got to see (right before the poll page was taken offline), the top two videos were Oreos In Bed and Deliocioso. I think I share the sentiment of most people out there when I sit in complete bewilderment and wonder just how in the world such a piss-poor entry made it as a finalist, let alone won the grand prize. Apparently, since other people found the jump from 5% to 63% [practically overnight] to be rather suspicious, an investigation got started. I don’t mean to sound like a sore loser but, really, my brother’s video was infinitely better than “Oreos In Bed” – I would have rather seen “The Last One”, “Search for Stuf”, or “I Love Oreos” in the #1 spot since they had much more substance and production value.

I reviewed the Oreo Double Stuf Race contest rules and it seems that 70% of the vote is based on “personality” – call me crazy, but I don’t think there was much personality in that bed scene. What there was in that video was a whole lot of suggestive sexual content. Boobies sell and I guess that is enough for the general public. Sad times indeed…

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Microsoft Brings Out SECRET WEAPON B: Premium Price Drops & XBox Elite

I have returned with more information about the rumored XBox 360 price drops and system reinvention. I think this topic alone has created much buzz, simply because everyone keeps waiting for the huge holiday sale, only to be disappointed with empty promises. I promised Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day sales for the XBox 360 and it happened, in spite of all the nay sayers trying to discredit the news bit (and spamming me on MySpace – thanks Brandon).

ZOMG - Halo 3 in HDMI? I can't wait for Christmas 2007!
[ If you are like many console gamers and Halo 3 really excites you, you may want to read on! ]

With the first quarter of 2007 being mostly quiet, we see the same trends carrying on from 2006’s year-end news: PS3 still suffers from supply issues, forcing Sony to focus on their PS2. This leaves the next-gen arena mostly to Microsoft. Many say that this is the reason for which they will not be pushing price drops for a while, but I still beg to differ as it is much more complex than that. In fact, my colleagues at YouNewb have been dubious for a while until we got some mixed signals from certain Microsoft representatives. It turns out that the folks at Microsoft were telling consumers one thing and certain press/PR contacts another, essentially pitting us against each other!

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Promotion: Oreo Lick Race Challenge

Get ready for what will be quite possibly my shortest post, especially for a blog, EVER! ::drum roll:: I will quote myself from today’s WOMM (Word Of Mouth Marketing) effort, for added effect:

Vote for my bro, Antonio (a.k.a ToNy4MVP, for those of you who played ARC or traverse the interwebz a bit) of St. John’s University, at (or after) 3:00pm EST at http://www.cwtv.com/thecw/oreo – he is one of 15 finalist out of thousands upon thousands of entries. Very excited for him… Los Oreo’s SON MUY DELICIOSOS!!!!

Tell your friends, link to this article, spread the word… The future of Oreo’s is in your hands. I thank you and so do Oreo lovers everywhere!! =oD

This just in: Tony’s video now at the top of the vote. I see a few of you folks clicking through to the site and voting. Many, many thanks. While there is a nice prize package and commercial deal involved for the grand prize winner, the really nice thing is that Nabisco will give $30,000 to the charity of the winner’s choice. Sweet deal – literally! I wonder if that is tax-deductible… *wink* Just kidding, folks! It really is a good cause so let’s show people the power of the blogosphere – spread the word!

Oreo Speed Racer - GO GO GO!!!
[ Image provided courtesy of Jayski’s Silly Season Site ]

Let’s all chant: Deliocioso! Deliocioso! Deliocioso! Yes, “deliocisio” is mis-spelled but we’re going to coin that cause it’s just that hot. It’s WAY more “fetch” than “rediculous”! Anywho, Oreo has a stellar promotion here and it goes to show you the power of brand marketing. Everyone knows the Oreo is the best cookie in the world – w00t!

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