eBay is starting a new series of events to help small businesses and part-time eBay sellers “accelerate their businesses” on eBay, which has 90 million active users. The series is called eBay: On Location, and has dates set for Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, and San Jose.
“eBay sellers are creative entrepreneurs who understand that eBay’s global reach and dynamic marketplace offer the ideal setting to start and build a business online,” says eBay Marketplaces President Lorrie Norrington. “We invite our sellers to eBay: On Location to connect with each other and to take the next step in making their eBay businesses even more successful.”
The goal of the series of events appears to be to let sellers network with one another and share ideas for maintaining a successful eBay business. There are also courses on “top seller secrets”, productivity to boost sales and reduce costs, and utilizing social media to drive sales.
“eBay sellers have become savvier about how to use eBay in ingenious ways,” says Jim Griffith, eBay senior manager, Seller Strategy and Dean of Education. “eBay: On Location is a great way for the seller community to come together and share those strategies—and learn something new from experts.”
They are only letting in 500 people per event, and registration is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. It costs $45 to get in.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Monday, February 8, 2010
Update 2: Facebook has responded to the privacy concerns with the dashboards: “To ensure that the dashboards meet user and developer expectations for a trustworthy experience, we’re giving developers the ability to hide their applications in the Friends’ Recent Activity, Friends’ Applications, and Friends’ Games sections of the dashboards. We’re also working on giving users the ability to control how their application activity is featured in the dashboards, and it will go live shortly after the dashboards launch to users. “
Update: According to Nick O’Neill at AllFacebook, there is a “slight privacy oversight” (which he also says is “not a minor bug”) that lets users view the latest apps that their friends have been using. He notes that Facebook will probably resolve the issue before full launch.
Original Article: Facebook will be launching the Games Dashboard and the Applications Dashboard in the coming weeks. The company says these will make it easier for users to interact with their apps, and will provide new communication channels from the home page.
“Once launched to users, the dashboards will serve as a personalized destination on Facebook for users to interact with their favorite applications, discover news ones and receive application updates related to recent activity,” a spokesperson for Facebook tells WebProNews. “For developers, the Applications and Games dashboards will provide new opportunities for communication with users, as well as discoverability of their applications.”
On the Facebook Developer Blog, Jordan M. Alperin outlines the following features:
- Recently used applications and games: The top section of the dashboards will prominently display applications that a user has recently interacted with, making it easy to reengage with the applications they use most often. This section will also include a link to a page where users can see all of the applications they have interacted with, whether or not they have been bookmarked.
- News items: Applications will have the ability to display news stories, giving you the ability to communicate with your users and alert them to news related to your application, such as, “It’s your turn in a game against Jared” or “The leaderboard was reset 6 hours ago, come play!” You’ll have the option to set global news items, which will be visible to all users, or personal news items, which target a specific user. The news component will appear as a text field next to each application in the dashboard.
- Mentioning Users: Using simple syntax, you can render users’ names and links to their profiles in news and activities.
- Your Friends’ Recent Activity: The dashboards will display some of the applications that a user’s friends are using along with information about relevant activities within the application. You’ll set these activity stories via the Dashboard API.
- Your Friends Play: Another way we’ll help users discover new applications is by showing them a number of their friends who frequently use applications, and the applications those friends use.
- Directory: The Directory section of the dashboard will show the applications that currently appear in the “Applications You May Like” section of the Application Directory. We will also link to the Application Directory in this section.
- Suggestions: On the right hand side we’ll have a Suggestions area where Facebook will highlight applications we think users might like, based on the applications they and their friends are using.
- Counters and home page placement: “Games” and “Applications” links will appear on users’ home pages and will link to the dashboards, once the new home page launches to users in the coming weeks. Bookmarked applications will also have prominence on the home page, and can be accompanied by Counters that you can set to let users know there are actions for them to take within your applications.
Here is what the Games Dashboard looks like:
Earlier this week, Facebook announced that users can receive notifications from apps in their email. Also, they will phase out updates from apps in the notifications channel on Facebook.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Friday, February 5, 2010
It’s been a pretty big week for Facebook. Not only is there a lot of talk about Facebook’s potential for becoming the top news source on the web, but the company celebrated its sixth birthday, is passing the 400 million user mark, and began rolling out some new design changes. In addition, the company is said to be rewriting its messaging feature and preparing to launch a webmail product, but first things first.
The Birthday and 400 Million Users
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed it in a blog post last night. “Today we’re celebrating our sixth birthday, and this week there will be 400 million people on Facebook. Just one year ago we served less than half as many people, and thanks to you we’ve made great progress over the last year towards making the world more open and connected.”
“Facebook began six years ago today as a product that my roommates and I built to help people around us connect easily, share information and understand one another better.” he added. “We hoped Facebook would improve people’s lives in important ways. So it’s rewarding to see that as Facebook has grown, people around the world are using the service to share information about events big and small and to stay connected to everyone they care about.”
Facebook hosted a celebration and announced some releases at the Facebook headquarters last night. This was followed by a hackathon where Facebook staff stayed up all night coding and building new ideas for products.
Do you like the direction Facebook’s gone in for the past six years? Let us know.
Facebook announced some new changes to the design of its homepage. Users can find their newest notifications, requests, and messages in the top menu. When a user receives a notification, they will see a red bubble appear in the left-hand corner by the search bar. When the icon is clicked, a drop-down menu appears with the most recent notifications. The Home/Profile links are in the top-right corner with the Account menu, which includes privacy settings and the log out link.
The menu on the left-hand side of the screen has been completely reworked. “The left menu has been organized to make it easier for you to communicate with and discover content from your friends. You can now access your messages and other core features all in one place, to the left of your News Feed,” says Facebook’s Jing Chen. “With the Photos dashboard you can browse recent photos of your friends, and the Events dashboard lists your upcoming events along with events your friends are attending. The Friends dashboard will help you find friends, see which of your friends have recently updated their profiles and filter your News Feed by Friend Lists you may have already created.”
Chat has also been made more prominent with a list of online friends displayed on the left. The new apps and games dashboards, which have been discussed lately, can be accessed from the menu as well. The dashboards feature personalized updates from the apps, and they have launched with new privacy settings.
The changes are still rolling out, so it’s possible that you do not have them yet, but you will soon enough.
What do you think about Facebook’s design changes? Good Move or bad? Tell us what you think.
The Webmail Product
Michael Arrington is reporting that a “source with knowledge of the product” says Facebook is launching a webmail product. If MySpace can do it, surely Facebook can too. It’s being referred to right now as “Project Titan”, although the name will likely change.
Facebook’s messages as they stand right now, lend to email notifications. When you check your email, you find that someone has sent you a message on Facebook. If Facebook gets you using its own email service, it’s cutting out the middle man, and that means…you guessed it – more time spent on Facebook.
Would you use Facebook for email if they offered a full webmail product? Tell us why or why not.
Facebook As the Web’s Top News Source?
I’ve already written on this topic this week, but basically, the more time people spend on Facebook, the more convenient they may find it to simply get their news feeds there. If Facebook enters the email game, that’s only going to get people using Facebook that much more, and even open up yet another way for them to get their news on Facebook, through email newsletters and news alerts.
Do you see people increasingly getting their news on Facebook? Share you thoughts.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Friday, February 5, 2010
I have a question for you. Where do you get the majority of your online news? Is it from a feed reader? Is it from Twitter? Is it from Google News? Yahoo News? Do you spend your time simply checking specific news publications? There is talk that Facebook could become the number one place online for people to get their news.
Here’s one for discussion. Facebook users can set up a news list, which will aggregate stories from different news sources who publish their stories to their Facebook pages. All a user has to do is be a fan of that page. Would this be any different than other news aggregators linking to stories? If a news source is willingly putting up a Facebook page with its stories, wouldn’t that be the exact opposite of the argument against aggregators using content? Facebook serves its own ads too. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press have Facebook pages (hopefully they don’t mind me linking to them).
Sure, these publications have control over just what content actually appears on these pages. It’s a bit different than Google or another news aggregator simply crawling the content, but how different is it really? The publications also have the power to block the aggregators. Is there a double standard?
Regardless of that debate, users are increasingly flocking to Facebook to get their news (news is also one of the most popular reasons for using Twitter by the way). The reason Facebook could be the biggest news source is that it has a massive user base – way bigger than Twitter’s, and for all intents and purposes, it operates the same way when it comes to news (albeit, with room for more text in each update).
According to research from competitive intelligence agency Experian Hiwise, 3.52% of upstream visits to News and Media websites came from Facebook last week (that’s compared to 1.39% from Google News.
“Facebook was the #4 source of visits to News and Media sites last week, after Google, Yahoo! and msn. News and Media is the #11 downstream industry after Facebook, receiving 3.69% of the social networking site’s traffic,” says Experian Hitwise’s Heather Hopkins. “To offer a comparison, 6% of downstream traffic from Facebook went to Shopping and Classifieds last week and 6% to Business and Finance and 15% went to Entertainment websites (YouTube in particular).”
“Facebook could be a major disruptor to the News and Media category,” she adds. “And with the Wall Street Journal already publishing content to Facebook, perhaps the social network can avoid the run-ins that Google has suffered recently with Rupert Murdoch.”
Lately Facebook has been encouraging users to set up news lists. They want to be your news source. “You can even create a ‘News’ list to filter news-oriented Pages into one view on your News Feed,” noted Facebook’s Malorie Lucich on the company blog. “Simply add relevant Pages to the list, just as you would with a friends list. The next time you sign on to Facebook, you can click the ‘News’ filter to see stories from all of the news outlets of which you’ve become a fan.”
“In addition to reading news on Facebook, you can share news with your friends on external sites with Facebook Connect,” says Lurich. “Outlets like The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, USA Today and countless blogs have become more social by adding Facebook Connect to their websites and iPhone applications. You can sign in with your Facebook login to see what articles your friends are reading and comment on articles with your authentic identity.”
Facebook has a huge advantage for being the go-to place for news. Everybody is already there, and they’re spending more and more time there checking their feeds, messing with apps, sharing their own updates, etc. If their news-news (Facebook refers to highlights from friend updates as the “news feed”) is right in their feed, they’re going to see articles frequently and get their news there almost inadvertently at times. Plus, if they set up an actual news list like Facebook wants them to, it’s only a click away, and suddenly the average user gets to enjoy the same kind of functionality that users of RSS feed readers have been enjoying for years (they never quite made it to the mainstream did they?).
Do you use Facebook to get news? Can you see it becoming the most widely used platform for online news?
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Friday, February 5, 2010
Sorry I haven’t made any posts in a while…as we recently took on a big project AND moved hosts on SEO Book (currently on a speedy quad core), and I wanted to have minimal activity around the time of the move.
Google recently announced adding breadcrumbs to the search results for some sites which offer hierarchical breadcrumbs in their navigation. The display looks likeso:
Each breadcrumb is a clickable link to the associated page (which could increase traffic to the target site in some cases), but the initial implementation is a bit sloppy for a couple reasons
- Google initial implementation shows the hierarchy (and places more emphasis on hierarchy) rather than listing the current page…this has a net effect of making the result look less relevant UNLESS the breadcrumbs are really tightly associated with each other and/or the site covers a small tight niche
- when people look at the search results they scan them and match patterns. the lack of showing the current page hurts perceived relevancy, and even when a search keyword is in the breadcrumb it is not highlighted
As an example of how far astray the above 2 points can go, check out the following listing for Joost’s great Wordpress SEO guide.
While seeing the site structure might be nice…the exact reason people are using search is because they don’t want to have to drill down through someone’s site structure…they want the most relevant thing shown in the search results.
So did Google do this for relevancy? It is hard to believe they did given that they don’t list the current page and employ no bolding.
Perhaps they want to make the results harder to scrape? Or they wanted to give advertisers even more options with the ads (many new ad formats hit the organic search results first)? Or maybe, as John Andrews mentioned, “Google would LOVE to eliminate the URL altogether. Just another try…”
Do I recommend using breadcrumbs? Historically I have, but if Google does not fix the above issues it will likely end up costing publishers some perceived relevancy, and in some cases I might not recommend using them except for on small sites or those with tight and descriptive breadcrumb structures. And on larger sites they might make more sense on category listing pages rather than on item detail pages.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Wednesday, November 25, 2009
LinkedIn has opened up its platform to developers. It can be accessed at developer.linkedin.com.
“Over fifty million users entrust their professional identities and relationships with LinkedIn, helping build LinkedIn into the largest global professional network today,” says LinkedIn’ Adam Nash. “However, professionals around the world use a wide variety of applications and Web sites to get their work done, and they have spoken loud and clear that they want the ability to leverage their professional networks wherever they work.”
Now developers can integrate LinkedIn into their business applications. LinkedIn’s developer site has APIs and widgets.
“Over the past months, LinkedIn has supported integrations with some of the most prominent and critical software applications in the enterprise,” says Nash. “Partnerships with companies like IBM, Blackberry (Research in Motion), and most recently Microsoft, have given us time to invest in both functionality and scalability of the platform.”
Developers interested in using LinkedIn in their apps need only fill out a form at the site. The LinkedIn platform leverages the open OAuth standard, so integrations should be that much more simple.
On a related note, Twitter client TweetDeck is already utilzing the LinkedIn platform. They just announced that you can view or take action on your LinkedIn network updates from within the TweetDeck application.
It should be interesting to see the kinds of apps that start taking advantage of LinkedIn’s APIs. This could turn out to be a very significant event for increasing business networking, and even matching prospective job candidates with jobs.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2009
In this day and age, you pretty much can’t ignore mobile users. The rate at which consumers are accessing the web via mobile devices is growing rapidly, largely thanks to the increasing popularity and production of smartphones.
Just having a mobile site isn’t even enough. Sure, it’s a great start, but you have to start thinking about a mobile site just as you would a regular site. Can people find it? Just because you have a good ranking in Google does not mean that your mobile site has a good ranking in Google’s mobile search engine, or is even indexed at all.
Google recently shared a few important tips for making sure your mobile site is being indexed in Google’s Mobile Search.
1. Create a mobile sitemap and submit it to Google so Google knows it exists. This can be done using Google Webmaster Tools, just like with a regular sitemap.
2. To make sure Googlebot-Mobile can access your site, allow any User-agent to access it.
“You should also be aware that Google may change its User-agent information at any time without notice, so it is not recommended that you check if the User-agent exactly matches ‘Googlebot-Mobile’ (which is the string used at present),” says Jun Mukai, a software engineer on Google’s mobile search team. “Instead, check whether the User-agent header contains the string ‘Googlebot-Mobile’. You can also use DNS Lookups to verify Googlebot.”
3. Check that your mobile-friendly URLs’ DTD (Doc Type Definition) declaration is in an appropriate mobile format such as XHTML Mobile or Compact HTML.
If you run both a regular site and a mobile version of it, there is a possibility that the wrong version will show up in the wrong search results. There are ways you can prevent this.
“When a mobile user or crawler (like Googlebot-Mobile) accesses the desktop version of a URL, you can redirect them to the corresponding mobile version of the same page,” explains Mukai. “Google notices the relationship between the two versions of the URL and displays the standard version for searches from desktops and the mobile version for mobile searches.”
If you do use a redirect, you should make sure content on the corresponding URL matches as closely as possible, because Google finds sites that abuse the practice in order to try and boost their rankings. Google says this should be avoided at all costs, so you can probably expect to be penalized for such an action.
Another way you can make sure a user is pointed to the right version of your site is simply to provide a link. In fact, that is what Google itself does. If you access the mobile version of Google, you will find a link to the desktop version.
Another way still, is to switch content based on the User-agent, so mobile users automatically see the mobile version and desktop users see the desktop version, even though both are accessing the same URL.
Google warns, however, that if you use this method, there is a chance that if you fail to configure your site correctly, it could be mistaken for cloaking, which you can be penalized for.
“To remain within our guidelines, you should serve the same content to Googlebot as a typical desktop user would see, and the same content to Googlebot-Mobile as you would to the browser on a typical mobile device,” says Mukai. “It’s fine if the contents for Googlebot are different from the one for Googlebot-Mobile.”
Have you taken the necessary steps to ensure you are being indexed in Google’s mobile search engine? Have you been left out due to cloaking-related confusion? Discuss here.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2009
It’s easy for businesses to get caught up in Google’s expectations for their sites, when trying to market through search. That’s certainly a wise thing to do, considering Google dominates the search market by a huge margin. Still, there are other search engines that people are using, and it is also wise to make sure your site is performing to the best of its ability in those too.
I’m obviously talking about Yahoo and Bing, but Yahoo’s share is declining, while Bing’s is gaining. Furthermore, if the deal between Microsoft and Yahoo goes through, Bing search will be talking over Yahoo anyway.
Do you take Bing into account when optimizing your site? Comment here.
We don’t hear as much about what Bing wants out of a site for rankings, but Rick DeJarnette of Bing Webmaster Center has shared some dos and don’ts of link-building for Bing. Not surprisingly, a lot of his advice for honoring Bing’s policy, does not differ too much from advice that Google would give you. It is, however, still always nice to see how they feel, just to clear up any possible confusion.
Like Google, Bing places great emphasis on quality links to determine its rankings. “Just don’t make the mistake of believing it will result in instant gratification. Successful link building efforts require a long-term commitment, not an overnight or turnkey solution,” says DeJarnette. “You need to continually invest in link building efforts with creativity and time.”
What Not To Do
DeJarnette shared a list of things that you should avoid in your link building efforts, if it is a good Bing ranking that you are after. Here is what Bing says will get your site reviewed more closely by staff:
1. The number of inbound links suddenly increases by orders of magnitude in a short period of time
2. Many inbound links coming from irrelevant blog comments and/or from unrelated sites
3. Using hidden links in your pages
4. Receiving inbound links from paid link farms, link exchanges, or known “bad neighborhoods” on the Web
5. Linking out to known web spam sites
“When probable manipulation is detected, a spam rank factor is applied to a site, depending upon the type and severity of the infraction,” says DeJarnette. “If the spam rating is high, a site can be penalized with a lowered rank. If the violations are egregious, a site can be temporarily or even permanently purged from the index.”
What To Do
DeJarnette also shared some tips for getting more quality links. Following are Bing’s tips for effective link building (paraphrased):
1. Develop your site as a business brand and brand it consistently
2. Find relevant industry experts, product reviewers, bloggers, and media folk, and make sure they’re aware of your site/content
3. Publish concise, informative press releases online
4. Publish expert articles to online article directories
5. Participate in relevant conversations on blogs/forums, referring back to your site’s content when applicable
6. Use social networks to connect to industry influencers (make sure you have links to your site in your profiles)
7. Create an email newsletter with notifications of new content
8. Launch a blog/forum on your site
9. Participate in relevant industry associations and especially in their online forums
10. Strive to become a trusted expert voice for your industry, while promoting your site
Most of the stuff DeJarnette shared is nothing any savvy search marketer is not already aware of. That said, there are clearly plenty of online (and offline for that matter) businesses out there that don’t have savvy search marketers on the payroll. It can be quite helpful when a search engine itself lays out what to do and what not to do to help webmasters get better rankings.
Sorta an old post that I forgot to publish until today! Having the site closed to new members has given me time to start working through a few of my almost done posts that were never published yet. It’s hard to have time to do everything while growing a few businesses…and thus the blog needs a little TLC
Media has traditionally been afforded a wall between editorial and advertising due to limited marketplace competition. But, as Jim Spanfeller stated, the perception of value in “last click marketing” where search gets most of the credit for the entire demand creation and fulfillment cycle, is killing the value of online content:
A publisher can and should price their inventory at levels that will meet the market expectations and drive their business model. What they should not do is allow some sort of invisible hand (or should I say hands) to price their inventory against a backdrop of objectives that can and often does change at a moment’s notice. This practice has fundamentally driven pricing down across the web and, perhaps more importantly, changed the success metrics from ones based on “demand creation” to ones driven by “demand fulfillment.”
Worse yet, the leading metrics most closely track how the poorest members of society interact with media, creating a media ecosystem designed to exploit the poor. The above linked article states “we now know that 16% of web users generate 80% of clicks and that this 16% represents the lower income and education segments of the total user base.”
It may have cost Google 1 day of revenues to create the default analytics tool, which by default has a last click wins behavior that few people know how to edit. They can even add more features like tracking SEO rankings without risk because they know few people will use them.
Google’s web domination is so impressive that experienced and well trained journalists writing for publications like Wired mistake Google’s mission statement as the goal of the web. Literally…
The Internet’s great promise is to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful. So how come when you arrive at the most popular dating site in the US you find a stream of anonymous come-ons intermixed with insults, ads for prostitutes, naked pictures, and obvious scams?
Gary Wolf should know that was actually Google’s mission statement, not the goal of the web.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Monday, November 23, 2009
AOL has shown off a new logo, which it considers a significant part of its new “brand identity.” That is of course to go with its newfound independence from Time Warner. The logo is simple. Aol. That’s it – capital A, lower-case o, lower case l, and a period.
“Our new identity is uniquely dynamic. Our business is focused on creating world-class experiences for consumers and AOL is centered on creative and talented people – employees, partners, and advertisers. We have a clear strategy that we are passionate about and we plan on standing behind the AOL brand as we take the company into the next decade,” said Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL.
Curiously, in the press release, AOL still uses the all caps method of spelling its name. That doesn’t seem like the best way to kick off this new brand identity. To be fair, the company says that identity will be fully unveiled on December 10th, so I guess such trivialities will have to wait until then. That’s when AOL’s commons tock begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Here are a few instances of the new logo, placed on various images:
“Historically brand identity has been monolithic and CONTROLLING, little more than stamping a company name on a product. AOL is a 21st century media company, with an ambitious vision for the future and new focus on creativity and expression, this required the new brand identity to be open and generous, to invite conversation and collaboration, and to feel credible, but also aspirational. We’re delighted to have worked so closely with the AOL leadership team to create something bold and exciting that sets AOL apart,” said Karl Heiselman, CEO of Wolff Olins.
Wolff Olins is the consultancy firm that AOL partnered with to develop the new brand identity. According to AOL, some of the “world’s best creative artists” created the art and animations for the new brand look.