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November 2004, Week 2 Marketing Archives

Friday, November 12, 2004

Are Microsites Spam When Only Being Used In PPC Campaigns?

Kevin Lee points out the benefits of using a microsite (1 - 10 page minisite) built to target specific market segments instead of using your existing e-commerce site. Lee says using a microsite only for ppc campaigns can result in much higher conversion ratios and allows established companies to reach audiences they otherwise would've missed. He uses Fairmont Hotels as an example.

"A microsite can be used for power keyword segments of a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign, the entire PPC campaign, even for a campaign segment you couldn't have executed without it. For example, Jens Thraenhart, director of Internet strategy at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, recently shared his observation that microsites are a great tool to target niche audiences that wouldn't have responded to content on existing sites.

Several Fairmont hotels are perfectly suited to catering to the needs of golf and spa enthusiasts. Yet the existing site's messaging and content aren't as strong as they could be in respect to the lucrative golf and spa categories. Fairmont's new microsites have the content and message tuned to the appropriate niche. They've sped up editorial approval in the engines and delivered conversion rates that resulted in profitable campaigns.

As with landing-page testing, we've seen lift in conversion rates and ROI for microsites and minisites at levels approaching 200 percent. Of course, the lift for your particular site depends on where you start and how customized you get."

Aren't microsites just landing pages in discuise?

The sites Lee suggests building are definitely landing pages and built to convert. Obviously, creating a page for ppc purposes may seem different than creating a site for natural ranking reasons but one must be careful when doing so. If the main company site links to the minisite and vice versa then automated penalties can be incurred for manipulating each site's PageRank or link popularity. If a company decides to use minisites I highly recommend not linking to them from the parent site.

Additionally, I personally don't care for the feel of minisites. Often times they're shallow and lack any of the trust building factors I look for before I do business online. Even if the minisite converts a visitor, what happens when they find out the real company their money went to? I'm guessing buyer's remorse is higher as well as chargebacks.

I think Kevin has a good point in his article but one must be very careful when implementing his method and must be aware of all the pros and cons associated with it.

Are Microsites Spam When Only Being Used In PPC Campaigns? By Jason Dowdell at 11:30 PM
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Contributing Posts to Marketing Shift

If you think you have something newsworthy relating to marketing, technology, search or a blending of the 3, feel free to send them to marketingshift at gmail dot com. Crap will not be tolerated. Use that email for the time being until I scrape up enough free time to put a fancy contact form up. The first quality submission I receive resulting in a post here will get 1 free ".com domain name" from my stash of a few hundred.

And no, my domain names don't contain dashes!

Contributing Posts to Marketing Shift By Jason Dowdell at 02:26 PM
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Much Ado About Nothing

I'm really flattered about all of the press my post about a msn crawling
Google's results
. However, the data I presented was speculative at best.
The real intent of the post was to glean the truth based on feedback from
my readers and to that end it was a success. Reading the comments on my own
site as well as slashdot, WebMasterWorld, searchenginewatch, seroundtable,
and webproworld have brought out the plausible explanations of the real
reason Microsoft's new search results looked similar to Google's and why
their bot was fetching urls at a higher than normal rate for pages that
have been deleted from web servers for a good amount of time.
Thanks for everyone's input, the good, the bad and the ugly. I think this
proves that blogs can separate the wheat from the chaff come threshing

I think this is especially noteworthy since MSNDude and GoogleGuy discussed it amongst themselves and not an ill word was spoken. Oh my, what a day!

Much Ado About Nothing By Jason Dowdell at 01:16 PM
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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Microsoft Search Changes Results for Evil Searches

Just so everyone knows I'm not off my rocker, I'm posting screenshots of the Microsoft search results showing Google and Firefox at the top of the results for evil searches. Here are the pics.

Click links for full size screenshot of evil msn search results.
"more evil than god"
"more evil than satan"

Here's the evil search collage.

Microsoft Search Changes Results for Evil Searches By Jason Dowdell at 10:55 PM
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Microsoft Search Beta Manipulating Results?

One thing Google prides itself on is not tampering with it's result set. They want their search results to be completely objective (unless you're banned for spamming) and take pride in the fact that their algorithm can do the sort and rank search results on it's own without human intervention. I assume, a horrible thing to do I know, Microsoft has the same approach and wants to remain completely unbiased. But when I ran a couple searches on their beta engine I was a little surprised at the results. If there's a good explanation of them I'd love to hear it and you can rest assured that I'll do my own research on the matter later.

Which keyword searches appear to be tampered with?

1. "more evil than god" - Google is the second match listed only preceded by That doesn't seem at all odd now does it? Google's results don't show either site in the first 50 results I found.

2. "more evil than satan" - Interestingly Google has claimed the no. 1 position for this enviable term on Microsoft's new search site powered by "evilrank".

3. "evil" - has dropped to 11 for this term but Google's nowhere to be found. It's odd since the getfirefox url doesn't have that word in it anywhere. I also find it strange that the Firefox site is the only one in the top 30 results that doesn't have evil in it's title, hmmm interesting.

So what's the deal?
I don't know if the search results were tampered with or not but I'm taking screenshots. Perhaps there is a lot to learn about their new algorithm. Maybe it's a deviation of the hilltop
algo. In that case, if you want to be number 1 for "more evil than satan" on Microsoft's new search engine then you'd better get a link from Google. Wink. On the other hand, maybe it's just a bug, after all, this is only the beta release. Perhaps we could get an answer from Microsoft on their new blog, woops that was the link for Google's blog, here's Microsoft's search blog.

Microsoft Search Beta Manipulating Results? By Jason Dowdell at 06:35 PM
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MSN Beta Search Notes

When a friend asked me what I thought of Microsoft's beta search engine release so far I had to pause. Then I thought, well not much really. You see, it was pretty much down all morning. On one hand I can understand why it got overloaded but on the other hand I think it's quite ridiculous. There has been so much press on the new engine they should've known it was going to get hammered by all sorts of attacks and even actual visitors.

Here's what I've found so far.
MSN's Beta Search displays more backlinks, on average, than Google for urls I tested. This isn't good or bad because Google doesn't show all backlinks to a url anyway, this is just an observation.

MSN includes backlinks from blogger's profile page whereas Google doesn't.

Both engines include backlinks that point to pages using a 301 redirect. Checking the backlinks of airgin dot com (my old domain name) on Microsoft search and Google are extremely similar.

MSN lists backlinks to a url even if they aren't all that relevant whereas Google filters theirs (from what I can tell). Example: This marketing shift backlink is link number 348 on a page that has over 1,000 externally pointing links. Honestly, it's not really a high quality backlink but Microsoft includes it anyway. Even the 981st link on the page is showing up in the destination pages backlink count on MSN where as Google shows no backlinks for the url at all.

Note: If msn uses all of these backlinks to help determine a pages relevance and worth then they're probably worse off than Yahoo when it comes to link farms and link spamming.

The 'cached page' feature is almost identical to Google's cached page feature. Microsoft Search reads...
"This is a version of as it looked when our crawler examined the site on 11/6/2004. The page you see below is the version in our index that was used to rank this page in the results to your recent query. This is not necessarily the most recent version of the page – to see the most recent version of this page, visit the page on the web.
MSN search is not affiliated with the contents or authors of this page nor responsible for its content."

Google's cached page feature reads...
"This is G o o g l e's cache of as retrieved on Nov 5, 2004 12:37:48 GMT.G o o g l e's cache is the snapshot that we took of the page as we crawled the web.The page may have changed since that time. Click here for the current page without highlighting.This cached page may reference images which are no longer available. Click here for the cached text only.
To link to or bookmark this page, use the following url:

Google is not affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content."

They sure look similar to me.

All in all I'm not really all that impressed with Microsoft Search yet. They're trying to be all things to all people in a single interface and that violates usability rules. Additionally, they have a long way to go before they'll have a competitive advantage over Google IMHO.

That's about all I have time for now but stay tuned, I have a feeling I'll stumble across some other fundamental comparisons for the two engines.

MSN Beta Search Notes By Jason Dowdell at 05:53 PM
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Microsoft Launches Search Blog

Microsoft announced today that it's putting it's new search engine out for beta testing. They also announced the launching of a blog to comment on the search engine improvements and progress. Don't know about you but this sounds like miniGoogle to me. Additionally Battelle reports Microsoft will open up it's api to create a 3rd party application ecosystem. This is getting really freaky now. I mean, Msft is copying every move Google has made. I imagine Microsoft will probably allow 10,000 or 100,000 queries per api key though and Google will fire back with a similar announcement.

I guess Googles 8 billion pages served announcement should keep the stock afloat when it begins trading today ;)

Microsoft Launches Search Blog By Jason Dowdell at 01:42 AM
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Google Indexes 8 Billion Pages, Rogue Crawlers Explained

About 6 weeks ago there were reports on the major seo forums about Google using the Adwords bots to crawl an entire site in one sitting. Brett hypothesized that Google was rebuilding it's index. Now that Google has announced they've indexed 8 billion documents, his hypothesis is proven true.

Google Indexes 8 Billion Pages, Rogue Crawlers Explained By Jason Dowdell at 01:30 AM
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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Microsoft Crawling Google Results For New Search Engine?

I was questioned today by a developer who was watching a particular ip address scan his site. The ip was and is registered to Microsoft Corp. located at One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Wa 98052. This visitor was not sending the normal header information associated with a crawler to the web server such as an http robot name or identifying info or even a browser name. The behavior it demonstrated made it look like a crawler, especially since it was spidering urls that were no longer in existence (search engine spiders crawl site segments at regular intervals and often come back when an initial crawl left urls uncrawled) and doing so at the rate of 1 page every 3 - 5 seconds. The visitor started their visit at 7:37 am and was still on the site at 12:00 pm.

Correction, the data was there after all, here's the crawler info...
msnbot/0.3 (+

Here's the kicker
So now you're saying, so what, big deal. But this really is a big deal. It's a big deal not only because the urls this visitor was making requests to don't exist any longer but because the only place these urls can be found is in google's search results using A similar query on MSN Search doesn't show the urls at all, even on the beta version of their new Microsoft search engine. But then within just hours of the visitors exit from the site the new same search at Microsoft's new search engine shows all of the urls in question being fully indexed within it's results.

My Theory On This Mysterious Microsoft Crawler
The old msn required a fee to be crawled by it's spider. But a few months back MSN dropped the fee and said they were going to begin crawling the entire web and doing it without charge. However, that's no easy task. So I believe MSN is using the results from Google and possibly even Yahoo to get all of the pages they've indexed on sites that have a relatively low page count in the current msn search engine.

First off, that's the fastest way to get the relevant pages from a web site. Sure they could just go to the site directly and start crawling but in doing so they're going to get tons of duplicate urls and urls that seem different but point to the same content. Crawling Google's results will eliminate the bandwith to some extent but will not completely take care of the duplicate content issue their spider will encounter.

Secondly, crawling Google's results can act as a qualitative measure for their new search engine. By creating a baseline number of pages per site when the new Microsft Search is launched and running a comparison on a regular interval for the next 6 months, they'll be able to determine internally if their engine is finding and indexing the same links and as many links as Google. Call it competitive analysis or whatever you want.

So Microsoft's Screen Scraping?
Obviously my conclusion should be taken as a grain of salt but it's a definite possibility. Microsoft very well could be screen scraping Google (or maybe even using their api LOL) and crawling the urls it finds. It makes sense from a business case but I wonder if there are any legal issues there. I doubt it. It's like putting garbage out to the curb. Once it's out there it's fair game but I bet Google's lawyers would have more to say than that on the case.

Has anyone out there seen similar behavior on their own sites? Please post a comment with your qualitative/objective data if so.

Microsoft Crawling Google Results For New Search Engine? By Jason Dowdell at 03:27 PM
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GMail Turnover Worse Than An Enron CEO

Reading a post from MarketingVox about the high turnover rate of GMail users I felt compelled to give my 2 cents on the situation.

Until Gmail opens up smtp and pop3 access to the accounts so users can add the email to Outlook, there will be turnover. It's comparable to Orkut, Google's foray into the social software arena (written in .Net doh!). Orkut got a lot of press and I joined and got others to join and I even created groups with hundreds of members but in the end it was a waste of my time.

Until Gmail is seemless and integratable into a standard email client, it's going to be rough goings. The only up side is the
gmail notifier
but even that has its drawbacks. I was quick to sing it's praises but now I'm not as fanatical. The notifier usually requires about
and tells me when I have mail, a feature I love. But what blows me away is how my BlogLines notifier only takes 327 k to do a similar task. Sure the Bloglines notifier.exe has less features but who cares. All I really care about is knowing when I have new email. But I still must open a new browser window to get that mail and they never should've had to create a notifier in the first place. How about IM-ing me when I have mail or just letting Outlook tell me?

Even integrating Gmail into the Google desktop wouldn't work. Then I'd have another mail client and I'm just not interested in switching again after having to deal with Bloomba. There's a lot of resistance in switching mail clients and Google should pick up on that. If you can't beat em, join em!

GMail Turnover Worse Than An Enron CEO By Jason Dowdell at 01:20 PM
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Banks: Migration From Tellers to Online Banking On The Rise

eMarketer just released a study about online banking. Currently over 31.5 million Americans are banking online up from 26.8 million last year. The study is aimed at determining whether or not these online banking applications are doing all they can to capture the needs of their customers. I can tell you right now that Bank of America needs to add some features to their online system.

Online Banking Feature Requests
1. Let me open a trouble ticket pertaining to the online system instead of giving a phone number to call of someone that has no idea what they're doing.
2. Let me make a wire transfer online so I don't have to go to my local branch and fill out a bunch of paperwork.
3. Ability to chat live and securely with a "qualified banking representative" that can actually answer my question in real time after verifying my identity.
4. I need to be able to connect all of my accounts online instead of "trusting" their banking representative to do it for me. This has failed me 3 times already.
5. Add layers of security so that I can keep my "secret gift fund account" hidden from my wife since I opened it before we were married and only use it buy her gifts. I should be the only person that can see it.

Banks: Migration From Tellers to Online Banking On The Rise By Jason Dowdell at 11:50 AM
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Telemarketing Outperforms Email Marketing

Here are the stats from the Direct Marketing Association. But my question is, what type of people actually listen to telemarketers and purchase? If I've opted into an email subscription I'm willing to possibly purchase something from them but not from an unwanted phone call. Additionally, telemarketing is way more work than email marketing. I'll stick with digital mediums and you can have your telephony, thank you very much. via MediaPost

Telephone Marketing Pulls the Best, Pays Off the Best
The 2004 Response Rate Report, recently released by the Direct Marketing Association, concludes that telephone marketing has the highest ROI index, with 18.2, for marketers driving direct-order purchases. It is followed by e-mail, dimensional mail, and direct mail. In terms of response rates, telephone is the leader this year as it was last year at 5.73 percent.

John A. Greco, Jr., president & CEO, The DMA, says "Changes in the marketplace, coupled with database technology..., have led to a broadening of the overall multimedia usage and direct marketing techniques."

According to the report on 1,406 campaigns from 25 industries using 12 different media:


$Rev/ Contact

Promo Cost/Contact

Avg Resp Rates

ROI Index
Telephone$45.37 $2.50 5.7818.2
E-Mail$1.60 $0.10 1.1216.0
Dimensional Mail$14.16 $0.91 2.3015.3
Direct Mail$11.36 $0.56 1.8814.9
Newspaper $0.45 $0.05 0.098.80
Coupons$1.50 $0.23 1.656.50
Catalog $1.48 $0.69 2.186.40
Inserts $0.49 $0.14 0.453.50
Magazine $0.22 $0.11 0.132.00
FSIs $0.12 $0.07 0.131.60
Radio $0.08 $0.07 0.101.20
DRTV $0.02 $0.03 0.040.70

Telemarketing Outperforms Email Marketing By Jason Dowdell at 10:21 AM
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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Bloglines Makes Subscribing to Blog Feeds Easier

Bloglines recently added the ability for you to subscribe to a blog feed from one of 6 major blog hosting providers by simply knowing the name of the blog. The support is currently limited to Blogger's blogspot, LiveJournal, xanga, google groups, yahoo groups, and It's kind of nice. If you wanted to subscribe to raiderallison's blog at blogspot you'd simply type "raiderallison" into the field with the Blogger logo and bloglines would return this feed.

It saves a bit of time if you know the user name or account name but I personally think it's just as easy to go to your favorite blog's url and hit the xml feed button and cut and paste that into the bloglines subscription. But who knows, maybe there's a market for this little tweak.

Bloglines Makes Subscribing to Blog Feeds Easier By Jason Dowdell at 06:07 PM
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« November 2004 Week 1 November 2004 Week 3 »

  • Week 1 (8 entries) November 1-6
  • Week 2 (13 entries) November 7-13
  • Week 3 (9 entries) November 14-20
  • Week 4 (1 entries) November 21-27
  • Week 5 (1 entries) November 28-30

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