Mike Grehan says...

Random musings about search marketing, flying around the planet, networking and people watching.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Where in the world is Mike?

Last year I completed 32 engagements at conferences, seminars, workshops and other presentations all over the world. I decided that, this year, I really want to try and spend a little more time at home with my family.

However, they're stacking up again!

So here's a list which is about 80% confirmed for conferences, workshops etc., that I'll be speaking at this year. As I say, they're not all confirmed yet, but if you'd like to say hello personally, here's where you're most likely to find me this year:

Post Magazine Business Leaders Forum CEO Summit:
February 8, Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, London.

Search Engine Strategies:
February 27 - March 2, Hilton Hotel, Avenue of the Americas, New York

ad:tech Impact:
March 9, InterContinental Hotel, 15201 Dallas Parkway, Dallas

Lucrative Search Marketing:
March 14, The Dorchester, Park Lane, London

Search Engine Strategies:
March 17-18, Nanjing International Exhibition Center, Nanjing, China

Search Engine Strategies:
March 30-31, Hilton Hotel, Munich Park, Munich

PubCon 14:
April 18 - 19, Boston (Venue to be confirmed).

Killer Search Marketing 2006:
April 24 - 25 , Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, Central London

April 26 - 28, The Moscone Center, San Francisco

eMetrics Summit - The Web Analytics Conference:
May 3 - 5, The Radisson SAS Portman Hotel, 22 Portman Square, London

Internet World 2006:
May 9 - 11, Earls Court 2, London

Search Engine Strategies:
May 31 - June 2, Business Design Centre, London

Online Marketing Europe:
June 14 - 16, Congress Palace, Palma, Mallorca, Spain

Search Engine Strategies:
July 10-11, InterContinental Hotel, Miami

July 24-25, Chicago (Venue to be confirmed)

Search Engine Strategies:
August 7-10, McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CA

September 27 - 28, Olympia, London

PubCon 15:
November 14 - 15, Las Vegas (venue to be confirmed)

November, Shanghai (date and venue to be confirmed)

Search Engine Strategies:
December 4-7, Hilton Hotel, Chicago
SEO Buzzbox interview.

I was approached by a very cool Aaron Pratt, who seems to be having a lot of interest over at his SEO Buzzbox blog. He asked me if I'd mind dropping in and answering a few pertinent questions. Yes, there's more a bout the "sandbox" at the buzzbox, here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Now what was it I said about pull?

From Media Post:

"WHILE PARTICIPATING IN THE WORD of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) conference last week in Orlando, Florida, I caught one of General Motor's 30-second regional television ads for its Pontiac brand. Television ads often stimulate Internet search behavior by increasing brand awareness or sparking curiosity, as often demonstrated by Hitwise. But this GM spot was significant because it ended with an unusual call to action: "Don't take our word for it. Google Pontiac and discover for yourself." And the ad ended not with a URL or phone number for a local dealer, but an actual Google screenshot with Pontiac typed in. Yes, an actual screenshot!"

Wonder where that idea came from?

Thanks Garrett, for tipping me off about that article!
Jingle bells... (again, almost!)

You see, in Russia, things are different. New Year comes before Christmas because of the mix between the Julian and the Gregorian calendar.

So Christmas is actually on January 7th.

However, this is nowhere near as late as the time that the company my wife works for celebrate their Christmas.

Being completely tight bastards, they give it a theme, make it sound exciting by having to dress up, and then book the Hilton at the cheapest price you'll get all year!

So, this weekend, my wife and I dressed up and celebrated Christmas again (and we all talked about was the Easter break!)

Monday, January 23, 2006

A grand plan for SEO.

My ClickZ column, published today, is a follow up to comments made here after my previous column was published.

Generally speaking, my message remains the same. I don't look down my nose at smaller companies at all. I actually get very excited when I meet entrepreneurs who have vision and the desire to grow from one level to the next.

Companies which have a good product offering which can differentiate themselves in an existing marketplace, or provide new, even disruptive services to make them stand out in a crowd.

There has been some misunderstanding behind my suggestions of integrated marketing communications for smaller firms. Many think that I seem to be talking about them having to embark on huge TV and press campaigns in order to create the "search engine pull" effect.

In the forward to the excellent book I mentioned in my column, "Communities dominate brands" Coca Cola Chief Marketing Officer, Stephen C Jones, makes his own observation of the future of marketing from his time in Japan.

"...internet use soared from a few after hours office workers to a national phenomenon. We played outside the traditional marketing box with some entry level internet marketing promotions which unintentionally started a dialogue with six million consumers.

Wireless cellular technology and the internet forever changed the consumer and our approach to marketing in Japan.

And it reshaped my own mental model of how to engage in a relationship with consumers."

We're moving from a networked age to a connected age. To consumers who, ten years ago, were relishing the power of the internet. But the network age was static. You logged on to the internet, surfed and then went to the shopping mall to do some "touchy feely" stuff before you purchased.

But in this connected age where my Blackberry, for instance allows me to be connected 24/7 wherever I am on the planet. I have permanent access to family, friends and colleagues. And I can allow them permanent access to me.

The opportunities for everyone to tap into communities in the new connected age is there for everyone.

Exciting times, indeed!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Paul McKenna.

He's billed as the world's greatest hypnotist. But for me, he's one of my oldest buddies. In fact, Paul and I go back 25 years when he was just a kid and we first worked together in radio.

Back then we were both DJs working together and hanging together. That's how he started his love affair with my home city, Newcastle. He loves to come and visit. And each time I'm in London, I pop around his place.

I was in London last week so I popped into his office. We run a small business online between us. It's a good job we both have proper jobs (his putting him squarely in the multi-millionaire class, of course!) because, if we had to rely on the online business for a living, we'd both be sleeping on park benches!

It's one of those projects which has been getting off the ground for years. Little by little it's getting there. But because I'm out of the country for almost 20 weeks of each year and he's doing TV appearances all over the world... We're getting around to it!

His new TV series is the biggest audience yet, with millions tuning in each Monday evening in the UK for his "I can make you thin" show. Paul has already sold millions of hypnotherapy self-help CDs and his past three books have all been UK best sellers.

His new book (complete with CD) is "Instant Confidence" and I guarantee, like the rest it will be a best seller.

Paul's known to some pretty famous SEO types. He once whisked Jill Whalen off to dinner in a Ferrari. Had Andrew Goodman around his place for a few rooftop beers. And frequently indulges in a curry with me and my new colleague Jim Banks whose company MarketSmart Interactive just acquired.

Here's a pic of him in my local pub in Newcastle, proudly drinking the world famous brew we make here: Newcastle Brown Ale!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Go Seattle Seahawks!

[But first, here's a line I will edit out after the next damn, blasted fix I have to discover to fix the shitty fix that almost fixed the other one!]

This Sunday could be a monumental day for them (Seahawks, that is). A chance to go to the Superbowl for the first time in history.

As my buddy, Rand Fishkin in Seattle, is a big fan, I have to raise a glass to him and his team to wish them best of luck, along with himself.

And no better way to do that than with a true, very expensive, single malt from my own backyard - especially as Rand paid for it!

Go Seattle Seahawks. And for anyone else who is a caring soul, pray for Newcastle United, my own team. No need to drink for them. They do enough of that themselves.

Why do you think they need prayers!

PS - By the way, I used the term having a wee Dram or two when I dropped Rand a note earlier. I have a feeling, as most coders, he may think it has something to do with computer memory. However, we used the word back with William Wallace a long time before computers were around ;-)

A kind of homecoming...

I've been prevented from Blogging because of a bug in the template code... I thought!

I have pulled my hair out over this, only to find that the problem is not in the template, it's in the Blogger software!

Remind me of something. Why is it we use Blogger software for... well, blogging, when previously, we just coded up some pages and then FTPd them up to our respective sites? Archives created and included, of course.

This whole hosed code issue is actually based around the fact that I used italics... Correct, that and nothing else.

If you have a similar problem with the sidebar disappearing because you use italics then you could just not use them. However, for anyone suffering the same problem, here's the fix:

Go to the Template editing page when logged into Blogger, and within the text editing area on the page (click inside it once), run a "Find" command from your browser for "post-body" (no quotes). That should show you the following CSS code:

.post-body div {font-size: 13px;line-height: 18px;margin: 10px, 0px;}

Change that to the following:

.post-body div {font-size: 13px;line-height: 18px;margin: 0;height: 1%;overflow:visible;}

Then, go back to the bathroom with some glue and pick out the hair you pulled out of your head and stick it back on again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"...hello pull."

Google to Acquire dMarc Broadcasting.

"Google is committed to exploring new ways to extend targeted,measurable advertising to other forms of media," said Tim Armstrong,vice president of Advertising Sales, Google. "We anticipate that this acquisition will bring new ad dollars and accountability to radio by combining Google's expansive network of advertisers with dMarc's talented team and innovative radio advertising technology. We lookforward to working together to continue to grow and improve the ecosystem of the radio industry."

With press ads, radio and no doubt TV on the way... all I can say is: Integrated Marketing Communications.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Code and stuff...

A few people have mentioned that my post of Friday doesn't render properly in other browsers (I only use IE so that I can see stuff exactly the same as the highest percentage of average surfers).

Thanks Nick Wilsdon (in Russia, you lucky guy!) for letting me know. And also to Barry Welford (ex UK North Easterner) and the super delicious Kim Krause, for alerting me.

I have to say, I use the Microsoft Word utility that Blogger developed (because, I'm really, really short on time. All the time).So I don't usually have time to hand check code. But I took a quick peek and I'm sure that xml filter isn't cleaning up the crappy Word code.

I'll take a more thorough look tomorrow.

But right now, there's the final of a reality TV show with people from Coronation Street in it.

Correct, correct, correct. I'm a sad case who watches Corrie (well, when I'm in the UK, anyway!)
Mr Angry, the aggressive guy...

I just discovered that Mr Angry is actually Mr Andy Hagans, who seems to be part of Patrick Gavin's text link company (yes?) Sincere apologies if I'm wrong, but I think there's a connection?

Actually, I met Patrick in Chicago last month. That was the first time I'd seen him since we first met for about the total sum of 25 seconds in New Orleans.

He was with Nick W, formerly of Threadwatch. We had a quick drink and a few minutes chat, at Dave Naylor's table, I seem to remember. In fact, I popped in to watch Patrick's presentation in the buying and selling links session the following day. It was very good.

I didn't know there was a connection between all three (again, I'm making an assumption).

It looks as though Andy lives in Shanghai. I wish I'd known, we could have had that beer when I was there for ad:tech (minus the hug, no worries, I understand this. Greg Jarboe HATES it when I hug him - which is why I still do it, of course ;-)

In fact, I had an extra pass for the event which I could have passed on. Maybe this year when I go back we'll have a get together.

Anyway, I just had a chance to look at some of the comments from my post yesterday. And I wondered if Andy wouldn't mind expanding on something as I'm very curious. And I'll repeat: curious. Nothing more. That's all.

In your comment you mention working for clients who may only have $1,000 as a marketing budget. I'm intrigued to know what a client would get for that? In terms of service, I mean.

I'm not poking for trade secrets. I do sincerely, only want to know what the package consists of?

Friday, January 13, 2006

[Warning: This post may contain traces of strong language. It also contains large chunks of my personal life. People who suffer queasy allergy at the slightest hint of sentimentality should remain within reach of a plastic bucket. It's a very long post. Side effects may include feelings of drowsiness possibly leading to a coma in severe cases.]

Please don't let me be misunderstood...

That's the title of a song which was a hit for a band called The Animals, generations ago (it was originally a Nina Simone hit, actually).

My father owned the nightclub where The Animals got their first break before going on to international superstardom. Even though I was a bitty-kid, back then, quite a lot of their songs stick with me because of the old man.

That one, in particular, has been going around in my head since my ClickZ column was published earlier this week.

Most of the week I've been tied up installing a new mixing desk and studio equipment for a podcast I'm launching soon. So I haven't really had any blog-time. But I did want to find time to post something as a follow up, to a follow up from my ClickZ column.

Writing an opinion column, as I do, is bound to attract feedback from people who either agree or disagree and want to put their point of view forward. That makes for good debate, I don't mind constructive criticism at all. But I have to say I was a little taken aback after someone pointed me to an outright personal attack.

Since then, I've received a full apology from the publisher who was having a bad hair [shoe?] day, or something. And that's good enough for me. I'm not one for holding grudges, apology accepted, water under the bridge and all that.

However, the "flaming" post did set off its own little chain reaction of follow-up comments which I read. The first one coming from some very aggressive sounding person who seemed be rounding up a posse for a lynching party, judging by his tone.

And that's why I've been at a bit of loss to understand why it is that some people seem to take my words so personally. I don't believe that anybody has been singled out.

No hint of a rebuttal here, but reserving the right to reply, I do think it may be worth while trying to elaborate a little on my views. Because I really don't want to be "misunderstood."

After reading the series of comments in the post, there's something very obvious to me that I'd like to address first. And that's about communication. I've been involved in communications for 25 years now. And for anyone coming into communications, I have some sage advice I'd like to pass on. It was given to me years ago by the BBC, where I was trained. And that is: Know your audience.

ClickZ is an online network for marketers in general, which is why I write specifically from a marketers point of view in a professional marketers voice. It appeals to Fortune 1000 type marketers.

The word "arrogant" arose in my little roasting, I believe, because I used the words "a paltry $50k" in my column.

This, mainly, I'm sure, from people who seem to believe I have no empathy with mom and pops who only have, say, $2000, perhaps, for a budget (this was mentioned in more than one follow up comment).

Here's the original paragraph I wrote:

Do a marketing audit before you take on a client and get a better understanding of what you're really up against. If the client offers you a paltry $50,000 to do some SEM work in a marketplace where competitors usually spend millions on TV, radio, press, and integrated online advertising, you may want to think twice.

Now let me take the same paragraph and swap it around a bit for those commentators who mentioned the mom and pops:

Do a marketing audit before you take on a client and get a better understanding of what you're really up against. If the client offers you a paltry $50 to do some SEM work in a marketplace where competitors usually spend at least $2000 on TV, radio, press, and integrated online advertising, you may want to think twice.

Now, I ask, in all honesty: what would my ClickZ audience think if I used the latter example?

Well... They would probably think I'd had a mental breakdown writing my column and was now en route to a hospital bed. To that audience it's just not a tangible example.

I write for my ClickZ audience about my own working knowledge and experience, in an effort to connect with theirs. And it works. Believe me. That audience needs as much info about SEO, even at their level of budget as any mom and pop does to compete. And I get very positive feedback from them.

Arrogant? I beg to differ. I write with that specific audience in mind. And there are some readers in that audience who wouldn't bat an eyelid if I said "paltry $250,000."

My buddy Kim Krause, is among the follow up commentators too. She gives me a little poke in the ribs about me perhaps not seeing things from the point of view of the "stay at home parent" for instance.

Actually, this is something I empathise with greatly. Because for six years, I was a lone parent myself.

One moment, there I was sitting in my big leather, executive chair in my swanky downtown office. I was running the PR side of a neat advertising agency, loving my clients and every minute of the job.

And then, almost overnight, there I was sitting at the end of my dining room table, with a laptop computer, printer, telephone... box of crayons... and a three year old propped on my knee.

I had to give up my job and embark on a new career as a work from home parent. It was a nightmare!

The times I pitched for work from clients where I knew I could do the job and yet lost because of the kids and working from home, used to send me NUTS!

Corporate bastards. As far as I was concerned, they all were.

So yes, I know pretty much how difficult it is for a micro business trying to get a little traction when they're starved out by the big boys.

I did eventually get back into employment when both the kids were in school full-time. And then, in late 1995, along with a guy who knew cool stuff about getting on the internet and doing html, I started my own Internet Marketing Consultancy (I registered the domain netmarketing.co.uk in 1996)

Once again, after having worked with national and international clients on behalf of an advertising agency, here I was, a two man shop pitching against the giants again. So I know what it's like taking on the responsibility of office leases and overdrafts and working all hours and the frequent disappointment of not getting the gig.

Not only that, after eventually building up a head of steam, in 1998 my business partner and I had a serious bust-up, leaving my name securing the lease, the overdraft and the business loan.

Okay, I detect the sound of somebody throwing up, as violins begin to swell in the background, so I'll leave that there...

However, I persevered. Pretty soon I was working with national and international organisations again, employing people and business was booming. In fact, for a while, it felt as though I was the only search engine positioning (as it was called then) consultant in the UK.

Better still, word had spread to the head offices of large American companies from their European counterparts and soon things in the States really began to pick up.

Why have I gone to great length to tell you this? Just so anyone who gives a shit, knows that I also know exactly what it's like to struggle above the noise of the big boys on limited resources. And I also know it CAN be done.

So, let me address the mom and pop thing again. Why don't I work with mom and pop outfits? What would I do for a mom and pop with only two grand to spend? That's what I was asked.

And my answer is: I'd do nothing. Nothing at all with them.

Is that because I'm arrogant and look down my nose at smaller outfits with tiny budgets? Absolutely not. It's because I can't bear the thought of failure.

Now some SEOs would take the two grand and then when little or nothing happened, I'm sure they would happily blame it on the so called "sandbox".

Personally, having been a tiny company looking for help to grow, I wouldn't call that helping a smaller outfit - I'd call it daylight robbery.

My comment about a client with "a paltry" fifty grand in my article is actually true. I was asked to weigh up the competition in a very saturated space by a potential client trying to penetrate the market.

When I asked him what kind of budget he had, he told me "I've got fifty grand to throw at it." Now, I knew that space quite well and was fully aware that his competitors (and there were many of them) were spending millions on both on and offline marketing.

While the competitors were buying eyeballs elsewhere on everything from outdoor signage to TV promotion, and thousands and thousands more dollars on search than he could, what chance did he really stand?

Maybe I could have taken the fifty grand and given him the old sandbox story afterwards if he crashed and burned. But to me, that would be the same as taking the two grand from the mom and pop outfit.

But, perhaps even more to the point, as I've said many times before, search is not a marketing panacea. What if a mom and pop's budget is better spent elsewhere, where more tangible results than they'd get with just pure SEO may be achieved?

People still use Yellow pages and read classifieds offline. And they have post boxes for pamphlet drops and... Well there are lots of things that small companies can do with smaller budgets to get the sales they desperately need to be able to grow their businesses - and their marketing budgets.

Kim Krause also pointed out that it seemed to her that I was suggesting you'll only win at search if you have a budget of zillions. But that's not really what I'm saying at all.

Search engine positioning started out in classic mom and pop style itself. A cottage industry which once even saw a young Fredrick Marckini sitting at his dining table in his bathrobe, writing his master plan.

It's been a constant mantra to make SEM a "line item" so that we can make a decent woman out of this industry. Search engine optimisation has oft been dismissed by larger companies as nothing but "smoke and mirrors." But as the cost of keywords in more competitive areas begins to escalate, the more the big boys are looking at those very juicy organic listings.

This coupled with the fact that, search engines, once only perceived as technology companies, are now actually morphing into true media companies. And whereas before, they paid a little attention to analytics and what end users did around the interface: end user data is now becoming the holy grail.

At the beginning of last year, I spoke at length with Apostolis Gerouslis, founder of Teoma. He emphasised that SEOs may be the content creators on the web, but search engines control the end users.

During the course of last year I spoke to many researchers and scientists about user behavior analysis at search engines and got a good grasp of the kind of data and how it can be used.

One of the conferences I regularly speak at and thoroughly enjoy is Jim Sterne's eMetrics summit. This is where I get an opportunity to talk to people who are passionate about analytics and user behavior and deep profiling and... Well, they can get just as geeky as we do in SEO, about analytics.

I learn fascinating stuff from the vendors who are working with huge corporate web sites. And it's amazing what they can tell you about audience habits, likes and dislikes, without even having to survey them. And search engines are just the same now. I don't know that they are in control of the end user though. I believe in order to deliver a quality audience and some decent demographics, they have to understand the end user. And that's why I say the end user is in control at search engines.

Am I pooh-poohing SEOs when I make comment. Heaven forbid. However, I'm fully aware that SEO is rapidly changing from words-on-a-page-led, to links-from-page-to-page-led, to end-user-marketing-led. It's going to become a whole new ball game.

Goliath Vs Goliath.

I tried some experiments last year attempting to induce end users to search for specific brands. It's the "pull" thing I've been talking about.

Take this situation for a moment. It's not mom and pop up against each other, it's authority site Vs authority site. Now lets assume I'm up against one of the great technical SEO wizards in this industry, like Dave Naylor, for instance.

So, I bring in another industry superstar on my team. Let's make that Mikkel deMib Svendsen (just because I happen to know them both). Now I've asked Mikkel to monitor Dave's work and match it every step. What happens when the code is all used up. When they've zapped each other senseless and they're left there eyeball-to-eyeball (by the way, this assumes they are doing things in their best grey hats).

In this case, why wouldn't a marketing "pull" tactic be appropriate? Usage data is what's now required to get that extra oomph! Some greater awareness is needed to get more searchers either to search more or brand switch.

Maybe for a little while longer there'll still be the odd "David" of an SEO, with nothing more than code in his sling to fire into the eye of the corporate "Goliath." But I do believe they'll become few and far between, as search engines rely more and more on end user behavior and personalization data.

Let me go back to Goliath Vs Goliath and think about a tactical promotion. What about, we give away a discount coupon to everyone on our mailing list (which as a large company may be sizable).

But, instead of putting a link to a promotional web page on the site, we cut and paste a link for a search on Google for brand+product. And instead of using "click here to get your token" as the call to action, we use "Just Google us and click through for your coupon."

That certainly works to increase number of searches and usage data for a larger organisation which is going to be found in the top 20 anyway. There's an extra bit of oomph!

But even a smaller company can do that. If you sponsor niche newsletters and ezines in your space and use the same tactic, you'll end up with a noticeable query stream. This is very much a guerrilla tactic. In the first instance, your end users may not be likely to find you in the results. But it'll sure as hell ring a little bell to let Google know there's somebody new at the door.

Why brand+product? Here's a little clue. Go to Jeeves and search on my name (Mike Grehan - it's a long post so you may have forgotten who I am). Then take a look at "Expand your search.". You'll see that my brand (my name) is related to two of my products. Think about it.

To sum up my views, I'm really trying to get people to just think "out of the box" (sandbox, that is). Just as there may be technical ways to achieve things in this industry, so will there always be alternatives.

Here's a final analogy I like. My wife is Russian. And Russians have a wonderful anecdote about technology. Way back when, scientists at NASA spent a fortune researching and developing a ball pen which could pump ink to the ball. This was so that astronauts could write upside down, if need be, when they were weightless in space. When the Russians heard about this development, they sent NASA the result of their own research into the problem. When the guys at NASA opened the little box they had received – it had a pencil in it!

There's always more than one way to skin a cat!

Okay, this has been a long slog, so it's time to trundle towards the end.

The post started with me reflecting on being flamed. So I'll try and finish on that note.

When I heard that someone in this industry had created hate sites about Jill Whalen, like many others I was furious. Anyone who stoops as low as that is demonstrating the maturity of an eleven year old, as far as I'm concerned. It's just not necessary in this industry, or any other for that matter.

I respect Jill very much. I consider her to be a personal friend. We don't see eye-to-eye on everything, so we have professional disagreements from time-to-time. And because we know each other well, she can come sit next to me at the bar and open the conversation with: "Hey, shit brain I see you've been talking thru the back of your ass again!" Hug, drink, get over it, get on with it.

There's a bit of mutual respect goes on between us. So it wouldn't bother me in the least. And what a fun way to make your point!

Anyway, finally, what about Mr Angry, the aggressive guy I mentioned at the top of this post who wanted to have me lynched, burned at the stake, dipped in the duck pond, whatever...

Well, I can promise you this, he'll get EXACTLY what he deserves from me if I ever meet him...

A hug, a beer and some general chit-chat at the bar. The same as most people I meet in this industry, I guess.

I'm not really the Prince of Darkness in SEO land. Ask my Mom, she'll tell you.

[Hello... Hellooo... is anyone awake? Oh well, maybe I'll win a prize for world's longest blog post...]

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Temporal Co-Occurrence: How does a Developing Event Affect Search Results?

My friend Dr Edel Garcia has written yet another fascinating paper.

He investigates how an in-progress event might shape search results in the websphere and the blogosphere.

From the introduction:

According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Katrina made landfall at approximately 7:10 a.m. EDT on Aug.29, 2005, in Plaquemines Parish, Lousiana (1). The hurricane impacted not only the environment and lives, but also the state economy, the stock market, and, as expected, search results from commercial search engines. This prompted us to investigate how evolving events like developing news stories, natural disasters, terrorist activities and other world events influence search results.

Prior studies indicate that there is a connection. According to an IBM group, searches for world trade center produced completely different results before and after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, indicating a change in the meaning of query terms (2). And according to Kleinberg, "understanding the pattern of a developing news story requires considering not just the content of the relevant articles but also how they evolve over time" (3). These studies suggest that external events can shape the meaning of queries and content of documents.

Interestngly, for me, as a huge admirer of the work of Jon Kleinberg (mentioned above), SEM doyen, AdWords Guru and one of my best pals, Andrew Goodman dropped in to remind me of burstiness.

Kim Krause is my buddy!

It's official...

Kim dropped in to ask me why all my buddy bloggers were men. I don't know what she was suggesting, says he with a manly "did you see the Bears game?"

Kim is a lady blogger. I know this. I've seen ladies before. You can spot them a mile away. They're an entirely different shape to men.

For the record... I have been a, not so secret, admirer of Kim's for a long time now. She's a very smart lady.

Glad to have you on my list of buddies.

Now I'll go and read your tutorial on how to put those fancy feed logos on your blog ;-)

Monday, January 09, 2006

A new beginning!

I mentioned in my ClickZ column today, that Websourced is no more (nor is Keyword Ranking).Officially, as of today we're known as MarketSmart Interactive, Inc.

It's part of our new strategy to focus on our clients' online marketing needs as an integrated process. Of course, search is still at the core of our business, but we're now able to offer much, much more in the way of marketing support than only search.

This year is going to be a very exciting year for us. As a Director of the company, it's an honor for me to be part of the new management team which our ultra dynamic COO, George Douaire has created.

I'm looking forward to being part of what I believe will be the world's biggest and most successful interactive agency.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Email alerts.

Just thought a quick apology was required to the people who have posted comments here - and then not heard a single response from me!

I've only just discovered where the check box was to set email alerts whenever someone else posts.

It's the first lunchtime I've been sitting at my desk and had an opportunity to look at the Blogger settings since I launched the thing a few months back.

And who knows, tomorrow I may even get a chance to set up the links for RSS feeds, My Yahoo etc. I've already got Feedburner installed. I just need to find out how it works now!

I've also managed to look at the stats very quickly and was surprised to see that people do actually pop in here from time-to-time. Not only that, I discovered that three people found the site searching at Google for Dave Naylor. One person found their way here searching for Andy Atkins Kruger. And 12 people found their way here searching for www.mikegrehan.com

I mean, I'm all for convenience myself. But it's just as easy to type that into your browser address bar as it is in Google's search box - yes? (For the record most visitors come from searches on mike grehan or mike grehan blog and the rest come from various forums).

Anyway, blogging certainly takes up your time. Actually, for anyone who may be passing and knows about these things...

If you have a blog where people can post comments relating to an entry... And like some other bloggers I've seen, break the blog into topic sections...

Why would anyone start a forum these days?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Goodbye 2005!

Okay, just a quick and final short photo-tour of St Petersburg for those who'd be interested in celebrating new year 2006 in true, glamorous Russian style.

First of all, St Petersburg is not cheap. In fact, it can be more expensive than big brother Moscow (which is even more expensive than New York).

It could be done on an economy budget, I guess. But as this trip was my wife's Christmas present, I pulled out all the stops. I can thoroughly recommend the Renaissance Hotel. You can get a small suite for as little as $200 per night. But if you want a larger suite with a city view, be prepared to pay a lot more per night.

It's an ideal spot, as it's a very short walk to the Winter Palace and Hermitage (State Museum) which houses some of the most fabulous artworks I've ever seen collected under one roof.

The hotel is also perfectly located for access to Nevsky Prospect, which is one of the most famous streets in Russia. The street is very long and very wide. And it has some of the most wonderful stores, restaurants and bars that you'll find anywhere in the city.

Perhaps the most luxurious (and expensive) restaurant is Palkin. It is more than 220 years old and the food and service are out of this world. If you do find yourself in the city and you enjoy quality dining, this is a must. But be prepared to pay for it.

St Petersburg, somewhat like Paris, is a great walking city. But at this time of the year it begins to get extremely cold. So make sure to wear sensible underwear and a good quality, genuine Ushanka (not the cheap imported kind). You may want to put some other clothes on, of course!

Okay, here come a few shots and then it's back to business and blogging as usual for 2006.

Catherine the Great had a notorious reputation for getting her kit off at the mere sight of a Grenadier. She's known to have had many lovers who were frequently younger than half her age!

Just off Nevsky Prospect is a small park where she stands, proudly looking for young men in uniform, no doubt.

As you walk along Nevsky, you'll likely cross the bridge over the Fontanki. At this time of the year it is completely frozen.

Also on Nevsky is the famous chocolate museum. I stood next to a chocolate Father Frost (a kind of Russian relative of the Santa Clause family). I almost had to prise my wife out of the building with a crowbar. So if you do have a sweet tooth, be sure to take someone to help you on the will power side!

The jewel in the city crown is, of course, the Winter palace and Hermitage Museum. As it is one of the most breathtaking places I have ever visited, I have no idea why I look so bloody miserable standing in the huge square at the entrance.

There are many ice carvings inside in the courtyard. Here I am watching the ice queen melt in my presence!

If you want to know just how totally extravagant the Russian royals were, visit the Winter palace and the reception room which is decorated entirely in real gold.

As we walked from room to room inside this huge building we saw originals by so many great artists, including Gainsborough, Rafael, Rembrandt... And to my wife's delight, original works by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Your tour of the city wouldn't be complete without a visit to St Isaacs cathedral. Once again, you can see that Russians of the time, as usual, were not doing things by half measure.

My final opinion? I adore St Petersburg as much as Moscow and would go back at any and every time possible.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Chaviar and campagne.

I did, I did actually say how much I was enjoying the night and the "chaviar and campagne"

That's the way it came out.

But, hey, it was new year's eve ( make that 4.00 am) in a most stunning city at a great event.

We started the night in the Canvas restaurant at the wonderful Renaissance hotel. It was Renaissance by choice, as I am a very BIG Marriott customer.

There was a seven course menu which featured Russian delights mixed with European in complete fusion. It was superb. And by that, I mean, by my own experience in many fine restaurants: superb.

Following our fine dinner, we celebrated the new year with more fine Champagne and... a very dull and sombre looking Vladamir Putin. You may think, in the US that you have a dull listless president who should keep his eyes open and his mouth shut more often. But you've seen nothing until you see an expert.

Of course, even now in Russia, if anyone gets wind of this article (posting) in my blog... yes, my nuts could be goners next time I go back!

We then went to the park outside of St Isaacs Cathedral for the firework display and then back to the hotel ballroom for a big band playing live swing, jazz and blues. Fantastic. More Champagne, Cuban cigars and dancing. It was classically fabulous.

Perhaps the most iconic of images from St Petersburg is the statue of Peter the Great, himself. If you can read any Russian, you will see that inscription is from Catherine the Great, dedicating it as a tribute to him.

It is wonderful to stand in the shadow of such an historic piece of sculpture. It's also wonderful to know that, if you could see the other side of my shot, Peter is actually hiding the entrance to the Red Lion English pub which is just opposite and serves a mighty fine pint of Guinness.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Mother Russia 2

I started a lifelong love affair with Russia years ago.

Moscow is a favourite city of mine. I travel a lot, but rarely do I come across a city as magnificent and happening as Moscow.

You may not be aware of this, but Christmas is not such a big deal in Russia. The calendar is different. So Christmas actually happens on 7 January. That being the case, new year's eve is a huge celebration.

Father frost, a close cousin of Santa Clause pops around then. Russians celebrate new year's eve as a mixture of what we have as Christmas in the UK, collectively with the equivalent of Guy Fawks (Independence day in the States) and any other annual reason to celebrate.

It is a time of great partying and festivities. If ever you are looking for something different to do over the holidays, believe me, this is for you!

So, for my very first time, I have switched Russian lovers and come to St Petersburg for new year. And I am at a loss to describe the grandness of this city.

Just take a look at the famous Winter Palace at night to get an indication of the splendour the city offers.

The darkened figures to the right of center are my wife and our friend Alexandra. The Winter palace and Hermitage are breathtaking. My wife and I have been invited to dinner in the finest restaurant in St Petersburg, this evening.

After this and with more time tomorrow, I will explain a Russian new year, in full.