Mike Grehan says...

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

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sex, drugs rock and... Jaron Schaechter!

No innuendo going on here. It just turns out that, my friend and client (project manager supreme with Accenture) is now blogging about Amsterdam. And Amsterdam, as we all know is famous (make that infamous) for more than just cheese ;-)

Jaron has taken up something called wakeboarding. This looks hugely adventurous to someone like me, where simply waking up can sometimes be a challenge.

As Jaron is a novice blogger, he checked out quite a few other bogs for content before he started his. He made the, not so startling discovery, that a lot of blogs are full of crap. Now, we can all be responsible for a little bit of that, I'm sure. Not every post a blogger makes is going to sound like Einstein or Shakespeare on steroids. However, he (and many others in this industry) could do well to cast an eyeball or two over this little gem. Can't say I agree with everything in there. But there's a whole lot that I do. And it's very well written.

Of course, now that he's chasing some quality link data from bloggers, I think I can help. Get Lisa Barone and Andy Beal to link to you :-)

But seriously... remember, you need good descriptive anchor text around all of your links. And I can certainly help there with a keyphrase you should be number one at Google for get the drinks in Jaron, it's your round :-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SES London 2008

I'm proud, privileged and honored, to say the least, about being appointed as chair and host of next year's SES, London.

Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman have set the bar pretty high for what is the premier search marketing show in the UK. So it's up to me to keep the pace. And I'm certainly looking forward to adding new and interesting topics, speakers and panels.

Of course, if you have any ideas you'd like to pitch yourself, or comments on previous shows, then please feel free to post them here. Or if you prefer to go direct, you can get me here:

seslondon gmail.com

Thanks to Kevin Ryan and Rory Brown at Incisive for your support. I'm sincerely looking forward to working with you both, as well as Stew Quealy, Marilyn Crafts and the rest of the SES team.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The organic/paid switcheroo...

In my ClickZ column today, I've written about Universal search again. In particular, I showed a couple of examples of a video result for Dove. But more interestingly, a commercial result on the organic side of the page.

However, as I wrote the column when I was in Los Angeles last week, I noticed that the results in the UK are very different. Fortunately, I took a screenshot of the search for - bourne ultimatum - and as you can see, it's most certainly a commercial result on the left hand side of the page.

Yup, clearly marked "Google Promotion" and just a little scary. I've suggested in my column that, it may happen that for purely commercial queries, we may start to see commercial results on the left hand side of the page, with a little list of those blue organic links on the right hand side.

Crazy thought... or not?

Friday, July 20, 2007

"Welcome to the hotel California..."

Perhaps not the same hotel the Eagles sang about. But most certainly California. I have to say, I'm warming to my new second home very quickly. But I do miss my number one home and the wife, I believe, I have there. Well, she was there when I left, so I'm kind of hoping she'll still be there when I get back.

The first thing I did was meet up with up with one of my oldest and closest friends...

And not only that, I managed to meet and corrupt a brand new friend (he was well on the way to corruption at his own speed, I should add) who just happened to be taking the Bruce Clay SEO Training Course. Yes, Redboot's very own Simon Heseltine. Another Brit cultivating an American accent. But I could tell he was a Brit from the first minute. I think it was the way he said "hey up lad, hast thou got right time?"

Yep, very American in a Yorkshire, Lancashire, Virginia sort of way.

Simon... Get the beers in mate, it's your round!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Free tickets to see Bryan Adams for the friend to email me first...

Greetings from Los Angeles.

Yes, I'm back at HQ as you can tell by the Palm trees, and my wife, Tatiana, is travelling this week also (London/Moscow) so... We have great tickets (seated) for Bryan Adams at Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster.

It's next Friday night (20th) and neither of us will be able to go. Sooo!

The very first person to email me and claim the tickets, they're yours (they are top-end tickets). Dave and Becky are closest, I think. So drop me a note Mr and Mrs BlackHat if you'd like to go and see some old fashioned rock from a master.

But, it's an open game. Drop me a note with your address anyone so that I can get Tatiana to mail the tickets to you. First come - first served.

"It was the summer of 69..." I'm coming back to you..." Eighteen 'til I die..." "It's only love..." "Everything I do..." "Everywhere I go, the kids wanna rock..."


Monday, July 09, 2007

LSI, true or lie?

I've mentioned a number of times that, five years ago, in the second edition of my book I wrote about latent semantic indexing (LSI) and referred to some papers available at the time. Of course, Susan Dumais of Microsoft (just search for her) was the instigation of my research into the subject. However, the most important paper I read was by another well known researcher (now attached to Google) about LSI as applied to link anchor text.

Of course, if you take the whole notion of LSI and apply it on a document-by-document basis, it's going to take a lot of processing time. But if you apply it to a separate corpus made entirely from link anchor text and a connectivity server, then, perhaps, you reduce the overhead. I'll bow to Dr Edel Garcia to correct me here if wrong. But local ranking using link anchor text is something I believe all search engines rely on to reduce overhead anyway.

LSI has its place. PageRank has its place. On a page-by-page basis they would work. But neither has developed into a sub-zero second response, in my opinion. Does that mean search engines can't use them? Not at all. There are elements of every known discipline in science that you can adapt and apply in different ways. I believe the co-occurrence theories of Dr Edel Garcia are much more applicable in an heterogeneous corpus such as the web and link anchor text. Whereas, I believe that in an homogenous environment such as a digital library or CD ROM, for instance, LSI is an ideal method (response time not critical) of not missing relevant documents simply because they didn't have all of the query keywords included on the page.

Can you optimize in the SEO sense around LSI? Well, the first step is you'd need to know what it is. And I have no idea why SEOs who have no idea what it is resort to just adding it into their promotional blurb, or vanity posts and give the industry such a bad name at times.

If you know what it is and have a method of optimizing around it, step out now. Now is the time to prove you're not just doing the usual thesaurus lookup. And if you don't know what it is and you're just talking about it... Then shut up!

My ClickZ column invites anyone to take part in a little survey about what is, and what isn't LSI. What do you think?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Blood diamond... not...

Due to a slight problem with my flight booking... :-)

I think I'll stay in the UK.

Yes, I was looking forward to my first South Africa experience, but...

It means that, I'll have to sorely suffer some time at my local pub. Yes, spend the whole Sunday afternoon there. What? What?

Look, my wonderful BlackBerry Pearl takes great shots of people, er, drinking and reading the Sunday papers...

Er, clients, in particular Jaron, I do have a print out of the OpCo reports hidden inside the Sunday Times. Well, you never know who's looking, do you ;-)

I love my pub... almost as much as my wife... OK , OK, My wife's almost up there with my local pub, I mean ;-)

Here's my local - well, wouldn't you just love it?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Johannesburg, South Africa.

I'll be in Africa for my very first visit this coming week (July 8 -15). I'm there to support Bruce with some training he's giving there.

So, if anyone from South Africa (in particular, Johannesburg) happens across this blog and would like to meet for a chat and a beer...Drop me a quick note at: south_africa@uk2.net

Friday, July 06, 2007

Rod Stewart, Andrew Goodman and Jeff Eisenberg...

No they haven't formed a band together, but they're all superstars in their own right. Last week, on as rainy and windy a night as you'll ever get, along with 20,000 other rain soaked folk I went to see the legendary Rod Stewart.

He was playing at Newcastle's St James Park, football (as in soccer) stadium. Not only that, the show was opened by the great Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders. I'd almost forgotten how many hits Chrissie has written or covered.

Tatiana and I arrived a little early. Not because we were worried about our seat or standing in line. But because we went to Newcastle's China town in the afternoon and had a slap up Chinese banquet and a lot of Pouilly Fuisse to go with it. So we were both completely pissed when we arrived at the stadium and wanted to avoid the line at the bar :-)

I didn't have my usual little camera with me, as cameras are not allowed at these gigs. But I had my brand new BlackBerry Pearl. I took a couple of shots with it and I was very surprised that the quality wasn't so bad for a phone camera. I took this shot of T. Actually, I wasn't quite sure if it was her. I don't think I've ever seen her without shades on. Could possibly be somebody else's wife!

Anyway, The Pretenders were great. But it was Rod who lifted the roof off the place. No less than 29 chart hits back-to-back. All the classics finishing with his rendition of Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the night away." It was a sight I'll never forget... 20,000 Geordies all doing the twist in the rain!

Yep, that little dot on the runway is Rod. Still, like I say, not a bad shot for a phone camera.

Roll on Bryan Adams at Doncaster stadium next month!

I did a couple of very interesting panels at SES, Toronto. The usual links thing and a meet the crawlers session which I moderated. A lot of good information from everyone on the panel. But, as usual, it was Adam Lasnik from Google who was swamped with questions.

This was the first show that Andrew had chaired. And I have to say, he got a very good balance in considering it's a smaller show than some of the others. Andrew is a great friend of mine. We go back a while. In fact, a couple of summers back, Tatiana and I went to stay with Andrew in Canada at a lakeside place he and his wife Carolyn stay at for their summer vacation.

At that time, it was Tatiana's birthday. So I whisked her to Niagara Falls for the weekend first, as she'd never been there. And I have to say, she took this stunning picture of the falls.

So, this year, Andrew and Carolyn decided to come and do some hiking on the Scottish borders and some serious hiking up in the Scottish highlands. But, of course, they had to come to Newcastle for a few days first. And what a great time we had. The first thing was to pay a visit to... Yes, you guessed, my local pub!

Andrew is the first search marketer I know on the circuit who has graced the hallowed ground of my local (apart from me, or course). Much drinking of beer... much telling of funny stories...

I took a shot of Andrew and Carolyn outside the pub. But the flash didn't work so it's a horrible picture of them. However, the pub looks very nice... Got to get my priorities right :-)

Day one, we went on the castles and coast route. First stop being the gorgeous Bamburgh Castle and beach.

Both Andrew and Carolyn were stunned at just how beautiful the beach is at Bamburgh. Andrew looked like the perfect tourist as he poked around the castle grounds.

Then we moved on to the idyllic little island of Lindisfarne. Otherwise known as Holy Island. It's such a pretty place.

And yes, up on the ridge it has its own castle too.

And to make it a great day for castles (we have a lot of castles on the borders) we paid a quick visit to Hogwarts School, er Alnwick Castle, that is.

I visited Alnwick last year with T. We went to the gardens which have been specially designed by the Duchess of Northumberland. There really is a touch of Versailles here. As both Andrew and Carolyn noticed.

Thursday night we ate at the very posh McCoy's Restaurant atop the Baltic Tower on Newcastle's famous Quayside. There are some wonderful views of the river and the bridges from the viewing lounge.

Friday morning we headed off to the ancient Durham cathedral in Durham City. This really is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in Europe.

I got a great shot of Carolyn smiling and looking so happy to be at the Cathedral... while Andrew hadn't noticed at all the girl with the very large breasts who just walked by :-)

From their we moved back to the coast again, to one of my favourite places in our region, Tynemouth. It's a place which has one of the longest and most beautiful beaches you'll find anywhere in the UK. And not surprisingly, it's called, Long Beach.

And then, we rounded off the day with a visit to a real Victorian lighthouse. Immediately followed by a large curry at my favourite Indian restaurant on the Quayside.

Andrew and Carolyn arrived in Newcastle on the same day that I arrived back from SES, Latino in Miami.

Once again my friend Nacho Hernandez pulled together a great show. There were some great sessions and good feedback to go with them. But the best feedback that everyone heard was about the food. In particular the absolutely delicious Paella (which was photographed more than the speakers!).

I sneaked my usual pic of the audience from the link building session.

I had a chance to catch up with my great pal Jeff Eisenberg. He really is one of the best marketing minds on the planet. He and brother Bryan are so often light years ahead when it comes to online marketing.

And I managed to catch up with my link building buddy Debra Mastaler, who, as you can see was hanging with Li Evans from Search marketing Gurus.

And on the subject of search marketing gurus, I also managed grab a beer with search superstar Daron Babin.

I think we've been threatening to have a drink for a number of years now. So, the night before the shot above was taken, I got together in the hotel bar with him and we were joined by my buddy from down-under, Steve Riley. Steve and I enjoy the odd glass of wine together. I mentioned this to Daron when I met at the poolside bar. "make that four bottles of Merlot between the two of you..." he said.

Ahem! Perhaps we did overdo it just a little. In fact, judging from the photo that Li Evans took of Steve... it could have been more than just a little ;-)