Posts Tagged ‘google’

Time for a new online encyclopedia?

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Wikipedia is the fifth most visited web site in the world, and the most often cited example of crowdsourcing, but there is trouble in paradise. Created by Jimmy Donal Wales, and its army of users, some say that Wikipedia’s credibility issues are expanding along with it. Is it time for a new online encyclopedia?

Wikipedia has always had its critics, but the Britannica-lovers are getting more vocal of late. The problem is that Wikipedia’s volunteer editors are not increasing at the same rate as the articles, thus the quality of the content is under threat. Compounding this is the fact that the site is being very slow at introducing quality-control measures. Set up with a utopian vision, even a simple change such has having new user entries checked prior to publication is facing resistance because it is seen as being contrary to the wiki ethos.

The site may have reached a tipping point at which expansion reduces the quality of the product. This is a dangerous state of affairs, as once an encyclopedia has too many examples of errors it can rapidly lose the credibility on which it relies.

Right now there is also no clear way to measure who the good editors are, and it is not known how Wikipedia will attract the increase in editors that it needs. Furthermore, there is no way for a reader to assess the quality of an article when they land on the site. The site has crowd contribution, without using that crowd resource to make sure that the cream rises to the top. Should they Digg the site up a bit?

What interests me is that Wales thinks that Wikipeida’s dominance is safe because of its charitable status. He says of Google, “They don’t look at us and see a $1bn revenue opportunity they should be competing for.” I disagree: even though Google’s Knoll is only just over 100,000 articles I wouldn’t count them, or a new entrant, out of the game. Just because Wikipedia doesn’t monetize its eyeballs it does not mean a new company can’t. And if Wikipedia’s problems do expand, then expect a nimble competitor to come in and offer an alternative. One thing we can say for certain is that the top five sites is not going to be a static list over the next few years.

What do you think would make a Wikipedia killer? Have editors share in the AdSense revenue of the pages they edit?  Have an international network of universities create the encyclopedia in return for branding and revenue share?

Making $470m with a Bunch of Comments

Friday, December 18th, 2009

yelp-googleBack in 2004 Yelp started a web site that listed local businesses, and encouraged people to contribute ratings and comments. Take a look at Pandora’s Jewelry store for an example of a page that is content-rich thanks to the crowd contribution. I have a ratings plug-in on some of my web sites, but what you need to make these things work is the critical mass because people need to see comments before they make comments. Reaching this tipping point is the secret sauce that converts a simple idea into a valuable web property.

Yelp had the benefit of $31m in venture funding to invest in developing a great interface and generating traffic, and now TechCruch is reporting that they may cash in to Google for $500m.  It’s not a bad return for the founders, who are former PayPal execs.

In an earliet post I reported how Google has started suffocating organic search results by pushing them down below the fold. A big part of this is the interactive local maps with ads popping out of them. If the Yelp acquisition goes ahead we can expect more of this. If you are an internet marketer targeting the long tail, then it might be time to start thinking about investing in an authority domain, or raising $31m for that great idea you have.

Right now you can make a few thousand bucks a month from information and affiliate sites, but my sense is that this is going to get harder and harder. With people accusing Demand Media and its eHow site of polluting the internet, then mini sites of lower quality will get taken down with it if there is a clean up.

I welcome your comments below – it’s my $470m strategy.

Tyrannosaurus Murdoch Fossilizes Before Our Eyes

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Victim of Google Theft

The internet’s disruptive effect on print media is coming to a head, and the dinosaur Murdoch is going to fossilize before our very eyes. It’s the height of entertainment to watch him blame the theft of content for his empire’s demise, when in fact he is partly to blame for our current perilous situation: this is the man who has conditioned the masses to accept entertainment and information of the lowest form.

The cost of production of media is not just reduced by technology, but also the fact that people accept lower standards these days. Let’s face it, journalism of The Sun’s standard hardly needs professional journalists to write it (the paper is Britain’s biggest selling daily and a Murdoch rag). So while Murdoch pays Oxbridge graduates to write about Tiger Woods’ ‘piece of rough’ it is no surprise that the likes of Perez Hilton can undercut him blogging out of a coffee shop.

A sad reflection on our times is that the Miami Herald has five million online visitors a month and is going out of business. According to DN Journal, ‘the paper says the problem is that they can only charge online advertisers about a tenth  of what their print advertisers have been paying and that is not enough to cover their news gathering nut.’ If you are unable to monetize five million visitors a month then you either have some serious overhead, or don’t understand how to convert visitors into cash. I guess it’s a combination of both for the Miami Herald.

The Herald has started asking its readers for donations, which is perhaps a bit more progressive than Murdoch, but unfortunately I think that the real problem is that people are no longer willing to pay for quality journalism, and are prepared to settle for something less rigorous. Of course, this decline in standards is happening in tandem with the realization by most companies that the value of print advertising is minimal when compared to alternatives that involve customer engagement. But let’s set that aside, and concentrate on the fact that we no longer need quality.

TechCrunch predicts the end of hand crafted content, and companies like Demand Media are pumping out moderate prose that Google ranks highly. The only way that this sea of mediocrity can be slowed is if the search engines tweak their algorithms to give higher weightings to quality measures such as bounce rates. Given that Google is an advertising company, and the readers of Demand’s products have a decent CTR I shouldn’t expect too much from Big G. Perhaps they are getting tired of scanning all the books for their online library and are happy to see us reduced to a tweeting rabble.

Disclosure: I read The Sun for the football coverage :-)

Related posts that I have commented on:

Reciprocal Links are Dead

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

reciprocal-links-are-deadIf you are a purist, with a hat whiter than the pope’s, then you probably advocate growing your web site’s traffic organically by producing good content, and connecting with other sites related to yours that are also producing quality content. These connections can come via comments, or natural links that make sense in the context of the content produced. It’s a system that works well for non-commerical blogs, but what if you are trying to make a dollar and a cent out of the internet?

There are plenty of ways to drive traffic to a site, but the granddaddy of them all is gathering backlinks from sites related to yours, ideally using anchor text related to the keywords that you are targeting. Backlinks increase your search engine ranking, which brings in the best traffic – the organic kind that is searching for information. (Note: the anchor text must vary, otherwise Google will see what you are up to and penalize you for not taking the purist approach.)

This is not news. Everybody knows that backlinks are critical, and therein lies the problem. Once everyone knows that links are important, everyone starts trading reciprocal links with each other, and the only way to compete is trade more. That is where we are at today. Once your site is up you should probably be spending 80% of your time linkbuilding. And link building is boring.

My advice to those that are going to take on this mindless and boring task, is to request circular links, not reciprocal links. This is where you offer to link to Target Site from your Linkout Site, in return for Target Site linking to your Money Site. This way the Money Site gets a one-way high quality backlink, without Google discounting it because it is reciprocal. And yes Google does make that discount. The Target Site gets the same one-way benefit so everyone gets a better SERP boost.

In order for this to work you need to have a Linkout Site that is of comparable quality to your Money Site so that people see it as a fair trade. The best way to do this is create a really good article of at least 800 words, with photos and video and host it somewhere such as Squidoo. It will soon get a decent Page Rank, and should be attractive for an exchange, especially as its URL will have keywords that Target Site is happy to be linked from.

If you come across a Target Site that uses the same strategy then you will just have to settle for a Straddled Link where you both post links from Link Sites. It’s still better than a reciprocal. As far as I know straddled link is a new term, but it’s something that sophisticated MFA players have been up to for some time, often in private exchange clubs that are below the Google radar. It’s not really the positive mass collaboration of crowdsourcing, but it gets your site ranked.

The Monetization of Social

Monday, December 7th, 2009

social-media-monetizationA recent article on TechCrunch describes the current situation succinctly, “Social seems to be the future, and Facebook just may do to Google what Google is doing to Microsoft (ripping apart their core business), if they ever find the right way to monetize it. Social graph monetization may be the next huge wave of revenue growth on the Internet.”

Who knows where Twitter will come in all this? By opening its API it has made massive strides, but I can’t help feeling that it is letting many monetization opportunities pass by. Shouldn’t Twitter be trying to keep Sprouter, StockTwit users etc. on the main platform by giving them the tools they need?

And while we have ringside seats to the rise or fail of social media, Google is going to be busy shifting us to cloud computing. Meanwhile over in Seattle Microsoft has Bing and the X-Box!

Things can change quicky. I still remember when Yahoo! was my homepage and I used MySpace. Maybe in a few years I’ll be using Bing and subscribing to Microsoft online for my software. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how it all plays out, and what impact the monetization (or failure of monetization) of social media will have.

If I had to invest my entire net worth in these tech players today and rely on it for a pension in 30 years, I would go for a balanced portfolio of Google (50%), Microsoft (30%), Twitter (15%) and Facebook (5%). How about you?

Google Suffocates Organic Search Results

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Below is a frightening image if you are a business that relies on people finding you on the internet. Google is taking ownership of the area above the fold. You might be an SEO jedi, you might have built 1,000 backlinks, but you are not going to break down the mighty wall that Google is building to generate advertising revenue.


The image is from Aaron Wall’s post, “Excuse Me, But Where Did Google’s Organic Search Results Go?” He discusses some defense strategies.

Twitter Search Slays Google

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

The power of Twitter search isn’t news anymore, but what will be big news over the next few years is its role in the battle of the search engines. Although Google has now signed up to integrate Twitter into its search results I wonder just how long it can tame Twitter. Google acquired its almighty power by taking control of search – is it possible that Twitter could acquire a similar status?

When I want to check the latest news on crowdsourcing my first port of call is a Twitter search:

I subscribe to a Google News blog feed too, but I tend to find more interesting information, more quickly via a Twitter search.


After comparing the two, what do you think?