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Notify.me – News Alert Service

News Alert Service If you are a blogger, you have probably noticed that when a news breaks, the person who is the first one to write about it gets all the credit, regardless of what others have to say. Because if you are the first one to write about that particular thing, you will automatically get an advantage over the search engine & also the social media. A lot of people will link to you and vote your content up in the social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon& Reddit. If you are lucky you might even get picked up by media or popular news aggregator like Techmeme.

So how can you stay on top of all the news that’s going around the web? One of the easiest ways is to Sign up with Google Alerts – which is a wonderful free service provided by google that can notify you whenever a certain news story breaks on the web. Currently the notification is provided via Email & RSS. Its a very simple service, where you just need to specify the keywords that you would like to monitor. So whenever any news (that contains that keywords) hits the web, you get an instant email or maybe a daily/weekly digest – depending on the option you choose.

notifyme-google-talk-notificationTechcrunch recently featured another cool web service – Notify.me which is basically a News Alert service as well. But the only difference is, instead of specifying your keywords, you can directly specify which news site that you would like to monitor. So if you are a hardcore fan of Gadgets, you may want to monitor – Engadget & Gizmodo which basically features brand new gadgets everyday. So whenever either of the site updates their site with a new review or news, instantly Notify.me can give you a buzz in your IM or mobile device with the Title of the story & its URL.

I have personally found their service brilliant as I really need to monitor 20-30 websites constantly. The problem with RSS is that its not exactly ‘instant’ because I don’t keep my reader open at all time. Moreover I’m following over a thousand feeds in my RSS reader, so rss has just too much noise for me.

Notify.me has made it really easy for me to constantly follow the sites that are important to me and my work. Whenever those sites are updated i get a instant message in my Google Talk and I can immediately check it out and take an action if I want to.

I’m yet to try their SMS notifications, But I can assume that it works fine. So if you are looking for a service that can help you monitor your favorite news sites – try notify.me today!

Google Analytics Help Forum – Get All The Help You Need

Google Analytics ForumGood news for all webmasters! The Official Google Analytics blog recently announced that they have opened up a dedicated Google Analytics forum within their exsiting Google Help which will basically allows webmasters like you, to ask questions about Google Analytics and have them answered by both Google employees and other expert Google Analytics users within the community. Its very easy to identify answers from Google Employees, top contributors, seasoned posters, or even new posters. The “Best Answers” are voted by the community and is given the maximum visibility. This helps the correct/best answers to stick on the front so that everyone can get and share the valuable information. When you search for a particular you, the forum also shows a list of “Related Questions” for your convenience.

The old Google Analytics Help Group will still be accessible for information searches, but is closed for new posts.

So what do you think of this new forum? I personally think that its a very good initiative by the Analytics Team. But I guess more participation from the users is necessary to make it a success. Currently its still very empty and as you can see in the screen shoot below a lot of questions are going unanswered without any replies.


Microsoft Advertising Podcast – Matt Van Wagner on PPC Advertising

Microsoft Adcenter Community has just released their Thanksgiving edition of Microsoft Advertising Insights – the official podcast of Microsoft Advertising.

Microsoft Advertising Insights is basically a new show for Online advertisers (The first episode was released on 7th November), where the host Jason Yormark along with some other people from the Microsoft Advertising community team cover all things related to digital advertising, primarily focusing on search marketing. He talks about the current state of the industry, what’s happening behind the scenes with Microsoft Advertising (adCenter in particular), and delivers some useful information that can help you with your search campaigns.

In the latest Thanksgiving edition of Microsoft Advertising Insights, Jason got hold of Matt Van Wagner, President of Findmefaster.com at SMX East. Matt shares a very interesting story of a new advertiser in PPC and how that advertiser was able to grow her small business, discover a new market & ideas by simply being visible in the Search Engine.

Its just a 10 mins+ podcast but has some really useful information for the new advertisers who are thinking of trying out PPC in this holiday season.

In the podcast, Matt also shares some bonus tips for managing small PPC campaigns & also refers to a very interesting Keyword research tool called – Microsoft adCenter Add-in Beta for Excel 2007.

This tool has been there for quite a while and it is very easy to use and can really contribute to your keyword research effort. Its a 100% free tool from Microsoft Advertising and as long as you have Microsoft Excel present in your system, you should be able to run it without any problem.

So Listen to this week’s Microsoft Advertising Podcast, if you are interested to learn more about how following some simple steps has helped a small business to grow its customer base & also expand its target market.

Direct download: http://www.adcentercommunity.com/podcasts/11_25_08.mp3

Or Just head over to Microsoft Advertising: Insights for details.

Microsoft Wants to Rebrand Live Search

Microsoft Planning to Rebrand Live Search to Kumo?This came to me as a shock, as I hear some rumors on the blogosphere that Microsoft is planning to re-brand their search engine to Kumo.

The first thing I asked myself – What does Kumo mean? After a bit of searching I found that Kumo means either “cloud” or “spider” in Japanese. Seems like ZDnet did a pool in early august asking their readers how Microsoft can re-brand their Live Search? And in the polling option the author of the article added “Kumo” as an option and thats how this word came into the picture. Lets see how the pool results were:

OK it looks like 48% of the voters said that they should leave the name Live Search as is. But that didn’t stop Microsoft from acquiring the domain name Kumo.com. (Check out the Domain Whois Information of Kumo.com) –

LiveSide.com has stated that there are some evidence that strongly indicates that the new search brand for Microsoft Live Search will be Kumo.

Can Changing 4 Letters SAVE Microsoft?

I’m not an expert in branding so obviously I can’t make any ‘expert’ comment on whether KUMO is better than Live. But personally I’d say that its a horrible name if they go forward with it. Andy Beal points out that, Kumo has too many different spelling errors just waiting to happen– koomo, cumo, Komo etc.

Moreover why would they want to adapt a Japanese name where their biggest target market should be USA & Europe? If they want to make a specialized search engine to compete with the Japanese ones, then I guess its acceptable to have a localized name for the engine. So for instance typing in Kumo.com can simply bring the visitors to Live Search Japan.

I think the question is whether ‘re-branding’ Live is just enough for Microsoft? Because I certainly don’t think so. If Google changes its name to “CrazyFrog” I’d still go there because I find their search engine useful for my work and research.

Barry pointed out in Search Engine Roundtable that Microsoft can’t even index a site properly. And Its actually true! If you take 5 minutes of your time and actually compare the result of Live.com & Google.com it will be absolutely clear to you that Live is still not ready to rock the search industry. They are just far away from anything but useful. So re-branding the search engine can’t save them or make them popular over night.

After the news got out, Josh Garner made a funny comment in Marketing Pilgrim blog and It really made me laugh. So I’d like to share it with all of you.

He Writes:

I can see the board room conversation:

Exec 1:”OK guys, we need to do something to gain ad traction.”
Exce 2:”The guys in R&D have some great ideas on modifying our search technology, or perhaps some ways to really connect with people. You know, to rid ourselves of that perception that we are just a bunch of suites looking to make money.”

Exec 1:”Hmm…that sounds expensive. Anyone else?”
Exce 3:”We could change our name to something cool or hip.”

Exec 1:”What do you got?”
Exce 3:”How about Kumo?”

Exec 1: “I like it. Move forward.”

Exec 2: “Sigh…”

Google SearchWiki with Sound Effects

My recent article about how to remove SearchWiki has created some Buzz, so much buzz that it went to the front page of digg. But there were mixed feelings – as many readers commented in the digg article and also in my blog that they “like SearchWiki”. Well I can’t blame them.

To some people SearchWiki seems like a wonderful service (everyone likes the idea that they can play around with the result page…), but there are many (including me) who still feels that SearchWiki is something that should be optional!

But what the heck, if you like SearchWiki I have something cool for you — Google SearchWiki with Sound Effects!

Google SearchWiki with Sound Effects

Google just added a new opt-in experiment for search results: SearchWiki with sound. By now I am sure you already know that you can click the “x” next to a specific result (to delete it), resulting in an animation of an explosion as part of the current SearchWiki feature.

But if you join the experiment of SearchWiki with Sound Effects, you’ll additionally hear a sound during that explosion (recorded by Google co-founder “Sergey Brin himself”, as Google says). Screen shot provided below:


Let Me Google That For You

There is a cool service called LetMeGoogleThatForYou.com that lets you enter any search query and the system automatically creates sort of a interactive screencast of how to perform that search in Google and also redirects the page to the result page of Google.T

Once the screen cast is made (takes only few seconds), It will give you a link that you can grab share with others.

So next time someone asks a really dumb question, instead of saying “google it” you can perhaps act cool and demonstrate the google search for that particular query as well!

So for example, lets say someone is looking for Barack Obama’s Twitter account. You can just give him the following link: http://letmegooglethatforyou.com/?q=Barack+Obama+Twitter

How To Turn off Google SearchWiki

Google SearchWiki is new feature built inside Google’s Search that lets you customize the search results by moving a site up or down or even adding new pages etc. This feature has created a lot of buzz on the internet as many people has expressed their dissatisfaction for making this feature a default inside Google’s Search. There are many other on-going discussion in twitter about #SearchWiki.

Google doesn’t offer anyway to turn off SearchWiki. So if you are logged in to your Google Account, SearchWiki will be enabled for you by default. Of course you can turn off SearchWiki by logging out from your account, but thats very inconvenient, right? So the biggest concern regarding SearchWiki is, How the heck do I turn this damn thing off? Google Operating System has came to the rescue with a solution to this problem.

How to Turn Off Google SearchWiki

To prevent Google SearchWiki from showing up when you use Google, you can use a Firefox Plugin called Greasemonkey. After you install the extension, Restart your Firefox and then add the No SearchWiki script. This will stop SearchWiki from showing up even while you are logged in and Google’s search results will look clean again!


Google Operating System blog confirmed that this script also works in Opera, which has built-in support for userscripts. In Opera: Just go to Tools>Preferences>Advanced>Content>JavaScript Options, choose a folder in the “User JavaScript files” box and then save the script in that folder.

Update 1: A user in comment have me a heads up about another possible way of turning off Google SearchWiki. The method is pretty simple – If you are currently using iGoogle (The Google’s Start Page), your URL will be something like this – http://www.google.com/ig?hl=en so if you add a small parameter in the end and make it http://www.google.com/ig?hl=en&hl=all it kind of removes SearchWiki from all subsequent searches.

Update 2: Franz Enzenhofer of facesaerch.com has created another cool script that runs on Greasemonkey that basically gives you an option to turn on/off Google SearchWiki. Screen shoots provided below (via facesaerch blog):

Disable SearchWiki Alternate Way

After looking at the screen shots, I personally find this option better as it will allow me to Turn it On/Off rather than turning it off completely. For Detailed Instructions of installation, Head over to this page – http://www.facesaerch.com/blog/disable-google-search-wiki/

Danny Sullivan has came up with a wonderful Illustrated guide for SearchWiki, so if you are interested to know how it works and how it can benefit you, check out his SearchWiki Guide.

Update 3: Ok I figured that many of you like SearchWiki and find it a useful service and I respect your personal choice & opinion. If you find the service useful, by all means you should use it :) But some people have found it annoying as it tends to clutter up the results page which is why a “how-to” has been made for its removal. But anyway for those who loves SearchWiki, here is something cool for you:

SearchWiki With Sound Effects

Do you know that you can have Sound effects for every action you perform in SearchWiki? The sound is recorded by the Google co-founder Sergey Brin himself, this sound effect is sure to please!

Learn How to Enable SearchWiki Sound Effects

Yahoo Glue – All in One Page

yahoo-glue-launched-worldwideWhen you search for a very popular term in google, you will notice that a variety of different kinds of results show up including videos, news articles, blog posts, pictures, regular search results etc. Google called this feature Universal Search.

Yahoo also has a similar service that they opened to a limited number of countries called – Yahoo Glue. Amit Agarwal recently reported that Yahoo has opened up this service to all countries.

So basically if you search for a renowned person that is likely to generate a lot of different kind of results (e.g. news, photos, videos etc.) you will be able to see it’s effectiveness clearly. Amit shares the following screen shot which appears if you search for Barack Obama in Yahoo Glue.


Read more about Yahoo Glue in Yahoo! Cool Things of the day blog.

Top Internet Marketing Blogs – WinningTheWeb

Are you new to this Internet Marketing industry and looking for blog & resources to read? Gyutae Park, a successful Internet entrepreneur and SEO from Winning The Web has recently came up with an incredible dynamic list of Top Internet Marketing Blogs.

What is cool about this list it, it dynamically updates the ranking of the blogs that are inside the list by taking into several ranking metrics into consideration. Some of them are: No. of RSS Subscribers, Alexa Ranking, Yahoo Backlinks, Google PageRank along with some cool social metrics like No of StumbleUpon Reviews, Delicious Bookmarks, Technorati Ranking, social votes etc.

Things I like most about WinningTheWeb Internet Marketing Top Blogs List:

  • This list it completely dynamic. You can play around with it, for instance sort it in any order you want or view the list based on categories
  • Since the Ranking of the blogs keeps on changing constantly, its a good place for the people to keep track of the top players in the industry and also the new players with promising performance.
  • When a blog’s ranking changes in that particular list, it lists the variation in a column which is pretty cool
  • You can directly dip into the content of the blogs via RSS directly from the list
  • They give away cool badges like the the one below to show of your current ranking to your readers

How Can This List Be Improved in Future?

  • I’d want to see more ranking metrics to be included so that the ranking can become more unbiased and un-gameable.
  • Date of Last Update should be a compulsory metric to look at when ranking these blogs. Because readers want to read fresh content and not a blog that hasn’t been updated for months!
  • Looking for “high authority links” might also be a good idea. (e.g. how many .edu, .gov, .mil etc. links does a site have). Maybe a custom list of authority websites can be created and links from those domains can be valued higher.
  • Allow users to subscribe to the RSS of the blogs directly from the list. Currently they don’t have this feature present.

So hopefully WinningTheWeb will continue to come up with more tools and goodies for this industry and I thank Gyutae for making this wonderful resource for the community.

Hopefully he will take periodic feedback from all the bloggers and make the necessary changes/fixes/updates that needs to be done.

So don’t waste any time – head over to list of WinningTheWeb Top Internet Marketing Blogs.

If you wish to Increase your traffic on your website, you may want to hire a professional internet marketing company which can help you to build your site’s traffic and also increase your overall site’s visibility. MatrixMT is a reputable firm which provides many search marketing services at affordable cost. You can call them at 858.346.1430 ext. 11 to get a custom proposal for your business.

Google Featured in Hollywood & You Can Make Money With It!

Well its probably not new when an Actor in a Hollywood movie is probably is some sort of ‘identity crisis’, wants to find out more information about some weird ‘virus’ or looking up information about a serial killer — and they all turn to Google.com and always seems to find the answer in matter of minutes. The brand “Google” was mentioned a number of times in Hollywood movies and we have seen movie stars using it too but this is probably the first time I’m seeing a Hollywood movie promoting Google’s Search Engine in their commercial trailer – 2012.

2012 is a movie directed by Roland Emmerich. The movie has some famous casts like John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Woody Harrelson. Basically the storyline is – The world is devastated by some sort of cataclysm in the year 2012, and there are some survivors who has to struggle for their lives…

Right after the short teaser trailer ends, this is what they show:

Movie 2012 - Search Google 2012

Notice the last two lines – “Find out the Truth….Google Search: 2012”! So Basically instead of giving any Web URL, they are actually encouraging users to search for 2012 in Google. Pretty Innovative isn’t it? So naturally I went to Google and searched for 2012 and surprisingly I couldn’t find their official site of the movie 2012 in the Top 50 (I didn’t bother looking after that). So unless they can put themselves in the position 1 (using ppc) or 2 (Organic) as shown in the screen shot below, their website won’t get the publicity that they probably hoped for!


Bonus Tip: How to take advantage of this to get Massive traffic

I don’t want to be an evil person nor I have any problem with Sony pictures but I must say that its really very stupid of them to publicize something before even thinking about its implementation! I know that the movie is due next year and some might say that they have still plenty of time to do SEO, Linkbuilding, PPC and other things to get on the #1 position. But a number of their trailers are up and running in youtube for over 8 months with a combined view of 500,000+! So if even 20% of those viewers actually goes and search for 2012 in google thats like 100,000 people!

According to Google Keywords Tool, the word “2012” (with exact match) receives about 201,000 searches and for Octobar it received 301,000 searches.

Google Trends also shows a promising amount of searches –

Google Trends - Movie 2012

Ok Fine! There are Lots of Searches…So What?

Well, do you want to get all these traffic to come to your website? Of course you do! Well guess what, at the time i’m writing this the PPC bid price for the keyword 2012 (in exact match) is only $0.09-0.13 cents for Position 1! That is insanely low because not many people are targeting any ads to that particular keyword! And due to the fact that it has been mentioned in the movie trailer (and is likely to be mentioned ever more in future)….a lot of people are actually searching for the phrase “2012”. In fact that is not all, there are some other hype going with the year 2012 which is making many people to search for it naturally as well.

So if you invest some money in PPC and only target that particular keyword alone (with exact match) and also write a very good ad copy..I can guarantee that you will get a lot of traffic and a good CTR (since people are really curious to find out about 2012..so if you mention certain keywords in your ad that the visitor can relate to in the movie (Hint: A phrase from the trailer..), they are likely to click on your ad.

Now what can you do with this traffic?

I guess thats something that you need to figure out. There is a lot of ways you can monetize that kind of traffic – for instance, signup with an account with Cafepress and design some cool 2012 t-shirts and sell them via that landing page. Make unofficial wallpapers, skins, themes of the movie 2012 (watermark your domain name) and give them away for free via your landing page. Or do whatever you want as long as it is legit!

What If I don’t want to do anything with 2012, but I just want the traffic?

That is certainly an option, but you really need to figure out whether the traffic that will come via this medium is going to convert for your site. I know I haven’t covered PPC in my blog yet (which i intend to), but in brief conversion means – if you are spending $0.09 cent to get a visitor and out of every 100 visitor you get (costing you $9), 10 people converts (signs up for an offer, buys a product, or does something that has a monetary value) and makes you $20 then its giving you a ROI of $11 (per 100 visitors). So its like for every $9 you spend in PPC you are getting about $20 in return. So I advise you to test your campaign and see whether this is worth the time, effort & money.

Once the word gets out, a lot of people might start doing what I just suggested and thats when the bid price will start to rise and eventually it won’t be so cheap anymore…So I guess this post was just for fun after all, if you have never don’t PPC in your life this is your chance to test it out (Right now!). Your advantage is, you will have the privilege to test it out with a lot of traffic and have to pay less for clicks.

Any other cool (‘evil’) ideas running in your mind? Share them in comments.

Google SearchWiki – Personalize Your Search Results

Google SearchWikiHave you ever wished to play around with the search results? Like move it up or down, include things that are not there or remove sites that you find “BS”? Well now you can by using Google’s brand new service – Google SearchWiki.

The official Google blog just introduced this brand new service – Google SearchWiki which is a way for you you to customize the search results by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on the results directly. With just a click of the mouse you can move the results up/down or you can even add a new site that doesn’t appear in your results. You can now attach small notes to a particular site and also completely remove a site from the results page that you feel don’t belong there. Your modifications will be recorded under your Google Account and will be shown to you every time you do the same search in the future. As you can imagine, SearchWiki is only available to the Google users (while they are signed in).

Google SearchWiki

The changes that you make via SearchWiki will only affect your own searches and not the whole world. So when you make a certain change, its only you who sees that change. But Google says that SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the “See all notes for this SearchWiki” link.

Watch the following video where Google’s lead engineer of SearchWiki, Amay demonstrates a few ways to use SearchWiki:

My Two Cents

I think this is a good example of how search is becoming very dynamic, social and more personalized. Does this mean that SEO is no longer useful? Well certainly not! In fact SEO is no longer just the on-page and link factors. If you really want to optimize your website for the search engines there are certain bit of ‘social’ elements that you need to pay attention to as well. SearchWiki is certainly a good feature for people who wants to do research on a niche topic – say, once you have gone through a particular site in the SERP you can probably put a little note there or if you come across any spam or irrelevant page you can just remove it from the results page thus it will save you some time when you perform the same search a month later.

However I must warn you that, if you Opt-in to this feature, there is currently no way to Opt-out! (As far as I know). So I’d prefer to stick to the sweet old google for now.

Bloggers Best Practices Guide by Google

After launching the Official Google SEO Guide, many webmasters has really appreciated Google’s effort in trying to help out web community. The blogosphere demanded that Google should often come up with more such guides so that at least the ‘best practices’ of the subject matter is clear to the public.

And now It looks like Google has came up with another Guide for Bloggers, unfortunately its not a PDF this time but instead its a new document inside the Google Webmaster Help archive. So in this small guide, the Google Webmaster Central team has offered some basic but useful tips on how bloggers can improve their blogs. They have divided the document in 3 parts – Creating great content, Making the content Crawler & user friendly & lastly use of Google Webmaster tools for your blog.

I have created a small summary of what the guide talks about. So here goes:

Creating Great Content

  • Write Good content & Write as Frequently as possible — As you may already know, Content is King but do you know that writing more ‘frequently’ can encourage your readers to come back to your site more often? But obviously you need to take into account that the subject of your writing should be the same as what your readers expect from your blog. A very good quality post once a week is better than many low-quality content published daily.Tip: — Perform a search in Google for a subject of interest on your niche. If you can’t find a good answer, simply create a blog post about that particular subject – chances are that other people are also searching for the same thing.
  • Always follow the Webmasters Guideline and try do things naturally. Try not to get involved in shady practices like this.
  • Organize your content to make your Blog more User-friendly! Use categories, tags & labels appropriately so that your content are easy to find.
  • Host your blog in your own domain and link it from your Home page so that the users & search crawlers can easily find your content
  • Always create original content & content that are primarily for users and not the search engines. If you are promoting a affiliate product, DON’T use the content that they provide which has probably been used in tons of other places and are just duplicates. Always write unique & original content that you feel will be useful for the reader (e.g. Product reviews, How-tos etc.)
  • Stop Comment Spam – Comments are Good but SPAMs are not. Read more about how to stop comment spam.

Making your Blog Crawler & User Friendly

  • Always use Descriptive Titles for each your posts – Think of words that people may use to search for that particular post and include them in your title. Write Unique Titles so that it doesn’t get mixed up with another post of yours in your blog.
  • Engage in your community, participate in discussion and interact with the readers who leaves a comment in your blog
  • Publish a FULL feed of your content rather than a partial Feed. Full feeds can make users happy because they can view your content with a lot less effort. Even though it might result in a short-term decline in visits to your actual blog, but it has long-term benefits for you

Webmaster Tools For Your Blog

Thats all! Pretty basic isn’t it? If you were expecting more “advanced” stuffs I invite you to read some of the following:

Bloggers Guide to SEO by Aaron Wall & Giovanna Wall – SEOBook.com

WordPress SEO – Definitive Guide To High Rankings For Your Blog by Joost de Valk – Yoost.com

Search Engine Optimization for Blogs by Darren Rowse – Problogger.net

Whitehat SEO tips for bloggers by Matt Cutts – Mattcutts.com/blog/

21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic by Rank Fishkin – SEOmoz.org

Tips for Optimizing Blogs and Feeds by Ross Dunn – SearchEngineGuide.com

Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization Guide by Lorelle – Lorelle.Wordpress.com

SEO For WordPress – The Complete Guide by Jim Westergren – JimWestergren.com

Did I miss any great resources? Please Include it in comments or notify me via twitter (@saadkamal).

Update: I forgot to add my very own post that I wrote particularly for Bloggers titled: How to Rank Your Blog High in Search Engines. Check it out and I’m sure you will be able to take some useful pieces from it.

InLinks: MediaWhiz Selling Links for SEO

InLinks- Selling Links for Search Engine Optimization Benefits Techcrunch just picked upon MediaWhiz for launching their new product InLinks that is a straightforward Link-buying system for SEO benefits.

How Does InLinks Works?

With InLinks advertisers can buy links to those sites are then added to publishers sites whenever certain keywords pop up in content. These aren’t pop-up ad links like Kontera and others – InLinks offers full blown links without any notation (like a nofollow) that tare primarily meant for giving out link juice for SEO benefits.

What Does Matt Cutts Thinks about InLinks

Techcrunch shared the following email from Matt Cutts (Head of Google Webspam Team):

Google has been very clear that selling such links that pass PageRank is a violation of our quality guidelines. Other search engines have said similar things. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also given unambiguous guidance on this subject in the recent PDF at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2008/03/P064101tech.pdf where they said “Consumers who endorse and recommend products on their blogs or other sites for consideration should do so within the boundaries set forth in the FTC Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising and the FTC’s guidance on word of mouth marketing,” as well as “To date, in response to this concern, the FTC has advised that search engines need to disclose clearly and conspicuously if the ranking or other presentation of search results is a function of paid placement, and, similarly, that consumers who are paid to engage in word-of-mouth marketing must disclose that fact to recipients of their messages.” Oh, but you say your blog isn’t in the U.S.? Maybe it’s in the UK? Then you’ll be interested in http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2008/uksi_20081277_en_5#pt11 which covers unfair trade practices and specifically mentions “Using editorial content in the media to promote a product where a trader has paid for the promotion without making that clear in the content or by images or sounds clearly identifiable by the consumer (advertorial).” But you’re not in the UK? I believe many of the unfair commercial practices directives apply through Europe, e.g. http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/index_en.htm to prohibit misleading or aggressive marketing. The reality is that accepting money to link to/promote/market for a product without disclosing that fact is a very high-risk behavior, in my opinion.

What Others Bloggers are saying about InLinks:

InLinks.com – TLA Launches In Links, an Inline Link Buying Program : Aaron Wall – SEObook.com

Normally, It’s a Good Thing to Get Featured on Techcrunch : Rand Fishkin – SEOmoz.org

InLinks – These New Text-Link-Ads May Be Tough to Detect : Amit Agarwal – Labanol.org

Text-Link-Ads Debuts Inlinks.com — Hopes To Fly Under Googles Radar : Deep Jive Interests

My Two Cents

I won’t go into any debate of whether ‘paid links’ are good or bad. I think i have written enough of it already here. But I’d just say that both publishers & advertisers needs to be careful when signing up for these kind of programs due to the fact that they are ‘extremely’ dangerous when they get this kind of publicity and goes inside the radar…

Official Gmail Theme Launches

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch just reported that some lucky users were able to see a new button under their Gmail Settings Tab – Themes!

Yes thats right! It looks like Gmail Team is finally coming up with their own set of themes that Gmail users will be able to click-n-change! I guess most of the Gmail users will find this new addition very useful as users were kind of sick and tired of seeing the same ‘plain-boring-simple’ interface over and over again. My Gmail window is open almost 24/7 (as long as my laptop is turned on…), so you imagine how excited I am to hear about this cool new feature of Gmail!

Right now, I still don’t see the feature under my account. But I believe Google is rolling out this feature slowly to all of its users.

Update: Ok the news becomes official as Gmail Engineer, Annie Chen breaks the news today in the Gmail Blog that over 30 odd themes has been launched today for Gmail. I have looked through their theme database and I must say that their collection is substantia. There’s a shiny theme with chrome styling, another one that turns your inbox into a retro notepad, nature themes that change scenery over time, weather driven themes that can even rain on your inbox, and fun characters to keep you always in good company.

How to Activate Gmail Theme

In order to activate these cool Gmail Themes and fully customize your Gmail Inbox, Log on to your Gmail account and then go to the Themes tab under Settings. Google be rolling out these themes to everyone over the next couple of days, so if you don’t see them yet, check back soon!!

Google Search-Based Keyword Tool for PPC

The Official Adwords blog just announced that they have released another tool called Search-based Keyword Tool (beta). With the help of this brand new tool an Advertiser can now make a better sense of what his potential customers are searching for and which keywords he should advertise on.

How Does Google Search-Based Keyword Tool Works

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land has already done a more detailed review of Google Search-Based Keyword Tool.

What it does is, basically it looks at your pages and finds out keyword that people are searching for in the Google Search engine but you are not targeting them in your Adwords Campaign. Baris Gultekin who is the Business Product Manager of Google Search-Based Keyword Tool told SEL that the value in this unique tool is that it gives advertisers a look at keywords that they are currently not targeting, that might bring in a positive ROI to the campaign. For example, a site that sells watches can use this tool to find a popular model or brand that they are currently not advertising for but has a lot of positive amount of searches in the search engine.

Trevor Claiborne at Inside AdWords Blog explains:

….you know that the Google search engine starts with searches conducted by users and helps them find relevant pages. But for keyword targeting, what you want is a tool that goes in the opposite direction by starting with your pages and identifying keywords that potential customers are searching on to find your products or services. The Search-based Keyword Tool does exactly this, leveraging search query data relevant to your website’s content. In other words, this new tool gives you keywords that are highly relevant to your site but are not part of your AdWords campaigns. This helps you take advantage of missed opportunities.

The Search-based Keyword Tool is currently available to advertisers of only US and UK. Google will be expanding to additional languages and more countries in the near future. You are welcome to try this tool out at http://www.google.com/sktool, and give the Adwords team your useful feedback.

My Two Cents

This is an excellent addition to the Google Adwords Tool family. I think this tool can also be used for competitive analysis. So if you have a strong competitor on your niche who spends a lot of money in adwords and sort of kills the whole market, you can easily run this tool on that domain and find out which keywords are they missing out and thus you can bid on those (at a low bid cost) and get all the traffic.