New Developments in Search, Analytics and Social Media

How far we’ve come in Search over the last 6 or 7 years – there was a time where using certain url parameters (back in 2002-2004) got your site in the Google doghouse because Google’s crawlers would think, then, each url was part of a session, and since crawlers don’t login to sites, it would ignore those urls.

Today, people don’t have to worry as much about that happening, as Google just announced an enhancement to Google Webmaster Tools that Google Lets You Tell Them Which URL Parameters To Ignore according to Search Engine Journal:

A new feature has appeared in the Site Configuration Settings Sections of Google Webmaster Tools. The setting, called Parameter Handling, enables site owners to specify up to 15 parameters that Google should ignore when crawling and indexing the site.

Google lists the parameters they’ve found in the URLs on your site, and indicates whether or not they think they those parameters are extraneous (with a suggested “Ignore” or “Don’t ignore”. You can confirm or reject those suggestions and can add parameters that aren’t listed.

Google Webmaster Tools Parameter Handling

So what does this mean for site owners?

The primary value of the feature is to improve the canonicalization of a site in Google’s index due to duplicate content. Canonicalization issues occur when multiple URLs load the same content. This scenario can be problematic for a number of reasons (for instance, it can skew analytics data) but from a search perspective, canonicalization issues can cause:

In a way, duplicate content, is often created by the same pages that are tagged for different purposes.  For example:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/business/18regulate.html?hp

and

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/business/18regulate.html?ref=business

are the same url, the hp parameter refers to traffic that discovers this page on the homepage while the latter link indicates the page was opened from the business section – the search engines might pick up both urls, as separate pages – but they’re really not – so Google’s new utility, in this case, would allow the site owner (NY Times, in this case) to tell Google to ignore “hp” and “ref” parameters which eliminates the duplication.

Another thought was about Adobe purchasing Omniture yesterday for 1.8 Billion Dollars – according to Read/WriteWeb:

“…Th he acquisition has puzzled many, since Adobe and Omniture products really have no natural cooperation. There have been comments about the measurement capabilities that Omniture will give to content built with Adobe products. But in the end the entire deal revolves around two words: recurring revenue. Adobe’s quarterly earnings have fallen due to declining sales of software licenses, and the SaaS model of Omniture will bring the company a recurring stream of revenue.

Omniture is a top dog in analytics. But even though it competes with just about everyone, including Google, in the measurement market, some industry analysts have pointed out that it’s really run out of new ideas. In trying to explain the acquisition during an earnings call, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen asserted that buying Omniture was meeting customer needs.”

A number of people, including Eric T. Peterson, thinks making Flash trackable is not that big a deal-not enough of an excuse for this merger -

“…Similarly, I don’t see this acquisition as creating anything new regarding measurement being embedded into rich media applications. Thanks, perhaps ironically, to Macromedia (owned by Adobe) we have been embedding tracking codes into Flash, Flex, Silverlight, AJAX, etc. for years … and while the integration is botched as often as not, I don’t see how adding a “Click here to Omniture-ize” button into Dreamweaver and Adobe’s RIA development suite will solve that problem.”

Actually, that’s one way I can see a lot of money coming out of this deal – Adobe-Omniture could create that button – and develop Omniture Site Catalyst as the premier solution to gather information on Flash, etc – and then create a toolkit for everyone else (all the other analytics vendors) but charge then for access and use – that could create a lot of revenue.

Let’s face it – if it were that easy track Flash with a “button” – most analytics platforms would have had it already, but it’s not.   Maybe Adobe didn’t make it easy to develop solutions – now it will, but, maybe, you’ll have to pay to get access – and …. who in their right mind, would not pay?   After all, these days half of the pages on many sites are running Flash – or some similar type of Rich Media – that isn’t easy to track – and easily botched up in tracking, when it’s attempted – … why not just “charge” people to turn Flash Tracking on ……. End of Story -  who, in their right might would refuse?  All the headaches this will solve, or attempt to solve.

So, from that perspective, the Adobe acquisition of Omniture makes sense – even if it has something very disquieting about it – the nature of Web Analytics is changing – and vendors are rapidly vanishing, being bought up, one by one – what’s next for Coremetrics and WebTrends?      Hey, maybe Sears will buy WebTrends and maybe Coremetrics will be bought by IBM – just a guess – might be totally off (since Coremetrics bought IBM Surfaid a few years back – in a way, things would have come back full circle).

With the analytics vendors being “absorbed” into other businesses (for example, Omniture bought by Adobe – Document preparation, Flash players, etc – essentially – presentation software) – what’s next?

Also, on the Social Media front, I noted that Jive Software and Radian6 entered into a partnership, announced this week, to power part of Jive, with Radian6′s listening platform.   I never worked with Jive -and was largely unaware of them – Jive seems to be a platform for a large enterprise company to work with Intranets:

…. Broadly Share Those Learns – Relevant tweets, blog posts, comments on a traditional news outlet website, or trend reports can be pulled directly into a team community with designated places for specific topics and focus areas (such as competitors, industries, or product lines). This information can either be pulled in from pre-set dashboards, directly from the web, or from the company’s own community—and published to an Observation Wall specific to that market or topic. That wall effectively becomes the central point of collaboration where others in the organization can add their comments, thoughts, and opinions.

One thing I have noticed – and Radian6 has attempted to address  it, is how it’s neccessary to have “Listening Systems” in place to understand spikes in traffic coming to your site.  In many cases, Referral logs are unable to capture, by their nature, the richness in conversations that go on, around a brand or website, on the web.

Radian6′s solution (see my post on Radian6’s Web Analytics and Salesforce.com Intergration) goes halfway towards a solution by allowing the export of a site referral log into Radian6 – which will match up pages of your site, and buzz that results in a visit to your site – but not all the buzz about your site – stuff being said about your business – leads to a visit – therefore, won’t be co-related – so while this solution by Radian6 is excellent – it could go further.

Another story that caught my eye about Social Media is the300  Jewish bloggers who are  geting advice on combating the Iranian threat at a Jerusalem convention

Aimed at tackling challenges faced by Jewish bloggers both here and in the Diaspora, over 300 bloggers attended the Second International Jewish Bloggers Convention in Jerusalem at Beit Avi Chai on Sunday evening.

Jewish bloggers who off their offerings at Sunday’s gathering at Beit Avi Chai n Jerusalem.
Photo: Sasson Tiram

Although the convention attempted to help bloggers discover how to best make use of the Internet for promoting their cause, Tova Serkin of JGooders warned that “social media are not the ‘magic bullet,” and explained that while the Internet is indeed “the future,” it remains merely a tool that needs to be harnessed.

The conference, titled “Uniting the Jewish Community through Social Media,” included eight workshops followed by two panel discussions aimed at advancing Jewish, Zionist and charitable causes.

Can 300 bloggers who agree on the same thing change perceptions of a nation?  Perhaps – if you get get 300 people to fully agree, and they all blog …..  well, I’ll let you complete the sentence.    I don’t agree with the sentiment – don’t want to see any more wars – but I do think if you can get a small group of people to totally be on the same page – and really focus – you can amplify that energy.

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1 reply
  1. Amber Naslund says:

    Hi again Marshall,

    Thanks for discussing the analytics integration. We’re with you – lots of ground yet to cover. But for businesses just starting to connect the dots between content, social, monitoring, and conversions on their website, we’re hopeful we’ve made a good start toward something bigger.

    Thanks, as always, for the discussion and mention.

    Best,
    Amber Naslund
    Director of Community, Radian6
    @ambercadabra

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