MarketSmart Interactive Closes Doors

It’s a sad day for all of us who helped grow KeywordRanking/WebSourced – now MarketSmart Interactive – as I’ve heard the company closed the doors on its Morrisville offices at exactly 2:30pm today.

Since I left the company in July of 2005, the company has been on a steady decline, seemingly laying off employees each month and steadily losing clients. It’s been sad to watch the events unfold from the sidelines, but even outside observers saw the writing on the wall. Maybe now the company has finally closed the doors, I’ll write up an obituary for what was once a great search marketing firm.

In the meantime, there’s going to be a lot of talented SEMs looking for work. A reliable source tells me that the parent company, Think Partnership, kept on just six employees and offered no severance to those fired (despite many having worked there for 5+ years).

Google Gives Gov’t Top Spot

Has anyone else seen this before:
Google SERP for flu symptoms

I actually checked a similar ‘symptom’ keyword for a potential client last night and noticed this change today. Here’s a close up of the change:

Google SERP for flu symptoms close up

Notice the result just under the paid listings: the NIH or National Institutes of Health. If the .gov didn’t give it away, this is an institution of the US government. I’m not sure how NIH got in above the one box type refinements Google’s had on SERPs for a while now–conspiracy theories welcome.

Channel Sponsors

Google to Index the Stars

And no, I don’t mean Paris Hilton et al.

Google announced today that they’ve joined forces with the 19 universities, labs and other foundations of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project.

The huge telescope, to be located in Chile, will scan the night sky for distant activity including supernovae and asteroids. Google will be providing the infrastructure and database for organizing, storing and making available in real time the vast amounts of information (30 terabytes, they say) generated by the heavens each night.

Google’s VP of engineering, William Coughran, explains Google’s interest in the project:

Google’s mission is to take the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. The data from LSST will be an important part of the world’s information, and by being involved in the project we hope to make it easier for that data to become accessible and useful.

Feedburner Now Offering BlogBeat Analytics

Feedburner users will be pleased to learn that the company has finished integrating recently acquired Blogbeat and you can now get free site statistics.

Features include:

  • Visitor summary, detail and trends
  • Page summary, detail and trends
  • Referral and Search trends
  • Inbound referral traffic breakdown, grouped by domain and broken out in detail
  • Outbound click breakdown

Here’s how it looks:

Hat-tip SEW.

Community Driven Yahoo Local Database

Maintaining a national online local database is a daunting task. Errors are very common in local search results. In an effort to clean up their data, Yahoo is promoting user editing of local business listings.

From the Yahoo Local Blog:

It’s time to announce a new feature on Yahoo! Local which empowers you to add your favorite new local business, alert others when an old favorite has closed, and add or change business info quickly. Now you can truly be our eyes and ears in your community!

When a new business is submitted, they promise to have it live within 24 hours. With business listings that are already live, they are testing requested changes by giving future users a pop up and asking them if the requested changes are correct.

Inflating Feedburner Readers to Game Advertisers

It appears someone out there is testing weaknesses in Feedburner’s subscriber “chicklet” to see if they can artificially inflate a blog’s RSS subscriber count.

Boing Boing and Mashable are both involved in this mini scandal – although there is no evidence either were behind the scam – and Nik Cubrilovic explains how subscriber counts jumped by millions in some cases.

It seems that somebody has created a bot that would create many profiles on Pageflakes (which is a web-based RSS reader) and then subscribe to BoingBoing in each of these profiles multiple times. The net effect was that BoingBoing reported over 2 million subscribers from Pageflakes, a very very dramatic increase over the numbers that were being reported only days earlier.

Online Marketing with Offline Conversions

The growth and adoption of web analytics applications over the last few years has made detailed conversion tracking a mission critical part of operating a successful e-commerce website. E-commerce merchants routinely track all aspects of each and every individual conversion. Tracking return on ad spend by channel is now just as crucial as understanding profit margins. Improving a website’s ability to turn visitors into customers without accurate conversion data is almost flying blind. So what about the large numbers of organizations who don’t have this luxury since either all or the majority of their conversions occur offline?