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Shakespeare may have asked the question first, but it’s still relevant to a 21st century entrepreneur. Roger Dooley, writing for Neuromarketing, offers some tips to help counteract “domain bias” in his recent post “Does Your Domain Say ‘Trust Me’?” 

In the article, Dooley discusses recent research conducted by Stanford University in partnership with Microsoft on whether the domain of top-ranked search results influences whether the searcher will click on that link:

“One of the comparisons performed by the researchers was to label search results as being from webmd.com, a popular and trusted health site, or genetichealth.com, an unfamiliar site. By presenting the search results labeled with these domains with alternating snippets and positions, the effect of the domain could be tested. Results that appeared to be from webmd.com got clicked more often, even when the actual content of the search title/snippet was switched with the lesser-known domain.”

Unfortunately, with the new metrics and algorithm employed by Google, recognizability is self-reinforcing. If consumers follow a link because they’ve heard of the domain, that link will get more clinks and rise in the search result rankings. It leaves little room to establish credibility for a new venture.

Dooley warns against building microsites with unfamiliar domain names connected to your main site. Instead, work on building your ranking and display information so that your site can get the clicks and grow into one that consumers recognize and trust.

Laura Abrahamsen May 29, 2012

As part of the suite of tools it offers to small businesses, Yahoo! Small Business has created the Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard. Designed to simplify the essential task of maintaining and monitoring an effective online presence, the dashboard offers both free features and enhanced upgrades to the entrepreneur.

Pamela Parker reported on this new offering in the article, “Yahoo! Rolls Out Small Business Marketing Dashboard” for Marketing Land. In addition to web site analytics and local directory visibility, one of the tools offered is Reputation Tracking, which:

“Gathers ratings, reviews and mentions from more than 8,000 sources and displays a breakdown of positive, negative, and neutral reviews so marketers can get a sense of what people are saying about them online.”

Gaining access to the actual content of these reviews is part of the $24.99/month upgrade. Data for email-marketing campaigns is available only if your business uses Constant Contact; likewise, you can get data on your search engine optimization efforts only if you are a client of OrangeSoda.

With these limits, the Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard has not yet reached its potential. Here’s hoping its reach grows.

Laura Abrahamsen, May 24, 2012

You can’t bring a search-engine mindset to social media and have it work. There are fundamental differences between a potential customer who goes to Google to find a solution to a problem and one who interacts with your company or product on Facebook. So says Michael Mothner, writing for Inc.com, in his recent article “Facebook Advertising: 5 Things You Don’t Know (& Should)”.

Where search is keyword-driven, Facebook is image-driven, which leads Mothner to an essential tip:

“The single most important element determining an ad’s success is that tiny image that goes along with the ad. It will literally make or break an ad. Intuitively, this makes sense: The No. 1 activity on Facebook is to look at photos, so Facebook users are trained to scan for pictures. The more your ad resembles Facebook content, the more likely a user’s eyes will stop at your ad–and the more likely they will be to click.”

All of Mothner’s tips center on the fact that people on Facebook want to be on Facebook, whereas people using search engines want to leave the search and get to the information. So keep your Facebook campaign fresh (every 5-7 days), visual and engaging. Forget copy, concentrate on your headline. Make your Facebook page a place your customers want to visit—with you and each other.

Laura Abrahamsen May 23, 2012

In the recent GigaOm article,“Google’s Head of News: Newspapers Are the New Yahoo,” writer Mathew Ingram notes that Google is not likely to win kudos for its ability to draw comparisons. Though the newspaper industry is unhappy with Google for aggregating their content on Google News, the company is not courting favor with that cohort. Instead, Google’s head of news products Richard Gingras recently compared newspapers to outdated internet portals and insisted that media companies cannot fight the Web and should, instead, join it.

The article reproduces highlights from Gingras’ talk at Harvard, though they are not taken directly from his speech, but from the recollections of MIT’s Matt Stempeck. The piece covers Gingras’ views on: how newspapers found themselves in their current plight, disruption in journalism caused by the Web, the non-viability of paywalls, and whether the iPad is the “savior of journalism.” See the article for more on each of these.

Regarding that comparison to cobwebbed portals, Ingram reports:

“Gingras doesn’t believe the vertical model of a newspaper makes sense going forward. He compares the metropolitan newspapers’ all-things to all-people product to content portals for specific communities. This strategy doesn’t make sense given the possibilities. Yahoo!’s initial success was as a portal. But portals have disappeared online as consumers have learned to navigate the web on their own and found the niche sites they love.”

It seems the point of the strained comparison is that people will focus in what interests them and eschew the rest. This may be true, but at what cost? As our “niches” get narrower and narrower, we learn less and less about the world and the people outside our own circles. Folks of different experiences and perspectives are already having a hard time communicating civilly with each other, making it nigh impossible to come to agreements and move forward with anything.

Is limiting our exposure to other viewpoints really the most productive thing for our world right now?

Cynthia Murrell, May 22, 2012

Inforbix, a Boston based software company that was founded in 2010, will be participating in the Semantic Tech & Business Conference (SemTechBiz) in San Francisco June 3-7. The tech company will be presenting on how it deploys semantic technology to help solve the growing data challenge for manufacturing industries in a new and unique way.

Oleg Shilovitsky, CEO of Inforbix, said of the conference:

“We are excited to present how Inforbix deploys semantic technology to solve some of the most challenging engineering data problems at this year’s SemTechBiz conference. The demands of design and engineering data consumption in manufacturing organizations have surpassed the ability of most users to manage and control their data. Inforbix is changing and improving how people in those firms interact with their data.”

On June 5, Shilovitsky will be participating in a Start-Up competition by presenting on how to solve the problem of engineering data complexity. This should be a very interesting presentation and I hope those in the San Francisco area get a chance to check it out.

Jasmine Ashton, May 21, 2012