NY Times: On-line Coupon Growth 6%

Interesting article in the NY Times today, Shifting Coupons, From Clip and Save to Point and Click about the leading print media coupon company’s move into on-line copupons. Vallassis Communications is creating a new coupon portal & brand: RedPlum.com to cater to woman “discount seekers”.

According to the aricle : RedPlum will join a small cadre of similar sites, like CoolSavings.com, Coupons.com and ValPak.com, that have struggled to build traffic and wean consumers off paper coupons. In the 12 months that ended in October, the number of visitors to coupon sites grew by only 6 percent over the previous year, to 20.3 million from 19.1 million, according to ComScore, an Internet marketing research company.

This slow growth of on-line coupons is evident in Google Coupons as well. There appears to be little or no growth in either coupon users or total coupon creation.

Even though Google has been actively promoting coupons via AdWords for over a month, they have only snagged 500 some odd subscriptions to their coupon service via Google Co-op.

Total coupons available through Google Coupons for the major markets seems to have stayed even or declined in the same timeframe with some markets showing as much as an 18% decline in total coupons. Continue reading NY Times: On-line Coupon Growth 6%

A new Blumenthals.com Blog: Small linux deployments

Our newest blog, Small linux deployments, is all about the technical side of operating a local linux-based hosting and web design company and is written by Erek Dyskant.

Erek is our System analyst, sys admin, programmer, hardware and general technical guru, a sort of Renaissance man of the Linux world. He has worked with us, off and on, since he was 16 and is both a great co-worker and a good friend.

He is a unique package that emdodies the big view of technology, the detailed view of the hardware & software and the ability to communicate about it to geeks AND small business folks. He’s a good coder to boot, studies biology and has a detailed understanding of national and global politics. If you run a small linux based hosting company or just are interested in the details of doing so take a look at Erek’s blog, you will find it an interesting read.

Google Maps: LBC Coupon Bug?

This Google Local Business center coupon bug was reported today in Google Maps for Business Group. I have not verified this but there have been a number of reports of coupon problems.

TOPIC: Coupon post


== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 24 2007 7:50 am
From: The Refinisher

I asked a similar question yesterday. See this link to my

I found out that if you do not choose an expiration date for your coupon, then it will work. It is a Google Bug. I know this is not the
answer you are looking for, but it is all I could find. I had to manually add my own expiration date on my coupon.

On Dec 23, 11:21 am, “t…@rrlawncare.com”
> How do you get the coupon to show up on your business map?
> What I did or tried;
> 1). I went here http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter?hl=en-US&gl=US
> 2). Clicked on the coupon tab, filled in all required fields, pressed
> continue at the bottom.
> 3). Read all the Editorial Guidelines.
> And it still dosn’t show up in MY Local Business Center, Locations
> Control Panel.
> Thanks

Google Maps now with PhotoSpammy Links?

This came in today from a reader:

I ran across this new twist with InfoUSA & Google Maps and thought I’d pass it in. Do you recall when Google Local/Maps added a photo provided by InfoUSA to many local business profiles? It’s the default image for most companies.

A couple days ago, I clicked on one of the photos (trying to check out a phony address) and got a redirect to what I thought was a hijacked, spammy page offering a credit report. This morning I finally realized every InfoUSA photo redirects to one of those pages on Credit.net with ‘an InfoUSA company’ in very light gray text at the top left. The linked photo is in thumbnail size but surrounded by an offer for a credit report on the business. Each is a lead generator since no data about the company is actually provided. Each ‘click to view’ link launches a pop-up box to register. User registration required with an offer of ‘the first 25 reports for ‘free.” Here are the TOS

They’ve basically got ad links for InfoUSA credit reports on every business listing. Even with a business’s own uploaded pictures, the one from InfoUSA still shows under “Photos”. To experience this for yourself click on the last photo of the business (see screen shot below) in this Google Maps search example for Chelsea Fower Market in NYC..

I wonder if this is quid pro quo between G and Info (and planned all along) or a unilateral switch to better monetize the InfoUSA data. Would love to find screen shots from the old daplus.com since I seem to remember small links offering credit reports.

It is not clear why or how those photo links are there but the links sure appear inappropriate, don’t they? Now that is a link campaign!

Read on to see a screen shot.. Continue reading Google Maps now with PhotoSpammy Links?

Nominations for Rubber Chicken SEM Humor Award (aka the Columbo Award)

Updated 12/24/07 Our nominations are in. We have closed the nomination period and are now moving to the next stage of the process. The final standings will be announced before the end of the year at SEL!Take a look, give us your reader’s choice nomination for the best…..They range from the mundane to the profane. Please double check the list to make sure I didn’t miss your article or title…. Continue reading Nominations for Rubber Chicken SEM Humor Award (aka the Columbo Award)

Wanted: Colombo assistants

For all of you that are hot on the trail of Mapspammers this post might help to speed things up :

Hack Google (Maps) URLs for Quick Searching

Basically, the multi-step process of going to Google [Maps], typing in an address, clicking submit, etc., can be avoided by just putting all your info directly into the URL. For example typing this works:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1683 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA

So for example to find Cathy’s florist that she reported last week to Google Maps for Business Group you would simply type in the URL:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=flowers with gifted elegance

To receive your secret decoder ring send along your recently found Mapspam.

(this would also work for those of you who just use Maps a lot and are not interested in joining the Columbo Mystery Squad)

Google Maps Unique Visitors up 51.57% Year over Year

Techcrunch has a good summary of the unique visitors to each of Google’s services comparing this November to last. It appears that Maps, by Comscore’s measurement, has 17% as many unique users as Google Web Search has. This % is significantly higher than last year.

Greg Sterling has a good analysis of the numbers. However given that Google Maps data is pushed out over a number of different technologies, the Comscore count may be underestimating the number of unique users of the data set and the overall usage of Maps. Those technologies include Google SMS, Goog-411 and Google Maps for Mobile. The extent to which users of Google Maps is undercounted is unclear but it strikes me that the undercount is greater on Maps than any other Google property as it uses more distribution technolgoies than other Google products. Regardless the number of unique users of Maps is starting to take off.


When a number to call might help

From the goog411 Google Group

Today’s topics:
TOPIC: Help!!!

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Sat, Dec 22 2007 4:43 pm
From: Janu

Goog411 has been sending me the same text message every 15 minutes for
2 hours now at 10 cents a message. This is the first time I have experienced this problem when receiving text messages from goog 411.
Who do I contact to stop the messages??

Thanks for your help in advance,


If it takes this poor fellow as long to resolve his problem as it is taking (9 months and counting) for this school to solve theirs (where you will also find some earlpearl’s of wisdom), his cell phone bill will roughly equal the national debt of Kazikstan by the end of the upcoming holiday week.

Google Maps being used for Philly fraud update

Updated 12/23/07

Google has yet to remove this Mapspam. I have included additional spam details at the end of this post. Does anyone know the economics of having this many phone numbers?

When searching on Philadelphia PA 19125 Locksmith but I found this response of intense interest:

The reviewer Jack, has been busy tracking these folks down.

Continue reading Google Maps being used for Philly fraud update

Local Authoritative OneBox = I’m Feeling Lucky; or Not!

The recent posting at SEORefugee about the Denver Florist going broke due to their business being displaced by appearance of a competitor in the OneBox, has brought Google’s Authoritative OneBox into the consciousness of the search community.

The Authoritative OneBox has been the gold standard to measure success in local search marketing. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a singular local listing that shows up at the top of the main Google search results page when Google determines that a certain local listing is the authority for that local search.

It made its first appearance last October. Bill Slawski wrote up a OneBox Patent Summary in January of this year. In that same timeframe (January & February) it became more frequently displayed and there was an increase in use of the Authoritative OneBox. Previously it was shown when there was no competition locally but it started being shown more frequently and for the “dominant” local listing.

In some ways, the Authoritative OneBox is like the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Google main search window. It reflects the confidence that Google has in their technology. It reflects that idea that they can determine the single best answer to a query. It is said that Google forgoes $110 million in advertising revenue by keeping the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. At some level the button reflects a certain DNA of Google and their desire to be playful yet confident in their results. It also reflects a certain arrogance: the idea that their algo is so good that it can determine the answer a searcher wants to the exclusion of all others.

The Authoritative OneBox also demonstrates the fundamental difference (and difficulties) between returning relevant results of an abstraction like webpages and returning the real results of a concrete thing like a business. When would a user ever want just one response to the query Denver Flowers?

However it raises more questions than just that.

Continue reading Local Authoritative OneBox = I’m Feeling Lucky; or Not!

Developing Knowledge about Local Search