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Friday, December 23, 2005

Rumors Flying Microsoft and Yahoo to Merge

Microsoft looking to increase market share after losing out to Google in their AOL talks is rumored to be evaluating a purchase of Yahoo. Internet rumors and several phone calls already today from old Yahoo co-workers wondering if they are destined to work for the Redmond gang.

Microsoft appears to be planning a partnership or acquistion with another Tier 1 internet company. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have been seeking an acquistion that could help them level the search marketing playing field with Google.

Other sources speculate that Microsoft/MSN is seeking a large ISP such as: Comcast.

It would be easier on a technical basis, for MSN and Yahoo who already share pay per click revenues and technology to merge and join together than waiting years to increase their share of the lucrative search marketing landscape.

Wenda Millard meet Bill Gates and clean out your desk as MSN will be driving this new shared enterprise.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Investor Carl Icahn Takes Steps to Block New AOL Google Deal

Investor Carl Icahn piped up earlier this week and issued a verbal warning to the Time Warner board of directors claiming that selling a piece of AOL to Google would be another "disastrous decision" for Time Waner.

The Time Warner board is on track to approve selling 5% of AOL to Google for $1 Billion in cash.

Icahn an outspkoen Time Warner shareholder wrote an open letter to the Time Warner board and also held a press conference claiming that selling 5% of AOL to Google is a mistake that limits AOL search and puts Google in the lucrative search marketing drivers seat at AOL for the next 5 years.

Icahn strongly labeled the deal as a "blatant breach of fiduciary duty" and to "enter into a 5 year keyword search results agreement with Google could prevent Time Warner from selling AOL outright to another party".

Icahn went onto to add "another transaction would be more beneficial for Time Warner shareholders".

The overly verbose Icahn, who only holds 3% of Time Warner stock claims he will attempt to start a proxy fight at the Time Warner shareholders meeting next year.

Time Warner's board yawned at Icahn's latest rant.

Icahn claiming to suddenly fully understand online marketing issues, including search marketing the internet's hottest industry of which Icahn has no experience to date, claims that fraud-laden eBay or old TV network pal Barry Diller's InterActive Corp. are better long-term matches for AOL than Google.

Wall street views Google's deal to purchase 5% of AOL from Time Warner as a very positive step for Time Warner and Google. The new Google deal could help AOL gain web traffic and search ad revenues, while also possibly preventing Microsoft's MSN from picking up AOL searchers.

Not one wall street analyst has acknowledged or even tried to comprehend Google's hidden motivation to purchase 5% of AOL and more importantly lock themselves in as the exclusive controller of AOL keyword search results. Google motivation is not entirely fueled by gaining search marketing share. Google's motivations also include two other important factors:

1) protect 100% of their search technology (code) from getting into Microsoft's hands.

2) Establish a 5% ownership in AOL, which puts Google in first position to purchase AOL outright for a song when all of AOL's current lawsuits are resolved. Google knows it could take AOL up to three years to escape all of their legal troubles.

Here's more on Google's 5% purchase of AOL from a search perspective:

Google is buying a 5 percent stake in Dulles, Va. based America Online for $1 billion as part of a far-reaching business and search advertising partnership that will link the two companies in many ways and will greatly enhance AOL's financial prospects, according to people familiar with the agreement.

The deal between Google and AOL is a setback for Microsoft Corp., which had sought to replace Google as the search engine on the AOL service and had been in talks with AOL's parent, Time Warner Corp, since January. Google is the leader in search, followed by Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft's MSN Search, which is a distant third.

Under the agreement, Google will remain the search engine on the AOL service with a revenue sharing from text-based ads provided by Google of about 80 percent to AOL and 20 percent to Google. In addition, AOL will get the exclusive right to sell other types of advertising, including banner ads, for the Google network. AOL will keep 20 percent of the proceeds from those ad sales; Google will get about 80 percent.

AOL is already the largest single source of ad revenue for Google, generating about 10 percent of Google's ad dollars, according to public filings. AOL's business strategy under its chief executive, Jonathan Miller, is to garner more of its revenue in the future from the rapidly-growing online keyword search advertising medium.

As part of the new agreement, AOL gains the right to sell Google-generated, text-based ads that appear on the AOL service. This change will enable AOL to sell all forms of online advertising itself to any company.

In addition, AOL's video service will get special promotion as part of Google's video offering. And AOL will have graphic ads that attract attention and appear alongside the text-based ads Google traditionally has displayed to the right of its free search results.

AOL will also be given a substantial fixed-dollar budget from Google to purchase advertising to promote the Internet service. Google's organic search results, based on math equations (algorithms used by bots or spiders) that rank sites according to content relevancy, will not be changed as a result of the new partnership.

Google's $1 billion investment in AOL will give the AOL service, which has more than 20 million subscribers and a network of websites that includes, Moviefone and Mapquest, an implied value of $20 billion. The five-year deal gives Time Warner the choice of maintaining its 95 percent ownership stake in AOL, or keeping majority ownership while spinning off a portion of AOL to shareholders as a way of boosting its stock price.

Time Warner has been under pressure from financier Carl Icahn to take steps to get the Time Warner stock price up. Icahn, who owns only 3% of Time Warner has been pushing TW management to do a large stock buyback, spin off the Time Warner cable division and increase cash flow and shareholder value.

The terms of Google's 5% purchase in AOL were reached last week in New York in the Time Warner office suites of CEO Richard Parsons, where he was joined by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and AOL's Jonathan Miller. The Time Warner board of directors will vote on the agreement next week. In the interim days, lawyers for both sides will hammer out the legal details. On Wall Street, as news began leaking of Google besting Microsoft on Friday, Google's stock price hit $429 a share. The company, the leader in Internet search and advertising will be able to protect their PPC revenues as anyone or any party who clicks Google sponsored links on AOL results in more PPC dollars for both AOL and Google.

Is the sponsored traffic and link activity generated on AOL audited?

Does a third party intervene to legitimize the click triaafic being produced on the AOL network of sites?

Publishers need to audit circulation via the Audit Bureau of Circulations and broadcasters also need to audit their audience counts with Nielsen TV and Arbitron radio ratings.

Is search engine PPC advertising activity audited by an established third party?

And very rarely do any of the national search marketing industry stories ever mention ORGANIC SEARCH RESULTS.

Trade magazines and national press publications fail to make an important distinction in that the organic search results are what keyword searchers prefer and that organic search results are clicked 6 and 7 to 1 over paid listings on search results pages.

Much like TIVO, DVDR and other popular commercial cancelling media devices searchers are seeking information and relevant content not advertising. Google understands this trend and search behavior and needs advertising distribution partners such as AOL to help carry out their sponsored advertising messages onto portals outside of

Google understands REACH, always has, and that is why they are trading in the $450 dollar a share range.

In the end, a proposed joint advertising arrangement between AOL and Microsoft's MSN network proved complex and not as lucrative as the long-term potential of the partnership with Google.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Acording to Search Insider...

70% of SEM Companies Outsourcing SEO Contracts Abroad.

This should be disturbing to any Credible SEO Firm.

Here at Peak Positions 100% of the work stays in house.

If we need to enlist a software engineer (rare) as a contractor on a project, we bring them in to our offices, put them up at a local hotel, and do the work together right here in our Traverse City, Michigan SEO labs. Nothing goes out, it's called Quality Control. Jack Roberts our Director wouldn't allow any third party to touch our SEO work.

I read him this passage below and he cringed mumbling..."more SEM Outsourcing Garbage?".

Here's a recap of the Search Insider SEO Outsource Piece:

Many SEM agencies today are outsourcing a lot of their SEO processes to companies abroad. They may not accept that, but I can tell you many SEM companies do outsource. Secondly, I do not see why it should be of any concern. I know the whole question of outsourcing has become a big political debate, but we both know that's how the business will operate in future. It's smart outsourcing that will win the day for any serious business entity.

Shouldn't be of any concern ?

Has the client been informed that their SEM vendor outsourced his/her website optimization to unknown third parties, working in unknown countries?

A couple of glaring issues concerned the rest of the crew in our IT dept.:

1) quality control (gone)
2) client communications (impossible)
3) legal issues with contract (breach)
4) confidentiality (gone)
5) Performance (would not expect too much)
6) Outsourcing the Kiss of Death for any SEM/SEO agency.

If you feel that your current, underperforming, and overbilling, SEM/SEO vendor is throwing your website out to the cheapest labor available in the world ....behind your back... and on your dime...

Call Peak Positions an American SEO company, based in America, providing 100% of our PROVEN MANUAL SEO services always done in-house by OUR VETERAN ORGANIC WEBSITE OPTIMIZERS.

Avoid the PPC hype, false position guarantees, deceptive global outsourcing and exorbitant SEM fees...

Outsource SEO with a proven and dedicated organic seo leader that conducts 100% of their SEO services, in house.

Friday, December 09, 2005

SES Chicago Promotes Pay Per Click vs. Organic SEO

Volumes of email in the last day or so from coworkers, consultants, and client attendees at the SES Strategies Show in Chicago. It seems that nearly every session led to the same conslusion: PPC via Google AdWords and Yahoo (Overture) is the most effective form of "optimizing".

It appears that little of the discussion at the 2005 SES Chicago show addressed technical issues or code parameters involved with optimizing sites, especially large dynamic sites with deep database content and problematic code, instead the theme of 2005 SES Chicago Show was: "Pay Per Click to the Rescue".

Some Gentle Reminders to the SES/SEM/PPC Road Show Promoters.

SEM or PPC is not organic optimization and will not drive traffic from the organic search results.

Organic Optimization involves technical processes that help secure and maintain top organic listings for websites.

Searchers prefer organic listings 6 to 1 vs. sponsorsed search ads.

PPC Click Fraud is escalating and is not an Organic SEO issue.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

AOL Making Headlines

After weeks of intense negotiations, Time Warner will not be selling their stake in America Online after all.

Instead, the publishing and media giant is sesking to enhance its revenue partnership with Google (GOOG stock considerations are involved), or establish a new equity relationship with Microsoft and walk away from Google altogether. The New York Times reports that Google's terms do not involve any kind of investment in AOL. Rather, Google would extend the 80 percent cut it currently gives AOL for the revenue generated by its search technology on AOL's pages, while possibly agreeing to drive traffic from its sites directly to The Google / Time Warner negotiations, rumored at one point to involve Comcast Corp., no longer include any third parties, instant messaging, or ad sales.

Time Warner negotiations with Microsoft (MSN), on the other hand, may include joint venture in ad sales and instant messaging, as well as a minority stake in AOL.

Time Warner was asking for apparently wanted $20 billion for AOL, but both Google and Microsoft have backed away from ownership at that price, not to mention potential litigation concerns.

The Wall Street Journal that AOL parent Time Warner is close to securing a partnership with Microsoft/MSN. The agreement would include a joint venture in advertising services, including MSN Internet search and online ad sales across and MSN. The MSN AdCenter, that is currently undergoing beta testing will be rolled out enterprise wide to carry the new online advertising platform.

The joint venture with MSN would end AOL's long-standing keyword search partnership with Google, which provides the Time Warner unit with search technology, advertising services, and huge revenues. Meanwhile, hedge fund investor Carl Icahn is preparing a proxy fight with the Time Warner board that he hopes will split legally plagued Time Warner into four distinct companies--of which AOL would be one. Icahn is said to be dissatisfied with mismanagement at AOL and wants to shake the foundations with new management teams and new seperate companies.

Also a split of AOL into four seperate companies could limit lawsuit settlements and legal ramifications for Time Warner caused by the large number of lawsuits involving AOL.

Speaking of AOL Lawsuits
AOL being Revisited By Familiar Lawsuit

It appears that AOL is in legal trouble once again, according to the Associated Press. A lawsuit filed in the St.Clair County Circuit Court in Illinois by 10 AOL customers in six states accuses the Time Warner unit of illegally creating secondary accounts for them without consent and then billing them illegally (as first reported months ago on this organic seo blog).

This new AOL lawsuit could potentially cover hundreds of thousands of AOL subscribers. The lawsuit claims that not only did AOL confuse and deceive these customers, but it also refused to give refunds to those who questioned the unwarranted fees. The suit is akin to more than a dozen other pending lawsuits filed in state and federal courts around the country. AOL flatly denies the charge, calling it a "rehash" of an old lawsuit that is no longer of any legal value.

Is it true that Microsoft is using their extensive world court legal experiences as leverage in their negotiations to partner/merge with AOL.
Concerns Over Google Sandbox?

Is your new site still not listed in Google?

Don't be spun around for months on end about an artificial problem that no longer exists.

Call Peak Positions and get your site picked up by Google in one week or less.

The Google Sandbox no longer exists.

Google dissolved their new site Sandbox months ago.

To read this hype, conjecture, and false babble concerning the long deceased Google Sandbox from SEO groups like many of the SES Strategies speakers and sponsors, Search Engine Watch contributors, The SEO RoundTable and SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization) is insulting to many proven professionals in the organic SEO industry.

Here is one of the latest Google SandBox False Alarm Messages from Search Engine Watch:

For well over a year, there's been massive debate and speculation that Google puts all new sites into a "sandbox," preventing them from ranking well for anything until a set period of time has passed. Now we get more confirmation from Google that if there's not a sandbox, there's at least part of its algorithm that may make it seem that way for some sites -- plus thoughts on how trusted links may help sites escape those filters. This roundup for for Search Engine Watch members looks at some of the discussions and articles that have fueled this over the past few weeks.

Save your eyes the strain none of this Google SandBox hype is true.

This line was most amusing: "there's at least part of its algorithm that may make it seem that way for some sites" ...can someone explain to us and to the engineering staffs at the search engines how part of an algorithm can possibly discern longevity or make conjecture to the actual age of a website?

If you are clueless about the algorithms stop pondering and guessing its insulting.

Having "Google SandBox" issues? simply change your approach or SEO partners.

Call Peak Positions and we'll let you in on Google's little inside joke, "The Google SandBox": Dead and Buried Years Ago!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bad Gossip Still Being Spread About a Google Sandbox

Search Engine Watch, The SEO RoundTable and SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization) still publishing false and inaccurate opinions as to a Google Sandbox.

Some SEO consultants have supposedly received "confirmation from Google" about the existence of a "Sandbox", and that the goglebot algorithm is able to discern the longevity or age of a website.

We would like to know what trusted Google employee, staffer, or engineer gave "more confirmation" to such a ridiculous statement?

Can someone please explain to us and to many of our hard working cohorts on the Google engineering staff how a part of an algorithm can possibly discern website longevity or make conjecture calculations as to the actual age of any website if the spiders can no longer autonomously check a website's WHOIS records ?

Autonomous checking of website WHOIS records is no longer possible for the spiders and has not been for the last several years.

Those parties absolutely clueless about the Google search algorithms should stop pandering and guessing as to googlebot's pre-programmed parameters its insulting.

Having "Google SandBox" issues?

Contact Peak Positions and get your new site picked up by Google in one week or less.

We'll also let you in on Google's little inside SEO joke, "The Google SandBox": a mythical condition of ethical proportions that no longer exists.
Google Purchases New Corporate Jet and Decides to Live it Large!

Google has purchased the largest available corporate jet, complete with two bathrooms, a shower, large dining room, and internet access everywhere. In addition the Boeing 767 has two sitting areas, two state rooms, custom bathrooms, plasma screens, and toys, toys, toys.

Google's corporate jet is the largest for any technology company as Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt have decided to flex their muscle and have taken ownership of the biggest of big boy toys.

Google's new jet dwarfs that of: Paul Allen, Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, Larry Ellison, Scott McNeeley, Michael Dell and others.

The google guys will be "spidering the globe" in style in the coming months as they take their keyword search profit show on the road.

Are the pilots robots, using artificial intelligence?
Online eCommerce Sites Enjoy Record Week in First Full Week of 200 Holiday Shopping Season.Neilsen Net Ratings has Released online shopping statistics from the opening week of the 2005 holiday shopping season.

All indications are that the 2005 holiday season will set new all-time records for online shopping and internet orders.

We'll get to Neilsen numbers in a moment.

First let us reiterate the importance of using all points of off-line contact information on all of your online materials.

In other words, use all of your contact information on your ecommerce pages.
Telephone numbers, mailing addresses, hours of operation, primary email contacts all should easily found on your ecommerce pages.

Now more than ever users are placing phone calls into sellers operations prior to ordering online. For sevral very important reasons:

Make Sure Inventory is in stock
Delivery schedule
Shipping policies
Return policies

And most importantly, to verify that your company is real, accessible, and that a customer service representative is available by phone to work with new online orders/customers.

These early 2005 online shopping Holiday sales numbers are very strong yet also keep in mind they are not an accurate representation of the full impact that websites are making on total sales. These numbers are just the online order numbers, strictly those orders that were placed online, these numbers do not reflect the full volume of orders both online and offline that ecommerce websites are delivering.

Some recent studies suggest that at least 40% of total orders generated by websites are not credited to the website. Peak Positions recommends using specific 800#'s by media and using custom 800#'s on the pages or your website. Cost per call campaigns also available but in many cases can lead to customer confuasion and brand frustration.

Here are the numbers:

According to Nielsen//NetRatings, the Holiday eShopping Index saw a 29 percent increase from home on the day after Thanksgiving, garnering a unique audience of 17.2 million across more than 100 representative online retailers compared with 13.3 million on the same day last year. The Web has become a vital component in many Americans' holiday shopping preparations, concludes the report.

Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings, said "... while many shoppers headed out to the stores over the (Thanksgiving) weekend, the majority first turned to the Internet to check prices and product availability."

EBay was the top online retailer on the day after Thanksgiving, with 9.5 million unique visitors, followed by Amazon and Wal-Mart Stores, which drew 4.6 million and 3.4 million unique visitors, respectively. These same retailers led the top online shopping destinations last year on the same day and were joined this year by, Dell, and Network in the top 10.

Nielsen//NetRatings Top Online Shopping Destinations, November 25, 2005

Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eShopping Index, November 2005

Online Shopping orders 11/18/05-11/25/05.
Top 10 - ecommerce sites by volume

1. eBay
2. Amazon
3. Wal-Mart Stores
4. Target
8. Dell (a Peak Positions Organic SEO Clent since 2001)
9. Network
10. Network

Now By Category
Nielsen//NetRatings Daily Overnight Analysis, November 2005

The fastest growing retail category on the day after Thanksgiving was toys/video games, with a 152 percent week-over-week growth. Consumer electronics followed close behind, and computer hardware/software rounded out the top three.

Top selling products:

Xbox 360
portable game consoles
flat-screen TV's
MP3 players

Top Growth Categories:

Toys/Video Games
Consumer Electronics
Computer Hardware/Software
Flowers and Gifts
Home and Garden
Shopping Comparison/Portals