All About Content

Yahoo Enhanced Results Allows Embeds Directly Into SERPs

Posted by Melanie Phung on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Last week, Yahoo announced on its Y! Search Blog that publishers can now embed multimedia content directly into the search results. Had Google announced such a move, it would have been impossible to avoid the buzz. But since its “only Yahoo”, I didn’t see any mention of this latest Enhanced Results innovation — even though it looks wicked cool!

Basically, by adding a small bit of markup around an embedded object in your web page, you enable Yahoo “to extract the necessary structured data to display it as an enhanced result”. The enhanced result is first displayed as a thumbnail next to your search result; if your embed object is a video, then when a searcher “click[s] on the thumbnail image, an expanded video drops down so they can watch the video clip directly on the search results page.

This works for videos and will soon work for games and other documents … apparently it also works with something called Facebook Share markup.

If it’s been a while since you’ve used Yahoo for search, you may be surprised that Yahoo has been rolling out enhanced results for all sorts of things. In other words, this isn’t just for tricked out multimedia content like Hulu videos (the example used on the above Yahoo Search blog). Simple things like images and internal anchor links could be displayed as enhanced results. Although Yahoo is handpicking which sites get this special treatment for now, the blog does encourage publishers to use the mark up so Yahoo can crawl it as soon as possible.

Check out this Wikipedia listing displayed as an enhanced result. Not nearly as sexy as being able to watch a video right from the SERPs, but tell me this isn’t going to be more compelling to searchers than a plain vanilla listing:

The shortcut links directly below the title correspond to internal anchors on the Wikipedia page. (We saw Google testing similar internal anchor links directly within the SERPs a while back as well.)

Take a look at the Yahoo results for a search on my name:

Clicking on these Facebook shortcut links just sends me to a login page. Terrible usability, but I still bet that enhanced listing will get more clicks than the surrounding results.

Obviously there are a questions: How many sites will eventually get to have enhanced listings? Will too much of this make the Yahoo SERPs look cluttered? Will embedding multimedia content in the SERPs cause users not to visit the hosting page, thus impacting page views?

While Google’s stranglehold on market share is not likely to be upset by Yahoo’s latest SERP enhancements, I do find it exciting to see this kind of product improvement by the second biggest search engine — features aimed at helping users, not simply getting more user data or serving up more ads in more places.

(On a side note, as more evidence that the whole cult of “nofollow” has reached ridiculous proportions, those shortcut links are nofollowed. Why? Links in SERPs aren’t going to be passing PageRank (or the Yahoo equivalent) and they aren’t any more or less vetted editorial content than the rest of the links on the page – if you’re disavowing those links, why not nofollow every single result?)

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Category: Yahoo

Back to Basics: Finding Flickr Explore Photos

Posted by Melanie Phung on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Although it’s been a while since I’ve been active on Flickr, my posts on Flickr Explore and the Interestingness algorithm still get steady daily search traffic. People want to know what Flickr Explore is, why photos got dropped from Explore, and what the secret to Flickr’s Interestingness algorithm could be.

But a consistent percentage of traffic seems to be asking the very basic questions: How do I know if my photo got into Flickr Explore? … and, How can I tell which of my photos are in Flickr’s Top 500 list?

If you’re trying to find out if you made Flickr Explore, the easiest way is to go to Flickr Scout, a tool created by Big Huge Labs.

Enter your username and click “Apply” to see which of your photos (if any) made the cut.

The default view shows you which of your photos is currently part of Explore. Click the link “Include dropped” (underneath the line of drop down options) to see ALL your photos that have ever been deemed worthy of Interestingness in the past.

And there you have it, the easy way to find if your photos got into Flickr Explore.

Then What?

Once you’ve identified which of your photos made it into the Top 500 of any particular day, you can tag them with ExploreDDMONYR, where DD is the day, MON is the 3-letter month abbreviation and YR is the two-digit year the photo was uploaded (example: Explore16jul07) and Interestingness###, where ### is the position your photo achieved (example: Interestingness86).

You can also add your photo to the plethora of Explore photo pools (e.g., Interestingness – Top 500, Explore Top 20, etc.)

And don’t forget to check your stats (you have access to stats if you have a Flickr Pro account) to see if which photos are drawing eyeballs and where traffic is coming from.

So what does getting into Explore/Interestingness mean? Hmm… nothing really. You might be able to monetize your Top 500 photos status somehow, but if you figure out how to do that effectively, please let me know because in my experience the attention you get on Flickr is fickle. The amount of effort required to get into Explore is really only worth it if you enjoy being active in the community, not if you’re trying to leverage Explore for some other agenda — which is exactly as it should be. Achieving Interestingness is really just about idle bragging rights and nothing more. 😉

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Category: Flickr

Are Behavioral/Interest-Based Ads More Relevant?

Posted by Melanie Phung on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 11:01 pm

With the new buzz about AdSense going the route of behavioral targeting (or “interest-based advertising” in Google-speak), I felt a strange sense of deja vu. I went through some old blog drafts and found a note I had written, but never published:

When I search “melanie phung” and clicked through to my blog, I got a bunch of “Melanie B ringtones” [AdSense] ads on my site. When I get to my site via SEO-related terms I’m presented with search ads. The content on the site, in both cases, is obviously identical (and not at all related to ringtones or “Melanie B”).

I wrote that in October of 2007. At some point after I wrote that draft, I stopped seeing radically different ad units depending on the referring keyword so I completely forgot about it, but it really bugged me at the time — I didn’t want my site content associated with ringtone ads. (Eventually I just took AdSense off my blog because even the ads that were relevant to my content didn’t seem to reflect well on the site)

In theory, you wouldn’t appear in the results for search terms that aren’t aligned with your content — in which case, AdSense could match ads to either your content or the referring search query and it would be six of one/half dozen of the other — but we know that isn’t true in reality; often users find our pages using search terms that have nothing to do with our content.”Contextual ads” that place advertisements based on broad match keyword search terms rather than landing page copy can easily miss the mark and create message mismatches that could have advertisers annoyed and uncomfortable.

And that’s nothing compared to what could happen with this new behavioral targeting Google AdSense is rolling out. Donna just made some compelling observations about how Google’s behavioral targeting could be a nightmare for publishers and users alike over on SEO Chicks.

I always thought the beauty of AdSense is that it matches ads to content. Messing with that formula seems like a losing proposition – for users, publishers and advertisers alike.

What do you think? Would you, as a Web user, click on AdSense ads targeted at you, even if they aren’t relevant to what you’re currently doing? As a publisher, how do you feel about ads on your site that aren’t related to your content? Should advertisers on Google’s Content Network worry this will hurt their campaign performance?

Updated March 12: Also read Aaron Wall’s critique of grave privacy issues, and Bob Massa’s impassioned comment in response.

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Category: Contextual Ads