Keeping up e-ppearances: How to bury your digital dirt – tech – 23 February 2011 – New Scientist

I spotted this Post by Sally Adee 23 February 2011 – New Scientist. The main thrust of this approach seems to be to get you name associated with the site deemed important by Google such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I have to say in my case LinkedIn did quite well, but apart from this blog, everywhere else my head was submerged in the primeval swamp. Well I guess when I finally raise(if ever) myself out of the swamp, my skin will as wrinkled as a prune, as this water does nothing for my skin.

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Bing Myself a Duck Duck Blekko!

Continuing the vanity theme of the previous post, I thought I would try some other search engines; Bing, Duck Duck Go and Blekko. I know this isn’t real science but for us laymen, I think it is a useful excercise and may turn up one or two surprises.

When I Binged myself; I came out number one with LinkedIn. This is better than Google perhaps I am on a roll. Then next result was from Facebook – not me, but another Eric Hewett. The third result was a French business vertical search site which seems to collect information on businesses registered in France. Then followed a few more LinkedIn results for other Eric Hewetts. OMG – they are taking over the world!

The next result interestingly was a French job hunting site that I registered on a while ago. Then the first real surprise, yesterday’s blog entry had already been referenced by Bing. My next thought was what about Google. No sign of the new posting there!

Following a result for a site called Manta, we were onto page 2, and there at the top was me on Facebook. Clearly Microsoft’s close relationship with Facebook was paying off. Following that there were a couple for results for this blog, then I disappear off the radar.

So what did DuckDuckGo throw up. Well, another surprise, the my blog post of yesterday was the number one result. Certainly in terms of my most relevant and up-to-date information this is it!

Moving on a result from Facebook, not me. I get the next result from LinkedIn. I am impressed!  Following a few more results which weren’t me, the DreaInCode entry which appeared in the Google results, shortly followed by may Facebook entry. After which I disappear off the results.

And so to Blekko. Well I get the number one result with LinkedIn. Well after that there are a couple of Facebook entries in the first twenty results but after that I disappear completely. Horray! I hear you cry, this will be my search engine of choice from now on!

So did I gain anything from this exercise in vanity? Well actually yes! So what did I learn?

  • I think in future when I am searching non-persons like myself, I will be more inclined to use Bing and DuckDuckGo rather than just Googling everything.
  • Secondly, it is interesting that the other Search Engines attach more importance to LinkedIn.
  • I was impressed the speed with which DuckDuckGo in particular, had reference the previous blog post.
  • Non of the search engines found any Twitter results either for me or any of the other Erics, which makes me wonder how far Bing has got with its Twitter integration.
  • Google seems to have a great variety of results, but they are not always me me me! (Sorry) Short of providing a DNA sample for every site on which you register, it is pretty difficult to determine which is the real Eric Hewett.
  • Finally I am left ponder whether Google spends most of it’s time focusing on revisiting the big sites and only looks at the minnows infrequently.
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Searching for Myself with Google

Even before starting this blog I used to Google myself, partly out of vanity and partly from a genuine interest in Search Engines. I figured I knew quite a lot about me, so it was interesting to see how much Google knew.

I used to get lots of results with Hewitt, which used to get me mentally screaming. No NO NO – I am an “E” not an “I”! Recently Google seems to have stopped suggesting I change my name to “Hewitt”, though it still does for Google RealTime.

Currently I am number two my results, with Dreamincode I registered to a while ago, where I made the mistake of using my email address as my username. I actually tried to change it, as I didn’t want my username my email address visible to spammers, but that meant a new account.

Currently the top result is another “Eric Hewett” (not more than one I hear you groan) from Facebook. This is interesting in itself as Google tries to prise more data from behind the Facebook firewall. Then a few more Hewitts including a result for LinkedIn where I am registered as a Hewett.  Then I get my next mention via Quora question and answer site which is getting a lot of coverage in the tech community. These three sites are interesting because they all have high profiles, which I am guessing Google feels gives them added weight and relevance.

Then there is a Twitter result but it’s not me. When I take a closer look this person has never tweeted. It also shows within Google’s search results there isn’t much correlation between their general and real-time/social results. A separate Google RealTime Search currently finds nothing for “Eric Hewett” or “Eric+Hewett – Hewett” and one old result for ehewett, my Twitter user name.

Then we get to this blog. Yippee! I am finally making the front page for my own search results. This has taken some work; regular blog posting, submissions to Twitter, Google Buzz, Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit, and submissions to Google and Bing’s Web Master Tools.

Over the next few pages of results this blog reappears a few times. Other people’s Twitter accounts appear but not mine. I am not quite sure why this is. In fact my Twitter profile fails to appear on Twitter at all. I get a couple of honourable mentions on and Matt Cutts’s site, but my LinkedIn profile does not appear.

The next result is from, a site I have not heard of before, who have picked up my Google profile. This I find doubly interesting because Google does not seem to give prominence to its own data, i.e. my Google Profile. Secondly, it then picks my profile up from a third-party – bizarre!

As I already knew there is a lot of work in producing a profile within Google’s search results, but some of the results are a little strange. To date I have not tried to generate any back links as I was interested to see how far I could get without them. A future project is do the same searches on Bing and some of the other search engines. I also intend to try to extend my profile to encompass other search terms, but for now it’s back to the coal face!


I have just seen this post on the Google Operating System Blog. Now Google have just improved their Searches on Google Profiles, though it is not integrated into their main web search. I tried a couple of things out , and it does not appear to be very consistent, but I guess this is a start.

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Build it and they will come to your website…………if only!

The world web was created in 7 days  by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, as project for scientists and engineers at CERN in 1989/90:-) At first it grew pretty slowly, and those in the know knew the addresses of all web sites. However pretty soon it reached the stage where there were too many websites and too many pages on those web sites for you to find what you wanted. Search engines were developed such as Altavista, gaining in sophistication, and finally culminating in Google and Bing.

In the early days, it was possible to create your web site, the search engine would index it by the meta data. The people figured out that they could manipulate their position in the search engine rankings, to get on the first page of results, by flooding their site meta data and text with key words. Google adopted a new an approach, the PageRank algorithm developed by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. This uses links to pages as votes of importance for a page with authority hubs such as Wikipedia carrying more weight.

So for a small business what does this mean? Is my beautiful website, my pride and joy useless? Is it an expensive white (pink, blue or yellow) elephant? An ornament growing dust on an internet shelf? Perhaps!

A website has been to living breathing entity for engaging with current and potential customers. Firstly, the objectives for having a website need to be established, which must primarily be financial after a website is an investment both in terms of time and money.  Then it needs to developed to satisfy these objectives. It needs monitored against the objectives, and maintained accordingly. In other words, you have a cycle of feedback and development.

Living here in Normandy, there are plenty of people with websites serving their small businesses. Unfortunately I suspect that most of these websites were created with the impression that once you have a website customers will arrive. Mostly these are websites that have been either self-created by the business owner or paid for with ill-afforded, hard-earned cash.

Most small business owner’s are too busy trying to stay afloat to be worrying about their website. Wrong; your website is your shop window! I am not saying a website is the be all and end all of your business. You still have to deliver to the customer.

However you wouldn’t buy from a dusty shop or stay in a long neglected hotel room with cracked toilet and leaking shower. Likewise a website copied from a friend or using an off the shelf templates is not likely to win many friends or orders.

When you are looking for somewhere to stay, or item to buy. You are more likely to buy from the person who engages you as are the client, displays passion for their product, and has up to date information about the what they are selling. Google research indicates that 78% of travellers search on-line before purchasing, in fact on average they search 8 times!

  • So what to do? Build a website that is relevant to your business in the eyes of the search engines.
  • How? It must……………
    • contain key words entered in the users’ searches – well obviously or would they find you!
    • be given credibility via it’s quality links from other sites – this is the hard one!
    • be timely i.e. up to date information – that’s up to you!
    • be fast – no large high-definition photos, this isn’t a glossy printed magazine!
    • be “social” as in links or more commonly “likes” to Facebook, Twitter etc
  • What next ? Bedtime! Time to sleep on it! Consider your next moves in other words.
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The New Empowered Search Engine

I have just read an article by Vivek Wadhua, in which he describes what he would like Google to become. Some great concepts but not really a search engine, certainly not as we know it. This comes down a few of things:

  • Recommendation authorities; the Search Engine recognises who I believe have authority and gravitas on a certain subject such as in Vivek’s case Punjabis who know their Northern India restaurants.
  • Preferred sites; if what I am looking for shows up one of my preferred sites forget the rest.
  • Empowered decisions; book my flight, purchase my cinema ticket

Just imagine no longer entering a search but typing an order: “buy a plane ticket with hotel from London to New York leave tomorrow return Friday and find restaurant for Wednesday night” “Book car for service asap”. This sounds great  but could it work? Well yes! The search engine may start a dialogue with you to confirm flight times or food type, but it’s in the driving seat. It may be authorised to contact you friends to confirm a good eatery. It may point out additional information search as conference on in New York or a friend is also there at the same time. You will have registered a “biography” with the search engine in natural language identifying your likes, dislikes, friends, authorisations (prices ranges), colleagues, trusted websites, subject authorities etc. The Search Engine could monitor the World based on what it knows you are doing plus your biography so that should additional information come up later you can be notified e.g. civil unrest in the region you are visiting  or a friend has booked in to the same hotel.

There is a problem with this, Google and other Search Engines currently sell advertising based on your search results. If there was no longer a set of search results just a desired outcome based on pre-set criteria, then there is no set of results against which to sell advertising. Therefore a search engine would have to define a new model for monetization. It would certainly remove vast swathes of spam from the search results, and turn the world of Search Engine Optimisation on its head.

Search Engine Optimisers spend vast amounts of time and effort trying to convince search engines that their site is the most relevant for any and all queries in a particular scope. It would be a joy to get rid of the majority of spam from non-commercial as welllas commercial queries. The long tail of search that Google has been particularly clever  at mining and monetizing would disappear. So would the consumer have to pay for their orders to be turned into reality, who knows, there are cleverer people than me around to do the head scratching.

Sure there is still room for  the traditional search engines and RSS feeds depending on the information you require. To quote Donald Rumsfeld “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” However most of the time we have a pretty good idea what we want information we want and what we want to do with it, and so should our search engine. Hopefully someone will come up with a commercial model to make it work and disrupt the current search engine status quo!

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Why do you need a web site – thoughts for SMBs

Why does my small business need a website because

  • All my friends have one
  • My competitors all have one
  • I like to show I creative
  • Does not everyone have a web site?
  • They look pretty

Let’s try again, my business needs a website because

  • I need to promote my business
  • I want to sell my products on-line

So what are are the objectives I am trying to achieve. It is no use saying “Well, I want lots of visitors to my website”. Visitor’s are useful if they are converted into paying customers otherwise they are just additional load on your system. That may result in an additional cost from your website host.

So define your objectives. Make them meaningful,  achievable and often forgotten measurable! Otherwise how do I know whether I have achieved my objectives. Try to make the objectives definable in terms that can be equated to money. This way you can determine the benefits to your enterprise of your web site.

Clearly world domination is out of the question. So keeping things realistic, what might my objectives be?

  • I want to 10% more sales in 6 months
  • I want 20 more bed nights for my guest house in July
  • I want 10 new clients this year

Note all my objectives are measurable and are defined in terms of period of time. So what’s next? I need to baseline my business i.e. what my business is currently doing. Then I know whether my investment has been worthwhile. It is also worth keeping a diary of activities relating to the website and my business in general. This way I can understand:

  • How much time I spend on it
  • How much money I spent
  • What I did that worked and what didn’t
  • Record incidents and how you managed them – this can be a useful resource for the future

At the end of the time period for my objectives I can then review my progress and decide whether my objectives have been met. If they have; great – time to aim higher! If they have not – don’t be too disappointed, review your progress, figure out what didn’t go so well and reset your objectives!

So the cycle begins again. Remember the website is just a tool in your business arsenal  to be integrated into your business activities! So now hopefully you are clear why you need a website.

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First Facebook SIM Card Released

Mobile phones even the non smart phone, bargain basement phones may soon have Facebook technology built in to the SIM card. Then Pocketnow reports a HTC phone with Facebook button.  These are reasons why Facebook can’t be ignored by Small and Medium Businesses, who are focused on and sell directly to consumers.  This is a great move by Facebook to get more in the face of their users for more of the time, and when better than when they are on the move.

So why is this great:

  • the more data (favourite shoe shop, restaurant, football game) you have on more people the better targets you can provide for you advertisers
  • if you have Facebook there in front of you on your mobile, you are more likely to use it to check what your friends think, about issues, products and places – your issues, products and places!
  • finally they are locking the competition out  – Google, Twitter etc, from some of people’s eye ball time.


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Google help

Google has a blog for small/medium businesses which gives useful tips and insights for improving your businesses visibility via the Google Search Engine.

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Hugh’s Fish Fight – Half of all fish caught in the North Sea is thrown back overboard dead

Hugh’s Fish Fight – Half of all fish caught in the North Sea is thrown back overboard dead.

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Growing Importance of Search via Twitter

I have just noticed an article on ReadWriteWeb, reporting that Alek kolcz, one of Microsoft Bing’s senior is joining Twitter. This man is an information science heavy weight. He specialises in Search and Search Spam reduction. So Twitter is currently a real time information stream with some bolted on search features.

Real time is great even essential for some people, for most of use with real lives we don’t want to be glued to a screen 24*7. We want to find stuff (data/information) when we need it. Currently the best way is via Google, Bing or perhaps DuckDuckGo. Both Bing and Google have deals with Twitter to take their real time stream and added to their search results, but really Twitter need to make this happen in their own back yard to generate more revenue from searching eye balls.

So if Twitter is going to get a better searc ,m/.ection. The great thing about Twitter is unlike a website, where you are at the whim o:@~

f the search engine algorithms, you are actively submitting to the Twitter fire hose. Twitter, provides opportunities for you to actively to actively publicise your activities, more like a hunter than fisherman baiting a hook.  It is worth spending sometime investigating what other people are tweeting about, particularly in activities which are parallel to your own.

However, there is question looming on the horizon, will Twitter in a bid to become more commercial, start acting more like a conventional search engine? The question then will be what search engine optimisation techniques will be required and permissible?

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