Search Engine Optimization and Marketing for E-commerce

Social Media creates UPS customer-for-life

by akagan 1. November 2012 11:16

The use of social media to improve customer service and branding was highlighted in a story published Oct. 17 in the Huffington Post contributed by Andy Jankowski of Jankowski relates how on a bicyle ride through Indianapolis he almost was hit by a UPS truck that failed to stop at a stop sign.

Jankowski waited until after he had completed his ride and then tweeted about the near-accident:

@AndyJankowski: Near miss with @UPS driver while #cycling today. No worries - nobody's perfect - but did make me think about going @Fedex ;-)

upslogoTo his surprise, several minutes later UPS’s “Corporate Social Media Team” responded by Twitter asking Jankowski to contact their customer service email with information about the incident, and within 20 minutes got an email response and then a followup phone call, reassuring him that they were able to identify the driver and would inform the supervisor about the incident.

The power of real-time customer service

Jankowski was “blown away” by the customer service team’s professionalism and concern, and claims he is “now a UPS customer and brand advocate for life”. Two weeks later, UPS followed up by sending him a replica UPS truck and several toy trucks for his children.

While it seems that UPS’s customer service was the exception that proved the rule, it does reveal both the power of positive customer experiences, as well as the importance of using all available channels, including social media, when providing customer service.

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April Fools! Google unveils Gmail Motion

by Andrew Kagan 1. April 2011 09:23

Google announced today Gmail Motion: a new innovation in email technology, designed to use motion-capture technology to speed the composition and manipulation of emails. Using easy to learn, simple and intuitive gestures, Gmail Motion improves productivity and has the additional benefit of increased physical activity, as you jump out of your task chair and start gesticulating wildly at the screen.


Okay, not really…the April Fool’s Day jest was launched on the Google homepage, with a link to an official looking presentation of a new technology. The whimsical take on using motion-capture technology to control opening, sending and editing emails may be a subtle kick at Microsoft’s Kinect motion-capture gaming system, which is flying off the shelves and likely leading a revolution in interactive and immersive gaming.

Google has often been criticized for being a late adopter of user-interface improvements in search products, and this side-wise look at improved human-computer interaction may be pointing to real software innovations just around the corner. More likely than not, this will be in the realm of voice-recognition and voice-to-text, which is already firmly embedded in Google’s Android OS for mobile devices (coming to a PC near you!).

In the past, Google’s easter eggs have usually looked backward, such as the “Plumbing Net” take on sending messages through the sewer system. It’s always a risk to make fun of UI innovations that seem novel at first but spawn practical uses we don’t imagine at the time. Clearly, gesture and facial recognition is an evolving technology that could potentially revolutionize UI interaction…let’s hope Google stays at the forefront of this innovation.



Windows Live Writer makes you a better blogger

by Andrew Kagan 26. March 2010 05:42

I’ve started using Windows Live Writer, Microsoft’s free offline blog editor which it distributes under its “Live Essentials” toolkit. What’s nice about this software is that you can compose blog posts in a WYSIWYG environment with a full set of editing and format tools, save and organize your posts before publishing, and much more.

The software mimics what most blogs already have in terms of editing functionality, but provides a more complete feature set and, most importantly, a common editing environment that allows you to manage an unlimited number of blogs simultaneously…a godsend for SEOs working on multiple client accounts. Unlike the latest versions of Microsoft Word, which also allow publishing directly to blogs, Live Writer is free for anyone to use, and works with virtually any blog. The GUI includes useful image editing tools for which you’d normally need additional software, as well as table and charting functions, photo albums, video, and it also supports an extensible plug-in architecture for developers to add their own features.

I will post some how-tos and screen shots to help anyone interested in setting up this software. Whether you’re editing a single blog or manage dozens of different websites, this offline blog-editor really makes for better blogging.


I recommend you try Live Writer out…and start blogging better.



Video of Luge Accident Pulled from Web

by Andrew Kagan 13. February 2010 04:38

The fatal luge accident that killed Georgian Olympic hopeful Nodar Kumartashvili during a training run in Vancouver Feb. 12 was widely reported within hours of its occurrence. Initially videos were posted on that showed the entire crash, which then exploded across youtube and other media-sharing websites. In the wake of complaints against the visceral footage, news organizations hastily edited out the final milliseconds showing Kumartashvili's impact against the steel stantion that killed him, and then, citing copyright, had all incidences of the footage pulled from the web within 24 hours.

But was this a copyright issue, or are their other legal issues afoot? Reports are circulating in the blogosphere that the IOC asked that the video be withdrawn pending an internal investigation, amid a flood of negative reporting that warnings of teams, coaches and competitors of the dangers of the track design went unheeded before and during trials leading up to Kumartashvili's death. At a hastily convened press conference Friday night, "Olympic Officials" (not officially representing the IOC) announced that they would make "minor changes" to the "track configuration" and "ice profile" prior to the first official runs this weekend.

But what is more likely is that the video has been pulled pending legal action brought against the IOC by Kumartshvili's family, in an attempt to limit the negative publicity it has engendered for the IOC. The only thing one can be sure of is that the video will be reproduced, ad infinitum, during the trial.

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Google's Halloween Easter Egg

by Andrew Kagan 31. October 2009 09:43

The ever-changing Google homepage logo took a sweet turn on Halloween, starting off with the last "e" being replaced by a piece of wrapped candy. Subsequent clicks on the logo revealed the following progression, from the logo spelled out in candy, to a whole lot of candy, and finally to a tummy-ache's worth of candy.



Sitemap Crawling (cont'd)

by Andrew Kagan 30. April 2009 08:59

Following up on yesterday's post about Googlebot and crawlers, I see that Googlebot is coming back to read the sitemap on a regular basis without needing to submit it...probably based on the update-frequency parameter specified in the sitemap...a good thing I hope, although Google is not adding more pages to the index yet.

Registering the sitemap with MSN/Live and Yahoo resulted in immediate crawls by the MSNbot and Slurp crawlers, which of course is a good thing...will see what the indexing rate is in a future post.

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General | SEO

Sitemap download / crawl frequency update

by Andrew Kagan 29. April 2009 11:22

To follow up on my previous post, after the initial long delay before Google downloaded the sitemap.xml for, the sitemap was resubmitted 24 hours later and Google downloaded it within minutes.

A quick review of the server logs showed Googlebot hitting the website shortly thereafter, which corresponds to behavior reported by Adam at BlogIngenuity. Adam also reported pages quickly appearing in Google's index, but no additional pages appear to have made it in yet for This could be attributable to time-of-day as well as how recently the website was added to Google's index. Presumably the page text is "in the hopper" and being processed (wouldn't a progress bar be a cool webmaster's tool?).

Appropriately tagging the sitemap file with date/frequency/importance data for each URL will probably build the site reputation in Google's index and hopefully priortize content indexing. We know that the better a website's reputation the faster Google will add pages to the index.

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General | SEO

Mission Control we have liftoff!

by Andrew Kagan 29. April 2009 04:57

Launching the website was an interesting experiment in measuring Google's crawl rate. The domain had been parked at a registrar for some time, nearly a year, so Googlebot and other crawlers would have known about it, but would not have found any content. This may have been a negative factor in the subsequent crawl rate.

Before launching the website, all the appropriate actions were taken to insure a rapid crawl and index rate:


  • Creation of all relevant pages, with informational pages of high quality and narrow focus
  • Implementation of appropriate META data
  • Validation of all links and HTML markup
  • Implementation of crawler support files such as robots.txt and an XML sitemap 
Finally a sitemap was registered with Google and the site brought online...and then the waiting began. 
  • It took more than two days (approx. 57 hours) after registering the sitemap for Google to actually parse it. Google found no errors.
  • It took three more days after parsing the sitemap for Googlebot to actually crawl the site. 
  • More than 24 hours after crawling the site, Google had added only three pages to its index.
It seems that the days of "launch today, indexed tomorrow" are in the past. Even with publishing a website based on Google's best practices, it seems that Google is somewhat overwhelmed at this point and crawl rates for new sites are being delayed.

Two unknowns:
  • Does leaving a domain parked for a long time negatively impact the initial crawl rate?
  • Does the TLD -- "COM", "NET", "PRO" -- affect the crawl rate? Does Google give precedence to well-regarded TLDs over new/marginal TLDs?

I will be testing this hypothesis with additional sites in the near future. 


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General | SEO

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