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May 26, 2006

Blogging Below the Belt - Corporate Blog Support Services

By Michael L. Clark

“Unless you’re a parent, you really can’t understand what I’m going through.” Ever heard that? The truth behind those simple words lies in one’s inability to identify experientially with another. For companies, however, the mantra they fear repeating may be, “Unless you’ve been targeted by attack blogs, you can’t possibly understand.”

Blogs began several years ago as a tool for online diaries. Today, they are the primary method for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns. With an estimated worldwide audience of 900 million, millions of blogs already in existence, and a hundred thousand new blogs created daily, the rapidly expanding blogosphere serves as both an advertiser’s dream and a marketing nightmare – depending on the nature of information that’s being promoted.

The blend of immense reach and legal immunity makes a potent recipe for corporate character assassination. Scores of often anonymous, virulent “investigative” and “factual” articles have crippled and even destroyed businesses, and the intoxicating power of negative “press” will only intensify. Some attack blogs are produced by individuals with an agenda, others by companies criticizing their competitors, while still others exist for the sole purpose of creating a stir. Regardless of the source, attack blogs are a reality that must be addressed by companies both small and large.

If a blogger wants to initiate an attack against your company, he has only to sit at a keyboard. However, MasterLink has developed a system of proactive, aggressive defense. The MasterLink Standard Blog Support Services program consists of 5 Levels, all at competitive investment pricing:

• Level I – Initial Internet Scan and Response
• Level II – Monthly Blog Service
• Level III – Third Party Blog Production
• Level IV – Company Blog Creation and Operation
• Level V – Forensic Blog Research/ Legal Review

Click here for details and subscriptions.

Blogs are here to stay. Once the attacks begin, companies can risk being blacklisted and having reputations shattered, or refuse to live in fear and fight smears with facts and expertise.

May 16, 2006

Yahoo Undergoing a Major Overhaul

Yahoo has launched a new look to its homepage at http://www.yahoo.com. The new design has blended different programming languages by seamlessly integrating AJAX, Java, and HTML to create an easy to navigate and well laid out homepage.

Yahoo is the world's most visited page followed by Google, MSN, Baidu (the most popular web search engine in China), Yahoo Japan, and the fast growing Myspace. In the U.S. Yahoo is beating out Google for page views while Myspace has the third largest following.

An interview was conducted by
with Yahoo! Chief Product Officer Ash Patel and Vice President of Front Doors Tapan Bhat on the features that have been added and the reasoning behind all of the changes. The podcast is available here.

Yahoo has added access to more content from the homepage and has started to emphasize videos, photos and multimedia. Yahoo is recognizing that many people are using broadband connections and is attempting to satisfy these users needs for multimedia rich websites.

The homepage is still in beta testing and no timeline has been presented for complete removal of the old homepage. Overall, I like the look and feel of the site and am glad that Yahoo has not given up on satisfying its users. Their last overhaul was in September of 2004, so it was time for a change.

-Mark Barrera

May 12, 2006

Free Yahoo Sitemap Creator: Converts Google Sitemap to Yahoo

Mike Shaffer here at MasterLink has created a neat tool that allows you to convert your Google Sitemap to a Yahoo Sitemap compatible format, in this case a text file. A text sitemap is simply a list of the URLs of your site in the form of a text file. These can then be submitted to search engines such as Yahoo! to notify them that all the pages exist and by doing so invites their spider to visit.

Why do I need a Yahoo Sitemap?

Unless your pages are indexed in the search engines they can't send you the free visitors you are all looking for.

Fortunately, the search engines want your content too and there are a number of ways you can help them, which they encourage you to do - by creating sitemaps of your website. Sitemaps created for the various search engines will enable these search engines' spiders to crawl faster, more systematically, and more extensively into your website's pages.

By doing so, you get the maximum exposure you can. Such exposure will boost your pride in having your pages viewed, read, and used by more and more visitors the way you intended them to. On the financial aspect, the more visitors your website gets, the higher your website's potential advertising value.

Please let us know what you think of our Free Yahoo Sitemap Creator.

Click here to use the MasterLink Yahoo Sitemap creator:

-Mark Barrera
SEO Specialist

May 04, 2006

MSN adCenter Launches; MSN Contextual Advertising Coming Soon

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates will be speaking to representatives of big advertisers and leading advertising agencies at a conference at Microsoft's headquarters today. Ballmer will be announcing the formal launch of MSN adCenter. This means that all paid advertisements on MSN in the US are now supplied by Microsoft's own ad network, fully competing for the first time with the more established networks of Google and Yahoo!. Previously, ads were coming from Yahoo! and MSN has slowly been phasing Yahoo! out over the past few months as their contract will expire at the end of this month.

MSN Contextual Advertising Network to Come Next

On Wednesday, Microsoft outlined a broad new offensive against Google as it laid out plans to insert the targeted advertising generated by its new AdCenter system into a range of digital services beyond internet search. The next step for MSN will be to get these ads showing across a broad range of sites and not just its search network. MSN is reportedly working on a contextual advertising program and that MSN will call this targeted ad netword "ContentAds." More information posted here as soon as we can gather more information.

On a side note...

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that MSN and Yahoo! have been in talks to combine aspects of their business to have a better shot at competing with Google. The report speculates that MSN might buy Yahoo! or some part of their technologies.

Recently, Microsoft reported lower than expected earnings due to increased investment in search technology and plans to continue to increase spending in this area to compete with Google. This makes you wonder what part of Yahoo's services that MSN would need because they are working to improve their algorithmic search results as well as develop their own advertising network. It seems that if MSN wanted to make quick advances in these areas they would not increase their R&D and branch out with their own network, but would instead partner with Yahoo! to battle Google.

Need Help in adCenter?

MasterLink was one of an estimated 6,000 advertisers to participate in the Beta testing of MSN adCenter and participate in a demo of adCenter from a group of MSN adCenter specialists. If your company is wanting to advertise in adCenter, please contact the PPC specialists at MasterLink who have experience in using MSN adCenter!

-Mark Barrera
Search Engine Marketing Services