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April 2, 2007

Lame April Fool’s Jokes, Eyetracking Studies and Fun Monday Finds

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I Hate April Fool’s Day

Is it safe to come out now? Have all the lame attempts at getting a laugh subsided? I know, I’m a grump, but I think everyone who participates in April Fool’s Day should have their fingernails ripped off. The attempts are just not funny.

This year we had Google launching a free wireless service operated through a user’s plumbing system, Microsoft bought Digg, TechCrunch bought F*ckedCompany.com, weird things were showing up on Google Maps, Facebook was offering live pokes and other oddness, Matt Cutts’ hijacked his own blog, “Matt” also then launched CuttsCon (I’d totally go!), ShoeMoney quit blogging, Google Operating Systems launched Google Writer, and lots of other silly things happened.

Did no one go outside yesterday?

The only amusing thing that came out of April Fool’s Day was Ask.com’s video featuring Jim Lanzone. Jim stated Ask.com would be partnering up with "Search With Kevin" to form Ask Kevin and that Kevin would take over Jim’s role as Ask.com’s CEO. The whole thing had me in giggle-fits, if only for Jim’s awesome delivery. It was even better than Karl Rove’s recent rap, I swear it. I heart Ask.com.

Study Finds People Do Read Online

I thought this was pretty interesting: The Poytner Institute released its Eyetrack study last week and found that online readers finish news stories more often than those who read print. From the findings:

"When readers chose to read an online story, they usually read an average of 77% of the story, compared to 62% in broadsheets and 57% in tabloids."

GrokDotCom took this as a sign that the claims suggesting people aren’t reading your Web content is nothing but an old wives’ tales. I’m somewhat mixed in my opinion.

First, I don’t think it’s surprising that users who start reading an online article or "story" are more apt to finish it than readers holding a tangible newspaper. In most cases, the person reading the online story has already opted in. They had to click on something to be brought to the story or the section of your Web site so they’re already invested. Also, in some ways there are fewer distractions online. I know, that sounds crazy, but when you’re reading a newspaper if your mind starts to wander a bit you have ten other news stories in your line of sight. On the Web, you’d have to actually click off the page to find something else.

I don’t put much faith in that survey, but I do think people are reading more online than previously thought, assuming you can engage them to start off with. I think the choice of the word "story" was telling. Readers will stick with an interesting blog post if you’re able to engage them, but are they going to read the entire cold, boring 5,000 word dissertation on you that you’ve created for yourself? Probably not. Readers will read, but you still have to create something worth reading.

Do Your Google Alerts Tell Google What You Find Important?

Once again Bill Slawski draws me in with all his patent talk. Bill wonders if the search engines may use your alerts to tell them which topics you think are important. Pointing to a recent Google patent that discusses how Google could use the information to discover timely topics.

It’s an interesting idea but I wonder how effective it would be at determining what’s popular. To me, alerts don’t reflect what’s currently "popular" on the Web, they reflect varying user interests. [If a lot of people are interested in the same thing, doesn't that make it popular? --Susan] – In a broad sense, maybe. But they’re not things that are timely, which I think is the bigger picture. But there’s popular For example, I have several Google Alerts set up, all are work related and used for keeping track of the conversation going on around me. Is that really going to help Google? If more people have an alert set up for "Boston Red Sox" than "Evil New York Yankees" does that tell Google the Red Sox are more popular (and a far better baseball team) than the Yankees?

This method of determining popularity confuses me because things that are "popular" or "timely" aren’t things I’d set up a Google Alert for. I use Google Alerts for research, and I’m pretty confident that everyone else does too.

Monday Funnies

The parties are coming, the parties are coming! If you’re heading to SES New York, Joe Morin has posted the Official SES NYC 2007 Party & Events Schedule. Check it out, fools.

Michael Gray gave away his The Lisa T-shirt. I’d comment but I’m still crying.

SEOs are banding together to help Susan get a grasp on this whole social media thing. Joe Whyte has compiled an exhaustive list of the "cornucopia" of social media sites that have sprung up recently. Even if Joe’s list sucked (which it doesn’t), I still would have included it in today’s fun finds. Why? You try working cornucopia into casual conversion. Well done, Joe!

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7 responses to “Lame April Fool’s Jokes, Eyetracking Studies and Fun Monday Finds”

  1. Joe Whyte writes:

    Thanks Lisa!!

    Really appreciate the hat tip!!

    See ya at SES

  2. Bill writes:

    Hi Lisa and Susan,
    One of the areas where the alerts may be good indications of popularity aren’t so much the standing alerts, but rather the addition of new alerts. For example, imagine that a few hundred people decide on the same day that they should create Lisa Barone alerts. Google may decide at that point that Lisa is a timely topic.

  3. Lisa writes:

    Bill — I guess I understand that. Sort of. :) The concept has me somewhat confused because I don’t think users are in the habit of regularly creating new alerts. Or maybe I’m wrong.

    And for the record, I think I’m always a timely topic. :)

  4. Bill writes:

    Hi Lisa,
    You may be right that people aren’t in the habit of creating new alerts. I think Google’s trying to convince them to, though.
    I’m not sure when it started, but Google has been asking people at the bottom of Google News searches if they want to “search blogs” or “create an email alert.” And that has a big red “New!” next to it.
    I don’t think that it’s been too long. I’d guess that they would like to see more people creating alerts. If they did, maybe this would have more value.
    I’ve been thinking of where they might use some of these “popular” queries, and one possibility is in the predictive query results that drop down when you perform a search using the toolbar.
    So, if a lot of people recently added [Boston Red Sox] alerts, and someone starts typing B-o-s into the toolbar, Boston Red Sox might be one of the suggested query terms that they see.

    And for the record, I think I’m always a timely topic. :)

    Me, too. Sadly, it takes me to [lisa baro] in the toolbar before Google suggests searching for your name. Google must be broken. I was expecting you to show up before I got to the “a” in Lisa.

  5. Ryan writes:

    I think that initially alerts seemed like a cool idea, I signed up for dozens. I’ve yet to go back and add more, or refine the ones I have so my thoughts may be biased. I have a few alerts set up that frequently bring back irrelevant results, solely based on a couple of keywords. More than once have I about fallen out of my chair because the results were off topic.

  6. Jonah Stein writes:

    Lisa:
    Thanks for the April Fools rundown, even if you don’t appreciate the humor.

    The creators of these “stories” work hard to make a story funny and believable (sort of). If you are going to site the Microsoft-To-Buy-Digg story (thanks!), we would appreciate it if you could link to the original article instead of the Search Marketing Guru’s story about the story.

    http://www.alchemistmedia.com/blog/microsoft-buys-digg

    Thanks

  7. Lisa writes:

    Our bad; you got it, Jonah. :)



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