New android-app:// referrer

June 25th, 2016

A few days ago, I noticed a new referrer to cleverhack, android-app://com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox

Glancing at the user log, it seems that it’s a referrer from a Google search box within an Android OS app.

android-app referrer

Here are some observations about the android-app referrer via Webmaster World, and here’s the official Android developer documentation for search.

Have you seen the android-app referrer?

Google Concert Tour Info

June 18th, 2016

Hot damn, Google now has concert tour information for your favorite acts. The tour info appears to be geo-located and apparently works whether you are logged into your Google account or not. As I write this, all of these are upcoming touring acts for the Philadelphia, PA area.

Sigur Ros Tour Google Sigur Ros

Henry Rollins Tour Google Henry Rollins

So I wonder how tour pages can be optimized for Google. For example, if you search Dave Matthews tour, the tour dates don’t explicitly show.

Dave Matthews Tour Google Dave Matthews

On the other hand, the links to venues and to buy tickets are buried in another layer of the Dave Matthews Web site. My best guess right now is that if a tour page links out to venue/ticket information, it gets preferential treatment in Google results.

Twitter for iPhone User Agent

June 5th, 2016

Earlier this week, I had a cleverhack visitor who clicked on the URL in my Twitter bio. Since they were using the Twitter for iPhone app, and the app does not open a mobile Web browser, a unique Twitter for iPhone user agent showed in the visitor logs.

Twitter for iPhone User Agent

Netscape 5.0
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 9_3_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/601.1.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/13E238 Twitter for iPhone

Twitter for iPhone UA

Interesting, huh?

Check My IP Address On Google

May 16th, 2016

This is a cool Google feature. If you type in “Check My IP” into Google, Google will return your device’s current public IP address. (I tested this on my laptop connected to wifi and my iPhone connected to AT&T.)

This is a great tip for those occasions when you need to troubleshoot a network connectivity issue.

Check My IP Address on Google

PS - Yes, I edited the IP Address in the screenshot, as you all know, an IPv4 IP Address should have four octets like xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx ranging between 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255

Questionable Twitter Growth Hacks

April 26th, 2016

For the past few weeks, I’ve been on the receiving end of list notifications that look like the following. Seeing a list notification is nothing new, but this *cough* “Twitter growth strategy” *cough* appears to be awfully automated.

dumb3.png

dumb2.png

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Up until a few weeks ago, I observed a different attention grabbing tactic where I would initially see a list notification or an actual follow. Then, a few days later, the new (to me) account would favorite an old - could be days or event months old - tweet which somehow intersected with their interest. (Let’s just say a good number of so-called marketing and other B2B services used this strategy, and not too many consumer or personal Twitter accounts.) When I still didn’t follow back within 24 or 48 hours of the favorited tweet (there was no engagement with me otherwise), the account would then unfollow me.

It’s one thing if I noticed this scenario once or twice. For a while I was seeing several accounts try this “growth strategy” *each day*. The faux engagement actions are questionable enough, but the automation of faux engagement is…off-putting. I don’t know what social media marketing program is enabling these Twitter “growth hacks”.

Who Is A Sales Engineer?

April 19th, 2016

If you’ve ever participated in a sales deal for a hardware or software — or other technology — product, you’ve probably been introduced to a Sales Engineer (sometimes called a Presales or Solutions Consultant). But who are they?

Sales Engineers are the front-facing technical experts for a product or a solution. She or he will possess deep product expertise (if not product certifications), readily architect product solutions, easily anticipate and overcome sales objections, and they understand the competitive landscape.

Typically, Sales Engineers are brought into the sales process either during or after prospect qualification, depending on the initial technical expertise of the salesperson and how the prospect is qualified.

The duties of a Sales Engineer include conducting discovery calls to determine business process and technical requirements, presenting impactful in-person and Web-based presentations and demonstrations to technical personnel and executives, sometimes creating and administrating Proof of Concepts (POC) for sales deals, responding to RFPs/RFIs, relaying prospect and/or customer needs to product management or customer success, and sometimes even account management.

All in all, Sales Engineers are a critical part of the sales process. Do you agree?

Now this is a ridiculous referer domain

March 14th, 2016

For those of us who were curious, the maximum length of a domain name can be 63 characters. An enterprising spammer used about 57 of them (I could be wrong, I stopped counting) for his URL referer in the screenshot below.

In case you were wondering about long domain name efficacy for SEO, Moz advises to avoid domain names longer than 15 characters.

Ridiculous Referrer URL

Add a pink beating heart to your Gmail subject lines

February 21st, 2016

Earlier today, I peeked into my Gmail spam folder only to see an email message with what looked to be a gif in the subject line. I have seen a lot on the Internet, but a moving image in a subject line was a first.

beating pink subject line heart

Upon closer examination of the email, it appears that the spammer in this case used =?UTF-8?B?876sjQ===?= inline in the subject line to create the beating heart effect. To add to the fun, the body of the message used inline Windows-1252 encoding, I suppose to try to get around spam filters. Below is a partial sample of the email encoding…

<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv=3D"Content-Type" content=3D"text/html;=charset=3DWindows-1252">
</meta></head><body><div style=3D"color:#5C5E93; =font-size:21pt">
&#105;=&#102;o&#117;n&#100; yo&#117;r &#112;&#104;o&#116;os i&#110;
=f&#97;&#99;eb&#111;&#1444;o&#107; . &#121;o&#117; a&#114;e=&#114;ogue!&#33;
</div></body></html>

There is a part of me that respects the ingenuity, although this totally got stuck in spam filters.

Also, here’s a tweet about the beating heart, according to stack overflow, the UTF encoding refers to a Google specific emoji set.

Tweets can influence SERPs

February 6th, 2016

Posted below are two screenshots for the first page SERP for Joy Larkin. (Heh, see what I did there?). First screenshot is when I haven’t tweeted in a while and the second screenshot is approximately 48 hours later after some tweet activity. My Twitter account does have my name on it.

You can see that time and number of tweets do influence position on the search engine results page.

Before.
SERP before tweeting

And after.
SERP after tweeting

Quick Twitter SEO Observation

February 3rd, 2016

Here’s a quick Twitter SEO observation. For the longest time, I had my about.me profile URL in my Twitter bio. It was ok (the analytics for the free version are less than optimal), so I decided to see if switching up the URL would improve SEO for Joy Larkin, as there are a few women named Joy Larkin on the Web, and of course, I wanted to rank first.

Last week, I added my LinkedIn URL to my Twitter profile. After a few days, my LinkedIn profile ranked first.

Joy Larkin SEO

Being ever curious, tonight I added my cleverhack about page to my Twitter bio. Now I’ll watch to see if that gets ranked first for my name.

Twitter Status Page

January 19th, 2016

In light of today’s partial Twitter outage, the official Twitter Status Page is at http://status.twitter.com.

However, there may be situations where Twitter DNS is disrupted and you are unable to visit the official status page. In this case, you can visit http://twitterstatus.tumblr.com/.

It appears that status.twitter.com is just embedding the posts from twitterstatus.tumblr.com anyway. For example, if you click on a post link on twitter.status.com it redirects you to the tumblr.

TwitterStatus.png

Should You Buy Or Build Your Email Marketing Solution?

January 17th, 2016

The answer here is…it depends on what your pain points as an email sender are. If you’re technically proficient, sometimes going with an ESP seems like overkill. On the other hand, a good ESP provides help with email creation, list segmenting, campaign reporting, and with email deliverability.

1) Setup:

DIY - Has to find an ISP vendor, setup and configure mailserver software. Make sure domain has the proper DKIM, Domain Keys, SenderID, SPF settings enabled. Warm-up IP addresses if not sent from before. IP address reputation is unknown.

ESP: Configuration has been done. IP address reputation is known. You should be advised as to what domain authentication has been done/is appropriate.

2) Email Creation, Uploading & Campaigns:

DIY: Has to code email, validate email coding for text and HTML, configure email lists and email suppression files, and upload email code and email address lists to MTA software which requires technical and design knowledge. Has to create unsubscribe feature and possibly email delivery preferences features. Harder to do field insertion for email personalization. Harder to segment lists and emails for email testing and personalization.

ESP: Probably has in-app pre-created email templates, email validation services for text and HTML, easy email address import and email suppression features. Most likely has unsubscribe page and email delivery preferences features. Easier to do field insertion for email personalization. Easier to segment lists and emails for email testing and personalization. Personnel doesn’t need as much technical knowledge to use service.

3) Reporting:

DIY: If MTA software doesn’t have deliverability reporting, probably has to rely on Web server analytics to track opens using tracking .gif and/or Google Analytics to track clicks & Web behavior. Would have to compile unsubscribe and bounce reports manually.

ESP: Should have deliverability reports for opens, clicks, and bounces. Would still use Google Analytics to track clicks & Web behavior. Would get easy to access lists for unsubscribes and bounces.

4) SPAM Complaints and Deliverability:

DIY: Spam complaints are dependent on how the ISP deals with them and how bad the complaints are from upstream providers in particular. Self educate on CAN-SPAM. Would have to deal with blacklist maintainers and network operators on a one to one basis.

ESP: Generally proactive in educating users on CAN-SPAM, and most ESPs will kick off service if too many complaints since their overall deliverability will degrade. ESPs usually have devoted deliverability personnel and good relationships with industry organizations, blacklist maintainers, network operators, etc.

Post inspired by this Quora thread.