Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Shopping.com Would Rather Not Talk to You

Maybe they're very busy this time of year, or maybe their customer service reps are on strike- either way, it seems that Shopping.com would rather miss out on some advertiser revenue than respond to a help request (or even 4 online tickets and who knows how many phone messages).

Sometimes I wonder just how a web property as large as Shopping.com (they're the number 1 comparison shopping engine unless you count Bizrate and Shopzilla as the same thing, in which case they're still number 2) which is backed by an even larger owner (eBay) could possibly be so hard to contact. In case you aren't familiar with the situation, Shopping.com doesn't even list a phone number inside the Merchant Center. There's a web contact form. That's it. No email. No rep. To get the number you have to scour the actual Shopping.com site and even then there is no indication that you might be able to reach a customer service rep that way (and maybe that's because you can't- the recording says you can, but you really can't).

The funny part is that their own help docs tell you that, after you try the one basic thing that they suggest, you should contact them for help. Ha ha! Wouldn't that be nice?!

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ask Your Pay Per Click Marketing Questions

I spend the majority of my Monday through Friday time working on Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing accounts for an assortment of clients. During that time my fellow coworkers and I receive a good amount of questions about how the accounts work, which keywords might work best (and why), what is the best strategy for such-and-such a product or service, etc, etc. I enjoy answering these questions and solving the problems that lie behind them.

That said, I wonder if any of you (and I know that there are at least 3 or 4 of you) have any questions about Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing. Are you not satisfied with the results you are getting? Do you need help coming up with a good campaign structure before you start? Are you looking for keywords or wondering about match-types? Have you been burnt by PPC marketing? I'd like to hear from you. Send me your questions and I will do my best to answer them (while supplies last!).

Please email me at beginbizadmin@startnetbiz.com or post a comment (you'll have to wait for me to moderate it before it shows up (that is due to spammer jerks)).

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Windows Live Search Revisited

I must give credit where credit is due. Since my last insulting post, the Windows Live Search folks have already started fixing things up over there. Good job guys. You still have a long way to go. In case you are interested, here are the things that keep me from liking your work. Please accept this as constructive criticism rather than blatant bashing.

1. Though the scrollbar is no longer horrific, it is still inadequate. Really, I want my scrollbar. You know, the real one. But if I can't have that, at least make it feel the same. If I want to zip down through results, I need to be able to do that with my scroll wheel as I am accustomed to doing with everything else in your operating system.

2. Give me back my back button. If I do a second search on the site, I want to be able to get back to the first one in one click. Even if I scroll through several 'pages'. And when I go back to a Live search from somewhere else, I really don't want to wait while it figures out what to load for me. In fact, the word "loading" does not belong on a search engine. Ever. It's now or never.

3. Advertisers (like me) are not going to be happy with the wild and wacky ways they get displayed in this thing. As I'm sure you realize, the problem here is the 'infinite scrolling' results. Magically refreshing ads as one scrolls is a great way to make sure that most advertisers in the list don't get noticed. Cutting off ads at the bottom is also bad form. Fix that.

4. The 'infinite scrolling' results page thing. I don't like it. I don't need it. If your search engine was any good, and I'm not saying it isn't, I shouldn't really need any more than 10 to 20 results anyway. Right? Right. This thing you've cooked up is disorienting. When I'm scrolling through results it quickly becomes difficult to tell exactly where I'm at. The numbers are there, and that's nice, but I don't really go by the numbers. Is that listing 24, or 27? Was that 3 slow scrolls down, or was it more like 5? I can't remember. It should be somewhere between 20 and 50. Really guys, which seems intuitive and usable to you: "It's on page 2," or "Scroll down until you hit 11-17 or so"? Which of those is easier to remember, communicate, and replicate?

So really, my biggest beef is with the interface. In my mind, you've made something that was very effective when it was simple, into something that is now too complex to be useful at all. Why go with all that bulky scripting, when you can do the job better without it? I don't know about you, but when I do a search, it's because I want to find something. I want to find it instantly. Anything that gets in the way of that should go. What you have designed is like a fairly unattractive but very tricked out street racer. It's flashy, but it's kinda awkward and it's totally doomed when it's up against a pro dragster. Your form is impairing your function, and I think you know quite well that this game is all about function.

Good luck.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Windows Live Search Knows its Place

Windows Live Search (beta) went 'live' today. Or, more accurately, it is now out in the open so that we may behold its shame. I hate it, and I'm not alone in that sentiment. The interface is weird, but not useful at the same time. Of course, the real test of any search engine is relevance. Detractors say that MSN doesn't deliver the most relevant results, but they haven't seen this: