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FTC announces guidlines for disclosures

FTC announces guidelines for disclosures

What has got every internet marketer up in arms this week? If you have not heard, the FTC ( Federal Trade Commission, USA ) has released its final guidelines for advertisements using endorsements and testimonials.

In its press release on the FTC blog, the commission released two PDFS titled;

Guides Concerning the Use of : Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising – PDF

Revised Endorsement and Testimonial Guides – PDF

A combined behemoth of 94 pages, most of which is filled with legal jargon ( Hint – skip to the end of the first PDF and the second PDF, it has some easier to read scenarios and examples of what the FTC classifies as an endorsement etc ) .

While this author has not attempted to completely analysis the guidelines, which is a task too daunting at 3:31am, I have managed to find some great resources for our readers, that should help explain and clarify the report and its impacts.

Update: There is a great interview by Jim Edwards of with Mr. Rich Cleland, Assistant Deputy at The Federal Trade Commission that really clearifies a great deal of misconceptions of the new FTC guidelines. Thank you to @smbusinesscoach for the twitter update.


The buzz within the search marketing industry is torn between 2 of this quarters biggest announcements:

1. First been the search partnership of Bing ( Microsoft ) and Yahoo! ( more )

2. Secondly Google has announced a major update to its search infrastructure code named #caffeine

We are going to explore what caffeine is all about and the major differences in part 1 of this 2 part post. In part 2 we will be dealing with some direct data comparisons and delivering our own conclusions based on this data.

[ don’t forget add our RSS or Twitter to get notified when part 2 is released ]

On August 10th, the Google Webmasterblog announced public testing of their new #caffeine search quoting :

For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search. It’s the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions. The new infrastructure sits “under the hood” of Google’s search engine, which means that most users won’t notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we’re opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback.

The caffeine update is been reported as a complete rewrite of Google’s search infrastructure – lets check out what this means;

  • Changes in how Google stores the massive amount of data gathered by their robots.
    This is a direct response to the rise in new digital media such as streaming videos, blog posts, social media content ( Twitter, facebook ). The old Google infrastructure was built to handle data by way of Collection > Quality Ranking  > Sandbox > Indexing. However with the explosion of real-time content, search engines are faced with the daunting task of filtering all this content to provide a real-time search. With any major change in a new data model, software must be upgraded / rewritten, this is part of the Google Caffeine update.
  • Changes in how the Google collects its data.
    While this has not been confirmed, it is safe to assume with any updates in how data is written and stored, changes to the data collection process will also be different. Google uses robots that crawl through the web for data ( googlebot ), this is traditionally data that may not change or update in real-time. The caffeine update must include changes to the robot to cater for real-time content. My theory currently is Google has developed several types of robots that differ in its indexing rate and craw rate to cater for different media content.
  • Changes in the how data is served to end users.
    So, Google is fairly tight lipped at the moment when asked if the #caffeine update will effect end-users. Quoting from their Google webmasterblog:
  • The new infrastructure sits “under the hood” of Google’s search engine, which means that most users won’t notice a difference in search results

  • From what we have tested on the #caffeine sandbox this is not really the case, some major differences we and other users have reported include:
    • Massive differences in the total search results returned. We are talking a few million results wiped out from results in general.
    • Search query time is generally faster. ( however take into account no Adwords are been displayed, which would increase load time )
    • Major SERP ( search engine result position ) changes. Which leads me to the next important point.

Have the search results changed in Google Caffeine? ( Changes in the Google algorithm / ranking system )

Yes most definitely, although Google is stating otherwise ( for now ). When we first heard about #Google #Caffeine I posted this question to Matt Cutts from Google.

john chen August 10, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Hi Matt,

Been sussing this out all morning, from the Google blog and your post its seems there are algo changes / updates on the current sandbox. I’ve noticed some definate changes in the how the SERP is different in the sandbox in my play this morning.

Could you confirm this?

Matts response was:

john chen and Daniel Sterling, most of the changes are in things like our core indexing, so there’s less changes for things like rankings. Lots of users won’t notice a big difference

From our own research and you can verify this yourself in the #caffeine sandbox, this is simply not the case! There are major differences in Caffeine SERP that will ultimately effect users, SEO and most of all companies that depend on their search positions.

Some changes we have identified in Caffeine SERP

  • Google Sitelinks disappearing from some results.
  • Rich Snippets disappearing from some results.
  • Caffeine has difficulties handling 301’s. ( This is a bug )
  • Page 1 results mostly contain the same sites, however positioning is quiet different
  • Page 3 and onwards seem generate completely different results.
  • The index page on root domain now has more weight.
  • Pages with heavy keyword stuffing are been penalised.
  • Pagerank Sculpting is no longer effective. ( further confirming the rel=nofollow topic )
  • Brand name / Domain trust further effecting SERP. ( a step further in the Google Vince Update? )
  • Number of inbound links from external domains
  • External links using targeted keywords as anchors carry more weight.

These changes come from our initial research in comparing a sample data of searches, and by no means represent a concrete conclusion. Google caffeine is still under development, as such the algorithm and infrastructure will change and alter in the near future. These are just preliminary conclusions for your consideration ( food for thought ) and therefor I recommend that you make no immediate changes to your SEO strategies, but simply keep the above in mind.

How have your websites performed in Google Caffiene?

Google has released #caffeine for general public testing here

If you are after a direct comparison tool between #caffeine and current #google search Try

Goobinghoo - side by side SERP comparison

Goobinghoo - side by side SERP comparison

You can easily compare the search results side by side, but don’t forget to sign out of your Google account. ( otherwise you may see your own preferred results )

Part 2 of this Google Caffeine update post will expand further into our findings above and with real data + example comparisons, as well as some SEO tips that you can perform today.

Did you find this post informative? Have anything further to add? Please leave a response in the comments section.

Dear Li’l Engine members and readers,

I am honored to introduce myself as your new content editor and go-to guy for the revamp Li’l engine website and community.

During the next 6 months I will be working with top designers, programmers and writers together to bring you a better browsing experience, more SEM / SEO and internet marketing related news and online tools to help boost your productivity and sales.

Our little website is now into its 7th year, during this period we have evolved and grown alongside the SEM and internet marketing industry, which has now grown into a 23 billion dollar monster.

“They say a year in the Internet business is like a dog year.. equivalent to seven years in a regular person’s life. In other words, it’s evolving fast and faster.”
– Vint Cerf

As we start the 3 quarter of 2009 and well into the global financial crisis, the SEM industry continues to grow steadily as more corporations and business see SEM as a cheaper and more effective way of advertising.

While a major new player in the internet advertising market is breaking out and making businesses and marketers take notice. I am speaking of course about Social Media Marketing.

Lets take a look at some quick stats;

Planned Change in Online Marketing Spending by Marketers Worldwide, feb - march 2009

What is interesting from this graph when comparing SEO and Social Media Marketing is that only 8% of marketers counted SEO as not relevant / don’t know, where as 27% answered the same for Social Media Marketing.

This is great news for SEO’s as the market is now almost completely aware of the benefit of SEO, but the stat also introduces an uneducated / uncertain market for Social Media Marketing, perhaps where SEO was 7 years ago, what does this mean?

It means there is potential to convert the 27% of marketers who either don’t know about social media marketing or don’t care into the same 8% for SEO!

I see Social Media Marketing as a great potential for internet marketers in the next 2 – 3 quarters, but to achieve great results we must educate ourselves, the public and in particular the business owners / corporations to the benefits Social Media Marketing and most importantly how it alongside SEO and other internet marketing strategies will combine to generate more business and ultimately increase the bottom-line, more sales and revenue.

The goal of the new Lil Engine website is to continue to bring our readers the most up to date information on SEO and SEM but also to focus on new emerging strategies that are going to shape the future of internet marketing.

Updates you will see on Lil Engine in the last 2 quarters of 2009

  • New Logo. To usher in the fresh new ideas and direction of Li’l Engine, and to represent ourselves as the forerunner for internet marketing resources.
  • Updated site design. Easier navigation and sorting to help you get access to our resources easier and faster.
  • More frequent posts and updates on all SEO, SEM and internet marketing related news. We plan to provide the latest content via out blog, Twitter and RSS.
  • More Insight. More insight from our industry veterans. Learn from the SEM/SEO bests as they share their techniques, research and experiments with the Li’l Engine community.
  • More interaction. Our blog content will be more engaging towards the readers, we encourage you to ask the questions, challenge each other’s views in a respectful and learning environment.
  • More feedback. We plan to re-structure our discussion forum to a more productive experience for everybody. Whether you are a novice SEO looking for more knowledge, a season SEO pro  or simply a business owner seeking SEO advice, our forum will be a great place to start, our seasoned SEO/SEM veterans will also navigate the forum answering your questions.
  • New tools to boost productivity and revenue! We are planning to introduce SEO, SEM and Social Media Marketing tools and updates to our existing tools such as our free Google PageRank checker
  • Expert guides. Our goal is to create an online library focusing from the very basics of starting a website, marketing a website to managing and tracking ROI.
  • Online Market Place. Our exciting new marketplace will connect providers to businesses;
    Li’l Engine has a unique structure planned for this service which will be announced shortly
  • All about our readers

    Who should read our blog and join our discussion forums?


    Whether you are a seasoned SEO looking for the latest search engine trends or a novice SEO, Li’l Engine will give you the in-depth insight along with clear explanations.

    Web designers.

    O’dear, I’ve gone and said the D word… Truth be told there are many capable web designers out there that are interested in SEO and internet marketing. Why? Because it is an added value to their clients and employers, designers that can provide a stylish, search engine friendly and conversion driven websites are hard to find, but are desperately needed within the industry.


    Are you still wondering what all the fuss is about with internet marketing? Consider my post above, internet advertising is worth $23 billion dollars and growing, can you afford not to educate yourself?

    Business Owners.

    A little knowledge goes a very long way, next time you are approached by an SEO company, you will be armed with a certain amount of knowledge that will help you judge the competency of the SEO and you might just save yourself some $$$ at the same time! Those that are a little adventurous and curious can also try out some of our strategies themselves, the discussion forum will be a great place to network with other business owners and to get advice from seasoned SEO’s.

    All about me

    My name is John Chen, a creative director and accounts manager for a large E-business firm in Brisbane, Australia. My day to day duties include web design, following up on SEO campaigns, traffic and conversion ROI analysis and speaking with my clients whom are generally small to medium business owners.

    My background in internet marketing begun by way of fire, a start-up eshop for consumer electronics, I had knowledge in web and graphic design but little knowledge in internet marketing.
    It was a steep learning curve to find out why my website wasn’t making any sales, but luckily for me, I had 2 great mentors that were prepared to answer my dumb questions and always pointed me in the right direction. They were Napoleon Pham from evrsoft and Dejan Petrovic from DejanSEO.

    But I realize not everybody is as privileged to have access to mentors, this is one of the major motivations that I decided to take on the role as the new editor of Li’l Engine, to help build a community where experts and novices may share and learn.

    I am very much looking forward to bringing about the changes in Li’l Engine outlined above as well as chatting and participating in discussions with you on our blog and forum.

    In the mean time, please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions for me or just want to say hi, I would love to hear from some of our regular readers. Alternatively if you want to contact me directly, I can be reached on info [at] .

    To start following the progress of our development on twitter @little_engine head to

    – John

    While the world’s economies reel and Wall Street struggles to keep afloat, how will the online world be affected? Whether you’re a pro-blogger, an Internet marketer, or an online retailer, the state of e-commerce is an important barometer (more purchases means more ad spending, and more profit for everyone). Knowing this, E-consultancy came out with its Online Shopping and Credit Crunch Survey Report a while back. Surprisingly, the results show that online spending will suffer less than traditional retail. (more…)

    Being a compulsize AdSense checker, I look at my stats almost every hour, and just now I found that I couldn’t log in. Adsense gives me an error “UsernamePasswdNotMatch” in Opera. In fact, they do match, and yes, I’ve checked if caps lock was on and it’s not. On IE8, it gives me an Error 403. I did a quick Twitter search to see if other people were experiencing the same thing, and lo and behold, I wasn’t alone: (more…)

    The UN communications chief has estimated that by the end of 2008, 61% of the world’s population will be using mobile phones – an equivalent of about 4 billion people. Thanks to low cost, better infrastructure, and the human need to connect, mobile phones outnumber personal computers by a mile. We don’t only use them to call, we also text, take photos, play music, watch videos, and even access the Internet – albeit crudely. Several tech evangelists have predicted that the mobile web will be the next great frontier, but as industry players know, that’s easier said than done. (more…)

    After Yahoo! signed the controversial advertising deal with Google a few months ago, some critics denounced the company for virtually hanging the glove and giving the online advertising monopoly to Google. However, with the recent launch of Yahoo!’s new advertising platform called APT, Jerry Yang & Co. seem to be keen on proving the naysayers wrong. (more…)

    Google never ceases to amaze the webmaster community. The newest controversy involving the most popular search engine started when the team at the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog posted an article about dynamic URL rewrites:

    One friend was concerned about using dynamic URLs, since (as she told us) “search engines can’t cope with these.” Another friend thought that dynamic URLs weren’t a problem at all for search engines and that these issues were a thing of the past. One even admitted that he never understood the fuss about dynamic URLs in comparison to static URLs. For us, that was the moment we decided to read up on the topic of dynamic and static URLs.

    After several explanations on the subject, they drew these conclusions:

    Does that mean I should avoid rewriting dynamic URLs at all?
    That’s our recommendation, unless your rewrites are limited to removing unnecessary parameters, or you are very diligent in removing all parameters that could cause problems.

    (…) Although we are able to process this URL correctly, we would still discourage you from using this rewrite as it is hard to maintain and needs to be updated as soon as a new parameter is added to the original dynamic URL.

    And this was when the problems began. Reactions among webmasters, SEOs, programmers and Internet marketers have been varied, but most of them can be summarised in the following points:

    • Some people say there’s nothing wrong about Google team’s statements. For an experienced webmaster or programmer this whole URL rewriting matter can look irrelevant. But for a beginner it would be wiser not to play with URL rewrites indeed, because they could do something wrong, thus affecting their Google rankings.
    • Others have gotten annoyed at that article. Some even seem to have taken offense at it. They claim that this time the Google team just put up a bunch of silly stuff and that Google underestimates webmasters. It’s been also implied that Google once again is trying to tell people how they are supposed to run their own businesses.
    • Regardless of their views on this subject, everyone seems to agree that Google team’s article looks confusing and poorly-written.

    What do you think? Will you stop using dynamic URL rewrites because Google said you probably won’t know how to deal with them?

    If it’s true the the Internet is nothing more than a waste of time, then who else has the most idle hours to kill?

    A survey conducted by Ipsos Mendelsohn between March to July of this year revealed that the higher a person’s household income is, the more likely he is to spend his time online. Additionally, the Internet is by far the most preferred media by the rich, with television and radio coming trailing far behind. (more…)

    The famous “Google duplicate content penalty” is a permanent subject of debate among webmasters, bloggers, SEOs and the general Internet marketing community. No wonder the official Google Webmaster Central Blog publishes posts on this topic from time to time. A new one has been recently released and apparently it was meant to put an end to this debate. If it will succeed or no, only time will tell, although I have the feeling that it won’t. (more…)