Where the Bloody Hell Are Ya, Google Checkout?

So I have been waiting for Google Checkout to become available to merchants Down Under for a long time now.

Every time I spot a Google representative at a Search Conference in Australia or New Zealand, I take the opportunity to ask them publicly “Where the bloody hell is my Google Checkout merchant account?” So far, the answer has ALWAYS been the same: “We can’t give you any information about that”.

This year’s SMX Sydney conference was no different. Frederick Vallaeys, Product Evangelist for Google Adwords came to Australia to hold a session about the new Google AdWords ad formats. After listening patiently to Frederick, I raised my hand to ask a question and was handed the mic.

“When are you going to make Google Checkout available to merchants in Australia and New Zealand?”

An expectant hush came over the room. Frederick thought carefully for a moment and then said “I’ll have to get back to you on that. Please come and see me at the end of the session”.

Finally! I thought. Somebody who can give me a straight answer or put me in touch with someone who can give me a straight answer.

After the session, I packed up my laptop and headed up to the table of speakers. And…. Frederick was gone. Thankfully, Greg Grothaus from Google’s web spam team was still there and somewhat reluctantly took my card to give to Frederick. On the back I wrote my burning question. Again.

So fast forward two weeks after the conference. I received an email from Frederick with the subject line: Google Checkout in Australia. “Promising!” I told myself. But alas, his email read:

“Greg passed on your card to me. I believe you asked about Google Checkout coming to Australia?

Consumers in Australia can already use Checkout to pay for things. As for allowing Australian merchants to accept payments by Checkout, we don’t have any timelines we can share about that.

Sorry I can’t provide you with a more specific answer…


We don’t have any timelines we can share about that. WTF does that mean? Does that mean you DON’T know? Does it mean you DO know but aren’t willing to tell me? Does it mean an announcement is imminent? Does it mean you don’t really give a toss about Australia and New Zealand as they aren’t big enough markets to justify merchant accounts?

Look, I don’t complain about Google very often. Marvellous company. Brilliant people. Handy little search tool. I’m delighted that Frederick took the time to answer me personally. BUT, surely somebody, somewhere in the Googleplex can give me and other AU/NZ merchants in waiting a straight answer about this matter? It’s been 3 years since I began asking.

Where the bloody hell are ya, Google Checkout?

[Editor Update 1 : If you’re an Aussie or Kiwi merchant and would like to know where the bloody hell YOUR  Google Checkout account is, please comment on this post, or better still, make your feelings known to Google Down Under on Twitter and copy me in via @kalena]

[Editor Update 2 : Thanks to those of you who contacted Google Down Under to ask about Google Checkout for merchants Down Under. I’ve had a response from them: “…we want paid apps for devs too but it takes a while to roll this out, we don’t have a timeline for this yet“. Aaaaarrrggghhh! ]

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Dumbass of the Week: Facebook Users

DuhOh boy, you’re going to love this one.

It all began last week when Read Write Web, (a very popular blog based here in New Zealand), published a post about Facebook’s new partnership with AOL called FB Wants to Be Your One True Login.

Apparently the post started ranking in the top Google SERPs for *facebook login*. Nothing wrong with that so far, it makes perfect sense given the post title and TrustRank the site has built up in Google.

BUT, all these strange and inappropriately angry comments with excessive use of exclamation marks began appearing on the RWW post.

Comments like this:

“When can we log in?”

“I don’t like the new facebook. Why fix something that isn’t broken. this really sucks..”

“I just want to log in to Facebook – what with the red color and all?”

“Quit this crap and let me sign in!

“All I wanted to do was LOG IN TO MY FACE BOOK ACCOUNT! I don’t like this new way! “If it an’t broke why fix it?”

“Can we log into face book? This is crazy I want to get all my info off and be done with this.”

“How do you get in?”

“I just want to get into my Facebook page.”

“This is such a mess I can’t do a thing on my facebook . The changes you have made are ridiculous,I can’t even login!!!!!I am very upset!!!”

“I was just learning,why would you mess it up?”

“All I want to do is log in, this sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“The new facebook sucks> NOW LET ME IN.”

RWW staff were confused at first, but then it dawned on them. Instead of bookmarking Facebook.com or entering www.facebook.com in their browser address bar like anyone with half a brain, all these commenters were apparently typing *facebook login* into Google whenever they wanted to login to Facebook and then clicking randomly on one of the results. The RWW post just happened to be the one they clicked on.

Having arrived at the Read Write Web post about Facebook, they somehow thought it WAS the *new* Facebook, despite the completely different color, design and the very clear Read Write Web heading at the top of the page. Not only did they think they were AT Facebook, but these commenters, in their hundreds, somehow managed to ignore the post itself, work out how to comment ON the post and leave their inappropriate rants about how much the hated the *new* Facebook. Except for one commenter, who claimed he liked the new design.

As the hours wore on and the page rose even higher in the Google results for *facebook login*, the comments became even more inappropriately angry and amusing:


“I am going to delete my account (IF I CAN EVER LOG IN) as this SUCKS BIG TIME ! If this does not get back to NORMAL you are going to lose a lot of folks who hate this and as you can see from all the comments they think it sucks too !!! facebook was great for connecting with old friends …now, NOT SO MUCH. SO HOW DO I LOG IN?”

“Bring me back old facebook this is sheet”


“Who’s idea was this?? Hope he’s not too big to fire cause he just LOST a bunch of faithful users. Chances are it’ll never be the same as it was before….cya”

“I’m going back to my f*ckin space u ass holes have to f*ck up a good this !!!!! dumn asses

To add to the hilarity, a Facebook user called Laraine (bless her heart), found a new way for Facebook users to solve their *problem*:

“For those of you that want to get in face book now just go to Bing..put in face book and search (or it will pop up) hit on face book login and it takes you  to your password page…i did it…. if this ever gets back to normal I will use the address bar from now on…..”

Read Write Web added a big bold paragraph to the original post stating *This site is not Facebook* and wrote a new post addressing the issue called We’re Still Not Facebook, but they continued to be bombarded with flames. It’s a little something I like to call The Walmart Effect.

There are two morals to this story:

1) There should be some type of study done on the correlation between IQ and the use of exclamation marks.

2) You need to design your web site and your software for the lowest common denominator.

I’m reminded of Damian Conway’s fantastic presentation at Webstock Web 2.Overwhelming – 22 Ways to Frustrate Your Visitors where he amusingly drilled into us that the majority of our web site users are NOT geeks, they’re NOT tech savvy and as this example shows, Dumb User Errors (DUE) are terrifyingly commonplace.

Make your stuff embarrassingly easy to use, because Dumb Happens.

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Q and A: Should I pay for a listing on Google Local Business?

QuestionHi Kalena

I have come across a company that guarantees placement in the top 7 of Google local business results within 60 days or they give the money back.  Does this sound kosher to you?

They charge a one-time set up fee of $50 and $49 a month.  Is there a way that you could tell me to do that?  I know they submit to a lot of search engines.  Is this a fraud?  The company is Geo Listing Service out of Las Vegas.

Thank you for your help.


Hi Lois

It’s just a scam. You can get a site listed in Google Local for free by making sure your business is listed in Google Maps.

More info here:

Google Local Business Center

Google Maps Local Business Help

Just to wind ’em up, ask this Vegas mob why you should pay for a service that’s provided free by Google and watch them back-pedal. Better still, share the results with us in the comments!

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Dumbass of the Week: Virgin Blue

Today, an unknown number of Virgin Blue Velocity members (including me) received an email titled “Surprise!- You’ve Turned Gold”.

The email announced that the recipient had been granted a free upgrade to Velocity Gold, the Gold level membership of Virgin Blue’s frequent flyer programme for a period of one year. The email went on to describe perks available to Gold members when travelling including:

  • Free Lounge membership, so you can catch up on work, relax and escape the airport crowds.
  • Priority check-in.
  • Up to 32kg of checked baggage at no cost.
  • Two personalised baggage tags

No reason for the unexpected upgrade was given, apart from “you came so close to making it on your own”, suggesting that the recipient’s Velocity points for the past 12 months came close to the number required to qualify for Gold status. Except they didn’t. At least not in my case. Not even close. You normally need to reach 50,000 points to qualify.

My husband received the same email, as did many others, judging by the discussion on Twitter shortly thereafter.

Still, it was a delightful surprise. Feeling chuffed, I click on a link within the email to an explanation of Velocity Gold. ONOZ. It led to a bizarre error message stating that the whole thing had been a terrible mistake:

Friday the 13th strike
Oops! Due to an error, you may have received an email regarding a Gold upgrade by mistake. Please disregard the free upgrade communication. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Virgin Blue is yet to offer any explanation for the error, apart from a single tweet blaming the email screw up on Friday the 13th. The backlash on Twitter so far has been brutal. Result? Gold Standard Marketing FAIL.

What do you think? Should Virgin Blue honour their original offer? Or is their Friday 13th excuse enough? Please add your comments below.

UPDATE 1: According to @bengrubb, Virgin Blue is blaming an IT glitch for the problem.

UPDATE 2: I created a new hash tag on Twitter for the incident called #velocitygate and it seems to have taken off.

UPDATE 3: Not sure when it went up, but the Velocity Rewards site now features an apology front and center of their home page. It’s a step in the right direction:

UPDATE 4: According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today (17 November), the email glitch was human error, pure and simple and accompanied by tears of panic as it was posted out to over 1 million recipients by mistake. No action will be taken by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over the glitch and if Velocity members still have an issue, they are being advised to contact the airline directly. Drama over, move along please, nothing to see here.

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Thank you Derek Powazek, but…

So last week, Derek, you decided that Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) was worthless and persons who perform SEO were evildoers.

Not surprisingly, the SEO industry was outraged. Some bared their teeth and responded in kind. Others tried to reason with you and calmly deconstruct your criticisms.  All of us were offended on some level and felt the need to defend the industry, me included.

This week, you seem to have had second thoughts about your rant and you’ve posted an apology of sorts on your blog. This is to be commended Derek, thank you and I’m pleased you finally seem to understand why you were wrong to isolate an industry. BUT, you tarnish the apology by accusing us of being too defensive and not doing enough to clean up the industry.

You say:

“I ask the good SEOs: What are you doing to clean up your industry? Perhaps if you did more, you wouldn’t have to endure the regular bleats of frustration from people like me.”

As Shari Thurow and Jill Whalen state in the comment thread, we write articles. We speak at conferences. We publish blogs and newsletters that educate webmasters about *good* SEO.

I run this (unpaid) agony aunt column answering newbie questions about anything search engine related. My latest post even warns a reader against taking up the services of a scammer (calling himself an SEO) claiming to be able to put a site onto the first page of Google within 24 hours.

I tutor students in 44 countries in SEO via an online educational institution that I founded specifically to educate confused webmasters. And yes, web design, usability and copywriting are featured as key components.

In other words, we’re doing our best.

Derek, you end your *apology* with:

“If someone tells you that your hair is green, the only reason to get defensive is if it’s true.”

Another reason to come to the defense of our industry is when it is wrongly labelled. If we didn’t care about our industry’s reputation we wouldn’t bother to try and correct assumptions and stop the spread of misinformation, right?

As one commenter stated in the *apology* thread,  we felt we needed to clean up YOUR view of the SEO practitioners out there so it didn’t propagate the myth that SEO is evil. It’s just another way we’re trying to clean up our industry as a whole, as you are suggesting.

What more would you have us do?

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