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Top 10 Internet Marketing Sites for 2009

Each year, we pick the top Internet Marketing sites from the many hundreds we have investigated for this newsletter. We feature them in our annual "Best of" issue. It took hours for Sr. Editor Janet Roberts and me to select the most useful and emblematic Internet Marketing sites for 2009. See our Top 10 picks for 2009 below.

1. Scoopler

This beta-version search engine mashes up four hot trends in search:

  • Real-time results from live posts on Twitter, Flickr, Digg and Delicious
  • Concierge-level search categories that automatically filter out irrelevant results and sort results into links, videos and images
  • One-click sharing that lets you spread the word about your results to your key social networks
  • Trending topics that show what's resonating with other searchers.

It sounds as if Scoopler delivers a bewildering array of options, but its page navigation sorts the results into easily scannable sections that quickly train the brain to hone in on the most relevant results: pure search results on the left side of the page and "live" posts streaming in real time on the right.

Still too much information? Click the "pause" button to halt the stream while you scan the comments which come labeled with the network source and poster's name or Twitter handle. Scoopler also saves all your searches from a single session so you don't have to retype search terms if you want to revisit a particular set of results.

2. Who's Blogging What

WBW's Jeff Ente does for today's information-hungry marketing professional what Reader's Digest did for magazine readers generations ago: He sifts through over 1,100 blogs and email newsletters each week, covering all aspects of digital marketing, and uses his considerable editorial instincts to compile one of the handiest lists on the Net.

His weekly email newsletter, which presents a scannable list of the "most important" posts of the week as determined by reader interest, is "must" reading for time-pressed marketing professionals.

Featured posts are divided into relevant categories, including Social Media, Search Marketing, Email Marketing, User Experience and "Radar Screen," which includes posts with information you need to know to stay ahead of the game.

We read every issue of "Who's Blogging What" when it hits the in-box and have been recommending him to everyone. No one has yet been disappointed. Congrats to you, Jeff Ente, on a service well crafted.

3. Clusty

PPC insiders rave about this keyword-clustering search engine (hence the name, "Clusty"), which helps you refine your keyword research and generate clusters of keywords that can more precisely match your customers' search inquiries.

Just type your broad keywords into the search form. The Clusty engine sorts search results into folder topics and lists how many results are in each folder. This can help you expand the breadth of your campaign and generate ideas for creating ad groups.

For example, the search term "math tutor" generated 22 hits in a folder marked "Algebra, Trigonometry." Clicking the "remix" button generated another top results folder marked "Calculus," also with 22 hits.

4. Aardvark

Aardvark's value proposition is simple: "Ask questions. Get live answers from your friends (and their friends)." For search marketers, it's another portal to the zeitgeist, showing what people want to know at that very moment.

Famed search guru Mike Grehan is a big fan of the service, its many uses and the variety of channels you can use to submit questions and get answers (via IM, email and Twitter).

Aardvark maximizes the use of social networking, taking questions from its users and sending them out both to people in the user's own Aardvark network and to general Aardvark users whose profiles match keywords in the user questions.

5. MobiQpons

With mobile couponing projected to hit $6 billion in redemptions by 2014, it's clear that the time has come to get on board. A good example to follow is MobiQpons, a GPS-based coupon service with an iPhone app, the most user-friendly mobile coupon service of the many we investigated.

MobiQpons has a deep and wide list of offers from participating merchants, even for those who live miles from an urban center. Using the GPS tool on your iPhone, MobiQpons zeroes in on your location and searches out the closest offers from its merchants.

Besides the greater variety of offers, MobiQpons also automatically asks users if they want to update their locations. Other apps either have fewer offers or force users to click to another part of the app to update their current locations.

6. Get Elastic

You can always expect to find something useful on this blog, written by Linda Bustos, Emerging Media Analyst for ecommerce platform provider Elastic Path. Several of the Internet Marketing gurus we've interviewed have said they regularly read Bustos' helpful, problem-solving approaches to everyday ecommerce issues.

One recent post detailed the creation of a highly user-friendly registration page, complete with graphics and detailed descriptions of features to include and pitfalls to avoid. Blog posts are not ponderous best-practice proclamations but late-breaking news and advice grounded in practical experience.

7. Facebook Marketing Solutions and Facebook Advertising

So, you want to use Facebook as a marketing or sales channel? Start with the Facebook Marketing Solutions site, which is set up like a best practices Facebook fan page. This is your springboard to interior pages that explain how to set up, maintain and grow your group or fan page sites within the network.

When you're ready to spend ad money, turn to the Facebook Advertising site to learn how to create and optimize ads that will speak to Facebook's diverse audiences. Tabbed sections on this page walk you through every step, including design, pricing and targeting.

Among your choices: target by age, sex, location, interests, schools, relationship status or your own keywords. The site also provides novice-level advice on how to pay for ads: by views (CPM) or clicks (CPC).

Facebook recognizes that many potential advertisers are new not just to Facebook but to the ad game itself and provides a detailed Suggested Best Practices for Advertising on Facebook page with tips like these: "Make it clear what your product or service is so a user can tell what your website will be about, but save the details for your landing page."

8. Mashable

If you aren't monitoring Mashable every day now, you're probably behind the game, whether you work in marketing for a midsize or major company or head up your own small business. Many try to outdo this uber-blog covering all aspects of social media, but its broad coverage and insider information make it the go-to authority.

The site is also a model of navigation and organizational efficiency. It sorts its posts into two broad streams: content categories and news streams. Just click on the category or news list you want. Only stories tagged for those categories will appear. Share posts with your networks and see what's hot with other readers.

Because Mashable generates a flood of content every day, we suggest adding it to your RSS feed reader or getting the day's posts wrapped up in a single email newsletter delivered the next day via Feedburner.

9. oneforty

If you are committed to Twitter as a marketing or communications channel for your company, this site can serve as your information concierge. It provides a fast and easy guide to applications that will help make microblogging work better for you.

Provided as a service by power-Twitterers Laura Fitton and others, oneforty categorizes its application reviews by use (sorting out the must-have URL shorteners, for example), by platform (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, etc.), or by category, such as advertising, multimedia, music and networking.

10. Which Test Won?

How finely tuned are your marketing smarts? Test them at this new site, introduced in 2009 by publishing veteran Anne Holland.

Each week, she presents a mini case study of an ecommerce provider or paid-content publisher who used A/B split testing to drive better results. The twist: you get to see the two variables and vote for the one you think actually did better. Did you pick the winner or the loser?

Once you cast your vote, you'll see which test delivered better results. You also get the scoop on how much of an improvement the change delivered as well as how many of your fellow readers also guessed correctly.

Besides being a clever way to report case-study results, this concrete information also helps you make the case for funding campaign testing to your CFO when she asks you to justify your media budget. You'll educate yourself, too, with the site's downloadable reports and a testing glossary.