Monday, 28 December 2009

Thank You All!

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for reading the blog over the past few weeks, months, etc. The blog will definitely continue to run on in the new year but I am moving it over to my own domain.

The address for the Crockstar Blog will now be:

Thanks a lot!


Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Rebirth of the Brand? What "Personalized Search" Means for You

After a lull in the hay day of the brand and the world in which "brand was king" (see a nice post on this) it is worth considering the new (and increased importance of brand) as a result of changes to Google-- most specifically the implementation of personalized search on Google. While some along the way were writing the obituary for "the brand" had sort of gone out the window and the whole idea was that brand loyalty would grow increasingly dependent on social media and "web 2.0", this new development by Google has some pretty serious implications.

Image Via: Google (Shocker...)

1. Implications for SEO
The exact metrics Google uses to rank pages has always been a bit of a mystery. Though personalized search will add to this mystery a bit, it is unlikely to change things a great deal. At the end of the day, this may create a larger drive for raw traffic and return visitors and decrease some of the emphasis google places on linkbuilding, but at present the magnitude of these effects remains largely unknown and are but toolks in the larger SEO toolkit.

2. Implications for Linkbuilding
While the need for a "huge number" of links has been debated as to its value in SEO returns, the argument has always stood and has been fairly well supported (LINKS) that there is a great deal of value in having some good quality pages that link to your site-- the whole concept being (at least in SEOmoz speak) that power or "link juice" can be passed from one well respected site to another site.
Example: A link from the BBC to your website would be more valuable than a link from Bill's Local Plumbing (assuming, for the sake of the example that your site is a fashion blog).

While the birth of personalized search may in fact impact the way in which this "link juice" is passed along, it seems unlikely that it will impact the value of having links from a good site. This would seem self explanatory from the standpoint of: more relevant traffic (in greater volumes) is likely to be driven to my website from a BBC fashion website than from the page of Bill's Local Plumbing.

3. Implications for Search Results:
This will change things from a certain degree both for the way in which we talk about search results, but also for SEOs and Google users alike. The first change will be an increased inability to describe yourself as "the third search result for fashion blogging". This may seem a drastic change, but this would never really be a reliable way to describe yourself as location, whether one considers AdWords results and a number of other factors will have already impacted this.

The second change, will be the increased desire to generate click through from organic search results to improve rank and to improve the likelihood that an individual (and folks with similar search behavior and interests) will return your site more regularly when searching for relevant terms. This will be an impact for the user (insofar as they are likely to receive results that are impacted by previous behavior-- DUH!).

There will also be impacts for SEOs and other internet marketing folks: there may well be an increased push for Google AdWords campaigns. Though the exact way in which click through on Adwords results will impact Page Rank and likelihood that your site will rank for a certain term it certainly won't hurt!

4. Impact for Developers and Designers
Despite some calling personalized search "the death of SEO" this does not seem to be the case. More than likely it may require more joined-up efforts between SEOs and Dev teams, but this certainly does not spell the end for SEO.

Why? Because, if anything, sites will need to perform better and be enjoyable (i.e. generate return visitors) to continue to rank well. While this may see the rich get richer (please see a great post on this by Randfish) it will also hopefully force dev teams and clients wishing to build new websites to incorporate some of the best practices for which SEOs have been calling for years:
a. Make sure your site is crawler/robot/spider friendly.
b. Make sure your content is worth reading and relevant!
c. Encourage interaction with visitors and a coherent and strategic cross-media approach.
d. Try to earn links from the most appropriate and relevant sources.

Though "Personalized Search" may have altered the face of SEO a bit, it seems to have done nothing but reaffirm the need for SEO and to continue with many of the best practices from days past. The ever-evolving beast that is Google may not allow SEO to continue "business as usual" (in as much as it ever has been), but this will not be a knockout blow to SEO.

While "brand" may not have ever died, these changes will almost certainly magnify the effects of brand loyalty on the web and the need to have a user (and search) friendly site to which people feel a strong desire to return. The only "new" prescription I've really seen come out of any of the SEO communities is the call for an increase in the tightness [of integration] in metrics with page rank tracking (to paraphrase Randfish).

Image by Me (though I obviously don't own the rights to Coca-Cola nor its trademark and did not create this portion of the image)

As always, please feel free to hit me up with any comments you might have!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Keep 'Em Coming!

While I had initially requested that your pictures show you doing your favorite thing or in one of your favorite places I realized that Jeff is a Med student and rocking out on the computer with a Guitar at arms length is probably a nice break for him these days.

Keep sending your pictures for your few minutes of fame!

(a couple large tees left, get 'em while they're hot)

Monday, 14 December 2009

We Interrupt this Program... Google Nexus One

I hate to interrupt the countdown of 2009's best but it must be done for this announcement (that Apple can be thankful won't impact their win from 2009): the Google phone is both very real and very live. Being called a "beautiful, sexy mess" and an "iphone on beautifying steroids" by some twitter users it is a foregone conclusion of who the game changing winner of 2010 will be for best mobile release... and it's not even out yet.

The google phone (which has been rumored for at least two years now) is finally real and beat the apple tablet out of the gate. It is rumored to be carried by google directly as well as potentially through some other mobile characters.

Image via: Gizmodo

This IS going to be a game changer, on that I am willing to bet. Am all of a sudden very thankful that I resisted the peer pressure to buy an iphone (a genuinely great product) but am pretty amped that I will be without any contract tie-downs when Google releases this beast unlocked in January 2010. Oh yeah, it is said to be running Android 2.1 (an as of yet unreleased version), will be able to download at over 7mb per second (!!!) and was co-created with HTC so that all of the Google software and Android 2.1 platform run smooth as ice.

Look for your Google x HTC "nexus one" early January 2010 and plan on popularity that will make queues for the iphone look like a joke. Keep your eyes peeled on Gizmodo for more info and future updates!

Story confirmed this morning by google: ending speculation that the phone was little more than Twitter gossip.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Best Menswear Collection (Released in 2009) - Junya Watanabe MAN

Now, a lot of arguments can be made here about the choice of a collection RELEASED in 2009 as opposed to showed in 2009 and some might argue that MAN for Comme des Garcons should only count as a capsule collection, but, to do so is to discredit from what in my opinion was far and away the best collection of the year, if not of the decade.

Junya broke every last rule in the book with his current season collection (A/W 2009). While Crockstar Limited originally covered Watanabe's rulebreaking collection in August I have had the opportunity to think back on the collection with a bit of hindsight and with the benefit of comparison to other collections. In addition to combining blue, black and brown/natural leather (ill advised really) as well as fire orange and red (unheard of). Junya took outdoor chic and made it trendy for city and streetwear. Watanabe's collection basically takes some classic hints from the likes of L.L. Bean and mashes them up with the typical "cut and paste" flair preferred by Comme des Garcons making good use of a bit of streetwear edge.

The cuts were almost a full season ahead of what might have been expected and Watanabe's foresight is what gives him the credibility to be sold both in the basement at Dover Street Market and a prominent feature in GQ magazine, a spot on the coveted menswear racks of Liberty of London and a number of features in Highsnobiety. Watanabe toes the line between art and functionality and between edgy streetwear and classic menswear.

The colorways were quite obviously inspired by traditional autumn and winter colors as were the materials, his use and combination of these "traditional" motifs however are what separates this collection from others like it and what separate Watanabe from the rest. A collection that truly must be seen and -perhaps more importantly- felt, the combination of fabrics warrants every painstaking pound that a piece of this collection will set you back (close to a grand for many fo the jackets). Clasically trained by the same teachers as Yohji Yamamoto and heavily influenced by CdG creator founder Rei Kawakubo it is no wonder that Watanabe combined classic with experimental, past with future and threw down the best collection this year.

A great way to end a decade which saw a number of trends and a general lack of a full on style that embodied the era... I would not be shocked if this collection defines what is meant by fashion design in the "noughties".

Watanabe's attention to detail is unmatched. 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Year's Best Sneaker Releases

This was an extremely tough call for me to make, especially being a bit of a sneakerhead myself. Yes I queued up the day before to try to get a pair of Air Yeezy's (the black and pink ones), and no I still didn't get a pair. And though I like the feel and will hands down give the Yeezy's the nod for BIGGEST release of the year (more on that later) I cannot in good conscience give them the nod for best release of the year. This may be partially influenced by Kanye's stage-stealing, partially by a bit of bitterness at not having a pair myself and partially by my reluctance to admit that Kanye has serious style (I'm sorry people... despite some of the terrible trends he has started... he does). HOWEVER, despite the success of all of the Yeezy releases, the freshest, best looking pair of kicks from this year were both inspired by films and both released by Nike (I will freely admit my bias).

First up: the White Men Can't Jump inspired Nike Air Flight Lite High. These caught their fair share of both ups and disses, and the comment made by Nice Kicks contributor Matt Halfhill about the fact that he cannot remember Billy Hoyle wearing these bad boys at any point in the film is a valid point. However, the key here is the inspiration rather than the historical validity, and the inspiration created by Billy Hoyle's "chump" style is well worth exploring. While this is arguably one of the greatest films of the early 90s (if not the entire decade) it should be notice that these are about as true to Hoyle's persona and style as might be expected or wished for.

 Fresh'uns From Billy's Closet (Nice Kicks)
This is not an argument to say that a shoe based upon Sidney Deane's sense of style would not have been even hotter, HOWEVER, that said... this sneaker inspired by Billy boy is true to form and well executed. The selection of the Air Flight high's and their colorway is perfect for the mishmash style (tie-dye hat, work shorts, tube socks... come on) of Billy.

Billy Hoyle Driving on Sidney Deane (Uncoached)
Obviously, I would have been equally excited to see them bring back the Air Command's initially worn by Billy, but for a new and fresh film-inspired kick I couldn't possibly ask for more.

The next choice are the Nike Hypermax McFly (NFW)... another movie inspired sneaker and about as filthy a colorway as you will ever see (gray, white, pink, blue). This particular release is one of my favorites as well because it does more than simply make use of a nice colorway and the name of a film. Drawing inspiration from the ill shoes sported by Marty McFly in Back to the Future II (with a self-locking system and some serious light-ups) Nike took their hypermax and stripped the flywire out of them

McFly on His Hoverboard (Sneaker Hunt)

This is a cool decision to have made for two reasons: one flywire is a bit notorious for ripping despite it's lightweight and implied strength, TWO (and perhaps more importantly) it is a cool and literal approach to taking "back to the future" and bringing it to life a la Nike. Nike took one of their most technologically advanced sneakers (well known for its use of flywire technology) and flipped it old school by giving it a plain gray flat nylon/satin upper. The combination of the past and the future comes together nicely and a nice hit of glow-in-the-dark on the soles does nothing but make the drop even fresher. Argue if you like about the Hypermax NFW and the Hyperdunk McFly (from 2008), but they are both fresh as any sneaker I saw this past year.

Nike McFly Hypermax NFW 2009 (Highsnobiety)