Category Archives: internet news

The Periodic Table of Search

The folks over at Search Engine Land developed a great chart which details SEO and used properly, may even be able to pinpoint issues in your current website and campaign.

It has several areas which layout a basic SEO checklist, beginning even from the coding of your pages, all the way up to the off page SEO tactics used. As well it has a section labeled as Violations, which starts with the very light errors of having poor content and keyword stuffing, up to methods which can grant severe penalties like using paid links and cloaked pages.

It’s a well put together chart which gives a great starting point for the technically minded business owner interested in their websites and would like to take a peek at things under the hood so to speak. Bear in mind as well, the graphic is not the end all be all list of SEO tips and guidelines, it’s merely Search Engine Lands version of what they feel is the absolute neccesary list of pros and cons.

You can have a better look at their image here.

Search and Socially Adjusted Results

With the addition of the Google +1 button to the social world, an old question has been starting to make advertising agencies take notice again. Is the social ranking element of search, beginning to shape where you show up in the SERPs?

It has been long known that when you “Like” a topic via the Facebook button, you can generate a fair amount of traffic just with a simple click of a button. It’s only recently been entrenched in the Bing results now though that those “Like”s are beginning to shape your personal results pages. When you’re signed into your Facebook account and you perform a search for model racecar in Bing for example. You’ll be able to see mixed within your search results if any of your friends are involved in the same model racing scene as you are. It can create a good deal of traffic if your site is catering on a social level. With the addition now of the Google +1 button, it’s assumed we’ll begin to see the integration of the same types of results in Google as you would see in Bing and the Facebook “Like” button.

Part of the idea is you can determine which of those people on your friends list, you may have more in common with that you didn’t already know. It’s really a personal preference at this point in the game, as you need to be signed in to both services to view your friends likes in your search results. It’s going to be an interesting shift in the search game depending on how heavily your friends connections are valued as opposed to the organic listings as they are presently.

Eric Schmidt – I Screwed Up

Previous long running CEO of Google Eric Schmidt during a conference yesterday had a lot of thoughts to share about the online world.

Facebook for example, had connections to all of the friends you have, have ever had and even the friends you forgot about. They’re almost all there ready for you to find and become reacquainted with. Microsoft has their finger in the business pie so to speak, as that is their strongest market. Amazong Schmidt shared, is seen as the largest “store front” on the internet and Apple makes pretty things.

For all of the merits he bestowed on his comrades in the online world, he was also quick to add that as strong as they are, one of the companies being discussed was out of the expanding loop of the internet. The giant who just seems to be missing the bus is Microsoft, they just don’t seem to be using the same “platforming strategy”, as Schmidt called it, as the rest of the bunch.

The discussion however, was not limited to Microsofts perceived weakness in the current digital age. Schmidt in a rather candid moment declared, “I screwed up.” Of the laundry list of complaints people have had the world over about the search giant and their practices and procedures, the mistake Schmidt was speaking of was missing the boat to the social party. That’s not to say that Google is a one trick pony of course, just that he missed the social boom so to speak.

Schmidt has since passed the CEO reins to Larry Page, who’ve shifted the companies focus towars social with a very focused vision of becoming a serious player.

Bing and Malicious Website Tag Removal

If there is anything in the world of search which can change the performance of your site ranking overnight, it’s being tagged as being a malicious site or having malware links on your pages. Searchers get warned when your site is displayed in the SERPs that visiting your site may harm their computer, it’s not hard to imagine that searchers would choose to stay away from your site as a result.

Being flagged as a malicious site or having malware links on your page can happen a number of different ways. In the serious end of things your site and/or server may have been hijacked and your pages could have been rewritten. You could have been picked up with an iframe attack, a clever hacker could have written a code injection on a page comment or link, or you could have just been repoted as such by a jealous competitor. There are a great many ways you can be flagged as a malware/malicious site.

There is a story circulating in the search world today about one such website owners dilemma. Their website, a Yahoo based store, was flagged as being a malicious website contianing malware links on their site. This is a web based business whose CMS is sandboxed after a fashion, by Yahoo controls and Bing has labelled them as malicious. Being flagged is a terrible thing, but seeing as the diligence has been done and there’s been found to be no fault, the owner submitted a ticket for the flag to be removed from their site as it had been applied in error. Now here’s the big problem, after submitting his help ticket and noticing that no change has been made they made a help ticket with Bing. The response they received, has to be no less than shattering; malware re-evaluation with Bing can take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks to become resolved and for the flag to be removed. When your business is primarily generated through online presence, losing 3 to 6 weeks of business due to an error on a search engines part is devastating to your lively hood.

It’s always warranted to search for yourself online, to ensure you’re placing where you’re aiming and you’re displaying the information you want to be known for. What you definitely do not want to see is the malicious website warning to be tied to your site, as it takes Bing a minimum of a month to remove it, maybe as long as 6 weeks. At least on the upside, Google only needs 24 hours to remove a misplaced tag.

PROTECT IP Act – Shut Down

The most recent effort to introduce a bill aimed at placing the responsibility of policing the internet, of sorts, and it’s content has been blocked by Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

The PROTECT IP Act was layed out and written in such a fashion that it would fall to internet service providers and search engines to essentially censor the internet. The proposed aim was to reduce the flow of business to websites selling counterfit name brand products. And while the goal is a noble one, the powers granted to the government over the ISPs and search engines if they didn’t comply with their directives was too far reaching. Basically any business could rat out another to the government, who would then turn around and say “Block this website” to the search engines and service providers. If they didn’t comply, they’d be subject to the whims of the body put in place to oversee their actions.

The largest issue with the bill and the way it was written, the burden of proof was placed on the accused, not the accuser. In essence, if you wanted to stop a competitor from advertising on the web and placing within the SERPs, all you would need to do is accuse them of infringing on your copyrights. The burden of proof would then be placed on the accused and they would be basically blacklisted to the corners of the internet.

A strong advocate of the bill had his own take on the necessity of the bill:

“American consumers are too often deceived into thinking the products they are purchasing at these websites are legitimate because they are easily accessed through their home’s Internet service provider, found through well known search engines, and are complete with corporate advertising, credit card acceptance, and advertising links that make them appear legitimate”- Senator Patrick Leahy

It’s easy enough to debate his comment however with just the simple statement, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re looking to buy a Rolex and you stumble upon that “hidden” gem online where you can buy one for a 10th of the retail cost, I would bet you’re buying a counterfit. Big business has a problem with the counterfitters namely because they’re almost entirely fly by night. They’ll engage in ruthless cut throat, black hat SEO tactics to continually rank above them in the SERPs to gain the visibility. The most consistent way to “win” the counterfit war is to simply rank above the gamers of the system. Investing in your website, investing in organic SEO and most importantly, investing in your brands online visibility.

The Web without Search?

The web is an amazingly powerful tool used everyday by billions of people around the world. Searching, blogging, creating all manner of art, researching and changing the world one bit at a time. At the center of the chaos are the search engines, working to try and bring some order to things. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask they all work in a similar manner to try and serve up the web for it’s users. But an always interesting thought, what would the web be like without the search engines trying to organizing things?

Users of the web like to complain that the results aren’t what they’re looking for or that it’s crowded with ads. Accessing the web without any kind of a search tool or a way of organizing it would be much like being dropped into the wilderness without any clue of direction or means of survival. Hunting for pages based on referral links and word of mouth would be the only real way to find your way around the trillions of pages of the web. We wouldn’t have the massive marketing tool with the search engines, there wouldn’t be ideas shared, knowledge exchanged or any of the fuzzy feel good that comes from global collaboration.

As much as the SERPs seem terrible, as often as it feels like someone somewhere is trying to move in on your privacy, without the search engines the web would be a complete shambles.

On an unrelated note, Fresh Traffic was named Tenant of the Month at 201 Portage this month! We have cake if you want to drop by and nab a piece.

Wild Wild SEO West?

A trending topic for the last 6 weeks or so online has been the SEO changing Panda updates. Both the original and the latest versions of the algorithm updates. Some website owners have laughed, some have cried, but all of us in the SEO industry have had to adjust some to compensate for the changes.

A new twist on the update discussion that has been gaining traction as of late is the thoughts of the increased diligence that as SEO experts, we will be conducting when picking up new clients. Scouring the content, links and the structure of the site were always paramount to success, checking the backlink structure however was often just glanced at. With the scare which Panda has brought into the spotlight of using content farm back links or having a link farm tied to your site, checking on a deep backlink history for clients new and old has become a priority. The fear that snagging that new massive deal, be undermined because of shady link building practices in the past has elevated the concerns of the search community.

It has also raised another question about the discovery of link farm back links and paid link building schemes to boost clients page rank. The Panda updates and the Google algorithm in general, have often caught the ire of the masses as being poor and best and out right failing at worst. Being that anyone can check any websites backlink structure and history, the development of a built in website reporting widget for your browser from Google and it seems that the industry is due to become full of vigilantes. Imagine the scenario, while checking on a niche competitors backlinks you discover that they’ve been buying thousands of links to boost their page rank and SERPs standing. With just a quick click of your mouse and a short form filled out, you’ve essentially neutered your competition and kicked their feet out from under them in one efficient motion.

This could lead to a massive amount of finger pointing and name calling in the SEO community. But at the same time, it’ll help reinforce the organic search experts position in the field. Never forget the basics, always keep it simple, don’t buy into link schemes which claim to guarantee page rank and SERP position and always do your due diligence.

Proposed Web Privacy Bill and You

So this new bill being pushed in California is supposed the be in place to protect your privacy online. Okay, I have no issues with that, but there is something that strikes me a little odd personally. Not only does the proposed bill say that social networking sites would automatically have heightened security, but it places tighter controls in the hands of parents of minors who use those same sites.

This is a personal opinion of course, but the only real change that social sites online should adopt at present would be a new mantra. Allow your consumer/user base to opt-in to innitiatives instead of opt-out of them. Just because you make a small tweak to a random section of the security settings doesn’t mean you flag everyones profile as open and public as default either. Leaving the power of privacy in the hands of the users is a stronger stance than placing the onus on the company.

Of course there are those heralding the bill as a great idea, that it provides protection against personal information being tracked and sold to third parties online. To that I say ‘Learn to read’. The security settings aren’t difficult to understand in any network I’ve been involved in and they’re always in an out of the way place. You don’t login to a social network to be bombarded with ‘CHECK YOUR PRIVACY!!’ you login to see what your circle is involved in at the moment, to create or strengthen business ties, or maybe even to just talk to your aunt or grandma who lives across the country.

Just as the saying goes ‘If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen’ if you can’t be arsed to manage your own information, don’t expect the web to do it for you. Information is bought, sold, traded and stolen every second of every day online, if you’re only waking up to that now that’s not the internets fault. PEBKAC.

The SEO Expert Myth – We don’t have membership cards

There are risks and rewards to be found for your business in any advertising avenue, when you get to the bottom line you need to weigh the costs versus the return on the investment. And while some of the oldest marketing tricks in the book still work, like television, radio and newspaper. The simple truth is, less and less people are buy newspapers, watching television or listening to the radio.

Consumers are beginning to PVR their favorite shows, skipping the commercials and spending their time watching the content they want to see. Newspapers, once one of the largest staples of information, readership has been steadily dropping as more and more people get their news from an online source whether it’s via their computer or even a smart phone. Radio is starting to show some declines as commuters plug in their portable music devices and tune into their own music libraries. Online advertising is still in its infancy here in Canada especially and it’s painful to see when businesses and organisations just flat out refuse to listen to the evolving market.

Here in however, also lies a problem in and of itself. When you’re making that step online, who do you turn to for help? There’s no SEO club, there’s no secondary education available in a formal schooling to teach people how to effectively code online for optimization. We don’t carry cards, we don’t have a monthly news letter and we most certainly do not all fit into the same basket. So what is there you can do to ensure that the “expert” that you’ve hired is the real deal?

You can start at the beginning, asking for such things as previous clients and how their rankings were affected. You can search for their website using keywords you would expect them to be optimized for. Touting themselves as a PPC expert? Google them. Search for them on Bing, Google, Yahoo, pick your engine and scour away. If you’ve found that you’ve hired someone selling themselves as an expert and all they do is build you a Facebook account and a Twitter account, then don’t worry you still have time to get into the game. But don’t be fooled, your competitors are playing the same game as you, and if they started before you, they have the lead however temporary. To catch up, you’ll need to play harder, faster and better than everyone else.

Global Panda Effects & Google’s Threats

There are some interesting threads around the web at the moment around the recent global Panda roll out. Some websites are noticing that when the initial introduction came out a while back and they were dropped from the engine, their traffic is starting to return to previous Panda metrics. It would have been frustrating for sure to have to deal with the not knowing if you had in fact been in breach of scraping content, or been penalized for it when you hadn’t done anything wrong. It’s an anxiety which Google could have eliminated with even just a quick little post along the lines of “We’re addressing your concerns in an upcoming roll out, please be patient with us” as opposed to staying quiet.

Anyhow, the global roll out has occured and it looks like for the moment the farmers have been hit with a drought. The initial numbers have started to appear on various communities online and there are some familiar names in the list with some big losses in ranking. And what seems to be a long time coming, ehow.com has received their penance. Long touted as one of the worst offenders for aggregating content, the site was left virtually untouched in the preliminary Panda roll out. It seems however, that what ever loop hole they slipped through the first time, it snagged them on the second pass. Initial reports are showing a drop of over 80% representation in search results for the site. Other sites which were hit hard were live123.com, findarticles.com and associatedcontent.com. No real surprises there.

And just to mention something which is a little of a pet peeve of mine, the over thinking, or sensationalizing of somewhat arbitrary numbers on the internet. It was a thread I had been following for a few days in which the discussion was centered around the idea of what could be considered Google’s biggest threat to their online presence. The top three came back at no real surprise with Bing, Facebook and Google themselves, all being the threats to the giant.

The part of the discussion which really made me question the reading comprehension of the poster, was that because Facebook is most likely going to become public, that automatically makes them the biggest threat to Google full stop. Their resoning was based around an online tool in which they showed that Google had dropped 2.5% in their yearly traffic and Facebook had grown by 15%!! That clearly said to them that Facebook is the winner in the dominance race.

My issue with their reasoning, besides the point they were spouting their opinion as fact, was they never compared the metrics used to reach those percentages. Problem number 1, Google and Facebook are two different online tools. One is social, one is search. Only if and/or when Google becomes more social, or Facebook focuses on search, can comparisons begin to be drawn. Problem number 2, in comparing apples to oranges the numbers will always be skewed, yet that was ignored. Problem number 3, Bing was unfairly ignored in the comparison. Throwing Bing into the mix really tosses a monkey wrench into the comparison, as they experienced a 44%!!! growth from April 2010 to February 2011. In following with comparing apples to oranges, I contend that Bing is actually Facebook’s largest competitor, excluding the fact that they have an online partnership.