Category Archives: search engine optimization

Dynamic Diverse Search

There’s a new Google test which has caught fire on the web discussions over the weekend. Google has been running a test algorithm segment which displays your search as you type. Dynamically updating the page as you add, change, or remove your query.

The assumption is that the test has been rolled out to those with only a very high speed connection, as the nature of the results being delivered is unknown. It may be from a cached, prefetch server based on your previous searches, but it also may be entirely and completely dynamic in nature. Automatically fetching the results as you add a term.
Couple this recent test, in with the article decrying that Google is set to allow domain dominance on a search page, it will change the landscape of the SEO game somewhat.

Google said:
Today we’ve launched a change to our ranking algorithm that will make it much easier for users to find a large number of results from a single site. For queries that indicate a strong user interest in a particular domain, like [exhibitions at amnh], we’ll now show more results from the relevant site:Prior to today’s change, only two results from www.amnh.org would have appeared for this query. Now, we determine that the user is likely interested in the Museum of Natural History’s website, so seven results from the amnh.org domain appear. Since the user is looking for exhibitions at the museum, it’s far more likely that they’ll find what they’re looking for, faster. The last few results for this query are from other sites, preserving some diversity in the results.

This change could mean the difference in small business SEO, and will definitely encourage niche marketing campaigns. So it’s time to put on your creative thinking caps, hash out the creative copyright for your clients, and be ready to push for the niche search terms.
From a PR perspective though, it’s an interesting twist from Norvig’s comment earlier about wanting more diversity in search results. In having the second result to be as “different” from the first as possible to encourage diversity.

Wor(l)d of Mouth

It’s not an unsual method of finding a service or product, you ask your friends and family for their opinions. It helps you form your own preliminary opinion, and with a few questions in mind you go for it. The trend however is shifting with the realization that word of mouth, has been changing more into world of mouth.

In a new Cone Inc. report indicates that consumers don’t take word of mouth as gospel when making their decisions. Eighty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement,

“After getting a recommendation about a product or service I may want to purchase, I go online to do additional research about that product or service before deciding whether to purchase it.”

One of the surprising finds, was the disproval of the thought that bad news travels faster than good news. Online, the sway power of good reviews and news of a product or service was proven more potent than bad news and reviews. Only 68 percent of respondants admitted to changing their minds based on bad reviews, where as 80 percent agreed, positive reviews found online solidified their decisions of a recommended product or service.

These numbers in mind, it’s worth noting that while search engine optimization and search engine marketing are incredibly important to your business, it’s just as important to focus some of your attention to the social interaction of your client base. Whether it’s having a submitted question and answer form, a Twitter feed where client concerns can be addressed, or a Facebook page and wall, it’s worth the time to put in direct client interaction. Face time with your customers is still paramount in the digital world, and as the numbers from the Cone Inc. report shows, having a positive image online will help you immensely.

Bing and Yahoo tie the knot

Another D-Day is looming on the horizon, and website owners are going to be learning another step to the SEO dance. It’s been in the works for the last while, the Yahoo-Bing search results merger, and in a recent press release from Bing, the proverbial trigger was pulled.

For webmasters, it’s important to be familiar with how the Bing crawler interacts with your site. After the full algorithmic transition is complete, you only need to optimize for one crawler (Bing), as we will provide Yahoo! with results from our index.


All of the little tricks, optimizations and tweaks that we’ve learned over the last year, can be trimmed down to the Bing bones as it were. In other words, don’t be surprised if your site shuffles and changes in ranking on Bing abd Yahoo, depending on which secondary search you work with.


You can find the entire press release issued, from their senior VP of their online services division, here.

SEO Tips – The Trickle Down Effect

There are many different Search Engine Optimization ideas, and the influences which affect visibility on the SERPs. One such idea embraces the notion that search engines like fresh content. Trends shift and evlove at times revolving around a guy told a guy, who over heard it at a search expo and posted it to his Twitter account. And in the end, the priciple behind the idea can get lost.
Adding fresh content can means different things to different people and firms, the watered down version you’ll tend to hear from SEO “experts” is that search engines like websites that change their content often. The idea which the logic is based on is that changing content on page will attract bots more often and somehow improve visibility.
To expound a little on the point of fresh content, changing your pages, updating your news and story feeds for visitors is a pro-active measure to retaining that visitor base. Managing, maintaining, and optimization the links to that information for the bots is a bonus point as well.
Changing your text and content of your website on a regular basis however, is a good example of the loss of meaning of a best practice measure of SEO.
Real fresh content is derived from the purpose of adding new pages to your website on a regular basis. Adding new pages, optimizing the linking structure to them, and providing well written, compelling content for visitors and bots alike. This is the definition of fresh content to yours and your clients websites. The higher quality the content, the more proficient the optimization of the content, will draw bots and visitors alike.
Of the billions of webpages to be found online, of the millions upon millions of pages on search engine optimization alone, always bear in mind the trickle down effect.

SEO Basics – Sitemaps

There’s a kaleidoscope of steps, styles, methods and opinions about the right way to implement search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. But, there are a few points which are generally accepted. Points such as:

  • Quality content is extremely important
  • Working actively to accrue quality links and backlinks is also paramount
  • Apply K.I.S.S. to your site

One of the most overlooked steps, which should be mentioned more often is having an accurate, up to date sitemap for your website. You can think of a sitemap as the formal written index of your web pages. Up until recently, multiple sitemaps were needed if you desired to have all of your content listed easily. Be it images, text, videos, your geo location, and a news section. An individual sitemap for each was required to speed up the indexing process of those assets. Google introduced the XML sitemap 5 years ago, and have just recently changed the game a little.

Instead of multiple sitemaps, webmasters can now submit one XML sitemap to include all of your websites features. From Google:

With the increasing number of specialized formats, we’d like to make it easier for you by supporting Sitemaps that can include multiple content types in the same file.
An example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″
xmlns:image=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1″
xmlns:video=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1″>
<url>
<loc>http://www.example.com/foo.html</loc>
<image:image>
<image:loc>http://example.com/image.jpg</image:loc>
</image:image>
<video:video>
<video:content_loc>http://www.example.com/videoABC.flv</video:content_loc>
<video:title>Grilling tofu for summer</video:title>
</video:video>
</url>
</urlset>

The idea of the inclusion for multiple content types within one sitemap was to streamline the entire process for webmasters and their clients.

Can Google SEO?

Google, the king of the web, the go to guys in the realm of search, and the players holding all the cards, was put to their own test. Just some of the self imposed questions for Google:

How many of Google’s web pages use a descriptive title tag? Do we use description meta tags? Heading tags? While we always try to focus on the user, could our products use an SEO tune up?

So how did they do? The report was published on their own webmaster blog, but it will be just a couple of the more interesting points we’ll touch on. Google always works for the user, to improve the users experience. They don’t work for their own ends, on how to rank or be found online, Googling is a verb now, so it’s not hard to find them. Some of their fixes they found which were needed included 404s, broken links, URLs were confusing in some places, and better titles and description tags for their pages.

As described in their own SEO report card :

Google’s SEO Report Card aims to identify potential areas for improvement in Google’s product pages. If
implemented, these improvements could:
• help users find our pages more easily in search engines
• fix bugs that annoy visitors and hurt our pages’ performance in search engines
• serve as a good model for outside webmasters and companies

They took 100 pages of different Google products, and ranked them following common SEO strategies. They found interesting numbers such as, 33% of their products had descriptive meta tags. Only 1/3 of their pages had proper snippet text, terribly low number for the company who relies on that tag, in order to pass on the summary of a page to a user.

They found that only 10% of their pages had proper titles, in length and format. They have some confusing URLs which could be redirected for ease of use, and that nearly half of their images alt text needed improvement. 301s, 404,s and proper tags missing oh my!

The entire report is an insightful read, and it’s plain to see that even when you’re the king of search, you can still make mistakes from time to time.

You can read the report for yourself here I recommend the read.

Morning Coffee

M – “I started dating this girl, and I want to Google her because she said she’s done some modelling, what do you think?”
W – “You could check Facebook first and see if she’s on there, and what her friends are like.”
M – “Yeah, that’s a good idea I guess. My boss was asking me today if we should try search engine optimization on our site.”
W – “We’ve been looking at it too, the web guys are trying to decide who we should talk to about it, or just do it ourselves.”

A very generic, not so surprising conversation today, but what if you heard it 6+ years ago? You’d have thought they were nuts, and using language and words that had no meaning or bearing on the world today. Google. Facebook, search engine optimization, all everyday terms in normal conversation between two people buying coffee in the morning.

The internet has become so entwined in our everyday lives, that it would be completely strange, to not talk about using it in some way or another in our day to day. In the conversation above, two references to online marketing were used within the span of a few seconds of conversation. Don’t see it? Googling a persons name just to see if they come up, and a brief conversation about how their business is contemplating the use of search engine optimization for their website.

Social media, Google, SEO.. they’re not passing trends. They’re not fly by night, and they’re not going to disappear or magically stop working. They are topics which get discussed over the morning coffee run by the interns. The choice you need to make as a user, or business, will you have the tools work for you, or against you.

Google to Enter SEO Business

In late March 2010, rumors were swirling that search engine giant Google, Inc. was preparing to launch its own SEO (search engine optimization) firm. In early April, Google put an end to the rumors and unveiled a plan to open the SEO agency as early as May. Apparently, this project had been in the pipeline for quite some time and Google had done an excellent job of keeping it secret. In light of that, it is easy to believe that those March rumors were in fact Google manipulations, at least an attempt to test the waters before a formal announcement.

Now, Google is assembling a Google SEO team of approximately 100 employees. The company professes that their intentions are noble. Google wants to set the standard for an industry that outsiders so often criticize. Google SEO promises to use only the most ethical practices to increase a client’s PageRank™, and they promise to do it without adding to the spam glut that currently exists on the Internet. However, the fact remains that Google SEO will be the only SEO agency in the world that can guarantee first page rankings because they are the only company that will have access to the algorithm that dictates it.

In addition, early estimates place the cost of this service in the neighborhood of $25,000 per month. Not only does Google have a monopoly on the search engine optimization, they will be fostering an environment of exclusivity. Google will cripple the thousands of small Internet business vying for your attention. That is not to say that it is currently easy for small business but at least they have the opportunity.

So consider the situation where a firm owns the audience and owns the power to give or take away visibility from a business. Now imagine that they offer you the path to greater visibility, at a cost. The nonprofessional might not know the intricacies of antitrust laws but he or she knows a racket when they see one and this is, at least potentially, a racket. Again, Google promises to do the ethical thing but it begs the question, do we want to trust a corporation to do the ethical thing or do we want to legislate law that mandates it?

Are you worried? Well I’m not, maybe knowing Google as well as I do, remember I sold my company to them, I know how rank page 1 for what we want, but it might well put paid to the cowboys out there.

Locally Yours?

A new’ish trend in search would have to be the local aspect. Building your site with the idea of attracting local clients, is getting to be a very lucrative market, namely because if people can get what they want just around the corner, why order online and wait a couple of weeks?

Now the question is; what to do to be found locally? There is a derth of information out there in what to do and what to avoid, and in all the noise there are a few gems which should be the highest on your list of “to do”

1) Google map listing : While this is a fairly straight forward process to set your listing up and be found, optimization does in fact play a part in where you will list in this area as well.

2) Local SEO onsite : On page optimization is huge in being able to generate quality content to compel visitors to link to / remain on your site. Being able to have that type of content *and* be locally optimized is a delicate touch, so as not to upset your balance. And as always, just adding a bunch of local addresses or slang to your pages doesn’t help your case, so much as damage it.

3) Social Media? : If you have a Facebook/Twitter account, and chances are you do, you can and will benefit by including as much localization to your profile as you can muster.

There is so much more than just these few tips to bear in mind as you gear your site for local dominance in the organic search results.

Measurable Natural Optimization

Most companies see SEO (search engine optimization) as a black hole. It’s full of technical terms, and they don’t easily understand it. As a result, they treat SEO as a nice-to-have rather than a necessity, and as an IT project. The executives who control the purse strings can’t easily distinguish between paid and organic/natural search. So, it’s up to marketers to help them understand, because until they do, they won’t spend the money.

Then who’s to blame for your company’s marketing failures? And who gets credit for its marketing successes? The answer should be Search Engine Optimization, along with PPC (pay per click) and every other facet of your marketing programs. It must be held accountable if it wants a seat at the table with the big boys.

Natural search is the most under-spent channel in internet marketing. Even though most site traffic comes through search, it only gets about 10 percent of the budget because natural search is difficult to put a price tag on. Companies tend to just direct their spending to paid (PPC) search.

It’s also important to put a long term plan in place. Rather than work toward a single, final goal, set up milestones which allow you to measure your progress to get you there. This will keep you on the path to success. All kinds of measures will work well – number of keywords, traffic flow, number of indexed backlinks, search engine rankings. Using an easy to follow metric to track your SEO success, and where you need to make improvements will only improve your internet marketing strategy as a whole.