SEO priorities in 2010

January 5th, 2010 Jason

Looking ahead into this year, the big game I’m chasing is better metrics to get a better and more strategic understanding of why our sites do what they do, and what kind of impacts the changes we make actually have.

On the surface we’ve been tracking a number of good metrics for years, but at the same time it feels like there are a lot of assumptions being made in our reporting, and that there is miles of room for more data to enable better actual analysis.

I’ve been re-reading through a pile of articles online, all the way back to basic “Analytics 101″ type posts, to refine my thinking on what what we currently collect, identifying what other data we have available and could use, and what data we want but don’t have. These last are the things which then become tasks for our WebTrends guru – because we certainly have the ability to assemble new reports if we know what we need.

Other articles I’m referencing:

Part of the challenge is of course understanding why various bits of data are useful, and learning how to interpret it in meaningful ways.

It’s going to be a task, for sure.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in seo | No Comments »

Real time results, another nail in the PageRank coffin, brain-breaking network theory, and more from the world of search

October 31st, 2009 Jason

Week ending October 30, 2009

Real-time search hit the big time this week, as both Microsoft/Bing and Google announced major deals with Facebook and Twitter to incorporate public timeline posts into their search results.

And then there was all the other fun stuff to fill your Friday afternoon.

Content and marketing…

  • The New Era of Inbound Marketing
    The effectiveness of brand advertising, direct mail, trade show marketing and cold calling sales have all diminished rapidly in favor of a new set of channels we all use to buy – nearly all of which center around the web.
  • Writing TO Your Customers—Not AT Them
    “Copy that focuses strictly on your company and practically or completely ignores your prospects doesn’t work nearly as well as copy that speaks to your target customers in their language and about the benefits they will receive.”
  • Five Killer Press Release tips for Small Businesses
    So we’re not a small business, oh well. What this article does is really highlight ways to think about the function of a press release in brand-related activity. It’s not just about announcing a new feature; it’s about attaching your brand to something people find interesting enough to pass along.

More technical stuff…

Looking at the big picture…

  • Defining Search Engine Optimization
    Defining search engine optimization is often focused on the *mechanics* of search – crawling, indexing, ranking. This argues a broader, commercially focused definition, which is very much in line with where TJG wants us to be.
  • Search Engine Optimization: The Truth About SEO
    As long as things can be searched, they can be optimized for better performance in search.
  • Whiteboard Friday – Future-Proofing Your SEO [video
    SEO is an ongoing process, but a lot of the fundamentals have stayed the same for years. Strategically, where should we focus to make sure we can keep up in the years to come? A look at three core areas: Technical, Content, and Marketing. Something for everyone!

Looking at the *really* big picture…

And finally…

The picture says it all.
Enjoy!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in Week in Search, links | No Comments »

Search digest, October 12-23 2009

October 23rd, 2009 Jason

Articles and things we’ve seen this week.

SEO basics, best practices, and tactics

Marketing and content

Pretty graphs

The big picture

Enjoy!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in Week in Search, geek, links | No Comments »

Search digest, October 5-9 2009

October 10th, 2009 Jason

We’re on a big educational push at work, with the goal of distributing knowledge and really bringing SEO into the forefront of people’s thinking throughout the business. Connected to that, we have started a regular email newsletter, passing around links for articles the team has read in the previous week or so. Just as helpful to post them here as well…

SEO basics & best practices

Content

Technical

  • Optimizing Your Web Page Speed
    Load time can impact how much of a site gets crawled and indexed by search engines, but can also affect user experience and conversions. It’s unfortunate this site is so completely wrapped in advertising, because there’s some really useful info buried in these pages.
  • A proposal for making AJAX crawlable
    Google continues to work on better seeing what users see, regardless of how it’s delivered.

And completely unrelated to SEO, but so painfully bad it must be shared…

Enjoy!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in Week in Search, geek, links | No Comments »

Google Caffeine and the SEO benefits of HTML 5

September 2nd, 2009 Jason

Things I read today:

6 Things to Expect if Google Decaf Gets a “Caffeine” Boost
A pretty thorough comparative dig into Google vs. Google. When Caffeine rolls out of beta and then migrates to the UK, what can we expect to see?

Also did a whole bunch of reading up on HTML 5.
http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/
http://dev.w3.org/html5/html-author/
http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/7-html-5-elements-that-will-make-seo-more-enjoyable
http://www.searchengineoptimizationjournal.com/2009/06/22/html-5-seo/
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/x-html5/
http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/07/24/google-html5-and-standards/
http://net.tutsplus.com/tutorials/html-css-techniques/html-5-and-css-3-the-techniques-youll-soon-be-using/
http://www.alistapart.com/articles/previewofhtml5

…the last one being a particularly useful writeup, explaining in pretty good detail but in a nicely readable way.

All this reading was prompted by a sort of ambiguous requirement included in our ongoing CMS migration – restructure code so that SEO-valuable content is at the top .

On the surface it makes sense – get the central content box as high up in the code as possible, move all the excess crap to the bottom, and position it all onscreen with CSS. A strict interpretation of this, though, is a nightmare when using shared resources across multiple sites, and causes all kinds of headaches for accessibility. A full code revamp is happening anyway to better linearize the code for accessibility, and the question came up whether coding to HTML5 standards would be sufficient. If a search engine discounts boilerplate code, can we assume that the HTML <nav> or <footer> tags will be recognized and equally discounted, regardless of where they are in the code?

Clearly nobody yet knows. What is the actual SEO benefit of HTML 5? There is absolutely logic in thinking that a cleanly organized page which essentially follows a DOM tree will be more easily crawled, and the content within more easily parsed and indexed by a spider. But that’s completely speculation at this point…and as the HTML 5 spec is still very much in draft mode (and likely to remain in development for years), we seem likely to make a stab without really knowing at all.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in Google, links, seo | No Comments »

The hidden value of low value search terms

August 24th, 2009 Jason

What’s the point in ranking #1 on a term nobody searches for?

You see this all the time, people bragging on digitalpoint that they’re #1 for their target term. What they never say is quite what that term is.

In the quest for traffic, you can aim for a slice of a competitive term, or you can look for opportunities with little or no competition and build your own market. Ranking number 1 is easy – the value is in getting people to search for that term.

I’ve had a music blog for a while now, occasionally showcasing some new band I’ve found. The name derives from the title of a song by a band I like. I looked up this morning and found that I am now sitting comfortably at #1 (and #2), overtaking all the sites referencing all the lyrics sites and the band itself. Well, that’s great. But what’s it worth? Less than a visit a day.

So how do I improve on this?

  • More regular updates – my wife updates her theatre blog at least a couple times a week. More updates mean more crawls and more visibility for more terms. Individual posts easily land on page 1, and searches related to the shows we’ve seen drive far more traffic than do searches for the name of her site, which is also comfortably number 1. Relevance isn’t just about keyword usage, it’s about being timely and topical as well. I admit, I haven’t posted an update in over a year, so I’m losing out on the fact that fresh content encourages traffic. One of the bands I wrote up 2 years ago is now up for a Mercury award. When I first posted the review I hit page one with minimal effort. Maintaining the momentum in the intervening time could have paid off mightily in terms of traffic.
  • More visibility – more content will generate more readers and more links and ripple into more traffic. New bands are hungry for good press, and getting a post referenced on a band website or myspace page can mean thousands of new eyes seeing the name of the site as a viable source for information. There’s also the knock-on effect that more readers mean more people who know the name of the site, and thus more likely to search for it.
  • More links – generated through more visibility, and through more active self-promotion. It may be a term nobody searches for, but so was the word ‘google’ at one point. Building the site as a brand means building the awareness of the brand term, which in turn will encourage more searches for the term and more traffic associated to it.

Ranking number 1 for a junk keyterm isn’t actually valuable by itself, but in the process of building a site as a brand, sometimes it’s a good start. Now that I’ve got the top spot, my challenge becomes building the brand and traffic to it, which will be far easier than trying to start off trying to rank for a more competitive term like ‘music blog.’ If the site takes off based on the merit of the content, over the course of time it will begin to register for broader and more competitive terms on its own. I’ll end up with that traffic anyway. I’ve just come in through the back door.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in seo | No Comments »

How to create your own link farm on Twitter

August 18th, 2008 Jason

Twitterfeed.com will push an RSS feed into twitter and automagically post entries on whatever schedule you want.

So, clearly, the thing to do is to set up an account for your website, and then set up accounts for all of your other websites, and just have all the accounts watch all the other accounts, creating this vast network of interlinked twitter profiles .

Um. Is this just corporate use of twitter gone horribly wrong? Ignoring the fact that all these websites are creating one big link farm already1, since almost everything on Twitter is nofollowed, I’m trying to think through the logic of this approach. Is it about visibility, is it about traffic, or is it just about getting the content indexed?

1since these guys are consistently showing up as #1 in Google for ‘jobs in [location],’ what I see as very dodgy interlinking would seem to actually be doing them some good.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in Google, links, seo | No Comments »

Search Marketing Bravado

July 14th, 2008 Jason

I was walking through Charing Cross station the other day when I saw a large billboard for a major mobile phone company. What caught my eye was the call to action: Search ‘I am.’

Gotta say, that’s some confidence there.

One of our brands has recently been pursuing a campaign with a similar angle – instead of a web address, we’ll prompt you to simply drop this key term into a search engine, and dimes to dollars (pence to pounds?) you’ll find our site at the top of the results.

This particular campaign is being managed by an external agency, and apart from dropping a link on the main brand site, the current Google rankings are being driven exclusively by their linkbuilding efforts – and the fact that they’ve accomplished the promised #1 and #2 spots for the two landing pages may speak well for them…though you know it helps that the term in question is absolutely unique on the web. It’s kind of like, "why does Flickr rank number 1 when I search on the word flickr?"  Maybe because it’s a totally made up word? That’s what this campaign has done. The real challenge is raising awareness of the term in the first place so people know to search for it.

Certain search marketers will have business cards which simply prompt you to search on their name. "Just google me – you’ll find me." That’s a little easier to control, perhaps, unless you’re named John Smith. Then, I imagine, it’s a bit more of a game. But I could do that, and I haven’t really been trying too hard. I’m just more active online than that guy in Tucson is, now that he’s stopped racing bikes and getting listed in the sports section every two weeks. But as a potential client, you want to be able to look up the person you are paying and know that they can do their job – and if most of the top ten results point to the same person, you get a pretty good feeling that they know how to play the game.

I have to say, though…I was impressed by the cajones involved behind a campaign that was relying on being able to perform based on something as generic as ‘I am.’ Even my jaded self was prompted to go plop down on the laptop and do the search – and this is where it backfires.

See, I use the CustomizeGoogle extension on Firefox, and I block paid ads. What do I see when I search on "I am?" Humorously, i-am-bored.com. Wikipedia. A London-based branding consultancy who you can bet wasn’t part of this campaign. I Am Legend. I Am Kloot. And a bunch of other stuff that has nothing to do with Orange mobile communications. Whoops.

Of course, when I enable ads or search on Yahoo!, there they are, right at the top…but how disappointing.  That’s just a matter of being willing and able to spend more money than anyone else, and once again for something that probably not a lot of people are either searching or bidding on. And I’m let down, just a bit, because somebody had some rocks to sell this advertising idea, but the execution, in my book, is far less impressive than it could be.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in Ask, Google, MSN, Yahoo, plugins, seo | No Comments »

Personal online reputation management

July 2nd, 2008 Jason

I had someone at work hit me up the other day for some personal advice. Thanks to some misadventures several years ago, when you Google her name there’s a couple very negative articles from a couple very high-profile sites sitting in prominent positions in the SERPs. Obviously, this is something she’d rather a prospective employer not see. So she asked what she could do.

Here’s my first email back to her.

‘Online reputation management’ is a big issue these days thanks to situations exactly like this. I thought I’d send over a few articles which talk about it.

http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=3628265
This is a good, broad overview.

http://www.stuntdubl.com/2007/07/11/reputation-management/
This is very much centered on *personal * reputation rather than a brand.

http://www.webpronews.com/blogtalk/2007/03/27/online-reputation-management-basics
This is very brand-focused, but it still applies: Your name is your brand.

http://blog.venture-skills.co.uk/2006/11/09/top-5-ways-to-establish-an-internet-identity/
Even if you’re established already, there’s more places you can be, over which you’ll have more control down the road.

http://www.seroundtable.com/tag/reputation%20management Links to a bunch of other articles which may be of interest.

The theme you’ll probably see is that t here are no silver bullets, but there’s definitely things you can do. The fact that those articles/comments are now 2 years old will probably help – feed the search engines some new information that’s more up-to-date, and the older stuff should fall away. You won’t get rid of them entirely, but off the first page of results would be a great start.

Think of it as a bit of an advertising campaign for yourself; like any campaign, there’s some thought and planning that needs to go into it, but it can be done.

I’m intrigued by this as an exercise because of the challenges involved. If she doesn’t own (and use) her-name.com then is there value in starting it up now? Possibly, but that alone isn’t going to take down the very well established site which contains – admittedly – some very valid commentary. So, what to do?

Look for specific ideas from me later.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in seo | No Comments »

International Search Summit, London, May 22

May 19th, 2008 Jason

I will be at the International Search Summit in London this Thursday, May 22. I’m quite looking forward to the networking, for one thing, but as my remit continues to expand from the UK on an almost-daily basis, I’m expecting it to be a load of good information as well. Maybe see you there.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Technorati
  • Facebook

Posted in conferences, seo | No Comments »