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.

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


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



  • 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…


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.

…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.

Posted in Google, links, seo | No Comments »

How to create your own link farm on Twitter

August 18th, 2008 Jason 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.

Posted in Google, links, seo | No Comments »

Swag review: the pens of SES NY

March 18th, 2008 Jason

I’ll admit it right up front: I’m a swag ho at an expo, and I am particularly bad about the pens.

When I was in art school way back when, I developed a few pronounced preferences in the pens that I use. It needs to feel right, it needs to write right, and I need to be able to flip spin it around my thumb when I’m bored or in a meeting. Couple this with the fact that I can also be stubbornly cheap, and hate actually buying pens, you can see where going to an expo – where branded pens are the swag of choice – would be like trick-or-treating for me.

Respect where it is due, I will at least make eye contact and thank the folks at the booth, and when I can I’ll have some basic conversation with them, regardless of how relevant their service or software is to me. Now and then I will admit that I just want the pen, but I don’t think they really mind, and seriously, when I find one I like I tend to keep it in my pocket and use it until I lose it or it dies. The Yahoo! pen I got at ad:tech London last year was outstanding, and I was very sad the day I literally ran it out of ink.

Today I made the rounds of the expo (three floors!) at SES NY, although I did not get another Yahoo! pen as they have changed the design and I already have one from PubCon. I’m sure I missed a few, but as a bit of a ‘thank you’ to the vendors for the ones I did get, I give you my reviews:

ABC Search
ABCSearch is the world’s largest privately held meta search engine, conducting over 100 million daily searches through our network of specialized engines and metacrawlers.

Body: oversized white with orange detail
Ink color: Black
Click or Cap: Click
Grippy: textured orange plastic
Branding/Logo: large blue logo and tagline

Rated on:
Aesthetics: eye catching – 3/5
Mechanics: design is biased to hold one particular way – 2/5
Ink quality: nothing special – 2/5
Spinnability: too light – 2/5

Overall: 2.25

Acronym media
Acronym Media, an independent, global Search Marketing and Keyword-Driven Marketing ™ agency, is headquartered in New York’s landmark Empire State Building. Consistently rated as a top 10 search engine agency by Advertising Age, the firm offers its clients 13 years of search marketing experience and top-notch SEM consulting services from multiple locations around the globe.

Body: orange plastic with whizzy integrated spring design
Ink color: Black
Click or Cap: click
Grippy: no
Branding/Logo: black lettering with tagline and URL

Rated on:
Aesthetics: very space-age – 4/5
Mechanics: so-so – 3/5
Ink quality: boring – 3/5
Spinnability: very good – 5/5

Overall: 3.75

Monitor competitors, expand keywords, and protect trademarks with AdGooroo. AdGooroo is the leading provider of search engine intelligence. Its proprietary technology tracks search activity across any industry vertical, empowering sophisticated agencies and advertisers with actionable data related to competitors’ keywords, ad copy, natural and paid search via online reports and daily e-mail alerts.

Body: Shiny blue plastic with chrome clip and tip
Ink color: black
Click or Cap: click
Grippy: textured blue rubber
Branding/Logo: white URL which is also their logo

Rated on:
Aesthetics: contoured design is cool 4/5
Mechanics: nice – 4/5
Ink quality: standard ballpoint – 3/5
Spinnability: great – 5/5

Overall: 4

The adMarketplace Exchange has delivered performance and volume for over 100,000 Pay Per Click advertisers since 2003. adMarketplace is the leading one-stop shop for online marketers to drive performance-optimized PPC traffic from approximately 250 million searches every day.

Body: slim, clear plastic with green plastic clip
Ink color: black
Click or Cap: click
Grippy: no
Branding/Logo: green printed logo

Rated on:
Aesthetics: logo is difficult to read – 1/5
Mechanics: it’s really just a Bic – 2/5
Ink quality: feels kind of scratchy – 2/5
Spinnability: possible but not fun – 2/5

Overall: 1.75

With award-winning expertise in auctioned media management and targeted online advertising, Didit has been leading the evolution of online marketing with its blend of technology, intelligence, and passion since 1996. Through its multi-disciplinary methodology, Didit combines top-tier SEM strategy, highly sophisticated analytics and modeling, and best-of-breed technology to produce unmatched SEM results for clients across all major verticals.

Body: Shiny, dark green with gold details and wiry clip
Ink color: Black
Click or Cap: Twist
Grippy: contoured, smooth green rubber
Branding/Logo: small gold logo

Rated on:
Aesthetics: very classy – 4/5
Mechanics: twist is awkward in practice – 3/5
Ink quality: dry at first, otherwise un – 3/5
Spinnability: uniquely impossible – 0/5

Overall: 2.5

Interwoven is a global leader in content management solutions. Interwoven’s software and services enable organizations to effectively leverage content to drive business growth by improving the customer experience, increasing collaboration, and streamlining business processes.

Body: amazing rocket shape with blue liquid body and glowing red light
Ink color: black – very small well, won’t last long
Click or Cap: small rubbery cap, will get lost easily
Grippy: no
Branding/Logo: white printed logo, no URL

Rated on:
Aesthetics: skews the standard – 5/5
Mechanics: cap will get lost, but light is coool – 4/5
Ink quality: nothing spiffy – 2/5
Spinnability: not a chance – 0/5

Overall: 3.75

Marchex is a local online advertising company and leading publisher of local content. Marchex’s innovative advertising platform delivers search- and call-based marketing products and services for local and national advertisers. Marchex’s local content network, one of the largest online, helps consumers make better, more informed local decisions through its network of content-rich websites that reach tens of millions of unique visitors each month.

Body: Flat black plastic rollerball with metal clip.
Ink: Water-soluble cool Black
Click or Cap: Cap
Grippy: No
Branding/Logo: White text, no URL

Rated on:
Aesthetics: stylish and simple – 4/5
Mechanics: no moving parts – 4/5
Ink quality: Rollerball flows smoothly, I like it – 5/5
Spinnability: kind of light – 3/5

Overall: 4

Marin Software
Founded in April 2006 by experienced search marketers and software experts, Marin Software provides an enterprise-class paid search management application for advertisers and agencies. Combining power and ease-of-use, Marin Search Marketer addresses the workflow, analysis and optimization needs of professional search marketers, saving time and improving financial performance.

Body: gloss black plastic with plastic clip
Ink: Water-soluble neutral Black
Click or Cap: Click
Grippy: Yes, textured black
Branding/Logo: Silver logo with call to action and URL

Rated on:
Aesthetics: shiny, modern – 4/5
Mechanics: basic click – 3/5
Ink quality: very nice, smooth flow, neutral color – 5/5
Spinnability: very good 5/5

Overall: 4.25

Microsoft adCenter
Microsoft adCenter, part of Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, powers the paid search advertising service. Microsoft adCenter improves advertising performance and return on investment by providing a high quality audience and advanced targeting tools, and gives advertisers the right tools to manage and control their campaigns for top performance.

Body: Pearl white metal with black grip and chrome details
Ink: Black
Click or Cap: Twist
Grippy: smooth black
Branding/Logo: simple black text with URL on opposite side

Rated on:
Aesthetics: styley – 5/5
Mechanics: twist is awkward – 3/5
Ink quality: unexciting – 2/5
Spinnability: too much weight at the back – 2/5

Overall: 3

mobileStorm powers your business with digital marketing solutions that reach people how they want to be reached — and makes you more money. Our customers love the Stun platform — advanced marketing technologies and many ways to reach their prospects with SMS, e-mail, fax, voice, RSS — even video messaging.

Body: Purple plastic with metal clip, chrome detal and black grip
Ink: Black
Click or Cap: Click
Grippy: smooth rubber with chrome banding
Branding/Logo: small white logo

Rated on:
Aesthetics: busy – 2/5
Mechanics: nice springy click – 4/5
Ink quality: pretty standard ballpoint – 3/5
Spinnability: a little off balance – 3/5

Overall: 3
Offshoring is the practice of relocating business processes to another country as a means to decrease staff costs while increasing productivity. At, we specialize in providing companies with dedicated personnel in a wide area of fields, including IT services, contact centers, and backend business processing.

Body: Forest green plastic with chrome and black detail
Ink color: Black
Click or Cap: Click
Grippy: Textured rubber
Branding/Logo: white logo and tagline

Rated on:
Aesthetics: nice color, clearly swag – 3/5
Mechanics: click button is almost pointy – 2/5
Ink quality: standard – 3/5
Spinnability: way too lightweight – 2/5

Overall: 2.5

Omniture, Inc. is a leading provider of online business optimization software, enabling customers to manage and enhance online, offline, and multi-channel business initiatives. Omniture’s software, which it hosts and delivers to its customers as an on-demand subscription service, enables customers to capture, store, and analyze information generated by their websites and other sources and to gain critical business insights into the performance and efficiency of marketing and sales initiatives and other business processes.

Body: contoured silver with black grip and metal wire clip
Ink color: black
Click or Cap: twist
Grippy: contoured black rubber
Branding/Logo: logo

Rated on:
Aesthetics: very space age – 4/5
Mechanics: twist is odd, nib is wobbly – 2/5
Ink quality: nothing to write home about – 3/5
Spinnability: possible but not easy – 2/5

Overall: 2.75

Sedo is the global marketplace for buying and selling domain names and websites with offices in the US, Germany and London. Sedo offers our users all the tools needed to buy and sell domains among a community of users stretching around the world, including domain appraisals, brokerage services, promotion and last, but not least, Sedo’s popular domain parking program.

Body: purple with white grip and silver
Ink color: black
Click or Cap: click
Grippy: white textured rubber
Branding/Logo: silver logo

Rated on:
Aesthetics: contoured design is clearly from the same supplier as the adgooroo pen, but still cool – 4/5
Mechanics: looser than the adgooroo one – 3/5
Ink quality: took some real effort to get working – 1/5
Spinnability: great – 5/5

Overall: 3.25

SendTec is the premier customer acquisition ad agency with expertise in multi-channel integrated direct marketing, both online and offline.

Body: white metal with black grip and chrome clip and details
Ink color: black
Click or Cap: click
Grippy: smooth black rubber
Branding/Logo: logo and tagline, heavily printed so you can feel it

Rated on:
Aesthetics: pretty classy for swag – 4/5
Mechanics: nice click and feel – 4/5
Ink quality: standard – 3/5
Spinnability: good – 4/5

Overall: 3.75

The Search Agency
The Search Agency helps businesses develop effective online marketing strategies and improve their Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization results.

Body: clear orange plastic with white grip and chromed plastic clip
Ink color: black
Click or Cap: click
Grippy: white textured rubber
Branding/Logo: white printed logo

Rated on:
Aesthetics: orange is an acquired taste – 3/5
Mechanics: nice click – 4/5
Ink quality: very dry – 2/5
Spinnability: so-so – 2/5

Overall: 2.75
“Need something?” For more than 125 years, consumers have trusted the Yellow Pages to deliver comprehensive information on local businesses. And today, wherever, however, and whenever they “need something” local, they use

Body: bright yellow shiny plastic with black details
Ink color: black
Click or Cap: click
Grippy: flashy black rubber racing stripes
Branding/Logo: black printed URL/logo

Rated on:
Aesthetics: distinctive – 4/5
Mechanics: strong spring, very solid – 4/5
Ink quality: sadly standard – 3/5
Spinnability: actually very good – 4/5

Overall: 3.75
On averages alone, the Marin Software pen wins, and that or the Marchex are likely to be in my pocket for a long time…though the Interwoven Rocket is easily one of the ‘must haves’ from this show. I am surprised to note that there is not a single blue ink pen in the bunch.

What does it all mean? Nothing, I’m sure, this was a lark that gave me an excuse to go check out the vendors. But if I’ve helped just one person have a better writing experience this week, then my work here is done. For now.

All company descriptions lifted from the exhibitor listings at the SES NY website; all other opinions are my own and should in no way be taken as reflective of the quality of the services or software provided by the merchants or of their respective marketing departments.

Posted in SES, conferences, geek, links, swag | No Comments »

On linkbuilding

February 4th, 2008 Jason

We’re off on a serious linkbuilding campaign for a couple of our sites in Q1, and I’ve been boning up on the current opinions about the process.

It’s interesting that SO MUCH of what counts as SEO these days seems geared either towards mom and pop sites (start a blog, make widgets and funny videos, get eight million links), or to bloggers wanting to make a buck out of AdSense (use digg, use stumbleupon, whatever, get eight million links). I’m not saying that common linkbuilding strategies WON’T work for a big corporate site, but I think the game is different. For one thing, there’s going to be a whole lot more at stake any time somebody in marketing gets an idea to do a silly video or a widget that might be a valid bit of linkbait, and it’s going to take a whole lot more buy-in to get it done.

But there’s loads of considerations in a simple linking campaign as well, and what I’m particularly considering at the moment are free directories.

Directory links are recommended, and a dime a dozen. Or less, since there’s so many free sites out there. So, given a target of x number of links in x weeks, go for the low-hanging fruit, right?

I’m pretty skeptical.

First off, some of our sites are pretty powerful already. Is there really going to be a return on getting a link in that free directory? For our smaller brands, there may be value to free directory listing simply in building visibility, but our focus, first and foremost, must absolutely be to protect the brand, and thus we need to be extra diligent in how we source those links.

So, I’ve been driving the team to do really do their research on a directory before submitting for a link.

  • How relevant is the directory? Is it really just a random collection of links, or is it a site which is actually useful to a user?
  • More specifically (for us), how relevant is it to the UK, and to our brand site?
  • What kind of link will it provide? Direct? Nofollow? Redirect?
  • What kind of traffic does the directory have? Any?
  • Does anybody actually link to it?
  • Does it allow links to adult/hacker/poker sites? (All potentially bad neighbors)
  • Does it live on a shared server with adult/hacker/poker sites?

Really, these are all valid questions that anyone doing link development for any site should be considering. Are free directories worth it?

The relevance question is a huge one. We can be way better about finding opportunities than a listing of free directories (and in fact we are…). Anybody can find a list of free directories and claim 20 new links in a month. What else can we do?

To that end, I’ve also been doing a lot of reading to get my head back in the flow to start really pushing them to get creative, and here’s a few linkbuilding articles that I’ve found particularly worth the read in the last week or so.

There are of course loads more out fantastic articles out there, and I’ll probably add to this list as I keep going.

What else can we do? Well…there’s loads, but that’s another post.

Posted in links, seo | No Comments »

The week in search – week 2

January 13th, 2008 Jason

A weekly roundup of articles I found interesting and useful in the last 7 days.

Week 2 of 2008:

Wikia launches:
The much-touted launch of Jimmy Wales’ stab at user-generated search results. Is it really an SEO free-for-all? Only time will tell.

Graywolf on Wordpress SEO
Michael takes a great look at how to maximize the keyword benefit of your post titles, post slugs, and page names.

Self Made Chick
Self Made Chick talks about blogging in first person
. A particularly useful post as I ‘find my voice’ here, but the rest of her blog is great as well. It probably resonated more with me this week than it might normally as I’d just been talking with a friend about ways she could get a little extra income for herself, and SMC has some great first-person experience doing just that.

AdSense changes the rules
Google announced changes to the AdSense referral program, and there’s lots of interesting commentary going ’round about it. Problogger calls it flat out stupid, while Andy Beard rationalizes and then looks at exploiting it, and Bruce Clay offers a very reasonable opinion: it is bad business to alienate your best customers. I couldn’t agree more.

I also brought a new assistant into my team this week, and so have been reviewing a few useful beginner links I’ve had stashed away:
SEO Best Practices at
Tips for Your First Day In-House at SearchEngineWatch
The SEO’s Guide to Linkbuilding at SlightlyShadySEO
and the white papers at SEO-Theory.comI intentionally include the slightlyshady link because we strive towards completely ethical SEO, and I think it’s important for the new person to have a sense of what is and is not generally acceptable to do. There are also things in the SEO Theory reading that I don’t agree with, and I expect that some very worthwhile discussions will stem from the team diving into them more.

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

The Week in Search – Week 1

January 6th, 2008 Jason

The plan is to do a weekly roundup of articles I found interesting and useful in the last 7 days. Holidays and guests and travel this week, so just a few links for week 1 of 2008:

Google Operating System: Google Artificially Promotes Recent Web Pages
One of many articles on the subject which probably caused the most stir this week. I even contributed my own two bits about whether ‘new’ equals ‘better’ at Google now.

DomainTools blog: Lazy webmasters cost their employers millions of visitors
Whether it’s laziness or thoughtlessness, I’m running into this all the time. From the user POV, making a site work both with and without ‘www’ is just a no-brainer (and, frankly, I want people to anticipate my mistypes.)

On the other hand, from the SEO POV, it’s a pain in the ass if there’s subdomains or alternate spellings creating duplicate content issues that I don’t know about. But, letting our domain management service profit from our parked domains is also a huge wasted opportunity. Using stumbleupon to get on the radar of other bloggers.
A useful reminder that the best results are not instant results. Top 50 search and social media happenings for 2007
Of course loads of people did ‘end of year’ posts; this one was particularly exhaustive and includes a number of small but significant events. Definitely a good collection, with loads of links that are worth a read.

Posted in Week in Search, links | No Comments »