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March 2007 Archives

March 1, 2007

Quintura Relaunches With New Interface

Quintura recently relaunched with a new interface, which has been receiving a fair amount of comment. I originally wrote about the search engine back in November and I was fairly lukewarm in my praise of it; while it was a nice idea the interface held it back. Well, the relaunched version is now much better, with the tag cloud appearing on the left hand side of the screen, with results appearing in the right hand side. This reduces scrolling and makes the whole process of checking out results much easier.

For those who haven’t looked at Quintura I should explain that when a search is run a tag cloud appears on the screen and a mouseover of any term changes the results that are displayed, as well as displaying a different set of tags. It’s an interesting twist on some of the other visual search engines that are available and if for no other reason it will win some users who dislike more traditional methods of displaying results.

Click to continue reading…

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Good Cloaking, Evil Cloaking & Detection


100% Organic
Is
cloaking evil? It’s one of the most heavily debated topics in the SEO industry
— and people
often
can’t even agree on what defines cloaking. In this column, I wanted to look at
an example of what even the search engines might consider "good" cloaking, the
middle-ground territory that page testing introduces plus revisiting how to
detect when "evil" old-school page cloaking is happening.

Back in December 2005, the four major engines

went on record
at Search Engine Strategies Chicago to define the line
between cloaking for good and for evil. From the audience, I asked the panelists
if it was acceptable to — selectively for spiders — replace search engine
unfriendly links (such as those with session IDs and superfluous parameters)
with search engine friendly versions. All four panelists responded "No problem."
Charles Martin from Google even jumped in again with an enthusiastic, "Please do
that!"

Click to continue reading…

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How Spotplex’s “Trafficracy” Could Beat Digg But Probably Won’t

Will today’s launch of Spotplex be the
beginning of the end for
Digg? Probably not, but this new social media
site might prove a more civilized "trafficracy" alternative to the mob democracy
of Digg.

For those seeking attention and traffic, Digg has long been the
crowdsourcing 800lb gorilla. Unfortunately, explosive growth in
the Digg community and a certain amount of paranoia on the part of its administrators regarding good
verses bad story submissions has led to many marketers, businesses and bloggers of all kinds turning away from the once loved poster child of social bookmarking.

The Digg community is out of control. Nobody would argue otherwise, it just remains to be seen whether they can turn it around and get the more aggressive and abusive elements of the mob to stop frothing at the mouth long enough to realize that they’re
ruining the site.

Enter Spotplex, a site currently in beta that TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington

says
"arguably sorts news in a better way than Digg does." The big difference between the two sites is that Spotplex does not require site owners or its own members
(it has no members system, even) to submit stories. Instead, stories get added
by carrying Spotplex’s JavaScript code snippet on their pages. This allows Spotplex
to monitor the traffic stories are getting and rank them accordingly. Heavier trafficked items rise to the top of the upcoming stories list, then make it to the homepage.

Click to continue reading…

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The Why, How and Who of Marketing in StumbleUpon

I recently interviewed StumbleUpon’s CEO Garrett Camp and wrote StumbleUpon Defined vs. Digg, Google, MySpace and More to define SU for curious marketers.

I’ve extended my research to include current blog thought related to marketing in SU, added my own meager experience and chopped up Camp’s suggestions for marketers to bake up this scrumptious guide to marketing with Stumble Upon.

First, here are five reasons why marketers – from Fortune 500s to affiliates – should take interest in SU:

  1. They hit 540k users last year. They’re at 1.84 million international users and growing in 2007.
  2. They’re not replacing search or sites like Digg – they are their own beast due to their collaborative filtering/recommendation engine. Think Amazon recommendations for web pages and video.
  3. Competitively they’re not trying to beat search… they’re taking on television. Spend an hour with Stumble Video and meditate on what that could mean for the future of how people interact with and control their entertainment.
  4. They will eventually have a bidding model, but right now have a 5 cents a click flat rate. That is, they are cheap right now, like Gross’s GoTo was when he first busted it out.
  5. An API is in the works. When SU starts to splinter through APIs you want to know already how to market here.

Free Marketing Via StumbleUpon

Now, for some suggested principles for how to market unpaid in Stumble Upon:

  1. You must inform and entertain with laser targeting and a high WOW factor. Piper Jaffray calls it communitainment. SEOs call it link bait. I call it branded content that converts visitors to subscribers/linkers/buyers.
  2. Don’t just submit content – join the community (much as you would for Digg) and spend time learning what your target community likes. StumbleUpon recently added profiles and community networks much like MySpace and MyBlogLog. There are records of what community members like. If your content lacks the WOW power of what they like then you’ve got to get back to work.

    (Tamar of 10e20 offers excellent advice on going native, er – leveraging your influence – in SU)

  3. Pictures, alleged Camp, are key also.

Tips for Paid Advertising on StumbleUpon

And here are three thoughts if you’re interested in how to market with sponsored Stumbles:

  1. All the unpaid rules apply.
  2. If you’re investing serious effort into your content – ie, you’ve paid someone $5k+ to write link bait for you – why not spend $200 more dollars and send it through SU?

    What you’re really paying for in this instance is access to the results, and though this won’t tell you WHAT to change, you should get an idea of whether or not your new project WOWs your target community.

  3. Camp suggested you pay for stumbles on content that’s quality but that people aren’t necessarily searching for… Audio/Visual content works well he said, as do cool flash pages.
  4. If you’re launching a site and have invested in branded content that’s intended to convert viewers into linkers, subscribers or buyers then SU should ABSOLUTELY be on your list of places to advertise. If your market is there of course… Check out the SU Buzz page, which shows you recent stumbles (in a very Digg-looking format) along with a list along the left side of your screen of SU categories.

Collective Stumble Upon Marketing Experience: Who’s Doing It

I’m all whiz-bang excited about SU right now, despite relatively meager success with their audience for one of my current woodworker-oriented projects (forums take the place of Digg and SU communities for me right now :). Here are some links to folks with quite a varying range of success rates… unfortunately none are particularly forthcoming with target markets:

  1. StumbleUpon Sponsored Stumbles vs. Google AdWords
    Key Quote:“I think StumbleUpon is a great alternative to click based traffic in the sense that you get a continuous stream of interested visitors. The traffic is qualified in the sense that the visitors said they were interested in your topic or category. I believe StumbleUpon ads are a better source of visitors than using interstitial ads since the users will be in your desired category. I have decided to add it to my chart of advertising options for my clients who need qualified traffic instantly. “
  2. How To Buy Stumbles From Stumbleupon NOT
    Key Quote: “Being that stumbleupon was the single biggest referer of traffic in January I thought I would buy some more stumbles and report on what I found. So far I have found buying stumbles from stumbleupon is not easy… in fact I have found it impossible.”
  3. How to Use StumbleUpon for Your Business: The Definitive Guide
    Key Quote:“Why should you look at into directing StumbleUpon traffic to your site? Beyond the obvious benefits of extremely targeted traffic, the traffic doesn’t come all at once compared to a site like Digg.”
  4. How to get StumbledUpon
    Key Quote: “if you want to get a lot of traffic to your site from StumbleUpon make sure you have a lot of friends before you start voting.”
  5. The StumbleUpon Experiment
    Key Quote: “No sales, 96% of the visitors only viewing the landing page for the campaign, and none of them rating the site positively or negatively with the toolbar. That says to me that most people that see a commercial site, or a site that isn’t immediately interesting to them with StumbleUpon will simply move on and click the “Stumble!” button again.”

The Definitive SU Links Page:

If all that you’ve read here has served merely to whet your appetite for more information about Stumble Upon, check out the Ultimate StumbleUpon Resource with 27 articles, and soon 28 I hope when he links to this one 🙂

Yet to come – wrapping up what I didn’t cover from my interview with Camp in a final StumbleUpon post.

Also I would greatly appreciate any input on target communities in SU that have proven profitable. Comment or email me GFrench@gmail.com.

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5 1/2 Ways To Take Advantage of YouTube Politics

YouTube is creating a Political Section for the presidential candidates. There are lots of creative ways to use YouTube to reach people. Here are 5 1/2 ways for the campaigns to take advantage of this unique opportunity by creating and uploading videos specifically for the YouTube community.

1. First off the big one: Do not delete comments that are negative and only approve comments that are positive. There is no faster way to lose credibility with the YouTube community. You’ll want to moderate the comments for spam and inappropriate language of course but don’t go further than that. Besides, when users disagree they will respond to each other which will drive more traffic and interest to your video.

2. Make the clips ninety seconds to two minutes tops. This length tends to be optimal for viral videos.

3. Don’t film them all in a row. It won’t look very good if the candidate is wearing the same jacket and tie in every single video.

4. Change it up. Not every video has to be ‘this is my opinion while sitting in front of an American flag’. Use this as a chance to show different sides of the candidate. Have him/her interview a campaign staffer or a volunteer. Some behind the scenes videos of the campaign and rallies would be fun too.

4.5. You could even create a “Campaign Tour Guide” who anchors some of the behind the scenes videos.

5. Respond to the other candidates. Why not film a respectful video response to one of your opponents? No one has ever done that before. Would the opponent accept or reject it?

Have another idea? Post them in the comments!

John Boyle runs SocialNext, a blog tracking the next generation of marketing via viral video and social networks. He doesn’t write posts while sitting in front of an American flag but is open to the idea.

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March Smart Answers

And the Smart Answers just keep on coming! Check out our latest ones, not to
mention a few you won’t want to start March without:

Recently Added Smart Answers

Presidential
Candidates
. Who’s running? What’s the latest news? Find out here.


U.S.
Senators
and Representatives.
Find out who’s representing your state and get bios
on each one.


March Madness.
Foam-finger office-pool-betting bracket-y good times are just ahead! (We also
have Smart Answers for your favorite teams).


Children’s
books
. Check our our Smart Answer for the International
Children’s Digital Library
.


-New and improved Abe
Lincoln
and Shakespeare
Smart Answers.
Now with links to entire online libraries of their work.

Smart Answers for Important March Dates

3/2; Texas
Independence Day
. Also Dr.
Seuss
‘s birthday.


3/3: Alexander
Graham Bell
‘s birthday, 1847.


3/4: Purim
begins.


3/5: John
Belushi
& Patsy
Cline
die. Yet Andy
Gibb
is born. Where is the justice?


3/9: The
Notorious B.I.G.
dies.


3/11: Daylight
Saving Time
begins.


3/14: Einstein‘s
birthday.


3/17: St.
Patrick’s Day
. Got plans
yet?


3/22: William
Shatner
‘s
birthday. That’s right, people: 1931.


3/24: Harry
Houdini
‘s birthday


3/25: Aretha‘s
& Elton‘s
birthdays.


3/27: FDA approves Viagra
back in 1998. Pfizer probably flies their flags at full mast today.


3/31: Oscar-favorites Al
Gore
& Christopher
Walken
celebrate birthdays.

MARCH ANGLOPHILE SPECIAL:

As an added bonus, please enjoy these Brit-specific Smart Answers from our
UK office:

3/1: St.
David’s Day
.

3/18: Mothering
Sunday
, AKA UK Mother’s Day.

Plus, there’s all the March
UK sporting events
you can shake a wicket at: The Cricket World Cup, the
conclusion of the Rugby Union Six Nations Championship, the start of Formula
One 2007 and more.

Ask.com: we’re coming in like a lion, and
going out like…well, another lion. A bigger one. Happy March!

–The Ask.com Smart Answers team

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Our Apologies to you, Rand

It wasnt our intention Rand, but we appreciate the humor (and awkwardness) of your situation. So please accept our apology and our peace offering an olive branch:

olive branch.jpg

But in all seriousness, given the recent, well publicized changes to Yahoo! Search and our search advertising platform, we appreciate that many of you are sharing your stories. We are listening and your feedback continues to influence our product development efforts.

Now Rand, about this photo

Raj Gossain
Yahoo! Search

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