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November 2007 Archives

November 1, 2007

10 Useless SEO Worries

I often feel sorry for small businesses. I do. Too often they don’t have the funds, time or resources to investigate things as thoroughly as they should. Unlike larger businesses with deep pockets, small business can’t hire first-rate, high-end SEOs to do all the right things for them. All to often they have to rely on the free advice on blogs, forums, and social networking sites—and then do all the worrying themselves. If they are in a slightly better position, they might be able to pawn off some of that worry to an SEO which they have not fully vetted, and who may end up taking their campaign in the wrong direction. But that leaves them with entirely new things to worry about.

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Understanding Search Usability

100% Organic - A Column From Search Engine Land
The term “search usability” is widely misunderstood throughout a variety of industries: Web design/development, search engine marketing (SEM), online advertising, information sciences, human-computer interface (HCI), and usability industries. Even the term “usability” is misunderstood by search professionals.

Every time I hear an SEO professional claim that his or her firm implements web site usability best practices, I wait to hear about the formative and summative usability tests performed. And I wait… and I wait… and I wait… and I wait. Then I go about my daily business because I will wait forever.

In my opinion, the vast majority of SEO professionals do not give a hoot about user-centered design (UCD), or, more accurately, usage-centered design. Nevertheless, they use these terms during a sales pitch or a conference presentation because it sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?

In today’s article, I hope to dispel some of the common misconceptions about search usability, and to show how important search usability is to the SEM industry.

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OpenSocial makes the web better

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November 2, 2007

Changes At Natural Language Search Company Powerset

Big management changes are going on at Powerset, which has received much attention for its potential in using natural language processing for search. Barney Pell, who has been CEO at Powerset, posted today in his blog that he is transitioning to CTO, that Steve Newcomb, who had been COO, is leaving the company, and that Ron Kaplan, who had been CTO and Chief Science Officer, is now solely Chief Science Officer. The company is currently looking for a CEO.

Several companies have been taking the natural language angle in creating the next generation search engine, but turning the potential into production has proven tricky. Powerset had hoped to launch their search engine this year but now thinks it could be as late as 2009 (although they are hoping for a mid-2008 launch).

Hakia, another player in the space, hopes to have their own brand of natural language processing fully powering their search engine next year.

Pell is optimistic about Powerset’s future. In his blog post, he says he’d love to talk to potential CEOs and closes by saying:

“The changes we are making now position us for a next phase that promises to be really exciting. We will bring our technology out in real products that users will enjoy and that will trigger changes across the entire ecosystem of search. I think the next year is going to be an amazing time for Powerset and I am as passionate as ever about Powerset, our technology, our team and our future.”

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November 5, 2007

Bloggers blog, readers donate, students benefit, tomatoes dance

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November 6, 2007

The Mysteries of Ad Quality Revealed (Yet Again)

Search - A Column From Search Engine Land

Perhaps it was lucky fate that Anders Hjorth (of Relevant Traffic, a European SEM agency) and I didn’t have too much time to compare notes going into the panel “Tuning Ads for Quality Score” at SMX Stockholm last week. Fortunately, the presentations didn’t overlap too much. The interesting thing is the overlapping conclusions we drew from what appear to be similar client experiences.

Here I’d like to give you yet another update on quality-based bidding based on common conclusions drawn by detailed analyses such as mine and Anders’ (and where they overlap); look at popular perceptions of Google’s initiative as gleaned from talking with typical attendees; and finally, look at how the overall task of paid search stacks up against the strategies typically required of those vying to rank higher on the organic side.

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November 7, 2007

With a little help from your friends

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