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March 2008 Archives

March 4, 2008

SMX West Round-up

The Santa Clara convention center is rather big. Its sprawling footprint crosses seven or eight zip codes, several counties and encompasses at least three unique ecosystems. It was like I had breakfast in Sunnyvale, attended sessions in Santa Clara and attended a Google event somewhere near San Jose and I didn’t leave the building once. That’s my greatest complaint about SMX West. The building was too big. While complaining about the situation a wise bird reminded me, if the length of the hallways is the biggest complaint, you’re probably in a pretty good place. For the better part of last week, Santa Clara California was a pretty fun place to be.

The trip started on a good note and simply got better from there. StepForth CEO, Ross Dunn and I ended up on the same flight from Vancouver Island to SeaTac airport where by happy coincidence we met up with three other old-time SEOs, Todd Friesen, Ken Jurina and Damian Finley. The five of us were journeying to join 2400 or so of our colleagues attending the first (very) large conference thrown by Third Door Media. Each of us had attended the extraordinary SMX Advanced in Seattle eight months earlier, a show that left us with the higher than expected expectations which we hoped SMX West would live up to.

SMX West : A Home Run!

It did. Third Door not only hit a home run, at this show, they took the cover right off of the ball. The place was packed but that’s only part of the point. The information was amazing but, that too is only part of the point. SMX felt different, vibrant. It was the little things included in the planning for SMX West that made a difference. Items like fresh fruit, blogging tables in sessions, free WiFi through-out the venue, specialized social networking games and the brilliant Search Marketing Bowl session made life far easier for attendees.

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March 6, 2008

Online Video Advertising + Search Engines = Opportunity For Small Businesses

Much is being written and said these days about the rising future of online video advertising. Recent articles like one in the NY Times reporting Google’s move to test video ads in search results pages shows that the once abstract promise of online video advertising is now upon us.

But what are the repercussions for small businesses from online video advertising, and how will it impact their presence in search results?

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You’d Be Wise To “NoFollow” This Dubious SEO Advice

100% Organic - A Column From Search Engine Land
For the past few months, I have been listening to some of my colleagues talk about the nofollow attribute and how to use it to sculpt a page’s PageRank. I heard this SEO advice first at SMX in Stockholm and most recently at SMX in Santa Clara. Stephan Spencer wrote about it in a recent Search Engine Land article, Sculpting Your PageRank for Maximum SEO Impact.

My reaction? My jaw hit the floor. In a nutshell, if you want a site to have an effective information architecture for both end users and search engine spiders, then create a good information architecture. Search usability professionals have been doing this for years, creating web pages that rank and convert, and continuing to evolve their interfaces. Now I see SEO professionals moving back to a familiar strategy: building one thing for software spiders and another for site visitors. Honestly, I believe this dubious SEO advice is an accident waiting to happen.

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March 7, 2008

Save Money to Make Money : Paid Search Auditing & Quality Control

Theres an old adage in business that says, You have to spend money to make money. As anyone who has experienced the power of effective advertising will confirm, the adage rings true time and time again. You have to tell the public what you offer before they know that youre the one to buy it from. That part is easy and obvious.

There is, however, a second statement that should bookend the first which goes, Most businesses make money by saving money. Though the second statement might appear to contradict the first, it actually complements it. Think about your businesses margins before over-thinking the second statement. In an environment where many businesses measure their profit margins in single digits, every penny saved is truly a penny earned. The trick is, knowing where to spend and where to save.
Everybody needs to advertise. Yesterday, a few friends and I tried an exercise where we attempted to name companies, products or services that did not rely on advertising to spread their message. The only well known name we could all agree on was Google.

We were wrong, by the way. After a millisecond of research I discovered that even Google advertises its services.

I include the story because I found Google’s primary means of advertising its own products and services interesting. Google primarily uses AdWords. Chances are; you do too.

AdWords advertising works. It, along with its AdSense distribution system, has been called the most innovative wealth redistribution system the Internet has ever spawned. It is certainly the most successful, accounting for over 95% of Googles annual revenues.

Like all systems, AdWords is not perfect although it is very, very good. A lot of very wise money is spent advertising there, most of which nets an adequate return on investment for advertisers. Thats why the system works so well and is universally popular virtually everywhere on Earth. The system makes mistakes though and those mistakes are costing advertisers monies that would otherwise be added to their bottom line.

If only there was an independent third party that could monitor the ad-spend, find those mistakes and help get misspent monies refunded. Actually, there is one.

Enquisite Search Metrics has devised PPC Assurance. a PPC quality control monitoring and analytics system that spots mistakes made in Pay Per Click billings from Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing. PPC Assurance boasts a 5 10% catch-rate for campaigns that make good use of the advertising systems features. PPC Assurance automatically records those mistakes and submits a refund request to Google or Yahoo using the exact details the networks demand.

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March 12, 2008

Got Duplicate Content? Don’t Let It Dilute Your SEO Efforts

Brand Aid - A Column From Search Engine Land “Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink,” laments a sailor adrift in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The poor guy needs water to say alive—and he’s surrounded by it— yet if he drinks it, the salt content will kill him.

As a search marketer, perhaps you can relate.

Much like our sailor friend, you’re surrounded by what you need—namely, content—which, of course, is great for your search presence. Yet too much of the same content can be… well, hazardous.

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Using Wikipedia To Reveal Web Traffic Data

Before investing time and effort in search rankings, and even before setting client expectations, it makes sense to gather whatever intelligence you can about the keywords you’d like to rank for. SEOs and webmasters have few reliable sources of information about the relationship between rankings and traffic. But Wikipedia’s traffic stats can help, offering some surprisingly detailed data.

Have you been searching for Jesus? On Google, Wikipedia ranks first for that search. How much is that first place ranking worth? According to Wikipedia’s public traffic stats, about 14k page views on a typical day, and 19.3k on Christmas. The redirect Jesus Christ, which points to the same page, gets about 25% as much traffic, and Christ adds another 10%.

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Linking Prowess For In-House Teams

In House - A Column From Search Engine Land Linking is still de rigueur when optimizing for Google and all major engines. Linking strategies have run the gauntlet, from simple link exchange requests to buying links. For a good review of current best practices in linking tactics, I refer you to The Link Spiel by Debra Mastaler and “11 Experts on Link Development Speak Out” from Sugarrae.

While linking is a critical component of your in-house SEO tactical plan, it is also important to be careful in selecting the sites you link to. If you link to a site that’s totally unrelated to your own, search engines will become confused about your link neighborhood.

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