Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization

Taking the Bing Challenge

I saw a TV commercial about the Bing Challenge and decided to give it a try. I’m a big fan of google, but hey, why not just see what happens in the challenge?

So I went over to http://www.bingiton.com/ (Bing It On) and found out how it works. They have you run 5 searches and on each one they split the screen and show you bing and google results, unbranded. You pick the one you prefer (Works best). I did it a few times and found out I prefer Bing. So now, a co-worker and I are trying Bing for a week.

Being a user of Gmail, and having activated the mail search function of google, I’m already missing that feature. I’m also missing the personalized results from my “circles”.

The quality of the actual search results I am finding to be pretty interesting. Bing seems to excel when I am looking up something I don’t know much about, while Google excels when I am looking for something very specific.

I will report more next week about the challenge.

 

Google’s Privacy Policy Changes

There is a lot of talk going on currently about Google’s changes in their privacy agreement. I am like most people and just click the agree button and go on with my day. This one though I ended up reading just because there was so much talk about it in the media.

The jist of the agreement is that your account credentials now work with all google services and they all share the same personal data on you as well as their privacy policy. There are some exceptions due to regulations on financial data, but its only a couple of sites.

People are offended by google using this data to present you with ads targeted at you. I personally see this as being a good thing. If I am looking for something, I want to see what I am looking for. Google allegedly can also learn your tastes so searching for a shirt will send you to Nordstrom and not Old Navy (if you’re like me).

The way I see it, Google is using data collected on you to provide a better and more relevant experience.

Where to start with SEO

After a long talk today with my superiors at work regarding a new service to help business owners get on the right track with their online presence, I have decided to give a few tips right now that anyone can do for any site.

1. Get a domain name. Your website shouldn’t be something like http://imakewidgetsforthat.wordpress.com or http://myunclemademedothisfor10bucks.blogspot.com. Get a real domain name with either your company name or something having to do with products you manufacture or sell. .com and .net are more ideal than other domain names, but you may actually have a reason for a .tv or .org or even .info.

2. Figure out what should be on your site. Product and service descriptions along with your phone number are the basics. Do you want it to do more? Would videos help your product?

3. Start on the right foot. It isn’t 1995 and your site shouldn’t look like it. Your site should have all of the basic code optimization from the start. This means having unique page titles, using META tags, and having friendly sounding file names. Your links should all work. You should have a defined sitemap. There are software packages out there to make this happen, but you may need to make sure that your “web guy” incorporates these features while using clean code.

4. Get on the major social networks and tell people about your business and about how they can find more information.

5. Make sure that it all makes sense! You won’t sell anything with your site if nobody understands it. Hard to read graphics and an over abundance of text send people running.

These are just some small basic tips. More will come in the future.

Google and Gandhi on October 2, 2009

As a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Google has featured the face of Gandhi in their logo today. Today is the day that Gandhi would be 140 years old. Gandhi’s birthday is celebrated in India as the holiday “Gandhi Jayanti” and the day around the world is known as the International day of Non Violence. Gandhi was known for his passive resistance and has influenced a great number civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King. Google’s own philosophy of only doing things that will have a positive effect on society. You can read more on Google’s philanthropic efforts at google.org.

Search Engine Indexing in a hurry

About a week ago, I found out that a new job board was going up. This isn’t out of the ordinary to hear, but this one had urgency to get out in order to try some new things.

Immediately, I went to work trying to find keywords, making a site map and submitting the site to the big 3 search engines.

Only a few days later, Google Analytics hasn’t shown much activity but we discovered today that someone has posted a job! Woohoo!

This is just proof that with a little planning, a site can and will get activity soon after publishing it.

Yahoo and Microsoft join forces…finally

After months of negotiations and failed agreements, it appears that there is finally a deal happening between Yahoo! and Microsoft. In the end it appears that Yahoo’s search will die. Current details are listed below, with more details to be released later today in a conference call.

Searchengineland.com reports the following details on the deal:

  • The term of the agreement is 10 years
  • Microsoft will acquire an exclusive 10 year license to Yahoo!’s core search technologies, and Microsoft will have the ability to integrate Yahoo! search technologies into its existing web search platforms [Note from Danny Sullivan: Exclusive suggests Yahoo itself won’t be able to use the technology or develop it, which means after 10 years, what’s left probably isn’t that useful]
  • Microsoft’s Bing will be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search platform for Yahoo! sites. Yahoo! will continue to use its technology and data in other areas of its business such as enhancing display advertising technology.
  • Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers. Self-serve advertising for both companies will be fulfilled by Microsoft’s AdCenter platform, and prices for all search ads will continue to be set by AdCenter’s automated auction process.
  • Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising business and sales force.
  • Yahoo! will innovate and “own” the user experience on Yahoo! properties, including the user experience for search, even though it will be powered by Microsoft technology. [Note from Danny: AOL used similar words about how it would somehow make Google-powered search “better” despite not owning the technology. People still went to Google].
  • Microsoft will compensate Yahoo! through a revenue sharing agreement on traffic generated on Yahoo!’s network of both owned and operated (O&O) and affiliate sites.
    • Microsoft will pay traffic acquisition costs (TAC) to Yahoo! at an initial rate of 88% of search revenue generated on Yahoo!’s O&O sites during the first 5 years of the agreement.
    • Yahoo! will continue to syndicate its existing search affiliate partnerships.
  • Microsoft will guarantee Yahoo!’s O&O revenue per search (RPS) in each country for the first 18 months following initial implementation in that country. [Note from Danny: What’s the amount? And this is far shorter than I’d have expected].
  • At full implementation (expected to occur within 24 months following regulatory approval), Yahoo! estimates, based on current levels of revenue and current operating expenses, that this agreement will provide a benefit to annual GAAP operating income of approximately $500 million and capital expenditure savings of approximately $200 million. Yahoo! also estimates that this agreement will provide a benefit to annual operating cash flow of approximately $275 million.
  • The agreement protects consumer privacy by limiting the data shared between the companies to the minimum necessary to operate and improve the combined search platform, and restricts the use of search data shared between the companies. The agreement maintains the industry-leading privacy practices that each company follows today.

This brings back some memories of my first time on “the net” in my “tech arts” class in the spring of 1995. David Mease, Ryan Vaughn and I had access to the school’s brand new Apple PowerPC. It was the only computer in the school with internet access. Ryan had somehow heard of yahoo.com stating “some kids from MIT built a directory of internet pages”, so we used that as our launch pad and slowly explored the ‘net with our cutting edge 14.4 modem.

Yahoo isn’t going away, but some of its magic and individuality will be mere memories.

Search Marketing Now 1/27/09 Webinar

I listened to this webinar to try to get an idea of where internet sales were over the holiday season, since we all already know how bad the national chain averages were.

1. Jeff Hackett
Showed % change in search traffic for retail sales
-Paid up 6.7%, 24.1%, 5%, 17.8% for apparel, books, electronics, home furnishings
-organic: 4.0%, -9.7%, -1%, -16%
-totals: 4.9%, 5.3%, .9%, ?%

online sales growth only 7% for 2008, 17% for 2007

online spending by consumer by income level
-under $50,000 hit hardest, -17%
-50k-99k: -10
100k+: 17%

fast growing segments
fitness: 16%
video games: 10%
consumer electronics: 3%
apparel: 2%
music, movies: -34%
jewelry: -24% (first time online beat store, but still bad)

google product search +162% from last year

Mike Deckman (vintagetub.com)
-remained strong in Q4 despite the usual lul due to holidays and housing recession

-Philippe Petit theory: sales survival
success isn’t an accident
(planned stunt walking cable between twin towers with success)
look at problems from distant perpective
short, broad goals
what matters most?
-need for good analytics
-know what the analytics mean and how to use them
-know what data is important
act only on what data shows (not opinion)
-know differences between revenue channels
seasonal
economic factors
when do people want X?
good organics can make up for PPC
-what keywords generate income vs traffic
many clicks may not net very much profit
-anticipate problems and find solutions
know what is going on
example of research in dec, buy in jan
consistency pays off
negative keywords
savings in PPC
optimize data feeds
fix everything
promote most popular product over unpopular
testamonials/reviews
-focus on what you can do, not what you cannot
-create a plan and stick to it
allow for change due to data

Chris Wine cwine@marinsoftware.com (sponsor)
-16% of holiday online sales were search driven
-spend more when more demand is expected
assuming more profits
raised bids
increased budgets
-effectiveness of coupons
-offline 3X utilization of coupons as online
-2008 “year of coupon”
-thanksgiving week 30% raise over baseline conversions
-promotional branding of site for seasons
-most people found to be reactive (lagged actions)
-margins go up, but conversions missed
would have been more had predictions been made
-dec 9 busiest day online for shopping
-Marin software
bids changed daily based on trends
daily for every keyword
compares conversions to searches
distributes money from competitive to less competitive to maximize revenue
looks to see when a keyword can stand on its own
based on conversion. 10% can, 1% cannot
collects data on keywords or uses existing data
-strategy that reflects traffic
-keyword attribution
how is a single product marketed?
brand? category?
-too many packages rely on redirects
-PPC agents will make suggestions to improve results

XML Sitemaps and RSS feeds

Ever wonder how you can get search engines to notice you quickly without using their pay per click (PPC) services?
The use of XML sitemaps can often get you on the board, assuming that your site has unique content and is well laid out. The big 3 (google, Live, and Yahoo) all have sitemap submission tools that you can use and follow an industry standard format for doing so.
They all also accept links to RSS feeds from blogs and other sites that are frequently updated.
Your site will still need a solid architecture utilizing web standards as well as useful content to rank well, but the sitemap is a great way to initially get noticed and to tell the search spiders a rough estimate as to the frequency they should be updating your site’s index.
For more information on this and other tricks to get yourself noticed by the spiders, please e-mail alex@alexsoduk.com

Taking your store online

We’ve all heard the stories about someone’s uncle or brother-in-law that started an online store and became a millionaire. Well I am not saying it works for everyone, but with a good product and a good idea anyone can put some extra coin in their pocket with an online store.

FPPFsales.com used to be a site just showing the product line available through a local trucking company. An initial phase of the project was making the site search engine friendly. Previously, the site was all images and google had no idea it even existed. After a few months of tweaking to get noticed, it was decided to begin online sales. The site took about 4 weeks to move to sales mode and it began making sales only a few days later. Through the careful planning of the design to attract search engines and users.

This case is proof that search engine success can be as simple as following common sense while building the site and taking tips from the search engines themselves to create fantastic results.