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More Insight into the Microsoft / Yahoo Saga
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Well over the weekend, the Microsoft-imposed deadline passed without a deal between Microsoft and Yahoo (as we expected). So where does that leave us now? Well there have been some interesting reports as of late. One of our favorites was from TechCrunch, with their interview with Citi analyst Mark Mahaney on Yahoo/Microsoft/Google. Of particular interest in the TechCrunch piece was:

Key takeaways:

  • Mahaney clearly thinks a Yahoo/Microsoft deal is going to happen, either through a hostile move by Microsoft (40%) or via a negotiated deal (50%).
  • He doesn’t count out the chance for a more permanent Yahoo/Google deal, though. We talk about the various ways Yahoo may be able to get a Google deal past the regulators, particularly via outsourcing only a portion of search ads on a non-exclusive basis.
  • Mahaney maintains his current estimate that Yahoo can increase cash flow in the near term by $1 billion/year by outsourcing search to Google.

The most interesting exchange came at the end, when I steered away from what Mahaney thought would happen, and asked him what he would do if he were Microsoft CEO SteveBallmer: walk from the deal, or go for it aggressively. Mahaney didn’t hesitate in his answer:

Arrington: So if you’re Steve Ballmer, do you walk from this deal or go after it aggressively?

Mahaney: You go after it aggressively. You know what it’s like to see businesses increasingly concentrate on one provider. The longer you wait to attack that provider, the worse your odds. You can’t walk away.

Some great insight from Mark Mahaney. Over at Adotas they posted they million dollar question of the week, "Will Ballmer Make Yang Cry “Uncle?” My favorite quote of the piece is "So what will famously explosive CEO Steve Ballmer do?" Famously explosive, I love it...

Many expect some sort of major development this week, possibly as early as Wednesday.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 29, 2008  
Building External Link Inventory: 11 Things to Look for in a Good Link
Sunday, April 27, 2008
We all know that a key factor used by search engine algorithms is link popularity. Links are important, we get it. There are many SEO companies that base their entire solutions around link building. But do you know what it takes to make a link good? Why is one link from Site A better than a link from Site B?

There are quite a few factors that can make one link better than another. When looking to build your link inventory to your site pages, here are 11 items to look for:
  1. Anchor Text of the Link - having a keyword in the linking text to your site page helps the engines determine the relevancy of your site page for that keyword. Where possible, try to provide the anchor text to the site that will be linking to you.

  2. Keywords in the Title of the Linking Page - a good, relevant link should have keywords in the title of the page that links to your site page.

  3. Placement on the page that is linking - a link that is found within the copy of a page (as in an article or blog post) tends to carry more weight with the search engines than say a link from navigation, blogroll or the like. (Depending on the PageRank of the pages your page is linked from.)

  4. Page Rank of the Linking Page - obviously a link from a relevant site with a higher PR carries more weight than a link from a lower PR page. Chances are that one link from a PR 7 site will carry more weight than 20 links from PR 0 pages.

  5. Number of Other Links on the Linking Page - if your link is one of 100 on a page then the value of the link is less than if your link was one of say four or five on a page.

  6. Text Links Carry more Weight than Image Links - while links from images are beneficial, standard html text links still carry the most weight in the eyes of the search engines.

  7. Relevancy of Surrounding Page Copy - the search engines look at page theme as well as site wide theme help determine the Inbound Linking Score that the engines place on a link.

  8. Number of Links from the Same Site - if your site is linked to from a blogroll and thus has a large number of links from the same site, the weight of the links are less.

  9. Reciprocal Links vs. One-Way Link - one way links carry more weight than a link that is exchanged between two sites (ie a reciprocal link.) Where possible try to seek one-way links.

  10. Age of the Site Linking - older site tend to be more trusted and more established and as a result, the search engines may factor in age of the site linking to help determine relevancy and the IBL Quality score of the link.

  11. Hosting Issues - If you have links from sites that are on the same IP address, the quality of the links will be less. The weight on the link will become somewhat watered down.
Building the external link inventory to your site pages is critical for SEO success. When seeking links from other sites, be sure to consider the 11 points above to ensure that you are receiving links that will provide the most benefit to your website.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, April 27, 2008  
Top 7 Search Stories April 2007
Saturday, April 26, 2008
As we approach the end of April, it's hard to believe that we are through one third of 2008 already. The first few months have been somewhat active with news of the Microsoft/Yahoo issues, news that ASK.com is changing their search to target women more and that Google is still the dominant player in Search.

Here some of the top stories from the world of search that have happened in April.

#7. Google Named Top Brand - According to Millward Brown Optimor who creates the BrandZ Top 100, a ranking that identifies the world's most powerful brands measured by their dollar value, Google was again named the most powerful brand in the world for 2008. GE, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Chin Mobile round out the top 5. View the full report here.

#6. Yahoo Continues to Roll with Algorithm Updates - Amongst pressure from Microsoft, Yahoo continues to update their Search algorithm to improve their search offering. This is something that Microsoft should be doing. Let's be honest, even with what the original offer was, the offer totally undervalues Yahoo considering that it is one of the World's top brands out there. The fact that Yahoo continues to make changes to their search algorithm is great to see.

#5. Google Opens an Environment for iGoogle Developers - Dubbed iGoogle Gadgets, developers can build and test their gadgets in the new sandbox for iGoogle. Many suggest that this could be the first step in Google looking to become more active in the world of social networking.

#4. Microsoft Launches Updated Live Search News - http://search.live.com/news The new service automatically shows you top stories grouped into topics on the home page. Microsoft says they have more than 2,000 sources now with more to come. While there is currently no submission process look for one in the near future. Some other new features include as CNET noted, is how when there's big breaking news, an orange "Breaking News" bar will appear at the top of the page.

#3. Yahoo's Earnings were Reported Above Expectations - Yahoo announced their Q1 earnings for 2008 and the report stated that Yahoo earned $542.2 million, or 37 cents per share, during the first three months of the year, which is more than triple its profit of $142.4 million, or 10 cents per share, to begin 2007. You can read the entire transcript of the Yahoo Q1 2008 Earnings Call here. According to the Jerry Yang,

Even beyond the financial performance, Q1 was probably one of the most exciting quarters in Yahoo!'s history in terms of delivering innovative products and services that really move the needle and make a difference for our users and customers.

And the quarter’s results underscore the fact that our strategy and investments are beginning to pay off.

We continued to make progress against our strategic objectives: being the starting point for the most consumers on the web; becoming the must buy for the most advertisers; and delivering industry leading platforms that attract the most developers.

#2. Google Rolls Out Algorithm Update - Google performed one of its largest algorithm updates of the year. You may have noticed some fluctuations in rankings. We noticed that finally some poor quality blogs and a number of long standing "crappy" sites listed on the first page have been de-listed. We have questioned the relevancy of results in Google recently, so its nice to see them try to address some of the garbage out there that is polluting the Web.

#1. Yahoo Acquires Index Tools - Yahoo has a number of entries in this month's list. Earlier in April, Yahoo made a splash when they announced that they had acquired leading provider of Web analytics software for online marketing, Index Tools. Yahoo will use the analytics to provide their customers with tools for monitoring and analyzing websites and marketing campaigns, providing valuable insights into key metrics, traffic patterns and performance. The move is an indication that Yahoo is looking to become the partner of choice for online marketers by providing a well rounded group of tools and solutions.

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posted by Jody @ Saturday, April 26, 2008  
List of Online Press Releases Distribution Resources
Friday, April 25, 2008
As part of your SEO strategy, you should be incorporating some method for optimizing and distributing your press and news releases so that they can be picked up by Google News, Yahoo News and the like.

So once you have a well written, well-optimized press release in your inventory what do you do next? Well you need to distribute them through channels that will help you gain exposure in the online world. Depending on your frequency of release, the amount of budget that you have available and on your overall press release strategy, you will need to determine the best avenues for distributing your press releases online. There are literally hundreds of options available, but here are some more popular press release distribution resources. While some are free, others do have various fees associated depending on the options available. You will want to review your options and see which ones work best for you. When selecting a resource you'll want to consider:
  • Linking Opportunities from your press release
  • The ability to include images or video in your press release (think blended search optimization)
  • Where your press release will be hosted
  • Syndication of your press release (the ability of your press release to get picked up by other sites.)
17 Press Release Distribution Resources

Here is a look at seventeen resources for online press release distribution.
  1. http://www.prweb.com
  2. http://www.prleap.com
  3. http://i-newswire.com
  4. http://www.webwire.com
  5. http://www.24-7pressrelease.com
  6. http://www.clickpress.com
  7. http://www.przoom.com
  8. http://www.pr.com
  9. http://www.prlog.org
  10. http://www.marketwire.com
  11. http://www.prnewswire.com
  12. http://www.businesswire.com
  13. http://www.dbusinessnews.com
  14. http://www.openpr.com
  15. http://www.seenation.com
  16. http://www.pr-usa.net
  17. http://www.i-newswire.com

Of course there are numerous other, but we wanted to provide a list of resources that included some that you be not have been familiar with.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, April 25, 2008  
How to Move Your Site to a New Domain According to Google
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Anytime a client considers changing their site architecture or is planning a website redesign or decides to move their Website, I work with them to ensure that they do not experience an adverse effect on their rankings in the search results. Anytime you plan on moving your site, you should have a plan. The best case scenario is that the move should be transparent, at least to the search engines so that your site does not tank in the rankings.

When moving your site, you want to avoid the end result of 404 Errors popping up after the move. Not only with this have an impact on the user experience, but it could have a negative effect on your organic search rankings. A cool tool to check for broken links on your site is XENU which can be downloaded here. The best thing that you can do when preparing to move your site is to plan your move. The good folks over at Google Webmaster Tools put together some helpful tips, which we'll recap here.

We should point out that these tips are for moving a site to a new domain and not for moving to a different IP address. The Webmaster Tools team has covered that previously as well with these five tips:

Moving a Site to a New IP Address
  1. Change the TTL (Time To Live) value of your DNS configuration to something short, like five minutes (300 seconds). This will tell web browsers to re-check the IP address for your site every five minutes.
  2. Copy your content to the new hosting environment, and make sure it is live on the new IP address.
  3. Change your DNS settings so your hostname points to the new IP address.
  4. Check your logs to see when Googlebot starts crawling your site on the new IP address. To make sure it's really Googlebot who's visiting, you can verify Googlebot by following these instructions. You can then log into Webmaster Tools and monitor any crawl errors. Once Googlebot is happily crawling on the new IP address, you should be all set as far as Google is concerned.
  5. To make sure everyone got the message of your move, you may want to keep an eye out for visits to your old IP address before shutting it down.
How to Move a Website to a New Domain According to Google

  1. Test the move first - Begin with one directory or sub-domain first.

  2. Use a 301 Permanent Redirect to redirect old pages to the new site.

  3. Monitor Google's Index - Check to see that the pages on your new site are appearing in Google's search results. When you're satisfied that the move is working correctly, you can move your entire site. As the Google folks mention, "Don't do a blanket redirect directing all traffic from your old site to your new home page. This will avoid 404 errors, but it's not a good user experience. A page-to-page redirect (where each page on the old site gets redirected to the corresponding page on the new site) is more work, but gives your users a consistent and transparent experience." The Google Team goes on to suggest "If there won't be a 1:1 match between pages on your old and new site, try to make sure that every page on your old site is at least redirected to a new page with similar content."

  4. Use a Staged Approach - If your site is moving as part of a redesign, you'll want to use a phased or staged approach. Begin with moving your site as the first stage. The second stage is to roll-out with the redesign. This can help troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

  5. Pay Attention to Links - anytime you move a website you'll want to pat attention to both your external and internal link inventories. Ideally, you should contact the webmaster of each site that links to yours and ask them to update the links to point to the page on your new domain. If this isn't practical, make sure that all pages with incoming links are redirected to your new site. Again once everything is moved over, you'll want to use a link checking tool (such as XENU that we mentioned above) to check for any broken links (404 errors).

  6. Keep You Old Site Up - Redundancy is a good thing. After moving your site, it is a good idea to keep your old site up for six months according to Google.

  7. Update Webmaster Tools Data - Add your new site to your Webmaster Tools account, and verify your ownership of it. Then create and submit a Sitemap listing the URLs on your new site. This tells Google that your content is now available on your new site, and that we should go and crawl it.

  8. Monitor Both Site via Webmaster Tools - The Google Webmaster Team suggests that keep both your new and old site verified in Webmaster Tools, and review crawl errors regularly to make sure that the 301s from the old site are working properly, and that the new site isn't showing unwanted 404 errors.
Anytime you decide to move or redesign your website, you run the risk of incurring a drop in search rankings. Careful planning and testing is critical in enduring a smooth and transparent transition.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 24, 2008  
Earth Day 2008 on the Search Engines
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Happy Earth Day Everybody! As part of contributing to Earth Day this year I was able to car pool to work this morning. I would have preferred to bike to work, but with the construction of the new bridge into Kelowna from the Westside it was not feasible at this time.

The search engines are celebrating Earth Day today as evident with their homepages.

Google

ASK


Yahoo



MSN
Considering Live Search look normal, the least Microsoft could do was to feature a green background on the MSN homepage.


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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 22, 2008  
SEO Training Resources in 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
One of the major issues or concerns that has arisen in the search marketing industry over the past couple of years is the lack of "standardized" SEO training that is available within the industries. You can attend all of the conferences that you want, however it is true that there is a lack of detail-focused training available. In this industry everyone and their dog has a blog or has written a book about SEO or has spoke at SES or SMX... but you know what a lot of these people have their own take on how to build links or how to optimize your website, or how to convert visitors on your site.

So then where does one go to learn about SEO? If you wanted to break into the search marketing industry where would one go to get the necessary training in 2008? The fact that there is no accredited SEO University out there to go an get your "SEO degree" obviously suggest a need for a standardized, widely accepted training environment or set of training resources. For now, there are a couple of resources that would be a great place to start.

SEO Training Resources in 2008
  1. SEMPO Institute www.sempoinstitute.com - Currently this is as close as it gets to industry wide accepted SEO training that exists. Launched in 2007, SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization) launched SEMPO Institute to meet the challenges facing businesses as Search Marketing grows from a niche to a critical marketing player. The courses are designed to meet the needs of Search Marketing specialists as well as marketing generalists. We have developed the courses to train the highly-in-demand specialist (Advanced courses), while providing the knowledge absolutely needed in today’s business world (Fundamentals courses). Media buyers, copy writers, webmasters, marketing managers, product managers, sales and more need to understand where Search Marketing can provide a competitive advantage to your company and your career.

    Their mission is to:
    To teach standardized, peer reviewed SEM strategies, techniques, and best practices.
    To provide Courses which establish a benchmark of expertise for SEM professionals worldwide.
    To increase the quality and availability of SEM professionals and employees for hiring needs.

  2. Direct Marketing Association's Search Engine Marketing Certification Program - Level I and Level II courses feature exciting quizzes, audio and video clips, and useful resources and links. There is no set time frame for completion. You can take them at your own pace when you have the time. Level One includes:

    • Introduction to Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Basics
    • Site Indexing Challenges and How to Fix Them
    • Fundamentals of Keyword Research
    • Search Engine and Directory Submission/Inclusion Tactics
    • Fundamentals of Site Optimization
    • Creating Powerful Content for Search
    • Understanding Paid Search
    • Building for Powerful Search Marketing
    • Measuring Search Marketing Success

    Level Two includes:
    • Advanced Analytics and SEO (Core)
    • Enhancing Site Conversion – Managing the Search Flow (Core)
    • Usability, Site Architecture, and Search (Core)
    • Search Engine Marketing through Blogs (Core)
    • Integrating Search into the Marketing Mix (Core)
    • Online PR and Search (Organic)
    • Social Media & Multimedia Optimization (Organic)
    • Local Search Opportunities (Organic)
    • Advanced Link-Building Strategies (Organic)
    • International Search Factors (Organic)
    • Powerful Landing Pages and Accurate Targeting (Paid)
    • 7 PPC Techniques Used by Direct Marketers (Paid)
    • Managing Paid Search Campaigns (Paid)
    • Budgeting and Forecasting for Paid Search (Paid)
    • Auditing Your Paid Search Campaign (Paid)

  3. SEO ToolSet Training www.seotoolset.com/training/courses.html - Presented by Bruce Clay Inc. Bruce Clay is also in development of a major SEO book project for Wiley Books. This book is targeted for publication in late 2008 and will be the flagship SEO book in the all-in-one series. They also offer an Advanced Certification Course as well as a Refresher Course. Bruce Clay is well respected member of the SEO community and has been involved in Search since 1996.

  4. SEOmoz Video Training Series - Released today (April 21, 2008) this seven-hour, eight module, professionally produced series is ideal for those who are serious about improving their SEO knowledge and search engine rankings. For $399 you can purchase this video which covers the following:

    • An Introduction to Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Algorithms
    • Keyword Research & Keyword Targeting
    • Content Development Strategies
    • Social Media Marketing
    • Blogging & the Blogosphere
    • Search Engine Friendly Design
    • Analytics
If you are looking for SEO training you might want to consider the above resources. If anything they will provide a foundation for building your knowledge about SEO practices. The fact of the matter is that the best training is experience and working with best practices and developing your own strategies. Working through scenarios or practicing on your own blog or development site can help you gain the understanding needed to be successful with your online endeavors. However the search engine algorithms are complex and there is no guaranteed formula for success. Many suggest that learning and practicing SEO is not rocket science, well if that is the case, how come it has taken so long for the industry to develop standardized training? Finally in 2008 we are starting to see some practical SEO training resources.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 21, 2008  
Yahoo Search Index Update
Earlier today, Yahoo announced that they are undergoing an index update. According to the Yahoo Search blog, "Over the next few days, we'll be rolling out some changes to our crawling, indexing and ranking algorithms. While we expect the update will be completed soon, as you know, throughout this process you may see some ranking changes and page shuffling in the index." Yahoo would be best served to continue to improve the relevancy of search results as this is something that Google has recently dropped the ball on.

Have you noticed recently how many irrelevant sites and blogs are showing up in Google's search results? It's probably the worst that I have seen it in four or five years. Search for general "head" phrases and see what shows up. Depending on your query the sites that show up, you may see some sites that have artificially inflated their link inventories to gain rankings in the organic results. Yahoo has an opportunity to step it up with the relevancy factor in their search results. While this latest search index update is not a major update (or is it?) you can expect Yahoo to continue to improve their results even amidst all of the Yahoo and Microsoft talk.

In the meantime, you'll want to monitor your search results in Yahoo to see if your site rankings fluctuate or if they remain status quo.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 21, 2008  
Organic SEO on the Rise?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Organic search engine optimization is what I do. I choose to do this because of the challenge and not because I am trying to manipulate the search engines results. I am all about relevant results, both as a user and as a search strategist. I have had great success with SEO strategies that I have prepared for my clients. Yet SEO (or Organic SEO) still does not receive the respect it deserves. Specifically when compared to Pay Per Click (PPC) / sponsored advertising.

The main reason is that PPC is much easier to measure. You are working with tangible numbers. With SEO, results can take weeks or months and it will be do to a combination of tactics and such, not just because you simply raised your bid price. While I agree that there is a place for PPC, in conjunction with organic SEO, I am still seeing many companies pour their budgets into sponsored search.

Yet as I've mentioned before in my discussion about the benefits of organic search, once you get great organic results, the cost of doing so is considerably lower and the effects are longer lasting. Why wouldn't you want to increase your budget for SEO?

New findings from "Blended Search Results Study," conducted by JupiterResearch and The NPD Group suggest that "... Nearly seven out of 10 respondents said they clicked a search result within the first page of results, and 92% clicked a result within the first three pages of search results."

In one of our original research studies at Enquiro (Inside the Mind of the Searcher), we found that in general, organic listings are more likely to be seen by a greater percentage of users than sponsored listings. It also emerged that many Google users have become preconditioned to visually ignore sponsored listings on the page. So why do companies ignore their organic SEO needs?

Well some organizations are simply late adopters. The Blended Search Results Study sponsored by iProspect illustrates the shifting trend in the need for high organic rankings and the fact that SEO spend is on the rise. By 2011, SEO spend is estimated to be 23% of search ad spending. Are you kidding me only 23%. Hello advertisers, people prefer organic results.

We get the fact that not everyone can rank in the top 10 in Google for a given term. However an effective keyword strategy that focuses on head, torso and long-tail phrases can help you gain the organic visibility that you need.

Additional Resources
For more on eMarketer's Search Engine Marketing: User and Spending Trends click here.
For more information about Organic Search Marketing or to learn more about search engine optimization, please feel free to visit Enquiro.com
Download Free Enquiro Research White Papers

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 17, 2008  
Google Earth in 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Google Earth version 4.3 has been launched to provide users with a richer 3-D experience. Google Earth is a feature that offers maps and satellite images to help users pinpoint locations when conducting regional searches. You can download the latest version here. New features include:
  • New navigation - There is a new navigational experience so users can better take advantage of the 3D environment in Google Earth. The navigation takes the traditional pan-and-zoom approach associated with mapping programs and incorporates a first-person, ground-level perspective commonly used in video games. New with Version 4.3 is the ability to find your way with the new navigation controls:

    * Use the Look joystick (top of the controls) to look around from one vantage point.
    * Use the Move joystick (center of the controls) to move down, up, right or left.
    * Use the zoom slider to zoom in or out (+ to zoom in, - to zoom out).
    * Click and drag the ring around the Look joystick to rotate the view.

  • More 3-D - Version 4.3 also includes dozens of photo-textured cities and towns, as well as thousands of user-contributed buildings around the world. The rendering of the 3D data has been improved which in turn helps improve performance and realism of 3D data.

  • Street View - The well-known Google Maps feature gets added to Google Earth with version 4.3. Street View is a popular, engaging feature that allows people to easily find, discover, and plan activities relevant to a location.

  • Image acquisition date - According to Google, one of their most requested features was the date the images were taken. 4.3 now includes an image acquisition date, which shows you on what date a given area of imagery was taken.

  • Sunlight feature - This new addition is a playful way to control the sun's location relative to the Earth. When you zoom out to a view of the Earth, you can control a time-lapse view of sunlight moving across the Earth. While zoomed into a given city, you can watch the sunrise and sunset. Pretty cool stuff. You can use the time slider to watch the sunrise and sunset from anywhere. Move the time slider to watch dusk, dawn and shadows move across the Earth
  • New languages -- Version 4.3 includes twelve new languages, including Danish, English (UK), Spanish (Latin American), Finnish, Hebrew, Indonesian, Norwegian, Portuguese (PT), Romanian, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.

If you have not checked out Google Earth in a while, now is the time to do it.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 16, 2008  
Post a Job on Global Thoughtz
Just a reminder for those of your looking for online marketing news on the Global front to visit GlobalThoughtz.com. For all of you advertisers out there, they have recently added a Job Posting feature where you can submit a job posting for $30 for 30 days. Sounds like a great deal.

The site is also looking for bloggers. This week's featured blogger on Global Thoughtz is Sudha Jamthe.

Sudha Jamthe is a contributor to Global Thoughtz Social Media. Sudha Jamthe is a metrics driven Internet marketing Exec and Startup Mentor. She loves trying all new technologies and social media. She started out building Internet Products and Group at Fidelity, BMC and Harcourt (now Reed Elsevier). She is now focused on Social media and how it can enhance search as part of online media planning. She loves startup energy and organizes the Bay Area Facebook Meetup and is a MIT venture mentor.

If you are interested in becoming a blogger on Global Thoughtz, send an email to .

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 16, 2008  
Google Filling Out HTML Forms and Crawling Results
Monday, April 14, 2008
Search Engine Land is reporting that Google has now become the first major search engine that is crawling forms on "high quality" web sites and filling out the forms to get back information. According to Google's official announcement on the Webmaster Central Blog,
In the past few months we have been exploring some HTML forms to try to discover new web pages and URLs that we otherwise couldn't find and index for users who search on Google. Specifically, when we encounter a
element on a high-quality site, we might choose to do a small number of queries using the form. For text boxes, our computers automatically choose words from the site that has the form; for select menus, check boxes, and radio buttons on the form, we choose from among the values of the HTML. Having chosen the values for each input, we generate and then try to crawl URLs that correspond to a possible query a user may have made.
You can still control this on your site by using a robots.txt or robots meta instruction so that Googlebot will be unable to access your forms. As Search Engine Lands points out,
The move is potentially good for searchers, in that it will open up material often referred to being part of the "deep web" or "invisible web" as it was hidden behind forms.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 14, 2008  
Resources on Widgets & Widget Stats
It's been a while since we discussed widgets. While everybody was talking about them last year, it seems that the talk has died down and only a select few are actually using widgets to their benefit. Part of the reason for this is because many do not understand widgets and widget marketing. In addition there are people who simply do not know how to leverage widgets.

The fact of the matter is people are looking for success stories and case studies about widget marketing and how they can improve an organizations' bottom line. Hence the need for resources on widget stats. There is a definite need for widget resources that is not easily found on the Web. We scoured the various results pages of multiple search engines to find but a few resources that we thought were worth sharing.

Here are some widget resources that might be of interest to those looking for more information on widgets and widget marketing

  • Top 10 Facebook Widgets - Of course there are thousands...

  • Widget Stats from Brad Feld - probably one of the best sources for widget stays that is out there.

  • comScore Widget Metrix - service that provides insight into audience size by widget, usage by widget, as well as widget audience demographic in the US (age, gender etc.)

  • Sexy Widget - probably the best online resource about widgets. In fact they had a great post about some widget to blog penetration data from Lijit.

  • What Growth in Widget networks means to the Web Strategist from Snipperoo the self-proclaimed "Universal Widget Blog"
Of course there are the numerous resources that we mentioned in our previous posts about widgets that can be accessed via:

Widget Marketing: Can Widgets Benefit B2B Sites?
Widget Marketing Update - 35 Widget Resources
Widget Marketing Runs Wild on the Web

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 14, 2008  
Website Re-Design: A 21 Step SEO Checklist for Planning a Website Re-Design
Thursday, April 10, 2008
As online marketers and website owners, there is going to come a time when you will need to take a deep hard look at your website and determine if it is working for you. More often than not you will probably decide that a site redesign is in your best interests. However as I mentions last week there are questions that you should ask yourself when considering a site redesign. In fact I outlined 7 Questions to Ask When Planning a Website Re-Design.

If you are prepared, a site re-design should not scare you. A website re-design can present a great opportunity to address site hierarchy issues, SEO and optimization issues as well as aesthetics of your online property. So then how do you prepare for the nastiness that a site re-design entails? All of the hierarchy concerns, all of the SEO factors to consider, all of the design issues, all of the content management issues, all of the ranking issues etc etc etc... the answer is you plan. You simply plan out your site re-design. In order to plan your website re-design you should prepare a checklist of the re-design issues that you need to consider. That's where we come in. SEO-Space is proud to present:

The Ultimate SEO Guide to Planning a Website Redesign

This guide focuses strictly on SEO issues and makes the assumption that you have addressed usability issues and the overall need for a site re-design. In order to effectively use this guide you will have previously:
  1. Defined the Goals for Your Site
  2. Defined the Needs of Your Site's Targeted Audience
  3. Determined the Resources Required for a Site Redesign
  4. Determined that there is an actual need for a redesign of your website
Without further delay here is a detailed SEO checklist that you should review as you are planning your upcoming redesign.
  1. Prepare a SWOT Analysis of Your Existing Site - evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your existing site as it remains today.

  2. Examine Your Existing Organic Rankings - Which of your site pages are currently doing well in the search engines? Which phrases are providing the most traffic to your site? Which pages have the greatest stickiness?

  3. Prepare a SWOT Analysis of You Main Competitors Site(s) - this includes both your offline and online competitors as online competitors may consist of sites who you do not think of as a direct competitor yet they are occupying the prime real estate of the search engine results and are receiving traffic that could be going to your site. Obtain ideas about web design, technology and optimization concepts by looking at competitor sites.

  4. Review Your Keywords - it would be a good time to review your keywords to ensure that you are using the phrases in your site's messaging that your audience is using in their search queries.

  5. Examine Your Existing Optimization - For pages that are doing well, be sure to preserve your well optimized titles and meta data. If using a new content management system, you want to be sure that it has the capability to populate your existing titles and meta data.

  6. Evaluate Your Existing Content - search engines love content, you should know that by now. Specifically search engines love optimized content. Plan out what content will be rolled out on your new site. Are there sections of content that will be phased out? If so remember to check your rankings so that you do not jeopardize existing rankings.

  7. Prepare Fresh Content - as you prepare for the launch of your new site, be sure to develop new, unique and informative content that will get crawled, indexed and ranked by the search engines upon release. This content can help act as link bait and help build the external link inventory of your site's pages. In addition, your target audience is coming to your site to find information. Make sure that you provide them with this information.

  8. Prepare for Blended Search - Be sure that your video and images are well optimized prior to launching the new site.

  9. Map Out Your Site Hierarchy - how you serve up your site's content can have a dramatic effect on your search engine rankings. Determine if you should use a sub-domain vs. sub-folder strategy as you redesign your website. Avoid burying pages deep within your site;s content.

  10. Plan out Search Engine Friendly URLs - this is a "biggee". Many webmasters tend to create these long nasty dynamic URLs that are not friendly for the search engine spiders or human visitors. When planning a site redesign one of the worst things that you can do is dramatically change your URL structure without using proper redirects to help the user and search engines find your content. If the search engines cannot find your content, your pages will not get indexed, your rankings will slip. your traffic will decline and you will receive less traffic to your site. The only thing that will go up is is sponsored PPC spend to buy back your position in the search engines. SEO is free (somewhat) do not tamper with success if you have. Plan out your URL structure as you plan for your site redesign.

  11. Pay Attention to Your Link Inventories - One of the most important factors as to how the search engines rank websites is by analyzing the link inventory of your site pages. If you happen to delete a page as part of your site redesign that had a number of quality links pointing to it, you're making a mistake. While proper redirection can help, you'll want to be aware of the external links that are pointing to your existing site pages.

  12. Focus on Navigation - Ensure that your site will be easy to navigate by your target audience and by the search engines spiders. Consider the use of breadcrumb navigation and make sure that you have a well optimized sitemap to help with clear navigation of your site.

  13. Address Interlinking Issues - use SEO best practices to ensure that your site pages are well interlinked.

  14. Focus on the Theme(s) of Your Site - Be sure to consider what you want your site to be an authority on. Make sure that you have sufficient content to promote your theme(s).

  15. Prepare for Scalability - Consider the impact of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. As you plan your website redesign, ensure that you factor in things such as press releases, blogs, RSS syndication and the like.

  16. Create Clear Contact Us and Information Pages - to help with local search results, ensure that for any and all branch or office locations that you have detailed address and contact information. If your company is found in local markets, make sure that your website conveys this. Make it easy for your target audience and customer to interact and do business with you.

  17. Consider e-commerce - If you are selling anything online via your site, make sure that you test your online store out. Make sure that the user experience is perfect.

  18. Avoid too much use of Graphics, Flash and Animation - sure these are cool things that can improve the aesthetics of your site, but from an SEO point of view, they often do more harm than good. If you do use images and such be sure that they do not affect your site load time and hinder the user experience.

  19. Brainstorm Ideas - Just when you think that you have addressed all of the usability and SEO factors for your site redesign, get together your design team, marketing team and SEM team to brainstorm anything that may have been overlooked. Work together to create the most effective site that you can for your business.

  20. Hire Third Party Help - Don't be afraid to hire external help. Whether it is a design company or an online marketing company, their expertise will prove valuable in the long run.

  21. Test - As you plan out your website redesign, take the time to test out various strategies from A/B testing of your homepage to testing the use of images and Ajax, testing is a crucial step of the redesign process, even in the planning phase. Test, test , test.
Planning a website re-design is extremely important and can be a difficult and timely process to go through. The key is finding the balance between strong SEO and a sound user experience. The 21 step checklist above will help you succeed with your website redesign from a SEO perspective and from a usability perspective.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 10, 2008  
Yahoo Analytics Coming to the Web Near You
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
In, what we think is a great move by Yahoo, Yahoo has acquired Index Tools a leading provider of Web analytics software for online marketing. Yahoo will use the analytics to provide their customers with tools for monitoring and analyzing websites and marketing campaigns, providing valuable insights into key metrics, traffic patterns and performance.


While Google Analytics is pretty cool I think that "Yahoo Analytics" will provide a decent alternative to compete with Google Analytics and may in fact a lower cost alternative to Omniture's Analytics offering. I was discussing the move with Web Analytics World author Manoj Jasra and he echoed the same thoughts. This is definitely a huge move by Yahoo. Eric Peterson added that:
While we have seen a lot of deals in the last two years, this one is potentially the permanent game changer
I use Index Tools and personally really like the product. This is a great move by Yahoo. According to Bassel Ojjeh SVP and Head of Yahoo! Strategic Data Solutions, Yahoo will
initially make these tools available to our vast community of 150,000 small- to medium-sized business customers, but we’ll eventually extend them to third party developers who can use them to track how their applications are performing with visitors.
Yahoo is looking to become the partner of choice for online marketers. According to Yahoo's official press release, the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2008.

Additional Resources:

Yahoo Acquires Index Tools - Web Analytics World
Official Yahoo Press Release
Index Tools Official Site

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 09, 2008  
Blogging: The New Online Plague?
Monday, April 07, 2008
Blogging is time consuming. There I said it. Especially when you write for multiple blogs and web properties. Blogging is somewhat addicting, but it is very time consuming. Blogging is all about getting the word out, getting the story out and communicating your opinion. So when an article about the stresses of blogging was pointed out to me this morning I thought that I needed to share it.

Unless you actively engage in a blog, you have no idea of what it takes to maintain one. It's a lot of work. The article that I was referring to was from the NY Times and was written by Matt Richtel. In the piece, Richtel lists a number of prominent bloggers who have experienced stress, health issues and even death due to the tiring demands of blogging. Richtel writes:

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

You know I can relate to some of these items, especially the sleep disorders and exhaustion. The article goes on to state thta:

Even at established companies, the Internet has changed the nature of work, allowing people to set up virtual offices and work from anywhere at any time. That flexibility has a downside, in that workers are always a click away from the burdens of the office. For obsessive information workers, that can mean never leaving the house.

Blogging has been lucrative for some, but those on the lower rungs of the business can earn as little as $10 a post, and in some cases are paid on a sliding bonus scale that rewards success with a demand for even more work.

There are growing legions of online chroniclers, reporting on and reflecting about sports, politics, business, celebrities and every other conceivable niche. Some write for fun, but thousands write for Web publishers — as employees or as contractors — or have started their own online media outlets with profit in mind.

Everyone is trying to break the latest story. There is certain amount of stress in trying to get the scoop before all of the millions of other bloggers post about breaking news. Information travels fast and is digested quickly online. The need for updated information is a must in the blogosphere. But at what cost?

The entire article from the NY Times can be viewed here. There are some dangers of blogging. The fact is, like business, this is often overlooked as a result of the bottom line... getting

the page views, clicks, or earning profits.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 07, 2008  
Microsoft and Yahoo: These Are the Days of Our Lives
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Like a daily soap opera, the Microsoft/Yahoo saga continues to spin. On Friday we got word that "something big was going down" between Yahoo and Microsoft. A few minutes later we searched the blogs only to find stories such as this one from TechCrunch suggesting that Microsoft (MSFT) was considering retracting their bid for Yahoo (YHOO). In an obvious move to force Yahoo's hand, this was a predictable move. Rather obvious actually.

Much of this soap opera has been taking place through the Media and as TechCrunch reports through the WSJ. Microsoft, as per the usual, is trying to strong-arm their way with its bid to acquire a company. If only they put this amount of effort into growing their own search product. I for one do not want to the deal to go through. The search world needs a Google, needs a Yahoo, needs ASK and I guess needs Microsoft's Live Search. While many are expecting an announcement in the next couple of weeks (especially as Yahoo is getting ready to announce their Q1 numbers) any actual deal between the deal will take months to finalize.

Furthermore the deal still undervalues the World's most visited online destination in Yahoo. While Microsoft states that they will not up their bid, the fact is that if they want to acquire Yahoo, they're probably going to have to. The Yahoo team including shareholders need tp stand pat and realize the true value of the company. Forget listening to analysts, strive to understand the true value, potential and opportunities that Yahoo has.

If the deal does go through, what can we expect from Microsoft in say 12-18 months? Are they now going to be the Google Killer that they are trying so hard to become? Short answer: NO, not a chance. Unless they step it up with their efforts and innovations towards their search product. Acquiring Yahoo boosts their market share, but the fact of the matter is they will still be a distant second to Google.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, April 06, 2008  
7 Questions to Ask When Planning a Website Redesign
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
As a site owner or Webmaster, at one time or another you will consider redesigning your website. Maybe it's because you are bored, maybe it's because your site is old and out of date, maybe it's because users are having difficulty finding what they are looking for on your website. Whatever the reason is, at some point in your online career, you will be looking towards a website redesign of your site.

Website redesign needs to be addressed with caution. It's not one of those things that you can just jump into and expect everything to take care of itself. If you are going to follow through with a site redesign planning is a must. Prior to planning there are a series of questions that you should ask yourself. Hence the purpose of this post.

7 Questions to Ask When Planning A Website Redesign

While there are a number of questions that you need to address, here are a few "must ask" questions when planning out your site redesign.
  1. Why do I need a redesign? It may seem simple enough, but what are threasons that you are even considering redesigning your site? Take a pen and piece of paper and write down five reasons as to why you need to redesign your site. If three or more of the reasons deal with usability, that might be a strong indication that a site redesign is probably a good idea.
  2. What are my goals for the site? You would be surprised at the number of site owners who have difficulty in answering this question. What is the reason for your site's existence? Is it to provide information? Is it e-commerce based? Is to act as a portal to other websites? Prior to planning a website redesign, you'll want to establish clear goals for your site.
  3. Do I have the proper resources needed to complete the site redesign? Depending on the type of site that you have and what the goals for your site are, a website redesign may require a great deal of time, money and resources to complete.
  4. How much time will it take to complete a site redesign? Planning a proper website redesign takes time in itself. A site redesign is something that you do not want to rush. You must dot all of the "i's" and cross all of the "t's" if you want to have a successful redesign. If you are coming up to your peak sales season, you're probably not going to want to launch a new site that may confuse buyers. On the other hand , once you've completed your research and have factored in everything that needs to be addressed with your redesign, you will have a better idea of the ideal timing for the launch of your new site.
  5. How will a site redesign affect my search engine rankings? Anytime you redesign your website, you run the risk of having your search engine rankings plummet. Improper use of redirects, failure to include content that is currently ranking over to the new site can have a dramatic impact on your search engine rankings. Not all companies have the sponsored budget to "buy" rankings in the search engines. Loss of organic rankings can be extremely difficult to get back. You should weigh the options of losing existing rankings through a new site redesign vs. keeping the same site and adding new features to it vs. creating a micro site to support your main site. Consider items such as site architecture, URL structure, page optimization, linking inventories and site interlinking. Drastic changes to any of these items will have an impact on your search engine rankings.
  6. Ask yourself, what's good about your existing site? What areas need improvement? Many times, Webmasters and designers have it in their heads that their site needs to be flashy and needs to feature all of the latest web design trends. Well the fact of the matter is, these sites traditionally do poorly in the search engine rankings and more importantly do not provide the best user experience. How many times have you become frustrated with a flashy homepage that makes use of Flash with a large number of images that takes forever to load the page? After the page loads, you have no idea about how to find the information that you were looking for in the first place. Or the page just takes forever to load.... Your old site may have had perfectly good navigation and now the user cannot even find a link to your sitemap. Prior to planning your redeign, jot down the positive points about your site and identify the areas that need improvement.
  7. How will my visitors react to a new site? This is probably one of the most important questions that you can ask prior to planning a website redesign. Website usability should be one of the key areas of focus as you plan your redesign. Take the time to find out what your audience appreciate about the existing site. Ask them what their experience was like. Leading up to your website redesign, provide a feedback mechanism to allow your site users to comment about their site experience. Test your proposed site and test again. Planing your site redesign right the first time will save you from having to do another one in a matter on months. You site should be designed for a strong user experience that will help you achieve the goals that you have set out for your site.

Taking your time to plan out the redesign will save you time, money and resources in the long run. Asking yourself these seven questions prior to planning your website redesign will only make your redesign all that much better.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 02, 2008  
Online April's Fools Gags Are Boring This Year
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
As it is the first day of April, many people online and offline are working to execute pranks to their friends, family, website visitors, co-workers et al. From an online perspective, April Fool's Day has become so big, that you never know what to believe on this day. More often than not you can find a number of examples where someone took the prank too far.... or others who were negatively affected by the joke.

Some people spend obscene amounts of time planing out their pranks. Looking at the all time greatest April Fool's Day hoaxes, people can get very creative when it comes to planning out April Fools Day jokes.

Here are some examples of April's Day jokes from the world of Search. Included are some stories that display a hint of playing pranks on the readers:

Microsoft Buys Yahoo So Google Buys Microsoft in Hostile Takeover
New gDay algorithm threatens future of search marketing
Berkowitz Replaced By Lanzone at Microsoft
Announcing Project Virgle - Official Google Blog
Google buys Facebook - InfoWorld
Google Launches Future Search - TechCrunch
Google GMail's Custom Time
TechCrunch Suing Facebook for $25 Million
Google’s social network site Orkut turned into Yogurt today, according to their logo.
The Google Sightseeing blog reports on two new view mode in Google Earth and Google Maps. One is x-ray, the other is thermal imagery; with these new modes, you can literally see inside buildings.
OpenGoogle - Google's Operating System

Additional Google April Fool's Jokes can be seen here.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 01, 2008  
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