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Top 7 Search Stories June 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
It's that time again for the top 7 search stories that were the most significant news makers of the month. As we roll into summer, the Microsoft/Yahoo soap opera is alive and well. Let's have a look at some of the top search engine related stories from the past thirty days.

Anyone heard from ASK.com lately? Seems like they have gone into oblivion since their announced change of focus in March of this year? Here is a look at some of the interesting happenings in the search landscape as of late.

#7. SMX Advanced in Seattle - took place in the first week in June and I spoke with colleagues and clients who attended again saying that they were disappointed with the sessions. " Definitely not an Advanced conference" was one of the comments that I received from a client in attendance.

#6. Robots Exclusion Protocol Sets Standard for Yahoo, Google and Microsoft Anytime the search engines can get together to provide a set of standard procedures or protocol it is usually a good thing for the user. The Robots Exclusion Protocol is a standard that lets content publishers and website owners specify which parts of their site they want public and which parts they want to keep private from the search engine robots, either by controlling the visibility of their content across their site via robots.txt file or at the page level of individual pages via META tags.

#5. Google Launches Google Ad Planner - Announced last week, Google Ad Planner is "a research and media planning tool that connects advertisers and publishers." according to Google. It looks like a great tools that will benefit advertisers and publishers. It is currently invite only as it is still in beta.

#4. Google Test New iGoogle Pages - Google has been testing some new iGoogle homepages for users of the opt in service. The new look iGoogle pages places the tabs on the left-hand side of the page and you can expand the tabs to see the list of gadgets and status information, such as the number of unread Gmail messages that you have in your inbox. Again seems reminiscent to how ASK's SERP is setup.

#3. Google Adds a New Layer to Google Trends - with Google Trends for Websites, Webmasters and search engine marketers can actually look at some search volume trends and associate some numbers with them. Are the numbers accurate? Well they're probably not exact, but at least it gives you an idea as to what type of volume you may expect to receive.

#2. Yahoo! Announces Realignment to Support Core Strategies - in late June, Yahoo announced that the company is creating three new teams that will report to President Sue Decker.
  • An Audience Products Division - led by Ash Patel
  • A U.S. region - with accountability for all go-to-market activity in the U.S. This team will be led by Hilary Schneider.
  • Insights Strategy Team - no leader has been appointed as of yet.
#1. Google and Yahoo Form a Partnership - Google and Yahoo announced a deal that will as Yahoo stated, involve "the nonexclusive pact" with Google that will enable Yahoo to run Google ads alongside its search results and on some of its Web properties in the U.S. and Canada. The deal could be worth as much as $800 million per year for Yahoo. (How much is this deal worth to Google???) This is pretty huge if allowed to go through and there is nothing concrete to suggest that it won't.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, June 30, 2008  
The Search Landscape After the First Six Months of 2008
Many bloggers and search engine marketers out there like to make predictions to start of the year. I would be curious to see just how many of these predictions actually came true to start off 2008. The first six months of 2008 in search by previous standards have been quite quiet. With the obvious exception of the Yahoo / Microsoft soap opera. So we thought that we would look back and review some of the top search engine stories that have taken place over the past six months.

ASK Shifts their Focus - Ask began the year be replacing their CEO, and hiring marketing man Jim Scafka. This was right around the time that they announced their "Click to Speak" mobile service that allows people to simply speak their location and desired destination to receive directions on their mobile devices.

In February, ASK improved their cool Binoculars feature by incorporating some statistical information from compete.com. In late February, early March we began to hear some surprising news from the ASK camp that they were shopping their TEOMA technology possibly in favor of providing Google results through their ASK properties. Reports suggested that the reports were an early April Fool's joke, however, there were hints that ASK was no longer going to function as an independent search engine no more. In March, the hammer had fallen as ASK announced that they were tired of competing with Google to try and gain market share in the search industry. ASK CEO Jim Safka communicated that based on research that they had done on their target demographic that ASK.com would begin targeting women specifically housewives in the 25-40 age range. As far as I was concerned, ASK was tired of fighting the good fight. I haven't been able to look the same at this engine since. I loved their dynamic search page with all the components of blended search.

In March, IACI CEO, Barry Diller won a somewhat bitter legal dispute with Liberty Media Corp's John Malone. The ruling will now allow Diller to proceed with efforts to spin off four of IAC's largest units (including Ask.com).

May saw, Ask.com purchase Lexico, Owner Of Dictionary.com in an interesting announcement.
Other than that ASK is quickly becoming an also ran. Too bad, great SERP.

Google Keep on Truckin' - Google began the year having completed their deal to acquire ad firm DoubleClick. For the most part, Google was fairly quiet to start the year. In February however, they did announce the launch of AdSense for Video. Google continued to improve a number of their offerings including Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. In the caser with the later, Google even launched benching marketing as part of Google Analytics. Industry benchmarking is a commonly requested new service that enables customers to see how their site data compares to sites in any available industry vertical.

We did notice some interesting trends with Google's staffing to start 2008. A number of folks were leaving Google for other startups or other web properties such as Facebook. Is Google slowing down? A report from comScore suggests that Google is experiencing slowing growth with their paid advertising platform.

In April and May, 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 also noticed that the age of the site appears to carry more weight.

In May, Google Finally Launched Google Health. While there have been rumblings for quite a while going back to 2006, Google finally launched their Google Health service. The service is aimed at helping put users in charge of their own health information.

In June, Robots Exclusion Protocol Sets Standard for Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. The Robots Exclusion Protocol is a standard that lets content publishers and website owners specify which parts of their site they want public and which parts they want to keep private from the search engine robots.

In June, Google announced the launch of Google Ad Planner. According to Google, Google Ad Planner is "a research and media planning tool that connects advertisers and publishers." To use Google Ad Planner, all you have to do is enter demographics and sites associated with your target audience, from here the tool will return information about sites (consisting of both on and off the Google content network) that your audience is likely to visit... and Google just continues to roll. Look for the Google phone to be launched this fall.

Microsoft Looks to Purchase a Search Company - As Microsoft announced Q4 earnings for 2007, in which the company posted revenue of $16.4 billion, up 30% from $12.5 billion in the prior year's quarter, we knew that something was brewing with their search initiative. Weeks later we heard early reports that Microsoft was interested in acquiring Yahoo to boost their fledgling search engine MSN/Live Search. The Microsoft/Yahoo Saga continues to spin even as we enter July of 2008. Microsoft and Yahoo: These Are the Days of Our Lives.

In early May, Microsoft removed their initial offer from the table in an attempt to acquire Yahoo. However, rumors persist about Microsoft's next move and that is to just purchase Yahoo Search. A week later the rumors were back to Microsoft wanting to again purchase all of Yahoo... this time at a discounted rate. Yeah that wold make sense for Yahoo. The Board of Directors need to get more informed. Yahoo is still one of the most visited places on the Web. You just don't put a price on that.

In May, Microsoft almost in desperation, tries to buy searchers with Live Search Cashback http://search.live.com/cashback. Microsoft had really done nothing innovative with their search product in 2008. The results are as skewed as ever. I do not usually like to make predictions, but I will say this. The Microsoft search product will continue to lose market share in 2008. I wonder if they considered purchasing ASK and their cool TEOMA search technology?

Yahoo Struggles to Remain Independent - When Yahoo announced their 2007 Q4 earnings, they also announced a number of layoffs, fueling speculation that a major shakeup was coming. In February, Microsoft approached Yahoo with an unsolicited offer to purchase Yahoo for an estimate $45 billion. Yahoo's CEO, Jerry Yang promptly replies with a "thanks but no thanks" to the offer.

In the meantime, Yahoo continues to be innovative and looks to broaden their service offering with a new blog web property targeting women in the 25-55 age categories. The new site is called Yahoo Shine and rolls out with limited fanfare. ComScore also reported that Yahoo sites were the top online property in February with Google coming in second.

During the Yahoo/Microsoft "events", Yahoo continued to operate as they normally would, continuing to attend all of the major search marketing conferences that were taking place including SES New York 2008. Yahoo has also 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.

... and not all was bad with Yahoo, as 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.

In May, Yahoo began testing some changes to their SERPs. Yahoo Glue Pages include images, videos, articles, and more all on one page! The layout is similar to what ASK has been doing for the past year or so.

More recently, Yahoo continues to look for ways to become innovative with their search product. Yahoo Looking to Improve Their Search Product.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, June 30, 2008  
Google Launches Google Ad Planner
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Earlier today, Google announced the launch of Google Ad Planner. According to Google, Google Ad Planner is "a research and media planning tool that connects advertisers and publishers." This sounds pretty cool. To use Google Ad Planner, all you have to do is enter demographics and sites associated with your target audience, from here the tool will return information about sites (consisting of both on and off the Google content network) that your audience is likely to visit.

Google Ad Planner was introduced on the Google Adwords blog. Currently as Ad Planner is a new product, it's currently available by invitation only. If you're interested in trying it out, you can apply here. According to a report from MSN Money, the announcement caused a dip in comScore stock. From the Associated Press:
Shares of research firm comScore Inc. fell Tuesday in a drop some analysts attributed to Google Inc.'s unveiling of a new tool meant to help advertisers determine the best Web sites on which to place ads.

ComScore shares fell $4.75, or 17.2 percent, to $22.94. Earlier in trading, the stock traded as low as $22.10
According to Google spokesperson Brandon McCormick, "the goal (of Ad Planner) is to help advertisers and agencies understand their audience and give them the right tools to plan effective online campaigns at scale..."

This is the second big announcement from Google in the past week with news last week of their updated Google Trends data and the new layer added to Google Trends with Google Trends for Websites. The free Trends for Websites tool, lets users see how popular sites are.

Google just keeps getting it right.

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posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ Tuesday, June 24, 2008  
Search Engine Conferences: Same Old Same Old
Well it seems as though we are gearing up for search engine conference season. In fact we're already in full swing with recent conferences such as SMX Advanced taking place in Toronto a couple of weeks back and SES Toronto happening last week. Yet again the common feedback or complaint that I am hearing is that the conferences lack direction and strategy.

It's the same old topics, with the same old speakers, with the same panelists presenting in the same old format, talking about the same old tactics. Many say that they are being transparent with their findings, yet they refuse to "let the cat out of the bag". Others appear to talk strategy but instead focus on the same old tactics. I discussed the topic of search engine conferences with a number of clients lately. Everyone that I spoke to said that the search engine conferences really lack strategy, transparency and direction. Now I know that a lot of work goes into planning these conferences and I can respect that. I also know that the conferences that I have attended have either been ok or good, but not great... not earth shattering.

The next conference that I will be attending will be SES San Jose. I like this one because it is in San Jose (a great place to be in August) and it is in the backyard of the search engines and for many of our clients. This year I will be attending with one of our newest consultants and strategists. It's always great to have someone attend these events for the first time to get their feedback on the sessions and on the conference as a whole. Hopefully there will be some fresh sessions that we'll all be able to enjoy and learn from.

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posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ Tuesday, June 24, 2008  
Don Rickles: The King of Entertainment even in 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Don RicklesThis past weekend I celebrated my birthday by going to Vancouver with my wife and spending a couple of relaxing days at the River Rock Casino and Resort. A few months ago I had let it slip that legendary comedian and entertainer, Don Rickles, was performing at River Rock for two shows, one being on my birthday. My wife, ever the planner, decided to get us tickets to see Mr. Rickles perform. She purchased the tickets months ago and had a difficult time keeping it a secret from me... (I had a strong assumption that she had obtained tickets to the show).

I had only ever seen Don Rickles on David Letterman or the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Every time I saw him I would crack up. His patented “insult” style is hilarious. He picks on everyone, there is no one who is safe when Mr. Rickles is on stage. So as we arrive at the resort my wife shows me the tickets... we have second row, center. I was so excited. I mentioned to her that "... you do know being in the second row, he's going to pick on us right?". Little did I know how true these words would become.

We spent a great evening Friday night, walking around the resort and Casino. We stopped at a lounge where there was a Neil Diamond tribute band that was amazingly entertaining. We enjoyed a beverage and then decided to call it an evening. Saturday morning we had scheduled a couple of massages at the spa. Saturday was my birthday so this was a real treat. We enjoyed the day and as evening approached the anticipation for the Don Rickles show continued to build. The show was to start at 8:00 pm, but was delayed due to some "late arrivers". By this time I was extremely excited. I was actually going to see a legendary performer. In what is now a little ironic, on the big screen it showed the upcoming shows coming to the River Rock theater with one of them being George Carlin. I found out this morning that George Carlin passed away yesterday of heart failure. This was a man that was friends with Frank Sinatra. This is a man who has starred in prime-time series for all of the major networks including CBS' “The Don Rickles Show”. This is a man who has starred in films such as Kelly’s Heroes opposite Clint Eastwood, starred in Martin Scorsese’s Casino and had a voiceover role of “Mr. Potato Head” in Walt Disney Pictures’ computer animated features, Toy Story and Toy Story 2. The man has done it all. He is Mr. Entertainment.

So the band begins performing a number as we are about 10-minutes late with the start of the show. I love this big band stuff, the band was in fine form. Then a few minutes late with his theme song (think of a bull fighter stepping into a ring...) the man himself appears, Mr. Don Rickles. He came out beside us from the side of the stage. At first I wondered if he would even make it up the steps to the stage as he looked so frail. Remember that Don Rickles is 82 years young. He gingerly walked up the steps to the stage and greeted the audience to roaring applause. It became surreal to me... here I was row two seeing an entertainment icon. Right away he started picking on people in the audience. Being in Canada, he made jokes about playing in clubs in places such as Regina and Montreal, ridiculing the people of both cities. Mr. Rickles continued with his jokes and then performed a song where he danced and pranced across the stage. After the song, he bent over a little winded an said "give me a moment".... all along cracking joke after joke. I wasn't sure if this was part of the act or if he was simply a little winded. Regardless he did move as you would expect an 82 year old man to move, a little like a penguin roaming around an ice capped island.

So as the show progressed Mr. Rickles continued to pick on everybody around us... then about half way through the show it happened... "Hey big fella", he said looking in my direction, "What's your name?" I replied nervously, "Jody".... he mocked me with a scrunched up face, "Jody"... well Jody come up here".... Yes he motioned me to the stage. He replied, "c'mon hurry up." I left my seat and made my way to the stage.... he continued "... wow look at the size of him... hey Jody do you want a banana?" He stated as the crowd laughed. (I have wide shoulders and I guess resembled a football player to him." As I arrived on stage, he greeted me with a wink, smile and a warm handshake. I responded with "it's an honor Don" (Later feeling that I should have called him Mr. Rickles as opposed to Don) I couldn't believe how little he was coming up to my chin or so. He began by asking me what I do and I responded I work with the search engines you know Google and Yahoo. He chimed in with "Sounds exciting", as he rolled his eyes with the crowd laughing yet again. He then away from the microphone commented that he liked my outfit (I was wearing some striped suite pants and a white collared shirt.) He also made a comment that he "loved the hair" referring to my longer flowing hair which is absent from his own head. Then he said "Jody I like you, I really like you" and he gave me a hug. It was surreal. He then said, "no Jody, I really like you." as he squeezed me even harder. I tried to free myself a little from his bear hug and he squeezed me tighter all the while cracking jokes.

Then he called another fellow up from the audience and he came up on stage and Mr. Rickles began planning out a skit for the three of us. He whispered some dialogue to us that was so fast and long that we never would be able to remember it. We were pretending to be Japanese soldiers, and Mr. Rickles wanted us to bend over with our teeth sticking out to resemble a "stereotypical Japanese person". I felt a little awkward doing this with a number of oriental people in the crowd, but did my best. Then Don went to the other fellow telling him to say something in Japanese but the other fellow responded with some of the english dialogue that he could remember, Don hit him with the microphone and called him stupid or something like that... the audience was in hysterics.... so then Don Rickles turned to me and whispered ok Jody say something in Japanese"... so he places the mic in front of me and I make up something that remarkably sounded Japanese. He dropped the mic with a surprised look on his face and with the audience clapping and applauding he tells me to pic up the mic.... he says "...do you know what you just said? I shake my head to respond with a "No". He says, "You just told me to screw myself" The crowd of 1,000 erupted in laughter as did I. Mr. Rickles then told the crowd to give us a round of applause and as we returned to our seats we were presented with a gift from Mr. Rickles. A bottle of champagne featuring a cartoon characture of Don Rickles himself. What a great birthday present. (and I didn't even mention that it was my birthday). It was so surreal. I got to be on stage with Don Rickles for seven or eight minutes. Unreal.

The show went on for another 20 minutes or so and I was still floating around on cloud nine. What a true entertainer Don Rickles is. He paid tribute to all of the US and Canadian soldiers who are over in Iraq and in other difficult parts of the world. He also gave the audience words of advice on making the world a better place and paid tribute to all of the moms out there... and with that just as soon as he appeard on the stage, he left. To a standing ovation. For 65 minutes Don Rickles entertained the audience like no other. The man is a legend. Thank you Mr. Rickles, you were tremendous.

http://www.riverrock.com/entertainment/river_rock_show_theatre/performances/event06210801.aspx
Great Interview with Don Rickles

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posted by Jody @ Monday, June 23, 2008  
comScore Search Engine Data for May 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
comScore released their search engine data for May. Google, Yahoo and ASK were up while Microsoft (Live Search/MSN) was down. For Yahoo that is the first time that they have had an increase this year. They went from 20.4% up slightly to 20.6%. Microsoft dropped from 9.1% to 8.5%. They're down 1.3% since last October. Google remains somewhat constant as the jumped 0.2% to 61.8% market share.

One stat that I found interesting and would like to know more about is that from a report by J.P. Morgan’s Imran Khan, total US core search volume increased 16% Y/Y in May vs. 18% Y/Y growth in April. This is opposite to what we have seen over recent months across various industries. Over the past three or four months we have notice overall search volume decrease for a number of phrases that traditionally have higher search volumes. This is not limited to any one particular industry, we have seen this for a number of clients where we have compared YOY data.

TechCrunch has a great table comparing search engine marketing share from the first five months of 2007 to the first five months of 2008.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, June 19, 2008  
10 SEO Optimization Tips for Press Releases
Monday, June 16, 2008
Optimization of your press releases is an oftern overlooked component of your overall SEO strategy. The fact of the matter is, is that press release optimization is quite simple and really doesn't take much time. The secret is to focus on SEO fundamentals. When preparing press releases for online distribution, there area number of factors that should be addressed with regards to search engine optimization.

10 Items to Consider When Optimizing Press Releases for Online Distribution
  1. Are there Relevant Keywords in the Title?
  2. Are there Keywords in the URL? If you host the Press Release on your site, try to optimize the URLs to be search engine friendly and consider incorporating keywords within the URL.
  3. Are there Keyword Rich Text Links pointing to your site pages?
  4. Are their keywords in the copy of the press release? Especially early on in the release?
  5. Have you linked to relevant, deeper site pages to your site from the press release?
  6. Is there a link to your homepage from the press releasee?
  7. Is there a link to your main press release page on your website?
  8. Consider Blended Search - Have you considered inclusion of an optimized image with your press release?
  9. Include detailed contact information including your website URL.
  10. Include a Syndication call-to-action. Perhaps a feed or syndication button.
Use these ten items as a checklist or guide and you'll be well on your way to optimizing your news releases for online positioning.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, June 16, 2008  
How Much Would You Pay for an Experienced SEO?
Friday, June 13, 2008
Over the past year or so, we keep seeing trends and stories about companies who are looking to bring SEO or SEM in-house. For the most part we can make an assumption that these are companies who get Search and how have dedicated budget for SEO and SEM. So with no shortage of "search engine optimizers" out there, I was curious as to what companies would pay for an experienced SEO consultant/strategist?

I did a little research and this is what I found.

SEOmoz had an interesting post on this topic from late 2006. I think that the ranges for the variety of the SEO related positions were on the high side, or were they? Here's an example based on the SEOmoz post:

VP/Director of Search Marketing
$100,000 - $350,000+
This individual is ultimately responsible for setting direction and strategies for large companies with earnings from $25MM-$1Bil+. Since this position can create or lose incredible amounts of wealth for a firm, the salaries will often reflect executive-level compensation.

Director/Manager of Organic Search
$75,000 - $150,000
This person is responsible for managing a team of SEO personnel in-house and reports to the senior marketing or SEO VP/Director.

Search Marketing Consultant
$60,000 - $200,000

Interesting figures, that are on the high side for sure.

Some more realistic figures can be found at indeed.com. A look at average salaries for specific SEO positions as of June 14th, 2008 indicate the following:

Seo Marketing - $138,000
Seo Specialist - $47,000
Search Engine Optimization - $55,000
Search Engine Optimization Specialist - $58,000

For more see, http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=seo&l1=&tm=1.

Earlier this year SEMPO released an interesting study on in-house search marketing salaries.

So how much would you pay for an experienced SEO? Looks like the supply is limited but the demand is high.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, June 13, 2008  
Google + Yahoo Sitting in a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G...
Well Google and Yahoo have been getting close lately. Who would have saw that coming? Google hearts Yahoo and Yahoo hearts Google. (Image courtesy of http://mos.techradar.com/images).

The deal between Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) that was announced this week breaks down like this:
  • Yahoo stated that "the nonexclusive pact" with Google will enable Yahoo to run Google ads alongside its search results and on some of its Web properties in the U.S. and Canada.

  • Yahoo will select the search term queries for which Yahoo may offer Google paid search results

  • Yahoo will select the pages on which Yahoo may offer Google paid search results

  • The agreement applies to paid search initiatives and not to organic or natural search listings
The deal could be worth as much as $800 million per year for Yahoo. The question becomes was this deal in the works before the whole Microsoft-Yahoo soap opera earlier this spring? Is this a last ditch effort by Yahoo to remain independent as a search engine? (Google has stated that the World needs Yahoo and that independent competition will be of value to everyone.) Is this simply a move by Jerry Yang to please the shareholders before August 1? The answer could be all of the above, or it may be none of the above.

You see from what I know about Jerry Yang is that he is a very loyal person. Furthermore, he helped build Yahoo into what they are today, and that is one of the most visited destinations on the Internet. Tough to put a price on that. Of course analysts have tried, and Microsoft has tried but Yang has maintained that the value of Yahoo is much more than what we're led to believe. Or do you believe Yang? Here's his response to the Yahoo-Google deal:
it does not signal that Yahoo! plans to exit paid search. Quite the contrary. Through the financial benefits of better monetizing our search traffic, we’ll be investing in search services and ad platforms, including Panama. An independent search business is critical to our future.
He goes on to state:
this deal is good for competition. It may seem counterintuitive that doing a deal with a competitor would improve our competitive position. But as search and display continue their convergence, it puts Yahoo! in a better position to innovate and compete aggressively with Google and others for ad dollars.
Interesting thoughts. I like Jerry Yang and I would hate for Yahoo to go down without a fight. I for one would like to give Mr. Yang the benefit of the doubt. Do not forget that Yahoo is the #2 player in Search, not Microsoft, not AOL, not ASK. While they have a small fraction of the market when compared to industry leader Google, Yahoo has the drive and the passion to improve and to gain market share, something that neither ASK nor Microsoft has been able to do.


Official Press Release from Yahoo

Update: Tech Crunch posted a very in-depth piece on the deal between Yahoo and Google that can be found here.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, June 13, 2008  
Yahoo Advanced Search Preferences
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
For those of us in the search industry, it's easy to forget sometimes that the average user may be unaware of the advanced search preferences that are available with the major search engines. So we thought that we would take a look at Yahoo and the advanced search preferences that they offer. With Yahoo advanced search preferences, users can change the way the Yahoo results appear when using the Yahoo Search Engine.

In order to access the preferences, you simple click on the "Options" drop down located to the right of the bar in Yahoo.

Yahoo Search Preferences
Clicking on "Preferences" will allow you to change your current search preferences to the computer that you are currently on. If you would like to save your search preferences universally, you can sign in with your Yahoo account and save your preferences to your Yahoo ID.

Once you are in the search preferences you can:
  1. Change the Search Assist Frequency - by default it is set to "more". The other options available include Always, Less - which shows search suggestions when your typing pauses or Never.

  2. Edit Enhanced Results - Want to control your blended search results in Yahoo? This is one way of doing that as you can edit things such as whether you want video, images or Travel information to be displayed from Yahoo properties such as Flickr or Yahoo Travel. By default all of these enhancements are selected.

  3. Edit Safe Search Settings - For those with children, you can use this to filter out adult video and image search results.

  4. Create Alerts for Potentially Harmful Websites - through Search Scan which is powered by McAfee, you can create alerts that flags whether a site may be potentially harmful if you visit it. The default setting is set to "Alert me to websites indicated as potentially harmful". This is a new feature that Yahoo has been beta testing over recent weeks.

  5. Edit Your Language Settings - you can restrict the language of pages that you view. Language preferences are currently unavailable for Yahoo! Image and Video Search. The default is set to "Search pages written in ANY language".

  6. Edit Display and Layout - This is where you can change the number of web results that are displayed when you perform a search in Yahoo. The default is set to 10 but you can change this to be 15,20,30,40 or 100 results. This feature also allows you to check the "Show More from this site link" which is similar to Google Sitelinks. This option is left unchecked by default. You can also determine if you would like the search results opened in a new window once you click on them.

  7. View Enhanced Content - a new feature offered is the ability to check off subscriptions to premium based content such as Consumer Reports, Factiva, Forrester Research, FT.com (60 days), LexisNexis, TheStreet.com and Wall Street Journal (30 days). Of course for some of these resiurces you may need to pay for the subscription.

  8. Edit Multimedia Search Settings - allows you to adjust settings specific to Image, Video, and Audio search. Currently when you click on this preference you are presented with a number of Audio Search options from AudioLunchbox to iTunes, to Wippit. The default setting for this preference is set to "None".
There is also an option in Yahoo to edit your needs for your current search. Clicking on "Advanced Search" from the Options drop down allows you to modify your current search query. If you haven't modified your search settings in Yahoo, give it a try. Experiment with what works for you and edit your settings accordingly.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, June 10, 2008  
and How was Your Weekend?
Monday, June 09, 2008
Well as summer rolls in, and wedding season is full bloom, I experienced a busy weekend involving the first family wedding of the season. My cousin Brian and his new bride Natalie tied the knot on Friday afternoon in front of close family and friends. Their wedding was held here in Kelowna (on the lake) and the rain stayed away long enough to get through the ceremony.

The Wedding was held at the Beach House, a local bed and breakfast located on the lake. While the setting was amazing the service from the Beach House was not. As a matter of fact anyone else thinking of booking the Beach House in Kelowna for their wedding, DO NOT. The hosts were extremely rude and judging from all of the comments from the guests, the hosts were in fact quite mean. The couple who owned the house really should not be in business. Here are a few examples of events that occurred over the weekend. My aunt and uncle had booked the Beach House for three days, which apparently was later changed to two, the Friday (day of the wedding) and the Saturday for a BBQ. Here is what the experience at the Beach House was like:
  • There was a "toonie bar (for those not from Canada, this means that the drinks cost $2 each... in Canada the two dollar coin is referred to as a "toonie"). The bar tenders appeared to be inexperienced and greedy. They were taking tickets for kid's juice (which was to have been free" I went to get my daughter some orange juice and the bartender took a ticket for it). At the same time, the beverage that they poured for my wife was not even half full. Looking around others' cups I could see that we were not the only ones affected.

  • Then prior to dinner, the hired hostess' were bringing around appetizer trays... they kept going to the same group of people (who were well fed) while rest of use (about 95% by my estimation) didn't even get a nibble. When I stopped to ask the girl if she was bringing out more, she replied "..yes I'll be right back.." She never came back.... and I saw here about 20 minutes later serving... yup you guessed it the same group who had been served two or three times before.

  • So then it was dinner time.... dinner was about 10-15 minutes late.... when our table was called to eat they had ran out of the main course as it was still being prepared... We eventually got out meal, which for the record was delicious albeit with limited selection, but we later found out that two entire tables did not get to eat! Talking to my aunt and uncle, they stated that there was more than enough food to feed everyone. We found out later that apparently there was another prime rib roast that was never cooked. The host had decided to keep it for themselves apparently.

  • Desert was cupcakes that were being cooked as the dinner was being served (they were apparently supposed to have been prepared in advance) Again probably more than half of the guests did not receive any desert.

  • There were champagne flutes of lemon desert that were "slopped" into the flutes. I would give failing marks for presentation. (Someone later told me that they charged $5.95 per flute)

  • There were comments made by the hosts that guests could not use the restrooms (more about this later)

  • We overheard the lady of the house raising here voice to elderly ladies, children and family members snapping at them not to do this or to do that or to close the gate (which was wide open when we arrived)

  • On Saturday, the day of the BBQ, we were told that we were not allowed to use one of the BBQ's that were on premises. (Apparently the lady of the house commented that she thought their was only going to be 20 people there not the 60 or so that were there.)

  • On Saturday, the day of the BBQ, the hosts actually locked the doors to the bed and breakfast on two occasions so that guests could not use the restrooms. What? This house was rented and paid for.. no access to the house? What gives?

  • Those who were unfortunate enough to have to actually stay at the Beach House stayed in rooms that were being renovated with gyproc dust all over the place. It was a site to behold.
Now I'm not taking shots at the wedding. It was a beautiful wedding. My disappointment is in the venue and the hosts, and in the fact that whoever had to pay for it (probably my aunt and uncle or my cousin and his new bride) was getting ripped off. The service (or lack-there-of) was unbelievably terrible. Anyone in Kelowna thinking of booking their event at the Beach House (188 Beach Ave.) think again. The experience was somewhat of a joke... and how was your weekend?

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posted by Jody @ Monday, June 09, 2008  
Yahoo Looking to Improve Their Search Product
You know, I'm starting to like Yahoo more and more. I like the stance that they took with Microsoft, and I like the fact that they are continuing to roll ahead business as usual. Case in point, over at the Yahoo Search blog they announced that they are looking to build the next generation of search. According to the post, "Yahoo! Search is changing the search game and we're looking for the brightest technical minds in the business to help us build the next generation of search." You see this is what Microsoft should be doing... focusing on the next generation of search. I guess that is why Microsoft is interested in the Yahoo Search product.

You have to love Yahoo's careers section on their site. http://careers.yahoo.com/techjobs.php


Very creative. Yahoo's attempt at improving their search product involves an interesting little monkey known as "SearchMonkey". SearchMonkey allows developers and site owners to use structured data to make Yahoo! Search results more useful and visually appealing, and drive more relevant traffic to their sites. Once you create your applications, you can use it yourself and share it with others. For more information, developers can go to the SearchMonkey Developer Guide. Fight the good fight Yahoo, fight the good fight.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, June 09, 2008  
SMX Advanced 2008 is Complete
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Well SMX Advanced in Seattle has quickly come and went. From what I've heard there were mixed reviews. Many found the sessions somewhat interesting while others told me that they though some of the sponsored sessions were a little weak. Regardless, there were a number of good sessions to attend and as always, SEO Roundtable had remarkable coverage of the sessions.

The other day we mentioned 4 must attend sessions at SMX Advanced. These included:

Blow Your Mind Link Building Techniques
Conversion Optimization: Winning After They Arrive
Creating Value In Your SEM Businesses
Search Friendly Development

Here are the reviews from SEO Roundtable from each of those sessions.

Blow Your Mind Link Building Techniques
Conversion Optimization: Winning After They Arrive
Creating Value In Your SEM Businesses
Search Friendly Development


The "Blow Your Mind Link Building Techniques" had some interesting points but I'm not sure if anything will blow your mind.

The Conversion Optimization session discussed some cool things such as Google's new Website Workout Promotion. www.google.com/WebsiteOptimizer/Workout. The key takeaway from this session is the importance of testing. Even when you feel your satisfied, test some more as the needs of your audience will change.

Creating Value in Your SEM Business - this sounded like one of the best sessions of all. Key takeaways from this session included:
  • Build value beyond client engagements
  • If you focus on creating value into every client relationship. market value will follow
  • Base your business on quality verses quantity
  • Every client has to become a testimonial (One of the speakers, Bruce Clay mentioned that they make their clients take their training course. Otherwise they will refuse to serve them. The idea is to empower them with knowledge so they understand what they are buying and so the project flows smoother. -- interesting idea.)
Search Engine Friendly Development - this session featured some great speakers, one of which mentioned that "...There are a lot of big hard problems: affiliate tracking, session management, rich internet application, duplicate content, geolocation, understnading analytics, redirection, error management, etc.." There were some other interesting comments that were made:
  • All websites have the same first problem: accessibility.
  • Look at canonicalization - do you have 5 URLs pointed to the same page that divides reputation? That's an important indicator.
  • The webmaster guidelines are always constant.
  • SEO does equal good design.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, June 05, 2008  
Robots Exclusion Protocol Sets Standars for Yahoo, Google and Microsoft
As users, search marketers and Webmasters, you have to love it when the search engines collaborate to release a defined protocol as an industry standard. They did this a couple of years ago with the standardized protocol for XML sitemaps. On Tuesday, it was announced that the Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP) was being launched to help make webmasters' efforts more effective across the major search engines.

The Robots Exclusion Protocol is a standard that lets content publishers and website owners specify which parts of their site they want public and which parts they want to keep private from the search engine robots, either by controlling the visibility of their content across their site via robots.txt file or at the page level of individual pages via META tags.

On the official Yahoo Search Blog, Yahoo stated:
Since we've never detailed the specifics of implementing the protocol, today we're releasing detailed documentation on how REP directives will be handled by the three major search providers.
There were three directives pertaining to the REP protocol set up including:
  • Common Robots.txt Directives such as
  1. DIRECTIVE IMPACT USE CASE(s)
    Disallow Tells a crawler not to crawl your site or parts of your site -- your site's robots.txt still needs to be crawled to find this directive, but the disallowed pages will not be crawled. 'No crawl' pages from a site. This directive in the default syntax prevents specific path(s) of a site from crawling.
    Allow Tells a crawler the specific pages on your site you want indexed so you can use this in combination with Disallow. If both Disallow and Allow clauses apply to a URL, the most specific rule - the longest rule - applies. This is useful in particular in conjunction with Disallow clauses, where a large section of a site is disallowed, except a small section within it.
    $ Wildcard Support Tells a crawler to match everything from the end of a URL -- large number of directories without specifying specific pages. 'No Crawl' files with specific patterns, for eg., files with certain filetypes that always have a certain extension, say pdf; etc.
    Sitemap Location Tells a crawler where it can find your sitemaps. Point to other locations where feeds exist to point the crawlers to the site's content

    • Meta Tag Directives - such as

    DIRECTIVE IMPACT USE CASE(s)
    NOINDEX META Tag Tells a crawler not to index a given page. Don't index the page. This allows pages that are crawled to be kept out of the index.
    NOFOLLOW META Tag Tells a crawler not to follow a link to other content on a given page. Prevent publicly writeable areas from being abused by spammers looking for link credit. By NOFOLLOW, you let the robot know that you are discounting all outgoing links from this page.
    NOSNIPPET META Tag Tells a crawler not to display snippets in the search results for a given page. Present no abstract for the page on search results.
    NOARCHIVE META Tag Tells a search engine not to show a "cached" link for a given page. Do not make a copy of the page available to users from the search engine cache.
    NOODP META Tag Tells a crawler not to use a title and snippet from the Open Directory Project for a given page. Do not use the ODP (Open Directory Project) title and abstract for this page in Search.

    • Yahoo Specific Directives - such as Crawl-Delay: Allows a site to delay the frequency with which a crawler checks for new content

      NOYDIR META Tag: This is similar to the NOODP META Tag above but applies to the Yahoo! Directory, instead of the Open Directory Project

      Robots-nocontent Tag: Allows you to identify the main content of your page so that our crawler targets the right pages on your site for specific search queries by marking out non content parts of your page. We won't use the sections tagged as such for indexing the page or for the abstract in the search results.
You can also find information on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog or the Microsoft Live Search Webmaster Center Blog.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, June 05, 2008  
Google's Definition of IP Delivery, Geolocation, and Cloaking
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Maile Ohye over at the Google Webmaster Central Blog has a great post about how Google defines three issues that often arise for site owners and Webmasters: IP Delivery, Geolocation and Cloaking. Basically Google breaks it down like this:

Geolocation: Serving targeted/different content to users based on their location. As a webmaster, you may be able to determine a user's location from preferences you've stored in their cookie, information pertaining to their login, or their IP address.

IP Delivery: Serving targeted/different content to users based on their IP address, often because the IP address provides geographic information. Googlebot should see the same content a typical user from the same IP address would see.

Cloaking: Serving different content to users than to Googlebot. This is a direct violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. As Google states, "Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as cloaking."

The entire post, which includes a seven minute video on IP Delivery can be found here:
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-google-defines-ip-delivery.html

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, June 03, 2008  
The Green Initiative with SEO: 10 Things to Improve Sustainability on the Web
Monday, June 02, 2008
We are all aware of the green initiative that is going on out there as we become more of our resource consumption and work to save the planet. In fact at Enquiro we have a very large green initiative. We recently launched our Enquiro Earth program. We started out as a group of volunteers who have a passion for nature and for nurturing those around us, both close and far away. Our actions have evolved into a corporate mandate!

I started thinking about online sustainability and a "Green Initiative with SEO". There is a lot of stuff out there that has been polluting the "Online World" and as search marketers, bloggers, site owners, web designers, social media gurus, link builders, Webmasters and the like, we have all contributed to it. (Well not all of us...) Some more than others. As I was thinking about writing this post I thought that wouldn't it be cool if we all made a conscious effort to stop polluting the Web. When I say "polluting" the Web I am referring to things such as spammy content, link spam, comment spam, social media spam, SEO overkill and virtually any form of content that goes out on the Web that is irrelevant, duplicated or basically just not useful. When I perform a search query in a search engine, I expect to find relevant results. I don't necessarily want results from Wikipedia or a web page from 1998 about the topic that I queried. I want results that are useful to me.

With that I came up with a fun little list of ten things that can be done to help improve sustainability on the Web.

10 SEO Initiatives to Improve "Sustainability" on the Web
  1. Avoid Having Duplicate Content on Your Site - there is nothing worse than having five or six versions of the same page polluting the Web. Sure you need to track items on your Web pages, but appending your URLs with variables for tracking purposes and polluting the Web with multiple versions of the same page is a waste. It's not good for the user and it's not good for the search engines.

  2. Stop the SEO Spam - there are certain industries out there that get away with on-page keyword densities of 20-25%. Is that really necessary? I personally don't care how often you have "payday loan" on your homepage. Or what about the site that spams their meta data with keyword spam?

  3. Write Unique Content - ahh content is still King, especially when it is unique, useful and relevant.

  4. Create Unique Widgets - do we really need 100 different mortgage calculators? Be creative people.

  5. Host Your Video Content on one or two resources not 15 - Seriously... I get viral but do you need to upload your video to every aggregator site?

  6. Stop the Artificial Building of Your Link Inventory - nothing worse than have a "crappy" site show up in the search results because the tricked the search engines based on their "qualified" link inventory. Results should be relevant. Websites or blogs that artificially populate their link inventories and are simply looking to make a quick buck should go Supplemental. Be gone with you...

  7. Stop the Blog Spam - setting up blogs just to build your link inventory and not to offer the online world some actual beneficial insight is lame. Blogging for the sake of having a blog is also lame. If you're going to have a blog, try to keep it updated, interesting and consisting of your thoughts. Pay attention to your audience.

  8. Stop the Micro-Site Spam - Similar to the previous listing, creating websites just to improve rankings is passe. All of you organizations that are considering hiring or working with a black-hat SEO firm out there need to realize that it's not just about ranking. It's about addressing the needs of your audience and being able to promote your product or service offering accordingly. Don't create 10 sites to tell me about your software solution. Create one good one with relevant content that speaks to my needs.

  9. Stop Stealing Others' Content/Ideas - Just because someone went hot with a topic on DIGG or Sphinn, or Technorati doesn't mean that you need to copy it and add your two cents... unless that is that you have something meaningful to add. As in the real world, being a follower in the online World is not cool.. try to contribute with substance, not fluff.

  10. Keep your Content Fresh and Up to Date - Don't write the same thing over and over. Ensure that your content contains the latest news about your company, services or products. Archive your old content that is less accessed and promote the content that is new. Now we're not saying that you need to hide your content or even remove it, we're just saying that the search engines and users alike are looking for useful, informative content.
The Web would definitely be a better place if we had less SEO spam and for that matter PPC spam on the results pages. I guess that it comes back to relevancy and ensuring that the user is able to find the information that they are looking for when they perform a search online. There is already a lot of content on the Web.... just think what it will look like in another 10 years. We need to do something about this now.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, June 02, 2008  
SMX Advanced: 4 Must Attend Sessions
Sunday, June 01, 2008

Well the second annual SMX Advanced conference takes place this week in Seattle. The two day session take place on June 3rd and 4th at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. The conference has an organic and paid track and debuted in June 2007. It looks like there will be some pretty cool sessions to attend. Here's a look at a couple of sessions that you will want to check out.

Blow Your Mind Link Building Techniques - Want to learn how to build a database of high-value link acquisition targets? Want to know how to get on the radar of nonprofits, government and university departments and compel them to give you some of that sweet, authoritative link love? Want to learn the most coveted secrets to "buying" the links the engines would never consider a "paid link?" This, along with non-traditional link sources, linking strategies and nofollow PageRank "scuplting" or "siloing" are covered in the session.

Link building is still a necessary means to build your organic rankings in the search engines. Perhaps one day the algorithms will change and the sites that should be ranking in top position will be ranking in top position regardless of their link inventory. Still this should be an interesting session to attend.

Moderator: Greg Boser, President/CEO, 3 Dog Media
Q&A Moderator: Matt McGee, SEO Manager, Marchex

Speakers include:

Roger Montti, Founder & Owner, MartiniBuster.com
Jay Young, Owner, Link Fish Media, Inc.

Conversion Optimization: Winning After They Arrive - After all the effort getting the paid search visitor to your site, are you missing out on converting them because of a bad landing page or other issues? This session looks at how to get more out of your existing visitors. It will cover testing methods, tools and strategies. Different sites may require different methods.

Landing page optimization should be a top priority for all marketers who advertise online. If it's not why are you even trying to advertise online? For those looking for new tools or strategies to help out with landing page optimization, this might be the session for you.

Moderator: Jeffrey K. Rohrs, Vice President, Marketing, ExactTarget
Q&A Moderator: Eric Enge, President, Stone Temple

Speakers include:

Rob Crigler, Director of Interactive Marketing, Orkin, Inc.
Tom Leung, Business Product Manager, Google
Jonathan Mendez, Founder & CEO, RAMP Digital

Creating Value In Your SEM Businesses - Hanging out your shingle is not building a business. Creating value that others will recognize and ultimately pay to own (read "buy") takes vision, planning and execution. In this session, you'll hear case studies from SEM business executives who have conceptualized and implemented strategies and tactics that make their companies intrinsically valuable.

This session, to me, looks to be one of the most interesting.

Moderator: Chris Elwell, President, Third Door Media

Speakers include:

Bruce Clay, President, Bruce Clay, Inc.
Sean J. McMahon, President, EngineWorks
Matt Naeger, Executive Vice President, Operations, Impaqt

Search Friendly Development - Highlights the most important elements to consider for search engine optimization (SEO) when building a web application infrastructure and provides tactical details about how to implement those elements. Topics include:

  • Developing a crawlable infrastructure
  • Considerations when developing rich internet applications (using technologies such as Flash, Silverlight, and AJAX)
  • URL rewriting, redirection, canonicalization, and visitor tracking
There is a great panel with this session, just don't expect to get too much out of them as the search engines tend to be fairly elusive in the Q&A portions of the sessions. Regardless, there should be some great tips from this session.

Moderator: Vanessa Fox, Features Editor, Search Engine Land

Speakers include:

Nathan Buggia, Lead Program Manager, Microsoft
Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer, Google
Sharad Verma, Sr. Product Manager, Web Search, Yahoo

While this expects to be a decent conference, I am looking more forward to SES San Jose. It's one of my favorite conferences which I will again be attending in August. We hope to see you there.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, June 01, 2008  
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