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Yahoo "Shines" with Shine
Monday, March 31, 2008

Yahoo is broadening their service offering with a new blog web property targeting women in the 25-55 age categories. The new site, launched earlier today, called Shine is actually pretty cool. According to the Associated Press,
With Shine, Yahoo plans to expand its offerings in parenting, sex and love, healthy living, food, career and money, entertainment, fashion, beauty, home life, and astrology.
Yahoo's Shine feature a wide variety of topics and includes sections about:
  • Parenting
  • Healthy Living
  • Work and Money
  • Fashion and Beauty
  • Food
  • Love and Sex
  • At Home
  • Entertainment
  • Question of the Day
  • Healthy Living Pick of the Day
I checked out a few of the posts and the articles were well written and informative.
Yahoo Shine

With catchy blog post titles such as "Return of the Cougar:Helena Christensen" or "Miss Bimbo like Barbie only much more disturbing", Yahoo Shine may also attract a number of male subscribers and visitors to the site. From my quick tour of Yahoo Shine, I liked what I saw.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, March 31, 2008   1 comments
Blog Web Analytics Options for 2008: Enter Woopra
Just came across an interesting post about a new Web Analytics service that could be a great tool for bloggers to track visitors to their web properties and blogs. Woopra is a new web-tracking and analysis tool that is mainly targeted for small to medium websites ranging from few hundreds up to tens of thousands of daily page views.

Essentially, it is targeted for blogs interested in the most minuscule details of every single action. Currently in a limited beta test, Woopra has a lot of cool features including:
  • Live Tracking
  • Rich Interface
  • Visitor Tagging
  • Instant Messaging
  • Real-time Analytics
  • Custom Notifications
  • Developer Tools
To check out a demo of Woopra go here.

More on Woopra from Marketing Pilgrim

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posted by Jody @ Monday, March 31, 2008   0 comments
IACI: Barry Diller Wins Court Ruling Over Liberty
Well the ruling is in and it is in favor of Barry Diller. 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.

According to Reuters,

IAC's outside investors had sought a ruling that would end the uncertainty over the future of IAC, whose share price had dropped 17 percent since the legal dispute began. Many favored the spin-off plan as a way of improving IAC's business focus without the complexity of operating more than 60 brands.

Diller's plan would make separate entities of HSN, online mortgage business LendingTree, box office service Ticketmaster and time-share exchange Interval.

IAC would retain its Web media and advertising properties like search site Ask.com and dating service Match.com.

It's interesting to note that Liberty had sought to oust Diller, Warner Music Group Chief Executive Officer Edgar Bronfman Jr., fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, Alan G. Spoon, Victor Kaufman, Arthur Martinez and Steven Rattner from the board. Diane Von Furstenberg is Diller's wife.

IAC/InterActive Corp (IACI) shares were up slightly Friday and again this morning.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, March 31, 2008   0 comments
Top 7 Search Stories for March 2007
Friday, March 28, 2008

Well it's that time again, time for the top 7 search engine related stories of the month for the month of March 2008. Last month's biggest story was Yahoo telling Microsoft that they were not interesting in being acquired by Bill Gates and the Microsoft family. Let's see what this month's top stories in search were.

#7. Continued Exodus of Top Google Personnel to Facebook - there continue to be reports of key Google personnel leaving the Search giant to go work at popular social networking site Facebook. Will this have a dramatic effect on Google or will the impact be minimum as Google continues to be innovative with their search offering?

#6. Yahoo is Reported as the Top Web Property for February 2008 - a comScore report suggests that Yahoo was the top online property in February 2008 as they edged out Google for the honor.

#5. The on-going battle for control of InterActive Corp - It's Barry Diller vs. John Malone as InterActiveCorp (:IACI) and Liberty Media (LINTA) have sued each other over IACI's planned breakup into five separate businesses. A Delaware Chancery Court Judge is expected to issue a ruling soon. Some are dubbing this "The Battle of the Billionaires" to see who gains control of IAC/InterActiveCorp. I wonder how this will affect ASK's plans to change direction with their search offering?

#4. Google Feeling the Pains of a Recession? - recent reports from comScore suggest that Google is experiencing slowing growth with their paid advertising platform. In fact Google recently reported slower click-through declines last quarter. Google, will reports first quarter earnings for 2008 on April 17th. Is Google finally starting to slow down. or are they simply gearing up for the next phase on the Internet? CNBC's morning program Squawk on the Street had an interesting take on Google's slowing gross this morning that can be viewed here.

#3. SES NY 2008 - Search Engine Strategies New York has come and gone for another year. This year's event featured more than 65 in-depth sessions addressing the ins-and-outs of search engine marketing, plus keynote addresses from Nick Carr, author of The Big Switch, Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google; President of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network Gordon McLeod; founder and CEO of Mahalo.com, Inc. Jason Calacanis; and Chief Scientist at Yahoo! Research Andrew Tompkins.

#2. Rumors of Microsoft Upping their bis to Acquire Yahoo - well here we go again, various reports suggest that Microsoft is looking at upping their bid to acquire Yahoo. We still hope that this doesn't happen, but money talks.

#1. The future of ASK as a true search engine - reports suggest that ASK has finally thrown in the towel and is sick of competing to try and obtain search market share away from Google. Newly appointed ASK CEO, Jim Safka was quoted as saying; "... If we can do a better job of understanding who these customers are and answering their questions, we will grow..." According to Rob Hof over at Business Week,

But turning itself into a search site for “married women looking for help managing their lives”? What’s up with that? OK, I see that they’re saying 65% of the user base is women. But if you’re going to target your service, this audience seems a little broad, especially for a search engine. And if the idea of searching by asking a question didn’t work before, why will it work now?

I have felt a disturbance in the Force. I'm not sure what Safka's exact plans are for ASK, but I wish that he would reconsider the direction that he is looking at moving towards.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, March 28, 2008   0 comments
Google or Facebook: Who Would You Rather Work For?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I have to laugh every time someone out there tries to suggest that Google is doomed. Case in point a post over at Forbes suggesting that as Google's stock price continues to drop that key Google personnel are beginning to leave Google for Facebook. This is rather interesting though as we have all heard of the stories about how Google is such a great place to work. It is interesting to see a number of Google's top team members leave and leave specifically for Facebook.

Here is a list of some of the recent departures from Google:
  • Gideon Yu - former chief financial officer at YouTube, is now chief financial officer at Facebook.

  • Sheryl Sandberg now the chief operating officer at Facebook

  • Ethan Beard - Google's director of social media is slated to leave the company in April. He will become director of business development at Facebook.

  • Benjamin Ling a former top engineer with Google

  • Justin Rosenstein another former top engineer from Google.
According to the story from Forbes,
Both Facebook and Google declined to say how many ex-Googlers now work at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, but Google said it tries to keep its employees happy and challenged. Despite its efforts, the company conceded that some turnover is inevitable. "We understand that the nature of our times is that people will do many things over the course of their careers," Google said in a statement.
So why are folks leaving Google for Facebook? Surely it cannot be because they are bored already. Google remains one of the most innovative companies on the planet. Facebook is more of a one trick pony. Facebook is the flavor of the week. Google is more like the vanilla or chocolate staple that you would expect to find as opposed to being the flavor of the week. The fact of the matter is that Google team now sits at more than 16, 000 people. Not everyone can be a standout with that many people. By contrast Facebook is estimated to have merely a thousand personnel so it would be much easier to shine there as opposed to Google.

Are people leaving Google (GOOG) for Facebook because they are bored? Possibly, but there may be additional ego involved. Facebook is considered the latest "Internet Darling" but that only goes so far. Google has been on top for a while now, look for them to remain there for the time being. Or could Google be finally starting to slow down? According to Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, a latest report from comScore showed that Google's paid clicks, or the measure of web searchers viewing advertising, were down 3% month-over-month and total search volume was down 4.6% month-over-month.paid clicks, or the measure of web searchers viewing advertising, were down 3% month-over-month and total search volume was down 4.6% month-over-month.

Although reports suggest that things might be slowing down for Google, the Search Giant continues to attract the top talent available. Is Google the "farm-team" for Facebook? Lately it sure seems that way.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, March 27, 2008   1 comments
How Image Barriers Affect Website Usability
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Ever wondered how image barriers affect a users interaction with a website or a particular web page? A new research whitepaper from Enquiro looks at image barriers and how they affect website usability.

The research paper explains how users interact with graphics and rich media as they navigate a website. You will learn:
  1. How graphics can act as barriers to website user navigation.
  2. How graphics can coax users towards essential website information.
  3. If multimedia on a website creates a “wow” factor or a trap.
Every website designer understands that there is a natural flow that needs to exist on a web page. But just how do images and rich media play a role in how the user interacts with a web page? We already know that a user's eyes will generally land on the top left of the page, and a successful page will have almost a directional path straight to the conversion trigger.

We also know that web designers design sites and web pages for flash and ego not necessarily for the user. As a result are images acting as barriers or are the users looking for images as part of their on-site journey? The fact of the matter is that a web page should be designed for a target audience with content and/or images that cater to the needs of your target audience.

The research paper on barriers on a Website is another great read produced by Enquiro Research. For more information on barrier scanning and how it affects website usability or to inquire about our eye tracking research, please contact us for more on website usability research.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, March 26, 2008   0 comments
SEO Strategy: The Timing of Implementation
From an organic SEO perspective, one of the greatest secrets to a successful SEO strategy is the timing of implementation or more importantly the timing of lack of implementation. All of you search marketers out there can relate I'm sure. Have you ever worked with a client who did not implement recommendations in a defined time period only to see their rankings drop in the search results?

One of the drawbacks to SEO and one of the main reasons why so many companies are hesitant to follow through with a detailed organic SEO strategy is the time that it takes to see results. Organic results are not as easy to track as sponsored listings. It's fairly easy to determine if your PPC campaign is a success or not as you can measure your return directly compared to your spend. However with organic there are a number of factors that can impact your organic rankings... simply put you cannot just pay to be found (in the algorithmic/organic results).

With search engine optimization, timing is everything. For the simple fact that if you do not implement your strategy, a competing site will with the end result being that this competing site moves up in rankings while your site remains the same or begins to slip in the rankings. It comes down to fundamental SEO best practices. It still amazes me when I look at well known brands and sites and see that they have overlooked SEO fundamentals. It's important to understand that while some of these fundamentals can be easily implemented, others do in fact take time to plan out and bring to fruition. Examples of fundamental SEO strategies that should be implemented sooner rather than later include:
  • Having search engine friendly URLs
  • Having unique, optimized title tags on site pages
  • Having unique, optimized meta data
  • Having sufficient keyword density on site content
  • Having sufficient content (seriously do you think that a 10 page site will outrank a site with thousands of pages? Highly unlikely.)
  • Building your external link inventory
  • Improving your interlinking within your site
Of course there are specifics to each of these items, but the fact is that until you implement these items, you should not expect to see an increase in your organic visibility in the search engine results. To top that off while you may not have the resources or are reluctant in the implementation of your SEO strategies, other competing sites will be implementing the necessary changes (some white-hat some grey-hat and yes even black-hat) to do what it takes to jump up in the rankings. And while the focus should not solely be on rankings without them you do not receive the traffic to the site that you should be getting. Getting traffic to your site is the first step, increasing site stickiness and time spent on site is the second step. Having the users convert in some manner is the third step.

Implementation is Critical

In order to see a change, you have to make a change. The fact is, you need to implement the changes to your site to make it a relevant authority in the search engines. In addition you cannot just make these changes once and expect to shoot up to number one and rank forever in top spot. You need to update your content and work on building your external link inventory to site pages. You need to be aware of what strategies your competitors are leveraging to increase their search engine visibility. The timing of implementation plays a key role in how successful your site can be in the search results. The longer you hold off in implementing SEO strategy items, the easier it is for competitors to move past you in the rankings. The easier it becomes for the search engines to drop your site in rankings.

While SEO results take time to achieve, without timely implementation, you risk the chance of digging yourself in a deeper hole. Strive to communicate this to your IT teams and especially to your management teams as these are the folks who will be looking for quick results. The fact remains that there will be no results without implementation of your SEO best practices and fundamentals.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, March 26, 2008   0 comments
SEO Industry Survey Results from SEOmoz
Well it's great to be back after a brief vacation. Can you believe that I did not even turn on a computer for five days? In this industry that is not an easy thing to do. So as I try to get back in touch with the search marketing industry, I can across the findings from an SEO Industry survey that was completed by SEOmoz in February.

According to the report:
  • The vast majority of respondents from SEM agencies use tools to aid their marketing efforts.
  • Marketers are still unsure about things like the potential of negative effects from registering with Webmaster Central, or the use of nofollow.
  • From the 2,060 people responding, we see at least $73 million is spent on PPC a month. That's more than $35,000 per respondent per month. This assumes all our respondents are from different companies.
  • WordTracker and Keyword Discovery appear to be the top keyword tools of choice
  • The average income level is higher than our overall average in the US, the UK, Canada, or Australia
For the entire list of survey results, visit http://www.seomoz.org/dp/seo-industry-survey-results

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, March 26, 2008   0 comments
Edmonton Oilers: The Most Entertaining Sports Franchise Out There
Thursday, March 20, 2008
For those people that know me, they know that I am a huge fan of the Edmonton Oilers. Ever since I was a little kid, I used to love watching the Oilers play hockey. Five years into their NHL existence they won hockey's greatest prize, the Stanley Cup.

As an Oilers fan I've seen it all. I was there when Wayne Gretzky was trade (or sold depending on who you ask), I was there for the five Stanley Cup wins, I was there for the lean seasons of the 90's after the team could not afford to keep their nest players. I was there in 2006 when the Oilers fell to the Hurricane in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals (I still am not sleeping right since then..) I was there last year when the Oilers traded heart and soul winger Ryan Smyth... that was a tough one.

As I watch the games I am very critical of the team. While they have always been entertaining, they have not been an elite team for quite some while. there have been some interesting transactions over the years... I still have no idea why GM Kevin Lowe traded Chris Pronger to a team in the same conference. I have no idea why coach Craig McTavish continued to play goalie Dwayne Roloson so much early in the season when it is clear that Mathieu Garon was the goalie for this team. Garon has quietly had a tremendous year, just look at his Shoot Out record. He is unbeaten.

My wife (who would have to be considered a Calgary Flames fan... ugh) has become very knowledgeable about the Oilers. Dare I say that she has become an Oilers fan as well? The reason for this post is to communicate the fact about how time changes everything. Last year at this time the Oilers had traded Smyth and suffered their worst collection of games ever winning only twice (or something like that) in their last 20 games. This year the Oilers are making an incredible run for the playoffs as they site 5 points out of the final playoff spot with multiple games against the three teams that they are trying to catch. Oh man it's been fun. Tonight is the biggest game of the year as the Oilers battle the Vancouver Canucks. It's going to be intense.

This weekend I am taking my family to Edmonton for some family fun as we visit the world's largest mall, West Edmonton Mall. On Saturday afternoon I get to attend my first Oilers game in Edmonton in over 10 years as they face Ryan Smyth's new team, the Colorado Avalanche. I cannot wait. The Edmonton Oilers are a great example of an entertaining sports franchise that care about their fans.



Go Oilers Go.... what a difference a year makes in the life of a sports franchise. We'll see you at the game on Saturday.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, March 20, 2008   0 comments
In-Bound Linking Vs. On-Page SEO
I have had a few questions from clients re: the importance of in-bound linking from their own mini-sites to improve their external link inventory vs. addressing on page SEO issues. I thought that I would add my thoughts on this. To quote one conversation that I had,
"...I know in-bound linking is very important to build your “authority” but does in-bound linking from your own sites do much? Or should we focus on on-page SEO?"

Great question. The answer in short is it depends.... Inbound links or as we like to say improving your external link inventory is an important factor in improving your organic rankings in the search results.Having said that, on-page SEO is also a key factor that will have an impact on your rankings as well. You really need to do both.

The fact is that yes you do need links to be treated as an authority and to rank well by the search engines. However prior to building your external link inventory, you need to ensure that your on-page factors have been addressed. These on page factors include but are not limited to:

  1. Proper/Well Optimized URL Structure
  2. Optimized Page Titles
  3. Optimized Meta Data
  4. Keyword Rich Content and Page Copy
  5. Effective Interlinking of Your Site Pages

Using Mini-Sites to Improve In-Bound Linking

The best thing to keep in mind when building your external link inventory is to do it in a natural manner. This means not trying to artificially inflate your link inventory…. and trust me there are a number of sites that out there that do this. Don’t just build sites for the purpose of linking. Ensure that the sites provide value to the user. In order to obtain real benefit from these sites, these “mini-sites” need to be relevant, and should hopefully have a respectable PageRank or level of authority as they link back to your main site.

Getting a link from a relevant industry site that has a PageRank of 7 or 8 will carry much more weight with the search engines than having 20-30 links from sites that do not have any PageRank or are not relevant to your business.

Having “lots” of mini-sites will not necessarily boost your IBL score, for you see the quality of the link is much more important than the quantity of links that you have to your site. The fact is that too many links to your site can actually have an adverse effect on your Inbound Linking (IBL) Quality score.

If you are considering using a number of mini-sites ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will these sites benefit my target audience/site user?
  • How many of these “mini-sites” will there be?
  • Is the purpose of these mini-sites simply for obtaining links? If the answer is yes then you may be creating them for the wrong reasons. The search engines are looking for you to build your link inventory naturally. If all of a sudden 50 sites that consist of a few pages pop up with similar content and begin linking to your main site, the search engines may treat these links as spam or less authoritative.

You would probably be better served to make sure that the on-page SEO stuff is taken care of first. Then focus on building your link inventory with a couple of mini sites.

With the mini-sites make sure that:

  • The content is unique on each
  • The pages feature unique title and meta data
  • The sites have established link inventories of their own (that way the search engines will treat them as more of an authority).

Also linking from your own sites to your main site will not carry as much weight as links from other relevant sites. So additional things to consider when setting up mini-sites are: having dedicated IP addresses for the sites so that they are not hosted on the same IP address

In terms of where to spend your time and efforts, ideally you should be spending time on both, but the on-page SEO issues should be addressed first. Link building is on-going anyways and can take a long time to accomplish. So long as you are not trying to trick the search engines (or the users for that matter) using a couple of mini-sites to help build your link inventory should be ok.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, March 20, 2008   2 comments
Yahoo Top Online Property in February... Google #2
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
ComScore is reporting that Yahoo sites were the top online property in February with Google coming in second. Yahoo had 136.8 million unique vistors, compared to Google's 136 million in February. February is traditionally a slower month in search activity, however it is obvious that Yahoo has a loyal user base.

comScore Top 50 Properties (U.S.)

February 2008

Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations

Unique Visitors (000)

Source: comScore Media Metrix

Rank

Property

Unique Visitors

(000)

Rank

Property

Unique Visitors

(000)

Total Internet : Total Audience

185,017

1

Yahoo! Sites

136,767

26

AT&T, Inc.

26,385

2

Google Sites

135,970

27

Shopzilla.com Sites

24,782

3

Microsoft Sites

118,355

28

Comcast Corporation

24,466

4

AOL LLC

108,911

29

Yellowpages.com Network

23,691

5

Fox Interactive Media

83,638

30

CBS Corporation

23,564

6

eBay

77,864

31

Gannett Sites

23,407

7

Wikipedia Sites

55,906

32

Expedia Inc

23,150

8

Amazon Sites

55,172

33

Bank of America

23,111

9

Ask Network

54,120

34

Monster Worldwide

22,389

10

Time Warner - Excluding AOL

52,661

35

CareerBuilder LLC

22,357

11

New York Times Digital

47,632

36

United Online, Inc

21,966

12

Apple Inc.

47,048

37

Photobucket.com LLC

20,917

13

Viacom Digital

41,216

38

Atrinsic, Inc.

20,473

14

Weather Channel, The

41,057

39

E.W. Scripps

20,005

15

CNET Networks

33,320

40

AmericanGreetings Property

19,884

16

Facebook.com

32,436

41

WebMD Health

19,637

17

Adobe Sites

30,620

42

WorldNow - ABC Owned Sites

19,426

18

Glam Media

29,136

43

Real.com Network

18,498

19

Wal-Mart

27,651

44

NBC Universal

17,863

20

Superpages.com Network

27,526

45

IRS.gov

17,863

21

Verizon Communications Corporation

27,101

46

ESPN

17,836

22

Disney Online

27,094

47

Lycos Sites

17,702

23

Craigslist, Inc.

26,822

48

Cox Enterprises Inc.

17,603

24

Gorilla Nation

26,710

49

Demand Media

17,532

25

Target Corporation

26,631

50

Weatherbug Property

17,256

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, March 19, 2008   0 comments
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Name: Jody
Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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