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7 Interesting Search Stories from May 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Top 7 Search Stories May 2008
Last month, the top search story revolved around Yahoo's acquiring of Index Tools. Of course Yahoo has been in the news since Microsoft made an unsolicited bid for the destined to be second place search engine in February. In fact talks are again starting to heat up between Microsoft and Yahoo. Here's a look at some of the top search stories for May 2008.

#7. Google Finally Launches 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. This ties in with Google's initiative to help organize the World's information. According to Google, Google Health will help user's:
  • Organize your health information all in one place
  • Gather your medical records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies
  • Keep your doctors up to date about your health
  • Be more informed about important health issues
Search Engine Land featured some screen-shots of Google Health that can be seen here.

#6. Google's Market Share on the Rise Again - according to recent information from Nielsen and comScore data, Google's market share is now at about 62%. This still seems a little low to me. Yahoo's market share is reported to be in the 17.5% - 20.5% range, while Microsoft is somewhat stagnant at around 9.4%. Our former favorite search engine ASK, dropped to about 4.3%. Too bad ASK would have kept plugging away. They just need to continue what they are doing and improve the user experience on their results page. Which brings us to our entry at number five.

#5. Ask.com Buying Lexico, Owner Of Dictionary.com - in an interesting announcement, Ask.com Buying Lexico, Owner Of Dictionary.com. In the official press release from ASK, "The Lexico acquisition will grow the Ask Network user base to more than 145 million unduplicated monthly unique users (UUs) worldwide, an increase of 11%, according to March 2008 comScore data. This would rank the Ask Network as the 9th largest Web property in the world -- ahead of Apple Inc. and Facebook -- in monthly worldwide UUs (comScore World Metrix, March 2008)." Interesting move indeed.

#4. Google Launches Friend Connect - Google announced a new endeavor that will allow website owners to make any site social. According to Google, "... Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social.." the result is Google Friend Connect.

#3. Yahoo Takes a Page Out of ASK's Results Page and Tests Yahoo Glue Pages - For now, 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. If Yahoo decides to roll this out on a wider scale, this could be a defining moment for them as a search engine in terms of improving the user experience on their results page. They have the market share and traffic that ASK lacked to make this work.

#2. Microsoft Tries to Buy Searchers with Live Search Cashback - http://search.live.com/cashback. This is just comical to me. As I always say, desperate times call for desperate measures. Microsoft was offering cashback from Live Search. Basically, you would get cash back savings by using Live Search to find "great deals on the products you want from the stores that you know and trust." Every time you make a qualifying purchase, Live Search Cashback will send you an email to confirm your Live Search cashback savings. When your cashback account reaches a balance of at least $5, you are able to then claim your cold, hard cash. The terms and conditions can be found here.

#1. Microsoft Wants to Purchase Yahoo Search - Of course they do Live Search sucks! Anyway rumors persist about Microsoft's next move. In early May, Microsoft removed their initial offer from the table in an attempt to acquire Yahoo.

As we roll into summer and Search Engine Conference season, we'll expect to hear about and see some interesting moves by many of the players in the Search space. It should be a fun ride with search in the summer of 2008.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, May 28, 2008   0 comments
Relay for Life - Give to a Good Cause
Monday, May 26, 2008
Well its not often that we feature self promotion here at SEO-Space, but we thought that this was an important enough cause that was worth mentioning. This weekend I will be running in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay For Life that takes place from Saturday at 6:00 pm to Sunday morning at 6:00 am.

I'm a little late with my fund raising efforts. The cause is something that most, if not all of us, can relate to in one form or another. Please help me fight this disease by donating to my Relay team. I have a modest goal of $100 set. If you would like to donate, please visit the following:

https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=255578&lis=1&kntae255578=4E8539F667D6407FA3756FEDE1B3ED6E&supId=220858227

I thank you.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, May 26, 2008   0 comments
New Kelowna Bridge is Officially Opened
Well yesterday marked a new era for those of us who live in Kelowna, BC. The long-awaited opening of the new William R. Bennett Bridge. Finally it has been in the works for what seemed an eternity.

View Larger Map

For those of you who are not familiar with Kelowna, here are some interesting stats:
  • Kelowna is the third largest city in Canada's most westward province British Columbia with an estimated population of around 160-170K depending on who you ask. In the summer months this number easily inflates to over 200K
  • Kelowna is about 470 km east of Vancouver and about 600 km west of Calgary.
  • As of 2007, Kelowna is the second most expensive housing market in Canada (trust me it's pricey... I just purchased a new home in Kelowna last year.)
  • Kelowna is often compared to sunny California as a result of its warm climate, explosive population growth and vineyard and golf course filled scenery.
  • In 2005, Kelowna celebrated it's 100th Anniversary
  • Kelowna is situated on Lake Okanagan home of the legendary Ogopogo. The lake is roughly 135 km long and separates Kelowna and the Westside communities
For those of us living on the Westside who work in in Kelowna (or vice versa), there has been one single, 3-lane bride that we have to cross each day to go to work. In the summertime , what normally should be a 15-20 minute drive can end up taking 60-90+ minutes. Not fun, so it was with great anticipation that the province decided to construct a new bridge. Enter the new William R. Bennett Bridge. According to the official site, the William R. Bennett Bridge replaces the current three-lane Okanagan Lake Bridge in Kelowna. This corridor is the most congested stretch of highway outside the Lower Mainland accommodating an average of 46,000 vehicles per day. By 2017, more than 69,000 vehicles are expected to use the new bridge each day.

I am just curious as to who was the brainiac behind building a five lane bride? Why not make it six lanes? I'll never understand the reasoning for this. People are already suggesting that a second bridge is in order. To sit in traffic for hours at a time due to poor infrastructure and planning in this day and age just doesn't seem right. The good news is that they have made a decent bike lane, so I'll be making the 25km round trip more often now.

I will drive across the new bridge for the first time today after work to see if this was $150 million that was well spent or not. I'll see you in traffic.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, May 26, 2008   0 comments
How to Upload Videos to Metacafe
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Here is our final installment in the "How To Upload Video" series. According to comScore Media Metrix, MetaCafe attracts more than 25 million unique viewers each month. Since 2003 Metacafe has been one of the top independent online video sites that is not a video sharing site but more of a entertainment site that focuses on video.

Meta Cafe - www.metacafe.com

  1. Create a Metacafe account to submit videos. Simply go to https://www.metacafe.com/account/login/
  2. Click “Submit”
  3. Browse for your Video file that you would like to submit
  4. Click “Upload”
  5. Describe your video. Give it a descriptive title and description. You can also add a related link, related link title (ie anchor text)
  6. Select a Category
  7. Add tags that describe your video
  8. Determine Video Language and country Relevance
  9. Select a Program
  10. Select a Thumbnail
  11. Review Details and Click “Done”

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posted by Jody @ Saturday, May 24, 2008   0 comments
How to Upload Videos to Yahoo Video
Friday, May 23, 2008
Here is the second installment of our "How to Upload Videos" series. Yahoo video is another resource that you can submit your video content to.

Yahoo Video - video.yahoo.com
  1. Go to Yahoo Video
  2. Click the Upload button. You will need a Yahoo account to login. If it is your first video submission, you may be asked to provide a description about yourself, your website URL and will have to accept the Yahoo Video Terms of Service.
  3. Browse and insert your video. Videos need to be less than 100 MB, must be in accepted forms such as WMV, ASF, QT, MOD, MOV, MPG, 3GP, 3GP2 or AVI format, and have audio.
  4. Give your video a descriptive title and description. (You also have the option to include a transcript which you can paste into the “Transcript field”)
  5. Select a Category from one of the twelve categories that currently exist.
  6. Click “Upload Video”

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posted by Jody @ Friday, May 23, 2008   2 comments
How to Upload Videos to Google Video
Continuing our look at how to upload videos to various video aggregator sites, our second installment involves uploading video to Google. Prior to purchasing YouTube for 1.6 billion in 2006, Google actually had their own video service. Here's a look at how to submit videos to Google Video.

Google Video - video.google.com

With Google Video there are two ways to get your videos onto Google Video. For video files that are 100MB or less the easiest and fastest way to upload a video is to use Google’s web-based uploader. If your video is over 100 MB or if you'd like to upload multiple files at once, the Google Video Uploader client software is your best bet. Click here to download and install the program. You must then log in to your Video Status page after uploading to enter your video's metadata after uploading content with this software.
  1. Go to Google Video
  2. First time visitors can download the Google Video Uploader by going here.
  3. Click on Upload your Videos (near the top right of the page).
  4. Browse and insert your video. Acceptable forms are AVI, MPEG, Quicktime, Real and Windows Media.
  5. Give Your Video a Descriptive Title and description.
  6. Select the Genre of your video from the dropdown.
  7. Select the preferred language from the dropdown.
  8. Determine if you want to make your video public (so that it will be included in the search results) or Unlisted. Unlisted is similar to an unlisted telephone number that is not in the phonebook. With unlisted videos you have the option of emailing the video link to designated viewers.
  9. Agree to the Google Upload Terms and Conditions
  10. Click “Upload video”. Upload may take several minutes to complete.
For more information on Google Video, visit the Google Video Help Center.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, May 23, 2008   0 comments
How to Upload Videos to YouTube
Of course many of you may already be video optimization experts, but for those who are just delving into the land of online video, we thought that it would be beneficial if we provided a series of How To's for those looking to upload video. Of course, the simplest thing would have been for us to do a video on this, but that would just be too easy. As a result we have compiled a quick step by step procedure for uploading videos to YouTube.

YouTube is probably the most popular online video destination out there right now. Here are the steps needed to upload video to YouTube. Once you’ve finished editing your video, made sure it's less than 10 minutes, smaller than 100MB, and in an acceptable format, you're ready to upload it.
  1. Create or Login to your YouTube Account. You can signup by going to: http://www.youtube.com/signup.
  2. Click "Upload Videos" in the upper-right-hand corner of any YouTube page.
  3. Enter as much information about your video as possible, including Title, Description, Tags, and Category. The more information you include, the easier it is for users to find your video!
  4. Determine if you want your video set to Public or Private.
  5. Click the "Upload a Video" button.
  6. In the next window, click the "Browse" button to browse for the video file. Select the file you want to upload.
  7. Click the "Upload Video" button. It can take from a couple minutes to an hour for your video to upload to YouTube.
If you're receiving an error with your Upload, you might want to make sure you're attempting to upload a file that's recognized by YouTube. YouTube accepts video files from most digital cameras and camcorders, and cell phones in the .AVI, .MOV, .WMV, and .MPG file formats.

Video optimization can increase your search engine visibility through universal search. Video offers the ability to convey a lot of information in easy to assimilate format.

To view an amusing “How to Upload Video to YouTube” click here.

There you have it a couple of easy steps to submit your video yo YouTube.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, May 23, 2008   0 comments
Some Great SEO Posts this Week, Google Penalties, the Google Floating Four and More...
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
We've been fairly busy over recent weeks. so much so that we have had limited time to check our favorite feeds out for the latest search engine tips. We thought that we would go through some of our favorite SEO sites and compile some of the greatest posts over the past week or so. These posts feature a number of our favorite topics which is why we thought they would be worth mentioning here.
  • Loren Baker over at Search Engine Journal had a great post all about canonicalization. You know whether you should be using www. vs. non www versions of your site. Included in the post are some quotes from Google's Matt Cutts. Key takeaway from the post, "Since the search engines treat the www and the non-www version of the same URL to be different websites, there’s a risk of duplicate content issues arising because of the same content served on both the URLs."

  • Loren has been on a roll this week, he also posted an interesting piece on "How Many Google Penalties Are There?" Loren mentions three specific penalties, -30 penalty
    -950 penalty, and Index Exclusion.

  • Brian Kaminski over at Search Engine Land had an eye opening post for some with his article on "Take Off The Blinders! Your Competitors Are Killing You, Whether You Realize It Or Not". Brian discusses the importance of paying attention to what your competitors are doing online. Make it a habit to review competitor's ad copy, their landing pages and how often your ads come up in comparison to your competitors. The post is PPC focused, but does mention some key factors as to how you can gain further competitive intelligence.

  • Manoj Jasra over at Web Analytics World had a cool post about how Google's Custom Search Engine Rocks. Manoj mentions the fact that Google's custom search engine gives users access to deeper content and allows you to customize the configuration to give you a look and feel that is best for you.

  • Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Land posted A Webmaster View Of Google's Latest Search Quality. In his piece, Barry discusses that Google is currently updating their search index as is being discussed in many industry forums around the Web. Editor's note, this appears to be the major algorithm update that we predicted weeks ago. Interestingly enough there was more mention of the Google Penalties including -6, -30, -60, -950. Barry also touched on some interesting experimentation from Google with regards to the placement of Universal Search results in the fourth position of the organic results. This has been since dubbed the Google Floating Four Behavior. As described by Barry, "In short, a search result would be in the fourth position and then go so a lower position, then come back to fourth spot and then go back again to a lower position... it does seem strangely tied to Google Universal Search, where Google places a universal search result in that fourth position."
These are but a sample of the mumblings and grumblings that are going on in the industry over the past couple of days.

Editor's Note 05-26-08: I came across this interesting post from none other than Mark Cuban on a potential strategy for knocking off Google as the Champion of Search.
http://www.blogmaverick.com/2008/05/14/beating-google/

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, May 21, 2008   0 comments
Why Microsoft Will Always Suck at Search
Monday, May 19, 2008
So we are hearing more rumors of a second round of negotiations between Microsoft and Yahoo. It's obvious that the media, financial analysts and the like cannot live with the status quo. They need a story. Investors invest for a return.. it all revolves around the mighty dollar, not about the end consumer or what's best for the masses.

Fact: Microsoft dropped the ball with search in the past five years. Google came around and established an online ad platform that earned them billions of dollars. Microsoft being left out in the cold didn't like this feeling of emptiness. So they decided to focus on search... and failed miserably. Call it MSN, call it Live Search, just don't call it a success. Terrible product. Microsoft was third in market share in the Search space. The fact of the matter is that ASK was starting to step up and take away market share.. who knows had they continued their focus on mainstream search, they may have bumped Microsoft into the fourth spot on the search engine of choice.

Fact: The Search team at Microsoft are not nearly as innovative as Google, ASK, or Yahoo. Hence the need to purchase a competitor. For this reason alone Microsoft will continue to fail at search. They spend too much time worrying about acquisitions and other innovative companies instead of focusing on their own search product. Search will never be the main priority with Microsoft.

Fact: If (when) Microsoft acquires Yahoo, they will still be a distant number two to Google in Search. How long will it be until, the become leaders rather than followers in Search? According to this article from TechCrunch, Microsoft has a big announcement scheduled for this week. Apparently they have been working on their search algorithms and are getting "better and better at it", well that's not hard, it couldn't get any worse. What are they going to announce that they are going to be incorporating blended search results into their main index? Or perhaps they are going to announce a change to their search engine results page that will look more like the Yahoo SERP, or possibly ASK's.

Regardless I've been a frustrated user of MSN or Live Search or whatever you want to call it for a while now. I'm inclined to believe that they are doomed to fail in Search. They'll never be the prettiest girl at the dance when it comes to Search. Frankly, if Microsoft does indeed acquire Yahoo, there will be a lot more people who will jump over to Google, making Google an even more dominant player.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, May 19, 2008   0 comments
SEO Keyword Strategy: Why There is More to Keyword Research than Search Volume
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Whether developing a keyword strategy for a sponsored campaign or for an SEO initiative, when researching your keyword options most people place a strong emphasis on search volume. It makes sense as you want to optimize your ads or your web pages for key phrases that are searched for more often, but should search volume be the defining reason as to why you select one keyword over another? The thing with search volume is that the numbers that have been communicated in the past are not necessarily accurate. The search engines do not release search volume numbers save MSN and who knows if these numbers are even accurate. Not to mention the fact that search volumes change. So why then do we depend so much on search volume? Should we be?

Ranking for a term that has no search volume just does not make sense. Or does it? You see buzz words frequently change, so just because a term that you rank well for today is not being searched for by the masses does not mean that it won't be a phrase that is searched for by many in the future. You mean to tell me that terms such as "social media marketing" or "video optimization" were being searched for 10 years ago? Highly unlikely and if they were, the volume was no where near where it is today. It just goes to show that there is more to a keyword analysis then just search volume.

In the past, using keyword research tools such as Wordtracker and formerly the Overture Search Term Suggestion tool, we were able to see estimated search volumes for phrases in a given time period. Naturally SEOs and website optimizers gravitated towards the phrases that had the highest search volumes. Think of these of the "head" phrases that were more general in nature and consisted of a single word. Phrases such as "insurance" come to mind. So of course you have all of these sites optimizing for insurance, which in turn waters down the search results. I don't know about you, but when I perform a search for something like "insurance", I expect to see sites like AIG, StateFarm, Geico, AllState, Met Life and the like show up. I don't necessarily see all of these sites showing up. The fact of the matter is that relevancy should count shouldn't it? Even with well optimized sites, shouldn't relevancy be the determining factor as to what site ranks for a given key phrase? I don't really want to see a Wikipedia listing for every query that I do. Getting back to our discussion on search volume, it is these head phrases (such as insurance) that tend to have the highest search volume. So we should include these "head" phrases in our keyword baskets? Well the answer is, it depends...

High Search Volume Does Not Equal High Quality Traffic

When we look at reasons why certain phrases have higher search volumes than others, there are two important factors that come to mind:
  1. General / "Head" Type Queries are more simple in Nature - people are lazy in their search habits. Well to a point. As they become more educated about a topic of interest, they will perform more intelligent search queries. Someone interested in insurance may simply perform a search for the single word "insurance". As they become more search savvy, they may perform additional, secondary searches for terms such as "motorcycle insurance". As they go through the process their searches continue to get refined until they are searching for more long tail phrases (motorcycle insurance in Seattle). The thing is that the general-type searches will generate more search volume simply because most people will begin their search with these types of phrases until they become better educated about the subject matter that they are searching on. These general-type queries, while generating more volume, will be less qualified until the searcher becomes more educated.

  2. Timing - buzzwords are hot and will have more volume associated with them during their time of popularity. You can bet that the search volume for "Britney Spears" in 1998 before she gained fame and fortune was considerably lower than in 2002 when she was at the pinnacle of her career. Fast forward to 2008 and the search volume may be even higher will all of the singer's controversy. Timing of buzz has a direct impact on search volume.
There's More to Keyword Research than Search Volume

It's true higher search volume will drive more traffic to your site. However in this day and age, unless you are an infant site just starting out, you would be better served to be concerned about quality traffic than overall traffic volume. So then how do you determine which keywords you should focus on? I'll speak to this from an organic (SEO) perspective. There are three main factors that you should focus on when doing your keyword research:
  1. Relevancy - First, ensure that your keyword basket is filled with keywords that are relevant to your business and to your website.

  2. Competitiveness / Ability to Rank For - How competitive are the key phrases that you are researching? Does your site have the ability to rank for these phrases? If the keywords are hyper-competitive, do you really think that you will be able to rank for them? You might want to develop a long-tail keyword strategy instead.

  3. What Keywords are your Online Competitors Positioning For? - Which phrases are your competitors ranking for? This ties in with the relevancy factor. Although a keyword may have little or no search volume, if your competitors are optimizing and ranking for a key phrase relevant to your industry, you might want to do the same. If that term becomes a buzzword in the future and you are not yet ranking for it, you may have missed an opportunity to intercept some of the traffic for that term. Pay attention to what keywords your online competitors are focusing on.
Now I don't want to suggest that search volume is not an important factor when you are doing keyword research. The fact of the matter is that it is important. It's just that search volume alone is not what your keyword research should be based on. An effective organic/SEO keyword strategy should be scalable and include terms that may not have the volume or flare today, but have the relevancy, ability to rank for and popularity for tomorrow. Generating decent rankings and quality traffic from the search engines is hard work. Why not make it easier by continuing to do on-going keyword research and by optimizing your site for relevant keywords? Your boss with thank you in the future as your web properties gain qualified traffic and as a result produce more qualified leads and orders.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, May 13, 2008   0 comments
Google Friend Connect: Making Your Website Social
Monday, May 12, 2008
Over the past 18 months or so there has been a real fascination with social networks. Not just for individuals, but for businesses and organizations, social networking questions are the topic of many a discussion. So it was only a matter of time until the major search engines would be looking at social networks as another service offering or advertising environment. In fact Microsoft even purchased a 1.5% stake in popular social network Facebook. Rumors were persisting that both Google and Yahoo were looking to enter the social networking game, in fact Yahoo even launched Kickstart an online social network that connects college students, grads and alumni.

Enter Google Friend Connect.... earlier today, Google announced a new endeavor that will allow website owners to make any site social. According to Google, "... Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social.." the result is Google Friend Connect. http://www.google.com/friendconnect (Interestingly enough the URL returned a broken link this morning.)

The project will allow site owners to insert social features to their websites that will help drive additional traffic to their site. Here's how it works. A website owner simply adds a snippet of code to their site to get social network features running on their website. They can select built-in functionality including things such as:
  • user registration
  • invitations
  • message posting
  • reviews
  • third party applications available via Open Social
Once set up, visitors to the site who are using Google Friend Connect will be able to see, inviute and interact with new friends. In addition with authorization APIs, users will be able to interact with existing friends from Facebook, hi5, Orkut and Google Talk.

Judging from the initial response, many like what they are seeing with Google Friend Connect.
"We want to bring ourselves to every eyeball, not bring every eyeball to us," said Hadi Partovi, President of iLike. "Friend Connect is a significant opportunity for iLike, artists, and fans. The iLike Artist Dashboard™ will be the first content-management system that allows artists not only to post their songs, concerts, and videos to every leading social network from one dashboard, but also to simultaneously manage the content on their own websites."
What I like about Google Friend Connect is that it solves the issue of having to create a new login and password for each and every social network that I sign up for. In addition the fact that sites do not have to create and setup their own social network is great because I find that there are currently too many "irrelevant" social sites out there. Google Friend Connect can simply let sites become more social by allowing visitors to interact with one another. This could definitely work. I could see this becoming extremely populat a la forums and blogs.

Benefits of Google Friend Connect
  • Ease of Setup - you don't have to be a programmer to set up Google Friend Connect
  • Ease of Use - once set up, it's very easy to adjust and easy for visitors to start using.
  • Social Networking without Starting a Social Network - you do not need to hire a team to plan out, set up and monitor your own social network. You can use social networking features on your own website without the hassle of setting up an actual social network.
  • Increase User Interaction / Site Stickiness - talk about a great way to drive traffic to your site and have them stick around longer. Through the social network aspect people will let their friends know about your site (providing that they have had a positive experience on it)
Friend Connect will work with existing standards such as OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, as well as with data access APIs from Facebook, Google, and MySpace.

More details are to be released this evening at the Googleplex with their Campfire One session.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, May 12, 2008   1 comments
What Do You Do When you Have Done Everything that You Can with SEO?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Would you believe that there are some business owners who are just now realizing the value of SEO? Yeah I know it amazes me too. However if you are one of those businesses or sites that recognized the value of SEO in the beginning than you are probably well on your way to online success. So then the question becomes what do you do when you have done everything that your can with SEO?

Think You Know Everything Think Again...

OK so you've optimized your title tags and on-page copy. You've interlinked your site pages. You've built up links to your web pages, then what? Where do you go with your SEO strategy once you have addressed all of the fundamentals? Well the answer is it depends. It depends on your site, it depends on your site goals, it depends on your business model. Just because you have optimized your meta tags, obtained some links to your pages and have developed content for your users, does not mean that the job is over.

An effective SEO strategy is on-going. You cannot rest on your past accomplishments in the online world. Try it and see what happens. You're bound to drop in rankings and may have a tough time getting them back. Competition in the real world is fierce, in the online world it is even worse. Competitor sites, blogs, forums and even social networks are popping up all over the place. While you may have done well with your SEO strategy in the past, you need to continuously refine it to enjoy success in the future. So if you feel like you have accomplished everything that you can with your SEO strategy, chances are you haven't.

Five Factors for Long Term SEO Success
  1. Keyword Refinement - So long as search is based on keyword queries (which will be forever) you need to revisit your keyword baskets on a continual basis. Depending on how many keywords you need to focus on, you'll want to review your keywords every four to five months. Keyword research should be on-going.

  2. Improve Quality of Links - Everyone thinks that you need to have thousands of links to do well in the search engines. Well the fact of the matter is, you just need to have a decent amount of quality links that help improve the relevancy of your website. Quality is more important than quantity. Improving the quality of your link inventory also needs to be on-going so long as search engines such as Google use a linking component in their algorithms.

  3. Content Development - If you look at your site today, do you honestly think that you have the perfect site consisting of the perfect content that your audience is looking for? You would be naive if you answered yes. Fresh, informative content is what your site visitors are looking for. The competitive landscape of your industry changes, as a result your audience will be looking for product updates, pricing updates, recent industry statistics, and timely news to help them make a decision about purchasing your product or service. As part of an effective SEO strategy, you should be continuously be working on content for to satisfy the needs of your audience.

  4. Plan for Change - Technology evolves at a staggering rate. What's hot today, will become dated in a hurry, sometimes even in months. As a result, you'll want to plan for change. Whether it will be for your next site redesign or simply for the launch of a blog or micro-site, part of your SEO strategy should be planning for change.

  5. Determine/Allocate Budget for SEO - Many business plug the majority of their online budget into Sponsored campaigns. Remember that SEO can be a much more cost effective way of generating visibility and traffic to your site. Be sure to allocate budget for SEO and not just for paid advertising. Budget may be required to hire an additional person or team to manage your organic campaigns. SEO budget can also be used to hire an outside firm to help drive your SEO strategy and implement tactics needed for success.
Many suggest that search engine optimization is going the way of the Dodo, that SEO will soon be extinct. No that's not true SEO will simply evolve as will online marketing efforts. Maybe we won't call it SEO, but "search optimization" will always be there so long as advertisers work to understand their audience and their intent. Think you're finished with SEO? Think again.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, May 11, 2008   0 comments
Yahoo Glue Pages: Yahoo to Copy ASK's SERP Layout?
Friday, May 09, 2008
I used to be a big fan of ASK.com. That is until a few weeks back when they decided that they were no longer going to compete as a true search engine and were going to attempt to focus on their main target demographic of middle aged women.

I liked ASK because they dared to be different. They have the best search engine results page in the business. The experience on an ASK SERP is unlike no other... that is until now. You have probably come across the posts about Yahoo India's "Glue Pages" where the interface looks striking similar to what you see on ASK.com. I performed a search for "Edmonton Oilers" and was returned with a pretty different result than I would expect to see from Yahoo. In the result I was presented with:
  • Traditional Yahoo Search Results in the left column
  • Yahoo News stories on the Edmonton Oilers
  • A Quick-Facts Wikipedia listing for Edmonton Oilers
  • Some related images
  • A section form Yahoo Answers relating to the Edmonton Oilers
The breakdown of Glue Pages from Yahoo is as follows. Glue Pages unite your Classic Search Results with visual information from the best sites anywhere on the Web. For now, Glue Pages include images, videos, articles, and more all on one page! The goal of Glue Pages is to help you spend more time learning and less time searching. There are "Related Pages" which are Glue Pages that Yahoo thinks you might be interested in based on the topic of your search. Based on user intent, Yahoo is trying to provide you with a richer experience.

I think that it is pretty cool. I hope that they launch this with their main Yahoo search product. It will be great to take such as rich Search Results Page to the masses something that ASK failed to do. Try it yourself. I performed a number of different searches in hopes of receiving the "Glue Page" results. I searched for Google, Van Halen, Kiss, Mexican food, Toyota, Las Vegas, Iron Man and pizza just to see how the results varied with these new blended search results from Yahoo. I love the results. While relevancy will always need to be improved, the experience on a results page such as these Glue Pages is so much better than on a Google SERP and especially on a Microsoft/MSN/Windows Live Search SERP.

At the bottom of the page there is a link that you can click on to add your website to the Glue Page, it's as simple as and email that goes to: [email protected]

Hi Glue Team!

I'm interested in having my website published on a Yahoo! India Search Glue Page. Please contact me with more information.

My Name:

My Website:

Thanks!

For online marketers, it illustrates the need to optimize for blended search even more. You can expect Google to continue to increase their blended search efforts, ASK is already doing it and now Yahoo will be adding more blended search results through products such as the Yahoo Glue Pages. Glue is sticky and that is exactly what Yahoo is shooting for. they want you and I to spend more time using their search. Improving the SERP is a great start.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, May 09, 2008   0 comments
2008 NHL Playoffs are Boring, Let's Talk About Mark Messier
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
It's the eve of the semi-finals in the quest for the Stanley Cup. It started with 30 NHL teams and we're now left with four. Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. (Yawn...) Excuse me while I wipe the sleep from my eyes. Yet again a Canadian team will not win the Stanley Cup. Too many expansion teams if you ask me. The business of sport has had a dramatic impact on my passion for hockey.

Remember the good old days when the Edmonton Oilers won 5 Stanley Cups in 7 years? You'll never see that happen again. So as I needed my hockey fix because this year's installment of the playoffs tend to be boring, I was pointed in the direction of the NHL Network online. So what do I see when I get there? A story about the greatest (and my personal favorite) hockey player of all time Mark Messier. Don't believe me? Check out this video clip of Mark Messier, who won 5 Stanley Cups with the Oilers in seven years.

Mark Messier or Sidney Crosby? C'mon seriously? There is no comparison. We now return you to regular scheduled blog browsing.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, May 07, 2008   1 comments
Website Metrics: What is Bounce Rate?
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Image courtesy of www.vikingmagic.comMost of us in the search industry are familiar with the term bounce rate, but there are site owners, webmasters and traditional marketers who may not know what bounce rate (as it pertains to a website) is. Furthermore, many people may not be measuring the bounce rate of their website pages or are not using it as a metric to measure the success of their web properties.

Bounce Rate Defined

Bounce Rate is the percentage of web site visitors who arrive at an entry page on your web site, then leave without visiting any other pages or leave without going any deeper into the site. Bounce rate is measured as a percentage. Ideally you want your site pages to have a lower bounce rate.

So why is bounce rate important? Well bounce rate is a useful metric that allows you to measure the quality of your content and the quality of your web pages. A high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages are not relevant or useful to your visitors. It is an indication that the user was unable to find the information that they were looking for based on their query. From a search engine optimization point of view, bounce rate is a reflection of the stickiness of your site.

Site stickiness is something that the search engines are looking at when determining the relevancy of your site for a given query. As the search engines refine their algorithms, in the future you can expect sites that have greater stickiness to do better in the organic rankings. The search engines are focusing on user intent more and more in order to provide a richer search experience for the user. In fact, this past December, we at Enquiro held a pretty cool webinar and round-table discussion on The Future of Search 2010. During the webinar, members from three of the four major search engines identified user intent as a main focus in 2008. (You can download the whitepaper here for free.)

Bounce rate in a roundabout way is one metric that you can use to measure user intent on your site. If you create a landing page about your product or service and are experiencing a high bounce rate, it's pretty obvious that your content is not addressing the needs of your visitors. Their intent was possible to find some other information. Maybe they were looking for pricing, or a whitepaper download, or maybe they were simply looking for some comparison stats. Whatever the case may be, a high bounce rate can have a severe impact on your site traffic and ultimately on your online leads.

So what is a good bounce rate percentage you ask? Well the fact is that it depends. It depends on the page, it depends on your industry. Ideally, you want to see your bounce rate at less than 50% for starters. If we are talking bounce rate on a specific landing page or important product page than ideally you are looking for an even lower bounce rate. Generally speaking if these pages have a bounce rate in the 35 - 45% range you are doing OK. I have seen pages with bounce rates as low as 18-20% which is excellent.

How Can I Improve Bounce Rate of My Site Pages?

Great question, I'm glad you asked. There are a number of ways that you can improve bounce rate for your site pages. Remember, you want to lower your bounce rate percentage, not increase it.
  1. Understand Your Audience - First, strive to understand your audience and site visitors. Determine what type of information they are looking for and provide it on your site. For some that may mean providing things like pricing comparisons, industry stats, white paper downloads, detailed product descriptions or the like.

  2. Write More Compelling Content/Landing Pages - Once you understand what it is that your audience is looking for, create content around their needs. Give them what they are looking for.

  3. Incorporate well Optimized, Catchy Page Titles/Headings - Completing a keyword analysis and ongoing keyword research to identify the terms, phrases and buzzwords that your audience is using can go a long way in optimizing your content. If your content speaks to your audience, your bounce rate will go down.
  4. Use A/B Testing to Test Landing Pages - Get creative. Test your landing pages with different variations to see what works and what doesn't.

  5. Keep Your Pages Clean - Make your Webpages easy to read; Use whitespace, bullet lists, don't make your pages too busy. Make it easy for the user to find what they are looking for. Keep in mind that if you make it too easy, your bounce rate can actually remain constant as the user finds what they are looking for an exit your site.

  6. Work to Improve Site Stickiness - Give the users something to make them stick around longer. Help them convert on your site. Have them subscribe to your content. Ever heard of RSS feeds? Use them.

  7. Speak to their Needs - Address their "pains" by focusing on benefits rather than features. Communicate how your product/service can address their needs.
Bounce rate is a metric that you should be looking at as a part of your search engine metrics dashboard. It is easy to measure especially for users of Google Analytics. To view bounce rate in Google Analytics, simply go to the Bounce Rate report under Visitors > Visitor Trending > Bounce Rate.

If you haven't paid attention to bounce rate yet, you should. Not knowing that your site visitors are not finding the information that they are looking for when they land on your site can be what what is killing your conversions and why you are not getting the traffic to your site that you should be.


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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, May 06, 2008   7 comments
Yahoo and Microsoft... Now What?
Sunday, May 04, 2008
We've all heard the big news of the weekend, Microsoft (MSFT) has withdrawn their offer to Yahoo (YHOO). TechCrunch has a great summary of the events that have transpired.
Breaking: Microsoft Withdraws Yahoo Bid; Walks Away From Deal: Microsoft withdraws their February 1 offer, won’t go above $33/share and Yahoo wants $37. The post also includes a letter from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang delivered today.

Email From Steve Ballmer To All Microsoft Employees: Leaked email from Steve Ballmer to all Microsoft employees that we got our hands on. He explains the deal news to the troops

Yahoo’s Tough Week Ahead: Yahoo faces a bleak world next week; look for the stock price to tank. Do they have a backup deal with Google?

Yahoo Responds: “The distraction of Microsoft’s unsolicited proposal now behind us”: Yahoo issues a press release suggesting relief that the pesky Microsoft distraction is behind them.

Optionally, skip all the above and just read CNET’s cartoon summary of today’s happenings:
    Bet you didn't see that one coming. Or is this just a negotiation ploy by Microsoft. Regardless its going to be an interesting week in the Search industry.

    UPDATE: Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land had some tremendous insight with his thoughts on the latest developments between Yahoo and Microsoft.

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    posted by Jody @ Sunday, May 04, 2008   0 comments
    Will the Perception of Microsoft Change if they Acquire Yahoo?
    Friday, May 02, 2008
    Reputation is important to each and everyone of us, and for different reasons. So it would stand to reason that reputation is important to the Corporate world as well. Let us assume that this is the case with Microsoft.

    We've all been reading stories about Microsoft (MSFT) and their attempt to acquire Yahoo (YHOO). (Don't even get me started on whether this is a good idea or not...) The fact is, as Search Engine Journal has pointed out, there are three options that Microsoft have when it comes to the Yahoo situation.
    On Thursday during a meeting with staff, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed that the company has three options available to them with regards to Yahoo, and that they would announce in “short order” which path they would decide to take. According to Ballmer, the three options available were to walk away, complete a negotiated deal, or pursue a hostile takeover.
    Do you think that Steve Ballmer cares about what you or I think about Microsoft and whichever road they decide to take? Well he better, because depending on their chosen path, the perception that users have of Microsoft is liable to change. You see our perception, while it can be difficult to change can be easily influenced by corporations who neglect to factor in the feelings and opinions of the user.

    What will happen to the perception of Microsoft if they follow through with one of these options? Let's look more closely at each of the options.

    Microsoft Walks Away from the Deal

    People's perception of Microsoft might be affected by thoughts such as this:
    • Microsoft's incompetence to close the deal
    • Microsoft inability to negotiate or willingness to negotiate
    • Microsoft looking for other options to improve their Search offering
    • Microsoft not wanting to sweeten the pot to get the deal done
    • Yahoo's stubbornness to negotiate with Microsoft
    Microsoft and Yahoo Complete a Negotiated Deal
    • Both sides ability to work together to get a deal done
    • Microsoft's ability to think win win and work out a deal that benefits all parties with a vested interest
    • Apathy as the "here we go again, Microsoft can't beat them so they'll join them" as people see another example of Microsoft flexing their financial muscle to "takeover another company" to benefit themselves and not their users.
    • The deal is done and people wonder why Microsoft didn't put the money and resources in to improving their own Live search product as opposed to acquiring the number 2 player in the Search industry.
    • People think "big deal, Google is still the dominant force in Search"
    Microsoft Pursue a Hostile Takeover

    This option, which is probably the most likely course of action that Microsoft will take, may be the one option that affects people's perception of Microsoft the most. Think about how current Yahoo users, or employees will feel. Think about how current Microsoft employees will feel. There is liable to be some animosity towards each. Other may perceive Microsoft as:
    • Microsoft lacking patience
    • Microsoft trying to muscle in on Yahoo
    • Microsoft trying to kick Yahoo when Yahoo is down
    • Microsoft lacking the innovation to make their own Search product work, what makes them think that Micro-Hoo will work any better?
    Yahoo is the most visited destination on the Web. No matter what analysts say, the current Microsoft offer for Yahoo hugely undervalues Yahoo. No matter what the outcome, you can expect many people's perception of Microsoft to change.... for better or for worse. My personal perception of Microsoft is leaning to worse. The Internet needs a Yahoo, I'm not so sure if the Internet needs a Micro-Hoo.

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    posted by Jody @ Friday, May 02, 2008   1 comments
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