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Official Line About Search Engines Indexing Flash Content
Thursday, July 31, 2008
A few weeks ago we touched on the announcement that the major search engines were beginning to effectively crawl and index content within Flash.

We’ve had a couple chats about engines being theoretically able to index flash, but here’s the official line.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/06/improved-flash-indexing.html

http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/articles/swf_searchability.html

Important points are:

  • Text and HTML in flash are crawled the same as any other text content. Crawl, follow links, click on buttons, and fill out some forms. If the flash file is embedded HTML tags, it’ll read it like HTML (including following links and obeying no-follow)

  • If the flash window executed via JavaScript, the window may not be found by the spider

  • External elements pulled into a flash window aren’t found. i.e. if the flash file loads HTML or XML it’s not going to be found by the spider.

Thanks to Chris Davies at Enquiro for the update.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 31, 2008   0 comments
Top 7 Search Stories July 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Well just like June, July has come and gone. I was away for a third of the month and for the first time in months purposely avoided the Internet for some downtime. So reviewing the news stories for the month of July seemed like quite a chore as there were some interesting stories and announcements that came out this month.

Here is a look at some of the top search stories that took place in July.

#7. Sphinn Celebrates First Birthday - for many people in the search industry, Sphinn is the place to go to find out the latest about search and search related issues. Sphinn has become a daily read for Webmaster, site owners and online marketers.


#6. Microsoft toys around with BrowseRank Idea - in a possible attempt to compete with Google's PageRank system, Microsoft has been experimenting with "BrowseRank", whereby they assign Web page priority based on how people actually use the site. According to Microsoft researchers,
The more visits of the page made by the users and the longer time periods spent by the users on the page, the more likely the page is important. We can leverage hundreds of millions of users' implicit voting on page importance...

#5. Yahoo Improves News Results in Web Search - in an effort to improve web search results through blended search, Yahoo announced that they have made some significant enhancements for queries related to breaking news. What this means is that based on the newsworthiness of each query, Yahoo is now displaying the News Direct Display (DD) in the most relevant position(s) on their SERP.

#4. Google performs a Toolbar PageRank Update - as expected every three to four months, Google performed a recent update to their toolbar PageRank. While not a big deal as it once was, you will want to check your web properties to see if your sites have been effected.


#3. Major Search Engines to Index Flash Content - in an announcement that originally started to surface in late June, both Google and Yahoo have been developing an algorithm that for indexing text found within Flash files. Google is taking the lead in this area, but expect Yahoo to begin indexing Flash in the upcoming weeks.


#2. Yahoo Launches BOSS - BOSS or Build Your Own Search Service) is something that we think has the potential to really take off. In early July, Yahoo announced the launch of BOSS, a web services platform that allows developers and companies to create and launch web-scale search products by utilizing the same infrastructure and technology that powers Yahoo! Search. The goal is to generate innovation in the search landscape. This is definitely a good start.


#1. "Cuil" New Search Engine Launched by ex-Googlers - looking to steal market share from Google, late July saw the launch of the new search engine Cuil (pronounced "cool"). Boasting the fact that their index consists of over 121 billion pages, according to Cuil,
Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.
This is an interesting endeavor, but as Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land points out, others have tried and all have failed in terms of making a dent in Google's market share in the Search arena. I haven't experimented that much with Cuil as of yet, but expect to have a full report on the new engine within a couple of weeks. Oh and for the record Cuil is an Irish word meaning "knowledge". This just may be the one search engine to watch out for. It will be a tough battle, but at least there is some new competition on the field.

Definitely an interesting month of July in the world of search. Next month, we'll be reporting from SES San Jose.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, July 29, 2008   0 comments
Latest Google PageRank Update
Sunday, July 27, 2008
It's time for another Google PageRank update. As Google engineer Matt Cutts hinted at a few days ago. In a brief statement, Matt did mention something interesting:
I’m expecting that also in the next few days that we’ll be expiring some older penalties on websites.
Hmm I wonder what exactly he's referring to? A Google toolbar PageRank update is nothing to be alarmed about. Usually the updates have very little (if any) impact on Search Engine Rankings. Toolbar PageRank is different than algorithmic PR.

Some of the comments on Matt's blog post were interesting... take this one for example:

Hi Matt.

We have a 10 year old medical web portal that had a PR6 home page for at least the last 4 years. We just noticed that our website’s home page’s Page Rank went down from PR6 to PR5 (alas) - Although some inside pages went from PR0 to PR3 and some went to PR5 . We also have almost 170,000 pages indexed in google and get approx 10,000 Search referrals from Google.com each day. So we are a little disturbed that our home page went from PR6 to PR5. Our questions are :
(1) Could we see a further change in the PR for the home page - till the Page Rank update cycle is completed ? Hopefully we get our PR6 back for the home page.
(2) We also found out that our webserver was down for approx 10 hours on July 25th - due to an outage at our ISP. Could this in any way also affect Page Rank ?
(3) We have 2 domains .com and .net that are exact mirrors of each other - the .com domain is PR4 while the .net domain was PR6 (now PR5). How does this affect page rank - and should we redirect the .COM to the .net domain ?

Thanks for any insights and tips you can give us. !

Kumar

More comments can be found here. Additional insight can be found here.

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posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ Sunday, July 27, 2008   1 comments
Back from Vacation... More to Come
Friday, July 25, 2008
Well I just returned from vacation in the Canadian Rockies, where I spent some time in Lake Louise, Grande Cache and Jasper. Enjoyed some great hikes and some amazing ridge walking atop a number of the greatest mountains in the world.

I'll be back to posting this weekend.

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posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ Friday, July 25, 2008   0 comments
NHL Releases Schedule for 2008/09 Season, Western Teams Again Get the Shaft
Friday, July 18, 2008
So the National Hockey League announced their schedule for the upcoming 2008/09 season and yet again the western teams get the short end of the stick. The only good thing is that all six Canadian NHL teams will play each other home and away next season for the first time since before the lockout.

As always the western teams specifically Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver get the short end of the stick. There was a great message posted on Sportsnet about this:

I remember when it used to be a rarity for a team to play back to back games with the games in different cities. Having to play one night, travel the same
night, then play the next night in a different city? It just didn't happen. Now, though? The Oilers play 16 back to back games this year and EACH AND EVERY ONE has them playing in two different cities. Not one of their back to backs are both at home. I'd be much more upset if the schedule makers aren't apparently screwing everyone else... Out of the 3 teams I checked, Edmonton is 16 for 16, Calgary 13 for 13, and Vancouver 10 for 11 for having to play in different cities for their back to back games. What is up with that? This schedule is BRUTAL. I honestly hope there was a typo and someone mixed up the visitor and
home columns as that's the only way this schedule makes any sense at all.
So true though, I have been saying this for years, the Western teams have terrible schedules. It's almost a conspiracy.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, July 18, 2008   0 comments
All About Google Rankings.... from Google
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Over at the Official Google Blog, which topped our list of the Top 50 Google Blogs last year, Amit Singhal has provided some insight into Google Rankings of their search results. His series began with an Introduction to Google Ranking where he discussed:
  • that Google ranking is a series of algorithms used to find (and return) the most relevant document based on a user query
  • Google ranking algorithms are applied not only to web search but to images, News, Maps, Product Search, Video (YouTube) Search, Book Search and so on.
  • Google has three philosophies behind their ranking system: provide the most locally relevant results across the Globe, keep it simple, and allow no manual intervention.
The second post from Amit discussed the Technologies behind Google ranking where items mentioned included:
  • the core technology for Google's ranking system comes from the academic field of Information Retrieval (IR). Google has since built a system that involves linking inventories and page structure.
  • Google has invested heavily in their crawl and index system as a means of understanding pages which includes developing distinctions between important and less important words on a page and the freshness of the information on the page.
  • Google works hard to understand the user's query based on a concept analysis system, an advanced synonyms system and a top spelling suggestion system.
  • User Intent, this Amit discusses innovations such as Google's Universal Search and Personalization as two methods that Google leverage to improve the rank and relevancy of results for the user.
Amit's closing thoughts were that Google pride themselves in running a very good ranking system, and are working incredibly hard every day to make it even better. Sounds good to us, relevancy is a tough one. Understanding user intent is difficult at the best of times, so any effort that Google or any of the other Search Engines make to provide more relevant results is a welcomed innovation.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 17, 2008   1 comments
Speakers Announced for SES San Jose
Search Engine Strategies San Jose is just around the corner. This year the Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo will take place from August 18th through to August 22nd at the San Jose Convention Center. SES San Jose recently released their roster of speakers for the event and there are some noticeable names on the list.

Scheduled to appear at SES San Jose:
  • Matt Cutts - Famed Software Engineer at Google
  • Robert Scoble - Managing Director with FastCompany TV
  • Lee Siegel - Author of "Against the Machine"
  • Marshall D. Simmonds - Chief Search Stategies ay NY Times/About.com
  • Chip Heath - Author of "Made to Stick"
  • Danny Sullivan - Editor-in-Chief at Search Engine Land
  • Randy Peterson - Search Marketing Innovation Manager at Proctor & Gamble
  • Erik Collier - VP of Product Management at ASK.com
  • Derrick Wheeler - Seniot SEO Architect at Microsoft
  • Terry A. Cox - SEM Manager at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online
  • Avinash Kaushik - Author, Blogger and Analytics Evangelist
  • Dana Todd - CMO Newsforce
There are many more big names slated to appear at the conference. For more information on the schedule of events visit the Conference at a Glance. If you see me there, be sure to stop and say "hello". It should be a great event.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 17, 2008   0 comments
Website Redesigns: A Hot Topic in the Business to Business (B2B) Space
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Last week I wrote a piece on planning a site redesign in the Web 2.0 World. The good folks at BtoB Magazine were good enough to include the post in the B2B posts of the week on BtoBonline.com. It just goes to show that website redesigns or the ideas of conducting one are a hot topic especially in the B2B arena. At Enquiro, we work with B2B clients everyday and lately almost everyone of them has either just completed a website redesign or are contemplating a site redesign in the next six to twelve months.

The great thing about SEO as it applies to website redesigns, are that the same rules apply. You still have to carefully plan out the redesign and you still have to identify the goals for your website or web properties that you would like to redesign. Remember not every site needs a redesign. Unless your site architecture is limited and the content that you have stale, you may not even require a redesign at this time. It depends on the limitations of your current site. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is our site scalable? Can you expand the site if needed?
  2. Is your site Web 2.0 compatible?
  3. Does the content on your site address the needs of your audience?
  4. Is your site search engine friendly? Can the search engine spiders effectively crawl and index your site?
  5. If I was our customer, how would I engage with our site? Would I purchase from our company?

Let’s take a closer look at each of the points.

Is Your Site Scalable?

We know that for optimal search engine rankings you need to have unique and informative content on your site. Does your current site allow you the opportunity to easily add content to your site? If you are using a CMS, whether it be an Enterprise version or even your own proprietary content management system, can it be used to efficiently add unique content to your site? Can you add things like blogs or forums to your site to provide a richer experience for your user?

Is Your Site Ready for Web 2.0?

We’ve already discussed this previously, but you need to ask yourself if your website is ready for Web 2.0? Are you able to syndicate your content, are you optimized for blended search results (video, images, News, blogs, Flash, etc.). Again what does your audience expect to see when they arrive at your site? Are they looking for Mashups or widgets? Or are they simply looking for informative content regardless of the type of media? Regardless your site should at least be ready for Web 2.0 to address future needs. Now having said that, do not redesign your website simply for Web 2.0. Again, carefully weigh the pros and cons of your existing site and methodically determine if you should partake in a site redesign.

Does Your Content Resonate with Your Audience?

You’ve heard it once, you’re going to hear it again… Content is King. In order to be successful online, you need to have informative content on you site that address the needs of your audience. Especially in the B2B sector as we know that sales cycles can be long with the purchase decision happening weeks or potentially months after the initial engagement with your website. You need to provide the content that visitors are looking for whether it be comparison matricies or white papers, or product demos. While this may not warrant an entire website redesign, it may be easier for your to create this content and share this content through the launch of an updated site.

Don’t Forget SEO - Is Your Site Search Engine Friendly?

The one thing that is consistently neglected in most site redesigns is SEO. Yet I personally do not understand why. In simplest form SEO helps make your site more search engine friendly. Having a more search engine friendly site means better rankings and improved visibility in the competitive landscape that is the search results. Improved visibility equates to more traffic and ideally more qualified traffic. More traffic generates more leads and more leads turn into more sales which improves your bottom line. Get it? It’s a simple process with an often complex means of getting there. The fact is, you need to make your site search engine friendly, that means proper URL structure, on-page optimization, effective external link inventory and clear navigation. (Of course there are a number of other items, but you get the point.)

If You Were Your Customer, How Would You Interact with Your Site?

As it is right now, and you were your own customer or prospect, how engaging is your site? Are you providing them with the information that they need to make an informed purchase decision? If they are ready to convert, have you identified clear conversions and clear conversion paths? Do you have effective landing pages? There are a number of engagement triggers that your site should feature in order to engage your visitor. Chances are that if your site does not feature any of these "triggers" then this could be another vote for a site redesign.

Preparing for a website redesign takes time, but it is time well spent. Especially in the business to business arena where qualified lead generation is so important. Whereas brochures and booklets used to communicate your organizations solutions and benefits, your website now acts as your main marketing tool. Do not neglect it.

Original Post: ASK Enquiro

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, July 15, 2008   0 comments
The Latest Reports on Yahoo and Microsoft
Monday, July 14, 2008
Yet another week goes by and the Yahoo / Microsoft saga continues. Personally, I think that much of the media and business analysts just do not understand Jerry Yang. He is the co-founder of Yahoo! When Yahoo! was first started, Yahoo! itself resided on Yang's student workstation. Then from the first initial investment of $ 2 million, Mr. Yang and David Filo began to develop Yahoo! as we know it today, one of the most visited destinations on the World Wide Web. .

In 1996, Yahoo launched a successful IPO with less than 50 employees in tow. With offices throughout the world, Yahoo's global Web network includes 25 different properties. Over the years Yahoo's innovation continues to improve the Web and how users interact online. In fact last week's announcement of Yahoos' Build Your Own Search Service, illustrates just how innovative the company continues to be. Yahoo is still a major player and highly desired Web property. So why would Jerry Yang simply cut a deal with Microsoft? For the money? Uh no... for innovation? nope.... Jerry Yang is passionate about the company he co-founder. He has every right to run it as he sees fit. Sure he has to answer to shareholders, that is one of the responsibilities when your company goes public. The fact is that any the offers from Microsoft undervalue Yahoo as a company. Plain and simple... the deal is not worth it.

Here is what is currently being said on the Internet airwaves regarding the latest reports on the Yahoo / Microsoft saga.

Another Microsoft Offer, Another Yahoo Rejection - Search Engine Watch
Yahoo! Rejects Microsoft/Icahn Search and Restructuring Proposal - Yahoo Press Room
Yahoo Rejects Joint Microsoft/Icahn Deal But Open To $33 Per Share All-Microsoft Sale - Search Engine Land
New Microsoft Offer, Quickly Rejected - Tech Crunch

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posted by Jody @ Monday, July 14, 2008   1 comments
Sphinn Celebrates First Birthday
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Can you believe that Sphinn is already a year old? I was just thinking yesterday that Danny Sullivan and the team over at Search Engine Land have done a tremendous job over at Search Engine Land and with Sphinn.

Happy birthday Sphinn!

http://www.smallbusinesssem.com/happy-1st-birthday-sphinn/1216/

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 10, 2008   0 comments
Yahoo's Build Your Own Search Service - BOSS
Here is something that has some potential to take off. In an attempt to "deliver open, industry-leading platforms that attract the most publishers and developers", Yahoo announced the launch of BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) yesterday. This is a follow up to Yahoo's late April announcement regarding the Yahoo! Open Strategy. The Yahoo Open Strategy was established to deliver open, industry-leading platforms that attract the most publishers and developers. According to Yahoo, they have "phenomenal technology platforms and data infrastructure" that they want to share with developers.

Yahoo BOSS is a web services platform that allows developers and companies to create and launch web-scale search products by utilizing the same infrastructure and technology that powers Yahoo! Search. The goal is to generate innovation in the search landscape. Personally I think that Yahoo does fairly well in terms of innovation. We all know how innovative Google is when it comes to Search. Microsoft... uh not so much, but Yahoo is in the middle and Yahoo BOSS is another step in driving innovation in Search.

Effective search is about relevancy and providing relevant results to the searcher. While the average search marketer and Webmaster continues to try and figure out the Google and Yahoo search algorithms, it becomes difficult for a new player in Search to emerge. The size and power of the Search giants simply make it difficult for a new search engine to emerge and obtain market share. However if we believe what Yahoo says about their Open Strategy, BOSS may just change all of this.

According to the official release, BOSS will allow developers to take advantage of Yahoo!'s production search infrastructure and technology, combine that with their own unique assets, and create their own search experiences. In essence, BOSS is an open platform that offers programmatic access to the Yahoo! Search index via an API. Removing many of the usage restrictions for developers, BOSS will:
  • Provide the ability to re-rank and blend results -BOSS partners can re-rank search results as they see fit and blend Yahoo!'s results with proprietary and other web content in a single search experience... yes you heard it right, re-rank results...
  • Offer total flexibility on presentation -- Freedom to present search results using any user interface paradigm, without Yahoo! branding or attribution requirements
  • BOSS Mashup Framework -- Yahoo is releasing a Python library and UI templates that allow developers to easily mashup BOSS search results with other public data sources
  • Blended Search - Through Web, news and image search, developers will have access to web, news and image search and we'll be adding more verticals soon
  • Unlimited queries -- There are no rate limits on the number of queries per day

BOSS will enable a range of fundamentally different search experiences for the user. There is huge potential with regards to relevancy. If this takes off (and why wouldn't it?) this could have huge implications for Search as we know it. Could this be a last ditch effort by Yahoo to gain market share on Google as an independent? I don't think so, this is bigger than that. BOSS really has the potential to change Search as we know it. To learn more about BOSS and get started using the API, visit the Yahoo! Developer Network.

For more information on Yahoo Build Your Own Search Service, visit:

http://developer.yahoo.com/search/boss/
Yahoo! BOSS An Insider View

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 10, 2008   0 comments
Kid Rocked Kelowna
I went to the Kid Rock show here in Kelowna yesterday evening. I'm not really a big fan or anything, we just wanted to check out his Rock n Roll Revival tour. Man on man I must say, I was highly entertained by Kid Rock. The show was fantastic!

He played for two solid hours combining the genres of blues, country, rap and rock. The man is a pimp and he knows it. He has the energy of a 7 year old kid who has just consumed five packs of Smarties. He started the show with all of the fanfare that you would expect. Entering the stage in a white suit with a hat and dark shades on.... the crows erupted as he broke into song, jumping around like a kid on a trampoline.

His band, the Twisted Brown Trucker Band was cool and featured backup singers, two guitarists, a bass player, a sax player and a couple of very talented female drummers. Kid Rock knows how to bring the house down. He played his classics and a couple of new tunes. In between songs he acknowledged the crowd and the city of Kelowna, Canada. The huge disco ball with strobe lights left the audience stunned and at times blinded.... but man it was all for rock n roll. Dare I say that I have become a fan of Kid Rock?

Oh I new about Kid as far back as 1999 when his song "Bawitaba" hit the airwaves. That's may favourite Kid Rick tune and I was happy when Kid Rock played it as his final song yesterday night. I had seen Kid Rock perform on TV a number of times and thought that he was a little cocky, but was he any good? I mean he did marry Pam Anderson and has been know to be in the odd scuffle or two.... was he as badass as he said he was? After seeing him perform live, I would have say yes he is. The man has got skills. His raspy voice can turn soulful when he plays songs like "Amen" or "Picture".

He played a lot of great songs (I didn't realize that he had that many...). Some of the memorable ones included:
  • Rock n Roll Jesus
  • Devil Without a Cause
  • Only God Knows Why
  • American Bad Ass
  • Lowlife (Living The Highlife)
  • All Summer Long
  • Roll on
  • So Hott
  • Bawitdaba
All of the new songs that Kid Rock played were pretty cool. I liked the extended version of "Amen" where Kid stopped the tune and told everyone to "slap five" with somebody next to you that you don't know. I believed that Kid Rick sincerely wanted everyone to get along and to enjoy the rock and roll show. I also like "Roll On" a catchy tune that made you Rock n roll is about energy and there was a lot of energy in Prospera Place yesterday evening.

I wondered how some of the older folks in front of me were reacting to all of the F-Bombs that were being delivered by Kid Rock? The band, the man and the tunes were entertaining. Listening to a local rock radio station on the drive to work. it seemed that a number of other people that attended the show were entertained as well with many saying that was the best show that they have ever seen. No one ever missed the fact that Reverend Run (formerly of Run-Dmc) was absent from appearing.

When all was said and done it was a great show. There was a lot of energy and fun. There were also some touching moments such as when Kid Rock paid tribute to his old friend Joe C. It was a cool show.

For those of you who think Kid Rock is just a redneck rapper, you might want to think again. The man is entertaining. According to the LA Times, he does well with album sales too.

Thanks for the performance.

His name is Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid..... it's Kid baby, Kid Rock....

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 10, 2008   1 comments
Have Your Key Performance Indicators Changed?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
As the online world matures and you continue to measure your online success, have you looked at your key performance indicators to see if there are any changes in how you measure your online success?

We are assuming that you understand that KPIs are:
  • a metric that an organization measures to help determine its progress towards a goal;
  • a reflection of the tactical performance of an organization;
  • and, is used to substantiate an organization’s objectives.
We know that in the world of search engine marketing, there are numerous metrics that can be measured. The trick is to determine which ones are the correct ones for your online campaign. So which ones are you tracking? There are a number of metrics that can act as key performance indicators to help you measure your online success:
  1. Percent Returning Visitors: percentage of retained visitors returning to your site
  2. Cancellations: the likelihood your subscriber cancels their subscription through an unsubscribe form
  3. Average subscription length - how long are users subscribing to your news letters or subscription based content?
  4. Active subscriber base (based on different time weekly, monthly, etc depending on model)
  5. Visits per month (or quarter or week).
  6. RSS Syndication - how many people are subscribing to your feeds?
  7. Blog Stats: (ie. Technorati, Digg etc)
  8. Conversion Rate: the likelihood of successfully driving a visitor to purchase. You will need to track online purchase vs. offline as a result of visiting the site. The percentage of visitors that download white papers, sign up for mailings, subscribe to a newsletter, etc.
  9. Cost Per Visitor: the cost of each site visitor to your business.
  10. Average Order Value/Size: changes in the overall audience makeup and the affect on the online revenue patterns
  11. Percent New Visitors: the number of potential new customers landing on your site each month. Are these visitors qualified? What stage of the buying funnel are they in?
  12. Ratio of New to Returning Visitors: the ratio of new to previously acquired visitors as well as a measure of customer loyalty and repeat online business.
  13. Page "Stickiness": the likelihood of successfully retaining a visitor who arrives at a key landing page
  14. Customer Life Time Value: the likelihood that satisfied customers will tell their friends resulting in an increase in online/offline sales. This is more intangible and may be difficult to track.
  15. Add/View Items in Cart: as well as cart abandonment
  16. Effect on Offline Sales - how many offline sales were a result of an online engagement?
  17. Unique toll-free numbers called
  18. Store locator views - how many times did users visit your online store?
  19. Order printout
  20. Conversion Path Analysis: How are users converting on the site?
  21. New Account Signups: how much time and money are these new account signups spending on your site?
  22. Contact Us Form Completions: for products or services that are purchased offline and have an extended sales timeline, Contact Us Forms should be treated as a conversion
  23. “Get a Quote” Requests: this can also be a conversion
  24. 1-800 Tracking: the number of calls to the (preferably unique) toll-free number listed on your site
  25. Ratio of Leads to Close: the likelihood a lead will complete the transaction – this is an offline ratio
  26. Length of Visit: the amount of time a visitor spends on your site in a given visit
  27. Percent of Visits by Entry Page: measures the efficacy of your marketing messages at driving visitors to the site
  28. Conversion by Campaigns
  29. Ad Clicks: measures how successful your PPC campaign is; however, try to remember that CTR is not as important as Conversions/Click – I would rather have a 2%CTR and a 100% conversion rate because this indicates that my online marketing message is bang on; meaning I am driving both my sponsored and organic traffic to conversions
  30. Site Abandonment
  31. Information Conversion Rates: In this case a "conversion" would be something like the likelihood that a user will successfully locate the information needed
  32. Percent of Visits under 90 Seconds: you want to make the site efficient, but not difficult to use. Measure the percent of your audience that is unlikely to have found the information they sought
  33. Percent Returning Visitors: percentage of retained visitors returning to your site
  34. Top Internal Search Phrases: not a KPI in the "traditional" sense, but very important to identifying new trends in support needs. Tracking which phrases users type into your internal search will help indicate what type of information they are seeking.
  35. Videos/Podcasts Accessed: including technical support videos or podcasts
  36. Bounce Rate: Exits from the first page that the user arrives at when they land on your site. A lower bounce rate is better.
  37. Customer Satisfaction/Engagement Metrics: determine if the site is successfully handling problems and engaging the user in a successful site experience.
  38. Ad Clicks
  39. Exit Surveys - how many times has your "Thank You" page been served up?
  40. Forum Logins - how many times have users logged into their accounts?
Online success is not simply being #1 in Google or Yahoo for a key phrase. Online success involves engaging your audience and ensuring that they have a successful experience with your Web Properties so that ultimately they purchase your product or service. Identifying the proper key performance indicators can help ensure that you are accurately measuring what is important to your organization's bottom line.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, July 08, 2008   0 comments
Yahoo Soon to Index Flash Files
Friday, July 04, 2008
The other day there was a substantial announcement that Google in conjunction with Adobe would be able to crawl and index Flash content. The engines have been working on this for quite some time now so we can expect the other major engines to follow shortly.

Over at the official Yahoo blog, there has been some discussion in the comments of recent posts about Yahoo being able to crawl and index Flash. In the Adobe press release it said Yahoo (YHOO) is working on it for release at a future date. David Wadhwani, GM and VP of the Platform Business Unit at Adobe stated: “We are initially working with Google and Yahoo! to significantly improve search of this rich content on the Web, and we intend to broaden the availability of this capability to benefit all content publishers, developers and end users.” The press release goes on to state that

Yahoo! also expects to deliver improved Web search capabilities for SWF applications in a future update to Yahoo! Search. “Yahoo! is committed to supporting webmaster needs with plans to support searchable SWF and is working with Adobe to determine the best possible implementation,” said Sean Suchter, vice president Yahoo! Search Technology Engineering.
As long as the most relevant results are presented on the search engine results pages, the indexing of Flash content should be a positive thing for many Webmasters and site owners. Yahoo being able to index Flash should affect the search results, but I suspect that Flash pages will not dominate the results unless they happen to be the most relevant page for the desired search query. We will have to await for a formal announcement from Yahoo which we can expect in upcoming weeks or possibly days.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, July 04, 2008   1 comments
URL Structure Best Practices
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Ann over at Search Engine Journal had a great post on some SEO best practices for URL structure. She illustrates some key points that are worth mentioning. I've added a few of my own tips as well.
  1. Length of URL - should be no more than 3 - 5 words. There are a number of reasons for this, as studies have shown that short URLs tend to get more clicks.

  2. Use dashes as word separators - There has been conflicting information on this... should we use dashes or underscores? Well from my experience, dashes are the way to go. By using dashes, you can help the search engines see each hyphenated word as a single word. Not to mention using dashes gives your URLs a cleaner look. In addition when interlinking pages from within page copy, underscores tend to blend in with the underlined feature of the hyperlink, so using dashes or hyphens can be much more user friendly.

  3. Create Static URLS - there are more easily crawled by the search engines.

  4. Ideally you want to have one URL for each unique page that you have on your site - if you append your URLs and display the same content on these pages you run the risk of duplicate content issues. Avoid having multiple variations of the same page with different URLs.

  5. Use 301 Redirects when Changing URLs - don;t make users and the search engine crawlers work to find your content. If you are changing a URL make sure that you use a permanent 301 redirect to direct the user to your new URL.
URL structure is a critical component to the success of your site. If the spiders cannot crawl and follow your URLs, chances are you will not be doing as well as you should be in the online space. Clean URL structure can go a long way for online success.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 03, 2008   1 comments
Tomorrow is the Annual Enquiro Stampede Breakfast
Just a reminder for those of you in the Kelowna area, that tomorrow is the annual Enquiro Stampede Pancake Breakfast. Enquiro will be conducting our 7th Annual Stampede Pancake Breakfast. As always, everyone is welcome to attend the breakfast; it will take place from 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Dickson Avenue and Dayton Street in Kelowna, located directly across from the Landmark III Technology building.

I'll be there as will most of the other Enquiro folks including Gord "Silver-Spurred" Hotchkiss and Bill "Chuck-Wagon" Barnes.

All proceeds will be going to the Kelowna's Women's Shelter. The Kelowna Women’s Shelter provides a safe haven where women and children receive emergency accommodation, childcare, support groups and counselling, both in the shelter facility and community.

We hope to see you there!

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 03, 2008   0 comments
Google Crawling Flash: Optimizing Flash for SEO 2.0
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
The other day, Google announced that they have been developing a new algorithm for indexing text found within Flash files. While they have been able to do this for some time, it appears that there has been a major break-through and that Google will now be able to index content from Flash menus, buttons, banners and entire Flash site something that previously gave their crawlers trouble in indexing this content.

According to Google;
Now that we've launched our Flash indexing algorithm, web designers can expect improved visibility of their published Flash content, and you can expect to see better search results and snippets.
So does this mean that you should go out and place your content within Flash and create these Flash sites? Well in one word no. I would expect that the search engine crawlers still have an easier time and as a result have a preference for crawling simple html content. Of course you need to think about your users. Are you sure that they want to experience a site entirely in Flash? Flash can be a cool feature but, it's really just a cover to the book that is your content. Having said that, the fact that Google can index content within Flash is a fairly major break-through that will benefit many Webmasters (providing that Google continues to rank the most relevant content regardless if it is within Flash or not.)

So what does this improved Flash indexing by Google mean? Well here are a few Questions that Google has answered about how they now crawl Flash files.

Q: Which Flash files can Google better index now?
We've improved our ability to index textual content in SWF files of all kinds. This includes Flash "gadgets" such as buttons or menus, self-contained Flash websites, and everything in between.

Q: What content can Google better index from these Flash files?
All of the text that users can see as they interact with your Flash file. If your website contains Flash, the textual content in your Flash files can be used when Google generates a snippet for your website. Also, the words that appear in your Flash files can be used to match query terms in Google searches.

Q: What about non-textual content, such as images?
At present, we are only discovering and indexing textual content in Flash files. If your Flash files only include images, we will not recognize or index any text that may appear in those images. Similarly, we do not generate any anchor text for Flash buttons which target some URL, but which have no associated text.

Also note that we do not index FLV files, such as the videos that play on YouTube, because these files contain no text elements.

Q: What are the current technical limitations of Google's ability to index Flash?

There are three main limitations at present, and we are already working on resolving them:

1. Googlebot does not execute some types of JavaScript. So if your web page loads a Flash file via JavaScript, Google may not be aware of that Flash file, in which case it will not be indexed.

2. We currently do not attach content from external resources that are loaded by your Flash files. If your Flash file loads an HTML file, an XML file, another SWF file, etc., Google will separately index that resource, but it will not yet be considered to be part of the content in your Flash file.

3. While we are able to index Flash in almost all of the languages found on the web, currently there are difficulties with Flash content written in bidirectional languages. Until this is fixed, we will be unable to index Hebrew language or Arabic language content from Flash files.

For more on Google's improved Flash indexing click here. Look for Yahoo to be able to crawl and index Flash more efficiently as well as Adobe has stated that they have created an optimized Flash player for search engines and are currently collaborating with both Google and Yahoo!.

Optimizing Flash for SEO 2.0

SEO 2.0 is going to mean optimizing the content found within your Flash files. If the copy within the Flash is the most relevant, you can expect to see these pages jumping up in the organic results of Google. Vanessa Fox over at Search Engine Land had a great recap:

Google Now Crawling and Indexing Flash Content

Optimizing flash means just that, you optimize Flash for the user. If the content is relevant, it should rise to the surface. Optimize Flash does not mean spamming Flash. I'd equate this to keyword stuffing alt tags that so many Webmasters continue to do. I would hate to see keyword stuffed Flash files.

Key Points to Remember
  • Remember that Google won't crawl or index any Flash executed via JavaScript.
  • All non-textual content will remain "un-crawled" and not get indexed by the search engines
  • Any external sources that the Flash file loads will be indexed separately
  • Flash does not necessarily make your site more crawlable. Google Webmaster Central Blog has some great tips on making your site more accessible. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/04/webmaster-tips-for-creating-accessible.html
It's great to see Google branch out and evolve with the demands of web site owners, designers and Webmasters.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, July 02, 2008   0 comments
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