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5 Stages of the Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model
Friday, October 30, 2009
Over recent weeks we have been discussing the fact that we have been working on a new organic search marketing maturity model. Search marketing has grown up, been transformed and developed over the the past decade.  While it is still in its infancy, search marketing in a relatively short time has become a "real" practice for many organizations.  Yet there are still a number of companies that are just now getting involved with Search and organic search marketing.  Quite often, sponsored or PPC receives all of the attention of marketing budgets, but with increasing advertising costs and tougher competition in the online real estate that is the search engine results pages, organic search is gaining more attention and more of the focus with organizations looking to build their brands and attempt to intercept their target demographic.  The question becomes where does your organization fit into the Search Marketing Maturity Model?

Enter the need for an organic search marketing maturity model.  As a subset to the Search Marketing Maturity Model, we felt that there was a need to create an Organic search maturity model to help organizations map out where they are in the grand scheme of their search marketing efforts.  One thing that we wanted to be clear on is:
“With the organic search marketing maturity model that we have developed, we wanted it to be more than just an SEO maturity model.  It consists of more than just optimization in an attempt to gain rankings in the search engines.  Our organic search marketing maturity model encompasses strategy, tactics, performance and measurement.”

With inspiration from Scott Brinker at ion Interactive, who created one of the earliest Search Marketing Maturity Models, we have established our own Search Marketing Maturity Model specific to Organic Search.  Before proceeding, we wanted to share our definition of a maturity model.

Definition of a Maturity Model: a series of steps or an accumulation of elements that help define growth patterns or maturity in an organization measured from beginning to full maturity.

Prior to releasing our Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model, we wanted to review the five stages of the maturity model.

Five Stages of the Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model


1.    Intermittent

Organizations have:
  • Limited knowledge of SEO and organic search marketing
  • No strategies as SEO is not a priority with little or no direction 
  • No processes in place for organic search marketing practices and keyword research
  • Random, reactive “optimizing” of online resources
  • No attention paid to management, budget or regular optimization efforts.
2.    Engaged

Organizations are:
  • Aware of the value of organic search marketing but don’t have complete buy-in from management and other departments 
  • Using basic tactics (some fundamental on-page optimization, titles, meta data etc.)
  • Switching from a reactive manner to a more proactive state in optimization efforts
  • Educating management (usually a single champion – IT manager or online marketing manager with limited resources) and has limited resources to do so. 
  • Engaging with a third party SEO to help establish a strategy and address SEO needs 
  • Allocating a small undefined budget
3.    Structured

Organizations have:
  • A dedicated team involved in organic search and SEO efforts with weekly input from management 
  • Creation and implementation of best practices beginning
  • Buy in from management to grow an online presence
  • Budget allocated for  Organic Search Marketing/SEO
4.    Managed

Organizations have:
  • Organic Search and SEO as the nucleus of online marketing efforts  
  • Focused on SEO for years
  • Metrics to prove success of using SEO 
  • Substantial and dedicated budgets set aside for SEO/Organic Search 
  • A dedicated Organic Search Team and/or Search Agency with clear defined goals and objectives 
  • Understanding throughout the organization of the fundamentals of SEO and how it impacts their team directly
  • Regular content development and linking strategies leveraged for targeted markets
  • Organic Search practices are set and are regularly enforced
5.    Optimized

Organizations have:
  • Complete company buy-in of organic search
  • Full integration of organic search into marketing strategies with online and offline efforts working together 
  • Significant budget with dedicated teams working together internally and externally
  • Full digital asset management as blended search strategies are enhanced and fully leveraged 
  • Effective utilization of social media channels
  • Proactivity, flexiblity and quick implementation to maintain their competitive advantage
In addition, common practices at each of the five stages can be seen in the following table.


In our next post we will be unveiling version 1 of the Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model.

Special Thanks:

Thanks to Scott Brinker for sharing his version of the Search Marketing Maturity Model.
Thanks to Laura Hanon from Enquiro for her assistance with this post .

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posted by Jody @ Friday, October 30, 2009  
Canadians Searching Habits: Oh Canada: How Do Thee Search?
Monday, October 26, 2009
Well it finally arrived the other day. I was waiting for my copy of the latest Hitwise Canada Search report. It is always nice to see how others in my native land are using Search. Many around the world praise Canada for how wired we are, yet how do Canadian searchers leverage Search as say to searchers in the US. UK, or other parts of the world?
According to reports, Canadian searchers are more prolific users of Search Engines than their US and UK counterparts. The Hitwise report looks at this comparison and how Canadians searchers differ from those in the United States or Great Britain.

Some of the interesting findings from the study include:
  • Search Engines account for 15% of all Canadian Internet visits (based on June 2009 data)

  • Search Engines tend to be the largest referrer of traffic at over 33% of all upstream visits

  • The most popular search engine in Canada is Google.  No surprise there, but did you know that Canadian searchers use 8 different Google International search engine properties for their queries?  (They use 15 from Yahoo).

  • Google.ca dominates, accounting for 65% of Canadian searches, followed by 18% on
    Google.com.

  • Canadians don't do long-tail?  According to the study the majority of Canadian searchers use shorter keyword queries with one or two words.  Quite often one of the words includes a brand.  This is quite a bit different than in other areas of the world where we have seen data suggesting that people are using as much as eight words in their queries with an increase in long-tail type searches.  Are Canadians simply finding the information that they are looking for based on these shorter search queries?

  • 51% of Canadian search terms contained one or two words compared to 43% of searches by
    US Internet users in the twelve weeks to June 27, 2009.

  • Further analysis from the report suggests that Canadian are not finding what they are looking for... at least not on their first search.  On average 30% of Canadian searchers resulted in the searcher not clicking on a listing and leaving the search page (based on data 3 months leading up to the end of June).

  • Canadians depend more on Search Engines than Americans and the British. Search Engines
    accounted for a 52% larger share of Canadian Internet visits compared to the US in June
    and 20% more than the UK.

  • Canadians are avid searchers of specific retailers, and online marketplaces such as Kijiji, eBay and Lespac in particular. Thirty of the top 200 search terms were for retail brands.

  • Social Networks, Entertainment (in particular YouTube) and web based Email Services are also
    much more popular (as measured by share of Internet visits) in Canada than in the UK and US.

  • Canadian searchers are still looking for improved relevancy.  The most likely reason for this is that Search Engines such as Google are placing the American counterpart (i.e. American version of the site) ahead of the actual Canadian listing.  
    • The success rate for searches for “walmart” was 88.83% while for “walmart canada” it was
      92.54%.
    • The success rate for searches for “home depot” was 84.25% while for “home depot canada” it was 92.33%.

For additional details or to receive a report visit Hitwise at http://www.hitwise.com/ca/registration-pages/canada-search-report  and download the Hitwise Canada Search Report.
posted by Jody @ Monday, October 26, 2009  
5 Ways Interlinking Can Benefit B2B Websites
Friday, October 23, 2009
I often wonder what the Web would be like if there was less emphasis on links and linking inventories?  How would the search engines define relevancy of a result without some sort of link popularity mechanism in place?  Link popularity continues to be a major factor as to why one site places in the search result over another.  While it is not the only factor, it (linking) is still a key factor as to why we see placing for a given key phrase vs. seeing "Joe-blows" website appearing for that same phrase.  According to search engines like Google link popularity has a direct correlation to relevancy.  However this is true to a point.  Just because your site may have a high number of links does not mean you will place well in the results.  Enter the battle between link quality and link quantity.

Link quantity is just that, the number of links that you have pointing to your website's pages.  Quality on the other hand speaks to the relevancy of those links. At the end of the day it is link quality that helps promote a web property as an authority on a given topic.

For business to business (B2B) sites this is no different.  There is a need for B2B site owners to build their link inventories but prior to doing that from external sources, something that is often overlooked by many B2B sites is the importance of interlinking within your own site and web properties.

The Importance of Interlinking for B2B Websites

You may be familiar with our recent work at Enquiro with our BuyerSphere project where we discussed how businesses buy from other businesses.  Within the realm of the BuyerSphere we discussed the roles and differences between Doers and Buyers.  I wanted to touch on a very important fact with regards to buyers and doers.

While Buyers are the ones who often take control over the buying process, Doers are usually the ones who get the process going.  As a result they have a result over where this process goes.  So of course the Doer may have semantic mapped out their needs and as a result researched out or at least been pointed in the direction of a couple of "rungs on the ladder" that is potential solutions or vendors for their needs.  Doers tend to be the people in the organization who do the majority of the research for the desired solution.  As a result they may be the ones who are visiting your website looking for information to help reduce the risk or a potential purchase decision.  Here is where the importance of interlinking comes in.

If this Doer arrives on your site and cannot find what they are looking for, the risk in the selection your brand as a vendor automatically goes up.  While the information may be there, the Doer was unable to find it.  Effective interlinking can help reduce this risk.


5 Ways Interlinking Can Help B2B Websites
  1.  Directional Navigation - effective interlinking can help reduce the amount of time a user spends trying to find items on your web site.  If the Doer is looking for product specs of for software demos, you had better make sure that these items are easily accessed from any page, preferably a minimum of one or two clicks away.  In fact, for your main web pages, you want to ensure that they are just one click away from your home page.

  2. Interlinking Themed Content - from an SEO perspective creating themed content is a very important thing to do if you are to become an authority on a given topic.  If the Doer is interested in detailed product specs, it make sense to link to your product specs from your product detail page or from your product summary page.  Linking to related products or user generated reviews can also be of benefit to the user.  In the end interlinking can help direct the user to all of the information that they need to help move the process along.  As we all know B2B buying cycles can be long and are not necessarily linear.

  3. B2B SEO Benefit:  Improved Link Quality - proper interlinking on B2B websites can help from an SEO perspective.  Using SEO best practices, you can effectively interlink your site's page to improve the IBL (Inbound Linking) Quality score of the pages that are being linked to.  Think about it, you have direct control over the quality of a link from one of your pages to another page on your website.  You can have a direct impact on the all issues that affect link quality.  For example, you can link to the pages using relevant keyword rich anchor text, from a page with relevant keywords in the page title and with relevant keywords in the page copy.  This is a quality link, one that features keywords in the title, page copy and anchor text of the linking page.

  4. Improve the Quantity of Links - if you are not doing so already, you should be looking at Google Webmaster Tools data for your site on a regular basis.  The linking information that Google provides is worth it.  You can use Google Webmaster Tools data to evaluate which pages on your site have sufficient "internal links" and which pages, or sections of your site need interlinking improvements.  Let's suggest for a second that you added a new B2B product or solution to your site.  As this content is still new, you can identify existing pages that are relevant for the purpose of interlinking and improve the number of links that link to this new content.  While you do not want to go overboard, you'll be able to drive traffic to these related pages and help boost the relevancy of this new content.

  5. Interlinking of Conversion Triggers - similar to point number one, B2B site owners can use effective interlinking strategies to drive their visitors to conversion triggers throughout the site.  Whether it is to a micro or macro conversion, interlinking allows you to strategically direct your users to a conversion trigger where it make sense to do so.  In essence, you can drive the user through your desired path (i.e. to a conversion) by allowing them to set their own path by providing the relevance  and timeliness of the information that they desire.  Win-wins are always a good thing.
Interlinking your site pages can provide benefit from an SEO and more importantly user perspective.  Developing things such as an interlinking map and establishing an interlinking strategy can allow you to provide a richer and more efficient site experience.  The end result is that the Doer can find the information they seek thereby reducing the risk of making a poor contribution or ultimately poor purchase decision.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, October 23, 2009  
Real Time Search: Check out Wowd
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Probably the most popular buzzword of 2009 thus far is real-time search.  Twitter, Facebook and others are all leveraging real-time search functionality.  Now we get word on wowd a new real-time search engine that is being released in beta.

What is Wowd?

Wowd is a real-time search engine for discovering what's popular on the web right now.  Wowd allows you to search for anything that interests you and even sort your search results by popularity or freshness.

There are a number of cool features with Wowd including:
  • a Wowd Hot List that updates live before your eyes with what's most popular and fresh on the web
  • Wowd achieves both real-time results and comprehensive coverage with search results from all social media sites, all news sites, all blog sites' and as proclaimed gets information from "...in fact, all public web sites everywhere. "
 Wowd has proclaimed themselves, the Skype of real-time search! The claim:
Better search results preferred by real people  Wowd delivers search results that real people find interesting. Wowd search results don't rely on web crawlers or conventional page ranking. Instead, this is accomplished by taking into account pages preferred by people. Users who download the free Wowd browser application determine web page popularity by "nominating" public pages for inclusion, just by visiting them during their normal web surfing. No manual voting is required. Wowd uses an innovative distributed cloud architecture. One way to think of this is -- Wowd is the Skype of real-time search!
 Look for more on Wowd in upcoming months.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, October 21, 2009  
Search Engine History: Top 10 Moments in Search Engine Evolution
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Our friends over at Search Engine Journal have a cool post on the history of Search Engines.  It is always fun to reflect on how much change their has been in the world of Search in a relatively short time.  Can you believe that it has been only 15 years since Yahoo was created?  We thought that it would be fun to countdown some of the most memorable moments in the evolution of Search Engines.  We have previously featured the top 100 coolest search engine features ever which is another reminder of just how much the search engines have evolved over the years.

Top 10 Memorable Moments in Search Engine Evolution


#10.  The first search engine of the Web arrives... enter Aliweb.  Established in 1993, http://www.aliweb.com/ has been dubbed "the World's Oldest Search Engine".  Site owners would submit their sites to the Aliweb database where they could include descriptions and keywords related to the web pages that were being submitted.


#9.  MSN Search is launched - way back in 1998, Microsoft's search service MSN was released.  Initially the search engine used Inktomi results for their own search results.  Over the years Microsoft's search has undergone a number of re-branding exercises moving to Windows Live Search in 2006, to Live Search in 2008 finally being re-branded as Bing in May 2009.  The Microsoft Search product was/is the proverbial bronze medalist in the search Olmpics behind Google and Yahoo.  In the summer of 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo came ot an agreement where Microsoft would acquire Yahoo's search offering making the combined engine a distant number two behind Google in North American market share.

#8.  Yahoo Acquires Inktomi - in 2003, Yahoo acquired Inktomi which within a few months, Yahoo uses this technology and begins powering their own Search results which since 2000 were powered by Google and strengthens their search and advertising offering .  http://docs.yahoo.com/docs/pr/release1050.html


#7.  Alta Vista is launched - 1995 saw the release of Alta Vista a somewhat popular search engine that when released was the first search engine to deliver the first multilingual search capabilities on the Internet. Alta Vista which means "a view from above", was created to store every word of every HTML page on the Internet in a fast, searchable index.  Alta Vista was also the first search engine to launch Image, Audio, and Video search capabilities.  The search engine continues to operate today. http://www.altavista.com


#6.  Microsoft and Yahoo Announce Search Deal - the summer of 2009 saw months of speculation and rumor come to an end.  Microsoft and Yahoo had finally announced a deal that would see Microsoft acquire Yahoo's search offering.  The deal means that Microsoft will acquire an exclusive 10 year license to Yahoo!'s core search technologies, and Microsoft will have the ability to integrate Yahoo! search technologies into its existing Web search platforms.  The official press release suggests :
Yahoo! and Microsoft announced an agreement that will improve the Web search experience for users and advertisers, and deliver sustained innovation to the industry. In simple terms, Microsoft will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.


#5.  ASK Jeeves is launched, requires users to submit questions - in 1996, ASK Jeeves was launched which featured the unique option of having users submit a question as their query returning results to answer the queried question.  We have always thought that ASK Jeeves, now simply known as ASK, was ahead of their time.  In terms of semantics and how they return their results with things like their tested ASK 3-D interface. 

With the "merger" of Microsoft and Yahoo, today ASK is the number three search engine in North America in terms of market share.


#4. Google acquires YouTube for $1.6 billion dollars - back in 1996, the world's most popular search engine, Google, acquires popular emerging video site YouTube for an estimated $1.65 billion.  Industry experts and observers across the globe are amazed at the amount paid, but as per usual it was a great move by Google. http://www.google.com/press/pressrel/google_youtube.html.  This story made our top search stories of 2006 coming in at (oddly enough) the number four position.  YouTube becomes the world's second largest search engine in 2009.


#3.  Yahoo is created by Jerry Yang and David Filo - 1994 saw the creation of what would become the world's most visited web property for a time in Yahoo.  What began as a student hobby and evolved into a global brand that has changed the way people communicate with each other, Yahoo quickly became arguably the most popular search engine on the Web.  The history of Yahoo has been well communicated, and while there is a storied past, with the search deal agreed upon between Yahoo and Microsoft in 2008, Yahoo's days as we know it may be numbered.


#2.  Google Launches Adwords - in 2002, Google changed advertising as the world had known it.  Defining online advertising and redefining traditional advertising, Google Adwords establishes a pay per click model that has earned Google billions of dollars since the launch of Adwords in 2002.  According to Google, via Google Adwords, you can:
Run your ads on Google and our advertising network -- no matter what your budget, you'll only pay when people click your ads.

#1.  Google, a future leading global brand, is created - what started out as "Backrub" in 1996, Google was created in 1997 and launched in September of 1998.  The story is now legend as to how Larry Page and Sergey Brin started in a garage begin their quest to organize the World's information basing their algorithms on link popularity and later hundreds of other factors that make up their search algorithm.  Google's IPO in 2004 was one of the most watched and debated initial product offerings of recent memory.  Just over ten years later, Google's valuation comes in at around $140 billion making it the most successful search engine of all time.

Wow, sure brings back some memories eh?  Looking forward to the next ten years in the evolution of search engines.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, October 20, 2009  
Understanding Search Marketing Maturity Models
Monday, October 19, 2009
We have discussed the importance of Search and Search Marketing a number of times in the past.  Recently we posted about search marketing maturity models and mapping out where organizations fit into these models.  As we all know, search marketing is a new form of marketing.  The managing of digital assets has helped redefine traditional marketing as we know it.  The fact is people go online to find information.  Search is a tool that helps them accomplish that.

We have also talked about Internet Speed and the fact that the world of Search is constantly changing.  As a result it can be difficult to apply a search marketing maturity model without having to modify it to coincide with the changing nature of search.  Not to mention, the many different dimensions that contribute to optimized search marketing, establishing a search marketing maturity model looks to be an iterative process.

Marketing maturity models have been used for quite some time.  In fact, Forrester has created their own interactive marketing maturity model to classify their firms into one of four levels: Skeptics, Experimenters, Practitioners, or Conductors.  Webtrends has also created their Digital Marketing Maturity Model that they use for assessing an organization's measurement and analysis skills, staffing and best practices across multiple digital marketing channels, from web sites to social media. http://www.webtrends.com/Products/Services/Digital-Marketing-Maturity-Model.aspx

We still find the search marketing maturity model created by ION Interactive ties search marketing, seo and web analytics together nicely.  We are currently developing an Organic Search Marketing Maturity Model that we hope to be able to unveil in the next couple of weeks.  This is a great maturity model for companies that are looking to mature, with a focus on the areas of the maturity model that they are using.

More on maturity models can be found here:
http://blog.immeria.net/2009/09/review-of-maturity-models.html

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posted by Jody @ Monday, October 19, 2009  
comScore Releases September 2009 US Search Engine Rankings
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Yesterday comScore released their report on US Search Engine rankings for September 2009.  Not much new here as Google sits at around 65% of market share followed by Yahoo at about 19% and Bing at around 9.5%.

According to the report, Americans conducted 13.8 billion searches in September, down 1 percent from August (which had one additional day compared to September). Google Sites accounted for 9 billion searches, followed by Yahoo! Sites (2.6 billion), Microsoft Sites (1.3 billion), with Ask Network (541 million).


If we go back a couple of years to September 2007, we see that:
  • Google is up by about 7.9%
  • Yahoo is down by 4.9%
  • Microsoft sites are down by 0.9%
  • ASK is down by 0.8%


September 2009 US Search Engine Market Share:
http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_releases/2009/10/comScore_Releases_September_2009_U.S._Search_Engine_Rankings

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, October 15, 2009  
SEO Recap of the Week: 5 Posts to Check Out
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
We are testing out a new feature here on Marketing Jive. With a number of great SEO resources out there, we would like to share some of the stuff that we are checking out. So, from time to time we are going to feature an SEO Recap of the week. While we're not sure if this will be a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly column, we intend to share some of the key posts that industry leaders are providing on their blogs or websites. We'll limited this to five or less posts because anything more may become a little too daunting to keep up with.

SEO Recap: October 1 - October 15, 2009
  • 4 Visual Charts on the Value of SEO Tactics - SEOmoz - Rand Fishkin is a well respected leader in the industry and continues to put out some great stuff. While I'm not a big fan per se, the man definitely knows his stuff. In this post Rand charts out some interesting SEO factors such as how competition impacts certain SEO tactics, the difference in popularity of link tactics, the value of page rank and link sculpting and the value of XML sitemaps compared to the size of your website. As mentioned this is another terrific post by Rand.

  • The State Of Search: Q3 Data From Efficient Fronter And SearchIgnite - Search Engine Land - Greg Sterling over at Search Engine Land shares his thoughts on a couple of recent studies that have come out about the state of Search. According to both studies, overall search spending was up and that Bing showed growth in terms of both share of spend and clicks.

  • Online Video Viewing up 25% Per Viewer - WebProNews - Chris Crum shares some information from a recent Nielsen report that states that time spent viewing online video is up 25% per viewer, year-over-year. Optimizing for video and blended search continues to become more and more important. We'll have more on this in upcoming pieces about search marketing maturity models.

  • 7 Best Things (Good) SEO Clients Do - Search Engine Guide - Stoney deGeyter recaps a couple of practices that clients do when working with an SEO consultant. Included in this list items such as: asking for advise, questioning the recommendations and the big one that we agree with, implementing recommendations. You simply will not get any return if you do not implement recommendations.

  • This Week in Search 10/09/09 - Google Blog - yup even the folks at Google have started a weekly Search recap column. Posted by Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience, the week in Search column is based on a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. The initial post consisted of items including: an improved interface for local information in web search, Search options panel for mobile, and crawling AJAX.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, October 13, 2009  
5 Great Features of Google Webmaster Tools
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Google Webmaster Tools (www.google.com/webmasters/tools) is one of my favorite tools for diagnosing site issues. The tool just keeps getting better. Over the years, the Google Webmaster Tools team has continued to improve GWT, which has been a tremendous help for Webmasters and Site Owners alike.

5 Great Features of Google Webmaster Tools
  1. Ability to Evaluate External Link Inventory - By going to the "Your site on the Web" section and clicking "Links to your site", you can gather an understanding of who is linking to your site pages and trace back either good or poor quality links to your pages. This helps site owners understand which areas of the site are popular and which areas could use some improvement in terms of link generation. Coupled by the fact that you can break this down by page, this is a very powerful feature of Google Webmaster Tools.

    In addition Google has added the ability to gain insight into the anchor text (linking text) of the sites that are linking to your pages. This can help determine the quality of the links that are linking to your site's pages. Very useful information when trying to improve the inbound link quality to your site.

  2. Ability to Set Crawler Access - Accessed via Site Configuration > Crawler Access, Webmasters can create a robots.txt file to specify how search engines should crawl your site's content. Under the "Generate robots.txt" tab, users are four steps away from creating their own robots.txt file to control what content the search engines have access to.



  3. Ability to Set a Preferred Domain - under Site Configuration > Settings, you can set the preferred domain of your site to be either the www version or the non-www version. Why is this helpful? Well, the preferred domain is the one that you would like used to index your site's pages. If you specify your preferred domain as http://www.example.com and Google finds a link to your site that is formatted as http://example.com , Google will treat that link as if it was http://www.example.com . In addition, Google takes your preference into account when displaying URLs in their search results. This helps with the whole canonicalization thing.

  4. HTML Suggestions - Contrary to some reports, Google still places a lot of value in title tags and meta descriptions. If they didn't why would it be such a prominent feature in Google Webmaster Tools? This section accessed via Diagnostics > HTML Suggestions provides insight into duplicate title tags or meta descriptions, which are not very helpful to the Search Engines in terms of helping them understand what a given page is about. Remember that meta data is basically "data about data". The engines use this information to determine what a page is in fact about.

    In addition, through this feature, Google will let you know if your titles and descriptions are too short, thereby providing limited information to them. If you want to be considered as relevant content for a given topic, you need to inform the engines as to what your page is about. Title tags and meta descriptions can help your cause greatly.

  5. Google Webmaster Tools Help - there is a ton, and I mean a ton of great information in the Google Webmaster help area of GWT. For example, checkout the Webmaster Tools Checklist to help site owners and webmasters set up Google Webmaster Tools properly. I had created my own process for this, but Google has created this handy checklist for you to use.

    There are a number of other related resources to access including:
  • Video Tutorials
  • Google Webmaster Help Forum
  • Webmaster Tools on YouTube
  • Webmaster Guidelines
  • Webmaster Central Blog,
If you are not currently using Google Webmaster Tools on a regular basis, you need to. Put simply, Google Webmaster Tools is one of the most powerful tools that site owners and Webmasters can use to diagnose crawling and indexing issues in Google... and chances are if you have crawling and indexing rules in Google, you may be experiencing the same issues in other engines.

Webmaster Tools is available in 40 languages, and will serve its localized version based on your browser's language settings. Some languages also have a Help forum, where you can share information and get help from fellow webmasters and Google representatives.

We love the frequency of updates and the constant addition of new features to GWT. One of the main reasons it continues to be our favorite tool for diagnosing site issues. We recommend that all Webmasters and site owners (small or large) become familiar with Google Webmaster Tools and all of the features associated.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, October 11, 2009  
Google Continues to Address Duplicate Content Concerns
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
We have discussed duplicate content on numerous occasions. It continues to be a topic that is debated and discussed by many. I feel that this is due to some of the lack of clarity provided by the search engines. Does Google penalize a site for duplicate content or don't they. The fact is that if you are blatantly polluting the web with duplicate content then there is a chance that your blog or site can be removed from Google's index. While penalization is becoming rarer, the search engines may in fact determine that the authoritative page they index is different from the one that you would like indexed.

Google has stated:
However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.
Then gone on to state:
In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we'll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.
and finally:
Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. If your site suffers from duplicate content issues, and you don't follow the advice listed above, we do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results.
However with the invention of the canonical tag, and the ability to use no index, Google continues to help site owners with duplicate content concerns. Recently Google added a great feature to Google Webmaster Tools, the ability to configure parameters for Google to ignore.

For years e-commerce sites had potential duplicate content issues with multiple versions of product pages. Google has now taken steps to clarify and ensure that site owners can have some control over duplicate content issues with multiple product pages URLs.

In order to use this new feature, you must have access to your site’s Google Webmaster Tools account. Once logged in, here are the steps needed to configure your parameters.
  1. Click on “Site Configuration” from within GWT
  2. Click on “Settings”
  3. Go to “Parameter Handling” section of the “settings” page
  4. Configure each parameter. You have the option of adding up to 15 parameters
  5. Click “Save”

Parameter Handling in GWTIt's important to note that Google treats these requests as suggestions rather than directives. However as Google suggests:
Dynamic parameters (for example, session IDs, source, or language) in your URLs can result in many different URLs all pointing to essentially the same content. For example, http://www.example.com/dresses?sid=12395923 might point to the same content as http://www.example.com/dresses. You can specify whether you want Google to ignore up to 15 specific parameters in your URL. This can result in more efficient crawling and fewer duplicate URLs, while helping to ensure that the information you need is preserved. (Note: While Google takes suggestions into account, we don't guarantee that we'll follow them in every case.)
We still recommend striving to create unique content is the way to go. It will be more beneficial to the user and your desired audience. If you are concerned with SEO, it will also help in that regard as well.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, October 07, 2009  
Looking for a Deal? Check out ASK Deals
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for a good deal. Earlier today, ASK announced the launch of Ask Deals, its proprietary database of more than 1 million high-quality savings offers from national and local merchants across hundreds of product categories.

http://www.ask.com/deals

Kind of an interesting concept. Basically Ask Deals scours the Web for all the deals available online - from cheap Halloween costumes to restaurant coupons - and organizes the best money-saving offers front and center on the results page, eliminating the need for consumers to search multiple coupon sites or search engine links to find their answer. The service is powered by Ask.com's proprietary Deal Detector™ technology.

I tried a few search including one for "Las Vegas" and was presented with some cool results.



Features of ASK Deals
  • The Web's best deals - in one place: Ask Deals aggregates more than 1 million high-quality savings offers on the Web for hundreds of product categories and rolls them into one, easy-to-read display.

  • Easy-to-find deals, front and center: Ask.com saves users time by blending deals into the search results page, making them easy to find via "Smart Answers" with yellow savings arrows at the top of the page, as well as green money-saving icons within the search results.

  • Money-saving related searches. Consumers can easily find additional great discounts by clicking on "money saving searches," built with Ask.com's award-winning Zoom Related Search™, which appears at the top of the right side of the search results page.

  • Easy sharing. Consumers can share coupons and deals with friends and family through email and popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Digg. I love th ability to print coupons... very cool feature.

  • Deal of the Day. We really liked this feature, when consumers choose an Ask Deals homepage skin, they'll get daily "can't miss" savings offers, chosen by the Ask Deals editorial team, streamed right onto their Ask.com homepage. Users can also sign-up for "Deal of the Day" emails to receive new and timely deals every day.
Official Press Release: http://ask.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=405

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, October 06, 2009  
Global SEO: Multiple Sites in Different GEO Locales
Friday, October 02, 2009
For any organizations that are planning a global search strategy, one thing to consider is the idea of having multiple sites in different geographic locations. The Search Engines have not always been clear on their stance on this. A lot of the information conflicts and as a result there appears to be confusion with many on this topic.

We've discussed the idea of GEO hosting and the benefits of have a geo-targeted domain, but for organizations who have a global presence, what are the best practices for global SEO? What are some of the well known global brands doing when it comes to global SEO from an online perspective?

We looked at Samsung to see what they were doing. Here is what we found. We noticed that they did create a German based version of their site with a .de domain for their German audience. Yet the only created an Austrian sub-folder (and not an at domain) for their Austrian audience.

Samsung Germany
http://www.samsung.de/common/index_main.aspx

Samsung Austria
http://www.samsung.com/at/index.html

Samsung has registered their sites in the respective GEO locale:
Google.de has the Samsung.de site listed (registered in Wendlingen, DE)
Google.at has the samsung.at site listed (registered in Wien, Austria)

The parent site: www.samsung.com is listed in both Google.de and Google.at but it is ranked below the corresponding country site. Their main site, Samsung.com is registered in Seoul, South Korea. So they are in fact taking the approach to have the different country sites registered in that specific country (which will help with the search engines that are looking up the IP address).

The samsung.at site redirects to a sub-folder on the .com site, and the .com site is ranking in Google.at #11 for "digitalkameras". This approach could work, but the .at domains are performing better in the top 10 results, especially with being registered in Austria.

But what about “spielwaren”?
Google Germany – no .com results
http://www.google.de/#hl=de&q=spielwaren&meta=&fp=30ca9e15fe4c5de9

Google Austria – one .com result, the rest .at sites
http://www.google.at/#hl=de&q=spielwaren&meta=&fp=a407ea86c20ac4a7

Global SEO

Interesting but still no real evidence as to what the best practices should be. We do know this however, with regards to SEO on a global level, in addition to setting the geographic target in Google, the following items will have the greatest impact in how a site is placed in the index.
  1. TLD extension
  2. Hosting/Server location
  3. Domain registrar
  4. Google local registration
  5. Incoming links – i.e. receiving links from other .de sites
  6. Site language
  7. On page addresses/phone numbers
Here's a recent presentation from Google about Duplicate content and multiple site issues.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/duplicate-content-and-multiple-site.html.

For the record, Google is currently the only engine that provides the option of setting a geographic target. This is done via Google Webmaster Tools:

Site Configuration > Settings > Geographic Target

In addition, according to Google:
According to Google, “if no information is entered in Webmaster Tools, we'll continue to make geographic associations largely based on the top-level domain (e.g. .co.uk or .ca) and the IP of the webserver from which the context was served.”
Hope this helps any site owners looking to expand their Global SEO efforts.

Additional Resources
:

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/10/better-geographic-choices-for.html
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=62399&hl=en
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2006/09/setting-preferred-domain.html
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=44231&topic=9025
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/on-site-geo-targeting-and-local-search-optimization/7320/

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posted by Jody @ Friday, October 02, 2009  
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