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A Year Later and Yahoo is Still Standing...
Friday, February 27, 2009
When I first started using Search Engines, I used ASK Jeeves as there was no Google. I used Yahoo a little and then made the switch as many did to Google. I rarely used MSN. The reason? The results never gave me the information that I wanted. Needless to say I have never been a fan of Microsoft's search offering. I guess that for the most part, I would consider myself a Googler.

So last year when Microsoft was trying to acquire Yahoo, and analysts suggested that Yahoo was being obtuse for not jumping at the offers, I took note about how Jerry Yang continued to fight for his company and arguably one of the world's most well known brands in Yahoo. I began to become a fan of Yahoo again. I really did not want them to fail, ans I especially did not want them to fall prey top the demands of Microsoft. You see Search needs Yahoo. Do not forget that Yahoo is the number two search engine behind Google? Not Microsoft, not AOL, not ASK, Yahoo.

I like Jerry Yang and from what I have read and heard about Carol Bartz I like her too. Her no-nonsense approach may be just what the Dr. ordered for Yahoo. Yesterday she posted for the first time on the Yahoo Anecdotal blog.

Getting our house in order

A month and a half in the saddle and today I have the perfect excuse to get blogging.

I’ve been on a whirlwind tour for the last six weeks, talking with everybody from executive leaders to the guys who configured my laptop. I’ve been in student mode, slowly getting smarter about what makes this place tick. And most recently, I’ve been gathering information on what it’s going to take to get Yahoo! to a great place as an organization –- and one that brings you killer products.

People here have impressed the hell out of me. They’re smart, dedicated, passionate, driven, and really nice. There’s so much great energy and frankly lots of optimism. But there’s also plenty that has bogged this company down. For starters, you’d be amazed at how complicated some things are here.

So today I’m rolling out a new management structure that I believe will make Yahoo! a lot faster on its feet. For us working at Yahoo!, it means everything gets simpler. We’ll be able to make speedier decisions, the notorious silos are gone, and we have a renewed focus on the customer. For you using Yahoo! every day, it will better enable us to deliver products that make you say, “Wow.”

I’ve noticed that a lot of us on the inside don’t spend enough time looking to the outside. That’s why I’m creating a new Customer Advocacy group. After getting a lot of angry calls at my office from frustrated customers, I realized we could do a better job of listening to and supporting you. Our Customer Care team does an incredible job with the amazing number of people who come to them, but they need better resources. So we’re investing in that. After all, you deserve the very best.

We’re also leaning on this team to make sure we’re all hearing the voice of our customers (consumers and advertisers). I’m singularly focused on providing you with awesome products. Period. The kind that get you so excited, you have to tell someone about them. Whether on your desktop, your mobile device, or even your TV.

And that takes a real understanding of what you want/need/love/hate, how you’re using our products, and what you find simple, intuitive, easy and fun. Who wants innovation for innovation’s sake if it doesn’t make your life easier, more efficient, more productive? So expect us to hear you better and take better care of you.

Finally, a note about our brand. It’s one of our biggest assets. Mention Yahoo! practically anywhere in the world, and people yodel. But in the past few years, we haven’t been as clear in showing the world what the Yahoo! brand stands for. We’re going to change that. Look for this company’s brand to kick ass again.

Big thanks to the many of you who’ve reached out with positive comments. It’s clear people want Yahoo! to succeed. I’ll try to pop by here again soon, though probably not too soon. I have a pretty long to-do list.

Carol Bartz
CEO

To all you nay-sayers, it's a year later and after al of the offers, rumors and pressures to conform Yahoo is still standing on it's own strength.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, February 27, 2009   0 comments
Enquiro Charitable Event: Enquiro Winter Classic Hockey Tournament Set for Tomorrow

You’ve probably heard about Enquiro’s Stampede Pancake Breakfast, well this time we’re taking our charitable activity to the streets… street hockey that is. Enquiro is holding the first annual Enquiro Winter Classic Street Hockey Tournament as a charitable event to raise funds for the Kelowna General Hospital Children’s Ward. Come join us for some fun and root for your favorite team in this corporate challenge.

Saturday February 28th from 10:00am – 4:00pm, Enquiro will host the first annual Enquiro Winter Classic Street Hockey Tournament.

When:
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Who: We have 6 teams participating in this year’s event:

  • Enquiro
  • Scotia Mcleod
  • Capri Insurance
  • QHR Technologies
  • BDO Dunwoody
  • Stantec

Where: Landmark Parking Lot (between Landmark IV & V Towers) (Google Maps)
Why: Charity: KGH Children’s Ward

About the Cause:

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation Mission Statement: The Kelowna General Hospital Foundation is an independent, volunteer-driven organization committed to enhancing the delivery of healthcare to the patients of KGH and its associated facilities.

To contact, please visit http://www.kghfoundation.com. They also accept online donations.

Donation cheques can be made out to : Kelowna General Hospital Foundation , with “Children’s Ward” in the memo line.

We'll be sure to have pictures of the event as they become available.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, February 27, 2009   0 comments
Facebook Principles: Facebook Updates Terms of Use
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Facebook has updated their terms of use with Facebook Principles. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that the goal at Facebook is to help make the world more open and transparent. He states that "...We believe that if we want to lead the world in this direction, then we must set an example by running our service in this way." The official message on Facebook earlier today read:

Today we announced new opportunities for users to play a meaningful role in determining the policies governing our site. We released the first proposals subject to these procedures – The Facebook Principles, a set of values that will guide the development of the service, and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities that governs Facebook’s operations. Users will have the opportunity to review, comment and vote on these documents over the coming weeks and, if they are approved, other future policy changes. We’ve posted the documents in separate groups and invite you to offer comments and suggestions. For more information and links to the two groups, check out the Facebook Blog.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 26, 2009   0 comments
Google Analytics Adds iPhone Segmentation
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
So as a new consumer of the iPhone (I've had one for a month now and I love it!) I was excited to see that Google Analytics has announced that they have added a default Advanced Segment showing just visits from iPhones.

Adding the iPhone segmentation feature is as easy as following these steps:
  1. Login to your Google Analytics account
  2. Click the dropdown menu at the top right next to "Advanced Segments"
  3. Select "Visits from iPhones"
Note you might want to turn off "All Visits" when viewing your iPhone segment if the percentage of total visits to your site from iPhones is a small one.


Google's Official Announcement
AdWords options for iPhone and G1
Google Mobile Blog

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, February 25, 2009   0 comments
700th Post!!!
Well, we've made it to our 700th post. Back in October 2006, we started SEO-Space as an experiment to learn more about blogging and as a way to communicate news about Organic Search issues adding a little B2B insight as well. In late 2008, we switched over to Marketing Jive to generate more discussion about things like organic search and online marketing in general.

We've compiled a list of some of our favorite posts and thought that we would share a few of them with our readers.

New readers, feel free to subscribe to our content here.

Here is a look at some of our favorite posts since 2006.

Top 100 Marketing Buzzwords of 2007
Google Alerts - An Easy Form of Competitive Intelligence
Mark Messier Greatest Leader in the History of Sports
What If There Was No Google?
ASK X – Prelude to Personalized Search?
37 Things To Keep in Mind When Writing Web Content
Social Media Marketing as Part of B2B Online Marketing Campaigns
Marketing B2B Websites: 20 Organic Ranking Factors to Consider
How Google Makes Money in 2007
ASK.com The Second Coming of Search Means Personalization
Organic Keyword Analysis: Finding the Right Keywords for Your SEO Campaign
Google Blogs - Google's Top 50 Blogs
Online Reputation Management Part Seven: Dealing With Negative Consumer Generated Content
Top 40 Yahoo Blogs
Top 11 ASK.com Commercials
14 Best Practices and Tips for Video Optimization SEO
11 Business Benefits of Using Facebook Applications
The Facebook Years: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook
Happy Birthday Chuck Berry! Chuck Berry Turns 81
Top 100 All-Time Coolest Search Engine Features
Google Android: Open Handset Alliance
Top Search Stories of 2007 Part Two
Definitive List of Video Aggregator Sites
SEO Strategies for Large Websites - Link Building
Optimizing for Blended Search: What You Need to Know
Top 100 Marketing Buzzwords for 2008
Local Search: Organically Speaking
Using Eye Tracking for Website Design
Superbowl Snack Facts:
In-Bound Linking Vs. On-Page SEO
Interview with Manish Chowdhary Founder & CEO of GoECart.com
ASK.com: Will the Real Jeeves Please Stand Up?
Building External Link Inventory: 11 Things to Look for in a Good Link
Website Re-Design: A 21 Step SEO Checklist for Planning a Website Re-Design
7 Questions to Ask When Planning a Website Redesign
Website Redesigns: A Hot Topic in the Business to Business (B2B) Space
SEO Keyword Strategy: Why There is More to Keyword Research than Search Volume
Website Metrics: What is Bounce Rate?
Don Rickles: The King of Entertainment even in 2008
Keyword Strategy in 2008: Focusing on Head, Torso and Longtail Keywords
10 Years of Google Part Five: Top 100 Google Moments Part IV
10 Years of Google Part Two - Top 30 Google Logos
Planning a Website Redesign: Thinking About SEO
SEO in 2009: Understanding that SEO Does Indeed Provide Value
SEO and PPC: Two Channels, One Strategy
Blended Search 2009: Strategies for Large SEO Campaigns
Top 100 Marketing Buzzwords for 2009
5 Ways to Reduce Bounce Rate... Hint Think Content
14 Tips for Image Optimization for Blended Search Results

Wow, there's been a lot of them. We look forward to our next 700 posts.
700

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, February 25, 2009   0 comments
Google Webmaster Central YouTube Channel
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Here's a handy little resource for Webmasters out there. The Google Webmaster Central YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/GoogleWebmasterHelp. The most recent video is the State of the Google Index with Matt Cutts from PubCon last December. The Google Webmaster Central YouTube Channel is touted as a "one-stop shop for webmaster resources that will help you with your crawling and indexing questions, introduce you to offerings that can enhance and increase traffic to your site, and connect you with your visitors."

There are some great instructional videos found on the channel some of which include:
  1. A webmaster tutorial video that covers how Google can find your site.
  2. A webmaster tutorial video that addresses crawling and indexing of sites.
  3. A webmaster tutorial video that covers how sites are displayed in Google search results.
  4. A webmaster tutorial video that introduces what Webmaster Central offers.
  5. A webmaster tutorial video that introduces other useful Google resources for webmasters.
Those videos can be found here. Google Webmaster Central provides some great insight into Google and Google Webmaster Tools. If you are looking to learn more about Google Webmaster Tools check it out via this YouTube channel.

Learn more at http://www.google.com/webmasters/

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 24, 2009   0 comments
5 Ways to Reduce Bounce Rate... Hint Think Content
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
We've discussed bounce rate numerous times, yet we find that we continue to get asked questions about bounce rate and why it is a metric that should be a regular part of a client's dashboard when reporting on the success of online campaigns (organic or sponsored).

So before we dive deeper into how to reduce bounce rate, here again is our definition of bounce rate:

Bounce Rate: 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 typically measured as a percentage. The lower the bounce rate that you have the better as this is an indicator of how users are engaging with your website.

In order to understand bounce rate, you must identify it within your site analytics. Google Analytics makes this easy by placing bounce rate as default item on your main analytics dashboard. This says something in itself, if Google has included bounce rate as a metric on the dashboard, they must think that bounce rate is a fairly important metric right? Well in fact it is a key metric when measuring user engagement on your site. A high bounce rate is a good indication that users are not finding the information that they are looking for and as a result are not proceeding any further.




What is a Good Bounce Rate Anyways?

Great question. We're glad you asked. As with many items in the world of SEO and organic search, the answer is it depends. Obviously a lower bounce rate is better, but bounce rate averages can vary by industry or type of site. Sites that are information portals will most likely have lower bounce rates than sites that feature limited content. The fact is that bounce rate is affected by the user's intent. That is, based on the user's query did they find the information that they were looking for? For example let's say you were looking for information about the TV program Las Vegas and you typed in "Las Vegas" in a search engine. You would no doubt receive a lot of Las Vegas (the city) related sites and potentially you might even be returned with a result that talks about the TV show albeit briefly. You might click through to some of these sites but unless the information that you were looking for about the show is present you would most likely revisit the search results page and/or re-enter a more specific search query. The bounce rate of the sites that you did click through would be affected as you were unable to find the information that you were looking for.

So to answer the question, what is a good bounce rate, generally speaking if you have a bounce rate that is in the 40-50% range that is not bad. If you manage to have an overall bounce rate that is in the 30-40% that is fantastic. As Avinash Kaushik states "a 35% bounce rate is very good..." We'll add that anything less is pretty spectacular. For the record, we've worked with clients and have helped them lower their bounce rates to less than 20% and in some cases to 7 or 8% which is quite exceptional.

So the question becomes, how do we lower bounce rate?

Five Ways to Lower Bounce Rate
  1. Provide Relevant Content - seems simple enough doesn't it? Well then why are so many sites not doing it and why are people abandoning sites soon after arriving on them? If you are going to optimize a webpage, do it right. When writing copy, consider your audience. Use their language not yours, which leads us to point #2.

  2. Use the Language of your Target Audience - do you really think that using the fancy industry lingo is always the way to go? Well sometimes, but many times your target audience may be versed in an entirely different language... that is their own language. Corporate or industry speak may not always be the same language that your target audience uses or is looking for. Work to understand your target audience and the terminology that they are using. If your content can speak to your site visitors, your bounce rate will decline significantly.

  3. Have Clear Navigation - if you are lucky enough to have a user find your site through Organic Search, treat them well. Every site page that you makes up your site, should have clear and intuitive navigation to guide the user through their site experience. Capture their interest and guide them with a well interlinked site to assist them in finding all of the information they are looking for. If they expect to see pricing on the site, be sure to provide them with this information. Someone who performs a search for "CRM pricing comparisons" expects to find a page that features jus that, comparisons of CRM (software) pricing.

  4. Provide Ample Content - whether in the form of page copy, images, video etc. Be sure to provide sufficient content to your site visitors. If you have a page about green widgets, make sure that you have some information on green widgets. Here's a hint, product or vendor comparisons work well, as do consumer reviews, pricing and shipping information. Having a brief sentence or two just doesn't cut it. Try to have a minimum 300-400 words of content on your site pages.

  5. Update Your Content - if you have content that is dated, consider adding some new information. Check your analytics to see which pages have the highest bounce rate and revisit the page copy for these pages.
There are a number of ways to improve (lower) your bounce rate. As you can see many of the easiest ways to reduce your bounce rate is through your content. In the world of Search, content is king for a reason. Use relevant and informative content to reduce the bounce rates of your site pages because if you don't, your competition definitely will. The Searcher will eventually find what they are looking for. Why not keep them engaged on your website?

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, February 18, 2009   35 comments
Duplicate Content to be Cleaned Up by Canonical Tag
Monday, February 16, 2009
One problem with the Web is the amount of duplicate content that exists out there. I've worked with clients who have had upwards of 7 and as much as 15 versions of the same page content but with a different URL. We've worked with these clients to address these issues and now the major search engines have introduced a canonical tag to help rid the Web of duplicate pages. Last week the three major search engines announced the canonical tag that can be used to solve duplicate content issues. It's great to see the big three partner on issues such as this.

This canonical tag has been jointly released from the three search engine giants to give your pages the URL format that they all prefer. This is called the Canonical Tag and looks like this:

link rel="”canonical”" href="”http://www.example.com/product.php?item="green-widgets”"

To use this tag, simply add this tag to specify your preferred version of a URL inside the (head) section of the duplicate content URLs:

http://www.example.com/product.php?item=green-widgets&category=widgets
http://www.example.com/product.php?item=green-widgets&trackingid=1234&sessionid=1234

The goal of this canonical tag as Google puts it is:
If your site has identical or vastly similar content that's accessible through multiple URLs, this format provides you with more control over the URL returned in search results.
This is a great step to help cleaning up the Web of duplicate content. For more information from Google visit:

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html

Yahoo's Announcement: http://ysearchblog.com/2009/02/12/fighting-duplication-adding-more-arrows-to-your-quiver/

Microsoft / Live Search: http://blogs.msdn.com/webmaster/archive/2009/02/12/partnering-to-help-solve-duplicate-content-issues.aspx

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posted by Jody @ Monday, February 16, 2009   2 comments
Competitive Analysis: 12 Free Competitive Intelligence Tools
Thursday, February 12, 2009
When you’re on top everyone is always gunnin’ for you. Whether it is in business, sports entertainment or online in the Search Engine Results Pages, if you are on top you can expect to find your competition working to knock you off of your perch.

In the online world, competition for keyword visibility and clicks from Search users is fierce. One day you’re at the top of the SERPs for your main keywords the next day your on page two of results. The vastness of the Internet and ease of creating content through a blog or a website makes online competition even more intense. The need to keep on top of your competition becomes all that more important.

Of course there are a lot of tools that companies can spend a lot of money and resources on to track their competition, but there are also a number of free resources that you can use to gain competitive intelligence. Here’s a look at twelve great online competitive intelligence tools... and they are all free.
  1. Google Alerts - Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Consider setting up Google Alerts for your competitors as these alerts can provide you with competitor insights that you may have otherwise overlooked and not been aware of. http://www.google.com/alerts

  2. Yahoo Alerts - Similar to their Google counterpart, Yahoo! Alerts is a free, personalized notification service that instantly informs you of what you consider important and relevant via email, instant message, pager, or cell phone. Yahoo! offers free alerts on:

    • Breaking News Alerts: Receive news as soon as it happens.
    • News Alerts: Customize your news using our powerful keyword news search tools and receive summaries of top stories in various categories.
    • Stock Alerts: Stay connected to the market with price quotes and more.
    • Yahoo! 360° Alerts: Choose the settings you prefer for receiving messages from Yahoo! 360° and notice of communications from other members.
    http://alerts.yahoo.com/

  3. Google Finance – if your competitor is publicly traded, you can perform a search in Google Finance, where you can review income statements, latest news stories and blog posts about the competitor. Google Finance offers a broad range of information about stocks, mutual funds, public and private companies. In addition, Google Finance offers interactive charts, news and fundamental business data. http://finance.google.com

  4. Yahoo Finance – ditto with Yahoo Finance, as you can get free stock quotes, up to date news, portfolio management resources, international market data, and competitor insight from message boards. http://finance.yahoo.com

  5. The Free Library - http://www.thefreelibrary.com/ is a great source for articles and information on your competitors. You can browse by date, author, category and name.

  6. YouTube - perform a search in Google for a few of your main key phrases? Are you seeing video results for competitors? If so go to YouTube and check out your competitor's YouTube channels. Evaluate things such as:
    • Titles and Descriptions of Competitor Videos (apply similar bet practices to your own videos)
    • Categories and Tags - gain intelligence about how the competition tags their videos
    • See which videos are the most discussed or commented on
    • See what's hot and what type of video content user's are engaging with

  7. Compete.com - Provides a Web-based consumer intelligence service that offers companies time-sensitive analysis of web users' consumer behavior. Compete contains competitive metrics for every site on the web powered by the largest pool of online consumer behavior data in the industry. http://www.compete.com/

  8. Wikipedia – Wikipedia can be a great place to acquire competitive information. Be careful with the data however as the updates are not always as accurate as they could be. http://www.wikipedia.org/

  9. Search Status - SearchStatus is a toolbar extension for Firefox and Mozilla that allows you to see how any and every website in the world is performing. Find information on things such as nofollow links, Google PageRank, and provides links to some backlink information. http://www.quirk.biz/searchstatus/

  10. Google Trends for Websites - free tool from Google showing traffic estimates, visitor country location, top 10 related websites, and top 10 related keywords. Only returns data for fairly high traffic websites though. http://trends.google.com/websites

  11. Domain Tools - allows you to see WHOIS data on competing sites. http://www.domaintools.com/

  12. Comparison Shopping Sites – sites like Price Grabber can be a great source of competitive intelligence for retailers and B2C business owners.
There are numerous other tools that provide competitive insight on everything from basic search metrics to domain information. The fact is that there are a number of tools that are available to keep tabs on your competition. What free tools do you use? We'd like to hear from you.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 12, 2009   7 comments
Where You'll Find Live Search at SMX West
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Well as SMX West continues this week, the folks from Microsoft Live Search will be at a number of sessions. One of the sessions that we recommend is Just Behave – A Look at Searcher Behavior which actually takes place this afternoon.

Ramez Naam, Group Program Manager for Search Relevance for Live Search will be there as will a few other notables including none other than Enquiro's own Gord Hotchkiss. The session will include some great people from Yahoo, Comscore, and of course Enquiro.

Here's what Ramez had to say about his job:

My primary job at Live Search is Group Program Manager for Search Relevance – making sure the results we return for your query are the right ones. It’s a fun job with a lot of unique challenges, great people, and uniquely cool technology. It’s fun to be in the race as an underdog. At the same time, I’m the kind of guy who is always asking “why”. The “why” of a search engine is to help people find the information they’re looking for as quickly, easily, and confidently as possible. If you want to do a good job at that, you need to understand the people you’re trying to serve and the context in which they’re using your tool.

We’ve learned a lot over the last few years about how customers behave with search engines. But there is one key insight that really sticks out in my mind that I’ll be talking about at SMX: searches don’t occur in isolation – they are often part of a longer task. That is, searchers come to a search engine with something in mind, do an initial query, click on multiple results, perform multiple follow-up searches, and then frequently come back in the following days or weeks to return to the same topic.

Read more over at the Live Search Blog.

http://blogs.msdn.com/livesearch/archive/2009/02/10/search-user-behavior-at-ses.aspx

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, February 11, 2009   0 comments
2012: Sony Uses Organic Search to Promote New Movie
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I work in the Search industry, so I understand Organic Search and how effective it is to promote a business, or a brand. I would also classify myself as a savvy searcher. So I thought that it was interesting when I came across a post describing how Sony was telling users to use Google to check out a new film, 2012. Sony keeps it simple with: Find out the Truth - Google Search 2012

As Eric Krangel from Silicon Alley Insider states:

For Hollywood, getting people to a movie promo website can be tricky. The problem: Almost anything a screenwriter comes up with for a title is bound to have already been used for someone's dot-com domain. So if you want people to see the website for "Fanboys," you may have to hope people will navigate to a terrible URL like http://www.fanboys-themovie.com/.

But Sony (SNE) has come up with a clever tactic: Just telling people to use Google (GOOG). Check out how Sony directs people to the website for upcoming aliens-and-armageddon movie "2012" (located at the awful URL http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/2012/ ).

Search can be a very cost effective way of promoting your brand, your business and yes even your movie. My my, how times have changed. Talk about your coming attractions. We see the site created for the movie in the number two position in Google.

posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 10, 2009   1 comments
Interview with Michel Leconte CEO of SEO Samba - Part II
Yesterday we featured part one of our interview with SEO Samba CEO Michel Leconte. Here is the conclusion of our interview with Michel. If you are attending SMX West this week, be sure to check out the SEO Samba booth (booth #321).

[Jody]: Why do you think that online marketers tend to focus budget on PPC rather than SEO? With the current state of the economy, do you think this will change? Will SEO and Organic Search finally get the recognition it deserves?

[Michel Leconte]: I recall a neuroscience study (my wife's trade) stating that activities that produce instant rewards excite a very specific part of the brain, which in turn sends endorphins throughout your body. So it is not totally surprising that PPC has been such a hit. On the other hand, SEO is a longer-term endeavor based on contradictory theories and information that is confusing to most, rather painful and lengthy to execute, does not scale well, and might or might not meet expectations. Hmmm…do you think we have a perception problem here? Our reptilian brains do not cope well with complexity. This reptilian part of our brains need clear choices—and it makes decisions at the end of the day. For SEO to claim a bigger part of the pie, I think many professionals position SEO as a virtuous foundation for all marketing initiatives, both downstream and sideways, with the highest return on investment of the SEM spectrum. This is all good and well, but for this message to be credible, we need to bring a higher level of SEO performance predictability.
[Jody]: Agreed, we feel that things such as Universal and Blended Search require a higher level of SEO.

[Michel Leconte]: When consulting with larger or growing organizations, scale becomes a consideration. Unfortunately, scale often turns up being a con rather than a pro. Once all is said and done, a couple of challenges, at least, remain on the agency side: how to differentiate your SEO offering from the competition, and how to take advantage of your own pool of business and scale your practice? It is very much part of SEO Samba's core value proposition to provide answers to all of those questions. The current economic environment will trigger various behaviors. Sophisticated marketers might move budgets away from PPC to SEO if they are convinced that conditions are met for a breakthrough of their web properties in the SERP, while first time search marketers in the small business segment might be reassured by the predictability and immediate return offered by PPC. At SEO Samba, we also see an opportunity in that segment for our SEO expert partners, especially at the local search engine optimization level. We are seeing a new wave of first-time marketers leapfrogging more experienced ones and adopting the technology platform as a way to perform quickly without having to go through the trials and errors of others, while establishing a base from which they can scale their online operations.

[Jody]: Many suggest that SEO is dead? Do you agree or is SEO just finding its legs?

[Michel Leconte]: At this juncture, I believe that SEO is a by-product of “freedom of enterprise” expression. The day it dies, it will be an indicator that we loose our freedom to engage in a free-to-enterprise system. In effect, SEO will die the day there's only paid-for-placement. However, that business model, like Goto.com found out in its time, is not sustainable in an open network. Only controlled Internet access could maintain an artificial order, de facto restraining listing in such ways. Microsoft and AOL could not impose their vision of the world back in the early days, and no one can seriously contemplate proposing this model to consumers again at this stage and expect them to accept it willingly. Now, do not get me wrong here. I'm not saying that if SEO exists as an industry in your country, then you can establish the fact that you live in a democratic state.
China with its developing SEO industry is an illustration of this. I'm just saying that if SEO exists and then dies off, I'd be worried. I'd be worried because I can imagine a landscape where search engine queries would be made by other forms of artificial intelligence based on an expressed or implied need from a human. And I still see a need for SEO on the seller side. Closer to home, I can see a decrease in search engines crawling web sites to retrieve content and use RSS coupled with an updated and harden version of Ping to display updates in real time while weighing interest from social venues metrics. But even then, this trade, albeit with a different name, would survive.
As long as free-to-use, relatively efficient large distribution channels are available, sellers will compete to position a product or a service in front of buyers. Even channel fragmentation from personalization technologies will not prevent SEO, or whatever acronym its successor will bear, from existing. It will merely create sub-specializations by consumer profiles…following traditional marketing agency segmentation models (GenX, babyboomers specialists..etc..) only in a more refined way.
SEO gives the impression that it’s perpetually looking for its bearings, and in a reactive mode. This is to be expected from a trade that is living off understanding changes occurring in application’s algorithm controlled by other entities. Indeed, the relationship is not one of equals. For SEO to perform, one needs to understand the interest of search engines. On that count, I’m observing that their concern for SEO stems from a quality assurance rather than a business development angle. The mere fact that our designated interlocutor at the largest search engine is the head of the spam team (even if he’s a great evangelist) is telling in that sense. Thanks to our previous experiences working at search engine companies, SEO Samba has integrated this dimension to make websites compliant with published guidelines at the outset. I think there’s also an opportunity for less of a schizophrenic relationship between search engines and SEO, but that’s a different discussion altogether.
[Jody]: Michel it was a pleasure. Enjoy your time at SMX West. We'll catch up with you at SES NY next month.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 10, 2009   0 comments
Interview with Michel Leconte CEO of SEO Samba - Part I
Monday, February 09, 2009
I had the chance to catch up with Michel Leconte, CEO of SEO Samba before he headed off to SMX West 2009 this week. Michel has a busy month of February so it was nice of him to take time out to chat with us. Michel is a great interview and provides some fascinating insight. So much so that we've broken up our interview into two parts. Enjoy!

[Jody]: Michel, can you start out by telling us a little more about yourself and how you got started in SEO and some of your motivations for creating SEO Samba?

[Michel Leconte]: I started to really work in SEO in 2001. At the time, I was working full time at an IT firm hit pretty hard by the dot-com bubble burst. SEO appeared as an interesting investment for us and our clients. In the meantime, my partner David Culot was helping travel and car search engine aggregators build their applications. As we grew in sophistication, so did our client size and over time I realized that the process was unduly painful, lengthy, and prone to errors. SEO is sold by professionals as a process that requires an ongoing effort from web site owners. However, there's no life cycle management built into what SEO experts deliver. As a result, the execution is a hit-and-miss game that generates an awful lot of delays, frustration, and, ultimately, lost revenues for both client and experts. Furthermore, SEO is time consuming to research and test for experts, costly to execute by hand for end-users, and takes very little advantage from the scale of the SEO agency or its customer business size.

[Jody]: Is this what motivated you to start SEO Samba?

[Michel Leconte]: Pretty much, yes. After a stint as CEO for a search engine specializing in business data, I was ready to focus on developing SEO Samba. With an increasing number of applications built in the cloud, development of social networks, progressive deployment of custom and universal search, and a maturing SEO services marketplace, we thought the industry was ripe for a change towards higher value-added services, and that "smart SEOs," as Matt Cutts call them, would crave additional bandwidth to focus on strategy and business development, both for them and their clients. We invented the first organic search management platform to facilitate systemic execution of best practices, adoption of "free-to-play" marketing channels, and enable professionals to scale their practice through software instead of payroll.

[Jody]: Due to the ever-changing nature of the industry, managing SEO best practice implementation can be difficult. Explain how SEO Samba can help streamline this process?

[Michel Leconte]: SEO Samba is built with the ever-evolving SEO landscape in mind. SEO Samba maximizes web site performance with search engines and other "free-to-play" digital marketing channels. It enables SEM firms and SEO experts to manage an unlimited number of organic search clients, projects and web sites from a single interface, and change SEO best practices across them all with a single click. Web marketers and professionals deploy and enforce best practices from a single point rather than manually coding these evolving best practices into each of these sites while hoping that end-users will not gradually undo these practices. SEO Samba facilitates execution and maintains the integrity of best practices while letting expert users adapt their best practices to changes in algorithms.

[Jody]: Very cool. The Internet is a quick way to find information. It's also a quick way to communicate information. As a result, there is a ton of information that online marketers, site owners and Webmasters must sift through. How does SEO Samba find the "best of the best" in terms of best practices for SEO?

[Michel Leconte]: SEO Samba provides a set of default best practices. However, the platform is flexible enough to allow experts to pick, fine-tune and add their own best practices prior to making them available to a select pool of their clients as they see fit. Web marketers and SEO experts are able to try different things and adapt their strategies as required. SEO Samba focuses on the needs of small and medium business, web marketers and giving additional ammunition to our SEO firm partners. We see organic search as a field increasingly going beyond text results.

[Jody]: We agree entirely.

[Michel Leconte]: Social applications, news, blogs, video are all "free-to-play" marketing channels but are costly to research, select, manage and integrate with other marketing endeavors. We address the manpower challenge faced by SMB by providing a high level of integration and minimizing web marketers' content creation efforts. For example, our first universal search module (provided free of charge) is a news module that provides a Google News-ready structure, news articles that are search optimized according to your chosen best practices, search friendly scrollers, automated RSS feeds creation, integrated with email newsletter platforms such as Constant Contact, Vertical Response etc. You can publish news across all your sites with a single click then aggregate news items across web sites to create unique newsletters and market to a cross segment of your email list and, finally, save these newsletters with one click to any of your web sites. Each of our upcoming modules will provide the same level of details to ensure web site visibility, while expanding the least time possible from users, content writers, marketers and SEO experts' perspectives.

[Jody]: SEO Samba will be at SMX West in Santa Clara (booth #321) and you will be discussing SEO automation's challenges and progress. Can you give us some insight into what some of these challenges are and how SEO Samba works to overcome these challenges?

[Michel Leconte]: It's quite easy to imagine how SEO Automation resolves issues endemic to providing services in general, such as a hit and miss execution processes through systemic implementation and the lack of lifecycle management of optimized web sites through appropriate historical data management such as automated 301 redirections and such. However, it is important to keep a set of simple-to-follow rules when designing a platform that touches on so many elements and factors. The number one engineering rule we set for ourselves was to design a platform that would leave zero footprints on published web sites. A seamlessly simple rule such as this one, however, brings a number of technological challenges every day to our team as we develop and integrate new components into SEO Samba.

From a practical standpoint, this means that web sites produced with SEO Samba are fully independent from our platform once uploaded to their publishing web servers, and that web pages do not include SEO Samba's specific code. In other words, web sites published with SEO Samba are W3C html compliant. This rule was set for its far reaching impact and benefits, including retaining full confidentiality for our SEM firm partners using SEO Samba on a white label basis, maximizing end-user web sites' availability and performances by not placing calls back to our servers, and optimizing hosting options for geo-location, response time, and SEO cross-linking value.

[Jody]: Great stuff! You'll also be at SES London in mid-February participating in an Organic Listings Forum http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/london/agenda-day2.html. Can you talk a little more about this and what attendees can expect to learn from this session?

[Michel Leconte]: This session is free form, attendees will bring up their challenges, and between Jill, Brett, Chris, and I we’ll try to bring answers on the spot, point resources, and generalize best practices from our analysis of these specific cases. So, if after a couple days of SES conferences in London, you still have unanswered questions, and need down to earth, practical advices about your web strategy and properties, this is a session you don’t want to miss out.

[Jody]: Yeah those open forum sessions are usually pretty good. It's always great to see that our peers are on the same page.

See I told you that Michel gives a great interview! We'll have part two of our interview with Michel tomorrow!

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posted by Jody @ Monday, February 09, 2009   0 comments
ASK.com Repositioned Yet Again As IAC Suffers In Q4
Friday, February 06, 2009
Well our former favorite Search Engine, ASK.com is being repositioned yet again as IAC had a poor Q4 as financial data was released this week. InterActive Corp. reported a 19% drop in Q4 media and advertising revenue — a more significant decline than any experienced by other publicly-traded internet search providers.

The Search Engine formerly known as ASK Jeeves continues to try and reposition itself as we have seen with the many changes of their search results pages over recent months. It all started last March when Ask.com announced plans to cater more closely to women... then in October it retooled search results so they appeared according to Marketing Vox as "... less as search listings and more like intuitive, highly detailed and multi-faceted responses to questions." ASK.com continues to slump with a 13% drop in operating income, from the previous year.

Related Stories

IAC Reports a Profit, But Ask.com Slumps - WSJ.com
Official IAC Q4 Press Release
IAC on Google Finance

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posted by Jody @ Friday, February 06, 2009   0 comments
B2B Resources: Forbes' Best of the Web in B2B
I came across an interesting section on Forbes.com on the best of the Web with regards to B2B. While the data is a little dated (2004 - 2005ish), there is a great list of B2B companies across a wide variety of industries including:

Advertising
Aerospace & Defense
Automotive
Business Process Outsourcing
Computers
Content Management
Customer Relationship Management
Financial Services
Knowledge Services
Procurement
Supply Chain Management
Web Services
Wireless

Companies mentioned include some popular B2B brands including IBM, Oracle, Grainger, SAP, Salesforce and Net Suite. Of the many compnaies found in each of the industries Forbes has picked their "Best of the Web" selection and provided a brief history about the company as seen in this example for Grainger.

Check out Forbes Best of the Web in B2B: http://www.forbes.com/bow/b2b/main.jhtml

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posted by Jody @ Friday, February 06, 2009   0 comments
Yahoo Launches Search Pad... or Should We Say Scrape Pad
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Yesterday, Yahoo began testing a new feature called Search PadTM to (as Yahoo describes) help users effortlessly capture websites that they find on Yahoo! Search and organize that information to complete important tasks.

According to Yahoo research, people often use word-processing documents, sticky notes, emails, bookmarks (or a combination of the above) to record what they find on the Web. Yahoo Search Pad works to understand user intent by detecting users’ research intent, automatically collecting visited sites, and providing simple tools for users to organize and add notes – all in one place.

There has already been some backlash about the tool as many feel that Search Pad is simply a glorified scraping tool. As a result you may want to consider blocking Search Pad from potentially scraping your site's content.

We should mention that Search Pad is currently only in testing and is not visible to all users. Here's a brief demo as provided by Yahoo:

Yahoo! Search Pad Preview @ Yahoo! Video


Yahoo's Official Announcement about Search Pad

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 05, 2009   1 comments
Google Names New Head of Google Canada
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Yesterday, Google announced that Jonathan Lister was named Managing Director and Head of Google Canada. Jonathan was most recently the Senior Vice President of Operations for AOL Europe. In his new role, Jonathan will focus on continuing to build Google's brand and reach in the Canadian business community, as well as developing and executing Google's market strategy within Canada.

According to Google's official press release:
"Jonathan combines great expertise about the Canadian online market and experience in search, marketing, sales and partnerships that will be integral to our continued growth in Canada," says Penry Price, Vice President, Advertising Sales, Google North America , "On behalf of all my colleagues at Google, we welcome Jonathan to the team."
Full Press Release:
http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/pressrel/20090202managingdirector.html

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 03, 2009   0 comments
Online Media & Search: Major Trends of 2008
Compete has released some interesting findings on online media and search. Compete took a look back at the major trends in Online Media & Search over the past year and made some predictions for 2009. Some of the interesting findings include:
  • The top 5 search engines account for 95% of internet searches - no surprise here

  • Google led the way again in 2008, capturing 68% market share of 116 • billion search queries made last year

  • Search Query Volume Volume of monthly search queries at the leading 5 engines, December 2007 – 2008 In a year when most other search engines lost or slightly grew query • volume, Google grew 49% to nearly 8b monthly queries

Online Media 2008
View more presentations from CompeteBlog. (tags: media online)

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 03, 2009   0 comments
14 Tips for Image Optimization for Blended Search Results
Sunday, February 01, 2009
We've previously discussed our thoughts on blended search optimization and about the importance of optimizing for blended search as part of your SEO strategy. With Google and the other engines testing the waters with blended results, we are seeing more items such as news results, video results and blog results appear on the SERPs.

Of the blended results, most marketers tend to overlook image optimization. Instead focusing on the continued optimization of the web pages or of videos or their blog content. We understand that there are various types of blended search results, so many webmasters are selective in the types of content that they optimize. Quite often, image optimization gets lost in the optimization process. Yet image optimization can easily be accomplished with some key best practices.

14 Tips for Image Optimization
  1. Use Unique Images - duplicating an image that already exists will be difficult to optimize for and be found for as chances are that the search engines have already indexed this image on numerous occasions. Search engines are looking for unique content, it's no different with images.

  2. Optimize Your Images for Size - large images can affect your page load time and result in a poor experience for your users. Ensure that your images are optimized for size and quick load times.

  3. Pay Attention to Quality - images that have great contrast tend to work better than images that do not. When images are reduced down to the thumbnail size, stronger contrast is needed to better discern image. This will lead to more people clicking and linking to image. Quality of images can affect the user experience.

  4. Image Filenames are Important - this one is a no-brainer or so you would think, but look at the images on your site. How many of them contain a relevant keyword? Yes where possible include relevant, descriptive keywords in your image filenames. Be sure to use hyphens as word separators if the filename will contain more than one word. Keywords in filename is key for image optimization. For the record, if you've already named your images, do not go and rename them. This could result in broken image links throughout your site and could affect you link quality.

  5. Use Alt Tags on Images - be sure to make use of an accurate, descriptive alt attribute for your images. Do not abuse this though. Do not spam your image alt text as this feature was invented to help with accessibility not search engine optimization. If you can place keywords in your alt text make sure that it is relevant to the image itself.

  6. Use a Caption By Your Image - Placing a small caption directly under, on top or on the side of your image will help inform the search engines what the image is about. This can be a great place to add relevant keywords.

  7. Surround Images with Relevant Keyword Rich Text - similar to the above point, ensure that the keyword density of the page copy around the image is keyword rich to boost the relevancy of the image.

  8. Optimize the Page - again similar to the previos points, optimize the entire page for relevant keywords that are related to the image.

  9. Include Images in News Releases, Articles and Press Releases - this is a great way to optimize images for blended search. Most press release distribution resources allow you to embed or include images. Be sure to leverage this option where possible.

  10. Consider Creating an Image Sitemap - there are standard HTML sitemaps, XML sitemaps, and video sitemaps. Create an image sitemap to promote important images on your site.

  11. File Structure - it is important not to block the search engines from being able to access your image folder. If they cannot find you images, how do you expect them to index them? More importantly, how do you expect to receive traffic from being listed in the blended results of the engines if they cannot locate your images.

  12. Tagging - the use of tagging, similar to above options can help inform the search engines about the topic of the image.

  13. Avoid Including Text in Images - while the search engines are getting better at this, they still have some difficulty in indexing content that is found within images. Look for this to improve, but for now, it's better to be safe than sorry.

  14. Be Relevant - include images where it makes sense to do so. Use images to enhance your copy and your content to enrich the user experience on your site. If you are blogging about a news story and have pictures taken from the event, include one or two in the blog post to help enrich the story.
Following these 14 tips will help ensure that your images get indexed in the search engines. With the engines going more towards blended results (we wish that ASK.com would bring back ASK 3-D) look for more blended results to appear in the SERPs. Optimizing your images is but one part of your blended search optimization strategy. You will still want to focus on blog optimization, optimization of press releases and on video optimization as part of your blended search strategy.

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, February 01, 2009   3 comments
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