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Top 10 Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Moments
Sunday, February 28, 2010
My previous post shared my feelings of how successful I thought the Olympics have been from a fan's perspective.  The 2010 Winter Olympic games from Vancouver has been a tremendous success.  If you have ever been an athlete, you will know that with many sports there are a diverse range of emotions that are experienced.  Watching the Olympics and cheering for your countrymen and women, you experience a lot of these same emotions albeit on a different scale.

For many in Canada, a sport like hockey is a religion.  Whether you play, coach, ref or watch it, hockey is a part of most Canadians lives.  To see Wayne Gretzky in the opening ceremonies carry and light the torch was pretty special.  To see the passion expressed as the men's Canadian team experienced a 5-3 loss to our arch rivals the United States was incredible.  The 2010 Winter Olympics have had their share of ups and downs as all Olympics do, but for me these games have been the most impressive for me.  To illustrate, let us share our top 10 moments of the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver.

Top 10 2010 Winter Olympic Games Moments

  1.  Canadian Women's Figure Skater; Joannie Rochette's brave performance - (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Four days after her mother unexpectedly passed away due to a heart attack, Joannie Rochette earned Olympic bronze.  Her mother Therese had arrived in Vancouver only to succumb to a heart attack upon arriving.  When I first heard about this news, I felt a little numb.  Strange considering the fact that I never knew the Rochette's, but as a Canadian I like many other Canadians felt the pain of Joannie and her family.  A part of me thought that oh no, there's no way she can compete now.  Yet true to the Canadian way, on Tuesday night, Joannie Rochette performed in one of the most amazing, inspiring and focused performances that I have ever witnessed.  Finishing third after the skate with one more skate to come, Joannie lifted a nation to their feet, with tears and a sense of pride, she had the entire country's support. Yesterday night she completed the second half of her skate, securing a bronze medal in the women's figure skating program.  The first time a Canadian woman has been on the medal podium in this event since 1988 in Calgary. 

    This was a true awe-inspiring performance.  I'm not sure who they were thinking will be Canadian flag bearer at the closing ceremonies, but I know who my choice would be.  Congratulations Joannie, you are a hero to many Canadians and Olympians.  Well done.

  2. Death on Day One - I was working from home with the TV on in the background when TSN went to a sports break and showed footage, the one and only time they showed the footage, of Nodar Kumaritashviliv, the 21-year-old Georgian luger who died from a crash during a training run.  The young athlete was thrown through the air at speeds of nearly 150 km/hr striking his head and body on a girder beside the track.  I'm not sure if I have ever seen a more disturbing piece of footage.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Nodar Kumaritashviliv who was taken from them too young.  

  3.  Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Games - very impressive to say the least.  Loved the show which at times seemed like a major Cirque de Soleil production.  My favorite was the whales swimming through the floor of the stadium.  Coupled with a haunting performance from KD Lang, mastering Leonard Cohen's "Hallelulliah".  Then to see Canadian royalty from Bobby Orr, Anne Murray, Donald Sutherland, Betty Fox; mother of Canadian hero Terry Fox, and other Canadian legends march out with Wayne Gretzky carrying the torch and lighting the Olympic cauldron.  Pretty cool even with some of the technical glitches. Reports suggest the opening ceremonies cost $30-40 million.  Some will say it wasn't worth it, but at the end of the day Canada put on a great show.

    The list of flag bearers can be found here.

  4. Canada's first gold medal on home soil - With this being the third time (Montreal 1976, Calgary 1988) that Canada has hosted the Olympics, Canadian athletes had never won a gold medal on Canadian soil.  Well the inevitable happened as Alex Bilodeau won gold in Men's Moguls on Day Two of the games.  When all is said and done Canadian athletes may be taking home closer to a dozen gold medals from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. 

  5. Jon Montgomery from Russell Manitoba winning Gold in the Men's Skeleton - with a US-like celebration Jon Montgomery is Olympic champion in Men's Skeleton.  With a Canadian flag draped over his back as he ran through the streets celebrating, someone passes Jon a jug of beer and in true Canadian fashion he proceeds to drink it and drink it.  Classic moment.

  6. Closing Ceremonies - they haven't even happened yet at the time of this writing, but we expect big things.  Reports suggest that part of the performance will be Alberta-bred band Nickelback rocking out. 

  7. Canadian Women Bobsled Dominance - Bobsleigh dominance.  a gold and silver medal in the same event.  'Nuff Said.  The bobsleigh gold medal won Wednesday night by Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse alongside Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown who took home the silver medal.

  8. Canada' Curling Mastery - both, Canada's men's and women's curling teams played exceptional on their way to Gold medal matchups.  On the men's side, Canadian skip, Kevin Martin made some remarkable shots during the tournament resulting in a gold medal performance.  Cheryl Bernard was in search of Canada's first gold medal in women's curling since 1998.  A great round robin performance with the Canadian rink finishing first culminated in a gold medal matchup vs. the defending world champs from Sweden.  One shot away from Gold, but the ladies fell short earning the silver medal.  Still an excellent performance.  Congratulations to both teams.

  9. Canada's Hockey  Dominance - well the Canadian women did it again winning their third gold medal out of the past four Winter Olympics.  Similar to the 2002 games in Salt Lake where both the men's and women's team claimed gold, Canada has shown who the true superpower in hockey really is.  On the men's side strong another strong performance by Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames, arguably the best player on the team for the duration of the tournament.  Iginila, not Crosby was the star of this team with young Drew Doughty also coming into his own. 

    Could the US be spoilers for millions of Canadians?  I say thee nay. 

    Quite possibly the most important hockey game in Canada's history.  A win would mean that Canada sets the record for most gold medals at a single Olympics.  Nobody has ever won 14 gold medals at an Olympic games.  Canada to own the podium?  They definitely own the top step of it, that is for sure.  Congratulations to all athletes.

  10. Finland women's hockey team winning bronze - a bit of a surprise here, as the Finns played well enough to earn a bronze medal and were in good spirits as they received their medals with some of them writing "Thanks Vancouver" on the palm of their hands.  The men's team also won bronze in hockey after an amazing game with Slovakia.


    posted by Jody @ Sunday, February 28, 2010  
    2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver: Success from a Fan's Perspective
    Friday, February 26, 2010
    Can you believe that the 2010 Olympic Winter Games from Vancouver is entering the final weekend?  As a proud Canadian, I think that they have been a great couple of weeks, especially after such a tragic start to the games a on the opening day.

    I have enjoyed the games greatly.  With unmatched coverage from the CTV network here in Canada including coverage from TSN and Sportsnet, it has been inspiring and entertaining to hear the stories of the athletes who have competed in the games for Canada and all participating countries.  Dare I say that the coverage has been so great that I have not even had the urge to check out NBC's coverage.  Tremendous coverage all around.  If you missed anything, check out out top 10 2010 Winter Olympic Games Moments.

    While Canadian officials, prior to the games, stated that Canada would "own the podium" (which I love by the way), Canadian athletes came out as they typically do and were a little sporadic in terms of being crowned Olympic champions.  The past couple of days has been a different story.  Canadians have been making regular trips to the podium with some truly amazing performances.  From speed skating to bobsledding, the Canadian athletes have not disappointed.  With but a couple days left in the 2010 games, expect a few more exceptional performances from Canadians.  Canadian teams are vying for medals in both curling and hockey while there are still medals to be claimed in snowboarding, skiing and speed skating events.

    I love the Winter Olympics.  Ever since I was a kid, I remember watching them on TV and cheering for my fellow countrymen and women as they skied, slid, skated, shot and flew through the air in the various Olympic sporting events.  The 2010 games in Vancouver have, from what I have seen been a tremendous success.  The Nation's pride, the flowing colors of red and white in the streets has put a smile on my face.  Vancouver is a great city to begin with.  I had the privilege of living there for three years, it is one of the greatest cities in the world in the greatest country on the planet.  Vanoc has done a great job and the city of Vancouver should be proud as should the rest of Canada be.

    O Canada, the true north strong and free.


    posted by Jody @ Friday, February 26, 2010  
    Interlinking Strategy: Establish an Interlinking Process
    Thursday, February 25, 2010
    Developing an interlinking strategy is a key piece of optimizing your web properties. Quite often many site owners do not take the time to properly plan their interlinking strategy. The process outlined below is designed to provide some insight as to how you should proceed when establishing your interlinking strategy.  While this process can be modified according to how advanced your current interlinking strategy is, if anything else, establishing a process will at least ensure that interlinking is a line item as part of your overall optimization strategy.

    1. Take inventory of your site pages – you need to have an idea of what you have to work with when it comes to interlinking.

    2. Evaluate Current Internal Link inventory – using tools such as Google Webmaster Tools http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools, can provide great insight into how your site is currently being interlinked.
            Identify key pages to link from (i.e. donor pages)
            Identify key pages to link to (i.e. recipient pages)
            Identify current broken link inventory using tools such as XENU

    1. Keyword Research/Anchor Text – become educated on which keywords you want to incorporate into the anchor text of your links. 

    2. Determine Link Type Usage - determine which types of links will best suit the needs of your audience factoring in SEO benefit as well. 
            Text links from within page copy
            Top Navigation links
            Sitemap links
            Sidebar navigation links
            Footer links
            Image Links

    1. Identify Engagement - which areas of the site are users frequenting the most?  Which areas of the site are the highest converting?  Use data from your site’s analytics and internal site search to identify user engagement.

    2. Develop an Interlinking Map – Create a visual representation of how you want to interlink your site pages.  Quite often this is based on content silos or your site hierarchy.

    3. Establish Interlinking Requirements – based on interlinking best practices for SEO and usability.

    4. Finalize Interlinking Map – this identifies the approach that you will be using for interlinking your web properties.

    5. Implementation - roll out Interlinking Strategy

    6. Monitor - monitor internal links through tools such as your analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.


    posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 25, 2010  
    Twitter Ads: How Will They Affect Your Twitter Experience?
    Tuesday, February 23, 2010
    So, one of the worst kept secrets out there has resurfaced again, reports suggest that Twitter will be launching an ad platform within the next 30-60 days.  Twitter's head of  product management, Anamitra Banerji told MediaPost that they are currently working on an ad platform, but it is only in the test phrase right now.  She added that the company will ensure that the ads are "explicitly clear" that a sponsor paid for the ad.  The goal is to make the ads appear so that the "user doesn't think of it as an ad". 

    So let me get this straight, the ads will be clear, but they will not appear as an ad and be masked as a possibly a hash tag or regular tweet?  What does this mean for users of Twitter?  Again here is another platform being used to serve up ads to users.  Has anyone asked the users if this is what they want?  Or is that why the goal is to make the ads appear so that the user doesn't think of it as an ad?  Still seems a little misleading to me.

    Twitter can still be considered a social community.  It is a place where people go to share information, 140 characters, at a time.  Some say it (Twitter) is a fad and will burn itself out as soon as the next online darling comes along (and you know it will).  The thing with social environments is that once someone or something comes in and is perceived as an "outsider" the users tend to either push back or leave to find a more dedicated social environment.  What impact will an ad-laden Twitter have on Twitter users?  Will there be a backlash or will people even care?  Let me pose a couple of questions to folks out there:
    • Why do people turn the channel when a commercial comes on?
    • Why has the PVR or TiVo become so popular?
    People are being bombarded with advertising.  On TV, in video games, on billboards, on athletes, on YouTube, on Search Engine Results pages, on websites, in social networks like Facebook.  People are exposed to more advertising than ever before.  At what point do we draw a line?  At what point to we stop with the "Push" promotional strategies? When is it too much?  The consumer is in control and I'm pretty sure that they only want to be exposed to advertising on their terms, not on a 24/7 basis.  Could this be a reason as to why people are becoming less brand loyal?  Can you build or retain trust by "forcing" ads on people?  If people want to share their experiences via a social network they will continue to do so, if they want to share more details in a creative way, they will use resources such as mylikes.com to share their experiences via a sponsored "like".  At the end of the day, it is about the power of influence and how engaged a person will become with an ad (conspicuous or not).

    I'm not a big fan of Twitter, it takes me away from the important things in life.  I choose when, where and how I allow advertisers to engage with me.  Advertising on Twitter?  Of course it is inevitable.  It is all about the advertising dollar.  Will they affect my experience on Twitter?  I'm probably not the best one to ask as I am not a devoted Twitterer.  I do think however, that if the ads are any bit intrusive, we will see a change in how (or how many) people engage with Twitter.  Then again perhaps users will just develop "Twit-Ad" blindness.


    posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 23, 2010  
    5 Keys to Interlinking Success
    Friday, February 19, 2010
    Original Post from ASK Enquiro.

    Lately, we have been asked a number of questions about interlinking and what is the best approach to take when interlinking your website pages. This is a great discussion and so I thought that I would share some interlinking tips that you might find useful. In the past, I’ve discussed interlinking benefits for B2B websites, but really interlinking is something that all site owners should take seriously.

    Before we dive right into the tips though, let’s make sure that we are on the same page when we refer to interlinking. Interlinking as it is being referred to here is simply the process of linking from one of your website pages to another of your own website pages. The purpose of interlinking at the heart of it all is really in terms of navigation, to take the user from one page to another relevant page. So as an example, if you are a website that sells hockey skates, you might have a page on how to properly tie your hockey skates, it then makes sense to link to a page about skate laces. Relevancy is a key factor when it comes to interlinking.

    Of course there are those out there who are going to tell you that interlinking has to be a complex web sculpted in such a manner to maximize the linking that is taking place… blah, blah, blah. We are not going to get into things like PageRank sculpting and such. I, personally, have never been entirely sold on the whole PageRank sculpting thing anyway. Interlinking does not have to be complicated to be successful, it just has to make sense. The following tips can help you make sense of your interlinking strategy and the means to which you effectively interlink your site’s pages.

    5 Keys to Interlinking Success

    1. Take Inventory of Your Web Pages – the first thing that you need to do before you even start interlinking is to take an inventory of your site pages. This becomes difficult for all of you large dynamic site owners out there, but really you should have some sort of idea as to the size and structure of your site. If you do not, you may have made some mistakes with your site redesign. Regardless, taking inventory of your site’s page is a good first step in planning your interlinking strategy. In fact, taking inventory of your site pages is a necessary step when planning your interlinking strategy.

    2. Determine Areas of Strength & Areas for Improvement – evaluate your current internal linking structure. This is important to determine which areas of your site are currently well interlinked and which areas are not. Again, let’s keep it simple, no need to complicate things here.

    3. Map Out Your Interlinking Ideas - once you have taken inventory of your webpages and you have determined which areas of your site need some help, you can map out an initial plan for interlinking your site pages. Is there a section of your site that the focus needs to be on? Or perhaps there are certain product pages that require some lift? Wherever the issue, mapping out a few interlinking scenarios can help illustrate where you can get the best bang for your buck when it comes to interlinking your site.

    4. Leverage Proper Tools – there are a number of free and inexpensive tools that can be of great assistance when evaluating your current internal linking structure. For starters I recommend using Google Webmaster Tools. This is a great tool for performing link analysis (both internal and external). Be prepared to review your internal links regularly with GWT. Want to check for broken links, use tools such as XENU to determine where you need to tidy up and update some of your existing links. Another tool that can come in quite handy is SEOmoz’s LinkScape tool. While, we’re not big fans of MozRank and such, this tool can be used to gain some insight into your own interlinking status as well as that of your competition.

    5. Remember the things that make a “good link” a “good link” – As a reminder, link quality is what we are all looking for. A quality link from an SEO perspective is one that comes from a relevant page that features relevant keywords in the page title, in the linking text (anchor text) and in the page copy from the page that is linking. When interlinking your own site pages, keep this in mind so that you can improve the quality of your interlinking practices.

    Interlinking is an important part of optimizing your website, not just for search engines, but for your site visitors. A link is like a teleportation device that can take your user from page A to page B with but a simple click. Make that click meaningful. Planning and mapping out an interlinking strategy can provide your site visitors with a cleaner and more efficient site experience


    posted by Jody @ Friday, February 19, 2010  
    Homepage Optimization Best Practices
    Wednesday, February 17, 2010
    How many times have you visited a site, landed on their homepage and thought wtf, how did I get here?  Man, if I had a nickel for every time that has happened.  There are numerous sites out there that just do not understand the importance of their homepage.  Maybe it is just me, but I often refer to a website as a book or a magazine, and part of the reason a book or magazine can be appealing is because of the cover, or in this case the homepage. Homepage optimization, and not just for search, but for your visitors can be the foundation to becoming an online destination of choice.

    The homepage is arguably still the most important page on your website.  Chances are this is the page that users will come to based on their search queries (either branded or non-branded) depending on how well your site is optimized.

    Your homepage needs to accomplish a number of things:
    • Act as a portal to the rest of your site
    • Answer questions to reassure that the visitor has arrived at the right place
    • Entice the visitor to take further action on your site (either browsing or following through with a conversion)
    • Prevent your visitors from “bouncing” and visiting your competition
    Now, before I proceed, I must say that the subject matter of this post is based on my experience and largely on my preferences.  I have had a lot of success in assisting client with their online marketing efforts from an organic (natural) search perspective, so I must be doing something right.

    It seems as though when webmasters and site owners launch their homepage, they do so in one of two ways:
    1. Flash and Dash
    2. Adequate & Conservative or Bold & Dated
    Flash and dash is where you can tell that the web design firm has had freedom to pretty much do whatever they want and while it might have the latest bells and whistles, it fails to identify and address the needs of the target audience and./or the search engines.   Quite often the "flash and dash" homepage is:
    • too busy with too many things going on
    • too slow from a page load time perspective
    • lacks useful navigation
    • lacks "spiderable" content thereby hindering SEO efforts
    Examples of sites that would fall into the "Flash & Dash" category include:

    Sportsnet.ca - they have actually cleaned it up a little as of late
    Disney - now this is an exception to the rule as you would expect Disney's sites to be Flash heavy
    Coca-Cola - not bad, but still some missed opportunities

    On the contrary we have what I refer to as the "Adequate & Conservative/Bold & Dated" homepage, one that may be a little boring and while has lots of great content for the search engines to crawl is aesthetically unattractive, typical and  more of a late '90's feel to it.    This type of homepage is typically:
    • featuring too much copy which dilutes the subject matter of what the site is really about
    • poor design elements
    • features too many link options or conversely not enough
    • key content below the fold
    While not homepage specific, here is an example of what we are talking about.Some other examples include:
    • UPS
    • Cool House Plans
    • Mustang Depot
    • Colgate

    There are lots of other examples out there as well.

    Now not all is bad out in the World Wide Web.  There are examples of sites that have a nice combination of web design, usability and SEO such as:
    • Oracle
    • Virgin America
    • Geico
    • Salesforce
    So what separates the homepages of these sites?  Why are there so many big brands that have a terrible homepage?  Well perhaps it is because so many of these brands were either too early to develop their online presence or are just now catching up to where they should be.  Regardless if site owners would just take some time and follow some best practices when it comes to their homepage, the 'Net would be a much cleaner and nicer place.

    Homepage Optimization Best Practices

    There are some fundamentals that should be considered when designing a homepage.

    1.  Find the Balance Between Design / Usability & SEO - quite often the focus is on only one of these items, as a result the homepage suffers.  Avoid having your design team dominate the conversation, be sure to factor in things such as usability and SEO.

    2. Branding is Important - little things like company colors and the company logo can go a long way when it comes to designing your homepage.

    3. Navigation - be sure that the homepage features clear and intuitive navigation from the homepage.  you might want to consider avoiding having too many navigation elements on the homepage.  Conversely we have seen examples of sites where their homepage is in essence their sitemap which is not always a bad idea either.  Staples is an example of such as site.   Ensure that your homepage features some intuitive main navigation (such as a top nav bar) and includes a link to your sitemap (and not to your XML sitemap).

    4. Be Considerate of Your Homepage URL - from a user perspective, it can become very frustrating if you have seven different variations of your homepage URL.  Let's take Merrill Lynch for example, would you prefer http://www.ml.com/ or this:
      http://www.ml.com/index.asp?id=7695_15125?  Both will take you to their homepage, but which one would you rather bookmark?   Your true homepage URL should always be something like this: 

    5. Content is your Friend - what is the big fear about having content on your homepage?  Really, if this is the only page that a potential customer will engage with, you had better be able to answer their questions or concerns.  You need to educate them as to why your company can solve their pains and how you can address their needs.  It does not hurt to have a paragraph of a minimum of 100-150 words on your homepage.  Without being spammy, considering leveraging relevant keyword placement for your most important key phrases on your homepage.  On-page optimization needs to be a factor with the content that you display on your homepage.

    6. Title Tag Optimization - the homepage is probably the only page on your site where the title tag should feature your brand early followed by relevant keyword second.  Typically, this is opposite to how your title tags should read for your internal pages.

    7. Avoid Having Two Versions of Your Homepage when possible - some will use a Flash version along with a static version of the homepage.  While there might be some examples of when you should do this and when this may be acceptable I say, why confuse the user?  Present them with a single homepage unless it is absolutely necessary to have a "split" homepage.

    8. Page Load Time / Coding - here is one for the SEO folks.  Try to avoid having excess coding on your homepage.  Try to have clean coding and optimized page elements so that the page load time of your homepage is not affected in a negative manner.  Avoid things such as large Flash files and large images.

    9. Have a minimum of one clear call to action above the fold - this could be in the form of a unique toll free phone number at the top of the page or a "click here" to download a white paper button.  If you want the visitor to take an action on your homepage, help them out.

    10. Test Elements of Your Homepage - and finally, without getting too "crazy", test elements of your homepage.  You probably do not want to get too drastic, but try variations of content (that can be crawled and indexed by the search engines), leverage your prime real estate.
    Your website can be a great tool for your business.  As such you want to keep it polished as best as you can.  Just like your front lawn of your property, you should take pride in your homepage and find that nice mix of aesthetics and usability combined with some SEO 101 and your homepage should be well received by your site visitors. Planning an upcoming website redesign?  Consider carefully planning out what you want your homepage to look like and more importantly, what you want it to accomplish.

      Labels: ,

      posted by Jody @ Wednesday, February 17, 2010  
      WordStream Announces Affiliate Marketing Program
      Tuesday, February 16, 2010
      Earlier today, WordStream Inc. has announced the launch of a new affiliate program where:
      Website Owners Can Earn $10 per Lead and 25% on Sales of WordStream Search Marketing Software Products 
      Official Press Release:
      BOSTON – February, 16 2010 – WordStream, Inc., a provider of keyword research tools for pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts involving large numbers of keywords, announced today that they are launching a new affiliate marketing program.
      The WordStream Affiliate Program is designed to reward marketers and website owners who promote WordStream software products. The company’s award-winning suite of custom PPC and SEO tools make it easy for search marketers to analyze, group and research keywords for greater relevancy and productivity, leading to enhanced search marketing performance.
      Here are some accolades for WordStream from prominent search marketing publications:
      “WordStream is a must-have keyword management tool for PPC marketers.” Ann Smarty - Search Engine Journal
      “WordStream is an SEM tool that specifically helps raise productivity for handling, assembling, and segmenting your keyword list.” Josh Dreller - Search Engine Land
      “Comparing any of the already existing keyword management software to WordStream is like comparing a paper airplane with a supersonic fighter bomber.” Mihaela Lica - Everything PR
      The affiliate marketing program with WordStream is easy to join. Website owners can become members with no cost or obligation. By becoming a WordStream affiliate, individuals can earn a generous income of:
      ·       $10 per lead for WordStream PPC Software Free Trial Signup
      ·       25% commission on all sales of WordStream’s SEO Software (including renewals)
      To assist with the promotion of their products, WordStream provides affiliates a host of custom marketing collateral, which includes banner advertisements, email copy, product brochures, case studies and designated landing pages. Additionally, all affiliates will receive links to add to their websites, which will track referrals on all leads and sales for a period of 90 days. 
      To join or get more information, go to: http://www.affiliate.wordstream.com
      About WordStream
      WordStream is a provider of SEO and PPC solutions for continuously optimizing and expanding search marketing efforts, involving large numbers of keywords. WordStream provides a scalable, private online keyword workbench for conducting keyword discovery, keyword research, keyword grouping and search marketing workflow and for turning research into action.
      WordStream believes that an organization's keywords are a valuable, proprietary asset, and that organizing, prioritizing, coordinating and executing of PPC and SEO efforts around a comprehensive, researched and up-to-date keyword taxonomy is the key to PPC and SEO success. Keyword management improves search marketing productivity and enables greater relevance, which enhances the value of search marketing efforts.
      WordStream Press Contact: 
      Ken Lyons, Marketing Manager


      posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 16, 2010  
      Single Word Keyword Searches Up? Long-Tail Dead? Unlikely
      So I came across this post from Matt McGee that states that one-word searches were up in 2009.  This is based on data from Hitwise stating that single word searches increased by 17% in 2009.  While longer searches, for the most part, declined.  This goes against data that was shared from some of the major search engines during the past year.  I was at SES NY 2009 in March and a couple of representatives from the major search engines shared data that suggested users are searching by using more keywords in their queries.  This makes total sense as searchers become more savvy in using the Web.

      I would question the 2009 data from Hitwise, just based on what I have seen from a number of my client's analytics and personal trends.  In January, Hitwise released some additional data suggesting that eight or more word searches experienced the greatest increase from December 2009 to January 2010 as seen here:

      Single word searches actually dropped by 3% during this period.

      Before you go off and start thinking that long-tail is dead, think again.  Long-tail keywords still drive more qualified traffic and still tend to perform better in terms of conversions.  I would expect us to see an increasing trend in the length of search queries that people conduct.

      As we have discussed in the past, an ideal keyword strategy should focus on head (typically one or two word general queries), torso (typically a three to five word query) and long-tail (typically a three or four plus word query).  Depending on your target audience, you will need to determine the best balance there.  Also depending on the stage of the purchase funnel that the searcher may be at, the more specific their queries might be.  The fact is, is that single word keyword searches will also be popular as users begin their quest for information online.    According to the most recent data from Hitwise, 67% of searches are for three or less words.

      This is definitely an interesting trend to watch, the fact is that long-tail optimization is not dead and that while single keyword searches continue to have the greatest share of all searches, users are incorporating more keywords into their search queries.  This trend will continue in 2010 and beyond as the typical user of a search engine become more efficient at browsing the Web and searching for their information.


      posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 16, 2010  
      Understanding Attribution: Taking the Confusion Out of Attribution
      Thursday, February 11, 2010
      Original Post:  ASK Enquiro

      So we get a number of questions about attribution. What is attribution? Which attribution model should we be using? Is there an ideal attribution model? What is a typical attribution model look like? How accurate is one attribution model vs. another?

      Before I go on, I would like to say that I am by no means an expert on attribution. The purpose of this article is to really open up a dialogue and help take some of the confusion out of attribution as it pertains to marketing specifically online marketing.  People have been trying to figure out attribution for years and quite honestly, very few have a good handle on it.  Of course there are different types of attribution and with the digital age there are new types of attribution emerging such as last click attribution, 30, 60 or 90 days back attribution, multi-channel attribution, multi-campaign attribution and the list goes on.  Where to begin?
      Let us start by sharing some common definitions of attribution:
      • the process of awarding different marketing events different levels of commission
      • placing value on various marketing efforts that lead to a sale
      • the process of assigning value or credit to marketing sources that result in a conversion
      • a method for assigning a worth to an action, a person or event
      Really at the end of the day, attribution is about giving credit where credit is due.  The definitions above are all correct.  Attribution is about assigning a value to a marketing action that results in a reaction from your target audience (i.e. customer).  Again giving credit where credit is due.  Conversely, attribution is also about being accountable for.

      The Recipe for Attribution
      For attribution to work you need a couple of key ingredients:
      1. Business Objectives – the clearer the better.  You need to know what the end goal of your campaign is.
      2. Accurate Analytics/Tracking – you need to be able to accurately track all of the attributes that are present in your conversion process.
      3. All Touchpoints Identified – if you miss one, and just one, your attribution distribution is negatively impacted and becomes less accurate.
      Let’s look at a typical scenario.  This past weekend many of us watched the Super Bowl (congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, on a great season…).  Viewers are tuned into some of the most expensive advertisements ever produced.  So let’s say that you are looking to purchase a new car.  While you were watching the Super Bowl, you happened to the commercial for Hyundai Sonata.  You had previously done some research and Hyundai was one your shortlist as part of your consideration set.  Then you perform a search in Google for “Hyundai Sonata”then happen to click on the top organic listing which is for www.hyundaiusa.com/sonata/.  You bookmark the site.  You do some research and then jump off to another unrelated site.  Then on the weekend you meet with a friend who hands you a magazine with an ad or a review for a Hyundai Sonata.  You go back to the site that you bookmarked.  You then go online that night a perform a search for “Hyundai dealers” in .  You happen to live in Seattle, so you click on a sponsored listing for Hyundai of Kirkland.  You then click back and find that there is a local listing for a Hyundai dealership not 15 minutes from your home.  You visit the dealership and obtain more information.  The deal presents you with a DVD outlining some of the features of the Hyundai Sonata.  You review and a week later you go back to the dealership and purchase a 2010 Hyundai Sonata.

      As the marketing in this case, the folks at Hyundai can in fact attribute pieces of the sale to the various items that you were exposed to.  The original Super Bowl ad, your previous organic search tasks, the magazine ad, the sponsored listing(s) that you clicked on etc etc.  While this may be an extreme example, you get the point.  Attribution is complex at the best of times, so taking the time to clearly identify a typical conversion path becomes important for the purposes of attributing a value to each of the marketing efforts.

      Something to keep in mind is that attribution may not ever be 100% accurate.  People are different and while there may be some common reasoning as to how or why they make a purchase, things like semantic mapping and experience are not the same for everyone.  As a result, it is hard to determine what influenced a person to make the decision they did at that single point in time.  Having clear business objectives, proper tracking and analytics and being able to accurately assign a value to your marketing efforts can provide a more useful method for attribution.  You will have a better idea of where your marketing dollars are best spent.

      Labels: ,

      posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 11, 2010  
      Which Search Engine Will Have the Best Coverage of the Vancouver Winter Olympics?
      Wednesday, February 10, 2010
      So beginning on Friday, not more than four hours from where I live, the Vancouver Winter Olympics will take place.  The whole province seems tot be abuzz with the event.  It seems as though it has happened so fast since the decision was made that Vancouver and Whistler would be hosting the 2010 Winter games. 

      You know that the coverage is going to be fast and furious.  In Canada, CTV will have extensive coverage on the games from Vancouver.  It will be interesting to see just how people engage with the search engines to find information related to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.  Perhaps a more likely scenario might be resources such as Twitter or website of the official television stations carrying the game such as NBC in the US and CTV as mentioned above in Canada.

      Being in the search marketing field, I wanted to take a look at each of the major search engines to see how they will be covering the Olympics.  Two days before the events is supposed to start this is what I found.

      A search in Google for "Vancouver winter olympics" returned 16,900,000 results with the first page of results looking something like this:

      So we are seeing a cool Vancouver Winter Olympics icon at the top of the organic results followed by some timely news results and the official Vancouver 2010 website.  Further down on the page we get more blended results with some real-time search results, as well as some video results at the bottom of the page.

      Over at Yahoo, when we perform the same search query, we get 65,700,000 results returned and see something like this:

      • we get a news cast video courtesy of Yahoo Sports
      • we get the official Vancouver 2010 website followed by listings for Wikipedia and NBC's Olympic site.
      • we get some timely news results, which I might add, appeared to be more relevant than the news results returned in Google, with the news that US skiing medal hopeful Lindsey Vonn may not be able to race in Vancouver due to an injury.
      Over at ASK, we get 10,600,000 results returned that include:
      • information on future Olympic Games
      • some related searches
      • the official Vancouver 2010 site
      • some ASK Q&A results
      • how to get tickets to events
      • some news results
      • similar listings to Yahoo and Google

      Finally over at Bing, we get the smallest number of results returned at 9,720,000.  The top listing features NBC's Olympic site (is this relevant to everyone?  Hmm not sure.)  Followed by some news results and the official Vancouver 2010 website and Wikipedia listing.  As always, with Bing we get results including "News about Vancouver Winter" and reference articles on Vancouver.  At the bottom of the page they do feature a section on "Learn more about the 2010 Winter Olympics.

      Overall I must say that I was most impressed by the results from Yahoo.  Let's give it a week to see which engine features the best coverage.  It would be interesting to see how many folks out there actually use a search engine to get their news about the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, or will they simply go to sites like NBC, CTV, ESPN or TSN?


      posted by Jody @ Wednesday, February 10, 2010  
      New Orleans Saints to Win Super Bowl XLIV?
      Sunday, February 07, 2010
      Well today is the big day.  Super Bowl XLIV between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.  This should prove to be a fantastic game.  Those of us living in Canada are often spoiled by the great Grey Cup championships games of the Canadian Football League.  Traditionally, I must say that the Super Bowl tends to be a bit of a snoozer... but not this year.  Two great teams with exciting quarterbacks, Peyton Manning for the Colts and Drew Brees for the Saints.  Not to mention the halftime entertainment is none other than the Who.  Break out your Super Bowl snacks, it is bound to be one for the record books.

      I am excited for the big game this year because I am a fan of the New Orleans Saints, ever since talented running back Reuben Mayes from North Battleford, Saskatchewan played with the Saints.  (Mayes is only one of three players from Saskatchewan to ever play in the NFL).  So from the late eighties, as a kid, the New Orleans Saints became my team of choice.  As many of us who follow the NFL know, the Saints have had limited success in the league since they came in 43 years ago.  This is their first Super Bowl appearance, and if all goes well their first Super Bowl championship.

      It will not be an easy task as the Colts are a tremendous team and QB Peyton Manning is on fire.  I just think that there is something bigger here.  After the devastation of Hurricane Katriana in 2006, the people of New Orleans seemed to have lost hope.  The 2009/10 version of the New Orleans Saints have seemed to restore some faith.  It's like they are a team of destiny. QB Drew Brees is a great contributor to the community, and while Archie Manning (father of the Colts' Peyton and NY Giants' QB Eli Manning) helped Brees find his first home when he moved to New Orleans four years ago, the stars appear to be aligned.  Congratulations to both teams, but I hope that the Saints march to their first Super Bowl title ever.

      I don't normally make predictions, but today I feel that I must.  Saints 34, Colts 31.  Twenty five minutes to kick off... gotta go. 

      Labels: ,

      posted by Jody @ Sunday, February 07, 2010  
      comScore Announces Appointment of Chris Nicotra as Chief Technology Officer
      Thursday, February 04, 2010
      comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world today announced that Chris Nicotra is joining the comScore management team as Chief Technology Officer. Mr. Nicotra will be responsible for overseeing comScore’s software engineering, data application engineering, and infrastructure technology teams, assuming the role recently vacated through former comScore CTO Greg Dale’s appointment as COO.

      Nicotra joins comScore from AOL, where he served as SVP of AOL Advertising Technology and CTO/CIO for Advertising.com, working closely with the business teams to develop AOL’s advertising strategy and technical roadmaps. During his tenure there, he managed the entire advertising engineering and technical operations teams, consisting of several hundred engineers. Accomplishments during that time included overseeing the platform migration of AOL’s premium advertising business from DoubleClick to AdTech, developing AOL’s media planning system, leading cross-group integration, substantially reducing operational costs, driving significant performance improvements on AOL’s portal, other premium AOL sites and international ad serving, developing AOL’s first self-service platform and the underlying Web service infrastructure, developing real-time impression bidding with major ad exchanges, and completing Advertising.com’s ad serving re-architecture.

      Full release here.


      posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 04, 2010  
      Cloaking vs Preferred Business Practices: How Does Google Differentiate?
      Tuesday, February 02, 2010
      We have recently been asked a lot about what constitutes cloaking and how will the search engines react if they perceive that "cloaking" is happening?  More importantly how does Google determine if the act is in fact cloaking or a "preferred business practice"?

      One of the items that came up was with a site that saw Googlebot just hammer it by hyper-crawling the site.  The result was heavy server loads and high CPU. The folks managing the site have tried controlling the crawl rates via a variety of options including through Google Webmaster Tools.

      This is definitely not a unique problem as is evident by this great post on Googlebot, Sitemaps and heavy crawling.  However this was only part of the issue.  This site is a large e-commerce site where, on their product pages, they indicate the product availability with an icon that results in a call to the database.  Green means the product is available, red means the product is not currently available.  Since a significant amount of calls are from crawlers, an idea that was proposed to reduce the number of calls was to just display a "Availability Not Available" icon (or something similar) when the user-agent is a search engine crawler (e.g., Google-bot) thereby presenting different content based on the user-agent.  This is where the thought of cloaking enters the picture.  This "Availability Not Available" option would not be presented to the actual visitor per se.

      Even though, the end result that the webmasters were in search of was to reduce the number of user agent generated calls (and not to serve up different content to the crawlers than the user) technically this could be considered cloaking by definition.  Google in fact defines cloaking as:
      Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. Serving up different results based on user agent may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index. 
      So they question becomes, does the scenario described above fall into the idea of cloaking?  Technically the user agent would be served up with a line of code saying that the product availability is "Not Available" yet the user may in fact not see this as the product would include an either green (available) or red (not available) icon.  Again the goal here is to reduce the amount of calls generated by the user agent.  Being that this change is so small, would it even raise a red flag with the search engines?

      The second question is then, that if this in fact consider cloaking by the search engines, how does the site reduce the amount of calls from the user agent?  What are other large e-commerce sites doing to address this issue?  What are sites like Amazon doing to deal with such an issue?  Is there a work around?

      At the end of the day, how does Google determine whether it is a preferred business practice or "questionable technique" such as cloaking.  In the example mentioned above, the goal is not to deceive the search engine crawlers, the goal is to prevent them from hammering the sites with "calls".  The fact is, why is it up to Google?  Is it even up to Google?  Something like this, while technically could be considered cloaking, is not meant to manipulate the search engines, it is meant to prevent excessive search engine crawling and not proper indexing.

      We would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this?  Feel free to comment and share your opinion.

      Additional Resources on Cloaking



      posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 02, 2010  
      Tracking Blended Search Activity Using Google Analytics
      Blended search is something that we feel many organizations and search marketers tend to ignore or at least put a little less priority on.  It is interesting that this happens as we continue to see blended results dominate the SERPs for a given search query.  Try a search in Google for iPhone or for haiti earthquake and take note of the the various types of blended search results that appear.

      So then how does one track these blended search results?  Using Google Analytics, there is a relative easy set up to gin understanding to know which type of listing a user clicked on. Was it a video, a news result, a website link or a blog link that appear on the same page of the search results. Want to kow which result the users engaged with?  Try this:

      Apply the following advanced filters:

      Step 1:
      • Create filter for organic traffic
      • New filter ->
      • Filter name `Organic`
      • Filter Type -> Custom Filter
      • Checked : include
      • Filter Field: Campaign Medium
      • Filter Pattern `organic`
      Step 2:
      • Create filter for All Universal Search traffic
      • New Filter: ‘Universal Search Items
      • Filter Type: Custom Filter
      • Checked: Advanced
      • Field A -> Extract A -> Referral -> (.*)oi=([a-zA-Z_]+)&(.*)
      • Field B -> Extract B -> Referral -> (\?|&)q=([^&]*)
      • Output To -> Constructor -> User Defined -> $B2 : $A2
      In addition, you can also create separate filters for variations of the blended search items instead of selecting all of them:

      Custom Step:
      • Create filter for Universal Search - specific
      • New Filter: ‘Universal Search | images’
      • Filter Type: Custom Filter
      • Checked: Advanced
      • Field A -> Extract A -> Referral -> (.*)oi=image(.*)
      • Field B -> Extract B -> Referral -> (\?|&)q=([^&]*)
      • Output To -> Constructor -> User Defined -> $B2 : $A2
       Great tips for those trying to monitor the blended search activity for various keyword results that feature blended results on the search engine results pages.

      Labels: ,

      posted by Jody @ Tuesday, February 02, 2010  
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