Archive for June, 2011


Local Search: Attention All Brick-and-Morter Merchants

Two questions.

  1. Are you a business with a physical presence?
  2. Are you prominent in local search?

If the answer to #1 is “no,” you may skip today’s post. If the answer to #1 is “yes,” then the answer to #2 had better be “yes” also. Because if you plan to do business in your community—that is, if you plan to attract customers to your place of business—you damn well better show up high on the Google page for search terms like

  • Your business name
  • Your industry + your city, your region, your neighborhood
  • Your product or service + your city, your region, your neighborhood

Because if you don’t, you are missing a rapidly growing market segment, namely those customers who never use the Yellow Pages. They instead look stuff up on the internet, at home or at the office, on their computer, on their cell phone, on their iStuff.

Try it. Go to Google and type your industry plus your city. Like “pizza eugene.” Are you on the map that appears covering the top 3 or 5 or so positions? If not, you’re in trouble. Your competitors have claimed that extremely valuable real estate. And even if you’re at the top of the “normal” listings (those beneath the map stuff), you are losing money.

Local search for Pizza, Eugene

And the winners are

So how do you fix it? First, you have to sign up with Google Places. This is necessary. Fill in all the details. All of them. Add photos. Use your best keyword kung-fu and pick great keywords for the description and services fields.

You will need to validate the listing. They do this by either robo-phoning your main business number and giving you a PIN code, or by mailing the PIN to you on a postcard. You will then need to enter the code next time you log into your Places account.

If your competition is weak, that may be all you need to do. If they are strong, you have to fight back. One very important way is to get reviews and ratings from as many people as you can.

One more thing. What if you looked yourself up just now and found a listing that’s just plain wrong? Like a competitor’s address or phone number in your listing. Or even somebody else’s business name in your address. Look through your Places account. There is a link in there that lets you report a problem. Do that immediately and keep doing it until it gets fixed.

And here’s something new! Google has just launched “City Pages” which is a collection of city information that will also be huge, I’d guess. Read more here:

Google Adds City Pages


Google Instant: Now the Wrong Page Is Even Faster

Couple of days ago, we went on a little rant about Google’s propensity for trying to read our minds in order to deliver search results just the way we want them. Never mind that they really can’t read anybody’s mind, and let alone the extraordinary level of control they can then exert over our access to information, and forget completely that this could absolutely ruin the whole search marketing industry—we forget where we were going with this, but rest assured, the internet is not a better place because of Google’s determination to guess what we want and deliver it without further ado.

So now, today, we read about Google Instant.


Now, not only do they try to decide what you really want to see, but they then assume that they are right and start loading their first choice for you onto your computer. This is known as “prefetching” and while it may speed up your experience—if they did guess right—it also uses your computing resources without your permission which may have a deleterious effect on any multitasking you’re doing, or on your trying to load the page you actually wanted.

Please Google please! Make it stop!

A bunch of stories about Google Instant,2817,2386934,00.asp


SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, part 8

SEO Comics

SEO Comics: What our SEO needs is some social networky stuff like iPad or HTM5

CEO View of SEO part 8



Dear Google,

You’ve been, for many years, the search engine of my dreams. I’ve loved you, worked with you, used you and let you use me. We’ve shared many things. We’ve gone many places. We have lived and learned and grown together during our time together, and I have never really strayed. Oh, sure, I’ve occasionally glanced at another engine. Even flirted a little from time to time. But I have never, ever considered leaving you for another.

I mean, really. None of the other engines compare to you. Yahoo? A pale shadow. Bing? A pretentious imitation. Wolfram-Alpha? Egotistical, single-minded, and smarter than I need it to be.

Google, you are my search engine.

And through all this, I have never asked anything of you except honest answers to my questions. If I wanted to know about Genghis Khan, you knew where to look. If I wanted to find a new tattoo design, you pointed me in the right direction. If I wanted to buy shoes, you were there for me. You even began to show me where I could find things in my own town. Pizza? It’s right over there! Movie times? Gotcha covered!

Which is all good. Every innovation has tried to make the information I receive just what I was looking for. All good.

Except that now Google, you have finally gone just a little too far. Lately, when I have searched for information on anything—seriously, just about anything—you treat it as if I existed on an island, with no cares for anything but my immediate surroundings. You have localized virtually every search I make. If I want to find the best internet deal on blue jeans, you send me to my local Sears. If I want to learn who my biggest SEO competitors are, you only show me those within a 10 mile radius.

If I type something with an unconventional spelling, you think you know what I meant—and deliver what you think I wanted, not what I searched for. Spell check is all well and good, but maybe I wanted to search for “flikr” not “flicker.” Possible, maybe?

If I search for Cowboy Boots on Wednesday, but on Thursday I want to find the Cowboy Junkies, DON’T SHOW ME BOOTS!

You believe you can read my mind. That you can tell just what I was thinking when I typed that search query.


Not kidding. This could seriously ruin our relationship. End it forever, even. If I want to see local search results I’ll tell you that’s what I want. Stop reading my IP and deciding for me what you think I should see. If I want to search for something that’s spelled weird, LET ME.  And don’t think you know what I want today just because you saw what I wanted yesterday. JUST STOP IT.

At the very least, give me an option! Let me choose a version of your engine that just gives me the best answer, not necessarily the one you decide is the best answer for me.

No, really.

Formerly yours, and still yours but beginning to have second thoughts,



Friday’s SEO Site of the Week

This week, we uncovered a little mini-site inside a an old pal, SEOMoz. SEOMoz conducted a survey of SEO industry professionals, asking them what they thought the most important search ranking factors were, how they thought those factors interacted, how they stacked up importance-wise, and more stuff like that. They then took all that data, turning it into a slew of colorful charts and graphs, and made a very interesting report out of it.

We think that this is about the coolest thing we’ve seen all year.

If you want to know what the experts think works for SEO now and into the future, read

2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors

We give it a big round of applause.


SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, part 7

SEO Comics

SEO Comics: This is America, right? We can stuff keywords, cloak pages, and buy links if we want to.

CEO View of SEO part 7


What Makes Content “Good”?

With the recent Panda Update, Google has stimulated a strategic shift among web professionals that we believe is long overdue. By claiming that their intention was to improve the quality of the internet by rewarding “quality” content, Google changed the overriding question facing the SEO from “how can we game the backlink system?” to “how can we generate a ton of quality content?” Which, we believe, makes for a much more interesting game.

With a tremendously interesting side-effect: the overall improvement of the internet.

That is, as long as SEOs continue to play this game the same way they’ve started. A quick unscientific  survey of Craigslist ads shows a measurable uptick in classified advertisements for website writers (31,500 in the last week compared to 2,800 for the same week a year earlier). Some of that can be attributed to the painfully slow economic recovery, of course, but if you don’t think there’s a connection to Panda, why do you think so many of the ads specifically use the word “content”?

Every SEO company we know has been actively pushing the new model of more content, but quality content.

Which really  begs the question: just what the hell makes content quality?

Here’s our quick checklist.

  • Does your web content have a clearly discernible point?
  • Is your content interesting, amusing, controversial, and/or useful?
  • Is your content written in a style accessible to the audience for which it is targeted?
  • Does your content use a reasonable facsimile of grammar and spelling?
  • Does your content make sense?
  • Is your content displayed in an organized manner, with appropriate headings, subheadings, bullet lists, images, and emphasized text?
  • Is your content unique to the page it’s on?
  • Does your content add anything to the overall value of the page? The website? The industry? The internet?

Okay, to be realistic, backlinks still count for a lot and probably will far into the foreseeable future. But if Google’s dominance holds sway—and they continue to call the shots—all the backlinks in the world won’t help you if your content sucks.


Another SEO Infographic

Last Monday we showed you a pretty sweet infographic representation of SEO. So why not continue? Here’s another we found at Search Engine Land, The Periodic Table of SEO.



Friday’s SEO Site of the Week

This week, we’re going back to the old Google mine for another bit of essential SEO. This one is vital to any web site that has a local component.

Google Places

If you don’t know already, Google Places is kind of like a Yellow Pages ad that shows up when someone searches [keyword] and/or [your industry] + [your location]. You’ve seen Google Places listings—they’re the results listings that show up next to a local map full of flags. And it doesn’t matter if your bizz is number one for your money  keyword, if you don’t show up in the Places listings, you’re still way down the page.

Places isn’t quite like regular search results. You have some control over what people see. You can open an account (usually associated with a Gmail account) and enter your business details just the way you want them. You can upload photos or videos. You can list hours of operation, specials, whatever.

The only catch to all this is you have to prove you are the rightful owner. So, you fill everything out, and submit, and Google says “Prove you are the owner.” They will either make an automatic phone call to your listed phone number with a PIN code, or if you prefer, they will mail the PIN in a postcard to your business address.

That’s all there is to it. It’s free. And if you want to do internet business locally, it is absolutely necessary.

We’ll give it some clicks.


SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, part 6

SEO Comics

SEO Comics: The MBAs in MarCom are sending over a list of mission critical keywords like Nike and women's feet.

CEO View of SEO part 6