Archive for July, 2011


SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, Part 13

SEO Comics

We're going to need everybody to write down everything they do. And keep it simple enough that someone with limited English can understand it. ….No reason.

SEO Comics: The CEO View of SEO



Let’s talk about Bing, shall we?

First, we have to say (in point of full-disclosure) that we are not big fans of Bing. When Microsoft released it in 2009, we scoffed. Bing? Really? Why not make your intentions even clearer and call it Biggle? (Actually, at the time we thought they might have had better long-term success with “Bong,” but that is another kettle of worms entirely.)

The launch of Bing was surrounded by one of the larger hooplas ever seen. We’d guess that MS spent way more money promoting their  new search engine than they spent building it. The artificial buzz they created just reeked of MBA-juice: hyperbolic articles in every major technology publication, press release after press release, gushing “reviews” that were clearly penned in the MS Marketing Dept, and on and on ad infinitum ad naseum, ad vomitus.

Surely, we thought, not even the Public could be stupid enough to fall for this oh-so inferior search engine simply because of the overwhelming promotional effort. Surely throwing a mega-dollar campaign machine at a revamped Yahoo engine would not be enough to make it “cool.” Of course, the success trajectory of Lady GaGa did nothing to encourage us as far as the Public discernment is concerned.

So they released Bing. And hyped it. And hyped it some more. You could read internet commentary from pithy blog to respected dead-tree pub and Bing was the only search engine you heard peep one about. But something strange happened.

We were right to hope. And Bill Gates was wrong to assume that the masses were that incredibly gullible.

Despite all you hear about the inroads Bing is making, about the huge successes it continues to rack up,  about all the wonderful ways it has made life safe and happy for us all, the damn thing still sucks and it’s still pretty much irrelevant.

Search engine statistics don't lie!

Okay, so Bing’s market share is still pretty low compared to Google. Surely all the Microsoft Money has increased its presence at the expense of all the little engines that couldn’t! Read all the breathless “news” articles proclaiming Bing’s incipient victory (quoted straight from the press release) and you can’t help but believe! Bing will win! Yay!

Not so fast.

Hmmm. Even without the Goog, Bing's a little limp.

Remove the Google numbers and you’ll note that Bing’s market share can’t even compete with Baidu, let alone Yahoo. If anything, they’ve even lost a little ground in past couple of months.

So let ‘er rip, Microsoft, let the rain of overt promotional media continue to fall. Spend every last dime of Uncle Bill’s hoard trying to break into the search engine club.

Personally. we think all that money would have been much better spent trying to write a better search algorithm. But, hey. Maybe that’s just crazy talk.

If you can’t buy success, what the hell’s money for?

All data from NetMarketShare.


Friday’s SEO Site of the Week

Goes to–ah hell. Couldn’t find one worthy.  We might be running out of quality SEO sites. If something doesn’t come to mind by next Friday, maybe we’ll have to rethink the whole bloody thing.


SEO Tips: Subdomain or Folder?

Sometimes you hear people talking about SEO and they might as well be speaking Klingon.

“So I H1ed the gateways for semantic indexing, then ported all the overoptimized content to a subdomain.”

What? You what? Okay, every industry has its own lingo. Search marketing’s lingo just happens to be kind of geeky.

All the other tripe in the quote aside, the word “subdomain” is one you should know, and maybe even use.

A subdomain is a way to organize and separate content on a website. You’ve seen them. In this web address, guess what word is the subdomain:

Correct! Translate is a subdomain of How is that different from:

In the second instance, translate is in a folder. They don’t necessarily have to be different at all.  Both URLs go to the same place. In the instance above, Google redirects the folder version to the subdomain, but they wouldn’t have to do that. Each URL could, in fact, lead to completely different pages.

So what’s going on? On a map of a website, the difference is, perhaps, more clear.

Website map: Subdomain

A subdomain is on roughly equal footing with main, or root domain. (In fact, www is a subdomain.  Which is why and are equal. Also in fact, they don’t have to be the same website.) A subdomain can contain a completely separate website from the root domain, and it will be treated as a separate domain by search engines and browsers.

Website map: folder

A folder, on the other hand, is a categorization label, just like a folder on your desktop. You can have folders within folders within folders. The end result is much the same: just another way to organize data, sort pages, make your content easier to find and navigate.


(And did you notice that’s a pretty big “but”?)

There is a distinction between the two. Search engines, Google in particular, treats a subdomain as an almost completely separate and unique website. They treat a folder like a category within the root, or just an organizational level under the same site as the root domain.

Which has some implications.

One: if you have a link on a subdomain site that points to your root domain, it should count as a better link in Google’s algorithm.

Two: If you have content on your main site that is sketchy in some way—irrelevant, poorer quality, etc—and you put it on a subdomain, its negative effect on your rankings should be reduced.

Now, in either case, subdomain or folder, there is an opportunity to display one of your awesome-est keywords. It is known that your rank for a keyword that is somewhere insider your URL is generally higher, and that the position of the keyword in the URL—how physically close to the main domain name it is—carries some weight also.

Which is better? Or

This is debatable, and is often debated among SEO pros. The truth is, it probably doesn’t matter enough to worry about. Just try to use the two the way they are meant to be used and you’ll be golden.

Here are the main things to remember:

  • A subdomain is used for content that is fundamentally different from the content on the root domain.
  • A folder is used to organize and group content within a domain.
  • When naming either a subdomain or a folder always use a great keyword.

Now go forth and organize.



The Value of Friends

Doe you like me? Do you really, really like me?

We know a person who has 1400 Facebook friends. He is quite proud of this. Yesterday, he asked us, “So how can I leverage my FB friends to SEO my business site?”

Seemed a reasonable question. We thought about it some and even argued a bit. Somebody said something about social networks driving search, ecommerce, and personal relationships. Somebody else said something about Google+ and Likes and Thumbs Up and then somebody else said “Balls. It’s all bollocks.  How many of your 1400 friends would come to your 50th birthday party? How many of them would go with you to the pub for a pint? How many of ’em would help you move?”

Which really seemed to nail it. Social networking—whether for personal lives or business—has become pretty meaningless. Sure, if your business’s Facebook page collects “likes” you can use them for endless marketing messages. Sure, you can send all 1400 friends a wedding invitation and hope for 3 or 4%response rate for gifts. But really. Think about it.

This guy’s business is pipe fittings. Are there really 1400 people out there who are avid fans of pipe fittings? How many of them even glance at his twice daily dose-of-mundanity postings? How many of them put him on ignore?

How many will every actually buy anything?

Which brings us to this: social networking as a marketing tool may have applications for businesses with an inherent fan-base potential. Even significant applications, maybe. Businesses with fan-base potential. Which is not a very high percentage of businesses, despite what your marketing gurus and SEO consultants may tell you.

For most businesses—online or not—trying to jump on the social bandwagon to “leverage your friends” is like trying to run an Amway distributor pyramid using only your close family. It’s kind of pointless. And kind of wrong.

Friends are people you like, who like you. You form connections between people based on mutual interests and concerns. You want to stay in touch with your friends. You want them to succeed and be happy. They want the same for you.

Friends are not just another marketing segment, demographic, or customer base.


SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, Part 12

SEO Comics

Traffic, traffic, traffic. Who cares about traffic? I promised the Board a #1 rank for "walking."

SEO Comics: The CEO View of SEO, part 12


Hit Me Again! Visit Metrics Explained

Here’s how long we’ve been doing this SEO stuff: when we started, the only statistic anybody seemed to care a whit about was “hits.” As in “Cool, we got 4,323 hits last month,” or “Can you get my hit count up by 20%?” Since it seemed like a direct, easy to count measure of a web page’s performance, counting hits became a universal sport. Sites were graded and judged purely on the basis of how many hits they got.

It took a while before folks began to understand what a “hit” actually was. And then it became clear that a hit was a pretty ambiguous way to measure site activity. So we moved to “eyeballs.” And then to “uniques.” And so on.

The truth of it is, of course, more complicated than any of that. There are a number of different ways to look at visits, and the best picture you can get will be a synthesis of several of these analytic methods. Luckily, Google Analytics comes with a good variety of visit metrics—enough to give most webmasters all the data they need to make important decisions like which page to put that cat-with-an-ice-cream-headache video the CEO loves so much.

Here, in a nutshell, is a partial list of important visit metrics defined and explained.

abandonment rate: A measure of the percentage of visitors that begin some defined process (such as placing an order or filling out a questionnaire) but stop before completing it. This is a very good metric to keep an eye on if you are doing ecommerce of any sort—it can help you figure out where there might be barriers that prevent interested customers from completing a purchase.

bounce rate: A measure of the percentage of visits that discover the site, then leave after seeing only one page. This metric can help show whether your content is relevant to the searches leading to it, interesting enough to capture visitor attention, and designed in such as way as to appeal to casual guests.

conversion rate: A measure of the percentage of visitors who complete some defined process such as placing an order, or filling out a contact form. Any visitor action can be declared a “conversion.”

depth of visit: A measure of the number of pages viewed by any given visitor during a specific visit. This metric can help indicate how appealing a site is—kind of the opposite of “bounce rate.” It can also be a bit deceptive, though, as high depth-of-visit numbers can sometimes be a warning that the targeted site content is difficult to locate or buried beneath too many links.

hit: The number of requests to the web server placed by the visitor’s browser. The reason this measure is not very useful is that a single page can require many requests in order to load. Each image, script, widget, sprite, or include required by the page will count as a hit, making complex pages seem more popular than simple ones with the same number of actual visitors.

loyalty: A measure of the number of visitors who are returning to the site after an initial visit, and the number of times they’ve returned. This is a good way to understand how well social marketing, brand recognition, and loyalty incentive programs are working.

new visit: The number of visits to a site that are first time visitors. While this is a good number to be aware of, it should also be noted that visitors who do not accept cookies (such as those who leave their browsers’ security settings on maximum) will always show as new.

visit: A measure of the number of times the website has been loading into a browser. Also known as eyeballs. This is a better measure of traffic than “hits” as it gives a more accurate picture of how many people are interacting with a site.

pageview: The number of pages within a site that are viewed during visits. A high number of pageviews is generally considered positive, although may indicate certain issues. (see depth of visit.)

recency: A measure of how close together returning visits are spaced. This can help you understand the effect of special promotions or timed events and can also be a good way to watch for sudden declines in interest caused by changes to the site or other factors.

time on page:  A measure of the amount of time visitors spend on the site. Also known as length of visit.  This is a useful way of tracking the appeal of content—people tend to stay longer if they are interested in what they see—but can also indicate pages that have too much content, layout that’s too complicated, or pages that take too long to fully load.

unique visit: A measure of the number of different individuals who have viewed the page during a given timeframe. This number discounts return visits to show only the unique potential customers that have visited.

All of the above metrics are available through Google Analytics. We definitely recommend that anyone doing business online get started on GA as soon as possible. More importantly, we suggest that everyone using GA learn how to use it, how to interpret the data, and then how to use the knowledge to improve site performance.