Archive for August, 2011

31
Aug
11

SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, Part 18

SEO Comics

On a side note to whoever put the 2,000 Jimmy Dean sausage links on my desk…. I don't get it, but they were delicious.

SEO Comics: The CEO View of SEO, part 18

30
Aug
11

#1 Most Important Requirement for Quality Content

#1 Most Important Requirement for Quality Content:

It must be useful and/or interesting to somebody somewhere.

No, really.

30
Aug
11

SEO: Is Your Site “in” with the Popular Crowd?

Not quite sure when it happened, exactly, and even less sure why—but it seems search engine success has taken a turn for the Junior High School. You remember those glorious early teen years of cliques and gangs and cool kids and dorks and smokers and shy kids and jocks and Squeeeeee!

It was the time of raging hormones and the utterly unquestioned Cult of Popularity. Your entire life depended solely on who you hung out with, who you didn’t hang out with, and who wouldn’t hang out with you even if your dad owned the ice cream store. Popularity determined where you could sit at lunch. Where you could chill after school. Who you could sit next to on the bus.

And then, damnit, we grew up. Supposedly left all that crap behind. Way back there.

Until this so-called “Social Media” thing happened. Everybody jumped onto MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Blah Blah Blah and started accumulating “friends” like they were Beanie Babies. All of which was okay, we guess, if anybody cares what Joe saw on his way home and what Janet ate for lunch.

Until the search engines started jumping in. That’s when everything went straight to hell. Of course, Google kind of started down this path long ago with their “link popularity” algorithm (PageRank, anyone?). But now it’s getting just a little bit more Jr High every day. Now, if you want to rank high in the SERPs, you better have “friends” and “likes” and “+1s” and “reviews” and “re-tweets” and “pingbacks” and whatever-the-hell-else-is-“popular”-this-week.

Trouble is, none of that really means a thing. Does anybody really think a B-to-B site selling handheld scanners has better content or is more relevant to a search just because they have a FB page with 35 friends? Really? And who believes that more than half of the product reviews out there are genuinely spontaneous outpourings of opinion, instead of paid reviews from some sweat shop in Jakarta?

Sigh. It’s bunk. It’s silly. It’s unhelpful. Relying on social media popularity for search results is like giving the 25 popular kids in the Junior High School free lunch and making everybody else root through the garbage bins for scraps.

C’mon, Goog and Binger and whoever else. Can’t y’all come up with some better way to rank search results? Something a little more useful? A dart board, maybe?

26
Aug
11

Friday’s SEO Site of the Week

SEO Site O’the Week goes to Give Me a Review’s review of commercial SEO software.  Now, just to be fair, we have very little use or patience for “SEO in a box” solutions, finding it kind of a false hope that you can do SEO without much effort. Instead, we rely on a host of (mostly) free online tools, and lots of effort.

We do know that there are a lot of folks out there who do rely on SEO software, of course, and just for y’all, here’s a pretty decent set of comparison reviews of  ten popular packages.

We make no endorsements of any kind. Let the buyer beware. Caveat emptor. Proceed at your own peril. Yer on yer own.

Give Me a Review: SEO Software

Easy worth a monkey or two.

25
Aug
11

The “O” in SEO

op·ti·mi·za·tion

noun \ˌäp-tə-mə-ˈzā-shən\

Definition of OPTIMIZATION (Mirriam-Webster)

: an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible

  • An Act of Optimization: One individual action designed to move something in the direction of perfect, i.e., improve its function or effectiveness;
  • A Process of Optimization: A series of Acts of Optimization, which, when undertaken in a planned and coordinated fashion, improves something‘s function or effectiveness and leads something further down the path toward perfection;
  • A Methodology of Optimization: An overall strategy involving one or more Processes of Optimization which have as their goal the general improvement of something‘s function or effectiveness in pursuit of perfection;
  • A Philosophy of Optimization: An ingrained belief system that values the perpetual improvement of something in pursuit of perfection, that builds into a system the notion that perfect function or effectiveness is not possible, but desirable, and that continued movement in the direction of perfection should be the overall driving force behind the something‘s existence.

Replace something with a website
Replace function or effectieveness with search engine performance
Replace perfection with achievement of business success

Now we got something we can work with.

24
Aug
11

5 Ways SEO Can Be Used as a Weapon Against You

Be afraid! Be very afraid! The evil overlords of SEO have the power to destroy you! Well, maybe not destroy, exactly. But an unscrupulous competitor, disgruntled employee, unhappy customer, or personal enemy can use SEO techniques to cause you and your business a fair amount of grief. Some of these tactics can be defended against, some of the damages can be repaired, some of them you really may just have to live with. But you should definitely be aware that these things are out there, and happen.

  1. Google bombing. This one is a fun trick to play on Presidents and other public figures, but can also be used against businesses or non-public individuals. You may remember the “miserable failure” incident from a few years ago…  Here’s how it works. The Dark SEO Lord (DSL) marshals some substantial resource (social networks like DIGG and 4CHAN have been used this way) to generate massive quantities of links that point to your site using an unpleasant link text. If you get enough of these (and it takes fewer than you might imagine) you can end up becoming the very definition of, say, “greasy booger.” Or worse. Just ask Rick Santorum.
    SOLUTION: Maybe none. If it’s a significant attack (as was the case with the attack on George Bush) Google may be induced to step in and end it. They stopped the “miserable failure” attack after two years. The Santorum situation has been going for a while now with no signs of  changing.
  2. Bad neighborhooding. This one is devious, but not every site is vulnerable and it’s somewhat difficult to pull off.  The DSL first scans your site using a readily available link scanner looking for old links that now point to abandoned domains. (If your site is big and/or old, and you don’t do rigorous link maintenance, you probably have some.) Once the abandoned domains are identified, the DSL registers them under an assumed name. After that, it’s a simple matter of either publishing “bad” content, or 301 redirecting the site to porn, spam, phishing, or other icky places. Get a handful of these in place, and suddenly Google thinks you link to bad neighborhoods. And that can hurt.
    SOLUTION: Monitor your outbound links! Regularly! Get some link checking software, use it, and fix any broken links immediately.
  3. Link spamming. You gotta love the lengths some DSLs will go to.  This is where a whole bunch of crappy links are created (usually purchased from some spam broker) pointing to your site. They all will probably use some generic link text, just so they don’t accidentally do you very much good. This is designed to make it look like you were buying spammy links. They will then report you to Google anonymously. And your site might get penalized.
    SOLUTION: About all you can do is to file a complaint with Google. Tell them what you think happened, and supply a list of bad links. They will often just discount the links and restore your search posture. But it usually takes a while and a bunch of effort.
  4. Spoofed landing pages. Suppose your business is ACME Froo-Froo and your website is ACMEfroofroo.com. Then imagine some pissed-off DSL registers the domain acmefrofroo.com and then uses it to publish a fake homepage. Maybe it looks a lot like yours, maybe not, but it is sure to contain damaging content of some sort. Maybe “free” offers or illegal merchandise. Or maybe more subtly just full of misspellings and crappy images. Or less subtly, full of scantily clad orangutans. Whatever. Then just suppose that said DSL works his/her/its SEO magic to get their fake page to rank above your real page when somebody looks for your favorite search term. You see a possible problem?
    SOLUTION: This attack is probably illegal, particularly if it uses your branding anywhere on the page, but also if the spoof domain is similar enough to yours. Report this attack as soon as you notice it. Report it to Google, and report it to whoever is hosting the site. If you have lawyers, get them to send take-down notices. All this remedial effort will work. It will also take time and resources.
  5. Review spamming.  Some person with anger management issues starts spreading malicious information about your products or your business. This sort of thing is as old as business itself. (“Not buy mastodon meat from Og. He not wash hands after he use bushes.”) And it’s been used a lot on the internet, from the very first. Now, though, with Google’s emphasis on “visitor interaction” the importance of reviews and comments will only grow. And so will the art of review spamming. We’ve seen reviews-for-hire packages cropping up all over the web in the last few months since Panda. We are sure that negative-reviews-for-hire are out there also. Can your product or service withstand 50 one-star reviews? What if it’s worse than just PR? What if those one-star reviews also cost you search position?
    SOLUTION: Well, you can contest the reviews, one at a time, and hope the review venue takes pity and removes them. Could take a very long time. The other option is fight ire with fire: buy or otherwise launch your own review campaign hoping to dilute the effects. Twenty five-star ratings will bring twenty one-star ratings up to a three!

Sigh. The evil DSL usually wins—because it doesn’t matter whether their campaign works or how bad it hurts or how long it lasts. Their real victory is that it costs you either search position, reputation, or at best it costs you the time and effort it takes to monitor, remedy, and recover.

23
Aug
11

SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, Part 17

SEO Comics

This week we need each one of you to make every single one your Facebook friends "like" us.

SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, Part 17

22
Aug
11

What Would One-Page Google Results Mean for SEO?

We came across this article at Web Pro News yesterday and it really got the old “what-ifs” rolling.

Google May Start Serving All Results On One Page: Good for SEO?

The gist of it is, some folks have spotted what look like some test page layouts that may indicate Google is thinking along the lines of a single, infinite scrolling search results page.  First, to be completely accurate, Google have not indicated in a direct way that they plan to do this anytime soon. The page layout stuff they appeared to be testing are things like sticky navigation—so no matter how far down the page you scroll, the left nav and the search box (and maybe even the AdWord ads) stay in same places. That change would effectively make an infinite single-page results page possible.

What’s not addressed is how they would manage to load those results cleanly, or how much of your browser’s cache they’d use, or whether they’d use all that new page real estate to increase the number of AdWords displayed, or just what they’d do.

Nevermind. All we’re interested in here and now is what effect on SEO all this might have. Here are a few things that popped into our infinitely scrolling minds:

  • Every website would now be—at least technically—on the first page of Google’s search results. The only way to judge success would be keyword rank. And we hate keyword rank. A lot of marketing copy would have to be changed….
  • Would it change search engine user behavior? Currently, the vast majority of searchers rarely go past the third or fourth result anyway. But if there were millions of results on page one, might that encourage folks to go a little deeper?
  • What if they also added more sort features to the ones they have now (price sorts, alphabetical sorts, geographic sorts—all sorts of sorts are possible). Would that not make the job of SEO really, really, really hard?
  • And what would happen if you searched “www”? Would the internet explode?

Just a few thoughts. We’ll let you know if we hear anything else.

19
Aug
11

Friday’s SEO Site of the Week

Found an interesting list of advanced SEO techniques. Some, we wouldn’t actually call advanced, really, but much good info here.

30+ Advanced SEO Tactics, Techniques and Resources (55+ Links)

Since we just got done with some skanky furry giant-nasty projects that seemed kind of random, we’ll give them a random assortment of stuff.

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18
Aug
11

The SEO Value of Social Media

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

Okay, then, where were we? Oh, yeah. We’re talking about SEO. Today, let’s devote a few pixels to the question at the front of every online marketeer’s overworked brain:

Does social media have an SEO value?

This question is important for two reasons: 1) The trendy popularity of social media means scarce marketing resources are being diverted from traditional SEO; and 2) The ROI for social media advertising has been very difficult to quantify. (Is there measurable ROI from social media campaigns? That, friends, is a posting for another day.)

The answer makes a difference. If a company’s social media efforts adds value to the SEO campaign as well as deliver at least some direct revenue generation, well, maybe that’s enough to justify transferring the budget.

So does it?

Meh. Depends on who you ask. Whenever something new-ish comes along to capture the hearts of MarCom execs everywhere, a circus-ful of promoters and cheerleaders quickly develops. Happened with banner advertising, happened with pay-for-placement, happened with rich media, and now it’s happening with social media. Google “SEO value of social media” and you’ll get a hella lot of “yes” votes, mostly from companies and consultants trying to get you to buy their social media package.

But there are also some “not-so-sure” votes and even some “noes.” What are the facts and what are the spins?

FACTS

  • All the major social media venues (re Facebook, Twitter, Digg, et al) only publish links with “no-follow” tags. Meaning links you post in FB, Twitter, etc, do not directly count as links for page authority.
  • At least two of the majors, FB and Twitter, suggest that they do count social popularity indicators when they figure page authority. (See this SEOMoz post for specifics.) Although whether or not these ranking elements count as high as, say, link authority is very much up for speculation.
  • Return on investment from social media advertising has been roughly on a par with banner advertising. Which is to say “decent for branding campaigns, but iffy for sales and leads generation.” Which is also why it is in social media titans’ interests to claim an SEO benefit to offset the underwhelming ad performance. (ClickZ take on it all.)
  • Social media titans desperately want your advertising dollars. Facebook, for instance, is flirting with an IPO early next year—and if they rake a billion dollars profit from advertising this year (Business Week), it will surely have an “upward influence” on their valuation. Meaning that they (and the other social media venues) have a serious vested interest in convincing folks that their products add value.

SPINS

  • Because the actual ranking value of tweets, retweets, twits, and twattle is complete speculation, declaring that “there is an SEO value to social media” at this point is a lot more like a mantra ( I do believe in ghosts, I do, I do, I do) than a solid reason to throw the weight of marketing budget into it.
  • Because advertising firms are competitive and always trying to come up with new ways to attract advertising dollars, they will always jump on any hype-wagon that rolls into town. Social media happens to be a big ‘un. So believe all the “well, even if there isn’t any measurable ROI, at least it’s good for SEO” chatter you want. Just make sure you’re carrying a very large hunk of salt.

So. The ultimate answer to our original question then is clear.

Yes, there is probably at least some SEO value to social media marketing.

And

No, it’s probably not enough value to justify short-changing your SEO budget.