Archive for the 'SEO editorial' Category


SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, part 20

SEO Comics

I'll be in the Bahamas for the next few months while the corporate jet gets a makeover. Now let's talk about your lousy morale.

SEO Comics: The CEO View of SEO, part 20


SEO Comics: CEO View of SEO, Part 19

SEO Comics

Our CFO just got arrested for stock fraud. How can we leverage that into search traffic?

CEO View of SEO, part 19


The Perfect Search Engine

Oh Great Oracle! Who has the cheapest airfare?

Do you feel lucky? Well do you, punk?

Over the years, we’ve definitely done our share of bitching about the quality of results returned by search engines. Anybody get teary-eyed reminiscing about the usefulness of Infoseek, Lycos, or Looksmart? Seriously, there was a time when AltaVista created a gigantic buzz by returning a few relevant links to any given query. Still buried in tons of poop, of course. Yet comparatively awesome! Yahoo, Overture, and Inktomi were all  kings, once, even though they deliberately polluted their results with paid-for results. Until Google came along, almost everybody was pretty happy to be disgruntled by web search as a practical way to find stuff on the internet.  (Ask Jeeves? Are you kidding?)

In fact, until Google came along in 1998, the surging size of the web was making the job of indexing and identifying its parts almost comical. Google’s algorithm was so much better that it conquered the search space like Genghis took China, rising from nothing to 80%+ in just a handful of years. Yet even as the best available search engine—the best ever search engine—Google’s search results are somewhat lacking. Full of spam, fake content, and artificially boosted inferior sites. Oops. Our bad.

As SEOs, it seems a bit weird for us to complain about search result quality. After all, we’re part of the reason they suck. We spend a lot of time, money, and resources trying our damnedest to push inferior content into superior positions, crowding out whatever might actually be useful to any given web searcher. It’s a living.

You’re aware, no doubt, that beggars can’t be choosers and parts of the problem aren’t parts of the solution and whiners shouldn’t throw glass stones. Meh. Worst sentence ever.

Anyway, in an attempt to add something useful to the dialogue, here are some attributes that we think would make up an ideal search engine.

  • Ability to rank content by usefulness.
  • Ability to determine contents’ original point of publication.
  • Ability to parse phrases for meaning, instead of treating them as clumps of words.
  • Sophisticated filters and sorts allowing users to choose results by recency, geographic location, commercialty, price, size of site, type of media, and whatever else.
  • Unobtrusive and clearly marked paid placements (if any).
  • Fast.
  • Comprehensive.
  • Current.
  • and SEO proof.

Ouch. That last one hurt. But we think it’s true. Search results would be better—more accurate, more relevant, more reliable—if only the search optimization industry were obsolete.

‘Course, SEO isn’t obsolete, and probably won’t be for some time to come. Until then, we’ll be here, gaming the systems, skewing search results, and helping websites prosper. Whether they deserve to or not.


Happy Labor Day, Optimizers!

In honor of the U.S. holiday Labor Day, we’re going to present a list of the most labor-intensive SEO tasks that might make a difference to your keyword ranks, traffic, and/or bottom line.

  • Content creation. Writing quality content is not easy, simple, or quick. But it is absolutely worth the effort.
  • Link building. Nobody likes doing it. Link building is a total time-suck of epic proportions. But still, even with the new Panda-ized Google, link building done right is gold.
  • Authority building. Even trickier than link building, authority building is an occult art. At its simplest, it’s an alchemy of links, content, authorship, and age. At its most complex it might even entail human sacrifice. Still, you gotta try.
  • Blogging. Every day, about 6 trillion new blogs come online. Check on ’em one month later, and there’s about 12 left. That’s because writing a blog sucks. Trying to come up with fresh topics, trying to say something useful, trying not to sound like a self-obsessed teenager.  Like we do.
  • Updating.  Can’t ever rest. Must update site. Must check links. Must add content. Must tweak. Must…. keep…… moving…………………

So get yerselves a beer and a hot dog and enjoy the day. Tomorrow, back to work.


Can Microsoft Survive the Cloud?

We’re ranging a bit afield from our usual SEO-related topic today to ask an important question: has Microsoft positioned themselves right out of relevancy in today’s internet? We ask this because, having just spent 2 freaking hours trying to recover from an epic “automatic update” fail, it occurs to us that perhaps MS’s business model is in trouble.

MS built their Byzantine Empire on a bedrock philosophy of intimidation. They intimidate their suppliers, their competitors, their potential competitors, their employees, and their customers. They always have and it’s always worked. Being the biggest bully in the room is how Papa Gates and Co. sewed up the operating system market, the office software market, the email client market, the server software market, and the browser market. The resulting tsunami of cash did nothing to persuade them to try any other path.

But here’s the thing: having the power and weight of numerous lucrative near-monopolies has calcified them. They are slow to market, slow to respond to missteps, and most importantly, slow to react to changing market dynamics. In a world where open source alternatives abound, Microsoft’s captive markets have begun to evaporate. First, Firefox (joined later by Chrome) chipped away at ponderous MS Explorer’s 70% market share, now at 50% (and falling). Their office suite dominance suffers threats from Open Office and now, more dangerous perhaps, Google Docs.

MS no longer can claim to be the only dog in the fight. They’re still the biggest dog, but the others are growing and MS is withering away.

And now, introducing the Cloud. All of the applications you will ever need are—or will soon be—available at no cost to anyone with decent internet access, which is fast becoming a basic human right. Word processing? No problem. Spreadsheets? Gotcha covered. Slide shows, drawing, calendars, email, messaging? Already to go. The last thing—and the giant killer—will be the operating system. Up to now, MS has used their Windows systems to beat back every challenge. But this one’s gonna be a bit tougher.

Because the Cloud’s operating systems are agile, flexible, multi-platform, and open source.

Here are five reasons MS will find it hard to migrate its dominance to the cloud:

  1. Tablets and smart phones and netbooks are browser based and don’t need Windows;
  2. Open sourced applications are inherently more adaptable and quicker to react to changes, technological, cultural, or legislative;
  3. MS software is bloated, ungainly, and unnecessarily paternalistic—how many “critical updates” per day are too many?
  4. Freeware and open source development is typically decentralized to the extent that buying the intellectual property (a standard MS tactic) is useless;
  5. Google has already built a solid foundation for the future: a gigantic, friendly, all-seeing, all-knowing, and above all useful temple in the clouds that MS will find virtually impossible to keep up with.

Unless Bill thinks of something dramatically different and desperately soon, Cloud computing will break MS’s back, unless they find a way to compete with free, easy, simple, and convenient. And find it fast. Because this cloud is getting darker and pretty soon it’s gonna rain.


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?


The “O” in SEO


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.