Archive Page 2

04
Nov
11

Google Changes Algo! Film at Eleven!

And here we go again! Let the whiners whine, the criers cry, the complainers complain, and the smart adapt. Yep, it’s another Google algorithm “tweak.” We’re not sure what they’re calling this one, but we have a few suggestions.

  • The Caffeinated Panda Update
  • The Fresh to the Last Drop Tweakage
  • That Fresh Feeling
  • Flak Friday Freakout
  • The New Gnu Knew News Minor Modification to an Existing Platform Remodel

Okay, now that we got that out of our system, what’s THIS algo update mean? Well, as far as we can tell, it’s Google’s way of addressing the competition from Facebook and Twitter, where you are delivered the latest immediate updated news constantly. (Which is ever so much better, especially if what you call “news” is the most recent brain fart of somebody you barely know and hardly care about and won’t read anyway.)

Freshness is what they call it.

For about 35% of all searches, Google’s new algo will supposedly promote “newer” (or “fresher,”  if you prefer) content above “older” (or “staler”) content. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, try a search for “Madonna” and see how deep you have to go find a classic painting or anything else about the Virgin Mary.  Try “tea party” and hunt for anything historical about Boston or literary about Alice.

Kidding! (Mostly!) Actually, this tweak might turn out okay. A lot of search happens to be current events and pop culture related. For those things, freshness matters.

For more on the Great Google Algo Tweak of Fall/2011

Google Search Algorithm Change For Freshness To Impact 35% Of Searches

Google updates search results to account for real world events

Google improves search results


Google freshens up search engine


Google Changes Search Algorithm, Trying to Make Results More Timely


New, “fresher” Google rankings affect 35% of searches


Google Tweaks Algorithm for Freshness

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28
Oct
11

This just in…

Google Says SEO Is Not Spam

04
Oct
11

Content for the Sake of Content… or?

Content, content, content. Blah, blah, blah. That’s all you hear in SEO circles these days. Content content content content.

Well, then, let’s all just get us some of that! Lots and lots of it.

Um, okay, what if we wrote every damn thing we could think of when we launched the site two years ago? Now what? Just make some stuff up? But that’s not likely to lead to quality content, which is the where the trouble starts.

Say I’m an entertainment news site. No problem! Content just sort of oozes up out of the ground around us. How about a site selling seasonal stuff? Great! Just pick a holiday and roll with it. But just imagine for moment that your site is more like a yellow pages ad, three pages and a contact form. Maybe you’re a roofing company in an area with lots of competition. You want to—you really need to—show up at the top of the local search for “roofers.”

Is content the right tactic?

And if it is, just what the hell are you supposed to write about?

Let’s break it down.

Sites that absolutely need to worry about a continuous stream of high-quality content:

  • Wide-market websites in competitive topic spaces (non-geographical retailers, b-to-b businesses, or sites that are advertising-supported like recipe sites, magazines, or comparison shopping)
  • Sites in rapidly evolving topic spaces (news sites, product review sites, entertainment sites)
  • Sites in high-energy topic spaces (culture sites, fashion sites, music sites, porn sites)

Sites that maybe could benefit from a regular injection of quality content:

  • Informational sites (how-to sites, encyclopedic sites, data collections, historical sites, public domain arts & literature sites)
  • Non-profit membership-supported sites (clubs and organizations, large extended family groups, cause-related sites, political sites)
  • Sites based on repeat consumers of the same content (online games sites)

Sites that probably don’t need to worry about content once they’re up (although adding quality content can never hurt)

  • Local-only sites (restaurants, shops, professional service providers, health & medical services providers, legal service providers, personal services providers)
  • Single topic sites (individual person in-memorium sites, single-issue awareness sites, sites dedicated to permanent locations like historic architecture or unique geographic areas, specific item enthusiast sites like for a single model of classic automobile)
  • Sites not particularly concerned about search traffic (small family sites, advertising landing page sites, intranet-type sites)

If you are one of the last group, but you still want to add content, and you need help thinking of ideas, here ya go. You’re welcome.

  • Solicit reviews and recommendations from your clients and customers. Use attractive images to fill space and try to make as many pages as is reasonable.
  • Post articles on different ways to use your products or services.
  • Keep a blog related to your topic space. Don’t stress about daily posting, just try to put something up 3 or 4 times a month.
  • Post videos of people using your products or talking about your services. Definitely post video of any television presence such as commercial spots, or news program mentions.
  • Post HTML versions of any print product materials or brochures.
  • Post any and all press releases.
  • Put up a “Something of the month” section.
  • Publish a “Related resources” section and add a resource or two every month.
  • Watch for any news related to your product or service and post a brief synopsis along with your personal reaction.

And one last note: Always make sure you maintain a clear and usable organization when you start regularly adding content. If spiders can’t find and sort it, it helps you not.

03
Oct
11

An Automatic Update to Our Updated Updates Post

STOP THE MADNESS!

Well do ya, punk?

Seriously. This update crap is KILLING us. Not kidding.

Last Friday, Thunderbird, our go-to mail client for the past 8 years, decided to update itself. For about the thirty-seventh time this year. Aiiiight. Whatever. Gotta keep it real, we guess.

But this particular product-enhancing, security-improving, features-increasing updated FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-GOD up-fucking-grade went one better than all the previous updates.

It completely hosed our profile, which just happens to contain

  • Eight completely different email accounts, each with fairly complex settings;
  • A sophisticated multi-layered folder system;
  • About 35 content filters that have been added over the years, mostly to combat spam;
  • Address books, filled with client contact info, friends, and family;
  • And every single email archived over the past 8 years, received and sent and even drafts.

Now here’s the thing. We are exquisitely anal-retentive about backups. We back stuff up. All the time. Automatic backups and manual backups. So all of this data was faithfully backed up.

But Thunderbird’s product-enhancement update killed the profile so thoroughly that it took us six hours and twelve minutes to restore our accounts to about 85% of what they were pre-improvement.

Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t have put so much faith in an open-source, free-as-in-free-beer mail client. Maybe we should have stayed with the old familiar Outlook. Which has an even worse habit of upgrading-updating-upchucking than Mozilla’s Thudder-bird.

Look you guys up there in software development land, we’re gonna say this again. Loudly. So you can’t miss it.

IF YOU DON’T STOP THIS DAILY UPDATE CHANGE/TWEAK/MUCKUP CRAP, NOBODY’S GONNA LOVE YOU ANYMORE AND EVERYONE WILL MIGRATE TO SOME APP-BASED WONDER THAT LIVES IN THE CLOUD AND PERFECTS ITSELF ON ITS OWN TIME BEHIND THE SCENES WITHOUT TRASHING OUR BANDWIDTH, OUR DATA, AND OUR MENTAL HEALTH. PROBABLY PRODUCED BY GOOGLE.

29
Sep
11

Off-site Content–good, bad, or ugly?

Seriously. It's right under the picture of Lady Ga-Ga chihuahua.

Publishing off-site content is one of the most frequently mentioned SEO tricks.  Of all the ways to gather topical, relevant backlinks, off-site content has a lot going for it—you can have control of substance, link text, and to some degree, placement.

Or not. Depending on the content publisher.

Still, it’s totally worth it, right?

Right?

We’ve mentioned the strategy a few times before (here’s one in case you’ve forgotten 10 Step SEO # 6: External links (part b).

Let’s review, shall we?

A quick list of some possible off-site publication tactics:

  • press releases
  • articles
  • guest posts in blogs
  • customized content in aggregators (like Squidoo)
  • online community participation
  • forums
  • wikis
  • news groups
  • blog comments
  • social networking

All-in-all, we’d have to say that off-site content can be a very useful tool, particularly in long-term SEO campaigns. Still, there’s some things you should consider.

  1. Are links in the published content “no-follow”?
  2. How long will the content stay up?
  3. Does the content publisher allow other sites to duplicate their content?
  4. Does the publisher allow contextual links? Or just a link or two in the bio/attribution blurb?
  5. Do they publish other articles or content on the same general topic as yours?
  6. How long has the publication site been active?
  7. Do their internal pages have any PageRank?
  8. If it’s a blog or forum, do they archive?

And perhaps the biggest question we always ask our clients and ourselves:

Is off-site publication the best use of this content?

Because if you’re writing 300 word articles just to gain a link or two on a no-PR page, that stuff might do more for you as a new page of content on your own site. Think about it.

28
Sep
11

5 Things to Ask a Content Freelancer

Wil rite 4 bambu

You know you need content. Lots and lots of content. And it must be good content, quality content. Current content, fresh content, unique content. Thus hast the Panda spoken.

Okay, so you write a few pieces for the blog and maybe an article or two. You con your co-workers into contributing a paragraph or two. You get your teenage relatives to write about stuff they could not possible care any less about. And that works for about a month, but then you’ve reached the limits.

Out of ideas. Out of time. Out of patience.

What’s a webmeister to do? Outsource it, of course! Which can be great. Particularly in these tough economic times where unemployed English majors outnumber the working ones (unless you count part-time Burger King jobs). Writers are a dime a dozen and they will fight each other in the streets for one $40 assignment.

Good choice, now what? Well, you can rely on your contacts to get word-of-mouth recommendations (probably the best way to get quality writers), or advertise on Craigslist or similar, or go to the web where freelance “dating” sites flourish. Elance is perhaps the oldest, but trust us, there are many.

If you decide to go with an unknown writing resource, some care should be taken to be sure you’re getting that quality content you crave and at the same time getting a decent return on your money. Here are five things you should check.

  1. Online writing samples. Look for writing samples that are actually published online somewhere. Web writing is different from any other, for one thing, for another, online samples are easier to test for originality and freshness.
  2. Originality. Verify that the work you are getting is original to you. Use a plagiarism checker. Here’s a free one: plagiarism checker.
  3. Ratings or reviews. But don’t just trust the ones posted on the freelancing sites. Look deeper into who’s reviewing them and what the writer wrote for them.
  4. Topic qualifications. True, many professional writers can do a great job on virtually any topic. Still—especially if your topic is technical or highly specialized—you will get better content if the writer has some topic familiarity, either through education, avocation, or experience.
  5. Experience at freelancing. Sure, everybody has to start somewhere. But you probably will have a better experience if you hire someone who knows about deadlines, grammar, research, and etcetera.
27
Sep
11

What Page Deserves #1 Ranking?

One of these things is not like the others

One of these things is not like the others

This has been one of our hobby horses for a long, long time. Does a page deserve to rank number 1 in a search engine for a particular keyword search because it has more links pointing to it? Or because it uses the exact keyword phrase in the title and <h1> tags? Or because the site it belongs to is big and old? Or because a horde of pixies has conspired together to deluge the page with +1s? (We’ll avoid the obvious conclusion that the most deserving page is the one we did the SEO on.)

Or does a page deserve to rank #1 for any given keyword phrase because it is a better answer to the query?

That’s the answer we desperately want to believe. That’s the answer that promotes quality content over all else. And makes the internet (and thus, the world) a better, happier, more useful, and more interesting place.

So, then, what happens when someone searches for some very specific topic—let’s say a product called WOMENS HARLEY DAVIDSON JERRI STILETTO SANDALS—and every one of 50 pages in the search result is the exact same catalog page: product photo, manufacturer’s description, price & shipping info, and a big fat glowing “buy now” button? Which one of those do you rank #1? What if every one of them has the same number of ++++++ (zero) and the same number of links (zero) and the same number of Facebook friends (zero)?

To the searcher, it probably doesn’t matter who’s on first. If they’re looking to buy WOMENS HARLEY DAVIDSON JERRI STILETTO SANDALS and they don’t look at a whole bunch of those pages, they’re very poor internet shoppers. And if they’re just doing research, well, it doesn’t matter which page they hit if the content is all the same.

To the merchant, though, it does matter—matters a lot. Because whoever’s on top gets more visits, first impressions, and better opportunity to close a sale.

What’s a search engine to do?

If you’re Google, you’ll rely heavily on domain size, domain age, and number of inbound links, +1s, likes, and whatever that  point to the domain as a whole, even if none point to the page in question. If you’re Yahoo, you look to domain links and maybe Alexis traffic data. If you’re Bing, you pull out your 20-sided fuzzy dice.

If you’re us, you’d treat merchant sites differently from all the other kinds of sites. You’d use a less-focused algorithm that says “On merchant sites, if the content is virtually the same, the page ranks are equal, despite any other of the usual ranking criteria.” And then we’d let all the identical product-description pages rotate through the ranks, randomly, evenly, equally.

And let the consumers sort ’em out.