Search Engine Optimization News, Tips and Information

Information on search engine optimization strategies for business.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Controversy of Mentions vs. Links and Other Controversial Ranking Issues

Many SEO types today believe the magic bullet to high rankings is links. Ranging from free for all link schemes, to blog links, to natural links to content, to anchor text controlled links.


While the authors believe that natural links from relevant pages with good anchor and surrounding text still remains a huge factor in search engine rankings, our research has shown that there are other ways in which to maximize the exposure in the SERPs for you target keyphrases. We call this “mentions”. A mention, quite simply, is a mention of your organization that does not include a link, as is further elaborated on below.

We understand this is highly controversial, and so we polled a number of prominent individuals in the field, which only underscores the controversial nature of this technique. However, we believe it works and recommend a PR campaign that focuses on mentions in addition to a traditional link building/content based campaign.

Here are the questions we asked of our experts, and their responses.

What is a mention? Let’s use Arteworks as an example. Would it be a mention of the url arteworks.biz? Or would it also include mentions such as “Arteworks”, “Arteworks SEO”, or even “Matt Foster”?

Jack Leblond:
As Google collects and compares information, I think it tries to cross reference topics and phrases. If this is true, then having a business or personal name associated with some specific content could help that business’s site rank better for those terms. But I think the "name" would have to have a strong connection to the domain/site. For example, if arteworks.biz did not contain enough mentions of “matt foster” Google would have no way of knowing it should connect that name to the site if it is read on another site.

Lani Rosales:
A mention ranges from an actual URL to a mention of the company name, but the highest value to a search engine is on an actual link to a company website with lower value assigned to a brand name in word only. From a marketing/branding perspective, the company name has a higher value as big money goes toward branding, so theoretically, McDonald's places a bigger value on the word "McDonald's" as it their brand over "http://mcdonalds.com" where capitalization and punctuation do not matter.

Authors’ Commentary: We believe that “mentions” are by definition not links. A mention is a mention of your name or organization on the Internet without a link. Any of the examples above would be a mention, as a mention can be anything. The question then becomes, do mentions help in the SERPs, and if so, what type of mentions are helpful?

Do you believe that “mentions” are a factor in search rankings, in addition to links?

Gerald Weber:
If the mention is accompanied with a link that is followed then sure. If a mention for example "Gerald Weber is a great SEO" but if there is no link to my company site then it's not going to affect my company's rankings in the SERPs.

Wesley Faulkner:
Yes, when searching for a company, Google would use all search terms and see where they rank considering at least in part the aggregated total number of the mentions on the web. Mentions found on sites with high page ranks will obviously help more than sites with a lower page rank.

Authors’ Commentary: We believe that “mentions” are factors in search rankings so long as the mention is contained in the title tag of the desired URL. It is our opinion that the mention can be without a link, and that the mention of the company or individual name is a positive factor in search rankings. A good PR campaign, therefore, would not be reliant upon the acquisition of links only, but rather mentions with attendant title tags. In other words, if your title tag or possibly even other content on your site contains the text of the mention on the third party site, then the mention should help you in the SERPs.

Do Twitter mentions “count”? If so, how is that determined? For example, Matt’s twitter is ArteWorks_SEO. Does having your twitter name the same as your company name matter? Or if his twitter name was just something like “SEOGuy”, but had a link to Arteworks on his profile, would that be sufficient? What is the effect (if any) of retweets and @ replies? Does the use of underscores in Twitter names have any effect on mentions?

Jack Leblond:
I have argued both for and against company names (rather than using the name of the person tweeting) I think it comes down to how well known your brand is. Personally, I consider in-text mentions to be like a do-follow link, a true vote of confidence. I consider lists of names, like “follow Friday” tweets, to be more like nofollow, blogroll links. Most SEOs agree that Google still follows “nofollow” links, but assigns little or no weight to the link. So, even though Twitter has set its links to no-follow, they still have some value. I do think it's too soon for Google to have tweaked the live search algorithm enough to recognize different types of tweets - yet. But I think they will eventually weight tweets differently depending on how they are written, just like they do links from different locations on a web page.

Gerald Weber:
Having the Twitter name the same as the company name is really a matter of personal choice. If you have ArteWorks_SEO for example you will be more likely to rank for the company name ArteWorks SEO. However I have a nickname @the_gman and my Twitter profile still ranks well for my name Gerald Weber. However the Twitter link in your profile is no followed so I doubt the link itself helps much when it comes to ranking factor for your site it's linking too, but it can still send some good traffic to your site so it still has value. I don't think the underscore "_" makes much difference. One thing I have noticed, generally speaking, is that Twitter profiles seem to rank pretty well in the SERPs. For example, if you Google Gerald Weber my twitter profile comes up on the first page. Also, I actually have some competition in the SERPs for Gerald Weber because there are a few other prominent Gerald Weber’s out there. So even though, as in this example, the actual Twitter link is nofollowed, it can still be used effectively as a reputation management tool.

Lani Rosales:
Despite Twitter virtually closing itself off to some search engines, in the eyes of a search engine, mentions on Twitter are valuable just as they are on a blog because they turn up as a result. For brands, it is ideal to have users' names reflect the company such as “@NameAtCompany” as it humanizes the user as well as puts a human face to a brand.

Wesley Faulkner:
Yes and no. Twitter mentions count but not all search engines crawl Twitter. It depends on what search engine you are talking about. In the case of Google @mentions and retweets are weighed higher when they come from different users. Google treats each user as a page so it is more effective if multiple users Tweet the same mention than is one user repetitively references the same content. Just like content on a blog, another user is counted as a separate page; retweets and @mentions hold greater weight as they are like a separate url. And just like a blog, a new page is considered new content.

There is an advantage to using a company's name as a handle as opposed to using the proprietor’s name. For instance, Bill Gates' retweets and @mentions wouldn't necessarily help Microsoft get a higher page rank. The only way that it would help is if the proprietor and the company name were strongly tied together. For instance if Microsoft's website was called "Microsoft: A Bill Gates Company" in the header portion of the site.

Author’s commentary:
Yes, Twitter mentions count and are perhaps the most beneficial because of the frequency of mentions occurring due to @ mentions and retweets. We also believe that @ mentions and retweet mentions carry more weight than do self mentions, as they are demonstrative of community involvement and reputation. We have also noticed that having the same Twitter name as your company name really helps, and a lot of referrals to ArteWorks SEO come from Twitter. In Matt’s case he has benefitted because the name of the company is ArteWorks SEO and his Twitter username is ArteWorks_SEO. However we think that people who have not benefitted are people whose title tags do not match the mentions. To achieve the most benefit from Twitter mentions, have your Twitter username in the title tag, or at a minimum somewhere in the content, of your website. The key to maximizing the use of mentions of your site on the web is to include commonly mentioned terms in your title tag.

About URL shorteners: do you think the use of those can count as a “mention”? In other words, does Google understand that an URL shortener is redirecting to the target site and count that as a mention?

Jack Leblond:
If the shorteners use 301's, the links are followable and identifiable. But, text surrounding the link is important.

Gerald Weber:
I do believe that Google understand this yes. Google is very intelligent. However, again the links are no followed by Twitter, but it would count as a mention regardless.

Wesley Faulkner:
Not all URL shorteners are created equal. It should not be expected that Google can resolve all URL shorteners as it does with 301 redirects. The only sure way for a URL shortener to be effective is if it has been created by the source and is ensured to have a proper ping back.

Authors’ Commentary:

We may be giving Google more credit than is due, but we think Google is pretty smart. If the url shortener utilizes a 301 redirect, we believe that the link juice is passed through the shortened url to the target page. Therefore, when utilizing URL shorteners, it is important to use one that utilizes a 301 redirect if you intend to “vote” for or pass link juice to the target site.

On another note: There has been some talk about Google incorporating clicks on the SERPs as a factor in ranking, i.e. Sites that receive more clicks on the SERPs are deemed more relevant to the query and then could move up. Do you believe this is already happening? If not, do you believe it will or should happen? If so, how do you foresee this changing the game in the way of META description tag optimization, if at all?

Jack Leblond:
I don't think the click counts, but bounce rate must. They know if you click to a page and then quickly come back to search results again. When you do this, it’s obvious the page you visited was not relevant to the query.

Gerald Weber:
I personally don't think this is being incorporated into SERPs at this time. If it were you can bet there will be people gaming and exploiting this. However, Google does include CTR as part of its "Quality Score" for their paid advertising (Adwords). Regardless of whether or not Google uses CTR as part of its ranking score, it should not encourage SEO’s to write better META descriptions as any good SEO would already be writing good META descriptions to attract clicks regardless of any algorithm change.

Wesley Faulkner:
Yes, sites that receive more clicks move up higher, but, that is a self fulfilling prophecy. Most people don't go below the fold in Google. The story changes dramatically depending on if the user is logged into Google or not. I do think Google measures raw clicks and high CTR sites with low bounce rates and uses that data to help move up more in personal searches when the user is logged into Google.

As far as the user not being logged in to Google, that's a harder question to answer. For users that are not logged in, you have to consider Google Analytics being installed on the site in question. But yes, sites that receive more clicks will move up in the search, this brings the importance of the meta tag description in line with that of a well written AdWord. If the case is that clicks matter in SERPs, then meta tagging optimization becomes important so as to encourage clicks.

Authors’ Commentary:

It does not appear that traffic is a factor in search rankings. We have seen sites with very little traffic (clicks from the SERPs) perform quite well in the rankings. META description tag optimization should not be affected by any algorithmic change to include SERP CTRs, as descriptions should already be written to encourage clicks.

About the Authors

Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm, who has been active in the industry since 1995. Mr. Foster can be found on Twitter @ArteWorks_SEO. ArteWorks SEO can be found at www.arteworks.biz.

Krystle Green is a project manager for ArteWorks SEO. Krystle is in charge of strategy development for new clients and research. She is an expert in blogging and social media. She can be found on twitter @krystle_green.

Contributors

Gerald Weber is the President and Founder of Search Engine Marketing Group, a leading search engine marketing and web development firm in Houston, TX. Gerald is also a contributing author for Search Engine Journal. He can be found on Twitter @the_gman.

Jack Leblond is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for a large Austin-based educational services company where he manages the web team, focuses on SEO, e-marketing and Social Media. Jack has been involved in Web development and SEO for over ten years as employee, business owner and now as a free-lance SEO consultant working with small/medium sized businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings. He can be found on Twitter @JackLeblond.

Wesley Faulkner is a contributor for Conversations Matter. His experience spans multiple facets of the technology industry, from manufacturing to product development. Recently, Wesley has become a rising player in the social media scene. As a member of AMD’s social media council he assists in the development of their social media strategy and vision for the company. He can be found on Twitter @wesley83.

Lani Rosales is the New Media Director at AgentGenius.com and was recently named President of New Media Lab, both of which are headquartered in Austin, TX. She has an English degree from the University of Texas (and of course used that to become a blogger). She can be found on Twitter @LaniAR.

About The Authors:
Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm, who has been active in the industry since 1995. Mr. Foster can be found on Twitter @ArteWorks_SEO. ArteWorks SEO can be found at www.arteworks.biz. Krystle Green is the Director of Social Media for ArteWorks SEO. She is an expert in blogging and social media. She can be found on twitter @krystle_green.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Contest Rules

Here are the general contest rules


1. Must include @reply to ArteWorks SEO and hashtag #arteworks. Must also follow @ArteWorks_SEO.
2. You must vote for ArteWorks SEO on PromotionWorld's Readers Choice.
3. To be be eligible to win, you must tweet and include the following: “@ArteWorks_SEO" and use hashtag "#arteworks”.
4. Cash given away by ArteWorks SEO to random winner selected solely by ArteWorks. There will only be one winner. Winner based on random number generator. All winner decisions final and judged by the Law Office of David Gottfried in Austin, Texas.
5. Must include hashtag #arteworks and @arteworks_seo in each eligible entry. You will not threaten us in any way nor any other player.
6. Must have U.S. mailing address to mail iPod Touch to, and be willing to divulge winning address via DM to @ArteWorks_SEO.
7. Each entry counts one time, but feel free to enter as many times as you want as long and you follow the rules and RT and @reply to @ArteWorks_SEO and use hashtag #arteworks
9. No purchase necessary. Employees, former employees, independent contractors of ArteWorks SEO, and their families, ineligible to win.
10. You must be at least 18 years of age to win and have proof of age and valid state or federal issued ID and SSN which you will fax to ArteWorks SEO immediately upon request for age verification purposes. No entries from minors accepted. Must be a real person with a real U.S. address. Must be able to verify by ID faxed to US number. If there is any question on the part of ArteWorks SEO, we reserve right to disqualify.
11. We reserve the right to modify rules as necessary. Specifically, if entrants get unruly, "in your face", or start causing other problems with the other entries, or cause discord between entrants.
12. Automated tweets, any tweets not originating from a physical human being, or any tweets that are a violation of Twitter's terms of service are ineligible. Any violation of any law renders entry ineligible. Tweets not physically entered by a human being manually are ineligible. Tweets violating the spirit of these rules are ineligible and eligibility of any given tweet will be at our sole discretion.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cross Platfrom Internet Marketing - Say Goodbye to Traditional Search

Business owners in the 1990’s were faced with the fact that in order to compete, they needed to establish a web presence. While the necessity of using search engines to achieve website visibility may be obvious to those in the search marketing industry, only now are many site owners realizing that the establishment of a web presence alone is not enough without search engine optimization. However, as this awareness of the need to appear in the search engines is beginning to become self evident to the layperson, traditional search engine optimization is already outmoded due to a variety of factors. Traffic patterns involving search, user search behavior, and the way in which search results are delivered are dramatically different than that for which common perception allows, which is primarily focused on a metric based upon visible search engine rankings and keyphrase targeted search of textual web documents. As such, it is incumbent upon search marketing professionals to provide a holistic solution to clients that is no longer merely about title tags, rankings and keywords, but rather about reaching customers across a broad spectrum of platforms, including multimedia (blended search), verticals, social media, targeted search, mobile and traditional search combined with cognizance of the importance of brand awareness and reputation management.

1. Blended Search

Blended search, which is also known as “universal search”, has changed the way traditional search engines present information relevant to specific queries to the user. Not too long ago, a user would have to click on separate tabs for web results (which are the traditional text documents found in the organic listings), local results, news results, image results, video results, blog results, book results, weather, shopping results and the like. Now, all that has changed. Blended search is upon us, with the most relevant results delivered to the user regardless of the form or nature of those results.

This of course begs the question as to what results are most relevant, and that question will be delved into more deeply later on (in a nutshell, the most relevant results are a function of traditional ranking algorithms combined with user preferences, browsing and search history, demographics, context, location, and the like).

With blended results now accounting for more than 1/3 of all organic results delivered by search engines (some numbers show it to be as high as 57%), it becomes incumbent upon Internet marketing professionals as well as their clients to steer away from traditional web document, keyword based search optimization.

The effect of blended results is that for any given search query the chances are good the engines will return more than a simple text list of web documents. Images, video, breaking news, local results, and more are all appearing together in a single common results page.

Accordingly, blended results yield several items that should be considered by Internet marketers. For one, there is more competition for first page real estate. Focusing solely on web document results can have the effect of missing out on multiple opportunities for influence in the results pages, not to mention the increasing scarcity of web documents appearing on first page results. Marketers should be advising their clients of the importance of image optimization, video production and optimization, press release marketing, blogging and other opportunities to grab some of that valuable search real estate.

As blended search incorporates social media and other verticals as well, it is not enough to merely create multimedia; this multimedia must be promoted in and of itself. Popular sources of blended results include local business listings, YouTube (video), Flickr (images), BusinessWire and other wire services (news and press releases), and Amazon or eBay (shopping) just to name a few.

2. Social Media and Vertical Search

Many people still do not understand the value of social media and remain obstinate in their quest to stick with traditional search. However, the old saying “maybe if I ignore it, it will go away” simply does not ring true. You can gripe about it if it makes you feel better, but it will not change the fact that social media and search verticals are here to stay. The sooner you embrace it, however awkward that first embrace may be, the sooner you will benefit from it.

One effective way to understand the value of social media is to obtain an understanding of the numbers of eyeballs we are talking about. No businessperson can argue with masses of eyeballs staring at social media and verticals, all teeming with anticipation to click on the next targeted result they encounter. As is demonstrated in the following discussion, we are talking about a lot of eyeballs.

Another way in which the value (or harm) of social media can become apparent to those not acclimated with it is when searches are performed for names of principles, employees, or the company itself. These often turn up, on the positive side, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook profiles, on the (usually) neutral side Wikipedia entries, and on the negative side Ripoff Report and similar items. With any disgruntled customer or employee able to quickly, easily, and anonymously post damaging information about an organization online (regardless of the veracity of the statement), online reputation management therefore becomes an issue, and social media is the single most effective means of controlling it. Online reputation management should not wait until such time as there is a problem – if you are regularly and consistently building a name for yourself online through various social media sources then when a problem does arise you have the advantage. I do not consider online reputation management an option; rather, it is a critical component to exercising influence and control over how the world perceives you.

The use of vertical search is also on the rise. Vertical search is focused on search queries in particular field, for particular type of information, or a particular information format. Sites such as Flickr (images), Fandango (movies), Weather.com, WebMd and innumerable others all cater to specific verticals and are heavily trafficked. YouTube is a well-known example of a vertical search engine, in which users can search for information in a particular format, namely video. YouTube is also demonstrative of the fact that vertical search cannot be ignored, as it is currently the second largest search engine behind Google (beating Yahoo and all others). As such, traditional keyphrase based web document SEO completely fails to reach this huge audience. Search marketers should be encouraging their clients to develop video content and post it on YouTube in order to reach the vast audience that YouTube offers. Additionally, the inclusion of video in an Internet marketing strategy gives site owners the opportunity to appear within the blended results mentioned above. As any opportunity to appear on first page search engine results should be seized, this is yet another added benefit of video (and one, perhaps, which clients may more easily understand as having ROI potential).

YouTube is not the only social media or vertical site that competes with traditional search engines. For example, MySpace receives more search traffic than either AOL or Ask. When search queries are combined from the sites eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon they total 980 million per year, which is close behind MSN (now Bing), which received just over 1 billion queries in 2008. Obviously, relying on traditional, web document keyword based SEO results in the loss of massive amounts of potential search traffic that is funneling through vertical and social media portals. Facebook, with over 200 million registered users, had 113 million unique visitors in May of 2009, surpassing MSN (97.5 million) and approaching Yahoo and Google (135.5 million and 145.5 million respectively). Photo sharing sites such as Flickr are extremely powerful ways to promote image content. Finally, heavily trafficked social bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us and the like cannot be ignored as potential sources of visibility for your content.

Internet marketing professionals can adapt to the changes in search behavior as reflected in the popularity of verticals and social media and provide maximum ROI to their clients by developing client-specific strategies which involve both a social media presence as well as inclusion in verticals relevant to the client’s business.

Real time search is another consideration that cannot be neglected. The popular microblogging site Twitter is growing at an annual rate of 1400% and currently has over 10 million users that add 10 gigabytes of data per day. Last year Twitter bought the Summize search engine so as to add real time search capability to its function. Twitter has also recently announced that not only will it index tweets in real time, but also index links that are contained within tweets in real time. This stands to be the first large scale, real time, web document-indexing engine available. An additional real time feature offered by Twitter is the trending topic functionality. When there is a breaking news event, such as an earthquake in China or the debut of the new iPhone, people are talking about it in real time, and that is reflected in the trending topics. A user searching a traditional search engine for news on the earthquake in China, or a review of the iPhone, would be hard pressed to encounter breaking information in the first hours following the event. However, on Twitter, such information is readily available the moment it is published.

Obviously real time search creates spam problems, by which people can create spammy content and get it indexed instantaneously. These are problems which will have to be overcome for real time search to reach maturity, however could theoretically be solved by allowing only content posted by trusted users or users with a reputation to appear in real time results. This could even take the form of a filtering option, in which real time results could be filtered, according to user preference, to include only those results which are from trusted and reputable sources.

However, the same obstacles that are presented by spam to real time search provide an opportunity for reputation management as well as targeted search traffic. In a crisis, or when bad press happens, it can be addressed in real time and promptly resolved, before it gets out of hand or becomes viral. Vendors of products and services can always a sure a top listing in real time search by regular contributions to the service (for example, regular tweets), as currently these results are “ranked” by freshness only (with the most recent tweets appearing first), and not according to any sort of reputation or authority algorithm. Relevance is rudimentary, and simply determined by the presence of the target word, phrase or hashtag occurring within the Tweet.

Real time search also offers an incredible opportunity for branding as well as link building. Increasing one’s influence on Twitter by increasing followers allows one to address a captive audience in real time with recent blog posts, product announcements, press releases, and the like. This in turn enables followers to create links and discussions related to the freshly released content, many of which could never be reached by any other means.

3. User Targeted Search

Traditional keyword based SEO strategies can also fail due to the advent of customized search. Customized search is a methodology by which various engines deliver search results based upon various parameters that are defined by the user (either actively in search or profile settings or passively as in GPS location).

Geo-targeting and local search is perhaps the quintessential example of custom search. Organic search results are geo-targeted and modified based on user location, which can be ascertained either by IP address, direct user input (such as “coffee shop Austin”), or in the case of mobile devices via GPS networks. The inclusion of local results makes it incumbent upon local businesses to insure that they are included in various local business directories. National businesses should ensure that all local franchises and locations are separately registered in local directories, preferably with individual, local telephone numbers. Geo-targeting additionally (without other user-defined preferences taken into consideration) favors local business over online merchants. For example, a user searching for “organic food” on either Bing or Google will be given myriad local choices, at the expense of national organic food ecommerce sites or suppliers. This is demonstrative of one way in which traditional keyword based SEO would lose efficacy due to geo-targeted results.

Geo-targeting is also extremely compelling when considering various verticals such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Fandango and the like (all of which steal traffic from traditional search engines). The increasing popularity of GPS on mobile devices further illuminates the importance of geo-targeted search, and is further examined later in this article.

Browsing history is also used to customize search and is an example of what is known as behavioral targeting. For example, Google acknowledges using recent search history to further refine your results because "it provides a valuable context for understanding the meaning behind your searches". Google states that it uses search history "to customize your results whenever possible, regardless of whether you're signed in or signed out [of a Google account]." Recent search history is stored via a cookie that expires within 30 minutes, if logged out of your Google account. If logged in to your Google account, your browsing history is additionally factored into your search history to further customize results.

User defined preferences are another way in which search is customized for specific users. Perhaps the most notable example of this is Google’s “Safe Search”, which has a default setting of “moderate” and is intended to suppress certain search results that may be offensive (and hence not relevant) to some users. Image searches are clearly marked with the safe search settings for the machine on which the search is conducted. These settings can be changed to set filters on search results that should be either included or excluded according to user preference.

A clear example of this is to set your Google preferences to “strict filtering”, and then perform a normal text search (meaning this can be demonstrated outside of image results) for “Toys for Adults”. The results delivered include brain toys, tech toys, Discovery Channel toys, and the like. If you then perform the same search, with the filter set to only “moderate”, the results are quite different, as would be imagined. As a side note, Google (as well as Bing and others) also allows users to set preferences which would favor pages written in specific languages.

Information stored in user profiles is another source of potential search customization. Search results can easily be tailored to take into account the most relevant results for a specific demographic, such as age, sex, marital status, user-defined interests and the like.

4. Mobile Search

It has been said for years “this is the year for mobile search”. While I believe social media outlets are the biggest source of untapped traffic currently, it is self evident that mobile search is on the rise. This is due to several factors, including mobile browsers that look and feel the same as traditional browsers, which eliminates the need for special mobile-version websites. Increasing network speeds (4G and beyond) and device processor speeds, combined with declining costs and ease of use make the mobile web accessible to most anyone. Mobile devices such as the iPhone and the G1 come preinstalled with proprietary, web ready browsers.

The G1, running on Google’s Android operating system, comes with ready to use, one touch Google search functionality, including the ability to search by voice. How can search possibly be made any easier than just saying what you want and having it appear on your mobile device? Short of mind reading, there is no easier way!

However, I believe the future of mobile search for many common queries is in the growing use of mobile applications (“apps”, for short). Examples of extremely popular mobile search apps include UrbanSpoon, Yelp, NearbyNow and other apps which deliver customized search results based on geo-targeting, often using the mobile device’s built in GPS functions to filter the results. I am most amazed by Shazam, which allows the user to “record” a snippet of background music and then performs an automated search that results in the title, song name, and artist information, with the ability to purchase the mp3 with one touch.

Conclusion

In order to best serve clients and realize maximum ROI on an Internet marketing investment, the focus on rankings-based metrics must be diverted to metrics based on traffic and conversions. Obviously, this means getting your message out to where the traffic is – which today means multimedia, mobile, social media, and verticals. Your marketing message must be designed to target specific behaviors as well as be visible in a variety of platforms in addition to the traditional search engines. Traditional SEO, with its focus primarily on search engine rankings, is no longer the most effective means by which to obtain visibility for a website. The vast amounts of traffic utilizing nontraditional methods to search for products and services combined with customized and blended results in the traditional search engines render traditional keyword targeted, web document search engine optimization strategies obsolete.

About the Authors

Matt Foster (Twitter: @ArteWorks_SEO) is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm specializing in social media, new media and organic search engine placement. Lisa Kinnard (Twitter: @LisaKinnard) is the eMarketing Manager for a national ad serving agency and has extensive experience managing behaviorally targeted search marketing campaigns and in developing custom search experiences based on user preferences and demographics.

Notes
Ryan, Kevin (2008). Uncovering the Real Universal Search. Retrieved June 15, 2009 from Search Engine Watch. Web site: http://searchenginewatch.com/3628796
Comscore, http://www.comscore.com
Comscore, http://www.comscore.com
Wauters, Robin (2009). Compete: Facebook U.S. Traffic Nearing Google, Yahoo. Retrieved June 9, 2009 from TechCrunch. Web site: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/09/compete-facebook-us-traffic-nearing-google-yahoo/
Scoble, Robert (2009). Some Stats from Twitter Conference Compared to Google. Retrieved June 9, 2009 from FriendFeed. Web site: http://friendfeed.com/scobleizer/50e673d8/some-stats-from-twitter-conference-compared-to
Arrington, Michael (2008). Confirmed: Twitter Acquires Summize Search Engine. Retrieved June 9, 2009 from TechCrunch. Web site: http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/07/15/confirmed-twitter-acquires-summize-search-engine/



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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Win an iPod Touch in Our Twitter Contest!


So you want to win this iPod Touch? It's easy. Here's how.


1. Must include @reply to ArteWorks SEO and hashtag #arteworks. Must also follow @ArteWorks_SEO and remain following until at least October 20, 2009. Contest ends October 15, 2009 at midnight Central Time (Austin, TX time zone).
2. If you are not following @ArteWorks_SEO as of October 20, 2009 then you are ineligible for prize. Must be following @ArteWorks_SEO at time of drawing.
3. To be be eligible to win, you must tweet and include the following: “@ArteWorks_SEO" and use hashtag "#arteworks”. You can also include the fact that an iPod Touch is being given away, and use phrase "Pls RT" and url http://woot.tw/jgxi.
4. ipod Touch given away by ArteWorks SEO to random winner selected solely by ArteWorks. There will only be one winner. Winner based on random number generator. All winner decisions final and judged by the Law Office of David Gottfried in Austin, Texas.
5. Must include hashtag #arteworks and @arteworks_seo in each eligible entry. You will not threaten us in any way nor any other player.
6. Must have U.S. mailing address to mail iPod Touch to, and be willing to divulge winning address via DM to @ArteWorks_SEO.
7. Each entry counts one time, but feel free to enter as many times as you want as long and you follow the rules and RT and @reply to @ArteWorks_SEO and use hashtag #arteworks
8. Winner announced randomly October 19, 2009 from all eligible entries.
9. No purchase necessary. Employees, former employees, independent contractors of ArteWorks SEO, and their families, ineligible to win.
10. You must be at least 18 years of age to win and have proof of age and valid state or federal issued ID and SSN which you will fax to ArteWorks SEO immediately upon request for age verification purposes. No entries from minors accepted. Must be a real person with a real U.S. address. Must be able to verify by ID faxed to US number. If there is any question on the part of ArteWorks SEO, we reserve right to disqualify.
11. We reserve the right to modify rules as necessary. Specifically, if entrants get unruly, "in your face", or start causing other problems with the other entries, or cause discord between entrants.
12. Automated tweets, any tweets not originating from a physical human being, or any tweets that are a violation of Twitter's terms of service are ineligible. Any violation of any law renders entry ineligible. Tweets not physically entered by a human being manually are ineligible. Tweets violating the spirit of these rules are ineligible and eligibility of any given tweet will be at our sole discretion.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Why Use of Frames is Discouraged

While the use of websites built upon the use of frames was popular in the 1990's, they have fallen out of favor for a number of reasons, and it is recommended that any site that still uses frames be redeveloped to eliminate their use. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, search engines can't crawl a site with frames because each frame is treated as the same url as the home page, at least in simple terms. However, each frame requires its own separate html file. This is hard on the server load as well. When a search engine crawls your site, it may only the outline of the page but not the page content.

From an aesthetic point of view frames can make a site look cluttered. Frames can be hard to navigate because of scrolling options such as up/down and left/right on the same page. If each frame has a scroll bar, the site will be very distracting and hard to use, which can result in higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. Put simply, a site that is hard to navigate will result in user abandonment.

Bookmarking a site with frames typically results in bookmarking of the home page url, as the url doesn't change when frames are included. Persons interested in bookmarking interior content, or linking to specific content on your site, find it impossible to do as the main site url is the url that appears on all pages of the site, and deep links to the interior of the site fail and link to the main url of the site.

For @Burnsie_SEO and @remarkablogger, frames were very useful. @ArteWorks_SEO held a contest about frames and asked contestants to find an example of a website built with frames so that he could show examples of sites with frames during an html training session. The two winners got a sexy and very stylish ArteWorks SEO t-shirt, calendar magnets, and a handful of business cards so that CEO Matt Foster's contact information would be close at hand. Wow, that’s better than winning a trip to Hawaii!

@Burnsie_SEO offers over 15 years experience in web site design and search engine optimization. To ensure the highest level of service and results for clients, she continues to monitor and study the ever-changing requirements and procedures of the search engines. She has optimized over 2000 web sites during her SEO career and has achieved top 20 placements and increased exposure for all of them. For more information please visit www.ontheavenues.com, the SEO consultant to the world.

@remarkablogger is a blog coach. He has been making websites and exploring online since 1997. For more informtion please visit www.remarkablogger.com BLOG

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Zooloo – More Than A Better Mousetrap

As the social networking phenomenon has been embraced by the masses as a way to stay in touch with friends and family, many copycats have tried to hop on the gravy train. None of them has been as groundbreaking, however, as Zooloo.com, the newest, easiest to use, and safest social networking site available. And it’s fun!

What most sets Zooloo apart from other sites is that it allows users to bring everything that they do on the Internet into one space. Users do this through the use of their own domain name, which provides availability for both a public space as well as a private space.

Zooloo upholds a secure privacy standard in which everything on your account is private until you decide to make it public. MySpace only allows their users to have one page to display pictures, interests, and personal information, and everything displayed on the one page is made public unless you block your profile. However, even when your profile is blocked people can search for you and see your main profile picture, your age, and where you live. What makes Zooloo a safer option than MySpace is that there is no search option where you can browse through Zooloo members. To add a friend to your Zooloo network you have to know their full name or e-mail address. In place of a browse option, you can recommend people for your Zooloo friends to follow. The private space is for your eyes only, and Zooloo stands by the fact that no one will ever see this information.

Zooloo has more features for you to customize your space than most other, if not all, networking sites. There are tools to customize both your private and public space. The dashboard, or the private space, allows you to upload information important to you. Facebook and MySpace accounts can also be integrated onto the private space. There are tabs for you to create live feeds for weather, calendars and agendas, and top news stories. The dashboard is categorized into 5 sections that are accessed from the “My Zooloo” button and include zLife, entertainment, shopping, my media, and zSocial. What’s great and fun about these features is that you don’t have to leave the Zooloo site to look up movies, music, latest clothing trends, etc. It is all stored in one place, and you’ll be saving time because you won’t have to bounce around across different sites. Zooloo makes this all so easy! You can customize the appearance of the dashboard with whatever colors and backgrounds you choose, and you can organize the updates you wish to be displayed.

Even more, you can access YouTube, iTunes, or your favorite clothing store’s website all from your dashboard. The media feature is great for photo fanatics; here you can create photo albums and store your digital photos, as well as videos. This is similar to MySpace, but with Zooloo you can purchase pictures to be printed directly from your dashboard with zPrints in a number of different sizes, as canvas prints or as post cards. A life saving feature that Zooloo offers is zLife. Here you can manage your monthly calendar, address book, to-do lists, and invitations for events. You can create invites for events that you are hosting or store invites for events you want to attend, which is a feature similar to evites. The networking side of Zooloo can be found by accessing zSocial. This is where you invite friends, view their updates, create your status update, manage your personal profile information, and read e-mails.
In addition to having a private space, you also get a public webspace to build on a domain of your choice. This is where you get to share your public information, like a blog for example. You can choose which photos or videos you want to share and upload them here as well. If you have content that you want to share, you get to choose your own social bookmarking tool to add onto the website. The public space is also controlled solely by you, the website creator. Zooloo offers tools to customize your public space. This is done under the “My Site” tab which includes the zCreator, blog, and zControls. Unlike MySpace or Facebook, Zooloo gives you an unlimited amount of pages to build your website. The zCreator is used to choose designs, themes, and skins. Adding content onto your page is as easy as dragging or adding content on the zCreator page.

The blog is set up similarly to other blogging sites such as Blogger. The organization to manage the blog is easy to follow, update, or edit. There are tabs for managing posts, managing the blog, blog photos, videos, and categories. If you don’t want everyone to see your blog or your webpage, you can use zControls to manage the privacy of your website. You have complete control over who can see each and every page. For example, you can give your mom permission to see one page, and your co-workers permission to see another. The controls are totally in the hands of the user, and all of the content you create is private until you make it public.

Zooloo is everything the web has to offer in one easy place – pretty much, you never have to leave Zooloo! Happy Zooloo-ing!
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bing vs. Google for Breaking News Stories

I read an article this morning which made the claim that Bing does not produce results as fresh as Google and therefore favors aged pages or sites at the expense of fresh content. I decided to do a side by side comparison of the two engines to test this out myself, using 3 unrelated breaking news queries and the comparison tool Bingle. The queries I randomly chose were "Sonia Sotomayor", "Air France Crash", and "U.S. Unemployment Rate". Based on this limited scope test, Bing topped Google in freshness, presentation, and blended results, although Google edged out Bing in organic relevancy.



Search Query: "Sonia Sotomayor"

bing vs. google

Bing Results:

Bing places the most recent news articles at the top of the search results, with the most recent news article being less than 1 hour old. It includes an image result at the top, to the right of the news results, so that the user can see a picture of Justice Sotomayor. Below the news results are organic web results beginning with Wikipedia then an article from a newspaper which was written on May 27, 2009.

Google Results:

Googlepedia includes its requisite first position Wikipedia listing, which is followed by a .gov link from the Federal Judicial Center that nobody will read, followed by a newspaper article dated May 1, 2009 (26 days older than the first organic newspaper article in Bing) which is provided both a main listing and an indented listing. Only after these four entries does Google provide its fresh news results, with the latest news article being 2 hours old (1 hour older than the freshest Bing news result). No other blended results, including images, are provided.

And the winner is:

Fresh Content: Bing
Blended Results: Bing
Organic Relevancy: Bing
Presentation: Bing

Search Query: "Air France Crash"

bing vs. google

Bing Results:

The Bing results are beautiful - just look at them. At the very top the recent news results are provided, along with an image to the left of the results. The most recent news result is 3 hours old. Below the news results it provides 4 news videos, followed by 4 images. The organic web results then begin with a Wikipedia article on Air France Flight 358, which crashed in 2005 and is not the same Air France flight that recently experienced tragedy off of the coast of South America. As this entry is not relevant to what most people who typed this in would be searching for, I'm going to give relevancy to Google on this one (see below).

Google Results:

Google also lists the news results first for this query, the freshest being 1 hour old. However, this does not tell the whole story - as the 1 hour old piece of content is breaking the same news that Bing's 5 hour old news result covers (the discovery of additional bodies). Also, Google news results do not turn up the discovery of the tail section of the airliner, which is the most recent development, although Bing has a result 3 hours old regarding this. Therefore, the advantage here has to go to Bing, for providing not only the freshest content, but for producing breaking news results hours before Google provides them. Google then provides a couple of quality organic web results from CNN and Yahoo News, which is followed by image results and then video results.

And the winner is:


Fresh Content: Bing
Blended Results: Bing
Organic Relevancy: Google
Presentation: Bing

Search Query: "U.S. Unemployment Rate"

bing vs. google

Bing:

For this query Bing provided no blended results. The first two organic web listings are .gov sites followed by Wikipedia and various articles, the most recent of which is the VOA News in position 6 dated June 7 (only 2 days ago), but also producing a 4 day old web result from theregister.co.uk.


Google:


Google provided a nice little graph from their Public Data database, which quickly and succinctly answers most questions one would have if entering the designated query, the data is from May 1, 2009. It then provides news results as recent as 3 days old followed by web results which begin with the same bls.gov results Bing produced followed by the same 2 day old VOA article Bing produced. As both Google and Bing produced the same VOA article as the freshest result, followed by the same bls.gov and VOA sites, freshness is a draw. As to relevancy, I'm going to give Google the edge in this one as it surprisingly did not include a Wikipedia entry in the top five results.

And the winner is:

Fresh Content: Tie
Blended Results: Google
Organic Relevancy: Google
Presentation: Google


Overall Results:


Bing: 7
Google: 4
Tie: 1

Results by Category:

Fresh Content: Bing 2, Google 0, Tie 1
Blended Results: Bing 2, Google 1
Organic Relevancy: Bing 1, Google 2
Presentation: Bing 2, Google 1







About the Author: Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, one of the most recognized search engine optimization companies on the web.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Changing Face of Networking

As SMX Advanced - Seattle wrapped up today, I noticed something. The new business cards I printed up for the event went largely undistributed. I am coming home with only two business cards from other people. A year ago, at SMX West, I gave out a stack of cards and came home with a stack. What has changed? One word: Twitter. And I'm not the only one who noticed it.

I first realized on the last day of SMX that I hadn't given out any business cards. I thought to myself, "Self, you have really failed at networking during this conference." Then I realized I had not failed, but rather the face of networking has changed - and in a short period of 15 months.

As I pondered the reasons why I had not given out cards, I realized that people weren't asking for them. And I wasn't asking for them from others, either. Instead, all anyone seemed to care about, including me, was a person's Twitter persona. I added a motherload of Twitter followers at the conference, and in turn followed numerous people with whom I came into contact.

I'm not the only one who noticed this phenomenon. At the Birds of a Feather lunch, @joannalord and @lisakinnard both mentioned that they had noticed it as well.

In the past, if you did not have a business card, you were not taken seriously. It seems now that if you do not have a Twitter profile, you are not taken seriously. I can hear the song now: "Twitter killed the business card.."

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SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: What's Next for the Search Engine Marketing Business?

Synopsis of the What's Next for the Search Engine Marketing Business at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

What clients are looking for as metrics of success:

-Site Traffic
-Increase Conversions
-ROI

Where is search marketing funding coming from?
-new marketing funds
-allocation from other funds
--such as newspapers, other print, other media

For 2009:
12% will spend less on SEM
29% will spend the same on SEM
50% will spend more on SEM

Advertisers are reporting increased interet in both video and mobile search, but are not willing to spend additional money on these, rather would integrate into existing campaigns.

Social Media:
41% use social media in house

2008 numbers: Facebook, Digg, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon (obviously 2008 numbers don't reflect Twitter explosion)

Near Term Changes in Search:
-Universal search becomes universal
-In 2008, blended results increased from 17% to 31%

What it means for marketers?
-optimize for more stuff, videos, images, books, etcetera
-stiffer competition for search result real estate
-blended results offer customization: geo-location, time ofday, search history, social affinities

What are social affinities?
-It's harder to optimize based on keywords alone
-Context and intent will count more
-Makes SEO more difficult, and makes reputation management *critical*
-Increasingly, search will be a feedback mechanism

Vertical Search Engines
-YouTube is second largest search engine
-MySpace gets more queries than AOL or Ask.com
-eBay, Craigslist, Amazon combined 980 million, approaching MSN at 1.04 billion
-Users are adapting search behavior to appropriate platforms

Mobile search:
-SMS, click to call, mobile coupons, location based services
-Use of mobile apps, e.g. MizPee, TapIt, AAA discounts

Longer Term Search Trends:

-Real time search
-Multimedia will become more searchable (Flash, video, books, audio, images), and more optimizable
--"Who is this a picture of", or "What song is this a clip of"

Location, location, location.
-Search engines offering geo-targeted results
-Geo-targeting important in PPC
-Mobile search: geo-targeting extremely important
-Retail search, e.g. NearbyNow

Devices become more searchable:
-phones
-gps
-tv
-in store kiosks
-refrigerators

1/3 of all Google searches in Japan are mobile.



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SMX Advanced Synopsis: Bing.com Keynote

Synopsis of the Bing.com Keynote session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

Bing is officially launched as of today, preview labels are off.

Bing is intended to make the search experience more efficient and organized. The monolithic search page is a thing of the past.

A search for "Seattle", for example, will show attractions, weather, or information on Seattle. Key idea: understanding user intent, based on semantic meaning and purpose of search.

Understanding user intent and delivering highly relevant and rich results requires immense computational power.

1) Bing produces a search experience vastly more compelling than what has been offered to date.
2) The best way to predict the future is to create it. That's what Bing does.

Microsoft welcomes innovators such as Wolfram Alpha.

The key to Bing is understanding user intent.

Bing is a new brand which only represents search. Bing is short, easy to pronounce, works well across the globe. As it turns out, in Chinese "bing" means "very certain to respond".

What will become of MSN Live services?

-MSN will still be there
-The Live brand will continue to exist, as there is a suite of products, IM, hotmail, Windows Live, etcetera
-Bing will only represent search

There is still much to be done in search. Search is extremely important for consumers and is the means by which most users encounter information on the Internet.

Bing will be extremely focused on ongoing R&D and seeking product innovations. The brand will be marketed aggressively.

Speaker would not discuss plans for Bing acquisition of Yahoo search assets.

What about real time search?
-Bing's results favor fresh content
-Real time search is important. No comment on any deal with Twitter or whether there would be a Microsoft answer to Twitter

Will Bing provide tools for site owners and advertisers, such as Google's Webmaster Central, etc? Answer: Vague...the more user intent can be understood, the better tools can be offered.

The web is a rich place, if a search engine can do a better job of organizing search results, webmasters should be offered tools for assisting them in achieving visibility for their sites.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: Beyond the Usual Linkbuilding

Synopsis of the Beyond the Usual Linkbuilding session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

Some Good Link Sources:
-Audience-targeted content
-Useful widgets/tools
-RSS
-SERP listing optimization

Content which is attractive to links includes:
Public Domain Content (federal, state governments, etc.)
Private Domain Content (fair use)

Project Gutenberg: contains formerly copyrighted works now in the public domain.

Widgets and "blog bling": also known as "information consoles", but beware of "bad practices" when developing widgets - Google does not consider widgets with hidden links as a good source of links. Even "good" links contained in widget code will be discounted, i.e. insertion of widget code into a website is not as clear an endorsement as is a link from a blog, etcetera.

Widget "DO"s:
-Provide widget on the same site it is linking to
-Create widgets thematically related to site where possible
-Provide clear legal terms stating links are included
-Provide layout color options
-Keep your branding minimal
-Provide easy to install code
-Promote widgets

Widget "DONT"s:
-Don't hide links in widgets
-Don't link to another website
-Don't bury mentions of links in legalese
-Don't use redirects or pop ups

Create Content or Profile Links - there are many sites at which you can create public profiles with links for free
-make them look good
-examples:
--Google Knol
--Hubpages.com
--Buzzle

Another source of links may be from clients or suppliers
-offer gift cards or discounts
-offer gifts such as tshirts
-old fashioned US Mail asking for a link
-call them on the phone!
-local and national associations, local chambers of commerce, etcetera

Use links in Video embed code

Ask for product or service reviews from friendly blogs

Contests and Promotions
-What makes a good contest? Generally, it starts with the prize. Make it valuable to the people who you want to enter your contest. They have to put in an effort to enter, so make it worth it.
-Something reasonaly innovative, not a "me too" contest (ie don't just copy what a competitor has done)
-Establish a reasonable time frame, give people time to get involved, but also strike a balance as if the reward is too far away in time, people will lose interest
-Create a buzz: panel of notable judges, press releases, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etcetera



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SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: Proving Social Media's Value

Synopsis of the Proving Social Media's Value session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

Benefits of engaging in usersupport forums
--drive traffic
--improve customer service
--test new product ideas/get feedback
--foster online community retention
--visibly provide support
--shows you care
--engage in significant discussions about your brand

Senior Management will always ask: What is the ROI?

--Many companies have "value" for a customer
---but some customers have greater value than others, example: promoters, neutral, detractors are types of customers. Promotors add customers, so have added value; detractors have a negative value.

Calculating Referral Economics:

Positively Referred x Number Referred x Conversion Rate = Referral Impact
78% 3.87 17% 0.5
(these numbers supported by research)
Interpretation: For every 2 "promoters", you will gain 1 referral customer.

Note that social media will not only engage and increase the number of promoters, but also will minimize number of detractors, especially if resolutions are provided to detractors quickly and publicly. Detractors can then become promoters of your brand.

Outreach - "Changing Perceptions"

-reach out to negative influencers
-turn their bad experience into a good one
-incentivize them to make positive noise

(public apologies can go a long way, and this is an example of changing a detractor to a promoter)

-send out coupon codes on variu networks (example: Facebook, Twitter)
-integrate with mobile: use sms texting to build your contacts
--Example: "Hotel Deal: Free Fridays at a Luxury Hotel. Text "special" to 12345"

The true value of social media is seen over time, although it can be tracked via dividing customers gained by social media investment. However, this is truly undervalued, as the present value of social media awareness and brand reputation is nominal when compared to the future value of these things.

--Brand Reputation Value: Priceless
Ex: "when I get married, I am going to honeymoon at your hotel"...person might not be getting married anytime soon, but that is a future customer, with a very low cost of acquisition.

Other ways to prove the value:

-Competitive Intelligence: assess the competition, see what your competition is doing out there
-Traffic is obviously one source of value
-Value can be had in terms of page views, retweets, diggs, votes, comments, links, etcetera.

-Tools like Knowem.com can check your brand across the social web and can register them for you
-leverage social media profiles to protect your brand in the search engines
-use social web to leverage conversations

-->Competitive Data very useful in selling social media
-->There is data is social media




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SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: Duplicate Content Solutions & The Canonical Tag

Synopsis of the Duplicate Content/Canonical Link Element session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format.

Canonical Link Element:

-Flag Duplicate Content
--HTML tagging
--Embedded in head section of web page
--Treated as Internal 301 redirect

-Announced in 1st Quarter of this year by the "big 3"

What is the Canonical Link Element Good For?

Its best purpose is to revitalize interna discussions about site architecture. The canonical link element is a way to "virtually" eliminate duplicate content.

Canonical tag passes page rank and anchor text.

Use link canonical when dealing with faceted pages: example would be if you have pages where the same product or service has multiple url's.

Canonical tag is not only about removing duplicate content, but recovering leaked page rank.
-Noindex or disallowed pages in robots.txt still build page rank.
-Canonical tag can be used to pass this page rank to the desired target url

301 redirect is favored, but canonical tag can be used in a pinch.

Rel=nofollow will stop flow of internal page rank to non-canonical versions, but does not address existing page rank (i.e. from third party sites, also does not prevent the page from being indexed.

Page rank leakage can occur in each of these situatios: robots.txt exclusions, meta robots noindex, rel=nofollow, xml sitemap exclusion. Canonical tag can correct this (but is still not preferable to 301); except 301's can affect sort capabilities.

**Canonical tag does not work from one domain to another, but may work between subdomains.***

Affiliate URLs
-rarely do they pass page rank or seo;
-run affiliate program in house and use 301 and/or canonical
-some affiliate links will pass page rank, but still should be run in house

Nofollows should not be used to exclude duplicate content, canonical tag should be. But there is some bit of heated discussion on the panel right now about this! Others say nofollow can be used for page rank sculpting..but Nathan Buggia at Microsoft just gave a warning about algorithm adjustment to compensate for nofollow page rank sculpting!




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SMX Advanced Session Synopsis: Social Media and Search Marketing - Not the Same Old Stuff

Synopsis of the Social Media and Search Marketing session at SMX Advanced. Written in real time format. SMX Advanced Social Media Session - Full Post

Google is looking for fresh content and "relevancy feedback", especially when tracking real time and social media results. Relevancy feedback indicators include social bookmarking, but not only social bookmarking in and of itself, but ways in which social bookmarking is used. Factors include upstream/downstream data (visitor paths) and user reviews.

Twitter can be an amazing source of traffic for quick bursts of traffic. It's a great way to get fresh content quickly indexed and trafficked. How? Tweet new contact, utilize well crafted DM's to influential individuals, add a retweet button to the content page.

Control bookmarking of your site. Add a del.icio.us or other widget to your site, in which you suggest or provide the tags, which influences relevancy of your content to desired queries.

Increase the use of your site. Use Javascript suggestion tools, etcetera. Add engagement points, such as video, voting, quizzes, or widgets. Widgetbox is a great way to build a widget without having to get a developer involved.

Utilize the HReview tag.

Why Use StumbleUpon?

--StumbleUpon=Links? Good content can get lots of links and traffic from StumbleUpon.

Use your profile on StumbleUpon to sell yourself. Do you want your profile to be a Persona or a Person? On StumbleUpon, it is better to be a Persona - as users of the site can be political and prejudicial if you are your own person and they disagreed with something that you have done in the past.

Don't just "review" your own site or the same site - or you will likely be perceived as spam.

Be smart about putting your content in the correct categories. This is not to say that only one tag may apply - many may - just make sure they are relevant. Look at what other people are tagging your Stumbles as - then you can edit your tags to include those.

StumbleUpon Tips:
--Avoid patterns - voting, discoveries, shares. Use multiple features of StumbleUpon, don't only submit content from the same few sites.
--Add and make friends - subscribers, testimonials, votes
--Post to Your Blog feature - posts things to your StumbleUpon user blog
--Vote on videos and photos
--Tag and review - don't just stumble. Add tags and reviews.
--Choose a niche - don't be the "all encompassing" profile
--Make your profile "rock" - choose and use right tags, mix it up and look natural.




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Thursday, May 28, 2009

SEO Antics: Rickroll'd On Twitter


Yesterday @Burnsie_SEO posted a tweet linking to images of spiders devouring various animals. I posted a reply tweet in which I said "Spider vs. Human - REAL", with a link in it. Burnsie bit. And got Rickroll'd. Little did I know how conniving Burnsie is. She got me back, and got me back good. Full post.

If you don't know what Rickroll means, it is a bait and switch game that happens when someone posts a hyperlink which leads to something other than what the hyperlink is claimed to be.

Burnsie's first attempt to Rickroll me back was a failure. It was an obvious attempt and I did not fall for it. I gloated on Twitter that I was too smart for ole Burnsie. @EcomBuffet joined in taunting me and a "twalliance" was made with Burnsie and Ecomm ganging up on me and vowing to get me good. I laughed it off, too smart for such banal things.

Later in the day, and in a presumably unrelated development, I received an email which was the result of someone filling out the contact form on my website. When the email came through, my jaw dropped. It was from the White House. Yes, THE White House. Here is what came through:

Here is the information submitted at ArteWorks
Your E-Mail Address: whitehouse@whitehouse.gov
Your Name: Adam Zapel
Your Phone Number: 202-456-1414
Where Did You Find Us: Google
Your Website: www.whitehouse.gov
Age of Website:
Type of Services: Search Engine Consulting
Search engine optimization
Search engine friendly ecommerce
Search engine friendly web design
Natural link building
Search engine copywriting
Marketing copywriting
Other services (graphic design, hosting, etcetera)
Type of Site: Political
Target Audience: The World
Example Keyword Phrases:
Budget: 38,000
Business Goals: Provide current information Provide information to the public Improve image

Okay. So, had I examined this closely, I might have noticed some questionable things. Like the generic email address given, not the address of an actual individual at the White House. Or the target audience: "The World". Or the fact that a government contract would be awarded through a contact form on a website.

But no. I was focused instead on a potential $38,000.00 per month contract with the White House.

I immediately picked up the phone and called the number. An operator answered "The White House, may I help you?" Yes, it was the real White House phone number. I said, "Yes, hello, my name is Matt Foster in Austin, Texas, may I please speak with Adam Zapel?"

"Is that Zapel with a Z as in zebra?"

"Yes, ma'am, Adam Zapel with a Z as in zebra."

"One moment please sir." I hear typing. "I'm sorry sir, I don't have a listing for anyone named Adam Zapel."

"Yes ma'am, well, I'm with a search engine optimization firm, and we just received a request for information from someone over there named Adam Zapel. Could I speak with someone in whatever department handles the White House website?"

"Um...sir..." And then it dawned on me. I had been Rickroll'd. And good.

"Ma'am, I'm very sorry to have bothered you. I think someone has played a joke on me. Thank you so much for your time."

"You're welcome, sir. Have a good day."

I then Googled "Adam Zapel" - and realized, to my dismay, it is a joke name which sounds like "Adam's Apple". Yes, I called the friggin' White House and asked for Adam's Apple.

So Burnsie, you got me. I'm sitting here in my living room, with the door bolted, ready to make my last stand against the Secret Service, whom I expect shall be stopping by for a little visit any time now.

Moral of the story: Never Rickroll @Burnsie_SEO. You will be sorry.

Speaking of joke names, this is one of my favorites:



About the Author:
Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization company. For more information on Mr. Foster, including his personal social security number, please visit his personal profile page.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

The 9 Sexiest Minds in New Media

What is it about SEO, social media, PR, and new media that attracts such sexy minds? I'm not sure, but there is something going on there. Everywhere you look women are succeeding and making an impact on this industry. I decided to make a list of the 9 sexiest minds in new media. Yes, this has been done before, however was limited to women practicing in the field of SEO. Werebu did it last March, however I wanted to expand the scope to include sexy minds from other new media categories. Therefore, I am pleased to present the definitive, hands down, no holds barred guide to the sexiest minds in the fields of Internet Marketing, SEO and New Media.

What makes a mind sexy? Intelligence, creativity, drive, and ambition, to name a few. So here they are.

Lisa Kinnard works for Adknowledge in Kansas City, which is a performance-based advertising network incorporating predictive technology which connects advertisers to consumers. Lisa is responsible for the production of all creative elements involved with Adknowledge's search product. She develops, matures and maintains the content network product and manages PPC campaigns on major and second-tier search engines for hundreds of advertisers across multiple verticals. Lisa is an entrepreneur at heart, and at any given time has multiple different ideas baking in that cute little head of hers. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Lisa at SMX San Jose, and she is an amazing woman who never ceases to impress me.

Lisa on Twitter: @LisaKinnard





Joanna Lord is the co-founder and CMO at TheOnlineBeat, a comparison job search site and job resource. Joanna is a PPC expert and well versed in Internet marketing, SEO, social media and traditional media. She is a regular fixture at industry conferences and from what I can tell she can drink any guy under the table. She also must be really great at product development, as she listed it twice in her LinkedIn profile under specialties (ha). She "sleeps rarely and caffeinates often." It also appears that Joanna has been known to sing a song or two on karaoke.

Joanna on Twitter: @JoannaLord







Melissa Rzeppa is shrouded in secrecy. She is the marketing and public relations director for Zooloo, a site with lots of hype (mostly created by her) but about which nobody seems to know anything. She has proven herself a master at social media and viral marketing. Melissa is spunky, humorous, and friendly in addition to being enigmatic. She also is a troublemaker, being in trouble with the law on at least 2 different occassions (caught speeding on hidden cameras - see "Caught on Camera").

Melissa on Twitter: @MelissaPR








Felicia Day is an actress who makes this list due to her incredible talent in harnessing the power of social media and viral video. Felicia has a massive following on Twitter, over 500,000 at last count, and has entries both on IMDB and Wikipedia. She is a genius - attending college at the age of 16 and graduating as valedictorian. She has appeared on TV shows such as House, but is most widely known for her work in web video, and co-starred in the Internet musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog,” voted the Best TV of 2008 by Time Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and People Magazine. She also can be seen in the web series “The Guild”, which she created, writes and stars in. “The Guild” was the winner of the YouTube, Yahoo and SXSW Best Web Series Awards for 2008 and for the first season alone collected over 11 million hits web-wide.

Felicia on Twitter: @FeliciaDay


Jennifer Conley is a Project Coordinator at LevelTen Design and Editor at ILiveInDallas, a source for all things artistic, cultural or activist in the greater Dallas area. Jennifer's interests include retro design, typography, and website user interface design. She is skilled in serving as a liaison between her company and clients to effectuate the ultimate usability and interactive experience for end users. Judging from her photo, she also likes sushi. That's a hint, for anyone considering asking her out to dinner.

Jennifer on Twitter: @JenniferConley








Melissa Salas is the Director of Marketing at Buy.com. That's right. The Director. Of Marketing. At Buy.com. Talk about a power player. She has also been the host of BuyTV for three years. She is the recipient of the 2008 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award Winner for Affiliate Manager of the Year. She claims on her Google profile that some people call her a dork. Well guys, this is one dork who you would be lucky to be seen with in public. As well as someone who is probably 100 times more intelligent than you are.

Melissa on Twitter: @MelissaDSalas








Vanessa Fox is, well, Vanessa Fox. You can pretty much give her credit for creating Google Webmaster Central. After leaving Google she briefly worked at Zillow before becoming a features editor at Search Engine Land. The type of fortitude Vanessa demonstrates in her professional career is second to none - I mean she left Google! Vanessa is a fixture at any industry conference worth its salt, if you don't know who she is you have been living in a cave. And yes, there is a reason her last name is Fox.

Vanessa on Twitter: @VanessaFox








Ann Smarty is another lady whose last name reflects her true self. Ann is an SEO consultant with a wide following and excellent reputation as a blogger at Search Engine Journal. She is a prolific writer and eagerly shares her smarts with the rest of the industry. Ann knows her stuff, folks. Last November, Ann pulled a Demi Moore and proudly announced to the world that she was an "SEO Mom" and posted a picture of herself in what used to be known as a "delicate state". Way to go Ann!

Ann on Twitter: @SEOSmarty








Jane Copland is a New Zealander, former SEOMozzer who is now in London. She is well known in the industry as both a gifted Internet marketer as well as a potty-mouth (she can out-curse a sailor). She currently is an SEO consultant at Ayima and maintains her own website at http://janecopland.co.uk/. I managed to pull her aside at SMX San Jose last year and have a few words with her. She is friendly and bright and has that wonderful accent which only serves to augment her cuteness factor. She's a great person to follow on Twitter, as long as you don't mind the occasional F-Bomb.

Jane on Twitter: @CoplandMJ







About the Author: Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization company. Mr. Foster is in awe of all of the sexy minds in the fields of Internet Marketing and New Media.
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Friday, May 08, 2009

Recession SEO: 6 Free Things to Offer Your Clients to Close a Deal

As Internet marketing becomes more competitive, and client budgets become tighter, it has become increasingly difficult to stand out in the industry and offer powerful solutions on a budget. Here are some ideas which I have found useful in persuading clients to choose our firm over other firms. Read the full article on closing SEO deals in a recession.

1) Keyword Research and ROI Analysis. Many clients have difficulty during the sales cycle understanding what the potential ROI of an Internet marketing investment can be. I have found that performing quick keyphrase research in real time, with the client on the phone, can be powerfully persuasive. Explaining the traffic potential of various keyphrases and engaging clients in a discussion as to the amount of potential traffic to their site, multiplied by an average net profit per conversion, multiplied by a conversion rate (I usually am conservative and estimate 2%) allows a client to visualize the ROI. It also assists lower budget clients in understanding the usefulness of focusing on long tail keyphrases at first, and working towards the highly competitive "big money" keyhprases as their sales (and Internet marketing budget) increase.

2) Twitter. To those of us in the industry, this may seem commonplace. However the fact remains that less than 5% of the population uses Twitter and most of them are young adults. Business owners are likely unfamiliar with this, and although they have heard about it the concept seems foreign to them. Explain to clients the power of branding which can be accomplished through Twitter and offer to set up and maintain a Twitter account at no extra charge. This can only take an hour a week, but to clients it sounds novel and powerful.

3) PPC Campaign Setup or Review. Offer your clients a one time audit of their PPC campaign or a free PPC campaign setup as part of a client acquisition incentive. Make recommendations which will increase ROI and point out problems in campaigns. This can not only serve to separate you from your competition, but also can turn an organic SEO client into a PPC management client as well, thereby increasing their investment in your firm.

4) Competitive Intelligence. This is another thing which can be done in a watered down fashion quite quickly. Examining the backlinkage of major competitors, as well as finding social media accounts, news results, video results, and the like can show a client his or her weaknesses and convince the client that your firm is the one that knows what it takes to beat the competition. By offering a free competitive intelligence analysis in the presale process, you are demonstrating to your client that you offer a customized strategy to them based upon their industry landscape, as opposed to an out of the box, one size fits all solution. This type of approach can be very convincing, as clients hear many different things from different companies; providing solid data as to what your strategy will be and why the client needs it sets you apart from the competition.

5) Analytics and Reporting. Search engine optimization and social media can be somewhat esoteric subjects and many clients have trouble understanding what it is they are buying. Many of our clients are "second chance" clients - meaning that they have previously been burned or disappointed by another SEO firm. What I hear most often from these clients is that there was no accountability or transparency provided by the firm. Set your firm apart during the sales cycle by emphasizing accountability. Offer your clients a monthly report which includes an accounting of all hours worked, by day, task, and person working them. Include a monthly strategy review and a conference call with the project manager. Include an analysis of analytics in each monthly report, which shows traffic sources and numbers. Clients need to know what they are getting for their money, and transparency goes a long way to keeping client confidence high.

6) Usability Analysis.
One strong selling point I have found is offering clients a "free ongoing usability analysis". I explain to clients that Internet marketing is not about rankings, as all the rankings in the world are worthless if they do not result in conversions. Explain to the client that you will, at no extra charge, provide a usability analysis each month, which examines the page bounce rates and conversion rates, and will assist in identifying problem areas on a client's site. If you explain to clients that your approach is a holistic one which is not just focused on rankings, but rather ROI, your clients will appreciate this.

About the Author: Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization company. Mr. Foster has been active in the industry since 1995, and specializes in search engine optimization and social media strategies for a global client base.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back to Basics: The Importance of Anchor Text

As social media and search engine optimization techniques become more complicated and advanced, sometimes we forget about the basics. Yesterday, I had a client ask me what anchor text was, and I realized sometimes it is good to explain to the layperson what many of us professionals take as a given. Click for full article on anchor text optimization.

To begin, let's start with a definition of what anchor text is. It is the visible, clickable text that forms a link. The most famous example would undoubtedly be "click here", where you click on the words "click here" to go someowhere else.

Of course, "click here" is an awful use of anchor text. Why? Because the anchor text of a link is an important factor in helping the search engines ascertain the topical context of the target page (by target page I mean the page that is linked to from the page which is the source of the link).

The fact that anchor text is an important factor in ascertaining the content of the target page means that if you can exercise some measure of control over the anchor text of sites which link to you then you therefore have some measure of control as to what keyphrases your site, or particular page within your site, rank for in the engines.

Say you have a site which sells widgets. For the sake of simplicity, let's pretend that the widgets come with two options, red or blue. Therefore, you would want the page that offers the red widgets for sale to rank for the term "red widgets" and the page that offers the blue widgets for sale to rank for the term "blue widgets". This can be done through the use of proper anchor text pointing to each page.

Third party sites can be encouraged to link to you with the proper anchor text in a variety of methods. First off, if your page is clear in what it is offering, for instance red widgets, chances are people will link to you with anchor text that at least contains the phrase "red widgets". Further, you can influence social media users, bloggers, and the like to link to your red widgets page by providing content relevant to red widgets and providing the anchor text in an attribution, such as "About the Author", "courtesy of", or whatever.

Anchor text is also important in your sites internal linking. Yes, internal links count too! This is where you can exercise the most control over the anchor text pointing to particular pages of your site, as you are the one who controls your site! Examples would include text based navigation schemes and other links internal to your site which point to the target page. By controlling the anchor text of your internal links, you not only hint to third party users as to what anchor text you would like them to use when linking to the target page, you are yourself informing the search engines as to the target keyphrase query for that particular page.

About the Author:

Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, an internationally recognized search engine optimization company based in Austin, Texas. For more information on ArteWorks SEO, please visit www.arteworks.biz.

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