Category Archives: Uncategorized

Simon Says… or is it Google Says?

The rel=”canonical” link duplicate content panacea

As many readers probably know, Google and other search engines recently announced support for a rel=”canonical” link attribute value. The new attribute value canonical (not a tag mind you, link is the html tag) can be used by website developers to specify which of essentially similar web pages is the definitive version.

A SEO problem known as duplicate content arises when websites use different URLs, generally through parameters, to provide slightly different versions of a page, such as a printer friendly version, or to support web analytics campaign tracking. In order to give search users unique choices, search engines tend to choose the “best” URL for a page, filtering out similar versions.

Comments Off

So many aspiring SEOs! – the SEO Quiz results are in

15 questions, 5 weeks and 5 books: almost 700 people took the 2008 SEO quiz challenge.

Note to the reader: this article was originally posted on our Italian blog on December 2nd. The quiz targeted an Italian audience; we’ve published this translation in order to allow a wider audience to follow search marketing developments in Italy.

Why a SEO quiz

The idea of the quiz came from reflections on the state of SEO knowledge and usage in Italy, observed from the perspective of a SEO practitioner.

Search engines, with Google in particular (question 1), are the gate keepers between us and the net. We use search engines not only to search for information that we imagine is out there somewhere, but also to navigate to a specific site, such as Fiat, or to perform a task, such as buy a ticket for a Tiziano Ferro concert (question 15).

1 Comment

Are directories still useful for SEO and in increasing web site traffic?

An ongoing question in search engine optimization (SEO) projects regards which directories might be useful for increasing incoming traffic to a web site and as a means in obtaining better search engine visibility. The question arises due to the importance that was once attributed by search engines to some directories and by the desire to attract direct traffic to a site, where and whenever possible.

For a new site, directories, short reviews of sites organized by categories and subcategories, can be a useful source of incoming links.

However, it is highly doubtful that most directories today help very much in improving search engine visibility, nor in generating much direct traffic.

There are multiple reasons:

  1. directories are often “generalist” – yet it is thematic links which are most useful for most sites that deal with products, services or in specific sectors;

Enhance your blog or website with Google’s Site Search. Measure the results in Google Analytics.

You’ve done it. You’ve created a successful web site with compelling content. A loyal community of readers keeps coming back for more. SEO efforts have paid off too, with lots of traffic from Google, Yahoo!, MSN and minor search engines. Time to sit back with a fine Real Ale or a glass of Monteregio di Massa Marittima… but didn’t you forget something? Internal Site Search perhaps?

By Internal Site Search we mean a search feature on your website to allow site visitors to find what they’re looking for, using their own words.

Don’t fret, there are good reasons to deploy site search functionality and it’s relatively easy to do.


Marketing the best of a bad situation: gracefully communicating downtime news on the web

The other evening Camillo Di Tullio, a.k.a. Dr Who, asked me via IM if I was having problems accessing highly trafficked social media websites like Facebook or LinkedIn. In that particular moment, I wasn’t, but his question stuck a particular cord. We’ve seen many downtime issues with major Internet sites lately.

Website downtime, planned and unplanned, presents a company with a reluctant marketing opportunity. After all, investments in search engine visibility and other website traffic drivers are all for naught when a site is no longer reachable. The best a company can do is acknowledge the issue and, where appropriate, attempt a dose of humor while working frantically behind the scenes to insure the problem doesn’t occur again.

What follows is an informal survey of mostly recent “site is unavailable” downtime messages. I conclude with information on keeping website service pages out of search engine results.


Top level domains, subdomains or directories for Search Engine Optimization of multilingual websites?

Companies targeting multiple linguistic markets on the web have a lot to think about when planning their Internet strategy and execution. Ideally, search engine optimization should be part of their strategy considerations. In this article, we look at a technical marketing issue of website localization: how should a company distribute content targeted at different markets on the web? Do search engines, such as Google, care if a company uses a separate domain for every country, separate folders on a generic top level domain (TLD), such as a .com, or perhaps subdomains? Do users care?

Four common ways to organize website language variants

Perhaps the best way to understand the range of possible solutions is to look at some examples.

Top level domains (TLDs), i.e. by domain
Subdomains, i.e. by domain
1 Comment

Become my friend, at least on Facebook

For a long time I’ve resisted the tempation to create a profile in Facebook – one can’t be everywhere, no? (Andrey Golub being the exception!)

Certainly there aren’t a lack of places online to find business partners.

However, I recently received an e-mail from an American woman I met at a meet-up of SEO (search engine optimization) Professionals in Manchester, England. In essence, she refused my invitation for LinkedIn, saying that she is already in Facebook, and for now, that’s enough.

Adding to this, Microsoft is buying a piece of Facebook for a significant amount of money; maybe its time to answer the messages in my Inbox with the subject “I’ve added you as a friend on Facebook”.

1 Comment

Google ever present in Desktop Search with release for Linux

More than two years after Google launched its Google Desktop Search for Windows application, limited initial support for the Linux platform is available. Of the top three major search engines which offer desktop search software (Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft), Google is the first to try to win the hearts and minds of both Macintosh and Linux users. Yahoo and Microsoft solutions are both limited to Windows.

For Google, search is strategically important, wherever it happens.

Why are the search engines offering free desktop search software?

Desktop search is strategically important to search engines. Personal computer users searching for information with a desktop search application are just one click away from seamlessly integrated web search.

Controlling desktop search means controlling traffic to a web search engine – a very lucrative business as demonstrated by Google’s economic results.

Comments Off

Getting the most out of business oriented social networking services LinkedIn, Xing, Viadeo and Neurona

In just a few years, businesses oriented social networking websites have taken off. The industry leader, LinkedIn, counts more than 10 million members despite only being available in English.

To take advantage of a professional social networking web service, a user completes a professional profile and invites professional contacts to connect to the profile. Most sites, with differing degrees of success, offer the possibility to upload contacts from an email system and/or a file of contacts.

Who should insert a profile?

Professionals seeking career opportunities, consulting offers and business deals have everything to gain from the visibility a profile in a business oriented social networking site offers. Most services offer a basic profile and set of features free of charge. The real cost is the time it takes to fill out and maintain a profile.

Comments Off

Searching the World’s Information in Google’s Universal Search

Over its short life span, Google has been diligently carrying out its stated mission of organizing the world’s information including web pages and documents, blogs, images, news, finance, videos, books, products & catalogs and local places. Each of these data types has had its own distinct search interface.

Internet users could access any of the specialized search types, known as a vertical search, using links (tabs in the past) above the Google search box. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize the power of “advanced search“, leaving the specialized Google search engines underutilized.

Google has decided to default a user’s search across multiple data categories, mixing data source types in order of relevance. In addition to Google’s new Universal search, the specialized, or vertical, search tools are still available via links which have been moved to the top left of the search screen.

Comments Off