Tag Archives: Linux

Web Text as Images: SEO & other problems overcome with @font-face

The first web pages that appeared in 1992 strongly reflected their origin in the academic world, one characterized more by the written word rather than by visual presentation.

Web page circa 1992
Figure 1: A web page circa 1992

When graphic designers arrived on the scene, they tried to improve the situation, but before long many designers began to realize that the web would be a difficult beast to tame.

The web is not print media

Unfortunately for designers who so love Photoshop to create print materials, the Web is not print. When transitioning to the web, graphic designers face a set of common problems:

  • Screen size and resolution. The web is populated with people who use devices with different screen sizes and resolutions. A “pixel-perfect”design won’t work when not all pixels are created equal. Browser bugs and differences in interpreting the html standard represent another obstacle to presenting the same exact design to all site visitors. Percentage of web page displayed at different resolutions
    Figure 2: % web page displayed
    Increased use of so-called smart phones (iPod, Android, Windows Mobile 7) and similar (iPad) will further complicate the situation.
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Say It Isn’t So: Marketing Resource Site Marketing Profs Seems To Be Cloaking Search Engines – Inadvertantly?

Years ago savvy webmasters realized they could achieve better search engine visibility by creating two copies of a web page. One, text rich and graphics poor, would be seen by search engine robots, such as Googlebot, Yahoo Slurp and Microsoft Bing’s msnbot/bingbot. Everyday web users, surfing with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari, would see a different version, often graphics rich and text poor.

The process of providing different web content to search engines and site visitors is often called cloaking although some may prefer terms such as conditional content delivery. Cloaking is expressly prohibited by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s bing.

The real world problem is that cloaking works, and if you’re important enough, you can get away with it until you get caught. At that point you’ll probably get a slap on the wrist, but little more. As an SEO consultant, this leads to many frustrating discussions with clients (and their webmasters) who can’t understand why they shouldn’t cloak too. My official answer is that if you’re site isn’t a throwaway site, you shouldn’t take the risk. Yet this discussion happens too often and, needless to say, clients don’t really like my answer.

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Yahoo Search Marketing Tools: What’s at Risk & How to Avoid Surprises

When Yahoo and Microsoft announced their Search Alliance in July 2009, only the high level agreement details were available:

  • Microsoft will provide the development and management of search engine results technology (bing)
  • Microsoft will provide the search and content network ad platform (adCenter)
  • Microsoft will manage the relationship with self-service advertisers
  • Yahoo will manage the relationship with large accounts
  • Yahoo will provide their own user interface on top of the Bing results which will appear on Yahoo properties

Microsoft - Yahoo Search AllianceNow that US and EU regulators have approved the deal, search marketers need to assess which Yahoo tools they rely on – and need to be prepared with alternatives should these tools be discontinued.

During the SMX West 2010 session Microsoft + Yahoo: What’s It All Mean?, I looked at the agreement’s implications for three Yahoo tools search marketing professionals have come to know and love:

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Bing – features and SEO recommendations, one month on

At the end of May Microsoft announced its new search engine, Bing. Microsoft justified many of Bing’s new features by noting that 50% of search queries are either abandoned or refined – users aren’t getting the right answer on the first try, citing studies by Jakob Nielsen, Enquiro and internal testing. Microsoft also said that searchers are becoming more focused more on tasks and decisions – consequently search engine sessions are becoming longer as users work their way through their decision making process.

As data from Bing’s first full month becomes available, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at what the Bing rollout means for search marketers and, in a separate article, current search engine market shares.

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Flash is still a problem for SEO (and the web) despite Google announcement

I just discovered that someone on a Web Analytics discussion group misconstrued the recent Google announcement of better Flash search engine crawling support to mean it is now good to use Flash when developing web sites.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While Google’s move is welcome support for all the legacy Flash websites still in circulation, companies shouldn’t generally be deploying new sites made wholly using Flash.

What Google has announced is significant improvements to their ability to extract information, specifically text and links, from Flash objects. Despite what many are trying to read into this, Google already crawled and extracted this information from Flash only sites – this is not exactly new.

What is new is that hit or miss crawling and discovery is probably just mediocre instead of bad. But mediocre is not good nor is it great. Before site architects and designers rush off to develop Flash only websites, they should still consider SEO and non SEO issues with Flash:

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Astra2Connect and Tooway close the Internet digital divide with satellite to home service, maybe.

Regular readers of this blog be warned – this article is about the internet infrastructure needed to insure Internet users are online in the first place. We can perform all of the search engine optimization (SEO) we want, but if our target audience isn’t online due to lack of access, our results are going to disappoint. Marketing professionals are thus warned: what follows is a look at a potential technical solution to the digital divide.

In the early 1980’s I discovered the net. As a university student in Maine, I kept in touch via e-mail with a friend at Cornell University in New York state. It seemed like magic – 80 character monochromatic video terminals allowed us to exchange messages in minutes. The net in question was Bitnet, an early type of Internet connecting educational institutions. Later, in the early nineties, I used today’s internet to exchange email and files with clients. A great improvement over sending pizza sized magnetic tapes across town or across country. In Trieste in the mid-nineties I was able to browse the latest New York Times with Mosaic. By the late nineties, I had an ISDN connection in my home office (thank you, Peter Friedenbach). Of course ISDN gave way to ADSL… or did it?

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Web statistics for internet market research: pick a number, any number

How to perform competitor research using web statistics while avoiding lies, damned lies, and …statistics?

Comparison with competitors is a fundamental element of business; even innovators need to know how far ahead they are in their market. The Internet seems to offer fertile terrain for capturing accurate marketing statistics on website usage and position relative to other players in a given market. Indeed, most of us have often heard web statistics from Nielsen//NetRatings, Alexa or comScore cited in the press and elsewhere. Practitioners of Search Engine Optimization and web marketing know that web analytics is not just silo analysis of a company’s website: it also entails looking at how a website and its business performance metrics measure up in the overall web ecosystem.

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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.

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Google rolling out much improved Google Analytics V2

Google is in the process of releasing a significant update to the free web analytics tool it launched to wide acclaim in November 2005.

Although we’ve appreciated the professional feature set in Google Analytics, especially given the cost, the user interface was cumbersome at best. As time went on, Google Adwords features were continually patched on, making it difficult for even an experienced web analytics practitioner to navigate through a sea of somewhat repeating, redundant reports.

Google Analytics Reloaded

In version two, the Google Analytics user interface has been completely overhauled. Big bold fonts, similar to those used in feedburner’s statistics, and vibrant colors make key data points and trends much more intelligible. Report and date range selection has been simplified.

The at a glance dashboard is now customizable – sections can be added, removed and reordered. Once this is done, the dashboard can be scheduled to be e-mailed on a regular basis.

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8 reasons to avoid Flash (or Silverlight) like the plague when designing a website

At a recent Legal Marketing Italia seminar, the question arose as to why a company’s web site doesn’t rank well, even for the company’s name. In Italy, the most common problem encountered with websites is the use of Macromedia / Adobe Flash to develop most or all of a company’s website. This case was no exception.

Note Update: Google has announced improved crawling support for Flash sites. Our related article Why Flash is still bad for SEO and the Web explains that nothing has changed – the best websites should still avoid Flash. (2 July 2008)

Italy has a strong history of excellence in visual communication, including graphic design. Indeed, the very successful New York City subway signage was designed by an Italian. Many Italian graphic designers have worked on web sites, adopting Flash as their preferred technology when moving from the printed media to the web. Flash allows “pixel perfect” control over web design, including font specification.

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