Tag Archives: Search Engine Optimization

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;
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Who’s using Google for their organic and paid search results?

An important consideration for Google AdWords advertisers is to understand just where their contextual ads might appear. Google notes that AdWords ads can appear on the:

  1. Google search engine
  2. Partner search engines (e.g. Aol, Ask.com, Libero / Arianna, Virgilio / Alice)
  3. Google owned web content sites (e.g. Gmail, Google Groups)
  4. Third party web content sites (practically any site wishing to display Google ads)

The following slide, extracted from my PPC with AdWords Course, provides a visual overview of where AdWords can appear1.

Visual Overview of Where Google AdWords Ads may appear
Figure 1: Where Google AdWords Ads may Appear – Italian market focus (click to enlarge)

While Google has recently improved information about participants in the Google content network2, it isn’t so easy to find an updated listing of which major generalist portals and pure search engines rely on Google for their organic and paid search results. The following table aims to rectify this, at least for the Italian market.

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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.

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BLVD Status Analytics in free public beta test

I found an interesting announcement over at 97thfloor.com of a new Web Analytics tool, BLVD Status.

Two significant impediments have historically hindered the uptake of Web Analytics by businesses. The first has been cost. Professional Web Analytics systems have been fairly expensive, both in server and hosted forms. The second issue has been the great quantity and complexity of available reports in commercial systems, sufficiently intimidating many business professionals away from Web Analytics.

Google’s Google Analytics

Google, with their release of Google Analytics in November 2005, removed the first obstacle, cost, by releasing the first free “full featured” Web Analytics system. Previous free tools, such as AWStats, lack robust visitor recognition and click stream analysis, among other things. Yet a significant obstacle still remained to general Web Analytics usage: how to find the “important” data, without getting lost in a sea of confusing and often redundant reports? In May 2007 Google released an updated Google Analytics with a significant focus on the user interface, specifically as a response to this need.

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Search engine Ask.com no longer crawling the web. Weakly powered by Google?

Many search engine optimization professionals have long hoped that Ask.com, the scrappy search engine underdog, would give the big three (Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft) a run for their money.

In July 2006, we saluted Ask.com by documenting their little known Ask.com API data interface. Unfortunately, Ask shut off external access to this interface in March 2007.

Ask’s future became doubtful earlier this year as key management and staff were fired. Danny Sullivan even wrote Ask.com’s obituary, a bit in jest – or maybe not.

While analyzing web analytics log files, I noticed that

the Ask.com bot, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, stopped crawling my Antezeta web sites on February 22/23, 2008. Yet I see a post from early May in the Ask.com search results.

Either Ask.com changed the name of their crawling bot, rather unlikely when you’re firing people, or they have outsourced their search results to Google. With a significant freshness delay.

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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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Psst: Your Competition is ignoring Internet Search Marketing, are you?

The inside scoop on how you can get a competitive advantage by including organic search engine visibility in your marketing mix.

One of the primary goals of traditional advertising is to create demand for a product or service. An advertisement awakens latent demand by bringing attention to the product or service, or strives to create demand by informing us of a need or problem we weren’t yet aware of having.

By advertising in a mix of traditional media (television, radio, cinema, billboards, magazines and newspapers), companies aim to increase their sales. The process is rather hit or miss: a return on investment (ROI) only occurs when a person, sufficiently motivated, passes through a shop’s checkout or orders a service. This ROI is notoriously hard to measure. John Wanamaker summed it up best when he wryly noted,

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half1.

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Search marketing is different: how to gain a competitive advantage by insuring a successful SEO project

In a related article, I consider how Internet search marketing remains a niche focus for a few early adopters despite laser-like targeting and measurement abilities. As a relatively new media, search engine mechanics and user interaction with search engines remains a bit of a black box for many marketing professionals. In the following discussion, I aim to outline the process of a typical search marketing project.

The first consideration for a company is to identify an internal resource who will be responsible for search marketing initiatives. This person has a solid understanding of the company’s business goals and marketing strategies. They also tend embrace technology as a business enabler and ideally are already involved with the company’s web presence.

Selection of an external search marketing partner usually follows, unless the organization decides to recruit resources to manage search marketing in-house. The usual vendor selection criteria come in to play: reputation, experience, value for money, etc.

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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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Search engine optimization for websites in multiple languages

A common issue facing companies and organizations with an international presence is how to deploy multilingual sites across one or more Internet domain(s). In other words, should one put all the sites on a .com or .org domain, perhaps taking advantage of directories on the web server to separate each language? Is this the best solution for existing and potential customers? Will there be problems with search engine indexing and visibility?

After having tackled the issue in various SEO projects, I decided to share some of the issues that should be considered when choosing the right path for your company or organization.

Start with the search engines – but think of your visitors

Websites exist to communicate with a diverse audience – customers, potential customers, employees, investors, suppliers, etc. In the web planning and design phase, it is essential not to lose sight of the site’s target audience. But it is also highly critical to keep in mind how web sites are found on the net, starting with Google.

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