Tag Archives: Search Engine Visibility

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.
4 Comments

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.

7 Comments

Why SEO & Usability are like two peas in a pod

Good user experience is fundamental for the success of a website:

On the Internet, it’s survival of the easiest: If customers can’t find a product, they can’t buy it. Give users a good experience and they’re apt to turn into frequent and loyal customers. But the Web also offers low switching costs … Only if a site is extremely easy to use will anybody bother staying around. – Usability guru Jakob Nielsen1

While Nielsen probably had site design and information architecture in mind, his point also encompasses search engine visibility. Without search engine visibility a website is hidden away on a dead-end street instead of being front and center on main street2, where the people are.

4 Comments

7 sources of link intelligence data and key link analysis considerations

It may seem like a cliché but on the web no website is an island. Any site worth its salt will have accumulated inbound links and will most certainly contain outbound links to other resources on the web. Indeed, one can easily say that without links to interconnect websites, there wouldn’t be a worldwide web.

For search engines, such as Google, incoming links provide a strong signal as to the authority of a website. If multiple websites link to a specific website for a given topic, there is a good chance the website cited by others is deemed to be highly relevant for a good reason. Google and other search engines identify the theme of a website page by analyzing a page’s content and the text of the incoming links – the underlined text you click on to arrive at a page. Links, especially inbound links, are thus one of the most significant in the over 200 factors Google considers in its ranking algorithms. Inbound links from related sites in a business’ sector are also an excellent source of highly qualified direct traffic.

11 Comments

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

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.

9 Comments

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.

4 Comments

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.

Comments Off

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.

Comments Off

Are you an accomplished woman vying for a place in President Obama’s Cabinet?

As Barack Obama prepares his challenge against John McBush, one of his many challenges is to engage and motivate the many constituencies which supported the Hillary Clinton candidacy.

It is unlikely that the white racist contingent will rally around Obama’s message of hope any time soon; American is not yet Dante’s paradiso on earth, despite what many of my Italian friends would like to think. However women voters who were charged by the thought of a President Hillary Clinton represent an important voting block for Barack.

Choosing Hillary as his vice president would certainly be a significant move to attract and consolidate this block, yet as many have noted, this carries other risks. A credible commitment to actively recruit women to fill cabinet and other high level posts in the Obama administration would probably be a good tatic (and good policy), assuming Barack is able to do so without handing the rabid right a “quota bone” to masticate.

3 Comments