Tag Archives: seo

Google social search and Twitter: natural bedfellows?

Google has now officially rolled out the latest iteration of its social search which includes much tighter integration between social elements and what the big search giant is commonly known for uncovering: web pages.

Google has been displaying results from social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and its own Buzz in its search results pages, but these were typically segmented out at the bottom of the page.

With the latest update, these are now intermingled with other page results:

(see the first and third result)

The New York Times points out benefits, such as seeing links to pictures from your friend who recently went to Mexico when performing holiday searches for that same destination.

I’m not convinced this will hit such mainstream applications for one reason. There’s a big elephant that is still not in the room: Facebook.

Let’s face it, this is where most of the sharing happens. According to recent reports, we’re talking about 100 million photos a day that just wouldn’t make it into the Google search result pages. Going back to the New York Times example, there’s a big chance that Facebook is where those Mexico pictures would have been posted, so they’ll never make it to the Google search results page.

What kind of results will show up? Areas where Twitter is particularly strong: news (as the recent events in Egypt made clear), technical information (eg. the code samples and tips often searched for by developers), and location-based searches that could show up results from Foursquare, Gowalla and other similar services from local searches.

At the individual level, those who stand to gain are those who have built up a following by sharing content – the curators. (A by-product of social search could be an increase in SEOs employing Twitter curation/syndication models). It will also help breakdown the time zone barrier that has long segmented the Twitter crowd: if you post a Tweet at lunchtime in London, it will be pushed way out of my Twitter feed by the time I wake up in San Francisco. However, if you happen to be in my network, I could see your tweets show up in my search results, even weeks after the tweet.

If these social results start showing up in a larger number of searches, this is obviously a boon for Twitter (as well as the other networks Google features). It’s effectively a free SEO boost.

And what could be construed as a snub to Facebook.

The fight for content from each other’s network has been pretty public. Will this be enough pressure from Google to force Facebook’s hand into releasing its well-guarded trove of user activity data?

That remains to be seen. One potential issue of adoption is that Google social search is heavily tied to Google Profiles and the search giant still has some way to go to make these as visible and user-friendly as other services out there (um, Facebook springs to mind).

Still, go ahead and hook up your Twitter/LinkedIn/YouTube accounts to your Google profile and try social search for yourself.

Optimize SEM and SEO Lead Gen Campaigns with Web Analytics (Webinar)

Integrating search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) projects and teams is a best practice that can deliver a powerful Virtuous Cycle.  Built on the foundation of an analytics platform such as Coremetrics Continuous Optimization Platform, an integrated approach to SEO and SEO can significantly improve the ROI from your web presence.

Multiple surveys and studies have indicated that SEO projects consistently provide extremely attractive returns on investment.  Yet eCommerce and online marketing teams frequently struggle to quantify SEO ROI: both prior to the project as part of an internal budgeting process, and after the project to evaluate its success.  Using a recent case study of a global powersports company, we will demonstrate how Coremetrics Digital Agency worked with the client to optimize their lead generation engine by integrating Search Engine Marketing with Coremetrics’ Web Analytics. Building on this SEM experience we then targeted keyword phrases with the potential for the highest, measurable SEO ROI.

We will show the virtuous circle at play between SEO and SEM:

image

For instance, you can see significant improvements to your SEM campaigns by applying lessons learnt from analyzing your SEO efforts (such as which keywords drive most interactions).

Attend this upcoming seminar with Coremetrics’ John Zoglin, Senior Director, Search Marketing Services to learn more.

Date: Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Time: 1:00 PM EST | 10:00 AM PST 
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More about Coremetrics


Improve your blog SEO: add your post name to the page title

Bob Leah, over on the Social Strategist blog, brought up the excellent point of how you can improve the SEO of your developerWorks blog by displaying the right title in your browser when people look at individual posts (the <title> tag, for all you HTML geeks out there).

His approach used Javascript, which can cause problems for some search engines and can throw up some accessibility issues. I’d like to propose a different approach proposed by Dan Lowen from the IBM Interactive team. For this, the title is written onto the page by the server, not client-side.

Here’s the approach:

Open the _header template and locate this code:

<title>$utils.escapeHTML($model.weblog.name)</title>

Replace with this:

  <title>
              #if($model.permalink)
                #set($firstEntry=$model.weblogEntriesPager.entries.get(0))
                $utils.removeHTML($firstEntry.title) ($utils.escapeHTML($model.weblog.name))
             #else
                $utils.escapeHTML($model.weblog.name)
            #end
  </title>

The other main change from Bob’s example is placing the name of the blog after the post title. There are two reasons for this. If you have a long blog title, the post title gets truncated out on Google search results and on your browser tab. Secondly, Google gives prominence to the words that appear first in the title string, so adding the post title first means you have a better chance of this ranking over the name of your blog.

I hope this helps and I’m interested in your feedback.

Do you consider SEO to be part of your product development?

Just saw this throwaway tweet from search guru Danny Sullivan, who I guess is currently attending SMX East in New York:

What this would suggest is that HTC looked at what people were searching for around their phones (say ‘htc purple’ or ‘htc evo fuchsia’) and realized that there was latent demand that they weren’t addressing. As a result they are now bringing out a line of multicolored phones that presumably will be on the end of these searches in future, leading to more satisfied customers and obviously a few more dollars in the bargain.

What a great example of using one of the cheapest market intelligence tools out there: internal and external search metrics. For external search, query your web analytics tool for your keyword referral data. Look at what search terms are used on Google, Yahoo, Bing and the other major engines to reach your site. Are there terms for which you don’t currently have neat product placement, but could provide something with relative ease? (If it’s longer term you may need to work it into the product roadmap). Perform the same exercise with your internal site search engine. Most solutions in this space will provide metrics on what are the most commonly searched terms on your site.

If you want to look further afield at what people are searching for on Google, you can also poke around on the Google Keyword Tool. In this example you can see related terms for the base keyword ‘htc’:

The next step is perhaps the toughest: particularly if you work for a large enterprise. Somehow you need to get this information over to your product team. They may already be clued on to what you can learn from the web and embrace your research. My experience is that there is generally some education to do (and possibly the building of a process) before you can embed this search-based market intent into product development. Still, at least you know your product portfolio will become more closely aligned to the (online) market.

Do you have any examples/experiences of your own to share?

More referrals from social media than from search?

There’s a startling assumption buried as a throwaway comment on this post from TechCrunch on Google Buzz’s recent arrival. Apparently, links shared on social networks have been growing to the extent that the mighty Goog is concerned that this phenomenon could start taking eyeballs away from all those juicy paid search ads that keep the lights on at the Googleplex. Is there any validity to this claim? It appears so, if these data points are to be believed:

The Big Money: According to Compete.com, Google lags behind Facebook in driving traffic to major portals like Yahoo, AOL and MSN.

Silicon Alley Insider: This report last year claimed 19% of Google traffic came from Facebook (and that number is growing).

Compete.com: As you can see below, Facebook is rapidly gaining ground on Google. Golden question is what proportion of this audience are clicking on links taking them out of the blue-walled garden and into the wider web?

Anecdotally, I’ve heard on the web manager grapevine that a larger proportion of traffic appears to be coming from social media – eating into the portion of the pie previously reserved for traditional search engines. Another indication of this is the number and attendance of social search sessions at major SEO events like SES.

What does this mean? Whoever owns the largest share of our life streams (the current killer app of social media) enjoys the strongest visibility and all the financial frills that follow. Also, given that we show strong signs of adopting a crowd mentality when being ‘social’ online, the chances of the market fragmenting look slim. We will all congeal our content around a handful of platforms (if that) at the top of this lucrative pile.

And then there’s all those paychecks tied to Google’s golden egg – here I’m thinking more of the huge search marketing industry that has risen up over the last 10 years. Skill sets will shift away from the technical aspects of SEO (goodbye masters of canonical URLs and 301 redirects) to more touchy-feely PR (hello reputation managers and online community builders). Key concepts in SEO are still relevant, like creating modular topic-based content, but there will be some shifts. Rather than looking for links from authoritative sites, we’ll need to understand more about who are the authoritative figures in a network.

Where will Google be in all of this? It looks like the search giant is hedging its bets with the launch of Gmail Buzz: a lifestreaming service that sits atop the versatile Gmail email client. The future is looking distinctly social.

An SEO perspective | Corporate blogging news digest

If you are involved in setting up or running a corporate blog, you are probably well aware that one justification for the effort is the love Google will probably show you for your regular, fresh content and wonderful referrals (links) from the blogging community.Using a blog to garner links is growing in popularity as SEOs find that old methods such as obtaining sponsored links are becoming more and more difficult.

As SEO Ninja points out: ‘As link building becomes a more exhaustive and costly task, blogging is an area of the web, where savvy webmasters show a more kind-hearted approach to providing links. A blog can be positioned within or out with a company’s primary domain name, meaning that any residual page rank can be distributed to the sales page from highly content-relevant material.’ Read the full post

News highlights

Google Reader now allows direct commenting
Google Reader now allows you to add comments to the blogs you read directly within the interface. These comments are viewable by your Google Reader friends and at the moment can’t be exported out of Google Reader (to say, Friendfeed). Beware: yet another reason for your feed-reading audience not to visit your blog.

Twitter Is the ‘Five-Tool Player’ of the Social Web (Forrester)
Twitter can be used by businesses in a variety of ways, writes Josh Bernoff of Forrester. The multi-purpose tool can deal with everything, from customer support, to brand energizing to research.

Twitter grows 33 percent over the past month
The Social Times reports that Twitter is currently going through a massive growth spurt. Note that 8 million of the 10 million visitors are based in the US.

Spam-to-Content: A Ratio of Junk (Gartner)
This problem plagues us all. Personally, I find Akismet a useful solution to strip out most spam. This post raises another point: how far do you go with comment moderation?

Timing Your Tweets for Success (Twitip)
Timing is everything. Especially in the Twitterverse, where your 140-character nugget can easily get deluged by the stream. This is a big issue for Twitter, given the reliance of this broadcast medium on instant communication.

Corporate Blogging Guidelines (Brian Hurley)
You know you need them (and we’ve covered the issue of corporate blogging guidelines before), but check out some great examples from Brian Hurley. Yahoo, Plaxo and IBM are included in this list.

Scoble recommends use of low-cost cameras eg. Flip Mino HD (which costs about $200) for online video
If you want to turn your blog into a vlog (video blog) consider Flip Mino HD, which costs about $200. Robert Scoble shot almost all of the recent videos on Fast Company TV using one.

Mashable innovates with new Twitter ad format
A new kind of advertising is born: let brands post their Tweets on your pages. Will Twitter work this into their business model? Tweetsense?…

10 ways to measure social media success (Econsultancy)
Ever wonder whether all the effort you’re putting into social media is pulling any results? Some say it can’t be done, but Chris Lake approaches the subject of how you can measure social media success.

Robert Scoble’s Corporate Weblog Manifesto
More like a historical document rather than news, this is still earily accurate 5 years later. My personal fave: ‘If your life is in turmoil and/or you’re unhappy, don’t write.’

15 Useful Twitter Hacks and Plug-Ins For WordPress (Smashing Magazine)
If you are a WordPress user who happens to Tweet (who doesn’t?), here are some plugins and code samples that will help you synch your blog with Twitter.

Feel free to subscribe via RSS. If you want more regular updates, then follow me on Twitter or Del.icio.us.

Making sure your YouTube videos rank

The Underground Confessions blog recently covered the thorny subject of driving more traffic to your YouTube video content. They suggest the term YouTube Ranking Optimization (YRO) as a description for this field, which I’m sure is set to grow – especially as more and more companies now take the plunge into using YouTube as a way of distributing video content (it’s something like the 5th most visited site on the planet).

So, how do you ensure that your video ranks highly? It’s pretty close to what you do to optimize web content (or a blog for that matter). Basic items they use:

  • The title of your video
  • The description of your video
  • The tags that you assign to your video

By offering this basic advice, the post has attracted a great deal of comments by those asking questions or offering their own experience of YouTube optimization.

One particular comment stands out, together with Jeff’s response:

Chris says:
Hey Jeff thanks for the post.
I just checked your profile on Youtube and saw your videos that reviewed the Casio Exilim under the search term ‘Casio Exilim ex-z1080?.
I saw that you were kind of split testing the results.
And the newer version of the same video put up 1 month ago is ranking higher than the one that was put up 6 months ago – YET the 6month old video is actually rated 3 stars compared to the 1 month old video.
The only other difference is that the newer video has more comments than the older.
It’d be interesting in the test results.
1. Do newer videos get more preference than older?
2. Are videos ranked according to the number of comments?
3. Do the contents of the other videos in your profile (tags, titles and descriptions) as well as your profile name, play a role in the ranking of your video amongst others for the same/similar keyword?
It’d be interesting to find the test results. It could possibly be a combination of all of the above.
Maybe finding that out will help you put out your ooined term ‘YRO’ in the internet marketing realm. Anyway, thanks for the heads up.
Jeff Johnson says: Here are the answers to your questions:
1. No, newer videos do not necessarily rank higher than old ones. It has to do with many, many factors including incoming links, comments, tags, the number of sites that host it outside of youtube, the quality of those sites, etc.
2. Yes, commenting helps but is not the only thing that matters.
3. Yes, the only way the engines know what is in the video is by what you tell them is in it by use of your incoming link text, the title tags, your description, and any of the words found on the pages surrounding it.
That pretty much means you should optimize the pages that your videos on in the same way you would for a regular page.

I was interested to hear that the quantity and quality of external sites hosting the video plays a part in the ranking algorithm.

I don’t have any concrete evidence for this, but one thing that does appear to happen is that channels with a lot of content tend to outrank lesser channels (much like the way, as a vast generalization, Google favors sites with more content rather than less).

If anyone does have more definitive answers, please let me know.

Read the post from Underground Confessions

Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2008 Sessions

Google engineers talking openly about the latest challenges in indexing web content. Search marketers getting their heads around building promotions on Twitter.  Lunch networking sessions exploring obscure tips and tricks. This year’s San Jose SES had it all, with a glow-in-the-dark Google Dance to boot.

Although SES hosts events around the globe, the San Jose event has traditionally attracted considerable attention due to its proximity to the campuses of the major search engines. This year was no exception, with a notable presence from Google, Yahoo and to a lesser extent, Microsoft.

Certain trends jumped out at this year’s event, permeating many of the panel presentations.

Universal (blended) search

Over the last year, all the major engines have rolled out different variations of universal search: mixing up the search result pages (SERPs) with video, news, blogs and other content. While each engine has a slightly different approach, the overall affect on search engine optimization (SEO) strategies is the same: you need to concentrate on optimizing more than just web pages. You need to think about creating and optimizing multimedia content, news and other forms of web content.
Relevant sessions:
Universal Search: representatives from each of the engines talk their developments in this space
Semantic search: a distant cousin of universal search, semantic search has similar implications for SEO practitioners

News optimization

The distinction between PR professionals and search engine marketing (SEM) experts is forever blurring. More and more journalists are using news search engines to source and build stories. Companies can take steps to ensure they have maximum visibility in this space. On your own site, there is work you can do to ensure your PR content (often a good source of fresh content) is as optimized for search as possible.
Relevant sessions:
Optimizing for news search: PR professionals and providers of online news wires discuss making the most of your releases

Conversion optimization

In the paid search space, average pay-per-click (PPC) is increasing as more marketers take to this medium. Therefore it’s increasingly necessary to increase efficiency of campaigns, drive up ROI and outperform the competition. Focussing on the traffic delivered by search can really help in this respect. For instance, making your landing pages more attractive to your target audience and improving a registration form can really make a significant difference to campaign performance.
Relevant sessions:
Pay per conversation: creating real engagement with your audience
Storyteller marketing: weaving a story around your information
Post-click marketing: tips for landing page optimization, including segmentation

Social media optimization

Social media is becoming an integral part of our online culture. SEM professionals should be aware of what this means for the way we find information online. Whereas the traditional search engines still remain important, sites like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter have become credible sources of information. In addition, more and more companies are incorporating social media networks into their own sites, which presents its own unique challenges for search.
Relevant sessions:
Facebook, feeds and micro-blogging: the impact of new online technologies on search

I haven’t included mobile search in this list of trends, although there were numerous sessions on this topic. To me this seems less of a trend – more of an entrenched part of the search landscape.

View all sessions from SES San Jose 2008