Usually when we learn from examples, we learn from someone’s success. Sometimes it’s good to look at someone who did it wrong. The shortest job stint in my life was for one year, but despite my unhappiness, I did learn some good primary lessons that are still effective today.
Let me introduce you to Slim (name changed to protect the careless).
Slim wasn’t much of a businessman. He started out as a blue collar type with a hobby collecting a certain kind of collectible. As the market swung, Slim’s hobby started turning into a passion for a lot of other people in the area. Slim began supplying merchandise related to this hobby at local shops. He was soon able to open his own store.
As the internet and ecommerce grew, interested searchers started using Google to find retailers who were selling these collectibles online. The small town shoppers who loved the brick and mortar store weren’t the only audience Slim could reach. To his credit, he partnered his physical store with an ecommerce store. Opportunity abound!
I worked for Slim doing SEO. His pay rate was insulting, but because he was becoming semi-popular in his genre, and I was able to negotiate a small commission on sales, I thought it was worth a shot. I should have recognized the cheapness as a sign of things to come.
I found a new feature on Google. If you click advanced search on the search page, you have a ‘reading level’ option. In the drop down, you can choose to annotate your search results. When you search, you can now see the reading level Google thinks these (and your) pages are at.
As a father of a six year old, this seems interesting. It could potentially help me find pages that he would understand and enjoy. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work as I had hoped. Apparently my about me page is at an intermediate reading level. Hardly. So is sesamestreet.com. Wow.
Maybe this is just more Google fluff, and maybe it will improve. But it has me wondering about the signals and algorithm that determines this labeling. Are there any clues here for the reverse engineers to understand more how Google thinks? Likely, Google would be very careful putting this out… but still.
Update: Looks like Google gave us a little insight. Looks like a model was built off decisions made by teachers. I’m now thinking this is simply another algorithm strand layered into the Google rope.
Matt Cutts says a small majority of the web is nofollowed (which is confirmed by Linkscape data). He doesn’t say that a huge majority of the social web is dofollowed. I firmly believe it isn’t. And since Google loves editorial links, they should love the good social links – forums, blogs, voting site comments, etc.
So why is so much of the social web still nofollowed? In theory, it helps us webmasters to rank better when we link out. It helps our social contributors receive link love. It’s great for Google in general.
Oh, right… SPAM. The applications that auto-spam WordPress blogs and Pligg, and the SEnuke’s of the world. There’s plenty of them. So, Google gave us the nofollow microformat to let us help them keep the web clean(er). But is slapping an automatic “nofollow” script really that helpful?
It’s a social web. I believe it’s our responsibility as good, contributing webmasters to monitor our user-generated links. If you’d like, put up rules about what you’ll accept and don’t accept (for example, no business names in the anchor text, or no links to product sites, etc). Make these rules simple and visible. Then, routinely prune anything that fails to meet the criteria. It’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it if you love your site.
I’m a dofollow SEO blog, and though Akismet (in WordPress) catches most my obvious automated spam, I still routinely go through my comments and make edits to rule breakers. Oh well. Clearly most don’t see it my way.
But as Google grows into a more contextual, learning machine, I think these nofollows are going to be a hindrance. I have heard of the tests that claim Google may be opting to follow certain links that are marked nofollow when it suits their needs,
but I haven’t seen it yet in my tests. As Google’s algorithm gets better, and they start to better understand what they read, while simultaneously finding other ways to defend against spam, I’m sure they’re going to start hopping the nofollow fence more often.
When I say “makes SEO easier,” I don’t just mean performing SEO, but also living as an SEO.
A few years ago I wrote a post about how great Firefox was for SEO. Oh, I was such a fanboy. Especially due to the huge amout of Greasemonkey scripts I was finding. This is in the early days of extending browsers, mind you.
But since January of 2009, Firefox started to get slower, and Chrome started to get less buggy. I’m not sure when I made the switch, but Chrome is my BOC (browser of choice). I really love how the extensions run independently of the browser. Smart move – my RAM thanks you. Plus, most of the time they update on their own and don’t even bother you unless something is new or notable.
There’s still a few occasions where I have to fire up Firefox. It’s so clunky and slow now, I sort of dread it. I’m still a fan of SEObook’s rank checker (though I do have SEO Serp installed into Chrome).
So here’s 10 SEO chrome extensions I’m running (in the order they appear on my toolbar). Granted, some aren’t necessarily all about SEO, but provides productivity nonetheless.
I remember it well, about 5 years ago, when it was released to AdWords. I could qualify the work I’ve been doing for an old eCcommerce employer. He was very ROI focused because he was, well, cheap (not at all generalizing a business who rightfully cares about revenue as cheap). This boss didn’t buy into internet marketing even though he was running an internet store. So this code – which I had to map cart variables too – helped me justified the good work I was doing in my job. While many industry peers were frustrated by the extra scrutiny they were getting, I was actually saved.
But conversion code isn’t everything. It’s not supposed to be. It has its place.
Online analytics is still really young. Now, we have great conversion tracking, and more advanced attribution modeling. But only a few years ago, it was all about impressions and CTR. Basic analytics told us a little of the story, and forced us to take chances. Now, with more of the story, I truly believe many of us find ourselves backed into an ROI corner in which we are afraid to press against. Did these better bullets make us cocky?
“Bullets are great. But you don’t win a war with firepower. It’s with strategy and tactics.”
I had three fortune cookies today with lunch, and this is what they said:
I think for many conversion tracking created and atmosphere for marketers to worry about performance to the dollar versus creativity on the web. On the web, creativity is vital and clearly yields bigger results when you strike gold. Creativity with focus speaks to more segmented audiences, which we now know are even more plentiful than we did before the web. General analytics and demos let us focus on those audiences, but data on whether they convert on the last click does not tell the full story. It answers the immediate need of passing a report to your boss, but it doesn’t always lead to the lifetime value.
Marketing is, and should always be about risk taking. If you’re not taking risks, you’re playing on the same level as not hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of other tepid companies. Marketing is also about developing strategies as you build. Tying yourself to ROI alone hurts you in the long run if you’re the kind of company that needs to be competitive. If you disagree, are you really being effective marketers and doing the w0rk the internet demands? Is it our job to encourage options and opportunity? Or is our job to keep stay in a box?
Would love your opinions.
ATG (a large commerce platform) just put out some interesting studies. 53% (of 1,002 total people) cited search engines as their key source for discovering new products.
Is this news? Not really. But I was interested to see how competitive email still is. I was also interested to see where social media (as a channel) resides. Social is under In-store displays and offline signs. Wow. Even though it’s fertile, this is a reminder that social still has a long road until full maturity.
Check out Search Engine Land for more stats.
Many business owners ask the common question, “Do I need SEO?” When I’m asked, I’m likely to recite any of the following.
In the meantime I’m working on a case study with a family member’s family law office in Reading, PA. Should have some data soon to really show the before and after of a 6 month SEO campaign. So far it’s pretty compelling.
Here are a few little tricks you can do to customize or filter Google results. These 4 are clutch tricks for me. I end up using these more than most other tricks in my arsenal (oh, there are plenty…):
Enter -site: to remove sites from the SERPs: If you’re looking for competitors for a popular product, and keep seeing the big players, comparison shopping engines or affiliates, and would like to get a better feel for the other players in the landscape, this trick works well.To see this work, search for a key phrase like Wilson Official NCAA Football. You may see sites like Amazon.com, Nextag.com, and Bizrate.Try the search again like this -site:www.amazon.com -site:www.nextag.com -site:www.bizrate.com Wilson Official NCAA Football. See the difference? There are several ways you can use this iltering for your competitive education.
Discover related keywords: Google has the ability to show pages with keywords related to the actual keywords you searched. They’ll do this when their algorithms suggest it’s a better result. To get a feeling of what keywords variation Google is thinking about, at a tilda (~) to the query. For example, Google ~sofa. At the very least this can inspire your keyword research.
Find File Types in a site: Doing a quick audit and want to see if a site is using a particular file type (like Flash)? This will give you some insight: site:www.nike.com filetype:swf
Figure out where those indented links really rank: Today a Google search (on my computer) for Frank Zappa will show you Zappa.com with an indented link for Zappa.com/whatsnew in the #2 position. Indented links are pages from the same domain that can show up anywhere in the bracket of 10 results, except Google groups them together for user value. In other words, although Zappa.com/whatsnew is ranked at #2, it’s not really the second result. It could be the fifth, or the seventh, or the tenth.When working towards SERP domination, it’s important to know exactly where all the pages lie so you have a better idea of who you need to beat. Add &num=x to the end of the Google search query URL, where “x” is a number less than 10 (remember – without using Advanced Search, there are only 10 true listings in natural results on any given SERP). Keep experimenting with lower numbers for “x” until the indented link is gone. Once it’s gone, you’ll be able to surmise where the actual position of the listing.