Tag Archive for seo

Google.com.au Algo Change?

It seems something strange is going on with Google search traffic over the past 2 weeks, is it the start of the next round of algo changes or is it a reshuffle based on the last algo update? Last time there was even a blip was 24th April, most of the past 3 months look like the first 2 weeks data… nice and even…

Google-ACCC article puts focus on Journalism standards

A recent post published by ITNews has managed to again raise a level of concern about the quality of Technology journalism online and but also highlights the danger of being quoted out of context to support a poorly research article.  When you read the quote from “Truman Hoyle” below you will see that you risk the danger of appearing like you have no idea about online marketing and one might wonder why you were quoted in the first place. The IT News article has pissed me as it was recently written around the recent judgement against the Trading Post which they were successfully sued by the ACCC over engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to Google AdWords campaigns but the article tries to link the decision back to SEO on some level. The article screenshot is included below because I have no interest in linking to mis-information.

Google-ACCC case puts focus on SEO

The case was about Sponsored Links

In what could amount to lazy journalism combined with failing to actually read a court judgement one of their journalists decided to pick an alternative viewpoint on how the case outcome had put focus onto SEO.  The mention of links does not automatically mean the story is about SEO, there is a large difference between SEO & SEM and the case is very clear that it’s about “sponsored links” as that term is mentioned 39 times during the case judgement.  If you check you will find that SEO is not mentioned once during the whole judgement  and the judge actually highlights that there is a clear difference between “organic results” and “sponsored links” just in case you took the time to read the judgement.  Part of the ACCC case was trying to force the judge to accept that users might not be able to easily identify between Organic and Paid results but the judgement focuses around Google AdWords and does not entertain the idea of SEO.  To re-enforce the flimsy nature of the article and how it is lacking support there is also no mention of any variation of SEO such as “search engine optimisation” to further re-inforce the point that this journalists failed to take the care the due diligence before writing this sub-standard post!

The journalist fails to make any real supporting links between the article theme about SEO and the actual court judgement, and gets a random quote from a lawyer at Truman Hoyle who weren’t even involved in the case.  The statement by Bridget Edghill doesn’t even really fit within the context of the judgement and could have even been taken out of context in reference to the actual court judgement.

Suggest you retract your quote

If I was Truman Hoyle Lawyers I would at least get my comment retracted as it does not put forward an image of a law firm that has an understanding of the difference between Google AdWords (case theme) and SEO (not discussed). I don’t see any way the judgement implied or suggested there was a link between the case and placing SEO users on notice as the case was about Google AdWords not Google Organic results, so any link between the two is fanciful.  There is a clear statement that there is no defamation implied or directed towards Truman Hoyle as it is clearly the journalist who has written a poorly researched article and added a law firm to try and add some credibility to his mis-informed article.

Journalists have to answer for fact checking

It is no wonder that business struggles to make the identification between how Google AdWords (Paid results) and SEO (organic results) actually differs. The journalist obviously found the word “link” in the judgement and choose to ignore the entire theme of the judgement along with the heavy use of “sponsored” links throughout the reasons for the judgement.  There is a very big difference in the context of the word “link” and it’s use for Google AdWords and some basic fact checking would have ensured this post actually added some value around the judgement instead of mis-informing the readers of ITNews.

Google AdWords is NOT part of SEO

Just to re-enforce the point while longer term there might be a case where SEO might place a website in front of a judge currently it’s just in the minds of fanciful journalists who don’t take the time to research articles before posting them! Feel free to respond with nasty and unsupported anonymous comments below or you can reach out to the the journalists who wrote the mis-informed post on twitter.

Yahoo Clues for SEO

Yahoo Clues Logo

Yahoo has today rolled out an updated to their Buzz platform that put’s it far ahead of Google Trends and Google Real-time and the usability places it in the grasp of being useful to everyone who is able to operate a mouse.  I really love the potential power of the platform combined with its pure simplicity with huge vaults of almost real-time demographic data and is large enough that I can see what users in Queensland, Australia are looking putting it on par with many enterprise social media platforms.

The platform is very much pitched around what celebrities get the most buzz but I see the platform has some very powerful features outside the paparazzi knowing who to stalk online for the next high of traffic to their fashion blogs.  If you are involved in marketing or search you should be testing some of your primary keywords to see what insights you can learn and measure this against your Facebook fan page analytic data to gauge the variance in the data, but I can tell you damn it’s cool!

What it Yahoo Clues tells you

  • what other popular queries relate to your term
  • what is the previous search query before your term
  • what is the next likely query after your term
What can I do with Top Trends?
This platform is very cool because it offers the ability to quickly filter through data to find most popular search queries and then drill down by time period, gender, age range, location and even category of interest.  If you were a Melbourne based travel site looking for content ideas of what to write about you could see what are the current top search queries but also where you should considering buying PPC traffic or adding to your weekly email newsletter.
Melbourne Most Popular City Search Queries

Melbourne Most Popular City Search Queries

There are some limitations currently around the depth of categories but this will hopefully increase as more data is added to the platform, so best you look at using “trends” to find specific keywords or terms in more detail.
What can I do with Trends Analysis?
I have run two quick sample queries to show you if you were looking to understand the demographics of people who are searching for SEO online and even where you might be targeting your Facebook Ads you can do in an instant.
Yahoo SEO Trends

Yahoo SEO Trends

SEO versus PPC Traffic

SEO versus PPC Traffic

See Yahoo Clues in Action!

I did a video review of the platform and how you can use Top Trends & Trends Analysis for your keyword or article research, but also so you know more about your Facebook demographic before you start targeting them via Facebook Ads, please check it out below and then go and play with it for yourself.

Google Places Evolving

Google Places will be the battle ground for both business and SEO consultants and agencies in 2011 with an increasing preference for showing and sometimes total dominance of the organic results. It seems that every week there is a new expansion of Google Places into universal results but it seems that the expansion of their Local business product is not truly consistent, which makes it nearly impossible for business to understand the trust the quality of the results.  A few of these changes I thought I would comment on in this post to signal to you how Google Places is evolving and how you might have to reconsider your local SEO campaigns in 2011.

Google Places showing URLS

You can see in the screenshot below that Google Places is starting to show individual pages that match to the search query. It’s interesting that the Google places first result “A” shows an individual page that is an exact match to the search query and the third result “C” shows a URL that is a match to the geographic location.  This was the first time that I have seen this showing as Google typically has taken preference to show just the domain in the Google places results but it seems to be now electing to pick a URL that it feels is a better match as it does in organic results.

Lasik Results Showing Deeper URLS

Lasik Results Showing Deeper URLS

Google Places showing Breadcrumbs

Google Places is also continuing to mirror Google Organic with its Places results with “B” showing breadcrumbs in the expanded Google Places result for Rydges SouthBank. You can see that Google is slowing messing up the previously clean and clear Google Places results be starting to treat them like organic results and showing deep URLs like you can see for the Clarion Collection Rendezvous Hotel.

Hotels Places Results Showing Breadcrumbs

Hotels Places Results Showing Breadcrumbs

Google Places Super Results

Google Places is a very visually attractive and their new super result for #1 listings really dominate the competition with almost a double listing but includes a bonus attention grabbing image.  The result for Magistic Cruises includes the standard title link and meta description but also features 4 sitelinks, a link to its Place page, links to 4 reviews about the company and company contact details.  While the 2nd result also features 4 sitelinks you will see later in this article that is not enough to attract the visitor’s attention span before it moves to focus on the 4th result Sydney Princess Cruises.

Google Places Super #1 Results

Google Places Super #1 Results

Places gaining too much attention?

You can see below the older Google results that are not showing the additional results for #1 are much less appealing and eye-catching to consumers.  You can assume that the first result will receive slightly less attention when it is not showing the enhanced Google Places results but what is the actual impact in terms of visitor attention/analysis?

Google Standard Results (No Places)

Google Standard Results (No Places)

Google SERPS Attention & Attraction Analysis

The following test was done using Feng-GUI analysis products, that allow you to realise where the consumers eyes are looking when viewing a webpage, advertisement or photograph, it is simulated eye tracking. You can see the impact of the visitor’s attention span when Google Places results are shown in the first image, but it also shows that the amount of attention the Google AdWords results receive is also significantly reduced when Google Places are shown.

Google Places enhanced result heatmap tracking

Google Places enhanced result heat map tracking

Google non-enhanced result heatmap tracking

Google non-enhanced result heat map tracking

So while it seems that you risk violation of Google Places guidelines by using landing pages or trying to game their algorithm by listing unique URLs, Google can and will alter the mix to suit its own results.  So do you think that Google Places has morphed and evolved beyond being just Local Business listings into the new and possibly improved Google Organic results?

Top Marketing Posts of 2010

This post is the result of a quick chat with Malcolm Coles on Twitter about the Econsultancy top 25 blog posts from 2010 didn’t include any of our post’s, I thought it was time to create my own self promotional list of what articles my readers have liked in 2010.  Disclosure I haven’t actually written for Econsultancy yet, but I guess the invite is being sent in time for Christmas???

The top marketing posts list is based on my own articles I’ve published across the web including some for Search Engine Journal, Marketing Magazine, Dynamic Business and this blog during 2010, top be a bit more transparent, the top posts are based on reader interaction, tweets of the posts and shares via other social media such as Facebook or StumbleUpon.

Do WordPress blogs still get traffic?

Over the last 12 months this blog has received over 65,000 views of posts a 650% increase on the previous year which shows that with a combination of social media, link building, fresh and engaging content you can grow your traffic easily.  It seems that the blog looks on track to continue growing at around 10% every month based on the past year’s averages with an aim to reach around 450,000 to 500,000 views this time next year which would be great and only possible with the support of the team at Automattic.

Top Marketing Posts of 2010

Search Engine Journal Post - I have written 6 posts for Search Engine Journal with a focus around AdWords marketing, analysis and how to get more from your campaigns.

Google Instant AdWords Trouble – This post was written following the launch of Google Instant and used data that showed initially there was a big impact of user interaction with AdWords

  • 25 Likes on Facebook
  • 314 Tweets
  • 13 Comments

Marketing Mag Guru Blogger Posts – I have written 20 posts for Marketing Magazine Australia over the last 2 years ranging from failures, to success to critical analysis of marketing

MacBank’s Miranda Plan – While this blog did recieve a lot of spam comments, it still manage to attract a lot of human comments and a fair whack of search traffic

  • 138 Comments

Dynamic Business Marketing Posts – I have so far only written 4 posts for Dynamic Business Australia’s leading SMEs magazine but have many more planned for 2011

Small Business CMS – A very strong and direct view of how business should be examining their use of complex or custom CMS platforms

  • 7 Tweets
  • 8 Comments

Google Travel ITA Buyout – this article received a fairly strong reaction along with a number of similar stories at the time

  • 5 Tweets
  • 1 Comment

The Lost Press Marketing Posts – This very blog where I have written close to 200 posts over the last 2 years.

iPad News EcoSystem – this was a dual post around an interview with the founder focusing on the launch of Flud an iPad News Ecosystem

  • 1 Response
  • 14 Tweets

Facebook Places Fails – the launch of Facebook Places stumbled a fair bit and this was a critical view of where it went wrong

  • 3 Responses
  • 19 Tweets

Do Hotels Get PPC? – Seeing the constant failure of Hotel websites failing to get their head around PPC lead to this post

  • 4 Responses
  • 15 Tweets
  • 33 StumbleUpons

WebTrends Intergration with Marin – This was a great post showing the power of Facebook to bring a bid management and analytics platform together

  • 3 Responses
  • 12 Tweets

Security Issue in Website Optimiser – This was a nice breaking news piece that focused on an urgent update from Google

  • 41 Tweets
  • 6 Responses

iPad Discount – This was a post around the TJ Maxx black friday promotion that just went viral

  • 103 Tweets

RockMelt Facebook Browser – It’s still not clear if RockMelt is the future of browsers but it did generate a fair bit of interest

  • 20 Tweets

WordPress Tweet Button

  • 5 Responses
  • 35 Tweets

Facebook Insights Update

  • 8 Responses
  • 5 Tweets

Thank you to everyone who reads, comments and tweets my and my guest’s articles, you are all awesome! To my guest writers thank you for helping grow this blog and I hope we have plenty of new topics stewing about for 2011 and hopefully will welcome a few new guest writers.  Again from me and my guest writers thank you all for reading this blog in 2010 and don’t forget to come back in 2011 when there should be some more guest bloggers covering more articles, topics and breaking news. There are around 15 stories that are slowly being finished and will be set to publish during January 2011 so you have something to read while I take some time off to recharge and explore new ideas for articles.

THANK YOU FOR VISITING AND READING!

Fox.com fails SEO

Ok so when I started this post I did not initially see it to be a massive failure but more of a minor issue but still saw it as a significant problem that such an oversight could be happening on the night of Fox’s most anticipated shows “Glee” is returning to TV. So as most people do I went to Google.com to do a search for Fox looking to find out if there was anyway I could watch “Glee” online but I did find it strange the such a large site would have index.html showing at their primary homepage. The more I dug into Fox.com the more issues I saw around a lack of understanding about SEO and well there is a lot of room for improvement as for consistency across just Fox.com not including the hundreds of other websites News Corp operates.

Google Fox Results

Fox 404

The Google search results show Fox.com/index.htm but when I clicked to visit the link it produces a 404 error page, this a both a major issue for Fox and a provides a very bad user experience for other fans using Google to get to Fox.com. I would expect a fair amount of traffic would flag a warning sign somewhere that a huge number of visitors were now viewing 404 error pages when coming from Google.  The only upside is they have a nice simple 404 page that has a direct link back to Fox.com which works. There is Omniture tracking code on the Fox 404 error page so its fairly easy for their web analysts or web developers to notice the large spike in views of this page and that the source is a Google search referral, this would indicate failure by someone.

Fox is So Sorry 404

It’s not consistent

It seems that the use of index.html is not consistent across the site as you can see the 2nd result shown in the search results was the link to watch Fox full episodes on demand.  It is indexed in Google as http://www.fox.com/fod/index.htm but unlike the homepage it doesn’t resolve to a 404 error, this would indicate a failure by someone not a site wide policy change or update. If you are going to run a website it’s always best practice to make a decision if you are going to use index.htm and stick with it.  It causes problems for link builders, internal staff and other web developers within the Fox group who try to work out quickly which is the best URL to link to.

Meta refreshes signal failure in seo

They are a very old technique and one that according to people on Google’s spam team are typically wary of its uses as its been commonly misused in the past and is not a very search engine friendly technique.  But Fox is using Meta Refresh to redirect users from http://www.fox.com/home.htm to http://www.fox.com/index.php which does not make sense to send them to a file instead of the root domain. Fox.com is not a small mum & pop business it should be able to get the basics around SEO right and not cut corners with a poor man’s redirect “meta refresh”.
Multiple links going to multiple Fox homepage URLs
Fox.com needs to consolidate its variations of the homepages as you can see below a number of the variations actually carry a decent amount of link juice that is likely going to waste. Once again if you are going to swap between index.php, home.htm and index.htm it will result in lost link juice and confuse everyone.
Majestic SEO Fox Links
Best practice is consolidation of homepages
It is good practice to look using 301 redirects to consolidate any of the following variation of homepage that you have used or has inbound links to a your domain, it is possible that Fox.com will have links to almost all these variations of their homepage URLs.
http://www.fox.com/default.html
http://www.fox.com/default.htm
http://www.fox.com/index.html
http://www.fox.com/index.htm
http://www.fox.com/index.asp
http://www.fox.com/index.apsx

Note: you need to test this to ensure that you don’t create an endless redirection circle as has happened in my past projects

Fox.com doesn’t use canonical URLs

This is part of the issue around why these variations of the home page are being indexed and shown in the search result, it is another good practice to where possible use canonical URLs to signal to search engines where the primary or original source of content and not counted as duplicate content should be found by using the tag Rel=”canonical”

An example for this article would be <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://lostpr.es/2010/09/22/fox-com-fails-seo-2455236″ />

Who is linking to Fox.com/index.htm?

Looking at the backlink profile of that particular page using SEOmoz Linkscape it seems that only part of the issue is within Fox’s control.  The issue of index.htm showing in the search result is more an external link issue with only 8.5% of the backlinks are internal or coming from other Fox.com subdomains.  So even if Fox.com fixes their internal linking policies it seems its only part of the problem the easiest solution is to look at consolidation of those inbound links via 301 redirects.

Who is linking to Index.htm

Fox.com is using 302s

While it seems part of the issue is the non-use of 301s, the continuing use of meta-refreshes it also seems that for subdomains Fox.com has chosen to use the less than useful 302 redirects.

So how can Fox.com fix it?

Ok so here is how if you were Fox.com you could fix the issue since they are running the server on Apache/2.2.8 (Unix) PHP/5.2.5 with Suhosin-Patch they will likely have 2 easy options to organise the 301 redirects.

  1. .htaccess file
  2. Use cPanel

So what is a .htaccess files and how can you use them? Apache has a free tutorial on .htaccess files and how to use them to create permanent redirections

So what is cPanel and how can it help your website with Apache & PHP Customisation? Once again there are a number of web hosting companies that have already enabled cPanel so it is ready to go but you can find out more about it here.

So what is a 301 and how can it help your website? A 301 is a request to advise that the old content now has a new home, SEOBook.com has a nice breakdown around 301 Redirects.

Please fix Fox.com

So there you have it even the biggest corporations sometimes forget to do the basics when it comes to seo we won’t even get started on indexing issues or how they could have used Google Webmaster Tools to identify the problem in any more detail.  Most of the points and tips are something any good web developer or seo agency should have addresses long ago, so that is why this is being classed as a failure in SEO it should not have happened.

SMH publishes garbage article on seo

Snake Oil SEOIt’s clear sometimes that personal blogs and open forums are not always the best source of information about SEO from a best practice “white hat” perspective, but you can usually rely on main stream media to not screw up and publish garbage like I read today that encourages spam as a SEO technique.  There are lots of blogs,communities and forums that specialise in SEO covering practical/training, guides, tips and from a pure research perspective such as: SEOmoz, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, SEOBook, SEO Dojo, Webmaster World.  A majority of these sites work hard to educate their members about not spamming or following the advice contained in the SMH article I read today.

Before I upset every journalist who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald or any of their other papers such as The Age, this is a story that shouldn’t have gone to print and there is another related articles by the same writer that do nothing but cloud businesses view on SEO and increase businesses view that the whole industry is made up of Snake Oil salespeople. From my many past conversations with business about what is SEO and how it can help their business get more traffic from Google there often confusion around what you should and shouldn’t be doing as part of getting more organic traffic from Bing & Google.  Garbage articles like this break down all that good knowledge and understanding with cheap parlour tricks and spam.

Search engine voodoo: little-known SEO tricks” should not have been published as one it’s based on a technical paper published back in February 16th 2010 and its fairly clear that the SMH journalist didn’t take time to even read it as many of the points he later suggests are not advised by Nicholas Carroll.  The two so-called experts he quotes in the piece don’t appear to be anyone known in the industry and if I have the website right one expert is more of a snake oil salesman that is out of his depth in being quoted for this article as knowing what was is seo.

Comment spam is back in

The biggest failure around this article is the around the encouragement of comment spam, where readers are encouraged to use your keyword phrase as your name using blog finder software to pick which sites to attack with your spammy comments.  This is one of the many parts to the article that is not in the spirit with the original article by Nicholas Carroll that this article is apparently based around. So there you go its official from 2 experts no-one has ever heard of and a journalist how you can get ranked #1 in Google that no-one else has ever tried and failed to use successfully.  Now go search for a general blog topic and comment spam away and you will notice a huge increase in your search rank in no time, no need for link building campaigns or creating content just comment spam what’s already out there! It’s article like this that encourage the constant bombardment of your blogs with crappy comments and irrelevant statements just to get that link, no comment on how well it works in the short-term but its not something business should be using if they value their reputation.

Fact check please

I would expect that publications like The Sydney Morning Herald would at least take some time to vet or fact check what garbage some of their journalists are pushing out into the market place under the Fairfax brand.  It wouldn’t take more than an email phone call to the Fairfax owned Advantate to fact check the article or even provide some guidance around what is SEO for the journalist.  Publications like SMH’s My Small Business carry a lot of weight for business wanting to stay ahead of their competitors, so seeing low quality articles like “How to rocket your search engine ranking to the top of Google” make me understand why Australian businesses struggle with SEO, it’s the garbage they read online.

One of the previous articles written by the same SMH journalist uses terms like mysterious or art when he is discussing SEO does nothing to improve both a reader’s understanding of search optimisation, unless you are doing blackhat/greyhat practices it’s not a mystery it’s just hard work!

Keyword stuffing??

The rocket your search ranking article talks about peppering pages with keywords and every page should repeatedly feature one keyword and to embed that keyword several times.  This amounts to nothing more than keyword stuffing or spam and shows the misunderstandings the website designer has about effective SEO and to the writer for publishing it, where is your journalistic skills in vetting both the subject being interviewed about a subject he doesn’t understand and a topic you vaguely don’t care about. If you are unsure of his experience his background states that he “vaguely specialises in the internet” in an interview back in 2007.

Don’t make SEO harder

If you are going to conduct an interview with a focus around SEO that is just going to make the job of SEO consultants and SEO agencies that much harder, please just don’t publish it.  Articles like this are often brought up during discussions with business owners when talking about SEO, and often the business owner will stand by the article’s points because they read about it in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Small Business section so it must be of reasonable standing.