Friday, January 19, 2007

SEO Best Practices

SEO best practices have been constantly evolving since the advent of the search engines themselves. As we enter 2007, this evolution continues, inexorably pushing the Web site owner toward practices that begin to sound much like conventional business plans.
Following SEO best practices should provide you with a secure strategy for building organic traffic to your site for the long term.

They can be broken into 4 major categories of activity:

*Subject-Matter Expertise: If you are not an expert on the topic of your Web site, then invest the time to become one, (or employ one).

*Information Architecture: Design a site that enables users to find the great content you have in a fast and effective manner.

*Technical Implementation: Learn how to deal with the idiosyncrasies of search engines to get the best results.

*Marketing: Formerly known as "link building," in 2007 we will begin to think of this as marketing and promotion

Subject-Matter Expertise

You need to have great content. Building a large organic traffic stream will not happen unless you have great content. You need to offer something on your site that people want to read about, and link to. In addition, you just won't close business well unless your content is seen as high quality by prospects.

There are many ways to show expertise on a Web site. Here are a few basic ideas:

Write great articles about your area of expertise (but don't burden these articles with sales pitches for your products or services)
Offer great tools that people will want to use
Create a unique and valuable community on your site
Be a major source of news and information in your area of expertise

The key thing here is to think about high quality content for users, instead of "link bait." Where link bait seeks to get quick and easy links from any source, a better plan is to build trust with your audience. Trust building is not a gimmick or a trick. Trust is something that you earn and will keep your business growing for years to come.

Information Architecture

Wikipedia defines information architecture as the "practice of structuring information (knowledge or data) for a purpose". In broad strokes, think of this as user-centered design. (By the way, bots will eat this stuff up too.) The basic elements of an effective information architecture include:

Understanding how your users think about the topic area of your site. This is where keyword mapping exercises come into play. Keyword tools such as
Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker are useful. Tools such as these can help you find out how users search for things related to the content you have, or plan to have, on your Web site. Map your navigation and pages to the things you learn during this exercise.

A well defined and clear global navigation scheme. Make it easy for users to navigate your content. The menus on your site need to be consistent in structure and location. It's helpful to implement a "bread crumb" bar (like the "Search Engine Watch Forums > Search Engine Marketing Strategies > Search Engine Optimization" links at the top of
this SEW forum page), showing the structure of a site, to help the users remember where they are and how they got there.

Leverage common UI practices. This is no time to implement a new paradigm. Users have been conditioned by other Web sites to look for things in certain places on a site. Take advantage of this and make life easier for them.

Technical Implementation

While the search engines urge us to "design for users," not search engines, the reality is that the search engines have certain basic requirements. Failure to meet these requirements can spell certain doom for your site's prospects. Here is our list of 5 things that you need to do to put together a solid technical implementation for the search engines:

Implement a clear navigation scheme that can be fully crawled using text links
Minimize the number of clicks to your key content. Search engines look to site owners for clues as to what is important on a given site. If a piece of content is 4 clicks from the home page, what are you saying about its importance?
Implement pages that are rich in search engine visible content. This means text based articles and descriptions, and text based links. Give the spider something to chew on.

Effectively link related content within your own site. This is a great tool for reinforcing the relevance of pages on your site.
Write effective meta description tags. This will not help your ranking at all. However, these descriptions often get used by search engines as the description they show for your site in their results. So write something here that is likely to get a user to click through to your site.


Getting people to link to you remains an important component of the marketing effort. We're not suggesting that you buy links, or swap them by the bushel. We mean getting people to give you links without giving them anything in return.
Since people won't generally link to you for the express purpose of making you money, why would they do it? Because they care about their visitors, and they think your site has something of value for them, such as great content. This also happens to be the profile of the sites whose links to your site are likely to have the highest value in the eyes of the search engines.
For years, our industry has thought of this process as "link building". It's time to change our thinking. Not that there is anything wrong with link building, or its close cousin that we all talk about, "link baiting." Links still drive higher search term rankings. But a few things have changed:

Since we need to think about search phrase-specific Page Rank, we must get highly relevant sites to link to our sites.
Since swapping is now heavily discounted, this type of activity has become virtually a waste of time. The exception is swapping links with highly relevant sites. The best guideline to use here is: Would you link to the other site even if they didn't link back to you? If the answer to this is yes, then go ahead and do a swap.
Link purchasing is a practice that works really well for lots of people. However, it comes with significant risks, so get over it. Why would you want to do this with any business that you are building for the long term?
So what does this mean? It means you have to get your links by different means (in Smith Barney terms you have to "earn it"). Great content. A reputation as an open business that builds relationships with its customers and partners.

In short build trust. This is what will get people to link to your site.


No doubt that there are many opportunities to drive up search engine traffic using techniques that are not in keeping with their terms of service. You need to view these techniques as both a risk and a distraction. It's a risk because the traffic you get from these techniques will go away when the search engines catch up to them, or you can get banned in the worst case.
It's a distraction because it keeps you from focusing on building the trust in your business. The trust is the enduring asset that you are trying to build. When you spend time working on other things, you are building a weak foundation for your business. If you are thinking about building your Web site as an asset for your business, there is no time for distractions.
But you can't ignore the technical requirements of the search engines. Getting these right is critical. Don't think of it as designing your site for search engines. Think of it as designing your site for users, but being search engine smart at the same time.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Online Ad Spend Achieves Double-Digit Share in Two Markets, Surpasses Outdoor Globally

The internet is about to overtake outdoor as the fifth-largest global ad medium this year, is closing in on fourth-place radio, and has achieved a first in two countries, according to the quarterly revision of ZenithOptimedia's global ad tracking study.Internet ad spend is forecast by Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia to achieve - for the first time in any major market - double-digit market share this year in two countries, the U.K. (12.9 percent) and Sweden (10.5 percent), writes MediaPost (via MarketingVox).

Moreover, the agency now forecasts an 84 percent increase in internet ad spend from 2005 to 2008 - an upward revision from last quarter's 76 percent estimate.

Despite such growth, only in 2011 is internet ad spend forecast to achieve double-digit share globally. Online ad spend share worldwide is anticipated to reach 5.7 percent in 2006 and 7.3 percent in 2008, when in several other countries online ad spend market share is expected to reach double-digits, including Australia, Israel, Japan, Norway, South Korea and Taiwan.
Overall, ZenithOptimedia expects global ad spend to grow 6.0 percent this year (5.2 percent in the U.S.), 5.4 percent in 2007 (U.S., 4.2 percent) and 5.9 percent in 2008 (U.S., 4.3 percent).

Vista 'Wow' Campaign Asks Users to Submit Special Moments

Microsoft is launching a new site that asks users to upload content about their life-changing moments; the company will then use the content to help it showcase the capabilities of its new Vista operating system. allows users worldwide to upload videos and photos detailing life-changing or "wow" moments. The site will incorporate that content into a demonstration of the "wow" features in Vista, such as 3-D photo navigation and editing features, AdWeek reports. Vista is due for release Jan. 30. A general "wow" ad campaign will break at the end of the month to coincide with the launch.

Microsoft has recruited several celebrities to contribute their own special moments, including Bill Gates, TV stars Clinton Kelly of What Not to Wear, Joy Behar from The View and Genevieve Gorder of Trading Spaces.
All submissions made to the site through March 8 will also be eligible for prizes, including a computer preloaded with Vista, and a grand prize of a week-long "wow" trip to a venue with wow vistas, such as Sydney Harbor, the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Industry News from Nov and Dec 2006

A Happy New Year to everyone and also my apologies for not updating the blog for the last couple of months .It's been really hectic with lots of projects and work , however am back to writing regularly now .

I will use this post to highlight major news events for November and December 2006 , along with links where the full version of the story can be accessed

News Stories : November

Google in a bid to halt YouTube Legal Threat:

Google is engaged in a frantic round of negotiations aimed at persuading traditional media companies to supply their content to YouTube, the video website it bought last month for $1.65bn, and ward off a potentially crippling round of lawsuits.
Read More

Yahoo Asking Users To Rate Usefulness Of Search Results

I know Yahoo had a crappy “Weather Update” just over a week ago…
When I checked my rank reporting program today, I noticed some more dramatic movement in Yahoo across several sites and keywords…
So, I went directly to the source and began keying in some searches at Yahoo and noticed something I haven’t seen before at the top of the results: Read More

How Much Should SEOs Earn

This is going to be a tough and contentious issue and one that isn't easy for me to write about. Along with the obvious internal conflicts of interest in disclosing salary numbers, there's bound to be a lot of companies and individuals who will come away feeling that my numbers are wrong (or that their employers are cheating them). That said, it's a topic that needs to be addressed and if my experience can help (and inspire others to open up with their own data), then the accomplishment is well worthwhile.Read More

Google's Schmidt Grilled At Conference

Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, sat in the hot seat at the keynote session for the Web 2.0 Summit on Tuesday. He was asked to explain moves such as the YouTube acquisition, the company's employment strategy, and their "office suite," which he does not like to call an office suite.

John Batelle, founder and chairman of Federated Media Publishing and author of "The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture," got the rare privilege of being able to ask Schmidt whatever he wanted for a little over 30 minutes. Read More

IACI's Gaining Search Share

October brought us another month with Google (GOOG) losing a little steam. Month-over-month Google web-search market share was off 0.2ppts (not much…). The number of unique searches on Google actually increased 2%. However, the overall unique queries posted to the top-20 search engines actually increased 2.4% in October (more than Google’s gains). Since October 2005 Google’s share was still up 6.1ppts and remained the reference standard for the industry with over 62% market share. Read More

Yahoo Buys Site for Staging Online Contests

Yahoo is acquiring, a site that allows users and advertisers to create, enter into and judge online contests. The deal is an attempt by Yahoo to bolster its offerings in social media, an area where it has struggled to compete with sites like MySpace and YouTube. Read More

Google Video France Sued For Copyright Infringement

The producer of "The World According to Bush" has taken legal action against Google for distributing the film for free, becoming the latest media company to seek compensation for lost business on the Internet.Read More

Seven Challenges of SEM Planning and Execution

Interesting article on the MediaPost Blog commenting on the common challenges faced by SEM teams to get high search performance.Read More

Search's Long Tail and SEO

At first blush, it would appear that chasing long tail search referrals would be a natural extension of PPC advertising. Unfortunately, it's difficult to sustain long tail campaigns in the major search engines, given the low CTRs inherent to long tail search queries, an annoyance that can put extensive long-tail-oriented keyword lists on hold.
Long tail search referrals are the onesies and twosies we find in the dregs of our log files. These referrals can be two-, three-, four-, and even five-word combinations that form distinctive, nearly unique search queries. If not PPC, how can we possibly pursue the long tail? Read More

Alexa can be injurious to your wealth

Every so often you meet entrepreneurs and venture capital investors who talk about Alexa ranking of a web-based service, using it as some sort of a yardstick for growth and reach. It is as good general, non-specific indicator, say if the traffic is going up or down, but to make money-decisions based on Alexa rankings is, well living dangerously.Read More

News Stories : November

Danny Sullivan’s Last Day at Search Engine Watch

Danny Sullivan is left Search Engine Watch after 10 long years in an editorial capacity. The post below is an excerpt from his message that he posted on the SEW site.

Today is my last day with Search Engine Watch, with me heading to my new digs at Search Engine Land tomorrow. I wanted to wish Search Engine Watch all the best going forward, plus help readers understand some of the changes that are happening. To do that best, I thought I'd go all the way back to the beginning, to the birth of Search Engine Watch. Read More

Craigslist: Not Your Average Business Model

There's been some interesting discussion around Craigslist's appearance at a financial analyst conference, wherein Craigslist flummoxed the assembled pundits by saying that they don't have any plans to charge for listings (beyond the limited charges they already make). Read More

New social search engine, Decipho, launched today

A new social search engine called Decipho was launched today.

Here are some of the major features of Decipho:

1. Decipho filters the search results by user preferences and breaks them into categories. It is able to do this by allowing users to categorize the results --­ shopping, info & categories of their own choosing­-- and the storing them for future searches and allowing others to see what websites were ranked and for what category.

2. Another unique feature Decipho offers is the "My Results" section. While logged into your account, when a website you have already ranked appears in another keyword search, the system will pull out that search listing to the top right side (next to general results) even if it is listing number 40. Read More

Newsknife names top news sites of 2006

The folks at Newsknife have just announced the Top News Sites of 2006. Their list is compiled by analyzing a sample of 438,330 individual site listings at Google News by 4504 sites for 1768 news items during year.

The Top News Sites of 2006 are:1 ABC News2 New York Times3 Reuters4 Washington Post5 Times Online, UK6 Forbes7 Guardian Unlimited, UK8 Voice of America9 Christian Science Monitor10 International Herald Tribune11 Bloomberg 12 CNN Read More Launches New Video Search Engine has launched a Video Search engine in Beta format.

In conjunction with the Pixsy Media Search Platform, now offers its users video search capabilities that provide visual searching based on relevance, categories, photos and videos. For example, users can enter a query into the search box, hit the Videos tab, and pull relevant results from numerous video content providers. Read More

The above story concludes my press clips for the major news stories in the Online Marketing sphere for Nov and Dec 2006. High Time :):) Moving on to January in the new post .