From the preface of “Search Quality Rating Guidelines“ that Google just released:
Google relies on raters, working in countries and languages around the world, to help us measure the quality of our search results, ranking, and search experience. These raters perform a variety of different kinds of “rating tasks” designed to give us information about the quality of different kinds of results in response to different kinds of queries.
The rest of the 43 page long, 713 kb, PDF document breaks down the various guidelines and criteria that the raters have to use. It is useful to read through if you want to provide content that Google and its raters woudl mark as high quality.
Google posted an interactive visualization, dare I say infographics, on how its search works: How Search Works
I remember when I learned this very same topic 6 years ago in Library school. It was fascinating, but compared to that this page didn’t give me new information. What it did provide was nice visuals, that makes it more digestible for the anybody not just grad students like I was back then.
I particularly enjoyed this trivia at the very bottom of the page:
By the way, in the 226 seconds you’ve been on this page, approximately
8,719,080 searches were performed.
Search Engine Journal pulled together a basic SEO article for WordPress sites. I was familiar with most of what they recommended, but still found four tools that were new to me:
- Better WordPress Minify: Allows you to minify your CSS and JS files for faster page loading for visitors.
- Schema Creator by Raven: Provides an easy to use form to embed properly constructed schema.org microdata into a WordPress post or page. (Great for reviewing movies and books if you want the SERP to have your rich data in the snippet.)
- Better Internal Link Search: Improves the default internal link searching feature in a number of ways, making it faster and easier to find the content you want to link to.
- Allow HTML in Category Descriptions: Allows you to use unfiltered HTML in your category descriptions by disabling selected WordPress filters. (Yes, you should let yout tags and cateories be indexed and have good content in them too.)
I am giving these a spin right now.
Chris Silver Smith‘s comprehensive column on Is Social Media Worthwhile For Local Businesses? at Search Engine Land runs down the dis/advantages on why you should (not) get involved in social media if you have a local shop or business. Here is a brief summary of his article:
- Facebook and Google is where the people (potential customers) are.
- Google refers (potential) customers to your site
- Indirect benefits
- SEO ranking may improve due to increased social signals
- Proactive Online Reputation Management (ORM)
- Just making yourself available on those platforms
- Social media users may not intend to purchase
- Referral traffic from social media may be low
- Content you put on your Facebook page may be owned by them. Better to spend time/energy on your own web presence
Just because you may not see direct or immediate benefits fresh out-of-the-box when you begin using social media does not mean that you are not getting some benefit. Over time, the slow accrual of SEO benefit alone may make it a necessity for you, while proactive reputation management and consumer engagement may also be compelling reasons to be present and active.
My 2 cents you cannot afford not to be where your customers are. You have to be present on the major social media platform. the trick is to organize and manage it effectively so you would not waste your time and resources on it.
LinchpinSEO created an infographic, see below, based on Buddy Media’s research on what generates more interaction on Facebook. I don’t think that putting this information into a large visual representation added any value to it, so I am sharing its numbers in plain text, sorted by descending order of effect. The numbers refer to the increase in interaction compared to average.
- Ask to share a post (7x)
- Use “Caption this” strategy (5.5x)
- Use “Fill the blank” strategy (4.x)
- Ask to comment a post (3.3.x)
- Ask to like a post (3x)
- Use the right emoticons :P (102%) and :D (138%)
- Ask a question (92%)
- Use “winner” in the text of the post (68%)
- Don’t shorten URLs (68%)
- Use call to action; e.g. like, caption this, share, yes no, thumbs up (48%)
- Use “win” in the text of the post (46%)
- Use “giveaway” in the text of the post (42%)
- Include photos (39%)
- 80 characters or less (23%)
- Put the question at the end of the post (15% interaction, 100% comment)
I just discovered Katherine Lynch‘s presentation from last June on “Libraries Going Mobile with Drupal“, given at LITA’s Drupal Interest Group meeting. I like when my worlds collide: part of my daytime job as an SEO developer is to think about how the increasing mobile usage affects our customers’ business and how we can maximize it for them. Meanwhile I am a trained librarian, who is on the lookout for the best tech tools for libraries and an avid/relapsed Drupal user. So this presentation covered three of my interest areas.
I downloaded the 280 MB PPTX presentation, but couldn’t listen to the audio, because after the conversion to a format that OpenOffice could access the audio was stripped. Nevertheless I clicked through the 63 slides. Here is a barebone summary
- Percentage of mobile users is increasing
- There are three trends of designs for mobile: app-like, list-like and bare-bones
- Each has its pros and cons and their detailed analysis is the best part of the presentation
- Drupal has pre-built themes to get started: Mobile, Garland Mobile, Nokia Mobile, Fusion Mobile
- Drupal has tools and modules to get started: Mobile plugin, Mobile Tools,
- Pros and cons why go mobile.
- Mobile device users are greatly on the rise
- …with the potential to replace desktop devices
- Many libraries have begun establishing standards for mobile library websites
- Mobile development with Drupal is fast, easy, and as customizable as you want
I found this presentation through a page on Isovera’s website, who provide “Drupal solutions for smart organizations…”
This morning I passed my Google Analytics Individual Qualification, also known as Google Analytics IQ test or GAIQ. My listing on the official site proves it, so does the GoogleIQ Certifiate.
I’ve been using Google Analytics on my personal site since late 2007, but only started to explore its more advanced options since last June, when I got a job as an SEO developer. But I never had to use its e-commerce/AdWords related options so for the questions related to those areas on the test I had to do more research.
Here is what helped to passed the test. These worked for me, may not work for you and you may find similar information on other sites too. I list them in order of helpfulness, top being the most helpful in preparing and passing the exam.
- I played with GA a lot on my own to understand how the features work.
- I watched every video of the official GAIQ Lessons. Paused where necessary to explore it in GA itself.
- I crammed. The day before I read/studied a lot.
- I studied thoroughly Slingshot’s “How to Pass the Google Analytics IQ Test” PDF that I found at this SEOMoz’s blog entry and is also linked from SlongShot’s site.
- I went through every question at googleanalyticstest.com. If you don’t have to take the test right now, you may want to wait a week or two as their FAQ says “The questions are in the process of being updated for Google Analytics 5. The full update is scheduled for completion by March 31, 2012.“
- I browsed through Justin Cutroni’s Google Analytics book, published by O’Reilly.
Here is what I kept open during this “open book” exam (How long will we call it “open book’ even thought I had no printed books open?)
As a webdesigner, SEO developer, UI expert you need to be aware how and whether your product gets displayed on various browsers. How do you optimize it? Well, you have to know your standards and what works and what not on different platforms and browsers, there is no avoiding that. But beyond that you need to check your product. Sometimes you don’t want to or don’t have access/time to test on all possible or even major platform. So what tools should you use for checking browser compatibility.
I will cut to the point. I recommend Adobe BrowserLab and then explain why is it better than the other options when you do a cost-benefit analysis. To use Adobe BrowserLab you need to sign up/in/for/with a (free) Adobe ID. Then you just give it a URL and it can show you how that page would look like with Chrome (13 & 14 on Windows), Firefox (5 &7 on Windows and OS X) Internet Explorer (6-9 on Windows) and Safari (5.1 on OS X).
A side note: On a local tech email list there was a slight case of panic as someone misread an email and thought it said that BrowserLab would be discontinued April 22. A quick check on the official page of Adobe CS Line online services clarified that it ”Adobe CS Review and SiteCatalyst® NetAverages™ will no longer be available after April 12, 2012.” Don”t worry then, BrowserLab lives on. (For now?) Read more
Yesterday, February 7, 2012, I attended a webcast titled “Google in the Real World: How Links Boost Your Rankings“. It was presented by Stephan Spencer for O’Reilly, who published his book “The Art of SEO” three years ago. The books 2nd edition is coming out in March. This webcast was much better than the one I listened to 2 months ago. The slides were available at the beginning of the presentation so I could follow it from there. I learned a lot from the presentation, particularly about the tools of the trade. The pace was much closer to my level: fast paced. I believe I am not allowed to share the slides, so I won’t. (The thumbnail on the side is of the cover slide though.) But we were encouraged to tweet through it, and I did. Below is a somewhat cleaned up version of my tweets, with added hyperlinks, in reserve chronological order, latest being on top.
- Spencer Q&A: No good SEO can be done for under $500 a month.
- Strip away all commercial links during the initial media swarm. Friend popular/power uses or get them to submit your story.
- Popurls.com – aggregator of the most popular stuff from many social sites.
- Leveraging Social Media to linkbaiting: news sites, bookmarking sites. Newsvine, Mixx (aka Chime.In), Kirtsy, TechMeme, ShoutWire,
- Nofollow rules: doesn’t help with increasing link authoity but still helps bring up your visibility.
- Viral videos: be creative but unpolished: Will it blend; Heroes spoofs; Intuit’s tax rap.
- Seed linkbait: Do it from poweruser account, with streetcred.
- Seeding linkbait: giving push to your content. Leverage social media communities. Each has its own quirks, anomalies and rules.
- Link baiting utilities. WP plugins (SEO Title tag), WordPress Quiz, FireFox ext: SEO for FF.
- Fun campaigns: Gizoogle.com translates pages. counterfeitmini.com, mentosintern.com, angryleprechaun.com
- More viral content: personality tests, quizzes, widgets (swicki, SeenOn.com’s Grey’s Anatomy)
- People are more inclined to link to a wiki than to a single person’s definition. Consensus is valued.
- Wikis: contribute to Wikipedia, and other (NewPR, ShopWiki, Web 2.0 Expo…) create your own ( SEOGlossary.com )
- Any type of site can do RSS feeds, not just blogs: alerts, specials, events, arrivals, best sellers, forum posts…
- RSS: Unspamable. Propgate deep links to drive traffic and PageRank. Spammers will lift your content from RSS though.
- RSS: You are targeting linkerati and not your audience, but they pass link authority to you.
- “You should be fired if you do a marketing site without an RSS feed.” – Robert Scoble
- Genesis/Thesis: SEO friendly themes/frameworks for WordPress.
- Blogs are great for launching linkbait campaigns. Dark side: comment spam, splogs (spam blogs).
- Blogging for links: SEs/Google love blogs. Inherently link-rich (hat-tips, blogrolls, rss feeds, trackbacks, comments.
- E.g. Shoemoney.com: design business card competition for “getting bizcards for life”
- Get creative: give awards, badges; allow webmasters to republish your article; publish unique content: podcast, screencast, wikis
- Bake in “copy me” instruction into message. Meme example: TP folded in triangle at hotels-promise by cleaner of attention.
- Memes: “copy me” backed by threat and/or promise; chain letters, contest, surveys…
- More viral hooks: original research, CC licensed photo, free theme/plugin/software, start a replicable meme (buttons, tools…
- Hooks for viral content: tools, how-to, compilation, scoop, expose flaw/fraud, be contrarian, be humorous. 10 things I hate about.
- Link baiting: create something that is linkworthy, so people can’t help but link to it.
- LinkResearchTools.com does Link Intelligence: breakdown of links, anchor texts, MozRank scores, sources… filtering them…
- Focus on anchor text. Throwaway words (“click here”) bad for SEO, because of Google’s mis-association with site.
- Other tools: Raven, Advanced Link Manager, Back Link Analyzer
- Competitive Intelligence: not just for finding links.
- Finding Link Targets: look at competing sites, use tools mentioned, review links to your site -> get them optimized.
- Alternative to PageRank: SEOMOz’s MozRank and MozTrust from OpenSiteExplorer.org.
- Problems with PageRank Meter: months old, indicative old, imprecise, not =Google’s algorithm, doesn’t consider redirects.
- PageRank (entertainment only): Google Toolbar, 3rd party tools to it, historical PR from SEOMoz’s PR Checker tool
- Google’s link: operator shows sampling only; use webmaster tools for backlinks, after verification.
- Check link popularity: opensiteexplorer.org, majesticseo.com, linkresearchtools.com
- Links: great content, submit to good directories, work with partners, competitive intelligence, link bait, soc. media, blog, rss.
- Best SEO links: descriptive anchor text, passively obtained, not from same IP block, not all from same TLD (.com/org/edu)
- Best SEO links: topically relevant, one way, not in footer/sidebar, earned by merits, editorial endorsement, not crowded.
- PageRank is logarithmic in nature.higher PageRank may lead Googlebot to crawl more frequently, faster and deeper.
- Attending “Google in the Real World: How Links Boost Your Rankings.”
I encountered a client who often searches for his name to see how well his site is ranking. He even clicks on the results and visits his own site. He may not know that this behavior is detrimental to his ranking on two accounts. His bounce rate is high, because after he visits his site’s page he goes back right away, which is the definition of bouncing in the area of analytics. The higher a site’s bounce rate is the more likely that Google will think that it is a low quality website.
If he wouldn’t click on the link at Google leading to his site that would still be bad on the long term for his ranking. What does it tell to Google if his site has a lot of impressions i.e. the it often shows up in Google searches, AND the most of the time people don’t click on his links? It tells, the same thing: this site is not something people would want to visit, hence Google may rank it lower and lower.
Searching for one’s own name is referred to as “egosurfing“. I wonder what proportions of people do it on a regular basis? I think, in this case, it became a kind of an obsession. For any kind of addiction there seems to be an “… Anonymous” group, but I didn’t find one for this newfangled one anywhere. Thus I recommend the formation of an “Egosurfers Anonymous” organization for people who keep searching for their names. I wonder though how its meetings would go, how the members would be able to handle to remain anonymous. That is part of their problem. Or should I say “ours”? I admit to egosurfing about once a month.