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Archive for August, 2009

Social Web marketing- if your granny would not approve don’t put it on the net

August 24, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Social Web Marketing- we’ve recently had the case of Sir John Sawers, the UK’s incoming head of MI6 and his wife’s Facebook account.

Some of the details we learnt about the new head spook were innocuous enough (he wears Speedos), others less so (the location of his flat and details of friends and family).

He is not the only one. From Republicans making racist remarks to bankers slagging off their bosses, it is a long and sorry list.

“Everyone knows that a lot of companies make a beeline for Facebook when they’re looking at potential recruits,” says Charlotte Butterfield, managing director of Law Absolut, the legal recruitment firm. “It’s a form of due diligence and your profile on Facebook should be broadly the same as the person you present at interview.”

Jenny Ungless, career coach at Monster, the jobs website, says everything should pass the granny test: “If you wouldn’t tell your granny, then don’t put it on the internet.”

However, social networking sites engender a false sense of intimacy and people often post in haste. So, if you’re going for a new position, what can you do to disinfect your online presence?

You should begin by typing your name into a search engine and look at the first few pages of results. Few prospective employers are going to go much beyond this.

There is a broad hierarchy of things you should not have posted. “Top of the list is making derogatory comments about your current or previous employers,” says Sal Remtulla, head of employee screening at the Risk Advisory Group.

Next are racist or sexist comments and references to illegal activities. Talk about hard partying and legal, but wayward, activities come third and can often be only borderline problematic.

Those who are worried might then wish to take a look at their Facebook account settings. There is a whole raft of settings allowing you deal with everything from basic information to tags on photos and comments you have made.

“You might want to change the privacy settings so that only friends can see your profile,” says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management, “but that can still leave quite a lot. If someone’s posted a photo of you half-naked, you can ask them to take it down but not much else.”

Sites such as YouTube also now let you delete comments that you wish you had never made. But there are still plenty of websites where your comment will stay posted for ever. You can ask the site owner to take it down, but the terms and conditions will almost certainly mean that they are under no obligation to do so.

Ms Ungless says that another strategy may be to create more positive material about yourself to provide a counterbalance to less flattering information: “If a prospective employer is Googling you, there’s quite a lot you can do to augment what they find. For instance, if you join sites such as LinkedIn, you blog about work and you contribute articles to industry forums, these will quickly start to show up quite high in search results.”

And even if you have a persistently negative search result you just cannot dislodge, Ms Ungless advises: “At least you can be prepared – and don’t forget that most employers are reasonable and will forgive the odd party photograph.”

Jakob Nielsen, an IT usability expert, believes even a commonsense attitude may not prevent future trouble. “One problem is that it is impossible to determine what will be considered acceptable behaviour in the future,” he says. “

You can bet that there is material that is considered reasonable for a student to say today that will get people into hot water in 30 years, when they may be under consideration for the Supreme Court.”

In the meantime, perhaps there is one group of people that does not have to worry. With almost 80m Google results, the John Smiths of this world can probably post anything they like with impunity.

Google’s best practice tips for optimizing URLs

August 17, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

How easy is it for search engines like Google to crawl your site?

To help you out with this, Google have shared some of their key takeaways on the topic of crawling and indexing your website URLs.

Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Susan Moskwa, describes the relationship between website URL and the search engine crawler as like a bridge. Here is more on the analogy:

URLs are like the bridges between your website and a search engine’s crawler: crawlers need to be able to find and cross those bridges in order to get to your site’s content.

If your URLs are complicated or redundant, crawlers are going to spend time tracing and retracing their steps; if your URLs are organized and lead directly to distinct content, crawlers can spend their time accessing your content rather than crawling through empty pages, or crawling the same content over and over via different URLs.

There are a few things that Susan recommends you follow when ensuring your URLs are set-up correctly, which will help the crawlers find and crawl your content faster. These include:

* Remove user-specific details from URLs.

URL parameters that don’t change the content of the page—like session IDs or sort order—can be removed from the URL and put into a cookie.

* Disallow actions Googlebot can’t perform.

Using your robots.txt file, you can disallow crawling of login pages, contact forms, shopping carts, and other pages whose sole functionality is something that a crawler can’t perform.

* One URL, one set of content

Have you got a tip to make is easier for the Google crawler to crawl your website URLs? If so, we would love to share them with our readers, simply let us know your suggestion.

Bing- How to Get Top 10 Rankings

August 10, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Dr Search has been heavily documenting the rise of Bing on this blog, and there’s no denying it has definitely improved Microsoft’s position in terms of search market share.

So now the question for website owners and SEO’ers remains – “How do I rank higher in Bing and drive more traffic to my website?”

While the jury is still out on definitive strategies for top ranking success in Bing, there seems to be a growing chorus of support for certain tactics, which I have detailed below:

* Backlinks While backlinks are still used in the bing algorithm, it seems not to the same level as Google. Backlink counts for top 10 sites in Bing are much lower than Google, suggesting less importance.

* Anchor Text It seems that Bing focuses more heavily on links with relevant anchor text, so that should influence your linking strategy – get your text anchor text right.

* Onpage Optimization One of the more contensious factors, but many SEO experts believe Bing is weighting more heavily towards on-page optimization. Not sure this will remain the case, if in fact it is the case.

* Keywords in URLs add significant ranking benefits

* Title Tags are as important as always

* Internal link anchor text seems to add significant weight to content relevance

* Age & Authority It appears that Bing places a higher weighting on site/domain age and authority than Google. Again a factor that is surely not sustainable given the importance of social media and blogs in terms of relevant results.

Below is a chart that SEOwizz produced based Bn some analysis they conducted. They compared the top 2 results for the search “SEO Services” in Bing and Google to determine what factors matter most for the two respective websites.

Bing Search requirements for free results rankings
As you can see from the general consensus and SEOwizz’s experiment, the top ranking factors for Google and Bing do differ.

The important thing to note is that none of them compete, so to get Top 10 rankings in Bing and Google wont compromise each other. Smart site owners should be covering off the factors of each search engine to maximize their website traffic.

If you’ve done your own research into what works and does’t work for Bing SEO – we’d love to hear what you’ve learnt.

How to maximize the impact of your keywords

August 04, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Not all keywords are equal. The Dilbert principle states that roughly 80% of effects will come from 20% of the causes. Search is no exception to the rule.

In fact, search marketing efforts often exhibit an exaggeration of the principle because it’s very common to observe 1% of the keywords in a given account driving 50% of the cost and even more of the revenue.

So, what does this mean? Behavior is unique for these high volume/value keywords and as a result, steps need to be taken to make these terms more visible for daily account management and analysis. The first step is to identify and isolate these top terms to help prioritize where to focus.

Here’s a simple exercise to identify the top terms in an account:

1. Run a keyword report and sort the data by cost.
2. Filter out branded terms, as these terms should be isolated in a unique campaign.
3. Filter out terms that constitute the top 50% of the non-banded cost.

Typically this keyword set is very small, but accounts for the same cost as the remainder of the account. It’s important to note that the top terms as I have defined them only refer to top spending terms. If your SEM effort is ROI focused, at this point, take the opportunity to identify if there are terms that are in this keyword set that do not drive revenue.

Now we’ve got this keyword set comprised of the most significant keywords in an account. What to do with it? It has been rumored that isolating a keyword in a unique AdGroup will increase quality score. While this is not necessarily true, it highlights the reason why it’s important to have an organized account: control.

By placing each of these top terms in a unique AdGroup, you can create keyword/ad/landing page associations that are more relevant—effectively increasing Quality Score, clickthrough rates (CTR), and subsequently driving down cost per click (CPC). While it seems logical to do this for all terms in an account, it’s not a scalable solution for an account with thousands, if not tens of thousands or more terms.

Thus you have identified a small sub-section of terms, our “top terms,” that have a very significant effect on the account. Because this set of terms is a cross-section of the account, we can take successful elements, such as ad copy and landing page combinations, from the top terms and apply them to similar terms in the rest of the account to increase CTR and Quality Score.

As I mentioned before, another important set of terms to isolate and manage independently from the rest of the account is brand terms. Brand terms generally have very high Quality Scores, are cheap, have great CTRs, and observe the best conversion rates, often making them the most efficient terms in an account.

As a result, you can maximize the impact of brand terms by activating them on all match types: exact, phrase and broad. The same rules for optimization apply: isolate high volume terms into unique AdGroups within the brand terms campaign, create relevant ad copy, and make sure landing pages are as relevant as possible.

Do website load times impact on your rankings?

August 03, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Have you ever considered how your website’s loading time might impact your search engine rankings?

It might be time to take a closer look at this as Google and Yahoo! have both brought some attention to the issue recently.

On Tues, May 26, 2009 we looked at the Recommended webpage file size

Google’s stance on the issue has always been that page load times do not have an impact in their algorithm – until now. As part of their initiative to speed up the web, Google have said that page load times could become a consideration in the future.

Google’s Matt Cutts has stated that, “We want the web to be faster, we want sites to load quickly”, so it’s very possible that Google could be looking to encourage and reward this through their ranking of sites. You can have a listen to what Matt Cutts had to say about the topic below:

Another interesting development on this topic has been from Yahoo!, who recently filed a patent with regards to webpage loading time. Their patent abstract describes:

Methods and systems are provided that may be used to characterize in some manner the performance that a user may experience when accessing a web document.

The patent application goes on to discuss establishing some kind of “user experience information” which could be used to rank search results. Obviously webpage load time is going to play a big part in the user experience so this would be a contributing factor. From the patent:

For example, information relating to whether a user might abandon or wait for a web document to be displayed may be useful when establishing certain quality or relevance factors for the web document.

With both search engines placing increased importance on the issue of page load times, it could be a wise idea to optimize your load times now ahead of any future algorithm changes.

Aside from potentially helping with your SEO, it’s guaranteed to improve your sites appeal to users.