October 04, 2010

Tapping Into Google's Freshness

By Li Evans

Reporting from Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East

This panel was a lot more interesting than I had anticipated it would be. The speakers on this panel shared a lot of insight into just what it is that Google likes in the way of freshness in content, links, and mentions when they are looking at content and applying the algorithm and displaying results to searchers.

Danny Sullivan was the panel's moderator and added a lot of personal insight from his experiences with running Search Engine Land that also brought a lot to the session. Janet Driscol Miller, Kenny Hyde and Joe Shehata were presenting on this panel and each had a unique perspective as to what they see in the way of relevance in the manner of "freshness" in Google.

Janet Driscol Miller of Search Mojo, led off the panel discussing "Query Deserves Freshness" factor of the Google Algorythm. The QDF has been around since 2007, but has really been brought to the forefront with Google's launch of Caffiene earlier this year. The QDF is used to determine what searches are "hot" and looks for the most recent information available for those trending queries.

Janet went into some great detail about the different Google tools that you can use to help keep up to date on trends and also if the keywords your marketing campaigns are focused on are also spiking for certain reasons. She went on to show the audience how Google insights can be embedded in a page and how marketers can leverage this tool to their advantage by writing relevant blog content around the insight that is spiking.

After Janet concluded her really informative presentation, Kenny Hyde took to the podium and focused on the three primary things that he has seen make fast changes in Google's search results. These three factors also allow the more authoratative sites remain pretty stable in the results, where sites who are not strong in these three areas tend to fluctuate a lot more.

The three areas that Kenny focused on were links, brand mentions and fresh content. He started off with pointing out that with links it's not just quantity and not just quality, it was both. Along with that the variety of the links and where they come from matter. The final piece of the linking puzzle that Kenny discussed was consistency in link building, that once you start building links, you have to continue at the same rate (or increase) if you want to remain "fresh" to Google.

The second area, brand mentions, isn't just using the keyword in the link as many would think, but more to the point that if there is a link you've attained, it's just as important to make sure that on that page there are other mentions of your brand. The sentiment of the brand mention is also an important factor as well.

When it comes to fresh content, Kenny pointed out a few things. The content itself doesn't have to be on a high ranking page, blog posts and syndicated content work well too. It also doesn't have to be on your site, where content such as press releases and reviews are perfect for this type of freshness factor.

The last speaker to round out the panel was John Shehata. John took a look at the freshness factor of Google and what matters in the perspective of Twitter and how it affects the search results. Getting your content retreated is probably one of the most important factors here. Google looks to this as an indicator of relevance. Some things to avoid though is using too many hash tags in your tweets, as the search engines have confirmed that they view this as a spam my tactic.

John also highlighted that not just the quantity but the quality of who is following you and retreating your content is rather important to the "Freshness" factor in Google. Getting influencers to rewet your content is taken as a sign to the search engines that this content is relevant more so when more people rewet it. John rounded out his information by saying it's just as important to encourage family, friends and followers to post your content in other social communities to further the relevance of the content.

This panel had a lot of great tidbits, advice and tips that I came away with some great information to apply here at SMG. Overall,if you can pick the brain of Janet, Kenny or John, I'd say do it!

July 01, 2008

Google Can Now Read Flash? Don't Jump for Joy Yet

By Li Evans

Adobe_flash_logo Last night the Official Google Blog, the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Adobe and even Matt Cutts all  announced that the Google's crawlers can now crawl and read the Adobe SWF files, just like it crawls and reads regular website pages.  Matt Cutt's talked about this a while back, but apparently the improvements announced are even better for flash sites.

I still raise my eyebrow though, call me a pessimist in this department.   Inherently Flash itself still has optimization drawbacks. So Google's saying they can crawl buttons, urls, etc. in Flash, but that doesn't mean that Flash offers the best way to be optimized for the content you are trying to present.  Some of the key indicators to what your page is about are still missing in Flash, especially for sites that are completely done in Flash.

URLs in Flash - Hashmarks?
I'm going to guess that the algorithm is going to make the assumption that each page in the flash file that is navigated to by a hash mark (#), as it's own page?   OK fine, but is that different than how it treats regular html pages who use the < a name="example" > and hash mark for easier pagination?

What About Title Tags and Descriptions?

Sites that run in entirely in Flash, every page has the same title tag.  That's because the SWF file sits within the "index" (or main loading URL page), and never moves.  Take a look at Nike.com if you want a perfect example of this.  Title tag never changes, each "page" is changed with the hash marks, it all runs off the index page that Nike has set aside for running the SWF file.

Along with the Title tag not changing, neither does the description.  We all know the description meta tag does nothing in the way of weighing a page's relevance, but it does factor in, in the presentation in the results.  Now, with flash sites, Google's going to take snippets of text from the "page" it sees within the SWF file and present that as a description.  How many Flash sites have you seen with optimized content - that made sense on its pages?

Hierarchical Tagging
Forget H1 through H6 tags to  structure your content on your web pages in Flash.  That's non-existent.  So how does Google know what you are really doing with your content on that page?  What's the most important?  Is there a general theme and components to that theme going on in the page?  Sure - visually you can probably tell that in Flash, but the spider can't see that you've got fonts bigger than the text to delineate the difference.

Forget About Movies & Images

Since Flash embeds them into playing in their own structure, Google can't read it.  So you've created this kick butt  product demonstration complete words that tell the consumer everything, right?  Think Google's going to find that now and put that into its index and rank it number 1 for whatever its demonstrating?  Think again, Google can only look at text that's in the SWF file.  Same goes for the images you embed in your SWF file, and while it can crawl buttons, it can read the button if its completely an image.

While, Google (and soon Yahoo! too) are going to be reading SWF files and incorporating them into their index, it doesn't mean you are going to rank any better than your competition who has an html page.  Why?  Because basically, you are just essentially handing Google a .txt file full of words and pointers to urls for those words. 

It's kind of like, showing someone a line drawing compared to a full color photograph of something you're trying to demonstrate, with the site being entirely done in Flash being the line drawing (ironic, no?). 

I don't know about you, but I'm still going to advise my clients to go with the "color photograph", that utilizes Flash elements, rather than the line drawing.

February 02, 2008

Google, That NoFollow Thing? Could You Explain How To Use It, Officially?

By Li Evans

Google Webmaster Central has no FAQ Page on 'nofollow'Can anyone from Google explain to me (and the rest of the search industry) why on earth you have no documentation on how you want website owners using the "rel = nofollow" attribute on links?  Honestly, I'm really frustrated and quite frankly annoyed about "speculation" and "theory" about what nofollow should be used for and not used for.

While I respect Matt Cutts, a lot of time Matt treads a very thin line between giving too much information that can be totally misconstrued, and yet not enough information.... which again, can be totally misconstrued.  See the little predicament here!? 

I would like to request that Google - OFFICIALLY, put a page in your FAQ's on the webmaster central area, about NoFollow and a link to that FAQ page in its Webmaster Guidelines.  Please explain what Google views it as, how it should be used and how it shouldn't be used.  Give examples, give webmasters something concrete to work with rather than summations from people within the search industry, who don't work at Google.  You see, by not having something official, you confuse webmasters or website owners who have no clue about optimizing their site.  It creates confusion, rumors and misinformation, all things that are BAD for your search engine.

I've searched, and I've wrote about this before, throughout the Google Terms of Service, the Webmaster Guidelines, the FAQ pages, the About Us section, and I can find nothing that states what nofollow is, nor how Google wants webmasters to use it.  I do find that Google wants you to Report Paid Links and to use nofollow stop spiders from falling into Calendars that create spider traps.  I've found a posting in Google Groups about nofollow (btw, no one from Google's posted to this thread yet), but beyond these drips and drabs of small information - there is nothing official.  I don't understand why Google hasn't done this already.  Maybe they like to see the search engine industry run around and try and figure it out? (I have an inkling they do LOL)

Take a look at all the interesting theories, mentions in drafts and even comments from your lead Spam Engineer all within the last couple of months:

See that last one in the list?  Why does it have to be Matt Cutts on someone else's blog (not on Google's site, and not on Webmaster Central Blog) clarifying what the "proper use" of NoFollow is?  How does someone who doesn't really know the ins and outs of this particular industry find this information when it's not on your site?

Google Webmaster Central Blog - search for 'nofollow' produces no resultsEven on the Webmaster Central Blog, I have found advice on lots of things but nothing about NoFollow.  I found FAQ's on Sitemaps, best practices given to the audience at Pubcon,  and how to remove my content from Google.  Where's the stuff on NoFollow?  Come on guys and gals - it's really not that difficult to produce a page that can be easily understood by not just the search community but by any webmaster whether they have SEO experience or not.

Google, since you've been the most vocal and the search engine who's change the meaning and use of nofollow the most since it was introduced at a SES Conference so long ago, could you please, pretty please, pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top - produce an FAQ page on the use of NoFollow!  It probably wouldn't be a bad idea either for Matt to post about it on Webmaster Central since you do have over 25k in a subscriber base!

March 09, 2007

Google Keyword Tools - Trending Information Showing

By Li Evans

First thing I did when I got into the office here, was show Greg what I posted about the Google Keyword Screen Shots.  We went right into the tool this morning and what did Greg point me too -->  Trending Views (Historical Keyword Data) that in my last post, I said would make the tool much more valuable.  It's also showing the keyword's strongest month, now that's information advertisers can use! Take a look at the screen cap below:


As you can see here, now we're seeing historical data that's of a lot more value.  So, I can now eat "crow", this tool is actually of some value (they've had this since March 2006). Google, kudos for adding this information!  See what I get for having my mind buried in natural search and social media all the darn time!

New Google Keyword Tool Really that Valuable?

By Li Evans

Google_keyword_tool Both Barry and Adam Parikh (who originally posted the story) have info on a possible new Google Keyword Tool through AdwordsAdam's got a screen cap of what he encountered that he's posted it on adamap, but not more elaboration.

Barry didn't see the numbers, but did see a version of this as little green bars representing the searches and competitiveness, when he logged into his account.  I'm going to have to see if Greg can fill me in on if he's seen this in the last few days, since I'm buried in my SEO work/research.

Although this is a good sign that Google's wanting to supply more tools to advertisers, I question the value.  From my point of view it is no more valuable than the Yahoo!/Overture tool, which only gives you the  last month's data.  In a way it can "fool" you into believing either a word is popular or not popular, because it doesn't give you the historical aspect of the keyword. 

Just because Yahoo! only gives the last month's data, doesn't mean that Google should do the same.  One of them should step up to the plate and give advertisers a true tool, with a full year's worth of data. Google actually does provide the data.   However, Trellian's Keyword Discovery, is probably the best tool out there for grasping the true opportunities you could have with a keyword across all of the search engines.

February 01, 2007

Keyword Discovery's Free Tool

By Li Evans

Trellian The great folks over at Trellian (Becky, Larry, Hilton, Dave & company) have released a free version of their Keyword Discovery tool.  This is great news in light of the Yahoo/Overture current tool outages (with no plans to be fixed) while we all patiently await the arrival of a new Yahoo keyword tool.

Trellianquery The version gives you up to 100 results for the keyword you enter, with the number of searches logged and variations of the keyword.  It's basically just like the Overture tool, but based off of Trellian's data collection.

I'm a big fan of Trellian's Keyword Discovery.  It is a great tool that allows you to get a better handle on a lot of different aspects of a particular keyword or groups of keywords.  It's well worth the subscription price for the full version that gives you insight into search engine market share for a particular word, seasonality and how tight the competition is. 

Give the free version a try - you'll soon find you'll want the full version!

January 05, 2007

FeedBurners New SiteStatistics Now Live

By Li Evans

Dashboard1t Are you using FeedBurner to help you publicize your blog?  If not, now just might be the time to try it out.  In their blog "Burning Questions", Feedburner announced the launch of their StandardStats service.  I activated the new service for Search Marketing Gurus yesterday, and already I'm gaining valuable knowledge.  This new service is giving me information I could only "vaguely" see before through their limited information on the dashboard, and I couldn't get this information any other way.

Visitorsummary3t I installed another great service from FeedBurner a while back called "FeedFlare" a while back.  This service allows you to promote each post on your blog through different Social Media outlets from book marking to easy submission on almost all the Social News sites, FeedFlare is a great resource and works hand in hand with TypePad. 

According to FeedBurner, StandardStats is using the same scripting that FeedFlare is utilizing.  So it's a simple push of the "activate" button if you are utilizing FeedFlare, if not they have a simple step by step instruction guide to install it.  There's a lot of great things about FeedBurner, StandardStats just adds to its value.  Feedburner even has a steal of a deal, to upgrade to Pro (you get a bunch more features and see a lot more data) its only $5.95 a month for 3 feeds.

If you aren't using FeedBurner, I highly recommend it.  I try not to go on about "products" too much - reviews aren't my thing - and no I don't get paid for them either!  This recommendation comes soley from the "want" to share great things with others.  Just like Rand's mom instilled in him to share with others, so did mine.

What are you still doing here?  Go on - try out the new StandardStats at Feedburner!

August 24, 2006

Webmaster Radio - A Must Have for Any SEO Professional

By Li Evans

Prior to going to SES this year, I'd heard about WebMasterRadio.fm.  I'd listen to it from time to time from my computer at my former employer, in fact I listened to the keynote speech from it - since I wasn't "allowed" to go to SES-New York back  in March.  But I really didn't find a true appreciation for Daron and Brandy's station until after SES-San Jose this year.

I actually got to sit and listen with Daron Babon, Mikkel and even Danny Sullivan the night of the BoDog party, and that's when I really got enlightened.  O.K., perhaps, at times, I'm a bit slow - but WOW!  What WebMasterRadio.fm has put together is really an amazing tool.  Seriously -- where else can you listen to tips, advice, forecasts & predictions, retrospectives and good stories about the Search Marketing industry - all for FREE?

I just might amend my post on the Collection of Free SEO Tools to include WebMasterRadio.fm.

I've fast become a fan of SEO Rock Stars (Todd "Oilman" Friesen and Greg "WebGuerrilla" Boser host) and StrikePoint (David Naylor and Mikkel deMibb Svendson host).  I've actually gone back and downloaded previous shows to my iPod to listen too.  I'm now one of those people listening to the podcasts while driving in Philly traffic.

The in-site these SEO Professionals provide is invaluable.  Danny Sullivan's daily search casts are always right on top of all the search industry issues and his outlook on what's happening is what makes him the industry's "SuperStar". 

If you aren't listening to WebMasterRadio.fm, you should be.  There are a lot of great shows on there that you can subscribe to through iTunes or other services - for FREE.  Yes, there's ads, but Daron and Brandy have even managed to make those even fun to listen too.  Go-> Download-> Listen-> Today!

August 22, 2006

A Collection of Free SEO Tools

By Li Evans

I was going to title this post “10 Great, Free SEO Tools”. However, in light of the recent overload of “top ten” or “top 100” lists out over the past week and a half I decided to just not go down that route. It was also pretty difficult to narrow it down to just 10, because there are actually a pretty decent amount of Free Search Engine Optimization Tools out there. 

These are in no particular order, other than the order that came out of my brain when I started writing down all the tools I knew of, that I felt the need to share. Feel free to add on to the list, if you’ve discovered a great free SEO tool I left off the list 

SEO Book
Aaron Wall has created a nice set of tools that are great resources for SEO. Focusing mostly on keywords, these tools are a great for a quick run a researching specific keywords.

· Keyword Suggestion Tool – Based off of the Yahoo Overture Inventory tool, Aaron created this tool that will give the user approximate estimates of searches on keywords for Google and MSN as well. The tool also gives links to Google Trends, Nichebot, Wordtracker and more.

· Typo Generator List – If you are in the need for a quick list of misspelled keywords, this tool is the answer. It can save you a ton of time in generating the list on your own, just pop in a keyword or keyword phrase, check the type of misspellings you want, press the button and “presto!” you have a list that you can just copy and paste into your document.

· Competition Finder – Wondering how many websites are using the keywords you are looking to capitalize on in the page titles and anchor text? This tool can help you figure out at how many competing pages there are in the Google index that are utilizing the keywords you are targeting.

Overture Inventory Tool
Probably the best known tool, Yahoo’s Overture Inventory tool gives the user a listing of keyword suggestions around the keyword entered. The list is arranged in descending order of the count of the prior month’s searches round those keywords listed.

Rand and the crew over at SEOMoz.org have been putting out some nice tools lately. Back in July I did a review on their latest SEO Tool. But they do have other SEO Tools for Free on their site.

· Page Strength – This is a good tool to help you gauge just where the website you are working on stands within the mix of things. Although not a complete picture, this tool can help you attain a pretty big chunk of that total picture.

· Keyword Difficulty - If you are wondering just how tough it will be to rank for certain keywords, this tool is a good place to start. Once you set up your account on SEOMoz.org with the required API’s, this tool can help you to determine the difficulty you’ll be encountering for the specified keywords.

Yes, Google’s actually got some tools out there that are free to help users in their SEO endeavors. While out at SES, they even announced some new enhancement to products and looked for feedback on improving all their existing tools. I’m just going to touch on two here.

· Google Trends – Looking to see how a particular market, word or entity is fairing in Google over a block of time? Google Trends is an SEO tool that will help you get a handle of the trend around the entity you are seeking information on. The other nice thing about this tool is that if there’s significant points in the entity’s search window, they are marked and labeled in the chart – no more guessing why there was a spike or valley.

· Google Webmaster Tools (AKA Sitemaps) – If there’s any free tool a webmaster needs to be using, it’s the Webmaster Tools from Google. Google is giving webmasters a direct way to speak with them and actually tell them where to crawl and what to crawl. Google will even give you reports on any problems they encounter with your site with this tool, making this a must have in any SEO professionals toolbox.

Blog Pulse – Trend Search
Want to track the current trend of keywords, names, phrases or even links within the blogosphere? Blog Pulse’s Trend Seach is just the tool to assist you in that effort.  Trend search allows you to take three separate terms and track the “buzz” around those terms within the blogosphere.

A must have for any blogger, but it can also help you SEO wise too. Feedburner not only assists bloggers by syndicating their feeds, but it tracks the activity on that syndicated feed, letting you know which of your entries are bringing in the most traffic as well as why type of feed readers are drawing the most readership. If running a blog is part of your SEO strategy, then this free tool is a must.

Want to track who’s linking to your blog? How about tracking the buzz around keywords, phrases, urls, and company employees on a more granular level? Technorati is a great tool that allows you to set up watchlists on not just your own blog but on phrases, links, words, names and more. This can really help SEO professionals to help manage the buzz around keywords related to their client’s businesses.

Are you a little leery on giving your data to Google and their site analytics? Not enough room in a clients budget for a huge web analytics package? Sitemeter could be just the solution for small websites with limited options both budget wise. This tool can help you track hits coming into your website and just where they are coming from. If you aren’t in need of tracking a lot of conversion, Sitemeter is a great free tool for SEO professionals for small and scalable projects.

Jim Boykin at WeBuildPages.com has a slew of nice tools that are great for use in optimization efforts. I’m just going to touch on a few, but there’s a lot of resources on the tools page of WeBuildPages.com that can assist an SEO professional in analyzing their sites.

· Cool SEO Tool – This tool allows the user to check the top 10 sites in Google. Along with that it also shows domain age, keyword phrase count, pages indexed (google/yahoo), backlinks, link domain, and allinanchor rank.

· Spider Viewer – Nifty tool that lets you see a page how our Search Engine’s “Spider” or “Crawler” will view your site.

· Forward Link Title Tag Tool – Wondering about the outbound links of a site? This tool lets the user enter in a URL and it then checks which sites it links to, and the title tag of the pages that site links to.

Bruce Clay
Last on the list, but by no means least is the Search Engine Relationship Chart put out by Bruce Clay. This is another great free SEO Tool that every search marketing professional should have printed out and posted somewhere. It’s the most up to date version of how the Search Engines are all relating to one another and who supplies what kind of results to the smaller search engines. Not only is this a must for PPC agencies, but NSO professionals should be utilizing the latest versions too!

That’s a wrap for this article. If you have any further additions that you’d like to see added in an additional article, feel free to comment here!

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August 12, 2006

Tool: How Many Clicks You Can Expect Ranking Anywhere in Any Search Engine

By Li Evans

By combining the AOL User Search Data, Hitwise Search Engine Market Share, and Overture Search Tool, you can now estimate with some certainty how many clicks to expect for ranking anywhere in any search engine for any term with this free Tool.

read more | digg story


Of course this is the 2nd tool I've come across in as many days and I don't think this will be the last tool that's cropping up based on the AOL data leak.

As I stated in my last post, I really question how reliable this AOL data is taken as a whole to drive some of these tools that will be appearing, seeing how AOL's audience is highly scewed towards the more "novice" searcher who's generally older and usually female.

This tool does take in hitwise readily available data and also oveture, so there is some offset to that AOL piece, but I still have that big ????? looming, and it still is nagging at me.  Does anyone take into account AOL's percentage use of the market itself - yes they should be falling into that "other" category defined by Hitwise, but how much is it specifically.  Sure saying the segment of data released is large enough and broad enough to "infer" but, again - is it really?  Especially knowing AOL has declining member numbers?

I'm not trying to be a downer on this tool - the tool is great with the data and the limited information given that helps to drive it, it's actually very quick too since it's just doing calculations and not pulling from a database.  I just sit here thinking "hmmmmmmm" ....  trying to really figure out if these AOL numbers are truly as important as this "chatter" around them is claiming.

Fascinating yes.... but important? I'm still trying to figure that one out.

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