David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

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Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Google Indexes Flash

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

OK, so before all you Flash-crazed developers get too excited, what Google specifically will index is two things:

1. The text content in .SWF files.
2. URLs can now be followed.

This means that Flash websites can indeed be made SEO-friendly, although I am uncertain how much Flash designers would want text content in their files – specifically enough text content to really make a page SEO-friendly.

In any case, you can read more about this development at the Google blog post on Flash indexing

 


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REALITY CHECK – one way links

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

It seems I have been encountering an awful lot of doctrine at webmaster forums recently about the high value of one-way links or the low value of link exchanges.  This is a myth, based on those people who engage in what the search engines view as “unnatural” linking patters.  If most of your links come from reciprocation, then it stands to reason that your website does not have a lot of value, or else it should get lots of links based on the quality of its content or its usefulness.

But if your links come from a wide variety of sources and in a wide variety of formats, there is no truth to the myth that a link exchange is worth less than a one-way link.  When faced with Internet marketing issues, it is often worth doing a reality check.  What would you do to promote your business in the real world?

Suppose you owned a tourist attraction and you wanted to place your brochure in the lobby of a local hotel. The hotel might say:

  • Great. That’s a wonderful service to my visitors.
  • No problem. That will be $50 a month.
  • Sure, if I can place my brochure on your counter (like a link exchange!)
  • OK, if you give me a season’s pass.

Does it matter which way you get the brochure (link) into the lobby (webpage)?  No.  What counts is that you are where your target market can see you.  And that is what counts with link-building.  Find the p[laces you want to be seen by real people and by the search engines and get your site listed there in whatever way you can.

A note about paid links.  Google do not like paid links.  But does that mean it is wrong to buy a link if that’s what it takes to be where you want to be?  No, that is just good marketing.  But it does help to understand what Google is doing.

Google does not care how you do your marketing.  Google does care that the public perceives it as the most useful search engine.  Google is a business, just like you, and the customer is always right.  To keep customers coming back, Google has a very complex and carefully balanced ranking algorithm. Who is ranked at what position is a moot point to Google, but if the overall integrity of its results is placed at risk, Google has to take action.  The massive purchasing of paid links on high PageRank websites, often irrelevant to the topic of the link, has the potential of skewing Google’s results.  For that reason, these are not looked on favorably.

I do not recommend as a matter of practice that you buy or lease irrelevant links to boost PageRank.  I do not recommend that paid links be a major portion of your linking campaign.  And I do not recommend you buy links where there are a dozen other paid links all together.  But if there is a relevant link that you want and the price is money, I do recommend that you don’t feel obliged to keep your money in your pocket.

One way or link exchanges.  Barter or paid.  Three way or five way linking.  Do whatever it takes to get the highest quality, relevant links to your website.

 


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Mature Domains – Ranking Advantage at Google

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Those of us who have been paying attention new about the importance of domain maturity already a couple years ago.  But it looks like 2008 might be the year that the webmaster community starts to realize the importance of the issue, with Google’s United States Patent Application: 0080086467 being publicized.

The bottom line is that it is to your advantage to hold a domain that has been around — and in your ownership — for several years.  Maturity counts, and SEO gets easier as your domain ages.  It is also to your advantage to see links from mature domains, although I don’t think I would waste time checking the ages of every domain I hoped to get a link from (more on this in a moment).

Why are mature domains better?  Like so many things, especially on the Internet where much is ephemeral, a mature domain has stood the test of time and therefore is more likely than average to provide useful information or services.  An established domain is much, much less likely to be a spam site set up to turn a quick profit and disappear.  The bottom line is that a mature domain is more likely to be a trustworthy one.

And trust is what it is about.  When Google sends traffic to your site, it is placing trust in the site.  Maturity is one way Google can measure trust.  However, it is far from the only way.  PageRank is another.   There are likely dozens of measures of trust that Google employs, which is why I would not waste my time checking domain age.  A much better trust test is too see how well a site ranks for its own target search phrases.  If it ranks well, Google must trust it at least a fair amount, and therefore it is a good website to be associated with.

 


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Location of Google Data Centers

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Hang around any webmaster forum long enough and you will run into the newbie question, “How come I don’t see the same results as my friend in San Francisco or Mexico City?” And the predictable answer, “Because Google serves up slightly different results from different data centers” or “Because Google has updated one of its data centers earlier than another, so just be patient until it updates all its data centers”.

But exactly where are these data centers. Today I present you with some clues, and I will explain why I use the word “clues”.

Here is a map of all the Google data centers around the world:
World map of Google data centers

Here is a map of the Google data centers in North America (Yes, there is one in Canada):
Google data centers in USA

And for our European readers, here is a map of data centers in Europe, from Russia to Ireland:
Google data centers in Europe

These maps were found through an interesting blog post on Google data centers at Pingdom.  These maps are based on a data center list at Data Center Knowledge.

Interestingly, when you search Google Maps, here is what it shows:


View Larger Map 

Just another example of the search engines not delivering their own information as well as they deliver others’?

 


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Yahoo Violating NoFollow Attribute?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The nofollow attribute is supposed to mean no follow.  More specifically, the major search engines have committed to not following any link that has a nofollow attribute attached.  So why do we see Yahoo following links from comments in Matt Cutts blog?  Here is an example of where Yahoo’s SiteExplorer lists at least two comments in blog posts as backlinks: https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.seobuzzbox.com&bwm=i&bwmo=d&bwmf=u

Check the source code in the blog:

<a href=’http://www.seobuzzbox.com’ rel=’external nofollow’>Aaron Pratt</a>

Here is another example:  https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thinkseer.com&bwm=i&bwmo=d&bwmf=u

Do those links factor into Yahoo’s algorithm?  Who knows?  But just the fact that they are being reported…

Saaaaayy … this wouldn’t be one of those tricks to mess with webmasters’ minds, would it?  Like that silly green PageRank bar that means so little and has cost so many sleepless nights and missed link exchanges?

I would love to hear your opinions on this. 
  

 


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Don’t Waste “Useless” Traffic

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Not everybody has this happy problem, but many websites get traffic they cannot use because it serves only a narrow spectrum of people who arrive from a broader search.  People do a search for a broad search, such as “marketing gimmicks” at Google or Yahoo, find your web page about a very specific marketing gimmick for real estate agents, discover that the website does not address their needs to market beauty products or metal bending or accounting, and they go.

Wait.  Stop.  Where do they go?  Back to the search engine?  No, no, no, no. 

From an SEO perspective, you don’t want to send the search engines the message that your page was a poor choice to rank well for the search term “marketing gimmicks”.  If that happens, the search engines might just demote your rank, and you will love the good prospects with the “useless” traffic.  We have no evidence that the search engines are factoring bounceback data into their algorithms, but we do know they are capable and have an interest in doing so.   It’s coming.

Of more immediate concern is all that hard-earned traffic that could be buying something from you is just leaving without spending a penny.  What a shame!  In a case like that, it would be worth having a very prominent affiliate link to a website that sells a broader marketing package with a text like “More Surefire marketing Gimmicks Here”. The result would be to convert some of the “useless” traffic, and to both reduce the bounceback rates and increase the bounceback lag time of those who do go back to Google.
 

 


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Official Google Blog: Making search better in Catalonia, Estonia, and everywhere else

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I was reading the official Google blog about how they are making searching more user friendly in Catalonia and Estonia…but really, these were just examples, and what they are doing is just us applicable to New York or Melbourne.  Using an Estonian example, they show how someone looking for a barber would be also considered to be looking for a barbershop.  In other words, Google is working more and more on understanding the meaning of what we search for, not just the words.

For those of us who are searching, this reduces the guesswork of which words the website owners have chosen to use.  For those of us who want Google to recognize the meaning of our wbe pages, it means we have to be more holistic in our explanations.  The text welcoming visitors to the barber’s website should also include words like barbershop, shave, cut, hair, stylist, etc.  It means to worry a little less about keywords and a little more about all-the-possible-keywords your visitors might be using when they think about your products, servicess or topics.

Those of us in the business have known this was coming, and some of us have suspected for a while that Google has been slowly getting better at understanding meaning, alternate spellings and alternative searches (Try searching for metal bending to see what I mean.)  But this talk from Google sends a pretty clear message that they are serious about it and moving forward at a good clip.  And can Yahoo and the rest be far behind? 

Read more about Google’s meaning-based search results

More on multilingual SEO services

 


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Google Toolbar False Positives

Monday, January 28th, 2008

For some time I have been pretty much ignoring PageRank in the Google Toolbar.  I know too many sites that lost big PR on certain pages and not others or lost it across the board, all with no noticeable affect in their rankings. 

More and more I see that link pages on websites register PR 0 (solid white bar) or no PR whatsoever (solid gray bar, which used to mean a site with a penalty) but which I can see by the PR of the rest of the website and the link structure should be all countr by PR2 or PR3 if not more.

But I have been assuming that the Toolbar shows PR lower than reality, never higher.  That is, it gives lots (and lots and lots and lots) of false negatives, but never any false positives.  However, lately my faith has been shaken.  There have been a couple offers of link swaps involving pages that just intuitively should not have such a high PageRank.  Today one of them struck me as odd enough, that I though I would blog about it.

This is a home page of a website that, according to both Google and Yahoo has 2 pages and shows less than 300 backlinks at Google.  Furthermore, it is a blog with just two posts, both from 5 days ago.  How would it get to be PR5, which takes a lot more links than it once did?  And why am I suddenly getting an email for a home page link swap (becasue the savvy owner realises that he has something to capitalize on quickly before it turns to dust!)?

Don’t trust that green and white bar. 

 


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Google is Tops

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

It’s official…at least according to the New York Times.  Google’s market share is at 65.1%, just shy of the 66.6% that would be two-thirds of the market.  That leaves precious little room for Ask and MSN to expand their market share, which must be making them very frustrated.  As long as Google keeps paying attention to what people want when they are searching, I don’t see this changing.  If Google gets cocky, of course, we will see a whole new ball game.

What this all means in practical terms is that the most important source of traffic for most businesses is Google.  It is certainly not the only source.  One could make a very tidy profit driving traffic in many other ways, both online and offline, but it would be stupid to ignore Google.  All the more reason to be very careful not to do anything to your website that would run you afoul of both the letter and the spirit of Google’s webmaster guidelines.

 


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Google gets social with StumbleUpon

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

For the past week, I have been noticing three little icons beside certain entries in the search results.  One of them is the StumleUpon logo, and when hovering my cursor over the logo it says “read 4 reviews” , or whatever number applies to that listing.  The other two logos, stars and a word bubble, are attached to the same StumbleUpon reviews.

So what does this mean?  Well, for starters, it is one whopper of an endoresement of StumbleUpon.  Just for fun, I googled “Google buys StumbleUpon” to see if the obvious is true, and surprisingly the results show that Google actually bought a “competitor” to StumbleUpon not that long ago.  Perhaps that makes this an even stronger endorsement.

In any event, what this means for you and your websites:

1. Make sure you get your website reviewed.

2. Make sure you get your website positively rated.

I am certain that before long, stumbling client pages will become a standard tactic of all SEO specialists.  In fact, there might even one day be a StumbleUpon arms race, just as there has developed a link-exchange arms race these days.  If you don’t have your StumbleUpon account yet, it’s time to sign up. 

So if you like this blog or even just this post, please take a moment to click “I like it!” on your StumbleUpon toolbar and write a wonderfully glowing review. 

 


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