This Week In SEO – 8/31/07

It’s the Labor Day weekend edition of This Week In SEO. We’ll be celebrating with a barbecue on Monday as is the tradition. Oddly I’ve worked most Labor Days in my life even though the day is meant to celebrate employment by giving everyone a day off. I have a hunch this year will be no different and Monday will find me at work. Maybe I’ll make it a light day. Everyone was back to their usual posting routine after returning from SES, which meant more links for me to collect, more time to finish this post (my apologies for posting a little later than usual), and more links, nearly two pages worth, that didn’t make it here, but ended up at my del.icio.us profile. Now on with the show that is SEO.

Social Media

Why not start a link post by linking to another link post. Chris Garrett recently called for people to submit their social media posts and then linked to the best in his social media marketing roundup. If for some reason you need more proof about the direct influence of social media marketing on search results Loren Baker should convince you. This post is worth reading more than once.

There are a lot of social media sites and it can’t be emphasized enough that you don’t need to market on every social media site out there. Not everyone’s content is appropriate for Digg and not everyone’s business will appeal to the MySpace crowd. Ben Yoskovitz looks at a few social sites that may not be Digg, but may still be more appropriate for you and the Wall Street Journal has some sites for professionals to network with other professionals. But if you’re going to play in the big time David Chen has some advice about why self-submitting to Digg may be dangerous and Mu shows us the top 50 stumblers may not be so image and video focused after all.

Social voting hasn’t gone over well at USA Today so the NY Times is taking a different approach offering My Times, which will aim at being a portal you can personalize. As a regular reader of the Times I’m looking forward to it coming out of beta. And MySpace is considering letting members post ads on profiles as a way to boost profits

Blogging

Are most of your subscribers using Google Reader? Most of mine are. Bloglines is hoping to change that and launched a new Ajaxified beta version this week. Will it be enough to gain back those who left for Reader? I’m not really sure when this next post was published, but I found it this week so I’ll include it here. Peter Kahoun published a list of cheat sheets for WordPress. Think of them as a supplement to the help files that make up the WordPress Codex. Lorelle goes even further linking to just about everything WordPress. Help and tips, themes and plugins. This is one to bookmark, maybe in several places.

Is finding time your biggest challenge as a blogger? It’s one of mine. Michael Stelzner has some tips for both of us to be more productive in less time. Michael didn’t mention mind mapping, but Chris Garret did in his post at Codswallop. Chris also tells us that being specific in your writing is very persuasive, this time while posting at CopyBlogger.

Commenting on other blogs is usually a good idea when marketing your own blog. Darren though, tells us 10 ways your commenting might hurt your brand. Comments can and do add value given the conversational nature of blogs and you do want to encourage people to comment. One of Darren’s suggestions is to email bloggers who have commented on your blog to establish and build a relationship.

Proving that you can improve your blog by making observations offline Darren gives us 10 lessons he learned at the mall while eating at the food court. Have you ever wanted to interview someone, but didn’t think they would respond to your request. Maybe you really don’t need them to answer to interview them. Jan teaches us about virtual interviews where you can grab quotes from someone and frame questions around what’s been previously said. I think this is a great idea, though I’d also suggest being careful with it. It would be an easy practice to abuse.

Design And Development

Last week I pointed you to a post on the thought process that went into redesigning the ProBlogger site. This week I point you to the thought process that went into creating the ProBlogger logo. Michael Martin has some thoughts on redesign. First he tells us why you would want to redesign and then he shares why your reasons and timing are important considerations.

  • ProBlogger Logo Design
  • Weekly Wrap-up: Why Redesign A Blog?
  • Redesign for the Right Reasons at the Right Time
  • Wendy Piersall had seen her blog reach the Digg page before, but last June Digg traffic still temporarily took down her site. Wendy learned a lot about the experience and has some WordPress and hosting tips so the rest of us can survive the Digg effect. If you think increasing broadband speeds mean you don’t need to be concerned with how fast your pages load you’re wrong. Michael Gray talks about why it’s still important for your pages to download as quickly as possible. Does your site have affiliate links? If so let Ben Cook tell you why you should make jump pages for your affiliate links. Ben not only tells you why, but also provides code for the how.

    Roberta is back with the 5th edition of her landing page makeover clinic. How can a site that provides help for chores like mowing and cleaning improve its ROI? Roberta knows and fortunately shares her knowledge with everyone. Landing pages and blog posts are two different animals, but both benefit from formating. A healthy balance of whitespace does wonders for readability.

    Link Building

    Last week Eric Ward talked about aggressively seeking links, which raised questions about what are manipulative linking patterns and how could they be identified. Eric decided to answer and shares with us how he spots unnatural linking patterns. Garrett French sees himself as leaning toward the creative side of marketing instead of the technical side. That doesn’t mean he never gets technical as his 5 point strategy for building hub links shows

    Lately it seems like every week there is something being said about paid links. So why should this week be any different, especially when last week’s Are Paid Links Evil session at SEO San Jose was one of the most talked about sessions of the conference. Andy Beal, Sage Lewis, and Patrick Sexton all share their thoughts on the session and the practice of buying links. Carsten Cumbrowski also chimed in on the topic with a two part article.

    SEO

    Rand posted six questions for Matt Cutts and got back three answers. That’s ok since batting .500 would certainly get you in the Hall of Fame. The answer I’ve seen discussed most is Matt’s response to how Google treats nofollow links. Expect SEOs to start directing the flow of link juice more through the use of internal nofollows. Though nofollow was introduced as a way to prevent blog spam, Jeremy Luebke would ask why since he has proof Google can understand what is and isn’t a comment anyway. To one of Rand’s questions Matt replies that Google looks at the quality of directories when determining their value. I wonder what he would think about the DMOZ editor who tried to extort Shoemoney recently. Dave Zuls wrote a creative post using physical fitness as a metaphor for seo. Not only is the post creative it’s informative too. And Wendy Piersall wants to know if you have a seasonal strategy in place for your search engine optimization.

    As universal and blended search grow image search (among others) becomes more important. Both Eric Enge and the graphics team at Eliance teach you how to optimize your images. Eric offers the whys and hows and Eliance offers some simple graphics to help all of us get our images to rank better. How many people are visiting your site on a mobile device? I’m not sure either, but I do know more people will be viewing your pages on something other than a computer monitor tomorrow than they did yesterday. If you haven’t already started it’s time to begin thinking about how to optimize your mobile website.

    Business And Marketing

    6 was the magic number at Marketing Pilgrim on Monday. First Greg Howlett gave us 6 reasons not to go into online retail and later Greg was back with a 6 step plan to profitability if you do. Andy was thinking a little bigger numerically when he provided 26 free tools to monitor buzz.

    I’ve thought for some time that transparency is an important way to build trust online. I still think transparency is important, but Brian Clark has me thinking if that’s really what people want. It’s one of the more interesting questions I’ve seen raised in awhile and Brian’s post will get you thinking too. Does your site have a good tagline? Daniel Scocco collected some of the best he’s found.

    Have you heard about Ashley Qualls? She’s doing pretty good for a 17 year old high school dropout earning as much as $70k a month on 7 million visitors and 60 million pageviews. Maki shares her story and also has advice for Ashley on how she can make more. Seth Godin and Jennifer Laycock know that if you want to go viral you need to reach the right audience from the start. Seth tells us why elephant math doesn’t work and Jennifer tells us about a successful viral marketing campaign that knew its audience.

    Search Engine News

    I’m guessing you either caught Robert Scoble’s videos from Sunday night or at least some of the talk about them. My thoughts after seeing the videos was to wonder if Robert had become part the Mahalo payroll. Jason Calcanis stopped by to comment on my post where we went back and forth. Me trying to express my point further and Jason piling on the spin. Danny Sullivan posted his thoughts about the videos (not on my blog, but on Search Engine Land) and you can find more discussion at Techmeme.

    Google
    Is universal search good for searchers or is it just a way for Google to push more of their properties with more of their ads. Aaron Wall sees the vertical push for books as one more example that only the big will survive. How do you get into some of those other properties. Bill looks at a patent that might explain how to get into Google’s financial news and he also looks at some patents about fact extraction. Given Google’s increasing presentation of facts it makes sense to understand how they’re grabbing those facts.

    The Google Gadgets API introduced a beta program called PubSub that will allow gadgets to talk to each other. Danny talks more about the Gphone rumors that have resurfaced and Jordan tells us about the new Google Facebook application.

    George Reyes will be retiring as CFO by year end, but that didn’t stop Google from finalizing a deal to serve ads alongside CNN content.

    The Economist thinks “it’s rare for a company to dominate while claiming not to be motivated by money.” They take us inside the Googleplex and also ask who’s afraid of the mighty “G”. Apparently not college students who’s critical thinking doesn’t extend to Google results.

    Here are a couple of interesting posts as we leave Google for the week. First is John Andrews who thinks it’s time we all stop projecting our own beliefs onto Google and just listen since Google is practically shouting at us how to rank well. And Bill finally found time to dig deeper into the newly granted patent on personalizing anchor text scores in search engines. There’s a lot to digest in this one, but I think it’s going to be important enough to take the time to read and understand it.

    Yahoo!
    Yahoo introduced a new version of its mail program with the highlight being an ability to send and receive free text messages to and from mobile phones. Rand and Mystery Guest caught the purple Yahoo header that Barry noticed a few months ago. And Tamar shows a screencast Barry made of Yahoo search suggest now appearing in the U.K.

    Yahoo search marketing added some new tools and options. Yahoo revealed the company will launch a YouTube like video portal later this year. And Yahoo’s Kickstart aims to be a new social job network aimed at recent college grads.

    More reorganization at Yahoo as Greg Coleman will step down as Executive Vice President of Sales and Hilary Schneider has been promoted to EVP to lead the new Global Partner Solutions group. Yahoo is still trying to get the courts to dismiss the civil case of a Chinese political prisoner suing the company.

    Last week Yahoo changed the way it crawls the web, but many webmasters aren’t happy with the changes. Can a search engine notice exceptional changes such as a site suddenly gaining lots of new pages or outbound links? Bill discusses a Yahoo patent that tackles the issue.

    MSN/Live Search
    Either I wasn’t paying attention or it was a slow week for Microsoft news. Probably a little of both. adCenter did update their policy on trademark infringement and Tamar played around wit Tafiti, Microsoft’s new search engine built on its Silverlight technology. Some like the web 2.0 look, while others just don’t see the need.

    For those of you who like to start reading this post on Friday night, my apologies for being a little late in publishing today. One interruption led to another and suffice it to say I’m looking forward to relaxing for the rest of the night before starting the three day weekend. Looks to be a hot one in Boulder with temperatures back in the 90′s. Fall can’t get here fast enough for me and this weekend does mark it’s unofficial arrival. I guess summer wants to make one last push. I hope you enjoy your two or three day weekend wherever you are and whatever you do. Happy reading.

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    6 comments

    1. The “Spotting Unnatural Links” column is fascinating. And the example he showed was a pretty clear case. But he asks near the conclusion what investment banking has to do with lingerie … and I can think of one answer …

      “Topical Relevance” is getting really overblown. Say there was a landscape photographer in the Pacific Northwest who decided to link to Gore Associates, in Maryland, in a blog post. Again, what does purdy pichas have to do with a plastics company on the East Coast…? Well, it rains a lot in Seattle and GA makes Gore-Tex. Photography involves hiking, and I give out advice on technique, location, and gear. Why it’s relevant would be obvious to a human reader, but less so to any code I’d be able to write.

    2. Glad to send you the link Michael. Your articles were good and I’m happy to direct people to them. In fact you had so many good articles I had to cut a few. You can expect to find your blog featured here more in the coming weeks as well.

      I’m glad you like the list of links. I’m trying to change who I link to little by little so I can feature sites and blogs that don’t get all the coverage, but really are just as deserving of been seen and read.

    3. Forrest I think you might be looking at topical relevance too myopically. It’s perfectly fine to link from a site about phootography to a site about hiking equipment. You won’t be penalized for it at all. It’s also ok to get a link back from that site.

      Think of it like this. You have a site that’s clearly about photography. That’s what you right about and that’s what you optimize the site for and most of the sites that link to your are also about photography.

      Now lets say Gore Associates links to you. Gore probably has some decent authority with search engines so you get an authority link. But you wouldn’t expect your site to all of a sudden start ranking for hiking related phrases. And it shouldn’t. While you may mention it from time to time odds are someone search for hiking boots isn’t really looking for your site. Still the link from Gore gives you some general or global authority to help you rank better for photography phrases.

      Taking it further pretend you start writing more and more about hiking. Maybe you have articles on what you wear or the best places to hike in Seattle or reviews on tents. You start picking up more links from sites that are seen as hiking sites. You would start picking up more topical relevance to hiking and some of your pages might start ranking well for hiking related phrases.

      I think your looking at topical relevance in the sense of reciprocal links and thinking the search engines are going to frown upon you linking to Gore and them linking back to you. They won’t. The issue with reciprocal links is when the majority of your links are directly exchanged with other sites and there’s no topical relevance at all between the majority.

    4. I don’t think I’m talking about recip links … I don’t use any of them, at least to the best of my knowledge. I’m assuming the same “relevance” formula applies to one-way links as to trading schemes?

      The main thing that strikes me is that two concepts that are obviously related to a human – say landscape photography and rain gear – probably won’t seem related to a computer algorithm. Even sometimes two concepts will seem related to one person but not another … I developed a blood clot in my leg working too much. I could see making a post about hiking, having to explain to the reader why I didn’t make it very far from the trailhead, or why I didn’t go up to the timberline, because my doctor – insert link here – told me to stay at or below about 5,000 feet until this is solved.

      It’s not that I’m worried about being caught and punished, because from everything I’ve learned about search optimization and TOS, I’m not doing anything wrong. I pay for my camera gear as a software developer, so at times I get too hung up on the details, because writing code is all details. And maybe that’s what’s going on here?

    5. My bad if I was mistaken about this being about recips.

      What I’m saying though is if you did write a post about hiking on your photography blog the search engines would have no problem with that. They would still rightly see your site as being much more about photography than hiking though. And they’d be right. Topically your site would still be more about taking pictures than hiking. That one post would be more topically relevant to hiking, but the site as a whole still wouldn’t and shouldn’t be classified as being about hiking.

      Why is that a bad thing? Should a site that writes one post about a subject be seen as more on topic than a site that writes about the subject every day?

      I think search engines are a lot smarter about understanding relevance than you might think. I agree at the moment a human being is going to see the connections more easily and a search engine will miss some things that are related, but from the search engine perspective their concern is how to rank a given page.

      Should a site that mainly writes about photography start ranking for hiking related terms because of a single post?

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