This Week In SEO – 9/7/07

The beginning of the week marked the unofficial end to summer, but let’s dedicate this week to football as the NFL started its regular season last night. Peyton and the Colts looked very good, but I’m not counting the Saints out. Last night could be foreshadowing of the Super Bowl. Then again so could the Chicago/San Diego game on Sunday. Of course in the NFL any of several teams could end up playing in the big game. Football on Sunday, but Friday is all about This Week In SEO. Plenty of links to get to and as always you can find more via my del.icio.us profile. On with the show.

Social Media

Facebook made news when they announced that public profiles would become crawlable in a few weeks. You’ll be able to keep your profile private if you wish, but otherwise expect that it might rank well for your name or username. Danny tells us this really isn’t anything new as public profiles have ranked for awhile. If Facebook is part of your marketing then a rankable profile is good news to you. If privacy of your profile is a selling point then you might be annoyed and make the modifications necessary to keep your profile private. Vanessa Fox sums it up best when, like Danny, she first reminds us that this isn’t really new and then points out that the profile is the same one that could always be found trough a Facebook search.

Last night I used a submission to StumbleUpon as an example to ask when does social media marketing crosses over into spam. Spam or not Mu tells us that unlike many other social media sites StumbleUpon traffic lasts beyond the initial rush. Sujan Patel takes an in-depth look at StumbleUpon including tools and resources to help you gain traffic and become a power user, while Maki looked at top stumblers and came to the conclusion that becoming one isn’t important at all. Even more Maki says you’ll be happier with StumbleUpon once you stop seeing it from a marketing perspective and just enjoy what the site can do.

Netscape will be changing their home page to be more like a traditional portal. The news and voting on the news will still be part of the site, but it will be moved to an as yet undisclosed location. del.icio.us is getting a redesign and while only a select few can currently see the new look the posting of screen shots has begun.

Blogging

Do you use WordPress as your blogging platform? WordPress is easy to use and install and even out of the box is pretty friendly to search engines after a few tweaks. But there’s always more than a few tweaks you can do to improve how smoothly your WordPress blog runs. Lorelle helps us understand the WP title and post slug with some tips on how to get the most out of both. Luke Knowles also looked at titles with ideas on how to write the title for your home page, post pages, and the other pages of your blog. Shoemoney talks about a few plugins related to caching, which can help keep your server running during traffic spikes. If you notice on the home page of this blog I publish the most recent post in full and then display the first paragraph or two of the rest. I’ve been doing that manually, but now with the newly release Homepage Excerpts plugin you can do the same automatically.Also from Daily Blog Tips are ways you can improve linking on your blog. Steven’s 10 tips are great as are the plugins that help make it happen.

Of course a successful blog is more than code and plugins. Darren has some ideas so you can blog more productively. Poke around a little on ProBlogger while you’re there as Darren has a couple of posts with readers productivity tips. Darren also discovered that writing off topic every so often can bring new subscribers. Ahmed Bilal discusses the pros and cons of having one mega site vs. many interlinked niche sites. Brian Clarke has previously written surefire headline formulas you can use and he’s back with a new set as well as a warning to understand why they work instead of using them mechanically. And Chris Garrett talks about some different types of posts you might write and why it’s important use several if you want to have a well-rounded blog.

Design And Development

Every website has a story to tell. Some tell it better than others, though. Khalid asked a very interesting question this week about whether or not a site can have charisma. I think websites can and do have a charisma, which comes from the design of the site, the community if any around the site, and perhaps mostly from the guiding voice behind the site. Michael has written some great posts on design at Pro Blog Design this week. One that asks if images encourage reading. One talking about the finer points of typography. And one with some great tools to help choose colors for your design. Unfortunately I’ve been having trouble accessing his site since mid-week. Still I wanted to include the links, because the posts are good and I assume the site will be back before long. Michael I do hope everything is working again very soon.

Which comes first? Usability or SEO? That’s the question Eric Enge asked and answered this week. I agree with Eric that as important as seo is, usability still has to come first. Usability guru Jakob Neilsen’s latest Alertbox will show you why fancy formatting and fancy words will only get people to look past your content. Jonathon Hochman shares a recent experience where his only internet access was via his Blackberry. The takeaway is not to assume your visitors have the same broadband speed you do and it’s still important to create pages that download quickly. And Bill looks at some Google papers on the usability of search engines.

Link Building

The latest version of Dan Thies’s SEO Fast Start Guide created some controversy when it comes to Dan’s advice on site structure. I admit when I first read the discussion in the book on using nofollow it did strike me as PageRank hoarding and I didn’t care for it. A couple of months later and several articles on the subject, including Matt Cutts response to Rand’s questions last week and the two listed here from Dan and Aaron have gotten me to rethink the idea. Michael Martinez on the other hand says you shouldn’t be bothering with nofollow. Michael does make some good points, though I still think it’s worth looking into the idea more. Be warned that you probably shouldn’t mess with nofollow the way Dan advises unless you have a solid understanding of links.

Should you bother with sitewide links? Can they help? Will they hurt? Barry pulled the essential quotes from a Webmasterworld thread to answer. And what would another week be without at least one post on the paid links debate. John Biundo chimes on with some thoughts.

Peter De Vanzo interviewed Aaron Wall about link building and then Aaron turned around and interviewed Debra Mastaler on the same subject. Debra wrote her own post applying Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to building links. Too bad Debra didn’t mention Peter. It would have taken the three posts and this paragraph full circle.

SEO

Aaron offers a couple of quick observations. First how Google is modifying search queries and next how to choose which keyphrase to focus on your page title. Two short posts long on useful information. Danny gives us a history of the meta keywords as well as the results of a simple test to show which engines do and which don’t pay attention to them. He also adds advice on the best use for the meta keywords tag if you decide to use it.

Keywords weren’t the only thing on Aaron’s mind this week. He discussed how smaller sites that publicize their seo success may suffer a hand edit leaing to a penalty in Google and also how you can know when your site has suffered a hand edit instead of having an automated penalty applied.

Are you optimizing your images yet? You should be and Liana Evans has some basic tips you can employ to help your images show in search results. Is Google banning directories? Barry points to forum threads discussing the issue. He doesn’t think directories are being targeted for banning, but does point out some tips from Matt Cutts on what to look for before submitting to one. In my SES San Jose coverage I pointed you to a few videos from the conference. Yuri has done me one better posting a few more videos directly on his post. Is all this seo talk making you tired? Do you need a break? Matt McGhee has 21 signs that it might be time for a break. Matt’s 2007 version of this post is guaranteed to make you smile and maybe even laugh out loud.

Business And Marketing

Branding for small business is important and contrary to the opinion of some you don’t need money to build a brand. Stoney deGeyter talks about the power of branding and David Wallace shows you how you can increase your visibility with very little spend. $300 to be exact. Maki discussed intensive marketing through structured mini campaigns. The ideas are perfect for the small company with limited time and budget. If your budget allows for PPC advertising you’d probably like to know how to write compelling ad copy. The good news for you Brad Geddes is sharing how.

All the traffic your marketing brings is great, but you still need to sell that traffic once they arrive. Michael Jensen thinks the sales process online is still all about the experience. Part of that experience is the communication between you and your customers, which is why Kevin Gold wants to know if your customers are hearing you. David Rodnitzky gives us four basic emotions we can use to sell anything and Brian Clark says it’s all about overcoming the objections of prospective buyers and tells us how to get past their “Don’t Buy” button. And Aaron discusses why it’s ok not to be so open, how it’s easier to sell in small steps over time, and why there’s greater value in smaller communities.

Search Engine News

Richard MacManus offered his opinion on 10 web trends we can expect to see in the coming years. Rand decided to follow up with his theories on where the search engines might be innovating. Rand only made it to nine, though.

Google
It might not be the most important Google news, but it was probably the coolest. Hidden inside Google Earth is a flight simulator. Click the planet and then CTRL + ALT + A and you can fly around the globe. Perhaps a little more useful (nah) is the addition of distances to the line tool in Google maps that you can use to plot hiking or biking trails. Ok the distance thing is pretty cool too if you’re an avid hiker or biker like me.

The biggest news from Google was the new patent filing that would allow people to pay for goods via text messages. Phillipp Lensen has the illustrations from the patent, Paul Bennet points out the irony that PayPal’s subscription service stopped working the same day the patent was filed, and Bill notes Gpay is more ambitious than PayPal and comparing it to PayPal would be selling the new system short.

Patrick Sexton is crazy. By his own admission he’s crazy about Google Gadgets and he’s pointing us all to the new directory of gadgets called Google Mini Apps. Website Optimizer released some new tools and Google Reader finally added search functionality. Funny, a Google product that was lacking the ability to search. Google news began offering articles from the wire services, but why do they show rss feeds in the general search results?

As I often do I’ll let Bill close out a section with some patent talk. First in response to Robert Scoble’s videos pushing Mahalo, Techmeme, and Facebook as Google killers is a discussion about how search engines might pull user data from social media sites to influence search rankings. And next is a discussion of Google’s 10 oddest patents. There are certainly some patents here you wouldn’t expect to see with Google’s name on them.

Yahoo!
Yahoo renewed it’s advertising partnership with Local.com in a multi-year deal. Next time you lose your friends or family at the mall you might be able to track them through a private map. Bill covers the Yahoo patent that details how you can create your own private map through photos of an area and track your friends through global positioning. And did Yahoo stop supporting their own NOYDIR meta tag or is it just a temporary glitch?

Yahoo acquired online global ad network BlueLithium, whose technology tracks consumer behavior. The deal will be an addition to Yahoo’s existing behavioral targeting efforts through properties like Yahoo mail and Yahoo travel.

MSN/Live Search
Microsoft has adopted Inrix services to provide traffic data and predictions across a range of Microsoft properties. The strange spam-like referrals from Live Search that Barry reported about a few weeks ago appear to be a test. But you better not block their IP address or you may get delisted from MSN and Live Search. Microsoft inconveniencing people and then punishing them for remedying the inconvenience? That doesn’t sound right. And Microsoft released Windows Live, a variety of services with a single download.

Another weekend is here and as you likely know I’m looking forward to it as I do each and every weekend. For me it means I’ll only work part of the time instead of all day and still manage to find a little downtime to recharge the batteries. It’s getting more like fall every day, which might just be my favorite season. The air conditioner is off and the windows are open and the fresh air is flowing in. I hope you have a good weekend wherever you are and whatever you end up doing. Happy reading.

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