Archive for the 'SEO' Category

Rogue SEO spells out oh so not awesome

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

So earlier today I was doing some catching up on Google Alerts for some domains that I manage.

And I kept on finding pages which were unusually formatted.

When I first noticed these pages the middle of last week, I took them for a stupidly overzealous SEO who was planting link farms on sites he owns.

Now, I don’t think so - after examining a number of these rogue SEO pages, it looks like someone is taking advantage of an exploit in Apache to post directories full of these rogue SEO pages, to boost their page rank (while adding outside links on these rogue pages to, I guess, appear genuine).

All of the pages I’ve found are on machines running Apache in shared hosting settings with poorly maintained / designed parent sites. That sure as heck points to exploit.

Take for example the page I posted above. The full URL looks like http://destinationconcerts.com/tmp416/cnf336/neurology_49.htm.

Since, like I noted before, the site is poorly maintained which means you can go ahead and browse the parent directories. The main Web site seems to be a homepage (created in Microsoft FrontPage) for a concert promoter in Allentown, PA. The hosting provider is E-Commerce, Inc. And this was just one, out of a number of pages that I found hosted by E-Commerce, Inc. I also found other pages on sites hosted by The Planet and, irony abounding, The Institute for Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst College.

So, just who is planting these pages and why?

Brute force SEO: NY Times using keyword tagging in the page title tag

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Building upon a discussion elsewhere on the Web, here’s some brute force SEO for you.

Apparently, the NY Times is inserting tagging in the page META title tag, in the instances where it seems that article headlines lack sufficient keywords. Normally, the Times just carries the article’s headline into the page META title tag.

For example, in the article headlined The Falling-Down Professions, the page title tag reads as “Economic Conditions-Economic trends-legal profession-lawyers-prestige-doctors - New York Times”.

You see, the page title tag is important for SEO as Google in particular lends much weight to the text contained within the title tag.

All in all, the NY Times approach is definitely an interesting methodology for organizations deploying content management systems and who wish to build traffic from search engines.

Fooky This

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Fooky is a new search engine that is trying to poise itself within the search engine market with guns blazing. I have to give them props though, instead of just being yet another indexing service, they are trying to force a little change in Web Marketing, including offering a PDF on what they consider Web Marketing basics and dissing those SEOs who promise top Search Engine Results Page rankings.

Aside from their idea for a Command Phrase, by basically allowing a Web site owner to “own” particular keyword phrases on Fooky.com, the search engine is also only allowing site submissions that fit their criteria. As far as I can tell, this means Web sites that are meta tagged with Title, Keyword and Description tags. While properly formatted Title tags and Description tags are a must these days, Keyword tags are basically a nice to have (and could cause problems on other more popular search engines if you get aggressive about deploying keywords).

I think competition in the Search Engine market is a good thing. While I don’t necessarily agree with some of the more outlandish SEOs, I’m not sure if Fooky has the total answer either, especially with requiring meta tagging. Perhaps the idea behind that is to slow down the submission of spammy sites, who knows?

Good SEO is presenting information to the Search Engines and getting visitors because of that. Great Web marketing is the art of having those visitors to convert to your desired action.

Also, Fooky can’t find the cleverhack description tag, so I do believe they still have some work to do with their indexing.

Host: 68.217.9.240
Http Code: 200 Date: Jun 23 08:18:51 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 65921
Referer: -
Agent: Fooky.com/ScorpionBot/ScoutOut; http://www.fooky.com/scorpionbots

topix.net redirect to .com?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

There was this article in [usually a subscription] yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about, basically, how a large number of companies have lost traffic because of either a change on their Web site or a change in the search engine agorithim, basically, just about everyone has a story about losing traffic.

Two thoughts I had about the article…

1)Did the Wall Street Journal really need to write an article about how what Topix.net really needs is a redirect to topix.com? Honestly, I don’t understand why it’s such a shocking revelation that changing something on a Web site might cause it to change in search engine results pages. Plus, the change that Topix.net needs to do, while a change, is probably the least impactful since if the use a 301, they should be good to go.

Although their CEO is openly doubtful of that claim since he is fearing the move of over 100K urls in the SERPS.

2)If I was someone from Yahoo or MSN yesterday, I would have lost my breakfast. The article in the Journal only talked about Google and pointed out that a number of sites get about 80% of their search engine traffic from Google.

Holistic SEO

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

I had written the following comment in response to a tiny little bit of handwringing about how SEOs are killing Google…

I do SEO oriented Web design for a living, and I’m convinced that backlinks are just one of *many* factors that make a page worthy in Google’s eyes. Just like Page Rank and meta keywords, I don’t get too upset about backlinks. And I just laugh at the professional SEOs who come up with those linking schemes only to see their SERPs dip every so often with the continual Google algo changes.

What makes good optimization (and if you think about it, optimization is just a method of displaying information to the search engines) is a holistic approach. Clean markup, minimizing scripting, simple relevant nav, descriptive labels on buttons and links, use of the title and h tags, strong (I mean really strong copy) keywords that *actually correspond* to the site content.

Also, I have seen evidence on my blog especially that Google does take traffic into effect when determining SERPS. If I have a newsworthy post, I will sometimes see it in the Google Web SERP within a day or two after posting. If the post grabs enough traffic, it will stay on the SERP, if not, it will revert to being on the Google Blogsearch. YMMV, as always.

The Google algorithm has been changing constantly and not only is that due to SEOs gaming the system, but I also think due to the fact that Google’s aims have been continually redefined. Is it good to have product results on Google Web search? What about Blog posts showing on Google Web search? I’ve stopped worrying about specific factors (i.e. PR, backlinks) and mainly look at SERPS for keywords and domains and incoming traffic.

Blaiz-Bee

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Here’s one search engine that’s certainly not Web 2.0.

If you follow the URL in the user agent, you will go to blaiz.net. While the Web site is rockin’ like it’s 1999, there’s a box at the top of the page which gives some information about the Blaiz-Bee crawler and tells visitors that the crawler belongs to the RawGrunt Search Engine. The most notable aspect of the RawGrunt search engine is the boast that it runs on Windows 98 using low cost domestic, clustered hardware.

Host: 203.87.123.139
/2006/12/02/seo-cagefight-real-estate-marketing-guide-serp/

Http Code: 200 Date: Dec 17 22:13:40 Http Version: HTTP/1.0 Size in Bytes: 41488
Referer: -
Agent: Blaiz-Bee/2.00.6000 (+http://www.blaiz.net)

Blog SEO tips and tricks

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

Some quickie SEO analysis by searching for cleverhack on both Google and Yahoo.

Google results for cleverhack - 22,800 results

Yahoo results for cleverhack - 13,300 results

What’s obvious: Having a clever domain name helps with blog branding. Also, Google loves cleverhack.

What’s changed: It appears that raw RSS feeds are not as useful for blog SEO as they were a year or even 6 months ago. For example on the first few pages of the cleverhack Google results, we don’t see any mentions of the raw RSS feed.

What’s interesting: Both search engines have indexed directory listings for the cleverhack podcast. So, for you podcasters out there, it’s definitely worth your time to list your podcast URL with podcast directories.

What’s constant: Both search engines have indexed cleverhack RSS feed listings on RSS feed aggregators or directories.

What else I would recommend: Getting your blog listed on blog directories.

What’s variable: I’ve been using a few different descriptions for the blog on various directories, so that may have skewed results a bit.

A resource listing RSS feed and blog directories: Robin Good’s Best Blog Directory And RSS Submission Sites

MSN HRS

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Does anyone know what MSN HRS is? I received the following referrer from a Qwest DSL IP address. If you go to the MSNHRS page referred below, you see the MSN logo with a HRS designation and a simple login page. The most recent info I could find out about this MSN search was from a post on SEO Roundtable and another one on this blog post from a few days ago.

Perhaps Microsoft is deploying this HRS (human research system or human relevance system) now? What I don’t get is why the user I saw didn’t come from a Microsoft IP.

/blog/archives/2003_08.html
Http Code: 200 Date: Dec 07 21:57:44 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 263429
Referer: http://mshrs.search.msn-int.com/hrsv3/Judging.aspx?QueryID=1096242&UrlIndex=37&
Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.0.6) Gecko/20060728 Firefox/1.5.0.6

GoDaddy Domain Forwarding

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

More than a few of my readers have the following scenario. They have a blog hosted on one of the big providers like Typepad or Wordpress.com and they want to redirect a custom domain name to the blog. So, if you type http://cutedomainname.com it will redirect to http://cutedomainname.bigblogprovider.com.

What I am hearing on the street is that the home of famously cheap marketing tactics and the scourge of thousands of parked domains GoDaddy provides domain name forwarding. However, from what I could find online, GoDaddy only provides a 302 temporary redirect for the domain forwarding, not a 301 permanent redirect.

302 Redirected URLs could possibly be subjected to a domain hijacking and but for most people, the bigger issue is that Google doesn’t trust a temporary 302 redirect as much as a 301, which is why real SEOs use 301.

SEO cagefight - Real Estate Marketing Guide SERP

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

Recently I came across two Web sites - one a blog and the other a product page with real estate marketing products and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how two different Web sites are doing SEO.

First, what I did to compare them was to take a look at a keyword combination where I could both find them on Google (because you should be able to find real estate marketers via Google, right?). So I used the keywords “real estate marketing guide” to see how each site would rank in the returned SERP.

-The Future of Real Estate Marketing blog appeared first in the “real estate marketing guide” SERP. What’s interesting, aside from the fact that it’s a blog, was that if you take a close look at the Google SERP, the keywords “real estate marketing” are highlighted in both the blog title and the blog URL. This goes to show how important keywords in your page titles and your URLs are to high SEO ranking.

Other SEO best practices that The Future of Real Estate Marketing does includes image alt tags, meta description and keywords (although the practice of including meta keywords isn’t a high priority) and plenty of copy content on the blog’s front page.

-The ArmingYourFarming.com product page appeared 5th in the Google SERP. Which isn’t bad for a page displaying products, in this case real estate marketing guides for sale. To see why the page appeared 5th, let’s go take a look at the the Google cache for the products page.

What is making the page not show higher in the SERP includes the fact that the URL does not have any real estate marketing guide keywords in it. While the page title says “Real Estate Marketing Guides” and image alt tags exist in the page source, there are no meta description tags. In addition, for a product page, while the page has keywords, it doesn’t seem that the page has enough copy with related terms or synonyms. In addition, a recently identified Google practice is the importance of immediate text on either side of the link anchor text - basically, Google judges the context of your links.

Now you may be thinking that The Future of Real Estate Marketing Blog probably has many more incoming links to it than ArmingYourFarming. Not really. Using the link: command in Google, The Future of Real Estate Marketing blog has around 540 incoming links and ArmingYourFarming has over 1300.

To summarize, I think that keywords in the URL and page title and well written descriptive copy with keywords, keyword synonyms and descriptive anchor link text are very important in SEO practices today.

Hacking MyBlogLog

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

I’ve been using MyBlogLog heavily for the past week and there’s a few interesting things I’ve noticed about the service.

Observations

  • Since being active on the site nearly a week ago, I’ve had over 460 new visitors to cleverhack, with 56 viewing my about me page (which, if I think about it, is probably as many clicks as I get to my about me page in 90 days).
  • I have seen a number of visitors who, in marketing parlance, have converted to regular readers and RSS users.
  • I’ve noticed two types of accounts on MyBlogLog, your normal user accounts and accounts representing a Web site or brand ( I’m thinking Zillow, Buzz Tracker and Dogster and the like…)
  • This blog is in the Top 50 “C” Communities.
  • I’ve seen some good SEO from MyBlogLog (the cleverhack MyBlogLog page is currently #4 when searching on cleverhack.)

What I’d like to see and other issues

  • I like using the My Communities page to browse blogs. What I’d like to see is if you’re logged in, and looking at your “community” of blogs, to be able to click through to the blog rather than to the blog profile page.
  • User profile page should have RSS feeds of the users blog(s).
  • The Hot In My Communities widget on the user profile page doesn’t seem to update all that much.
  • I don’t understand why I would have to manually create a screenshot of my blog’s page to update the screenshot on the service.
  • Blog profile page should have RSS feeds of the blog higher in the right hand column. (Right now, the RSS feeds are shoved down at the bottom).
  • I’d love to see some sort of random show of blogs on the MyBlogLog Community page.
  • I’d love to see some sort of random show of members on the MyBlogLog Members page.
  • I don’t know what exactly makes a member “hot” or a blog “hot”.
  • The blog stats features are kinda cool but are dependent on javascript (meaning that people using non-javascript enabled browsers won’t be counted).
  • Aside from the extra blog stats features, what is the value proposition for a Pro Membership?

How to take advantage of MyBlogLog

  • Click through to the MyBlogLog front page often, that way you show up in the Recent Readers widget. I do see traffic coming in that way.
  • Check out other people’s profiles and their blogs. They will usually reciprocate.
  • There is some traffic value in belonging to the hot communities, although I’d expect the advantage to diminish as more people belong to those same communities.
  • Be female. (Whoops, my bad, said that out loud.)
  • Use a photo of yourself as your avatar. The better the photo, the better the response.
  • Join communities but avoid becoming the dude who joins everything.
  • Feel free to ignore contact requests if they aren’t a good fit.

Oh, and googling for mybloglog brought up this 10 Hottest Clicks map.

e-commerce update 10-28-06

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

An e-commerce update…

  • Halloween is almost here and that means the day after Halloween we will see e-commerce sites making Christmas front and center. Some retailers already have mentions of their holiday season promotions on their home pages.
  • Talking about holiday promotions, don’t forget the lure of free shipping. This study from the Wharton School of Business quantifies what many of us have suspected - that consumers are lured by the words “free shipping”, even if the “free shipping” saves the consumer less than a percentage off discount.

    One interesting takeaway from the study is that a higher price point for your free shipping offer often translates into customers buying more in order to qualify for the free shipping.

  • Is it just me, or have Google AdWords keyword bids gone up recently?
  • Last but not least, I’m hearing a lot about deploying microsites to promote a product or product line. The idea behind a microsite is to direct a customer (through a marketing campaign) to a cluster of pages that have limited navigation and to basically funnel towards the desired conversion. A microsite differs from a landing page in that a landing page usually has navigation to other pages of a parent site.

    While I get the idea of a microsite, what I don’t like about them is the idea of not giving the customer a choice to see more information about you or your products or services prior to conversion. Of course, I’m hearing about microsites by a certain kind of marketer who places all of their faith in their copy. If you deploy a microsite, you have to make damn well sure that you give the customer enough information about who you are and why you think they would want the product.

    Also, microsites seem to depress SEO, so if you’re dependent upon them, that’s another reason to be wary.