ZEN-SEM

Monday, January 30, 2006

SEO 101 Refresher Part 2: Canonical Issues

Canonical issues is SEO talk for where more than one URL serves one website's content.

Let’s go over a few definitions to set the stage:

root domain name = separates one entity from another on the web, like how a company name sets apart one company from another. Example: zunch.com

subdomain name = separates different parts of an entity on the web and precedes the root domain name. Example format = subdomain.zunch.com.

What many don’t realize is that since anything before the root domain name (ex: zunch.com) is a subdomain, they don't know that 'www', is in fact, a subdomain. Because many web servers by default answer to 'www.site.com' and 'site.com' many site’s already have a canonical issue. In the past, search engines (Google included) have treated these URLs as two different websites. Uh-oh.

If two different URLs are serving a website's content that means that a website's content and link popularity are being split apart. In Google, some documents from one URL would be filtered out while others would be filtered out from the other. This means your content is split up into two different URLs. We always want to create more content for a website - not separate it!

As if this isn't bad enough, your back links could also be split up. Inevitably some sites would use 'www.site.com' and others would just use 'site.com'. Of course, you don’t want your link popularity split among different URLs as your links are a major ranking factor.

If your site is already serving content on each URL you simply need to use a 301 permanent redirect from one URL to the other. The defacto 'www.site.com' is probably a good choice. So in this case you would setup a 301 permanent redirect from 'site.com' to 'www.site.com'. This is rather simple for most web servers, however I have heard that web servers such as Lotus-Domino can be difficult to deal with and a call to support may be needed.

The search engines are making strides to address canonical issues. In the mean time, a use of a simple 301 permanent redirect can keep the canonical issues from being an issue at all.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

SEM Community gets its own Magazine

I remember mentioning to some co-workers about 18 months ago about how I think an SEM / SEO magazine would do pretty well. Well...say hello to Search Marketing Standard.

From the press release:
"Search Marketing Standard will cover pay per click advertising, search engine optimization, web analytics, click fraud, local and contextual search, and other search-related topics. Each publication will feature articles and advice from leading experts in the field, interviews with the who’s-who of the industry, reviews of the most popular tools and services, latest news and trends, and much more."

Just another sign of the growth of our industry. Go get 'em!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

AOL - New Marketing Avenues

AOL sure knows how to throw a party. Whereas MSN’s recent lunch looked like something that was planned the day before (sorry MSN, but it’s true) – AOL had a premier venue, first rate gourmet food, and a polished, exciting multimedia presentation that was on topic.

Zunch, along with other major online advertising firms in Dallas, was invited to a lunch with AOL last week, where they were rolling out the new programming, talking about advertising opportunities, and oh, sure, addressing that Google thing.

Yes, we were mostly interested in that Google thing. And addressing it was something like this: “We know there’s an elephant in the room, and everyone wants to talk about it – so before we get to the meat of the program, we will. Yes. It’s an elephant. Next topic.” All they did was acknowledge that there is indeed a partnership. But the presentation wasn’t about search – it was about programming.

I haven’t paid much attention to AOL in a few years. Now, however, it looks like AOL has grown up. It’s opening up programming to non-subscribers, and embracing interactive media in exciting ways. The concept of marketing fully integrated into programming has never been closer to being realized. And well, it’s hard to argue with numbers like 112 million new uniques a month on the network

For example: you go to an AOL channel, like fashion. On that channel, they have programming that is determined in part by user feedback and preferences. They run user commentary. The page has spots for advertising on the top, on the screen playing the video program, within the video program… you can skin the whole thing… taking over the design of the page for a limited time while the program runs –putting your brand name in the face of the viewer… and they even have the ability to click on the image in the program and be led to sources to buy that product. Yes, this latter is limited right now, but has tremendous possibility.

Other opportunities include blog marketing and product reviews.

With so much programming, you have channels to reach several specific demographics. They focused on the following, but there are many more:

  • Music (with unique concerts and unplugged shows as well as videos, mp3s and artist information – much like Yahoo Launch) – with more live music programming than any other site, they have the potential to draw a lot of repeat visitors
  • Celebrities – entertainment news and gossip, the kind content that gets people talking
  • Television – the closest thing to true TV on demand that exists. Choose which programs you want to watch, when, from Warner Bros. inventory – with interactive features like information about the actors and the episodes
  • Gaming – reviews and clips of video games and platforms, a great place to reach young males with disposable income
  • AOL news – where people spend a remarkable 28 minutes per visit on average. A good potential venue for more sophisticated advertising, perhaps – messages that are more complex than the usual eye-blink a user spends taking in a page
  • Movies – not only the basic movie information look-up, but fun programs like “Unscripted” where celebs interview one another using a combination of viewer’s and their own questions
  • Life Coaches – aimed largely at a slightly older and mostly female demographic, a group that is known to have powerful brand loyalty once you win them over
  • Professional Blogs – not just the personal blogs they have on their main site, but some of the most well-respected and often visited blogs out there. Blog marketing is just beginning to develop – and there is a lot of potential for businesses to utilize this type of venue
  • Fashion – some of the best usage of interactive marketing here. Those shoes the model is wearing? They cost $346 at Nordstrom.com
  • Kids programming – get ‘em while they’re young! Advertise on websites with content parents trust and kids enjoy

While much of the type of advertising they offer is currently outside of our scope, I certainly see the possibility for Zunch to grow in this direction – especially as the difference between in-programming spots, skins, blog marketing, and search marketing continue to be blurred.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

SEO 101 Refresher Part 1: Navigation

This will be the first part of a series of back to the basics, SEO 101 for the new year.

A site's navigational system is the webbing the holds your site together. Like a web, there may be multiple threads linking to other threads together providing a diverse and sound structure.

In SEO a site's navigation plays a significant role in letting the search engines know what a page is supposed to be about. For example, if you sell clothes, proper linking to your new leather sandals page has several advantages:

1. A link from the home page assures your new leather sandals page will be crawled more quickly than if it was buried three levels deep.

2. Using the proper anchor text "men's leather sandals" instead of an image or "click here" allows the home page to describe what the page on the other end of the link is about.

3. Interconnecting the new leather sandals page from already established shoe and sandal pages helps to lend credibility and helps to describe what the page is about.

When linking, make sure that your links are static and not created virtually. You can tell if your links are static by using the "view source" feature in your browser on your pages and seeing if your links each have an href="pagenamehere.html" or href="pagenamehere.php", etc. If you cant see the link in the source code, neither can the search engines and this needs to be corrected by your web developers. In the mean time, while you wait for a fix for your dynamic navigation, you can place your links inside of noscript tags. Keep in mind when placing your links inside of the noscript tags that they will be visible to visitors who do not have JavaScript enabled.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Zunch Rated Best SEO Company by Promotion World

PROMOTION WORLD Rates Zunch Communications the Best SEO Company

The Top 10 SEO Company Awards are based on the offered services, package diversity, value, customer service, feedback and website popularity of the selected companies. More

Way to go Zunch SEO Team!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Clipped!

Yahoo has decided to cut the length of their creatives down to the same length as Google - 70 characters.

The strongest advantage of this, is that it will allow advertisers to run the same ad on both networks, giving them the opportunity to more directly compare results and to present a more consistent message.

The biggest disadvantage is that Google's ads are too short, particularly considering that Yahoo has editorial rules in place that will make it even more difficult to maximize that small amount of real estate.

Yahoo's longer ad length allowed the advertiser to more clearly qualify the click - presenting a better idea to the user of what lay beyond the click at the advertiser's site. I never thought that anyone read a full 190 character ad, but relevant bits would jump out to their eye. A 70 character ad scans more easily, and can be absorbed in less than an eye-blink - which is as long as you've got to get your point across anyway before a user moves their eye on to the next item on the page or navigates away.

But there's a huge difference between the two. 100, 110 characters would still allow for a little more messaging, while keeping the ads concise both verbally and visually.

Yahoo has also stated that they are not changing any of their editorial rules, which makes no sense with such a radical change. You must include the entire search term in an ad – shoot some of my search terms are that long. You can’t use ampersands, or abbreviations. We aren’t allowed any of the neat “tricks” that allow us to squeeze a little more information into our ads as we can on Google.

Yahoo also doesn’t allow advertisers to run multiple ads simultaneously, which puts them at a disadvantage. Advertisers will use Google to test creatives first, and apply what they learn from Google to Yahoo, secondarily.

So, this is going to be a little bumpy at first. Until editorial standards are changed to more closely reflect those at Google, it still won’t be a simple matter of using the same ads and being able to compare results from one engine to the other. Ads will still have to be re-written, sometimes dramatically. Still, I think that shorter is better in the online world.

(Not that you’d know it from my blog posts!)


article here: http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3577666

Monday, January 16, 2006

Lax Adwords Admissions: Click Fraud Fuel

I examined the report of a suspicious domain that was sending a considerable amount of paid traffic to client's site. It took ten minutes to figure out that this domain was established primarily to generate revenues from Adwords and provided no value to users.

Traits:
  • The domain is less than 1-month old
  • The domain registration owner information is hidden
  • The content on the site is copied and sometimes regurgitated from other sites
  • The site has no incoming links
  • The site has AdSense ads featured predominantly on the left and right sides of the pages and runs AdSense for site search
  • No Alexa rank
With lax Adwords reviewing it makes it easy to see how spammy domains get into PPC content networks. This makes it easier for automated bots to have yet another site to click on with their masking technology and for hackers with access to the millions of zombie machines to hit these ads from all over the world with millions of IP addresses.

Google seeking Click-to-call patent

According to a story on ClickZ, Google is working on methods to deliver ads to audiences searching with mobile phones. The "call-on-select" functionality would initiate a phone call when selected as opposed to opening a landing page. A scoring algorithm would determine whether to offer the click-to-call link or a traditional web page link based on factors including limitations of the device, relevance, price, user preference and other parameters.

Fun stuff I say. I could have used this a month or two ago when I was out searching for a Donut shop to be open on a Holiday. I was using the Google SMS service, but had to call each store to see if they were open or closed. It would have been easier to do a web search, view the local results and click-to-call.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Google Local & Google Maps Now Displaying Paid Sponsor Links

Danny Sullivan blogged on this topic yesterday on the SEW blog --> Google Tests New Local Ads On Maps so I thought I would check it out for myself.

My keyword query of choice -- hotels in Dallas

I quickly spotted the textual paid sponsor links in the top left-hand corner...but like Danny and many others who have blogged on this topic...I too don't see the mysterious blue push pins like David Galbraith originally spotted!

IMO...I believe placing some sort of graphical identifier (blue pins work fine) on the map that is associated with the textual paid sponsor links would generate a much great CTR than having just the textual paid sponsor links in the top left-hand corner.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Adwords Geotargeting May Not Stop Click Fraud

A press release is circulating that there is back door into the Google Adwords system that allows countries outside of a geotargted area to display and click on ads not meant for their country. Geotargeting is/was one of the best ways to help reduce your exposure to click fraud from countries which have been known to be more of a click fraud threat than others.

As long as there are billions of dollars being pumped into PPC there will always be fraud. From competitors trying to push you out of a space, to publishers with content networks lining their pockets with your ad money to radical groups trying to make a political statement by targeting your external advertising and messaging. This combined with the PPC networks not willing to share their information with their advertisers nor in keep communication channels open is why advertisers need to 3rd party click fraud service that can audit, monitor and detect fraudulent activity on any PPC network such as Zunch's Click Fraud Detective.

Lunch With David Jakubowski, the General Manager of MSN Search

Laura and I had the honor of attending a luncheon at the Microsoft offices in Las Colinas with David Jakubowski, the General Manager of MSN Search, a few select agencies and coporations from the DFW area.

The main topic of discussion...the future of the MSN AdCenter paid advertising program.

Some cool things on the horizon for MSN Search and AdCenter is a big part of that!

More to come in the near future...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Update: Google Box

Google denies making PCs, but that denial is vague:

"We have many PC partners who serve their markets exceedingly well and we see no need to enter that market; we would rather partner with great companies," Google said in a statement.

Ok, maybe they have already chosen to partner with someone:
http://redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=15148&hed=Talk+Mounts+of+Google+Computer+

"Wyse Technology told RedHerring.com last month it has been in talks with the Internet search behemoth to make inexpensive Google-branded PCs (see Wyse to Make $150 Computers). Wyse’s hard-drive-less computers, called thin clients, are often used in clusters in business or organizational settings."

More to come, Im sure.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Google Box: Hot News or Hot Air?

News is breaking out on the web about a box that Google may have developed. This box contains every sort of connection port you would need on an electrical device. RJ-45 (Ethernet cable), RJ-11 (phone cable), SVideo, Optical Audio, digital and analog (RCA) jacks, USB and equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. "Ok," your saying "A Swiss army cable/electrical connection device. And?" The "and" part is the nifty part. With this device, out of the box, you will have one interface for broadband internet access, TVoIP, VoIP and home automation (climate control, alarm system, etc.)

To hear Robert X. Cringely put it, "As a result, Google becomes overnight a major phone company, a major video entertainment provider, a major player in home automation and even medical telemetry." How is this possible you ask????

Google would need to deploy what are called mobile datacenters. Basically, a large data center that take up rooms can be condensed to a shipping crate. Thousands of these portable data centers would be deployed strategically at certain points of the Internet to allow secure networked communication.

Now picture being an Adwords advertiser with the ability to reach out to consumers through virtually every communication means available today and you have virtually unlimited potential.
This is all potentially great news. But will consumers pick it up and invite it into their homes? Can this box easily unite our communication and entertainment mediums? Is this a sink hole that Google will have to crawl out from next year? Or is it just hot air?

#1 in TopSEOs AGAIN!

In the "Rose Bowl" of Search Engine Optimization...Zunch Communications is #1!

Zunch Tops on SEOConsultants.com AGAIN!

Zunch Communications: Top 5 Most Requested Consultants Profiles for 2005 December

That makes 11 out of 12 months in 2005!