Jakob Nielsen is an authority on usability; “the elegance and clarity with which the interaction with a computer program or a web site is designed” (Wikipedia). His tips are always worth reading and often worth implementing into your own website(s) whenever applicable.

In his most recent newsletter, Jakob Nielsen released a list of 10 redesign recommendations that are the most likely to increase return on investment. The subjects discussed are: Read more…

Jim Lanzone - ASK.com CEOAsk.com’s CEO, Jim Lanzone responded to my recent article “Yahoo Reinvents An Old Wheel: Paid Inclusion Gets a Facelift” reconfirming his belief that paid inclusion is hypocritical. The following is Jim Lanzone’s comment to me which was confirmed authentic by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land:

Hi Ross. Just came across this today on Bloglines.

Three years later, I’m still against paid inclusion, because I still think it is hypocritical to charge for something we need to do anyway to be the best search service we can be. I also think it’s a dis-service to our users to blur the line that much between paid content and editorial content. Read more…

The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild is none too happy with Google’s plan to indiscriminately scan, index, and allow the searching of millions of books from libraries the world over and Microsoft is capitalizing on this rare chink in Google’s armor.

Copyrighters are claiming infringement because Google is making advertising revenue from the results of book searches in the Google Book Search system. Here are all of Google’s arguments that I found: Read more…

Yahoo has revamped its paid inclusion program and it appears to be the forefront of a push to revitalize this archaic submission format. More on the history of paid inclusion and my opinion later, for now let us review the changes.

What Does it Cost to Submit to Yahoo?
The price to submit a URL is $49 which guarantees (for sites that are accepted):

  • Addition to a database of sites “that powers algorithmic search results for Yahoo! and other major web portals such as AltaVista and AlltheWeb.”
  • URLs are refreshed (essentially re-indexed) on a 7 business day rotation.
  • Access to a new personalized reporting centre that provides:
    – top 10 click through information itemized by the keyword clicked (see sample here)
    – trend charting which provides a visual reference for ups and downs in traffic
    – best practices SEO information Read more…
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Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Canada Exists? "Yes" Google Concedes

Google took a big step recently by finally allowing Canadian companies to become Adwords Qualified; a stamp of a approval previously denied to Google’s ignored neighbors. Yes, that is ever so subtle bitterness you sense. Thankfully however I can begin to put to rest my ill will now that Google has come to its senses.

What does it take for a company to become Adwords Qualified? Read more…

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has ordered Google to change the wording of Adsense contracts to comply with domestic fair trade law. Here is a snippet from the YONHAP News article that broke this news and handily describes some of the more crucial issues:

The FTC highlighted several clauses in the AdSense contract that violate domestic fair trade laws, of which one provision allowed Goggle to “reserve the right to refuse participation to any… participant at any time in its sole discretion.”

It also pointed towards an unfair clause, which said that “Google makes no guarantee regarding… the amount of any payment to be made.”

Concerning revenue division, FTC noted the disadvantage towards website operators, as one clause stipulates that “no other measurements or statistics of any kind shall be accepted by Google,” when calculating payments.

In addition the Korean FTC is forcing Google to switch the jurisdiction for all legal complaints from California to a location within South Korea.

How Will Google React?
The online market in South Korea is booming so there is little doubt Google will be as accommodating as possible with all of the issues raised. Still I have to wonder what will happen if they get stuck on an issue that can be chalked up to a cultural difference in conducting business. After all, how can Google guarantee payments?

Is Adsense as we know it going to prove compatible with the South Korean marketplace, or will it need a complete overhaul? I am very interested to see what happens next.

Complete Question: “How about duplicate content for resellers where the manufacturer or producer of a product describes a product with technical details and so on. Do I have to rewrite text, create my own descriptions? Or is Google able to recognize that i have to use the original text from the manufacturer and not to punish me?”

Answer: Google has a powerful algorithm that may be able to determine “right” or “wrong” duplicate content. That said, I would not rely on it. In this scenario I would rewrite the product descriptions wherever possible and improve the optimization of each description while I was at it. After all, many default descriptions are boring and less than ideal for rankings anyway.

But allow me to remind you of one thing… If you are talking about a shopping cart system where you have thousands of widgets and they all appear using similar text then DO NOT be overly concerned about this duplicate content; it is not a threat to your rankings. Yes it is usually ideal to have unique content but in this case just concern yourself with balancing this duplicate content with added value within the rest of the site. You can do this by adding unique pages dedicated to each widget. These pages can be created whatever unique content you want (diagrams, specs, reviews, etc.) but they ultimately serve to introduce a particular widget to users (and search engines) while providing direct links to the appropriate section of the cart.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.
Original source article and permalink: SEO Answers #15

Answer: Excellent question. The fact is there are a few ways to ensure you are chosen as the primary content provider. The best option is to require that all who syndicate your content provides a inline text link directly to your original posting of the article. For example they would say something like this at the end of the article included in a link: “SEO Answers #15 by Ross Dunn”. This way everyone who repost’s your article is sourcing your content as the original.

If you do not source the original release in this manner the website who publishes your article and gets the most attention for it (via links or publicity measurable by Google) will have a better chance of being chosen as the original content provider.

In conclusion, unless you strictly enforce your ownership to the article you may not get the final credit when Google is forced to guess who published it first.

For more info here is an article on article syndication content duplication I recently wrote.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.
Original source article and permalink: SEO Answers #15

I have a lot to learn about sending out email newsletters so I constantly keep an eye out for interesting articles on this subject. Well here is one from Lyris that really spoke to me and I expect it will for many of you who are in the same position I am (a newbie).

Essentially the article boils down to one conclusion… using CSS in a newsletter is foolhardy. Why? Well apparently a large portion of email clients and web-based email portals (Hotmail, GMail) ignore CSS. Personally this is bewildering to me since CSS has been so widely adopted but I have long since learned that some things just don’t make sense. As a result, any newsletter formatted with CSS may be entirely unreadable when viewed by an email client; which does not exactly bode well for the success of a CSS-driven newsletter.

Anyway, this is likely a very obvious fact to any of you with more than average experience with newsletters out there. But for those of you who are new to newsletter creation read this article and follow the advice: format the whole newsletter with inline HTML and you are off to the races. You can expect StepForth’s SEO newsletter to be significantly better as a result of this simple change – all CSS has been removed and reformatted in HTML. I am now looking forward to seeing the first readable edition of the Step Forth Weekly Newsletter in GMail next week :-)

All the best this fine weekend – Ross Dunn

In a move that has been long in coming Google has chosen to provide a safer environment for its patrons by blocking access to sites that appear to have malicious code.

The genius, in my opinion, is they are not blocking the sites from appearing but offering a warning under the title of a ‘harmful’ listing. The site may even appear number one and two as in the case of the search phrase “beautiful free screensaver” where the top 2 listings from the same site have the “this site may harm your computer” warning listed below the title. Read more…