Imagine this scenario. Too tired to cook after arriving home from a long day at work you call your local pizza shop to order two large pizzas and a bunch of soft drinks. You dial the number as usual and, instead of the familiar voice of Tony, the owner/pizza champion, a younger voice comes on the line. Read more…

“What’s the use of a good algorithm if you can’t change it?” Dr. Who (The Fortune Program)

Search engine optimization firms tend to have unique relationships with their clients. Like our colligate cousins in the web design field, our clients often see our services as one-time events. Once the initial SEO campaign is completed and websites have achieved Top10 placements, some clients are content to go about their business assuming their placements are going to stay in place. In many cases, they do. A website that has been optimized by a good SEO can prove difficult to dislodge, even when these placements are targeted by other SEOs. Read more…

Over the past week, SEOs and SEMs have noted some significant changes in the search engine results delivered by Google. Google appears to be actively cleaning its listings by targeting sites using suspicious link-building techniques. A couple of well-known search engine marketing sites have vanished from Google results under keyword phrases they dominated just last week. Read more…

Thoughts on Google’s patent…
Information retrieval based on historical data

Google’s newest patent application is lengthy. It is interesting in some places and enigmatic in others. Less colourful than most end user license agreements, the patent covers an enormous range of ranking analysis techniques Google wants to ensure are kept under their control. Some of the ideas and concepts covered in the document are almost certainly worked into the current algorithm running Google. Some are being worked in as this article is being written. Some may never see the blue-light of electrons but are pretty good ideas so it might have been considered wise to patent them. Google’s not saying which is which. While not exactly War and Peace, it’s a pretty complex document that gives readers a glimpse inside the minds of Google engineers. Read more…

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Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Corporate SEO Preparation

Understanding the value of global communications, nearly every organized organization in the world has a website. From grassroot community groups to major corporations, the World Wide Web has expanded by billions of websites over the past half decade. Because the medium is easy, cheap and absurdly flexible, it has become the backbone of a “people’s global communications network”. Read more…

It has been just over ten years since the public release of the first modern search engine, AltaVista. Infoseek, Lycos, HotBot, Northern Lights, and dozens of others quickly followed AV. In previous years search marketing was much simpler. Since then we’ve seen the rise and fall of several search firms. Almost as many ideas on how the business of search should be conducted have come and gone in the same period of time. While search has grown far more sophisticated in its first decade, the free (or Organic) listings have been a constant common factor for every search engine. Read more…

Much has changed since last year in the world of search engine marketing. These changes have widened the knowledge gaps between the SEM sector, our clients and the general public. A knowledge gap separating professional experience and general interest is natural in any industry as a quick peak under any newer model car hood will demonstrate.

In a field as user-dependent and re-evolutionary as the search industry, knowledge gaps can lead to expensive chaos for consumers, advertisers and webmasters. Many common assumptions about search engine marketing have been made obsolete or require a different way of thinking. Many erroneous assumptions continue to be proliferated in hundreds of forum posts, emails and marketing articles. Read more…

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Thursday, January 20th, 2005

What is the Nofollow Tag?

Over the past year, Blogs have been used to manipulate search engine rankings in a very big way. Couple the immense power of link-distribution inherent in the Blogosphere with Google’s way of ranking websites based on the number and relevancy of incoming links and add a number of SEOs with overactive imaginations. The result is a spamming machine of mythic proportions.

Remember the SEO competitions of last year when the nonsense phrase: “Nigritude Ultramarine”? Well, if you don’t, suffice it to say it was a contest to see who could get and keep #1 placement under a phrase that was at the time, totally fresh as it wasn’t a real phrase to begin with. The results proved the power of Blogs and link-densities. Now Google, Yahoo, MSN and others have joined together to support a new link-attribute that attempts to remove the temptation of creating links artificially through blogs and comments.

The new attribute is called “nofollow” and is designed to be placed within a hyperlink anchor.

What is the nofollow tag and what does it do?

For instance, the link: [a href=http://www.isedb.com/]Search Industry News[/a] will allow a spider to pass PageRank from your site to theirs because it is a link; this is the standard way any link is treated without a nofollow.

A similar link, [a href=”http://www.isedb.com/” rel=”nofollow”]Search Industry News[/a] tells the spider you are linking to a website you do not want to be associated with so you do not want to pass along any of your valuable PageRank. The attribute can also be placed in front of the URL in the href string.

Google says it will not count links with the nofollow attribute in PageRank scores and will not count the anchor text in terms of relevancy to the page linked to. This should effectively remove the benefits of link-spamming in forums and blogs. Even so, the overactive imaginations found under dark-hats in the sector are already working on work-arounds. It will be interesting to see how this new tag works out.

What would you do if you were tasked with designing a new search engine?

You have all the resources the world can offer and the certain knowledge that your project is so important to your employer that mountains, molehills, companies, code and really comfy office chairs will be moved, built or acquired to meet your needs, no questions asked. Your boss demands a product that is better than best and, having failed to notice how overwhelmingly essential search would become back when he came to dominate everything else, appears ready to back your project with missionary zeal and Machiavellian maneuvering. The cold hard truth is, the future of one of the largest corporations in the world, owned incidentally by the world’s wealthiest man, may well rest on your shoulders. In this scenario, there are no obstacles, only the challenge of beating Google at Google’s best game. Whoa…. Read more…

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Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Yahoo's Spider Slurp

How to write for Slurp the spider

As the world’s second most popular search tool, Yahoo moves a tremendous amount of traffic and is a very credible alternative to Google. Yahoo receives over 2.76 billion page views per day from hundreds of millions of unique users. It boasts over 157 million registered users enjoying mail, shopping and discussion groups and an increasingly personalized search and news services. For the past two years, Yahoo, Google and MSN have been embroiled in a hard-fought battle for the loyalty of search engine users forcing all three firms into the hyper-evolution we are witnessing today. Over the next three Wednesdays we are going to examine how the Big-3 spiders work, what they look for and how to best prepare your sites for multiple visits from the bots that rank them. Today, we are starting with Yahoo’s bot, SLURP. Read more…