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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Google SiS (Search in Search) Scares Control Freaks

Google Search-in-Search and a New York Times article titled "New Tool From Google Alarms Sites" has provoked a "startle response" from bloggers, search engine marketers and a few major publishers and online retailers. This all started on March 5th, when Google engineers announced the "Search-in-Search" aka "Teleportation" feature in the official Google Blog. The reasons appear to boil down to three responses to Google:
  1. How DARE you steal my pageviews!
  2. How DARE you sell ads against my brand!
  3. How DARE you claim your search is better than OURS!
Before I get into my thoughts on the matter, here is what that new Google Search Within Search Result looks like for a "NY Times" query:

ny times - Google Search
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Here's how this controversy boils down for me on each of the above three points:

  1. The (weak) argument suggesting that Google is stealing pageviews from publishers who hope to capitalize on page after page of bad internal site search results is like saying - "Hey site user, we think you are an idiot and that you are probably willing to click through page after page of bad search results on our site and will tire of this eventually and click on one or two of our advertisers banners in order to escape the torture." or Bad user experience (most site search sucks and is NOT optimized) equals extra incremental income - so bad user search experience is good for us!
  2. Objection two seems to be some sort of opposition to Google showing competitors ads in their Adwords results. Again saying "User, we think you haven't a CLUE what you wanted when you typed OUR company name into the search box and you may decide to go to our competitors instead. If your competitors Adwords copy is so good that users go there instead of your site and you are not making keyword buys against your own brand - You Deserve to lose the customer!
  3. There has been some discussion of the loss of internally optimized long tail searches which seem to justify point #3 above in the list of objections to "SiS" (Search-in-search) but this objection is only applicable to those VERY few sites that actually have good site search and (even rarer) those who optimize internal search results for EVERY long tail search phrase.

I do happen to agree with everyone who has suggested that this probably should be "opt-in" for those companies that have "SiS" appearing on their brand searches at Google. This suggests though that a) all of those brands are participating in Google Webmaster Central accounts and have verified their pages or b) that "Search-in-Search" be manually turned off and administered by Google (that will only happen with Fortune 100 web companies, if that) appears to be already turned off for Amazon and Ebay.

I believe Google when they say they are doing this to improve user experience, and while it may increase their Adwords income incrementally, I say to Google - Bully for you - and congratulations on, yet again, finding a way to improve the search experience while increasing your own income. Google does not owe anyone more pageviews, and should be allowed to offer tools which increase their income.

To those moaning over lost opportunity and incremental income, I say - Get over yourselves - Your site search sucks and this saves me from doing the standard: " product name" queries I'm always having to do because your internal search is so bad.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

$299 Yahoo Directory Paid Link Worth Every Penny

I originally wrote the article below in August of 2005, note the copyright date at the bottom. But I was nudged to republish it after seeing a Sphinn post discussing the value of a Yahoo text link.

My three-year-old, but still true article follows:

Last week a client called me excitedly exclaiming that their Google PageRank had jumped a notch and their targeted keyword term now ranked #23 (up from #45) for their competitive search phrase. I asked the client if he'd been notified by Yahoo that his site was now included in the index after we had submitted it three weeks ago. "Yes," he said, "but why are you changing the subject?"

"I'm not changing the subject. Inclusion in Yahoo Directory is the most likely reason for the jump in both your search position and your PageRank. Remember when you doubted the value of inclusion in the Yahoo Directory and I pushed for submission anyway? Now you know why I insisted."

That seemingly expensive Yahoo Directory listing has one little known benefit to your website. It is the most important and valuable text link you could ever purchase. That one link from one source will do your ranking more good than any other single link (except possibly the Open Directory).

Many webmasters look at potential traffic referred from the Yahoo Directory as the determining factor for submissions, when that is not the best reason for inclusion - It's the link value that matters above all else in this case.

I've had several SEO clients see a leap in ranking for targeted search terms a week or so after that Yahoo Directory link goes live for them. Many clients have argued with me about the value of that Yahoo Directory text link. But at $299, the yearly fee is cheaper than many of those commercial text link ads sites and does far more for your ranking in search engines OTHER than Yahoo.

Why? It's purely the value of that link. Search engines know that only sites of a certain quality level will submit and get accepted into Yahoo Directory. They know that serious businesses will pay that yearly fee, while marginal or hobby sites will not pay that $299 every year. Surely there is some level of value assigned in search algorithms to inclusion in the Yahoo Directory.

It's a little known technique for gains in ranking which is based purely on empirical observation over time. But the result of inclusion in the Yahoo Directory is the same for every client, every time - their PageRank ratchets up and targeted search terms suddenly take a big jump just a week or two after inclusion. The same is true of inclusion in the free Open Directory Project at .

I've seen client sites jump from positions on page three at MSN search to top 5 positions on page one of the MSN SERP's following inclusion in the Yahoo Directory. Now we are submitting this same client to the Open Directory for the 5th time in as many months hoping for elusive editors to add the site, leading to another jump in search position and PageRank if and when they get around to adding the site to the DMOZ database.

You do know that Google uses that Open Directory listing in their own directory, don't you? It's worth submitting and resubmitting until they finally include your site. It really is worth the trouble to keep trying, no matter how long they ignore your submissions.

One caveat always applies to Directory submissions! They must be done with great care applied to keyword phrases used in the site description. That single line of text you submit in the "Site Description" text box on the submission page will strongly affect your keyword phrase ranking in OTHER search engines for a very long time.

Take care in crafting a keyword rich and effective description for your site. I always request that clients either have me submit for them or use text I've written for them in that description. If you do it badly, it will be re-written by an editor who cares more for categorization than keyword rankings. Be Careful!

Before you run off begging for reciprocal links from slick webmasters or purchasing text links of dubious value from text link outfits, submit to Yahoo Directory and pay the $299 (or $24.92 monthly) for the most undervalued text link available. Then swallow your pride and re-submit to the Open Directory until they finally include your site.

Rock your rank with dynamite text links! Yahoo Directory and the Open Directory Project.

Copyright © August 23, 2005

Mike Banks Valentine blogs on SEO at:

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

SEO Career Training: Search Marketing Education

Over the past couple of years I've been building up an SEO Jobs Search Resource here which includes multiple search engine optimization training and salary articles from top SEO's - plus a couple stories from my own experiences in seeking a senior level corporate SEO position after 8 years running my own company. Information can be hard to come by, just like qualified SEO candidates.

Today John Alexander of Online Web Training made another great article available about preparing for an SEO career, and I've reproduced that below. Thanks John!

12 Tips to help build the foundation for a new SEO career 

by John Alexander


TIP 1. Set your focus on your clients success.

Stop focusing on sales and start focusing on your client's success! Do all that you can do to make them successful. Pour all of your talents into making their projects work. So many folks I talk to can never stop thinking about 
where they will make their next sale, instead of working on delivering results to the clients they ALREADY have. In so doing, you establish "lifetime" residuals. 

Make your client successful and they will literally become part of YOUR sales team.

TIP 2. A difference in your performance is a difference in your profits.

If you are NOT up to speed, you better catch up fast. Truely a difference in your performance is a difference in your profits! If you are not up to speed on solid SEO marketing techniques and methods, start learning now. Take a course or study at a live workshop but however you do it, get your SEO career skills up to speed so you can genuinely help get your customers results. If you can show them a strategy that really puts dollars in their pocket, they'll put dollars in YOUR pocket!

TIP 3. Have confidence in your own strategies and explore profit sharing.

How's your batting average with profit sharing? Don't be afraid to explore this one! If your skills are medium to above average, why not share in the profits yourself? I am referring to offering someone a vertical deal. This would be a deal where you own part of the company in return for making it successful with your SEO skills. Don't brush this off. There are some exceptional deals to be had if you start thinking laterally.

TIP 4. Don't forget community and charitable work.

When's the last time you helped promote a charitable work at NO cost. Build a site and promote it for the literacy council or the Easter Seals Society or your local Rotary Group or your Chamber of Commerce. 

Don't forget that this work can OFTEN open unusual and even surprising doors. Help make others successful and you will NOT fail. Many important leaders within your local community will be serving on these committees right next to you! 
This is a great way to network and meet new people and help the cause too.

TIP 5. Work on Relationship building and position yourself for success to come.

Watch the latest SEO trends and position yourself to quickly take advantage. The study and practice of SEO has been extraordinary. A few years ago, I never dreamed that my study of optimization would lead to the Internet lifestyle. As a result of our work, we enjoy wonderful repeat business and client loyalty. 

If you have not been enjoying good profits, a rewarding lifestyle and being appreciated by your clients, then you need to consider a plan of action.

Tip 6. Set your course of action and get started.

Consider taking a live hands-on SEO workshop which can kick-start your professional SEO career in just a few days of hands-on training. Or if you cannot travel, consider taking an Online SEO Training Course.  

Tip 7. Choose which voices you choose to listen to carefully. 

You MUST be able to "deliver" and make a difference. Do whatever it takes to get your SEO skills and lateral thinking skills up to speed. In business there are many voices offering free advice. You need to choose carefully who you will listen to. 

Tip 8. Run a balanced business. 

Are you charging for what your services are worth? There are some folks who charge steeply and don't even know how to get the results. For goodness sakes, if you're good at what you do, make sure you are charging well for your services. You DESERVE fair reward if you're helping other business owners to prosper. 
(Some folks are afraid to charge for their work)

Note: The ones that charge steeply but DON'T deliver may make a few dollars initially, but they won't enjoy the customer loyalty, the referral business, and the repeat business that you do, and they won't have a "customer for life" like you will.

Tip 9. Don't forget to recognize and be thankful for the progress you've made. 

Yes, this is extremely important. How else can you truly measure your progress unless you benchmark along the way. Be sure to benchmark your victories but even more important, celebrate your CLIENTS' VICTORIES too! After all, you helped bring them about.

Tip 10. Give something back to your community (with gladness). 

Look for opportunities to help others who genuinely need help and avoid those who are only after your talents to exploit them. (Trust me, when your SEO talents and success stories increase, you'll have strangers coming out of the woodwork to take you to dinner and wine you and dine you and pick your brain). Proceed with wisdom.

Tip 11. You must be willing to change and take action! 

Performing the way you perform now has delivered a certain result. Maybe you're happy with that result. If you're happy with this result, carry on exactly the same way and you should get very similar results. However, if you are NOT happy with your results now, then you must change the way you do things. 

Some people go all their life complaining that they would like a better career 
or a better position in life and yet they continue taking the same actions and 
getting the same results year after year.

Think of it like this...

Same action = same result
Different action = new results

Tip 12. Surround yourself with the high quality people!

Without a doubt, your SEO interests and abilities will make way for many new working relationships. Be sure to carefully choose the people you want to work with. Look for those with whom you can share synergies and be very observant of the skills and abilities within the others that surround you. No single person can operate as effectively as a group of people that work as a team. Learn to choose the right people to work with and recognize the latent strengths and talents that will sometimes be present but initially hidden within the group. Build to your ultimate potential by choosing wisely, encouraging one another and recognizing the talent in one another.

Is a career in SEO right for you?

Are you ready to take your SEO career to the next step? 

We would be delighted to meet with you personally and teach you exactly how 
search engines work. The beauty of learning new SEO skills, is that it puts you 
back into the position of having the power to choose and make your own choices.

Check out upcoming workshop dates here if you are interested in building an SEO career.

About John Alexander
John Alexander is Co-director of Training at Search Engine Workshops offering live, SEO Workshops with partner Robin Nobles as well as online search engine marketing courses through Online Web Training. John is author of
an e-book called Wordtracker Magic

The SEO Job Search Engine here is based on Google Custom Search and the SEO Job Search Widget from SimplyHired shows only SEO jobs in an RSS feed.

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