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Thursday, October 09, 2008

SEO Value Attribution Links - Video & Widget Embeds

The value of attribution links on syndicated content is huge for SEO, but as is so often the case in SEO, some go way overboard and overdo to the point of spamming. Others correctly see the value as an incremental addition to their SEO tool set. I've long been an advocate for attribution links on flash widgets, video embeds, article syndication resource boxes and any other type of syndicated content.

Below is an example of a well executed attribution link. On a video embed

How to Search Specific Sites with Google -- powered by

Both of these use keyword focused attribution to the originating source of the content. If the content was unrelated to the keyword text links following those embeds, that would be the abusive and spammy approach I suggested above. The spammy approach has been used widely with web page counters prevalent on early web sites which linked back to spammer sites with entirely unrelated link text. But because the above video embed points to highly relevant and useful resource entirely related to the attribution link, it scores well in SEO.

The best approach is always to link to topical and relevant content, preferably, the source of the actual piece of content featured in order to score well in search engine relevancy and landing page quality.

I used the technique discussed in the video - site limited search - to find a copy of that syndicated content without the attribution link attached to the video player to show syndicated content that does the source no good other than the good-will of sharing their content.

The following gains zero benefit other than an occasional visitor who clicks through:

If anyone uses the second video, directly above, the second source site gains no benefit to providing the content. The top example source site gains a highly relevant link to the originating page of the actual video.

I've consulted with several video and widget vendors who look at me through quizzical sideways tilted gazes when I make this point, like I'm speaking Martian. That attribution link is highly valuable to the content provider. It offers the visitor a link equity to the content source and justifies the content provider bandwidth in delivering that valuable content to others who use the providers resources to display the content external to the provider. Why make your content to others without that link-back?

Here's another example on a widget:

Most Expensive Homes in Seattle

Relevant, interesting and useful information of interest to a highly targeted audience, with an attribution link to related information.

I've proposed this approach to link-building to easily a dozen client sites as they were about to launch major initiatives of distributed content. Most of them think the video or widget is a cool idea and respond to that, but many ask why that attribution link is necessary - a couple even removed it after development because they didn't like how it looked outside the player or widget. Great, now you are providing useful and interesting content - for free - on your bandwidth - with no return on investment - the link is worth it's weight in SEO gold.

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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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