SEOMoz announces LinkScape – Radically altering the SEO Tools market

Seattle,SEO by on October 6, 2008 at 11:46 am

Last night SEOMoz announced LinkScape, a link-based tool that maintains a self-generated index of 30 Billion pages. Yes, that’s B of Billion. It was only 3 years ago that Yahoo announced an index size of 20 Billion pages.

Almost equally impressive is that this service was built on $1.1 million in venture funding (yes they did have revenue, but that was still less than a million a year). Internet companies and products are being built for far less now than they have ever been.

The enormity of this accomplishment cannot be understated, and I’m certain it will revolutionize the typical approach to SEO. SEO has long been more of an art form than a science and I expect LinkScape will be the first of many tools that will decidedly shift the balance towards science. The search engines have always held their core algorithms close to the vest, but the impacts of links on those algorithms will shortly be a solved equation.

Update:
Well, I wrote too soon. It has since come to light that Linkscape does not operate its own crawlers and instead leverages the many crawler APIs. This intentional error of omission definitely lowers the magnitude of the accomplishment, but it doesn’t change the value of the service.

SEO Blog Tips from Pubcon

SEO by on January 2, 2008 at 8:38 pm

I spent most of last week at Pubcon. While I was mostly speaking with people about problems they’ve had with trademark abuse, I also walked away with several valuable blog-related tips:

  • Use SEO Title Tag. I’d made SEO friendly changes to my titles before, but the control this plugin gives you is very impressive. For example, I wrote the SEO unfriendly (but humorous to me at least) post title “I can has Elvii” and used the plugin to make the title tag “Running the 2007 Las Vegas Marathon as Elvis”
  • List Related Posts. This helps drive increased pageviews per visit (mine went up by 11%) and increases your single-post to single-post links. I installed the WASABI Related Posts plugin, and then added this code to my index.php:
    < ?php if(function_exists('related_posts') && (is_single())) { ?>
      <h4 class="relposts">Related Posts</h4>
      <ul class="relposts">
      < ?php related_posts(); ?>
    </ul>
    < ?php } ?>
    
  • Reduce Duplicate content . You want single post pages, not archive pages appearing in Google:
    • Write summaries for each post and display those summaries on your category and archive pages instead of the full text of each post. or
    • Noindex your archive and paged pages (maybe category and tag also). Joost deValk’s Meta Robots plugin provides functionality to address this.
  • Disable your archive links . Make sure your page has a crawl path (category and tags). Noindexed pages retain pagerank. You don’t want to pass pagerank to noindexed pages. I chose to
    • Also consider nofollowing your category and tags links. I chose to nofollow category and archive links on my single post pages, while retaining follow on other pages. Joost’s plugin addresses these issues as well. One note, you need to update your theme to use the WordPress template tags wp_list_categories and wp_get_archives and not the deprecated list_cats, wp_list_cats or get_archives.

There was certainly a lot more related content, but these were a few tips that triggered me to make changes to my blog.

Companies spamming Google Local

Local,Search,SEO by on December 28, 2007 at 6:22 am

I’ve written before about some of the many ways that local businesses spam the yellow pages.

Google Maps has now ‘arrived’. Local businesses are now spamming Google Local (Maps). Surprisingly, many of the techniques that are being used to spam Google, have been used for many years to spam the Yellow Pages.

Mike Blumenthal has several great examples, including my favorite example: 0 & 0 24 Hr Locksmith (and their 1699) listings for a locksmith in Philadelphia (why does the locksmith profession attract spammers?).

philly-flim-flam2.jpg

While local business spammers won’t have the sophistication of your typical web spammer, what they lack in sophistication, they make up for with sheer numbers.

‘Google Farts’ – Unexplained drops and subsequent rises in search traffic

Judy's Book,Search,SEO by on June 1, 2007 at 8:26 am

Yes, even Google has indigestion.

The graph below is a disconcerting sight to any website (this is from our deals subdomain). Organic search traffic from Google plummeted on Friday, and was down 90% on Saturday and Sunday. By Tuesday everything was normal. We had changed nothing. Throughout this ‘fart’, organic traffic to our www domain was unchanged.

urchinreport.png

My thought on Friday was that Google Analytics was having one of its all to frequent data update delays. I was out this weekend, and fortunately didn’t check the stats (If I had, I’d have spent most of the weekend trying to find a non-existent problem). On Tuesday when I got in, I shifted into troubleshooting mode. SEO troubleshooting small sites is difficult, but troubleshooting large sites can be very time consuming.

By midday Tuesday, the data looked normal so I stopped digging. I only burned a few hours on this non-existent problem, but could have easily burned a lot more (for example if the problem persisted for another day or two).

I can’t help but feel (wish?) that at some point Google will be held liable for crap like this.

Which Blog Platform is the Best for SEO?

SEO by on April 29, 2007 at 9:30 pm

A month ago, I opened accounts at the three major hosted blog platforms (WordPress, Typepad & Blogger), and wrote two equivalent posts (similar titles and keyword densities) on each platform using made-up keywords. I also hosted a WordPress powered blog on a newly registered domain and created similar posts there (I recognize that this isn’t an entirely fair option because I didn’t do the same for all three platforms). I used all of the default options of the blog platforms.

I then monitored the search results for these fictitious keywords to see how quickly the posts would be indexed and how the posts would rank relative to each other.

The two terms I targeted were: patwrxa & qtyuist, and the four blogs I used were: patwrxa.com, patwrxa.wordpress.com, patwrxa.typepad.com, patwrxa.blogspot.com


1. Time to Indexing

The average time that it took for the posts to be first seen in the search engines . I didn’t include Live.com as it had only fully indexed one of the four sites (Typepad). I also tested and excluded Technorati, which never picked up the Typepad blog.

The rank is my qualitative assessment based on the data, my perception of the importance of the various engines, and how I saw the data change over the week. Yeah, I wish it was more scientific too, but you’ll have to deal.

RankPlatformGoogleYahooGoogle Blog Search
1Blogger2 days10 days1.5 days
2WordPress5.583
3WP on Domain681.5
4Typepad3.521Never Indexed

I had several observations:

  • Blogger gets content into Google’s index the quickest (not surprising)
  • WordPress.com and Hosted WordPress were indexed similarly quickly
  • Some posts jumped in and out of the index.
  • I was surprised to find Typepad indexed slowly on Yahoo, and not at all on Google Blog Search.

Also notable: Yahoo is already struggling with spam on the search terms


2. Relative Ranking

Average Position calculated by taking the average of the two positional ranks.

A note on Yahoo’s numbers. The blogs indexed in Yahoo fluctuated a lot, so I have two numbers listed for Yahoo: the first is the present day rank. The second is the average rank when all pages were in the index (about a week ago). N/I means Not Indexed (Currently)

RankPlatformGoogleYahooGoogle Blog Search
1WP on Domain1.51 (1.5)3
2WordPress2.52 (4)1.5
3Typepad2N/I (2)N/I
4Blogger4N/I (2.5)1.5

OK, these results were a lot less consistent between platforms and between search engines. I did notice several things:

  • The blog on the domain patwrxa.com did the best for the keyword ‘patwrxa’.
  • I didn’t see any major sandboxing issues with the new domain. Or, the blogs all faced similar sandbox issues.
  • There seems to be an inverse relationship between rankings on Google Search and Google Blog Search. This may be coincidence.
  • The rankings did bounce around a bit. The numbers I posted above are the current rankings and generally represented the steady state.


Summary - the Best Search Optimized Blog Platform?

WordPress. Although the assessment is more qualitative than quantitative. It is indexed quickly in all engines and ranks well in all engines. If you host your own version of WordPress, you’ll find the search performance to be similar (maybe even better) to a WordPress blog hosted on wordpress.com.

Disclaimer: Although I think it is informative, this is far from a scientific test. To properly conduct a test, you would need to create tens of blogs on each of the platforms and test each with real keywords in addition to the manufactured ones - time/skills that I definitely don’t have.

Which Blog Platform does the best in Search Engines?

SEO by on March 28, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Inspired by Matt’s humorous experiment, I decided to run a test to see which blog platform is best wired for search engines.

I’ve written posts with similar length and keyword densities at the three major platforms and on a new domain:

I used the default settings in each blog platform, and the links above are the first links to the new blogs on the web. The hosted services may have internal linking structures set up, but this is also part of the test.

I’ll judge the results of the analysis by two factors:

  1. Time to inclusion in the search engines. The quicker that a blog gets into the search engines the better.
  2. Relative ranking of the pages. The higher the better.

Oh, and if for some bizarre reason you want to link to these pages, please link to all four equally.

The Value of Ranking #1

Analysis,Judy's Book,Search,SEO by on February 28, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Matt McGee of Small Business SEM wrote a brilliant post on the the value of occupying the first search position. Here’s a graph detailing click share against position:

aol-search-data.gif

I guess we all intuitively understood this, but I was shocked that the top position saw 10x the traffic of the fifth position (which is still above the fold).

Shotguns and Sniper Rifles

I think that this suggests a lot about SEO strategy. JB receives lots of long-tail search traffic. Our approach towards SEO has been largely on-page optimization - we haven’t undertaken any linkbuilding efforts. We’ve aggregated a lot of our reviews into topically relevant pages that would be easy to link to, but we’ve largely taken a build it and links will come approach.

This data makes me rethink that strategy. Anecdotally, I know that we rarely rank in the top position, although we frequently make the top 5. I wonder if the next step would be to take a look at our long tail organic traffic and determine the rank of those terms. It would be simple to determine an ‘upside’ from this data and develop a much shorter list of terms to focus on. I’m curious what focused link building could do for some of those terms. It seems like something worth experimenting with.

New Google Webmaster Link Tool – Proof that it pays to promote

Analysis,Search,SEO by on February 10, 2007 at 12:31 am

There has been plenty of coverage around the blogosphere about the new Google Webmaster Link Tool.
Danny Sullivan’s writeup at SearchEngineLand is top notch and well worth a read if you’re looking to understand the tool.

Here’s a screenshot of my links:

google-webmaster-tools.jpg

There are really 5 posts that stand out. These five posts generated 88% (1661) of my inbound links. The post that got to the front page of Digg generated 54% (1020) of my inbound links. With each of these 5 posts, I realized that they would likely be interesting to a wider audience. I emailed 2-4 very relevant bloggers each time and frequently got picked up - the rest of the links followed from those few pickups.

It is worth stating that the number of unique domains in that pool is much smaller than the number of links. I’d love for Google to include a unique domain count column in this report as well - it would greatly increase the value of the tool.

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