SearchGuild & Personal Biases

Jan 24th

Every news source you read should be questioned.

News is often provided with manipulative goals. One of the greatest advantages I have over most other SEO news site or SEO websites is my own lack of affiliation or property.

Since I do not need to make a ton of money to support myself, I usually recommend people do not buy most things. If you know what you are doing it does not cost much to do a good job at SEO. The learning process can be somewhat expensive, but after you gain the knowledge it does not go away.

The real reason for this post is that I am now the Inktomi moderator over at SearchGuild. When I provide future information about SEO I will probably be biased saying that SearchGuild is the best SEO forums.

Last year (long before I was a moderator at SearchGuild) I reviewed some of the SEO forums, and stated that SearchGuild was one of my favorites.

These are some of the things I stated I liked about SearchGuild last year in my article.

  • Chris and crew frequently come up with their own compelling theories on the whats and whys of search engine news

  • it is independent of large firms and corporate America
  • lots of technical know how (for example Chris made a bot to surf DMOZ listed sites to make a data resource)
  • has an extremely friendly feel about it
  • not much misinformation floating around

    One thing I did not include on that list is that there is no hard sale at SearchGuild. People try to answer your questions without sounding overly witty or super self promotional.

    I view SearchGuild as the open source equivalent to SEO and am glad to be affiliated with it. What do you think?

Online Branding through the Eyes of a Schmuck

Jan 22nd

Stay Cool "Don't be a Schmuck" - Rob Frankel.

Read On Just finished reading "The Revenge of Brand X," an awesome book on branding.

Right on, (or is that write on)...My article "Online Branding by a Schmuck"

Cheesy my incorrect use of bolding

Dreaming - wish I was more like SearchEngineBlog, he does the bold thing right.

Latent Semantic Indexing

Jan 18th

(GEEK STUFF) One of the largest problems many search engines run into is that after they get to a few hundred million documents their algorithms and hardware hit a wall.

For those companies that can afford the investment to get past this point they still run into the problem that each additional resource makes their job a bit harder.

One of the major ways around this problem is to take advantage of the natural patterns in human language. Using Latent Semantic Indexing allows indexing search results based on the pairing of like words within documents.

Many complex searches may lack exact matches in the results as well. Being able to find near matches will allow search engines to provide more comprehensive results.

Its hard to get computers to understand anything human, but the process of latent semantic indexing delivers conceptual results while being entirely mathematically driven.

There are two main ways to do this, single variable decomposition and multi dimentional scaling.

Some of the steps of the single variable decomposition process are to:

  • create a database of all words in relevant documents
  • remove common stop words
  • stemming
  • remove words appearing in all results
  • remove words only appearing in one result
  • create a database of relavent keywords
  • weight the pages based on the frequency of keyword distribution
  • increasing the relevance of terms which appear in a small number of pages (as they are more likely to be on topic than words that appear in most all documents)
  • normalize the page to remove the pagelength as a factor
  • create relevancy vectors for the keywords

The single variable decomposition process is not scalable enough to work on large scale search engines though as it requires too much processor time. Multi dimentional scaling allows us to take snapshots of the topicology of different documents. "Instead of deriving the best possible projection through matrix decomposition, the MDS algorithm starts with a random arrangement of data, and then incrementally moves it around, calculating a stress function after each perturbation to see if the projection has grown more or less accurate. The algorithm keeps nudging the data points until it can no longer find lower values for the stress function."

This does not provide exact results, but only a rough approximation. When combined with other factors this approximation improves scalability and quality of search.

Good Reading on latent semantic indexing

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Top Search Keywords List

Jan 18th

So many people ask what the top search keywords are. Generally this is an unimportant topic. What is important is the top keywords in the subject you know or are interested in. Looking at the general terms means you must compete with the entire web. Thinking of your specific segment (and those who compete with it) makes it easier to determine which keywords are important to you.

Here are some of the top keywords lists though just for the heck of it...

Yahoo Buzz index (also in UK version)
Lycos 50
Google Zeitgiest
Ask Jeeves

and of course the traditional Keyword tools
Overture Search Term Suggestion (also in UK verion)
Espotting
Wordtracker

and Hitwise offers a monthly search term report

many of these were found in a thread at Highrankings Forum

Custom 404 Error Page

Jan 18th

Many sites do not have a custom 404 error page. When a site visitor clicks on a dead link the visitor is most likely gone. Here is a perfect article about creating the perfect 404 error page.

Pay Per Click is Broken?

Some recent articles ("Google's House of Cards" "A Perfect Storm for Pay Per Click") have been saying that the ROI for paid advertising is going away. It has been. It was not very competitive a few years ago, but now with over 150,000 people in the market you need to be more effective to extract profits from a campaign.

I honestly think many of the articles are suggested / written by people who want to make their own jobs easier and make more money while doing it. Some articles may even be written to scare away competition or drive leads to firms who provide the services.

In the past a sloppy website with low conversion rates was ok because there was little competition. Now some areas are requiring a smooth ad, which is well targeted, that leads to a smooth site, which has great usability, and is customer centric. In essence the shakeup of the organic listings and the rising costs of pay per click ads are forcing websites (and the internet as a whole) to be more functional.

There are few mediums which have feedback as rapid as AdWords does. Pay per click is here to stay. Those who know how to use it will make a ton of money.

How to Make Dynamic URLs Static

Jan 15th

Many of these tips originate from members of the I search discussion list (which is an amazing resource well worth the money).

This guy has an datebase ASP website and makes his dynamic content look static to the search engines using a custom 404 error pag build.

Additional ideas are a server side filter softwarehttp://www.smalig.com/url_rewrite-en.htm and URL rewriting software http://www.opcode.co.uk/components/rewrite.asp.

Here is the Apache Mod Rewrite page for you Apache people...

General tips to make a dynamic site get spidered
1.) Do not force feed the spider a cookie
2.) Use 3 or less variables
3.) Have each query string 10 or less digets
4.) Create a sitemap which links to many of the main database locations.
5.) Build up link popularity from a few quality inbound links. The PageRank (or link popularity in search engines other than Google) will make the spider more inclined to spider deep through your site.

ChriSEO's 'Glass Ceiling'

In any medium there will be free rides as new adopters take advantage of knowledge not share by their competitors. While there is always a new technology which creates new markets, this quick read does a good job of explaining why off the page optimization is more effective than on the page optimization. Chris Ridings explains "The Glass Ceiling."

Update: above link to chriseo.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=62&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0 delinked, as the site is owned by a domainer and is a page full of ppc ads

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Jan 11th
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Google AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Just another tip on improving conversion rates with Google AdWords. When search words appear in a Google ad they are bolded. A good way to improve click through rate (and thus lower price per click) is to place keywords in the ad.

Sometimes it may not be practical to create 100 different ads and 100 different groupings. If you have similar terms which can use the same creative description, but you would like to have the title dynamically match searched keywords you can.

The syntaxt for Google AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion is {keyword: }

When you create the AdWords creative place {keyword: } in the first line and then fill out the rest of the creative like normal. Automatically your title will match the search terms which will improve click through rates. Please note that Google does not want this feature used on search terms which are mis spelled or otherwise break their ad policies.

When you use {keyword: } make sure you place a keyword after it so that search terms which may be too long or are not processed correctly still have an ad to show. I know this because I had one of my Google AdWords ads disapproved for not doing this. For me I would probably use something like {keyword:SEO Book}.

Some people will want to try this with a huge catalog of products and will lose money in the process. When products are widely varying you want to send the person to the specific page for that product so you must specify that as well.

This technique is likely to be most profitable to those who use it on smaller niche specific areas...the whole thing that makes Google so appealing is that you can customize every aspect of your ad and track every cent spent from begining to end.

Dynamic keyword insertion capitalization:
{keyword:} will make the title small
{KeyWord:} will capitalize all the words in the Google AdWords ad title.

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