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Posts from the ‘Website Architecture’ Category


RE: Really, It’s OK. Google Yourself.

Googling Yourself Isn’t Just About Huge Egos

There's no shame. Google Yourself.

We’ve all done it. You do it in secret. In the dead of night and it’s just you and the monitor. No one can ever know you’ve got an ego to stroke. It’s a secret shame you have to carry around.

All euphemisms aside (in case you missed them), I’m here to tell you that it perfectly acceptable to Google yourself. In fact, if you’re a business with a website and you’re not googling yourself, you’d better learn how to. Fast.

Beyond keeping tabs on what the world-at-large is saying about you, a business has got to know what Google has in its index. Does Google think you’ve got more pages on your site than you really have? Does Google have less pages? Moreover, simply googling yourself might allow you to find something ominous, as was the case with me.

A Google Away From Finding You’ve Been Hacked

I’m sure I’m not the only who’s ever had their site hacked. It happens, even to the best of us. Whether through careless implementation (in my case) or because someone out there is determined to break into your site, hacking happens. For me, it started with Google Webmaster Tools and seeing five pages of my total 26 missing from the index. Curious, I wanted to find out which five, so that I could buff up the content to make it more relevant or kill them off in robots.txt.

Why kill off those pages? If you stop those pages from being spidered and indexed, the theory is that you strengthen your entire domain trust and relevance and increase the juice flowing from the more powerful pages. It’s the same principle as the “nofollow”, just using different means.

A Google Away From Finding You've Been HackedAfter performing a site: command (site:[your-site-here]), I saw that Google was registering over 300 pages it attributed to my site! Obviously, this must be some kind of mistake. Digging around the results, I found that there were TONS of pages created, using bogus URLs (with keywords), on the site, killing my domains trust and relevance. Which, in turn, had slaughtered my site’s placement for some terms I was doing relatively well for.

I just think what might have happened if I’d never googled the site. Who knows how many garbage pages would have been created, who knows what kind of damage might have been done? It could have gone on for months more if I hadn’t taken the two minutes to google myself and investigate it. And the damage might have been irreparable by the time I found it (i.e. a sandboxed site for all of eternity).

A Blessing in Disguise

Of course I was pissed. Of course you want to hunt down the slug that hacked you and serve a little revenge. But after all the hemming and hawing, you’re still left with a site that’s trashed. And, for me, it was a blessing in disguise. It gave me the opportunity to revamp the whole thing. New look, new feel, and, most importantly, a new site architecture. It allowed me the chance to put the site on new platform, eliminate the fluff content that wasn’t getting indexed, and beef-up the content that needed a polishing. And in the end, I think I have a stronger site because of the hacker. A blessing in disguise.

The Mores of the Story

What to take away from this? Google yourself.  Sure, it might be egotistical, but it’s helpful and essential too. If you google yourself and help build a stronger search marketing effort and website, why wouldn’t you? Secondly, disaster always strikes. You won’t fully be able to stop yourself thinking negatively about it (to be honest, I’d question someone’s humanness if they could), but what kind of intestinal fortitude you have to kick that disastrous event in the mouth and triumph over it.

And a special thanks to Matt Siltala for encouraging me to get this one out there.  :-)


7 Links Down Memory Lane

The Milwaukee SEO Memory Lane ArchivesI’ve been doing a lot of heavy SEM lifting lately; a couple of intensive posts on The Firehorse Trail, an SEO Dojo radio interview, publishing a C-Level SEM guidebook, and SEM reporting post. Whew. I’m bit tired just listing them.

So, I thought I’d ease off the throttle a bit this time out, take a play from Lisa Barone and the Outspoken blog, and delve into a creative exercise. Spending much of my academic career analyzing, studying, reading, and writing poetry and fiction, I’m no stranger to word-play and thought-exercises, and have trained myself to spark creativity. But now and then, everyone needs a kick in the ass.

This is that kick. I think this is a really great exercise, in part because most bloggers rarely link back to archive posts. Bloggers rely mainly on in-site search and calendar functionality for people to find those old posts. It’s akin to dumper-diving; you’ll have to dig through miles of crap before you find those valuable items someone was crazy enough to ditch.

Blogs are no different than “corporate” sites. Internal linking structure and great anchor-text is just as much a life-blood to relevance as external linking, and it’s great thing to get in the habit of doing. (There I go again, talking SEO; you can take the SEO off the topic, but you can’t take the topic out of the SEO.) Without further ado, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

  1. Your first post: wasn’t much of anything. I was driving to work, listening to the local public radio station, and heard a very quick piece of news that Google and Microsoft were opening up shop in Madison. I thought, “Wow. I bet only a handful people know about and even heard it.” That’s what started my professional blogging career. NPR. I reached out to Danny Sullivan, asking if there was anything unique, and my first real blogging research was complete. *Google never responded to me. Typical.*
  2. A post you enjoyed writing the most: I love a good rant. Blasting big news corps for trying to leverage top placement in the SERPs just because they are who they are, and blowing off a little steam in the process, was by far my favorite. I still feel the exact same way about that post’s message today as I did then: tough shit, do some SEO.
  3. A post which had a great discussion: RE: Most of SEO Just A Boondoggle? Just Hullabaloo. Admittedly, this blog isn’t set up for tremendous discussion. And, it’s been only within the last six months that I’m actively responding to comments (Right. Community lessons learned the hard way). So this post stands out to me because not only was it a extra hot/heated topic around the community, and still is today, but there were some really thoughtful comments from Halfdeck.
  4. A post on someone else’s blog that you wish you’d written: This was a tough one for me. There are a lot of tremendous industry bloggers that I respect and admire. Each with their own style and panache that make their writing so easy and delightful to relish. But Outspoken’s It’s Not the Recession, You Just Suck is one I wish I wrote. I mean, damn, it was flawless, ballsy, and so honest. It was that post alone that convinced me to read Outspoken any time they posted and turned me into a huge Lisa Barone fan.
  5. A post with a title that you are proud of: I hate headlines. It’s always been the hardest part for me. I can kick the ass off content; write it, polish it, and make it gleam. But you always need a great headline to tie it all together; the lynch pin. I like this one: Deserving to Fail: The Fortune 500. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.
  6. A post that you wish more people had read: Create Your Social Media Attack Strategy. I really like this post, and think it offers a really solid strategy and methodology for cranking up and planning your social marketing strategy. Just fell flat, I guess.
  7. Your most visited post ever: Terminal Wave: The Google Wave Failure I seriously doubt that I will ever top this post. Unless I spontaneously combust and live to tell about it.

So that’s the trip. Let’s see what you can come up with for your trip down memory lane.


Google Behavior-Based Search: Is Bruce Clay Right?

Should Site Traffic be the Ultimate Goal?

WebProNews recently reported on Bruce Clay’s PubCon “Top Shelf Organic SEO” lecture.  If you’ve read it, then you know exactly where I’m headed.  If you haven’t here’s the gist of it:

Ranking is dead,” says Bruce, recalling his words from his presentation. Going forward, he says you’re going to have to look at analytics, measure traffic, bounce rates, action, etc. SEOs will have to ask themselves questions like: – Did I get the conversion I was after? – Did I really deliver on the promise of SEO? Bruce thinks that in the first six months of 2009, we’re going to see a lot more implementation of behavior and intent-based search leading to a mindset of ranking is dead, and traffic is all that matters.

I wrote about this topic in early September this year, and it seems to be finally making it’s way to the mainstream.  Do I think that Bruce has got it right?  Yes, Bruce got it right: search engine position and rank is dead.  However, where I think Bruce is leading SEOs astray is claiming traffic is the new “Google #1″.  It most certainly is not.

In Terms of Small Business SEO:

Google Personalized Search on Small Business SEO

Google Personalized Search on Small Business SEO

Personalized search (behavior-based search) based of your IP Address, or Google tracking you through your Google Account, is going to make search engine rankings quite irrelevant.  Because results will be based on several new factors, not automatically taken into account now: geo-location, types of searches, and previously visited pages, results will now be somewhat tailored to fit those factors.

Will this affect small business SEO?  Inherently, yes.  A majority of small business owners have trained themselves in the belief that being “#1 in Google” is the only goal that matters.  With personalized search, “being #1″ may or may not help; for example:

If a user, let’s say this user is a dentist, and does dental searches all day for information on x-wing bites, a common dental x-ray technique, but is a Star Wars buff.  Our dentist can’t remember the name of the rotund guy who flies the x-wing in the original Star Wars.  So the dentist types in “fat guy x-wing”. Personalized search is, in all probability, not going to be able to distinguish between a “work” search and “Star Wars” search.  Thus, giving the dentist work-related results. (By the way, the fat guy was Porkins).

Trying to explain why being #1 in Google may be irrelevant to small business owners, will not be easy.  For years this is all they heard, this is all they know.

A Point of Contention With Bruce Clay

Do I think that Bruce was wrong to say that traffic is the new goal?  Absolutely.  Traffic, of course is a must have, but should it be the singular goal of the SEO?  Absolutely not.

In fact, it’s definitely not the most important benchmark for success.  It’s simply a byproduct of success.  What is the real measure of success on a website?  Goal Conversion.  It’s where all SEOs should be focusing themselves.  Goal Conversion.

In my opinion traffic is akin to pageviews.  You can have a lot of both, but if you aren’t making money, then does anyone really care that you bring in 10,000 unique visitors a day, who view 1,000,000 pages?  Definitely not.

We have established, albeit painfully, that the CPM-model for site revenue is non-sustaining.  Use the latest tragedy of CPM-Model driven revenue: Boomertowne.  A spectacular disaster; simply an awe-inspiring bomb sure to make every not-so-net-savvy entrepreneur think twice before getting on the CPM Train.

This is all to say: traffic, like pageviews, is of a bygone era.  The focus has to be on goal conversion: funneling consumers/users to make the purchase, inquire for more information, or contact you.

How To Function As An SEO in the New Personalized Search

1) An SEO must still do the basics:

  • Tedious KW research, tedious client research, and tedious competition research.
  • Solid Meta-Data (Page Titles, Description, and, yes, a couple of keywords too)
  • Site and Page Usability Methodology

Why do all this if Google is going to throw traditional search out the window?  Because people are people.  Because users have a sixth-sense if a site is spam or not.  Because users still read search engine results pages.  And, most importantly, Google will not remove these factors from the algorithm.  It’s built an empire from making these, and link calculation methods, how relevance is calculated and then displayed.

2) Focus on Goal Conversion

That’s the bottom line: are users converting on the site?  Considering the economic disaster at-hand, small business owners probably care less about high traffic numbers, if they’re not making any money.  As an SEO, you are not only the traffic bringer’, you’re also the goal conversion expert. (At least you should be.  And if you’re not, you need to start learning quickly)

That’s where SEO and SEM are headed: Goal Conversion.  It’s more important ever to be cognizant of goal conversion as the goal of SEO.


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