Natural Search Blog

Skype Adds Yellow Pages Tools – Local Search for VOIP

Skype released a new beta version for Windows a few days ago, and it includes a new feature called SkypeFind. SkypeFind allows users to search for businesses, add in new business listings, and edit existing listings. It also allows users to review/comment on businesses, following the trend of other online directory and social media sites.



In other news, a new free Clinic

Search Engine Journal today opened free SEO Clinic for sites in need of optimization or with specific challenges that have not been overcome.

A group of leading SEOs including Carsten Cumbrowski, Ahmed Bilal, and Rhea Drysdale will review one submission per week delivering a thorough review of usability and site navigation, link building, and copywriting from the perspective of placement in the four leading engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask).

It’s clear though that “free” is as free as having your site criticized in one of the SEO clinics experts like to host at conferences.  If chosen for review, the findings and recommendations will be posted for others to peruse.  I’d do as much myself and appreciate their efforts to help others with these case studies but as a website owner, someone responsible for SEO, or marketing manager for a major brand, I might not be so inclined to have my successes and failures outlined in detail for everyone to see.  That concern aside, I do hope they get some quality sites and develop a thorough library of reviews (perhaps I’ll sign up myself!).

To participate, simply contact the team here.

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Some Top In-House SEOs

In-House SEOs are a special demographic of optimization specialists that we don’t hear a lot about. Circumspect, they toil in the shadows while controlling vast networks of links and content of some of the highest-ranked sites on the internet. Many of the articles about in-sourcing versus out-sourcing of SEO seem to be biased in favor of optimization firms. Independent SEOs often view In-House SEOs enviously, assuming that they are paid premiums for optimization work of sites that already have natural degrees of PR due to prestige and already-existing marketshare.

Top In-House SEO Specialists

While these ideolized impressions may be off-base, In-House SEOs do enjoy some influence in the SERPs rankings for their site subject verticals, and some of them are undoubtedly paid well for their roles. Due to concerns about proprietary intellectual property, most In-House SEOs have to be fairly quiet about their work. Even so, some of them have engaged with public technological community, and a number of them blog to various degrees or are active in other ways.

In-house SEO specialists have some advantages that outsiders can’t have. They know their own technical environment – servers, networks, domains, specialty applications, content, internal analytics, and they’re experienced in their own industry with its unique needs and concerns. In a lot of cases, an outsider can’t do as good a job at designing and integrating an optimization strategy as an in-house resource. Even considering this, external SEO firms shouldn’t bash internal SEOs quite so defensively – many in-house search marketers still call in consultants and service providers for special projects.

I’m an In-House SEO (among other roles). I was curious about who my peers were in this arena, so I’ve set out to identify some of the top In-House SEOs here. It’s not possible to identify anywhere close to all of them, and I’m likely just scratching the surface here. I’m mainly interested in those others who blog, though I’m open to listing any I find. I’m trying to focus on SEOs for top-ranked companies and huge internet sites.


Google Employees Can’t Find PageRank – Must Search For It

Last night, I was comparing relative popularity of a few keywords in Google Trends, and I noticed that the term, “PageRank”, apparently has the highest number of searches in the US from people in the city of Mountain View, California:

Google PageRank Searches
Searches for PageRank by Top US Cities

As you may be aware, Google headquarters is located in Mountain View (see map).

So the most likely reason that most US “PageRank” searches happen in that little town is that Google employees are frequently submitting searches for info about PageRank. They may be searching for what people are saying about PageRank, or they may be searching for new research papers concerning the algorithm. But, they’re definitely searching for it…

For the one place in the world that has the most PageRank of all, you’d think they wouldn’t have to search for it. 😉



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Google Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Brave New World

Google’s Larry Page addressed the recent conference for the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences, and in his presentation he revealed what many of us had suspected or already knew from some of our friends who are employees within the company: researchers in Google are working upon developing Artificial Intelligence (aka “AI”).

Artificial Intelligence

During the address, Page stated he thought that human brain algorithms actually weren’t all that complicated and could likely be approximated with sufficient computational power.  He said, “We have some people at Google (who) are really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale. It’s not as far off as people think.” Well, one of the top scientists in the world disagrees, if he’s talking about approximating a human-like consciousness.

I’ve written previously about how stuff predicted in cyberpunk fiction is becoming reality, and how Google might be planning to develop intelligent ‘search pets’ which would directly integrate with the human brain in some fashion. What might Google use this for and how soon might they show it to the world? Read on…


BlogMaps – Geographic Pinpoint Maps for Blogs

A few days ago, I noticed a BlogMap in the righthand column of Robert Scoble’s blog – I don’t see it there now, so perhaps he was just experimenting with it. But, the Blogmap immediately appealed to me as a cool mashup concept, and a nice enhancement for locally-oriented blogs.

If you operate a blog that’s about a specific geographic location, I think addition of a Blog Map to your layout could be a great feature. The BlogMap shows a small map image which has your blog pinpointed on it, and a link to all the other local blogs in your area.

If you use this, I suggest you be careful about using your home address for the map pinpoint, since this could introduce negative factors, personal security-wise. Instead, use a nearby address, or use your work address.

It took me about one minute to set up this BlogMap for Natural Search Blog:

If you operate a blog that is about your local area, I also suggest using the hCard Microformat in your site design in order to best optimize for local search engines, though blog search engines likely haven’t set up special algorithms for locality specification yet. I previously blogged about how to use microformats to optimize for local search.

Another option BlogMaps offers is to just display a button that displays the number of Bloggers nearby, hyperlinked to a list of them – something you could use if your were concerned about displaying your location. They also offer a button for “your local opml”.

The Blogmap interface is very elegantly done – simple, and easy-to-use. No surprise that this was developed by one of the primary Microsoft Virtual Earth developers, Chandu Thota. Chandu just recently left Microsoft, and I’d bet they’ll miss him.

One suggestion to Chandu: it’d be really cool if you offered the option for bloggers to display the larger map that pinpoints all the top bloggers in your mapped area. I know he may’ve avoided doing this because of the cost of the maps that would need to be delivered. The way around this might be to offer this add-on service for users who wish to pay a subscription fee.

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Blog Tag – You’re It!

Okay, so, I’m late to the Blogtag game, but better late than never, right?  I’m not sure who came up with this, but the idea behind the game is that you have to tell 5 things about yourself that most of your readers might not know, and then “tag” five other bloggers by linking to them. Stephan tagged me back around Christmas timeframe, and I was so busy vacationing, and then getting back into work-groove that I neglected to play out my piece in this cool little SEO meme. So, here goes.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Me:

1. – I’m fascinated by the Voynich Manuscript. It’s compelling to me as an enduring mystery — likely one of the top seven mysteries in the modern world. Many cryptographers and linguists have attempted to decode it, and failed!Voynich Manuscript, Cosmology Page If I thought it was more than an antique hoax, I’d be writing my own Perl scripts to try to break the code down. My first decoding book was written by Martin Gardner, and I used what I learned from it in third grade to break a coded message I found in my great-great-grandmother’s autograph book. I guess the takeaway is that I’m just damn compelled by puzzles. I used to compete with people in high school to see who was the fastest at solving mixed-up Rubik’s Cubes. I think my record was right around 42 seconds. (I’m not that fast anymore, but I’m obviously still a geek.)


The Game of Life: New Chromatic Projection Method

I’ve been interested in The Game of Life ever since I heard about it back in the 70s/80s. It was some time around when my dad bought us our first personal computers. The Game of Life was invented by the mathematician, John Horton Conway, as he worked upon a way of modeling life-like behaviors within a simple field of rules. Conway’s Game of Life was popularized by Martin Gardner — the well-known writer of a popular science column in Scientific American.

Tons of hobbyists and computer programmers cut their eye-teeth by playing the Game of Life through programs copied out of magazines onto their PCs. I recall copying one of these programs out of a computer magazine into either our Timex-Sinclair 1000 or Commodore 64. I can’t recall whether it was Dr. Dobb’s or one of the myriad specialty Commodore zines that my dad was always buying.

Cellular AutomataAnyway, my aunt Amelia recently gave me a book for Christmas from my Amazon want list – it was New Constructions in Cellular Automata (Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity Proceedings) — a few different papers all nicely bound up by the Santa Fe Institute. (I’m a big fan of quite a few theories regarding Complexity, Economics, Biology, etc which have come out of the Santa Fe Institute.) After looking over the papers from various researchers that have studied different aspects of Cellular Automata, I started thinking that it could be worthwhile to set up the Game of Life with some color/display elements which can help with predictive display of Life grouping evolution. I’ve written a little program that does this, so read on if you’re interested.

Glider Pattern, Game of Life
Glider Pattern animated
with color path projection


Pork Board Thwacks Mom to Safeguard their Money-Laundering Scheme

So, the blogosphere was full up last week with postings about Jennifer Laycock, the well-liked search marketer who put up a website to support a breastfeeding nonprofit group. I heard her speak on Linkbaiting last year at SES San Jose, and she was fantastic! I’d even spammed some of our staff at my company with a note mentioning that session.

Well, one of her fundraising methods is to sell t-shirts with humorous phrases on them referring to milk and breastfeeding, and the one bearing the slogan, “The Other White Milk” attracted the ire of the National Pork Board who own the trademark “The Other White Meat”. Laycock blogged about the National Pork Board‘s demands, and many other bloggers jumped to her defense in a small blogstorm.

Most folx mentioning this failed to mention what use the National Pork Board has put “The Other White Meat” slogan to: avoiding controls on how they spend money. Read on and I’ll elaborate. (more…)

Tempest in a Local Teacup

Okay, so in the ongoing minor brouhaha sparked from my “Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics“, Dave Naffziger has posted a rebuttal of my recent post.

Just to clarify, if there was any doubt, and to steer the unwary newbies of search engine optimization from bad practices, I’m posting another follow-up rebuttal of the rebuttal of the rebuttal. Terribly recursive, I know, but bear with me and you might find this entertaining and informative. (more…)

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