Natural Search Blog

To Have WWW or Not To Have WWW – That is the Question

Over time, I’ve become a fan of the No-WWW Initiative.

What is that, you might ask? It’s a simple proposal for sites to do away with using the WWW-dot-domainname format for URLs, and to instead go with the non-WWW version of domains instead. Managing your site’s main domain/subdomain name is one basic piece of search engine optimization, and this initiative can be a guide for how to decide which domain name will become the dominant one for a site. Read on for more info…


MarketingProfs Webinar Today: SEO for Large Websites

I neglected to mention that I’m to be interviewed today by Stephan Spencer in a MarketingProfs webinar we’ve entitled “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Really Big Websites” at 12:00 Noon, Eastern Time. We’ll go over a number of basics and issues for performing SEO at an enterprise level, and I think you’ll find some good information in the topics we’ll be covering. The cost is $99 and the seminar will go for 90 minutes. If you can’t attend it today, don’t worry because there will be a recorded version of it available later.


AMA Hot Topic Series: Search Marketing Chicago

The AMA Hot Topic Series on Search Marketing in Chicago this past Friday went well. Presentations were given by Stephan Spencer (Netconcepts), Alan Rimm-Kaufman (Rimm-Kaufman Group), Neil Patel (Advantage Consulting Services), Trevor Foucher (Google), Mike Moran (IBM & author of the Biznology Blog) and myself, Chris Silver Smith (Netconcepts GravityStream).

This was the last leg of the tour, but I understand that this day-long seminar is to likely begin touring anew through additional cities this Fall. If you’re interested, stay tuned and watch the AMA site’s events pages for upcoming dates.

As promised, here’s my PowerPoint presentation on how Content is the Basis of SEO. (8.4 mb download)

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Search Marketing Basics Tip: Include a URL on Your Products

This may seem like a no-brainer because, well, it is — but if you manufacture and sell products you should think of ways to include your contact information on those items so that people could find out where to get them – particularly you should include a URL. The typical person encounters and uses hundreds of objects every day, so leaving your company info off of your products can represent a lot of missed opportunities. Read on for details…


Stephen Colbert puts Internet Yellow Pages on notice?

I just saw this hilarious photoshopped illustration of Stephen Colbert, apparently making some commentary about online yellow pages and local search sites:

Stephen Colbert on Local Search

This was used to illustrate a blog article commenting on how Google Maps could now be poised to totally kill off other IYPs, now that they’ve added user reviews. (“Google Maps Puts Local Search Industry On Notice”)

The placard Colbert is holding up lists a number of the top online yellow pages and local search companies: Yellowpages, Superpages, Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Idearc, MSN Live, and Citysearch.

While I disagree — I don’t think the addition of user reviews is the tipping point for Google Maps — hat tip to Evan Roberts for a very clever and funny article illustration!

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Google Maps could be chocked full-O-ads

I was glancing at Google Maps of Tokyo when I noticed just how many ads they have running in them! I can see icons for all sorts of chain restaurants for instance, including: McDonald’s, Baskin-Robbins, 7-Eleven, Royal Host, Mini Stop, Taco John’s, Denny’s, KFC, ampm, etc.

Ads in Google Maps, Tokyo
(click to enlarge)

Now, we’ve already seen ads in Google Maps here in America, but in a much more limited deployment:

Google Maps Ads in the US
(click to enlarge)

The Tokyo map ads are not clickable like the ads in the states.

What’s really different with the Tokyo map is the density of ads within the maps is much greater, and there seems to be much more variety of companies advertising. I can only see this as the likely future for Google Maps here in the US, too — more ads, from more companies.

UPDATE 3/18/2010: Mike Blumenthal reports on how icon ads have been added to Google Maps in Australia.

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Online Marketing Tips for Rare Book Shops and Indie Bookstores

Marketing Tips for BookstoresEarlier, I wrote a long obituary on how the internet is killing indie book shops, and I ended it by promising to post some tips on how to market books in the internet age. I intended to include both online and offline marketing tips, but my list of online tips has grown so long that I’m now intending to post yet another followup for just a few offline marketing tips.

So, here are my tips for online marketing for independent bookstores. This is particularly geared towards rare book shops, out-of-print bookstores, and speciality book stores — because I think that those types of shops tend to be more unique and are by nature differentiated from the mega-bookstore juggernauts like Borders, Barnes & Noble, and But, these tips could work for the independent general book stores, too. So, read on and see if these could be helpful to you.


Top 10 Reasons Vanessa Left Google

Well, the search marketing industry was mildly rocked this week by the news that the much-beloved Vanessa Fox will be leaving Google where she was something of a maven, spokesperson, and technical evangelista for some years. The news has left me rather verklempt! I can’t help but suppose that we’ll now all get to see her less or not at all in her new role working for the real estate website, Zillow.

I’ll be missing her Sandman t-shirts and Buffy references at the conferences, and I fear the subject matter will end up being a lot drier overall for her lack.

Though I don’t know that she’d need any SEO help, I must say that I happen to know a thing or two about local search optimization, if she would like to call me in for advice at Zillow! 😉

In appreciation for Vanessa, with warmest regards, here’s a little list I composed of the Top Ten Reasons Vanessa Left Google:


Cool Yellow Pages Billboard Ads from Israel

Ad agency Young & Rubicam’s Israeli office came up with this great billboard and tv campaign to promote the Golden Pages — Isreal’s primary yellow pages company. This is one of the more effective yellow pages billboard campaigns I’ve seen — they’re funny, engaging, and simple enough to read when driving:

Y&R Billboard - Acupuncture
Acupuncture – billboard for Israeli Yellow Pages, the Golden Pages

Here’s their funny pinnocchio-inspired video ad.

The Y&R Israel blog shows some of these in Hebrew – I’m assuming they mocked up the ads in English primarily for promotional release distribution in America — I bet these English versions of the ads are not actually being used on billboards anywhere, but I couldn’t get confirmation from Y&R before posting this.

Click through to see some more cool billboards from the sequence…


When Google Changes Page Titles

As most webmasters are aware, the text put within a page’s <TITLE> tags appears in two places – at the top of the browser window when a user is viewing a page, and it appears as the link anchor text on Google’s and other search engine results pages. But there are some rare occasions when Google will display different link text on their result pages than what is used in the <TITLE> text. So, why is this happening, and could it be happening to you?

I was recently researching some problems that a client was exeriencing due to bad advice given to him by a prior SEO agency (they’d encouraged him to buy links and participate in link exchanges, I found, among other sins). While looking into the site’s problems which included various over-optimizations and bad usability design, I discovered that when I used a particular keyword to search in Google, his site’s homepage came up with a completely different title in the search results. Most of his other desired keywords brought up his HTML <TITLE> text like normal, but this one did not…


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