Natural Search Blog

Target Universal Search via Image SEO – SES San Jose 2007

I’ll be speaking at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose later this month, on the “Images & Search Engines” panel on the second day. The topic of my presentation will be on using Image Sharing Sites for SEO, and I focus particularly upon optimizing through Flickr. I’ll again be speaking with Liana Evans, and Shari Thurow, and we’ll be joined this time with Cris Pierry who is Director of Web & Multi-Media Search at Yahoo!, as well as James Jeude who is Senior Product Manager at

Hear me speak - SES San Jose, 2007

If you’ve missed this session previously, I’d encourage you to consider attending it. The advent of Universal Search at Google has resulted in the integration of top results from other areas of Google’s various vertical searches, smashing together their previous “siloed” sections. Clearly, top placement in each of those silos can now improve your chances of having content appear on the first page of the core web search results, so tips on top placement in Image Search may now be a vital strategy for you as you work upon improving and maintaining rankings on various keyword terms.

I’ve previously written and spoken on optimizing for Image Search, and using images for SEO purposes, and I recently wrote some tips on using images for local search optimization – another of the top three most-popular vertical searches.

Even if you’re working on a site that you don’t feel really lends itself to an image optimization strategy, I’d challenge you to rethink that! Even if you’re in a particularly “dry” industry, you likely could take photos of your products or your employees performing your services, and you could be using those photos for the purposes of SEO. How about even photographing portions of your fabrication process? Not only could those pix get you placement in Image Search as well as with the images component of Universal Search, uploading those pix into some of the more popular image sharing sites out there could result in improving your inbound links, helping to build your overall PageRank. Industries which don’t immediately seem compelling subjects for images may enjoy even greater potential in this area, because the competition might never clue into the advantages of integrating images into the site and into an overall search marketing strategy.

Also at SES San Jose, Marissa Mayer, Google’s Vice President of Search Products & User Experience, one of the core inventors of their Universal Search design, will be participating in the keynote conversation with Danny Sullivan on Day 3 of the conference – a session I’d highly recommend as “not-to-be-missed”!

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Google license plate covers

I saw that the Searcharazzi report at Search Engine Land mentioned this guy who got “Google” custom license plates, so I thought I’d show the Google license plate covers I’ve seen driving around in my area here in Texas:

Google Plate on Red SUV

I took these pix just this morning.


Yelp opens API for developers

Michael Arrington reported today how Yelp has released their API, allowing developers to dynamically query and display their yellow pages listings, reviews and content for display on any websites. The terms are fairly generous, allowing developers to have up to 10k of queries per day, and relatively few restrictions on display.

Yelp API for developers

This is a really cool thing for an IYP site to do…


Now MS Live Search & Yahoo! also treat Underscores as word delimiters

So, I earlier highlighted how Stephan reported on Matt Cutts revealing that Google treats underscores as white-space characters. Now Barry Schwartz has done a fantastic follow-up by asking each of the search engines if they also treated underscores just like dashes and other white space characters, and they’ve verified that they’re also handling them similarly. This is another incremental paradigm shift in search engine optimization!

I’ve previously opined that classic SEO may become extinct in favor of Usability, and announcements like this fluid handling of underscores would tend to support that premise. Google, Yahoo! and MS Live Search have been actively trying to reduce barriers to indexation and ranking abilities by changes like this plus improved handling of redirection, and myriad other changes which both obviate the need for technical optimizers and reduce the ability to artificially influence rankings through technical improvements.

I continue to think that the need for SEOs may decrease until they’re perhaps no longer necessary, so natural search marketing shops will likely evolve into site-building/design studios, copy writing teams, and usability research firms. The real question would be: how soon will it happen?

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New Google Analytics still poor experience

Back in May I gave the new Google Analytics design a negative review, primarily because it made it impossible to view at a glance how many people in what area of the world are viewing your site. I’d also panned it for making one unable to view both Page Views and Visits together simultaneously.

Google Analytics Logo

Despite my griping, they rolled it out anyway with this feature unchanged, and they made it impossible to view the data through the old UI as of July 19th. They report adding more requested features, but how about adding back some of the functionality they destroyed? Perhaps they’re more involved in getting the daily data processing issues resolved, and admittedly I’d agree that would surely be a higher priority. I’m just still flummoxed because it seems so unnecessary to revoke good functionality in the first place.

I’ve found yet another irritating change that I consider to be even more serious: you apparently can’t view the data in monthly units – only daily:

Google Analytics graphs don't display monthly figs
(click to enlarge)

Why did they revoke the ability to visually compare monthly periods?!? Most search marketers I know like to compare overall figures from month to month since it tends to reduce some of the spikiness of short-term bursts, and lots of folks are using monthly billing cycles and such.

If I’m mistaken and there’s some where to set the period to display monthly, I hope someone will let me know. I hunted and hunted, and checked their help section to no avail. If they really did revoke monthly display, I can only reiterate further how bad this so-called “upgrade” really was! All glitz with little beneficial substance.

The Analytics team should borrow some of the members of the Google Maps team, since comparatively the Maps team seems to get it right a lot more lately.

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