Natural Search Blog


AT&T Acquires YP.com for $3.85 Million

Yellow Pages Dot ComAT&T has acquired YP.com for $3.85 Million. I distinctly recall back when AT&T previously bought YellowPages.com in for $100 million in 2004. Does this make sense?!?

Back in 2004, I laughed and laughed and laughed, and I told coworkers that it was a huge waste of money, because, I said, “they won’t be able to buy themselves into the top position for searches for ‘Yellow Pages'”. SuperPages.com long held that distinction under my SEO direction, and I knew that purchasing the term in a domain name alone would not depose all the work we’d done to rank tops for it. As time passed, however, yellowpages.com has indeed deposed the Superpages forerunner. (more…)

Advice on Subdomains vs. Subdirectories for SEO

Matt Cutts recently revealed that Google is now treating subdomains much more like subdirectories of a domain — in the sense that they wish to limit how many results show up for a given keyword search from a single site. In the past, some search marketers attempted to use keyworded subdomains as a method for improving search referral traffic from search engines — deploying out many keyword subdomains for terms for which they hoped to rank well.

Not long ago, I wrote an article on how some local directory sites were using subdomains in an attempt to achieve good ranking results in search engines. In that article, I concluded that most of these sites were ranking well for other reasons not directly related to the presence of the keyword as a subdomain — I showed some examples of sites which ranked equally well or better in many cases where the keyword was a part of the URI as opposed to the subdomain. So, in Google, subdirectories were already functioning just as well as subdomains for the purposes of keyword rank optimization. (more…)

Verizon Hijacks Mistyped Domains

I was stunned today to read this report by Martin Bosworth at Consumeraffiars.com on how Verizon is delivering up custom search results pages to fiber-optic users when they misspell domain names. Since I started working from home here in the Dallas area this Spring, I’d upgraded to Verizon’s FiOS service, so this change would affect me directly. Indeed, after a moment’s worth of testing, I see that I am being sent to a Verizon search results page when I type in a domain name that doesn’t exist:

Verizon Hijacking Mistyped Domains
(click to enlarge)

It’s not all that surprising that Verizon might do this, since they oppose net neutrality, but for users like myself, this is highly undesirable. I’ve been highly complimentary about Verizon’s FiOS service, because I’ve had excellent speed and high quality from it. I work from home providing expertise around internet technologies, so it’s vital that I be able to clearly experience the internet just as the majority of the rest of internet users out there, so having Verizon meddling with what’s delivered up to me is not cool.

If you all recall, another company did something quite similar to this back in 2003: Verisign previously did something quite similar when they abruptly launched their “Site Finder” service which (more…)

Domainers Can’t Get No Respect

Last week the second part of my “Domaining & Subdomaining in the Local Space” pubbed on Search Engine Land, and I’m particularly pleased with it, although my friends can deservedly kick me around a bit for writing articles too long. I did quite a lot of research for the two-part series, most particularly for this second segment which was focused entirely on Local Domaining.

One of the main things that I’m pleased about was my effort to be as objective as possible in writing the article — not only did I want to report on what is going on in local-oriented domaining, and who’s involved, but also to provide some concrete conclusions and recommendations which people could take away. I was upfront in disclosing my past negative bias about domaining, and in the course of writing the article I found that I had to revise my assumptions a few times over – in favor of Domaining, actually. Working off and on, I wrote the article over the course of about two months.

While doing the research, I became aware that the Domaining industry seems to have a bit of “younger sibling complex” — as an industry, they wish to be considered a respectable, bona fide line of business. Unfortunately, they have a few things which have been hampering that aim to some degree:

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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…

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Subdomains for Local Directory Sites?

Earlier this week, my column on “Domaining & Subdomaining in the Local Space – Part 1” went live at Search Engine Land. In it, I examine how a number of local business directory sites are using subdomains with the apparent desire to get extra keyword ranking value from them. Typically, they will pass the names of cities in the third-level-domain names (aka “subdomains”). Some sites doing that include:

In that installment, I conclude that the subdomaining for the sake of keyword ranking has no real benefit.

This assertion really can be extended out to all other types of sites as well, since the ranking criteria that the search engines use is not limited to only local info sites. Keywords in subdomains really have no major benefit.

SEO firms used to suggest that people deploy their content out onto “microsites” for all their keywords – a different domain name to target each one. This just isn’t a good strategy, really. Focus on improving the quality of content for each keyword, founded on its own page, and work on your link-building efforts (quality link-building, not unqualified bad-quality links). Tons of keyword domains or subdomains is no quick solution for ranking well.

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.MOBI Top Level Domain Names Have Misguided Rules

Well the “Sunrise Registration” period for the new .MOBI top level domain names just started up about a week ago, and I have to say that the rules that have been imposed with .MOBI are irritating. The company that serves as the registry for it, “mobile Top Level Domain Ltd” (“mTLD”), has required that anyone who is delivering up content on a .MOBI TLD must deliver up at least the root level page in XHTML-MP format.

According to their mandatory registrant rules, you could just own the .MOBI domain for your site and not publish a site on it — just sit on it, to keep others from hosting stuff on your trademarked name. Once you publish content on the .MOBI domain, at least the root response must be in XHTML-MP flavor, and they will police these domains to insure compliance. Sites not in compliance will be warned, and if they aren’t fixed, their zone file entries will be deleted until the sites are corrected!

Now, I understand that they idealistically want to make the internet world a better place, and they’re seeking to insure consistency by imposing this standard. However, I think they’re misguided and this is a pretty bad business decision. I don’t see anything wrong in having generally thematic rules associated with TLDs, like using .EDU only for educational institutions and .MIL only for military sites. My beef is with having a registry now take on additional powers of setting a required protocol for the content on the site, policing it and checking for validity, and unplugging sites that don’t comply. (more…)


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