Natural Search Blog


Flickr *IS* Good for Search Marketing – Despite Naysayers!

I’ve seen a recent article or two claiming that Flickr can no longer be leveraged for SEO purposes. As frequent readers here know, I’ve long been a proponent of using Flickr, both for its great Web 2.0 features, but also for its marketing/promotional value. I’m sure I’m one of the people that article writer was thinking of when he mentioned hearing recommendations for use from other articles and search marketing conferences.

Flickr can still be a valuable source of internet promotion, and a great tool for the purposes of Image Search Optimization. Read on and I’ll explain. (more…)

MS Live Search Tip: Keyworded URLs

Nathan Buggia, Microsoft Live SearchI was pleased to sit in a presentation by Nathan Buggia last week at the Web 2.0 Expo conference in New York. Nathan is the Lead Program Manager for Microsoft’s Live Search Webmaster Center, and his talk was on “Getting More Traffic from Search: Advanced SEO for Developers“.

One of the more interesting things that Nathan covered were factors which provide specific benefit to page rankings in Live Search.

It was striking when he covered one element in particular: URL formatting.

Nathan stated that URLs which were shorter and which contain valuable keywords are likely to provide greater keyword relevancy benefit to pages which have them. URLs which are shorter and which have richer words that describe a page’s content work better for endusers and for marketing purposes. Users seeing a keyword-rich URL are more likely to click on them when they see them in search results page listings, because they reinforce the perception that they contain what the user is seeking. URLs also should have keywords delimited by dashes, rather than underscores or even periods.

Check out this slide from his presentation which demonstrates how keywords within the URL can provide additional signal to a page for the terms they represent:

Keywords in URLs - SEO benefit
(click to enlarge)

Have difficulty in adding keyword URLs to your site? This is one of the things which GravityStream provides automatically (or even manually-generated). GravityStream proxies a site in order to automatically optimize a great many search ranking factors, including keyword-rich URLs.

Australian Yellow Pages Finally Optimizes For Search Engines

Sensis LogoThe Australian edition of Lifehacker reports that Sensis, Telestra’s yellow pages division, has finally allowed bots to crawl their online yellow pages so links to their listings are now showing up in Google SERPs and other search engines. Previously, they were apparently blocking Google and bots by either using robots.txt disallow rules and/or blocking the bots with network access rules.

Australian Sensis Yellow Pages in SERPs
Australian Yellow Pages in Google results (click to enlarge)

Amusingly, Lifehacker mentions, (more…)

Privacy Policy Could Be Site Quality Signal

Privacy Policies & Personal DataSearch engines have increasingly gotten involved in protecting endusers from hostile and intrusive elements on the internet, and they’ve also become more active in internet privacy issues as consumers are getting more educated about issues surrounding data privacy. Ask.com has tried to differentiate themselves by being progressive about communicating their data retention policy and by enabling users to define how long data is retained, for instance, while Google has revised their data retention policy as well as worked to aggressively block or warn endusers about websites containing adware, spyware, and other exploits. Yahoo! even recently paired up with McAfee to assess and improve the safety of sites displayed in their search results.

One aspect of search rankings I’ve written about before is the theory of a site’s quality — a “quality score” very likely is applied by Google (and to lesser degrees, Yahoo! and Microsoft Live Search) to quantify how much they may trust a site for ranking purposes and for users’ safety. There are a number of factors which might feed into a site’s quality score (including Google’s human quality auditors’ scoring), and one major factor that could be used might be a site’s Privacy Policy. (more…)

Travel Searches, Local & More Searches Turning Case-Sensitive in Google SERPs

Some of us at Netconcepts have been noticing that keyword rankings in Google search engine results pages (“SERPs”) have been turning case-sensitive for some queries lately. Search Engine Roundtable highlighted that the case sensitivity issue had been reported for queries seen in the UK, but we’ve been seeing it for queries committed from the US as well.

For instance, search for something like “fossil watches” and compare with “Fossil Watches”, and you’ll see that a few of the listings in the SERPs trade ranking positions:

Google SERPs Case Sensitive - Fossil Watches
(click to enlarge)
(more…)

Google’s Ranking Advice in Blended Search at SMX West

David Bailey at SMX WestJust a quick post here on some simple tips that David Bailey of Google advised in this morning’s session on “The Blended Search Revolution” at the SMX West conference in Santa Clara:

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Flickr Starts Nofollowing

Solitary RockA couple of my colleagues, Brian Brown and Jeff Muendel, identified that Flickr has begun NOFOLLOWing hyperlinks in their photo profile pages. I’ve confirmed this and have a few more details to add. (more…)

Retailers Recession Proofing Through Optimizing Internet Retail Sites

Overall economic fears are causing many retailers and other businesses to step up their games in terms of promotion. While some retailers are cutting back on advertising or paring down on their inventory, there are compelling reasons to increase the intensity in marketing efforts in order to offset the expected reduction in average customer spending. If your competitors are cutting back on efforts, not only could you have a chance to dominate in your sector, but you could even increase profits at the expense of your competition’s market share.

The internet is a prime area to focus in this period, since the net reduces distance barriers and the difficulty of locating products for buyers, and efforts to increase sales through this medium can be accomplished at lower costs than many other options. One of the most cost-effective areas for internet promotion is via increasing your “natural” traffic referred to your site from search engines.

Many internet retailers haven’t connected the dots sufficiently (more…)

Mahalo Traffic Growth Vulnerable To Google Penalty

A couple of weeks ago, Heather Hopkins at Hitwise noted that the human-powered Mahalo search engine has been showing a very strong curve of increasing traffic:

Mahalo Search Referral Traffic
(click to enlarge)

They also noted that 76% of this traffic comes in as referrals from other search engines.

This is slightly ironic, since Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo, has historically been very critical of the worth of search engine optimization. I’m not the only one who sees the irony in this, since Allen Stern also noted it, saying “Mahalo is an SEO Play“. As Allen notes, if Mahalo didn’t want this traffic it would be easy for them to block the spiders thru their robots.txt file. (more…)

Organic Search Marketing in 2008: Predictions

If you’re even the slightest bit aware of what’s been going on in organic search marketing, you couldn’t help but know that Google made a number of changes during 2007 which impacted the natural search marketing programs for many webmasters. So here’s my little post predicting where I see the trends pointing and what we can expect in 2008 and beyond… (more…)


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