Natural Search Blog


Yahoo Collaborates With McAfee To Secure Search Results

It was announced this week that Yahoo! and McAfee are teaming up to help fight malware. Yahoo’s Search team will take McAfee information on malicious sites and use that to filter those sites out of their search results. In addition, McAfee can take some data from Yahoo’s search results to help them identify more malicious domains. (more…)

Flickr As New YouTube Killer?

Michael Arrington at Techcrunch reports that video is coming soon to Flickr.

This is great news, and I think it could become an overnight major competitor to YouTube — having both types of media available via one site/service makes for a lot of convenience.

Though, people may not realize that it’s already been possible to a small degree, if you upload an animated GIF to Flickr (see this example where I uploaded an animated sequence of a glider’s movement from Conway’s Game of Life).

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…)

Using Flickr to Optimize for Yahoo Image Search

Google Blogoscoped reports that Yahoo’s Image Search now particularly likes Flickr content, so this may be incentive for webmasters to use Flickr “as a kind of Yahoo search engine optimization”. My frequent readers know that I’ve been advocating using Flickr for image search optimization for some time now, and I’ve been speaking on this subject at Search Engine Strategies conferences as well.

The Blogoscoped mention of Yahoo’s love for Flickr content is particularly timely, since Yahoo! announced back in June that they were permanently shutting down Yahoo! Photos in favor of their Flickr property, and the final closing date is tomorrow, September 20th.

Previously, I’d railed a bit against Yahoo! because I’d seen a lot of evidence that they didn’t spider/index Flickr content as well or comprehensively as Google did — altogether ironic since Yahoo owns Flickr. Just as with the anecdotal reports in the Blogoscoped post, I’m seeing nice indications that my earlier criticism of Yahoo’s lack of inclusion of Flickr content may now be completely resolved. (more…)

Google, Yahoo & MicroSoft to Cooperate on Sitemaps

I was delighted today that the Google and Yahoo search engines announced at PubCon that they would jointly support and collaborate upon one protocol for webmasters to use for submitting their site URLs for potential inclusion. View the video of the announcement here. MicroSoft has also apparently agreed to use the same protocol as well.

To support this initiative, they will jointly support sitemaps.org. If you recall, “sitemaps” was the product name that Google had been using, and which became deprecated just a few months ago in favor of “Google Webmaster Tools”. Obviously, the wheels had already begun turning to repurpose the “Sitemaps” brand name into a jointly-operated service.

Now when Sitemaps are generated to follow the common protocol, webmasters will still need to submit the link feeds to each of the SEs via their existing managment tools such as in Google Webmaster Tools and in Yahoo! Site Explorer.

If you recall, I was one of a number of webmasters out there who had requested that they collaborate on a common protocol, such as in a blog post I wrote back in September:

“Hopefully each of the major search engines will try to employ identical or compatible formats for site URLs, because it will be a hassle to have to keep up with multiple formats. This is an area where the SEs really ought to cooperate with one another for “pro bono publicoâ€? – for the common good. Currently, Yahoo seems to be just defensively immitating Google in this arena, and no one’s showing signs of collaborating.”

Kudos to Google and Yahoo for overcoming traditional corporate competitiveness to do something that mutually benefits website owners as well as the search engines!

 

SEO May Be Eclipsed by User-Centered Design

I’ve been seeing indications that Google has shifted their weighting of the ~200 various signals they use in their ranking soup over the past couple of years. It used to be that PageRank along with the number of keyword references on a page were some of the strongest signals used for what page comes up highest in the search results, but I’ve seen more and more cases where PageRank and keyword density seem relatively weaker than they once were. I see a lot of reasons to believe that quality ratings have become weighted more heavily for rankings, particularly among more popular search keywords. Google continues to lead the pack in the search marketplace, so their evolution will likely influence their competitors in similar directions, too.

So, what is my evidence that Google’s development of Quality criteria is becoming more influential in their rankings than PageRank and other classic optimization elements? Read on and I’ll explain. (more…)

Nouveau Meta Tags for SEO

Back in the earliest days of search optimization, meta tags were a great channel for placing keywords for the search engines to associate with your pages. A meta tag does just what it sounds like — they are the html tags built to hold metadata (or, “data describing the data”) about pages. In terms of SEO, the main meta tags people refer to are the Keywords and Description meta tags. Meta tags are not visible to endusers looking at the page, but the meta tag content would be collected by search engines and used to rank a page — it was really convenient if you wanted to pass synonyms, misspellings, and various term stems along with the specific keywords.

Classic Meta Tags - people used to pack keywords into metatags

Immediately after people realized that meta tags could allow a page to be found more relevant in the major search engines, unscrupulous people began abusing the tags by passing keywords that had little or nothing to do with the content of their sites, and the search engines began to reduce using that content for a keyword association ranking factor because it couldn’t be trusted. Eventually, search engines pretty well dropped using them for ranking altogether and newer search engines didn’t bother to use them at all, leading Danny Sullivan to declare the death of the metatags in 2002.

Fast forward to 2006, and the situation has changed yet again. Your meta tag content can once again directly affect your pages’ rankings in the SERPs!

(more…)

Hey Digg! Fix your domain name for better SEO traffic!

Hey, Digg.com team! Are you aware that your domain names aren’t properly canonized? You may be losing out on good ranking value in Google and Yahoo because of this!

Even if you’re not part of the Digg technical team, this same sort of scenario could be affecting your site’s rankings. This aspect of SEO is pretty simple to address, so don’t ignore it and miss out on PageRank that should be yours. Read on for a simple explanation.

(more…)

Is Web 2.0 Bogus as a Business Model?

For all of us who survived the exuberance of the dot-bombs era, a little blog entry by my friend, Randy Weber, entitled “Business Development 2.0 is BS 1.0” could serve as a nice dose of logic amid all the hype going on.

In his post, he lists out some salient points on why some of the Web 2.0 companies’ business plans are woefully lacking. It makes some sense. After all, if you’re sharing your core content and intellectual property (in the form of free apps), anyone can replicate your site, and they might just do it better than you, and you won’t see any of the money they’re making!

Web 2.0 maybe doesn’t have a simple definition beyond “I know it when I experience it”, but at base it seems to be founded on user-generated content and syndication of that content along with application services. So, businesses based on Web 2.0 would seem to be counter-intuitive to the normal mechanics of classic biz, and those businesses founded on it might have a lot more risk associated with them.

I think there are just a few caveats to Randy’s post, though. Read on and I’ll explain.

(more…)

Flickr Adds Geotagging Features

In a move that proves that the people behind flickr are still channeling the Web 2.0 mass conscious, flickr announced this week that they’re adding Geotagging features to their already-robust suite of image management products.

As you may recall, I previously blogged a bit about the rise of geotagging, particularly geotagging of photos, and I had said that it seemed to be a really strong idea with a lot of potential uses. It’s gratifying to see that a service like flickr (and a company like Yahoo!) also believes that it will be strategically beneficial.

The number of people who have been geotagging or who even know about it is likely a relatively low percentage of the online populace, I’d guess (partly for the reason that most people don’t have a GPS device to tell them a location’s longitude and latitude). Now that a top-ranked photo site is supporting it expressly, droves of users will become educated about it, and experiment with it. By doing this, flickr is propelling the trend into the mainstream, increasing the likelihood that it’ll be more widely adopted.

Flickr’s new geotagging utilities were built by mashing-up their image management utilities with Yahoo! Maps, allowing users to drag pix onto a mapped location of where the image was taken in order to associate the photo with the geotag. Also, it appears that users could now use a graphic map as a navigational interface to browse geographic locations and then pull up any publicly-available photos associated with that location. Read on for more info.

(more…)

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