Tag Archives: Reading

Book Review: 50 Ways To Make Google Love Your Website

google book small image

A must read says Land

The book: “50 Ways To Make Google Love Your Website” by Steve Johnston and Liam McGee, is pretty good.

As a cover testimonial, I thought I would re-read it now that I have a physical copy, and I have to say I still like it.

It focuses on Google, but the principles apply easily to all regular search engines. It is an easy to read explanation of the key aspects of ethical, long term SEO best practices in words even a layman can understand.

They go on to explain the concepts from webots, duplicate content through to the importance of links in the Google ecosystem. There are few bits that on this time reading I have learnt. For example I never previously knew what a “hypernym” was ! There are many SEO books on the market and in my time I have read a number. This is definitely one of the best and that is why I was happy to put my name on the back cover. I would recommend this for beginner and advanced practitioner alike.

my quote

My quote on the back cover

Here is the full back cover:

The back cover of the book

Click to enlarge

If you fancy reading it yourself you can do via the link on the Search Johnston site.

Interesting reading – week 16 2010

I can read you know!

Migrating a site and following best practice is a nerve ranking time and when the latest discussion of losing some value through the server side 301 redirect hit the SEO community there was a flood of discussion, some useful and some not.  The disadvantage of being a corporate SEO is the level of detail I personally can share about my employer, but some can and some also can talk generally.  There was a nice article on Seer Interactive called “how much link juice are you losing”. It is worth a read and shows similar patterns that I have seen a number of times.  Its nice to know other are having the same joys as I am.

In the same vein, after some major overalls here to the day job (multi-billion dollar business) at a global level, moving >70 sites, and in some places technology & platform too, there is always the debate about domains. Should it TLDs or ccTLDs, which is best, which is worse.  People selling a service or that ideology supports their company stance are always very vocal and incredibly noisy.  And they can be as people who have actually done it for real cant talk about it.  And as per my comments above, when some are able to, its interesting to see their thoughts.  I liked this blog, and the first article I saw on their site – well done Antezeta for your domains and SEO article.  The short answer, is that it depends.  Depends on your particialar situation, what it is going to be like the future, what makes sense to your business. What are the business objectives and resources. The list goes on.  But as a corporate SEO, you have to make workable, winnable, best-fit decisions all day long !

SEOBook’s Aaron Wall posted a cynical (that’s good in my book) argument around renting links and search spam and a grumble about the level of SE policing. And then how content farms are low quality and that SE’s are generally the worst offenders of ‘scraping’ other peoples content and making it work for their own ends. And the bit I liked were the comments about how community sites allow outbound links, then they get big and call out the “SPAM!” card, nofollow all the hard links and the people who supplied content in good faith, lose their hard work, well ‘payment’ for it. Well written article and I thought worth a mention.

One for the day job to care about! We have known about this for months and actively been supplying our data for this test, but when Google announced that they were going to show hotel prices on their SERPs it could be seen as a ‘butt-clenching’ moment for SEO. My favourite public write up after their announcement went out to the wider world was on John Battelle’s site, I liked the title – “Experiement to freak out Expedia and Hotels.com”, We will see what happens and if this is the death of the body terms in hotel/travel industry.

And my fun sites to watch at the moment are SEOBullshit and always a bit of Seth.

Types of searches – Navigational, Informational and Transactional

Here are some definitions of the 3 main kinds of searches that a user might do. They are important as they hold the intent of the users and if you believe this, might influence the response and what is relevant results from a search engine!.

Navigational Search
A navigational search is a specified search and is successful if your product is a specific brand name. Searches like ‘Tesco’ or ‘Diesel Jeans’ means that that those websites optimising for that brand would appear above all the others so for smaller companies it is not necessarily the best way to optimise your site as it is highly competitive against other more commercial companies.

If you are selling or are the owner of a brand, people are effectively looking for you, but may end up on a site that is optimised for your product. Affiliates and domain squatters can do very well here. This can also apply to events, generics, news items or popular culture.

Informational Search
This is a better way for small businesses to optimise their site. They can aim to rank highly for a simple phrase and make it more plausible. A couple of words creating a generic phrase are far more successful than depending on brand names to get traffic to a site. Phrases such as “tyres Chiswick” can be far more effective for businesses rather than a brand of tyres. The risk of using a brand is that it is likely to be supplied by big chain stores nationwide that already have a good amount of traffic to their site.

This could be a bit of a leveler on the internet.  The internet was meant to allow small businesses to compete with anyone, anywhere.  In practice this is not the case, but especially on local search or map searches smaller players can win and from my hunt for new car tyres yesterday, small businesses who register for local business on Google appeared on a map in the no1 slot and did very well in the map channel.

Transactional Search
These searches are far more specific and contain a lot of words that identify what a consumer wants in finer detail. For example “cheap tyres Hammersmith London (& maybe brand).” All of the sites that contain these words will come up in the search engine results and your company may be there but the amount of people using this method of searching are fewer than the others.

Fewer in quantity, but fairly precise.  The longest keyword phrase I have seen that has come to a site I have worked on was 18 words in length.  Funnily enough, 100% conversion rate to transaction.  Now the quantity of unique long tail terms can be big, but may only happen once or twice per year.  But you might be lucky and if you are in the right business the total volume might be huge!

To conclude
Keywords definitely vary by industry and country.  And depending on your industry, and your type of product, the age/demographics or sophistication levels of your customers and potential customers will depend on your keyword usage.

You will need to understand your customers (marketing 101 don’t forget all that you know from the old world order) and enough you optimise your business and your site to make sure you are found ahead of the competition.

Look at your keyword reports, ask you customers virtually or face-to-face if you can how they found you, how they want to find your service or product.

This is part science, part human skills and a bit of luck.  If you kind of understand your customer you have a chance to satisfy their needs.

Good luck.

The future of search (well as of today)

I have just read a fascinating article on the Guardian site.  It talk about an event where Google employees explained their latest products.  And Bobbie Johnson gives his thoughts on the future of search.

Johnson illustrates in this extract from the his article on Guardian Blog examples on Google’s latest thinking and products.

– Google search options; a way to drill down or organise Google results more effectively, such as ordering results by time, by type (eg only reviews, only forum posts)

– Mobile search; this is growing fast, and search will soon be synchronised between your desktop computer and your phone, so that it shares queries and data between the two machines (if you are signed in to your Google account)

– More information in the snippet of information displayed in the search result, such as showing you the relevant bits of reviews through ‘sentiment analysis’, and pulling out metadata (eg a star rating) thanks to support for RDFa and Microformats

– The Wonder Wheel; effectively a “related searches” system, but one that’s displayed as an Ajax-driven spider diagram

– Google Squared; a Labs project that creates on-the-fly research spreadsheets. Type in “small dog” (their example) and it builds a table of breeds, pictures, vital statistics and other information automagically.


The single most interesting paragraph for me was this one

At a very high level, the interesting thing with all of these is really watching the directions that Google is pushing search, and what that means about the company’s ideas. It shows that Google sees potential threats not from Yahoo, Microsoft or Ask (which provide some similar capabilities already) but from the likes of Twitter, which looks ready to pounce in real-time search, and from the yet-to-launch Wolfram Alpha, which is a very powerful data munger.

So, all this innovation in the search space, blended or universal search is leading to more and more information organised as quickly as possible.  In recent months, we have seen new search engines dedicated to content.  Clever mash-ups based on RSS / news and blog results.  Combining maps with all kinds of geography based information.

It is sure getting exciting.

Interesting articles 2009-03-05


An article by Steve Johnston’s consultancy on whether Affiliate links are or are not a paid link from Google’s position.  A bit old, from Oct 08, but came across this, this week.  So, lets not worry is the advice and run your affiliate programme and hopefully, maybe in the short term, you are adding links – on top of the normal justification for an affiliate programme.

This article on the new Econsultancy site is a very brave and overly honest casestudy of a domain migration.  You can see the story to-date here.

Going old-skool.  I have been making some robots.txt adjustments this week and have been re-using a classic.  Never forget Robotstxt.org for all your bot needs.

Another oldy-but-a-goodie on Link Bait.  An article I can across again this week during some research for a forthcoming cunning plan in social media.  Its amazing how simple solid articles stay the course of time.  See the Link Bait article.

A techcrunch article talking about the slow down in domain registrations.  I was actually also suprised by the number of .net registrations.  I maybe stupidly assumed that dot net was spammers.  The large dot cn probably are though.

This article shows a list of search engines and their employees who are using Twitter and giving another (if it needed any more help) push to the main stream for early adoptors.  See the original list on SELand.

Interesting articles 2009-02-18

Books image on adrianland.co.ukA new favourite to the RSS reader is the blog by Will Carling, the ex-England rugby player.  His direct opinion on the games, squads and players is a must for all rugby fans.  And if you are that way inclined he Twitters during the matches in real time.  See Will’s world >>

A straight forward and strangly honest write up on how-to link spam to lazy way. Slightly shady SEO >>

The new canonical link tag from all the main search engines.  So, if you cant sort out your URLs correctly you can use this to indicate to Google, MSN and Yahoo which version of the page is the real one.  I thought they could do this.  Oh well. 
Its on MSNs blog >> &  See the article on Matt Cutts’ blog >>

An interesting piece talking about how Google’s SERPs may be on AJAX to stop scrappers, bid management software etc getting an unfair advantage.  SEOcracy.com >>

The MSN blog is starting to produce some useful and well written practical guides.  Here is a link to part 4 of a series on how to optimise your large sites for search.   MSN Blog article >> 

A new blog from the google team, this time for social media.  This could be good. Take a look at Social Web blog for yourself >>

Blackhat-SEO is also worth a read. There were a couple of articles that I enjoyed this week.  Well done guys.  You should subscribe to this site if you havent already done so.  See Black Hat SEO >>