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Viral Marketing – Web 2.0 Expo September 17, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : 'Viral Marketing, Blogging, Internet, Marketing Strategies, Web 2.0, Web 2.0 Expo, websites , 1 comment so far

Random thoughts and Gyan on Essentials of Viral Marketing

  1. Jonah Peretti has begun with the mess which is Web 2.0 everyone talks to everyone, something like a confernce without a moderator.
  2. Are you part of the network whch networks, are you in a position to initiate a viral. Network structure make a difference to whether your viral spreads or not…. Your network would determine whether you can start a forest fire.
  3. Influential people become the key factor to success..
  4. If it is a tree without a stem, so my question how would it gain height.
  5. People don’t know what they like, thy like to look around and like what others are doing, how can you cash this sentiment.
  6. Contagious Media – Make something which people would love to share.
  7. Accidental virals do good, so make accidents happen.
  8. Half the time in office is spent on blogging, IM, Skype etc..
  9. Bored at Work Network (BWN) can create an expert out of anyone, can you leverage it..
  10. Seed your viral with big number start big, you would reach somewhere even if you fail. LoL Jonah is calling it Big Seed Marketing
  11. Seed to extra ratio can help….
  12. Multi Seed Marketing, plant many tree, some may bear fruit…. live measurement can be a way to lookafter the seed which is reacting and becoming a tree. Multi-Seed is an option when you are sure that you are not sure what will work. So you can always remove the bad seeds and grow the ones which work.
  13. Mullet Strategy, Business upfront, party in the back….Add, edit, test, tweak, optimize, be alive — be live and remember to remove it if it is not working
  14. Histrionic works, try it alongside
  15. Cartoons work, look at using them effectively….
  16. Have focused growth strategy, obsession with quality can be additional baggage, Make what people would love.

White Hat Vs Black Hat SEO August 24, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites , 9comments

Which hat do you wear, Black, White, Grey, Red or None?

The question should rather be:

Which kind of head do you carry over your shoulder – Black, White, Grey or Red?

It looks like everyone has been changing/ exchanging hats. If it is the color of head we talk about, it would be more exciting and entertaining :)

Continuing with my series on SES 2008, San Jose, this post incorporates the Gyan acquired during the session – Black Hat, White Hat: Playing Dirty with SEO

Let us define:

Black Hat: You do whatever it takes to be on top of SERPs. Good. Bad. Ugly. Whatever. Period.

White Hat: You do whatever search engine (read Google) guidelines for webmasters tell you to, you don’t try to outsmart search engines.

Grey Hat: You are the border guy, you know the stretch, and you think you know what you would getaway with, you live white, but you know black and you use it on the side.

Red Hat: You know what it takes to hurt your competitor and you know how to getaway with it.

No Hat: If you don’t wear any and you are still an SEO, maybe you an incompetent SEO. Don’t worry, you are not alone 95% of the SEOs within the industry are plain incompetent.

The session was to debate Black Hat vs. White Hat, but the debate didn’t happen. it looked like the whole panel was wearing Grey Hat and tended to remain on the border and just didn’t want to be drawn to the controversy. Important observation were made:

  1. Established sites have much more restrictions, they can’t risk exclusion from SERPs.
  2. Just made for adsense is crap. Content needs to be good. Nobody wants trash, and for sure not the search engines.
  3. Searcher needs good results and most of the top results very close to each other, if Search Engines intermix the top 5 results, it wouldn’t;t matter to the surfer.
  4. Buying excessive links can hurt, it is Red Hat.
  5. Good SEO to me is Knowledge about Search engines and the subject.
  6. Meta Keyword stuffing hurts.
  7. Everything in the title hurts too.
  8. Hidden content is black.
  9. Short and focused titles are good.
  10. Paid unrealted blogging can hurts.
  11. Vague and self promoting descriptions with repeat words hurts
  12. Paid link buying from link farms hurts badly.
  13. Search engines hate doorway or gatway pages, they hate being misled
  14. Serach engines hate carse optimization: They are bound to hate something like this – www.example.com/HOTEL/hotel/googleCityNameHotel.html - Which may go with the title <title>CityName Hotels | Hotels in CityName |Budget CityName Hotels| Luxury CityName Hotel| Cheap CityName Hotel| Discount CityName Hotels</title> This is a live example of carse black hat, “We will do anything even put Google’s name in our URLs, hundreds of them but we need to get on the top, we don’t care what happens to our site if Google doesn’t like it.” I picked up this example as it was succeeding in ranking high up. I have kept the URL intact except removing the site name and substituting it with example.com and substituting the actual city name with CityName.
  15. Great generic domain name helps

More to come…

SEO Best Practices – Content Issues August 24, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Content, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, Spamming, Uncategorized, websites , add a comment

Content Duplication Issues and SEO Best Practices

Continuing on my series on SES 2008 San Jose, this White paper is again a hybrid of what was shared and what I have learnt over a decade on search engines.

If I give you 10 pages to read, you would scan through, start reading and if what you are reading is “new to you”  may be you would read all ten of them at one go.

Bingo.

Now, if I give you 10 pages to read and when you scan through you find that “you’ve read it before” or “only one page is unique”, you may not even read my one unique page and trash all, worse, you would remember me as guy who tricked you by giving 10 pages to read when he had just information for one page. You would make a note  “not so nice man to know.”

To me this is content duplication and so it is to search engines, so here we go.

  1. Search engines job is to satisfy the searcher, they want to grow and be seen as credible.
  2. Search engines have no favorites.
  3. They trust you unless you betray them, they work with a basic premise that what you are feeding them is your own and unique.
  4. So when you feed search engines anything they “Scan”, if you are “New”  they may read whole of it.
  5. If you are not “New” they’ll trash you and “remember” you as “not a good site to know”.

So what are your choices, simple choice is to always provide “New content”, but this choice is expensive and restrictive to many, so what do these many do:

  1. Put same content on many pages on the same site as it is.
  2. Put same content on many pages of the same site with minor modifications, disguising it as new content.
  3. Put same content on many different sites under the same ownership.
  4. Put same content on many different sites with minor modifications but the sites are under the same ownership.
  5. Put same content on many different sites under many different ownerships, in many different servers, in many different data centers with or without minor modifications.

They all presume that they would be able to manipulate their way around, some do succeed, but issue is how hard are you working to do something which is wrong anyway. Search engines are becoming smarter by every passing day, they are scanning better, they are storing better and they are recalling better. The best case scenario is don’t duplicate your content and don’t manipulate content of others and put the same on your site, remember sooner or later you would be caught and become “Not a Good Site to Know”, and search engines would drop you out, as we all do.

This leaves us with the issue of what if someone does this to me. Yes, this is the issue!

So if you are original source of the content, your worry is – How does search engine know that I am the original? Search engines are working very hard to reach the original, in case they don;t make them aware.

Do what you will do with your assets: Protect them, be vigilant and act if someone breaches your copyrights. A related issue is when you syndicate your original content, I will cover this subsequently.

Some common inadvertent content duplication mistakes and issues:

  1. When spiders read your content four times:  http://example.com,  http://www.example.com, http://www.example.com/index.html or http://example.com/index.html. Most of the spiders know how to circumvent it, but it will help to put 301 re-directions in place and route everything to www.example.com
  2. When you change platform
  3. When you change URL structures, remove the old one and  deploy 301 redirects
  4. When you create test folders, remove your test folders
  5. When you shift to a sub domain, clear the content permanently from your servers
  6. Disclaimers and privacy policies running across sites and copyright statements running across site. put non-crawlable JS functions or connect them centrally.
  7. Check your landing pages, if you have multiple landing pages make them unique
  8. Check your meta titles, and meta descriptions, they need to be unique
  9. Be careful on mirrored sites
  10. Content in multiple languages with common attributes or language strings is a no no
  11. Use exclude protocol in robots.txt where-ever you need to share the same content, within the same site or at different domains
  12. Check out and remove any hidden link.
  13. Use password protection where you need to carry duplicate content
  14. Permanent deletion of duplicate content is better than redirection

The above can form some of the best practices SEO’s can follow.

more to come…

SEO Best Practices Meta Description Tag August 22, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites , 6comments

Continuing with my executive summaries on SES 2008, San Jose – Here is my take on Meta Description Tags:

Lot of King Size SEOs scream on top of their voices “Who cares for Meta Description Tags”, I whisper “The searcher cares and I care. Period.”

Why does the surfer care:

  1. Knows the animal called SEO, and is scared of it.
  2. Is not a novice, she knows that first couple of results are best optimized but may not be the best results.
  3. She needs a 20 second elevator pitch.
  4. She falls in her self esteem if she hits a trash.
  5. She likes manicured hands, Your title is your head and your description is your hands.

I can go on and on…

But Why do  I care?

  1. Makes me look serious and business like, at all time
  2. Gets me the right traffic
  3. Good Description sticks
  4. She enters my site knowing precisely what she needs and I have it, no surprise, she hates them
  5. “Copyright 2001-2008″, we all have seen all kinds of information filling up in search engines when meta Description Tag is not there or not used properly. it saves me from showing my dirty linen or any unwanted information.
  6. A good Meta Description Tag Page gives me higher number of Clicks at number 5 than a no Meta Description tag page gets me at Number 2.

The correct syntax for the Meta Description Tag in HTML is;

<meta name= description content= “Your 20 second Elevator picth works here.”>

<META NAME= “Description” CONTENT=”Your 20 second Elevator Pitch works here.”>

More SEO tips shall follow, these Tips are my own assessment of what works for me, they maynot be totaly in line with what has been preached at SES 2008, San Jose.

SES 2008 Site Clinic August 22, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites , 1 comment so far

So what is a website clinic? As per Search Engine Strategies 2008, San Jose organizers, a website clinic is a one to tow hour session where a panel of “Website Gurus” evaluate your site publicly.

They allow you to explain what your site does briefly. Each site review takes about 15 minutes, I attended three sessions on this subject today:

My random thoughts:

  1. Try to stick to one coder or a style of coding
  2. Ensure your site supports the resolution your customer group generally work on
  3. Maybe it is a good idea to give relative links from your homepage to internal server
  4. Seeing what you are looking for in the URL makes sense
  5. Dynamic Menus can create a problem, they may confuse the spider, robots and whatever
  6. JS is best avoided in all sorts of navigation.
  7. JS also adds to overheads
  8. It may be good idea to tackle multiple coder issue by rewriting the code for your top pages (top pages and not all pages) in one style from time to time.
  9. Hyphens are better than underscores in the path and on the page.
  10. Wisely use SEO products and be open to adopting them.
  11. All upper case usage is not good
  12. Ensure your sitemap is there and update it regularly
  13. Define your 20 second elevator pitch and put it prominently
  14. 404 hurts, avoid Not Found Errors
  15. Avoid denial of service errors, they hurt
  16. Bring up Page 2 and Page 3 words
  17. Try MSN funnel tool
  18. Use KML
  19. Provide data dircetly to search engines
  20. Try layering image over text, but don’t go overboard

 

More to come..

SES 2008 SEO August 21, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites , 3comments

SEO Through Blogs and Feeds

Continuing on my blogging the SES 2008 at San Jose I must admit I am not the fastest blogger and neither do I do “Live Blogging”, my blogs are aimed to be educative executive summaries for myself and for all those who care. They are focused session on what all I have attended and express my opinion alongside those who are the knowledge givers.

Rebecca Lieb did a good job of moderating the session, her knowledge about the subject and her apt comments made the session lively, Chris Boggs, Lee Odden, Amanda Watlington and Daron Babin formed the speakers panel.

It is important to self qualify your blog and understand your objectives of blogging. The qualifications you must answer be:

  1. Is your blog official or personal?
  2. Is your blog residing on a sub-domain or is it a separate domain in itself?
  3. Does your blog carry your corporate signatures or it has a personal touch about it?
  4. Are you the lone blogger or there are are multiple bloggers who would work working on the blog?

Choosing your platform is very important. WordPress looked like the preferred platform for most around.

Some quick takeaways (includes my own interpretations and learning)

  1. When writing a blog remember Steven Covey, begin with the end in mind.
  2. You should know precisely what you want to write on and what you want to gain by that writing.
  3. You should make a note of the keywords you want that post/blog to cover and ensure that they find a place in your title.
  4. The panel also recommended that you should do some research on the tags you would like your post to be covered under.
  5. Socializing and creating  community around the log helps
  6. Customize and optimize your blog and feeds
  7. Use blog widgets or bligets wisely, don’t be obsessed
  8. Acknowledge and link to others liberally, develop credibility for your blog
  9. Links are currency, work towards them
  10. Try to become a top referrer on the topic of your choice
  11. Twitter, Flickr, Stumbleupon you need all of them at some stage or another
  12. Goals should drive your content on the blog
  13. Refine your blog
  14. Use Auto Discovery Tag of blog feeds
  15. Use trust rank inside your blog to increase credibility

More to come

SES 2008 Domain Auction August 21, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Domain Names, Internet, SES 2008, websites , add a comment

Yesterday the domainer Simarprit Singh saw himself in action once again. The auction had less than 100 in attendance, most of them freeloaders who had come for free drinks and food. I thin there were about 5 – 10 committed buyers who were there to pick-up whatever they liked at reasonable prices.

I picked up 6 domains in the auction two on SEO, recognizing my firm acceptance and current stance of the SEO industry, one on vehicles, two generic .org domains, one on baseball and one on Jobs.

The experience was good, most of the domains below $1000.00 got sold, there were hardly any takers for big domains. The auctioner with due respect was not very good as he had no clue about the subject. There was no passion and no involvement in it, the auctioneer in Domain Round Table in SFO was far better. Good for me, had he been good I would have landed spending far more than I did.

Why am I investing in domains, simple, I see a huge upside in it. I am picking up these domain names to complete my portfolio and be in a position to release my list so that anyone serious finds something worthwhile.

Do I have four letter domains? Yes! Do I have generic domains? Yes! Do I have two words logical domains? Yes! My story is getting complete.

Do I recommend domain name investments? Yes! I think it is good to have a domain portfolio as an investment option. Like all other portfolios you should build it up part by part.

SEO Best Practices August 20, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, websites , 1 comment so far

The most important takeaway for me from the SES 2008, San Jose is that I have come to accept SEO as an integral part of doing business on the net. I must put a quick rejoinder, Ethical SEO is good and it must center around the concept that Search Engines need you more than you eed the search engines. Search engines main stay is good content and high degree of relevant top quality results.

This post is going to be an ever evolving post on SEO Best Practices, this would be an extension of my own own learning and growth as an SEO practitioner.

Search Engine Optimization is good and is here to stay, it all depends on you as an SEO practitioner on how strongly you define your best practices and how religiously you follow them and live the guidelines.

So what is the rule of thumb, and the most critical best practice:

Make your site in a form that it enhances the search engines usage experience. In other words, Search Engines should need you at the least as much as you need them, preferably they should need you more than you need them.

Much more to come, it has just begun…

SES 2008 – Landing Pages August 20, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, websites , add a comment

Landing Pages and Science of Online Business

This write-up is inspired by the two sessions I attended on Landing Pages at SES 2008, San Jose. I must add a disclaimer that this write-up includes certain parts of my own “random gyan” beyond the framework of the sessions attended by me:

Sage Lewis is good at introducing and setting pace for the speaker, Tim Ash did a good job of not ony talking candidly but also did a good job of letting people know that he is an accomplished expert by encouraging them to buy his book “Landing Page Optimization – The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversion”.

The second session – Landing Page Utopia: Expert Roundtable – was a half ‘n half session. Half knowledge and half sales pitch. Moderator was Ron Belnager from Yahoo ad speakers were Scott Brinker from Ion Interactive, Frans Keylard from Widemile, Alissa Ruehl from Apogge Search and Jonathan Mendez from RAMP digital.

  1. Landing Page – The page where your visitor arrives/ lands. It can be any page and in today’s world of deep diving every page is a landing page. However in this context, landing page(s) is a term referred to those pages which have to run the kitchen and pay for the  mortgage, and pay for the gas, and pay for the fee of attending conferences and seminars like this one 8)
  2. Landing Page Testing – The act of experimenting (real life/ live) on a large data set to reach to the most suitable, appropriate and optimized landing page, tweaking and tuning on the way
  3. Define your Landing Pages
  4. Define the goals and expectations from he landing pages
  5. Set measurable targets
  6. Let the visitor determine and have the final say on how your landing page should look like
  7. Keep it above the fold/ envelope to the extent possible
  8. Your visitor is a smart customer/ don’t waste his time
  9. Define the size of your test
  10. Business expectations and your PPC or other spending should point to the test size and techniques you would like to implement/ deploy
  11. Focus on test Data Collection and detail methodologies to be adopted for the same
  12. Plan quick and precise Data Analysis
  13. Use optimization tools effectively including Google Optimizer
  14. Always challenge between the wireframes, which is better
  15. Being minimalist is good
  16. Don’t confuse when closing
  17. Basics of conventional sale apply to your landing page
  18. Give the same respect to your unknown visitor as you give to the potential standing across you
  19. You’ve got him, now convert -eliminate choices, unclutter what remains and focus on on your goal
  20. Be at your best and cut the chase at this stage
  21. Always tell yourself and anyone who matters “Less is Better” when it comes to landing pages
  22. No shortchanging, give him what you promised him on the “click to me” page
  23. Deploy as many confidence building measures (CBMs) in a discreete manner but above the envelope as you can to break the ice. Use risk reducers or CBMS across your pages, don’t create doubt
  24. Customer recommendations on landing pages help, customer references, logos and recommendations on Landing Pages push the envelope little more
  25. Smart transaction interaction could help, avoid re-entry at all stages, avoid useless or unnecessary entry, every data entry beyond stage one pains and pains a lot
  26. No surprises should be your motto with the customers
  27. Measure, maintain and monitor your conversion rate (CR)
  28. Be normal with your error messages, error messages as and when they come should be non intrusive
  29. Having a consistent landing page for a customer helps, use cookies if required.
  30. Plan effective follow-up. Put your phone number at all convenient positions
  31. Make measurement easy, plan micro-sites for your landing pages (where ever possible)
  32. Net is going local, local is critical to your game plan
  33. Search engines can do their job only if you have the data
  34. Make lead generation forms simple, simple, simple.
  35. Seek opinion on your cruical landing pages from all quarters
  36. Design your landing page to meet the goal of the individual even if it doesn;t meet the prefernces of the individual
  37. Testing is continual, just keep testing

Google Cuil Comparison Report July 31, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Internet, portals, Search Engines, websites , 1 comment so far

Search Engines have always excited me, and I am loving doing Google Vs Cuil Comparison or Cuil Vs Google Comparison, choose the form you prefer. I am neutral.

For data reference please look at my other post title Cuil Review, available at http://simarprit.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/cuil-review/ 

  1. In Cuil Google comparison across 70 plus datapoints Google wins hands down
  2. Cuil is a serious attempt
  3. Cuil’s launch could have been delayed, or only a beta done at this stage
  4. Cuil needs to be thoroughly debugged
  5. Cuil needs to carry and define boundaries for geographies and verticals
  6. Cuil doesn’t recognize itself – Search for Cuil Reviews on Cuil and enjoy
  7. Cuil doesn’t speak or understand spoken English try “World Map from Mapsofworld.com” Google does it very well.
  8. Most of the filters require serious re-look
  9. Error Messages need to be polished
  10. Image integration is an issue
  11. Local data integration is non existent a search with a particular hotel address stated No results found – try “1510 North First Street San Jose” on both the search engines
  12. I would consider it much inferior to even Ask/ Yahoo/ Live and the gang, forget comparing it with Google
  13. Updating content process is not defined – As a result on search terms “Google Cuil Comparison” & “Cuil Review” – Cuil doesn’t pick up any of the results while Google picks both these posts. (July 31,2008 ). Even four days later August 4, 2008, Cuil just can’t locate this post.
  14. Some specifics, I checked for Great Mall at Milpitas, and I gave over 10 combinations for it – I didn’t;t get the official site even once. No chance. I check for “The Great Mall”; “Great Mall at Milpitas”; “Great Mall of the bay area” and so on.
  15. Be prepared to see “West Indian recipes” when you look out for Indian Recipes. Categorization looks to be a major issue.
  16. Google’s maturity shows when you search for “Time in New York” on both the search engines. Cuil gets a BIG ZERO, while Google tells the EDT as aspecial result.
  17. Cuil doesn’t understand “Geography Filter”. Search for “Map of San Jose” as an absolute search. Google knows that you are sitting in Bay Area and shows you San Jose, CA results fisrt, it also shows one result of San Jose, Costa Rica. Cuil gets it all wrong. 
  18. Cuil doesn’t have “read my mind features” at all. I don;t know how correct it is to compare both on this account, I had the same experience when I checked the search engine for the word Time in New York I just now checked now for California Area. Google read my mind correctly and Cuil sent me over to Alcoholics Anonymous. For those who are alcoholics and need help the result was relevant.
  19. Google understands Wikipedia and does excellent meshing up of wiki information with search results. Look for “California Area”, it goes to Wikipedia, picks up the Area of State of California from the table on the right hand side and displays it up, bingo! Now search for California Capital, the special result is Sacramento.  Cuil is yet to co-exisit with Wikipedia the way Google does. Google’s “spoken english language interface capabilities” are awesome. I just tried this “What is the area of California” to check whether Google still shows me the wikipedia culled out result or not, yes it does. It just truly filters out what is the and of. When I searched for “Where is California” Google showed its map of North America and also brought the wikipedia result telling me exactly “Where is California”. I may not go further making Google a destination site itself.
  20. Google realizes that there are other wonders on the Internet and is always looking at an opportunity to gain from them and provide a better user experience. Shall we call it maturity? Cuil is miles away ad Google on this count is many smiles 8) ahead.
  21. “Coffee Company Pleasanton” searched on both the sites brought in 100% different results. Google’s precise and accurate (and also justifiably with my post on the very top). Cuil struggled to find out where Coffee, Company ad Pleasnton were. This search phrase was given by me to look at categorization depth. My questions were – Do they know where it is? Do they have a meshing up table to bring the most apt rsult on the top? Is their weightage system working? is there database really the largest? I am afraid it doesn’t look like. It is about two month old post, a niche post. Zero on ten  again. I am sorry Cuil, but I am just trying to make you better. Free of cost.
  22. Official Sites Filter – Cuil kept on getting searches wrong all the time. Worst happened when I gave both “Paris Vegas” non absolute. Google promptly understood that I was looking for Paris Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and promptly brought me the Map and the official site. Cuil couldn’t find the official site and showed me assorted results.
  23. No results were found for: Biography of John Travolta

    If you’ve checked your spelling, you could try using fewer or different keywords to broaden your search.

    Still no luck? Send us your feedback: noresults@cuil.com - Good Morning Cuil aren’t you making a Fuil by actualy running this search engine. Why I am loosing my cool, a tester just tests.

  24.  

The 70 plus parameters on which I did my reserach are mentioned in http://simarprit.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/cuil-review/

This post is being edited by me on daily basis and made more comprehensive.

Last update: August 6, 2008