Articles regarding Search Engines – their coming and going, their acquisitions, their adoption. How SEO consultants should deal with them individually and more.

Google Stars for Reviews

Google Stars of SEO - Reviews

Google makes search even more personal with stars.

Replacing SearchWiki, Google is now adding Stars to search results as a way to make it easier for you to rate your favorites and rediscover them as well.

As Google says "With stars, you can simply click the star marker on any search result or map and the next time you perform a search, that item will appear in a special list right at the top of your results when relevant."

Read more about Google’s Starred Results.

Google Stars Resources

Google Buzz

Google Buzz for SEO

So there’s a new SMO (Social Media Optimization) and Social Networking tool out…

Google Buzz has now been released (now very much defunct). A tool very much like FriendFeed (also now defunct; in fact, the url www.friendfeed.com now redirects to Facebook!), it easily integrates into your Gmail and other Google tools.

I’m not sure how it will catch on, and if I really like it yet.

Yet another tool for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), however…

What are your thoughts? Have you tried it yet?

Check it out and let me know

Eat at URL's>

SEO - URLs and Domain Names

Domain Names are an extremely important consideration in SEO.

If you’re selling used green pants, how do you think www.usedgreenpants.com or www.pants.com/usedgreen.hmtl would fare in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page)? Well, I think you know – it would do great!

Domain Names

So what should we do about Domain Names, URLs and what are they?

Wikipedia’s entry on Domain Names says this:

A domain name is an identification label that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control in the Internet. Domain names are also hostnames that identify Internet Protocol (IP) resources such as web sites. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS).

Domain names are used in various networking contexts and application-specific naming and addressing purposes. They are organized in subordinate levels (subdomains) of the DNS root domain, which is nameless.

The first-level set of domain names are the top-level domains (TLDs), including the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as the prominent domains com, net and org, and the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

Below these top-level domains in the DNS hierarchy are the second-level and third-level domain names that are typically open for reservation by end-users that wish to connect LANs (local area networks) to the Internet, run web sites, or create other publicly accessible Internet resources. The registration of these domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.

Use keywords as part of the domain name where possible. Purchase other domain extensions to protect the brand. Buy the .net, .org, .us, and other extensions so competitors do not. Keep URLs concise & descriptive. And ensure that the user should be able to determine where he is at based on the URL.

What I suggest is that you look at this article: How to Choose Domain Names for SEO.

Now get out there and optimize your domain names, master of your SEO domain!

Personalized Search in Google

Google Personalized Search in SEO

Google’s Personalized Search is a very cool feature, but when working with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), can give a skewed view in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Attempting to personalize the results to your query, Google’s Personalized Search happens usually by default, so…

If you’re logged into Gmail or any other Google-based service while entering in a search query into the box, the results will be personalized, based on you’re click history, as well as other factors.

This means that if you’ve done some SEO work on your site, go into Google to check your ranking and are signed in, you get personalized results. And when you continue to click through to your own pages – well this tells Google that you really like this site and are "voting" for it; thus personalized/altered results may happen in the future.

But for SEO, we want to see the actual results – not the personalized ones.

There are two ways to avoid seeing Google’s Personalized Search results:

  1. Log out of your Google services
  2. Add &pws=0 to the end of your search string in the search box or address bar

Now get out there and optimize your searching skills, you saucy SEO searcher!

Google PageRank

Google PageRank

PageRank is an important consideration in SEO, however don’t get too caught up in it.

PageRank is just one small piece of the SEO puzzle, being a Google-specific link analysis algorithm in its own right.

Google explains PageRank in their Patent page on it, as well as the life of a Google Query. This makes for great reading, and will help you grow your SEO understanding. I highly recommend checking it out.

PageRank Resources

In case you want to study up on Pagerank for your SEO efforts, however, here’s some places to start your research:

So yes, PageRank should a factor in your SEO efforts, as well as even your personal (but quiet) KPI (Key Performance Indicators) but it’s definitely not everything. Understand what it is – perhaps even track it – and then move on, to more important on-page and off-page SEO factors.

Uh Oh Google

Google Glitch - This Site May Harm Your Computer

Sorry, folks just had to mention this…Too funny!

Google had a hiccup recently, where almost every single search result (including its own www.Google.com) was giving out the "This site may harm your computer" notice.

From the great Stop Badware site:

Users who attempted to click through the results saw the "interstitial" warning page that mentions the possibility of badware and refers people to StopBadware.org for more information. This led to a denial of service of our website, as millions of Google users attempted to visit our site for more information. We are working now to bring the site back up. We are also awaiting word from Google about what happened to cause the false warnings.

Check out Google’s official response to this hiccup.

Search by filetype

Google Search Filetype SEO

In my SEO consulting, I can’t tell you how many times I hear this flawed phrase "I want my site on the top of the search results. Please optimize my website and make it number one in Google." Firstly, you optimize pages, not sites. Secondly, and almost as important is the idea that anything can be optimized!

True, back in the day, it was about sites. And mainly due to the limitations of the times and technology. Earlier on, search engine crawlers, or spiders, the least visible component of search engines’ workings, discovered and indexed only the titles of web pages, and common themes among them would rank well. However today, that is far from complete.

Enter a query, a keyword, key phrase, or just your basic "Search" on any Search Engine, and you are bound to see quite a few different types of files in your SERPs (search engine results pages). Everything from Adobe Acrobat PDFs and Microsoft Office documents, to videos, Flash movies or applications, news stories, blog posts, maps and more.

Further still, you can actually limit your search results to specific types of files that you want! This is extremely powerful, and if you’re a power-searcher, you probably know all of this already. By adding in various search commands, aside from the actual words or query terms, into the search box, you can achieve this.

Also, clicking on the "Advanced Search" on almost any major engine will give you options to narrow down your choices as well.

The Secret Search Command

Okay, Okay, I will give you this powerful search command. Put your search terms into the Google search box, then put in a space, and then type "filetype:" and then put (with no spaces between the colon and this) the 3-letter abbreviation for the file type.

For example, if I want to find only PDF documents about um…let’s say cat food…then I would enter this into a Google search box exactly "cat food" filetype:pdf.

Now if I wanted Microsoft PowerPoint slides instead, I would replace the pdf with ppt (the PowerPoint filetype extension).

Got it? Good.

File-type Searching and SEO

Now, how does this affect SEO and the optimization consultant? In a big way. Think about it. If anything can be searched…Anything can be optimized.

That’s right!

This is finally the time to go into that area of documents that none but secretaries usually use; File -> Properties. Here, you can add…wait for it…Meta information. Description, keywords, dates, and more.

We all know of the Alt attribute for images in regards to SEO, but what about this other aspect of other file types?

Look into it. Get into it. And Optimize. Everything. But just don’t get caught Over-Optimizing and getting all Black-Hatty.

Content Syndication, SEO and You

Content Syndication and SEO

Thinking of SEO and looking at two quotes from the founder of the Internet Archive, I again run into the common debate over content.

I remember in an interview with search giant, John Battelle, Brewster Kahle, entrepreneur and founder of the Internet Archive was quoted as saying:

The library of Alexandria was the first time humanity attempted to bring the sum total of human knowledge together in one place at one time. Our latest attempt? Google.

Now that’s a heavy and deep search-oriented statement for sure. Lots of goodies to make one think. But now, think of this second quote, in an interview in 2004 between Stu Feldman and Kahle:

If you look at the history of libraries, you see that they tend to be burned. The new guys don’t want the old stuff around. So the lesson of the first Library of Alexandria is &quot.don’t have just one copy."

So then we have an idea of the internet, with Google as the powerhouse, and the wise ones following Google’s recommendations of unique content. We all know it to be a true SEO rule and have hit stumbling blocks in the road; RSS – content syndication, for example. Google countered later, however, saying that the original or oldest content would be the one given credit.

And then we have Kahle’s second piece, that talks of having more than one copy. Hmmmm…Social media, bookmarking, 2.0, rss, and other marketing and syndication methods are sure following this advice, and sometimes I go to the extreme of wondering what happens if & when my host goes under…I should be keeping copies of all my content on various disks. That should be obvious I guess. But it does make me wonder…

What are your thoughts on this balance of unique content vs syndication, etc. and the future effects as well?

Google Image Search

Google Image Search

In today’s web, a good site needs imagery; design, colors, and yes, even photos. Finding them (for free) on the internet for re-use can be difficult, if not downright dangerous. Here, I’ll give you a tip or two on doing just that.

UPDATE 10/12/2011
I’ve added a few new image sources at the bottom of the list.

A week or so ago I received a letter from Getty Images‘ Legal Department, claiming my unauthorized use of a licensed image here on my site. (YIKES!!!)

Reading further into the documentation, I realized that they had made a mistake, and a phone call later it was cleared up. However, the mental panic of being targeted for $1000 before it was solved was a bit unnerving. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

Firstly, as you should already know, you can’t just grab any image off the net and use it. There are copyrights and licenses in place to protect the photographer, artist, designer, etc. If you do, and you get caught, running won’t help you.

So what to do? Well here are few tips for finding free online images for your web use:

  1. Google
    Go to Google & enter the search term. Look on the left side-bar & click "Images". Here you’ll see lots of images, and many filtering options in the left sidebar. You’re not finished yet. Look under the Search box on the right & click on "Advanced Search". The filtering option almost at the bottom of the page is what we’re looking for – Usage Rights. Needless to say, Google’s Image Search rocks.
  2. Flickr
    One of the cool things about Flickr, is that it allows you to search and filter by Licensing. They even allow for uploads to be tagged with their Creative Commons licensing.
  3. CompFight
    A 3rd party interface into Flickr, this tool provides even more advanced search features.
  4. Flickr Storm
    A simple interface that not only pulls in flickr images relevant to your search, but it also pulls in what it believes to be related images as well. And of course, they have options for searching via licensing.
  5. EveryStockPhoto
    A free license-specific photo search engine with some cool parameters.
  6. Stock.Xchng
    Free image search with relaxed licensing, not requiring attribution. However, be careful of the higher quality, not free iStockphoto thumbnails right next to the free results.
  7. 123 RF
    This place offers both paid and free stock images. The free selection are of smaller sized images.
  8. Nachofoto
    Although really niche, this site is pretty darn cool. Semantic Search!

So that’s that in a nutshell. I hope you now have a launching pad to do some of your searching for design inspiration, images, etc. and never receive one of those letters!

Yahoo - LinkedIn

Yahoo – LinkedIn

So I was working on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Progress reports for the site and checking CSKnet’s stats on Yahoo… (Website now dead)

And found that Yahoo is getting Linked In…In more ways than one.

I wanted to see who Yahoo thought was linking to "craigkiessling.com," and to remove consideration of links from "craigkiessling.com." (Links to a site from the same site are internal links, not inbound nor incoming links)

So off to www.yahoo.com I went with my Search Engine queries. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, I hit gold and my query was this: "linkdomain:craigkiessling.com -site:craigkiessling.com"

Voila! Yahoo! pulled up my profile from LinkedIn.com, extracted the relevant data, and displayed it within its SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

This search engine actually "searched".

Rarely I say this, so…Nice job, Yahoo!