SEOdamian's Blog

Helping others understand & share about technology, search

Do you Have your Eagle Eye up?

JD at Owlish Communications posted about  Time’s Man of the Year – Mark Zuckerberg. When you have a movie not just written about you, but shot, editted and released and an Oscar nominee before you are 30, you are on an incredible life track. But Facebook has changed the world.

Having the wisdom to listen enough to not sell out will allow him to call many shots for the rest of his life. It is interesting how quickly FB has become the new model of blogs and podcasts coming out of Silicon Valley. Now cutting edge is to disagree with the Zuck model. The movie Eagle Eye ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1059786/ ) comes to mind often as the personification of what is inherent with FB when I think of Zuck and Facebook.

So a few take aways for me:

  • Listen to what others tell you (and do what is best for yourself).
  • Have passion and everything can be fun.
  • Understand the details, but focus on the big picture.
  • Believe in yourself, even if you have faults.
  • Be willing to adapt as you learn more about the world.
  • Be clear in your vision.
  • How you take care of your friends and business partners will reflect on you. Understand the consequences.
  • Find people who are at least as good as you are, and you will look smarter.
  • There is incredible power in collecting data.
  • Presenting data can be very lucrative, even banal data.

I have to go update my FB status.

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January 13, 2011 Posted by | Social Media | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Google The Only Universe or Just the Center?

I was talking with an SEO expert recently who was commenting on how the whole Internet marketing industry is so Google centered, and the extreme power they have on the industry.

While I agree that the economic engine that Google engenders for anyone marketing on the web is huge, I had to kindly disagree that it was all Google and their relative power was growing.  Pointing out that numbers in DM News about the amount of traffic internal (self generated rather than search engine generated) on Facebook and LinkedIn has become so substantial that it is shifting the PPC (Pay Per Click) price models. This creation of ‘internal’ traffic is a continuing movement toward user generated content (UGC). UGC is a major component of web2.0 or web3.0 (depending on whose definitions you use). But looking at the statistics of how many HOURS people spend on Facebook per day and week clearly shows that the power of people writing what interests them is very impactful on the overall web.  It is no longer just what the professionals write and what Google feels we want.

The retailer Amazon recognized this shift of power from the corporation as well.  Look at their Amazon.com site these days and you will quickly see 3 main sources of content:

  • Publisher provided – title, price, ISBN number and editors review.  The facts are seldom disputed, but the ratings on the editors review show that everyone understands the publishers editor always loves it’s own book.
  • Mined content – pulled from the content of the book – Top phrases in the book, key words in the book, number of pages.  This is content that reflects Amazon’s ability to use computers to infer real information just by counting and running programs against the data of the book.  The actual information and wisdom comes from a visitor to take these snippets of information and see answers that are useful.
  • User Generated Content – even the rating of the editor’s review is user generated. But the other reviews and the ratings of the reviews is where gold mine of content and traffic to Amazon trumps most other retailers.  More and more Amazon becomes the Wikipedia of a card catalog – UGC. It provides more information than professional abstracts and paid professional summaries found in the old dusty paper based card catalogs or their digital equivalents these days. The reviews can be biased, but the ratings and openness of them allow their value to be taken in context.

That last source – UGC is such a gold mine that Amazon went and bought a collection of it for future use – it was all the UGC about movies and TV shows – IMDB.com (Internet Movie Data Base) that was predominantly UGC (what was not was almost, as the staff generating the content were mostly paid low wages for a labor of love according to rumors).

This is all a long way of saying that UGC is one of the forces that has the potential to knock the powerhouse of Google off its throne and leave space for all of us to consider different sources of ‘truth’ and wisdom of crowds. This will affect how we optimize our sites.  More and more it will be the UGC that is key.  UGC are Forces beyond our control, but well within our influence.  One of the many areas I have seen the models change – managing volunteers compared to professional staff.  There are commonalities, but there are differences.

How have you experimented with User Generated Content and what were the results?

July 22, 2009 Posted by | Community, SEM Industry, SEO tools | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The mobile user and your site

When you think about who your ‘typical’ visitor to your site, is that person someone who is viewing your site from a desktop computer, from a notebook computer at Panera Bread by WiFi or are they using a smart phone?

I was thinking about this last week when I was surfing IMDB.com from the parking lot after watching Terminator and wanted to see what McG had done previously. So there from the parking lot, we quickly were able to look up the site, get to the page and see the biography of McG and a variety of other stars, producers and directors in just a few minutes while continuing the conversation.  Lifesaving – absolutely not.  Convenient – very much so.  We continued the conversation (the rare beautiful spring nights that are not too warm or not too cold – sweet).

Looking at a website from a smart phone is often referred to as the 3rd screen (TV being 1st, Desktop computer 2nd, whatever is in your pocket or purse is 3rd).

While IMDB’s site was not fully optimized for the 3rd screen, it does not recognize when it is on a small browser, it was more than acceptable with the graphics turned off.

If your site will have a lot of 3rd screen visitors – people more often to be ‘out and about’ rather than sitting at a desk, you need to make sure your site accommodates their needs – lean, fast, direct and to the point.  Restaurants are a great example, but so are doctors, retailers and most businesses with a local audience.  They will often be looking for the essential facts:

–        Name of business – do they have the correct name of the business, and what sign are they looking for as they drive down the street.

–        Type of service or product – Do you provide the product or service I am looking for.

–        Location – Where are you?  1st to determine if I want to go to your place, second, how do I get there.

–        Hours – When are you there?  If I leave now, will you be there when I arrive.

–        Phone number – How do I call and verify the above information or ask one more question?

–        Directions – How do I really get to your place, especially at rush hour?

–        What does the entrance or sign look like?

–        Have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.

–        Link to your ‘normal’ pages/site.

Notice all of these are from the customer’s perspective, not yours.  They do not care about your feelings; it is all about WIIFM (what is in it for me).

So consider building a simple version of your site, and pay a few dollars to get a sub domain of mobile.xxxx.com that also links to your main site.

Tips on designing for the format:

–        This should be clear and simple to let mobile browsers get the information at speeds comparable to old dialup speeds.

–        The layout should have few graphics. Many 3rd screens have graphics turned off by default. In other words, put the text navigation on the top, and the graphic navigation on the bottom (opposite of ‘normal’ sites designed for home users).

–        Remember the resolution of 3rd screens is getting better, but is still low.  Go back to the old days of site design and TEST your layout on 640 x 480 or lower (320×240 is not unheard of).  Assume that users have larger font sizes.  If you can’t test on an actual smart phone, set your font size to large.

–        Test your site on as many devices as possible (keep going to different cell phone stores and go surf your site to see how it looks).  Ask as many friends as possible to test the site from their phone, even if it costs a few dollars one time, because they do not have a normal web plan on their cell phone.

–        Use small pages – have just the fact pages, linking to detailed pages with the longer descriptions.

–        Use Title, Description, ALT tags and descriptive hyperlinks in your code.

–        Simplify your CSS (cascading style sheet) descriptions, again to speed up download.

The other perspective to remember when designing the mobile version of a site is to consider a friend showing you her new site.  What would you want to see and be willing to squint at on her phone on a sunny day at a café?  That is how you need to design your site for your visitors.  At this point, the site is about the text and information, not the prettiness and the images.

By the way, following all these guidelines also plays well to another category of visitors to your site – search engines – they want to see:

–        Short pages, with complete text explanations

–        Clear purpose or objective for each page

–        Information that is understandable from the text

–        Links to more detailed explanations (your ‘normal’ version of your site)

And Google and other search engines liking your site is almost always a recipe for it to say ‘I’ll be back’ (like you did not see that one coming from a mile away) – thanks McG.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | How To, mobile, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment