SEO-PRO Advanced Internet Marketing

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SEO-PRO // Advanced Internet Marketing

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yahoo! Search Monkey

This is the new search application developed by Yahoo! It allows "selected" users to display enhanced content within the search results. These appear as search results with various additional functionality and display options.

Restaurants on have had Search Monkey enabled on URLs. Yahoo! recognises these URLs as "enhanced results". These "enhanced" results have links to: User Reviews, Photos, Write Review and the restaurant page itself. As well as links, the site displays a user rating out of 5 stars and the address and phone number of the restaurant too. This is great for users who want information quickly (who doesn't?) and while the link to user reviews probably breaks a usability guideline (two apparently different links going to the same place), I think this particular take on search monkey is pretty good.

Each Search Monkey result has its own default features. These are Close, Mail to friend, and Help.

A key aspect to remember with Search Monkey is that it is only offered to a few select sites. This is to keep quality up and to make sure Yahoo! is not overladen with clients that are having problems. Once the service is available to more people, the Yahoo! help service for Search Monkey will not be around, so expect some less well-thought-out Search Monkey results to appear. The service has been designed so making a real mess is difficult though.

Yahoo! has done a great job of Search Monkey and I have heard early testing figures that suggest the "Enhanced" results will improve clickthrough (or likelihood to click) of between 3x and 7x.

I have put together a Yahoo! Search Monkey ad for a top client and I will keep an eye on results...

What standard SEO can learn from Yahoo! Search Monkey

Yahoo Search Monkey is free
-Provide free content/newsletters/RSS/advice etc on your site, it helps to naturally attain traffic and readership.

Anticipate what the user is searching for
- Can you speed up the process for powerusers? Put related links on a landing page. This will help users find other content they might like quickly.

Avoid overly commercial/sales messaging
- No one likes a salesman, so why plaster sales messages over your site like a desperate double glazing salesman throwing brochures around?

Each deep link should go to a seperate URL (like I said earlier)
- Why have seven links all named differently on a webpage? It will confuse the user and make you look as though you don't understand HCI...

Don't use stock photography or clip art or irrelevant pictures
- What is more frustrating than seeing a picture of a product you want only to be faced with something completely different? That Ipod pic might improve clickthroughs, but when they see the budget mp3 player, you'll be boosting your bounce rate with users that suddenly want to go elsewhere.

Increasing the amount of deeplinks on the result will increase the perception of complexity when the user sees the ad
- bear this in mind when targeting the ad (or any other element of your online marketing) for non technical people

-Remove pointless links on a webpage and place targeted/relevant links so powerusers can quickly find what they want.

These are like shortcuts, a less experienced user won't always use. On the other hand, you need to cater for advanced users by helping them to find what they want quicker.

Title optimisation
Keep the relevant keyword to the left and put your page name/brand on the right
The user can quickly see whether the page is relevant and not have to read through "your company name......" before finding words relevant to their search. A user scans text very quickly, so you must make it easy for them to find text relevant to their search, they will scan a search result in 250 milleseconds...

When writing for the description area use neutral language and state facts rather than sales speak
-This helps a user trust the site and the content.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Google Knol

The Google version of Wikipedia, Knol is the fairly new service that allows users to write articles on whatever they have knowledge on. This is to emphasise the importance of an article being written by someone who is an expert in their field.

This stringent quality control is similar to how Google wants webmasters to be "Authorities" in their area of expertise, this is apparently key to getting a website to achieve a top ranking position. This is quite idealistic and demanding for webmasters, but it does place importance on quality of content which is great. Without this, the internet could have become so overladen with spam that users would never find what they wanted. Well done Google.

Dominant rankings
With Knol, Google has the chance to properly control the information published there and place greater emphasis on "Authorities" and people with unique knowledge. They could potentially alter the position of Knol pages on the Google SERPs too. By making Knol easier to login and publish articles than Wikipedia, it makes it *potentially* one of the biggest user generated content websites. Knol will, in time have coverage to rival Wikipedia, it will have a page ranking for just about every search term ever...

While Wikipedia relies on a large amount of inlinks and consistant traffic and readership to ensure it ranks highly, what's stopping Google from being evil* and artificially improving the position of Knol pages on the Google SERPs? They could always argue that as Knol articles focus on "experts" and "authorities" on a given subject, they will rank higher... Remember how to get a top ranking page? See "Authorities"

Another conspiracy?
So what does Google get out of all this? Well, the big difference between Wikipedia and Knol, is that one is owned by a not for profit company and one is owned by, perhaps, the biggest money spinner of all time, Google. Google has got a revenue generating strategy for Knol, and this is to place its Adsense programme all over the UGC articles created by you and I. Now, I am sure that providing the Knol users with some revenue via Adsense is great, but does this steer content away from being measured on quality?

People will always criticise Wikipedia for the inaccuracies and downright lies on its articles, but for such a massive site, it deals with this pretty well, and mostly the content is good. If Knol is easier to create an account on, I'm going to bet that content will be terrible compared to Wikipedias. How will Google monitor all of this? Easy, by watching their bank balance grow...

* - Google is now officially evil after it monetised brand names that it didn't own on PPC. How much money has it made from the PPC brand issue since it went live?

A funny headline on this post about Knol. If that didn't cut to the chase, nothing does! Here is an example of "quality" content generated by an expert/authority. Or is it just very poorly written and researched? Does this still count as the work of an expert/authority on film reviews?

An example of "quality" content generated by an expert/authority. Or is it just a Wikipedia article that has been pasted in?

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Cuil the new search sensation

Cuil is the new search engine formed by former Google engineers. Cuil apparently has more of the Internet indexed than Google. That is far from its only unique selling point however and Cuil includes a unique search results page, which after years of looking at Google, Yahoo and MSN's, it looks refreshing and easier on the eye, displaying results in up to 3 columns by 4 rows.

This displays a lot of text about each page included in the results and along with the grid style display, it reads like a quality news website in some cases.

Looking for The Dark Knight on Cuil
The results page also includes pictures to add interest to sometime dreary results pages.
The search itself is slightly odd at times. Cuil will add various media to its results like video clips, but a search for Dark Knight on Google triggers that this is a recent movie related search, so a movie trailer is the first result I get, followed by a news article and the usual official site, Wikipedia and IMDB site results.

Time sensitive queries
I have always thought that Google is good at judging when to include news pages at the top of the first results when it suits the search query. The related news articles that appeared on my query were great, a news article on the bloopers in The Dark Knight, and a movie trailer and cinema showing-time search.

That is great, both relevant and high quality. Cuil does not seem to rate the popularity of the query as highly as Google. Googles toolbar will suggest Dark Knight from me typing in only "Dar". Cuil includes a suggestions drop down and this suggests either or the keyword "Dark", ignoring the sudden increase in searches for "The Dark Knight" over the last few months. I'm sure Cuil will improve it's search offering in time but it is up against Google, who in my opinion do search very well.

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