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Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of May 29th, 2009

Posted on June 1, 2009 by Vanessa
  • Dear Jane is working on an experiment that deals with brand perception.  She put together a visual representation of the brands she uses on a typical day and her findings were quite interesting.  She is also asking the community to participate.

  • The search engines are improving search capabilities but are we the users capitalizing on them?

  • Decency as a sales tool…. What a concept!

  • Friendly fraud, online retails equivalent of shoplifting or consumers just gaming the system?

  • Social networking is taking off, so don’t walk into the process blindly, let those who have learned their lessons along the way provide some assistance.


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SEO Tools in Review Part Two

Posted on May 28, 2009 by Zach

In my SEO Tools in Review Part one, I reviewed some of the SEO tools I see used the most in the marketplace, so in part two I would like to outline the types of tools I see most often utilized and the value they have to the SEO or marketer. Across many of the suites of tools I mentioned in my previous post reside similar tools, and while the method and data might change, the goal of the tool is usually the same, or close to. Here are some of the most common types of tools I see.

Web Page Header Check

A very common tool is a web page header check.  This simply checks the status codes and other information which the web server is sending out when loading a page. These codes let things like browsers and search engine spiders know if this page is OK, Moved, or Bad.

HTTP Status Codes

200 OK, 301 Moved Permanently, 302 Found, 304 Not Modified, 307 Temporary Redirect, 400 Bad Request, 401 Unauthorized, 403 Forbidden, 404 Not Found, 410 Gone, 500 Internal Server Error, 501 Not Implemented.

http://www.seoconsultants.com/tools/headers.asp
http://www.webconfs.com/http-header-check.php
http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/check-server-headers/

Common Issues and Opportunities

Finding common issues / opportunities or low hanging fruit is not always easy especially in a highly technical environment. These tools often run through a laundry list of common checks and also sometimes gather pertinent data regarding a website or web page. Crawl testing also falls into this category, making sure that search engine spiders can access and spider a website or web page information.

http://semcheck.com/
http://www.seomoz.org/crawl-test
http://www.webconfs.com/search-engine-spider-simulator.php

Keyword Density

Many would agree that keyword density is not something which is touted anymore, however there have been many tools created to measure it and gauge an optimum keyword to content ratio. There are some interesting tools which will review a page and return what it thinks are the targeted keywords.  Sometimes that can be helpful.

http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/keyword-density/
http://www.webconfs.com/keyword-density-checker.php
http://www.seotoolset.com/tools/free_tools.html
https://tools.shoemoney.com/how_it_works1.php#keywordDensity

Keyword Research

Finding the right keywords is an important task.  If a website has the first spot for a term with little traffic but similar terms have more traffic it might be better to use the higher trafficked terms and optimize for them as well. Some really great tools have come out to perform keyword research and help users find better keywords.

http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/
http://www.seomoz.org/popular-searches/
http://www.seomoz.org/keyword-difficulty
http://raven-seo-tools.com/features/research/
http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/keyword-suggestions-google/
http://www.webconfs.com/website-keyword-suggestions.php
http://www.webconfs.com/keyword-playground.php
http://www.seotoolset.com/tools/free_tools.html

Competitive Research

It's always a good idea to take a look at what your competitors are doing and while running all of the tools mentioned on competitor domains can give you some great data, some people have created competitor specific tools to extract specific data. There are also some great tools which let you compare websites and their varying statistics to one another. Those can be highly valuable tools when comparing yourself to your competition or competitors to competitors.

http://www.seotoolset.com/tools/free_tools.html
http://tools.seobook.com/competitive-research-tools/
http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo
http://www.quantcast.com/
http://www.compete.com/

Link Analysis / Link Building

Link building is all the rage these days so it’s understandable that several tools have been created to help find, manage, and create valuable links for a website. Not only are there tools to find optimal websites to get links from but there are tools to see what kinds of links competitors or other websites already have.

http://www.webconfs.com/backlink-summary.php
http://www.seomoz.org/link-finder
http://www.seomoz.org/linkscape
https://tools.shoemoney.com/how_it_works3.php#backlinkFinder
http://raven-seo-tools.com/features/link-building/

Rank Checking

These are some interesting tools which aggregate rank and authority data for a domain or website. The SEOmoz trifecta tool is a one of my favorite tools, which quickly grabs vast amounts of data about a website.

http://www.seomoz.org/trifecta
http://www.webconfs.com/domain-stats.php
http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo
http://www.quantcast.com/
http://www.compete.com/

SERP Tracking

SERP tracking can be tedious without some kind of tool to aggregate the checking and storing of the SERP data. Each of these tools is a good quality option to help streamline that process.

http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/rank-checker/
http://raven-seo-tools.com/features/serp-tracking/
https://tools.shoemoney.com/how_it_works1.php#keywordTracker
http://www.seomoz.org/rank-checker

Additional Resources

Even though there are a lot of really great tools out there don't forget about additional content which might be available. SEOmoz and ShoeMoney for example have boatloads of awesome premium content.  Many of the other tools have blogs that can be used as a resource so take that into account if you are looking to pay for tools.

Search Engine Tools

Don't forget that each of the major search engines also have webmaster tools. These are free, provide a lot of value and have data that many of these tools don't have.



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SEO Tools in Review Part One

Posted on May 21, 2009 by Zach

Any person with a little knowledge of SEO has obviously noticed the onslaught of SEO tools hitting the marketplace these days. A variety of free, paid and subscription based tools have become available to the masses and I have been fortunate enough to try most of them. Some are good, others are great and still many are rubbish but I thought it might be nice to create a little collection of the ones I like the best and see as having the most value.

Now I know this is not every SEO tool ever produced but these are the ones that I not only see used most often but have also used myself.

SEOmoz SEO Tools

SEOmoz has some really great tools, but some of the more advanced are tied to their subscription service. I believe that they were one of the first companies to really start making and tailoring complex tools for the SEO and marketer alike. My favorite tool is the Trifecta which used to be called the Page Strength tool. It can grab loads of great information related to a page or domain. Many of their guides and SEOmoz Pro features are also great but those do start at $79.00 a month.

ShoeMoney Internet Marketing Tools

ShoeMoney recently launched ShoeMoney Tools which is a little heavy on the PPC side of things but has some great tools none the less. My favorite tool is the Domain Marketplace which has thousands of unregistered domains and along with any pertinent information tied to them. The rest of the SEO tools are a bit generic but the PPC tools are great and since they are tied to the ShoeMoney name you know they are good. ShoeMoney, much like SEOmoz, has some great premium content and also very interesting and valuable forums. Now, none of these tools are free, its $79.00 a month for access.

SEM Check SEO Tools

SEM Check is a little different, it’s a quick and easy way to analyze a website for common problems and opportunities concerning search engine marketing. It checks things like server status, redirects, error pages, etc. then provides a nice organized actionable report based on the errors found. While it’s also a paid tool it's only $12.00 for one report or they have subscription type memberships that include X number of reports a month packages.

Raven Internet Marketing Tools

I actually used Raven tools for quite a while until they changed their pricing structure. What drew me to this service was their SERP tracking tool which I found to be really valuable. They have some pretty awesome Social Media tools and one thing that I do really like about their service is that they support multiple users/websites and agencies which is pretty cool for those who need it. Customizable reports is another bonus they provide. Again, this service is also paid; it starts at $79.00 a month and there are caps to the SERP tracker (6 cents for every keyword past 1000 keywords).

SEO Book SEO Tools

SEO Book has two of my current favorite SEO tools in the keyword tool and rank checker tool. The SEO Book Keyword suggestion tool is the best free keyword tool that I have found and the rank checker is actually a fantastic SERP tracking tool especially when coupled with the site rank reporter. Now the rank checker is a Firefox plugin and they also have the SEO for Firefox plugin which is a great Firefox addition.

SEO Chat Tools

SEO Chat Tools have been around for a while and show the most age comparisons as opposed to the rest of the tools I’ve discussed, in addition to some very unique tools as well. Some of my favorites being their Domain Typo Generator, Multiple Datacenter Keyword Position Checker, Keyword Difficulty Tool, Check Server Headers and Google Dance Tool. What’s great about all of these tools is that they are free, and even though some are a little old and buggy it’s hard to pass up free.

Webconfs SEO Tools

Webconfs SEO Tools have also been around for a while and like the preceding tools are also free. Some great tools include the Domain Stats Tool, Backlink Builder, and the Website Keyword Suggestion tool. The rest of their tools are pretty generic and they certainly don't have as great of a selection as the other suites.

SEO Tool Set

SEO Tool Set was created by Bruce Clay and is free (but subscribed users seem to get more functionality). Tools like the Check Server, Competition Research, Ranked Page Report and Linked Analytic Report are all pretty good. Two great additions are Bruce Clay’s Search Engine Relationship Chart and the SEMToolBar which is a great add-on for Firefox and IE.

Some honorable mentions that I also use are Firefox add-ons: SearchStatus, Web Developer and Firebug.

Keep in mind that even the paid services will promote their tools by offering trial memberships for dirt cheap; ShoeMoney and SEOmoz have both done this in the last six months.  Watch them closely as they are coming out with new tools and improved reports all the time.  Many have publicized their interest in community feedback and recommendations so if you are looking for a particular tool don’t be shy about sharing your interest with them, you may be surprised at the type of response you may receive.



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Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of May 1st, 2009

Posted on May 1, 2009 by Vanessa

So we have finally started utilizing Twitter so feel free to follow us to keep up to date on our latest activities.

This week’s eCommerce review:

  • According to a post by Bruce Temkin, as we add functionality to our websites we may be decreasing the ease of navigation, and according to his numbers it looks like there is plenty of room for improvement.

  • To niche or not to niche, that is a great question, especially if your competition is trying to dominate you via SERPs!  Search Engine Land takes a look at microsites in relation so SERP’s.

  • Tools every Google Analytics professional should have.

  • Avinash, well known analytics guru, goes over the basics of daily, weekly, and monthly unique visitors.  The summary of the lesson is to pretty much forget those metrics, and instead look at absolute unique visitors over a given time period.  Gotta love simplicity.

  • As someone who feels the need to justify reasoning, I can completely identify with this post from Future Now, On a Scale From 1 to 5 Surveys Stink. Here’s Why!




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Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of January 23rd, 2009

Posted on January 23, 2009 by Vanessa

This week’s review of eCommerce and entrepreneurship articles:

  • Brian Eisenberg posted a list of resources that his team views as invaluable to becoming a conversion analyst.  The list isn’t really limited to conversion analysts and encompasses various areas of eCommerce.
  • There are more than one billion internet users worldwide, according to comScore!
  • Ogihara Corp., an auto parts supplier for U.S. carmakers would not have been able to implement a Product Lifecycle Management system, had it not been for Aras Corp. and their open source offering.  As the economy continues to decline other vendors may have to do the same. ..
  • Jeremiah Andrick of Microsoft’s Live Search Blog posted part one of his series “Optimizing your very large site for search – Part 1”.  While I am not sure if Live Search is the best teacher on the subject, his points are worth reviewing.
  • If you haven’t heard of McKay Hatch, it’s likely that you will given the press he has been receiving lately.  Hatch is the founder of the No Cussing Club, a club that he started when he was in 8th grade by handing out fliers that encouraged his peers to use their words for good and recognize how often they were using cuss words in their conversations.  Members, of which there are now more than 30,000 of and span worldwide, make a commitment to the no cussing challenge and try to “Leave people better than they found them”.  While the internet has had a huge impact on the club’s growth and success it has also contributed to a campaign, sparked by those against McKay’s beliefs, to bully McKay into taking the site down.

 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of January 2nd, 2009

Posted on December 31, 2008 by Vanessa

Happy New Year all!  I am out for the rest of the week so the variety is early.  There are some new posts that I wanted to share, but in addition to that let’s take a look at some of our favorite posts, top stories, and some of the biggest developments in the industry from 2008.

  • Google Product Search up 786% in the category of shopping search.
  • The Silicon Alley Insider reports on Digg’s revenue losses and why ad targeting, or the lack there of, could be a major factor in these losses.
  • Have your 2009 wish list ready for Google?  I know Zach does and Matt Cutts’ parents do, but submissions are coming in fast so add yours soon.
  • Jennifer Laycock released her second installment of “Six Lessons from a Wooden Boy”, but I recommend starting from her first post on the subject.
  • A legend about the inventor of chess may provide insight into internet retail growth.

 

2008 In Review



Internet Retailer released their top 10 stories from 2008, here they are in ascending order:

 

I know this couldn't possibly be everything, which events in 2008 were most memorable to you?

 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of December 12th, 2008

Posted on December 12, 2008 by Vanessa

If you’re in retail I doubt you’ve had time to catch up on this week’s blog highlights.  I found these particularly interesting this week:

  • Search Engine Marketers, I suggest reading Search Engine Land’s post on 9 Myths of Landing Page Quality Score.
  • It’s the giving season, and bloggers are doing their part.  Brian Smith of Comparison Shopping Engines is growing a mustache to raise money for DonorsChoose, an organization that lets teachers submit projects they need funding for, if you are interested you can go to his giving page at ComparisonEngines.com.  Joe Hall proposes linking to charities to improve their web presence.  Finally, if you Twitter give Squidoo a tweet and they will donate to charity as well.
  • Rand from SEOmoz covers the fundamentals of an SEO campaign in this week’s Whiteboard Friday.
  • As social networking becomes increasingly more popular the need for reputation management grows.  According to the London School of Economics via Denise Shiffman’s Engagement blog “Every 1% reduction in negative word of mouth correlated to .41% growth, while a 1% increase in positive word of mouth correlated to just .14% growth. In other words, reducing negative comments could grow revenue by 300% over increasing positive comments.”
  • Search Engine Guide’s, Stoney deGeyter, takes a look back at what he wanted for Christmas from the search engines in 2002.  To see if he got what he asked for click here.

Bonus Articles

Today is intern Justin's last day, so I asked him to put together his favorite posts from the week as well.  His choices are probably more useful than you may have thought...
  • Everyone working in the marketing department of your company, you may want to read this. The internet has made it much it easier to measure just how valuable you really are...sorry. 
  • Want a job where you work from home making videos about whatever you want while raking in thousands of dollars a month? Well look no further than Youtube. Sounds too good to be true? Well it isn't exactly as easy as it sounds. Building up a fan base on the internet big enough for companies to want to advertise through you will take a while. But here is an article about some of the success stories of Youtube.
  • Do you need to reach more people with your advertising? Well, Google has extended its AdWords products to any mobile device that has HTML browsing, such as the iPhone  or T-Mobile's G1. "This new option will now allow you to display your ads specifically on these devices, create exclusive campaigns for them, and get separate performance reporting."
  • Customer service is a big part of a computer company, and many people will purchase a certain brand over another just because of their customer service. Well, it seems that Dell did not get the memo. Dell is now "charging customers a monthly fee to have access to its United States-based customer service representatives." You can read more about it here.

 

Google's Search Customization Details, Logged In or Not

Posted on December 4, 2008 by Zach

I keep tabs on many of our organic results rankings for certain keywords and the amount of traffic we receive from organic search. I know that customized results have been coming down the pipe in varying forms for a long time now, but was surprised to see them while logged out of my Google account.  The images below show that a search for "faucets" and then "moen", that a "Customized based on recent search activity. More details" is displayed.

Google then goes on to explain, "When possible, Google will customize your search results based on location and/or recent search activity. Additionally, when you're signed in to your Google Account, you may see even more relevant, useful results based on your web history. The following information was used to improve your search results for faucets: Recent Searches You or someone else recently searched for moen using this browser. Learn more"

Customized Search Result Set for the term Moen
 

I found this to be very interesting and proceeded to perform a variety of searches on varying topics to see what triggered the customization. After performing several searches I was able to duplicate it a few times.  I also figured out that by capitalizing my search terms, while the results sets were very similar, they did not receive the same customization as the searches that I left in a lower case. Needless to say I am extremely interested in how they are changing the result sets and how it will affect our organic ranked terms as well as the traffic we receive from that.  Has anyone else seen any interesting customization results from Google or seen noticeable changes in organic placement and traffic?

Google's Seach Customization Details



Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of October 17th, 2008

Posted on October 17, 2008 by Vanessa

Today is a sad day, Ryan, our online marketing team leader, blogger, and friend is moving to Northern California to broaden his career in the world of eCommerce.  We are sad to see him go, especially those of us that have worked alongside him for so long, but we are also happy for him and wishing him the best of luck.  I asked him what he was going to miss most about working here at Gordian Project and am happy to report that this was his response “If I had to boil it down to just one thing that I will miss it would be working with my friends. Yes, my friends. It really is hard to leave a place where the people you work with are your friends, not just some geeky, weird folks you work with and share the same cramped 'Nerdery' with but would never ever want to see outside of the office. I have had the privilege of spending time with many of my coworkers in a classroom prior to us all joining PlumberSurplus. Sharing the experience of walking off the graduation stage and into the doors at Gordian Project together was priceless.

I will miss:

  • Watching the company grow and need to find more office space again
  • Seeing new faces come through the door, eager to join the team
  • All the snacks in the kitchen
  • Basketball and BBQ Fridays
  • My kitchen table (enjoy execs!)
  • Going with everyone to get BOGO ham sandwiches on Tuesdays
  • Themed office dress up days and Flying Saucer Pizzas (can you tell I like food?)
  • Nights out for TGIF

Thank you for the support and encouragement as I start a new chapter in life."

I am sure that Ryan will post on this blog in the near future, but for now please wish him well.

The week in eCommerce:

  • You may not be able to get the WebAward Judges to review your website, but you can take the criticisms given the current presidential candidates and see if you are making the same mistakes.  After the review the judges announced that Barack Obama’s website was the better of the two in their opinion.  You can judge for yourself but their commentary is actually interesting.
  • Google AdWords now has the ability to break out search traffic from Google as well as its partners, as opposed to the previous solution which only allowed search engine marketers to separate search from content.
  • Matt Cutts reports on another new feature from Google, and he is surprised it isn’t getting more attention.  I think he is surprised for a few reasons as this tool can assist in creating better 404 pages, and “converts already-existing links to your site into much higher quality links, for free.”  For the Google post on this tool click here
  • YoungEntrepreneur details the results of their Entrepreneur Poll “The Best Way For a Startup To Earn Revenue”.
  • I love it when blogs publish tips and tricks for popular products, and this is no exception, check out “The Ultimate Google Analytics Plugins, Hacks & Tricks Collection”.
  • A lot of blogs reported on Google’s quarter three earnings, but I like the fact that Bruce Clay took the results and analyzed what they could mean for the search industry as a whole.

 

Ryan and Vanessa as Ryan leaves the Gordian Project
 
 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of October 3rd, 2008

Posted on October 3, 2008 by Vanessa

I can’t believe that the fourth quarter is already here.  This year has gone by so fast that it's hard to believe the amount of history that has been made this year.  Coming off the heels of last night’s Vice Presidential debate I wanted to share this fun tool with you all.  It’s the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator and a few of us around the office had fun finding out what our names would be earlier this week, mine was Spoon Archer Palin.  Ok back to eCommerce…

  • eMarketer reports that web consumers are still making their grievances heard by way of word of mouth, which may contradict initial thoughts about the way web shoppers operate.  With the availability of forums, review sites, blogs, etc. you might think that the majority of complaints was left via the web, when in actuality this study shows that most consumers complain to people they know either on the phone or in person about the poor products or services they have dealt with.
  • There is a new eCommerce self proclaimed “magazine rack” called Alltop for those that don’t care to use RSS feeds.
  • If you are a Google Analytics User I would suggest checking out Google Analytics Power User Tips.
  • Kurt Peters, editor–in-chief of Internet Retailer shared his ideas about the state of online retailing with the e-commerceInsights blog.  I have worked one on one with Kurt on a few occasions and would definitely recommend checking out his thoughts.
  • Still not feeling prepared for the holiday season? eCommerce Times provides tips and strategies to make the most of the kickoff, Cyber Monday. 

Stay tuned next week for Ryan’s Affiliate Watch for the month of September as it would have come out this week had it not been for “Intern Week”.  You don’t want to miss this one since he will be touching on the proper use of landing pages, images, widgets, and making better use of your marketing dollars.