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7 Must Read Google Webmaster Central Blog Posts

Posted on May 15, 2008 by Zach

As you can tell I have been on a Google Webmaster Central kick lately. The Google Webmaster Central blog has collected some of their best and most informational posts and created the 7 must-read Webmaster Central blog posts. Seeing this collection has reminded me of some of the search engine optimization and search engine marketing hot issues, some of my favorites being...

Flash Best Practices 

While many were glad to see Google address this, flash has been something that many SEO's stay away from like the plague. While there are several acceptable methods for optimizing a flash website none are particularly easy and sometimes results are hard to glean. There were always questions as to whether the search engines would accept these optimization techniques or whether they would learn to read flash, both seem to have been addressed over time.

The Supplemental Index 

I remember several tools which could be used to see how many pages a website had in the Google supplemental index and I remember even more posts and discussions as to the use of the supplemental index and getting web pages out of it. I think many released a sigh of relief when Google disbanded its use so that website owners had one less thing to worry about. 

Duplicate Content 

The mention of duplicate content and penalties associated with it used to be a huge issue for many, especially those with larges websites which may have several overlapping pages. I was more than relieved when I learned that no penalties were actually associated with duplicate content but simply Google selecting which page to show for related searches. After many have spread the word about duplicate content this is still an issue that comes up and needs clarification. Many SEO's are still addressing duplicated content in that removing it or fixing the problem is great but getting Google to select the right version to show in searches may be more important. 

 

Google Defines Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Posted on May 5, 2008 by Tim

This week, "The Official Google Analytics Blog" posted an article dedicated to website optimization.  The article, authored by Laura Melahn from the Google Analytics Team and Jon Stona from the Website Optimizer Team, focuses on optimizing websites for conversion utilizing Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics.

Early on in the post, the authors clarify the difference between website optimization and search-engine optimization by defining both terms.  In this clarification, Google defines search engine optimization as the following:

 

  • Search-engine optimization means adjusting the content of your site so it ranks higher in the list of search results for a particular keyword or keyword phrase.

 

 

optimizing websites for conversion utilizing Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics

Now, it's no epiphany that Google's definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses heavily on site content, since the user experience exiting Google is at the top of their priority list.  However, the noticeably absent elements of raw link juice, anchor text weight and domain authority is interesting.  In general, when site owners think about Search Engine Optimization, as Google mentions, their primary objective is to be sure that their site "ranks higher in the list of search results for a particular keyword or keyword phrase".  However, for the most part, the term Search Engine Optimization is utilized in association with this goal, namely ranking higher, versus in association to an attribute that contributes to this goal, such as adjusting content.  This goal can be reached by improving a healthy amount of arenas, only one of which is site content.  Although Google's definition is likely accurate from a historical perspective, if Search Engine Optimization has become more synonymous with ranking higher than with adjusting content, and ranking higher is influenced by a slew factors, some of which arguably have more or less influence than content, maybe the definition of Search Engine Optimization should be something like the following:

 

  • Search-engine optimization means adjusting the content of doing things like W, X, Y, and  Z to your site so it ranks higher in the list of search results for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. 

 

Where W might be "adjusting content", X might be "building inbound links", Y might be "earning domain trust", Z might be "creating new content" and so forth.

This definition focuses on the goal and includes some of the attributes that contribute toward reaching that goal.  This approach would certainly align with industry practice.  Companies that provide Search Engine Optimization services typically provide a laundry list of ways for you to spend money.  Many firms who tout themselves as Search Engine Optimization companies provide a slew of services, including "adjusting the content of your site".  However, few firms run around touting themselves as, say,  a Link Building company, and provide search engine optimization (content adjustment) services as well.

Maybe it's just semantics...

 

Internship Adventures: The Value Proposition

Posted on April 24, 2008 by Zach

One of the more interesting adventures I have had at work recently has been setting up and managing our six (yes count them six) new interns. While we have had internship programs at our company in the past, it has never been at this scale.  Previous programs were simply for benefit of the students who wanted to learn and gain experience, and to support local universities.  This is by far the most interns we have had at one time. I am a big fan of internships, having completed two of them myself when I was in college.  I think they can provide a great deal of real world experience and they look good on a resume, not to mention they provide inexpensive labor to the company.

The first issue that will arise in putting together an internship program is actually getting interns. Sometimes posters around a college campus or a spot at the local job board is simply not enough. Lucky for us we have Tim, one of our managing partners, who happens to teach part time for a local University. This provides our company with a great avenue to spread the word and wrangle interns for our company.

The second issue is making sure potential interns understand the value proposition and what kind of internship your company offers. This starts with the company itself and the development of the program. It's important for interns to gain something besides a note on their resume. Interns can be integrated into many aspects of a businesses and provide cheap or free labor in return for real world experience, industry knowledge and sometimes college credit. All of which can be leveraged as great value propositions when trying to attract interns.

It's important to also give some thought as to what jobs or projects might be best suited for interns in your business. Some jobs might require too much experience, knowledge or training and others might be to simple or mundane. In our latest internship program, we are training our interns in several aspects of search, marketing, data, content creation and management. We then let them create content for our websites learning centers while teaching them why content creation is important.  Finally, we are tracking their progress. They will also be helping with other SEO, marketing and product data related projects as the need arises and as they express interest in different areas of our business. They have already begun some of their work on both the PlumberSurplus.com Learning Center and the OutdoorPros.com Learning Center with work on our Knife Buying Guide and BlackHawk Videos.  They have also started on manufacturer descriptions such as Gerber Knives and Moen and they will continue to fill out both of those content rich areas of our websites.

A couple of areas to be mindful of for an internship program is management and se tup. If possible it can be a good idea to spread out your interns throughout multiple departments making it so that one person does not bear the brunt of the management or organization. If that is not something that you want to do, getting them to come in at the same time or on the same days can also help. Getting everything setup for the interns ahead of time, such as the list of projects, any paperwork, training and computers can be key so that time is not wasted and your interns can start off on a good foot at your business.

While the interns still have several weeks to go, everything seems to be going well and they are expressing interest and getting excited about many aspects of our business. In closing, remember to never forget that an internship program can also be a great recruiting tool, not only are they great for all of the items mentioned above but they go far beyond the standard interview so that the company gets a better idea of a persons work ethic and personality for potential future hire.

 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of April 18, 2008

Posted on April 18, 2008 by Vanessa

Unless you have been hiding under a rock all week you know that the big buzz this week has been the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.  In the world of eCommerce the buzz has been about other things, which I have provided for you below.

P.S. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers for taking the number one seed in the West.  I am of course rooting for them, but on top of that, if they win it, fellow blogger Matt owes me dinner at one of our favorite sushi places!

  • Think you are an SEO guru?  Put your money where you mouth is and take the SEO quiz put out by SEOmoz.  (As a caveat, I haven’t taken it yet, but plan to this weekend) 
  • Check out 22 Great Web Analytics Videos according to blogger Rich Page. 
  • Internet retailers please get your products from legitimate suppliers, stealing is illegal. 
  • Yahoo is being sued for $1 Million, the charge is click fraud. 
  • It looks like eBay’s changes may be paying off for them.

Google Sitelinks: Capturing My Proverbial Moby Dick

Posted on April 14, 2008 by Zach

For as long as sitelinks have been used in Google SERPS I have been asked by others, and wondered myself, what they are and how to get them. Sitelinks are extra links that appear below some search results in Google. They serve as shortcuts to help users quickly navigate to the important pages on your site. There is obviously some value in having them, and many have started quests to get sitelinks for their own websites. Sitelinks have been, however, shrouded in mystery and justly so because of how Google describes them...

"How does Google compile the list of links shown below some search results?  The links shown below some sites in our search results, called sitelinks, are meant to help users navigate your site. Our systems analyze the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they're looking for. We only show sitelinks for results when we think they'll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn't allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don't think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user's query, we won't show them. At the moment, sitelinks are completely automated. We're always working to improve our sitelinks algorithms, and we may incorporate webmaster input in the future."


So while I have read a lot about sitelinks and heard many theories and questions about sitelinks, I am happy to say that PlumberSurplus.com now has them. All can rejoice that I have now caught my proverbial Moby Dick and added another notch to my SEO belt!

 

PlumberSurplus search on Google

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of April 11, 2008

Posted on April 11, 2008 by Vanessa

We are coming up on our one month anniversary of our new website and things are flowing right along.  Check out my eCommerce picks for the week.


Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of April 4, 2008

Posted on April 7, 2008 by Vanessa

Last week was such a fun week of eCommerce.  This post was supposed to be up on Friday, but my wireless card wasn't cooperating at Lake Havasu, so I apologize for the delay.  I never really got in to April Fool’s Day until I started working for an Internet Retailer.  That’s when I noticed that big companies got involved in the fun.  I now look forward to the hoaxes of the next year.  Although we had fun with the silly, and completely insane jokes that were played in eCommerce this week, there were some real stories that are of notable mention as well.

 

  • Blendtec has one of the most interesting viral marketing campaigns I have ever seen.  The “will it blend” series has sparked worldwide attention.  This blog took the opportunity to interview Tom Dickson about it.  What is funny is that he says that he knew the campaign was big when he gave a presentation at the 2007 Internet Retailer conference…. a presentation we caught on video.
  • Curious about if you should link out or not? And how often you should link out?  Search Engine Watch wrote a post that should help.
  • Who will Channel Advisor partner with next?
  • Search Engine Land does a weekly post about pictures in the eCommerce industry.  If you haven’t seen it before check out this week’s post.
  • If we disappeared tomorrow would you miss us?  What about if Google disappeared?  Your favorite restaurant?  Seth Godin puts it in to perspective

 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of March 28, 2008

Posted on March 28, 2008 by Vanessa

If you’re a sports fan this is one of the greatest times of the year.  March Madness is in full effect, NBA and NHL playoffs are approaching, and baseball season has started.  To top it all off, as a SoCal fan, my teams are looking good…mostly.  With that in mind, if you are anything like my fellow co-workers and I you may have been watching basketball at your lunch instead of reading the latest eCommerce news; that’s what I’m here for!

  • Want to improve sales and marketing?  Check out the “Powerful Sales & Marketing Ideas of $100 Million Dollar Companies”. 
  • Commission Junction is experiencing a bug, some merchants are unable to see affiliate applications and it’s been going on for a week! 
  • Curious about where you stand in the world of search marketing?  SEOmoz published results to their SEO Industry Survey that may help you find out if you are at the beginning, middle or end of the pack 
  • Sick of the major search engines?  Here are five alternatives. 
  • Not everyone is happy about Google’s “Search-Within-Search”.

 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of March 21, 2008, Have a Happy Easter Readers!

Posted on March 21, 2008 by Vanessa

Well I am proud to say that we are spending this Good Friday out of the office, but there was too much great content in the world of eCommerce to not share with you!

  • Linda Bustos posted about our blog on YOUmoz this week and pointed out how the Blogengine.NET control "searchonsearch" feature works.
  • Many retailers are in the same boat we are, we have a plethora of products, so what happens if some of those products have duplicate content?
  • Become an internet retailer in a matter of minutes?
  • China surpasses the United States as the largest population of internet users.
  • SES New York had a seminar on converting visitors to buyers this week, Charlene Jaszewski provides a good synopsis.

 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of March 14th 2008

Posted on March 14, 2008 by Vanessa

While a large part of our focus this week has been on the new website I managed to squeeze in some time to catch up on eCommerce.

  • A local University is getting some attention for their focus on internet retailing.  The Sloan Center for Internet Retailing at the University of California Riverside has developed the eLab for blogging on their recent findings.
  • Retailers are turning to online video to provide the in-store experience online.
  • Search Engine Guide has provided a list of 28 Resources for Paid Search Strategies, to help marketers diversify their strategies between bid management and measurement.
  • Avinash Kaushik, author of Web Analytics An Hour A Day, recommended 4Q this week as the best free online survey.
  • Tiger Direct no longer