Location Services: The New Local Search? (SMX Advanced 2010)

Up First: Michael Martin, Owner, Mobile Martin

  • Gowalla
  • Foursquare
  • MyTown
  • Where
  • brightkite
  • geodelic
  • Google Latitude
  • Loopt
  • Whrrl
  • Layar: augmented reality information service (hold your phone up and get data)
  • Buzzd
  • Check.in
  • Nearly 50% of online search has a location intent, especially on mobile devices
  • Potentially a $20B market
  • SEO options: microformats (more and more of a factor for mobile rankings, part of google caffeine and making your sites faster is about mobile devices being a big part of search and internet surfing)
  • GetListed.org
  • 50% of location based ads resulted in action
  • AdMob, iAd, MillenialMedia: location based ads result in more actions than SMS
  • GeoToko: one-stop place to set up foursquare campaigns
  • Location service marketing is more about rewarding loyalty than advertising
  • Holiday Inn use location services to fill up rooms that are available late at night, using your phone as your hotel room key

Up Next: Vince Blackham, Founder & CEO, Primary Affect

  • $12B – expected worth of location-based services by 2014
  • 20%-40% of searches on Google are location based (SMX London)
  • Why do it?
  • Low risk, high potential
  • Location is taken out of the game. The person is already in your store, holding your product, sharing on Twitter, etc…
  • You’re creating a loyalty program. Giving people a reason to come back. Great for word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Unique uses of LBS APIs are available
  • SnackSquare
  • @vinceblackham

Up Next: Will Scott, President, Search Influence & Matt Siltala, Founder, Dream Systems Media

  • Presenting the first ever Foursquare marketing advertiser survey
  • Foursquare early adopters are primarily on the coasts and in Chicago
  • Majority of advertisers have been on FS for less than 6 months
  • More advertisers are tracking check-ins
  • Most advertisers have claimed their Google Local page
  • Majority have budgets less than $5k
  • Only 10% said they would pay for it
  • How did you first become aware of Foursquare: friend, employee or colleague, not by customer
  • How long had they been aware of Foursquare: vast majority- less than one year
  • How long have they been using FS to promote their business: less than 6 months
  • Many advertisers value FS customers more than other customers.
  • Half of advertisers don’t know if FS has helped their business. However, about 1/4 are sure that FS has helped their business.
  • Do you keep track of people when they check in via FS to your establishment? 3/4 yes, 1/4 no
  • Is tracking check-in manageable for your business? 3/4 say yes
  • They use other local online advertising as well: Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, MerchantCircle, ReachLocal, eLocalListing, Yodle, etc…
  • More people have heard of Yelp than CitySearch
  • If you had to pay for it, would you still use Foursquare? 9/10 say no
  • Pay Attention to: Link Citations, Images Searches, Tweeting, Facebook referrals & Likes, etc…

Up Next: Dylan Swift, Director of Local Business Marketing, Yelp

  • Yelp: more than 11 million reviews
  • 32 million unique monthly visitors
  • 1.8 million unique visitors last 30 days; 1.4 million of those are on iPhone
  • 27% of all searches on Yelp come from iPhone app
  • Every 5 seconds a call is made to a local biz from iPhone app
  • 1 million people clicked “Get Directions” from the iPhone app in May
  • Yelp.com: heavy volume during week
  • Mobile Yelp heavy volume on weekend
  • Find sales and specials nearby: on list or on map
  • Designing for mobile: how do we highlight the essentials, that is most important, key attributes, reviews, stars, tips and quicklink to business
  • How to adapt contribution from users: Should we let users write reviews from a mobile device? No. You can write a draft. Yelp is concerned with the reviews that are written in txting shorthand vernacular (OMG, LMAO, etc…)
  • Using special features on iPhone: Yelp Monocle : hold up your phone to see what’s around you
  • Video from Steve Jobs talking about how people don’t search for where to eat. They go to Yelp.

You & A Keynote with Matt Cutts (SMX Advanced 2010)

Everything is better with Caffeine, right? Oh good. The metaphor joke series begins.

  • Google Caffeine is officially live: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/06/our-new-search-index-caffeine.html
  • Now your URLs are immediately processed by Google’s index
  • Caffeine is roughly the same size as the current index, but it gives Google the ability to go bigger and quickly!
  • Caffeine allows Google to process data on the order of 100 petabytes.
  • Fundamentally: As soon as a document gets published, it can be indexed.
  • Annotation: Attaching meta data to objects. For example, PageRank, FB Likes, and other meta data and just plain data. New signals.
  • Twitter introduced an Annotation API. A tweet has a lot of extra associated information. So does a document on the web. Google Caffeine will use all of that associated data when processing an object.
  • Faster indexing, bionic speed and the ability to attach meta data to objects!
  • Matt: Think about it like a car that running down the road and trying to change the engine while the car is running. It will take some time, and they are just now getting to look at a lot of the related data.
  • Mayday algo update. Ranking change. The big talk of May.
  • Matt says his team had nothing to do with the MayDay update.
  • With MayDay, Google raised the bar again. In order to get over that bar, you have to NOT be webspam.
  • But….in 2010, we look at the web as it is. We have to look at the challenges of the web as it is in 2010.
  • Maybe it’s not spam, but it’s not as good as great content.
  • Less webspam and more about the quality of the content.
  • It sounds like Cutts and his team have gone after content farm.
  • Danny is bating Matt into talking sh*t about Mahalo and/or DemandMedia.
  • What is the level of quality of these sites?
  • Danny just called out eHow on a content-free article. F’n hilarious. (Convert FLV to images)
  • Google will be looking at video sitemaps more. So get those live.
  • Crypto-404 or a soft-404. Where the page returns a 200, but Google thinks nothing is found.
  • Cached page link doesn’t get a lot of clickthrough. How can Google make it a better page and a better experience. Like where a snippet came from.
  • Danny calls him out on the DMOZ descriptions. “Just buy DMOZ and fix it.”
  • How about HTML5 and Caffeine? HTML5 is completely unrelated to Caffeine. You don’t automatically rank higher if you do W3C validating. However, Google is updating it’s parsing.
  • Matt: It doesn’t help your rankings if you buy ads in Google.
  • How to determine if you are getting traffic from real-time results? No plans in the works right now.
  • The guy who manages Google Webmaster Central is in the room. What’s his twitter account?
  • Speaking of paid links: It seems that Google has decreased the PR of some major sites that are selling links. However, the pages keep ranking high in the SERPs.
  • Matt: If we drop the PR of a site we’ve caught selling links, the people who are buying the links are not getting their value because those links don’t work anymore.
  • Matt: We have been taking strong action on paid links. In fact, we have a lot of cool new tools that let us do a lot of cool things when we find paid links. We make sure paid links don’t work.
  • There’s always news. Maybe Danny should start doing the Daily Searchcap again.
  • NoFollow: Is it completely out of our control to tell Google our most valuable pages?
  • Matt: The most important pages are the ones you link to from your homepage. It’s the pages that you submit in your sitemap. It’s the pages that you tell Google about.
  • Put a link to your most important pages at the top of your homepage.
  • Google has improved their ability to discover links in javascript, and that goes for paid links, too.
  • 3-pane thing on Google? It’s working out well for Matt Cutts. Glad to know he likes Google products.
  • Matt Cutts polls the audience on Browsers. 1) Firefox 2) Chrome 3) Explorer
  • Matt’s theory of Buzz: How many people got on Twitter just because and really had no idea what to do or how to use it? Danny created Matt Cutts twitter account as a joke and then gave it to him. With Buzz, Matt is finding out more about how he wants to use it. Much like it was with twitter in the beginning.
  • How does Matt react to accusations that Google is only promoting its own products in the SERPs? His response: Bing is worse. A lot of engines just want to show you the pretty stuff. Who’s that? A lot of engines? You mean the other 2! Brilliant. Comedy at its best.
  • Is Google favoring YouTube? Matt Cutts went to the YouTube guys to find out. The YouTube guys claim no, and they say they bend over backwards to not favor YouTube.
  • Now Matt is plugging the new preview pane in Bing where you can watch videos in the preview.
  • When will rich snippets be available for everyone because right now Yelp has an advantage? Matt says they are re-working how they use rich snippets. Time wise, look for it in the next few months. (I’m happy about that!!!!)
  • Rich snippets are great for users and clickthrough. I’m excited.
  • Bing is buying free drinks tonight, right?
  • Do we need separate flash sitemaps? No.
  • Google can determine sentiment analysis, but they don’t use that as a ranking signal.
  • Bounce rate and Google analytics are not used in general ranking alrorithm.
  • To the best of Matt’s knowledge, the Google guys don’t use bounce rate on their search rankings.
  • Sounds like Matt is wishy-washy on this question about bounce rate.
  • If paid links are bad, why are paid directories helpful? It’s the editorial discretion they provide.
  • Can you take Wikipedia out of the top 10 for 24 hours? Nevermind.
  • Put Wikipedia in the corner, so the rest of us can show up.

Ultimate Social Media Tools Session (SMX Advanced 2010)

Up first: Tony Adam, Sr. Online Marketing Manager, SEO, MySpace

Social Media Tools:

  • HelpAReporterOut (HARO)
  • PitchEngine: social media releases
  • SocialMention: social media alerts and mentions
  • ScoutLabs: social media monitoring platform; brand sentiment, buzz, etc…
  • Twitter tools: Twitter widgets
  • FriendOrFollow.com: find out who follows you
  • UnTweeps: find twitter accounts that are stale or not being used and then unfollows them
  • TweetPro: automated following based on search keywords over the course of days, weeks, etc…
  • TwitterProfileOptimizer: gives you tips for your accounts
  • HootSuite: add multiple social networks and invite team members, add your RSS to post to your social networks
  • Seesmic Desktop: the best one
  • Klout: reach scores for your tweets and account, find influencers and connect with them
  • Tools for facebook: badges (like, profile, page, photo, etc…)
  • FBML for Facebook: custom landing pages on your facebook page
  • Wildfire: for promotions, coupons, contests, sweepstakes, giveaways – and you can get information on the leads generated with campaign monitoring
  • MySpace: friendadder.com
  • KnowEm.com: 350+ social networks
  • Customer User Insight Tools: RapLeaf for demographic data and social memberships
  • Flowtown: import business contacts
  • Social Media Analytics: BackType, SWIX (beta)
  • Monitizing social media: ad.ly (add twitter and myspace)
  • When all else fails…build your own tools.
  • other tools: OmniGraffle, Balsamiq
  • Outsourcing for tools: odesk, elance, craigslist

Up Next: Brent Csutoras, SVP of Viral Marketing, 10e20

  • Forums
    – Big-Boards.com: databases all forums, really cool sort features, directory, forum stats (posts, users, members); it’s where you start to find the places where you wanna participate
    – Omgili ( oh my god i love it): it’s a search engine for forums, over 100k forums and boards in their system, lots of useful sorting features, show questions, advanced search; it will let you see how many people are conversing on a particular topic, so you can find active/current users; Show questions allows you to sort for questions; Advanced Search features a negative match
    – BoardTracker: claims to have over2 million active discussions you can search; the coolest thing is tool for alerts. You can set up alerts! Amazing. It costs money, but it’s worth it.
    – BoardReader: no alerts, nothing new, it allows search by language (great for international marketing)
  • Digg: these tools are a must if you want to be a poweruser on Digg
    – Digg Alerter v1.3: provides information about your submissions, alerts you when your submission hits page 1
    – Friendstatistics: it provides statistics about followers and deadbeats, gives you a look at people who are interested in your content, contact them, form friendships/partnerships, lets you find people who are involved in the process of promoting content; Deadbeats are friends of yours who don’t vote for anything you submit or anything at all
    – Di66.net: statistics in general, word stats based on time frames; top sources; popular topics. This tool helps you be valuable to other diggers. You can see words, sites and topics that get promoted most on Digg.

Up Next: Rachel Pasqua, Director of Mobile Marketing, iCrossing

  • Mobile devices and social media will change everything, turn our worlds upside down
  • It’s not about the tools, it’s about connecting.
  • Our use of the web is increasingly social and increasingly mobile.
  • Mobile internet devices are becoming a primary means of connecting to the web and eachother (estimated be 150 million people in USA by 2015)
  • Over 50% of US companies ban access to majority of mobile sites – forcing users to go to their mobile devices to access the web for social purposes
  • Mobile websites matter. Make a mobile site. Make it easy to use, simple and refined.
  • Findability is essential. You can’t assume that people in social networks will know about your domain. Make sure those users will get to your mobile content. User-agent detection and redirection – best ways to make this happen. You can also do backend device detection. You can also do some frontend scripting.
  • Make use of mobile tools offered by social networks. SMS tools on Facebook. Enable people to like your FB page via SMS. Update your page via SMS.
  • Twitter also has a full range of tools. Twitter shortcodes. Look them up. Follow. Unfollow. On/Off, etc…
  • Take advantage of APIs that social networks offer. FacebookConnect. 4Sqaure API.
  • Enable social sharing for mobile. People with mobile are in an action-oriented frame of mind. Enable people to text, email, tweet, digg from their devices. Sharing functionality.
  • Stake your claim in local social spaces. Foursquare, Yelp, Loopt are the top sites out there for this.
  • Use mobile applications to manage your social efforts. Monitoring tools, Twitter and facebook tools, blogging tools, etc…
  • BTW, WordPress tool for ipad is awesome

Other:

  • MySpace guy: The ROI is not there for Facebook pages. Twitter can drive a lot of revenue. They have never seen much of any ROI from Facebook pages. (That seems like a very bold claim. I think Shoemoney would prove him wrong.)
  • It’s tough to separate Twitter and Mobile because they are intrinsically connected.
  • How to fight spam on Digg? Click the button that says “Report as Spam”
  • Social media is very similar in the real world as it is online. You wouldn’t walk into a room and hand your business card to everyone in the room. Don’t do that online.

Twitter, Real Time Search & Real Time SEO (SMX Advanced 2010)

Up first is Danny Sullivan:

  • Overview of basic search vs. real time search.
  • Google : 88 billion searches per month.
  • Search marketing is more than web, more than keywords
  • Search marketing means being visible where someone has overtly expressed a need or desire
  • “Normal” search is a many-to-many platform
  • Many marketers reach out to many searchers at the same time
  • Real Time search: when people ask questions that anyone can see that anyone can answers – in seconds! You know exactly who is asking and who is answering.
  • Real Time search marketing is largely a one-to-one platform. See the tweet. Reply to the tweet.
  • RT Search: easy to do, very effective, well-known but equal to ranking for your own brand
  • With RT search, your profile can rank for pizza, luggage, and other awesome keywords. How cool!
  • Plug for searchengineland.com
  • Check out Replyz.com, an entire site that monitors questions on twitter for all sorts of topics
  • Real Time link search: many-to-many
  • Google now features these links in static form in SERPs
  • Links can help build long-term credit for the “normal” search results
  • Put your links out there; build retweets/sharing
  • Yes, twitter nofollows all links. But other services that grab your tweets are dofollow. Good point.
  • Relevancy over Recency: first in, last out is changing
  • Relevant results getting more hang time
  • With 18 billions searches per month on Twitter (double the number of searches that Yahoo does each month), changes may make Twitter Search more many-to-many
  • Twitter beta test for ads is currently running. Buy your way to the top.
  • Facebook: one-to-none. You can see posts, but you can’t reach out, can’t reply to people. Ads might improve for search. Search results themselves may change.

Next up: Stew Langille, Vice President, Marketing, Mint.com

  • How real-time drives seo and social acquisition for Mint.com
  • Develop strong content for real timeSEOConstantly monitor strong topics. Produce content around that trending topic. And then you can rank for the trending term(s).
  • Energize your communitiesDevelop active communities. All communities act differently. Develop content targeted for each community.
  • Leverage assets like data
  • Driving traffic for merchant and category specific keywords (black friday, wal-mart). Partnering with Google on Local Search Trends. Q&A driving more searches in universal search lately.
  • Tracking and analyticsIntegrate API’s from Google Trends, Twitter – matching KWs to trending topics. No current tools to track Twitter feed traffic from SEO. Build what you can’t buy. Free tools: klout.com, hootsuite

Next up: John Shehata, Director of SEO & Social Media, Advance Internet, Inc.

  • Ranking factors for real-time: some very similar to traditional ranking factors, some very different and new
  • Bing and Yahoo focus mainly on twitter, but Google focuses on many more sites.
  • Google recently added recent updates for images
  • RT ranking factors: user authority, microblogging freshness, number of followers, quality of followers, ratio of followers in contrast to the number of people followed, URL real-time resolution (look at how many of your links go to good neighborhoods vs bad neighborhoods), # of people retweeting your posts in the last minute, hour, day
  • Reputation & Popularity: It’s not about how many followers you have. It’s about how reputable those followers are.
  • Having followers with high authority theoretically helps your tweets rank higher in Google real-time search
  • Influence & Impact: influence is the likelihood that a twitter user will A) retweet something a user posted and/or B) reference the user. (The number of followers a user has. The number of unique references and citations of the user in Twitter. The frequency at which the user is uniquely retweeted. And a few more.)
  • Other possibly factors: recent activity. User name. Age of account. External links. Tweet quantity. Ratio of followed vs follow. Lists: how many lists do you appear in?
  • Check the firehose. Use the from:username feature in Twitter Search to see if your tweets are being fed to Google
  • Get your fans/customers to share your brand on social services
  • Limit sharing options
  • Make it easy to have your readers share your links, tweets and status updates
  • Encourage retweets by tweeting shorter tweets (less than 120 characters)
  • Produce content that appeals to social-savvy audiences
  • Employ content that encourages news users to engage socially
  • Don’t update multiple accounts. Re-tweet instead.
  • Connect your social profiles.
  • Attract reputable followers.
  • How to identify hot trends: Google insights, Trends, etc… Also determine your seasonal keyword trends.
  • Google News Suggest: different results than Google universal results.
  • How do online users search for news – People on search 5 ways: names, place, event/showname, hot subject/topic, organizations
  • Don’t use multiple hash tags. Looks spammy. Breaks the display in Google.
  • Tracking: Track your Google and Bing twitter referrals. Can’t do it (easily) in Yahoo. He says no way to find out right now.

Next up: Chris Silver Smith, Director of Optimization Strategies, KeyRelevance

  • Develop a twitter strategy. Consumers first. Time and resource needs. Goals.
  • Pizza Hut hired a “tweetologist” – a fulltime employee who tweets
  • Hugo Chavez hired 200 people to manage his twitter account
  • Full-time person (high degree engagement), part-time person (less engaged), static automation (mostly notifications, little interaction), Smart Automation (engaged, though impersonal)
  • Intelligent Agents: twitter.com/sp411 – use direct messaging to ask it questions, it will post answers
  • Use twitter search to discover how consumers need to interact with you. Monitor for topics for your business. Find people who are looking for products, answers related to your business = finding customers.
  • Twitter.com/DealMapDenver – pretty cool deal page for a locality. A great idea if you have locations in different cities.
  • Use OAuth to show source of status updates.
  • Lists may be the future. Lists allow you to target very focused groups for particular topics.
  • Automate updates from Blog, RSS: twitterfeed, dlvr.it (can set up multiple streams across multiple social accounts). cool stuff indeed!
  • Blackhats are setting up multiple feeds on Twitter. They watch Google Trends, and use it to their advantage. No way. I don’t believe that. Pause. Not! Of course they are. Blackhats forever!
  • Closely.com – for small business social media management.
  • Average twitter username is 9 characters long. Interesting.
  • Encourage retweets: shorts tweets, include call-to-action, use common words that are retweeted more often, use special characters to grab attention, URL shortening with keywords in the URLs

SEO for Google vs Bing (SMX Advanced 2010)

Similar SEO Tactics for Google & Bing:

  • Flash: Google and Bing can’t read it. Make sure you have indexable content if your site is Flash-based.
  • XML Sitemaps: Use these! Now already! They are a universal standard. Google and Bing accept sitemaps and sitemap indices. Bing does not currently accept video or news sitemaps. Be sure to register your XML sitemaps in Google and Bing.
  • Google Places & Bing Listing Center: Get your business listed.
  • GeoLocation results: Bing has great local movie results – with show times even! Wow. How can they even do that in 2010. It seems pretty impossible. Like the plot of LOST. And how about those weather results in Google and Bing. Very comprehensive. My dad would enjoy this. If only he used the internet.
  • Sitelinks: In Google, sitelinks show only on the first results. And you can remove sitelinks in Google WMC. In Bing, sitelinks also show on first results, but you cannot remove any of them.

Differences between Google & Bing for SEO:

  • Link Value: Check out Bing’s Webmaster Tools for links data. It’s pretty cool, and Bing indicates the value of backlinks to your site. How about that? Where you at Google? Oh yeah, you’re busy getting tons more traffic than Bing. Keep up the good work!
  • News: ??? I missed this one.
  • Shopping: In Google, the shopping area is completely free. Get your products in Google Base. Bing is paid only. And Bing CashBack is going away soon. 🙁

New Opportunities with Bing:

  • Social Sharing Results: You can share on Twitter and Facebook directly from Bing’s search results page. But the shared link to an image, links to Bing result. Also, to post on Facebook, you must grant access to the Bing application on Facebook. Privacy issues? Where’s Zuckerberg?
  • Swagger Wagon? Anyways, Bing has a module that you can populate with great information (marketing stuff). If you scroll over the video in the preview pane, it will play the video in the module. Another reason to put videos on YouTube.
  • Vampire Squid video is pretty cool. Oh wait. No video. But you get sitelinks and contact info in the preview pane. And you can control that data. Who knew?!?! Bing takes information from your page in this order: H1 tag (if it does not match your title tag). Bing takes the first paragraphs of information from your page. To add contact info, add contact information to the page. Add your address, phone number and email to your pages.
  • BTW, Google’s getting little face time right now.
  • To disable document preview in Bing, use a robots tag called nopreview.

Here comes @RandFish.

Ranking Factor Correlations:

  • Rand is bringing science to this topic. Correlation analysis.
  • Rand claims that H1 tags are not very important. If you believe Rand, you should go to your sites and remove all your H1 tags. Would you do that? I wouldn’t, but I get his point. Don’t freak out about H1 tags not being optimized, especially if you have other more important items that need to be optimized.
  • Correlation does not equal causation. I feel like I’m learning or something. I’d rather be spamming.
  • Shorter URLs are better. Yep. Good stuff. It’s true.
  • .COM domains have a negative correlation?
  • If your URL contains all the terms from the query, very high correlation.
  • Google has a higher correlation for exact match domains. That’s surprising. And for URLs with hyphens. BTW, Bing took a lot of heat for being easy to spam with exact match domain.It’s nice to see data like this for Google, too. To be fair, anchor text could be a factor as well, and that might be skewing the data.
  • Hyphenated matches are less powerful in Google, but more frequent in Bing. When they do occur in Google on page 1, Google has a tendency to rank hyphenated URLs higher. Hmmm… Very interesting. But what about clickthru advantages of hyphens in URL?
  • What about TLD’s such as .gov, .org or .info? Exact match .com is the way to go if you are registering domains. Other exact match TLD’s don’t correlate as well.
  • Keywords in subdomains? Google likes the keywords in the subdomains, if the subdomain appears on Page 1. Bing doesn’t like the keywords in the subdomain very much. Not influenced much at all.
  • KW’s in the subdomain not nearly as powerful as in the root domain name.
  • Bing may be rewarding subdomain keywords less than before.
  • On-page keyword usage: KWs in the body, Alt attribute, URL: Google high correlation. The Alt attribute is interesting. It seems to be influential. Putting KWs in the URL is still a best practice. Simplistic on-page optimization isn’t a huge factor. Maybe you should work on other stuff. Everyone optimizes title tags, so it’s tough to get a true difference between Google and Bing here.
  • How about links? Diversity of linking domains: very important! Diversity of link sources remains more important than raw link quantity. Now that’s important to know.
  • TLD Extensions: .ORG domains are off the charts! Negative correlation on .EDU, meaning that edu sites show up lower on page 1 than the .org and .gov counterparts. More reason to believe Matt Cutts when he says TLDs are not special cased. The .org TLD is interesting. More links? Less spam? More trusted?
  • Length of domain, URL and Content: Longer URLs mean lower performance on page 1. Domain length: not terrible to have long domain names, but is not necessarily ideal. Raw content length seems marginal in correlation.
  • Website homepages? Do homepages do better? Bing really like homepages. Homepages outperform internal pages in the SERPs. Google also has a slight preference, but for obvious reasons.
  • Anchor text link matches. Raw quantity of links with exact match anchor text: not very correlated. # of linking root domains with exact match anchor text: VERY IMPORTANT. One of the highest correlation factors we have seen. Anchor text from diverse domains appears highly correlated.
  • Features with highest correlation: exact match.com domains, domains linking with exact match, # of links
  • Google and Bing are very similar. Optimizing for Google and Bing are quite close, maybe one in the same.

Next up:

  • Sasi Parthasarathy, Program Manager, Bing, Microsoft
  • Matt Cutts, Software Engineer, Google Inc.
    First, Matt says: “This is interesting. Rather than chase after search engines, chase the user experience because that’s what search engines are chasing.” Matt also says wikipedia entries show up more in Bing. Those are fighting words. Matt points out the limited data set that Rand used, pointing out that he might have missed longtail spaces. And then some dude in the audience yells “YES!” What the hell was that? Are longtail searches that exciting? I know, I know. They convert better. Whatever. Have fun converting one out of 10 visits, while I’m converting 100 out of 10,000 visits. Sheesh.

Questions from the Audience:

  • Did Rand exclude wikipedia from his test? Nope. That probably skewed the data.
  • Reminder from Danny Sullivan: Yahoo made it clear that the algorithm at Bing and Yahoo will be identical. So the same 10 organic web results will be seen on Yahoo and Bing. Thanks for reminding me. (Rubbing my hands together. Exxxxxcccccellent. Release the hounds.)
  • If I start my domain with a number, will that help? What are we optimizing for phonebooks? Matt gets 37signals and 37folders mixed up. Matt recommends not using numbers in domains due to branding purposes.
  • What can be done to help Bing index more URLs? Yeah. Great question. Bing sucks at indexing.
  • Matt Cutts just said that Google will be looking more and more at video sitemaps. They will be more and more important, especially with the upcoming GoogleTV this fall.
  • Is Bing going to support the AJAX specs that Google uses? Sasi will look into it. No real answer. Damn.

Google AutoComplete Says SEO Is…

Misreading Data: 1 out of 10 people think SEO is important
Misreading Data: 1 out of 10 people think SEO is important

Hey, I love the Google AutoComplete feature as much as the next guy, but this one caught me off guard. But only for a second. While the AutoComplete data is probably not the most accurate data, in this case it does give us a glimpse into the perception of SEO. Honestly, I can believe the results. This is probably what most people think about SEO. Why? I’m glad you asked.

There are a lot of bad SEOs out there. A lot of people have been burned by SEO companies and sales people who promised the world. SEO takes time. It takes work. SEO requires innovative thoughts and ideas. And research. And IT/Dev resources. In many cases, your SEO is limited by your site, product(s), business culture, goodwill, etc… Seriously. Let that sink in.

Furthermore, SEO is becoming more and more competitive, and basic SEO principles can only get you so far. In fact, many people think SEO is dead, dying and/or bullshit. Dave Snyder wrote a great post about that recently.

Could this AutoComplete data just be another way for Google to hate on SEO and SEOs? I dunno. Probably not. But after Google removed SEO companies from the local results, we know how they really feel about us. And that’s what makes it fun. Godspeed, SEOs!

Get Event Listings in Google with the vEvent Microformat Code

Guest Post By: John Greer (@FogLlama)

You may have heard about Google’s rich snippets recently, where they are altering the standard blue and green listings to have a little more flair:

Google Rich Snippets on Facebook Profile Results
Google Rich Snippets on Facebook Profile Results

Notice that Facebook has a “Friends” section.  I grabbed a random “John Smith” and there’s a group of his friends included (no Pocahontas?).  Facebook made this possible by using microformat tags on their code (they are using the rel=”friend” tag.)

Here’s a different rich snippet on a Yelp listing, where they are using the aggregate review microformat tag, and Google is showing this:

Yelp's Listings Feature the Review Microformat Tag
Yelp's Listings Feature the Review Microformat Tag

(Who is reviewing Goodwill by the way? “This place is no Neiman Marcus, what a joke!”)

Those rich snippets were demonstrated last year.  A newer version though is the inclusion of events in listings.  Also on Yelp, Google has rich snippets like this:

Yelp added the vEvent Microformat code around event listings
Yelp added the vEvent Microformat code around event listings

Yelp simply added the “vEvent” microformat code around the event listings they already had, and Google began showing select events below the main URL.

With the event tag, I’ll be interested to see if Google must recrawl a page to update the event list, or will it simply drop events that have past dates?  In any event, it’s an awesome way to get 3 additional links in your listing and attract a little more attention.

You can start adding these and other microformats and RDFa tags today (here’s a little more on the difference between those).  Yahoo has been using them with SearchMonkey for a couple of years in fact.  There’s no guarantee though that Google will show them yet, Facebook , Yelp and other sites have been singled out for listings.  At some point though, these listings are likely to start rolling out to everyone. s

Lack of Available Google Profile Usernames & Custom URLs

I was not able to get [email protected] Yeah. I know. Cue the violins. It’s such a tragedy. It was probably because I didn’t get a beta invite to Gmail, and someone beat me to the punch. Whatever. I’m over it. Kind of. But I always knew that not getting my name as a Gmail username would come back to haunt me in more ways than one. So let’s talk about Google Profiles and custom URLs.

If you have a Google account, you are eligible to create a Google Profile. I have several Google profiles: a few for myself and many more for clients. Your Google Profile is associated with your email address, so you can have a Google Profile that associated with your Gmail address or some other email address. It does not have to be a gmail.com address. Let’s take a look at the 2 scenarios:

  1. Your profile is associated with a non-Gmail email address.
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL (non-Gmail Account)
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL (non-Gmail Account)

    If you have a Google account that is associated with a yahoo.com, hotmail.com or some other domain, you have an advantage: you can actually pick a custom URL for your Google Profile. You are actually presented a box where you can type in your custom URL. Just fill in the blank with your username: www.google.com/profiles/_________.

    That’s pretty cool, right? Well it is until you realize that pretty much every possible username is unavailable. This is because you cannot get a username that someone already has for their Gmail account. For example, let’s say some already has [email protected] (and they do, btw). If that is true, then you will not be able to get google.com/profiles/imabadass for your custom URL. And because Google does not recycle email addresses, it doesn’t even have to be a current email address username. If that username has ever been used, you are outta luck.

    The bottom line: Using a non-Gmail email address will allow you the option of creating your own custom URL username. Good luck finding one that is available!

  2. Your profile is associated with Gmail address

    Google Profile URL: Custom URL for Your SEO Sucks!
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL for Your SEO Sucks!
  3. As you can see, with this option you are only given 2 choices. You can use your Gmail username, or you can use some string of predetermined numbers. Obviously, this is a great option if you have an awesome Google/Gmail username. If you take this route, email spammers will be able to easily deduce your Gmail address. If you don’t want your email address spammed to hell over, I recommend using the string of numbers. However, that is damn near impossible to brand (if that is your goal).

So there you have it. I wish you the best of luck with your Google profile custom URL. And don’t forget that it’s probably twice as bad over at Yahoo and MSN when you try to set up those profiles.

Link Building Idea: Buy Some Links on Google Profiles

Hey check this out. It’s Mashable’s Pete Cashmore and his Google profile (now with more Google Buzz):

Google Profile: Mashable's Pete Cashmore on Google Buzz
Google Profile: Mashable's Pete Cashmore on Google Buzz

It appears that Google has placed a nofollow on the links within Pete’s Google Buzz feed. However, the links in the right-side column are dofollow. How about that?! Holy crap! These are dofollow links from the domain google.com!

Because Pete is obviously a smart guy, he realizes the value of linking to his own properties. Hence, he has linked to Mashable.com and various Mashable properties on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

At the time of this screengrab, Pete had 9,647 followers, so it’s only a matter of time before this page has a high PageRank. This Google Profile will ultimately have a lot of authority, and those dofollow links in the right-side column will drive some serious link juice. And remember: these are links from google.com!

Now, let’s be realistic. Despite the current dofollow status, I’m sure Google has discounted these links in some way or another. But the fact remains that these are dofollow links coming from google.com. Furthermore, check out the bottom of Google.com’s robots.txt file:

  • Allow: /profiles
  • Sitemap: http://www.gstatic.com/s2/sitemaps/profiles-sitemap.xml

When you read the XML sitemap file, you see several hundred txt files of Google profiles, such as this one. Inside each one of these txt files, there are 5,000 user profile URLs. The take home message: Google wants these profiles crawled, and they are actively making it easier for all spiders to find them. Google Profiles are obviously important in Google’s venture into social media and social search.

What about the buying links idea?

Well this should be fairly obvious. Google is allowing dofollow links on Google Profile pages. While it may be tough to get links from reputable profiles, there are many users who may be open to the idea of selling links. And some of these profile pages will end up with high PageRank, especially when people begin to link to their Google profiles. These are links from the google.com domain. Even if Google moves to disallow these links, there is still value from these links. Why not offer the profile owner(s) some money for a link in the right-side column?

Here’s a simple plan of action to acquire links from Google Profile users:

  • Google profiles have custom URLs
  • These URLs take one of two possible formats:
    1) google.com/profiles/101849747879612982297
    2) google.com/profiles/mashable
  • If you can find the username at the end of the URL, then you will know the gmail address of the profile user.
  • And that is how you can contact them.
  • Then it all comes down to your ability to not creep people out by offering them money for a link to your network of phentermine and poker websites [cuz those 2 things always go together, right?]

There it is. I hope you enjoyed that. Stay tuned for more. And stay tuned for a nofollow attribute from Google. I’m sure it’s right around the corner.

Happy Link Building!

[Full Disclosure: Neither Mashable or Pete Cashmore compensated me for the free brand exposure to my 10’s of readers. I’m just a fan, and I think everyone should be a fan of Mashable. #teammashable]

Update: Feb. 17, 2010: Nofollow attributes added to Google Profiles

It seems Google is onto us. Google has added the nofollow attribute to all links in the rightside column of Google Profiles. I wanted to see if they nofollow’d links to Google Profiles, so on my Google Profile I added a link to my Google Profile. No luck. It’s nofollow’d, too. Damn. Nice work, Google. Until we meet again…

Google Buzz: To Boldly Go Where Yahoo Has Already Been?

Google Buzz finally rolled out to my inbox. Here is the first notice I saw:

Welcome to Google Buzz + Gmail
Welcome to Google Buzz + Gmail

It’s kinda funny because Google Buzz (buzz.google.com) comes to us about 2 years after Yahoo Buzz (buzz.yahoo.com). The part that I haven’t figured out yet is: What problem does this new Google feature solve? Was there really a need for another buzz-like feature on the web? I guess so. I think it’s part of Google’s move from a search company to a software company. More specifically, this is obviously a move to gain a bigger foothold in the ‘social scene’ (i.e. social media).

Anyways, I’ll partake in the Buzz because it’s in my best interest to look for opportunities in all things search. I recommend you get familiar with it, too.