Category Archives: Search

Page Title Tag and Keyword Placement

I’m currently reading an excellent book by David Viney titled Get to the Top on Google.” Now don’t let the title fool you, much of the emphasis on Google is for promotional purposes. However, David does state that since Google drives much of the web’s traffic, why not.

As I’m reading along on a chapter devoted to on-page optimization, I get to the subject of optimizing the page <title> tag. For those of you not aware. content placed within the HTML <title> tag provides information to the search engines that aid in ranking your pages properly. Continue reading

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Filed under Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The New Google Buster

I recently read about an ex-employee of Google who, along with some other ex-employees, created a new search engine called Cuil, pronounced “cool.” It supposedly boasts an index as large if not larger than Google’s. And it was supposed to be better.

Curious as I am, I decided to crank up Cuil and give it a spin.

I first noticed the bkack background of the interface, which is quite different than any other search engine I’ve run across. I then typed in Alaska’s Inside Passage and clicked the search button.

Um … no results.

Google provides me with 84,200 results, many of them valuable and within the first couple pages. Supposedly Google has in excess of 8 billion documents indexed. Cuil reports having indexed just over 1 billion.

Maybe they haven’t indexed the good stuff yet. I also noticed that their About link is broken. Not a good first impression.

Stay tuned.

Here’s some additional information on Cuil:

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Filed under Search Engines

Recipe for Success Online

The recipe to success with web sites is straightforward and common sense, yet we all too often disregard key ingredients.

  • Findability
  • Accessibility
  • Usability
  • Convertability
  • Measurability

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Filed under Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Design

Start SEO Post Launch? I don’t think so…

I’ve heard this ideology before, but was just reminded again while viewing a presentation by a well respected web professional. It’s the idea that, when building a website, SEO is started at the time of launch and beyond into maintenance mode.

Ah, no…

Search engine optimization must be considered during the initial planning stages of a site (or even during the initial planning stages of a redesign). SEO factors into many aspect of a site’s creation, from the naming of the domain, files & folders, navigation labels to the coding, design and and layout of the pages/templates. SEO is a piece of the overall puzzle, a peer and beneficiary of usability, accessibility, information architecture, etc.

Search Engine Optimization as part of the Web Design Workflow

The standard web design workflow is presented below (Thanks to Kelly Goto for writing the book on this topic). I’ve embellished and added to the workflow with SEO tasks that should take place in conjunction to the web design tasks.

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Filed under Best Practices, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Design

Producing Great Search Results Difficult

Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering posted a great article on search engine results page design and how it’s plain difficult to get it right (right = effective to support the goals). I can personally attest to the fact that a well designed SERP can greatly increase usability, i.e. the effectiveness in findability and completing the task at hand.

Enjoy the article. Waiting for Part Two. 🙂

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Filed under Search Engines, Web Design

180 on Flash

In the past, I’ve communicated that Flash, while useful for creating rich web experiences, is the scorn for anyone looking to rank well based on content within Flash movies. Search Engine are just unable to crawl & index this content.

Well, as of July 1, 2008, things have changed.

Check out Vanessa Fox’s article on SearchEngineLand.com regarding Google & Adobe’s partnership to enhance the search algorithm to crawl & digest Flash content. Mark this date; everything has changed.

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Enterprise Search Engine Best Bets – Pros & Cons

Note: this article concerns enterprise search, typically for internal audiences and organizations. Best Bets have other purposes for public facing implementations, which I’ll likely cover in a future post.

In a previous role, I was the Enterprise Search Product Manager for a major financial institution, responsible for the vision and supporting strategy for search within the firm. I also had personal interest in improving the overall search results quality.

“Best Bets are valuable and should be considered when developing a search strategy. However, they should not be implemented to replace poor search results (that’s another, separate project). They should compliment the search results.”

After a brief analysis, I determined that there was an abuse of the Google Keymatch feature. Keymatches, or best bets are they are referred to in the search industry, are search results that are placed above all other organic search results. They are managed manually, and with that, have a high degree of overhead. However, they are quite valuable in certain situations. We had over 2000 best bets implemented, of those, many were obsolete. Additionally, at least 30-50% were not being searched on, providing no value to the organization.

After a clean-up of our best bets, I immediately changed our policy around their implementation. Best Bets would only be implemented if

  • the online resource was not crawlable due to specific issues (behind security/single sign-on, etc.)
  • the online resource could not rank well (listed on first page of SERP) due to issues beyond the control of the content owners (portal issues, etc.)
  • overwhelming political pressure (yes, an unfortunate outcome of the corporate world).

There was an interesting response to our change:

  • Content owners: “How am I going to get my content noticed?”
  • Management: “Where’s the benefit in placing resources to regulate this?”
  • Google (Vendor): “What’s wrong with Best Bets / Keymatches?”

My response: “We are not paying thousands of dollars for a search engine to then manually superceed what the search engine does naturally as long as the content is valuable, accessible and relevant.”

We immediately began an awareness campaign with our content owners and portal partners on search engine best practices, such as effectively using the <title> tag, headings, textual content replacing graphical text, JavaScript flyout menus, etc.

Best Bets are valuable and should be considered when developing a search strategy. However, they should not be implemented to replace poor search results (that’s another, separate project). They should compliment the search results.

Best Bet Best Practices (say that ten times fast…)

  • Create a policy and procedure around the implementation of best bets.
  • Communicate this policy and make sure all content owners are on board.
  • Monitor search quaries and results to determine the need for best bets.
  • Unless a self-service model is implemented, make sure to perform quality analysis on a regular basis.

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Filed under Search