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Link Love

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written on June 12th, 2009

Link: What is Location Prominence?

Love: unraveling local search ranking factors.  So you’re a small business (or a large one for that matter), and after doing some reading on SEO, you’ve gone to Google Local Business Center and claimed your business’ listing.  You’ve read about PageRank and the importance of attracting high quality incoming links with your sparkling content.  But what other factors go into the ranking algorithms for local search?  How do you climb up that 10-pack?  How do you improve your “Location Prominence” score–the equivalent of PageRank?  In this post, Mike Blumenthal takes a look at a Google patent to help provide insight into the factors that explicitly help determine this Location Prominence.

Potential Factors in Ranking a Website Highly for Location Specific Searches:

  1. Incoming links – not simply directory links, but links from other authoritative sites; sites with a high PageRank or Location Prominence score.
  2. Reviews – I’m particularly interested in how Google uses reviews as a factor in local search rankings.  There are the metrics that are already quantified–the actual number of reviews a business has received on a site like Yelp for example and rating itself, 3 stars, 4 stars or 5 stars.  But how do you quantify the content of the review?  How do you turn “good”, “bad”, “efficient”, “okay”, “disgusting”, “spicy” or “pusillanimous” (maybe you rented a guard dog, alright) into a number?  What’s the scale for all negative words?  What’s the most negative word you can give a restaurant?  Does that mean that word passes along a -100 score?
  3. Citations – it’s not merely about links, but how many times your business and its accompanying address appear on a website, not as a link.
  4. Information about the business – search engines want information.  It helps them develop a rich tapestry of search results.  They’re machines, not humans.  They can’t decipher meaning like you and me.  Providing the search engines with little information about your business is like the difference between a picture from an inexpensive camera versus a professional camera.  If you don’t participate in sites like Yelp, Google Local Business Center, comment on industry blogs, add your business to Best of the Web, then you’re taking a picture of your business with a cheap camera.  Google wants you to use that Nikon D3X!  What’s the business’ annual revenue?  How many employees does the business have?  How long has the business been in existence and how long have they been present in listings across the web?

Link: Page Speed

Love: the need for speed!  Recently, Google announced they were open sourcing a nifty Firefox add-in, integrated with another superb tool called Firebug, called Page Speed.  Page load time is a factor in quality score on the PPC side of life and there have beenrumblings about whether or not page load time plays a role or will play a role in natural search rankings for some time now.  Let’s assume it doesn’t play a role in natural search rankings, though.  Does that mean I should compress the images on my site, enablegzip compression or remove unused CSS from my site anyway?  If you happen to have a site that takes a bit longer than usual to load, I’d vote yes.  Users find pages that take too long to load annoying, which translates into users bouncing away.  The thinking behind improving page load, and as a corollary the user experience, is driven by five best practices:

  1. Optimizing caching – keeping your application’s data and logic off the network entirely
  2. Minimizing round-trip times – reducing the number of serial request-response cycles
  3. Minimizing request size – reducing upload size
  4. Minimizing payload size – reducing the size of responses, downloads and cached pages
  5. Optimizing browser rendering – improving the browser’s layout of a page

Aside: “…reducing…cached pages.”  Hmm, interesting. Nofollow links to your About Us page, AND robots.txt them out?

Link: Web Data Quality: A 6 Step Process to Evolve Your Mental Model

Love: data, but don’t allow imperfect data to cause you to freeze and not act.  One of my favorite lines from this post says there is no limit to the amount of data to you can collect and store on the Internet, and it’s headache-inducingly correct.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts the importance of collecting data, analyzing data and then providing an interpretation of that data for insight into what action should be taken, and I of course still feel that way, but I’m not a Quant.  There’s a point where granular becomes so microscopic that the difference in dataset A and dataset B will not cause your client to change his or her decision. Therefore, you need to accept imperfection and act.  I know we’re big into models and science and equations, but so was Wall Street, and we saw what happened there.  Certainly collect your data, but don’t allow it to bog you down into indecision, and don’t allow incomplete data to bolster that indecision.  After all, it’s all incomplete (esoteric alert!).

“How do you measure the effectiveness of your magazine ad? Now compare that to the data you have from DoubleClick. How about measuring the ability of your TV ad to reach the right audience? Compare that with measuring reach through Paid Search (or Affiliate Marketing, or …). Do you think you get more useful data from Neilsen’s TV panel of between 15k – 30k US residents to represent the diversity of TV content consumption of 200 million American television viewers?”

Link: 9 Crucial UI Features of Social Media and Networking Sites

Love: social media for something other than retweeting, posting pictures or helping you acquire links.  Social media websites work because they facilitate communication and sharing amongst users (and they allow us to talk about ourselves, of course).  The good ones also work on a different level–user interface.  Thinking about your website in this way, and incorporating these features, can help drastically improve your conversion rate.  Remember, it’s all about the user, not you!

Link: Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive

Love: scientifically proven ways to do anything.  Who doesn’t want to be persuasive?  You’re a business, right?  You’re trying to tell your story in order to persuade the potential client to help you write the next chapter, right?  A few favorites from the post:

  • Too many options necessitate selection, and hence frustration…
  • How restaurant mints are a personalized affair
  • Asking people to substantiate their decision will lead to higher commitment

(Thanks to @ifss who tweeted this post)

3G5UC76ZKDFC

Written by Cory Barbot

October 20, 2009 at 3:13 am

Seth Godin’s Tribes

with 2 comments

I recently bought Seth Godin’s latest book called Tribes. I’ve decided to read and take notes along the way and hopefully turn those notes into a somewhat cohesive blog post for my work blog. So, in an effort to get that cohesive ball rolling – imagine a softball sized ball of tape, rolling along the floor, nabbing hairs and dirt along the trip – notes on my personal blog before work blog.
Primary thought after reading first quarter or so of book: Social media allows businesses, organizations, associations, anyone to lead a tribe. SM is certainly derided as frustratingly difficult to track (and I agree on the point), but it provides a potentially explosive opportunity to businesses. Standing on the sidelines because you personally do not like social media is short-sighted, egotistical and, in the end, it’s really not about you. It’s about the user. Your constituents. That’s the beauty of the internet.
Joel Spolsky is Changing the World
Joel’s passion is talking about how to run a small software company
By its nature, search is about the how – people are looking for information
Tribe = group of people, a leader and a connecting idea
Tribes need a leader and an idea
To be a tribe, a group needs a shared interest and a way to communicate
As a business with a website, you have commons, a meeting place
Obviously, have a way to communicate
Grateful Dead
Did not necessarily succeed economically – at least it was not their primary goal, but they created a blue print for a tribe
Humans want to belong to a group
Tribes make our lives better
“…being in a tribe is a big part of how we see ourselves.” Page 3
Tribes Used to be Local
Internet eliminates geography
Explosion of tools that allows us to connect with people, other tribes, to connect interests
Becomes more about our interests as opposed to who we know as a first move (Facebook, Myspace)
In Search of a Movement
Many groups stuck – they drown out dissenters and those with views different from the status quo
These people are aching to be a part of a movement
Similar to The True Believer by Eric Hoffer
Tribes Aren’t So Squishy Anymore
Prior to internet, tribes hard to connect
Instant communication makes things taut
Barack obama can raise $50 million in 28 days
Important point: the internet is a tool, it’s about us, about the people. You don’t need a keyboard to lead, but the desire
We are hardwired to be social, internet – youtube, Facebook, twitter, ning, yelp – allows us to be social
Okay, if you don’t the desire, let someone else who does have the desire lead the tribe
If you are the CEO, the director of marketing, it’s important to recognize those individuals in your company that are impassioned by blogging, tweeting, facebooking. If they can sell you on their efficacy, then give them the power to use their authenticity to garner recruits to your tribe. Nothing worse than disingenuous online interactions – people pick it up and revolt (see uproar about guy Kawasaki and his use of twitter http://outspokenmedia.com/internet-marketing-conferences/twitter-social-media-tool
“generous and authentic leadership will always defeat the self-efforts of someone doing it just because she can.” Page 7
It does not cost much (just buy Red Bull for the knowledgeable 23 yr old in your company). It can yield long term ROI.

Image by boopsie.daisy

Written on March 30, 2009

I recently bought Seth Godin’s latest book called Tribes. I’ve decided to read and take notes along the way and hopefully turn those notes into a somewhat cohesive blog post. So, in an effort to get that cohesive ball rolling – imagine a softball sized ball of tape, rolling along the floor, nabbing hairs and dirt along the trip – here ya go!

Primary thought after reading first quarter or so of book: Social media allows businesses, organizations, associations, anyone to lead a tribe. SM is certainly derided as frustratingly difficult to track (and I agree to an extent), but it provides a potentially explosive opportunity to businesses. Standing on the sidelines because you personally do not like social media is short-sighted, egotistical and, in the end, it’s really not about you. People are already talking about you whether you like it or not. It’s about the user. Your constituents. That’s the beauty of the internet.

Joel Spolsky is Changing the World

  • Joel’s passion is talking about how to run a small software company
  • By its nature, search is about the how – people are looking for information
  • Tribe = group of people, a leader and a connecting idea
  • Tribes need a leader and an idea
  • To be a tribe, a group needs a shared interest and a way to communicate
  • As a business with a website, you have commons, a meeting place
  • Obviously, have a way to communicate

Grateful Dead

  • Did not necessarily succeed economically – at least it was not their primary goal, but they created a blue print for a tribe
  • Humans want to belong to a group
  • Tribes make our lives better
  • “…being in a tribe is a big part of how we see ourselves.” Page 3

Tribes Used to be Local

  • Internet eliminates geography
  • Explosion of tools that allows us to connect with people, other tribes, to connect interests
  • Becomes more about our interests as opposed to who we know as a first move (Facebook, Myspace)
  • More on interest networks

In Search of a Movement

  • Many groups stuck – they drown out dissenters and those with views different from the status quo
  • These people are aching to be a part of a movement
  • Similar to The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

Tribes Aren’t So Squishy Anymore

  • Prior to internet, tribes hard to connect
  • Instant communication makes things taut
  • Barack Obama can raise $50 million in 28 days
  • Important point: the internet is a tool, it’s about us, about the people. You don’t need a keyboard to lead, but the desire
  • We are hardwired to be social, internet – Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Ning, Yelp – allows us to be social
  • Okay, if you don’t the desire, let someone else who does have the desire lead the tribe
  • If you are the CEO, the director of marketing, it’s important to recognize those individuals in your company that are impassioned by blogging, tweeting, facebooking. If they can sell you on their efficacy, then give them the power to use their authenticity to garner recruits to your tribe. Nothing worse than disingenuous online interactions – people pick it up and revolt (see uproar about Guy Kawasaki and his use of twitter)
  • “generous and authentic leadership will always defeat the self-efforts of someone doing it just because she can.” Page 7
  • Googlers view on authenticity, et cetera
  • It does not cost much (just buy Red Bull for the knowledgeable 23 yr old in your company). It can yield long term ROI.
  • http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2009/03/top-web-analytics-questions-twitter-edition.html

More to follow as I read along and write.

Written by Cory Barbot

October 14, 2009 at 11:45 pm

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