Archive for the ‘Out on a Limb’ Category

Google Picks Up the Lunch Tab for $72 Million

Friday, April 25th, 2008 |

Anyone think Google isn’t the most powerful company on the planet? Well, you are wrong. And besides that they know how to keep their employees happy. Feed them. And they did to the tune of $72 million dollars.

Wrap your head around that number. Wow. Some small companies hope to bring in 1 million sales a year. Here’s a tip for you, start a food catering business and cater to Google! ;-)

Get your fill and read the full story on Softpedia.

Link Advertising Overload with Chitika Contextual Ads

Thursday, April 17th, 2008 |

While doing a check for backlinks to our wildly popular SEO Comic, I found this blog post (http://filehostfactory.com/site/8/?p=7268). What intrigued me the most was the overwhelming number of link ads (contextual ads) being placed in the post. If you look at the screen shot below you can see what I mean.

I counted 171 words starting with Filehostfactory and ending with “your own site.” Out of those words, 34 are being sold as Chitika ads. That is 20% of your content being sold to advertisers. Wow! And it doesn’t make reading it any easier either.

According to Chitika big money by top bloggers is a certainty so this type of in-your-face link advertising may be more prevalent as small-time bloggers seek a bigger piece of the blog advertising pie.

Has anyone had monetary success with this type of advertising? It would seem to drive viewers away in my opinion.

I do appreciate the link to our comic.

advertising-overload.gif

Twitter can be Profitable on Ebay

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008 |

A very resourceful gentleman by the name of Andrew Baron put his Twitter account on ebay. This account has 1,400 followers who have also been put on the auction block whether they like it or not. You can see the auction on eBay. It was up to $1,550 when I took this screen shot, with 7 days to go. Amazing!

Ebay auction for Twitter Account

Why is he sellng his account? From his own words:

I really love my Twitter account but I feel like I haven’t been using it the way I want to. Quite honestly, I feel sorry for all of my followers because they wind up with my tweets in their timelines and I haven’t been able to utilize the medium the way I want to. I also participate in another Twitter account over on Rocketboom so I’m thinking I’ll post more over there and start up a new account to do what I want to do next.

So I guess Twitter does have monetary value and you can throw your “twits” under than bus when you sell it. I would personally be a little upset if I was following him, but you have to appreciate the genius of this auction. What is your Twitter account worth?

If anyone has a twitter account they think I might like to follow please submit it in a comment. I’m still not sold on its value.

SearchMe gets an “A” for innovation, even if that innovation was obvious

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 |

SearchMe.com, the new visual search engine backed by Sequoia, has taken what seems like an obvious concept and built a search engine around it. Words take on totally different meanings depending on the context. If you type the keyword “comic” into a search engine, you could be intending to search for a comic book or a stand-up comic. So why doesn’t Yahoo or Google ask the end user for context clues? Seems like an obvious prompt, doesn’t it? SearchMe thought so. And now we have a search engine based on the idea.

Do a search for “comic” on SearchMe, and you’ll be able to pick amongst a slew of categories to narrow your search. As SearchMe increases in popularity and expands, so will its categories. The end goal is to have such a comprehensive list of categories that the user will be able to pigeonhole any conceivably confusing search term into the right category. This can certainly save the user heaps of time. The problem is that if the algorithm is worse than Google’s, the user won’t care.

But I’ve been fiddling around with SearchMe, and the algorithm seems pretty solid. I’ve not yet come across any search results that I felt were way off. Their algorithm appears to do a good job of categorizing sites properly. When you tell it to only show sites relating to comic books, instead of comics in general, the results are relevant. Must be a lot of latent semantic indexing at play.

Ironically, the worst feature of SearchMe is its visualization element. The website preview screen is too large and distracting. If they wanted to give the user a glimpse of what a site in the SERPS looks like, they should have just copied ASK’s binocular feature. Hovering over a result to see what a site looks like is more pleasing than a bulky window. If you could actually read the content of the website inside that bulky preview window, then SearchMe would have a hit a goldmine in terms of innovation, but you can’t because the text is too small. Frankly, it’s probably better that you can’t because publishers who sell ads on their site wouldn’t be particularly ecstatic about that feature.

SearchMe is relying on user feedback to improve their search results. This seems wise since a single person has the ability to catch mistakes that could affect millions of search queries down the line. I noticed a few flaws with certain keywords. A search for the keyword “bug” brings up ten appropriate categories, including insects, web development, and computer programming. But it doesn’t bring up a car company category, so people searching for the Volkswagen Bug are left out to dry. A search for the keyword “rover” correctly brings up the car company category, which will please Range Rover fans, but it doesn’t bring up the aeronautics category. If you were hoping to dig deeper into information about the Mars Rover, you’d have to do it without the special category tool.

These mistakes speak volumes about the impact of human intervention since it’s unlikely that SearchMe’s own algorithm would have ever caught them. If SearchMe’s popularity ever explodes, they can thank the beta testers. Making the feedback feature so prominent was a smart maneuver.

Black Hat SEO Comic – Ranked Hard

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 |

April’s installment of the SEO Comic Ranked Hard has been published. Read “Beware the Dark Side” which deals with the duality every search engine optimizer must sometimes face.

Thanks to our friends at Internet Marketing Sucks for the April Fool’s Joke using the Ranked Hard comic strip.

Twitter – Waste of Time or Useful Tool?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008 |

twitter.pngI’m not going to write a review of twitter, mainly because I have only started using it recently and I’m undecided about its practical uses. If you would like to see what others think of twitter you can read a review here or here. I did include two videos in this post so you can get a quick idea of what it is and how it works.

What is Twitter? Twitter is a social messaging tool for staying connected in real-time.

I do find it very cool that I have access to other SEO Experts and even cooler some of them have been kind enough to read what I’m twittering about. If you are interested in what I am doing you follow me at http://twitter.com/ShellHarris. Is anyone else twittering. Please pass along any thoughts on this social media tool.

Update: I was amazed to find the Google pulled an alert for me from a Twitter comment I made. I had made a comment about our newest SEO Comic and my alert pulls any mention of “SEO Comic”. So Google is caching my twitter page. The link are all nofollow, but we know Google follows nofollow they just don’t apply an link popularity from them.

The following videos can demonstrate the genius or madness of Twitter. I am yet undecided.

Or you can watch this video.

Yahoo Admits Google is Better and Adobe is the Grand Poobah.

Thursday, March 13th, 2008 |

I accidentally did a backlink check on Google.com today. And right before I went to close the browser window my eye caught something very amusing, to an optimizer’s mind anyway.

If you subscribe to the belief that Yahoo shows backlinks in order of importance (e.g. the first backlink is the most important and so on.) then it must be surmised that the first backlink listed for Google by Yahoo Site Explorer is the most important backlink for Google. Funny enough Yahoo considers a backlink from Adobe better than a backlink from Google (see image below), although it is a subpage from within Adobe.com (the Acrobat Reader Download page).

Yahoo Backlinks for Google.com

After this initial revelation, I then decided to check the backlinks to Yahoo.com. Surely Yahoo wouldn’t consider another website more important than their own, would they? As it turns out, I was wrong and PHP.net was listed first.

Yahoo Backlinks for Yahoo.com

PHP.net was listed under Google.com in the first search. Following this logic, one would surmise that Yahoo admits to PHP.net being more important than Yahoo.com, and we already knew Google.com and Adobe.com are more important than PHP.net. So I am led to believe that Yahoo admits to Google being more important than itself and Adobe is the Grand Poobah of all backlinks.

All this of course means little to nothing, but I did smile at the irony. You can check for yourself by clicking this link and this link.

And don’t forget to tune in next episode when we reveal that Google admits…

Google Admits AltaVista is the Best Search Engine

AltaVista is the number one search engine!

StumbleUpon and SEO Comic Equal Traffic Spike

Thursday, February 21st, 2008 |

I personally like StumbleUpon. It is a good diversion, some would call it a time-waster, and I have discovered some amazing things through it. On the other hand, I don’t think it is a great method of marketing your site, but it does have its benefits, especially when you consider the minuscule amount of time your actually put into it…basically you click a button and you are done. Hard to complain about the work. No, the real work is creating something worth stumbling. I talked about the infusion of traffic and named then traffic spike “The StumbleUpon Shark” but something different happened this week.

You may have read about our new SEO Comic, Ranked Hard in a previous post (if not, check it out), well it has been stumbled and we saw the biggest spike we have ever received. Of course that was nice, but surprisingly it held serve the next day and increased even more the next day. Amazing.

The graph below shows our site’s total traffic from StumbleUpon. The top number of visitors from StumbleUpon reach 585. We will certainly keep watching over the next few days but it is good to see that StumbleUpon can provide traffic for more than just one fabulous day on occasion. Obviously the quality and possible niche of the content can be attributable to the staying power of the traffic. But it can be done.

stumbleupon-graph1.gif

Could Powerset threaten Google’s dominance?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008 |

What if there was a search engine that actually understood natural English language search queries? Before you say, “What do you mean? Google understands English,” understand that I am being literal. What if there was a search engine that you could talk to like a person and actually have it spit back relevant results? What if you could type in a search query like “Who mocked Tony Blair yesterday?” and receive the exact result you were looking for.

Well, that’s the goal of the Silicon Valley start up Powerset.com, and they mean business. This isn’t just some company based out of a nineteen year-old’s garage. Some very powerful and influential people are behind the project, including the co-founder of Paypal, Peter Thiel, and Dr. Jay Tenenbaum, the founder of the first company to conduct a commercial Internet transaction, Enterprise Integration Technologies.

Powerset seems to understand that if it wants to challenge Google in search, it can’t try to beat it at its own game. It realizes that it must innovate by offering something different, just as Google realized. While the major search engine companies gave up on the idea of natural language search engines long ago, the people behind Powerset kept dreaming.

According to Powerset’s blog, Powerset is superior to the other engines because it can analyze a given query for its meaning and then look for sentences in its index that have a similar meaning. Powerset matches the structure and meaning of a given query with the structure and meaning of every sentence and document in the index. Then it returns results that match the exact intent of the searcher.

Therefore, if you did a Powerset search for “Who mocked Tony Blair?” Powerset would understand that you were looking only for results about who mocked Blair, not merely for passages that had the phrases “mocked” (and its synonyms) and “Blair” in them.

This screenshot from their private beta demonstrates the search in action. In this example, Powerset is only pulling results from Wikipedia.

Now, check out this screenshot of a Powerset search query for “Who proved Fermat’s last theorem?” If the vast majority of search results are as accurate as that one, then Google may have a real fight on its hands, even though the battle will clearly be an uphill one for Powerset.

If you wish to join in the private beta testing of Powerset, you can sign up here.

Presuming that Powerset lives up to the hype when it launches, what do you estimate the odds are that it can challenge Google?

SEO as an Acronym

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 |

Every now and then someone will ask what I do for a living and I’ll say I am the President of an SEO company. After a moment of confusion the inevitable question is, “What does SEO stand for?” Of course we know it is Search Engine Optimization, but that got me thinking, (much like my SEO Haiku) what else could it stand for, relating to search optimization?

So I have some other options for those of us in the SEO industry who may want something more interesting when asked what does SEO stand for? In no particular order here are some ideas for the SEO acronym. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

  • SEO = Stress Equals Opportunity
  • SEO = Searching Everything Online
  • SEO = Sweet Exposure Online
  • SEO = Seizing Every Opportunity
  • SEO = Some Extra (marketing) Offense
  • SEO= Supplied Energy Online
  • SEO = Successful at Everything Obviously

and since we are looking for an SEO Copywriter

  • SEO = Stellar Employment Opportunity

Nice for a momentary diversion, not much help for our clients, so back to work…

Experiment with Technorati Authority

Thursday, January 10th, 2008 |

I was checking into our blog’s external links and found this blog post: http://www.ciao9to5.com/increase-technorati-rating/.

The author, Will Harrison, is trying to increase his Technorati Authority and thereby his rating. His method to do this is to link to 5 blogs, his own and 4 others he enjoys and pass it along. Big Oak SEO blog was one of the 4 he chose (thank you). If he has linked to you and you find the post with the link, a request is made from the post that you do the same.

Sounds much like a chain letter of sorts, which I’m not a fan of, but for the sake of the experiment, I’ll try it. As of today, Jan. 10, 2008 my Technorati Authority is 35 and my rank is 231,062. I’ll report back if any noticeable increase happens.

Here is a snippet from Will’s post:

This makes Technorati seem like an easy enough place to increase your rating. All you need for authority are incoming links.

How are we going to get those incoming links? Glad you’ve asked. I found this method called ViraLink. What happens is: I will post the link to 5 blogs I enjoy, including my own, under this post. Those 4 blogs that aren’t owned by me will see their Technorati ranking increase and look to find out who linked them. Actually, it would probably be best to link smaller blogs that will look to see who linked them. Anyways, when they find this post, they are to copy the post and add another 5 blogs onto the list. It kind of starts a chain.

I see no harm in trying it out, so here is Will’s 5 blogs with my 5 blogs added:

  1. CIAO9to5
  2. TylerCruz
  3. Jon Waraas
  4. Big Oak SEO Blog
  5. Practical Blogging
  6. SEO Tier
  7. 97th Floor
  8. Graphic Design Blog
  9. Hobo SEO
  10. Marketing Revisited

I hope the 5 blogs I added will benefit from this as well. They are all worth reading.

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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