Archive for the ‘Out on a Limb’ Category

Google Interview Questions

Thursday, September 20th, 2007 |

We are currently looking to hire an SEO Specialist and so I have been creating interview questions and researching what other companies ask their potential employees.

In doing so I came across these sample interview questions asked by Google. After reading them I know I don’t want to work for Google and probably couldn’t get passed the first round, for that matter. Here are some of the quirkier, less technical questions, for your amusement.

  1. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?”
  2. Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
  3. How many gas stations would you say there are in the United States?
  4. You have a sheet cake. There is a rectangular piece missing from the inside of the sheet cake. The location of the missing piece is arbitrary. I was told I could assume I had the means to make the cuts. How do you divide the sheet cake into 2 even proportions with 2 cuts?
  5. It’s 2PM on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Bay Area. You’re minutes from the Pacific Ocean, redwood forest hiking trails and world class cultural attractions. What do you do?
  6. What will be the next great improvement in search technology?
  7. Why are manhole covers round?
  8. A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
  9. Explain the significance of “dead beef”.
  10. You are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you and the friend. Your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. Would you accept the wager?”

So if you have any answers, post them in our comments section. I would love to know the next great improvement in search technology. ;-)

Late SEO Tip This Week

Friday, August 10th, 2007 |

Sorry for the delay in getting a tip written. I’ll try to get to it this weekend. Part of the problem has been an issue of time. Most of the SEO tips I write are backed with examples and actual case studies of our clients so it takes a bit longer to research them before I write them. The other problem of late is I’m having a slightly more difficult time coming up with meaty tips. I made a promise to myself when I committed to 52 tips and that promise was that the tips would be more than “Get lots of links, it helps,” type of tips.

I will be writing about a social networking site called Squidoo, for the next post (Read the Squidoo Review), but if you have any ideas to offer as tips or any questions I can can answer in the form of a SEO tip, please feel free to submit it. You can email me directly at and I’ll pick the best ones to include on the blog. Most likely a very nice one-way link from the blog post would be coming your site’s way and, hey, you might actually learn something.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Shell Harris

Sphinn – Search & Internet Marketing Professional Website

Thursday, August 9th, 2007 |

sphinnUpdate (8/13/07): I Sphunn my first story today on Squidoo. We’ll see what happens. See my Squidoo Sphinn.

I joined Sphinn today and found a few hours of my time were soon gone. It is fascinating reading, especially so because I consider this very informative site built by the ideas and comments of my peers. If you are interested in Internet marketing, and I assume you are if you are reading my SEO blog, then I would say it is worth 30 minutes to read some posts and see what you think. The best and the brightest are there, of course you will also find too many people who are ignorant and/or just taking up valuable bandwidth. For now though, it looks like a promising site. Think of it as Digg for Search Marketers.

Here is the origin of the domain name:

Why Sphinn? We liked the idea of a place where marketers could put their own “spin” on news by commenting on stories or having discussions. But was taken, as was and was a N too far, we felt. So we went with, pronouncing it “sp-hinn.”

Sphinn away!

SEO Blog Nominated for Blogging Award

Thursday, July 12th, 2007 |

Big Oak's SEO Blog was nominated for Best Marketing Blog!

If you feel this blog has given you good advice about SEO, helpful examples for search engine marketing and/or been an interesting read, please think about giving us a vote for Best Marketing Blog. In a world where we say thank you so little, this is an opportunity to say thanks to Big Oak and it’s blog authors. Sorry to interrupt with a shameless solicitation. ;-)

But, if you would like to do us a favor and massage our egos, you can vote for us here:

You will have to sign up for an account to vote (bummer), but you can also nominate and vote for other favorite blogs or even your own blog.

1-800-GOOG-411 Maps – Pseudo GPS Device

Friday, July 6th, 2007 |

In case you hadn’t heard, a few months back I posted about Google’s 411 service 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411). It’s a free telephone service that helps you search for businesses by voice and get connected to those businesses for free.

Now Google has upgraded this service with the addition of mapping the locations. If during your call to 800-GOOG-411, just say “map it”, and you’ll get a text message with the details of your search plus a link to a map of your results right on your mobile phone.

Now you can always have a GPS device, well kind of.

Not Ready for Traffic? Google Comes Anyway.

Monday, July 2nd, 2007 |

Be careful when you are launching a new site. Remember the search engines will find you if they can find links pointing to the domain. We ran across a humorous example of a site in development while reserching the term “runaway teens” for a client.

The site came up during our research. While it has nothing to do with our subject matter search the term runaway was the connection. Our researcher, read the first paragraph and got a chuckle. I’m sure they will finish the site soon and this post will make no sense so I have attached a screen shot for future generations.

So if you are building on a live server, be sure to block the search engines until you are ready for them. Here are two methods to employ. Both work well.

A simple addition of a robots.txt file with the following command will do the trick:

User-agent: * Disallow: /

You can also add this meta tag to head of your the page you don’t want indexed:


Panoramio – Map Your Photos

Friday, June 1st, 2007 |

Google will purchase Panoramio, a very cool site with interesting functionality. Not an SEO tool, but a tool for your life if you like taking photos on vacation. Of course since Google is going to buy it, that makes is somewhat SEO-worthy.

Panoramio allows you to locate photos exactly over the place they were taken. You can read more about how this works.

From Google: Panoramio is a community photos website that enables digital photographers to geo-locate, store and organize their photographs — and to view those photographs in Google Earth. Other users can search and browse Panoramio photos and suggest edits to the metadata associated with the photos. Panoramio also offers an API that enables web developers to embed Panoramio functionality into their websites.

Your vacation photos will never be the same.

Pay-Per-Click Fraud – SEO Can Help

Saturday, May 26th, 2007 |

click fraudAh, here I am working another Saturday; such is the life of a business owner, especially a business like SEO where the Internet never sleeps. As I was re-reading my sale’s call list from yesterday I looked at a note that I had written concerning a potential client and her overspending on Google’s Adwords. I had related a story to her about click fraud, (BusinessWeek wrote a article about click fraud), that happened to a client of ours and thought I’d share it again with my blog readers.

Her story started like so many other calls I receive.

“I’m spending thousands per month with pay-per-click and I can’t afford to keep doing it. A lot of money is being spent with little return, but I don’t know what else to do.”

Of course running a successful PPC campaign involves many factors. Big Oak SEO does not have any PPC clients as we realize this is its own beast and requires time and skills we don’t want to invest in at this point. I feel it is a conflict of interest, but that discussion is for another day. So let us assume this person could be doing better to increase her return on her ads. Let’s also assume she can only do so much and she will be a victim of click fraud, as will anyone who uses pay-per-click. It is inevitable.

My response to her was simple. With organic rankings you will see more traffic, better conversions and less ad spending. If the SEO campaign is done correctly these three things will always happen. I believe this and have seen it proved over and over. We have a client that was spending $30,000 per month with PPC. They have at least cut this number in half. Some weeks they turn off PPC advertising and haven’t dropped the number of leads or sales because of it. If only for the PPC savings, SEO is a good ROI.

As I related this to her I also mentioned the story about click fraud with an older client. While I can’t prove any specific numbers on click fraud or how it may differ by industry, I can verify that this story is accurate. The client in question went to a very large industry trade show. All of the big name competitors were also in attendance as well as many smaller competitors. The trade show was from Monday to Wednesday. The biggest surprise came when the client returned on Thursday to check his PPC figures. During the the time he and most of his competitors were at the trade show his PPC costs dropped in half.

Of course this could all be coincidence, but I think it speaks to the large problem of click fraud. I’m pleased to say none of our clients rely on PPC and it is because of the organic rankings they enjoy. But it wasn’t always the case and weaning a client from the PPC habit can be difficult, but in the long run everyone is glad they have less reliance on PPC. SEO can help reduce the need for PPC, but sometimes it helps to keep running the PPC campaign, at a reduced expense – here is an artilce on with some helpful tips on how to keep click fraud to a minimum.

Google: Hot Trends

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 |

Google releases a “new toy” with Hot Trends. While keeping up with what is hot with Google search terms is not really part of SEO, it is fun to see what the collective search world is focusing on.

And today we’re introducing a new toy we are calling Hot Trends. It’s a new feature of Google Trends for sharing the the hottest current searches with you in very close to real time. What’s on our collective mind as we search for information? What’s interesting to people right now? Hot Trends will tell you. At a glance, you’ll see the huge variety of topics capturing our attention, from current events to daily crossword puzzle clues to the latest celebrity gossip. Hot Trends is updated throughout the day, so check back often.

For each Hot Trend, you will see results from Google News, Google Blog Search and web search, which help explain why the search is hot. For example, the #7 item on Thursday, May 17th was the cryptic phrase [creed thoughts]. The associated news stories and blog results show that this odd term is the name of a fake website mentioned on the season finale of The Office. Mystery solved. Of course, some searches are not as easily explained. Visit the Hot Trends group to read the explanations of others and offer your own.

Also stated by Google: With the release of Hot Trends, we’re retiring the weekly Zeitgeist list, but we will still compile monthly lists for each country, and will continue our annual year-end roll-ups too.

Too bad for Zeitgeist but at least it is continuing forward, just not on a weekly basis.

Being a big fan of The Office I was tickled to see that on May 17th Creed’s Thoughts was hot.

You can read the full blog post: What’s Hot Today

Most Popular Blog Posts

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007 |

I’m trying something new on my blog. While I certainly don’t have a blog with hundreds of posts (this will be my 70th posting) I feel like the blog is getting a bit harder to navigate for newer visitors.

So with that in mind I have added a new plugin that will automate placing my “most popular posts” on a page. The plugin decides your most popular posts by calculating most visits or most comments. I have opted to use most visits. So, my viewing public, you will decide what makes the cut on my most popular posts page. Power to the people! You can find my top posts page from the link in the top navigation or follow this link to Big Oak’s Popular Posts.

As of 5/9/07 I am showing the up to five of the most popular posts in each category. I can change it to show the top posts without a category filter, which means the most popular posts in total. Which way is best?

Any thoughts on the importance of unimportance of this usability test? Comments welcomed, as always.

Google Voice Local Search

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007 |

More news that Google will soon be taking over the world.

Call 800-GOOG-411

Use the new Google Voice Local Search experiment to connect to local businesses anywhere in the U.S. from your phone, for free. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) and speak the name of a business (“Giovanni’s Pizzeria”) or its category (“pizza”).

You can choose to connect to the business directly over phone or, if you are calling from your mobile phone, you can also say “text message” and we’ll send you the business’s details by SMS. Google won’t charge you for a thing, but note that regular phone charges may apply based on your phone service provider.

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 or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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