Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Google Transparency Report Shows Details of Worldwide Government Intervention

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Google has always claimed that they want to maximize transparency around the flow of information related to their services.  I always took this statement with a grain of salt, as I would from any large corporation trying to explain how transparent and open they were with the public. However, a recent update by Google has done a great job revealing information about government intervention and online content.

Recently, Google has updated their Transparency Report to include more details about information requested from governments around the world. This report has been used to provide data about the number of government inquiries concerning specific users or accounts, as well as requests to remove specific content.

According to this post on their blog, Google has “highlighted some significant changes in the data and provided context about why those changes may have occurred during this reporting period.” They have updated the format of the report so that anyone can see user data requests on a country-by country basis.

The Transparency Report is now very detailed. Using Government Requests, Google is disclosing whether they were asked for user data or for content removal, the reasons why they’ve been asked to remove content (such as hate speech, defamation, copyright, etc…), even the percentage of requests that Google complied with.

For those that are curious, the United States ranks third overall in the amount of content removal requests, and first overall in user data requests (by a huge gap).

Some requests for removing content in the last six months (January to June 2011) included everything from violation of AdWords policies (China) and defamation cases (France) to the removal of YouTube videos displaying protests (India), police brutality (USA) and details about the private lives of political officials (Turkey). For more details, see the Map of requests.

It’s really quite amazing what you can learn about how the web is shaped by government influence and other regulations. In my opinion, Google is providing a great (and interesting) service by publishing this data.

Choosing the Right Content Management System for Your Website

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Content management systems are very appealing. Being able to give our clients the ability to make simple text changes and content updates on their own saves time for us and money for them. They’re also a slick way to manage large websites with lots of content, and can make theming a cinch for your designer/developer.

Once you decide to use a content management system, you have to choose one of the many available to you. Some are free, some are paid, and many have restrictions and flaws. Most systems are built to work very well with a specific subset of sites, and can be adapted for others (eg. WordPress.org is a blogging platform, but makes an excellent CMS with few modifications).

Factors to Consider

As you are exploring your content management system options, you should take into consideration what your website needs from the CMS and how it can make your job easier, faster, cheaper, or better.

Consider these questions when you are investigating:

  • How does this system work for the type of website you run (ecommerce, blog, forum, etc)?
  • How easy is it to install, administer, and update? Can you or do you know someone who can do this?
  • How strong and helpful is the user community for this CMS?
  • Is this CMS still updated, or is it on its way out?
  • Is this CMS SEO-friendly?

This last item is very important to the success of your website. By not considering SEO-friendliness as one of the most important factors, you may end up stuck with a beautifully functioning website that no one can find.

By choosing a CMS that is SEO-friendly, you ensure that your optimizer can effectively market your website and the search engines can crawl and display it correctly.

Some of the most important CMS features include:

  • Clean URLs – Session tracking or dynamic URLs make it difficult for search engines to crawl and properly link to your website. Without clean URLs, you may end up with duplicate content problems or incomplete indexation. This includes customizable URLs, so you can reference the article name instead of database ID number. URLs that look static are best.
  • H1 tags – Header markup is important to split your content appropriately. Having an H1 instead of strong text at the beginning of a piece of content signals that this is the title of the content.
  • Redirects – 301 redirects are essential to SEO if the content on your site might ever change (this is everyone!). If your CMS can automatically handle changes in URL structure and content with 301s, your life will be much simpler.

Not essential, but if your CMS can gracefully handle meta tags, robots.txt files, and bulk uploads, you will thank yourself later.

Content Management Systems

There are quite a few content management systems to choose from:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla!
  • Expression Engine
  • Drupal
  • DotNetNuke
  • Radiant
  • Magento
  • and many more

Each system is built to suit a different type of consumer, and most have dedicated followings.

Drupal

At Page 1 Solutions, we use Drupal as our CMS of choice. We now program all of our new designs into Drupal, and have spent many hours training the company and our clients on how to use it.

Drupal was a great choice because it is pretty SEO-friendly out of the box. With just a few additional free modules available through the community, it is highly customizable and ready for search engine optimization. The Drupal community is also very active and helpful, and have always come through for us if we had a question.

Drupal Modules for SEO

Drupal already offers clean URLs and tight, clean coding out of the box. Fellow ninja, John Donnelly and I presented at this year’s Drupal Camp Colorado, going over basics of SEO and modules we recommend for Drupal. See the video and slides for our presentation by visiting the Drupal Camp Colorado 2011 site.

The modules we recommend are:

Your Website

As a Drupal fan-girl, I will recommend Drupal to nearly everyone. It is highly customizable and can handle the most important of websites, including the White House’s website. The community is very supportive, and folks who can help figure out Drupal problems are easy to find.

Choosing the right CMS is personal, though, and it is important that you choose the right content management system to run your website. Do not forget to consider SEO when making a selection, and choose wisely!

Do I select keywords and phrases before or after I build my website?- SEO Basics XV

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Keywords and key phrases need to be selected much before building a website. In fact, you should think about keywords and phrases even before you choose a domain name.
It is a known fact that having a key word relevant domain name can be helpful to your website’s rankings with the Search Engines.
It is very important to name your website as close to the your targeted keywords and phrases as possible.
By choosing your keywords and phrases well in advance, you will also be able to design your site with an advantage as you can include key terms in your page URLs and ensure that the site’s architecture and navigation highlights the key phrases for your business.
Choosing target keywords and phrases in advance also enhances your competitive analysis and allows you to focus on the important points while writing your website’s content.
You can define your internal and external links and maximize the value from anchor text.

Top Five Google Plus Features

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

With the recent roll out of Google+ three weeks ago, there has been much talk about Google’s attempt to stomp all over Facebook and other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. So far the Google+ platform is available by invitation only, as they are still tweaking the system and working out the bugs.  I was able to set up a Google+ account two weeks ago and so  far I really like what I’m seeing.

Keep in mind that at this early stage, Google+ works only with Google accounts that have an active Google profile. If you haven’t created your Google profile, you will not be able to sign up for Google+. Judging from the feedback I’m seeing from other users, there are people who love what Google is doing, and then there are those who doubt Google’s ability to create a social media platform that will actually work well and catch on with the Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter crowds.  After all, say the doubters, this is Google’s third attempt in the social media realm.

This time, however, I think they are on to something, and have created a powerful social media tool with a great deal of potential.  G+ integrates what I like most about the other platforms and adds a bit more.

Here are my personal Top Five Favorite Google Plus Features:

#5 – Hangouts – Hangouts is a great way to communicate face to face with anyone via video chat.  It is very easy to set up and, in my experience, works better than Facebook’s Video Chat feature. The interface looks good and is incredibly easy to use.  You only need to download a simple plug-in the first time you initiate use, and you are ready to chat!

Google Hangouts

#4 – Sparks – Sparks is a feature that enables you to find, create, and ultimately share topics of interest and use them like a news feed source for information.  Topics can be broad like the pre-set categories “movies”, “gardening” or “comics”.  You can also create targeted topics like “1950’s Horror Films”, “Growing Tomato Plants”, or “X-Men” by using the Find stuff you’re interested in… search bar.

#3 - Photos / Instant Uploads from Android – For someone like me who is always forgetting to dump the pictures out of my phone, this feature makes photo uploading unthinkably easy!  All you need is the Google+ for Android app and your photos automatically upload themselves to your G+ account immediately after they’ve been taken.  The app is much easier to use than Facebook's upload interface and the photos are quickly uploaded into a private album, by default.  You can set to share them with one or more circles when you upload or you can keep them private and share later. So simple.

#2 - Mute Posts – The Mute post option came so close to being number one on my list. It is a simple thing, but oh, so necessary.  If you have a topic on your Stream feed that no longer interests you, or a conversation that you don’t care to follow, you have the ability to get rid of it via the mute, report, or block options. Link To is also an option in the menu if the conversation is something you want to pass along to others.  Mute post is the kind way of saying "shut up" or "not now" to someone on Google+!

#1 - Circles (and Streams limited sharing capabilities) – Circles is definitely my favorite feature of all!  Circles allow you to add people to different groups and categorize them.  For instance, I currently have a few different Circles categories:  friends, work, family, & following.  Each of these are groups of people I interact with differently.  For instance, I probably wouldn’t share pictures of my weekend exploits with my family or work circles, but would with my friends circle.  I can use the family circle to keep up to date on the upcoming family reunion, and I can chat with co-workers about the latest and greatest SEO happenings in my work circle.  The best part is no one has to read conversations from me that do not pertain to them.  Each circle sees only what they need to see.  No superfluous junk!  If you do happen to  have a big announcement you want to share with everyone, you can easily do that as well.  You do not have to be in your Circles to segregate your posts, you only need to designate who gets to see what right from your posting bar in Stream (via Share what’s new…).

In a not so tiny nutshell, those are my top five favorite features that Google+ has to offer right now.  Keep in mind that what we are seeing in these early stages is Google+ for the individual. With the scheduled roll out of Google+ For Business later this year, Google has the means to integrate much of what they already excel at (search, Google Checkout, advertising, analytics, mapping, and communication) and bundle everything together in one tidy and potentially powerful package for business entities. More on that when Google releases it!

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

What are Inbound, Outbound and Reciprocal links ? SEO Basics XIV

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

An Inbound link is a link from an external website pointing to your site while an outbound link is a link from your site pointing to another website.

Given the importance of link building in optimization, one of the biggest goals for an optimizer is to get high quality topical inbound links for a site on a regular basis. This is one of the key factors used by Google to assess the credibility of a website. Webmasters should consistently look for opportunities to get inbound links especially from .edu or .gov sites, this can help give a website a boost in the Search Engine rankings.

While outbound links are not considered as valuable as Inbound links, linking to authoritative, relevant sources can help make your site more user-friendly which is valued by the Search Engines. It is also important to ensure that your site does not point to low quality, unrelated sites.

A reciprocal link is a link done as part of a mutual agreement between 2 webmasters to exchange links to each others’ websites. If you exchange links, make sure that it’s relevant to your site and that you do not link purely to add to the number of incoming links on your site.

What are some common SEO terms- SEO Basics XIII

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Algorithm
A mathematical formula used by search engines to assess the relevance and importance of websites and rank them accordingly in their search results. These algorithms are highly confidential and each Search Engine has their own algorithm.

Anchor Text
Anchor text is highlighted words on a page that link to another web page or resource. Clicking on the text, called hypertext, loads the linked resource in the user’s browser.

Backlink
A text link to your website from another website.

Crawl
Search engines find web pages on the World Wide Web and record index information sending out “spiders” These spiders make their way from page to page and site to site by following text links.

Domain name
The virtual address of your website (normally in the form www.yourbusinessname.com).

Google AdWords
A paid service that lets you create and run ads for your business on Google and their advertising network , you can set a budget and you only pay when people click your ads.

Google PageRank / PR
PageRank is a numeric value that represents how important a page is on the web according to Google. It isn’t the only factor that Google uses to rank pages, but it is an important one.

HTML
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the coding language used to create much of the information on the World Wide Web. Web browsers read the HTML code and display the page that code describes.

Keyword / keyword phrase
A word or phrase which your potential customers search for and which should be used frequently on a site in order to be relevant to those searches.

Keyword density
A measure of the frequency of your keyword in relation to the total wordcount of the page.

Link
A word or image on a web page which the reader can click to visit another page.

Meta tag
Code within the header of your web page which describes some aspect of that page. These meta tags like Title ( most important), Description, Keywords etc are read by the search engines and used to help assess the relevance of a site to a particular search.

Organic search results
Organic search results are those results that are obtained by indexing pages based purely on content and keyword relevancy. This is in contrast to listings ranked based on paid or sponsored searches where listings can be bought based on bids.

Reciprocal link
A mutual agreement between two webmasters to add a link to the other’s website in return for a link to their own website). This is not looked upon favorably by the Search engines.

Robot / Spider
Robots or spiders are terms for programs and automated scripts that “crawl” through the web (the Internet) and collect data from websites and anything else on the Internet that they can find.

robots.txt file
A file which is used to inform the search engine spider which pages on a site should not be indexed.

Sandbox
It is believed that for most new sites, Google withholds rightful ranking for a period while it determines whether the website is a genuine, credible, long term site. It does this to discourage the creation of SPAM websites.

SE / Search Engine
A search engine is a site which allows you to search for websites which contain a particular word or phrase. The most well known search engines are Google, Yahoo, and MSN.

SEO / SEM
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It’s a set of techniques used by an optimizer to improve your website’s rankings in the search engines for a particular set of keywords, or keyword phrases.
SEM stands for “Search Engine Marketing” and covers SEO, Pay-Per-Click and other online marketing techniques that help your website improve visibility on the search engines.

SERP
SERP or “Search Engine Results Page” is the position of your website in the search results that display when someone searches for a particular word at a search engine.

SiteMap
A page on your site which contains a list of text links to every page on the website , It is a good SEO practice to have a sitemap on your website.

SPAM
Unwanted and unrequested email sent en-masse to private email addresses. Also used to refer to websites which appear high in search results without having any useful content.

URL
Uniform Resource Locator. The address of a particular page published on the Internet. Normally in the form http://www.yourbusinessname.com/AWebPage.htm.

Webmaster
A person responsible for the management of a particular website.

World Wide Web (WWW)
The vast array of documents published on the Internet. It is estimated that the World Wide Web now consists of approximately 11.5 billion pages.

What happens if my site is blacklisted from Google? – SEO Basics V

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

As a Webmaster / Optimizer one of the most important points to keep in mind while using SEO techniques to gain high rankings on Google is to always follow their guidelines and to always watch out for any inadvertant violations which can result in Google “Blacklisting” your site.
Blacklisting can result in your site being completely dropped from the Google search result pages. Since most potential clients use Google for online searches, this can result in a drastic drop in your traffic which can have a detrimental effect on the business generated by the website.

What can cause your site to get Blacklisted?

Google has some of the most stringent guidelines which they lay out pretty clearly on WebMaster Central.
Any of the following tactics could get your site Blacklisted:
1) Creating deceptive or misleading content, such as doorway pages or ‘throwaway’ domains.
2) Having spam on your site.
3) Having excessive links (more than 100) on your webpages.
4) Registering a domain using a common misspelling of a well-known company or site.
5) Link cloaking and redirects.
6) Link building schemes.
7) Involving your site in phishing schemes, viruses, and other malware or association with an affiliate program that does not provide unique and relevant content.

What can you Do About It

Check your site for any obvious violation of Google’s policies.
Check files and links for signs of infection. Take necessary steps to rectify any problems.
Go to Google Webmaster Tools and ensure your site is included in your account and verified.
Request Google to review your site, state that you have taken the necessary steps to bring your site upto speed with their guidelines. Request a re-inclusion .
It can take some itime for Google to review your site and re-include it in their index, as there is no way to speed up the process , you’ll need to keep monitoring the search results regularly.

In the end, it’s best to always use only White Hat techniques and follow guidelines , the problems you are likely to face as the result of being Blacklisted by Google simply aren’t worth the risk of using Black Hat SEO.

What Is Black Hat SEO –SEO Basics IV

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Continuing with the series on basic SEO questions, one question that we optimizers frequently hear is “What is Black Hat SEO?”

There is no generally accepted definition for black hat SEO. The answers depend on who you are speaking to, something considered fair by one webmaster maybe off-limits to another. Generally, efforts to manipulate Search Engines to gain quick results are considered as Black Hat SEO.

Besides the principles that web companies and marketing personnel apply to their work, guidelines can also vary based on the industry and sometimes the Search Engines too.
Search engine operators, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, have published guidelines about techniques they consider to be Black Hat and in violation of their policies.

There are no shortcuts in SEO. It is a long-term process that requires perseverance and diligence. Black hat techniques may look tempting and easy and may give short-term results but they are detrimental in the long run. They can cause your site to get banned by the SEs which is every webmaster’s worst nightmare..

Here are some common BlackHat SEO techniques to be aware of :

Cloaking a website by displaying one website to visitors and other one to Google’s spiders. The most common way to do this is using the “iframe” redirect code.

Using Hidden Text or “white” text written on a white background to stuff keywords within webpages.

Creating Doorway pages which involves having a website optimized for one set of keywords, then redirecting its traffic to another website once it is indexed.

Using Automated Submission/Link Building Software that submits your site to hundreds of directories that probably have no relevance to your site. This is also known as Link Farming.

Keyword Stuffing or adding a large number of keywords in the meta-tags.

Buying Paid Links indiscriminately to try and build inbound links.

Another Day, Another Facebook Privacy Controversy

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Disclaimer: This is my personal take on the recent spate of Facebook security issues, and does not reflect the views of Page 1 Solutions, LLC as a company.

A number of news sources have reported today that 100 million Facebook users’ information can no longer be made private. Of course, this has launched yet another wave of outrage from privacy proponents and security experts.

What I’m about to say is going to be extremely unpopular, but I hope it serves as a wake up call.

In the span of about ten minutes with nothing more than your name and a few clues gleaned from blog posts about your location, I can find your address, phone number, who owns your house, how much the county assessor thinks it’s worth, pull up satellite photos of your house, download photos of you, your spouse, your friends, and probably can even find out where you work, who your boss is and where you went to college. And pictures of your little dog, too!

(more…)

Friday Link Love: July 23

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I find myself wondering how the heck I made it to Friday again so quickly. Is it just me, or is July moving at the speed of light?

Either way, it’s time for some link lovin’s for our favorite SEO writers this week!

Patti: There’s another startup on the horizon, and this one comes with FREE DATA! I, like our former ninja Tara, love data, especially when it’s free. Blekko is a search engine currently sitting in beta which promises to share it’s data for free, including inbound links, duplicated content, and associated metatags, for each and every domain they have indexed! Provided their index is comparable to that of Yahoo! or Google, this will be a great tool for SEO! Swoon

Becky: Last January, I got very interested in Foursquare and after poking it with a stick for awhile I wrote SEO for Foursquare. I was pretty excited about the possible implications for local search, and wrote that, “The clean, clear address and map hint that a citation is certainly possible. If a lot of people are checking in to a venue, those could be construed as votes in favor that make it more worthy of a higher position in the 7-pack. At the very least, the search engines are taking some serious notice.” So of course I was excited all over again when Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land posted Foursquare In Discussions With “Everyone” To Enhance Search With Its Data. Can I get away with saying I told you so? Cuz I kinda want to. ;-)


Search
Archives