Monday, November 22, 2010

Search Engine Rankings 2008 - 2010 (Nov)

Google's Downward Trend Reversed at Yahoo's Expense
Whenever comScore, Inc. releases their search engine rankings, everyone who blogs about search engines or SEM comments on the new statistics. ComScore released their October 2010 results a few days ago and I've been reading lots of posts about the new data.

In March of 2010, I created a graph which shows the U.S. search engine ranking from comScore for the top five search engines from January 2008 to February 2010, because I had not see anyone assemble the data in one place before.

Here is an updated version of that graphic.

You may have noticed that in early 2010 Google began to trend down until September.

In September Google's share of searches bounced back. And now is closer to their recent historical levels.

One might think that Google's improvement was related to the MSN / Yahoo merger (announced July 28) or Google Live (launched Sept 8). But I think it has more to do with comScore Tweaking their methodology.

Back in June comScore said they where going to adjust their methodology because Yahoo and MSN were gaming the system.The release was scheduled with the release of July's data.

What do you think? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Download the excel file used to generate these chart.

This data based on comScore's Core search report data.

Friday, November 19, 2010

SEO and Social Media Weekly Reader Nov 19, 2010

Friday is Reading Day
If you are looking for articles related to SEO or Social media, take a look at this list. I assemble it over the week and post it every Friday.
  1. UIEtips: Five Usability Challenges of Web-Based Applications (UIE.com Nov 17, 2010) A well thought out and organized list of tips for people build web applications or large websites.
  2. Are you keeping up with Google? (searchengineguide.com Nov. 10, 2010) How is the busy SEO suppose to keep up with all these changes? "... the best way to keep up with Google is to continually focus on what your customers need..."
  3. 4 Ways to Sell Inbound Marketing to Your Manufacturing SEO (blog.hubspot.com Nov. 18, 2010) Four concrete suggestions on how to approach this task.
I'd be interested in hearing about any blogs or websites you follow, which contain informative articles about Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, or Social Media Marketing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What SEO Tips Can We Learn from a Restaurant

SEO and serving food don't seem to have much in common but if you think about it they do. A well run restaurant is always thinking about their customers, giving them what they want. An excellent restaurant treats the customer better than they expected.

Using SEO to get a high search rank is only half the battle. You want people to read your content and then take some action (conversion to a sale, download a white paper, sign up for a seminar...). To do this you need to give them what they expect and want, and if possible more.

Think about your experiences when searching on the web. It is easy to figure out some simple do's and don'ts.

Title: Readable vs. Keyword Stuffed

After you search for a term and the search engine returns a page of results, if you are like me you probably do some of the following.
  • Scan the page title and then the description of the links a search engines returns?
  • Get annoyed when a title is stuffed with keywords, but doesn't tell you what the page is about.
  • Skip down to the next link with a readable title and a good description?
Someone probably spent time and effort crafting that stuffed title, to get a high search result. Did it work?
Yes, they got a high rank, but not really if I didn't click on their link.

Content Delivery: Speedy and What They Want

After clicking on a link I expect to see a web page, don't you?
  • Does it load fast?
    I'm not very patient if it takes a long time to load?
  • What if there is a splash page / advertisement before I can see content?
    Click on the "Skip this Ad" link (if there is one)? Or click the back button and try the next result on the search page.
After performing a search, visitors want to see what was promised not an advertisement.

Content: Is It Obvious

After the page load, I scan it.
  • Search for and scan headlines?
  • Look at images?
  • Find the Logo for the site?
Does it match what is expected from the title and description shown in my search results? If not I'm probably clicking the back button.

There are certain things a visitor expects after clicking on a link in a search engine. Thinking like a visitor can make it easier to improve your website.

This article was inspired by a recent trip to Rockne's restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls. When I was seated, the hostess placed a mini-placemat under my utensils. It was a place to rest forks and knives between appetizers and the main course. I thought "Yeh - this is a good idea".

When eating out, I sometimes wonder where to rest my fork, or spoon between courses. I don't want to put it on my napkin and get that dirty, nor do I want to place it on the table. It is such a small issue, that I only occasionally think about it. But someone at Rockne's thought about it, maybe they had the same thought when eating at another restaurant, and came up with a simple solution.

PS - The food at Rockne's is good, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good lunch.

Friday, November 12, 2010

SEO and Social Media Weekly Reader Nov 12, 2010

Friday is Reading Day
If you are looking for articles related to SEO or Social media, take a look at this list. I assemble it over the week and post it every Friday.
  1. Tips and Training on How to Improve Your SEO Copywriting (toprankblog.com Nov. 9, 2010) Review of an online course with a few tips from the class .
  2. Yahoo Webtools to Demote IE6 (cnet.com Nov. 9, 2010) Discussion about Yahoo's plans to stop supporting IE6 with the Yahoo User Interface. [Technically Yahoo announced that they would downgrade it from an "A" to a "C".]
  3. To slash or not to slash (Google Webmaster Blog April 21, 2010) SEO can be confusing, with so many different opinions. Go right to the source and find out if you should end your URLS with a slash or not.
  4. Future of HR and Social Media (mashable.com Nov 8, 2010) Not really an SEO or SEM article, but it brings out some interesting points about how social media is changing the landscape of business.
I'd be interested in hearing about any blogs or websites you follow, which contain informative articles about Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, or Social Media Marketing.

PS - If you have Wi-Fi at home or at work, I'd suggest reading The Unvarnished Truth About Unsecured Wi-Fi  (cnet.com Nov 1, 2010)

Monday, November 8, 2010

IIS7 File Upload Content Length Too Large Error Code 404.13

If you are using IIS 7 with your ASPX websites and getting an error messages about file upload sizes being too large, the fix is relatively easy.
This week I'm going to depart from my regular topics to talk about IIS and .Net website configuration.

IIS 7 has two locations in the web.config file that need to be edited to increase the default values for file upload size.

Watch out, each location uses different unit values. One is in kilobytes, the other uses bytes.

The first place to specify how large a file can be uploaded is in system.web. This entry (httpRuntime maxRequestLength) control's how large a file .Net is allowed to upload. It is measured in kilobytes.

In this example it has been set to allow files as large as 50 mega-bytes.
<system.web>
  <httpRuntime maxRequestLength="51200" />
</system.web>
If this is not set, then the default value is 4096 Kilobytes (4 MB). You might also want to specify a value for "ExecutionTimeout" - it has a default value of 180 seconds.

If you are using IIS6 then you are done, there is nothing else you need to set in the web.config file.

For IIS 7 users, the second place to specify how large a file can be uploaded is is in system.webServer. This entry (requestLimits maxAllowedContentLength) control's how large a file the web server is allowed to upload. It is measured in bytes. This was added to IIS 7, and does not exist in IIS 6.

In this example it has been set to allow files as large as 5242880 bytes (50 MB)
<system.webServer>
  <security>
   <requestFiltering>
    <requestLimits maxAllowedContentLength="5242880"/>
   </requestFiltering>
  </security>
</system.webServer>
When not specified, the default value is 30,000,000 bytes (or just over 28 MB).

If you had set the first value (httpRuntime maxRequestLength) to 50MB and not changed this one, then tried to upload a 40 MByte file, you would have received an error message.

If you are like me and did not read carefully, to set this value in bytes, you would have entered the following and thought you fixed the problem.
<requestLimits maxAllowedContentLength="51200"/>

When you went to upload the file you would still get an error message.  Because yo just told IIS 7 that the maximum file upload allowed is 50 KB, not 50MB.

I feel like Microsoft makes things complicated just because they can. I can't think of a good reason for one value to be in kilobytes and the other in bytes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ready Fire Aim or Ready Aim Fire

These are two very different processes. But both have one thing in common, getting ready. Success or failure can depend on how you get ready.

I recently heard from two friends the results of separate SEO / SEM campaigns, both of which failed. The company of one friend (I'll call him John) used the Ready Fire Aim Method, the other friend used the Ready Aim Fire method.


I'm not going to go into the exact details of each campaign, but I do want to look at the "getting ready" each business made.

Both Jane's and John's companies, have a good website. They drive get traffic, that is converted to clients. Neither site was the highest ranked on some search terms, but used SEM (I think effectively) to boost their traffic.

John's company decided the best way to get more traffic and sales was to increase Search Engine Marketing spending. They planned to adjust it over time to channel the money into the most productive avenues.

Jane's company did the opposite. They did lots of research and picked out the best places and search terms to spend their money.


What happened?
Neither company saw an increase in traffic or sales over the course of the marketing and SEO effort.

After much skull scratching and soul searching it turns our that both companies made a similar mistake. Their businesses are cyclical and seasonal. They get slow in the summer and pick up again in the fall, everyone kind of knows it, but with the economy being weak this past year, they never saw a real uptick in sales in the previous fall / winter.

Jane's and John's companies were fighting an established business trend. They had made a basic assumption that was incorrect and proceeded down a path that while logical was wrong.


What can we learn?
Always check your basic assumptions. In this case the assumption was that the companies' potential customers were out there paying attention and if they just marketed to them more effectively sales would increase.

Post Script
Both companies' campaigns did extend, slightly,  into the fall,  because the Pay-Per-Click part of their marketing budget was not used as fast as they thought. They did get some good results from that part of the program. But by then they did not have the budget left to follow through.

SEO and Social Media Weekly Reader Nov 5, 2010

Friday is Reading Day
If you are looking for articles related to SEO or Social media, take a look at this list. I assemble it over the week and post it every Friday.
  1. How Google may Manage Reputations for Reviewers and Raters (seobythesea.com Nov 2, 2010) A technical discussion related to a patent just granted to Google. Worth the read if you are involved with Google places.
  2. The Importance of Localized Content (searchenginewatch.com Nov. 1, 2010) Why is local content so important? Are all searches by Google Local? Where to start? This article talks about all those topics and more.
  3. 3 Tips to Improve eCommerce SEO (blog.hubspot.com Nov. 4, 2010) A short article with three good points about SEO in general and eComm in particular - URLS, Alt Text and Meta-Tags.
I'd be interested in hearing about any blogs or websites you follow, which contain informative articles about Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, or Social Media Marketing.