Thursday, April 24, 2008

What's the Buzz with Keywords?

I sometimes wonder if all the new tools that analyses online behaviour do not just give us too much information.... We know which keyword searches are hot today, what's the buzz on Facebook walls and what are the hot news keywords of the day.

Frankly, online marketing decisions, the content from the online writer's pen and behavioural targeting all depend on those keywords we choose. My mother used to say, "Choose your words with care. Make them sweet because you never know when you'll have to eat them."

Same truth today.

Having said all that, here are some of the new tools of the trade:
Facebook lexicon - search how often a keyword is used on the walls of the world's largest social network.
Google Trends - search how often a word or phrase is searched for in Google or see how often it is used in news articles indexed by Google.

And as always, the spikes and dips tell the bigger story.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good font use on a web site

…Still a "work in progress," the site applies Bringhurst's typographic principles to the Internet in practical ways... worth a read for those wishing to raise the bar for online typography.

Topics covered:

2 Rhythm & Proportion

2.1 Horizontal Motion
Define the word space to suit the size and natural letterfit of the font
Choose a comfortable measure
Set ragged if ragged setting suits the text and page
Use a single word space between sentences
Add little or no space within strings of initials
Letterspace all strings of capitals and small caps, and all long strings of digits
Don't letterspace the lower case without a reason
Kern consistently and modestly or not at all
Don't alter the widths or shapes or letters without cause
Don't stretch the space until it breaks

2.2 Vertical Motion
Choose a basic leading that suits the typeface, text and measure
Add and delete vertical space in measured intervals

2.3 Blocks & Paragraphs
Set opening paragraphs flush left
In continuous text mark all paragraphs after the first with an indent of at least one en
Add extra lead before and after block quotations
Indent or center verse quotations

2.4 Etiquette of Hypenation & Pagination
At hyphenated line-ends, leave at least two characters behind and take at least three forward
Avoid more than three consecutive hyphenated lines
Hyphenate according to the conventions of the language
Line short numerical and mathematical expressions with hard spaces
Never begin a page with the last line of a multi-line paragraph

3 Harmony & Counterpoint

3.1 Size
Don't compose without a scale

3.2 Numerals, Capitals & Small Caps
Use titling figures with full caps, and text figures in all other circumstances
3.2.1 Use titling figures with full caps, and text figures in all other circumstances

4 Tips for Good SEO

There are four SEO essentials to keep in mind when planning a site redesign:
  • the information architecture,
  • the URL structure and page design,
  • the content and of course,
  • the launch itself.

Tie the site's overall architecture to keyword research. The marketing department may have some ideas on which keywords attract which consumers, but "make sure you're building a Web site that actually has pages devoted to the keywords," Jackson says in this article

The content management system (CMS) in place needs to jive with SEO, as sometimes these platforms can create long, non-search friendly URLs and page titles.

Also, try to avoid what Jackson calls "Flashturbation"--or the usage of Flash for no reason. The ideal design would be a site that's heavy on textual content and light on code.

For the actual text, Jackson says to shoot for about 400 words on the homepage and 250 on internal pages. And for the big day--"Don't launch your Web site until you've checked to make sure your entire legacy (old) pages/URLs are redirected to the new URLs," Jackson says.
- Read the whole story...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yeah! Google, Boo Yahoo!

Google's Brand Value Surges, Yahoo's Wanes
by Joe Mandese, Monday, Apr 21, 2008 7:00 AM ET

Shares of Google may be languishing in their stock market value, but the underlying financial value of the Google brand continues to be the world's strongest. Despite the fact that Google shares are trading nearly 28% off their 52-week high, the estimated value of its brand rose 30% over the past year to $86.1 billion, making it the most valuable of the top 100 brands analyzed in a new study by WPP Group's Millward Brown unit.

At that rate, Google surpassed the brand value of the No. 2 corporate brand - GE ($71.4 billion) - by $14.7 billion. Google's brand value currently is estimated to be worth $15.2 billion more than the third most valuable corporate brand: Microsoft ($70.9 billion).

Quick to Peek, Slow to Share

Apparently North Americans and Europeans are quick to peek but slower to share than their counterparts in the East:

U.S. Lags in Social Media Creation, per Survey
Consumers in the U.S. and Western Europe are more likely to be passive participants, while those in emerging markets often create content
April 18, 2008
-By Brian Morrissey

UM survey finds that domestic consumers 'love to watch.'NEW YORK A new global study of social media use reveals that the U.S. severely lags behind Asian and South American countries in participation rates. Consumers in the U.S. and Western Europe are more likely to be passive social-media participants -- sharing videos and reading blogs -- while those in emerging markets often create content through blogging, social networks and video and photo sharing sites."By and large, in the U.S. we're a country of voyeurs," said David Cohen, U.S. director of digital communications at Universal McCann, which conducted the study. "We love to watch and consume content created by others, but there's a fairly small group that are doing that creation -- unlike China, which is a country of creators."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Challenging the Development and Hosting Paradigm

We've seen politicians do it masterfully: dodge the answer by challenging the underlying assumption in the question. In a world of accelerated growth rates and market domination of big fish that swallow small fish, the same holds true.

Search engine wars for example: Google widened the gap by giving stuff away for free. Social marketing: open source coding and user generated content. And the latest paradigm shift: websites are developed by web developers and hosted through self-managed hosting. No longer.

In an article today, Kevin Yank writes in his SitePoint Blog about the changing face of web hosting:

"Earlier this week, Google announced the preview release of Google App Engine, a service that lets you build and run web applications (in Python only for now) on Google’s own server infrastructure. This latest move continues a trend away from self-managed hosting and extends it by offering a fully managed application environment... "


Shifting Sands of Search Advertising

An article from BBC Business this morning discusses how Yahoo! is seemingly struggling to decide what it wants to be when it grows up - if it gets there, that is. In a floundering tale of mergers, takeovers and alliances we see how volatile the emerging world of search engine marketing really is. My prediction is that the biggest innovator will be declared the ultimate winner:

"After weeks of first fighting talk and then stony silence, Yahoo has at long last made a move to escape the takeover clutches of Microsoft.
The company has announced a two-week experiment during which it will show search-driven Google adverts alongside the search results of Yahoo's website.
At the same time Yahoo! is reportedly talking to rival internet portal AOL about a merger. "
Read the full report>>

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Copy Curse of SEO

Search engine fanaticism has given birth to a new and unbearable phenomenon: keyword diarrhea.

This obsession with keyword-rich content loses sight of the most important entity in the equasion: the reader. A preferred position on a Google listing and high page rank become meaningless when faced with a repulsed reader who is horrified by your key-word rich, text-dense optimized web page.
Remember me? The reader? Give me just-enough, just-in-time, relevant information. I love pictures. I scan read, so make it easy: pie charts, bullet lists, tables, diagrams, captions, headers, short paragraphs and short pages.

Your strategy for optimization may stroke the search engine bots for a while, but you're losing me.... the person who has the credit card! Next time you plaster the word patterns all over your page, make it pretty for me. Make it pleasant. Make it easy. And make it fun.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

From the SEO Wrapper

The best SEO advice in a song!

And the lyrics if you want to sing along (thanks Jason):

Your site design is the first thing people see
it should be reflective of you and the industry
easy to look at with a nice navigation
when you can't find what you want it causes frustration
a clear Call to action to increase the temptation
use appealing graphics they create motivation
if you have animation use with moderation
cause search engines can't index the information
display the logos of all your associations
highlight your contact info that's an obligation
create a clean design you can use some decoration
but to try to prevent any client hesitation every page that
they click should provide and explanation
should be easy to understand like having a conversation
when you design the style go ahead and use your imagination
but make sure you use correct color combinations
do some investigation, look at other organizations
but don't duplicate or you might face a litigation
design done, congratulations but it's time to start construction
follow these instructions when you move into production
your photoshop functions then slice that design
do your layout with divs make sure that it's aligned
please don't use tables even though they work fine
when it come to indexing they give searches a hard time
make it easy for the spiders to crawl what you provide
remove font type, font color and font size
no background colors, keep your coding real neat,
tag your look and feel on a separate style sheet
better results with xml and css now you making progress,
a lil closer to success
describe your doctype so the browser can relate
make sure you do it great or it won't validate
check in all browsers, I do it directly
gotta make sure that it renders correctly
some use IE, some others use Flock
some use AOL, I use Firefox
title everything including links and images
don't use italics, use emphasis
don't use bold, please use strong
if you use bold that's old and wrong
when you use CSS, you page will load quicker
client satisfied like they eating on a snicker
they stuck on your page like you made it with a sticker
and then they convert now that's the real kicker
make you a lil richer, your site a lil slicker
design and code right man I hope you get the picture
what I'm telling you is true man it should be a scripture
if it's built right you'll be the pick of the litter
everyone will want to follow you like twitter
competition will get bitter and you'll shine like glitter
if you trying to grow your company will get bigger
design and code right man can you get with it

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Techniques for Building Traffic

Web Marketing for Dummies, a valuable resource that touches on all aspects of internet marketing, has this list of techniques for building traffic to your site:

Free info tools:
Signature blocks, blurbs, FAQs, Yahoo! Groups

Onsite techniques:
Chat rooms, message boards, wikis, contents, games, coupons, surveys, free samples, event announcements, Tell a Friend

Word of Web online techniques:
Blogs, What's New, hot sites, award sites, online press releases, search engine optimization, inbound link campaigns, e-newsletters

Paid online advertising:
PPC campaigns, newsletter sponsorships, banner ads

Offline advertising:
Literature, stationery, packaging, promotional items, community events, direct mail, coordinated ads in other media