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Why do SEOs forget about REAL marketing?

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 28 January 2009 08:13

Where art meets science; the perfect marriage

(The following is a guest post by Ben McKay)

The Industry Mindset

I sometimes think that search engine optimisation is much too often approached with the wrong kind of mindset – almost a tick-box exercise, and one that limits opportunities for the success of great websites.  This brain cramp has important ramifications for the perceived professionalism of the SEO industry, but unfortunately it's not one that cannot be tackled with ease. 

In this meandering rant, I am going to address why this might be the case and (over) optimistically provide you with a way out!

The reasoning...

The reason I ask whether traditional marketing has been forgotten in SEO, is that so much of what we do as SEOs can and should be backed-up by the reasoning 'this will draw the right kind of visitors at the right time with the right intent'.  I believe that with market research, planning, implementation, creative flare, and an ongoing feedback loop of course, you can do just that – the same way you attempt to carry-out more traditional marketing campaigns.


The art and Science of SEO


Traditional Marketers have a NIGHTMARE measuring ROI

Previous generations of marketers were limited regarding the availability of information at their disposal, trying to justify advertising budgets when measuring the return on that nightmare investment was not my favoured task! 

The adage: 'You’ve got to spend money to make money' - Could have been more honest in saying: 'You’ve got to risk losing money to possibly make money'. -- Now that we have a chance to operate as marketers online, with all the tools and information at our disposal, should we not take advantage of this? 

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Personalized PageRank: a user sensitive affair

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 19 January 2009 05:21

Shhhhhh be very quiet, we’re hunting information retrievers

Let's bounce off in a new direction, begin anew as it where and look at what resides in the craniums that index the world’s information. I would like to introduce to you a concept, (much like page segmentation),that isn’t a new one. It has been in front you all this time, but like a black hatter at dollar domain bazzar, you were to busy to notice.

As the regular Trail riders would know, we’ve gone from extreme interest in behavioural metrics and personalized search to more tempered views of potential usage. Yes, it’s true, I seem to have a bit of a personality disorder and waffling seems the call of the day…. to the uninitiated that is.

Fashion Geek

You see, it is the regular index, where implicit feedback signals seem more difficult to grasp than tumbleweed in a tornado. Time and time again this wayward web wanderer has mused that it is far more likely these signals could find value within personalized search than out in the wild.

And what do we know from our counterparts from Google? We know they’ve called them noisy and spammable; which some research done here gives credence to the claim. We also know the mantra for 09 (and recent years past) has been ‘personalization’. OK, this makes some sense and maybe worth delving into deeper? But where do we look?


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SEO implications of Page Segmentation concepts

Written by David Harry   
Thursday, 08 January 2009 07:45

How search engines could get granular

One area that is worth looking at for SEO in 2009 (for me at least) is page segmentation. Now this approach really isn’t new and I came across papers as far back as 1997 and beyond. But unsurprisingly most IR methods don’t just appear over night. The big three, (of search) have each had various research papers and patents dating back as far as 2003-4. It just seems to have some traction and is sensible as well.

Essentially page segmentation is when a search engine looks to break a given web page down into its component parts. They could analyze a web page and assign various relevance or importance scoring for different regions of a page. Some of the methods include fixed-length page segmentation (FixedPS), DOM, (DomPS) and location based and white spaces (vision based or VIPS) and even a combined approach (CombPS).

Page segmentationAs with many IR methodologies they try to improve the signal to noise ratio. In this case by hopefully identify the noisy segments; resources can be focused on the relevant areas of a web page. Furthermore most people do tend to understand web pages in a segmented or structured view. When you arrived at this page did you instinctively know where to find the main content? Aware of common locations for navigation and other elements? Banner blindness? You get the idea.


Advantages of page segmentation

The main advantages are increased relevance and streamlining processing elements. Search engines hope to use page segmentation to be able to asses a more finite understanding of a given pages relevancy, but also (theoretically) be capable of dealing with multi-topic pages, semantically related or not.

The second advantage, processing and resource management, can be achieved as they could define site templates in an attempt to only crawl/index the relevant parts of the page and not the boilerplate elements.

Now, while there are a few ways of going about it, what’s important here is that such systems are sensible not only from a relevancy perspective, but could also help crawling and indexing resource management.

One has to imagine new ideas at the big three will be tempered in a volatile economy. Once a template has been established, indexing a site on a regular basis could be far easier on a search engine (and site owner as well). Just have a little ‘template bot’ crawl a few pages now and again to ensure the profile is unchanged.. but I’m rambling now…

Another implementation (as noted by the Google patent) could be pages that have a number of listings that are geographic in nature. As search for ‘stone oven pizza, Toronto’ could produce better results as larger listings of pizza shops in Toronto could be segmented and digested by more finite parameters than normal.

The text associated with the smallest hierarchical level surrounding a business listing may be associated with that business listing” – Patent; Document segmentation based on visual gaps

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Behavioural metrics and search engines

Written by David Harry   
Friday, 02 January 2009 13:21

The debate continues

Well it seems the whole discussion of bounce rates and SEO continues… and as predicted, it’s picking up steam. I think it’s important and worth stating once more; I do believe in behavioural signals and their application just not the current representations floating in the sphere.

We’ve talked about them here on the trail since 2007 and here’s a list of posts on the various aspects;

Beware: Google is watching you
Query analysis confirmed as Google ranking signal
Taking off my tin foil hat
Ranking through behavioural metrics
You’re not paranoid, someone IS watching you
What every SEO should know about personalized search
Personalization through application focus
Personalized search and behavioural metrics
the Art of of personalized search optimization
Yahoo personalized PageRank

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Research Notes: Google search ranking flux

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 03 November 2008 07:58

What role do rankings play in modern SEO?

Is Google’s personalized search the SERP killer that many believe it to be? Yes and… well… no. There is a great deal of flux in the rankings these days, but not enough to take (targeted) rankings out of the key indicator designation.

A while ago we conducted some preliminary research into Google’s re-ranking anomalies in an effort to establish how important ranking reports were in modern search engine optimization.  From what we’ve learned so far, there is still a place for them, simply more of a moving target than in the past.

Google Personalized Search report

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