Yahoo & Meta Keywords – Yes, It Still Matters

itsylouYahoo! is really on a roll with poor press strategy and media relations. Between the “It’s YLOU” campaign (really Y!OU, but kinda ambigious looking), Yahoo tanking in search engine share/usage (likely because they announced they are quitting the game and merging with Bing)…and now, this: Yahoo has to back-peddle and say they still DO use the meta keywords tag.

Back in the early years of the interwebs, SEO was a simple process of stuffing keywords into the meta keywords tag, and search engines would return your page for these associated keywords. Search engines got savvy to this practice and devalued the meta keywords tag –  fast forward to 2009 and the meta keywords tag has been reduced to pretty much worthless in the eyes of the search engines, used almost as an internal reference point. Google and Bing are pretty clear they don’t use it in their ranking algorhythm.

Yahoo, on the other hand, has never been clear on their valuation of the meta keywords tag, and to be fair, they never had to disclose their policy as the ranking algorithm is supposed to be a secret. But disclose they did, making news at SMX East in NYC last week, declaring that they “no longer use the meta keywords tag.” From what I’ve been told, this is pretty much the only thing that Yahoo panelist said during the entire “Ask the Search Engines” panel…and it was wrong.

Danny Sullivan, my favorite Search Engine journalist and founder of Search Engine Land & SMX Conferences (as well as moderator of said panel), is a clever man and decided not to just take the Yahoo PR guy’s word for it, so he ran a simple test to fact-check this announcement:

The test was simple. I placed a unique word in the meta keywords tag on the home page of Search Engine Land. This word — xcvteuflsowkldlslkslklsk — generated no results on Yahoo when I looked earlier this week. Today, when I searched, it brought back the Search Engine Land home page. Thus, Yahoo indeed indexes the content of that tag. (And to be clear, I looked before writing this article. In short order, this article itself, along with others, will appear because they’ll make use of that word).

Yahoo! was forced to back-peddle, clarifying their incorrect statement and now claims they DO use the meta keyword tag, it’s just the lowest in ranking importance in their algorithm…which is what everyone had assumed until a few weeks ago anyway. By admitting they still use it, even at a small value, is basically admitting they’re behind the game (not surprising, but nothing you want to remind people about, either). In my experience, achieving rankings in Yahoo! has always been easier than Google, as they still give value to things Google has been smart enough to de-value or ignore – and this is a case in point.

Yahoo!, I’d feel bad for y!ou about this if y!ou hadn’t announced y!our retirement from the search engine game (or worse, claim y!ou were never a search engine to begin with). I just wish y!ou’d go quickly, as opposed to a long, slow, and agonizing death where each one of y!our shortcomings are painfully exposed as your search engine stagnates in preparation of the Bing integration. Unfortunately, I still think the Bing/Yahoo merger will  take a long time before anything really happens, and until then, all we can do is slow down and stare at the carnage. Sorry Yahoo!, but it’s y!ou, not us.

New iCrossing iPhone App – Say What?

iCrossing, a global digital marketing company, has announced the release of an-all new, free iPhone app called “Say What?” which allows users to search the web for a keyword, brand, or other terms you’d want to monitor, and then returns the results broken into four separate categories: Twitter, Digg, Forums, and Blogs.

While I don’t have an iPhone, I was able to borrow a collegue’s phone to test it out – and I was impressed (bias alert: I work for iCrossing, although I had nothing to do with the development or conceptualization of this app). A quick search for my name, nick roshon, returned some pretty neat results and I really liked how they were organized by network type and you could easily drill down for more information.

A quick tip: if you are searching for a phrase, put it in quotes (also works for normal web searches). The query: nick roshon had some good results but also returned a few results for Nick Jonas and Roshon Feegan hanging out (apparently they are teenage Disney stars…). Put the query in quotes: “nick roshon” and the teenie-bopper results were weeded out.

All in all, a neat little app that would be a great tool for marketers and brand managers who want to know what people are saying about a place, brand, company or product from the convenience of their smartphone…and its free.

Download it here: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewArtist?id=330893554

Read more about the App from Rachel Pasqua, responsible for the development of this app and the Director of Mobile for iCrossing: http://greatfinds.icrossing.com/say-what/

My Review of Posterous in One Word: Lacking

I recently decided to launch a new car-themed blog and wanted to try a new platform. After hearing buzz about Posterous, a mini-blogging service that lets you email posts and specializes in being extremely user-friendly, I decided to give it a shot.

I get what they’re going for: Simplicity. But Posterous is simplicity to a fault.

Posterous_head_in_hands

Designed for those who want to “life-stream,” or simply micro-blog daily events, sometimes of trivial significance, it does well at providing an easy-to-publish-on-the-go platform. I posted several times from my BlackBerry Pearl without issue, and my Pearl isn’t exactly high-tech anymore (although, if you forget to change the subject line, your post might be called IMG00007.jpg, doh!). It also automatically posts to Facebook, Twitter, and other common services, which isn’t really unique but I suppose it’s a feature Posterous does have and does well at. It also has very easy Google Analytics integration, but that pretty much wraps up everything nice I can say about it.

Now the downside, or all of the features it’s missing:

  • Customization: I know Posterous is a relatively new service, founded in May, 2009, but still….it took until mid-September to roll-out very basic theming like changing your background color, much like Twitter’s theming customization.
  • AdSense: Zip, Zilch, Notta. If I build up my blog or website, I want to put Ads on it. Not possible, no widgets whatsoever for this service. They don’t even put AdSense on their own stuff to make money (apparently start-ups don’t need to generate revenue anymore, right Twitter?)PosterousBlogroll
  • Blogroll: You can make a pseudo blog-roll called “My Other Sites” which will display links to Facebook, Picasa, Twitter, etc, but it’s really limited to about 6 services. No other links or text that you can get to carry over to individual post pages, etc. I have other blogs and websites I want to link to throughout my blog, and I can’t. So if I want to generate traffic to my other websites, I’ll have to link in every single post (spammy!)
  • Editing Photo/Video Galleries: You can’t. Once they’re posted, they become cryptic pieces of code you can’t do anything about. Want to change the order of the images in the Gallery? Tough.

Posterous can (and should) implement features like those above and they wouldn’t lose any of their simplicity. Users can setup their blog to include widgets, adsense, blog rolls and custom photo/video galleries if they feel like it and are technically inclined, or they can continue to post without them for as long as they want (much like WordPress out-of-the-box).

As a professional SEO consultant, my job is to help websites gain more traffic, which leads to more impressions, conversions & revenue. If you can’t display ads, can’t do e-commerce, and can’t have a blog roll linking to websites that do, it’s pretty tough to see any benefits, other than to exercise your ego by emailing your blog about the cool things going on in your life. If I’m going to build up a site to include a lot of great (or at least interesting) information, I want to be able to do more with it than simply email it…my blog isn’t my penpal, it is my website.

i-heart-wordpress

So, you won’t be seeing much at Nick’s Car Blog for a while, as I take the time to switch it over to WordPress. It kind of suprises me WordPress doesn’t implement a “Post from Email” feature and completely squash Posterous, as it’s really the only unique feature Posterous contains. Perhaps I should have given Tumblr a shot, given its better array of features and customization, but I have a feeling I’d be left with the same impression: it’s no WordPress…

Photo Credit:  Photobucket

Viral Video Friday Part Deux: The Social Media Guru

Reminds me of the spirit of my previous post, “Social Media Experts” Are Really Only Experts at Cliche.

I have an internet blog and everything. In laymen’s terms, that mean’s I’m super fucking awesome.

Word bro, I know the feeling 😉

Liz Feldman: Twitter with Seniors

Best part: After you twitter, what do you say? I twattered?

The SEO Song = Wicked Awesome Linkbait

Check out this vid from the The Creare Group in its full glory. Definitely link-worthy. Love the style – can’t tell if its serious, making fun of itself, or both, but I can dig it.

Posterous + Facebook = Smooth Integration

I’m still not crazy about Posterous, mostly because of its lack of features like a blog roll, Adsense integration, and more customization (although the recent rollout of Posterous theming is a step in the right direction), but one thing I really do like about is how nice the Facebook integration looks:

Posterous2Facebook

It links to my latest Posterous entry twice and really seems to encourage click-throughs, and it doesn’t look spammy or automated (even though it is, haha). WordPress will still be my blog platform of choice, but Posterous is carving out a nice little niche, IMO.

A New Blog – NicksCarBlog – Powered by Posterous

Fullscreen capture 9132009 52015 PM

Part of what I’ve learned through SEO is the importance of relevancy – if you have a blog about SEO & tech (like this one) – you should keep your posts related to that topic. Not that you can’t have fun and post off-topic every once in a while – but you don’t want to be a schizophreniac and post on a different topic every time either…and this isn’t just for the sake of search engine relevancy – your readers subscribe to your blog because they are interested in X topic. If you start jabbering about Y topic too much, you’re going to turn off your readers who feel they were duped into reading a blog that wasn’t about what they thought.

With that in mind, I’m a HUGE car freak. I’ve found myself wanting to tweet and post about my modified Audi A4 and cars in general a lot – but my followers on twitter and my (very few) regular readers on this blog probably wouldn’t appreciate that or at least find it wierd.

I’ve also been wanting to try new platforms and I’ve heard a lot of people that are vocal fans of Posterous. Since I don’t want to put too much effort into a second blog (its hard enough updating this one 1x per week), Posterous seems like a good choice. Here’s how it works:

  • There is no web form to post – you simply send an email to post@posterous.com with your latest post and it uploads within a few seconds. It even converts images to galleries, embeds videos, and does everything for you. Since I have a BlackBerry, I can pretty much post anywhere, at any time.
  • It’s pretty common for posts to be short. I don’t need well thought-out articles or anything – I can basically say “oh look, a cool car [pic]” and that’s sufficient
  • It integrates with Twitter, Facebook, etc. and can automatically feed into these streams when you post something new. I setup twitter.com/nickscarblog and it is updated whenever I post letting my followers know there is a new post to check out.
  • It gives you 1 GB of free storage and is super easy to setup
  • You can use your own domains

I registered my domain through GoDaddy using a Coupon Code I found on SlickDeals that gave me an awesome discount with free private registration, so this whole project set me back about $20 bucks for a 3 yr registration.

So if you’re interested in cars, or seeing a Posterous blog in action – go check it out at http://nickscarblog.com

Joe Wilson Learns The Power of the Viral Web – Epic Fundraising Fail

keyboard_fail_m

President Obama’s ability to leverage the web and social media to build his 2008 Presidential campaign and rake in mega campaign cash was unprecedented in success, and will stand as the benchmark for future political campaigns.

But this wasn’t a one-time phenomenon – and it doesn’t always work to a candidates advantage. Case in point – Joe Wilson.

At yesterday’s joint Congressional Address on Health Care Reform, an immature 10 year old boy Joe Wilson started heckling the President, yelling “You lie!” Historically, Joint Congressional Addresses are a time when the President is allowed to speak, and Congress is supposed to listen. This kind of behavior is unusual and shameful, and Mr. Wilson has been widely lambasted for it. But that’s not what is noteworthy – look further into the web and you’ll see.

Exhibit A: Microsites like http://www.joewilsonisyourpreexistingcondition.com/ have been sprouting up all over the place, a Public Relations embarassment to the Representative and calling viewers to donate to his 2010 challenger, Rob Miller.

Exhibit B: Liberal power-house “Act Blue” has seen many grass-roots campaigns to raise money for Rob Miller to challenge Joe Wilson, with names such as “Defeating the man who yelled “liar” at Obama: Goodbye Rep Joe Wilson” to “Californians against Joe “The Jerk” Wilson” (note he is a Rep. of South Carolina…). On ActBlue alone, Rob Miller has raked in over $200,000 and counting in donations IN THE PAST 24 HOURS!

Exhibit C: The influx in traffic and attention has caused Joe Wilson’s House of Representatives website to crash and his followers on Twitter to triple (note the conspicious lack of updates since the event).

The viral web continues to spread, experiencing compounding network effects through Twitter (a trending topic for the past 12 hours!), press coverage of Rob Miller’s fundraising abilites on major networks like CNN, and now e-mail blasts from MoveOn.Org and other liberal PACs. While still to be determined how much of this momentum will be translated into fund raising for Joe Wilson’s opponents, the early numbers are already in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and likely to increase for the next few days.

Mr. Joe Wilson is learning just how powerful the web can be for fundraising…just not in the direction he’d prefer.

Further testament to the power of the viral web, and in my opinion, a healthy landscape for Democracy to florish – with greater accountability for politicians who do the right thing, or sometimes those that don’t…

Note: Although my political preferences may be clear from the tone of the article above, I respect the Right and don’t find it characteristic of the party as a whole. This post is merely about how an inappropriate outburst can go viral and cause deterimental damage to a Politicians career, literally overnight. It could and has happened to Democrats (i.e. Blagojevich, Spitzer, etc.) or Independents as well.

How to Fix Problems with Comments in the Carrington Theme

My WordPress blog uses the Carrington Theme, which I’ve been really happy with. However, there has been a bug where you can’t comment from the home page – you had to go to the individual post pages to comment. When you hit the Comment button from the home page, it kind of just froze up and did nothing or the screen would go blank.

I searched a bit and found a number of suggestions to disable AJAX in comments and that often fixes issues related to comments. While no-one was reporting the exact issue I was looking for, I found this solution offered enough times I thought it’d be worth trying – and sure enough, it worked.

You can disable AJAX in comments by going to:

WordPress Admin – Appearance – Carrington and you will see the following options:

Disable-AJAX-Comments-Carrington

The default for Load archives  and comments with AJAX is yes – so just change this to No and hit save. This page is also where you enter the footer code for Google Analytics, which I had trouble locating a while back as explained in this post.

And voila – problem gone! In the process I noticed that the Carrington theme is now in release 2.2 – I still have 1.3 so I might look in to upgrading it. If you notice any formatting issues in the meantime please leave me a comment (esp. now that they work!) and I’ll look into it!

The Benefits of Managing & Optimizing Mahalo Pages

mahalo

Mahalo brings in over $1,000,000 per year in Adsense. They’ve got serious traffic, hundreds of new pages are being built every day, and all of this is crowd-sourced with little admin or overhead really needed on Mahalo’s behalf. The Alley Insider points to how much Mahalo is kicking ass these days, so it’s definitely worth your time to check out, especially if you understand the basics of SEO….here’s why:

  1. You get a cut of the Adsense revenue. If you can make the page rank well in Search Engines, you get more traffic, which leads to more impressions and clicks on the Adsense ads. Since I understand SEO, I can apply a little effort and knowledge to get a page ranking decent, which should bring some decent adsense revenue my way.
  2. You can claim pages that you want links on, and simply give them to yourself. For instance, if you managed a website for a hotel in Sacramento, you could claim the Sacramento Hotels page, then link to yourself directly from this page, giving you a free backlink. As another example, this Dallas Hotels page has PageRank 2, is cached frequently, and should pass along link juice to any sites related sites you link to (granted there are a ton of outbound links, so it isn’t much, but it’s something, it’s free, it’s relevant, and you can pick any anchor text you want).
  3. You can also build backlinks to yourself, as I’ve done in the “About the Author” section in each of the two pages above. Now I have some link juice flowing from Mahalo.com, which is a site that gets over 6 million hits a year…not bad.

The best part is, optimizing Mahalo pages to be SEO friendly is no different than any other website. Pick a few keywords, write relevant content with the keywords sprinkled through, only link to good neighborhoods, and build some backlinks to your page as you can.

The trick is to find pages that are targeting keywords that aren’t too competitive. I’m not trying to get my Mahalo pages to rank on the first page for “dallas hotels” or “sacramento hotels” because I don’t stand a chance next to many hotels and hotel chains that are fiercly targeting those keywords. And if I were going to go after something super competitive like that, I might as well do it on my own domain and get all of the Adsense revenue, not just a cut.

Where the real opportunity lies are trending search topics, usually recent news, fads, or memes that people are searching for. You’d want to create or claim a page that maybe people are interested in now, but if tomorrow no one cared, no big deal, it doesn’t cost you a cent. Likewise these topics are less likely to face fierce competition due to the timeliness of the search term – not many people will bother to build out an entire website over a topic that will only be relevant a few weeks. Take a look at the leading pages, you’ll see that is seems to be the pattern amongst them:

mahalo-top-pages

To date, I’ve earned $2.15 on the site – nothing like the sites above earning $100+ a day, but I’ve maybe invested 15 minutes total of my time, just playing around. And sadly, $2.15 is about twice what I’ve earned on this blog through Adsense…

Bing! Goes the Internet Goes Viral (with Lyrics)

So Bing had a contest to see which fan could create the catchiest Jingle for their search engine, and the winner was just announced via their YouTube channel today. Catch it in it’s full glory below:

Lyrics to Bing Goes The Internet:
Bing, Bing, Bing Goes the Internet,
Bing, Bing, Bing Goes the Internet,
Bing, Bing, Bing Goes the Internet
Bing Goes the Internet…
If you’re looking to learn how to dance like me – Bing goes the Internet
If you want to find some pants like me – Bing goes the Internet
If you’re looking for answers to all of life’s questions – Bing goes the Internet
If you’re looking for fixes to all of life’s messes – Bing goes the Internet
Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing Goes the Internet
Bing, Bing, Bing Goes the Internet
Bing, Bing, Bing Goes the Internet
Bing Goes the Internet…

While dorky and a little strange (in all fairness, it is about a search engine), I do find the video pretty funny, catchy, and “viral” enough for Microsoft to choose it as the winner and generate some buzz (which it is succeeding in). A video doesn’t have to be high-quality and incredibly thoughtful to go viral, it needs to be something original & noteworthy – sometimes being awful will give it a better chance of it going viral than the opposite (for instance, had this video been sung by Kelly Clarkson with professional dancers…yawn)

MG Siegler of TechCrunch wrote a scathing review of the jingle, and I quote:

“Catchy” is one word for it. Another is “awful.”

Sure, the song will get stuck in your head, but so does the sound of seals barking, or cows dying, if you listen to them for long enough.

But as bad as the jingle is, the video is much, much worse. It’s some guy in pajama pants doing really bad interpretive dance nonsense with awful effects and a Bing backdrop. The entire time I’m watching this, I’m thinking: So this is what hell looks/sounds like.

Mashable posts a more favorable review of the song, describing it as:

And we have one word for the well-produced Jonathan Mann video: creepy. It’s actually polished – probably because this guy records a song every single day on YouTube, which alone is a weird shtick…The entire contest was a bit weird to us, but you know, most good viral marketing campaigns are a bit odd. And this barely cost Bing anything to do.

The entire time I’m reading this, I’m thinking:

  1. This TechCrunch review is awesome. MG Siegler would have moved up a notch on my list of deliciously witty & sarcastic bloggers if I kept one.
  2. This is an intentionally goofy/odd video, which the TechCrunch review didn’t seem to pick up on, but Mashable surely did (which blows my mind, I usually can’t stand Mashable due to their inability to ever be insightful).
  3. It is fueling the fire for this contest, Bing itself, and particularly for Jonathan Mann, as this review is picking up steam and being passed around twitter. Consider it officially viral.

The author of the song fires back to the TechCrunch review, which you can check out here:

The bottom line is this: Microsoft paid $500 to the winner, and in return got millions of views between the buzz the competition generated and the resulting viral spread of the video. Now that is an awesome campaign, and I do believe that Microsoft was probably insightful enough to know this video was just awful yet goofy enough to do the trick.

When people ask how do you “make something go viral”, this is how you do it… (Editor’s Note: you can’t make something go viral or not…the content is either viral worthy or not, and there is little you can do either way)

Here’s one more from Jonathan Mann, where he was featured on the Rachel Maddow show a few months back for his song Hey Paul Krugman (A song, A plea):