News publishers and the robots.txt file

Ok so this week, for those that missed it, there was some news regarding google indexing news publishers sites.
We all know that if you do not want google to index your website, you simply write in the code:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

But for some reason the news publishers think that all their content is going to be indexed by the search engine. According to other blogs, news publishers want to charge google for access to their sites. They want google to pay them to index their site. But of course this will not happen. They know they can block the crawler easily.

Search engines have always checked for permissions before crawling through pages from a web site. Webmasters, including news publishers, are aware and use the Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP) to tell search engines whether or not their sites, or a web page, can be crawled.

The search engine monopoly

The google giant is in the news again this week, for launching the Chrome operating system (OS) for the mobile.
This is separate from Android and Google Chrome OS is aimed for those who tend to spend most of their time on line. It will power all computers, from small netbooks to desktop systems.

A company having more than one operating system, is not unheard of. Afterall, Apple has three OSes including Mac, iphone and ipod.
Google first launched the chrome browser in September last year and now has over 30 million users. Now they want to bring chrome into an operating system and I have no doubt they will succeed in this area.

Google is performing well in the search area where it became famous. According to Hitwise, google is the top search engine with 74% market share week ending June 27th. This is up from last year’s 69%. Since my last blog posting here, Bing.com which only went live last month, has seen an increase in market share from 3.4% in the beginning of June to 6.63% by the end. Not bad for a company entering an already saturated market place.

There have also been changes in the keyword field. People are typing in longer search queries.

Search results are getting longer

Longer search queries have increased in popularity over the past year, on average searches of five to more than eight words in length have increased 8% from a year ago. Where there are searches of eight or more words, they have seen an increase of 16%. SEO experts be aware – the shorter search queries of one to four words long decreased by 2%. So next time you are thinking of bidding on keywords, think more along the lines of key phrases and insert these into your meta data.

Online Marketing Show

If you work in digital and online marketing or this is an area you would like to get into, I recommend you visit the “free” trade shows in London.
Yesterday and today, the Online Marketing Show is on at Kensingston Oympia. It is free to enter if you register online www.onlinemarketingshow.co.uk
With over 50 exhibitors, free workshop arenas and pay per click advice centre, this is one show not to be missed.

I recommend going to the free workshops. There was a very interesting workshop on Twitter yesterday by Immediate Future. They discussed the hype of Twitter and how everyone is getting onthe bandwagon but not always to great effect. Some companies are not thinking about their Twitter strategy and so are appearing confused and sending mixed signals.

The show is a great place to meet people in the digital marketing market. There were a number of different media agencies, market research companies, print and promotional organisations. So if you are looking for a new agency to work with, you can meet people in person instead of trawling through the internet.

Specialist social networking sites

The future of the social networking sites is in niche online communities
These will be based on:

1. Interests or lifestyles eg diamondlounge.com
2. Solving problems or self help eg netmums.com
3. Business user needs to keep in touch with colleagues and contacts

People like the exclusiveness and the feeling they belong, they want to be part of these niche online communities. Normally it is the innovators and early adopters who are first to be part of these communities.

There are a lot of these small online networks. One of the most talked about is “SmallWorld” which was set up 2004. It is a private online community and is by invitation only. So if you know someone who has a smallworld membership, ask them to invite you, smallworld claim they are “the world’s leading private online community that captures an existing international network of people who are connected by three degrees of separation”. They argue that what makes the network unique and different to other social sites such as facebook is that the connections are authentic. People do not have loads and loads of friends who they never see or speak to in real life. Those trust and loyal ASW members who meet certain criteria can invite the limited number of their friends to their network. So if you want to be a invited, ask your friends or colleagues and if you are real nice, they might just send you an invite!!

If you are part of the elite networking scene, you may have heard of Diamond Lounge. Set up October 2007, it has a very selective membership process – more rigorous than that of any other online club. Prior to launch accepted only 100 members from 10,000 applications. It is an advertising free site and instead charge a monthly membership fee from £24.99 a month. The perk of Diamond Lounge is that it offers separate social and business rooms where members can build separate profiles. So you can meet your future business partner and life partner on the same site. Diamond Lounge also offers immediate communication options; live email, 4 party instant messaging and even video conferencing within the different online rooms.

So if you are looking for that special someone, check out Diamond Lounge.

What's new with Flickr

There are lots of new things happening in social networking. Flickr, the photo sharing website is now introducing a new sharing option called Flickr Twitter Beta.

This will allow users to automatically notify their friends via Twitter every time they upload a photo. At the moment, it just works for email uploads, but before long it could grow to the whole site. Another future feature is adding the possibility to tweet a photo from inside Flickr.

“How does this work ?” you may ask.
Well let us just say it is very clever and social networking is faced pace, so things advance all the time. The secret is that the system works with what is called “the Oauth protocol” and it links a user’s Flickr and Twitter accounts together. How smart is that? Very smart, it means every single time a user uploads a new photo through email, a message that links to it is posted on the user’s Twitter stream.

Social networking sites in decline

Facebook’s first decline in users was between December 2007 and January 2008 where they lost 400,000 British visitors. However it still remains the UK’s most popular social-networking site despite the drop in users from 8.9 million users in December 2007 to 8.5 million unique users at the end of January2008. Facebook’s nearest rival, MySpace, saw UK traffic drop 5% between December 2007 and January 2008. It had 5 million unique users in January 2008. Bebo also had decline of 2% month on month with 4.1 million users.

People are calling the drop in members for these networking sites, particularly with facebook as “facebook fatigue”. There are a number of reasons:

1. Security concerns
2. Amount of personal data people put on the site
3. Employers have banned staff from accessing the site at work.
4. Too much information when they log onto facebook.
5. Trivial information from their contacts
6. No longer niche

Facebook was originally niche – it targeted people based on membership of organisations – the universities. It was for the early adopters. However, now it is mass market and has lost its excitement. There have even been campaigns to get rid of friends. At the end of 2008 Burger King’s Whopper Sacrifice campaign asked users to sacrifice 10 friends on facebook in exchange for a free Whopper. Facebook soon caught onto this and cut short their campaign when By January this year 60,000 users deleted their friends for free burgers

So what is the future of these social networking sites?

The future is in niche online communities. These will be based on interests or lifestyles eg diamondlounge.com, solving problems or self help eg netmums.com. These network sites will be aimed towards business user needs to keep in touch with colleagues and contacts. The innovators and early adopters will be the first ones to take part in these niche online communities. They want to be part of something that no one else is. People like the exclusiveness and the feeling they belong. This will always far outweigh those networks where everyone and anybody can join.

(source:http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/feb/22/facebook.facebook?gusrc=rss&feed=global).

How many social networking sites are there?

There are over 160 social networking sites covering various countries and topics at the time of writing this blog.

Social networking sites can drive seo traffic to your site. People can share links talk about the site with their friends and family. They can also talk about your site on their own blogs.With twitter they can easily follow your site. What is social networking you might ask? Well it is is the grouping of individuals into specific groups. It is like having your own little community but on line.

Most people use these social networking sites to:

Communicate with people in their extended social network
Stay in touch with people they already know (support pre-existing relationships)
Research suggests that most SNSs primarily support pre-existing social relations
Facebook is used to maintain existing offline relationships or solidify offline connections
All have common offline element – eg went to school together
Not used to meet new people
Facebook users search for people with whom they have an offline connection
Don’t tend to browse to meet complete strangers
91% of U.S. teens who use SNSs do so to connect with friends

Social networks are growing in populartity and the social networking sites took over email in global reach at 68.4% in Feb 09. The reach is highest in Brazil (80%) but fastest growing in Germany (from 39% – 51% in one year). Facebook popular in UK and USA. According to facebook there are more than 30 million active users, not bad for a company that was originally set up for Harvard College students. However, Mixi is the leader in Japan, Orkut in Brazil, Stayfriends, Wer-kent-wen and StudiVZ top 3 social networking sites Germany. Twitter gaining popularity, grew 131% between Feb and March 09 to 9.3 million US users.

What is an expert in seo?

So you want to get into SEO but you are told you cannot because you are not an expert.

What do you do?

Well, all experts have to start somewhere. The first thing you need is passion and enthusiasm.
I tell you, this gets you a long way. This will drive you to pick up those books and more importantly read them and the other blog posts on the internet about seo.

Then I suggest you practice those skills. Take a website of a close friend or family, a small one, of five to ten pages. Go through that site and conduct a “site analysis”

This is where you will look at:
1. The title tags
2. The meta keywords
3. The meta description
4. The alt tags
5. The internal links
6. The outbound links
7. Anchor text
8. dynamic pages

Then I suggest if you have access to the site, to try out your new found skills.
First thing is to do keyword research – find out what the competitors are doing. If there is a lot of competition for a word, try and be creative. Include commonly mis spelled names eg champagne can be mis spelt champane. Combine words together like Louis champane or roederer champane.

Upload these keywords into the content management system and try finding your site with these words. Remember to change the terms often as it can be a very competitive market.

Remember to also install google analytics so you can track the number of visitors to your site and see how it increases dependent on your work.

Continue to work on a wide range of websites. I guarantee in a few months, your confidence would have grown and within a year’s time you will have an impressive portfolio. And by managing different websites you will have also gained experience in the account management field. Keep on top of the news in seo and you will be the “expert” you have always wanted to be.

What are the most important elements in SEO?

You want to increase traffic to your site but are not sure where to start.

Here are a few tips:

Content
As I mentioned before, content is king. But it is even more important that you have relevant content on your website. Do not have duplicate content. It needs to be updated regularly, so it is a good idea to have a content management system in place. You need to be able to go back to site and amend the anchor text, insert new links, make sure the current links are still active. Put the keywords in the title tag and also the domain name. For example I want to increase traffic to this site and therefore one of the steps I have made is to have the domain name seojoblogs.

Links
Use trusted sites to link too. If you link to a spam site or a link farm, you will not begin to rank higher. You will need to start is by using less competitive words and writing content with those words in mind. For example you may want to put a h1, h2 tag using the exact match of key phrase. Build links to the page and see if you hit that page with the keywords.

Inbound links are also important. People think it is important just to have inbound links to the home page, but you need links to the tier two and tier three pages. At least 50% of links should go to the other pages on your site.

Never give up
SEO is an ongoing job. If you want to achieve high ranks, you will need to see what your competitors are doing, research keywords. You also need to make sure there are calls to action on each page. For example, allow users to sign up for RSS feeds, incentivise them to make a purchase. You want these customers to come back.

The benefit about SEO is that you are able see measurable increases in web traffic. The more you optimise the better chance you have of gaining market share in your area. You may need to add new links to your site, add new pages or even new sub headings within the page. What you mustn’t do is leave your site. A static website is sure to fall down the rankings in all search engines.

What is new in SEO?

I know I haven’t written on my blog for a while. No excuses, except for the usual, busy with work, with study etc.

Anyways, a lot seems to have happened since I last uploaded a post.

Microsoft has launched its new search engine. That’s right, the company that seems to be always at the forefront of technology has decided to improve on its 8.2% market share of the search market and update its MSN live search.

Bing.com went live June 3rd.

Microsoft wants users to have a better search engine experience with its new product. Before Bing was launched there was a lot of hype about it, www.discoverbing.com was a site to introduce people to bing.
Bing is supposed to deliver a more organised experience, deliver better results than the search engines out there at the moment. It is marketed as a decision engine, it brings more relevant results. Also offers different tabs, not just images and maps, but videos and shopping as well, similar to google. I must admit, when typing in a search request in bing compared to google, I have got very different results.

The home page of bing will change daily but is already looking prettier than google’s with its different arty photos.

There will be a lot more news in the coming weeks about the new search engine. Feel free to add comments on what you like or dislike about Bing.