Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

Top Canadian Songs: an SEO Case in Point

April 3rd, 2010 20 comments

Every once in a while I get an email from a complete stranger somewhere in Canada who writes to critique, correct or otherwise comment on my list of the top 100 Canadian songs of all time. While this search phrase is not horribly competitive, I still find it fun to get feedback on such a larky web page. When I put it up I made sure to mind all my SEO p’s and q’s and then I interacted with one of the most popular blogs in the country and created an idea that probably ranks as the most “viral” thing I’ve ever done online. (I’m not really a viral kind of guy.)

In any case, it’s fun to see that that page still ranks well and to see that or anyone else has not even thought of trying to come up with their own list. I get an email about once a month, on average. In some cases these are quite interesting. One of the most recent ones I got was from Sammy Kohn, drummer for the Watchmen, who wrote to lament that they were not included originally, which I admitted required correction. I just got another email from someone in Tampa Bay, in fact.

It’s a case in point that creating a unique web page and doing it properly can have rewards over many years. When you appear at or near the top of Google results, people believe you are authoritative… apparently whether you are or not. All this from simply throwing up a page that was simply optimized properly, even if it was highly self indulgent (and remains so).

Anyway, for anyone who wants to comment on the list (which I just updated) in the future, please comment below.


Categories: SEO Tags: , ,

SEO Successes in Recent Months

March 27th, 2010 1 comment

I just posted a new static page about some recent successful SEO and Internet marketing.  I don’t have much time to update this site nor do I care to, as I have plenty of work to do right now.

I should admit that not everything I work on has been a great success. In almost all cases where things have not worked out as well or have had middling results, there is a shortage of commitment from companies.

I can do some SEO that will keep your company afloat but you need to help me out. You need to update the design of your site, for example, especially as more pages are added and your site’s design falls farther behind the times and changes to search engine algorithms.

That being said, I am still pleased to be well ahead of the curve in some cases and doing stuff that still works, in other cases.

I should blog more – but I am just overbooked.

Google Caffeine: A Look Ahead

November 16th, 2009 2 comments

Google Caffeine was first previewed in August 2009 and will go live soon.

Any change to Google’s algorithm is of course big news, spawning reams of Internet chatter, a whole lot of speculation and probably some fear-mongering, along with some brand new websites (e.g. Compare Caffeine!)

What exactly Google Caffeine will do, though, is largely unknown even though some have reported that it will be a change to Google’s indexing methods and Matt Cutts (and webmasters who tried the beta version) note that there will be changes to rankings. One thing that will not change will be the look and feel of Google.

A big change noted by many (of us) who previewed Google Caffeine was the speed of results – it’s about twice as fast, if you can believe that.

Matt Cutts summarizes on his blog:

The Caffeine update isn’t about making some UI changes here or there. Currently, even power users won’t notice much of a difference at all. This update is primarily under the hood: we’re rewriting the foundation of some of our infrastructure. But some of the search results do change.

While Google has very kindly (mercifully, for those who will inevitably move down) held off until after the Christmas season, that is largely because of flack they have received in the past. It does not seem to be because Caffeine will have as profound an effect on search results as have major updates of the past. provides a good overview of changes it found in a comparison of Caffeine to “Old Google” (i.e. the one we’re using today). Some changes they identified are as follows:

* Google Sitelinks disappearing from some results.
* Rich Snippets disappearing from some results.
* Caffeine has difficulties handling 301’s. ( This is a bug )
* Page 1 results mostly contain the same sites, however positioning is quiet different
* Page 3 and onwards seem generate completely different results.
* The index page on root domain now has more weight.
* Pages with heavy keyword stuffing are been penalised.
* Pagerank Sculpting is no longer effective. ( further confirming the rel=nofollow topic )
* Brand name / Domain trust further effecting SERP. ( a step further in the Google Vince Update? )
* Number of inbound links from external domains
* External links using targeted keywords as anchors carry more weight.

The last four points are nothing new by the way. It seems to me, then, that Caffeine will simply entail that SEOs continue to explore the long tail of relevant content, staying away from suicidal blackhat practices like keyword stuffing and over optimization and continuing to acquire legitimate organic links. So once again, Caffeine seems like no big news for SEO, although it might be relatively big news in Search.

What Caffeine actually looks like and how it will actually affect all us webmasters will, of course, have to wait to be seen. I suspect it will affect legitimate sites very little and it will only give webmasters and SEOs more work to do. In any case, we will all find out for sure, come 2010.

To learn more, see:

New in Search… and SEO?

November 13th, 2009 No comments

The last few weeks have seen a small flurry of news in search.

Google Caffeine
The buzz is that this is the biggest change to Google’s algorithm since late 2003 (aka the Florida update/dance). It has been in beta for some time and is going live right now. I didn’t like the beta version (now retired) because it was only available for

Social Search

Google rolled out social search, which integrates your results with listings from friends in your various social networks. It’s been met with some criticism and it even gives some people the creeps. But expect Google to keep tweaking things. Maybe it’ll be a good Google product in the end; maybe it’ll be useless to most of us.

There is smaller news of course, such as the way Google’s local business results have really taken off in the past few months, squeezing publishers of directories and other local marketing and inciting SEOs to get pissed off about Google hogging search results. Twitter’s real time search was old news from late in 2008 but Twitter has continued to improve its search and overall functionality. Most importantly, Twitter is an undeniable Force-to-be-Reckoned-With when anyone discusses Internet marketing (if not SEO) today. Finally, also, Google dropped PageRank in Webmaster Tools, possibly in favor of Trustrank, one might wonder.

For all that, there is very little news in mainstream search engine optimization (SEO), as should perhaps be expected at this point in the game. A list of top 50 SEO tips from this week’s pubcon confirms it: not much new in the world of actual day-to-day SEO. That may bode poorly for professional SEOs, only because people may think that all they need to do is pick up an SEO starter guide from Google or an SEO primer from a third party SEM company or any of the other hundreds of sources of basic SEO information and think that that is all they need. I say ‘I don’t really think so’ because not one of these tools will match the value of having a professional SEO in charge. From Google’s to every other guide I’ve seen I see mainly dodgy tips, teasers only and flat-out red herrings (people who even mention ‘meta tag keywords,’ I’m looking at you.)

Search engine optimization may get rocked by Google Caffeine but SEOs will still be the best qualified to handle this and any other news in Search. Bits of news and occasional flurries of news are best understood in the context of the last five to ten years of changes at Google and other search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Kitchener-Waterloo

September 29th, 2009 1 comment

There was a time, not very long ago, when there were few or no search engine optimization companies in Kitchener. Kitchener SEO is best handled by professionals. But as with the industry everywhere, companies seem to be coming out of the woodwork,  nomatter how spammy their backlinking strategy is.

If I google and look around at search engine optimization companies in Kitchener, I see a few names that I know among the results. I know Nardo Kuitert of, (okay, so technically in Fergus), from a few years ago, back in the day when we were both freelancing for a company called Geosign. I barely know Ashish Kothari, only because he found me on  I do not know who SEO Expertise is in Cambridge, nor do I know who runs Just Say On. (What is that supposed to mean, by the way?) There’s some company in Waterloo called Local Search Engine Marketing.  (Apparently their area of expertise is listing companies in Google’s Local Business Results?) Of course, just down the road from Kitchener-Waterloo (home of the Blackberry!) the inimitable Rae Hoffman makes her home in Guelph. (…At least the last I heard.) Other results include AroundKW, aka Kim Burnett, the extremely helpful web host for a number of sites I own…. and as well, some company with the interesting name of Lift Media.

I have little doubt that the area can sustain this number of search engine optimization companies. And I am still of the opinion that Kitchener Waterloo companies are by and large quite ignorant of the web (part of a national pattern, apparently). Also, the area still really lacks a strong web publishing presence, in spite of the area’s supposed designation as the Technology Triangle. (For my part, I am working on increasing web publishing in this area.) Most of the technology in this area is still software or software-based.

To further argue this, let me point out that there have been no great web successes in Kitchener-Waterloo; no Diggs, no Flickrs, not much at all…. just a RIM …. and a Geosign.

Anyway, search engine optimization (SEO) in Kitchener-Waterloo is – just as it is everywhere – still in its juvenile phase. (That sentence, with its silly link, and this post, with its silly subject and title both exemplify how juvenile SEO still is, currently). But anyway, to all my competition, I say, may the best SEO company in KW win the most business!

“Search engine optimization is not rocket science” is not wit

June 12th, 2009 No comments

I have heard the offhand statement “search engine optimization is not rocket science” a number of times lately. As if this statement is somehow witty or helpful in discussing SEO.  Of course search engine optimization is not rocket science.

But anyone with a bit of real experience in SEO will tell you this – there are a ton of subtleties to wade through in this industry. While it is not rocket science (or brain surgery, as the other cliche goes), it is most definitely diligent work that should not be done by inexperienced amateurs. There  is a ton to be said for experience.

For example, have you ever  been page one for a term that actually has over 100,000 searches a month? Neither have most rocket scientists and brain surgeons, Mr. Notsowitty.

The following things can be said about SEO, though:

– It is search engine optimization, a specialized knowledge. You can buy it for cheap but I will tell you, you almost always get what you pay for.

– True, worthwhile SEO is a many-splendoured thing that mixes long tail content development, robust backlink gathering, social media awareness and a mixture of many other things, to create what has been called “a tasty soup.”

– True SEO can’t be learned at a conference and can’t be taught.

Learning how to get legitimate ranking for tough keywords and to acquire significant traffic comes only with experience and nitty gritty work. If you don’t have experience and/or the time to acquire it and to do the nitty gritty, you’ll have to pay for the use of someone else’s experience and time. And you’re far better off doing that anyway.

And by the way: Rocket science is also not brain surgery, and vice versa, but I’ll bet you never hear people at a rocket science conference, saying things like, “Look, rocket science is not brain surgery….”

Only rocket science is rocket science. And do space shuttles even use rocket science? Or do they use space shuttle science, in which case rocket science is obsolete? I don’t know but in any case, I do not think SEO will be any time soon.

Categories: SEO, the SEO industry Tags: , ,

Starting an SEO business

May 13th, 2009 No comments

I’m officially relaunching this website as an SEO business, complete with this SEO blog.

Search engine optimization has been a booming business for a while now.

In some respects, I think that’s a shame.

Not in and of itself, of course, because I love the vibrancy of search  and the web in general (of course). It’s a shame because an industry with so much potential (still very much so, ten years after the launch of Google) attracts so much profound BS. A friend of mine complains that “SEOs are almost to a person, a collection of one-trick-ponies and snake oil salesman.” I would add “loud mouth braggarts” and “frackin phoneys” and I would also say, “But let’s emphasize: ‘almost to a person.'”

Jill Whalen recently complained about companies wanting to get into the SEO business and she quotes an email she received – from someone in India – that read (quoting verbatim) “i want to start SEO (search engine optimization) business.but before    that i want to know about SEO.” She gives them “props for wanting to know about SEO *before* they set up shop.” The real gist of her post comes when she complains: “new SEO companies keep popping up like dandelions in Spring. This would be okay if they weren’t getting paid for their services. But apparently they are.”

She’s dead on, of course. My own experience has at least one similar anecdote.

Two years ago, I got a call from a small company in Oakville, Ontario, after I was part of a massive layoff from a company that specialized in building sites that dominated SERPs (and still do, to this day. They also specialized in PPC arbitrage – the cause of both their rise and their downfall – but that’s another story). I had a few meetings with a couple guys from this small company in Oakville, who wanted to know everything I knew about SEO. Stupidly, I actually went along with the whole charade, as I explained to them things like the value of original description tag content, clean code and a bunch of other things, while they feverishly took notes. The funny thing (or not) was that they were already getting paid to do SEO. Just as funny (or not) was their boast of being able to rank for “terms like ‘hamilton rebar company.'” They also bragged to me that they were page one in Google for “Ontario’s best SEO.”

You’re bragging about being able to rank for a term that no one in their right mind is actually going to look for?

You’re really only telling me that Google knows how to do its job. You’re not saying very much about your ability to do SEO. And people are buying your services?

As Whalen points out, real SEO is difficult work. The industry is changing all the time and you have to keep up with what is going on. Not by listening to other SEOs, either, but by paying attention to changes at Google, knowing all about social media and its implicatons for SEO… and lots of other things. In other words: actually having lived through some of the ups and downs of the search engine industry over the years. Google whacks and penalizations are a really good experience, for an example.

In other words, earn your stripes, as they say.

Here’re some more things you should know:

  • Know how difficult it is to rank for truly competitive terms. Succeed at this. Fail at this, too.
  • Know what it is like to work with an aged domain versus a new domain, wrestling out of the sandbox.
  • Fully understand the difference between quality links and crapola links – that still might add up to something with enough quantity.
  • Know what trustrank is.

Know a zillion other subtleties about site development, url and site structure, long tail content development… and a zillion other things.

Then you will know how to apply your experience to leverage the search presence of any website or company, on a case-by-case basis.

Then you can start a company.

That’s where I am.

Anyway, that’s my introductory blog. That’s where I’m starting up from. And let me say one more time: “But let’s emphasize that word ‘almost.'”

Read Jill Whalen’s smartly written discussion about BS in the SEO industry.

Categories: SEO, the SEO industry Tags: , ,