Show archive of January 2009

    1. Personalized and Customized Search

      January 28, 2009

      Search has evolved since Archie hit the Web in 1990. The algorithm advancements that are really changing the game include the various methods of personalized search results. Personalization occurs in the form of location-, intent-, time-, and history-based re-ranking of search results. As Bruce has explained, personalization is going to change how Internet marketers operate, as fluctuating rankings are devalued as a measure of success.

      David Harry has been researching and writing about the effects of personalization on search results for several years on his blog Last year David began testing informational queries in order to study how rankings fluctuate and how personalization affects SERPs. The result was A Study of Google Ranking Flux and Personalized Search (available for PDF download). David shares his findings with Virginia and also invites people to participate in his next upcoming study. You can also talk to David in the WebmasterRadio.FM chat room during the initial broadcast.

      Wrapping up the show, Bradley, Susan and Virginia talk about Google SearchWiki and the changes it portends for SEOs. Danny Sullivan interviewed SearchWiki’s product manager, Cedric Dupont, and asked a number of questions that were on every SEO’s mind. Can you opt out of the feature? Will user rankings be integrated into general search results? Will Web spam take on a whole new life? It remains to be seen how broad of an affect SearchWiki will have on Internet marketing efforts.

    2. Targeting Your Audience

      January 21, 2009

      A user- and search-friendly site is a great thing to have, but no matter how high-quality your site is, it doesn’t mean much if the right audience doesn’t see it. The topic of today’s show is collecting users’ demographic information and targeting your intended audience. Bruce, Susan and Virginia kick off the show by discussing how you can get your site noticed by potential customers. Create a memorable brand and be present in the locations where your audience hangs out. That way, when they’re looking for something you provide, they’ll be more likely to find you.

      Scott Skurnick, director of SEO and user insight at, talks to Virginia about how his company gains understanding about user behavior and desires. Different buyer segments, such as families, new drivers and green car enthusiasts, are offered unique car buying guides. Twitter is an engaging channel for communication and service. Leverage the appropriate social networks, user surveys and offline channels for effective holistic audience targeting.

      Then Susan, Michael and Virginia look into ways to collect user demographic info. Microsoft adCenter has insightful keyword demographic data that you can use to focus your marketing efforts. Market research, focus groups and customer surveys are also ways to find out more about your customers. And of course, analytics data and Web server logs tell you a lot about where visitors are coming from, what they’re looking at on your site, and where they’re going from there.

    3. The Spam Evolution and What Not to Do

      January 14, 2009

      Spam has come a long way since the early days of the Internet. Bruce argues that it’s even become more malicious along the way. Initially Web users may have accidentally created Web spam, such as cloaking and keyword stuffing, without knowing the potential harm spam can cause. However, as the Web has developed, search engines have since become clearer on what constitutes spam. As a result, users creating spam are more likely to know they are doing so, and yet continue to do it on purpose. Susan, Bruce and Virginia start off the show by taking a look at the changing face and definition of spam, as well as current efforts to police and control Web spam.

      Bruce Clay, Inc. Senior Analyst Scott Polk then talks to Virginia about how spam affects the social media space and link building efforts. Michael Gray brought up the scenario of Google implementing a “report social media spam” form, and Lisa Barone asked if social media links would be devalued as a ranking factor because of the ease in which they can be abused. Scott agrees that spammers and search engines are involved in a never-ending cycle in which spammers take advantage of a loophole while search engines try to close it.

      Wrapping up the show, Susan, Maryann and Virginia describe spammy techniques to avoid on your site. However, it’s important to keep in mind the intent behind the use of such techniques, as a noble intent behind a sometimes spammy tactic can leave a different footprint than the same tactic used with malicious intent. Cloaking a page, for instance, in order to clean up a spider-unfriendly URL is acceptable, whereas cloaking to hide something from a search engine is not.

    4. Marketing and SEO for Ecommerce Sites

      January 7, 2009

      The winter season is always marked by holiday shopping and people continue to turn online to get their shop on. Today’s show is all about online marketing considerations for ecommerce sites. Bruce, Susan and Virginia take a look at why you should establish a presence in all parts of the buying cycle. By maintaining a presence in a variety of channels (not only online but offline as well), a person is more likely to turn to your familiar company when they are looking for a service you provide. The concept of creating a circle of presence around your company through multiple channels is called halo media.

      Gregg Banse, president of Web strategy and development company 7thpixel and moderator of Webmaster World’s ecommerce forum, talks to Virginia about how ecommerce sites fared this holiday season. According to what Gregg, online sales were not as high as expected despite growth over last year. Gregg also explains how online retailers are carefully entering the social media space, and rightly so. He says that while necessary to have a social network presence, the commitment of time and resources is often underestimated and should not be approached haphazardly.

      Then Susan, Virginia and Bradley consider common pitfalls and areas of needed improvement that often occur on ecommerce sites. Poor crawlability due to session IDs and multiple dynamic variables in URLs, unfriendly content management systems that don’t allow adequate customization, and using catalog content online rather than the actual words a searcher might be looking for are all easy mistakes to make in the realm of online retail.