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Google Steers SEO Pros Toward User Experience

January 21, 2015

Curious to learn where Google is driving the search-engine optimization field these days? Search Engine Watch tells us, “6 Major Changes Reveal the Future of SEO.” Writer Eric Enge declares, “Google is doing a brilliant job of pushing people away from tactical SEO behavior and toward a more strategic approach.” Um, okay. As long as that means more relevant information for users.

The article lists Eng’s six observations and what each means for SEO approaches. For example, Google has stopped handing users’ keyword data to websites, requiring them to use other methods to monitor keyword performance. Then there’s the Hummingbird algorithm, which Enge says is really a major platform change. The write-up also considers the current influence of Google+ and Google’s Authorship program. Finally, Enge cites the In-Depth Article feature Google introduced last August, which points users to more comprehensive sources of information. See the article for more on each of these points. Enge concludes:

“All of these new pieces play a role in getting people to focus on their authority, semantic relevance, and the user experience. Again, this is what Google wants.

“For clarity, I’m not saying that Google designed these initiatives specifically to stop people from being tactical and make them strategic. I don’t really know that. It may simply be the case that Google operates from a frame of reference that they want to find and reward outstanding sites, pages, and authors that offer outstanding answers to user’s search queries. But the practical impact is the same.

“The focus now is on understanding your target users, producing great content, establishing your authority and visibility, and providing a great experience for the users of your site.”

Well, this does sound like a good shift for users. Will SEO workers used to focusing on PageRank data and keywords learn to adapt?

Cynthia Murrell, January 21, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Bloomreach: Googlers, MBAs, and $41 Million in Funding

January 3, 2015

Founded in 2009, Bloomreach is now popping up in my Overflight system. The company is buying Google ads and publishing a blog written by Bloomreach’s storyteller. The company is a “personalized discovery platform.” The angle seems to be ecommerce search, which will probably make EasyAsk, Endeca, and SLI Systems long for the day when MBAs ignored search for more glamorous endeavors.

The company offers an interesting mix of marketing oriented search services. There is hosted search and consulting. I noted a bit of search engine optimization as well. And, not surprisingly, there is some “Big Data marketing” lingo too.

Information about the company is available at this link.

Stephen E Arnold, January 4, 2015

The Latest Advice for SEO Pros

November 18, 2014

As Google’s search algorithm evolves, so the search engine optimization crowd adapts. Business2Community offers tactical updates in, “Semantic Search: Keyword Choices and Relevancy.” Writer Kaila Strong cites a recent Searchmetrics study which emphasizes four key factors to high rankings: semantically relevant and semantically comprehensive wording; long form/ higher word-count content; enriched content with diverse media; and easy to read content. Strong observes:

“While all these areas are important, the first bullet – ‘semantically relevant…’ – stands out to me in my role as an SEO professional…. Let’s see how this new emphasis on semantics and ‘semantic search’ affects how we evaluate keyword choices and relevancy further.

“So grab a coffee and get ready to dive a bit deeper into the technical aspects of exactly how a computer program (bot/spider/search engine like Google) determines what the meaning of a page is – what question this page is the best answer to – and, subsequently, what it should rank for.

“Keep in mind that as a marketer, you have control over a page’s quality, as well as the keywords the page could rank for. But the lines of influence and manipulation are blurred. A proper understanding of the science behind search can help shed light on the best way to develop content in today’s Google world.”

Strong notes that recommendations don’t come directly from Google, but from SEO experts who research the issue. Emphasizing that the semantic web is all about connections, she describes in detail three components of Google’s algorithm these pros have identified: a clustering method called co-citation, the concept of co-occurrence, and holistic linguistics. See the article for details about leveraging each.

Cynthia Murrell, November 18, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Desperate for Traffic? Paid Links Work, Just Do Not Get Caught

November 3, 2014

I read “Should Get a Google Slap for Soliciting Paid Links From Bloggers?” The main idea is that Google does not like this practice. However, my reading of the write up took a different turn.

First, the write up makes clear that paid links do work. So if you are desperate for traffic, the trick is to finesse the watchful eye of Mother Google.

Second, perhaps Google should formalize paid links and charge.

With revenue a growing concern from a very large one trick pony, I can envision this action as soon as Google figures out how to monetize YouTube, News, etc.

Stephen E Arnold, November 4, 2014

SEO Gets Some Love

October 2, 2014

SearchEngineLand reviews software and the latest review “BuzzSumo Ups The Ante In Content Analysis” gives credence that SEO is not dead. The reviewer laments that he must find something negative about the software reviewing, but when reviewing BuzzSumo’s new Pro tools he had a hard time saying anything bad.

The new features are explained, including they can be used to analyze data, generate reports, and content alerts. The most fun and useful is the different types of data collected and how they can be manipulated. BuzzSumo is a great tool to help marketers gain insights into content performance and even how the competition is doing.

What is the negative?

“…[W]hile the ability to set a minimum share threshold for the keyword and brand Content Alerts is really useful, you cannot specify a minimum number of shares for specific social networks, just an aggregate total. Again, I’m sure this will be added in the future, but hey, I don’t want people thinking that BuzzSumo gave me a briefcase full of cash, so I had to come up with some way they could improve.”

Analytics are like spying on your users. As with manipulating data, it is fun to see how different content is received. Remember that analytics tools do not have to be purchased. While BuzzSumo has excellent tools, Google Analytics will give you comparable information.

Whitney Grace, October 02, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

SEO Push Or Objective Review?

September 3, 2014

Butler Analytics recently evaluated a business analytics firm and showed the results in “InetSoft Review.” InetSoft is described as a top tier business intelligence platform and allows functions for ease of use. Further into the review, InetSoft is called “understated” due to the lack of praise for its stellar products. Potential users can choose from three packages:

  • Style Report Enterprise-an enterprise reporting application that supports many constructs.
  • Style Scope-an interactive dashboard software application with visualized analysis and real-time reporting.
  • Style Intelligence-an operational business intelligence platform with a data mashup engine for dashboards, visual analyses, and reporting creation.

The packages have varied options:

“InetSoft offers both perpetual licenses and on-premise annual subscriptions. Small to midsize organizations and business units can take advantage of user-based licensing, while large organizations can leverage server based licensing for enterprise deployments. A maintenance and support charge of 20% is added to perpetual license sales and is included in the annual subscription price.”

This is definitely high praise for an “understated” company. The review is objective enough and will definitely add to InetSoft’s content marketing and SEO value.

Whitney Grace, September 03, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Search Vendors and SEO: None Is a Home Run Super Star

July 16, 2014

One of the ArnoldIT team located a link to a Web site analytic service called From the site, it is possible to enter a url and get some information, mostly without context, about a domain. Some of the numbers are confusing. I plugged in a number of enterprise search vendors’ domain names to see what the system would report. I have reproduced a table containing the field names and the values for Autonomy, BA Insight, Coveo, Endeca, Funnelback, Mindbreeze, Recommind, Smartlogic, and SurfRay. This list includes some well known companies like Autonomy and Endeca and some companies with average visibility. I also included some lesser known search vendors. The idea was to generate a comparative table with data points pertinent to some of the companies I follow.

You can work through the table or run your own reports. Several points jumped out at me:

  1. In terms of search engine optimization, Autonomy appears to have its paws on more key words than any of the other vendors in my test sample
  2. Three vendors have little Alexa presence according to the data; namely, BA Insight, Endeca, and SurfRay. I find that Endeca’s zero score an anomaly. I am not surprised at the inclusion of BA Insight and SurfRay.
  3. Funnelback has more educational backlinks and governmental backlinks than any other vendor in this sample. Perhaps Funnelback is aggressively pursuing these markets or the Australian government is linking aggressively to Funnelback? Funnelback is also the leader in page views, according to the report for this sample.
  4. The all important Google PageRank score gives Autonomy a seven rating. The vendor with the lowest PageRank score is SurfRay, a vendor that has an interesting financial and business history. Most search vendors achieve a respectable PageRank score of five. Two legal centric search systems garner a PageRank of six. Lawyers seem to have a gift of lingo approximating that of Autonomy.

I have a frozen Web site at The score for this site is comparable to the average search engine vendor in traffic and PageRank. I am not sure how valuable these SEO-centric reports are, but if you are a coming looking for sales leads, it might be easier to buy Google AdWords than to try to figure out how to reach today’s Web surfer.


Autonomy BA Insight Coveo Endeca Funnelback Mindbreeze Recommind Smartlogic SurfRay X1
Key Words in SERPs 1056 0 201 0 143 41 76 126 62 355
Google PR 7 5 5 6 6 5 6 5 4 6
Yandex CY 150 10 10 10 10 0 10 40 10 20
Google indexed 10.3 0 12.5 5.44 4.18 507 1.8 13.1 918 9.75
Quantcast rank 37.362 0 0 0 104.859 0 706.805 0 0 625.031
Alexa Rank 141.452 0% 557.525 0 349.195 440.065 600.586 449.451 0 444.193
Alexa Traff:Search % 35.50% 0 26.30% 20.90% 0.30% 0.80% 18.70% 32.90% 16.70% 9.80%
Alexa Traff:TimeOnSite 144 sec 59 sec 129 sec 223 sec 69 sec 216 sec 132 sec 194 sec 41 sec 163 sec
Alexa Traff:Bounce 57.90% 0% 64.60% 40.10% 62.80% 42.70% 52% 63.40% 61.10% 43.90%
Alexa Traff:PageV/User 2.4 1.7 1.8 3.9 4.9 2.3 220.00% 3.3 1.3 2.5
External BackLinks 102.66 11.991 34.022 43.486 1.212.796 4.037 28.666 5.277 4.28 25.913
Referring Domains 5.186 267 893 1.45 545 302 919 461 241 2.17
Indexed URLs 9.38 1.625 42.736 2.207 78.497 7.517 6.945 159.279 14.606 52.694
Referring IP addresses 3.832 238 678 1.245 481 224 718 339 204 1.887
Referring SubNets 3.298 230 613 1.127 446 201 651 315 186 1.647
Referring .edu Domains 122 1 6 32 21 2 6 3 0 15
.edu Backlinks 215 437 88 87 703.051 3 14 11 0 146
Referring .gov Domains 5 0 1 1 29 0 0 1 0 3
.gov Backlinks 19 0 10 3 23.209 0 0 1 0 16
Referring .edu Domains to main 47 0 5 24 4 1 5 1 0 6
.edu Backlinks to main 86 0 35 68 6 2 11 1 0 9
Referring .gov Domains to main 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1
.gov Backlinks to main 15 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 4

Stephen E Arnold, July 16, 2014

TopSEOs: Relevance, Precision or Visibility?

May 22, 2014

I have a couple of alerts running for the phrase “enterprise search.” The information gathered is not particularly useful. Potentially interesting items like the rather amazing “Future of Search” are not snagged by either Google or Yahoo (Bing). I have noticed a surprising number of alerts about a company doing business as The url is often presented as and there may be other variants.

Here’s a typical hit in a Google alert. This one appeared on May 22, 2014:


The link leads to a “story” in a “global media network.” The site is notable because it combines a wide range o f topics, tweets, links, categories, and ads. If you want to more about the service, you can read the about page and get precious little information about this Canadian company. This site appears to be a typical news aggregation service. The “story” is a news release distributed by Google-friendly PRWeb, located in San Francisco.

What is the TopSEOs’ story that appeared as an alert this morning?

The story is a news release about an independent team that evaluates search engine optimization companies. Here’s how the story in my alert looked to me on May 22, 2014:

topselos story

Several things jumped out at me about the story. First, it lacks substance. The key point is that “analyzes market and industry trends in order to remain information of the most important developments which affect the performance of competing companies.” I am not sure exactly what this means, but it sounds sort of important. The link to redirects to

Read more

The Remarkable SEO Success of RetailMeNot

May 6, 2014

For a case study on the leveraging SEO (search engine optimization) success, turn to Priceonomics‘ post, “The SEO Dominance of RetailMeNot.” Priceonomics is in the business of analyzing the SEO effectiveness of publicly traded companies for its hedge fund clients. Writer Rohin Dhar makes clear this look at one success story is meant to showcase his firm’s work.

RetailMeNot is a digital coupon site that employs a number of tricks to capture a striking amount of shopping traffic. Note that this write-up is not about how the company achieved its unusual click-through success; Dhar admits he has no idea. Rather it explains the steps one company is taking to make the most from that market dominance. Our main question, though, remains unanswered—what do such steps mean for relevance and objectivity of a searcher’s results? After all, other shopping and promotions sites might decide to copy RetailMeNot’s formula.

A theme that caught my eye is the warning Dhar includes about the shifting fortunes of those who hitch their wagons to Google’s search algorithms. He writes:

“Given Google’s dominance in search, conquering its results page can be incredibly lucrative. But in RetailMeNot’s case, it’s also a lot of eggs in one basket. A shift in the Google search algorithm could cause the entire company to collapse. Traffic would plummet, leading to declining revenues and a flailing stock price.”

Later, the article concludes:

“But SEO is both RetailMeNot’s major strength and its achilles heel. There might not even be a precedent for a company dominating monetizable keywords so thoroughly for an extended period of time. At some point, Google will change the rules, RetailMeNot will trip up, or competitors will catch up. It’s not really a matter of if Google pulls the rug out from under you, it’s a matter of when.”

Will RetailMeNot and similar sites be able to adopt an agile stance, one that will allow them to stay on their feet when that proverbial rug is pulled?

Cynthia Murrell, May 06, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

SEO Is Pure Silliness

April 29, 2014

People are trying to get to the top of search results lists, especially Google’s. They use SEO, tags, and other ways to reach the top. They are even SEO gurus who give tips on best practices. One of them is Matt Cutts of The Short Cutts Web site. It is described as:

“Since early 2009 Google’s Matt Cutts has recorded a superhuman number of videos to help struggling site owners understand their site in search. While the videos are great, sometimes the guy just needs to get to the point. With that in mind we’ve done the hard work and watched every Matt Cutts video to pull out simple, concise versions of his answers: The Short Cutts!”

Cutts has posted a lot of videos that answer people’s questions about search, how to use SEO, and other Web site tips. He is very concise and to the point and has his video arranged by topic. Cutts also has several ebooks that describe ways to increase a Web site’s performance and how to do digital marketing.

Cutts has good advice, but he leaves out a whopper of truth. Buy Adwords. It skips the SEO silliness. His information only helps SEO, until Google changes again and again. One quick shortcut is to buy Adwords.

Whitney Grace, April 29, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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