blogging about twittering and twittering about blogging

Great list of pro and con articles and tools for twittering at SEO 2.0 blog: Twitter Dilemma: To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Pros, Cons, 50+ Links & Tools.

I was late to the twitter party and I admit it can be a huge time waste. The best use I have found for it is site status updates — the text alert functionality. But mostly I use it to report what I am eating for lunch and dinner (and sometimes breakfast). And because most of my team is in another time zone, it takes the place of the rambling hallway and doorway conversations I used to have with co-workers. And now I have these discussions with people I don’t even work with too. So that is fun.

Is there an overall value? From the list on the SEO 2.0 blog, obviously there are a lot of opinions on that. The post has a lot of twitter content I have not yet come across, so it makes a nice reading list for those of us trying to determine the value. Is twitter good for findability? Well, certainly it is good for claiming your online persona and associating hundreds of thousands of posts with your name. And considering that nothing ever posted on the Web can ever completely be removed, do I want what I ate for lunch on a Monday in January 2008 preserved for all time? Good question.

linkbuilding — white hat version

Recently, on my advice, our site turned down a submission for an article on link building. My gut reaction when asked about any article on link building is that is too much a gray area of SEO and we shouldn’t even open ourselves up to that. I admit to an invested interest here in keeping things white hat only. My position has always been if you build good pages with compelling content the link building will happen organically. This is easy for me to say because I work on a large corporate Web site with a huge online presence.

But there is value in link building, if done carefully. My guide has always been Aaron Wall’s post on good link building and bad link building.

And I just saw Eric Enge’s post up on SEOmoz: So Many Ways to Pursue Links and So Little Time and I’ll be adding that to my link building resource list as well.

There are eight solid tips in Enge’s post that reflect the same white hat values as Aaron Wall’s post (and I am sure many many others), with some new ones as well — for example, links on edu and .gov links are often overlooked as a good source for establishing authority. This post covers everything from Social media to PR to the blogosphere.  All good stuff. But Enge also doesn’t lose site of the goal.  His final paragraph includes this comment :

Match your content to the target and you will have a much greater chance of success.

I concur.  Keep your end result in mind and your link building will be successful. Don’t spray your links all over the interwebs and expect your target audience to take the action you want them to take.  Instead, take some time to match your link to the audience,  get quality links, and good things will happen with your linking campaign.

New Yahoo — open search and Yahoo buzz

I hate to be negative about Yahoo. I like Yahoo. I still use their e-mail and I always include it in my list of “other search engines” when giving SEO best practices. Such as, “this will optimize your page for Google and other search engines like Yahoo.” And I do not want them to be eaten by Microsoft or Google. A few years ago I thought Yahoo would be the Web 1.0 search engine to go vertical and reach the niche markets Google seemed to have no interest in. At one point (it was a very small point, I admit) I thought that Yahoo could truly compete with iTunes in podcasting. Their offering had so much more customization and community enablement than iTunes had then (2005 or so) and still has. But I just don’t see that happening now with Yahoo Podcasts or Yahoo Audio search or whatever the name is now.

But now Yahoo has come out with two “new” functionalities that just make me wonder why bother.  As for Open search/customizable entries, I tried subscribed links when Google first offered them. The cool factor was very high and creation was really easy. But if I could not get a bunch of people to sign up to get my subscribed links displayed in their results or install it as a gadget and if it would never become part of the standard Google results, then there isn’t much use for it. At least from the basic SEO stand-point, it does not help me reach the unaware user. I am not sure how Yahoo is going to use this or how these links will be developed, but I agree with Philipp Lenssen that at the very least Yahoo should try and take this somewhere if they are going to do it at all. Google can afford to toss something out there with no support; Yahoo is not in a position to do that.

As for the invitation to join (visit?)  Yahoo buzz I got in my Yahoo mail today, I will admit I just don’t get it. I have not yet gotten on the bandwagon for sites like Digg and Reddit, so I may not be in the target audience for this. However, I do see the value of existing social  news sites, but what I don’t see is the value of yet another site for “buzz.” What I want is a site that will separate the truly valuable news from the random buzz. I get that from trusted sources — that is, blogs and twitter. This is my version of trusted sources, maybe someone else will value Yahoo Buzz.

summarizing

One of the reasons I like twitter is the forced brevity. Having only 140 characters helps me focus what I want to say into small portions. I think of Twitter as a snack, while blogging is a meal. Maybe not always the most filling meal, but much more substantial than a tweet. But in theory, a twitter could say more than a blog post — if done well enough.

Twitters were initially very hard for me. But I am getting better as I go along. I am hoping twittering is also helping my summarizing skills. Last week a colleague requested I create a quick and easy SEO guide for a team outside my dept to use. Easy, I thought, I already have 7 years of beginner SEO guidelines, tips, and helpful hints. I would just quickly run through all my existing documentation and create a cheatsheet.

But summarizing 7 years of SEO knowledge was not as easy as I thought. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Every tip seemed valuable to me. And the more sections I created, the more places I realized information was missing. Strategies I considered common knowledge that I never documented but only kept in my head were creating obvious holes in the documentation. I had to write new documentation to cover the basic stuff I thought everyone already knew. Funny how that works. Sunday afternoon I sent off the multiple page SEO guidelines. I know there will be editing.

I came out of this with some new information of my own on the value of documenting everything as well as my own need to be more succinct. I know a lot of stuff about SEO, but I really need to work on my summarization skills.

This whole post as a tweet: document everything as clearly and as succinctly as possible and make it easier to assemble this info quickly

getting on the OpenID bandwagon

Now that I have a better understanding of how it works, (thanks Turbotodd) I am all over this OpenID thing. Doesn’t hurt that all the big players are sigining on as well ( Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign and Yahoo! join OpenID Foundation Board.)

Having one place to sign in and one account to maintain is a great concept.  And in my first experience using it, I did not need to read the accessibility-unfriendly captcha field to sign up.  I know I have trouble getting those captchas right and I also have also heard from people who use pagereaders or have other accessibility concerns, that if they come across a captcha they just won’t sign up.  So, I am thrilled to find another way of handling verification.

I am, however, having a hard time imaging how large enterprises are going to incorporate it. Especially considering the security concerns big businesses already have and my experience getting existing permissions systems to play nicely with other apps.

If we can all adopt it, I think OpenID would be a  big step forward in  authentication.  I hope to see it happen.

blog buzz, SEO, and desired user action

This post on SEO Moz: R0n Paul is the Snakes on a Plane of 2008 got me thinking about the goals of blog buzz and also the goals of SEO. I think there is an assumption out there that all links are good links and all blog buzz will help your product or strategy. And when I say “out there” I am talking about marketing and PR people who think that if you get enough buzz going with blog mentions or with links on traditional Web sites — what I like to call the “static” web as compared to the “dynamic” web 2.0 web — then you have succeeded in your marketing campaign.

I did not follow the snakes on a plane market outcome too close. I enjoyed the parodies and saying “snakes on a plane” is still pretty funny. I assumed that the buzz did lead to movie ticket sales. It did not. Or at least, considering the hype, it did not do as well as expected for that level of exposure. I didn’t see it in the theater, but I did Netflix it.

I agree with the analysis in the post, and want to add that the audience that actually experienced this viral marketing was probably very small. The target audience for all the snakes on a plane spoofs and discussions was most likely people like me — people who are online all work day and online after work just for fun. And for a movie to make the required huge box office numbers, you have to get more than just the geeks going to see the movie. It is an interesting exercise in viral marketing, but essentially, it did not lead to the desired user action. This action being, 100s of millions of people going to the theater to see the movie.

But I also have another takeaway from an SEO perspective — all links are not good links if they do not lead the user to take the desired action. Listings for your site in the Google SERPS are not always worth it for the link juice alone. Being #1 for a one word keyword is not more important than being number #2 for a long-tail multiple keyword query.

But none of this can be quantified as easily as the snakes on a plane viral marketing example. And part of this is because SEO is mostly about Web sites and bringing in visitors. High rankings bring in more pageviews — that is true. But is the goal of a Web site pageviews? Not for all of them. In many cases, the goal is to get the user to buy a product. And in many cases, getting a #1 listing in Google brings in pageviews, but does not lead the user to the desired action.

The goal of SEO is not to get a #1 listing, it is to lead the user to your site, so that you can offer the searcher what he or she is looking for. If the searcher is looking for something more basic than what you are offering, then a #1 listing on a basic keyword query is not going to help you reach your goal or the user reach his or her goal. So you will be wasting SEO time and bandwidth and the searcher not only is dissatisfied with the link, but perhaps even leaves the site and returns to Google with a bad opinion of your site. It’s like reverse branding.

I do still believe a viral campaign is a very powerful thing and I love links (from Google and other web sites). But I think both should be invested in prudently and efficiently to serve both you (the SEO, Web site owner, and/or marketer) and the searcher.

netflix TV

Only slightly offtopic — interesting piece here on Netflix partnering with LG to create a set-top box to stream the “Watch Instantly” videos on Netflix onto a TV. It seems like a great idea except for two things:

  1. It is possible right now to connect a laptop with a DVD-player to your TV to do the same thing.
  2. Unless NetFlix is planning to significantly add more videos to the “Watch Instantly” section I don’t see the value-add.

I have spent a lot of time skimming through the Watch Instantly area and watching videos that way. At this point, I think I have seen all I care to see. The selection is not very good — all you have to do is take a look at how few movies are rated 4 or above — not many. Many are obscure b-grade movies (at least in the sci-fi section) or recent network TV shows. My guess is the lack of selection has something to do with how these films are licensed. Or maybe I am just not the target audience.

The articles says there will be 6000 videos to chose from. I am not sure how many Netflix has in the Watch Instantly bucket now, but Netflix does have 90,000 in its catalog.

You’ll still have to use your computer to select the movies, so it is not even a completely TV-enabled system.

Maybe there is a market for this — I am not seeing it. But then I still have rabbit ears on my non-HD TV set.