October, 2006 Archive
The Secret to Great Rankings? Karma.
Want the secret to great rankings? According to Steven Bradley, it’s karma. Not the spiritual “Law of Karma” central to Eastern Philosophy, but the Americanized version of karma practiced by Earl Hickey every Thursday night.
He’s right. And not only does karma work great for getting better rankings, it also leads to more business. Be wary of any company who promises to increase your rankings or improve your site without telling you exactly what they’re doing. Best case, they’re likely not somebody you want to be working with. Worst case, they’re doing something underhanded that will cause your site to lose its rankings altogether.
Who We’re Recommending for Web Hosting These Days
Back in March, I documented my frustrating search for a good web host. I had tried GoDaddy, pair Networks, Media Temple, Yahoo and MidPhase, all to no avail. Each had their good points but ultimately didn’t work for me for one reason or another. (See that original post for more details.)
Well back in July we switched over to a new hosting service called Mosso (an innovative “hosting system” from the guys at Rackspace), and we would definitely recommend them. As with any new service they have definitely had their bumps in the road, but for us the good definitely outweighs the bad.
The downside is that they only have a single product: $100/month for 80 GB of dsik space and 2,000 GB of bandwidth. If you need that much, or you’re looking to be a reseller, then this a great deal. Otherwise you might have to team up with someone.
The really cool thing for us is that we can run ASPs on a true Linux system. As longtime Windows guys, that has made the switch to a Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP setup very, very easy for us.
Yahoo’s New “Panama” Release
I mentioned Wednesday in Google Pulls Away that Yahoo had a new version of their PPC program in the works. Well, first impressions are starting to creep out, and while it sounds impressive, I can’t get past the fact that Panama just sounds like AdWords circa 2003. I mean look at this list of “new features” (as compiled by Nick Guastella of Bruce Clay, Inc.):
- Faster ad approvals: Ads will go live within minutes instead of the old 3-5 day turnaround. In fact, we’ve already noticed faster ad approvals even without being migrated to the new system. Multiple A/B ad testing will also now be available to determine best performance.
- Geo-Targeting: Previously advertisers had to use either local search or geo-specific search terms. Under the new system advertisers will be able to do this in one account. The new geo-targeting will allow distribution down to specific cities. They now provide a map of the area which then shows a highlighted radius of coverage based on advertiser’s choices.
- Ad Groups: Keywords in Ad groups can now use multiple ads where as before a keyword had to be linked to just one ad and advertisers had to wait up to 5 days to change.
- Keyword Insertion feature: Keywords will be able to be automatically inserted into titles and descriptions improving focus of ads and click through rates, and will also save advertisers time having to write specific ads including each keyword. Though that doesn’t mean you can slack off on writing good ad copy.
- Quality Index: Similar to the old Google quality index made up of click through rate, keywords related to ad copy, display URL, landing page and other factors.
Can you spot the one that Google didn’t have in 2003?
If you said #2, you’re right. It’s only been out since the beginning of 2005.
Google Pulls Away
Business 2.0’s Erick Schonfeld pointed out today that Google is putting some significant distance between themselves and everyone else in the online advertising market. In fact, they’re expected to grow 38% this year while closest competitor Yahoo drops by 17%.
To anyone who has done extensive PPC advertising, this should come as no surprise. Google’s system is lightyears ahead of Yahoo’s (and MSN’s) and just keeps getting better. Yahoo, on the other hand, is only now rolling out their first changes in at least a couple of years, and it just puts them on par with where Google was several years ago and only in a single area at that. You don’t beat Google with copycat features several years behind and dwindling distribution.
If you’re looking to get into PPC, we definitely recommend starting with Google. Yahoo’s too big to ignore if you can’t exhaust your budget effectively on Google, but they might be the third (or even fourth) choice behind MSN and Ask.com. It all depends on your budget.
Over the past month and a half, we’ve been working with Jason Roberts and Adaptix Technologies on the design of an online PowerPoint replacement called Preezo. I’ve been wanting to write about it for awhile now because it is such an incredible application, but we kept everything under wraps until Jason presented at the Office 2.0 Conference last week.
Preezo was quite well received at the conference, even though it was competing against technologies that were much more mature, and Jason even scored a great TechCrunch post about Preezo, among other accolades.
Buzz is really building, and we’re excited to be part of it. Sign up today to notified when it launches!
Exhaustive Research Toolbox
A huge thanks to Rand for putting together this outstanding list of research tools. I bookmark very few pages, but this is definitely going to be one of them.
This is also a great example of one way to build links to your site: provide such overwhelming value that people can’t help but link. Focus on creating great content, and often the links will follow naturally.
Looking for Funding?
I had read last year that VCs were having a hard time finding enough companies to invest in, and now Business 2.0 blogger Erick Schonfeld points to a New York Times article about Sevin Rosen Funds actually returning hundreds of millions in investor funds because they couldn’t find any worthwhile investments.
Smells like opportunity.
Google PageRank Update Underway
First, let me make it very clear that this really means nothing because:
- The toolbar PR is just a snapshot of a page’s current PR. Google regularly updates all its ranking factors, but only updates the public number every so often.
- There are so many factors other than PageRank that determine where your page ranks in a search. It’s nice to see, but don’t get obessed with it.
The “toolbar PR” (the PR that Google reports for a page, versus the actual PR that they use in rankings) is fun to watch, particularly as you’re growing a site, but it means next to nothing. There are so many cases where a higher PR page ranks lower than a page with a much lower PR that you would think people would have caught on by now, but people still obsess.
That said, you can use this tool to check a page’s current PageRank:
Great post by Matt Cutts answering a lot of questions about PR and about this PR update specifically.
12 Best Practices for URLs
Few things matter to your rankings as much as links, and the vast majority of those who link to your site do so by copying the URL from the address bar when they’re on your page. Because of that, and for other reasons as well, it’s crucial to make sure that your URLs are as well-formed as possible.
Thankfully, randfish did the hard work for me by posting his 11 Best Practices for URLs. He hits so many of the most common errors and things to watch out for. Definitely worth a read and a bookmark to refer back to later if you’re interested in your site ranking better in search engines.
One practice that he forgot, though, is one that I see most often and one that has as much impact as anything he listed.
Don’t link to your homepage with index.htm or index.asp in the URL.
It’s redundant and, most importantly, it confused the search engines. As noted in The Three Basics for Achieving Great Search Engine Rankings, search engines see
www.yourdomain.com/index.htm as two completely different URLs. When some pages link to one URL and others link to the other, you end up splitting your link weight between two URLs that are actually the same page.
There’s no reason to include the default document (e.g. index.htm) in the URL and plenty of reasons not to. Take a spin through your site today and make sure you’re not using index.htm in your “home” links. (Don’t forget the links in your main navigation.)