Category Archives: Search

Seattle SEOs Thoughts on Search Engines and SEO

Little Known Twitter Search Commands

Twitter search seems fairly basic, which often leads to people using 3rd party Twitter tools for searching. Most people don’t realize it, but Twitter some handy search command abilities:

Basic Twitter Search Commands (no surprises here):

  • Multi-word queries: if you search multiple words, Twitter’s default search will search tweets containing both (or all words).
    Example: big doggy would find tweets that contain both “big” and “doggy”, but not necessarily the words paired together.
  • Exact match queries: if you use quotes, you can limit tweet searches to exact matches.
    Example: “big doggy” would find tweets that contain the exact phrase “big doggy”.
  • OR queries: if you are looking for two related or interchangable words, OR queries work well.
    Example: dog OR doggy would find tweets that contain either words.
  • Hash Tag queries: Hash tags used to be one of the only methods of putting a stamp on your tweet to help those searching in Twitter, but they not as critical these days as Twitter search has improved. Regardless, people still use hash tags (#), especially when attending events or joining in on a meme
    Example: #ff would find tweets that contain #ff (which stands for Follow Friday).
  • At queries: when referencing someone on Twitter, you use @ (at reply), so it makes sense you can search for people doing so.
    Example: @webconnoisseur would find tweets reference me.
  • Question queries: target tweets that ask a question.
    Example: web designer ? would most likely find tweets of people looking for web designers.

Advanced Twitter Search Commands:

  • Combining queries: You can combine queries to really nail down what you are looking for.
    Example: “seattle startup” OR “seattle start-up” OR “@seattle20” combines the simple search commands listed above and would be an excellent way to find tweets related to startups in Seattle.
  • From and To queries: You can actually target tweets that are specifically sent to or from someone.
    Example: “from:GregBoser” “to:Graywolf” would show me tweets Greg Boser sent to Michael Gray. If you perform a query like this, Twitter will also include a link that will allow you to see the entire conversation, if there is one.
  • Exclude queries: You can specify words you don’t want to see in your query.
    Example: hello -kitty would show me hello tweets, but exclude tweets that are reffering to hello kitty or someone saying hello to their kitty on twitter (trust me, you want to stay away from these people).
  • Location queries: You can actually limit tweets by location.
    Example: beer near:Seattle within:15mi would show me beer tweets written within 15 miles of Seattle

    Note: it isn’t entirely accurate as it appears to go off the location the person has listed in their profile, which isn’t always where they are at the time.
  • Date-based queries: You can actually limit tweets by date, both before (use “since:”) or after (use “until:”).
    Example: techcrunch since:2009-09-12 until:2009-09-13 would show me tweets about TechCrunch over the weekend on September 12th or 13th
  • Attitudinal queries: Some Twitter users incorporate happy or sad faces into their tweets. You can search these to find attitudes about topics.
    Example: cloudy with a chance of meatballs :) would show me people who were happy to go see or enjoyed the movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
  • Source queries: probably one of the least useful queries unless you want to research a 3rd party tool’s adoption, you can do query searches by tweet software source.
    Example: LOL source:tweetdeck would show me LOL tweets that came from someone using tweedeck.
  • Link filtered queries: a great way to track down referenced links, this query will limit Twitter searches to tweets that contain links.
    Example: mashable filter:links would show me people’s tweets linking to Mashable articles.
  • Jumping forward in older searches if you are hunting for something via Twitter search and want to save yourself from clicking “older” over and over, you can change the page number (after your first older click) in the Twitter URL to jump forward.
    Example: is the result I get after searching fight in and clicking on older once. To jump further back in time and skip a bunch of tweets, I can go up to the browser URL box and change the page=2 portion to page=35 to jump straight to page 35.

Hope you find these Twitter search commands useful. If you know of others, or would like to share your example uses, please leave a comment.

Do You Follow Google’s No-Follow Recommendations?

After attending SMX Advanced (or listening in), then reading Matt’s post about no-following, many SEOs, both beginning and advanced, are running around like chicken’s with their heads cut off, scrambling to decide what to do.

The more we pin Matt down on no-follow, the more confusing things become. If you were to read Matt’s post and overreact, you might remove all your no-follows including on blog comments, turning your site into an over-crawled (spiders visiting areas they shouldn’t) and over-spammed site (users dropping tons of links in comments).

Or, if you are a bit more savvy, you might start blocking comments on your blog, iframing your footer links site-wide, or dissallowing linking on all UGC.

The key with any exposed change is to wait until the dust settles and SEOs test & share their results. If you have been using no-follows appropriately, you shouldn’t have much reason to change them now. Matt says these changes have been in place for a year, but I know for some borderline abusers of pagerank sculpting, the more noticable changes took place the past couple months.

External linking is where the greatest mistakes will be made. I would recommend against assuming Matt’s advice to stop using no-follow applies to external links as he appears to be speaking mostly about internal linking practices. I’ve asked him to clarify his stance on external linking because there are a lot of reasons why Google would prefer to heed your external no-follow instructions.

What should you do? For now, I recommend sitting tight.

25 Things

If you are on Facebook and haven’t had the pleasure of reading a 25 Random Things About Me note about one of your friends yet, you are missing out. Normally not a fan of chain letters or tagging memes, I will admit the 25 Things activity on Facebook is fascinating.

History of Facebook 25 Things Notes
Facebook notes were launched on August 22, 2006, but didn’t receive heavy usage until 2009 thanks to a new viral phenomenon that started off as “25 Random Things About Me.” Memes using notes on Facebook are nothing new, entire websites have been put together to catalog and inspire various memes-most as lame as the emails that have been going around for over a decade.

The Velocity of 25 Things
The earliest entries I can find via various search tools for 25 Things is mid-January. I really saw it taking off in my personal network starting in February. Using Google trends, I compared 25 Things searches to searches for an older site people might be familiar with: 43 Things.

25 Things Chart

As you can tell from the chart, 25 things searches increased rapidly, easily overshadowing 43 Things despite the fact that users won’t find Facebook notes entries doing this search, nor will they find definitive information about the origins of it.

How to Find 25 Things Notes
If you do want to find all your friends 25 things postings, I suggest you follow these steps:

1. Login to Facebook and make sure you are on the main page (click Home if you are not sure).
2. Click the drop down arrow for more feeds (blue arrow next to live feed button)
3. Choose notes.
4. Scroll down and you will likely see activity around 25 Things postings.
5. Click show more posts at the very bottom if you want to look for more postings.

Facebook 25 Things Learnings
There are things we can all learn from Facebook’s 25 Things success:

  • Patience is important in business. Facebook could have easily scrapped notes long ago due to low activity.
  • Never underestimate user-generated content.
  • Viral successes are often luck
  • Providing a platform where UGC viral successes can happen is important

I noticed a lot of people commenting on how Facebook didn’t make sense to them until they started reading other people’s 25 Things posts – this simple meme has created an amazing amount of value for Facebook and their traffic reflects it:

Facebook 25 Things

SEO For Independent Filmmakers

IndieGoGoI wrote a guest post over and IndieGoGo, a cool fund raising and awareness tool for filmmakers, on the topic of using SEO (and SEM) to attract an audience for your film.

Here’s a teaser:

Making a film is a big enough challenge in itself, but if you are like most low-budget independent filmmakers, you’ll quickly discover that finding an audience for your film can be even more challenging.

Outside of widely known marketing methods like submitting to festivals, inviting people to special screenings, and attempting to make friends on social networks, most filmmakers fail in allowing their audience find them on their own.

Read the rest of the post: Build Your Film’s Audience Using Search Engines

Yahoo Attempting to Keep Google and MSN Users

Caught this today when performing a search for other engines while on Yahoo. First time I’ve seen an engine attempt to keep their users from jumping to another engine, which is very common practice as indicated by my Actual Top 10 Search Terms of 2006 post.

I was performing a search for MSN search (or “Live”) in Yahoo because I didn’t have it in my Firefox search dropdown.

Here’s what I saw:
MSN Search on Yahoo

I wasn’t paying very close attention and started typing in my search into the Yahoo shortcut search box shown above. Notice it says: “You could go to MSN. Or you could stay here and get straight to your answers.”

I can’t recall seeing this before, so I decided to see if they were doing the same thing to Google (which has got to be one of the 10 most popular search terms on Yahoo):

Google search on Yahoo

Again, notice it says: “You could go to Google. Or you could stay here and get straight to your answers.”

Seems strange to have a Yahoo shortcut for something you were already immersed in. What do you think about this? Is it right? Would Yahoo be pissed if Microsoft or Google did the same?

Long Tail of Search

Finally some solid evidence showing how long the long tail of search really is! Having worked for some big high-traffic sites, I was always discouraged with the underestimation of the true length of the long tail in other public reports. Finally I did my own research and it was published on the Hitwise blog:

Sizing Up the Long Tail of Search

Long Tail of Search Research

Here’s a sneak peak:

“After great dissatisfaction with the existing research, which I felt vastly understated the true size of the long tail, I decided to do my own research…There’s so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend. To illustrate, if search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles.”

Understanding the long tail and how to target it from an SEO standpoint is no simple task. I hope this article sheds some light on how important long tail traffic is.

In my experience, I’ve ranked for head terms and I’ve ranked for millions of tail terms. I’d gladly trade in the head terms for a larger piece of the tail. A few companies have learned this, including the search engines, but they’d prefer you don’t know how much of a gold mine it really is.

Upcoming Search Conference Schedule

Being a small company in-house SEO for the past decade has made getting to conferences difficult for me, but I’ve managed to attend a lot of search conferences and still find them very valuable (not so much the sessions themselves, but the out of session/networking conversations). Here’s what I’ve got on schedule for the remainder of the year:

August: SES San Jose
This must be my 4th or 5th SES San Jose in a year. I’ve been there as an attendee, a speaker, and now will attend as press. I look forward to covering the event, but will only be attending Sunday night through Wednesday night. Hope to see you there.

October: MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer in Arizona

Never been to a MarketingProfs event and never been to Arizona. Looking forward to this event. You’ll find me speaking on link building tactics.

November: PubCon
Hoping to attend PubCon this year – it will be my 3rd in a row if I do attend. I’ve covered the event as press, as an attendee and hope to attend as a speaker this year (though it appears many of the speaking spots have already been assigned).

Hope to see you at one of these events! Also, let me know if there are any others I should consider attending.

Jane and Robot Events

I attended my first Jane and Robot event on June 25th at the office of Ignition Partners. As you might suspect, a search event geared towards developers & designers attracts your regular assortment of web geeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the audience was dissapointed that they never got to lay eyes on Jane, nor meet the Robot.

jane and robot

Jeff Pollard gave a rapid talk on AJAX SEO pitfalls. Though it was nothing new to me, the audience seemed to receive it well – Jeff’s really knows his stuff. What I was most surprised by was the number of people I hadn’t met before and the Q&A afterwards. People asked very pointed questions like: “Does PPC affect your organic rankings” and “if we are already crawled well, why should we use sitemaps?”

I really appreciate Vanessa Fox and Nathan Buggia volunteering their time to educate developers on white-hat SEO and creating an opportunity for SEOs to meet up from time-to-time. Jane and Robot is a service that should be embraced and promoted by those in the search industry.

SMX Advanced Tips Part Deux

Last year, I gave out some SMX attendee tips which still apply to the 2nd installment this year.

smx advancedOutside of those tips, this year I recommend using the SMX Connect service by Crowdvine to learn about and pre-set up the people you want to meet. Unfortunately, not everyone is using it, so I also recommend doing what I did last year and am doing with this post: write about SMX Advanced & link to others who are writing about attending as well. I meet some great people last time who I am still closely connected with after doing so.

Other’s excited about attending SMX Advanced whom I don’t believe I’ve met yet:

Inside Google Kirkland

I finally made my first visit to Google Kirkland a couple days ago for a study. I’ve been to Google’s HQ several times, but had never visited the local campus. Well, I suppose it isn’t really a campus – I’d call it a shared office building with lots of cool Google logo art and not much else.

Google KirklandI didn’t get to tour the entire building, but spent some time in the lobby & in the R&D areas. In the lobby, they were playing what I assumed to be the rolling search ticker I’ve seen at their parties on the wall, but the projector was much too weak to discern the text, so I it seemed like a waste. I imagine the janitors enjoy it when the lights are off. Overall, the space was unimpressive for Google, but I’m sure the new Google Kirkland campus will rock.

The one unintentional piece of humor I discovered was when I was getting my badge. They have you sit down and type in your info, then choose between visitor types:

  • Normal
  • Government

I joked that I didn’t realize they were mutually exclusive.

Photo credit: PRWeaver Blog