My last column hit the front page of Digg

After publishing my column on MediaPost’s Search Insider a couple of weeks ago (“Google Share of Search To 72%; Yahoo, MSN Continue to Tank”), I went over to Digg to read the headlines, and to my suprise, the column had went popular and was on the front page.

Without going into all the details on my research of watching the story propogate, the Digg frontpage hit is the equivalent of a snowball turning into an avalanche, as least as far as how quickly the story link got passed through social networks.

Currently the article has 512 diggs, and 80+ comments.

Search Engine Marketer Journal 2008

My latest post for MediaPost Search Insider is up, and covers a number of columns I wrote in 2008, along with additional commentary.  Generally I try to write about roads less traveled in the search engine marketing space, which forces me to often think about search in a different way.  One example of this was the search eninge activism columns I wrote about earlier in the year.  Clearly we have a unique approach to search going on here, and the number of people recognizing the value is growing, as more people become aware of the power and trust that major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN carry. 

Again, overall I try to go for topics that have less of a voice, but that doesn’t preclude me from jumping in on major topics like the recession, conferences, SEO, etc.  I think the topics speak for themselves, and I’m looking forward to another year.

SEA, SEM, and SEM: Who invented these terms?

My latest Search Insider column takes a look at the origins of a few key terms in the digitalmarketing lexicon: SEM, SEA, and SEO. It was spurred by Bob Heyman’s article in Search Engine Land last week.   

Here is an excerpt from the article:

A story last week on Search Engine Land (“Who Coined The Term SEO?”, by Bob Heyman) got me to thinking about the somewhat nebulous origins of the term “search engine optimization”, or “SEO”, as well other common search terms such as “SEM” and “SEA”.   There are a number of claimants and facts around the term “SEO”, so I revisited a few of them, and found a few additional interesting facts along the way.

Before I go into the SEO claims, the origins of the terms “SEM” and “SEA” are pretty clear.  In 2001 Danny Sullivan achieved a consensus with the readership of Search Engine Watch on the term “search engine marketing”, noting that the organic-centric SEO no longer covered the full range of tactics in the search space, given the rise of pay-per-click.  “The phrase “search engine marketing”, or “SEM”, very logically covered a wide range of tactics related to search engine visibility, and somewhat relegated SEO as a subtheme within the overall practice of search marketing (see “Congratulations, You’re A Search Engine Marketer”).”

Read the rest here:


Flash optimization, URL rewriting, and duplicate content are still important to SEO

My last column for Search Insider was posted on Sept. 24, and titled, “Despite What Google Says, Flash, Dupe Content And URLs Are Still Major SEO Issues.”  In it I detailed a pattern of what I beleive is is flawed SEOadvice, or at least advice that is creating some uniintentional confusion with marketers and IT professionals.  The Google Webmaster Central blog has been publishing some info that is simply not correct, and of course, every time this happens, the whole SEM industry has to go back and reassure their clients that they are not violating any rules that could get them penalized.  The jury is still is out whether this is some kind of Sun-Tzu-confuse-thy-enemy-type-mojo coming from the Googleplex, but one thing is for sure: The more confusing the search landscape becomes with this kind of info, the more important a search marketer’s role becomes.

Keyword Analysis of the McCain and Obama Acceptance Speeches

Here is the opening of my latest column at MediaPost Search Insider.  Click at the link at the bottom to read the full article.  Lots of interesting findings into the overall tone of the candidates speeches, using a good old fashioned SEO keyword analysis tool.



While tag cloud generators are all the rage for visually analyzing the text content of various popular websites and documents, I decided to go back to an old-fashioned “keyword density” analyzer tool to take a look at Obama’s and McCain’s recent party nomination acceptance speeches.  Keyword density tools have been used by search optimizers for many years to determine the keyword frequency and weight of words and phrases on a Web page.  The more popular tools rate the frequency of one-, two-, and three-word phrases throughout a document, showing the overall number of times presented, as well as the relevant percentage of mentions throughout a document.  This type of analysis tends to be more useful to SEOs for two- and three-word phrases, but for this analysis, the tool will also shed a light on single-word themes to illustrate the overall tone of the candidates’ acceptance speeches. 

On a side note, I personally don’t care much for the phrase “keyword density”, because these tools typically don’t weight keywords in a document – or in other words, they don’t take semantic markup elements into account – they score on the frequency of words in a document.  Even if a particular tool does provide weighted analysis on keywords, it’s an educated guess at best, because there are too many variables used by engines to determine actual weight, and the engines also aren’t telling how much they weight these elements.  So to clarify, this analysis focuses on the frequency of words in the speeches. 

More…. read the full article here:

Mediapost: Latest column on Pew Search Engine usage data

My latest column is posted at MediaPost Search Insider.  This week I covered some of the key findings from a survey released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which was focused on search behavior “on a typical day”.  Here is the first part of the article highlighting some of the key findings – a link to the full column is a the bottom:

The sample group consisted of 2,251 adults, ages 18 and older, surveyed between April 8 and May 11, 2008.  The big question in the survey was, “did you happen to [use an online search engine] yesterday, or not?”, and yielded 1,553 who said ‘yes’.  Here is what they found:

-          Overall, the amount of daily search users grew 69% between 2002 and 2008.

-          While coming in a close second to email in this study, search beat out other daily Internet activities such as reading the news (39%), checking the weather (30%), researching a hobby (29%), surfing for fun (28%), and visiting a social networking site (13%).

-          Daily searchers are more likely to be “socially upscale”, and college educated with an income of $50,000 or more per year.

-          Internet users with broadband connections were much more likely to search than those with dial-up at home (58% vs. 26%).

-          Users between the ages of 18-29 and 30-49 were higher-than-average daily searchers (55% and 54% respectively).  Of searchers 65 and older, only 27% were daily search users.

-          Men are generally more aware of the differences between paid and natural search.  The study found that men say they have searched more frequently, and are more confident in their search abilities. 

Read the full column here:

Impact of Vanity Generic Top Level Domains Part 2 – Search Insider

Here is the first half of my current column at MediaPost’s Search Insider.  This is great story, and it is very exciting to see another piece of Internet history happening before us.

Originally published in Search Insider:


In my last column, I discussed some of the challenges of moving an existing website to a new vanity generic top-level domain (gTLD).  In this installment, I will provide a review of several existing gTLDs, and discuss the branding and search impact, and also the process of applying for a gTLD.

For a quick recap, ICANN, the governing and administrating body over all Internet addresses, voted in late June of this year to allow individuals and corporations to apply for .anything, or literally any word or phrase exceeding three characters not taken. A new top level domain can be used as a registry, or for one’s own Web presence.  Under the new policy, the following names are true possibilities as a home for an online Web presence:

Let your imagination run wild. But first, let’s take a look at other existing generic TLDs.

The branding of a TLD – why .com will always be king

If the marketing novelty of the vanity gTLD seems to outweigh all other considerations, it may be a good exercise to first analyze the current landscape.  Ever heard of .Museum?  Yes, it’s a real working gTLD (see this redirected URL for; their main URL is, though the average Internet user is wholly unaware of its existence.  .Travel has been in existence for almost two years, but very few travel sites have adopted it as their primary address on the Web.  More commonly, major travel and hospitality brands have reserved these names and pointed them at “” as a matter of driving traffic, and for brand and trademark defense. Other extensions such as .Jobs and .Pro have yet to gain mainstream appeal, even though their categories have wide potential within their respective theme-space.  Another highly anticipated extension, .Mobi, has also failed to gain mainstream adoption as the default address of the mobile Web, with most major brands choosing to host their mobile presence on their legacy or subdomain (ex., targeted to mobile devices. 

Your own awareness of these gTLDs (or lack thereof) is a direct reflection of how well that TLD was branded. Enterprise marketers will face the same challenge if/when they change over their existing .com presence to a new extension.  Hosting your Web presence on .com benefits from a TLD brand that everyone has helped build. The .Com  domain had no brand until U.S. advertisers got behind it, and a valid question to ask is whether or not your new gTLD is ready to compete against this level of awareness and trust.  The answer is really simple – no single advertiser has the budget to match up to the amount of collective ad dollars that have promoted .com – it is synonymous with the Internet, more so than any other domain brand.  This may be obvious to most readers, but marketers should keep this fact in mind as discussions around changing to gTLDs progress in their respective organizations. 

The birth of the search-optimized Top Level Domain

Shifting gears a little bit, let’s pick back up on the natural search aspect of gTLDs.  Having a generic keyword theme in a vanity gTLD also doesn’t guarantee natural search success or authority.  Just like a new domain, the Top Level Domain still earns its authoritativeness in the search engines.  It has long been recognized by SEOs that engines have shown bias and trust towards content and links on …..

Read the rest of the column here:





.Anything – Thoughts on new ICANN gTLDs

My latest column is posted at MediaPost Search Insider, the first of a two-part series on the impact of new vanity ICANN generic top level domains (gTLDs).  The title accidentally got hacked off – it should say “.anythinggoes”, so it looks a little out of context in its current state.

Also, here some additional columns I wrote for MediaPost that discuss the importance of a domain move, and the importance of planning for search:

Five Tips For Assessing the Value of Natural Search

The Unfolding Search Story of

Seven Challenges of SEM Planning and Execution

Solutions to Seven Challenges of SEM Planning and Execution