Latest Google Page Rank Update - April 2008

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Google PageRank Update
By the look of it, Google is currently running its latest PageRank Update. has moved from a PageRank of 0 to a PageRank of 4 and a couple of websites I manage have also seen their PageRank increase this morning.

As noticed in the past, the update usually takes a couple of days to settle, so do not get too ecstatic because the PageRank scores might still change.
Regarding the rankings, I have not notice many big differences as the rankings'changes usually take place over a larger period of time before and after the effective PageRank change.

The last Google PageRank Update took place mid- January, just after one in October 2007. Based on the last three consecutive updates, I would suspect that Google actually proceed with the update every 3 to 4 months, which would bring the next one around July-August 2008.

Paul Strange Presents - Using Search & Offline Media to Drive Online Traffic

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

You may have seen these intriguing posters across the city in the last couple of days. A plain black piece of paper asking you to 'Type it into Google' with a bold yellow arrow showing you what to type: 'Paul Strange Presents'

Being quite surprised by the originality of the message, I actually typed it in! With a bit of efforts, I found the Paul Strange Presents website, which is actually a club promoter in Sydney.

I have found that strategy brilliant in many ways and I am quite convinced that the Paul Strange Presents website will get many hits, PR and Blog post through this strategy. However, from a search marketer's point of view, the implementation could have been even more effective.

The Great things about the strategy

Paul Strange Presents (or their advertising agency, I am not sure) have been really innovative in their approach. It is not so common to come across businesses able to understand the power of search engines to drive online traffic from an offline media.
In fact such strategy was outlined by Willie Pang, the Head of Yahoo Search Marketing, at the latest AIMIA Conference on the future of search engine marketing(unfortunately for him, they chose Google). Willie Pang considers search engines as

a gateway to engage customers with your online activities
In his presentation Willie Pang demonstrated that 26% of online users find a website from print advertising and 67% of online search are performed as a result of an exposure to offline media. He also demonstrated that people are not always able to remember or will forget an URL and therefore the potential traffic generated by offline media might never reach your website.

Integrating Search engines in a offline campaign is a great to easily connect both offline and online media and make sure that potential traffic will reach your website. In that case, people have to remember only one simple phrase 'Paul Strange Presents' and that is it!

More work on the Search Strategy

Quite often a brilliant idea is not followed by a brilliant implementation. In the case of Paul Strange Presents, the search engine presence is not optimal, which might result in some users not being able to find the website.

While the website ranks first on pages from the web (see below), the website does not rank on the first page of the SERPs when you search pages from Australia. It is little tricky especially if you are in Australia and advertise to an Australian audience. It would have been wise work on some SEO activities beforehand, to avoid this.

Another thing, some sponsored links appears on the right hand side of the page. This could also be really tricky if a competitor decide to advertise in this spot. They might be able to capitalise on the print campaign to drive traffic to their website at a low cost.
The Amnesia Blog suggest that a SEM (Paid Search) strategy could have been a good (but maybe expensive) to guarantee maximum placement. It is a good idea and it could actually be done in a shoestring budget as the keyword 'Paul Strange' does not have high CPC (unless a competitor decides to bid aggressively on it).
What I would do is to simply contact Google, fill in the trademark registration form (It is highly likely that Paul Strange Presents is a trademark) and make sure that no other advertiser is actually able to display ads... It would not cost anything and would be quite effective to remove the competition.

Finally, Paul Stranges Presents could have highly optimised their online presence in the SERPs by making sure that most of the other results are linking to their website or alternatively to display information of their website. They have done it with the MySpace page, but could have pushed this a bit further.
Even better, they could have taken advantage of Universal Search. Paul Strange Presents could have easily uploaded a YouTube video with a quick preview of one of the party they organized. At the moment, the YouTube videos that appear in the SERPs are not related at all. Paul Stranges Presents could have also used Google images to display picture of the party right in the search results.

Doing so, they could have made sure to convert the buzz effect from their print advertising campaign into traffic to their website... Well it is still a brilliant strategy, and if someone from Paul Stranges read this post, they have most of the elements to optimise their campaign :-)

SEO Consultant Position - 24/7 RealMedia - Sydney

24/7 Real Media - SEO Consultant Position
24/7 Real Media Inc: The Science of Digital Marketing

Our client base is getting bigger and we need new team members!

Working with industry experts within the SEO team, we will provide you with full on the job training in search engine optimisation.

The role:
•Consulting on numerous 'A' list clients from well known Australian brands
•Preparing search engine audit documentation on clients websites
•Make recommendations to clients on how they can improve their organic listings
•Preparation of reports on client's rankings
•Keeping abreast of current search engine optimisation strategies and methods
•Liaising with clients, internal account management and technical staff to ensure campaigns are managed effectively

What you've got, that we want:
•Search engine marketing knowledge
•Ability to work face-to-face with customers essential
•Web development experience
•Web Programming Skills - HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ASP etc.
•Understanding of Common Server Technologies – IIS, Apache
•Can prioritise and manage multiple tasks to deadline

•Attention to detail in managing multiple complex accounts
•Ability to interact in a professional manner with a broad range of people
•Willing to take on challenges and to learn
•Commercial awareness & capacity to improve company's commercial outcomes
•Ability to manage multiple tasks and prioritise multiple concurrent tasks

How to apply

For more information or a confidential discussion, please call Sal Moussa on (02) 8968-4062 or send your application outlining your suitability for the role to

This position is based in our Sydney office in Cremorne.

24/7 Real Media Inc., - The Science of Digital Marketing

Behind every success, you will find both art and science. In marketing, the art is the idea - the message that breaks through to your audience. The science is the technology that delivers measures and serves your idea to the right people, at the right time for the most value.

That's what we do!

Online Shopping Conference 2008 in Sydney

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The Australian online retail industry has grown well in the last couple of months. Over the Christmas period, many Australian online retailers have noticed increases in traffic in excess of 30% and the outlook for 2008 are quite promising.

There are many opportunities with e-commerce in Australia, but there are also some challenges including online marketing, logistics and payment systems. To answer these challenges, Stewart Carter has created the first and only online shopping conference last year.

The second edition in 2008, will take place in Sydney on the 7th May. The program will have a strong focus on strategic directions in online shopping. Industry experts from all areas of online retailing will be present to discuss the challenges and best practices in the industry.

The price of the conference is $495 including GST + $20 invoicing fee. If you are interested, please register here

Phishing Emails hit YSM and Google Adwords

Thursday, 17 April 2008

It happened before and probably many people are aware of it, but some phishing emails have hit Yahoo Search Marketing and Google Adwords in US and Australia.

What is it

Phishing emails or Spoofing emails aim at pretending to be an authority (Yahoo or Google) with the purpose of fraudulently collecting some private information such as passwords or credit cards details.

Beware of what you receive

The phishing emails targeting Yahoo Search Marketing in Australia, ask you to change your password by clicking on a link. The link actually redirects to a spoofed website that will collected your personal information.
In the US, the phishing emails ask you to renew your account and inform you that your account has been suspended and will be deleted if you do not provide your credit card details.

Some spoof emails targeting Google AdWords have also been received in Australia and United States using similar strategies. They ask you to update your billing information in order to re-activate your account.

Some people have been caught, the lucky ones had nothing, but others lost a bit of cash. So beware of what you receive and take your time before clicking on a link. In the doubt, double check with Yahoo or Google.

For more information, you can read Google's official tips on how to avoid getting hooked

Flight Center's SEO Practices shaken at SMX Sydney

Monday, 14 April 2008

SMX Sydney took place last week on the 10th and 11th April 2008 in Luna Park, in Sydney. For the first time in Australia, the event organised by Barry Smyth brought many international and local speakers to discover and discuss the latest trends in the search marketing industry. Part of the conference, called the SEO Clinic, offers selected real-life websites to be examined by a panel of experts.

In 2008 the panel included Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz, Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Journal and Adam Lasnik from the Google Spam Team. All these guys are probably some of the most recognised professionals in the industry and having their input can save you a lot of work and help you to improve the optimisation of your website. That is great you would say. The drawback is that high-level experts can also find all sorts of things that can make you feel quite embarrassed in front of a live audience and in the industry.

How did Flight Center get Shaken?

That is exactly what happened to one of Australia's largest travel websites: When Rand and Danny did an analysis for duplicate content for, they found out that their content is served on the Flight Center website. However, they discovered that the same content is not visible for a normal user when you go to the Flight Center website. That's when it starts to be tricky.
After a little more work, they noticed that the content on the Flight Center website is served differently to users and search engines robots(responsible for crawling and indexing pages). In practice it means that, if you are a simple visitor of the website, you would see this:

But if you are a Google Bot, you would see this:

This practice is called Cloaking, which identified as a SEO Black Hat practice by Wikipedia"

Cloaking is a black hat search engine optimization (SEO) technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the users' browser. This is done by delivering content based on the IP addresses or the User-Agent HTTP header of the user requesting the page. When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page, one that contains content not present on the visible page. The purpose of cloaking is to deceive search engines so they display the page when it would not otherwise be displayed.

Now it is getting really embarrassing, especially when this happens in front of an audience of search marketers.

Why did Flight Center use Cloaking?

As described by Flight Center's GM Colin Bowman in Neerav Blog,Flight Center wanted to create more interactivity and a better visual experience when a user browses their catalogue. To serve this purpose they decided to use Javascript to display the content. However, search engine spiders are not able to read content contained in Javascript, which results in the pages not being able to be indexed and therefore not being able to rank in the SERPs. Obviously this has a bad impact on traffic and Flight Center and their technology provider wanted to avoid this.

The alternative they found (probably not the best one) is to serve a text based version to the search engine spiders so that they can index the content and a Javascript version to the end user to provide optimal interactivity.

Are Flight Center's SEO practices Black hat?

While Cloaking is against the Google guidelines and considered as a Black Hat practice, the Flight Center case is quite ambiguous. As noted by Rand in SEOmoz, the content served to the search engine spiders is identical to the content served in a user browser, and therefore the intention to 'deceive' search engines spiders is not fully there.
Flight Center's GM Marketing Colin Bowman has also expressed that their intentions were not to deceive search engines, but to make sure that the content of their web pages would be properly indexed:
It is clear that our intent is not to show content to spiders that differs from the content in the pages and therefore should not be regarded as blackhat cloaking. The content that was visible to Google’s spiders is an identical replica to what is shown in the customer friendly brochure viewer so no unfair advantage was gained nor sought.

It sounds like Flight Center had no real intention to deceive search engines, but to index their content, however they have made a poor(if not more) choice in using cloaking for this purpose.

Update - 21st April:
Based on further research, discussions and feedbacks (thanks Webco), it appears that Flight Center did not direclty use cloaking on their website, however the cloaking was part of the catalogue solution offered by Catalogue Central (one of their technology provider). This gives even more sense to the Google decision.

What is the outcome for Flight Center?

Having Adam Lasnik in the panel was probably not the best thing ever for Flight Center and it seems that the content included in the catalogue section of the Flight Center website has been removed from the Google listings already. However, the Flight Center website is still present in Google SERPs, which seems to prove that the website has not been fully banned.
Probably worst (or not?) than being banned from the Google listings, Flight Center will have to review their SEO practices and probably work on some serious reputation management as the news has already generated quite a lot of buzz in the industry.

What is the outcome for the Australian SEO Industry

The Flight Center's case also bring us back to the dark VERY unpopular debate on skills level the practices in the Australian SEO industry. While the Flight Center case does not mean that all Australian SEOs are 'Cowboys' or 'Spammers' as you can see in some comments, it surely demonstrates that the standards of some of them in the industry have yet to be improved and that some SEOs in Australia have to lift up their game to compete on a global scale. In that sense, initiatives such as SMX Sydney have a key role to play in this process and should therefore be encouraged.

What is the outcome for Google?

On top of a real need to have clearer guidelines, the Flight Center case also reveals the limitations of search engines to index content that is not text-based and therefore to be up to date with the latest web development technologies.
As demonstrated at SMX Sydney in the SEO 3.0 session with Chris Dimmock talking about the website, web 2.0 technologies such as AJAX and Javascript are getting more popular and largely contribute to improve the end-users experience. However search engines are not able to follow (or not quickly enough) the trend.

While evolving toward better indexing capabilities there is a real and growing technology gap between the current web development technology and the technology behind search engine indexing. This gap is currently stretching the challenges of search engine optimisation and obviously creating some 'collateral damages'. Should search engines stop focusing too much on relevancy and include user-experience in the equation?

PS. After receiving feedback for some readers and proof reading the post, I realised that what I wrote did not really match with what I actually meant. English is a tricky language and a few missing words can make a big difference... Please find some correction in blue.

Free Search Engine Ranking Checking Tool

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Search Engine  Ranking Checking Tool: Rank Checker
Aaron Wall, the author of SEO for Firefox, has recently released a new and extremely useful free SEO tool called Rank Checker.
What is Rank Checker

Rank Checker is a free Firefox extension that allows you to check the rankings of your website(s) in the major search engines including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Live Search.

Rank Checker's Functionalities
Among the various functionalities, we have particularly appreciated the following ones:

- Rank Checker is part of Firefox, so all the data is stored on your computer.

- You can select the search engines you want to check. It also allows you to check rankings for international versions of Google such

- You can schedule when you want to run a ranking report (daily, weekly or monthly).

- You can set a delay between queries. It becomes useful if you want to avoid being blocked by Google or Yahoo (It happens more and more often!). Aaron Wall also mentioned that future improvement might include a proxy switch funtion.

- You can preset a list of domains and/or keywords to check. It is really valuable if you want to monitor your competitors' rankings or the rankings of all your clients in one place. Update: The current version of Rank Checker allows to check up to 20 keywords, but Aaron Wall mentioned that he might extend it to 100 keywords

- You can also export data to CSV if you need to create reports.

Overall, Aaron Wall did a really good job with Rank Checker. Not only did he complement his range of SEO Tools, but he also responded to a real need in the market.
If you want to download Rank Checker or get more information, visit SEO Book.

Australia & New Zealand SEO SEM Salary Survey: The Results!

Friday, 4 April 2008

The results of the Australia & New Zealand SEO SEM Salary Survey are finally here and the findings are quite interesting. SEO Sydney Blog started the survey in February 2008 with the goal of understanding a little bit better the SEO SEM industry in Australia and New Zealand and the objective has been achieved.

From February 2008 until the end of March 2008, 65 qualified SEO/SEM professionals have responded including 84.6% of individuals working in Australia or New Zealand. Before moving on to the analysis of the results, I would like to thanks everyone for their support and for their time in taking the survey.

The Australia & New Zealand SEO SEM industry is dominated by Male under 30
78.1% of the SEO SEM professionals in Australia and New Zealand are male.The results also reveals that the industry is young as 64.5% of the professionals are under 30 years old and 85.5% are under 35.

Australian and New Zealand SEO SEM professionals are experienced, but do not always come from a IT background
Interestingly, 41.9% of the respondents come from a Marketing background followed by IT and Other.
Looking at the level of experience, the Australian and New Zealand SEO SEM professionals have a great level of experience. 22% of the respondents have more than 5 years experience in the industry while 54.3% have over 2 years of experience. It is interesting to notice that 37.9% of Australian and New Zealand professionals have gain their experience in 1 company and 29.3% in 2 companies.

Search Agencies are the main employers and salaries are reasonable

54.4% of Australian and New Zealand professionals work for SEO SEM agencies, while 28.1% work in-house. It is interesting to notice that 17.5% of respondents work as Freelance or Consutants. Employee is the most popular position with 41.4% of the respondents while the rest of the industry is quite well balanced between freelance, manager, senior managers and owners/CEO.
Salary wise, the Australian and New Zealand industry offers reasonable wages. 53.4% of the repondents are getting $60,000 or less per year including 18.2% of the professionals earning below $35,000 per year. On the other side 14.5% of the professionals earn $150,000 or more per year which makes the salary range quite diverse.

If you are interested in getting more details on the results, please feel free to download our Salary Survey PDF Report.

Find out about the results of the 2009 and 2010 surveys

Web Search Coordinator - SEO Role

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Reader's Digest is a global multi-brand, multi-channel Marketer, with a long and reputable history in both local and global markets. We are now looking to grow and integrate our online offerings substantially.

We have an exciting opportunity in our new Internet team for a tech-savvy, hands-on individual who can help us maximize site traffic through Search Engine Optimization.

The key responsibilities of this role include developing and maintaining a Search Engine Strategy for the RD site by:

- Ensuring that search engines are able to properly access and index site content;
- Optimising external link structure;
- Assisting with the creation of pages with clar descriptive/keyword page elements;
- Influencing outbound and inbound links to maximize search strategy;
- Working closely with editorial and product/promotions teams to ensure the best outcomes for the site.

To be successful, you will need:

- 3 years or more on-line experience;
- Demonstrated involvement with the development of search strategies;
- Experience with reporting and statistical analysis;
- Project leadership / coordination experience;
- Ability to read and edit HTML and experience with Dreamweaver;
- Strong communication and negotiation skills.
- Ideally you will also have business/marketing qualifications

This is an exciting opportunity to make your mark on a global company's online presence in Australia.

If you are interested in working for a company that values its people and offers excellent remuneration and benefits
then please send your resume and a short covering letter to: