SEO Jobs for December 2008

Friday, 19 December 2008

The turbulent economic conditions should not have a major impact on the online market in 2009. All major Australian jobs classified websites seems to have plenty of new job offers in December. Below is our quick selection:

Search Marketing Analyst - SEO: In house role for a major travel industry player in Sydney, Hotel Club. Experienced SEO required. Learn more

Junior SEO Specialist
: Sydney based role working for an agency. No real experience required. $45 to $55 K + Super Learn more

SEO Manager Role:Sydney role. Agency side role for an SEO Specialist. Client Facing role. Good remuneration. Learn more

SEO Consultant:
Agency role based in Sydney. 2+ years experience with SEO. Outstanding communication skills. $80 to $100. Learn more

When does Christmas start for Online Retail?

Monday, 8 December 2008

When does Christmas start online? If you ask yourself this question at this time of the year and expect to cash up on the annual shopping frenzy, it is probably a little too late.
Each year it seems that Christmas is starting earlier and earlier. This year, I have noticed both online and offline Christmas-themed stores as early as mid October. While it might look a bit odd from some, marketers love Christmas! It is the time of year, when consumers are spending more than they should on things that they do not really need just because it is Christmas. From family gifts to office Kris Kringles, Christmas is when we spend big bucks!

According to the Australian Retail Association, the six weeks prior to Christmas 2007 recorded a $36.5 billion spent in Australia, with $800 Million spent just on the 25th December. Looking at these figures, it makes a lot of sense for marketers and retailers to try to extend this period and cash up on the Christmas spending frenzy.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, When does it really start?

Most retailers consider that the Christmas season starts to kick in the six weeks prior to Christmas ( 25th December), which implies a start on the second week of November.

Looking at the share of weekly online traffic in all categories over the last 4 years in Australia provided by Hitwise (see below), it appears that the starting point of the Christmas period is actually the first week of November.

The heaviest part of the Christmas season (especially in the US) starts on Black Friday(Friday after Thanksgiving) for "physical" retailers and on Cyber Monday, which is the Monday following Thanksgiving (usually the first Monday in December).

What to expect for Christmas 2008 ?

Christmas 2007’s spending was a 10 years record. Some online retailers have recorded increases up to 30% compared to 2006. With a fast growing Australian economy, low employment rate and tax cut, last year’s Christmas season was set to be a great success.

In 2008, the context does not seem to be as pleasant. The economic downturn, the crash in the share market and the uncertainly about a possible recession does not make people want to spend. Even if the interest rates and petrol prices are low, the consumer confidence is pretty low.

While many experts are quite pessimistic about the outlook for Christmas 2008, it seems that the first results are actually quite promising.
According to Alan Long, the research Director at Hitwise, the first week of November has shown a 3.14% increase in the share of visits compared to last year.

comScore has released the online spending results in the US for the first week of December and the online sales are actually 9% higher than the same period last year. comScore Chairman, Gian Fulgoni is however cautious as the overall Christmas season results will highly depend on what happens in the next few weeks.
Overall, comScore estimates that the online sales in the US will be similar if not a little higher than last year (US$ 29,200 M for 2008 versus US$29,169 for 2007).

If Australia follows the same trend as US, it would mean that 2008 will equal 2007, which is a pretty good results considering that 2007 was a 10 years record!

SEO and SEM do not replace a marketing strategy

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

It is quite funny to hear marketing people and business owners talking about their plans to grow their business online. Most of the time, they are disappointed and frustrated with their late 1990's website generating only a few sales. They are even more frustrated when they read or heard that some companies have dramatically increased their online sales with these new, fancy activities :SEO, SEM, Affiliate Marketing.
And now, these weird acronmyns quickly become are the solution to the past challenges of selling online.

Now the fun quickly turns into frustration, when you try to explain that SEO and SEM will surely bring traffic, but sales is a different story. In the same way as people do not always buy a product if they go to a physical store, people wont always buy because you drive them to your website! People will buy your products because the product will fill their needs and deliver a superior value than your competitor's one and this value is shaped by your business marketing strategy. If SEO and SEM are relatively new, the concept of competitive advantage and Unique Value Proposition have been around for a while and everybody knows about it. However it seems that when executives are dealing with online, they tend to forget about it.

The Never Ending Story

It all started in the early 90s with the emergence of the internet and its promises. Success stories of teenage entrepreuneurs, who received million of dollars from venture capitalists, experts forecasting trillions of dollars in revenues as well as the overwhelming media coverage contributed the the common belief that internet , and more specifically website, will be enough to sell anything!
Following the common frenzy, many marketing execs and business owners jumped in the bandwagon and built a website thinking that it will be the solution to business growth!

He worked for those who had strong basis, but for most the early 2001 dot com crash smashed the beautiful promises. The golden child became the black sheep. Marketing execs lost faith in websites, which became accessories.

Since 2003, the strong growth of online marketing reinforced by a large amount of media coverage fed by success stories such as Google has revived the dream with another "promising belief". This time, the answer to online success is more rational and makes more business sense. To be successful online we not only need a website, but we also need to do some promotion to attract traffic and sales using SEO, SEM PPC Advertising and more.
Well we are getting there, but the bottom line has not been grasped yet. The story continues and it is likely that the crash frustration will be revived too.

Think about Strategy and then Tools, not the opposite

One of the biggest misconception around SEO and SEM is that they are very effective tools, but they do not replace a strong marketing strategy and especially a strong value proposition.
Using SEO and SEM, you will be able to increase your brand visibility in search engines, but then why would people click on your listing?
Well they will probably click on your listing because you have something that they are looking for and they will get value purchasing it from your site. If your product is 10% more expensive than your direct competitor (accessible in a click)and you do not offer anything else they probably won't click on your listing or if they do, they won't probably buy.

Even if you do get some sales from these, the money invested into SEO and SEM won't probably deliver the expected results, the frustration will come back and the internet medium will be blamed. Could this lead to another crash?

Do SEO and SEM make sense for every business ?

Following a slightly different perspective, we could even ask the question:

Should every business use SEO and SEM?

Well in theory, it will depend on a business ability to generate competitive advantage over its competitors and deliver value to its customers. A business falling to do so, should invest some money in improving its offer rather than spending money on SEO and or SEM.

This trends could also have an impact on the way search agencies are conducting business. As mentioned earlier by Jeff Quipp, search engine agencies could only select clients with strong business models? The future winner in the search industry could also be search agencies , which offer an integrated approach including marketing consultancy and search consultancy?

Google SearchWiki - The Impact on SEO

Monday, 24 November 2008

On November 20th, Google has officialy launched a new feature in their search results pages, called SearchWiki. Already, the new feature has generated quite a lot of buzz including positive and negative feedback.

What is SearchWiki?

SearchWiki is a Web 2.0 inspired functionality that allows signed-in Google users to customize and interact with the listings of the search result pages. Signed-in Google users can improve, remove, add and comment on listings in their Google search results page ( See the Search Engine Land 101 Guide to SearchWiki).

The changes in the rankings only apply to the user account, when he performs the same search and therefore have no known impact on the search engine results pages in the Google index. However the comments can be seen by any signed-in users who perform the same search and click on the "See all notes for this Searchwiki" at the bottom of the Google SERPs.

The Impact of SearchWiki on SEO

Even if the user modifications have no influence on the official Google listing, Google has not excluded the possibility of using the data collected ( all the comments, vote and addition are saved in your Google account) to improve the relevancy of their search engine rankings.
While there is not apparent plans of using user data in the near future, it looks like Google's long term plan is to include a social touch to their almighty algorithm...

Such change could have a tremendous impact on SEO as Google will become an human-algorithm-powered search engine, a sort of mix between the current Google search engine and Digg. Other search engines such as Irazoo have explored this concept in the past, but if Google follow this trend, the way we do SEO will change dramatically!
Relying on the traditional on-page optimization and link building might still get your website on the first page of the Google listing, but if the content, the design or anything else does not please the users, your website might drop into the lower pages.. The rules will definitely change; More importance will be given to the content quality, website usability and customer service effectiveness rather than the number of link and on-page factors.

OK it is a futuristic scenario! In the near future, SearchWiki is not likely to have a huge impact on search engine rankings. As mentioned by Danny Sullivan, one of the potential benefit is to have your website listed in the "See all notes for this SearchWiki" for your main keyword as well as generating comments that could influence internet users to visit your website... Except this, SearchWiki is at this stage a way to make Google more Web 2.0 and social media-ish!

SEO Jobs in Sydney - November 2008

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Linkedin is definitely becoming a serious player in the recruitment industry. I had a quick look yesterday at their job section and I have been positively surprised!
Even if the number of jobs directly published on Linkedin is not huge (yet), their partnership with the vertical search engine Simply Hired, offers them the ability to display jobs from a large range of local and international jobs websites as well as the ability to make money every time they refer someone (that's the beauty of affiliate programs!).

Among the latest SEO jobs offers in Sydney, I have selected the following ones:

Online Marketing Specialist, Sydney CBD, Digital Agency Role. Broad Range of Skills required (SEO, SEM, Email, Social Media). Nice Package of $70,000. Apply here.

SEO Manager: Sydney, Surry Hills. Search Agency Role. This role has been around for a while, as it was already published on our October SEO Jobs Review. 80k to 90K Package +Bonus. Apply Here.

Junior SEO Consultant:, Sydney, Search Agency Role. Managing Clients' SEO and SEM Strategies. This position is open to graduates and SEO professionals with 1-2 years experience. Apply here.

SEO Strategy Manager: Sydney CBD, In-House role. Leading online company. The role consists in managing the entire multi-website search strategy from end to end. The role is open to candidate with experience in product development. Great Remuneration: $100K. Apply here

Google SEO Starter Guide Released

Sunday, 16 November 2008

On the 12th November, the Google Webmaster Team has released a 22 pages SEO Starter Guide, which explains the basic principles of SEO and give some guidelines on how to apply these principles.

The SEO Guide covers the following topics:

- Title Tags, Description Meta Tags
- Search Engine Friendly URL Structure
- Headings Tags
- Search Engine Friendly Navigation (Site Map)
- Quality Content
- Links Anchor Text + Nofollow attribute
- Image Tag optimistation with the Alt attribute
- Robots .txt File
- Analytics & Webmaster Tools

Overall the guide is quite interesting. The information is quite basic if you are are used to SEO, but would be really useful if you are a beginner. The guide includes plenty of real life examples and takes you through the most common SEO concepts in a friendly manner.
The only missing point is link building. While there is a little mention, it would have been great to hear Google's voice on it.
It is a good start though! Such initiatives could lead to more transparency from Google and maybe an Advanced SEO Guide later on!

Download the Google SEO Starter Guide

Sensis and Google Alliance: Maps & Search

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

On the 3rd November, Google Australia and Sensis have come to an agreement to offers users of Google Maps the ability to search the local business listings provided by Yellow Pages (part of Sensis).

The alliance is quite a smart move for both players. The Yellow Pages content is arguably one of the best and most exhaustive local business content in Australia, which should give Google Maps another competitive advantage.
For Yellow Pages (Sensis), the agreement comes at the right time to give a kick to Yellow Pages. According to the IAB/PriceWaterhouseCooper report for the third quarter of 2008, the share of online budget spent on classified has only grown by 2% compared to the same period in 2007, and the biggest players in the market: Seek and have not shown many signs of growth either. The agreement will potentially increase the reach of Yellow listings and should therefore increase their value.

The deal also includes search! Starting in January 2009, Sensis will serve Google Adsense Ads in combination with the ads served from the BidSmart program (Sensis owned PPC Advertising Network).

As mentioned in Search Engine Room, the newly developed alliance also put Yahoo and True Local ( on the side as Google was previously using True Local listings on Google Maps and Sensis was using Yahoo Search Marketing to provide search advertising ads. It is definitely a bad year for Yahoo!

More information on ITWire

Pay Per Lead TV Advertising

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Advertisers are more and more interested in spending their advertising budget in high ROI channels with a maximum transparency. The pay per performance model (CPC,CPL, CPS) introduced by online advertising networks seems to have spread out well over the online channel.
I recently came across a TV commercial on free to air promoting Pay Per Lead TV Ads!
The value proposition is really good. The reasons behind this are:

- It is hard to accurately measure the impact of TV commercials on sales and leads.
- TV is also an expensive media channel so more transparency on the ROI is always welcome!

I went to their website, where they (too)briefly explain how it works. Basically it is really similar to online advertising:

- Advertising Advantage create your TV ad with conversion in mind
- They choose the media, where the TV ads will be displayed
- They implement a third party tracking system
- They report on the results.
- The advertiser pay for all the leads.

Ben Shepherd mentioned that it could be really hard to measure the results from TV as TV exposure has impact on other channels (Someone sees a TV ads and then uses search to find out more, and then convert).
While it can be true for a "classic" TV ads, I not convinced that it would apply to Pay Per Lead TV (if it does, Advertising Advantage would lose quite a lot of money)
From what I have seen with the Pay Per Lead TV campaigns they have done, the TV ads implies a call to action through the phone and/or internet, which can be tracked easily and accurately. For example, the advertiser can redirect the audience to a specific landing page of their website or/and set up a specific phone number for the ad and measure the number of calls.

Ben Shepherd is right though. It is highly likely that people exposed to the TV ad will use other channels to reach the advertiser. Search is a great example.
In Drive to the web activities, I have noticed up to 5% of the audience using a search engine rather than the URL display in the Ad. These 5% represent additional leads that won't be tracked (lucky for the advertiser, which won't have to pay for it). However, the situation can also be tricky if a prospect uses a search engine to reach the advertiser, but cannot find it!

An Offline/Online intergrated approach will make sure that the offer is accessible in multiple channels. A Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing campaign targeting a handful of keywords will be a cost effective approach, that will allow to capture all potential leads generated by TV and therefore keep a maximum transparency on the TV Ads ROI.

Google Analytics New Enterprise Level Features

Monday, 3 November 2008

On the 22nd October at the eMetric Summit in Washington, the Google Analytics team has released new enterprise-level features to Google Analytics.

The new features include:

1. User Interface refresh.
2. AdSense now integrated into GA. ( Private Beta - Invitation Only)
3. Advanced visualizations: Motion Charts!
4. Custom Reports!
5. Advanced Segmentation!!
6. The Google Analytics API. (Private Beta - Invitation Only)
7. Automatic importing of AdWords cost data into Urchin.

In Australia, I have noticed last week that the Custom Reporting and Advanced Segmentation have been released to most of my Google Analytics accounts (I have not seen the user interface refresh though. The user interface refresh has been launched a few days after advanced segmentation and custom reports).
These new features, usually included only in highly priced analytics packages,offer some pretty amazing opportunities to filter, correlate and analyse your website traffic according to the criteria that you choose.

Advanced Segmentation

Advanced Segmentation allows you to filter your traffic based on a set of standard metrics such as paid search visitors, new visitors or visits with transaction.
If you are looking at analysing the behaviour and action performed by your organic traffic, or the most popular pages seen by your visitors coming from paid search, just tick the box and click!
The Advanced Segmentation features also offer custom segmentation so that you can analyse segments based on your needs.
More info on Advanced Segmentation

Custom Reporting

Custom Reporting is also an invaluable tool that can easily give you so much information on your visitors. If you want to know how many visitors from Sydney have bought product XYZ in the last 2 days, you can very easily create a report using the drag and drop interface and get that information.

Except the fact that Google Analytics is free, the best thing about these new features is the easiness of use. In no time, with no training or deep knowledge of the software, you can pull actionable reports.
The Google Analytics team has definitely done a pretty good job. With features like these available for free in Google Analytics, high end packages such as Omniture will definitely have to lift up their game justify the high cost of their offer!

5 SEO Jobs in Australia

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Global economic uncertainty seems to have an impact on the Australian job market. I have heard that a few companies have made some redundancies and economists predict 1 million unemployed by 2010. While it might not be the best time to look for a new job, it seems like the online industry has not been hit as much as other industries, probably due to the high accountability and better ROI than other marketing channels.

Well if you are looking for a job, there are still some great opportunities for both junior and senior.

SEO Consultant in Sydney: Great opportunity for a junior SEO professional, with a good understanding of SEO and HTML. Room for improvement. View the job ad

SEO Manager: Agency Role in Sydney, Surry Hills. $80 to $90 K package to manage a team of 3 SEO consultants. Min 2 to 3 years management experience. View the ad

Search Engine Analyst
: In House Role in the Melbourne office of Sensis Australia working for their flagship website The Trading Post. Great opportunity. View the Ad

Search & Content Manager
: In House Role for a Melbourne online publisher in the Sport wagering industry. Polyvalent role, which includes the management of SEO strategies as well as content strategy. Salary: $70,000. View the Ad

SEO Manager
: Agency role in the fringe of Sydney. Up to $95,000 package to manage a team of SEO specialists, working for blue chip clients. View the Ad

Web Analytics An Hour a Day - Book

Monday, 20 October 2008

Last time I went back to Europe, I needed a good book to keep me busy during the 24 hours flight. I bought the book Web Analytics - An Hour a Day by Avinash Kaushik thinking it will be good to spend some time on the best Analytics practices .

Working online, web analytics is one of the most valuable tool. Web Analytics is what connect your efforts with figures that business people understand (increased traffic, sales). For SEO, Web analytics is also particularly valuable to conduct gap analysis and have a better understanding of what content your users is interested in .

The thing with analytics packages is that they often do not come with the notice... They give you thousand of spreadsheet of data, plenty of metrics to look at, some pretty graph, but very often it is more overwhelming than helpful.
Web Analytics An Hour a Day actually gets rid of the complexity and offers a clear and step-by-step approach to understand your analytics data. It focuses on metrics that are connected to business needs and explain each of these metrics in depth, giving you the ability to create actionable dashboards.

From a blogger point of view, I particularly liked the refreshing approach that Avinash uses to measure the key success factors of a blog including:

- The Frequency and Raw Author Contribution
- The Unique Blog Readership (combining Unique visitors and Average Daily Feed Suscribers)
- The Conversation Rate defined by: Conversation Rate = (the number of comments + trackbacks during a time period)/Number of posts during that time period.
- The Technorati Rank
- The Cost of Blog Ownership
- The Return on Investment

Overall a great book that any person working online should read over and over!

SEO / SEM Consulting Services

Friday, 17 October 2008

SEO Sydney Blog offers cost-effective SEO/SEM Consulting Services to Small and Medium sized businesses interested in developing their business online.

SEO Consulting Services

We offer competitive and cost effective search engine optimisation (SEO) services to small and medium businesses.

Our methodology focuses on four critical steps:
1)Understand your business goals
2)Analyse your current online position and marketing efforts'
3)Develop a customized and cost effective SEO solution to reach your objectives.
4)Measure the results

Our range of SEO Consulting Services include:
- Competitive Analysis
- Keyword Research
- On-Page Optimisation
- Internal Linking Structure Optimisation
- Link Building
- Measurement & Analytics

To get a quote, please feel free to email us at seosydneyblog(at) with the website URL and your contact details. We will get back to you in 2 business days.

SEM Consulting Services

We also offers cost-effective search engine marketing services for small and medium businesses interested in advertising their business in search engines.

Our range of SEM services include:
- Google Adwords/Yahoo Search Marketing Campaign Set up
- Keyword Research
- Copy-writting
- Landing Page Optimisation
- Campaign Development and Optimization
- Measurement

To get a quote, please feel free to email us at alban(at) with the website URL and your contact details. We will get back to you in 2 business days.

About SEO Sydney Blog

The Blog

Since 2007, SEO Sydney Blog has been providing quality information about the search industry in Australia. Primarily posting on search engine optimisation news and analysis, SEO Sydney Blog offers resources for job seekers looking for a SEO/SEM position in the Australian market as well as recruiters.

Started on Blogger platform as a blogspot sub-domain ( with a classic blogger template, SEO Sydney Blog has then evolved to a custom domain name ( and a more contempory design.
Over its short life, SEO Sydney Blog has managed to constantly maintain and increase a loyal and active readership made of Australian and international internet professionals. SEO Sydney Blog has also been quoted in The Australian

The Author

SEO Sydney Blog is authored by Alban Guillemot, an internet marketing consultant. Originally from France, Alban has studied in England and Australia, where he graduated with a Master of Commerce specialising in E-Commerce.

After working as a product manager in the sporting goods industry in Europe, he moved to Sydney, Australia, where he has occupied various online marketing and search roles. Alban has worked in-house and in an agency, helping both large companies and SMEs to expand their business online

Alban is also the author of a thesis on How to export innovative software products online and a contributor on Global Thoughtz.

You can contact Alban via email:alban(at), Linkedin or Twitter

Search Engine Room - Sydney 2008 - Highlights - Part 1

Saturday, 11 October 2008

The Search Engine Room conference took place on Tuesday 7th October in Sydney at the Dockside, Darling Harbour gathering over 200 people around the theme of "Search and Beyond". After finding a bit of time to re-read my notes, here is a quick overview of what was discussed

What's the news in the online industry

The first part of the conference started with some industry trends with Foad Fadaghi and Michael Walmsley (Hitwise). No real surprises in these sessions, but it is always good to hear about the trends.
Both speakers emphasised on the growing share of social media in the industry landscape (only 14% of advertisers surveyed currently use social media marketing)and predictions of a slower growth in Paid search. The Paid Search segment should still reach $1 Billion in 2010 in Australia.
What was also interesting to hear is that many advertisers are "re-discovering" the power of SEO over paid search. 34% of advertisers surveyed have noticed an increase in cost in the paid search segment and are therefore looking for other approaches to get traffic. As SEO brings "free traffic", it makes more and more sense to advertisers.
A study conducted by Research International and Outrider also discussed some interesting trends about the origin of search traffic: People usually end up online after being exposed to an offline media. The most popular offline media that drive to the web are magazine (43%), television (42%) and word of mouth(41%).

Beyond Search: Social Media

Social Media should be the next big thing. Hitwise reported a 8.7% share of Australian traffic and social media display advertising has generated $40 Million in Australia in 2008. But it seems like the online players have not yet found the right monetization strategy,which slows down the adoption process.
Darren Rowse, from ProBlogger shared some interesting insights from his experience about social media. According to Darren, Problogger gets most of its traffic from social media. Basic SEO is essential, but most of Darren efforts are spent on content and social media, which seems to pay off quite well.
In a few words, Darren social media's strategy is based one of Chris Brogan Theory, where your website should be treated as your "homebase" and each social media profile you create would be treated as an "outpost". Based on the theory, you have to develop and expand your outposts which will bring traffic to your homebase (website). Pretty cool!

What about Mobile Search and the Iphone ?

What was quite surprising though is the lack of mention of mobile search and the Iphone. The only mention of the day was from Michael Wemsley who shared some of the first data collected by Hitwise from the Iphone users.
Based on the great adoption rate of the Iphone in other countries and the recent release of the device in Australia, it would have been great to know more on the topic...

Find your SEO Job on Linkedin

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Finding a SEO job in Australia is getting easier because the industry is more mainstream and the demand for skilled professionals is growing at a high rate. However, it is always better to hear about the best job opportunities as they arise. If you want to be the first to apply, you need to make sure that your job search skills are up to date.

In the previous post how to find a SEO job in Australia published last year, we discussed some of the ways to find your dream job including classified and jobs websites, digital recruitment agencies and SEO companies.

One thing we did not mention is Linkedin! In the last couple of weeks, I have received quite a few job offers from Linkedin without even searching... If you are looking for a job, this is definetly the place to be.

What is Linkedin
For those who do not know,LinkedIn is an online network of more than 25 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries. It is basically like Facebook, but your profile is your resume and your "friends" are your collegues, professional relations, suppliers and more!
The great thing about Linkedin is that it is free and simple, you just need to create your profile and start "networking".

Few Tips to improve your job search on Linkedin

- Use the Job Function: Linkedin has a job function, use it! Just click on the job tab, enter you search criteria and discover all the job offers in your area.

- Keep your profile updated: In Linkedin, you profile is your resume, so if you want to look "attractive" to recruiters, make sure your profile is up to date with your latest information. Also make sure that you give enough information about what you do and did. Recommendations have a postive impact too.

- Join SEO Groups: Like Facebook, you can join a group on Linkedin. Joining a group allows you to connect with people in the industry. There are quite a few SEO groups, but I have noticed that SEO Australia and Linkedin SEO are particularly active.

- Link with Recruiters:A lot of recruiters use Linkedin to source new candidates. Make their job easier by contacting them in the first place. Even if they do not have a job at this time, you will be part of their network and they might contact you with other opportunities.

- Link with Suppliers, Contractors and more: The more people you are linked to, the more chances you get. Take up the habit of sending Linkedin requests to people you meet at meeting or elsewhere. One day it will be useful.

You might find that it takes a while before receiving job offers. Be patient and keep improving your profile and expanding your network it will soon pay off. Also if you have any good feel free to let us know!

Google digitalize the world with Google News Archive

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Earlier this week, Google has officially announced on their blog the beginning of a new initiative aiming at digitalizing old newspapers and make their content searchable through the Google News Archive program.

As mentioned on their blog, more than 200 years of quality content has been distributed in a print format, which is not available online. This represents billion of print pages with content that is currently not available. The amount of content on the internet is getting bigger every year but Google does not seem to want to wait for someone to put it online so they have taken the step forward and decided to do it themselves.
As part of this program, Google is partnering with newspapers publishers to get access to their archive, "digitalize" (scan) the content and make it indexable and searchable with OCR. All this at no cost!

Such initiative is great for newspaper publishers that want to increase the reach of their content and monetize it! Each piece of content, will be able to rank in Google News Archive. Each page of content will be served contextual ads as part of the Adsense program, and each click will bring revenue to the publisher! However the downfall is that they will lose the "hosting" of the content. Google do all the work for free, but do host all this content on their server and therefore do get all the traffic and part of the advertising revenue (fair enough!).

However, hypothetical issues could be search ranking cannibalization and duplicate content. If a publisher decide to publish online, one of its old article already in the Google News archive, who will be penalised for duplicate content? or will it be penalised at all?
Moreover, Google News Archive pages are highly likely to rank high for the keywords included in the content of the digitalized articles, which could at some point "compete" with existing content on the publisher website.

In summary, Google News Archive is great for the publishers as they can publish and monetize old content at no cost. It is also great for Google because they will be able to exclusively serve advertising to a very large range of highly searched content. The entire initiative still raise a few questions, which I am looking forward to get the answers!

Digital Bootcamp - Melbourne September 2008

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

B&T has created a one day event for those who want to develop their knowledge of the digital world. The event is called "Digital Bootcamp" and is hosted by Mike Walsh.
The event has already taken place in Brisbane (25 June), Perth (2nd July), Auckland (5th August) and is taking place today in Sydney (3rd September - Sorry for the late notice) .
The next date in the agenda is Melbourne on the 30th September at the BMW Edge, Federation Square.

Digital Bootcamp seems to be targeted to people with basic/medium knowledge of the digital world and will cover the following topics:

- Basic Terminology in the digital world
- How to make the most of Rich Media for advertising
- Get most out of Paid search
- Permission Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- Analytics
- Social Networking

If you are in Melbourne and interested to attend, the cost of the event is $645.00 (including GST). To book go to the B&T website

Latest SEO Jobs Offers in Sydney - August 2008

Friday, 22 August 2008

SEO Sydney Blog has reviewed the SEO jobs offers in Sydney in the last couple of weeks and we have selected the most interesting ones:

SEO Expert / Web Developer: In-House role for an innovative online finance company. The position will fit someone who has web development experience and large range of skills in online marketing (SEO, SEM, Email Marketing). Salary $50,000 to $75,000 - Apply for the SEO Expert position

Search Manager Role Agency role for a SEO guru, working with well known websites. Technical skills not required but preferable and a proven track of records with SEO and SEM . Apply for the Search Manager position

Search Manager Position Agency role for a SEO, SEM professional. The person will manage the search operations of the agency clients. Salary $80,000 - Apply for the Search Manager role

Online Marketing Coordinator (SEO,SEM) In House role for a SEO, SEM professional with good web development skills. The position consists in managing the online activities for a travel company. Salary $50,000 to $70,000 - Apply for the Online Marketing Coordinator role

SEO Voter For Sale!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Due to time constraint, a reader from SEO Sydney Blog is selling his website called It is a great opportunity for someone, who want to take over an interesting web 2.0 project related to SEO.

What is SEO Voter
Basically SEO Voter is the 'Digg' for the SEO industry. SEO Voter is a free search engine optimization network repository, where you can vote for and promote good SEO content, news, search engine marketing articles and directories.
The website uses Pligg, a Web 2.0 open source content management, based on PHP/MySQL.

SEO Voter in Figures
SEO Voter has been set up in June 2007 and has already 6,290 backlinks (source:Yahoo Site Explorer), a Page Rank of 3 and a constant flow of traffic:

 seo voter stats

The owner would like to get around US$ 600.00, so if you are interested, feel free to send us an email at seosydneyblog(at) and we will follow up with the owner.

ADMA Digital DM: Search Marketing Seminar

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) will organise a search engine marketing half-day seminar on the Thursday 21th August.

The seminar will focus on search engine marketing including tracking, reporting, optimisation technique, and a large amount of useful tips to improve your knowledge of search marketing.
From the leaflet, this seminar is more targeted at brand & marketing managers and should not be too technical.

For this seminar, ADMA has selected 3 expert speakers:

- Jenny Williams, Principal of Ideagarden
- Max Sim, Group Search Strategy Manager for REA Group (
- Jon Ostler, Managing Director of First Rate.

The cost of the seminar is $270 for ADMA Members and $385 for Non-Members. You can book online

Visit our Search Marketing Agenda for more SEO/SEM Events

Search Engine Room 2008 - Search & Beyond

Friday, 1 August 2008

The bookings are now open for Search Engine Room 2008. The search engine marketing and optimisation event will take place at the Dockside in Sydney, on Tuesday 7th October

Search Engine Room will run the two stream conference, one day event with the theme "Search and Beyond". The program sounds really interesting:

From what I have read, the conference should bring some valuable and up-to-date insights on the search engine industry in Australia. Foad Fadaghi, Technology editor at Business Review, will go through the trends in the search economy , while Hitwise will present the findings of a consumer tracking survey involving more than 1000 Australian.

Search Engine Room also covers advanced sessions on particular fields of search engine marketing and search engine optimisation such as link building, landing page optimisation, search traffic.

For more practical and hands-on information, the event will include review of a case study: Hotel Combined, a software comparison (Omniture Test & Target vs. Google Website Optimiser) and a panel of expert to answer the questions from the audience.

Search Engine Room 2008 also offer the opportunity to listen to Darren Rowse, the author of the ProBlogger Blog and founder of the B5media network.

The price for the event is $449 + GST. To register

Google Page Rank Update - July 2008

Friday, 25 July 2008

As expected at the end of April, the latest page rank update is currently running. The good thing about this update is that Google totally avoided the surprise effect. They kind of followed the "expected" timing of 3 months between two updates, and even Matt Cutts has posted an announcement on his blog. Is Google trying to be more transparent?

As per usual, a PageRank update brings its load of happiness and/or sadness. If your PageRank score has increased, it is always a good thing! Congratulations. If your PageRank has dropped, it is not the end of the world! If your traffic has not dropped, that is the most important thing at the end of the day.

At the moment the PageRank does not seems to be fully settled. SEO Tools such a SEO Quake or SEO For Firefox are going crazy as they change their figures every 5 mins so it might be wise to wait a couple of days to find out your final PageRank score.

It seems that SEO Sydney Blog will drop from PR4 to PR3 as few new links have been added since April 08. However, our search engine rankings have not changed and the traffic is has grown month by month.

Regarding the next PageRank prediction: End of October 2008

SEM/ SEO Jobs in Sydney - July 2008

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

To bring a bit of diversity to our SEO job board, we have compiled a selection of interesting jobs in the search engine marketing and search engine optimisation industry in Sydney, Australia. If you are a all-rounder SEO/SEM professional, you might be interested in one of these.

Note: In the last couple of weeks there has been quite a lot of job offers from Google, who has been elected the best company to work for:

- Google Adwords - Account Strategist - Sydney: 4 years account management experience, proven track of success in the online industry. For more information click here.

- Account Manager/Director at 24/7 Real Media (Outrider) - Sydney: SEM Account Management experience required, good inter personal skills and strong understanding of Internet Technology> Click here for more information.

- SEO Account Manager - Sydney Fresh Ad(today), Managing B2B A-list clients, digital marketing company, Solid HTML, ASP/PHP coding experience. $80,000 to $100,000 salary package. More information here

- Online Marketing All-Rounder - Sydney: In-House role to manage all online activities (SEM/SEO of a well know direct marketing brand. Salary: $65,000 + Super. See the job offer here

- Search Marketing Analyst - Sydney: Entry-Level position, Managing SEM campaigns, 1 year experience. Salary $45,000 to $65,000. See the position advertised here

Is SEO more popular than PPC ?

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Recently, I came across an interesting post from Hit Search Limited, a US British search engine marketing agency, which compared the trends in search volume for the keywords 'seo' against 'ppc in different markets (US, UK, Australia, and Canada) using Google Trends.

According to the graph below, which displays the comparison of search volume for each keyword over the last 12 months in Australia, the volume of search for the keyword SEO overtook the search volume for the keyword PPC in April 2008. On the other hand, the volume of search for the phrase 'PPC' has decreased for a couple of months.

seo vs ppc - search volume in Australia

While this trend obviously reflects a growing interest for search engine optimisation, it might be a little ambitious to assume that SEO is taking over PPC in Australia for the following reasons.

The recent report Australia Online,published by eMarketer in July 2008, shows that the expenditures in search engine advertising have increased by 29% in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared to 2006. Google Trends measures the popularity of one keyword, but does not always matches with the actual state of the market

Another factor that could explain the difference between the reality in the market and the trends displayed by Google Trends, is the fact that Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be named differently. PPC can also be referred as Search Engine Advertising, Search engine marketing or even CPC (Cost Per Click) Advertising. In the current graph the search volume of all these phrases are not displayed.
If you add the search volume for all the different ways of naming PPC, and displays it as a graph, the volume of search might still be way over the volume of search for the keyword SEO.
While not reflecting the accurate popularity of the CPC advertising channel, this graph clearly shows that the keyword PPC is not searched as much as it used to be and therefore this reflect a shift in the way of naming this type of advertising.

As correctly mentioned by the author of the post on Hit Search, it would be interesting to see if the Australian market will reflect this trends in the next couple of months. Clear signs in the Australian market would give a more legitimate answer to the question: Is SEO mainstream in Australia?

Another interesting aspect brought by this comparison is the fact that Google Trends actually measures the popularity of one keyword over time. While this information is useful, it still has to be analysed with care as many factors are not reflected with this tool.

The Future of Media Summit - Conference July 2008

Friday, 11 July 2008

The third annual Future of Media Summit, will take place on the 15th July in Luna Park, Sydney. Simultaneously linked with the US (by video), the conference aims at bringing some insights on the future trends in the media industry.

The future of media summit will cover different media related topics including:

- The future of Journalism
- The future of TV and Video
- Global Media Strategies
- The future of privacy

While not 100% related to SEO, the Future of Media should be a great event to learn more about the next steps in the media industry.

On top of that, The summit features a large panel of well recognised experts including:

- Robert Scoble (famous blogger)
- Wendy Hogan (Vice President of CNET Networks Australia)
- Willie Pang (Head of Yahoo Search Marketing Australia & New Zealand)
- Belinda Rowe (CEO, Zenith Optimedia Australia and New Zealand)

and many more

Registration costs $450.00 Australian dollars (3X more than in the US), but it should a wise investment if your are in the media industry.

To register visit the Future Exploration Network website

ICANN New Top Level Domain (TLD) Extensions Approval: Impact on SEO

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

At the end of June, the board of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has approved a proposal to implement new names for the internet domain addressing system. The final version of the proposal is set to be decided in the second quarter of 2009.

What are the changes introduced by the new ICANN proposal?

Currently if you want to register a Top Level Domain (TLD), you can choose between a set of 21 domain extensions ( .com, .org, .net, .info and more). Under the new ICANN proposal, you will be able to self-create your own extension to meet your business needs.

According to the CEO of ICANN, Dr Paul Twomey, it is expected that applicants could choose geographic extensions such as .sydney or . australia, industry related extensions such as .travel or .hotel and even brand extensions such as .brandname.
The new domain extensions will also support foreign languages, which will offer more opportunities for development in Asia and Russia.

ICANN's new proposal also bring some real issues

While the proposal offers great opportunities to develop the internet real estate landscape, the ICANN proposal will introduce many issues:

- Trademarks will not be automatically reserved. In theory, it means that anyone could claim the .yahoo or .google extension. The attribution of a new domain will have to go through an objection based process, but it does not protect any brands!

- The cost of acquisition is high between $50,000 and $100,000. Even if the cost is prohibitive for "cybersquatter" the cost of acquisition is high and requires brands to invest more to protect their brand. This is especially unfair for small businesses, which might not have the sufficient funds to compete against big corporations.

- Introducing new extensions is highly likely to confuse the average internet user. As mentioned in Webmaster World Forum internet users are used to 3 letters (.com) , 4 letters (.info) and 5 letters ( extensions, and offering an unlimited number of the extensions could lead to real confusion.

The new ICANN proposal will also have an impact on SEO as URLs is an important factor used to determine rankings in search engines.

The Impact of ICANN's new proposal on SEO

- The ICANN new internet addressing system improves the opportunities for 'keyword rich' URLs. As mentioned in the last SEOmoz Search Engine Factors, keyword rich URLs have an impact on your rankings. For example if you choose the TLD, this might help to improve your ranking in the Google Local SERPs.

- Aaron Wall has also mentioned that the impact of new domains extensions on Search Engine Rankings is highly dependent on how Google will treat these new extensions. In other, there is no proof on the real impact. Aaron Wall pointed out the numerous issues with spam associated with .info domains which has resulted in more stringent filters for these domains.

As a result, the real impact on SEO is still if you think of buying your own extension for SEO purposes, you better think about it considering the investment!

SEO Role Australia-Wide - July

Sunday, 6 July 2008

As our readership is expanding beyond Sydney, we have decided to include the latest SEO Role ads from all over Australia. After browsing the different Job websites, we have compiled a list of SEO Roles that might help you in your job search:

SEO Copywriter in Brisbane
Flight Center is looking for a SEO copywriter to write content that drive natural search traffic. This is a junior role open to recent graduate in PR/Journalism and Marketing. Read more

In House SEO Specialist in Melbourne
In House SEO Specialist role that also includes working on various internet marketing activities (SEM etc..). The Salary package is up to $100,000.
Read more

PERL Developer for SEO in Adelaide

A leading SEO agency is looking for a PERL, HTML, CSS Developer with a mix of technical and business skills
Read more

Subdomains for SEO: Pros and Cons

Friday, 4 July 2008

If you are looking at building a large content-driven website, integrating a blog to your current domain or expanding the focus of your website with additional content, there are 3 options available to structure your site and format your URLs:

- Folder Structure:

- Sub domain Structure:

- Separate domain or Top Level Domain (TLD):

Not long ago, Google handled sub domains as different domains. The use of sub domains presented some real advantages for SEO as it allowed to rank in the search engine result pages with not only your main domain, but with the sub domains (if relevant of course).
To avoid search results spam (having a list of sub-domains in SERPs), Google no longer treats sub domains as separate domains, Google has made some changes to its algorithm to create some association between the sub domain and the top level domain.

At this stage the changes did not have a dramatic impact and it is still quite common to see sub domains rankings with Top Level Domains (but it might change)

Even if sub-domains are not what they used to be, they still makes sense and can be useful if they are used properly.

How to use Sub-domains

As Matt Cutts pointed out in his blog, sub-domains should be use if the additional content you want to publish is different from the content of your current top domain.

Vanessa Fox also mentioned that sub-domains should be use if it makes sense for business purposes. Let's say you are well know brand and want to promote different activities or content, it is quite logical to use a sub-domain if you want to capitalise on your brand or associate your products to the brand. A good example of this is Google that uses different sub-domains for each of its products.

Google is not the only one, there are many other websites that successfully use sub-domains as part of their search strategy. In Australia for example, Real has used a sub-domain to expand their real estate classified to renovations tips. Ninemsn is also running the same strategy.

Using Sub-Domains for SEO: The Pros

If your aim is to promote different content, sub-domains present some advantages for SEO:

- Using sub-domains, you content will be seen as a 'different' entity in search engine and will be able to rank on its own.

- Sub-domains are very effective if you want to run a specific link building strategy. For example, many directories do not allow link to sub-folders, but do allow links to sub-domains. Using sub-domains, it will be easier to conduct a proper link building strategy.

- On a more practical note a small advantage of sub-domains is that you can split your traffic to different servers and therefore avoid any issue if you traffic gets to intense (very small advantage though)

- A sub-domain can also have advantages to increase the link popularity of your top level domain. As sub-domain is seen as a separate entity with its own links and is own Page Rank, relevant back links from your sub-domain will have an impact (maybe small) on the link popularity of your main domain.

- Sub-Domains can be pretty effective if you want to create more keyword friendly URLs or if. Being able to choose your domain can help pushing relevant keywords in your URL. For example uses the sub-domain:

Using Sub-Domains for SEO: The Cons

Sub-domains have also some disadvantages so if you choose to use them, you should be aware of the following:

- Sub-domains are separate entities with their own Page Rank, so starting a new sub-domain is really similar to start a new website. You will start from scratch ,which means that you will need to build links and credibility.

- A sub domain might make sense from a SEO point of view (if the user does not need to type the URL) , but they are not the most user-friendly URLs as they are long and are likely to be misspelled.

- If you are planning on marketing your URL offline, sub domains might create a real confusion for the user: Should I use or

- Finally, the constant changes in the Google algorithm can always have an impact on your website. Google has already tweaked its algorithm to reduce the impact of sub domains. If Google decide to treat sub domains as sub directories all the advantages listed above (and all your efforts) might not be valid.

To conclude, sub domains should really be used for real content or business reasons. If you are a large content website and want to expand to another area, sub-domains make sense. If your brand is well know and you want to associate your product/content to it, sub domains are great.
However, if you want to add a blog to your website with similar content and small time to promote it, it will make more sense to use a sub directory.

Article Submission: 11 Practical Tips

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Submitting articles to articles directories and archive is a popular and effective tactics to create quality links to your website. The main advantages of articles over directories are:

- More control over the choice of anchor text for your links.
- More than one link can be created in an article. You can therefore have more links and can even vary the anchor text you use.
- Links in articles are embedded in relevant content and therefore carry more value.

While valuable, the process of submitting articles is really time consuming and to be honest quite boring. Based on my experience with articles submission, I have gathered a few practical tips that have helped me saving quite a lot of time. I hope they will help you too.

1) Have your list of articles directories ready before you start.
This common sense, but if you have your list ready you will save so much time. When you create your list, make sure you gather enough information on the article directory such as Page Rank, guideline submission and login requirements. I would also advise to create a spreadsheet including a column where you can add the date your submitted the article.

2) Have a list of articles ready.

When you select the articles you want to use make sure to use article that content that match your website. Avoid using the content of your website but rather create fresh and original articles ( this will prevent from duplicate content issues). Avoid promotional only articles, but prefer articles that brind real content. I would suggest that you write or copy the article in a text file so that you can copy and paste into the submission forms.

3) Select your links wisely

Make sure you select your link wisely as they have to match with your SEO strategy.Do not overuse the same anchor text, but rather use varitions to maximise your results.

4) Think about resource boxes, author profiles and signatures

Many article directories do not allow link embedded in the body of the article. To avoid bad surprises, make sure you create some content for the resource box or signature where you can create links. Resource boxes and signatures usually allow up to 250 characters.

5) Create and author name, pen name
Most articles directories will ask you to set up an author profile to sign your articles. Most of the time you cannot use your company name, so I would advise that you either use your real name or an alias to sign your article. To make it easier, make sure you use the same author profile. That will save you time in the submission process and help you to find out how many of your articles have been indexed.

6) Use a specific email account for your submission

Using your usual email account is fine, but you will soon find out that you will receive quite a lot of confirmation emails that can quickly increase the size of your mail box. Moreover, it will be easier to track your submission with a specific email account.

7) Use an automated form software
The submission process requires you to load the same details over and over (name, email address, etc...). To save time filling in forms, I would advise to use a automated form submitter such a Roboform. The software store your information and fill in the form automatically with it!

8) Read Submission Guidelines
Articles directories have different guidelines. Some of them allow links in the body of the articles, other don't. Some allow more than one links, some other don't. To avoid having your article rejected, make sure you read the submission guidelines before.

9) Do not over submit similar articles

Make sure you do not over submit the same article. This could trigger the duplicate content filter and undermine your results. As a rule of thumb, I do not submit the same article more than 3 times. Another alternative is to change some of the content, title and links.

10) Do not over submit to similar directories

Submitting 10 articles to the same directory can also trigger some spam filter from search engines especially if the submissions are done at the same time. To avoid your links to be discounted, make sure you vary the directories you submit to and leave a couple of weeks between 2 submissions to the same directory.

11) Monitor your progress and be patient

Most articles directories require editorial review before publishing your article. This can take a couple of weeks so be patient. In the meantime, you can still monitor your progress and see how many articles have been indexed by search engines. For this, carry a search for the author name in quote (e.g. "author name"). You will find out how many of your articles have been indexed.

Win a Search Engine Marketing Campaign on Google and Yahoo!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Advantate , a new joint venture between Fairfax Digital and Melbourne IT, is running a competition to win a month managed campaign on Google and Yahoo Search Marketing.
The prize is valued at $600 and includes a dedicated campaign manager for a month, full reporting and all the search engine fees paid.

I am not 100% sure about this (no mention on their website), but the prize does not seem to include the media budget for the campaign. If it is the case, you will still have to pay for each click, which could end up being quite a bit of money depending on your industry...

However, if you are thinking of testing search engine marketing this is a good option as you will have expert advice for free, which usually helps to avoid common mistakes .

To enter the competition, you need to write 25 words on why your business would benefit from advertising on Google or Yahoo and submit your text in the advantate entry form located here

SEO Jobs of the Week in Sydney

Thursday, 19 June 2008

You are looking for a SEO Job in Sydney and you do not have much time to go through all the different classifieds. No worries, we do the research, we select the best SEO offers and you just have to click!

This week we have selected some of the following SEO Jobs offers available in Sydney. It is important to notice the more and more attractive salaries :-)

SEO Specialist : Agency Role, $70,000 to $105,000 Salary package, Darlinghurst Location,Listed 18 June 2008.

In-House SEO Specialist: $80,000 to $100,000 base + Super, Corporate Environment, Strategic & hands-on role, Listed 17 June 2008.

Junior SEO Position: Up to $50,000 package, CBD Location, Agency Work, Listed 17 June 2008.

For more information visit some of previous posts:
- How to find a SEO Job
- SEO Salary Survey

Free Wordtracker Trial: 7 Days of Full Access

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Wordtracker, the keyword research software is offering a 7 days full access trial to new users. The great thing about this offer is that you have access to all the Wordtracker functionalities at no cost for 7 days.
At the end of the 7 days you can subscribe to the software for $59 /month or unsubscribe.

You can create your free trial account here (affiliate link)

Please note that a credit card number is required to open a new account. You won't be charged if you cancel before the end of the 7 days.

Link Baiting with Fake Article: The Limits of the Google Algorithm

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Using articles to generate incoming links to your website is a popular link baiting tactic. However to make people want to link to your article, the content needs to be either highly qualitative or very exclusive and sometimes a combination of both and more

If it does not exist, let's invent it

If you have done some link baiting, you would probably find that this type of content is usually extremely rare and hard to produce if you are not a huge publishing company, which has access to exclusive information. Mid May this year, a UK online marketer, Lyndon Antcliff, decided to find an alternative by producing its own piece of content that was surely exclusive, highly controversial and arguably qualitative.

Fake content, but massive results

Using a journalistic style, Lyndon outlined the 'fake' story of a 13 years old kid that used his father credit card to buy for around $30,000 of video games and hookers. In a flash the story has created a large buzz on the internet, generating 2489 diggs votes, over 1500 inbounds links in a week and a large amount of traffic. As a result of the popularity of the article, major news websites such as The Daily Telegraph,, Fox and The Sun published the news, which produced more links and even more traffic...

Fame can trick you

While producing a really successful link baiting campaign, the SEO guy may have made a little mistake (or not as Lyndon is now offering his services as a link baiting coach), which is to reveal the hoax in his blog (please note that the post has been removed since then) rather than on the website where the story has been published (note that the story now mentions that it is a parody). While increasing his notoriety, generating a lot of discussions in the SEO community, the blog post also later came to the ears of Google and its spam team represented by Matt Cutts.

Applause, Criticisms and Google in the awkward position

In his blog, Matt Cutts condemns this link baiting practice quoting the Google Webmasters' Guidelines:

These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known websites). It’s not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn’t included on this page, Google approves of it.

As the 'manipulative behaviour' was clearly stated by its author, all the inbounds links created have been ignored and have therefore no impact on the website search engine rankings and it seems that a penalty has been applied to the website

However, this particular case puts Google in a really awkward position (as well as some arguably reliable media sources). Before, Lyndon actually said that the article was fake, Google's alogorithm could not technically verify the exactitude of the content and therefore could not condemn the 'manipulative behavior' of the tactic.
Such case reveals some of the limit of the almighty alogorithm, built to provide users with the most relevant and useful information, but not built to verify the exactitude of the content...
Would this open the door to a new link baiting style ?

TNX: A New Way to Buy Text Links

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Even if the use of paid links and link advertisment is getting more and more controvertial in 2008, the willingness to buy quality links is still present in the SEO community. Late 2007, a new player in the contextual advertising/ text link broker industry has emerged with a competitive offer.
In a short amount of time, TNX.Net has managed to generate a good online presence, get over 30,000 users and develop a network of 27 Million text links over 17 Million different web pages.

What is TNX

TNX is a text link broker. They have managed to develop a network of publishers willing to sell some text links on their pages in exchange of a reward. In the TNX case, the reward is in the form of points that can be sold or redeemed for some cash. TNX promote their offer to advertisers interested in buying text links from their network of websites. The TNX system manage the entire transaction process between the advertiser and the publisher.

What is great about TNX's offer

For the Advertisers

- The main advantage is to be able to buy a large amount of links at a low cost. With TNX's program you can get thousand of links for $10 /month, which makes it one of the most cost effective offer in the market.

- Advertisers can select websites based on a set of parameters that include: type of content, geography, number of Yahoo backlinks and Page Rank. This feature offers an effective way to make sure that text links are well placed.

- Advertisers' links can be integrated in a paragraph of text to bring more value and look less suspicious to Google's filters

- Advertisers can use different anchor text for their text links. This feature allows advertisers to target more than one keyword at a time and especially to look less suspicious to Google.

- TNX offers discounts up to 50% for SEO consultants and agencies.

For the Publishers

- As many other networks, the program is free to join for publishers.

- Publishers can maximise their revenues as TNX only charge a 12.5 % commission on transaction, which is one of the lowest in the market.

- Publishers can sell text links each page and therefore maximise the monetisation of their websites.

- The TNX program is more flexible than other paid links brokers. There is no PageRank or traffic requirements to join the prgram. TNX is therefore more open to smaller websites and blogs.

What is not so good about TNX

- Since October 2007, Google is actively working on detecting paid links that aim at passing some PageRank value. Google's webmasters guidelines clearly states that paid links should contains a 'nofollow' attribute and that link schemes will be penalised ( TNX does not use nofollow).
TNX has developed some clever features to avoid an easy detection from Google, but it is still on the edge of the giant guidelines. Any additional improvement of the Google alogorithm could result in TNX and its users (advertisers and publishers) to be penalised. Even if no major case has been identified, TNX users might be likely to be penalised in the future.

- TNX requires publishers to set up a code on their page. While not detectable at the moment, any improvement in Goolge alogrithm could easily detect the code and therefore penalise publishers.

- Advertisers can generate thousands of links at once, which can look a little bit suspicious too Google.

Overall TNX has a very attractive offer especially for small advertisers and publishers. Morevover, the entire TNX system has been designed wisely with a large range of features that make paid links a viable option in a link building strategy.
However TNX is at the mercy of Google's algorithm changes. Any improvement in paid links detection could have a dramatic impact on TNX and its users. As a result some caution is required.

Text Links Ads Coupon Code May 2008

Monday, 12 May 2008

Looking for a discount on paid links, Text Links Ads is offering 15% Off your order for the entire life of the order until the end of May. To take advantage of this offer, you need to visit the TLA website and enter the coupon code: may at check out.

Optimizing Image Tag Alt Attributes: Good Use and Abuse

Thursday, 8 May 2008

I recently went to the Amazon website and as I landed on the homepage, I noticed a large amount of text that appeared while the main image was loading (image 1)... After looking at the source and cache version of the page (image 2), the text was actually included in the alt attribute of the image tag.

Nothing amazing about this! What surprised me however, is the amount of content in the alt attribute... not a few keywords, not a few sentences, but an entire paragraph of text!
I assumed that the alt tag had to be descriptive, accurate and short and therefore I was not expecting this from Amazon and therefore decided to investigate the topic in further details.

Image 1:
Amazon SEO - HomePage
Image 2
Amazon SEO - Cache

About using a Alt attribute in your Image tag

As per the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, it is recommended to provide a text-equivalent for every non-text elements in case some of the users have visual impairments or if users have the image display turned off on their browsers.
Matt Cutts from the Google Web Spam team, has recommended in one of his video, to use the alt attribute of the image tag and the Google Webmaster guidelines also consider the use of the attribute in the development of a search engine friendly websites. The reason behind this is that search engines spiders are not able to 'read' the content in your image.. and therefore cannot index it without a text equivalent.

How to use the Alt attribute: Who should you trust?

Even if the alt attribute has only a moderate importance in the search engine algorithms, optimising them can have an impact on search engine rankings especially if you want to target the long tail of searches with content-poor pages.
I did some research and found a large amount of really basic information on how to optimize the alt attribute. But quite surprisingly, I came across mixed messages on how to 'properly' use the alt attribute:
According to the W3C, the content in the alt attribute should fulfills the same function as the image. On the other hand, Google Webmaster Guidelines quote that the alt attribute should be used to describe the contents of an image file.

This is quite confusing: Should we focus on the description or the function? In theory it does not seem to be a big deal, but in the practice, such confusion can lead to very different uses of the alt attribute.
Lets take the example of the image on the Amazon homepage:

Following Google's guidelines, a proper alt tag could be something like: Letter from Jeff Bezos annoucning the new products and services available.

Following W3C's recommendations, the function of the image is to inform customers that new products are available and therefore the alt tag should basically contain the entire text (what Amazon did). (Note: To be fully compliant with W3C guidelines, Amazon should have included a short description in the alt attribute and the entire content in a longdesc attribute, but let's not talk about this now)

Who should we trust? Google? the W3C? Yourself and your common sense? I would probably say a bit everything. As Google is the dominant search engine, you do not want to alert their spam filters (might have some) with some long or improper alt attributes.
If you are a leading website you also want to make sure that users with disabilities will be able to understand your content and therefore it is probably better to focus a little bit more on the function of the image rather than the description.
Moreover, the decision you make on how to use the alt attribute also depends on the type of image you have.
In the case of Amazon, providing a simple description of the image will be quite frustrating for a blind user as they probably wants to know what is in the letter instead of knowing that it is a letter (Still do not understand why Amazon did not use pure text for that ???)
For more practical examples and resources on alt attributes consult the NASA Section 508 website

Optimizing Alt Attribute: Good Use and Abuse

While there is no clear guidelines, I have tried to summerize some of the good practices and bad practices I have noticed in my research. It is probably not the absolute truth, but these recommendations should help you to optimize your alt attributes correctly:

- If the image is used for layout/design purposes should have empty alt attribute (no space between the ""). Using irrelevant keywords in spacers or layout pictures is an abuse.

- If the image is used for navigation purposes, it MUST have a alt attribute that match with the keyword used in the image. Alternatively it should describe the linking page accurately. To avoid any issue, make sure you use the same term in the alt and image.

- If the image is used as a link, you should also have a alt tag equivalent to the title of the linking page. The content in the alt attribute of image links is usually regarded as more important.

- If the image contains a lot of text(e.g Amazon), use the text from the image in the alt attribute. For this one, I would be careful though! If the text is too long, it could risk to look suspicious, so I would advise to offer a summary or to use a longdesc attribute. Alternatively why using an image when you can use text ??

- Do not just stuff a list of comma-separated keywords in the alt attribute, try to make a sentence that describes the picture/function and includes some relevant targeted keywords in it. You might not be able to use all your targeted keywords in the alt tag of the same image, that is fine, you probably have more than one image.

- For individual product pages in E-Commerce stores, I would recommend to use the product name as the alt attribute of the product image. That will help ranking for the product name phrases.

More tips from W3C

Search Engine Bootcamp Auckland - July 2008

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The New Zealand edition of the 2008 Search Engine Bootcamp will take place in Auckland on the 3rd July at the Hilton.
Search Engine Bootcamp is organised by Search Engine Strategies, the same company that organised SMX Sydney.

According to the Search Engine Bootcamp website, the Auckland edition will cover some of the topics below:

- Picking the right keywords
- Writing search ads that work
- Building and Optimising
- Landing Pages
- Social Media Optimisation
- Blending the results - Universal Search
- Search 3.0 - dealing with Web 2.0 technology
- Local Search, the nextbig thing?
- Online Reputation Management
- Google Analytics Workshop
- Ad targeting options
- Quality Score - The PPCBlack Box
- Site Structure
- Optimising Website Copy
- Link Building

Some of these topics have been covered in the last SMX Sydney conference, so if you have been in Sydney, you probably do not need to go back. However, if you have not, you can register with 20% discount until the end of May using the following coupon code: EB1

before the end of May and save 20% (affiliate link)

EcoCho, Green Search Engine vs. Google's Policy

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Australians are really active and prolific to come up with online initiatives that aims at tackling the issues of climate change. While a great news for Australia and the planet, it seems that these enterprises have unfortunately not reached their high of success.

Good Intentions but Wrong Concept

In early 2007, Blackle, a version of the Google custom search engine was supposed to save energy by displaying a black background instead of a white one. While valid a couple of years ago when CRT monitors were the most popular, the theory behind Blackle has been actively disputed due the rapid emergence of LCD screens. The benefits of a black background are in fact really low or inexistent and therefore the whole Blackle idea is more a cash-machine than an eco-friendly solution.

Great Concept but not compatible with Google Policies

The latest Australian 'green' initiative came this year with EcoCho, a free green search engine. EcoCho claims that a thousand searches on Ecocho allow Yield Media (the company behind EcoCho and part of the Photon Group) to buy enough carbon offset credits to remove 1 ton of CO2 from the atmosphere. This works out at two trees spending a year sucking CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow.

The concept behind EcoCho has been easily criticised, but I personally find it great as it uses the revenues generated by sponsored links from Google and Yahoo to make a direct contribution to the environment. Yield Media makes a profit, but share it with a good cause! Is not it what sustainable development is all about?
It is true that their servers consume energy,which makes the concept not 100% green, but let's be realistic if one waits for the absolute perfect solution, nothing will ever change...

In that case, the concept is not really the question. The issue came from Google, which argued that EcoCho does not satisify the Google Adsense's publisher policy (the advertsing program used by EcoCho to generate revenue).
According to Rob Shilkin, Google Spokeman, interviewed in The Australian

In this case the site was in clear violation of our terms of service and we had previously warned the owner of past violations. We have now stopped serving ads and search results to the owner's sites.

To ensure maximum click relevancy and avoid fraudulents clicks, the Google Adsense guidelines require a publisher not to push users to click on the sponsored links or to compensate users for clicking on the Google Ads. This rule is one of the reasons why Goolge refused to provide its search facility and ads to EcoCho.

While it seems to be clear to Google, it is different for Tim MacDonald, one of the founder of EcoCho. According to him, Google is not really consistent in applying these rules.
Other websites are using Google's technology for similar causes, but have not been refused the access to Google technology. What makes MacDonald even more bitter, is that they presented the website to Google beforehand and they did not mention the violation.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, it is not the first time that MacDonald or its company, Found Agency, had issues with the application of Google's guidelines. In this situation, it is more ambiguous (As ambiguous Google's Guidelines?).
Indeed it is hard to be fully convinced that the website is 'clearly' violating the rules. There is no direct mention that push users to click on the Ads and the 'compensation: the tree' is made in relation to the number of searches not clicks. One can think that people will click on the ads more because it is a 'good cause', but this can only be an hypothesis...

The good thing though is that EcoCho can still use the Yahoo search technology and its ads platform to generate revenue. The bad is that Google has around 80% of share market in the search market, so the potential of generating revenues and therefore planting trees is not so great.

If you are an eco warrior or just like planting trees, use EcoCho. If you want to know a little bit more about this story, there is a great in-depth article at ITNews