2010年4月29日 星期四

SPONSOR MESSAGE: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of Online Data – Gaining Actionable Insight from Web Analytics


YouTube Viewers Watched Average of 96 Videos per Viewer in March

comScore Video Metrix today reported that more than 180 million U.S. Internet users watched 31.2 billion videos online in March 2010. This means 84.8 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed an average of 173 videos per viewer during the month. As Butch Cassidy often asked, "Who are those guys?"

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SearchCap: The Day In Search, April 29, 2010


ConversionConference.com - May 4-5, San Jose

Conversion Conference is just around the corner. I am proud to be chairing the first conference devoted exclusively to online conversion. It will be held on May 4-5, 2010 at the luxurious Fairmont Hotel in San Jose.

Join over 40 thought-provoking speakers including keynotes Bryan Eisenberg, Jakob Nielsen, and me for a dynamic two-day event. Network with over 500 peers at the parallel eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit.

Over 26 hard-hitting sessions (see agenda) will keep you on the cutting edge. Whether you are looking for the psychology of persuasion, graphic design, copywriting, usability, landing page testing & tools, or best practices for your specific situation, it's all here. Enjoy world-class expert sessions, hands-on live critiques, and no-holds-barred open mic panels.

* Mingle with your peers at our birds-of-a-feather lunch tables

* Attend two afternoon networking events

* Have fun at the giant Conversion Bash party on Tuesday night

* Interact in an intimate atmosphere with the top practitioners in our field

* Visit over 50 cutting-edge exhibitors in the sold-out Expo Hall

This is a partnered event of ClikZ & Search Engine Strategies. You can save $250 off of a 2-day full conference pass when using promo code "CCW679" when registering at http://ping.fm/johfv. Follow us on Twitter with hashtag ConvCon.

Do you know the way to San Jose? It is the same road that leads to higher conversion - hope to see you there!


Last Call For Speakers For SMX Advanced


Layar Launches World's First Augmented Reality Content Store

Layar has introduced a new revenue opportunity for Augmented Reality (AR) developers to target the 1.6M mobiles that have downloaded their augmented reality browser.

The company yesterday announced the the Layar Payment Platform, which is a content store integrated into the Layar Reality Browser. Set up to support multiple payment providers and multiple currencies, the platform is ready to serve different local markets.

Layar deals with legal, administrative and tax rules, enabling publishers to focus on their core activities: creating valuable alternate reality experiences. The first payment provider is PayPal, supporting payments to residents of United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. More countries, currencies, payment methods and payment providers are due to be added over the next 12 months.

Among the first publishers to start offering paid AR content expriences on Layar are:

Album Covers Atlas, by Howard Ogden, from Augmentreality.co.uk. (He is a past speaker at SES.) The atlas enables users to find the exact location where iconic album cover photos were taken, such as the exact zebra crossing, the Beatles crossed on Abbey Road, or the Hotel California where the Eagles were not able to check out from.


Mixing reality with music seems like an interesting and intuitive leap for the general public to make from their MP3 players to AR browsing.

Eyetours: Explore Puerto Rico, which dubs itself as the "future of tours." While frankly unimpressive, it still demonstrates the reach of the store and niches that paid AR apps can target have.

Personally, I would prefer to discover Puerto Rico in person rather than by phone.

However, it's different strokes for different folks and this just might be your thing. Once Layar is able to do push notifications based on location, this could be much more exciting. Then you don't have to look like a dork anymore.

Publishers can start selling their content without any upfront costs, and will receive 60% of the net proceeds. The costs for the platform, legal, administration, banking and others are covered by the remaining 40%. Any publisher ready to start exploring the medium and monetizing their content can go to http://www.layar.com/create.

If you are thinking of developing your own AR experiences for Layar, we at SEW strongly advocate that you innovate within narrowly defined markets, otherwise you are likely to have no true differentiation against recent advances from Google Streetview, which has integrated local business listings.


The bigger technology providers are better able to serve horizontal markets and are likely to crowd you out. Therefore, stick to targeting niche communities of engaged enthusiasts, such as the aforementioned music aficionados. The web is fantastic for supporting the fanatical fringes of society, so build Layars for them and bring the world they love alive in front of their eyes.

Android users in the U.S., Canada, U.K. & Australia can start buying AR Layars now after installing the latest Layar browser update. Just make sure you don't use it while crossing the road.


Share of searches in America in March: a dozen of Bings

Nielsen just released March 2010 share of searches in America. Bing search share remains at above a dozen, 12.2% exactly. Compared to February, Bing captured 12.5% share, a slightly drop of 0.3%. Share of total number of queries for the giant Google increases slightly to 65.7%, compared to February, Google's share was 65.2%, or an increase of 0.5%. Since January 2010, Bing has increased a total of 2.3%, while Google dropped about 1.6% for the same period of three months. (Source: Nielsen) http://tinyurl.com/27jce82

Google: Now Recommending Brands For Searches


Google’s Preferred AdWords API Pricing Model Equals Big Changes


SEMPO Announces New Leadership


How To Use E-mail To Benefit SEO


What's missing in realtime

A picture named mangoMaiTai.jpgI was at breakfast this morning with a friend from the tech industry, and the subject got around to Facebook vs Google, and the way Twitter is kind of in the middle of the two giants.

I've felt for a long time that Twitter should have welcomed federation early-on, when the competition wasn't so fierce. While it wasn't a slam-dunk, I thought there was a decent chance our Twitter log-ins could be the default username for many other sites on the net. Now Facebook is making a strong bid to be that, and if Twitter were to try that now it would likely be seen as too-little-too-late.

Then my friend, who asked not to be named, wondered why WordPress isn't in the same place as Twitter. I answered with an analogy -- Twitter is riding a bicycle on Interstate 95, and Facebook and Google are two semis about to have a head-on collision. Twitter may not be directly competing with either of them, and Google probably doesn't care much about Twitter one way or another, but the collision is going to do some serious damage to all who are in the vicinity. WordPress isn't riding a bike and they are nowhere near the freeway. Picture Matt sitting on the beach sipping a Mai Tai.

It sure feels this way but then I wondered -- why?

And if WordPress is on the beach sipping drinks with little umbrellas, how can Ev and Biz get some of that action? Then I figured it out.

Two bits (and they may be very hard for Twitter to do):

1. I don't mind hosting sites on wordpress.com because I know if I ever want to get them off I can run them on my own server. I need to be able to do that with Twitter (or Tumblr for that matter). In other words, there must be an open source, easily installable Twitter that's the same thing that twitter.com is running, so I can just move my presence there and not skip a beat. People are going to say I can do that with Identi.ca, but I can't -- when I move my WordPress blog my domain points to the new location and all my links still work. To really trust Twitter, they have to enable competition at this level.

2. I must be able to completely control the look and feel of my presence. This is something Matt & Company could do much better too, but Twitter hardly does it at all. This is something Ev should understand, as one of the early blogging tool vendors, he should remember how important a role designers played in the evolution of blogging. Given that Twitter and the other services in this space (e.g. Facebook) don't allow the user any control over the HTML of their presence, it should be easy to improve this. But I want power over everything. More important, I want designers to have power over everything so I can use the product of their work.

So in summary: I need to be able to isntall my own Twitter and move my presence to my own server, easily. And I need control over the look and feel of my site. Those two things would do enough to shake up the market and give Twitter a new way forward and make what Facebook and Google do in their battle-of-the-titans-to-death mostly irrlevant to them.


Yahoo Search Update: 4/29/2010 Weather Report


Google Making Changes To Canada Maps, Now “Owns” The Data As In US


Competitive Intelligence: Purpose & Process

Posted by JoannaLord

When it comes to marketing your brand online there is just so much to do. We spend our days researching, creating, implementing, and then measuring the success of our efforts. There are dozens of channels to participate in, and obviously thousands of ways to go about marketing your brand, but however you slice it—online marketing comes down to introducing new audiences to your brand, keeping your current brand users happy, and evolving the brand/company itself. outline strategy

Unfortunately I think the first two steps often overshadow that third step to the process—evolving the brand/company itself, probably because to grow as a company you really need to take a pause and evaluate where you are currently standing. As marketers, the idea of pausing is equated with losing momentum which scares the hell out of us all. This industry moves too quickly, and pausing to reflect on where your brand is compared to your competitors seems like time poorly spent.

I am here to argue just the opposite. A few weeks ago I gave a presentation at PubCon South on “Competitive Intelligence on the Social Web,” and I wanted to extract a few of my key arguments and offer them up the SEOmoz audience both as thought provokers and for feedback. In my opinion competitive intelligence is one of those marketing steps we all say we did, but few of us rarely do. It’s true. Most of us are big fat liars when it comes to “doing competitive intelligence.”

For example, competitive intelligence IS NOT:

  • Sitting in a room and ranting about your competitor’s latest marketing move

  • Grabbing lunch with your Product Manager and creating a roadmap based on what your competitors have that you don’t.

  • Putting together a grid of you and your competitor’s website’s traffic stats, never to be looked at again.

  • Googling your competitor’s brand name to see what latest things are noted in the SERP’s

Sorry friends that is not competitive intelligence.

However, competitive intelligence IS:

  • Understanding what direction your competitor's are headed & how that might intersect or parallel your own

  • Knowing what products you are pushing out and how they match up or differ from your competitor's

  • Mapping out a list of key differentials and attributes for your biggest competitors and yourself

  • Researching & monitoring a variety of platforms to better understand your competitors

Okay now that we all have a better sense of what it is, let’s talk about how to do it.  Instead of throwing a 20-slide PowerPoint at you I thought I would dilute it down to a few key steps toward understanding your competitive landscape, and perhaps more importantly I want to tie those into how you can use this information for company gains.

The Grid of Awesomeness:

Okay maybe that name is a bit of an exaggeration, but either way, the first key step toward understanding your competitors is getting them all down on paper and forcing yourself to research key attributes. I have included below an example grid that you can use to get you started.

You might ask yourself—how do I know which competitors to include? This can differ depending on the size of your company and the scope of your industry but a great place to start is the “3-1-1 rule”. I usually suggest you pick 3 brands that are often grouped with yours, either in roundup articles, or in conversation. Those are your primary competitors. Then choose one “dreamer,” which would be the brand in your vertical you hope to be one day. Lastly, I suggest including one “newbie” in your competitive analysis, this is assuming that isn’t you of course. By picking a newbie in your industry you can often gain perspective into where your industry is moving, and key marketing channels to consider since they tend to operate pretty lean.

After you have chosen your competitors I suggest filling out the following for them: name, size, products, features, price points, affiliate program description (do they have one? What are the key attributes?), playing grounds (what channels, platforms, communities are they dominating?), advocates/influencers (who is lobbying for them?), notes. Don’t forget to fill this out for your company as well!

Example Grid:

Competitive Analysis Grid

Product Growth & Benchmarking:

This is perhaps the most time consuming element to competitive intelligence when it is done well. There needs to be someone in charge of competitive intelligence maintenance. This person should subscribe to your competitor’s blog so you are hearing about product launches as they happen, and all company announcements in real time. You can also gain a lot of insight from reading the comments to those posts.

In addition to this you should set up Google Alerts for your competitor’s brand plus the words “launches” and “announces.” We all know that Google Alerts are limited and somewhat unreliable, but you should have a daily digest set to notify you of any big moves your competitor's are making. You never know which could be a real momentum changer.

The last step to this is really to keep a pulse on the traffic growth to their sites by checking Alexa or Compete monthly. While it may seem a strain on your time and resources it’s beneficial for you to know what momentum trajectory your competitor’s are on.

Monitoring Mentions:

This is what most people think competitive intelligence is. While it's not the only piece to the competitive intelligence puzzle, it certainly is an important one. There are so many tools available to us (most free) that help us keep an eye on what our competitors do…it’s actually a bit creepy how many tools and sites are out there to help us be shady. I personally support this shadiness.

Some examples would include sites like: Whostalkin, SocialMention, Backtype, etc. All of these allow you to search a competitor’s brand or products and find out the latest things said about them. These social web aggregators search a number of channels like images, videos, blogs, new feeds, etc. They are great for understanding how a product launch might have gone for a competitor or how any other announcement was received.

Other ways to spy on your competitor’s in the social web—create private twitter lists and monitor their brand and employee’s feeds, sign up for competitor’s newsletters, etc. The key is know where they are pushing out the most crucial information and then making sure you have someone dabbling in that space.

Hiring Espionage:

Now that you have a sense of where your competitor’s currently stand and what they are doing right now, it’s time to spy on them and try to figure out their next moves. Hiring espionage is a great way to do this. You can gain a great sense of where your competitors are moving by looking at who they are investing in from an employee perspective.

A great way to do this is to keep an eye on their company job listings, and occasionally throw their brand into a job meta-engine. The best possible place to spy on hiring moves is by going to LinkedIn and finding their company profile page. There is a section down at the bottom that shows recent hires. You can defer tons of information from this section—are they hiring a bunch of sales people? Top-level engineers? Whatever team they are stacking up is probably the team they are focusing on.

The Takeaway:

The important thing to remember is that competitive intelligence isn’t something you do once and never revisit again. It also isn’t something that you can base on intuition or informal conversations with coworkers. Competitive intelligence is a key process that can be used to inform instrumental decisions you make. The better you understand your competitors the clearer perspective you have on your industry and audience as a whole. Competitive intelligence enables you to better speak on your strengths, brainstorm ideas for quick gains, and make more data-driven decisions all around.

Plus you get to pretend you are a spy which is just all sorts of fun (please note trench coat and night vision goggles are optional).


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What's the Job of a Real-time Search Engine?

What do we expect of real-time search, and how are those expectations different from what we expect of traditional reference search? When might we say that a set of search results is good? ... http://tinyurl.com/2uq3y2x

My favorite books: and why I love them

In a series of posts, called readers choice, I write on whatever topics people submit and vote for. If you dig this idea, let me know... http://bit.ly/aQHw9M

A podcast about loops

A picture named ball.gifEvery once in a while a podcast comes together in a way you couldn't have scripted.

That happened on Monday in the 49th episode of Rebooting the News.

If you have 45 minutes, it's worth a listen, from beginning to end (it's important to hear how it ends).


Thoughts on CS5 @FITC Toronto 2010

The FITC Toronto 2009 officially ended yesterday. Congrats to the award winners. My overall experience was pretty good. I’ve attended FITC in the past four years and they are getting better and better. This year, I’ve learned a lot of new things about Flash, particularly the multitouch Flash content and mobile Flash. In this [...] http://tinyurl.com/23o9vqy

My Stuff from jQuery Conference

The Bay Area jQuery Conference was amazingly fun. I met TONS of great people who I’ve wanted to meet forever. It was kinda like a Bluegrass Festival in some ways. The sessions weren’t recorded so unfortunately you can’t check them out that way. I’m going to embed my own slides below and you can view [...] http://tinyurl.com/2e7y3od

You'll Never Guess Who Is Similar to Matt Cutts?

Yesterday, The Official Google Blog talked about "Discovering pages 'similar to" ones that you like." Today, Search Engine Watch invites you to start playing a new game.

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UK Election 2010: YouTube Facebook Digital Debate

Later today, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will participate in the YouTube Facebook Digital Debate, adding a new social media dimension the UK election in 2010.

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Keyword List Building 101


More New Products and Services from SES New York 2010

Last week, I mentioned that one of the big reasons marketers go to trade shows is to see new products and services. Well, Jamie O'Donnell of SEO-PR visited the expo hall at SES New York 2010 and here are some more exhibitors that he saw.

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Google Upgrades Mobile Image Search


30 SEO Problems & the Tools to Solve Them (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by randfish

Last November, I authored a popular post on SEOmoz detailing 15 SEO Problems and the Tools to Solve Them. It focused on a number of free tools and SEOmoz PRO tools. Today, I'm finishing up that project with a stab at another set of thorny issues that continually confound SEOs and how some new (and old) tools can come to the rescue.

Some of these are obvious and well known; others are obscure and brand new. All of them solve problems - and that's why tools should exist in the first place. Below, you'll find 20+ tools that answer serious issues in smart, powerful ways.

#1 - Generating XML Sitemap Files

The Problem: XML Sitemap files can be challenging to build, particularly as sites scale over a few hundred or few thousand URLs. SEOs need tools to build these, as they can substantively add to a site's indexation and potential to earn search traffic. 

Tools to Solve It: GSiteCrawler, Google Sitemap Generator


GSiteCrawler: Downloadable software to create XML Sitemaps

Google Sitemap Generator

Download a few files from Google Code and Install on Your Webserver

Sitemap Generator

Looks like Google Webmaster Tools, doesn't it? :-)

Both GSiteCrawler & Google Sitemap Generator require a bit of technical know-how, but even non-programmers (like me) can stumble their way through and build efficient and effective XML Sitemaps.

#2 - Tracking the Virality of Blog/Feed Content

The Problem: Even experienced bloggers have trouble predicting which posts will "go wide" and which will fall flat. To improve your track record, you need historical data to help show you where and how your posts are performing in the wild world of social media. What's needed is a cloud based tracking tool that can sync up with the Twitters, Facebooks, Diggs, Reddits, Stumbleupons & Delicious' of the web to provide these metrics in an easy-to-use, historical view.

Tools to Solve It: PostRank Analytics

PostRank Analytics

PostRank's nightly emails keep me wracking my brains for better blog post ideas

PostRank sends me nightly reports on how the SEOmoz blog performs across the web - numbers from Digg, Delicious, Twitter, Facebook and more. By using this, I can get a rough sense of how posts perform in the social media marketplace and, over time, hopefully train me to author more interesting content.

Addition: Melanie from Postrank added a discount code in the comments for SEOmoz users! Use the coupon code "SEOmoz" in order to get three free months instead of just one.

#3 - Comparing the Relative Traffic Levels of Multiple Sites

The Problem: We all want to know not only how we're doing with web traffic, but how it compares to the competition. Free services like Compete.com and Alexa have well-documented accuracy problems and paid services like Hitwise, Comscore & Nielsen cost an arm and a leg (and even then, don't perform particularly well with sites in the sub-million visits/month range).

Tools to Solve It: Quantcast, Google Trends for Websites


If a site has been "Quantified," no other competitive traffic tool on the web will be as accurate


Since both sites are "Quantified," I can be sure the data quality is excellent

I've complained previously about the inaccuracies of Alexa (as have many others). It's really for entertainment purposes only. Compete.com is better, but still suffers from lots of inaccuracy, data gaps, directionally wrong estimates and a general feeling of unreliability in the marketplace. Quantcast, on the other hand, is excellent for comparing sites that have entered their "Quantified" program. This involves putting Quantcast's tracking code onto each page of the site; you're basically peeking into their analytics.

Sadly, Quantcast isn't on every site (and their guesstimates appear no better than Compete when they don't have direct data). Fortunately, one organization has stepped up with a surprisingly good alternative - Google.

Google Trends for Websites

Google Trends for Websites allows you to plug in domains and see traffic levels. Much like AdWords Keyword Tool, the numbers themselves seem to run high, but the comparison often looks much better. Google Trends has become the only traffic estimator I trust - still only as far as I could throw a Google Mini, but better than nothing.

#4 - Seeing Pages the Way Search Engine Do

The Problem: Every engineering & development team builds web pages in unique ways. This is great for making the Internet an innovative place, but it can make for nightmares when optimizing for search engines. As professional SEOs, we need to be able to see pages, whether in development environments or live on the web the same way the engines do.

Tools to Solve It: SEO-Browser, Google Cached Snapshot, New Mozbar

SEO Browser


A longtime favorite site of mine, SEO Browser lets you surf like an engine

SEOmoz on SEO Browser


Poor Google; that's all they see when they crawl our pretty site

SEO-Browser is a great way to get a quick sense of what the engines can see as they crawl your site's pages and links. The world of engines may seem a bit drab, but it can also save your hide in the event that you've put out code or pages that engines can't properly parse.

Google Cached Snapshot


I wonder if Googlebot ever gets tired of blue, purple and gray...

Google's own cached snapshot of a page (available via a search query, as a bookmarklet, or in the mozbar's dropdown) is the ultimate research tool to know what the engine "sees." The only trouble is that it works in the past only (and only on pages that allow caching). To get a preview, SEO Browser or our friend below can be useful.

Mozbar User Agent Switch

The mozbar lets you dress up like Google whenever the occasion is right

One of Will Critchlow's feature requests in the new mozbar was the ability to switch user agents, turn off JavaScript and images and, in essence, become the bot in your browser. Luckily, he also forced us to place a gray overlay in the right-hand corner that alerts you to the settings you've changed and gives you an easy, one-click "return to normal." Browsing like a bot = solved!

#5 - Identifying Crawl Errors

The Problem: Discovering problems on a site like 302 redirects (that should be 301s), pages that are blocked by robots.txt (here's why that's a bad idea), missing title tags, duplicate/similar content, 40x and 50x errors, etc. is a task no human can efficiently perform. We need the help of robots - automated crawlers who can dig through a site, find the issues and notify us.

Tools to Solve It: GSiteCrawler, Xenu, GGWMT

Xenu Link Sleuth

Mmmm... Parallel Threads

Xenu Link Sleuth 2

She canna hold on much longer cap'n!

We've already covered GSiteCrawler in this post, but for those unaware, it can be a great diagnostic tool as well as a Sitemap builder. Xenu is much the same, though somewhat more intuitive for this purpose. Tom's written very elegantly about it in the past, so I won't rehash much, other than to say - it shows errors & potential issues Google Webmaster Tools doesn't, and that can be a lifesaver.

GGWMTools Crawl Errors

Doh! I think we messed up some stuff when KW Difficulty relaunched :(

Google Webmaster Tools is extremely popular, well known and well used. And yet... lots of us still have crawl errors we haven't addressed (just look at the 500+ problems on SEOmoz.org in the screenshot above). Exporting to Excel, sorting, and sending to engineering with fixes for each type of issue can save a lot of heartache and earn back a lot of lost traffic and link juice.

#6 - Determine if Links to Your Site Have Been Lost

The Problem: Sites don't always do a great job maintaining their pages and links (according to our data, 75% of the web disappears in 6 months). Many times, these vanishing pages and links are of great interest to SEOs, who want to know whether their link acquisition and campaigning efforts are being maintained. But how do you confirm if the links to your site that were built last month are still around today?

Tools to Solve It: Virante's Link Atrophy Diagnosis

Virante's Link Atrophy Tool

Does that mean Stuntdubl & SEOmoz are "going steady?"

This tool comes courtesy of the great team over at Virante, and it's a pretty terrific application of an SEO need and Linkscape data through the SEOmoz API. The tool will check the links reported from Linkscape/Open Site Explorer and determine which, if any, have been lost. Many times it's just links off the front page of blogs or news sites as archives fall to the back, but sometimes it can help you ID a link partner or source that's no longer pointing your way in order to facilitate a quick, painless reclamation. The best part is there's no registration or installation required - it's entirely plug and play.

Addition: Russ from Virante added a discount code in the comments for SEOmoz users! Use the coupon code "seomoz30" in order to get more results from these tools.

#7 - Find 404 Errors on a Site (without GG WM Tools) and Create 301s

The Problem: Google's Webmaster Tools are great for spotting 404s, but the data can be, at times, unwieldy (as when thousands of pages are 404ing, but only a few of them really matter) and it's only available if you can get access to the Webmaster Tools account (which can stymie plenty of SEOs in the marketing department or from external consultancies). We need a tool to help spot those important, highly linked-to 404s and turn them into 301s. 

Tools to Solve It: Virante's PageRank Recovery Tool

Virante's PageRank Recovery Tool

3.99 mozRank for ~0.00 effort

The thinking behind this tool is brilliant, because it solves a problem from end to end. By not only grabbing well-linked-to pages that 404, but actually writing the code to create an .htaccess file with 301s to your choice of pages, the tool is a "no-brainer" solution.

#8 - See New Links that are Sending Traffic (and Old Ones that Have Stopped)

The Problem: Most analytics tools have an export function that, combined with some clever Excel, could help you puzzle out the sites/pages that have started to send you traffic (and those that once were but have stopped). It's a pain - manual labor, easy to screw up and not a particularly excellent use of your precious time.

Tools to Solve It: Enquisite

Enquisite Links Report

I love the ability to look across the past few months and see the trend of new pages and new domains sending links, as well as identifying links that have stopped sending traffic. Some of those may be ripe for reclamation, others might just need a nudge to mention or link over in their next piece/post. This report is also a great way to judge how link building campaigns are performing on the less-SEO focused pivot, sending direct traffic.

#9 - Research Trending/Temporal Popularity of Keywords

The Problem: Keyword demand fluctuates over time, sometimes with little warning. Knowing how search volume is impacted by trending and geography is critical to SEOs targeting fields with these demand fluxes.

Tools to Solve It: Google Insights, Trendistic

Google Insights

Hmmm.... Maybe we should launch Open Webmaster Tools next?

Google Insights

We need to make it out to India & Brazil more often, too!

Google Insights is great for seeing keyword trending, related terms and countries of popularity (though the last of these we've found to be somewhat suspect at times). However, sometimes you're really interested in what's about to become popular. For that, turning to trend sites can be a big help.


Although it doesn't yet have a "suggest" feature to help identify terms & phrases that may soon become popular searches, it does help establish the "tipping point" at which a buzzword in Twitter may become a trend in web search. As we've discussed in the WhiteBoard Friday on Twitter as an SEO Research Tool, finding the spot at which search volume begins spiking can present big opportunities for fresh content.

#10 - Analyze Domain Ownership & Hosting Data

The Problem: When researching domains to buy, considering partnerships or conducting competitive analysis, data about a site's hosting and ownership can be essential steps in the process.

Tools to Solve It: Domaintools


We should make sure to re-register this domain...

Long the gold standard in the domainer's toolbox, DomainTools (once called whois.sc) provides in-depth research about a domain's owners, their server and, sometimes most interestingly, the other domains owned by that entity. BTW - they're spot on; SEOmoz owns about 80 other domains besides our own (though we only really use this one and OpenSiteExplorer right now).

#11 - Investigate a Site/Page's History

The Problem: What happened on this page last month or last year? When conducting web research about links, traffic and content, we all need the ability to go "back in time" and see what had previously existed on our sites/pages (or those of competitors/link sources/etc). Did traffic referrals drop? Have search rankings changed dramatically? Did a previously available piece of content fall off the web? The question really is - how do we answer these questions?

Tools to Solve It: Wayback Machine

Before 2005, we were on a different domain!

SEOmoz in 2005


If you remember this version of the site, you're officially "old school"

Yeah, yeah, you've probably heard of the Wayback Machine, powered by Alexa's archive of the Internet and endlessly entertaining to web researchers and pranksters alike. What might surprise you is how valuable it can be as an SEO diagnostic tool, particularly when you're performing an investigation into a site that doesn't keep good records of its activity. Reversing a penalty, a rankings drop, an oddity in traffic, etc. can consume massive amounts of time if you don't know where to look and how. Add Wayback to the CSI weapons cache - it will come in handy.

#12 - Determine Semantically Connected Terms/Phrases

The Problem: Chances are, the search engines are doing some form of semantic analysis (looking at the words and phrases on a page around a topic to determine its potential relevance to the query). Thus, employing these "connected" keywords on your pages is a best practice for good SEO (and probably quite helpful to users in many cases as well). The big question is - which words & phrases are related (in the search engines' eyes) to the ones I'm targeting?

Tools to Solve It: Google Wonder Wheel

Google Wonder Wheel


Nothing about "Yellow Shoes?"

We don't know for certain that this is a technique that provides massive benefit, but we're optimistic that tests are going to show it has some value. If you'd like to participate in the experiment, take related phrases from the Wonder Wheel and employ on your pages. Please do report back with details :-)

#13 - Analyze a Page's Optimization of Images

The Problem: When image search and image accessibility/optimization is critical to your business/client, you need tools to help analyze a page's consistency and adherence to best practices in handling image dimensions, alt attributes, etc.

Tools to Solve It: Image Analyzer from Juicy Studio

Juicy Image Analyzer 

Doh! We need to add some dimensions onto our images.

It's not the prettiest tool in the world, but it does get the job done. The image analyzer will give any page a thorough evaluation, showing missing alt tags, image dimensions (which can help with page rendering speed) and informing you of the names/alts in a thorough list. If you have image galleries you're aiming at image search optimization, this is a great diagnostic system.

#14 - Instant Usability Testing

The Problem: Fast feedback on a new landing page, product page, tool design or web page (of any kind) can be essential to smoothing over rough launches. But tools aren't enough - we need actual human beings (and not the biased ones in our friend groups or company) giving fast, functional feedback. That's a challenge.

Tools to Solve It: Five Second Test, Feedback Army


It can't be that easy, can it?


Wow... It totally is! Here I am helping give feedback to a local geek squad.


Users are easier to come by than we think

Both FeedbackArmy & FiveSecondTest offer the remarkable ability to get instant feedback from real users on any page, function or tool you want to test at a fraction of the price normal usability testing requires. What I love is that because it's so easy, it makes that first, critical step of reaching out to users a low barrier to entry. Over time, I hope systems like these help make the web as a whole a more friendly, easy-to-use experience. Now there's not excuse!

#15 - Measure Tweet Activity to a URL Across Multiple URL Shortener Platforms

The Problem: You've got your bit.ly, your j.mp, your tinyurl, your ow.ly and dozens more URL shorteners. Between this plethora of options and standard HTML links pasted into tweets, keeping up with all the places your URL is being shared can be a big challenge.

Tools to Solve It: Backtweets


Tweeting links in the middle of the night is fun!

Bit.ly can track bit.ly and many other services offer their own tracking systems, but only Backtweets is aggregating all of the sources and making it easy to see what people are saying about your pages no matter how they encode it. Now if only we could get this to integrate with PostRank and Search.Twitter.com and Trendistic and make the interface super-gorgeous and have it integrate with Google Analytics... and... and...

#16 - BONUS: Determining Keyword Competition Levels

Bonus! I mentioned last week in a comment that I'd make a post about the new Keyword Difficulty Tool. Since this post is all about tools anyway, I figured I'd toss it in and save you the trouble of clicking an extra link in your feedreader.

The Problem: Figuring out which keywords have more/less demand than which others is easy (and Google does a great job of it most of the time).

Tools to Solve It: New Keyword Difficulty Tool

The real problem was that our previous keyword difficulty tool attempted to use 2nd order effects and non-direct metrics to estimate the competitiveness level of a particular keyword term/phrase. While it's true that more popular/searched-for keywords TEND to be more competitive, this is certainly not always the case (and in fact, SEOs probably care a lot more about when a keyword has high traffic and relatively weak sites/pages in the SERPs more than anything else). The new tool attempts to fix this by relying on Page Authority (correlation data here) and using a weighted average of the top ranking sites and pages.

Keyword Difficulty

Running five keywords at a time is way better than one

(we're working to add more - promise)

Keyword Difficulty Scores

The best bet here looks like "best running shoes" - relatively lower difficulty, but still high volume

Keyword Difficulty for Best Running Shoes

Oh yeah, looking at the top positions, a few dozen good links and some on-page and we're there

Reversing the rankings is never easy, but parsing through KW Difficulty reports certainly makes it less time-consuming. Watch out for the scores, though - a 65% is pretty darn tough, and even a 40% is no walk in the park. At last, I feel really good about this tool; it was suffering for a good 18 months, and it's nice to have it back in my primary repertoire with such solid functionality.

I'm sure there are plenty of remarkable tools I've missed and there are likely questions about these problems, too. Feel free to address both in the comments!

p.s. This was written very late at night and I need to be up and on a plane at precisely butt-o'clock tomorrow morning, so editing will have to slide until Jen wakes up and gives this a good once-over. Sorry about any errors in the meantime :-)

Note from Jen: I finally woke up and made a few minor edits. :) I also added a discount code from Virante "seomoz30" AND a discount code from PostRank "SEOmoz". Tools Rule!

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