Facebook Like Button: Now with Meta Data and Thumbnails

Well, it turns out that Facebook has included all of the meta data and thumbnail info for the like button around the web. This is great news for publishers as it gives the content that we and/or our users “like” more visibility in the Facebook stream. Along with that, it will likely greatly reduce the clutter that we see from around the web with share implementations, many publishers still have the facebook share and like button on their site. Time to clean up your UI!

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Internal Linking: The Benefits Of Great Information Architecture For SEO

Every time I write a requirements document for SEO, I make sure to address Usability and Information Architecture. I like to think that Google will reward sites that do have good Information Architecture because it is mostly always search engine friendly designs that support crawlability and indexing. This is usually the reason I spend a lot of time with the User Experience team or UX designers, because working closely with them will only help influence a search engine friendly design built into the product requirements. I’m not going to sit here and say that I win every time, but, I’ll take a win where I can get it. Aside from all the awesome acronyms, I thought I would share some of the things that I have seen influence IA, UX, and SEO.

Sub-Pages and Navigation

Deep Content websites have a ton of content that requires you to split pages up and helps from both a standpoint of clean Information Architecture of main page to sub-page. Similar to category and sub-category indexes, entertainment content like Movies, TV, Celebrities and Music all have deep content types and indexes, putting it all on one page would be one incredibly long, unusable page with a horrible user experience. Oh, and that page would probably take 20 seconds to load even on today’s speedy internet connections. I think it’s fairly obvious that pages and sub-page types exist, so, taking a few minutes to think it through is probably a good idea.

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are navigational elements that are designed to help the user experience of a website by leaving a trail of where are user is browsing on the site. From an SEO standpoint, breadcrumbs are extremely useful because of all the internal links that are created as you get deeper into the content. For sites with a lot of deep content or a large index of pages, this can be especially helpful because the number of internal links grows exponentially.

Example of a Breadcrumb:
So, let’s say I was designing a breadcrumb for Myspace and I was on the Kim Kardashian topic page. It would look something like this:
Home > Celebrities > Kim Kardashian

And, by the way, the term “Breadcrumb” is probably one of the coolest web terms used…how could you not use them on your site?!

In-Page Navigation

In-Page Navigational links can be referenced in a few different ways, from jump-links to on-page anchors, etc. It’s actually one of the oldest forms of navigation from the web 1.0 days when websites didn’t have fancy menu’s, navigation elements, etc. Today, you’ll still see many sites use in-page navigation to guide users through FAQs or even through large pages. Wikipedia and IMDB are great examples of this as they have fairly long pages and help users move through page content fairly easily.

Now, from an SEO standpoint, this is awesome for internal linking because, URL fragments (#) (and, everything the follows) that are used in on-page anchors are ignored by search engines and therefore creates links internal to that page. While It is debatable from an SEO standpoint, you can leverage URL fragments for SEO benefits in AJAX as well.

Related Links

Related links are a gold-mine and one of my favorite types of ways to leverage User Experience for SEO purposes. From a page to page browsing standpoint, they are great at increase page views while users stay engaged, clicking through your website content. There are all types of implementations from modules in sidebar’s, sub-page sections, and link lists to navigate users through a website. Many of these examples range from “Songs similar to…”, “You might also like…”, or “Top Lists.” Here are some examples from Kanye West’s HAM song page on Myspace:

User Experience and SEO

I tried to show some of the key examples of how user experience and SEO teams can work together. But, there are so many more examples out there and every website and product have different use cases. The key is to work together to create richer and smarter user experiences on the web. And, you can pretty much guarantee that by creating that solid UI, with a well thought out content architecture, you’re site will be search engine friendly. This helps overall SEO strategies through strong internal linking that increases crawl paths and rich anchor text links on your website. An overall win-win for UX and SEO in my opinion.

I make it a point to talk to user experience professionals daily to understand how they think and talk through various scenarios. There are countless times where they have helped me think outside the box on projects and through a simple brainstorm, come up with better SEO solutions for a page, product, or website.

Social Design & Optimization: The Power of Network Effects

One of the most interesting things I’ve been studying over the last year has been the power social design and network effects. Even though many of us have used Social Media for quite sometime, it has typically been what I would call a disconnected and fragmented system of communication. Now, of course, I have to make a statement like that to catch your attention, but, really, is it that far off?

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AJAX & SEO: A strategic approach to rankings

Dealing with the limitations of AJAX and Flash can be an SEOs worst nightmare. There are so many issues that come into play & usually you can deal with many AJAX SEO issues by developing Progressively Enhanced code. While, I’ve written about how to address crawling and indexing with AJAX and SEO. I wanted to take a little bit of a deep dive into this again, along with the bigger issue, ranking.

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Site Speed: Reducing Page Load Times and Increasing Pages Crawled

I’ve always been a big fan of quick page load times on sites from overall User Experience standpoint. But, ever since Google announced that they were using site speed in web search ranking I have become a big time stickler about this. After watching this for the last couple months, I’ve realized that my peskiness about the whole thing warranted just cause.

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Setting goals and executing with social media marketing

While at SXSW, Chris Winfield and I had our presentation on “Social media marketing for your business.” My biggest focus for the presentation was to help people realize the power of creating a plan, setting goals, and executing them. Overall, creating a marketing plan or strategy should not just involve trying to get some traffic or a few links. There needs to be an end result that helps the business bottom line, like getting new users.

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Business Development Opportunities: Find and Close Them

Having spent a lot of my career doing a lot more than just SEO, I’ve had to wear many different hats. One of my favorite hats to wear is actually the Business Development one. I’m total people person and I love the sales process. The feeling of closing a deal to me is almost as good as sex. (Sorry, I had to set the bar high).

So, rather than actually sitting here and writing another useless “SEO Tips” type post, I wanted to give to put together something a little more business focused, so I came up with the idea that I would write about how I find and close biz dev opportunities.

Business Development

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Are Google's real time and latest results REALLY based on relevance?

I’ve had a few colleagues and friends lately ask me about Google’s real time search results since they launched real time search about two months ago. To some of you, this might be an obvious post, as Rae from Outspoken Media pointed out with her post about Google enabling real time spam.

I was then alerted by a friend that apparently Google is filtering people based on relevance and followers and all that jazz. He pointed to an article talking about how Google ranks tweets. Which the author talks about hashtags, followers, relevance and all that jazz to get you to think that the real time results are actually influenced by these attributes in search.

Being the investigative person that I am, I decided that I needed to see this for myself and figured that American Idol would be something that is somewhat trending, it would be the right opportunity to test out the real time spam that Google enabled.

First, I did a search for American Idol and noticed some real time results. So, it was time for me to tweet away and see if I could get some results in there. Now, remember, I NEVER talk about Idol, I could care less about American Idol, and honestly, I know I’m entirely irrelevant to idol, but then I saw this rank:

So that was just a test…now some of you might say, well, that was because it was just talking about American Idol and only relevant to American Idol. Fine, I thought through that and figured it might be interesting to see what would happen if I posted a link to the Kindle in Amazon to see if you could spam affiliate offers via the real time results:

Done deal! Granted, I didn’t get any clicks from Google to that link, but it just goes to show that you can pretty much game the real time results fairly easily at this point. The more people look at those results and the more intertwined they become to the search experience, the more you could figure out ways to game it.

I could essentially create bots via twitter or hire overseas labor extremely cheap to go out there and just tweet all day with a bunch of affiliate links to trending topics and such with real time and maybe get some VERY minimal to no results. Then again, it makes me wonder if/when people will start clicking on those results that are relevant to the original searcher intent of their query? At that point, you’ve opened a flood gate of people that could do what I just mentioned above.

Just something to think about. Again, like I said, for some of us, this is pretty obvious stuff, but, thought it would just be interesting to run the analysis and post about it.

What are your thoughts about real time search results? Do you think they will be gamed and spammed more and more?

foursquare: The arrival of the location based business "game"

I’ve been on this huge kick of creating visibility for products online lately. All I can think about is how to gain visibility for an online brand. Along with that, I’ve been really interested in two other things: Local and Location Aware applications. I’ve had my eye on Yelp for a bit, but even more so lately as the mobile market is growing. But, even more than Yelp, I’m a huge fan of foursquare since I jumped on the bandwagon back at SXSW. Something I really like is that, like any smart business, they are adapting the product to the market and use. They’ve created a product that included Social Game features and recently launched foursquare everywhere. Now, don’t get me wrong, Yelp adding checkins could totally change the face of the game and knock foursquare out of the Mayor spot, so-to-speak (I had to do it!).

So, that all said, it’s important to note, that I wanted to take a look at foursquare from a perspective outside what everyone else is talking about with how cool the app is, but rather, talk about how it is great for marketing/monetization opportunities going forward.

1. Building Social Capital with Mayorship & Badges

As I mentioned opening this up, they added social gaming to the local mix and understand that social capital is an asset that is ever so important in todays online world. With the creation of Mayors and Badges, it creates an opportunity for individuals obtain a larger amount of social capital within their local cities/neighborhoods.

As a local business owner, wouldn’t you want to know who the people are that frequent your business and have an online presence. I know I would if I was a local business owner, I’d want to know who the people are that have the ability to talk up my business.

We’ve all heard Tara Hunt talk about The Whuffie Factor, and, it’s all very true, social capital is very important now and will continue to be moving forward. I think as local businesses understand that, they will start figuring out ways to market via channels like foursquare. Furthermore, smart local marketers will start figuring out ways to leverage foursquare when working with clients. Also, think about all the chain restaurants that have the ability to build this as a nationwide local targeted marketing initiative as more and more users adopt this.

2. Local Advertising with a real revenue model

I’m a marketer and I look for revenue models as a sign of a product taking that next step into the major leagues. I see foursquare having a major opportunity to create sponsored events, sponsored or featured locations, etc.

Now, before you say, “Why would they do that! Businesses paying to be listed is not authentic!” Think about it, when banners on the web came out, people threw up their arms, when Google Adwords came out, people yelled from rooftops, and when ad.ly (one of my fav. startups, btw) came out, people were outraged via Twitter…do you see a pattern??

It is inevitable for sponsored and premium/featured listings to be highlighted within the content that we see on a daily basis. Saying that it is evil and not right, is thinking without logic. Businesses can not live on without REAL revenue models. Here is how I could see something like this playout:

3. The ego is more important than you think

I’ll bring up Mayors and Badges for the second time in this post because it is worth the mention again. I think something we have failed to see in most Social Media products is the ability to touch the human Id and ego boosting. While we choose to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist, it is the base for all human activity. When we feel better about ourselves through any sort of ego-stroking, we tend to do that activity more: championships and trophies in sports, awards in entertainment, etc. Gaming companies do a great job of this, and you have to give credit to Zynga for recognizing this and on their platform with Mafia Wars and Farmville:

But, look at other Social Media platforms, Digg removed it’s top diggers list years ago because they didn’t want the users having more power than the product. Twitter has yet to introduce any sort of ego-boosting platform, (outside of the retweeting functionality), and Facebook really doesn’t have any way of producing this either at this moment. But, introduce foursquare in the mix and you’ve got a real tool for ever so important ego-stroking that we all choose to ignore. Becoming a mayor makes people feel self important, it provides a feeling of self worth. We shouldn’t think of it as a bad thing, it’s human nature for christ’s sake.

Whenever I tell people about foursquare, the first I find friends get excited about: becoming a mayor or getting badges.

4. Capturing local search results:

Being that I’m someone that understands SEO and the search game, I’m always going to look at opportunities to drive traffic. Now, while Yelp does have this market pretty cornered, as they have tons of authority in the local/review market, within a short period, I’ve seen foursquare locations show up top 10 and even top 5 in many situations for local results:

5. Customer Service has never been more important!

Consumers are now subconsciously advocating companies or they are talking about their complete dissatisfaction for another company. Remember, more than 50% of people will make a purchase or purchasing decision based on the reviews of that brand. If I see someone checkin via foursquare is talking about how horrible a location is, I’m probably not going to want to check it out. At the same time, if people really enjoyed their experience, it will make me add it as a to-do item in Foursquare.

This basically is the flip-side to what I talked about when it came to local/in-stream advertising. Customer Service is ever so important, because, even if you are paying for prime placement and top dollar for sponsorships, you can’t fake the overall customer experience.

The truth is, without even knowing it, consumers are becoming what I’ve dubbed: “Subconscious Advocates.” Consumers are revolutionizing the way they tout the brands, restaurants and shops that they love via the tips they leave or the shouts they make when they check-in to a location. Because of this, businesses need to create
opportunities to “wow” these customers and influencers daily, otherwise, I believe they will start to feel it as the market starts to adopt these services more and more.

What do you of the location aware model and/or foursquare? Where do you think it will end up or how will it play out?

Keep the conversation going on twitter, follow me: @tonyadam!

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