On Vacation Jun 28-July 5 + Seo-Browser

Hi all,

I'm going on a family vacation to see relatives in the Toronto and Ottawa area for the next little while, so unlike my normal travel ties I won't be as accessible as normal. As a matter of fact, unless you are currently on my "To Do" list, I probably won't respond unless it's clearly an emergency or I said I would.

The good news is that I *will* be working on my "To Do" list (which currently has 73 items on it) whenever I can, as well as hopefully getting some work done on my upcoming book on International SEO. That means that if I've been slow to get back to you, but have promised to do so - I finally will. Once I'm completely caught up, I'll be getting some admin staff to help me so I won't have another issue like this again.

So it's a bit of a working vacation, but it *will* be a vacation, and I'm not going to apologise for that. I'm really looking forward to seeing my family again, and introducing my kids for the first time to their cousins, who I'm sure they will get along with really well.

One industry note before I go: SEOMoz had a post this week regarding a site that was, as it turned out, being a little naughty. Stupidly, ineffectively naughty, but naughty nonetheless. Rand mentioned at one point that there are somethings that tools like seo-browser can't do, like check for this type of cloaking.

I definitely appreciate the shout out, (SEOMoz's SEO Tools are really good themselves, so I take the recommendation as informed and all the more valuable as a result), but I just consider that kind of statement, true as it may be, as a challenge.

Further down in the comments, the ever-quoted Matt Cutts mentioned his favorite tool for detecting this type of thing: telneting to port 80 for a totally raw dump.

Hmmm, a problem (seo-browser can't show raw dumps) and a solution (telnet can). As a result, very shortly you will be seeing expanded functionality in the seo-browser where the http header capture grabs raw data using telnet-like behaviour, and can even report itself as various user-agents, including Googlebot, in the process.

Additionally, we'll be rolling out non-English language support - I do international SEO, so being able to view a site in seo-browser properly in Chinese or Russian is important to me :)



SMX Advanced Notes, Part 1

One of the problems with having been doing this (SEO and SEM) for a while and with having a head for search trivia like me is that I have found myself increasingly disinterested in most search conference sessions.

If I have to sit through one more "Links are important" session I'll scream. At this point, my interest in the conferences is meeting up with old and new friends, networking, and learning little nuggets of info after hours over a beer.

But SMX Advanced is different. For the first time in more than 3 years, I've actually attended sessions because I felt they were interesting and I could learn something. It's a wonderful feeling. I'm a natural student by nature, and I love learning new things.

Some interesting things I learned today:

  • I've been doing PPC on the content network wrong. HUGE kudos to David Szetela of Clix Marketing for giving me a "lightbulb moment" that I can't believe I'd missed. Insight: The keywords for the content network need to be different from the keywords in a search campaign. You need to choose keywords that would appear on the types of pages that you want the ad to show up on, not the search terms people looking for your products would type in. If you sell trucks, on the search network, you would target "trucks" and related terms, but for the content network you are targeting the buyer in a more general sense (ie an outdoorsy guy, for example), so you would on things like "hunting", "offroading", etc. Totally makes sense, and I totally missed it.
  • Part of the Quality score is the CTR. One interesting strategy is to bid high (even on the content network) in order to get a high CTR. Then when you get a high resulting QS, you can lower your bids and still keep the same position. Think of it as a QS jumpstart. Cool.
  • The term "dotscale" (.scale), referring to sites/technologies that naturally get better as they get bigger and used more. Social media like Facebook is a good example of this. It's useless unless your friends are all on it, too.
  • MS is beta testing a new offline tool for PPC (like the Adwords Editor). Nice.
  • Google now recommends the "First Click Free" approach to membership content.
  • A cool idea that I can use for one of my clients: use javascript to append tracking on URLs (if you really must do this), which will leave them clean for bots.