Green like Trees or Green Like Money?

Today a talented co worker with a nice smile pointed out a new website online where you could contribute 2 dollars, and they would plant a tree and give you a digital tree on their website. This idea was intended to be a charitable situation, but when it was Sphunn, it caused quite a few negative sphinns, and a lot of venom. ( Update: Unfortunately, It was removed from Sphinn, but I did manage to save a few of the quotes below from the discussion )

Is it ok to take greenback to become Green?

There are a couple of issues at play here, the first one being a morality question. Sassy internet blogger Sugarrae says that she has a problem with this:

Because this was a shady way to promote this, you got called out, now you’re being an asshat about things by trying to justify using a charitable act to earn money. Not cover your costs, but earn money.

In his defense, the creator of the site, Troy Dunn, Director of Web Development at Page1Solutions, rationalizes that

I don’t know how much time the rest of you have spent working for non-profits or raising money for the environement, but it’s not easy. So I came up with a way that benifts website owners and the planet. Not sure what the big deal with that is.

My personal take on it is that I don’t have a problem with people getting a benefit by running a green operation to plant trees. That would be like saying that people shouldn’t get any money back when they recycle…It’s not BAD that they received money for doing a good thing, it’s a good thing they did something positive, it’s just a bonus that they got paid too! What’s your opinion?

The other conflict should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to the search engines recently. The problem is that the tree’s he is selling on his site come with a hyperlink. Just think, if he had just left off the link part of the program, he might have avoided this problem all together. However, since it’s now part and parcel of his site, we need to ask what about Google’s stance on paying for links

There could be a counter argument that any SEO is going to know that only the first few links on the site are going to be worth anything, so in terms of actual seo benefit, it’s a bit questionable. I think that if he adds No-follows to the links, that he will skate past google’s paid link prohibition, and people can still feel good about planting a real tree and a digital tree.

Update: The Sphinn of this article discussion was *I say questionably* removed, I sent an email to Sphin to find out why,

Hi Jeremy,

The submission was removed as 5 members of Sphinn marked it as spam.
We do not see it as relevant to Sphinn and it also isn’t a news story
or topic of discussion.

Hmm,  “Break Dancing SEO’s” is relevant to sphinn, news story AND a topic of discussion though…

Here is my response to Sphinn:

I disagree with you and think you should reinstate my post: It is a topic of discussion as well as being news worthy:
1. Before you removed the other sphinn discussion there was a large number of SEO industry people involved in debating the post-
2. It’s a discussion of a site that may be considered selling “paid Links” – Absolutely this is a “Topic of Discussion” in the seo industry. Are you saying there is no debate about paid links?
3. The ethical question of utilizing a web charity to make a profit, and also contribute to the environment isn’t “newsworthy”?

Those WERE the Droids I was looking for…

Tk421 realizes his mistake…

Funny story. It was over 10 years ago now that I saw the original Sad Storm Trooper Photo here, made the addition of “Those WERE the droids I was looking for…” and posted it to Flickr and sent it to my office mate.

I was really surprised at how it became one of the early viral memes. The Flickr profile has half a million views, it even has it’s own meme generator now and I’ve even seen people on the street with it on a t-shirt.

Youtube users are not poor teenagers

YouTube Video Audience has deep Pockets

If you thought that video websites were only visited by bored, disillusioned youths in America, then the recent 2008 stats from Youtube should open your eyes!

The virtual audience actually has the highest percentage of users making an annual income of $50,000 – $74,999 annually, with 27 %. Even more surprisingly, nearly half of Youtubes users have an annual income that actually exceeds $75,000 dollars!

Adjusting Marketing to address your Audience

The numbers are there, America is becoming more and more enveloped with video, and websites that ignore this type of content for their site are losing out on a huge piece of the pie. As a site owner here are some quick ways to get into video

  1. Film a product introduction for your site
  2. Produce helpful tips for your industry
  3. Cover an industry event like a convention or meeting

There are a variety of hosting platforms that are free to use, and embed into your website. You could use Youtube, Vimeo, or Viddler. However, if your video is quality and you want to get the biggest splash, then I recommend using http://www.Tubemogul.com where they syndicate out and track your video across a wide number of platforms. You of course can choose which platform you grab your embed code form, but this method will get your site out as far as possible. Natually you are also going to want to follow some good content writing and seo advice!

Treat Pictures like Visual Content

A Pile of Clothes
Don’t let your Images become a messy pile

Utilizing Images to Enhance your website content

There are many different types of content that people could be looking for online. People looking for the same subject are often going to be searching differently if they want to see different types of site content. With Google’s Universal Search playing a larger and larger role to accomodate these different types of searches, you need to make sure that you are incorporating media properly in your page content. In the Google Webmaster chat about Optimizing Images for Search it became clear that the context of the image is used to help determine it’s relevance to a keyword. So, as you add content to your site, make sure your images aren’t just piled up, and thrown willy nilly about the page. Your images should align with the content to further the message. No one wants to read through blocks of text with no relief. Additionally, that content you’re adding has it’s Alt text(title) description, so that Google can see how that image lines up with the information being conveyed in the text itself.

Google Webmaster Chat – Google opens up

Thoughts on the strength of DMOZ? If you can get a DMOZ link it’s helpful, but there’s no special “DMOZ boost” or anything like that. – Matt Cutts

Google’s Webmaster chat is a blitz of information from Google. The web ex interface is displaying different demonstrations, while the Question and Answer section is wit with several hundred rapid fire questions that are answered by a variety of Googlers. You should keep your eyes and ears out for the next one as there are OODLES of information given out in the course of an hour.

I think a very helpful presentation came from Jonathan Simon a Googler from Webmaster Chat: He was talking about different items that can cause you to drop in rankings

  • Duplicate content: rule of thumb – 1 url and only 1 url for each page
  • syndication without credits back to you
  • Having your site scraped and your content showing on spam sites
  • Server issues can impact site, if the server is down when Google bot rolls round, you can have trouble
  • Major configuration changes
  • Competition Improved their site or linking
  • Change in search trends
  • Any changes that violate guidelines by you or your marketers

He was of course kind enough to recommend some courses of action to take when your rankings dip.

  1. File a Reconsideration
  2. Post to Webmaster help Chat
  3. Add fresh unique content
  4. Develop Tools, mashups, gadgets, subscribed links
  5. Make sure your site is Geo- targeted * Go to your webmaster tools, then go to the tools section. Then add your business to Local business center

Again, if you can get into the next webmaster chat- it is really worth your time!

Yahoo’s Secret Weapon

Yahoo! is using every possible weapon available to keep it’s independance from Microsoft. Recently, at their Search Monkey Development Party they launched a new offensive with a NEW STRATEGY!!!

BEER!

I personally commend Yahoo! on their innovation…now if they could just vend them to me when I search Yahoo! ….

Content Writing Advice Article #1

Back to basics:

It’s been a while since I went back to the fundamentals on my blog and talked about certain principles of content writing that I find to be fundamental advice for every site builder to follow.

Be Centered:

Kung Fu is about finding your center…I just have very large center- Sammo Hung

Like kung fu, your website is something that should be built over time, with patience and dedication. Find that central theme to keep your site tied together and keep practicing the fundamentals. Use your header tags properly, create proper meta titles and descriptions, and actually use your keywords correctly in context on the page.

6 Reasons why Live Blogging doesn’t Ruin SEO Conferences

I checked on my twtter this morning to find that Rae Hoffman and Lisa Barone were going at it tooth and nail over the concept of “Live Blogging” and it’s impact on conference attendance and value. If you aren’t clear, live bloggin is done by conference attendees who have their laptops going and are transcribing and interpretting the panel into a blog post. They also link up mentioned resources the speakers throw out.

Sugar Rae came out in full force against Live blogging conferences for several reasons.

I don’t think live bloggers should be allowed – why pay for a conf if you can get me transcribed for free? It also hurts quality of information – earlier days, speakers gave away more goods because it was shared with less people they give away less now, because you’re blogging it to the world… – Rae Hoffman

On the other hand, Lisa Barone wonders what the fuss is about, it’s just extended coverage.

What’s the difference between liveblogging and what WebProNews does? Press has always been allowed into shows – Lisa Barone

Having been to SES New York, I beleive that anyone worth their SEO salt will attend conferences regardless of live blogging because of the following reasons:

  1. The face to face time and opportunity to participate in the Q&A portion of the conference
  2. Live blogging is not totally accurate, as it is from one perspective and they may interpret something differently
  3. Live bloggers don’t cover all panels
  4. Live bloggers add the links to the resources and people mentioned by the speaker- As an attendee, my notes were sparse in comparison
  5. I posted a blog article based off a SES panel a few days later…so since Bloggers post articles after hearing conferences, so should all bloggers be banned from conferences too?
  6. You’re at the conference to speak to the public, if you didn’t want that info to go out into the world, then why would you go speak in the first place?

“You add value to the freeloaders at home – NOT paying conference attendees or speakers – Rae Hoffman

As a “freeloader” and as a conference attendee, I say Freedom of the press! The better the flow of information from cnferences to a broader audience, the more interested they are in getting into those conferences!

What do you say, free loaders? Should live blogging be banned or should the information flow?

Get attention to your content by optimizing your images

In the recent Google Webmaster Help Chat session, they presented a very thorough discussion of how to optimize your images.

We all know that Google’s Universal search is altering the way that users interct with Google’s search interface. Instead of just links to websites, media clips, images, audio clips, new articles, maps, book reviews, restaurant reviews and more are showing up in the search results. The question at hand is whether or not those results will supplement the traditional sites, or actually replace those in the rankings.

I had the opportunity to pose this question directly to Google, at both the SES conference in New York in March, and the Google Webmaster Help Chat session.

Universal Search Panel SES New YorkUniversal Search Panel SES New YorkAt the SES conference in New York Jack Menzel director of the universal search program stated that currently Universal searches are only showing up for a limited number of searches, and while there are several versions out it has not been decided. This seems to be the company line, as you can see how Susan Moskwa fielded my concern.

Q: Will Universal Image search results REPLACE links to sites? I.e. Instead of 10 sites plus images, will we see 1 image, 1 video and 8 sites?

Susan Moskwa – 9:43 am

A: We’re constantly testing what works well in our search results, including whether differenty types of universal results are “additive” or will replace one of the 10 web results. For now I’d say, stay tuned. 🙂

Why does that relate to image optimization? Because images and multimedia will be showing up in the organic search results more often, so it is critical that you optimize your pictures as best as possible. Use these Guidlines for your images to make sure gets them placed according to their relevant topics.

  • Add Alt Text to your Images

  • Don’t Stuff the keywords with anything other than an accurate description of your picture. Around 80-100 characters is a good rule of thumb

  • Have relevant text surrounding your image

  • provide quality photos, Google does pay attention to image quality when possible

  • name the file something that relates to it’s subject matter

For Example if I were optimizing this image here of a Domo Kun Penguin, then I would place it close to the text that talks about the Domo Kun Penguin and apply the tips above. Domo Kun Penguin

Listen to the Domo Kun Penguin and your images will be optimized!

Update: I am please to say that Google sees my blog as #1 for Domo kun Penguin 🙂 Now just waiting to see if the image gets picked up in image search as well. (for editoral purposes it should be noted that the picture and page were added to mixx.com and stumble upon).

domo kun penguin serp

This also reinforces my previous post about how quickly blogs are ranking for new keywords, since that post was made less than 24 hours and already is #1 for that keyword.