WebmasterWorld Boston Site Reviews, part Deux

More site reviews from WMW Boston, continued from HERE

6. eomega.com 

27 years teaching Tai Chi and other personal enrichment technniques. Want to rank better for terms like Tai Chi since they are a key resource.

Tim: Not clear from site what you actually do at the institute. Write more about your key focus which helps both people and SEs figure out the site. Put "Yoga" and "Tai chi" keywords on home pages!

Bruce: Look at competitors Static pages with more decriptions would be better. Send more NON volatile content to home page. [By Non Volatile he means less flash, dynamic, changing material which can confuse the indexing process]

Matt: A good site map is important. If you use java mouseover navigation FIND ANOTHER WAY.

"Treat Search Engines as dumb little kids with short attention spans"
(do a separate post on this concept which is important)

Change your huge URLs to more intuitive reading like /carol-anderson/. Weird or long URLs can fool the search engine and you have a lot of them.

Thomas: List of workshops is WAY too long – cut it up into sections with better categories which will spider better. (Matt nodded that this was a good idea).

Jake: All Title tags in the site appear to be the same! Bad.

7. Shopping.com [this is one of the largest shopping portals]. They appear to be having big ranking problems though they have a huge number of indexed pages. He said 80% of their server load is from SE crawling(!).

Matt: Mouseover problems? Always use DASHES as separators rather than underscores. Underscores will be treated as connecting the two words.

Jake: Load balancing at the servers can lead to duplicate content filtering.

[Shopping.com said they had som latency (slow loading page) issues. Matt indicated this is UNlikely to cause problems with Google but might with MSN.

Users have complained about empty epinions.com pages – get rid of them.
Use more user friendly URLs – more for users than for Search engines.

8. CorporateCasuals.com. Now in top 60 for most terms but can't rank for "embroidery".

Tim: More descriptive anchor text needed.

Matt: 3 parameter URLs are not good. DO NOT use ID=. Best to use NO parameters but keep to 1-2 if you must do it. Stop using nofollows on (internal?) links. These prevent the SE from following internal navigation and beefing up the site.
Think about attracting attention to the site to get more inbound links.

Bruce: Descriptions are NOT unique and that is bad.

9. Arcamax.com "We syndicate content. Site Tips wanted. Comics are top read at the site. They send out joke of the day. 30-40 subscribers per week from home page and position of subscription box on home page does NOT appear to affect this. 40-50% leave home page without going in to site.

Matt: I see irrelevant ads and a toolbar download that might scare people. Focus on other things like jokes and cartoons.

Tim: Leverage RSS power. Need content surfacing [more readily available?] Make more specific calls to action.

WebmasterWorld Boston pictures and blog posts

HERE are a few more WebmasterWorld Boston pictures.   Garrett at Search Engine Journal
has a great set of links to posts about the conference as does Lee Odden.

I think a much better picture set is going to get posted by Jake Baille soon – I'll try to link to that when I find it.

Matt’s mom’s blog

When Matt Cutts mentioned that his Mom had been blogging longer than he has it set off a flurry of "Find Matt's Mom's blog" activity. She actually has three blogs! Betty is a great lady who is using the blogs to bring together people and ideas and help spread the wealth we enjoy here in the USA to those less fortunate in China. No wonder Matt's such a smart and clever fellow!

Matt's mom's blog

Blessing Hands Charity   Betty's great charity effort – send them some money!   In fact it looks like there is a matching grant in place now through another educational charity so this will double the effect of your contribution.   Especially for those at Webmasterworld Boston who enjoyed Matt's helpful sessions I recommend you pony up for his Mom's worthy efforts in China.

Google and Yahoo review websites at WebmasterWorld Boston

The best session at WebmasterWorld Boston had site reviews of nine websites by Matt Cutts of Google, Tim Mayer of Yahoo, and SEOs Thomas Bindl and Bruce Clay. Jake Baille did a fine job moderating, keeping the reviews fast. Here's a summary which I'll add to during the day as I recover from the conference here in Concord, MA.

1) Britannica.com Problem: Brittanica's subscription content is behind the pay firewall and therefore not crawlable. They don't want to change this model too much. They rank poorly for many terms for which they think they are authoritative. What should they do?

Matt Cutts: Wikipedia gives people all the information they are looking for and therefore ranks above Brittanica. Paid firewall snips are NOT enough information to attract inbound links. Consider picking a few articles in highly searched areas and making 100% of that content crawlable. It's tough to rank a page with just a paragraph of text and even tougher to get links to that content.

Bruce Clay: Check your "Expertness" by analyzing inbound links, outbound links. Check technical factors related to weighting and content rankings. Check server issues including accidental replication of content which can lead to duplicate content filters.

Tim Mayer: Consider a more colloquial writing style (I understood this to mean that that SE's are looking for natural conversational styles over formal or automated content though I don't think Tim said that specifically). Talk to the Search Engines about an information feed program.

ResumeRabbit.com He wanted optimization comments on a new home page here: edirectpublishing.com/newlandingpage/ BUT in a fun moment at the start of this review Matt said he'd gotten a LOT of unsolicited emails from ResumeRabbit and felt that may have "tainted" the brand. "how about ResumeAardvark?" suggested Matt in perhaps his *worst* piece of advice during the conference.

Matt: Links look good, you've made the site crawlable.
Thomas: Links, links, links (I think he meant one always needs more quality inbound links)
Tim: Use keyword tags! They matter in some SEs
Bruce: Drop id= which is in the source code for some/all pages.

InternationalLiving.com Problem: We are one of the best sites in the niche, but don't rank high.
Tim: Lose the flash download at home page. You are losing people immediately by forcing them to download stuff to see the whole site.

Bruce: Put the postcard thing in an IFRAME, consider more consistent home page text rather than regular changes.

Thomas: Consider CSS style sheets for better look. Use of H tag is good.

Matt: The site feels "thinner" than it really is. Emphasize the detailed content and the fact the project predates the web and has been online for a LONG time. Try to buy Internationaliving.com, a similar URL that could be taking some traffic away due to spelling confusion. If you do this use 301 redirect to send them to the real [canonical] site. People make weird queries you can't predict so cast a wider net [using emphasis on more keywords] to pull in long tailed searches.


As the big flash home page …. slowly ….loaded …. the crowd erupted into laughter. [Note to all my friends in Travel and tourism STOP HIRING PRINT AGENCIES TO BUILD YOUR WEBSITES and STOP USING FLASH as a key component of any part of the site – it does NOT index well and often confuses the search engines!]

Problem – they get 80% of the traffic from terms "Cherokee" and "Cherokee NC"? and want more long tail searches to deliver traffic. How to optimize.

Tim: Build another site that is static and optimized for search. Flash is a BIG disadvantage.

Matt: Do not build a separate website but do a text version of this one. Note that if you select a text blurb on your site and can find it elsewhere you may be under a duplicate content penalty/filter. [he mentioned tripod.com because I think he found some duplicatation of this site there?]. Flash: You are not getting link credit in the index for [the flash based links?] but duplicate content is probably more important.

Separate navigation links from Flash. Matt: I turn off Flash. You may be losing 5% of traffic just by using Flash.


I don't think Big Mouth asked for this, rather somebody wanted Matt to explain why and how they got dropped and then back in the index so fast.

Matt: Turn off CSS to see if hidden text is a problem. Look at internet Archive (or Alexa Wayback Machine) for page history [?] They had 13,000 characters stuffed into a small box, this was considered hidden text and they were banned. They cleaned it up and filed for reinclusion and are now back. Matt indicated they are not "out to get you" and this was a simple case where he did not go back in to fine every possible violation, rather when they removed the offending hidden text he felt they deserved back in. PR7 indicates a "robust" site.

Continued HERE 

WebmasterWorld Boston moves to the Elephant & Castle


WMW Boston ended at a nice Pub on Devonshire in Downtown Boston. This conference seemed to get better each day and although I felt some of the sessions covered "much of the same" things I'd been hearing at the last two Pubcons the special sessions and networking were great as always.

I'm kind of burned out right now from hundreds of new people, conversations, and ideas but I'll have some time tomorrow to pull together my notes on the site reviews session which was very good.

I think the highlight of this conference was a very enjoyable dinner with Aaron Wall, one of those very few who is *so good* at search optimization that Matt Cutts was asking *him* questions.

Aaron is an excellent guy. Buy his book!

Webmaster World Day 2 – Jeremy, Matt, Robert on blogging

The blogger session at PubCon Boston was a crowd favorite. Jeremy Zawodny, Matt Cutts, and Robert Scoble talked about their experiences as the key "unofficial" spokespeople for Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. The big item here was "Where is Matt's Mom's blog?"   

Jeremy also gave an interesting summary of his experiences blogging about the troubled history at Yahoo Finance.   He compared it unfavorably to Google's new product suggesting Google was doing things Yahoo should and could have done long ago.  His gutsy post got him a meeting with the new Finance program manager who was new and wanted to brief him on what appear to be excellent upcoming features.  The moral of the story seemed somewhat in line with Scoble's insistence that companies need to "blog or die" and that allowing this type of open examination is healthy, leading to faster action and enlightenment.

I'm not so sure that on balance negative blogging episodes have a positive impact on the company, but I do think that the long term, honest blogging by Zawodny and Scoble and Matt's new efforts send a very powerful credibility signal to the community and indicate their companies "get the new web" in an important way.   

I hope that YPN and other "official" blogs work to retain an honest, creative voice.   I'm skeptical and waiting to see if that is even possible when the blog is under corporate management.   Better to just cut your people loose, treat them well, and involve the whole world in the conversation.

The Dovecote

I’m enjoying the great hospitality of my old friend Tom and wife Diane here in their cozy house in Concord, just around the river bend from the Old North Bridge. It’s called “The Dovecote” and was Louisa’s model for one of the sister’s houses in “Little Women”.

Benjamin Hosmer, a minuteman at the first battle of the American Revolution, lived in this house in 1775. The Alcotts were here some 50 years later. Louisa Alcott’s first poem was written here. Among the greatest thinkers of their time, Emerson, Thoreau, and Bronson Alcott very likely met on occasion here to discuss their progressive vision of the new American experience and ideas about social life, nature, and philosophy called the “trancendental movement”

Webmaster World Boston

The session of the Webmasterworld conference wrapped up today with PubCon tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow I'll try to post pix and summaries of my two favorite sessions which were Jeremy, Matt, and Robert about blogging and the site reviews by Matt, Tim, Bruce, and Tom where I have a very detailed summary of all sites reviewed and much of the advice given. Yahoo also threw a very nice party at a local club called "Saint" which was so stylish with the simple "St" on the door I walked right past and had to ask directions.

Overall the "big news" to me is that there is not a lot of new complexity to the SEO scene – in fact it's clearer than ever that site quality is the best metric for how you'll do in the rankings. Things seem to be moving away from organic optimization and to PPC optimizing.

Taxation within celebrations is Tyranny?!

Due to the Patriots Day holiday, residents of Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia will have until Tuesday, April 18.

Is this fair?  I think NOT!    I say everyone is entitled to an EQUAL right to procrastinate until the last dang minute and this denies me, a citizen of Oregon, an equal right to the good people of Mass.

I think it was New England patriot Patrick Henry who said "Give me more time to file my taxes or give me a deduction"

The shot heard ’round the world

Concord and Lexington argue over which town can claim the first shot of the American Revolution. Lexington is where some shots first took place as the British moved out of Boston to look for guns hidden in Concord, but Concord's North Bridge is where the more organized and successful resistance to the British gathered early on April 19th, 1775. Several colonian "Minutemen" and British soldiers were killed in this skirmish.

Tomorrow they will reenact that historic battle.

"The Shot Heard Round the World" is a line from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" about the battle at the North Bridge, a song / poem he wrote in 1827 to commemorate the event.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
O Thou who made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free, —
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raised to them and Thee.