Archive for the ‘Search Optimization’ Category

Is Cuil Trying too Hard to be Cool?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I’m too sexy for cool, errr… I mean Cuil

The new search engine in town cuil.com thinks it can be a player alongside Google. But that name is gonna be a problem, I think.

From their press release;

“Cuil (pronounced COOL) provides organized and relevant results based on Web page content analysis. The search engine goes beyond today’s search techniques of link analysis and traffic ranking to analyze the context of each page and the concepts behind each query. It then organizes similar search results into groups and sorts them by category.”

When i first saw the name, before anyone told me it was supposed to be pronounced “cool”, the thought that came to my mind was “quil”. And now that they tell me it’s supposed to be “cool”, I’m thinking “lame”. Everybody knows that trying too hard to be cool is just not, erm…., you know, cool.

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Google’s Keyword Tool Now Shows Search Volume

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Google’s Adwords system has always had it keyword suggestion tool that would help to suggest related keywords but they’ve gone one better. Now they show search volumes for keywords. And the data does a decent job of going down to local level searches. YAY!!!!!

The tool has 3 versions. The external keyword tool can be used if you don’t have an Adwords account or don’t want to log into your account to do some keyword research. It also makes related keyword suggestions while showing volumes for those terms too. Love it :)

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Geo-Targeting by Country for Organic Search

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Letting the search engines know the specific country your business and website operates in is an essential search optimization technique for local search. Failing to address this can create drastically poor search engine exposure in the country that web surfers might be searching from. This is particularly true for businesses outside of the USA.

How Does Google Know What Country Your Business is In?

Top Level Domain Extension

Your domain name may give the first clue to your target country. The .com domain extension is primarily a generic extension. It has of course become the dominant domain extension but on its own it does not necessarily indicate anything about a websites location.

Country specific domain extensions on the other hand directly indicate the country the website is supposed to be targeting. For example my blog’s domain, Stever.ca, is a Canadian domain name.

A full list of country specific domain extensions can be seen here.

Web Host Location

The physical location of your web hosts server has a unique IP address and is tied to a physical mailing address. Determining the actual location of your hosts servers is highly important. Meanwhile many host companies misrepresent their server locations. Some pass themselves off as an American or Canadian webhost meanwhile their data center can often be located elsewhere.

This is a larger problem for Canadians than it is Americans. Most web data centers from the vast array of hosting business out there are located in the USA. Many Canadian hosts are using data centers located in the US. Some US companies may even be using data centers located in Asia or India.

You can use an IP checker like ip2country to determine a servers location. Simply enter the IP or web address of the hosts site or any sites you know are hosted by them. You should also ask the host before you open an account where their servers are located and where the IP addresses resolve to.

Google Webmaster Tools

A couple months ago Google added a new feature to their webmaster tools that allow you to specifically tell Google the country you are targeting with your website. This function is particularly useful if you are using a generic TLD like a .com or .net AND your host is not located in your country. Setting your Geographic target in the Webmaster Tools will update your sites geo-targeting in Google Search Results within a few days of making the changes.

I recently had a problem with a Canadian clients website that was using a .com domain name. They had obtained hosting from a Canadian company with servers located in Montreal but for some reason the IP address of the server was not resolving properly (ip checkers showed no country). As a result their results in Google.ca were terrible.

They had page 1 rankings for many of their main keywords in Google.com but were ending up way back on page 5 to 8 in Google.ca for the same terms. For many Canadians web users the .ca engine is the default that Google serves them. Google is tracking the searchers IP too.

After arguing with the host and them trying to tell me that Google does not care about physical locations I then remembered the Webmaster Tools Geo-targeting feature. A few days later the site was up on page 1 of Google.ca with pretty much the same rankings it had in Google.com :)

Geo-Targeting and the Other Search Engines

MSN and Yahoo are slightly lacking in how well they geo-target websites. They obviously use domain extensions but Yahoo in particular ignores server location, or so I’ve heard. Yahoo is in the business of web hosting and have a network of data centers around the globe. They realize that many websites are simply not hosted in their home country and that the web hosting industry is truly competitive on a global scale.

Other than that I don’t really know how Yahoo and MSN do their geo-targeting. :( Perhaps another local SEO professional could chime in with some info on that??

Switching Away from the .COM

It is certainly true that the .com domain extension is the most recognized of all the TLD’s and as such many businesses feel they must be using a .com

That’s changing. Outside the USA most people know and recognize their own country specific domain extension. So well so that it can add a certain level of credibility to a local business. In Canada you have the .ca, Britain has the .co.uk, Germany the .de, France the .fr, Japan the .jp, Australia the .com.au, etc., etc.

With internet users maturing in their knowledge of the web these country specific domain extension no longer are simply second rate domain names. If your business is still concerned about having a .com should try and register both. Redirect the .com to your country specific domain to capture the type in traffic who forgot your not a .com.

Considering the space of .com real estate becoming scarcer with good names harder and harder to find, as well as the importance of geo-targeting, using your country specific domain extension is often the way to go for local business websites.

Even the .us domain extension has value for Americans, though considerably less than the .ca does for Canadians. The legacy of the .com being the standard has been preventing the .us from gaining the credibility that other country level domains have achieved in their home countries. But this is likely to change over time.

Geo-targeting for Pay-Per-Click Search Marketing

That’s a separate topic for a future post, I suppose.

Update: I eventually did write two articles about geo-targeting for PPC