Webspam projects in 2010?

About a year and a half ago, I asked for suggestions for webspam projects for 2009. The feedback that we got was extremely helpful. It’s almost exactly the middle of 2010, so it seemed like a good time to ask again: what projects do you think webspam should work on in 2010 and beyond?

Here’s the instructions from an earlier post:

Based on your experiences, close your eyes and think about what area(s) you wish Google would work on. You probably want to think about it for a while without viewing other people’s comments, and I’m not going to mention any specific area that would bias you; I want people to independently consider what they think Google should work on to decrease webspam in the next six months to a year.

Once you’ve come up with the idea(s) that you think are most pressing, please add a constructive comment. I don’t want individual sites called out or much discussion; just chime in once with what you’d like to see Google work on in webspam.

Add your suggestion below, and thanks!

[POLL] Help me pick my next 30-day challenge!

This month I made my 30 day challenge be “Don’t respond to email after 10 p.m.” I’ve done very well overall on this challenge, and I like the results a lot. I’ll probably try to keep up this behavior.

Now I need to pick my next challenge. I read through the 350+ suggestions and comments that people wrote, and put together a poll. Please vote below for the one thing you think I should try to do for 30 days.

(This poll is now closed, but I’m including a picture of what the results were.)

What should I do for my next 30 day challenge?

I can’t promise that I’ll do each item, but looking back over the last year, I have had good success at doing the things from the first 30 day challenge poll.

Give Buzz another look

Have you given Buzz a try recently? Robert Scoble just asked if it was time to reconsider Buzz. Coincidentally I said almost the same thing in a question and answer session with Danny Sullivan last week at the SMX Advanced search conference.

I’ll repeat what I said last week. Do you remember when you first started on Twitter, and you didn’t know quite what to do with it? Who do I follow? What do I say? I didn’t really “get” Twitter for months. But as I found interesting people to follow and got the hang of it, I began to see the appeal of Twitter and started using it more often. I’ve noticed Buzz is tracing that same trajectory for me: an initial burst, followed by a bit of a slump, and then a steady climb as I found people that make Buzz interesting.

Buzz fits nicely between tweeting and blogging. Twitter is perfect when you want to share a link or a single crystalized idea. But Twitter isn’t as strong for group discussion or expressing medium- to long-form ideas. At the same time, blogging is great when you want a permalinked url that will stand the test of time, but it can be a real pain to write a blog post. I always feel like I have to polish my blog posts and it seems to take me at least an hour to write a blog post no matter what I say.

Buzz has the casual feel of Twitter, but you can dive into a topic pretty deeply. Buzz is easier than a blog post, but can look almost as polished. I find Buzz especially good for asking opinions, because the signal-to-noise ratio is (at least right now) quite high. I think Buzz is incredibly strong for internal company discussions too, so I’m looking forward to Buzz rolling into Google Apps.

If you haven’t checked out Buzz, or haven’t checked it out recently, you might want to give Buzz another look. You can follow me on Buzz if you’re interested; we’re having a nice discussion about favorite Chrome extensions right now.

SEO site review session from Google I/O 2010

A couple weeks or so ago, we did an SEO site review session at Google I/O 2010. The video from that session is now live:

The video is about an hour long, but I hope it’s a pretty good use of your time if you’re interested in search engine optimization. Enjoy!

SEO Advice: Make a web page for each store location

If your company has a bunch of store locations, please don’t hide that information behind a search form or a POST. If you want your store pages to be found, it’s best to have a unique, easily crawlable url for each store. Ideally, you would also create an HTML sitemap that points to the web pages for your stores (and each web page should have a unique url). If you have a relatively small number of stores, you could have a single page that links to all your stores. If you have a lot of stores, you could have a web page for each (say) state that links to all stores in that state.

Here’s a concrete example. I’m a big fan of Pinkberry because I love frozen yogurt: both the delicious treat and the new version of Android. :) But Pinkberry’s store locator page only offers a search form. Pinkberry has a url for each store (for example, here’s their page for a San Jose location). But because Pinkberry doesn’t provide an HTML sitemap on their store locator page, it’s harder for search engines to discover those pages exist. And in fact for the query [pinkberry san jose], Google does find the specific page, but it doesn’t rank as highly as it might; some other search engines don’t return that web page at all.

I was able to find a list of store locations on Pinkberry’s site, but it’s a lot harder to find than it should be. My advice to Pinkberry would be to add a sentence to their store locator page that says “Or see the full list of all Pinkberry store locations.” That would be helpful not only for regular users but also for search engines.

This was one concrete example, but lots of large companies mess this up. If you have a lot of store or franchise locations, consider it a best practice to 1) make a web page for each store that lists the store’s address, phone number, business hours, etc. and 2) make an HTML sitemap to point to those pages with regular HTML links, not a search form or POST requests.

By the way, Google does provide Google Places (formerly Google Local Business Center) where you can tell Google directly about your business, as do other search engines. But that doesn’t change the fact that you should provide a web page for each store–that lets anyone on the web find your store locations more easily.

P.S. If I were doing a full SEO site review on Pinkberry, I’d mention that they have a slight duplicate content issue, because they have a two different urls for their San Jose location. That’s not a huge deal, but employing the rel=canonical tag would allow Pinkberry to select a single, nicer url instead of search engines trying to pick between two identical pages.

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