Monthly Archives: July 2007

Week in review – SEO and Web Analytics Blog Posts

Search Engine Optimization articles

Search Engine Optimization Pricing – This is an article that details the SEO pricing model for SEOMoz, a premiere SEO company in Seattle. This will give you a good idea if you are paying too much or too little. However, it will still be up to you to decide if you are getting what you are paying for.

A Complete Glossary of Essential SEO Jargon – Simple enough. This is one you should permanently bookmark. Learn how to talk the talk, so you sound like you know what you are talking about. There are about 130 Search Engine Optimization terms for you to learn.

Web Analytics articles

Google Analytics Artistes – This article outlines a great 6 week online Google Analytics training course offered up by ROI Revolution, and Google Analytics Authorized Consultant.

Google is not moving – Some statistics on the volume of searches. Looks like Google is widening the gap between itself and the other top search engines – Yahoo, MSN, and AOL.

Top Ten Web Analytics Blogs: July 2007 – Every year, Avinash Kaushik evaluates the universe of Web Analytics blogs, and ranks them according to their FeedBurner and Technorati subscribers. He has listed the Top 10 Web Analytics Blogs, and listed his personal top three. Definitely add these to your RSS reader.

The Problem with Free Analytics – July 2007 – There were a series of articles this week discussing the Fee vs. Free study, and the attitudes of Web Analytics:

The general argument is that if you standardize on free tools, you are under-investing in Web Analytics. The results draw a correlation between the amount of money spent on web analytics tools, and money spent on anything else you will need to make your sites (or your business) successful. These articles make point and counterpoint, and make for some good reading.

How to Twitter Your Way to SEO

    Twitter is a new Web 2.0 phenomenon. It is a site where you can log on and answer the question “What are you doing right now?” Each entry you make on your Twitter account is called a “tweet”. You can then link to your friend’s Twitter account and read what they have been doing. Twitter was very popular at the Mix 07 conference I went to earlier this year. But the big question is, does Twitter have value for the Enterprise 2.0?

    Reading the articles above, the answer would seem to be Yes. Twitter, just like blogs, is indexed at a furious pace because of the constant flux of content. Twitter has a very high Google PageRank of 8 out of 10, and some very popular Twitter accounts have PageRanks of 4, 5 or 6 out of 10. These are great numbers, and means that the content is indexed very frequently and appears on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) often. But how can you use Twitter to the advantage of your company?

    With Search Engine Optimization, it’s all about driving traffic to your site through organic search. Organic search is all about content and backlinks. And Twitter’s content is indexed and displayed with high frequency. It seems like a perfect fit. Create a Twitter account for your company or development team. Any time your web site is launched, upgraded, achieves a milestone, or enters a major ad campaign, you Twitter it with a link to your site. This should get your site indexed even quicker, and create inbound links into your site. This would also be a great way to keep a record of your promotes, who did it, and what changed. Sounds like a win-win to me.

    Resources:

    You have an opinion about this? Sound like a good idea, or am I off my rocker? Let me know what you think.

    SEOMoz – Search Engine Ranking Factors v2

    This is a great article on the effective methods of Search Engine Optimization.  SEOmoz collected the opinions of the 37 top SEO experts, and compiled them into one document.  They broke them into the top 10 positive factors (i.e. the ones with the most impact), the most controversial factors (i.e. the ones the experts disagreed on the most), and the top 5 most negative factors (i.e. the things you should not do more than anything else).

    Now, you need to take this article with a grain of salt… these are people talking about how they get paid.  Are they telling you the whole truth?  Did they pick the most complicated ones to boost the importance of their own services?  Some people say that there will be no need for SEO in the future anyway.  As long as there are search engines, there will need to be a way to categorize data and retrieve it.  I have digressed.  The future of SEO is for another day. 

    To Frame or Not To Frame for SEO

    • The best way of optimizing a site that uses frames is to stop using frames. Most crawlers only follow HREF links, not SRC links, which means that the crawler won’t find anything past the page with the frameset.
    • Typically development techniques like tables, server side includes, master pages, etc. will allow developers and designers to build content as if it were using a frameset, and be pre-compiled into one page before it is served to the user or crawler.
    • Other development techniques, like a CSS based table-less layout, increase the content to code ratio and can also mirror the layout of frames
    • If Frames absolutely must be used, be sure to set up the NoFrames section. The best thing to put in the NoFrames section is a full version of the page, with keyword rich headings and a full HTML based navigation menu. This will ensure the crawlers see the whole page, maintain keyword SEO, and can index the rest of your site. This will feel as if you are maintaining 2 pages in 1, and defeats the purpose of using frames, but will keep your site optimized for crawling. Also be sure to include the same content in your NoFrames tag – you do not want to lose ranking for keyword stuffing.
    • A common problem that occurs when you use frames is that the search engines will often display one of the internal pages in your site in response to a query. You may want to include some code to verify that the page is show in the frameset it belongs to, otherwise reload the page with its frameset.

    The Secrets of WHOIS on SEO

    • WHOIS is a protocol that is used to identify the owner of a domain name or IP address on the Internet.
    • The WHOIS information is now used for validating domains and their content dynamically by search engines and their crawlers:
      • inception date of the domain (age of the site and its content)
      • expiration of the domain (legitimacy of the site and its content – shorter registrations rank lower)
      • Frequency of changes to the WHOIS data (stability of the site and its content)
      • Information about name servers (purpose of the site and its content)
    • Issues with using WHOIS information
      • Privacy concerns
      • False registrations
      • Inaccurate information
      • Obsolete sites
      • Lack of history
      • Internationalization
      • No central WHOIS server list
      • Differing result formats from different WHOIS servers
    • Some tips that will leverage WHOIS information
      • Register your domains for 5 years or more at a time
      • Avoid changing your WHOIS or registration information unless absolutely necessary

    Book Notes – Peopleware – Productive Projects and Teams

    So, while I was at the beach this week, I finally finished “Peopleware – Productive Projects and Teams” by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister. As I read through the book, I kept having these moments where I thought that the two authors were walking with me through my days at work. There were some major themes that were threaded throughout the book, and I think we all need to keep them in mind. This is a summary of the starred sections, underlined bits, and notes that I took while reading. Keep in mind that these are short clips from the book. The book goes into much greater detail and explains the arrival at each of their points. Also, this is a summary of the points that the author has made, and are not necessarily a reflection of my position, opinion, or belief.

    • Managing the Human Resource
      • Development is not a production line, and the people who do development work are not replaceable parts
      • Most times, when management talks about productivity, the actual result is getting more out of each dollar spent, not each hour worked.
      • The quality standard of the Client and the End user is typically much lower than that of the Developer. The Client needs to pay for development time, and is willing to sacrifice quality for time to market.
      • Taking the time for high quality means less defects, and higher productivity.
      • The development team, who takes pride in their work, will typically set a standard of quality that will result in productivity gains that will offset the increase in cost.
      • Parkinson’s Law – Work expands to fill time allocated for it. Complete silliness. Organizational busy work expands to filled your time. It is the job of managers to remove that busy work.
    • The Office Environment
      • Comments like “I get my best work done in the early morning before anyone else arrives”, or “in one late evening, I can do two or three days work”, or “I’m staying home to get some important work done” mean that the office is not conducive to productive work.
      • Research at IBM has shown that 100 square feet of space, 30 feet of work surface, and either enclosed spaces or 6ft walls per person is optimal for optimal performance.
      • Developers who think that their workplace is acceptably quiet are one third more likely to deliver zero defect work
      • Thirty percent of the time, people are noise sensitive (they are working alone) and the rest of the time they are noise generators
      • Flow is a condition of deep, almost meditative state achieved during single-minded work time that provides a gentle sense of euphoria and minimizes the passage of time. “I was in the zone, and looked up and it was 3 hours later!”
      • It takes an average of 15 minutes of undisturbed quiet time to enter flow time.
      • What matters is not the amount of time you are present at work, but the amount of time you are working at your full potential (flow time).
      • We need to ask ourselves “Does a phone call that will interrupt someone warrant the interruption, or can I send an email that someone can deal with at their convenience?”
      • Methods to drown out noise, like background music, occupy the right brain, which is used less during cognitive thinking. But it also diminishes the creative processes of coding, which decreases the “Aha!” spark of creative leaps.
      • Other environmental features, such as windows and outdoor spaces, have been shown to significantly increase focus, performance, and productivity.
    • The Right People
      • Most hiring mistakes result from too much attention to appearances and not enough to capabilities
      • Sometimes dress codes are just a way for managers to demonstrate they are in charge
      • A good manager knows when to shake up the local entropy and let their developers be themselves
      • Good ways to analyze possible candidates is through a portfolio, code samples, auditions (such as a presentation on a specific topic), and aptitude tests. Aptitude tests, however, are more suited for short term hiring and self assessments.
      • By the time the person leaving documents everything, the new person starts, gets their PC, the team helps get them up to speed, a new hire or turnover will cost the company between four and six work months.
      • Turnover engenders more turnover
      • The best companies are not noted for their similarities, but for their differences. People stay at these kinds of companies because there is a widespread sense that you are expected to stay.
      • Retraining is a common feature of companies with low turnover.
      • Big M Methodologies are an attempt to centralize thinking, and remove decisions from the development team. They typically encourage people to build documentation rather than do work and have resulted from paranoid defensive thinking and to try to cover every possible scenario. Small m methodologies are a basic approach one takes to getting a job done, and leaves tailoring the methodology to the development team.
      • Convergence of method is a good thing. But Big M Methodologies are not the only way to achieve convergence. Better ways to achieve convergence of methods are training, tools, and peer review among other methods.
      • The Hawthorne Effect – people perform better when they are trying something new. The change itself was not as important as the act of changing
    • Growing Productive Teams
      • A jelled team is a group of people so strongly knit that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. They don’t need to be managed in the traditional sense. and they don’t need to be motivated. They have momentum.
      • The purpose of a team is not goal attainment but goal alignment.
      • You do not build a jelled team, you try to grow one
      • A jelled team is easy to identify – it has low turnover, a strong sense of identity, a sense of eliteness, joint ownership of the product, and obvious enjoyment in their work.
      • Teamicide – You cant make teams jell, but there are things you can stop doing that prevent teams from jelling: defensive management, bureaucracy, physical separation, fragmentation of people’s time, quality reduction of the product, phoney deadlines, clique control
      • A great way to get a team to jell is to give them a small victory, such as creating a spaghetti dinner together
      • Follow an Open Kimono attitude – trust the people that work for you
      • If you have decent people under you, the easiest way to improve their chances is to get out of their hair and out of their way.
      • Visual supervision is almost useless for development workers
      • Skunkworks projects are a corporate form of insubordination that if used properly could benefit the team and the organization
      • Some companies have the right chemistry for growing jelled teams. Some elements that create the right chemistry are: making a cult of quality, providing lots of satisfying closure, building a sense of eliteness, allowing and encouraging heterogeneity, preserving and protecting successfully teams, providing strategic but not tactical direction
    • It’s Supposed to be Fun to Work Here
      • It is part of the human condition to provide order to Chaos. It is the job of a good manager to break up and parcel out small packets of chaos to each of their direct reports.
      • Ways to re-introduce constructive chaos to the workplace are: pilot projects, war games, brainstorming, provocative training experiences, trips, conferences, celebrations, retreats
      • Free Electrons – Free spirits with perspective and maturity are given a loose charter to explore cutting edge projects in the best interest of the company, and then get out of their way
      • Holgar Dansk – the Sleeping Giant – sleeps in your organization too, waiting for too much entropy, too little common sense, and will wake up and step in to save the day… as long as you let them.
    • Son of Peopleware
      • Motivational accessories, the inspirational posters and coffee mugs, are belittling and humiliating and do more damage than good.
      • Sustained overtime prevents well jelled teams as well as lowering the actual productivity of your individual developers
      • A well-knit team, one where there is trust and safety and no competition, will foster peer coaching between its members to transfer knowledge across a range of topics. The learner and the teacher will be interchangeable without threat.
      • Internal competition can be a cause of Teamicide as well. Some sources of competition are: annual salary or merit reviews, management by objectives, praise for extraordinary accomplishments, awards, prizes, performance bonuses, performance measurements in any form. These sources must be counteracted to prevent the feelings of competition.
      • Process Improvement methodologies, such as Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) Capability Maturity Model (CMM), are Big M Methodologies reborn. Focusing on the Key Process Areas(KPA), but turn off the institutional score keeping.
      • People truly hate change. They are not rejecting a particular change on its merits, they are rejecting ANY change.
      • You should focus on converting the “Believers but Questioners” of the change.
      • The fundamental response to change is not logical, but emotional.
      • An expense is money that gets used up. An investment is the use of an asset to purchase another asset. Training should be considered an investment, not an expense.
      • Experience gets turned into organizational learning when an organization alters itself to take account of what experience has shown. This can happen by instilling new skills and approaches in its people, or by redesigning itself to operate in a different manner.
      • Middle management is where the organizational learning happens. Removing middle management layers will ensure the loss of organizational learning, but holding on to middle management doesn’t make learning more likely to prosper. Middle managers must communicate with each other and learn to work together in effective harmony.
      • The ultimate management sin is wasting people’s time.

    So… what do you think of the ideas that the authors present? Which do you agree with? Which do you disagree with? Leave me some feedback and let me know what you think.

    Web 2.0 Goes Corporate – Enterprise 2.0

    While I was sitting on the beach of Ocean Grove NJ this week, my wife and I read the Technology section of the Wall Street Journal from June 18. This was a very intriguing article. It describes how IBM has embraced the idea of Web 2.0 . A good definition of Web 2.0 is the new interactive social networking of the Internet. Applications like Blogger, Wikipedia, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google Reader, and Del.icio.us are all examples of Web 2.0 applications. Now imagine how a corporation could leverage each of these.

    Before we examine how these could be used within a corporate environment, let’s examine the function that each of these Web 2.0 sites serve (these have been “borrowed” from each of the sites above, and slightly modified to be more generic):

    • Blog – a web site where entries are written in chronological order and displayed in reverse chronological order. Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.
    • Wiki – a server program that allows users to collaborate in forming the content of a Web site. With a wiki, any user can edit the site content, including other users’ contributions, using a regular Web browser. Basically, a wiki Web site operates on a principle of collaborative trust.
    • Community Space – a private community where you can share photos, journals and interests with your growing network of mutual friends
    • Social Networking – an online network people from around the world. When you join, you create a profile that summarizes aspects about you. Your profile helps you find and be found by friends, family, former colleagues, clients, and partners. You can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join your network and connect to you.
    • RSS Aggregator – combines multiple syndicated web content sources such as news headlines, blogs, podcasts, and vlogs in a single location for easy viewing.
    • Favorites – a collection of favorites – yours and everyone else’s. You can use this to:
      • Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, reviews, recipes, and more, and access them from any computer on the web.
      • Share favorites with friends, family, coworkers, and the del.icio.us community.
      • Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone’s favorite — they’ve already done the work of finding it. So del.icio.us is full of bookmarks about technology, entertainment, useful information, and more. Explore and enjoy.

    So let’s now try to find corporate applications for each of these services.

    Blogs are easy. Each person can create their own blog. Each person should try to focus their blog on pertinent topics to their daily work. This is a great way to capture tacit knowledge about processes, projects, and subjects of expertise. Blogs get a bit more complicated when blogs are to be used as a method of communication outside the company. Then the messages in the blog will probably be reviewed by a corporate communications team.

    Favorites are also easy. You could add them and “tag” them by department, division, feature, function or other category. Keeping your favorites stored online instead of on the individual PC allows the favorites themselves to be accessible from any computer anywhere, and can be searched. If you are looking for the corporate provider of translation services, as an example, searching the corporate favorites would yield that information just as much as any other source.

    An online RSS Aggregator would be another simple service to provide. It would need to be web based, so that it would be accessible anywhere in the company. This would also allow for metrics to be collected, such as most frequented feeds, posts, blogs, etc. This would also encourage sources of information to be syndicated, such as blogs, corporate news, internal communications, promotions, industry news, etc.

    Social Networking pages are a great way to store your profile – name, address, email, phone, etc. It is also a place where you can list your accomplishments, educational and professional history, what projects you have worked on, who you worked with, and any specific topics that you consider yourself a subject matter expert. When people are looking for qualified people to fill their project, or find internal candidates for open positions, view contacts by organization, or just to find an email or phone number, this would be a great tool for that.

    The corporate use of wikis could be a bit more complex. The easiest use of a corporate wiki would be to cerate wiki pages for each ongoing project, and allow all project members to add, modify, and update the project pages. This would unify the source of information for all project work. The next logical step would be to use wiki pages for corporate policies, standard operating procedures, departments, and organizational announcements. The amount of corporate knowledge that could be captured by a wiki is endless… and all of it would be shareable, update-able, and searchable in a very easy format that technical and non-technical people can all use just as easy.

    Community spaces would be the glue to all of the Enterprise 2.0 services. Each person in the organization would have their own page. The page would link to your social network pages, profiles, and link to your friends or colleagues. The links would be directly tied to their Instant Messenger ID or their email address for easy access. It would display your most recent blog entries. Your favorites would be shown by tag, by most recent added, or most recent used. It would list your most recently viewed or edited wiki pages. You could view your aggregated RSS content. Your email and calendar would be integrated. Creating additional “widgets” like stock ticker, weather, etc. would be easy.

    Some of this is already possible with corporate portals like Microsoft SharePoint and BEA AquaLogic. But most is not. Some of these services are also available as individual disparate systems, but need to be justified, funded, tightly regulated, and monitored. IBM is doing some of this, and is self-monitored with corporate responsibility and common sense instead of corporate policies and Legal Review.

    So… what do you think? How long do you think it will take to have an integrated Enterprise 2.0? Is all of this together even possible, or is it just a pipe dream?