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Today’s SEO and Online-Marketing News

December 21st, 2010

Google unveiled the Ngram Viewer. The feature allows people to search for the rate of appearance of specific terms throughout the search-engine giant’s database of 15 million books stretching back (at least in English-language literature) to 1750.

As a former journalist, professional blogger, and SEO consultant, I am always excited to learn about new opportunities for keyword research. For example, those with experiencing using Google Adwords can examine, among other trends, which keywords are searched at which times of year. If a website aims to sell World Series tickets, the company would want to make a marketing push in August and September rather than February — both common sense and keyword research reveal that the volume of searches for “World Series tickets” increases at that specific time.

Statistical analyses are more accurate when they contain more data-points. A year of data provides more-accurate results than a month, that of a month is more accurate than a week, and so on — the margin of error decreases. So, from an SEM standpoint, I wonder whether this vast trove of data can be useful in PPC and organic keyword-research. Pro: The platform can tell which terms are popular over longer periods of time (several years or longer), and websites focused on long-term growth (rather than quick sales) can incorporate the data as a result. Con: The results focus on what is published, not on the terms for which people are searching. What say you?

Delicious may or may not be closing. For years, the website has been a method for Internet users to store bookmarks on an external platform, enabling them to access their favorite sites when they are are not on their own computers. As a result, the number of Delicious bookmarks has been used by SEO marketers and professional bloggers to gauge the popularity of their posts. After all, content is king — the more people that bookmark a site, the greater its perceived value. But whether search-engines incorporate Delicious bookmarks into their measures of a site’s SEO value has always been debatable.

Now, however, rumors have been circulating that Delicious, which is owned by Yahoo!, will be shut down. In response, the company itself writes:

No, we are not shutting down Delicious. While we have determined that there is not a strategic fit at Yahoo!, we believe there is a ideal home for Delicious outside of the company where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive.

We’re actively thinking about the future of Delicious and we believe there is a home outside the company that would make more sense for the service and our users. We’re in the process of exploring a variety of options and talking to companies right now. And we’ll share our plans with you as soon as we can.

At the moment, there are two lessons. First, the value of Yahoo! as an online portal seems to be decreasing. I have no measurable data at the moment, but most Internet users I know use the site only for Yahoo! Finance for stock data and Yahoo! Sports for fantasy leagues. Google does everything else, and the company does it better. In business jargon, Yahoo! increasingly has neither something that no one else does nor something that it does better than anyone else.

Second, online marketers need to remember not to put all their digital eggs in one Internet basket. It is important not to judge the performance of a site only on the number of shares, likes, bookmarks, or retweets on sites like Facebook, Reddit, Delicious, or Twitter. The Digital Era is constantly in flux, and online applications, platforms, and tools come and go each year (or month). The true gauge of online success, of course, is conversions — what generates revenue. A million shares on Facebook — or Delicious — means little if none of the visitors become credible leads and eventual sales.

The most-important tactic is to produce great content — whether you publish a simple blog unto itself or articles on a corporate site — and make it easy for users to send to whatever social-media platform is popular at the moment through sharing buttons, RSS feeds, and related tools.