Left Bay’s Musings on the Media

Searching for answers in sales and marketing

Archive for SEO

SEO vs. Design: The Design Argument

I’m a designer before anything else. Before student, before music enthusiast – even search marketer or search optimizer. You read that right; my loyalties lie in the art of communicating information in pretty ways – not making the information super accessible and searchable. It’s not that I hold no value to optimization; in fact I often fight with designers about its importance. It’s just that to me, how something looks when it is found is more important to me than the ease of finding it. As a user, I have loads more satisfaction in going through a little trouble to find something that is absolutely awesome looking than finding something really easily and becoming disappointed at its mediocrity. However, I do understand that most people (especially clients!) think the opposite, and take that greatly into account when I sit down to do work.

Even still, while sitting through Gord Hotchkiss’ and Shari Thurow’s presentation about SEO, Usability, & Design at SMX West, I found myself writhing silently in my seat every time they gave design a roll of the eyes. We designers get such a stereotype in the search world it’s hard not to get offended. Yes, we love flash. Yes, we value aesthetics over usability. Yes, we think most things that are optimized compromise beauty. But I do think there is such a thing as a world where designers and optimizers exist peacefully in a completely beautiful, usable, and searchable world.

Take me for instance. While design trumps mostly everything, I don’t make any design choices without first considering usability. SEO and usability have been integrated into my design process, so no part of it is actually neglected. Sometimes one wins over another, and if it’s SEO I just swallow my pride a little bit and deal with it. In the end, hopefully (and usually) something that is more than satisfactory for both designer and client results.

I know that steadfast searchers and stubborn designers will probably forever be at odds to some degree, but I think if we continue to work together we might discover something new about the beauty of these things in conjunction.

Goodbye 2007!

It’s that time of year again, when we all buckle down and face our shortcomings to eagerly make promises to ourselves that we’ll fix them in the coming year. We ponder the year past and wonder how our regrets could have been avoided and vow to not make those mistakes again. We delight in our fond memories and hope that the future has room for more. Fittingly, this is Left Bay’s 2007 recap, and hopes for 2008.

What We’ve Learned

Traditional brand advertising is dumb.

What Web 2.0 really is. Just in time too, since we’re at the dawn of 3.0, and all…

We have to turn the space heater on at least an hour before we settle in the office to brave the wintertime.

College professors of interactive advertising react to SEO jargon with nothing short of puzzled looks. (“No professor, not like banners…”)

What a blogopotamus is. Surprisingly, not a plump desk-chair potato who reads and writes blog posts all day.

We wasted far too much time perusing Google StreetView. And I didn’t find anyone I knew in the pictures.

Ask.com is going off the deep end. (Still waiting for that algorithm, btw).

Apple and Google are going to continue growing and will one day have a knock-down, drag-out battle-of-the-superbrands where the victor will take over the world (my loyalties lie with Apple, but I have a feeling Google will take the spoils).

Acquisitions will forever be news until the day that battle takes place.

This will always be funny.

Our Resolutions

We should try to read our SearchCaps more often instead of having 15 messages in our inbox daily from accrued newsletters. (which when we read, realize we missed a lot).

Update the blog more.

Make resolutions again in June when they start to go stale.

Happy New Year from Left Bay Media!

Small business looking into SEO? What NOT to do.

This post came from Search Engine Land’s Small is Beautiful weekly column for small businesses. In it, Matt McGee of Marchex, Inc., lists 20 DON’TS for Small Businesses looking into SEO. I’m not usually a fan of these “list” posts, but his tips were surprisingly relevant and helpful. Some highlights:

2. Don’t wait too long to implement SEO. Matt notes here that SEO should be a part of your business’ web strategy from day one, but moreover, being involved in SEO sooner will help assure that it won’t become a problem later.

5. Don’t spread your content over several domains. I don’t know what it is about duplicate content lately, but I’ve been seeing it come up a lot recently. Be wary about buying multiple domains and creating the same or similar content – it will affect the rankings of both sites and how robots will view them (spam?). Permanent redirects are the way to go when attempting to migrate a site to a new domain.

8. Don’t target overly general keywords. Mistake number one for PPC first-timers. It leaves them wondering “Why do my bids cost me over $5 each?” and “How come my clicks are so low compared to my impressions?” I strongly encourage small businesses to heed this advice especially, because small businesses benefit way more from long-tail marketing than trying to compete amongst the big guys.

11. Don’t have the same title element on every page. With keyword, meta, and alt tags practically obsolete, there’s little outside of GREAT CONTENT that will help, except for your (relevant and keyword-targeted) h1 tags and title elements.

17. Don’t plaster your link all over blog comments, guestbooks, etc. Besides being greatly annoying, cheap link placing all over forums and blogs is just spam, and will reflect badly on your business.

Next Tuesday they’re going to post the Do’s of Small Business SEO. Hopefully we’ll see some more good tips, and not just the “do” versions of these.