SEO Book Ready For Free Download

I’ve uploaded my new book to the interwebs so you can now download and read through it, if the fancy takes you, completely free of charge (SEO Truth – A Bible For The Next Generation Of Search Engine Optimisation).

There may be a few blank pages because it’s been laid out for print; you can get yourself one of these hard copies from this website here.

Let me know what you think and submit some feedback over on lulu by all means! Cheers.

Edit: The download link works correctly now, oops.

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Google Shows How Much You’re Worth To Them

I’ve said many times before that so-called SEOs out there need to stop believing every word that spills from Google’s overactive pen. Google is a business just like any other and they feed information that’s deliberately misleading to stop people from gaining an unfair advantage with their search rankings.

It now appears that, in fact, Google assigns an estimated worth to each ranking on their pages – visible to members of their AdWords sales team they use the information from your PPC campaigns and analytics package in order to figure out whether you’re worth it.

Google’s GG Score Shows How Much You’re Worth To Them In The Search Rankings

I’m sure many of you will draw your own conclusions from this and in time we may see a Google press release, from that department which again knows as much about how their technology actually works as most of the SEOs do. Take it with a pinch of salt is my advice and invest the time to understand how a search engine really works.

This story was broken on the french blog Zorgloob, much credit to them for a brilliant find.


What Is A Search Engine? You Have No Idea Apparently

One of my favorite blogs, that I read just about every day is readwriteweb, a sterling tech, web 2.0 and search blog. Not so long ago their AltSearchEngines regular article was turned into a fully fledged blog in its own right headed by Charles Knight who knows about the existence of more search engines than probably anybody else on the net.

I checked it out this morning and spotted an interesting article:

Today we launch Part I of our 3 Part Series

Part I: What is a Search Engine? by Nitin Karandikar (Mon)

Oh glominy! I thought, glibbily. This is right up my street so I settled in for a powerful, thought provoking read.

Alas, the writer was a complete nitwit and I felt compelled to post this raging comment:

You’re completely wrong, I don’t know why on earth you’d try to reclassify what a search engine is when we’ve known what search engines are for a long time.

A search engine is simply “an information retrieval system designed to help find information stored on a computer system” (Wikipedia).

1. It enhances findability of relevant web content for the user

It doesn’t need to have anything to do with the web. Findability is not a word, even in italics.

2. It searches the entire web or a large subset thereof
(this excludes publisher search engines that search only a single site or group of sites)

No search engine searches the entire web. Don’t listen to the Google PR machine so much, and again, it doesn’t need to touch the web to be a search engine. Plus you’re on AltSearchEngines here… how many verticals do you guys cover?

3. Searches are specified using a keyword, phrase or question, or using input parameters, without the need for undue navigation
(I don’t consider pure directories like dmoz to be Search Engines)

So you’re saying you need an input to get an output? That’s genius.

4. It provides search results on demand, not periodically

I don’t even know what the hell you’re trying to say this for. It’s still wrong. Why does it have to do as a person asks it?

5. It provides some kind of unique or special processing of its own: either in the search algorithm, or in UI improvements, or both
(this excludes pure Rollyo or Google Coop-based search engine subsets)

This is far and away the worst thing you’ve written, you’re clearly grasping at straws. That is until you said:

The criteria described above will not remain static; as technology progresses, Search Engines will need to support increasing levels of functionality to be taken seriously.

No, i’m afraid a search engine, will always be a search engine. No matter how technology progresses it will still be a search engine.

The article you should have written is, “What search engines should have on my holidays”.

Yakov: A search engine doesn’t need to have its own index of the web or build it. A crawler of some description is responsible for building an index – that can take many forms and is often included in the search engine software itself. If you want examples of search engines without their own index, then take a look at the recent Digg API contest for some examples.

I’m hoping Charles gives you a massive kick up the backside and stops you writing what essentially is a load of bollocks.

Yes, it was a little scathing, but I get extremely irate when I see article written by someone who clearly is just trying to write for the sake of saying something. Especially on a source I have a lot of respect for because I don’t want to see them letting it through to the front page, that’s their role as editors – to weed out the rubbish and go with the quality content right?


Sunbeam Is Your Search Engine

Sunbeam The First User Search EngineIn previous versions (for those of you lucky enough to see the Alpha of the world’s first search engine to run directly from the user’s own desktop) Sunbeam would ask you to input your favorite websites as a starting point for its indexing routines. This was a problem for two reasons:

  1. Nobody ever wants to enter anything they don’t have to, especially when that information exists somewhere on their machine.
  2. It limited the ‘profile’ of the user initially available to Sunbeam and how quickly they’d be able to retrieve information actually relevant to them.

It also meant that the semantic engine that appeared in the earliest release was not capable of returning accurate matches for a period whilst the engine cranked up and had indexed at least a few hundred pages.

I’d been musing over these problems for a while, I wanted an experience where the user would be able to just install the program, let it do its work without going through any configuration screens, which they may not understand or that might put them off the install completely.

The solution as it turned out, was fairly simple. Using the browsing history of the user we can track down the urls that are visited most frequently and most recently without damaging privacy. After all these are just starting points to build a profile of interests. Data like this is a goldmine for Sunbeams advanced statistical algorithms and will enable it to deliver the results that mimic the language used in the websites in your browsing history.

It doesn’t stop there though, also added are routines that scan your outlook sent messages, tracking the semantics of your own typed words. These again, are not stored as complete messages anywhere in the system, are not tied to email addresses or even subject lines and privacy here is key. What is most important here is that you as a user will never have to go through a slew of irritating questions when you install Sunbeam, that inadequately attempt to locate and disect your interests.

Seeing as I expect privacy to be such an issue here, let’s turn to another reason to use Sunbeam over Google or Yahoo:

  • Your searches are your own.
  • Your data will never be sent anywhere else (there isn’t the server space for it!).
  • If you choose to share your search database with anyone else (as easy as emailing the one file), then that’s completely up to you and not something you have to ‘opt-in’ to.

This software is entirely your own to play with, these are the things I’m really loving about it:

  • You can play with the open source search algorithm.
  • You can swap, share and amalgamate databases with friends or download one from the web.
  • There are no adverts, no pop ups and no interruptions.
  • If you don’t remember the exact word you’re looking for, just put in a similar one, or a descriptive phrase.
  • If you want to use the same database when you get home, just mail it to yourself.
  • If you don’t like the results you’re getting, run a seperate database for work and for home to match your corporate and downtime moods.
  • If you have to do market research on teenagers, just use the database your nephew compiled.


Microsoft Are Back On Top With Surface

I have just watched a video of the most exciting user interface ever seen. It’s not of the forthcoming iPhone nor is it any kind of Apple product. This is Microsoft Surface and it promises a revolution in how we interact with our computers and mobile devices, I’m completely blown away by not the technology behind the system, but how well it’s used to produce a product that will potentially devestate Apple’s market share.

Microsoft Surface Puts The Company Firmly Back On Top Of Apple

If you wondered why Bill Gates was suddenly agreeing to do an interview with Steve Jobs, then I’m pretty sure this is the reason. It doesn’t matter if he does badly in that discussion because as soon as Surface was on show then Steve Jobs had lost out anyway. Will Jobs have a rebuttal product that we haven’t heard about? I doubt it.

Pricing And Availability

You’ll be able to get Surface from winter 2007 for between $5000 and $10000. I know that’s a lot of money right now but they aim to bring the price down to a consumer level quickly and this is the first device I’ve seen that really will fit right in your living room, instead of just attempting to hide in a corner. Designer coffee tables go for far more and I know which I’d rather have.

The New Standard In Interaction

For me, as a search and user interface developer, this fits in extremely nicely with my view of tiling search results as images. An application using Windows Live Search in this way for not just searching but RSS feeds and bookmarks would be highly intuitive and allow the user to see what they want straight off the mark.

Surface Revolutionises Connections To Mobile Devices

One of the most ingenious features they’ve integrated right off the mark is the ability to interact with your mobile devices. We all have phones now; they started with IR then Bluetooth, now some feature WiFi. How many of you actually use these connection abilities reguarly though? I’d guess it’s a low percentage because the hardware and software we have to connect with doesn’t make it simple and easy enough to use frequently in most cases.

What Surface lets you do is put your mobile phone, PDA or digital camera directly on the table top and a ring will appear around it to signify the connection. You can then drag media to and from the device with your finger and a bit of wrist movement, it’s so simple it makes me want to cry. I spend a lot of time shouting about the need for simple and intuitive user interfaces and this is the model we should all start building from.

This is the new standard in user interfaces, keep up.


Fear Of Google: As Seen On Google Timeline!

UPDATE:

It would appear Valleywag’s Nick Denton is lacking a sense of irony and unfortunately I seem to have my commenting privileges revoked there now. Shame. He’s thoughtfully left this little nugget seemingly ending the argument with a resounding slap to my pride:

“Hey, Phil, I don’t mind being slagged off. Comes with the job. But you didn’t do it very effectively. One could make the point that mentions of Google itself have become more frequent. But sensationalism? I don’t think you proved your point”

What’s that Nick you can’t hear my answer from all the way over there because you blocked my account? Never mind. Sensationalist articles Nick, seeing as you are unaware, are those that are published without any proof behind them. So I put together my own sensationalist article on your sensationalist article and it appears you lack a sense of humour. Fortunately you’re unable to prove to me you have one because that’d mean you wrote something of substance. Unlike you Nick I won’t delete or remove negative comments even though I rate my blog above a tabloid so feel free to hurl insults from below if you wish.

THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

I saw over on Valleywag they’ve written yet another hack piece on the so-called Fear Of Google with the standard sensationalism and lack of humour. They’ve even drawn a pretty graph they collated data on from the Nexis newspaper database showing their spectacular lack of knowledge on current Google events.

Being a bit of a dry and sarcastic git I present to you Fear Of Google: As Seen On Google Timeline! which is a representation of how Google itself sees the phenomenon.

As Seen On Google Timeline!

Don’t bother reading Valleywag’s article, go and read what Scoble says instead if I was you.

Personally I have no fear of Google (though I am typing this in the stationary cupboard but that’s because of my love of pens) and instead feel an increasing need to criticise them rather than run in fear. Then again, people react in the same way with governments and it’s surprising that a company can approach that level.


I Think I Just Invented The Real Search 2.0

Ignore the numbers in the title for the moment if you will and focus on these keywords: social, networking, search, community.

Web 2.0, by many definitions is all about allowing users to network, interact and the read/write web. Search 2.0 in that context does not yet exist. There are in some instances communities that happen to be built around a search engine such as Yahoo and there are new semantic search engines that let the users tag pages and documents to be found (something I’ve talked about before and pointed out as next to useless). None of these let the users actually interact with which results are returned. There is no networking or interaction that takes place with the search engine itself and this is just plain wrong.

Do you know how many people are on the internet at any one time? I sure as hell don’t but it’s a big number 🙂

Who creates all the content that ends up on the internet anyway? It’s not machines, it’s people, human beings are ultimately responsible for all the content on the internet and that’s never going to change. So why are we asking machines about content created by fellow humans when most of the humans are online anyway and know far more about their subject, and where it’s covered on the internet than any machine is ever likely to?

Enough rhetorical questions, I’m going to tell you what the real Search 2.0 is and you’re going to shout at me and tell me I should have patented and I’m a fool. However, if you don’t hire me to build it for you then you’re a fool because I get these ideas on a daily basis and I will crush you at some point in my life. Just kidding, I’m a fan of open ideas as well as open source especially when they’re for the benefit of us all.

Search 2.0

  • An instant messenger application or website with a live AJAX interface forms the centerpeice of the front end.
  • Users create accounts and select their areas of interest by entering specific key phrases for those topics they feel most knowledgeable about.
  • Users can then also select web pages that match those highly specific key phrases if they choose to.
  • The search box appears as normal, you enter your query and the fun part of search 2.0 begins.
  • Your query is analysed against users on the system, what occurs at this stage is actually a search for users with the best matching key areas against your query.
  • If these users are online they can respond directly to your query, either suggesting a web link or entering a chat with you.
  • If no users are matched online, then the suggested web pages are searched for the best matching content.

That’s the basis of it, but let’s have a look at the immense social power here.

Firstly, you get to rate the responses you receive, meaning that people can gain a reputation score for specific subjects and topics giving them an online credibility for that topic.

Sorry we just had an office fly-hunting session. Don’t ask.

Right, where was I? This system is by its nature, very low spam, it can’t be manipulated to provide results that are less useful because if you try and peddle a corporate product that’s crap, your reputation will drop very quickly and you’ll be banned. If the product is good on the other hand then who’s going to mind being directed to it if it answers their specific need and that’s better advertising than any money’s going to get you.

This concept is all about the users, no massively complicated algorithms need writing here it’s just using the very advanced and articulate knowledge of the very people who create the content you’re looking for, and to get the best answer you’ll ever get from a search engine is it not worth answering a couple of questions every now and again about the subjects you enjoy?

You can also bookmark people just like in any other IM and make friends with people holding the same interests, who you’d never meet on any other social network, and certainly would never think to find from a search engine.