Takeaways and Tidbits from Searchfest 2011

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Posted by Dan | Posted in On The Job, Tech Archive | Posted on 24-02-2011

Yesterday I attended the fantastic SEMpdx Searchfest conference, which I've made sure to attend at least the last 4 years in a row, maybe 5. I always attend this event because some of the best in the industry show up from all over the country to share the latest trends in Search Engine Management and Marketing. Each year I feel like there's at least one major takeaway that I can apply immediately for my clients. Here are some notes from this year that I found interesting from attending the 'advanced search track':

- Google personalization is always on now, signed in or not. That means that the search results shown for given terms are specific to you based on your location, persona, and browsing history, and search results will vary for everyone. In fact one presenter noted that 6 of 10 results displayed are personalized!

- Twitter plays an alarmingly large role in the ranking of pages now. A couple of presenters noted that links that were tweeted and retweeted, especially by highly valued Tweeters, got significant ranking boosts.

- Page load times were also noted to be a part of the ranking algorithm now as well.

- A few presenters talked about the growing importance of mobile web, but I have to be honest, I've been hearing this same story for the last 6 years and I'm still not convinced. Especially with stats like by 2013 there will be 5.8B mobile users, but only 30% will have smartphones...

- Google is always updating their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) and now that they allocate so much related content at the top (like images, news, local, etc...) there are new sitemaps that they'll accept that will help you appear in these areas; most notably image, video, and news sitemaps.

- "Content farms", or sites that exist purely to create web content to rank well in SERPs, are now being penalized by Google. Being a content authority is becoming more important than just well written, keyword laden articles. One way to see how Google views your authority is to filter results by reading level.

- An often overlooked detail is how your result looks in the SERPs, meaning you may have a high ranking, but if no one is clicking on it because the presentation falls short, who cares? Make sure to have a quality snippet shown, that uses all 3 lines, and has strong anchor text.

dc

My First Product Review: Nokia HF-510 Speakerphone

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Automotive, Ramblings, Tech Archive | Posted on 13-03-2010

First of all I want to thank WOMWorld for giving me the opportunity to make my first ever product review blog post. It was really fun trying out the two devices and I appreciate you reaching out!

The product I was asked to review was the Nokia HF-510 Bluetooth speakerphone. With it they sent a Nokia N97 in white to test with. As soon as they arrived, I opened them both up and my immediate impression was that they were both very good looking and well made products.

My plan was to get the speakerphone out to my car as soon as possible to test everything out. But then my mechanic called and told me he had an opening to service my car that week and would need the car. All week. Not to mention it was raining anyway and I wanted a sunny day to photograph and video the speakerphone in action.

So in the meantime I swapped the SIM card from my Blackberry Curve to the N97 to try it on for that week. My initial impression was a bit soured when the back cover didn't snap in flush to the phone. Doing some research online thinking I was putting it on wrong revealed that this is a common problem for the device. Too bad because the overall fit and finish of the device was really nice - beautiful screen, nice weight, and good materials. The action of sliding the screen back to reveal the keyboard had an especially nice solid and click into place feeling.

In brief, I'd say the N97 was a good smart phone but I can tell I'm now a full-on Blackberry addict. While the Curve is quite outdated compared to the N97, the menu navigation is much more intuitive. For instance, I've become quite accustomed to typing in the first few letters of a contact on file to call, and felt constricted on the N97. You can set up contact icons for those you call most often, but my list of commonly called would really exceed what was practical for this menu. Maybe there is a faster way to do this, but in my limited time with phone I didn't find it by just looking around. I was also excited to try out the touch-screen on the N97, but found it very sensitive and often felt like my fingers were just too big for the interface.

That said, it was a joy to surf YouTube videos and enjoy the high quality screen and playback. The backlit keys were also really nice at night. The wifi connectivity was also very welcomed as my Curve doesn't have this feature and the difference in speed is considerable. It also has a nice camera built in that took pretty good images. Here is the before and after of lasagna I made for my friends Pat and Steph:

Picture of Lasagna taken with Nokia N97 Picture of Lasagna taken with Nokia N97

The real bad news for U.S. customers is that if the N97 appeals to you, I wasn't able to find a major carrier here that offered this phone in a package. As such you'll need to buy an unlocked phone at full price. Amazon is currently listing the phone for $512.94

On to the HF-510 speakerphone, this was also a nicely put together device. It has a great looking LCD display on the front that makes it pretty easy to see what you're doing, even in full sunlight. It also features a simple menu navigation via the main button on the front and the outer wheel that spins around the outside of the device to scroll through options.

Unfortunately my review of this device came at the very end of my trial period due to scheduling issues on my end, and my review of the actual device was quite short. That said, I was able to put together the following first time set up video for the two devices. Be kind folks, it's my first attempt at one of these:

As you may have noticed, the actual use of the device during a call was quite limited. I have to admit that I'm not a regular user of speakerphones and it wasn't totally intuitive to me on how to use these devices together. I have since figured out what I was doing wrong, but by the time that revelation occurred it was time to send the devices back. Long story short, don't touch the phone once in the car and synced. Almost any interaction with the phone when connected to the speakerphone will result in phone reverting back to the active device -- which of course defeats the whole purpose. I'm sure that I would've figured this out after the first day with more use, and I expect that it would've resulted in trouble free use.

In conclusion, I really liked the build quality, ease of installation, and easy to read display (which didn't show well in the video, but looked great in person). Had I spent more time with the device and owner's manual before getting in the car, I could've probably had everything setup as desired in an hour. And with Oregon's new hands-free only law, it will definitely help drivers stay connected, safe, and lawful.

Amazon has the Nokia HF-510 listed for a very reasonable $70.35

Thank you again to WOMWorld for the opportunity to review these devices and try my hand at a review.

Dan Crouch

{FTC note: these products were used on a trial basis for two weeks and sent back to WOMWorld after that. There was no monetary compensation for this review. -dc}

How to Shop Craigslist for Cars Like a Pro with .RSS

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Automotive, Other Stuff, Ramblings, Tech Archive | Posted on 13-11-2007

I love Craigslist. Some of my best posts have been a result of this service, including my timely purchase of a Ducati SuperSport. Want to see the postings you're interested in as soon as they're listed? Read on!

Alpina For Sale ClassifiedBMW Alpina Classified For SaleBimota For Sale Classified CraigslistAustin Classifieds For Sale

  1. Search Craigslist for the item you're interested in on your local Craigslist site.
  2. Copy the URL that is displaying your results.
  3. Sign up for a Bloglines account (it's free and web based).
    • Bloglines happens to be the service I use, but you can use any application that allows you to subscribe to .rss feeds like my.yahoo.com, feedburner, or a personalized google page.
    • And if you're thinking ahead, yes, this technique works for any site that offers .rss feeds. Most browsers and web pages have an icon that is displayed if the .rss feed is available for a given page.
  4. Now add this link, the one you copied when your results were displayed (even if 0), to your feed list on Bloglines.
  5. Viola! Now every time an item matching your search hits Craigslist, you'll be the first to know if you pay attention to your Bloglines account. Usually updates itself every few minutes! I leave the site open on a browser window while I'm at work so I can keep an eye on ad's all the time!

Need an even more powerful search option? Check out CrazedList to search multiple local Craigslist sites at once! Props to Revgum for turning me on to this fantastic resource!

So what's on my Craigslist .rss watch list?

  • BMW e30 m3
  • Motorcycles for sale with in Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene listings in Oregon
  • Lotus, Austin, Alpina, BMW, etc... in Portland ad's
  • You get the idea, I'm addicted!

What's on your Craigslist .rss search? Leave a comment with a link to your search!

dc

Incredible Touch Screen Interface

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Tech Archive | Posted on 13-02-2006

Remember the touch screen they used in Minority Report? Multi-touch Interaction Experiments. I want one! That photo gallery example shows a great desktop looking interface!

dc

Leroy The Hand

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Tech Archive | Posted on 12-01-2006


I decided to do some sinning today by surfing flash based website over at PixelMakers when I stumbled on to this incredible website, Leroy the Hand. An outstanding flash presentation, I found myself fooling around here for more time than I care to admit. Nice work guys!

dc

Top Search Terms in 2005

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Tech Archive | Posted on 27-12-2005

A great little summary of top search terms in 2005 over at Search Engine Watch. Most of the results are what you'd expect, but the one from dogpile.com is hilarious. Apparently, dogpile is a search engine that searches all the major search engines at once and returns results. And what were their savvy users searching for?

3. Google
4. eBay
5. Yahoo
6. Mapquest

Other search services, LOL!

dc

No longer banned from Google!

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Tech Archive | Posted on 23-12-2005

Earlier I wrote about how my site was missing from Google due to the freshbot effect. Banned no longer, the site is being listed again where it belongs :)

I'm trying to talk myself into a full remodel of the site over the break, I wonder how badly that will hurt search performance LOL!

Google Search for Dan Crouch

dc

OSU Admissions Blog is now LIVE!

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Tech Archive | Posted on 21-12-2005

OSU Admissions Blog

Many, many thanks to Eric Stoller for his hard work on getting this blog setup and integrated with our current Admission's template. N1!

dc

I was banned from Google!

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Tech Archive | Posted on 22-11-2005

Nah, not really. Well I don't think so anyway.

A week ago, I was in the top ten results for 'Dan Crouch', 'Daniel Crouch', and those terms plus 'blog'. All of the sudden, my site is completely missing from Google! What could have caused it?

A little research reveals that it's probably called the Freshbot Effect. Apparently it's very common for a new site to get listed very high artificially and then disappear while the 'true' value is determined by algorithm. Doing a search on my URL returns absolutely nothing, which means the site is currently not even indexed on their servers -- a sure sign of Freshbot apparently.

To get it back, I'll need more traffic and more inbound links. In addition, keeping fresh content should also be of benefit. I just wonder how long it will take.

Additional Google Search Result tips.

dc

Dreamweaver 8 Preview

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Posted by Dan | Posted in Tech Archive | Posted on 21-11-2005

DevgroupNW hosted David McFarland to demonstrate the new noteworthy features of Dreamweaver 8. David is the author of many Dreamweaver books titled 'The missing manual'. I can see why, he knows the in's and out's better than anyone I've seen.

Dreamweaver 8 highlights:

- In the code view window, you can collapse code segments. Especially useful with complicated template headers that won't get modified, leaving just the relevant section to edit.

- Guides in design view. Similar in functionality to those found in Photoshop and Illustrator, these will prove very handy in lining up div segments. And yes, there is a snap to features as well.

- Dreamweaver can now link to external stylesheets. This allows the user to code a page for an existing site's stylesheet during construction. I'll bet it'd be especially handy for those Zen Garden authors/adopters.

- .css support is better, but not great. At least all the .css specific functions are located in their own pane now.

- David demonstrated the advanced search and replace features that Dreamweaver supports. Although not necessarily a new feature, I hadn't seen the tool used with such prowess before. The example he used was for stripping font tags from a 10,000 page website and referencing the .css sheet instead. The conditional search and replace with 3 levels of conditional logic was impressive!

- Dreamweaver 8 supports PHP 5, which OSU will be getting in the spring.

- XSLT support for XML documents/feeds. This was very cool and he demonstrated just how easy it is in design view by adding feeds to his demonstration website in about 5 minutes. I'll be trying this functionality out soon on my index page.

- fyi to me, David mentioned that Flash installations are much higher Windows Media Player or Apple QuickTime. Makes sense after I thought about it.

dc