Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Social Media Optimization

Social Media Optimization, a new topic to me, is (and I quote Gino's article):

"...the process of optimizing a website so that its content can be easily spread on the Net by the website’s own visitors to off-site social and online communities – basically making it “socially friendly”.

The most common example is adding social bookmarks, trackbacks and widgets to a site’s page, such as “add to delicious” links and the MyBlogLog widget."

In Gino's own blog, the key social book marking sites are discussed which to me, reads like a Top Ten List of Mysterious Words that I see on the web: Digg, Delicious, PopURLs, Reddit, Fark, Blue Dot...

My thoughts are that Social Media Optimization means packaging content in a way that it is easily disseminated and quoted across other sites and media. It starts with providing RSS feeds and Newsletters that are quote-worthy and quota-able with the rights clearly defined. Perhaps it includes creating google gadgets that people can put on their pages.

Gino also claims that: "search algorithms are evolving to include social media weight in defining a search-relevant site." I wonder if that's true.

In any case, I know nothing of these technologies although I did get someone to feed by blogs into site-burner which may or may not have any impact on attracting visitors or in building my google rank.

I''ll add looking into "social media optimization" on my list of todos. I wonder if having my spelling test software in a format that it can be used this way is an interesting approach....And of course, rather than manually logging into Gino's blog to say that i had read and commented on it, wouldn't it be nice to know the cooler way of doing it?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

New Free tools

The latest and greatest that I use:

The cool seo tool is the best - Thanks Jim

The Webconfs seo site is stuffed with great free tools

Rather than just using overture, I use the Good Keywords interface to it.

Don't get too distracted by this quick article, go look at my best piece on free seo tools.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lego Ergo Sum

Time4Learning relies on CompassLearning for most of our educational content. Sometimes, we like their updates, sometimes we are disappointed by them, and sometimes, we are over the moon.

Their update this past summer and fall was fantastic. The highlight of the new materials was a large number of vocabulary sections. Antonyms and synonyms and all sorts of exercises done in a fun multimedia manner. Fast paced but with just the right type of repetition so that the children really learn.

Each of these great new exercises (developed by those visionary jellyfish) starts with the announcement of Lego Ergo Sum. If someone could tell me what that means, they've earned free Time4Learning coffee cup.

(no, saying that it is Latin does not count). email to john at time4learning . thats a com.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

lParents Forum - lurkers vs posters

Time4Learning has it's own parents forum. I frequently feel unsure whether it is worth the effort to maintain it. I feel that despite us having thousands of members, the traffic on the forum is disappointing.

So, I'm trying to figure our more about forums.

1. Is there a typical percentage or lurkers versus posters? I'm going to try and figure out over a period of time how many "visitors (or maybe "views") there were versus how many "posters" (or posts). For instance, from questions and answers, I see:

Topics Replies Author Views
Sound and work completed 9 Donna 231
Just registered.... ??? 1 wendolynleah 20
Printable Scope and Sequence -Need your input 5 T4Lwebgirl 304
I just want to look at the assignments ahead of time 4 momcarole 198
Time For Learning Works 3 stephaniejl 254
Peedy Parrot 1 Donna 27
Homeschool Glossary & "Welcome to Homeschooling&quo 0 JohnEdelson 66

2. Keeping track of posts & threads just to see progress. For instance, I see that as of right now:
Questions & Answers - 71 threads, 245 posts
General Chat - 62, 175
Home School Questions - 42, 145
Special Education -4, 13

3. Links - How does Google "feel" about forums? Do the forum links to our site help? Since it is highly dynamic content, maybe they love it and count it's links to my site and it's posts very highly? Or maybe, since our site points to the forum and the forum points to our site, it's heavily discounted as reciprocal links.

4. Is the forum set up right from either a user, member, visitor, or seach engine point of view? Probably not since new Time4Learning members must separately register with the forum so this is clumsy to begin with. Also, the categories might not make sense since the difference between the categories might not be clear and one, special needs, get very little traffic. Maybe new categories such as: Introductions, Homeschooling Users, Enrichment Users might work better.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

SEO Success!!!! It's Time2Celebrate

For Time4Learning, it's Time2Celebrate.

We have achieved (for tonight at least), our holy grail.

Time4Learning is third for homeschool curriculum. Yes Third!
"Homeschool curriculum" is a major term and a perfect match for us.
We are also third for "homeschool online", another perfect match albeit a smaller less competitive term.

Those that want to find us, can find us. Yea Yea Yea.

On our most recent experiment, adding "homeschooling curriculum" to the ~"homeschool-curriculum.htm" page..... no news yet. We're still 13th for it but it has not been indexed by google since we added homeschooling to the page earlier this week. Stay tuned......

Update. On Jan 12th, two days later, google's cache of this page shows the new version of the title with the term "homeschooling". But, the ranking for "homeschooling curriculum" has not moved up from 13th and when you search for homeschooling curriculum, the ranking still shows the old page title (which is before we put in the term homeschooling)

BTW- people seem to love our other site on kids learning games.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Homeschooling - Status of this keyphrase

It's now been a week since I created the "homeschooling"page and while it's been spidered by friend google, it does not seem to rate.

So far, Time4Learning's best position on "homeschooling curriculum" is not the newly-created page that has so many onpage "Homeschooling" references, it is the long-standing "homeschool curriculum" page which has few onpage mentions of homeschooling. I'm surprised. So I postulate that:

1. Google's sense of meaning is getting better. They now recognize "homeschooling" as nearly identical to "homeschool" and/or

2. The incoming direct links to "homeschool curriculum" means that it's very hard for a new page, even on the same site but with very few incoming links, to compete.

To further test it, I've added today a few mentions on "homeschool curriculum" to "homeschooling" and we'll see if it jumps.

Status today - jan 6th:
homeschool curriculum - 5th
homeschooling curriculum - 15th

News Flash - Update Jan 12th
The updated version of "homeschool-curriculum.htm" with the page title: "homeschool curriculum - homeschooling curriculum" appears in google: "as retrieved Jan 12, 2007 00:31:03". However, the page's position has not changed since Jan 10th when (see the For Time4Learning, it's Time2Celebrate post) when the page hit 3rd for homeschool curriculum and 13th for homeschooling curriculum. I'm hoping this page will jump to maybe 5th-6th in the next few days which will confirm to me the importance of the page title.

Last Update - Jan 20, 2007 - Today the new text in the page name of homeschool-curriculum.htm finally appeared in google as well as the new content in the cache. The new homeschooling page however, while spidered on the 12th, does not rate anywhere visible (top 89) of google. Homeschool-curriculum.htm is 11th for homeschooling curriculum (homeschool-math is 24th). On my key term and phrase, I seem to have settled for this past week at 5th on homeschool curriculum.

New strategy: do not create new pages that are only slightly different like homeschooling-curriculm.shtml and Christianhomeschool: instead try to get a few more phrases onto my key pages...

Note from sponsor, our animated character is the best! And check out the new page on different learning styles.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Gifted choices

I have my gifted page up for awhile. Here's it's status by keyphrase

gifted student - 10th
gifted students - 13th
gifted child - not in top 100
gifted - 35
gifted children - 49
gifted education - not in top 100

Now, it looks like gifted child is hopeless but that I'm in OK for gifted student, gifted students, gifted, gifted children, and gifted kid. But the page is primarily focused on gifted child

3797 gifted child - not in top 100
3690 gifted - 35th
2173 gifted hands
1964 1,000 everyone gift gifted idea in life
1901 drama of the gifted child
1379 gifted and talented
1138 the drama of the gifted child the search for the true self
1096 gifted education - 49th
879 gifted student - 10th (students 13th)
696 to be young gifted and black
696 characteristic of gifted child
610 gifted adult
443 gifted and talented education
387 extremely gifted
349 gifted hands the ben carson story
346 boss de employee gifted great hire hire only success their way
339 gifted program- not in top 100
331 gifted kid - 8th

BBBonline from the BBB

The BBBOnline - Better Business Bureau Online Seal of Approval - is it worth getting or not? I have asked around for other people's experiences about the BBBB & putting the BBBOnline logo on their site and nobody seemed willing to share their experiences or thoughts.

Actually, everybody said: "See if it works for you".

So, I am. But I first had to get accepted (andy pay for) my local better business bureau (South Florida) where a nice lady (but with no access to a computer) helped me fill in the paperwork, As it turns out, I had my business properly registered with the Feds (Income Tax, Social Security, workman's comp & other employer stuff), State (State license, DBA Ficticious name, sales use tax, employees hired), and Broward County (occupational license) but I had not registered (or paid) the City of Ft Lauderdale. (Its now done).

Once the Florida BBB accepted me, I got alot of stickers for windows and other stuff that I'll never use and I got a chance to apply for the BBBOnline Logo. Which went surprisingly quickly. They processed me including giving me a hotlinked logo in about two days.

On Jan 4th, Thursday, we put up the a BBBonline logo on our shopping cart page. Heres the question that I'm going to track: Does the BBBOnline logo improve performance. Specifically, will my shopping cart abandon rate drop from the current 65% to something better.

Stay tuned... Or, if you have data or thoughts on this topic, please share them with me.


Overture USA Searches done in November 2006
Count - Search Term

52511 - bbb
3480 - bbb online
1079 - bbb org
938 - bbb california
706 - bbb houston
559 - bbb florida
424 - bbb report
365 - bbb canada
361 - bbb diego san
350 bbb dallas

Thursday, January 04, 2007

No Follow - Would it conserve "google juice"

I have some "feeder sites" whose purpose is to attract traffic & google juice to build my main site: For example: My learning games for kids site exists not just as a public service, but to gather google juice (and traffic) and send it to Time4Learning.com.

- Does the google juice dissipate across the the links to other sites where the games exist?
- Would a no-follow attribute solve this?

The Nofollow Attribute - This is quoted from a search engine strategies article on no follow

The new attribute is called "nofollow" with rel="nofollow" being the format inserted within an anchor tag. When added to any link, it will serve as a flag that the link has not been explicitly approved by the site owner.

For example, this is how the HTML markup for an ordinary link might look:
Visit My Page

This is how the link would look after the nofollow attribute has been added, with the attribute portion shown in bold:
rel="nofollow">Visit My Page

This would also be acceptable, as order of elements within the anchor tag makes no difference:
Visit My Page

This is quoted from a search engine strategies article on no follow

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New terms - big game hunting

Time4Learning launched itself with PPC. I learned keyword strategy and concepts thru Adwords. After almost 2 years, i weaned myself thru some advertising and some seo success.

My initial seo success was all minor terms. Some very minor terms. But lots of them. And relevant ones. Then I worked my way up on terms like homeschool online and homeschool curriculum.

Ready for big game hunting (note the linked target pages)

learning games - 59th with my home page, just created a page to compete
educational games - not in top 100 despite the existing page (needs tuning)
homeschooling - 67th using the homeschool-curriculum.htm page
homeschooling curriculum - 14th using the homeschool-curriculum.htm page

I use my siteindex as the general way of getting these pages listed. I believe there are other submission strategies that I should use.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Search Engine Evolution

I predict that search engines will changes as much in the next 27 months as they did in the last 27 months. In short, almost everything will change in the next three years. Here's my thoughts on why and where they'll have to change.

1. Track user feedback and use it for rankings to augment or replace links for ranking. For instance, if users search for xyz and go to site a but leaves it immediately. Then they click on site b and they stay there, the search engines should track this user preference for that site for that search term and use it to prioritize site b for that term over site a.

2. Get an improved sense of meaning. Why do users get different results for 1st grade math than for first grade math. It's because google is primitive. To survive, it must evolve. BTW, I'm 13th for both. And, for the first time since I've been testing this over the last 3 years, the listing for the terms is very close. This concept's time for implementation might be here!.

3. Be more critical of repeated content. When I just created my page on homeschooling, I tried to make it 50% different than my existing page on homeschool. I'm pretty sure that google tracks percent identical of pages and uses it to track original sources (which get prioritized) and excessive repetition (which so far, I see no penalty for). Right now, google seems to reward bigger sites even if most of the content is highly repetitive. This helps people like me who are willing to do alot of writing. But it would be better if they forced us to make the content more original (and more sticky, per point 1(.

4. Link inflation and ranking algorithms.... Link inflation will accelerate. You'll need more and more links at a faster rate to stay in the same place in the rankings. Also, google will keep up with many link creation techniques and rate them accordingly. They'll do more to downplay links from related sites (related owners, hosters etc) and they'll downplay links from "promiscuous sites". This will probably happen by increasing the value of the true "authority" sites.

5. Stay tuned for more, or give me your suggestions.....

And our sponsor has now a great animated character who now has his own site and merits a looksee.

Love the Net - Heres How To....

Happy New Year.

I admit, I'm having a little love affair with google, SEO, and the net in general. I mean really, how cool is this amazing network! And I've always liked puzzles and working. SEO & Google together present an opportunity for one of the great ongoing puzzles of all time and I get to earn my living while playing! Frankly, I'm in love with it and I'm very grateful. And to help out the others, here's a simple how to which explains the steps in the creation of a new page.

Lets track the intro of a new page.

  1. I did a little keyword research (see the article on free seo tools to figure out how) and figured out that I had overlooked the word homeschooling.
  2. On December 31, I woke early in the morning and created a new page on my site about homeschooling. I optimized it for an array of keywords. For a howto optimize-the-on-page issues.
  3. I put articles in a few of my blogs (see blogging for seo) which had references to homeschooling and a link to the new page on homeschooling.
  4. Today (at 12:30), I picked an obscure line of text and put it into google in quotes and found that the page had been spidered by google. Google said: This is G o o g l e's cache of http://www.time4learning.com/homeSchool/homeschooling.shtml as retrieved on Dec 31, 2006 08:50:54 GMT.
  5. I looked at the position of this new page in the search engines with the incredibly cool SEO tool by Jim (one of the great free seo tools that I have found) and found that so far, my homeschooling page does not yet rate. And my site is only 59th on google for homeschooling. The page that rates focuses on homeschool curriculum and shows that google has not yet updated its cache with the new version of this page which is moree tightly focused on homeschool and homeschool curriculum. BTW - this illustrates one of the weaknesses of google - the lack of semantic understanding - and google's need to evolve.
  6. It's now Jan 6th and so far, the homeschooling page has not done much other than be spidered. However, my standard "homeschool" page has moved from 65th for this term to 41st. I attribute this to some increased advertising that I did in December. Essentially, I devoted December to buying my paid advertising for 2007. January is focused on increasing the conversion rate by a number of planned changes including adding the BBBOnline member logo to my payment page.
  7. ( Stay tuned as track the progress of my site with the "homeschooling" term, hopefully to the top of the search engines.....