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Noman Ali: Gadgets, Websites, Google, Social Media and SEO


Category Archives: Search Engine

Do you ever embed YouTube videos in your web pages? If the answer is yes, you shouldcreate an XML Video Sitemap as it will help improve your site’s performance in Google and other search engines.

Why Create XML Sitemaps for Video?

Video Sitemaps are plain text files containing a list of videos that are either embedded or hosted on your website. During regular crawling, Google mostly ignores video content that’s embedded in web pages but with the help of a video sitemap, you can easily inform Google about all the videos that are on your site.

Video Sitemaps will help your site pages rank in both video search results as well as Google’s universal search. If you would like know more about XML Sitemaps for Video, watch this video or visit for more technical details.

How to Create XML Video Sitemaps?

If you run a WordPress blog, you can use my Video Sitemap plug-in to generate an XML Sitemap for your site with a click. Install the plugin, click the “generate” button and it will instantly create an XML Sitemap file in your site’s root directory using all YouTube clips that are on your site.

Once you have created your Video Sitemap, you can either ping Google directly or use the webmaster tools of Google and Bing to permanently associate your video sitemap with your website or web. Here’s a video demo:

The Limitations with XML Sitemap

The XML Sitemap plug-in currently works with YouTube videos only though future versions may support Vimeo, Facebook, Flickr, Daily Motion and other online video hosting websites.

This will generate video sitemaps for self-hosted WordPress blogs only. If you are on Blogger, or Tumblr, I may have something for you at a later date.



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Google is preparing to launch Google Offers, the search giant’s Groupon competitor, Mashable has learned. We have the documents to prove it.

One of our sources has sent us a confidential fact sheet straight from the Googleplex about the company’s new group buying service. “Google Offers is a new product to help potential customers and clientele find great deals in their area through a daily email,” the fact sheet says.

Google Offers looks and operates much like Groupon or LivingSocial. Users receive an e-mail with a local deal-of-the-day. They then have the opportunity to buy that deal within a specific time limit (we assume 24 hours). Once enough people have made the purchase, the Google Offer is triggered and users get that all-too-familiar $10 for $20 deal for that Indian restaurant you’ve never tried.

From what we can tell, Google Offers will be powered by Google Checkout. It also includes Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Google Buzz and e-mail sharing options.

Google is actively reaching out to businesses now to get them on board with Offers. It even apparently has a writing team in place to craft the write-up for offers.

Google famously tried to buy Groupon for $6 billion just a few months ago in order to bolster its local advertising business. Groupon rejected the offer though and is instead preparing for a $15 billion IPO.

The search giant clearly isn’t giving this market up without a fight, though. With its vast reach, huge resources and brand recognition, it could prove to be a powerful player in the space. We’re going to be watching these developments closely. We’ve reached out to Google for comment.

Below, we’ve embedded the entire fact sheet Google is sending to local businesses:

Update: Google has responded to our inquiry and sent us the following statement:

“Google is communicating with small businesses to enlist their support and participation in a test of a pre-paid offers/vouchers program. This initiative is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new products, such as the recent Offer Ads beta, that connect businesses with customers in new ways. We do not have more details to share at this time, but will keep you posted.”

Google essentially confirms Google Offers is real. It looks like Google Offers is in the testing phases, though.

Update 2: We’ve also learned that Google will pay out 80% of a business’ revenue share three days after its deal runs. Google will hold the remaining 20% for 60 days to cover refunds before sending the rest.


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  • Posted under Google, Social Media

It’s a great day today, after waiting for 7 months Google has finally taken a look into Page Rank Update and has started rolling PR updates in Google Toolbar. While digging into the websites, we found that the page rank on few of the websites has been increased significantly. The update has been found today itself so we can predict that this update will be continued for 3 days as within 3 days all the updates gets completed by Google. We are happy to see increase in Page Rank in few of our websites.

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  • Posted under Google, Search Engine

With all the excitement and planning that comes along with a New Year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with newfangled ideas. You probably have a long list of  SEO tactics in the pipeline for 2011. Finding the resources, whether time or money, is the real trick.

The point of this post is to minimize your to-do list by covering 32 SEO tactics that you shouldn’t focus on. If any of these buggers have made it onto your 2011 task list or are still lingering in the queue from years past, go ahead and cross ’em off. They won’t help you reach your goals and some of them can even hinder your progress.

If you are still looking for things to do, check out these New Years post for ideas.

Alrighty then, lets get on with the list of things for you to take off your list.

32 SEO Tactics to Avoid in 2011

Hiding Stuff On-Page
There are a hundred ways to hide keywords and links from your users’ view and still have them reside behind the scenes on a web page for the search engines to crawl. Some of these methods are smarter than others, but the collective mind of Google’s web spam team is smarter than all of them. From just plain silly to downright sneaky, numbers 1-5 in this list of SEO tactics to avoid, we cover off some of the most well known methods for hiding copy and links. At best, you could experience a small, temporary boost from some of these tactics. At worst, you’ll land yourself a penalty.

Do not…
1. White text on a white background (I know what you’re thinking, but black on black won’t work either.)
2. Hidden text over an image
3. Hiding text with CSS
4. Linking/keywording in tiny text (font size ‘0’ doesn’t work either, smarty pants)
5. Linking from a hyphen, period, comma, or any other little character

Keyword Stuffing
There are a number of ways to overdo your keyword usage beyond the hidden methods mentioned above. Here are a few to give you an idea of the type of things to avoid.

Do not…
6. Use the Meta Keywords tag. This is a giant waste of time.
7. Use your Title Tag as a place to list keywords.
8. Fill up your Meta Description with keywords, forgetting about click-thru rates
9. Name your images with the character limit in keywords
10. List every city and zip code within a 10 hour drive
11. Put 2000 words of keyword rich content below the footer
12. Keep track of your keyword density (Thankfully, I’ve heard a lot less from eager website owners on this topic in 2010 than I did in 2009.)

Link Network Schemes
If your link building plans involve any of the following, you need to do a little more research on link building. 🙂

Do not sign up for…
13. Link Schemes
14. Reciprocal Linking
15. Link Farms
16. Link Wheel
17. Link Exchange (unless it is a real and substantial business partnership or relationship)
18. Three Way Linking (or Two-way, Four-way or any other way)

Other Link Types to Avoid
Ah links. It isn’t just the networks that are a waste of time. Here are some other link acquisition tactics to avoid.

Do not…
19. Forum/comment spam (thanks Rob)

20. Submit to thousands of directories for $12.42.
21. Segment your content and launch sub-domains so you can link to yourself

Publish/Index as Many Pages as Possible
Just because you have 4 million pages doesn’t mean they should all be indexed. Just because you have come up with a list of 800,000 keywords and misspellings to describe pepper mills, doesn’t mean your e-commerce site should have a web page to represent each. Quantity is not quality. More pages in the index does not mean more traffic. Here are a few SEO tactics to remove from your to-do list.

Do not…
22. Try to get the search engines to index all of the search result pages on your site.
23. Publish a new page for every single keyword target.

Google Local Tricks
Google Local is still fighting spam that works, which I won’t be covering here. Lets not perpetuate the issue, right? Here are a few things that they’ve figured out and should be avoided altogether.

Do not…
24. Place location keywords in your places page categories.
25. Create a bunch of Google Places pages that all list the same physical address.
26. Torment your customers so you’ll get plenty of (negative) reviews. (this one got a lot of attention late last year)
27. Provide different keyword rich business names to local sites.

Random Uselessness
Take these ideas straight to the curb. No recycling please.

Do not…trash
28. Measure your website’s strength or success with PageRank.
29. Find out which pages are ranking well and never touch them again.
30. Blindly target keywords just because your competitors are.
31. Submit to hundreds of search engines automatically for $9.99.
32. Use robots.txt to control robot access (I’ve harped on this before)

If anything here is on your 2011 SEO tactic list, go ahead and cross ’em off. See how I’m helping you out?! No doubt I’ve missed a bunch of old-school spam. For example, I’m certain I haven’t covered every type of link scheme that has ever existed.

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There’s no doubt that mobile and, by extension, local search is hot. Technology pundits have been declaring every year since 2005 “The Year of Mobile” – that magical moment when everyone suddenly starts using their mobile device for more than just playing games, texting, calling friends, checking email, downloading/using apps and occasionally browsing the web and… I don’t know… browses the web more?

If I sound a bit cynical on the topic of mobile it’s not out of a disbelief in the power of mobile devices or the acceleration of their influence on our technological connectedness. It’s because I think we’re, to a large extent, already there. The smartphone has won our hearts and minds, and this year, it will finally be more popular than the feature phone:

Nearly half of us already have iPhones, Blackberries, Androids or similar in our pockets when we’re on the proverbial “go.” But search – the process, the intent, the results –  just isn’t that different on mobile devices vs. laptops and desktops.

Yes, mobile searchers are more likely  to perform local searches than other varieties, but I actually believe this trend may be overblown. A substantive portion of searches performed from a laptop/desktop have local intent as well. As the mobile experience gets ever closer to mimicing that of the laptop/desktop, I suspect we’ll be searching on our mobiles in a remarkably similar fashion to how we search everywhere else. In fact, the top mobile searches of 2010 are similar (and surprisingly non-local) to the top general searches of the year.

Increased speed, functionality, screen size, resolution, readability, battery life, multimedia capacity, etc. don’t sound like features that make the mobile experience unique; they strike me as moving toward feature parity.


Research from Doubleclick, comparing search on mobile devices w/ full browsers vs. computers strongly suggests that we’re moving towards search parity, too. Queries are similar, clicks are similar, click-through-rate is similar, even conversion rate is getting close (though mobile is still a much more research-based experience, with a tough-to-measure influence of offline conversions).

This doesn’t mean you can or should ignore mobile/local as a powerful organic marketing channel, but it does mean that you don’t need to be building separate mobile sites or separate mobile experiences. Unless your site/content is seriously challenging for mobile users, even those with fast, impressive devices, you should worry more about other marketing avenues.

The big trends I see in mobile search are:

  • A lot more queries – mobile search is growing faster than traditional search and that bodes well for search marketers.
  • A single set of SERPs – I searched for a good 20 minutes on my laptop and Android phone without finding a query where the web results are in a different order (both are location-aware to “Seattle, WA”)
  • A chance to make your mobile-focus known – Yelp does a great job with their overlay on mobile devices encouraging searchers to download their app (though some have complained it gets annoying having to say “no” every time if you don’t want it).
  • Little need for a separate mobile site – Mobile copies of websites seem to me to be more likely to cause duplicate content issues, technical challenges, waste engineering resources and draw away attention from real mobile opportunities than to earn slightly higher rankings in mobile searches. Until/unless things change dramatically, I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this practice (unless your regular site is absolutely unusable on a mobile device).
  • Definite need for a separate mobile ad strategy – Unlike SEO, the paid search results can and do differ dramatically on mobile devices. CPC is generally lower, as are conversion rates, though the latter may be on an upward trend (especially if I’m right about device convergence)
  • Apps are still beloved – I don’t know if the long term future of mobile will continue to focus on apps, but for now, it’s a huge part of what differentiates the device. It’s certainly a great way to “contain” users in your brand and provide a more tailored experience, and for those who can make it work effectively, the effect can be great.
  • Geography matters – mobile and traditional search are both getting more and more biased by geography. My opinion is that Google currently sucks at this (I have yet to find a search I like better with location-biasing than without, maps/places not withstanding), but they certainly won’t be giving up. As a result, if you can tailor your content and your marketing to effectively serve and be seen as local, you can seriously benefit.




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Google has launched a new feature in Google Docs that enables you to watch videos you’ve uploaded to your documents directly in the browser. To watch a video, just click on it and press play. Google warns that the videos must be in a supported format, and that it takes some time to process newly uploaded videos (as well as some videos uploaded earlier last year), so they might not be immediately available for viewing. [Thanks Adam Kochanowicz for the tip]

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  • Posted under Google, Search Engine

Facebook’s latest round of financing from Goldman Sachs at a $50 billion valuation, which is about the same valuation its shares are trading on SecondMarket, clearly puts it in the pantheon of the most valuable Internet companies. At $50 billion, Facebook is now worth more than Yahoo (which has a $22 billion market cap) and eBay ($37 billion), and almost worth more than both of them combined—and that is before it has even gone public. On the valuation scale of publicly traded Internet companies, however, it is still smaller than Amazon ($83 billion) and Google ($193 billion).

Facebook passed Yahoo in implied valuation last summer. And that feels about right. But is Facebook actually worth $50 billion? Its revenues for 2010 are rumored to be around $2 billion, which gives it a multiple of 25 times revenues. Google, in contrast, is trading at about 9 times estimated 2010 revenues. Of course, Facebook is growing much faster. And what really matters is profits. Facebook is believed to be profitable, but nobody really knows how profitable and there is still a sense that it hasn’t quite perfected its monetization model for social ads.

If anything, Facebook’s desire to push of an IPO as long as possible buys it more time to figure out its business model. Right now, it is just raking in cash based on the fact that 1 in 4 pageviews in the U.S. are on Facebook. It is a volume game, not a quality ad targeting game (yet).

And look at Groupon, which is now valued at about $5 billion with probably half the revenues of Facebook and extremely healthy margins. They are very different businesses with different longterm prospects, but why is one worth ten times more than the other? Something is out of whack. Maybe both are overvalued.

Remember also that private valuations are based on what a handful of wealthy investors are willing to pay—in this case Goldman Sachs, which has other motives as well. By plowing in money now, it moves to the front of the line to manage an eventual IPO. And it has the option to sell a portion of its stake to DST, as well as to sell $1.5 billion worth of shares to Goldman clients through a “special purpose vehicle” designed to skirt the SEC’s 500-shareholder rule, which is when public-level financial disclosure requirements normally kick in.

At $50 billion, though, Facebook is going to have to come out with the biggest IPO in history to justify the current frenzy of private investment. Google’s initial market cap was only half that amount.


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