The Mender

Metamend's Website Optimization and Marketing Newsletter
Issue 30
Current Issue | Archives

Advice and techniques for the promotion of your web site plus Search Engine Optimization News and valuable resources for the serious on-line marketer.

Sign Up Below!

If you would like to receive upcoming issues of The Mender, please enter your email address below and we will automatically add you to our mailing list.

Email address:
Welcome to "The Mender" Issue 30

SEARCH ENGINES AND RELATED INDUSTRY NEWS
  • [WEB SITE DESIGN]

    The Web Developer's Resource
    Webmonkey - Terra Lycos Network

    If you are in need of the ultimate resource for web site developers, builders, and masters, check out Webmonkey.

  • [WEB SITE CONTENT]

    A Novel Approach to News
    Google

    Google has developed an automated grouping process for Google News that pulls together related headlines and photos from thousands of sources worldwide - enabling you to see how different news organizations are reporting the same story.

  • [CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS]

    cms-list: The Content Management Systems Community
    cms-list is a mailing list and online community focused on bringing the users and vendors of Content Management Systems together to discuss product strategies, technical issues, technology advancement, and standards.

  • [SEO RESOURCES]

    SearchEngines.com
    SearchEngines.com is an industry watch group and a search engine optimization company based in Chicago. Their technical and research staff's primary mission is to monitor the search engine industry, research new technologies and trends and helps users use the search engines more effectively.

  • [SEARCH ENGINE NEWS]

    Pandia Search World
    Search World is Pandia's section for search engine news. Get the latest headlines on Web searching, search robots and directories.


ADMINISTRATOR'S CORNER - Nostradamus Revisited
by Richard Zwicky

Last year, for the first issue of the year, I played Nostradamus, and pledged to write a follow up 12 months later. Here we go with the results.

1. There will continue to be growth through 2002. Companies will report progress, the stock market will continue to grow. Biotechs will surge, and home traders (people using the likes of e-trade), will re-enter the market in great numbers.

There was very slight growth, especially in the second half of the year, but hometraders definitely did not come back in force.

2. Traditional PC vendors will be forced to innovate more than ever in the past. There will be less and less compelling reasons to upgrade existing tools at all, hardware or software wise, until voice recognition becomes truly feasible. Vendors who produce "new age" devices - cell phone / PDA's and the like will jockey for position in the coming market explosion.

Well, the Tablet computers arrived. Does anyone you know has one? I'd like to, I would even write a review on it, because I think it's a great concept. Next generation cell phones are here! Yawn. Do you need to upgrade from a P-III 800 mhz to a P-4 2 ghz? It sure starts up quicker.

3. Security against viruses will be put to the test. We have tasted a foreshadowing of what's coming. We will see increasing calls for comprehensive Internet legislation. As the Internet continues to become more critical to the lives of millions around the world, there will be less and less tolerance for cyber crime.

Actually, maybe it's because 2001 was so bad, but 2002 seemed downright calm. Hopefully it wasn't the calm before the storm.

4. There will be impetus for greater enforcement of penalties for cyber-crimes caused by the damage done by viruses. This is especially true as people become more and more dependent on the net for essential data delivered not just to their desktops, but also to their palm pilots, cell phones, etc. Copyrights, fraud, (credit card and other) vandalism, and cyber-terrorism will be key factors in what may end up being a major review of existing legislation, and the creation of proper legislative and judicial processes for this worldwide industry. Something that was largely nonexistent 10 years ago. The Internet is the backbone of the modern economy. It should be protected as such.

Nope. Nothing new. Completely wrong. See # 3. It's really a crime that no attention is being paid to these issues which cost the economy billions every quarter.

5. Someone will find a new solution to spam - and new forms of spam will emerge.

Yes! Pop-ups have become worse than ever. They are the bane of my online existence. I won't visit some web sites anymore because of the pop-ups. I'm not talking about adult sites, but things like abcnews.com. I know about orbitz, why do I have to click off another on of their pop-ups every time I want to read an article? Then of course we saw the pleas for help. Migrate to the Internet from the fax machines. Who didn't hear the pleas from Nigeria, Lagos, Brunei, etc...? My email now has 250 filters just to keep this junk out.

6. Companies that have survived to date will continue to do so. Some will turn the corner and start generating real profits, some will be purchased or merge with others for their value in niche markets or technical superiority. The meltdown we have seen the last 18 months has for all intents passed.

Not too many Internet companies really failed this year. Many did announce profits, and a lot of mergers happened. At the end of the year Yahoo! bought Inktomi for 235 million USD. Not bad. Not good news for Google though.

7. Wireless will continue to lead the future growth and direction of the Internet - Outside of North America. Limited wireless access will make its first viable foothold in North America, but will wait until 2003 before becoming prevalent. Wireless will lead the way in Europe and Asia - it's a cost effective way to deliver access. Better build more web sites with this in mind.

I was way ahead of myself. I still believe this is true, but I think we're still 18 - 24 months out.

8. Telecoms will get it right. Long the slowpokes of the hosting industry, Telecoms will lead the way by adopting cutting edge technologies for their end users. They will deliver a greater range of hosting solutions, responsive to clients needs.

They are getting it right. They are making the necessary changes, but the effects will only be felt in another year or so.

9. How data is presented will come to be recognize as one of the crucial disciplines in Web site design. A thing of beauty will have to be functional too. This means the sheer number of web sites, pages, access points and portals will force site builders and creators to place greater emphasis on getting their site classification, meta data, navigation and internal search tools right. With all the wireless users coming online, there will be less and less interest in surfing and a greater interest on getting there the first time. Get your web site optimized.

Yes. The search engines have more than doubled their index sizes in the last year. Optimizing a web site is more crucial than ever.

10. In a change from the past, standardization will make a meaningful foothold in the search engine optimization industry. Standardization among the search engines that is. They will look at more and more 'markers' but will no longer exclude certain ones, or ignore properly presented data. They will still use varying scales to measure value, but will look more and more at standardized sources for information.

Oddly enough, this is true of the search engines, but less true of the "opinion makers" in the SEO industry. These "leaders" are arguing more than ever about basic standardization, whilst the search engines have refined their algorithms and read more standardized data than ever before.

11. Microsoft's battle with the Justice Department will not be as easily settled as once thought. Someone will realize that you don't punish a company for being a "monopoly" by forcing schools to adopt their technology - How does that help? Yes I know it's free, but it makes no sense. BTW, I like Microsoft, but this still makes no sense.

This has kind of dropped off the radar. In case you were wondering, it's still not settled.

12. Someone will believe the world is flat and that the Sun orbits around the Earth.

This was a sure thing. I'd bet on it again this year. What do Raelians believe in?

ADMINISTRATOR'S CORNER - Editorial

In a bit of stunning news that was perfectly timed to go unnoticed, Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com) acquired Inktomi (www.inktomi.com) for $235 million in late December. Yahoo!, which is still the #1 web site on the Internet just bought perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle that it did not already outright control.

Yahoo! has for years outsourced its search engine results. For a time, search results were pulled from Altavista, then Inktomi got the contract, and two years ago, the contract went to Google. Until recently, Yahoo! delivered search results first from its own database, and then from the search engine results. However, in the last 6 months we've seen that change to the point where a search is run on Yahoo!, the results are displayed as follows:

1) first 3 results are from Overture (pay for placement listings),
2) Then Google results,
3) Then Yahoo! directory results.

This change was significant for a number of reasons, most importantly because Yahoo's own internal results, (for which a web site operator paid $299 per year to maintain in the database), were now at the bottom of the heap. Google's results which were free to the advertiser were acknowledged as more important to the end user, and thus more valuable. Yahoo! had made a discovery. People were willing to pay to get listed in the search engines, but people were also not willing to sort through irrelevant results. Thus Yahoo! gave Google precedence. This change probably had an effect on the number of people willing to spend $299/year on Yahoo! Yahoo! needed to make up this lost revenue.

Around the same time Yahoo! changed how its results would be presented, Google signed an agreement with AOL to provide AOL search results. AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! are the 3 largest portals on the web, but AOL and MSN are also two of the largest service providers. AOL and MSN had both been powering their search results from Inktomi, and both had Overture paid results as well. AOL needed to differentiate itself, so made the jump to Google. Suddenly Yahoo! found itself no longer quite so unique. It needed to take action as well.

How this will play out in the long run will be interesting. Yahoo! now owns the search engine that powers Microsoft's MSN network. It should be expected that Inktomi search will replace Google in the middle of this year, when that contract runs out. It may also affect Google's IPO plans for the year. Yahoo! should continue to build on Inktomi's search capabilities. It's an outstanding engine, and has a sustainable revenue stream. $39.00 / year is a price any web site operator can afford. The search tool has had great coverage into a variety of engines, and although this has slipped in coverage recently, it should help Yahoo! grow again as a force on the Internet. Quite a change for a company that many thought was finished a little over a year ago.

One final change to watch for is who will supply MSN with their results in the future? Right now it's Overture for the first 3, then Looksmart, and lastly Inktomi. I'll keep my eye on FAST. It powers Lycos, and Alltheweb, has a comparable database to Inktomi, and is FASTer than Google.

MARKETING - Overcoming Obstacles
by Robert McCourty

Last issue I asked everyone to make two columns on a piece of paper. In the left column list all the good things (accomplishments) to happen to you the past year and in the right column list all the obstacles you had to face or overcome or are still facing. I will assume that at least some of you have completed this task, if not take a few moments and do it now. Now, as promised, I'll show you how to get a great head start on this new business year, reduce your stress level and start moving in a positive direction.

Put a check mark beside one bad thing and a check mark beside one good thing. They cancel each other out. Continue this procedure till one column (either one) has no more items. Now look at what you have left. Are they the good things or the bad things? Human nature dictates that it's a pretty good bet your "negative" column still has some items left. If this is not the case and all you have left is accomplishments. Great! You must of had a wonderful year. Either that or you're an eternal optimist.

Now write down 3 goals you would like to accomplish within 2003 in the order you would like to accomplish them. Top priority first. Chances are, what is left in your "bad" column is keeping you from obtaining these goals. They may even be related. This is not a magic trick. It is based upon the psychological premise that human beings often put up barriers, either real or imagined, to impede their own progress. Not a fear of failure but more accurately, a fear of success. For example as one of your goals if you wrote "get out of debt" or "make more money" look at your obstacle list and decide which item is the single most influential barrier to attaining this goal. Chances are you'll find something in there which -directly- restricts your goal progress. Thus the solution is quite simple. Concentrate on eliminating or overcoming that specific barrier. Once it's out of the way your momentum will increase and your stress level will plummet. The interesting part is that forward movement has begun, not by concentrating on our goal, but by eliminating the barriers holding you back.

Quite often we try too hard to achieve something by blindly pushing toward it, thinking this is the fastest way. This bullheaded approach often impedes your progress, because you end up dragging the weight of all the barriers (obstacles) along with you, and believe me, they don't get any lighter as you go. You may think your balloon is rising, but in reality the extra (sometimes sub conscience) weight you are carrying keeps you near the ground. It can also prove to be a physically exhausting, and frustrating experience. After a year of trying you may be no further ahead whatsoever, because the weights are even heavier and there may new ones added.

It's much more beneficial to simply stop and re-prioritize the barriers, not the goals. Analyze them and figure out which ones are the fastest to achieve. Not simply disregarded... I'm talking about cleared up, negotiated, mediated, contracted, subcontracted, delegated, compromised, eliminated, or overcome. There are hundreds of ways. Pick the best one and get started. The faster the barriers come down, the sooner you'll be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you happen to feel overwhelmed by your obstacles, seek professional guidance. There are experts out there with the knowledge and expertise you require to help you. They have helped many people before you, with exactly the same problems. They will have perceptions and insights you may not have considered. Your solution could be one phone call or one meeting away from resolution. Knowledge is power. Get it. Use it. The first time you actually overcome one of these obstacles, you'll wonder what took you so long. Suddenly the mountain won't seem as high and other obstacles will not seem as insurmountable.

To recap. Analyze and re-prioritize your immediate obstacles, not your goals. Your goals are probably fine. It's the obstacles which impede the progress. Find the fastest way to disassemble those obstacles. Move forward. Revitalize. Your goals will suddenly begin moving toward you, instead of the other way around. Meet them in the middle. Success is a journey, not a destination. Have a great year.



INTERVIEW WITH A WEB DEVELOPER

Things in the website design industry have certainly become more complicated over the past few years. Good old HTML has been reinforced with a plethora of supporting players. Flash, Java, Streaming Audio and Video, Cold Fusion, etc. etc. So what is it like to be a web designer these days? To find out Metamend Interviewed multitalented Jules Mullin, [email [email protected]] owner and CEO of Think Big Studios, a full service Web Design house with a growing client list.

MM: Jules, I noticed your services page has quite an extensive list. Do you find that clients wishing web page design today expect more from their Webmasters/Designers than a few years ago?

TBS: Absolutely. Clients are getting more and more sophisticated each year. Most people in business recognize the web as an indispensable business tool for streamlining a number of processes along the business chain. Since clients are asking for more from their web developers, we're seeing web developers specializing in niche markets. In order to give good advice you need to develop core understanding of one or two markets, hence the evolution of web specialization. Clients know more today, so of course their expectation level is rising.

MM: What other significant changes have you seen in the Web Design Industry?

TBS: Microsoft's .net will likely gain impetus, which to my mind isn't necessarily a development I look forward to. For the last couple of years, there has been an emergence of niche specific portal sites, as well as a new paradigm for generating revenue. Free is definitely on it's way out. We're seeing a rise in tiered subscription access to many sites today. Not surprising.

MM: Do you use a "discovery" process before beginning a project with a client? What does this involve?

TBS: Yes. This is arguably the most important phase in building a healthy client/consultant relationship. There are 2 key criteria I like to table at an initial 'discovery': Why web site? What is the end goal? Also this phase is important for dispelling myths or half truths and misconceptions as a result of poor advice in the past.

MM: I know you love a challenge. Looking through your portfolio some of your Client's sites increase in complexity. I.E.> Lot's of ColdFusion, Java scripting, etc. Obviously you're on a continual learning curve to keep up with new technology. How do you manage it?

TBS: Everyone I know who is successful in this industry, continues to grow and expand as the industry changes. That being said, I made a choice a long time ago to specialize in certain languages and production suites. I've specialized out of necessity. I'd rather have a depth of knowledge on a few technologies than know all technologies a little and not be able to give any in-depth or educated advice at all.

MM: Do clients truly appreciate your Multitasking skills or is it expected these days?

TBS: I might word that question differently. I think the real question here is "Do clients appreciate the multidisciplinary skills associated to web development". There is a common expectation in web development which I would liken to building a house. Would you ask an architect to do the work of a plumber? Probably not. Would you expect that same architect to recommend a good plumber and oversee the plumbing installation? Probably yes. I think it is important for clients to be aware that there are many disciplines and expertise involved in web development. It is not for the client to magically appreciate these things, it is for the web developer to educate the client and develop their awareness.

MM: Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) incorporated within your site development planning phase?

TBS: SEO is invaluable and most clients are aware of the need. SEO gets discussed at our first meeting along with more in-depth marketing goals.

MM: How important is SEO to a new site?

TBS: SEO is key to new sites in particular primarily because new sites have the added task of getting found among sites which have been around longer. SEO is also key because it addresses questions like, "How do you want to be found? Which interest group do you belong to?" These questions help inform other elements of the conceptualization of their web site.

MM: What advice can you give a business person wishing to design or redesign a new e-commerce site?

TBS: The primary question would be why? What kind of ROI can they expect realistically from going the e-commerce route. Are they prepared for up to a two year incubation period before they see beginnings of an ROI? If there is some way of differentiating the product or services by way of niche or specialty, what is that and how can it be used to stimulate consumer interest?

MM: Is there one specific thing they should consider more than any other?

TBS: One thing to consider is thorough market research. Determine your competition, their strengths and weaknesses, and then determine which elements are transferable to your business model and which ones do not apply. There is a lot of data available now as to the dos and don'ts of e-commerce. Using the data that others have collated means you get to jump in without suffering the growing pains of your predecessors.

MM: Name 3 things you try to avoid when designing a website?

TBS: Convoluted navigation. Unnecessarily lengthy copy. Gimmicks or flash in the pan gratuitous eye candy.

MM: What would you say is a realistic budget to design a site from scratch? Ed Note: (nice ambiguity)

TBS: It depends. You probably knew that was coming. In web development you really get what you pay for. Here's a synopsis. If you had a company with a 5,000 - 10,000 annual marketing budget, if you took 2,500 and invested it in a brochure ware web site and you took another 2,500 and invested it in print advertising, which do you think would give you more mileage?

MM: What's in store for ThinkBig Studios in 2003?

TBS: We're bidding on some interesting projects this year. More of our projects are including print design these days.

MM: Too busy to handle any new clients? Just wondering?

TBS: We're constantly on the lookout for new talent. We never turn down work but as we get bigger, we are more discriminating about the types of clients with which we wish to forge long standing relationships. The future looks busy, but bright.



METAMEND CLIENT OF THE MONTH

Canadian Forest Products Ltd. - Panel and Fibre Division

Giving new life to wood or fibre destined to be burned or dumped in landfills. Wood Fibre, from saw mills and recycling plants, becomes new products for homes, industrial applications, and erosion control. Their continued leadership in the recycled wood products field arises from their ongoing wood-fibre research and product development. For more information visit their website.

METAMEND'S SEO SERVICE PRODUCES RESULTS!

Search for "Wood Fibre Products" or "Environmentally Friendly Forest Products" on Google.



Metamend: Innovative website optimization and marketing service which automatically corrects keywords and meta tags increasing website relevance and popularity within search engines.



Want some free advertising for your website? This space [              ] free to all Metamend clients. Just ask. We'll be happy to include you in a future issue. Let the promotion begin.

Contact us via our Feedback Form.


Or, contact:
Todd Hooge
Director of Operations
Metamend Automated Website Promotion
Toll Free: 1-877-307-2701