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Search Engine Optimization :: Lyndsay Walker :: Toronto, Ontario

Twitter Now Has Local Trending Options

When Twitter started, an unofficial trending tagging system started up. Known as “hash-tagging”, Twitter users could tag their tweets by using the hash symbol (#, also known as number sign or pound symbol). This was useful for following events like conferences (eg. #ces09) or for silly use, like a follow up thought (eg. #awesome). Sometime last year, trending (with or without hashtags) became an official feature of Twitter’s home page. Users could see the top ten words/hashtags/phrases being chatted about worldwide. Popular topics that came up over the past year include the Iranian election, the death of Michael Jackson and even new fads like #FollowFriday (suggestions of Twitter users to follow) and #MusicMonday (music suggestions).

This week, Twitter has taken it one step further. Now you can choose your trending topics by location.

Twitter Local Trending by Lyndsay Walker at Canada's Web Shop

Right now, there are only a handful of major cities and countries. But, as you can see, Twitter insists that they are working on it. Since the rollout of this feature took a couple days anyway, it’s not surprising that the locale choices will also increase over time.

Twitter Local Trending by Lyndsay Walker at Canada's Web Shop

Since I’m in Canada, I naturally chose the Canadian Twitter Trending Topics (say that ten times fast). Now, as you can see below, I have a new set of trending topics based on users who have identified themselves as being in Canada.

Twitter Local Trending by Lyndsay Walker at Canada's Web Shop

Here are some of my observations based on the topics from Canada and the topics trending worldwide:

  • The Canadian list makes no mention of the State of the Union (SOTU)
  • Canada may be a bit behind with yesterday’s big trending topics about the iPad – many related topics are trending today in CAnada, but no longer tops on the worldwide list (#iTampon, Apple iPad, MadTV)
  • Both lists have Haiti as trending (but it looks like Canadians prefer their Haiti with a hashtag)
  • Olympics is on the Canadian list – the Olympics are in Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • #yeg is the airport code for the Edmonton International Airport but like many cities, they abbreviate their city name to the airport code. I guess people in Edmonton were really busy on Twitter today.

Since I took these screencaps earlier today, the trending topics have already changed. It’s a powerful feature to let you know what’s happening and what’s being most talked about. Now it’s even better with the ability for you to chose the location you want your information on. Watch for this feature to grow with more countries, regions and cities.

URL Planning for SEO

Ann Smart of Search Engine Journal posted a great article today about how to make sure your URLs are SEO friendly.

Given that all pieces of your URL contribute to your organic ranking, this is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Most people realize that the domain name is important (www.domainname.tld). Less people realize that the top level domain (www.domainname.tld) has an impact on your geo rankings. Other people realize that directory and page names are important (www.domainname.tld/directory/pagename.html) but don’t take the time to properly plan this.

A lot of this comes from SEO being left too late in the process, but that’s a whole other blog post. So, make sure you’re choosing proper URL structures for your SEO efforts.

I karate chopped a ninja on your car because that's how I roll.

Funny, pointless and a waste of time – does it get better than this?

🙂

Begin! Make sure you leave your statement in the comments.

Pick the month you were born:
January … I kicked
February … I loved
March … I karate chopped
April … I licked
May … I jumped on
June … I smelled
July … I did the Macarena With
August … I had lunch with
September … I danced with
October … I sang to
November … I yelled at
December … I ran over

Pick the day (number) you were born on:
1 … a birdbath
2 … a monster
3 … a phone
4 … a fork
5 … a snowman
6 … a gangster
7 … my mobile phone
8 … my dog
9 … my best friends’ boyfriend
10 … my neighbour
11 … my science teacher
12 … a banana
13 … a fireman
14 … a stuffed animal
15 … a goat
16 … a pickle
17 … your mom
18 … a spoon
19 … a smurf
20 … a baseball bat
21 … a ninja
22 … Chuck Norris
23 … a noodle
24 … a squirrel
25 … a football player
26 … my sister
27 … my brother
28 … an iPod
29 … a surfer
30 … a homeless guy
31 … a llama

What is the last number of the year you were born:
1 … In my car
2 … On your car
3 … In a hole
4 … Under your bed
5 … Riding a Motorcycle
6 … sliding down a hill
7 … in an elevator
8 … at the dinner table
9 … In line at the bank
0 … in your bathroom

Pick the color of shirt you are wearing:
White … because I’m cool like that
Black … because that’s how I roll.
Pink … -because I’m NOT crazy.
Red … because the voices told me to.
Blue … because I’m sexy and I do what I want
Green … because I think I need some serious help.
Purple … because I’m AWESOME!
Gray … because Big Bird said to and he’s my leader.
Yellow … because someone offered me 1,000,000 dollars
Orange … because my family thinks I’m stupid anyway.
Brown … because I can.
Other … because I’m a Ninja!
None … because I can’t control myself!

Helping Haiti With Your Cell Phone

The massive earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday reminds me a lot of the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean in 2004. I remember searching online to find a way to contribute to the relief fund. I ended up donating through the Red Cross and thinking that was pretty fantastic.

Five years later, in the midst of devastation in one of the poorest countries in the west, the options for donating have certainly improved. Today, tweets started flooding in encouraging people to send an SMS message (text message) with the word “Haiti” to short code 90999. This will automatically make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross. I can only assume the $10 is placed on your cell phone bill.

Tonight, Bell and Rogers also came through with a way for Canadians to donate just a simply. Text “Haiti” (without quotes) to short code 45678 to make a $5 donation to the disaster relief fund.

It really doesn’t get easier than that. Please remember those who’ve lost their lives, families and homes and consider this simple and affordable method of helping out.

Social Stealth – Cancer Awareness

Yesterday as I was perusing Facebook, I noticed people (mostly female) were posting a colour as their status. I wasn’t sure what this was about, so I asked on Twitter.

Apparently, a meme started somewhere online encouraging women to update their Facebook statuses with the colour of the bra they are currently wearing. The point? Cancer awareness.

What’s most interesting is that no one knows for sure where on the web this originated from. But someone started it and it spread like wildfire.

And that’s why you can never under estimate the power of social media.

VISA: The Only Card Accepted at the 2010 Olympic Games

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is hosting the 2010 Olympic Games in February.

One of their biggest sponsors (called Global Sponsors) is VISA. As a result of their sponsorship, VISA is the only payment card accepted at the 2010 Olympic Games.

You heard me. That means no MasterCard, no American Express and NO DEBIT CARDS (Interac).

I suppose I could almost understand not accepting any other credit card, but debit cards too?

Wait, I take that back, I don’t understand this at all.

The reach of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver goes far beyond buying tickets to events. This includes buying Olympic merchandise as well. Want to buy some cool sweaters that are Olympic themed? Sure, hit your local HBC store or even better, go to the Official Vancouver 2010 Olympic Store – but be prepared. Nothing but VISA will do.

When I first heard about this, I wondered how much money could VISA possibly be giving to be rewarded with such a monopoly on payment methods for what could be the biggest worldwide event. The only number I really found was “USD $120 million worldwide in direct support to Olympic athletes“. I know, $120 million is a huge number – but in my opinion, not huge enough.

Who wins with this type of deal? VISA, surely. Consumers, definitely not. I wonder what percentage of adults carry and use a VISA product. What about the businesses? Could HBC (Hudson’s Bay Company) really be okay with dealing with the (what I can only assume) massive amount of shoppers that are finding themselves without a way to pay for their new goods?

It does sound as though merchants have been told what to say in these situations. A friend of mine said when she tried unsuccessfully to purchase some 2010 Olympic merchandise she was told to go get a VISA cheque card. I found this to be very poorly communicated. See the home page of the official store below:

Visa at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

The only mention, in typical sponsor copy fashion, is hidden in the footer. Not only that, but it’s incredibly hard to read, as you can see from this screepcap taken at 100%.

VISA at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic GamesIn the store’s FAQ, this is addressed in just a couple of lines.

How can I pay for my order?
The vancouver2010.com Olympic Store accepts Visa.

Which credit cards can I use?
The only credit card accepted by the vancouver2010.com Olympic Store is Visa.

I also found, buried in the Olympic Games Media Kit page, a “helpful” PDF regarding “tips … intended to help cardholders and non-cardfolders travelling to the Games with the best way to handle their expenses.” Of course, all they say to do is get a VISA card. REAL helpful. Awesome.

Think of all the people traveling from all over the world. They’re being forced to get a credit card. Canada and the US for sure have VISA Debit/Cheque cards that (I think) don’t require a credit check, but I don’t dare assume all other countries do.

I’m shocked that the folks behind the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games would allow such a restricting and binding sponsorship that clearly benefits only ONE party. Shame on you VANOC. You forgot who the games are really all about.

New Google Feature – Skip Intro

Happy Black Friday!

This morning, I found something in the Google results pages that I’d never seen before. It’s a “Skip Intro” option.

Google's "Skip Intro" Feature

This is great news if you’re like 99% of web searchers out there who can’t be bothered to sit through a flash movie before getting to a site. Now, you can bypass the intro movie/song and go straight to the information.

It looks like Googlebot is looking for a link with the anchor text being something like “Skip Intro” and feeding that into the results.

I still maintain that there are very, very few good reasons to have a movie intro to a site (and music on the site… at all. Period.) but while people still insist on it, at least searchers have the option to bypass it all together.

This is also good news for the stubborn site owner who doesn’t want to get rid of their intro movie. Any online marketer will tell you that the more times you make a visitor click to find what he/she is looking for, the more opportunity that visitor has to bail on your site all together. Even if you have a “Skip Intro” link on your site, it’s still an extra click the visitor has to make to get to the content. And many times, with the distraction of music all of the sudden blaring, many people won’t even look for that Skip Intro link and leave you site, screaming and running for the hills.

So here’s my conclusion – get rid of all music on your site, particularly music that automatically plays. Get rid of the intro movie pages as well. But if you simply MUST have the intro page, make sure to include a “Skip Intro” link – not only will your visitors have an out, the search engines are giving them an opportunity to skip it straight from the results pages.

Ways To Get Value From Conferences

John and I recently attended WebmasterWorld’s PubCon conference in Las Vegas, where I was also a speaker.

Conferences are often expensive – not only does it cost money to travel to the conference (hotel, flights, meals, conference registration, etc.) but there’s the even bigger cost of being out of the office. In a case like PubCon, a four-day conference with seven days of networking events, it’s very easy to let a week slip by without getting a lot of work done.

With this in mind, it’s important find ways to gain value, making up for the expenses and lost time of attending the conference.

There are four important areas that are full of value:

Knowledge
A good conference is jam packed full of awesome sessions with awesome speakers. PubCon was bigger than ever this year with SEVEN tracks to choose from at any given time. The opportunity to learn something new is endless. One of the best sessions I went to covered competitive analysis – know what your competitors are up to and how they’re utilizing online marketing. The information I learned from this session will help my company spend our marketing dollars wisely and I’ve also learned new ways to help our clients with their competitive analysis as well.

The panelists from SEO Design and Organic Site Structure at PubCon Las Vegas 2009.

The panelists from SEO Design and Organic Site Structure at PubCon Las Vegas 2009.

Sales
The easiest way to see a return on investment from a conference is by landing a sale. This is limiting though, and really only applicable to agencies, not in-house folks or affiliates. Also, it’s hard to get your name out there unless you’re a speaker or exhibitor. However, there are ways to do it, and that’s through networking.

Networking
Some people believe that the real value of a conference is in the networking. And I have to admit, I’m in that group. Networking can be as simple as sitting down at a lunch table with people you don’t know and as complex as partying at an official conference event and bonding with those that survive into the wee hours of the morning. It’s very, very important to attend as many networking events as possible. It is at these events that the tips really start to flow – especially after one or two drinks. And once you’ve met even one new person, chances are they will introduce you to a few more people. And those people will introduce you to even more people. And eventually you’ll be standing next to Matt Cutts of Google trying to convince him to put a shot of vodka in that orange juice.

You never know who you might meet – so get out there and introduce yourself to as many people as you can. And don’t just take info – make sure to spread your knowledge around too.

Lyndsay Walker, Matt Cutts, Kate Morris

Lyndsay Walker, Matt Cutts, Kate Morris

Relationships

In no time, you’ll find that you’ve built relationships with some of the people you met while networking. It used to be that you’d meet someone at a conference and forget about them by time the next year rolls around and you end up starting all over. But with social media, there’s no reason for that to happen.

When you get home from a conference, take all the business cards you collected and start following up. Add those people to LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter. Keep in touch with them. Eventually you’ll find that you’re most looking forward to reconnecting with your friends at these conferences. And it is absolutely worth it to take the time to nurture a relationship. You’ll find that you have reliable contacts when you’re stuck on an issue, or in need of a particular product or service. And they’ll remember the same about you.

Maintaining your relationships means you can ask your friends to wear your new company's t-shirt, like Kate Morris did at SMX Advanced 2009.

Maintaining your relationships means you can ask your friends to wear your new company's t-shirt, like Kate Morris did at SMX Advanced 2009.

BONUS: Vacation
Lots of people will take a conference and make a vacation out of it. Some bring their spouses, some come a few days early or stay a few days late. Especially in the case of Las Vegas, a hot tourist destination, you can get a vacation for way cheaper since you’re already there.

Hanging out with the band members of the Blue Man Group show at PubCon 2007.

Hanging out with the band members of the Blue Man Group show at PubCon 2007.

Next time you’re planning your budget and are wondering if attending a conference is doable, remember all these different ways you can bring home value. Chances are, you’ll come home rejuvenated, inspired, and maybe even relaxed.

Hope to see you all at PubCon Las Vegas 2010 – November 8-12, 2010!