SEO Cold Calling: A Primer

I received a voice mail message on Tuesday. The person leaving the message indicated that they were interested in discussing my SEO services. Normally, I’d return such a call right away, but I didn’t have an opportunity to do so until Wednesday afternoon. As it turns out, it doesn’t look like they’re going to be becoming clients of mine, as they’re in the business themselves, but the call did get me thinking about advice for SEOs who seek out new business by cold calling other SEOs, so I’ve put together this little primer.

Leaving a Message

If you get my voice mail and want to leave a message, don’t tell me that you’d like to talk to me about my SEO services. A message like that is likely to make me think you’re interested in having me do some work on your site. If what you really want is for me to sign up as a reseller of your SEO services, then your best bet is to say that in your message. SEOs who are interested in something like that will return your call, and those of us who have no desire to sell someone else’s services — like me, for example — won’t bother, and a lot less time will be wasted by both of us.

Sure, it’s not exactly a lie to say that you want to talk about my SEO services, but it’s really not very accurate.

If I Say “No”

If I return your call because you failed to follow the advice indicated above and then tell you once I see what’s going on that I’m not interested in becoming a reseller of someone else’s services, you should probably just take “no” for an answer. On the other hand, if you truly believe you can change my mind, then when you take advantage of my polite nature and insist I take a look at what you have to offer, you’d better be prepared to really wow me with your services and your knowledge of the search industry.

SEO 2.0

You tell me that you call your services “SEO 2.0″ because it’s such an advance over old fashioned SEO. I’ve seen the term here and there, mostly to describe search marketing that concentrates on social media. But that’s not what you mean by “SEO 2.0.” Your “SEO 2.0″ involves advanced practices like these:

LSI

If you ask me if I’m familiar with the concept of Latent Semantic Indexing and I reply in the affirmative, it’s not necessary to read the definition from your script, especially if it’s wrong. My “yes” is your cue to skip that step in the process.

When you show me a page that demonstrates your use of LSI, it probably shouldn’t be a page that uses a phrase like “pest control” over and over. Sure, words like “mosquitoes,” “ants,” “cockroaches” and “insects” do show up on the page, but that’s to be expected on just about any page about pest control. I mean, just look at this:

some text about pest control

This is your idea of LSI?

Also, if I should raise the point that I don’t believe anyone’s conclusively demonstrated that any of the major search engines actually make use of LSI, it’s a good idea to have references to an article or two at the ready.

The Search Exchange

OK, so maybe I wasn’t all that impressed with your LSI example. It’s time to bring out the big guns if you’ve got any hope of changing my mind at this point. If your best idea is to talk to me about the “Search Exchange,” I think maybe you’re better off just thanking me for my time and saying goodbye.

But no, you really want me to see the Search Exchange, so you have me click the link anchored “Search Exchange” at the top of your wonderful LSI pest control page. I find myself on a page linking out to a real estate site, a house cleaning service site, a kitchen cabinet site, etc. It looks like a standard-issue link exchange page to me. I’m not impressed. Then you tell me that the great thing about the Search Exchange is that the links are all coming from your network of hundreds (or did you say “thousands”) of sites. Buddy, that’s not SEO 2.0. It’s a link farm. Time to say goodbye.

Do Your Research

This really ought to be step one in our primer, but for me, it’s an afterthought, so I’m throwing it in at the end.

It seems to me that if you’re looking for SEOs who’d be interested in becoming resellers of your kind of services, it’s not enough to just buy a list of the names and numbers of SEOs. Check these people out before you contact them. If their websites warn people to watch out for SEOs who try to get you to join link farms (me, for example), those are people you probably shouldn’t bother calling.

Of course, you could have done worse. It’s not like I’ve got thousands of people reading this modest blog post about you. And while I’ve commented on his blog three or four times, I’m not all buddy-buddy with Matt Cutts, so he’s probably not reading this post either. See, Matt has access to these cool insider-only Google tools, and all he’d need is one look at one of your clients’ pages to ban your whole network.

Then again, he probably doesn’t need my help, since all of the farm pages are linked to with anchor text of “Search Exchange,” and they all appear to be on pages named 0308.php, which makes them pretty easy to locate.

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What Does Google Mean When It Asks What I Mean?

I have a client who is a Minneapolis interior designer. (Yes, that’s a plug for them. As if you wouldn’t do the same thing.) Earlier today, I was checking out the progress of their rather new site using Google’s webmaster tools, and was pleased to see them starting to move up, and even get some traffic, for searches like [interior designers minneapolis] and [interior design firm minneapolis]. They’ve got a ways to go, but they’re definitely moving in the right direction.

Google also listed them at #4 for [interior designersminneapolis] (note the missing space). That’s a little troubling. They rank higher for the search with the typo than without. I took that to mean that either someone’s linking to them with the typo in the anchor text, or they’ve got the typo somewhere on the site. I couldn’t find either one, though.

I was further confused by Google’s attempt to correct me:

Google search result for interior designersminneapolis

Google wants to know if I meant “interior designers minneapolis” and if I meant to search for “interior designers minneapolis.” Wha? Obviously, if I meant it, I meant to search for it. What else would I be doing at a search engine?

And the two searches being offered to me are indeed identical. The first one links to
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=interior+designers+minneapolis&spell=1 and the second to
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=1&ct=result&cd=1&q=interior+designers+minneapolis&spell=1

So what’s the point?

As it turns out, this is not Google’s doing. I run a Greasemonkey script called GoogleMonkeyR. I use it to number G’s results. If I disable it and run the search again, I only get the “Did you mean: interior designers minneapolis” line. I have no idea why it’s adding that extra “Did you mean to search for” bit.

So, problem solved, for the most part. I’ll write to the script’s author about the bug, and I’m no longer freaked out about tripping over a bug in the all-knowing Big G.

It’s still a bit odd that my client is ranking for that search containing a typo, though.

Anyway, it gave me a decent excuse to link to them.

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I Lost

I was a finalist for a SEMMY. See? Down there.

→ 2008 SEMMY Finalist ←

You could say I was a “SEMMY finalist,” but that would be pretty confusing, and not particularly amusing.

It wasn’t for a post here at qwerty’s qoncepts. It was for a little something I wrote for isos, called “This Just In.”

Did I win? Did you look at the title of this post? No, I didn’t win. In fact, if you look at the results for my category, you’ll see that I tied for last place among the finalists.

I’m over it, though. It was an honor just to be nominated…dammit.

Besides, with the WGA strike going on, the awards weren’t televised, so it’s not as if I had to rent a tux to find out I’d lost.

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The Kind of Smallish List of Sort of Search Marketing Blogs

smallish list of sort of search marketing blogsWe search marketing types are big on business blogging. We recommend blogging to clients (“it’s like having an open conversation with your targeted audience!”), we blog about our work, we blog about our tests and theories, we blog about our colleagues’ work, and we blog about our colleagues’ blogs.

It was Lee Odden of TopRank® Online Marketing who recognized this and created the ever-growing Big List of Search Marketing Blogs. It’s big, alright. As of this writing, it contains over 400 listings. No, I didn’t count. Feel free if you’re in a skeptical mood.

Naturally, when a list gets to be this big, people are going to start editing it down to more specialized, niche-oriented lists. Today I came across Peter da Vanzo’s Big List Of Link Building Blogs. If they don’t already exist, I’m sure we’ll soon see Big Lists of keyword research, analytics, search satire, search rumors, contextual advertising, and affiliate marketing blogs, and eventually we’ll have somebody throw together a Big List of Big Lists of Specialized Search Marketing Blogs. That somebody will not be me.

All of this got me to thinking. What about those blogs by people in the search biz that aren’t necessarily about search, but might have the occasional search-related post, like… well, like this one, for example. Who’s going to list those blogs? Qwerty is, that’s who.

I’ll be relying on you, dear reader, to send me suggestions, as I can only think of a few off the top of my head, and I’m hoping this list, while somewhat smallish, will at least be complete. You can suggest via the comment form or send them in an email to gladstein[at]gmail[dot]com.

And so, without further ado, it gives me great pride to present…

The Kind of Smallish List of Sort of Search Marketing Blogs

  • All About Content – Sure, the title tag says “SEO Blog,” but Melanie Phung blogs about plenty of other stuff, such as Stewie (no, not the feetsball-headed cartoon character). Besides, she isn’t on Lee’s list and she was the first to volunteer to be listed here.
  • Daggle – The personal blog of Danny Sullivan. The “About Daggle” page says, “What’s Daggle? It’s my personal blog, where I’m writing about things other than search. If you’re after what I have to say on the subject of search, then you want Search Engine Land. Daggle’s about other things in my life,” but there’s stuff in there about Scoble, Facebook, AdSense and such.
  • qwerty’s qoncepts – Duh.
  • Vanessa Fox. Nude. – The ex-Googler and current Zillow-er has plenty to say about search, but her expertise on the subject of Buffy may just eclipse her knowledge of the online.

OK, this is where you come in. Give me more. More, I say.

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An All New ISOS Post!

Yes, it’s true, kidz. Things have been kind of quiet over at In Search of Stuff these last few months, but in honor of the upcoming Search Engine Strategeries conference, I’ve just published a piece about all the exciting viral stuff (and I don’t mean Legionnaire’s Disease) to be found at SES San Jose: San Jose Bait Bait.

I figured you might want to know.

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Image Optimization for Image Optimization’s Sake

Note: this post has also been published to my business site for the sake of posterity.

There’s been considerable talk recently about the idea of improving the ranking of images for specific keywords. This is due to the fact that images are now appearing not just on image searches, but on the main results pages of many of the major search engines. Ask’s new interface loads images in the right pane of the results, and sometimes at the top of the main results. Yahoo will sometimes, depending on the query, display the top results of an image search above the organic listings for pages. Google will often do the same, and as more of its results are coming up in what it calls “universal search,” we’re going to see an expansion of this, with videos, maps, links to scanned books and other different media appearing in the SERPs.

Making Use of Images and Other Media

Let’s look at some of the advice people in the industry have been giving out recently. Jim Hedger of Markland Media wrote the following in an article published at the ISEDB on June 25:

There are a number of ways SEOs can use multimedia content to create a greater number of placement opportunities for unique pages in a website. The addition of video, audio, mapping (local) or even image content opens a dozen new doors in Google Universal search and Ask.com. The trick is in cross-linking with social media and local search sites and using well planned tags and titles for those files.

If, for instance, Google visits a bed-and-breakfast site and sees a well produced video promoting the region drawn from YouTube that has the faintest hint of popularity with other YouTube users, that video stands a better than even chance of finding its way into some interested party’s Universal search results. Another universal winner is maps. By embedding a Google on the Contact page of a site, an SEO creates another placement opportunity in Universal results.

The next time you’re updating templates for your website, think about other types of files that can be added to enhance the types of results Google might present for any given page. Make your own Placement Opportunities.

Important Traits for Image Optimization

At the Chicago Search Engine Strategies conference held in December of last year, a panel spoke on optimizing images for search engines. Grant Crowell of Grantastic Designs reported on it at Search Engine Watch. In it, he wrote that “image search is the fastest growing vertical in the search arena today. Statistics from Hitwise show it to achieve 90% growth year after year, with over 360,000,000 searches per month across the top search engines: Google, Yahoo!, Ask, MSN, and AOL.”

Crowell’s report goes on to list some tips for optimizing images:

  • Image Originality – The panelists agreed that it is better to use your own original images rather than stock photos or pictures provided by the manufacturer of the product you sell.
  • Image Quality – The purpose here is usability: a high-quality image will look better when reduced to a thumbnail, and will therefore be more likely to be clicked on by a searcher.
  • Image Formatting – Shari Thurow suggested using jpg files for photographs and gifs for other images.
  • Image Naming – “Make the image names of your files match what is actually represented in the file,” says Thurow. “The image name will appear beneath the graphic image in search results. It helps to communicate to searchers that they are viewing the desired graphic image.”
    [Note: the file name appears on the results page in Yahoo, but not Google.]
  • Tagging – Add descriptive tags to your images so that they can more easily be found on social sites such as flickr or StumbleUpon.
  • Expand Audience Base – “There are all sorts of innovative ways you can get people interested in your company and hence build up traffic and conversions. For example, factories might show steps in product manufacture, hotels might show furniture and decorative art in addition to details on their rooms, and restaurants might show picturesque views or special event rooms.”
  • Optimize the Page – If the page on which the image resides is optimized for the same keywords as the image, it is believed that that will improve the image’s chances of ranking for those keywords.
  • File Organization – Don’t use robots.txt to block search engine spiders from your images directory, and don’t use JavaScript to link from a thumbnail to a full-sized image.
  • Usability – According to Shari Thurow, “It’s one thing for a graphic image to show up at the top of image search results, it’s another thing to get people to click on the link to the image and go to your site. Writing alternative text (which shows up in Google Image search results) that is keyword stuffed is not going to inspire people to click on the link in that image to your site.”
    [Note: I do not see an image's alt attribute coming up consistently as its description in the Google image search results.]
  • Freshness – Chris Smith made the following suggestion: if you’re targeting high popularity keywords, try experimenting with re-uploading your pictures, since image freshness is a contextual clue for the search engines and might affect relevancy.
    [Note: I haven't seen this suggestion anywhere else, nor have I seen any evidence to support it.]

Lisa Barone at the Bruce Clay blog had some similar advice earlier this week:

  • Use A Descriptive Filename: If it’s a photo of Tom Brady use [Tom Brady] in the filename. IMG 230984 doesn’t do much to tell the search engines what that photo depicts.
  • Don’t Robots Exclude Your Images Folder: Don’t laugh; people do it all the time. Your pretty, relevant images will do you no good if you put them in a folder the search engines don’t have access to. Make sure your robots.txt allows the search engine to spider your images. We’d also recommend not making the path to your images overly complicated, as http://www.yoursite/images is easier for a bot to find than http://www/yoursite/images/sportsgods/male/football/greatestfootballteamever/tombrady
  • Makes Friends With The Alt Attribute: Include a descriptive and accurate alt attribute for every image on your site that needs explaining. The alt attribute should describe what the image portrays, as well as use a keyword or two when appropriate. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 word for every 16×40 slice of an image. So, if the image is 50×100 pixels, you can use (50/16) * (100/40) = 6 words.
  • Provide a Direct Link To The Photo: Provide a direct link to the file, ideally with an optimized alt attribute and actual anchor text (and from a high PR page). It should look something like this:

<a href=”imagename.jpg”><img src=”imagename.jpg” alt=”keyword phrase”><keyword phrase in anchor text></a>

Utilizing good anchor text and linking to the photo will help the search engines decide how important the image is. Good anchor text for that smokin’ photo of Tom Brady would be [View Smokin’ Tom Brady photo] not [View Photo].

We had a couple of discussions about these concepts late last year and early this year at the High Rankings forum. In the first of those threads, I wrote the following about the importance of the alt attribute of an image:

I can tell you this much: Yahoo is very interested in the alt attribute.

I was checking the rankings on one of my sites yesterday, and when I ran one of the phrases through, I noticed that two images from my site were coming up in the little top four “Image Results” preview on the SERP, so I clicked through to see the full image results. Of the top 20, my site had numbers 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, and 17. Each of the images has the two-word phrase as the first two words of the alt attribute and the only other place on the pages where any part of the phrase appears is in the title tag, where a variation on the second word appears. The keywords are also not in the links to the pages on which these images appear, although they are all over the site. One other thing, and I have no way of knowing based on this whether this makes a difference: all of these images are linked, but they’re linked to copies of themselves (some of them to the exact same file, some to a larger version) outside of a page, where they obviously have no place for the keywords to appear, except in the file name, where they are not present.

The home page of the site comes up at #15 for the phrase in the normal results, by the way.

And in case you’re interested, this is very different from the results at Google: the site’s home page is #5 for the phrase, and on the image search, one picture from the site comes up, at #7. That image does not have the phrase in its alt attribute, but the phrase is the first two words of the page’s title tag.

In the second thread, in response to a question about Google showing image results in web searches on queries that included the word “images,” I wrote, “It looks to be pretty rare at Google, but Yahoo does it all the time. In fact, you’ll get images in the results over there even if your query doesn’t include a word like ‘pictures or ‘images.’”

Yahoo

Yahoo SERP for fashion model picturesHave these observed traits of Yahoo’s algo changed in half a year? The keyword phrase in question was [fashion model]. If you run that search through Yahoo right now, you may see images at the top of the SERP, and you may not. If you look at the image to the left, you’ll see a search I ran for [fashion model pictures] after the two-word phrase failed to give me the results described in the forum thread. Note that despite the three-word query, the text next to the Yahoo Shortcut logo and above the four thumbnails reads “Fashion Model – Image Results” rather than “Fashion Model Pictures – Image Results.” Moreover, the links anchored by “Fashion Model – Image Results” and “More fashion model images” both link to an image search for [fashion model], whereas the “Images” link above the search box takes the user to an image search for [fashion model pictures].

Only one of those four images is from the site I run, but that sort of change is to be expected over the course of half a year. Clicking over to the first page of image results (with SafeSearch on), my site’s pictures come up in positions 4, 8, 10, 14, and 17, so the only change is that the image that had been in the second position is gone. Again, the keyword phrase is the first two words of each of my images’ alt attribute, a variation of one of the words (“modeling”) appears in the title tag of each of the pages, and the footer navigation of each page contains the word “fashion” twice. The site’s home page now comes up at #14 in the web search.

Looking at the top four images on the SERP, we see the following:

First Image

  • Page URL: painetworks.com/previews/fq/fq2450.html (clicking through from the SERP brings up a 404 page, but I managed to track it down)
  • Image File Name: fq2450.JPG
  • Image Alt Attribute: Stock Photo of angie main002 woman model fashion glamour white dress slit
  • Page Title: Painet Licensed Rights photo of angie main002 woman model fashion glamour white dress slit
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 0
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 1
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 1
  • Page Meta Description: None

Second Image

  • Page URL: blogman.net/mt2/archives/000094.html
  • Image File Name: tianmodels-thumb.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: tianmodels.jpg
  • Page Title: BlogX: Life, Travel and Technology: More La Perla Fashion Model Photos from Boston
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 2
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 2
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 2
  • Page Meta Description: None

Third Image

  • Page URL: fmd.altervista.org/mom.htm
  • Image File Name: /alessandra_ambrosio/aa_thumb01.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: None
  • Page Title: Fashion Model Directory
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 0
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 0
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 2
  • Page Meta Description: None

Fourth Image

  • Page URL: annasinkovska.com/gallery/editorial06-04.htm
  • Image File Name: Anna-Sinkovska-Ed06-04.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: Fashion Model Anna Sinkovska in picture #4 of her second editorial from Gala Magazine
  • Page Title: Anna Sinkovska Modeling Gallery – Editorial 6 Image 4
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 0
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 0
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 2
  • Page Meta Description: Picture #4 of Anna Sinkovska from her second fashion editorial featured in Gala Magazine.
Yahoo: [Fashion Model] Keywords in Pages and Images
  Pg. URL File Name Alt Pg. Title Word 1 Word 2 Meta Desc.
1 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2 No No No Yes Yes Yes No
3 No No No Yes No Yes No
4 No No Yes Part No Yes Part

Clearly, the image’s alt attribute isn’t carrying enough weight to rank the images on its own. One of the images has no alt attribute, and the alt of another is the the file name of the image it links to (a larger version of the same picture). The top three have both words from the search in their respective pages’ titles, and the fourth has a variation of one of the words. It seems that factors relating to the page are carrying more weight than those relating just to the image.

Google

I noted in January that Google web searches that returned images appeared to require words like “pictures” or “images” in the query. Clearly, that’s no longer the case. But what else has changed? My site’s home page is now at #10 on the web search. None of its pictures come up as one of the images in the main SERP, or even in the top 100 of an image search. The nerve of some search engines. Oddly enough, the three images that appear on the web search results page are not the top three of the image search results: #1 is the same, #2 is at #11, and #3 shows up at #6, so we’d better check the top three on both pages to look for trends.

Web Search, First Image

  • Page URL: asianweek.com/032599/fashionfusion.html
  • Image File Name: fashion_model1.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: none
  • Page Title: Fusion Fashion
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 0
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 11
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 2
  • Page Meta Description: Fusion Fashion Adaptability a common thread for APA designers By Fiona Ma and Heather Harlan

Second Image

  • Page URL: fashion-modeling-careers.com/
  • Image File Name: pink-blk-full-skirt-wht-bg.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: fashion model image
  • Page Title: Fashion Modeling Careers – Fashion Industry Occupations – Education and Employment Opportunities
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 4 instances of “fashion modeling” but none of “fashion model”
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 22
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 24 (includes “model,” “models” and “modeling”)
  • Page Meta Description: Fashion-Modeling-Careers.com is a directory of resources for Fashion Modeling and other fashion – related occupations that revolve around the runway. Check out our Careers section for tips on the hottest employment opportunites in the fashion industry, including merchandise marketing, the beauty industry, fashion design, product development and apparel manufacturing. Your dream job could be just one click away!

Third Image

  • Page URL: minxmodels.com/model_book.html
  • Image File Name: photo_book2.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: fashion models, fashion modeling, modeling agencies, fashion modeling agencies, modelling agencies
  • Page Title: Fashion Models – Fashion Models Wanted
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 0
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 0
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 7 (including plural)
  • Page Meta Description: Fashion models wanted. Minx Models is looking for fashion models, runway models, commercial models for modeling jobs.
Google: [Fashion Model] Image Results from Web Search
  Pg. URL File Name Alt Pg. Title Word 1 Word 2 Meta Desc.
1 No No No Part Yes Yes Part
2 Part No Yes Part Yes Yes Part
3 No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes

Image Search, First Image

  • Page URL: asianweek.com/032599/fashionfusion.html
  • Image File Name: fashion_model1.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: none
  • Page Title: Fusion Fashion
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 0
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 11
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 2
  • Page Meta Description: Fusion Fashion Adaptability a common thread for APA designers By Fiona Ma and Heather Harlan
  • Image Caption on SERP: Fusion Fashion (Caption is page title, beginning of meta descripton, and in bold text near the top of the page.)

Second Image

  • Page URL: math.binghamton.edu/alex/Fashion_Model.html
  • Image File Name: Fashion_Model_s.jpeg
  • Image Alt Attribute: empty
  • Page Title: Fashion Model Page
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 1
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 1
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 1
  • Page Meta Description: none
  • Image Caption on SERP: A Sketch of a Fashion Model by Emily … (Beginning of H2 tag)

Third Image

  • Page URL: english.people.com.cn/200409/01/eng20040901_155531.html
  • Image File Name: 0831_A16.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: Photo:<!–###IMAGE_BRIEF###–>
  • Page Title: People’s Daily Online — 2nd New Silk Road world fashion model contest to open in Hangzhou
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 10 including plural
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 10
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 10 including plural
  • Page Meta Description: A website by the People’s Daily newspaper; China, business, world, science, education, sports news
  • Image Caption on SERP: Over 40 fashion models from 29 … (Beginning of sentence that appears three times on the page, once under each image on the page)
Google: [Fashion Model] Image Results from Image Search
  Pg. URL File Name Alt Pg. Title Word 1 Word 2 Meta Desc.
1 No No No Part Yes Yes Part
2 No No No Yes Yes Yes No
3 No No No Yes Yes Yes No

Google search result for ford edselMaybe we should try another search, like [Ford Edsel]. Once again, we get a different set of results depending on whether we run a web search or an image search. The top result on the web search doesn’t come up at all in the top 100 results of the image search. #2 on the web search is #1 on the image search, and #3 on web search is #2 on image search. Let’s just look at those three from the web search.

First Image

  • Page URL: worldofstock.com/closeups/TRC1379.php
  • Image File Name: TRC1379.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: Stock Photo titled: Ford Edsel, USE OF THIS IMAGE WITHOUT PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED
  • Page Title: Stock Photo: Ford Edsel – World of Stock Photos
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 2
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 2
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 2
  • Page Meta Description: A superb image entitled Ford Edsel, available as a Stock Photo or Fine Art Print
  • Image Caption on SERP: N/A

Second Image

  • Page URL: diecastcars.tv/index.php?manufacturers_id=2
  • Image File Name: 400-082011.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: 1958 Ford Edsel Bermuda Station Wagon
  • Page Title: Die Cast Cars, diecast collectibles- Diecastcars.tv Minichamps Diecast Cars
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 1
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 5
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 3
  • Page Meta Description: Diecastcars.tv has a huge inventory of diecast cars and diecast collectibles, beautifully detailed diecast cars including Nascar, Hot Wheels and more.
  • Image Caption on SERP: 1958 Ford Edsel Bermuda Station (image caption on page)

Third Image

  • Page URL: americancarsuk.com/Previous_Cars/previous_cars.htm
  • Image File Name: Ford_Edsel.jpg
  • Image Alt Attribute: none
  • Page Title: American Cars for Sale. Previous Cars. Classic Ford Cars For Sale. Spurr Classic Cars
  • Keyword Phrase on Page: 1
  • First Word of KW Phrase: 55
  • Second Word of KW Phrase: 1
  • Page Meta Description: Spurr Classic Cars. Previous Cars. American Cars for sale. Classic Ford Cars for Sale and Wanted. Pontiac Firebird Trans am, Transam, Chevrolet Camaro Z28, Corvette Stingray, Cadillac, Caprice, El Camino, Mustang, Chevrolet. Spurr Classic Cars.
  • Image Caption on SERP: Ford Edsel 1958 (from image caption on page)
Google: [Ford Edsel] Image Results
  Pg. URL File Name Alt Pg. Title Word 1 Word 2 Meta Desc.
1 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 No No Yes No Yes Yes No
3 No No No Part Yes Yes Part

What does this leave us with? At least for the time being, while the search engines work out the kinks in the software they’re going to be using to determine that a given file is a picture of a face rather than a toaster, it appears that an image’s relevance to a given search query is very much dependent on the page that contains the image. The name of the file doesn’t appear to make a difference, and its alt attribute needn’t even be present, much less relevant. It looks like the presence of the keywords on the page (perhaps in close proximity to the image) and in the title element — two of the more important aspects in getting the page itself to rank for the keywords — is what it takes for an image on that page to rank for the same keywords.

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Cats of SEO (and a few dogs while we’re at it)

Matt Cutts, in responding to the the question Why Do I Blog? came up with an interesting idea:

I think someone should start a “Cats of SEO” blog post.

I agree. If you’re an SEO, an SEM, a search marketer (or whatever you care to call what we do), or if you’re just active in the search marketing community and you want in, send me:

  • A pic of your beastie(s)
  • Their name(s)
  • Your name
  • Your company
  • Your URL

The address is bob at raisemyrank dot com, and please put “SEO Cats” in the subject line. And yes, dogs will be accepted too. We’re very open minded here.

Maya
Maya – Bob Gladstein of Raise My Rank

Gonga
Gonga – Bob Gladstein

Liesel
Liesel – Jennifer Taylor of Viewsource Inc.

Blackie
Blackie – Lise Tyrrell of Eco Tropical Resorts

Bob
Bob – Lise Tyrrel

Spaz and Punkn
Spaz and Punkn – Randy Cullom of RandyCullom.com

Sassy
Sassy – Michael Motherwell of WMS Australia

Sunny
Sunny – Todd Mintz of S.R. Clarke

A lot of cats
Courtney, Tango, Mitz, Shadow, Rags and Bones – Ben Ryan from The Purr Company

Snoozy
Snoozy – Leontine van der Meer of Lionsites Web Design

Misty
Misty – Scott Sedwick of Hyperformance Media

Emma
Emma – Scott Sedwick

Stryker and Beckham
Stryker and Beckham – CK Chung (Kid Disco) of SEOdisco

Taz
Taz – Alan Cook of cfreek

Salem
Salem – Alan Cook

Jasmine
Jasmine – Alan Cook

Toby
Toby – Alan Cook

Tumba
Tumba – James (Old Welsh Guy) and Lottie Edwards of Umbrella Consultancy

Cassie and Jeremy
Cassie and Jeremy – Sandy Craner of Brandy’s Delights and Delectables

Oscar
Oscar – Sandy Craner

Google
Google – Béate Vervaecke of e-Zen

e-
e- – Béate Vervaecke

Zen
Zen – Béate Vervaecke

Lil Bit
Lil Bit – Matt Foster of ArteWorks

Kitty and Worf
Kitty and Worf – Meg Geddes of Michigan Integrated Solutions, Inc. and Netmeg.

Kitty
And another of Kitty for good measure.

A thought just occurred to me — we already know about the eagle and the Galapagos turtle (tortoise? turtle? goat?), but I wonder if, somewhere on his undoubtedly palatial estate, SC from SC has the greatest living American cat.

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